President Robert Mugabe has dismissed as an "elaborate and hollow fib" a
report that he told South African President Thabo Mbeki he wants to step down
in the next 12 months to enable speaker of parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa to
Mugabe said he had no intention to retire barely a year and
three months after winning a presidential election.
comes after Mbeki's statement at the World Economic Forum Africa in Durban
last week that a political settlement would be found in Zimbabwe within a
The Daily News, Zimbabwe's largest daily paper, had reported that
Mugabe had told Mbeki that he was considering stepping down in the next 12
months and that he wanted Mnangagwa to take over from him.
office said his views on succession were not only an "open book
but consistent with the democratic principle that only the people alone
reserve the inalienable right to decide who shall govern them through the
.. This article was originally published on
page 6 of The Cape Times on June 19, 2003
Zimbabwean opposition officials say they fear for the safety of their leader,
Morgan Tsvangirai, who is being held in "terrible conditions" at a Harare
jail where another opposition member died last year under
mysterious circumstances. For more than a week, Mr. Tsvangirai, who
leads the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has been held without bail at
the prison after being arrested on charges of organizing a five-day national
strike earlier this month. The government of President Robert Mugabe
has charged him with treason, a crime that carries the death penalty in
Zimbabwe. Mr. Tsvangirai is already on trial in another treason case, in
which he is charged with plotting to have Mr. Mugabe assassinated. MDC
Deputy President Gibson Sibanda told The Washington Times that he had visited
Mr. Tsvangirai in jail and was appalled at what he saw. "He is being kept
in the most terrible conditions in a room that has no beds," he said. "It is
winter here now and, at night, temperatures fall almost to freezing point,
but the prisoners sleep on a cement floor and the few blankets they have are
riddled with fleas. The cell was designed to hold at most 40 people, but
there are 75 men cramped in there, and we have to take food to the jail every
day because the rations are not even enough to feed a child. It is a living
hell." Yesterday, Mr. Tsvangirai appeared in court in the continuing
trial based on his first arrest last year. The state charges that he and
other members of the MDC approached a Canadian public relations firm, Dickens
and Madson, and asked the firm to kill Mr. Mugabe. One of the
company's directors, Ari Ben Menashe, made a videotape of the meeting.
However, Mr. Tsvangirai's defense attorney, George Bizos — who
defended Nelson Mandela on a treason charge in South Africa 40 years ago —
has since shown the court evidence that the Canadian firm had been paid by
Mr. Mugabe's government. Excerpts of the videotape played to the court
have been of such quality that transcripts were offered to explain what was
being said. At no time in the recording does Mr. Tsvangirai ask for Mr.
Mugabe to be killed. Mr. Sibanda said Mr. Tsvangirai's life could be in
danger if he remained in custody. "Only last year, one of our members
of parliament, Learnmore Jongwe, died in the same prison while awaiting
trial, and we fear greatly that, for as long as he is at the mercy of the
state, Mr. Tsvangirai's life could be in danger," he said. The MDC was
formed in 1999 and came close to ending the 23-year rule of Mr. Mugabe in
general elections in 2000 and in a presidential contest last year. The
party has refused to accept the result of last year's vote, which observers
said was marred by government-sponsored violence and intimidation. Many
Western countries, including the United States, also rejected the outcome and
have called for new elections. Mr. Tsvangirai's latest treason charge
followed the third nationwide strike in as many months. The United
Nations estimates that more than 60 percent of Zimbabwe's 12 million people
live under conditions of famine.
THE government has
signed a new business contract with controversial Canadian-based political
consultant Ari Ben-Menashe, the director-general of the state’s spy Central
Intelligence Organisation (CIO) Happyton Bonyongwe told the High Court
Bonyongwe, who revealed the new contract during
cross-examination by defence lawyers in the ongoing treason trial of three
senior opposition leaders, said the contract was similar in terms and
conditions to a previous deal under which the government contracted
Ben-Menashe to spruce up its battered image abroad and lobby for investment
in Zimbabwe by American and European companies.
top spy also revealed that Harare paid US$10 000 (Z$8.24 million at the
official rate) to Ben-Menashe’s personal assistant Tara Thomas to compensate
her for injuries she sustained in a freak bicycle accident which Ben-Menashe
said was caused by MDC supporters.
Bonyongwe, who was responding to
a question by South African advocate George Bizos, said: “We are under a new
contract which was entered into on 10 January this year.”
is leading a team of lawyers defending opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party leader Morgan Tsvangirai, secretary-general Welshman Ncube
and legislator Renson Gasela charged with treason over allegations they hired
Ben-Menashe to help murder President Robert Mugabe ahead of last year’s
The charges arise from a grainy video-tape
produced by Ben-Menashe’s Montreal-based Dickens & Madson firm
purportedly showing Tsvangirai and his lieutenants requesting help from the
firm to assassinate Mugabe.
