Nelson Banya News Editor
Tycoon caught in middle
BUSINESS mogul John Bredenkamp, who has been caught up in the vicious ZANU
PF succession wars, incurred the wrath of Emmerson Mnangagwa after he turned
to Solomon Mujuru to save his imperiled Zimbabwean business interests.
Mujuru and Mnangagwa are bitter rivals that lead feuding ZANU PF factions
fighting to succeed President Robert Mugabe
Bredenkamp is now frantically working to clear himself after Zimbabwean law
enforcement agencies subsequently launched a joint probe into his business
dealings amid allegations of violating exchange control and immigration
The businessman, who strenuously denies state media reports that he fled the
country last week as police, National Economic Conduct Inspectorate (NECI)
and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe investigators descended on his Harare offices
and Thetford farm in Mazowe, might have fallen victim to a tug-of-war
between Emmerson Mnangagwa, his former ally and Mujuru, who both head
dominant ZANU PF factions. The investigations, according to sources, have
failed to unearth anything that sticks, confirming suspicions that the raids
were politically motivated.
Mujuru, a retired army general, is credited with crafting his wife's
surprise rise to become state and ruling party Vice President in 2004, at
Mnangagwa's expense. At the time, Bredenkamp was reported to have supported
Mnangagwa's bid for higher office by laying on his private jet and donating
cash, but this has since been disproved. The two men had long fallen out
before the fateful Tsholotsho meeting in November 2004.
Bredenkamp, who has since lost Mnangagwa's patronage to Billy Rautenbach, of
the Wheels of Africa fame, is reported to have recently shifted his
allegiance to the Mujuru faction, having held meetings with the retired army
With President Robert Mugabe expected to retire in 2008, the two factions'
tussle for the ultimate prize has entered a decisive phase that threatens to
tear apart ZANU PF, which has been in power since 1980.
Sources close to Bredenkamp say he blames Mnangagwa, who as State Security
Minister was instrumental in facilitating the tycoon's return to Zimbabwe in
1982, for his present woes.
They said Mnangagwa, who is now Rural Housing Minister after his political
fortunes took a dip as Joice Mujuru appeared to surge ahead in the
succession race, might have been unnerved by Bredenkamp's overtures to his
"Quite frankly, it does seem to be more than just a coincidence. What people
do not realise is that John and Emmerson fell out long before Tsholotsho,
after Mnangagwa stabbed John in the back and pushed Billy (Rautenbach) back
into the (Democratic Republic of) Congo at John's expense.
"John has met Rex to say 'Look, this is all in the past now. I am no longer
with Emmerson.' Clearly, when one considers the inter-factional fight in
ZANU PF, and how these investigations just blew up in our face, a picture of
a plot emerges," one source said.
Sources close to developments have revealed how Bredenkamp, whose entry into
the lucrative DRC mining industry was made possible by Mnangagwa after
Rautenbach fell out with the late Laurent Kabila, was embittered when, after
Kabila's assassination in January 2001, Mnangagwa turned around and
facilitated Rautenbach's return to favour with the new government in
Rautenbach, who once occupied a powerful position at the helm of state
mining firm La Generale des Carrieres et des Mines (Gecamines) and had
several copper and cobalt deposits, was kicked out of the DRC by the late
Kabila and lost his mineral concessions.
He however, came back into the picture following Kabila's assassination,
with a 50 percent share of Bredenkamp's Kababankola Mining Company (KMC) and
has only recently exchanged his stake in a multi-million pound deal for
shares in a listed British mining firm, Central African Mining & Exploration
Company (CAMEC). Rautenbach is reported to own almost 20 percent of the
Alternative Investment Market-listed CAMEC. Led by Zambian-born former
England cricketer Phil Edmonds and Andrew Groves, CAMEC is one of Britain's
fastest growing companies. Its stock grew by 700 percent last year alone.
Bredenkamp associates speak of 'an acrimonious legal battle' between the
rival Dutchmen over the DRC mining rights, saying Rautenbach tried, with
Mnangagwa's assistance, to muscle him out of the mining venture.
While Bredenkamp cannot put it beyond his rival to instigate last week's
raid, Rautenbach also accuses him of embarking on a smear campaign to impugn
his CAMEC deal.
'The whole affair smacks of what one might call a middle-level plot to
embarrass and scare John out of the country. The nature of this
inter-factional fighting is such that one camp seeks to liquidate
businessmen considered unsupportive, even hostile, to their bid," the source
"John left on Tuesday morning, through normal departure procedures at the
Harare International Airport, because he had an appointment with a
specialist. No one told him he could not leave. Do you think they would have
let him go if a serious probe was on? It does actually appear as if someone
was waiting for him to leave and then move in and try to scare him out of
It is also suspected that some heavyweight within ZANU PF and the government
could be targeting expropriating Bredenkamp's property in Mazowe.
Another prominent businessman, Mutumwa Mawere, who was previously aligned to
Mnangagwa, was forced out of the country in 2004 and lost his extensive
business empire after a fallout with the ZANU PF stalwart. Mawere, who has
since launched a legal challenge against the expropriation of his assets by
the state, has claimed he was being victimized for refusing to support
Mnangagwa's bid for the presidency.
Bredenkamp, who used his experience in the tobacco industry to establish and
grow the Casalee group of companies into the fifth largest tobacco
enterprise in the world at one time, has ventured into the horticulture,
leisure, property and petroleum sectors following the US$100 million sale of
Casalee to Universal Leaf Tobacco in 1993.
A Rhodesian rugby captain between 1965-1968, Bredenkamp was linked to Ian
Smith's sanction-busting machinery and became persona non grata upon
Zimbabwe's independence in 1980, before his return a couple of years after
independence. Although he has warned white Zimbabweans to stay out of
politics, he has been close to the ruling ZANU PF ever since his return to
Officials in Bredenkamp's office, who said they were co-operating with the
investigators, have said he is currently in the United Kingdom on business.
Chris Muronzi Staff Reporter
CONTROVERSIAL British tycoon Nicholas Van Hoogstraten might secure an
offshore loan for Hwange Colliery Company (HCC) from a French financial
institution to fund working capital requirements within the group, it
emerged this week.
This comes a few months after the property mogul blocked a $2 trillion
rights issue that was meant to shore up HCC's fortunes, saying the coal
miner should opt for offshore loans.
Had the rights offer succeeded, $1 trillion had been earmarked towards
capital expenditure, with about $473 billion targeted for HCC's open cast
venture and $600 billion for an underground project.
Sources told The Financial Gazette this week that Van Hoogstraten has held
talks with a yet unnamed French bank to facilitate a loan to fund Hwange's
working capital needs.
Although management at HCC refused to comment on the issue, this paper has
it on good authority that Van Hoogstraten had informed management at the
colliery of his plans.
Hwange has been operating at sub-optimal capacity and requires a massive
injection of foreign currency-denominated capital to ramp up production
Coal is critical to the sustenance of the country's power generation and the
survival of industry, particularly the tobacco sector, which has previously
raised concern over erratic supplies of the mineral.
Van Hoogstraten, a close friend to President Robert Mugabe and a major
sponsor of the ruling ZANU PF party, has been splashing several billions on
equity on the local exchange over the years and reportedly holds 30 percent
of the colliery company's issued capital.
Zhean Gwaze Staff Reporter
Employers, staff head for major showdown
A MAJOR showdown is looming between the Zimbabwe Bankers and Allied Workers
Union (ZIBAWU) and the Bankers Employers Association (BEA) over the former's
demands for a cost of living adjustment (COLA) of 1 600 percent.
Industry sources said ZIBAWU was pushing for a percentage that would peg the
minimum wage in the sector at no less than $120 million. The new salaries
should take effect from next month.
ZIBAWU and BEA officials are currently holding daily consultative meetings
to come up with an agreed position amid indications that some banks have
already been served with notices by workers planning to strike over the COLA
The BEA has not indicated what percentage it would offer the workers but
highlighted the major challenges facing the sector such as the May increase
in secured accommodation rate from 540 percent to 850 percent, according to
documents shown to The Financial Gazette.
"Net interest margins for banks have been squeezed significantly as a result
of the poor operating environment," said the BEA in the documents. "Most
banks are unlikely to post any profits in the six-months ended to June 2006
or December 2006. In view of this development, most banks are unlikely to
meet the 30 September 2006 deadline for the new minimum capital
requirements. Thus some banks may actually be forced to close or merge with
others to survive and retain their workers."
At present, only five banks -Standard Chartered, Stanbic, Barclays, CBZ and
Zimbank -have shareholder funds above $1 trillion. Commercial banks should
have a minimum capital of $1 trillion by September 30.
ZIBAWU is arguing that employers should consider the impact of the
deteriorating economy and the collapse in real wages.
"This figure has been arrived at after taking into cognisance the urgent
need to the employees from the high inflation rate, which currently stands
at 1 042.9 as at April 2006," said Zibawu in the papers.
"With no signs of an imminent economic recovery in sight, inflation is
forecast to continue rising in the foreseeable future. Moreover since
negotiations only take place annually a 1 600 percent wage increment is
fair, as very soon it will have been eroded by hyperinflation."
The wage negotiations come at a time when most Zimbabweans can no longer
afford basic needs such as food, health, shelter, transport, employment and
income security owing to a hyperinflationary environment.
The poverty datum line for a family of six is currently set at $52 million
per month while the rate of inflation is hovering around 1 193.5 percent.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
A BOARD reshuffle is in the offing at power utility ZESA Holdings, after the
government clipped the wings of powerful former executive chairman Sydney
Sources said Gata, who last week lost out in a war of attrition with the
parent Energy Ministry and non executive members of the ZESA board, could be
on his way out of the parastatal.
Following the restructuring of the board and ZESA's subsidiary companies,
Gata, who maintains the structure was conceived to sideline him, said he had
elected to become a non-executive chairman.
The reconfiguration of the ZESA board, which could usher new faces into the
board, is imminent Insiders within ZESA said the current board had begun
scouting for a chief executive officer (CEO) and has invited applications
from senior managers at the power utility. All 25 executive managers are
said to have responded.
They said Simba Mangwengwende who has had a protracted battle with ZESA
since his unceremonious exit in 2000 could surprisingly bounce back.
"It is possible. Remember the outgoing chairman also left and came back,"
said the sources in reference to Gata who after leaving ZESA as general
manager in the 1990's bounced back as executive chairman.
With 5 831 workers and 25 executive managers, Energy Minister Mike Nyambuya
says ZESA's current structure is top heavy and imposes strains on the
finances of the group of companies. "Once the CEO is in place that will be
his first task," said the sources..
Under Gata's tenure, ZESA was unbundled into five companies responsible for
power generation, transmission, distribution as well as two non-core
Chris Muronzi Staff Reporter
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe, who has pledged to fight endemic corruption, is
closely following the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) corruption
trial in which two of his ministers have testified.
Intelligence sources said the 82-year-old leader has, of late, taken a keen
interest in the intriguing ZUPCO saga and has requested that he be fully
briefed on the unfolding trial.
"You will appreciate that it is a rare case in which two ministers, both
from his home province, have testified and naturally, it has aroused the
President's interest," said the source.
Last month, Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo and Deputy Information
Minister Bright Matonga testified in court as state witness in the case in
which ZUPCO boss Charles Nherera is alleged to have demanded a US$51 000
bribe from businessman Jayesh Shah in return for the awarding of a tender
for the purchase of buses by the public transport operator.
President Mugabe, who is widely expected to reshuffle his bloated Cabinet
following revelations that he is not happy with the performance of some of
his ministers, is in the midst of an anti-graft campaign to rid the country
of the scourge.
Several top business executives fled the country, while others were
arraigned before the courts since the "war" against corruption started in
Those that have sought refuge outside the country include NMB Bank founders
Julius Makoni, James Mushore, Otto Chekeche and Francis Zimuto, former SMM
Holdings owner Mutumwa Mawere, directors of ZANU PF companies Dipak Padya,
Jayant Joshi and his brother Manharlal.
Former Finance Minister Chris Kuruneri, who was arrested in 2004, remains
the biggest high profile casualty of the anti-corruption drive, which also
saw the arrests of senior ruling ZANU PF party officials such as Phillip
Chiyangwa and James Makamba.
Hama Saburi Deputy Editor-in-Chief
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is running out of options to ward off the inexorably
rising international pressure for political reforms in Zimbabwe and
increasingly appears ready to bring back on board his South African
counterpart, Thabo Mbeki, whom he had seemed to treat with suspicion of
Last Thursday South Africa's security minister Ronnie Kasrils, accompanied
by the South African Secret Service director for internal affairs met State
Security Minister and President Mugabe's confidante, Didymus Mutasa, in
While details of the meeting remain a closely-guarded secret, sources said
that it was convened to clear the way for a crucial meeting between
Presidents Mugabe and Mbeki.
Mbeki, who has been at the centre of a delicate arbitration mission in
Zimbabwe over the past few years, is reportedly keen to meet the Zimbabwean
leader. The South African leader, who was widely seen as having both the
economic and diplomatic clout to influence events in Zimbabwe has been under
pressure to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis after the failure of his "quiet
Impeccable government and ruling ZANU PF sources yesterday said it was hoped
a re-connection with Mbeki would quicken the building of bridges that
President Mugabe recently called for between Zimbabwe and its former
colonial master Britain, which is part of the European bloc that has imposed
sanctions on Zimbabwe's ruling elite.
Britain stands accused of covertly funding the opposition and civic
organisations to topple President Mugabe's government, which has ruled
Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.
"With the economic situation getting worse and the new economic reform
blue-print's goals proving hard to achieve, there are just a few options
left for us to exercise," said a source. "Hopefully, the two leaders (Mugabe
and Mbeki) will be meeting soon to consider the few available options,"
added the source.
George Charamba, the presidential spokesman could not be reached to comment
on the impending meeting between the two leaders. His boss at the
Information Ministry Ambassador Tichaona Jokonya was also unavailable for
comment as he was said to be out of the country.
The highly anticipated meeting between the two leaders comes ahead of what
could turn out to be a controversial visit to Zimbabwe by United Nations
Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Zimbabwe, which last year said it had invited
Annan to come and see first hand the impact of its widely condemned clean-up
exercise codenamed Operation Murambatsvina, has indicated that Annan, who it
now views as a pawn of the US and British governments, was no longer
welcome. This is despite the fact that Mbeki had earlier said that Annan's
visit would help normalise relations between Zimbabwe and the rest of the
An alleged democratic deficit has left Zimbabwe in a spot of bother with the
international community. Criticism of the government reached a crescendo
following Operation Murambatsvina, which left 700 000 people homeless while
2.4 million people lost their source of livelihood.
President Mugabe's government denies the charges, laying the blame squarely
on the shoulders of the country's critics, whom it accuses of demonising
Zimbabwe as retribution for embarking on the controversial land reform
Diamonds & Dogs
FOREIGN currency is still a diamond in the rough in spite of "billions" of
greenbacks worth of memoranda of understanding the government has been
signing. Our point is proven on two fronts.
The first one, we have always harped upon. The purchasing power of the
Zimbabwe dollar has been declining faster than the depreciation of the unit
against foreign currency.
This we have predicted since the beginning of last year when we argued that
the RBZ policies of focusing on the now had a tendency of damaging the long
term prospects of manufacturers. This, coupled with similar policies on
agriculture, would render most of our manufactured goods uncompetitive on
both the local and export markets.
This is now water under the bridge and one sees that on average a 1 000 Rand
basket of goods and services in South Africa would set one at least $150
million on average if they were to be purchased in Zimbabwe. All it says is
that the implied rate of exchange is now averaging $150 000 to the Rand.
Secondly, the RBZ has tacitly admitted that our currency is overvalued. This
has been shown by the knee jerk intervention in the parallel market. This
they have done by hiking interest rates hence attracting a lot of cash flows
on the money market, hence starving off money going toward the purchase of
This has worked well in the past three months when the market rate for the
greenback was artificially pegged at Z$200 000 per unit. Many speculate on
who benefited the most by buying a lot of currency. My bet if that most
rational economists and pseudo-economists working at the ivory tower were at
Now the trick is not working according to plan but it is still working. The
unsustainably high interest rates in the market have been the main reason
why the market rate of currency has not been able to catch up with
purchasing power parity. Instead of finishing reading this article the
rational being would start running to their nearest "road port". Mark my
IF local newspapers could tell their readership the difference between a
memorandum of understanding and a done deal, the scales would be lifted from
many a reader's eyes.
On the heels of an ill-fated presidential visit that yielded a pathetic US$6
million, the papers would want us to believe our host investors are going to
plough billions into the Zambezi Valley. These billions, we are told, will
result in a massive power project that would put to rest our electricity
woes as a nation.
Why, one asks, would the Chinese want to buy into something yet to be proven
when they can easily finance an already bankable proposition in Rio Tinto
Zimbabwe's Sengwa project? Would a prudent investor prefer Ele Resources,
who up until Monday, were not familiar to our imagination, to Rio Tinto
Zimbabwe, a company that has been involved in mining and exploration
activities in Zimbabwe for the last 50 years?
That a widely read daily would authenticate a "deal" whose main participants
were absent at the signing ceremony remains an obscurity. We are told Hwange
(referred to in the article as Wankie) Colliery management, who are supposed
to be the joint venture partners were not there at the signing ceremony.
Gives one the inkling of a paper trying to validate what are clearly
fly-by-night rainmaking shenanigans on the part of the deal's architects. In
short the other parties involved were probably as surprised as the rest of
us on reading the headlines of Monday's Herald!
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
INTERNATIONAL condemnation of Harare's policies deepened this week following
the rebuking of the country alongside Iran for violating trade union rights.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO)'s Committee on Freedom of
Association, which in 2005 censured Harare for its repressive excesses, once
again cited and slammed Zimbabwe alongside Iran, Cambodia and Djibouti for
serious infringements of the principle of freedom of association and
violations of trade union rights.
"The Committee drew special attention to the cases of Cambodia, Djibouti and
Zimbabwe because of their serious and urgent nature," the ILO said in its
latest damning report, released on Monday at the ongoing International
Labour Conference. "In the case of Zimbabwe, the Committee reached interim
conclusions for the third time concerning serious allegations of attempted
murders, assaults, intimidation, arbitrary arrests and detentions, as well
as arbitrary dismissals and transfers committed against trade unionists and
members of their families."
President Robert Mugabe's government has stifled political dissent and
persecuted trade union leaders for opposing its policies, which they allege
have ruined the country. It has also passed a series of draconian security
laws aimed at crushing political dissent.
As late as last month the government authorities barred outspoken
Confederation of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) secretary-general
Zwelithima Vavi from attending the sixth annual congress of the ZCTU saying
he is a prohibited immigrant.
Prior to that it had on three occasions deported a delegation of Cosatu
inside two years barring it from holding fraternal discussions with its
counterpart the ZCTU.
Vavi's deportation brought to three the number of deported international
trade unionists following that of two Norwegian unionists Alice Siame and
Nina Mjoberg who had been invited to the ZCTU's congress as observers.
The committee said it will soon pressure President Mugabe's government to
accept a direct contacts mission to audit the deteriorating trade union
situation in the country.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
EFFORTS to revive Zimbabwe's comatose economy through renewed public-private
sector cooperation under the National Economic Development Priority
Programme (NEDPP) have continued to suffer setbacks, with the latest coming
in the form of disruption of activities at a prime banana plantation in the
Impeccable sources at one of the country's prime agro-exporting firm's Rose
Common Estate in Chimanimani told The Financial Gazette this week that
marauding gangs loyal to ZANU PF were causing mayhem on the farm and had
destroyed fruit worth in excess of $1billion.
The sources said a group of invaders recently forced their way into Rose
Common Estates and chopped down 7,5 hectares of bananas which were at the
ripening stage. It is estimated that 112.5 tonnes of bananas would have been
harvested from the invaded 7.5 hectares of the plantation.
Ariston is among a list of agro-producers drawn by the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) whose farms must be spared from the disruptive invasions. It
also borrowed from the $7 trillion Agricultural Sector Productivity
Enhancement Facility (ASPEF), which was set up early 2005 by the central
bank to ensure food security and generate foreign currency through exports
and import substitution.
"They cut 7,5 hectares of bananas saying they wanted to plant maize," said
the sources. "These were top quality bananas, which in a few months we would
have been harvesting. They have set us back."
The sources said following the gargantuan loss Ariston had engaged the
police who have managed to drive out the illegal settlers.
Repeated efforts to get a comment from Ariston management were fruitless
this week while managing director Kumbirai Katsa-nde was reported to be in
Reports of fresh farm disruptions fly in the face of the government's
undertaking to block fresh farm seizures and disruptions so as to restore
stability on productive farms.
At the launch of the much vaunted economic programme in April,
which also focuses on increased agricultural coordination, the government
pledged to forestall
further farm seizures by affording the country's productive farmers top
Zhean Gwaze Staff Reporter
DEPUTY Information Minister Bright Matonga says Media and Information
Commission (MIC) chairman Tafataona Mahoso is doing 'an excellent job' and
is set to be reappointed following the expiry of the board's tenure
"The term expires at the end of the month, but as for the re-appointment, it
is entirely at the minister's discretion depending on whether the commission
has fulfilled its mandate. The minister is currently out of the country,"
"As far as we are concerned, Mahoso is doing an excellent job. This business
of personalising the MIC should stop. If you think he is going you are
living in cloud cuckoo land. He will be there as long as he is doing a good
job. He has got government support," he added.
Mahoso has been criticised for his heavy-handed approach to media
regulation, which has seen no less than four newspapers including the
largest circulating independent Daily News.
In her intervention in the long running legal battle between the MIC and
publishers of The Daily News, High Court judge Rita Makarau found Mahoso's
commission to be biased against the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, whose
fresh application for the registration of its titles has been systematically
frustrated by the MIC.
Technically, the current MIC board's tenure expired yesterday, as the
commissioners' letters of appointment for an extra six months were issued on
December 14 last year.
Apart from Mahoso, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings executive chairman Rino
former Sunday Mail editor Pascal Mukondiwa, veteran journalist Jonathan
Maphenduka, Alphinos Makoni and Sephat Mlambo make
up the MIC board.
The MIC has presided over the closure of The Daily News, its sister weekly
The Daily News on Sunday, the weekly Tribune and the Bulawayo-based Weekly
Charles Rukuni Bureau Chief
BULAWAYO - Business is to ask the government to remove subsidies and lift
price controls that are distorting the market because they are not
benefiting the intended people but a privileged few, a leading businessman
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president Luxon Zembe said these would
be some of the key recommendations at the chamber's congress to be held from
June 28-30 in Victoria Falls.
Zembe, who will be stepping down as the chamber president at the congress,
said business would be pushing for the government to remove subsidies on
commodities like fuel and maize to millers because they were distorting the
market. Besides, they were not getting to the intended beneficiaries but to
a privileged few that in turn resold the subsidised products to the market.
"We are not saying that the government should remove all controls but it
does not make sense for the Grain Marketing Board to buy maize from farmers
at $31.3 million a tonne and then sell it to millers for $600 000 a tonne.
All it does is to create room for corruption because officials of the GMB
can sell the maize to their colleagues who will in turn sell it back to the
GMB at a hefty profit," Zembe said.
The same applied to fuel which is still selling for under $23 000 a litre
while it is going for anything up to $380 000 on the open market.
Zembe, who is a strong proponent of the National Economic Development
Priority Programme(NEDPP) said the programme still had a chance to succeed
if the government continued to work together with business as it was doing
The NEDPP was launched in April to turn around the country's fortunes in six
to nine months. One of the targets was to raise US$2.5 billion in cash or
investments in the first 90 days.
Economic Development Minister Rugare Gumbo was this week quoted as saying
the programme had already raised US$350 million in cash. Vice-President
Joice Mujuru, who is in China is reported to have signed power deals worth
about US$1.3 billion.
Zembe said business was now involved in corporate agriculture in an effort
to revamp the economy as agriculture was its backbone. This was, however,
only a short-term intervention because people needed title to land for them
to seriously go into agriculture .The government should therefore speed up
the granting of leases to potential farmers.
"One of the biggest mistakes the government made was to remove title from
land. This left farmers without any collateral. Now it must give them leases
so that they can raise capital but it must not give these leases just to
anybody but to people that are capable of running farms as a business.
"The government should stop this habit of dishing out money. We have
business people who can run businesses without any handouts. These are the
people that must be given land," he said.
On whether he still believed the economic recovery programme would succeed
as there seemed to be nothing on the ground to indicate this, with inflation
now at 1 194 percent, Zembe said there should be no illusion that come
December, all the country's problems would be over. It would take at least
three years to get the country back on its rails.
"What we are trying to do now is to steer the ship in the right direction.
It might still be in stormy waters but once it's facing the right direction
we know that we will get there," he said.
A political observer familiar with the goings-on in the ruling party
believed, however, that the country was going nowhere.
"We are not getting anywhere. Everyone (political leaders) knows that the
Berlin Wall is falling. So they are busy looting," the observer said.
DANIEL Shumba, the embattled IT magnate whose dream of running Zimbabwe's
first privately-owned fixed telecommunication project hangs by a thread,
revealed this week that his empire is now under siege from the government.
The businessman who rose to fame through Systems Technology (Private)
Limited, said his business interests became target for expropriation after
he took part in the ill-fated Tsholotsho indaba, which was meant to block
Vice-President Joice Mujuru's ascendancy to the presidium.
His resignation from the ruling party and his subsequent entry into
opposition politics via the United People's Party (UPP), of which he is the
interim president, has also opened his empire to corporate vultures aligned
to powerful politicians.
Shumba, who owns TeleAccess, Systems Technology, Kings Haven and several
other investments, is fighting to restore TeleAccess' licence which was
cancelled by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority last
"I have suffered and continue to suffer persecution not only because of the
Tsholotsho fallout, but because I am independent minded, objective and
refuse to be unfairly dominated," said Shumba.
"I have also suffered for being a member of a certain tribe. I have been
threatened with physical harm and sometimes death. Discussions have been
held on how to punish and to economically disenfranchise me," added the
businessman who was among the six ZANU PF provincial chairmen suspended from
the party in 2004 for attending the unsanctioned Tsholotsho meeting.
Efforts to get a comment from John Nkomo, the ZANU PF national chairman and
presidential spokesman George Charamba were fruitless at the time of going
"The military even intend to overlook a Supreme Court ruling by attempting
to forcefully take my farm and equipment. This would be expropriation of
property by the state," he said.
"No Zimbabwean should die or suffer for choosing to belong to an alternative
party to ZANU PF. Already there is an effort to target me by the selective
application of the law. My businesses are under siege.But I am not scared. I
have said this before; I respect man, but fear God."
Shumba's claims come as business magnate and a long time ally of President
Robert Mugabe, John Bredenkamp, has slipped out of the country amid
speculation that his business interests have fallen victim to the succession
gridlock within ZANU PF.
Mutumwa Mawere, another businessman who until recently was a venerable icon
in Zimbabwe's indigenisation drive, is holed up in South Africa following
the expropriation of his assets through legislation rushed through
Parliament in 2004.
Mawere is on the police's wanted list on allegations of externalising
billions of dollars.
Shumba said while he cannot say much on TeleAccess since the matter is
before the courts, the acquisition of equipment and the rollout of the
terrestrial project is continuing.
"Announcements will be made as soon as a switch-on date has been
established," he said.
Munyaradzi Mugowo Staff Reporter
THE 15 percent value added tax (VAT) demanded by the tax authorities on
transferable securities traded on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) has
aggravated investor flight due to heightened uncertainty.
A senior analyst with a local stockbroking firm said the tax, which
effectively extended the catalogue of charges on shares to 12 percent, had
depressed activity in a market already hamstrung by an inexorable economic
slowdown, chasing foreign investors from the bourse.
"When we opened the market to foreign investors in 1993 we were among the
top foreign currency generating industries in the country, but unfortunately
the trend is already reversing," said the analyst.
He added: "At the moment there is not much foreign activity in the stock
market due to the current macroeconomic environment. However, for us to have
foreign participation we need to set our policies and be consistent with
these policies. Besides, reducing transaction costs is certainly a good
The new tax has increased cost margins that investors would need to factor
in on stock prices before breaking even and this has increased their
unwillingness to sell their shares.
Shares were already subject to five percent withholding tax, two percent
brokerage fees and two percent stamp duty among other charges.
Competing regional stock markets such as the Johannesburg Securities
Exchange, which charge VAT, have proper capital gains tax on realised gains,
as opposed to withholding tax charged by the Ministry of Finance on turnover
whether an investor is making a profit or not.
These charges, which keep swelling by the day to feed the government's
drying coffers, have ignited fears of a slowdown in turnover in the equities
market and in downstream benefits.
VAT on transferable securities came into effect on June 1 after a two-week
tax dispute between stockbrokers and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra),
which claimed that the country's 17 registered stockbroking companies had
defaulted in VAT collection and remittance "for over two-and-a-half years."
The government proposed to introduce VAT on transferable shares in January
2004, but consequently put it on ice after stockbrokers successfully
bargained for VAT exemption in preference for an increase in stamp duty from
one to two percent.
The deal, which culminated in the amendment of the VAT Bill to provide for
the exemption, however collapsed last month when the tax authorities
suddenly drew their daggers on the tax collecting agencies demanding
capital, penalty and interest payments dating back to January 2004, when VAT
purportedly came into effect.
The deadline was May 25 2006.
Shocked by this apparent policy inconsistency, stockbrokers stopped trading
for about two-and-a-half weeks due to uncertainty whether to charge VAT or
not and engaged the Ministry of Finance, which agreed to table the issue
before a fiscal panel for legal determination.
"When we stopped trading it was not an act of insubordination as alleged by
Zimra. It was due to uncertainty and confusion because we were not sure what
to tell our clients, that is, whether they should pay VAT or not. Remember
all the monies handled by stockbrokers are investor funds."
The market resumed trading last week after an agreement between the Ministry
of Finance and the ZSE to start collecting the tax from June 1, 2006 while
awaiting the outcome of the legal determination.
The ZSE maintains the tax feud was purely due to government policy
inconsistency and lack of consultation in policymaking and implementation.
THOSE are very harsh words, Murehwa, I said and he retorted, "The conditions
and standard of living of our people are harsher than my words and you know
who is to blame. How can arguably the most academically educated government
in the world deliver such an uncivilised result for so long? And you want me
to share a final resting place with people whose epitaph mirrors the
poverty, pain, suffering and the dehumanising loss of dignity you see on the
faces of our people everyday? Wava kupenga here muzukuru? (Are you mad?) Try
and walk a mile in the shoes of the masses. It is sad."
Instead of simply criticising, what solutions can you propose?
"First, we need to look more to the future and less to the past. What we
need is a people-driven constitution, an inclusive constitutional
government, respect for human rights, strict adherence to the rule of law,
freedom of expression and association and to promote political competition.
We currently have serious institutional inadequacies. We need peace, law and
order, individual liberty, guaranteed property rights, an independent
judiciary and equality before the law with checks and balances on arbitrary
use of power, as well as a free Press and public watchdog organisations. All
these are missing in Zimbabwe's governance today," Chikerema said.
I then suggested to him that government says the hardships were brought
about by sanctions and he laughed.
"What sanctions? If you believe such campfire stories, you will believe in
the 'rabbit on the moon'. So, if the West and the European Union stop you
from going to their countries for shopping, that becomes national sanctions?
How do you reconcile that with the fact that when Ian Smith had sanctions
proper applied against him, that was the greatest era of economic growth for
this country? What trade has the West and EU stopped? What development has
the East brought to this country other than giving us guns for our
liberation struggle and 'zhingzhongs'? Chokwadi mungapuse kunge huku inotiza
gondo ichinopotera mukicheni memunhu kunge isingazive kuti ndimo mune mvura
irikufashaira pamoto yekuiundurisa, madomasi ne hanyanisi
dzekunyatsoikangisa?' The East are our friends, admitted, but they do not
necessarily like us simply because we are black. It's all about what they
can benefit from us. A poor friend like us is a pest and a perennial
nuisance to anyone. There is no dignity in the begging that we do. What
those 'street-kids' are to our society is exactly what we have become to the
world - a street-nation - begging at every opportunity. Whom do you think
Colonel Gaddafi was referring to when he said you Africans must stop this
"The tragedy is we brought it on ourselves because we think we know it all.
Why not befriend both the East and the West? Even in pre-school they teach
you to sing, 'Make new friends, keep the old - one is silver and the other
is gold . . . '
"The East is far better friends with the West than with us for obvious
reasons. Look at the size of trade and investment between them. Jingoistic
diatribes and stale, threadbare rhetoric about imperialism and
neo-colonialism are sermons of an extinct faith. The sooner we wake up to
this reality, the sooner we will get back on the rails. It's common sense,"
"One of the greatest lies ever told was that the West and the EU were
offended by our taking back the land. They were offended by how we went
about it, how we rigged elections, destroyed an independent judiciary
system, denied our people free speech, enacted draconian and oppressive
laws, banned newspapers, and how we failed to observe basic human rights and
paid no regard to property rights - tenets which form the very bedrock upon
which modern civilised society is founded. A powerful force drives the world
towards a converging commonality today, and we either march in tempo with
the rest of the world or we fall off the wall and the world moves on," Chiki
"We can easily put back the yoke of slavery over our own necks by following
a regime of moribund policies. We are impoverishing our people to the extent
that to get out of the poverty cycle, we may literally be forced to mortgage
our souls and economic resources to the same forces we fought yesterday. A
nation does not prosper or feed on foolish bravado and outdated rhetoric. We
must get real. Policy reforms are an urgent 'must'," Chikerema charged.
Is there anywhere where you can say Zimbabwe has done well? I asked.
"We had done well in education, but look at the brain drain resulting from
the conditions we have created. We had done well in health, but look at the
state of our hospitals. We do not even have drugs, not to mention the state
of the infrastructure. Why do you think all the 'chefs' and their children
go out of the country for medical treatment? Their children are all
schooling in Western countries. On the issue of land, 'makapuwa huchi
hunemavhu'. (You were given soiled honey). Land should have been addressed
in a sober and entirely administrative manner and not try and gain cheap
political mileage out of it. There is nothing peculiar about land in
Zimbabwe. All former colonies have faced the same challenges and have had to
address them one way or another, but none as foolishly as we have done. You
address land in Parliament, you do not send out thugs with bows and arrows,
spears and axes, to bludgeon your subjects off the land. This is not One
Million BC and we are not cave men. We should have been scientific,
systematic and civilised about the land issue. Only then would it have been
sustainable, progressive and viable. Colonialism was evil but we have to
learn to build on its gains. 'Ndimu rinovava, asika rikagogadziriswa
lemonade wani.'" (A lemon may be bitter but we make lemonade out of it.)
"Some of the people we allocated farms to cannot even raise weeds. What we
need is visionary leadership, not rulers. Vision is the art of seeing things
unseen and even a dim wit would have foreseen that taking land in such
fashion was ill advised. As a result, Zimbabwe was plunged into darkness at
noon. In 1921, Stalin regretted the Soviet attempt at establishing a
socialist basis of production and distribution by 'storm methods', as they
met with defeat in such attempts. 'Munenge hwai, kungowira mumakomba
amunoziva kuti makawira vamwe.'" (Like sheep you fall into the same pits
where other sheep have fallen with your eyes open.) Chiki said.
When I asked him how he interprets the enthusiasm, approbation and standing
ovation government seems to have received from the general populace in
regards to how it handled the land issue, he said: "Government's
responsibility is to lead, and lead in the right direction. You do not
measure soundness of an initiative on the basis of stage-managed,
cheer-leader ovations you get from the public, but on sustainability. Idi
Amin and Mobutu Sese Seko used to get standing ovations, as well. 'Nyange
benzi ririkudya sipo pa township, rinoombererwa nevanhu, nemhururu dzese,
asi zvine chimuko here zvarinenge richiita? Vanhu hauvazive iwe? Vamwe
vakapembedza bus driver achavapinze mubridge. Ndiko kunonzi kupembedza
hupenzi nemhururu ikoko!" (Even a village idiot eating a tablet of soap at
some growth point will receive ovations from our people but without
approval, that's how devious our people can be.) "Where is the leadership if
you can fall for such emotional clap-trap? Chiki inquired. Stop . . . stop!
I will ask no more, I said, as he remarked, "Ndiwe wanditanga.! Hamudi
kuudzwa chokwadi nhai? Ndosaka masiya jira mumasese! Mauraya vanhu nenzara!
Ukaona hurudza dzosunza, panechatadzwa apo!"
"Look at Nelson Mandela! A giant in
history who exemplified the highest standards of statesmanship, civic
virtue, character and conviction? Isn't he an
inspiration to mankind? But, all of us, at some point, are forced to look at
ourselves in the mirror and see who we
really are, and when that day comes, I shudder to think what some of us will
see!" concluded Chikerema!
Hard words from an angry man, coming at an harsh time in our history,
indeed! But, anyone who related to Chikerema, as closely as I did will
attest to his extravagant use of hard language! He called a spade, a spade!
I thought long and hard about expurgating some of his comments, as I
considered them clearly intemperate and impolitic, but that would not have
been Chikerema's version and that would have done an injustice to his
lasting memory and legacy! I thought Chikerema scored a few cogent points,
though a more discrete and cautious statesman would have clothed them
Whether one chooses to agree with him or not, is a matter for personal
judgment! Perhaps there
may be some salience in the fury! There are two sides to every story,
however, and I think
it's good that Chikerema may have answered some of the things that have
always been said about him!
And so it came to pass, that on the 2nd of April 2006, somewhere in a modest
and quiet rural cemetery, far from the 'madding crowd', under the shade of
some old African trees that have mutely witnessed the ever changing times,
among graves of members of his family and simple rural folk, the remains of
one of the most celebrated legends of our time, and our struggle for the
liberation, were interred, in conformity with his last and dying wish!
I was there, and as I helped carry his coffin into the grave, a sense of
hope overcame me, that we were not burying Chikerema, but planting a seed!
And that out of the seed we planted that day, many more revolutionaries
would sprout, to carry the torch for the people's struggle in this
ever-changing world! 'There is just as good fish, from the sea, as ever came
out of it', an old saying goes! And if this be true, we have not seen the
last of the Chikeremas of this world!
But what indeed, is a hero? Among some of the celebrated definitions of a
hero's attributes are: 'a person of distinguished bravery; an illustrious
person; a person reverenced and idealized; or the one whose career is the
thread of the story, in a history or work, etc! Nowhere, is there provision
for a college to deliberate and "declare" or "appoint" one a hero and,
considering human frailty, quite rightly so! It seems to me, that heroes are
a function of the Lord's "annointing", and I think his aunt, Mrs Shava,
sister to the Sam'kanges, and Pius Wakatama, his nephew, may have captured
the essence well in their graveside eulogies at Kutama! I have no quarrel
with those who follow the practice of appointment of 'heroes'! It's a free
country! I leave polemics thereof, to witicisms of political pugilists! I am
for simple folk and as one prone to walking away from political brawls, if I
can, I shall settle for the title of "Legend", for my uncle, James Robert
Dambaza Chikerema. I hope he forgives me for taking a road inimical to his
nature of ever fighting! I trust I garner sufficient mitigation to be
absolved from the instance of his strict judgment. I, sincerely, believe
that 'more than the hero lying anywhere else, is the "Legend"' in people's
hearts! Besides, a rose, by any other name, smells just as sweet!
So, 'Legend', I propose, for Chikerema, should some have patented the term
'hero' for an exclusive select! And for those, unfortunate enough to attain
the said coveted 'hero status' by some obscure means, or subterfuge, a word
of warning; 'A monkey in silk is a monkey no less'! When last I checked,
Martin Luther King Jr lay at South View Cemetery, and not at Arlington
The same goes for Malcom X! But does that make them any less, heroes,.Oops!.
'Legends'? Peace, be upon all our Heroes and Legends, past, present and
future, wherever they may lie!
James Chikerema's life story is, unquestionably, an epic chronicle of a
relentless struggle for social justice and self-determination, whose
indelible, heroic and legendary worth cannot be erased by pronouncements of
competitors! That he was a controversial man is beyond doubt! But was he a
hero? That is the question for each one of us to answer for ourselves!
As the chapter closes on yet another illustrious Founding Father of our
struggle, and the curtain, relentlessly, draws-down on the now depleted
surviving number, wouldn't it be wonderful, if we could stop a while to
introspect and teach ourselves to: forego hate; sift through the wealth of
their collective wisdom and discard the bad, and keep the good, and build,
out of their positive contribution a coral reef of understanding, love,
hope, tolerance, and compassion, for one another?
Wouldn't posterity benefit from such values and not from the divisions we
find ourselves in, today? To err is human, and to forgive, is divine! Is
that not the very essence and soul of nationhood? Shall we risk posterity
consigning us to the sewers of history as devils and demons who left the
nation more divided than they found it? It's not too late for us to change
course, if you think about it!
To Amai Sekai, her children, relatives and friends . . . thank you, for
helping Chikerema carry his cross! To Zimbabweans, at large, for standing by
Chikerema's side throughout his trials and tribulations . . . thank you! To
all his friends, whose flesh was weak but whose spirits were willing to bid
Chiki farewell, . . . thank you for sparing a moment in his honour! To the
send-off, accorded Chiki, so befitting one so annointed . . . Bravo!
Thank you to Dr Christopher Mushonga, his cousin, for presiding over the
proceedings with such professional dexterity! Special mention goes to Chick's
life-long friend and relative, Boniface Gumbo, who endured excruciating
agony of infirmity, to bid farewell to a dear friend and to all, who I may
not mention by name! Lastly, but not least, thank you to His Excellency,
President Robert Mugabe for gracing the occasion and paying his last
respects, and carrying the lamp through the kaleidoscope of his early days
Chikerema and, for his words of wisdom in that, "Hukama haugezwe nesipo!"(We
do not cease to be blood relations simply because we had differences!)
We remember you Chik . . . ! You played your part well, in this comedy
called life! Time to lay down your sword and shield 'til we meet again!
Peace, be unto all!
Personal Glimpses with Mavis Makuni
DESTROY in order to rebuild. Confuse in order to explain. Un-bundle in order
to restructure . . . the list is endless. Incredibly, this costly bungling
has become the normal modus operandi of government over the last few years.
Last week the government announced the restructuring of the Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) involving the abolition of the executive
chairman's post and merging two subsidiary companies that came into
existence when the power utility was unbundled a few years ago. The outgoing
executive chairman, Sidney Gata, was appointed in 2000. This was Gata's
second stab at the top and strategic post. He had previously served as the
power utility's general manager for eight years when it was still known as
the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Commission (ESC). He resigned in 1991 after
the Justice Smith Commission had recommended his dismissal or demotion to
deputy general manager level. The commission said Gata lacked authority and
But by mysterious government logic, nine years later, he was deemed to be
capable enough to fly solo when he was catapulted back into the thick of
things as executive chairman-cum chief executive officer - an arrangement
that has been described as "corporate incest". Gata's return to ZESA
resulted in then general manager, Simbarashe Mangwengwende, being hounded
out of the organisation. One would assume that all these intrigues and
manoeuvres would at least be aimed at enhancing efficiency and giving
consumers the best deal but one would, of course, be wrong.
After a second chance at the helm Gata has not only failed to demonstrate
any hitherto hidden leadership capabilities, he has been accused of running
the ZESA ship aground. During his current stint at the power supplier,
tariffs have soared to stratospheric levels in inverse proportion to the
deterioration and eventually non-delivery of services. Instead of justifying
the confidence of those in government who ordered his return to the
parastatal, Gata has been out of his depth as things have gone from bad to
worse over the past few years.
In addition to the glaring lack of strategic thinking and planning to
mitigate against problems such as the looming power shortages expected to
hit the whole of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region,
Gata failed to maintain the standards established under Mangwengwende's
leadership. Power blackouts are now the norm rather than the exception and
inefficiency and confusion are almost palpable at every level within ZESA.
It is hard to believe, but at the end of all these years of tip-toeing
around the sacred-cow-Gata, it's back to square one. Another parliamentary
committee is saying exactly the same uncomplimentary things about Gata's
management capabilities as the Justice Smith Commission. The parliamentary
portfolio committee on Mines, Environment and Tourism which held a meeting a
week ago with Zimbabwe Electricity Regulatory Commission officials is
reported to have accused Gata and his management team of financial
impropriety and abuse of authority.
The committee, which deplored ZESA's bloated organisational structure came
to the unambiguous conclusion that the power supplier was on the verge of
collapse and most of the problems were attributed to infighting and the fact
that Gata wielded too much power. Gata's performance report card simply
shows that he has once again flunked the test as the right candidate to
direct the affairs of the national power utility. In most other countries,
such a damning indictment would weigh so heavily on an incumbent's
conscience that he would have no choice but to tender his resignation.
But that, of course, does not happen in Zimbabwe where being exposed for
inefficiency, corruption, ineptitude, abuse of authority or financial
impropriety seems to be the best recommendation for career consolidation and
advancement. If this were not the case, we would not have witnessed the
endless recycling of government ministers who have been implicated in
corruption scandals or are notorious for inefficiency and ineptitude, that
is now one of the main features of government.
Not surprisingly therefore, Gata has reacted in typically nonchalant fashion
to the controversy swirling around him. Three days after the abolition of
his executive chairmanship, he is reported to have dismissed the charges of
financial impropriety and abuse of authority.
"I am not aware of that, commercial crime is everywhere but when it surfaces
we have ensured that those involved have been arrested," he said. This shows
Gata is among public officials who have perfected the art of glibly denying
glaring realities in the face of overwhelming evidence.
In the meantime, long-suffering consumers and taxpayers must continue to
finance the mismanagement and inefficiency resulting from having cronies and
relatives of powerful politicians foisted on organisations as chief
executive officers at the expense of merit and aptitude for the job. In the
latest ZESA case, consumers will be made to cough up $65 billion to pay for
Mangwengwende's exit package which was not finalised when he was
unceremoniously ejected to make way for Gata's second disastrous stint.
Mangwengwende continued to receive his salary after his dismissal.
Considering that top management employees have also continued to be paid in
full long after parting ways with parastatals and quasi-government
organisations such as Air Zimbabwe, is it any wonder that public sector
financial affairs are in such dire straits? No one in government seems to
care about this wasteful way of doing things as long as the long-suffering
public bears the burden of the unnecessary costs.
The ZESA scenario has been repeated in various guises with respect to other
initiatives such as the unbundling of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation
into numerous units. After many years of confusion, heavy financial losses
and a drop in professional and programming standards, the process is now to
be reversed! It makes one wonder what the role of the Ministry of Policy
Planning and Implementation is. The worst example of destroying arbitrarily
without a clear alternative plan, is of course, Operation Murambatsvina,
which rendered hundreds of thousands of urban dwellers homeless and
destitute. Now that the government cannot rebuild the same number of abodes
as it demolished, it has resorted to another of its favourite strategies -
making explaining the confusion caused by its muddled reasoning and
haphazard actions look like thoughtful policy implementation.
But whether the discredited and inefficient official being protected is
Joseph Made, Sekesai Makwavarara or Sidney Gata the effect has been to annul
the public's faith in public officials and institutions. It is tragic that
the authorities are not bothered by such a development.
AT its peak, Kondozi Farm raked in an estimated US$15 million and employed 5
000 workers. In 2004 the government forcibly took over the successful
horticultural concern. Critics shouted the move down given its
socio-economic implications. But obsessed with revolutionary mantras and
hatred for the West, government ignored the voice of reason. This, it did in
the erroneous belief that the critics were lap dogs for the West's perceived
regime change agenda and opposition to the land reform exercise.
And in keeping with tradition, a select few greedy senior ZANU PF
politicians known for their ethical sense of a pack of jackals pounced.
Before anyone could say Kondozi, it was a free-for-all as influential
politicians, most of whom have access to cheap loans for agriculture and
subsidised inputs, systematically looted equipment from the farm.
After the plunder, catastrophe inevitably hit the farm. It was only after
this, in what is widely seen as underlining nervousness in the establishment
that government, which had all along been sitting on the fence, decided to
step in. But it was too little too late. Farm equipment and other
accessories worth trillions of dollars had been carted away. Kondozi had
been reduced to mere ruins.
Vice President Joice Mujuru, who has since travelled the highways and byways
of the country to gauge how export-oriented projects such as Kondozi could
augment the ongoing efforts to turn around the economy, has since gained a
shocking glimpse of the rot and deterioration at the once-vibrant
agricultural concern. It was a case of the facts speaking not only loudest
but also forcibly for themselves. And it was then that the Vice-President,
used to the romanticised view of the land reform initiative, came face to
face with the sobering grim facts of the façade of success of the
controversial agrarian reforms
After the revelatory experience at Kondozi, Mujuru publicly criticised the
looting of equipment at the farm. This was after an officer in charge of the
Zimbabwe National Army's Operation Maguta at the farm blew the gaff on
ministers who had plundered the equipment. She did not only haul the
ministers over the coals for the looting but she was also unequivocal that
the equipment had to be returned.
Since then, Mujuru and the ministers have been at daggers drawn over the
issue. Some of the implicated ministers, for whom it is an article of faith
that government mistakes should not be criticised, are digging in their
heels. Implicit in their actions is that they are untouchables. Mujuru can
therefore talk until hell freezes over but they will not return the
plundered equipment. They are senior ZANU PF officials and they do as they
please! No apologies.
Thus, much as we would like to applaud Mujuru for having the courage to
speak out against such corruption and illegality, we are afraid it is not
good enough. There is need for a speedy follow-up to bring the culprits to
book because this is a clear case of theft. They converted to personal use
equipment they did not, at law, have a right to take. And that is theft.
Most disturbing and frightening is that what is happening at Kondozi is a
microcosm of the tragedy of the Zimbabwean economy. It is a matter of public
record that the government has since admitted irregularities, deception and
corruption in the land reform exercise where a political legion has violated
the oft-stated one-man-one-farm policy. Yet, despite accusations and
counter-accusations of multiple farm ownership among ZANU PF political
stalwarts that played out into the public domain through the media -
portending a highly charged show - nothing has been done concerning the
sensitive issue. And it is because of failure to decisively deal with such
acts of corruption, illegality and sabotage that critics say there is no
hope not only for enhanced agricultural performance but for the much-vaunted
NEDPP as well.
We have been told ad nauseam that there is rule of law in Zimbabwe. And day
in day out, the courts are trying petty offenders charged with theft and
transgression for the day's morsel. If, as observed by Anatole France, the
law in its majestic impartiality forbids the rich and the poor alike to
sleep under bridges and to steal bread, why doesn't it come down hard on
those that seek to destabilise and sabotage the economy?
There are three possible answers. It is either the law in Zimbabwe is
applied selectively like a spider's web that lets through big animals and
only catches small insects or the political heavyweights are above the law.
Or most importantly, the prosecutorial and investigative decisions must be
made from the highest office. In which case it becomes a question of
President Robert Mugabe's blind eye!
National Agenda with Bornwell Chakaodza
WE should all be concerned - more so government, specifically President
Robert Mugabe, the only man with the power to put a stop to all these evils.
Greed, selfishness, incompetence and unaccountability - these have become
the norm in both public and private life in Zimbabwe. Human beings
everywhere have a natural propensity to greed and selfishness but in this
country they have reached unacceptable levels.
Take the Kondozi Estate issue for example. The ministers and the other ZANU
PF leaders in Manicaland Province who have looted the farm equipment on that
once-thriving horticultural concern are well known. But they have not been
brought to justice despite Vice-President Joice Mujuru's positive
When will they get their day in court for theft and looting? If government
leaders are not held accountable for their misbehaviour, who else would?
Essentially, we are dealing with vultures but vultures feeding not on dead
carcasses but on the society of living Zimbabweans. They are not, however,
the only vultures. Reports of ongoing disruptions, evictions and seizure of
equipment on productive commercial farms throughout the country give cause
for serious concern.
When will this so-called land reform programme come to an end? Is there a
reason to be optimistic about the so-called National Economic Development
Priority Programme (NEDPP) when disruptive activities on the farms continue
To their credit, Vice-President Mujuru, Economic Development Minister Rugare
Gumbo and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono have spoken out very
strongly against the new wave of farm occupations and disturbances but their
pleas are falling on deaf ears.
To be candid and frank, we all know what it takes to turn the tide against
this epidemic of farm disruptions. President Mugabe has only to open his
mouth. About this, I am absolutely convinced.
But his silence on this and many other issues is mind-boggling. Does his
silence reflect indecision, divided councils in the ruling ZANU PF
hierarchies, indifference or support of his lieutenants' misdemeanours?
Knowing the way the President is feared by all and sundry in ZANU PF, the
choice is really his.
I do not believe for one minute that we should be looking to a post-Mugabe
era. No. What has to be accepted whether we like it or not is that the man
is there and he holds the key to the resolution of this crisis - at least in
the short to medium term. He can decide to change policies tomorrow
resulting in the dramatic turnaround of this country's fortunes. He can
orchestrate his departure giving a time frame and this can result in a
dramatic sea change in this country. He can name his successor tomorrow and
ZANU PF and the country can never be the same again. The brutal truth is
that this man really is the epicentre of our crisis.
In other words, we have therefore to accept whether we like it or not that
we are not yet in the transitional period. That transition will be coming no
doubt but we do not know when but hopefully in the not-too-distant future.
What is important at this stage is not to be mesmerised by him but to make
it clear to President Mugabe and ZANU PF as a whole that every Zimbabwean is
a shareholder in this country and as such has a stake in its future.
Just as we invest our savings in an institution we trust will look after our
interests - I believe every Zimbabwean is the best investment this
government has with which to build this great nation. A nation whose
diversity of culture, race and multi-faceted workforce, made up from a
resourceful and good natured people should give it a unique place in Africa
and the world as it did in the past.
Unfortunately, government policies since 2000 have seen to it that the
Zimbabwean uniqueness has been completely destroyed. There has been massive
flight of skills, reversing the gains that the country achieved in the 80s
and 90s. Appointments in government and public institutions are now being
made not on merit but on the basis of the extent to which one can ululate
and hand-clap for the ruling party. Result: too much deadwood doing too
The deadwood can be found not only in government, but in parastatals, local
authorities notably Harare City Council and other public institutions. The
senate is another useless institution. At their induction workshop on the
role of the Upper House last month, the issue of who was senior between
Senate members and those of the House of Assembly dominated their
discussions at the expense of much more important national affairs. One of
the semi-literate senators, ZANU PF Chipinge-Chimanimani's Tobias Matanga
said: "We should not be getting the same salary with someone who is covering
one constituency. Senators should be paid more than members of the House of
I have said it before and I will say it again. All what these senators are
interested in is the promotion of their personal interests and lobbying for
them than in national priorities. Their first ever workshop on how
Parliament works has vindicated all Zimbabweans who were dead against the
introduction of this meaningless body. These people are in it for private
gain - nothing else! The victims of this greed as always are the people of
The ongoing purchase of the sleek and state-of-the-art 4x4 twin cab vehicles
for MPs and senators at a time when more than 90 percent of Zimbabweans are
wallowing in poverty is another case of Zimbabwean leaders' propensity to
greed and selfishness. How do you explain the splashing of more than $600
billion at this present time when Zimbabweans are suffering like this? Is
this not absolute lunacy? Never mind that these funds are in the form of
loans but they are public funds that the government can ill-afford at this
point in time.
To me, it is a question of choice not of necessity. Conspicuous materialism
that long-suffering Zimbabweans see daily in ministers, government officials
and high-ranking military officials is very worrisome. It will boomerang one
We have been saying this for a long time now that it is not in the long-term
interest of the ruling party to dispense largesse to the tiny fraction of
the political and military elites while calling for heroic sacrifices from
all of us. Our leaders must realise and convince themselves that the only
real security that they can ever have is more justice, more fair play and
vast improvement in the welfare of all Zimbabweans. This is what the Church
leaders who met President Mugabe recently failed to articulate. Instead,
they have become part of the problem rather than part of the solution to the
Being false prophets that they are, they conveniently forgot that Christ's
own communication was an act of self-giving. He ministered to all, but took
up the cause of the materially poor, the powerless and the oppressed. I
believe very strongly that the Gospel, being the Good News for the poor,
needs to be constantly re-interpreted from the perspectives of the poor and
the oppressed. This challenges our Zimbabwean Church leaders to disassociate
themselves from the power structures which keep the poor Zimbabweans in a
position of subservience. How I wish the Kunongas and the Nemapares of this
world could seriously take note of these self-evident truths.
I want to close this article by saying that despite the problems that are
mutating all the time, Zimbabweans are ready to turn the corner. The good
pronouncements and positions of Vice-President Mujuru, Economic Development
Minister Rugare Gumbo, Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono and other leaders
from all walks of life can only take effect if President Mugabe endorses
them in a very practical way. That effectively means holding his lieutenants
accountable for their actions, putting a stop to the greedy tendencies that
have invaded the body politic and firing all incompetent ministers, civil
servants and heads of parastatals and local authorities.
The choice is the President's. I very much hope he makes it well.
Wilbert Mandinde MISA Zimbabwe
Comparing Zimbabwe's situation with other jurisdictions
The government of Zimbabwe, on May 26, 2006, gazetted the Interception of
Communications Bill (hereinafter, the Bill).
In coming up with a Bill of this nature, Zimbabwe has not necessarily scored
a first as other countries both in Africa and on other continents have such
legislations in place.
However, most of these countries regulate the interception of communications
through constitutional provisions protecting the privacy of communications,
and requisite laws and regulations to implement the constitutional
requirements. Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Hong Kong have adopted a
privacy protection regime that involves the use of Privacy Impact
Assessments. It is worth noting that, save for South Africa, African
initiatives relating to privacy have been limited.
Privacy regimes are under-developed in Africa resulting in communal
considerations over-riding individual privacy in the absence of protective
The preamble of the Bill states that the bill aims to regulate the
authorised monitoring and interception of communications. It further aims to
provide for the interception of postal articles and communication. It will
further prohibit the provision of telecommunication services that do not
have the capacity to be monitored. The South African Interception and
Monitoring Act (hereinafter the SA Act) also has similar provisions.
The Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of
Communication-Related Information Act, 2002 published in the Government
Gazette on 22 January 2003 compels service providers to retain personal data
that they have collected from customers indefinitely, and make it available
to law enforcement agencies when requested to do so.
Human rights and electronic
It is recognised worldwide that wiretapping and electronic surveillance is a
highly intrusive form of investigation that should only be used in limited
and very exceptional circumstances. Nearly all major international
agreements on human rights protect the rights of individuals from
unwarranted intrusive surveillance.
Article 12 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
"No one should be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy,
family, home or correspondence, or to attacks on his integrity or
reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such
interferences or attacks."
This provision is entrenched under Article 17 of the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights, which went into force in 1966. The United
Nations Commission on Human Rights in 1988 made it clear that this broadly
covers all forms of communications.
"Compliance with Article 17 requires that the integrity and confidentiality
of correspondence should be guaranteed de jure and de facto. Correspondence
should be delivered to the addressee without interception and without being
opened or otherwise read. Surveillance, whether electronic or otherwise,
interceptions of telephonic, telegraphic and other forms of communication,
wire-tapping and recording of conversations should be prohibited".
A number of the regional human rights treaties also legally enforce these
The African [Banjul] Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights was adopted on 27
June 1981. Zimbabwe is a party to this Charter, which unfortunately omits
the right to privacy for individuals, leading scholars to conclude that
Africans do not value individual privacy.
However Article 8 of the 1950 Convention for the Protection of Human Rights
and Fundamental Freedoms states:
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home
and his correspondence. There shall be no interference by a public authority
with the exercise of this right "except as in accordance with the law and is
necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security,
public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention
of disorder or crime, for the protection of health, of morals, or for the
protection of the rights and freedoms of others".
The European Court on Human Rights has heard numerous cases on the right of
the privacy of communications. It has ruled that countries must adopt laws
regulating electronic surveillance by both governments and private parties
and set out guidelines on the protections that countries must follow.
Article 11 of the American Convention on Human Rights sets out the right to
privacy in terms similar to the Universal Declaration. In 1965, the
American States proclaimed the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties
of Man, which called for the protection of numerous human rights, including
privacy. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has begun to address
privacy issues in its cases.
The right of privacy of communications is also equally recognised at the
national level worldwide. Nearly every country in the world recognises
privacy as a fundamental constitutional human right either explicitly or
Section 7 of the Bill deals with the scope of the warrant for communications
interception. In terms of that section, a warrant should set out the
premises in relation to which the interception shall take place and all the
necessary details relating to the interception target.
The surveillance laws of most democracies either specifically define which
crimes electronic surveillance may be used to investigate (See US law at 18
U.S.C. § 2516) or limit it to crimes that impose a certain level of penalty.
The Netherlands requires crimes that impose imprisonment of at least 4
years. In Australia, the minimum is seven years. In national security cases,
it usually must be proven that the target is acting on behalf of a foreign
government or organisation (See US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act 50
U.S.C. §§ 1801-11) or an organisation that poses a serious threat to the
government of the country.
This ensures that legitimate and normal activities in a democracy such as
journalism, civic protests, trade unionism and political opposition, are not
subjected to unwarranted surveillance because the individuals involved have
different interests and goals than of those in power. It also ensures that
relatively minor crimes, especially those that would not generally involve
telecommunications for facilitation, are not used as pretexts to conduct
intrusive surveillance for political or other reasons.
In terms of Section 5(2) of the draft Bill, an application for lawful
interception shall be made to the Minister. The persons who are authorised
to make applications for interception of communication are:
n The Chief of the Defence Intelligence
n The Director-General of the President's department of national security
n The Commissioner of Police
n The Commissioner-General of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority.
For the Minister to consider the application, it shall contain the following
information prescribed in Section 5(3):
(a) name of person whose communication is required to be intercepted.
(b) name of postal service or telecommunications provider to whom the
direction must be addressed.
(c) full particulars of all facts and circumstances alle ged by the
(d) indicate whether other investigative procedures have been applied and
have failed to produce the required evidence or must indicate the reason why
other investigative procedures reasonably appear to be unlikely to succeed
if applied or are likely to be dangerous to apply in order to obtain the
In South Africa, an application is made to a judge who is required to only
be "satisfied" that, "there are reasonable grounds to believe" before
authorising surveillance. This is done to establish an adequate threshold to
prevent its use in questionable or marginal cases.
Most other democratic countries' laws require a higher standard. In
English-language countries, "probable cause" or a similar level of finding
is generally required.
The Geoff Nyarota Column
Any Zimbabwean politician who despises compatriots less academically
inclined or accomplished than him invites the wrath of people who constitute
the majority of the electorate.
While our country's adult literacy figures are high by any standard, the
highest on the African continent, men and women of outstanding scholarly
achievement constitute a tiny percentage of the population of Zimbabwe.
Long before the October 2005 split within the ranks of the opposition MDC,
the much-talked about lack of dazzling academic accomplishment of party
leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, had become a potentially divisive matter among
the top hierarchy of the party. As a parliamentary committee worked on the
draft of the 2005 constitutional amendments, which ushered in the
controversial revival of the senate, the then MDC secretary for legal
affairs, David Coltart, attempted to sneak in an amendment clause which
would have barred non-degreed politicians from aspiring to be President of
Tsvangirai was the obvious target of the proposed amendment. Coltart
submitted the clause without the knowledge of Tsvangirai, who only got wind
of the intrigues taking place behind his back after the proposed clause was
rejected by the committee. The same Coltart now portrays himself as arbiter
in the dispute which subsequently raged, pitting MDC secretary general,
Professor Welshman Ncube against Tsvangirai and which he quite clearly
fuelled in its infancy.
Those within the leadership of the MDC breakaway faction who collectively
despise Tsvangirai's lack of higher education do not all possess the
attribute of an impressive academic record, unless, of course, they now
consider themselves well-read merely by their association with the learned
secretary general. They must now feel an enhanced sense of accomplishment as
they bask in the reflected glory of the academic distinction of Professor
Gibson Sibanda, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Trudy Stevenson, for
instance, are politicians of modest academic attainment. Sibanda was a train
driver before he became a trade unionist. Before him, Sir Roy Welensky, who
became Prime Minister of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in 1956,
was a former train driver and trade unionist as well. In his younger days he
was Southern Rhodesia's heavy-weight boxing champion.
While Harvard and Yale Universities are the veritable training ground for
United States politicians and business leaders, academic prowess does not
always translate into fine political acumen, as well as socio-economic
benefits for the people. If the long-suffering masses of Zimbabwe have
derived any direct benefit from the fine intellectual aptitude of their
compatriots of profound erudition such benefit must be of miniscule
Names of individuals such as Prof Ncube, former Information Minister Prof
Jonathan Moyo, education minister, Dr Stan Mudenge and Dr Tafataona Mahoso,
chairman of the Media and Information Commission, as well as a host of other
Zimbabweans, including the President himself, immediately come to mind.
They include the ultra-eloquent Dr Herbert Ushewokunze, the politically
shrewd Dr Eddison Zvobgo, the cosmopolitan Dr Bernard Chidzero, now all
late, the loyal Dr Nathan Shamuyarira, the gifted but lacklustre Dr Simba
Makoni and the once all-powerful Dr Charles Utete. Dr Naomi Nhiwatiwa, now
in the Diaspora, Dr Ibbo Mandaza, who became disastrously embedded with the
CIO, the uninformed Dr Joseph Made, and of late the headstrong Professor
Mutambara and the voluble Mr David Coltart also deserve mention in this
regard. Prof Phenias Makhurane, Dr Themba Dlodlo and the illustrious Dr
Frank Khumalo should also be cited.
Before her sojourn at Harvard Margaret Dongo was a political firebrand.
Thereafter the shrew in her was tamed. As I write, two well-educated
Zimbabweans, Prof Moyo and dispossessed entrepreneur, Mutumwa Mawere, are
locked in disgraceful and mortal conflict. Having both benefited from
Zanu-PF patronage in the past they are now engaged in mutually destructive
combat on a Zimbabwean website, where they have taken to exposing as much as
possible of each others sinful past, much to the delight of readers.
Discerning observers must wonder, however, whether their combined energy
cannot be exploited more profitably for Zimbabwe.
At the attainment of independence in 1980 the Mugabe cabinet became one of
the most educated in the world. Today what benefits do Zimbabweans have to
show for that rare distinction?
In fact, some of our learned professors have aggravated a national dilemma,
whose origins can be traced back directly to the policies and actions of our
much-degreed President and his equally erudite cohorts. Generally, the rest
of Zimbabwe's educated elite have a disturbing tendency to recline in the
comfort of their armchairs while puzzlingly lamenting that President Thabo
Mbeki of South Africa does not intervene to extricate their country from its
It was under such circumstances of political lethargy among the educated
that Tsvangirai overcame his own fear and academic handicap to challenge
government's growing authoritarianism and provide leadership to a robust
If it wasn't for the cunning intervention of the same scholarly Prof Moyo on
behalf of the ruling Zanu-PF in 2000, the MDC's campaign against
dictatorship would have in all probability succeeded then. Once his
subsequent divorce from Zanu-PF was finalised, the same Moyo formed a
political party of his own. The name eludes my memory. The party died in its
infancy, however, despite Moyo's much acclaimed education. He immediately
assumed the role of self-appointed advisor to those established politicians
whose parties remain the mainstay of our politics.
It is not the uneducated masses who relegated Zimbabwe, once the prosperous
and bountiful breadbasket of southern Africa, to a basket case itself. The
educated unleashed Gukurahundi on Matabeleland and peasants of limited
education suffered the dire consequences. The uneducated may have physically
planted the bombs that destroyed The Daily News printing press, but they
were assigned by the educated. It is not the unschooled who amended the
constitution to create a de facto life-presidency before enacting the
draconian AIPPA and POSA. It is a select few who now seek to further
undermine Zimbabwe through senseless pursuit of the so-called republic of
At the height of Moyo's reign as Minister of Information, I was
editor-in-chief of The Daily News. We published in the paper a touching
letter to the editor. Submitted by a Bulawayo reader its content has
remained indelibly embedded in my memory:
"If that is what education does to people," the correspondent opined with
regard to Moyo, "I will not send my children to school."
That notwithstanding, Tsvangirai, on the other hand, needs to address the
cause of general disaffection with his leadership qualities. He must take
cognisance of Joyce Mujuru's remarkable achievement. When she arrived in
Harare at the end of the war of liberation in 1980 she was barely literate.
I hear that today, while still lacking political charisma, she has become a
fairly articulate Vice-President, after she went back to the desk. As they
say in Ndebele: "Ukufunda akupheli." There is no end to the learning
Strictly speaking, however, while a reasonable level of education is a
prerequisite, one does not need to be a man or woman of much book to be an
effective leader. A more critical attribute is the capacity to attract
experts in various fields of human endeavour in order to build a broad-based
and multi-skilled team.
A head of state cannot be expected to be a farmer, an economist, a surgeon,
a lawyer, a metallurgist, a media expert, a military strategist and a
sociologist, all rolled into one. A significant weakness of the Mugabe
administration has been the element of cronyism. This resulted in the
appointment of Zanu-PF stalwarts to ministerial portfolios for which they
possessed no relevant qualification or previous experience.
Notable examples are the appointment of Enos Mzombi Nkala and Dr Herbert
Murerwa to the crucial Ministry of Finance and the selection of the late
Enos Chikowore to head the Ministry of Transport. Zimbabwe suffers today
from the disastrous consequences. In similar fashion Mugabe shunted Victoria
Chitepo and Joyce Mujuru subsequently to the Ministry of Information.
Above all, a political leader must demonstrate that not only is he or she in
touch with the people, but that he or she is also prepared to make personal
sacrifices for their welfare and benefit; not just for self.
From a different perspective, an entrenched lack of ethnic cohesion within
the ranks of the political opposition will continue to bedevil the
achievement of genuine democracy, development, peace, and prosperity long
after Mugabe has departed, unless this dilemma is addressed squarely without
To strengthen the position of the opposition in the face of a weakening
ruling party, Tsvangirai must be magnanimous as he rides on the crest of
what appears to be a current wave of political popularity. He needs to
extend a hand of friendship and reconciliation to his erstwhile colleagues
in the MDC executive in a bid to restore the MDC to its former national
grandeur and supremacy.
On their part, Welshman Ncube and Gibson Sibanda must swallow their
misplaced pride, especially now that it is apparent their largely
ethnic-based break-away faction of the MDC stands limited prospect of
generating a national political following, whatever Mutambara may say about
the alleged irrelevance of numbers in politics. Placing nation before self,
all three politicians should reconcile their differences, whatever Coltart
says now about the alleged violent disposition of Tsvangirai.
No Holds Barred with Gondo Gushungo
GOVERNMENT ministers the world over are known for committing gaffes. For
some of them, it is as natural a progression as it is for crabs to walk
sideways. Zimbabwe has its own fair share of these.
Be that as it may, government ministers are also a useful sounding board for
relevant government thinking and position on key issues. Thus the sentiments
expressed by the Minister of Economic Development, Rugare Gumbo on the
National Economic Development Priority Programme (NEDPP) over the weekend
caught my attention.
Reading between the lines, the essence of what he was saying was that
Zimbabweans, who have seen the erstwhile regional breadbasket reduced to a
land of grinding poverty, misery and contagion and shunned by international
investors, can now start looking up to a brighter future.
He did not say it in those exact words. But then again that is besides the
point. We all know that a lot is said by the unsaid. Gumbo's message was
loud and clear: Zimbabwe is poised for an economic rebound - the "short
term, action oriented and results-based" NEDPP will unlock private capital
and usher in a new era for the storm-tossed economy.
Readers will recall that this is exactly what we were told when the
government came up with what observers were unanimous in calling an
ambitious if not virtually impossible timetable for an economic turnaround
at the launch of NEDPP some two months ago. In fact, most government
officials have spoken ad nauseam, about the invisible recovery.
But there is nothing new. This is very much in character with the ruling
ZANU PF style. Over the past few years, despite the evident doom and gloom,
government has never run short of positive news. Day in day out, we have
been told how the crisis-hit economy will soon bottom out and how Zimbabwe's
detractors are thinking of the unthinkable when they talk of an imminent
There could be more to it than meets the eye but I feel that the continued
talk about a non-existent turnaround by government officials betrays the
extent to which the political leadership is desperate for better times.
Flip the other side of the coin and it's another story altogether - the
story of a government under an illusion told by hard-nosed commentators who
the government chooses to call detractors. The independent analysts and
international rating agencies that have placed Zimbabwe disconcertingly well
down on their lists of attractive investment destinations, see it
differently. They have been dismissive of government's optimistic
projections given the destructive gloom and pessimism. They have thus been
clearing their throats, warning all and sundry to prepare for the worst.
The analysts and critics have been very categorical. There can never be a
quick recovery and the smart money is on the meltdown taking longer than the
government has been trying to make the world believe. Among them, there are
those who can vouchsafe that the situation in the country is far much worse
than they had expected. Thus, according to the critics, foreign direct
investors would be foolish to pour their money into the jaws of what the
critics consider to be irrational policies. This forms the basis for the
mood of pessimism within this community about the country's economic
These are the two diametrically opposed views on the Zimbabwean crisis whose
existence the government continues to deny despite overwhelming evidence to
the contrary. But why does the international community think that the
government of Zimbabwe is deluding itself if it thinks that it is going to
be easy to put a fresh heart into the enfeebled economy reeling from
It is not difficult to see why. In the eyes of the international community,
at the heart of the Zimbabwean problem is the country's politics. I know
that this is a hot-button issue over which the powers-that-be usually get
their knickers in a twist. But it is a cold hard fact.
It is thus the politics of the country that is to blame for Zimbabwe's
increasing isolation. There is no gainsaying it. This explains why even the
Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Sten Rylander - seen in official circles as
having adopted a conciliatory stance on Zimbabwe - last week categorically
stated that there is need for dialogue, change and tolerance in Zimbabwe. In
his astrigent comments, Rylander just came short of placing an asterisk on
those words for emphasis. Put in another way, he was simply saying deal with
the politics of the country first to gain international acceptance without
which the much-hoped for quick recovery will all just be pie in the sky.
There was nothing ambiguous in the message thumped out in Rylander's speech.
It was clear and it said, to partly borrow from former American President
Bill Clinton's catch-phrase: It's the politics, stupid!
It is no secret that Zimbabweans have had to endure growing intolerance of
political opponents and hatred for compromise leading up to dangerous
tensions tearing the nation apart. And the international community frowns on
that. This is why it sees Zimbabwe as a rogue state:
lthat has a terrible human rights record - a major point of bitter attacks
over the years;
lthat stifles democracy and expansion of political pluralism with people not
being allowed to freely organise on the basis of their political
lthat has a constitution which does not preclude authoritarian traits and
lthat continues to arbitrarily violate certain concepts fundamental to
market economy and business confidence such as the law of property and law
Thus it is not as if when the so-called detractors say that there is no
silver lining in the dark cloud, they know something we don't. All they are
saying is that the economy will not be restored to its pre-crisis levels if
Zimbabwe remains in isolation. True, reversibility also partly depends on
the severity of the damage to the economy. But international acceptance is
the missing link.
As has already been observed time without number, no country is an island,
metaphorically speaking. It is therefore critical to mend the fences before
they irretrievably break down. Simply expressing the desire and intention to
build bridges without doing something about it and then throwing in even
well-thought-out economic blueprints does not help much. It would be an
exercise in futility. The Shona call it kuvaraidza nguva kuteya nzou neriva.
With its relationship with the broader international community growing more
tenuous everyday, government might, as it ponders which road to take -
cooperation or hostility - want to consider these observations. Whether
these are real or imagined, is neither here nor there. That is the way the
world perceives Zimbabwe. And the government should work on the basis that
perceptions are reality.
Even though the government feels that it is the Western governments'
political yardsticks that have changed, it is clear that the West thinks
that Zimbabwe is cascading towards a dictatorship Such thinking is
fashionable within the international community. So, even if Rylander's
remarks might be out of line with the political thinking in government and
might therefore be deemed offensive, what he said is how the outside world
views Zimbabwe - the country is not a functioning free society.
And the government has to deal with that. Continuing with its imperturbality
in the face of the untenable situation and acts of sheer bravado as if
Zimbabwe can go it alone, can only make the road longer and harder,
prolonging the unspeakable agony of Zimbabweans living in abject poverty.