Tsvangirai, who is also facing a second
and separate charge of treason, has together with his colleagues denied
plotting to kill Mugabe and say they were set up by Dickens & Madson at
the instigation of Zimbabwean intelligence officials.
to a question by Bizos, Bonyongwe indicated the government had entered into a
fresh contract with Ben-Menashe about three weeks before the controversial
political consultant, who is the state’s star witness in the trial, flew to
Harare to testify in court.
Bonyongwe attested he did not know how
much the cash-strapped Zimbabwe government paid Ben-Menashe under the new
contract, only saying: “Basically it’s the same terms and conditions as the
contract before this court.”
Zimbabwe’s chief spy said Security
Minister Nicholas Goche had authorised the payment of US$10 000 to Thomas on
the advice of the CIO’s legal advisers.
Ben-Menashe had told the CIO that Thomas had been injured in the accident
because of the work she was doing for the Zimbabweans.
“Tara Thomas was injured in Canada and it was attributable to the work she
was doing for us. Mr Menashe made the submission to us. The story which was
given to us was that someone put an obstacle in her way while she was
“When she fell down there were two people and as she was
lying in agony, one of the people said: ‘Let your Zimbabwe help
Ben-Menashe also claimed in his evidence-in-chief that
Thomas was injured in an accident caused by people hired by the MDC after she
said she would testify in the trial, although Thomas herself when she
testified in court earlier this year said she had fallen off a bicycle and
that the accident had nothing to do with the Zimbabwe case.
Iranian Jew born in Iraq, Ben-Menashe, who also claims to have worked for the
feared Israeli spy organ Mossad, is a controversial figure accused of fraud
in Zambia while a United States of America Congressional inquiry described
him as “an unmitigated liar”.
A commodity broking firm, Carlington
Sales, for which Ben-Menashe was president, allegedly received US$7.2 million
(Z$5.92 billion) from former Zambian president Frederick Chiluba’s government
to supply maize but failed to deliver the consignment.
company also allegedly received US$300 000 (Z$247.2 million) from the
government of Belarus for the supply of wheat but never delivered the
Bizos yesterday accused Bonyongwe of using the cover of
the confidentiality nature of his and the CIO’s work to prevent the defence
from ascertaining the veracity of his evidence. This was after the CIO boss
had said he had no access to the organisation’s accounting
Bonyongwe, who earlier on Tuesday said the CIO had
enlisted Ben-Menashe’s help partly because the spy organ wanted information
on a “diplomatic offensive” Tsvangirai had launched in West Africa,
conceded yesterday that there was nothing to suggest the opposition leader’s
West Africa initiative was subversive.
But he said the CIO’s
keen interest in Tsvangirai’s forays in West Africa was justified because
“security is multi-faceted, so it also involves furthering the interests of
the government, covering economic, political, social and environmental
Bonyongwe said the government engaged Ben-Menashe so he
could help “influence events against the damage the accused (Tsvangirai) had
done during his diplomatic offensive in West Africa.
“Ben-Menashe’s greatest contribution in terms of this was not
about information he gave us but the access we gained to certain places
The trial of Tsvangirai and his MDC lieutenants
Ncube and Gasela are out on bail while Tsvangirai
remains in jail awaiting a ruling on bail application on the second treason
charge in which he is accused of calling for Mugabe’s unconstitutional
removal from office.
Harare City Council has adopted a $59.5 billion supplementary budget that
officials yesterday said had forced the municipality to hike tariffs for
services by between 100 and 600 percent with effect from 1
The supplementary budget was approved at a special full
council meeting held at Town House yesterday evening.
Nhari, the chairman of the council’s finance committee, said the Harare
municipality had no choice but to pass on the cost of the supplementary
budget to ratepayers because central government had not responded to a
request to subsidise the budget.
The Harare City Council submitted
a request to the Local Government Ministry requesting central government to
subsidise its supplementary budget because it was responsible for the
economic conditions that had put the municipality in the position of having
to come up with the supplementary budget.
At the time it
submitted its request, the city council pointed out that its original budget
was drafted at a time the government had indicated that it had no plans to
devalue the Zimbabwe dollar, which it however subsequently did.
The local currency was devalued from $55 against the American greenback to
$824 in February, pushing up the Harare City Council’s operating costs and
forcing it to resort to a supplementary budget that it could not fund without
significantly hiking rates.
Nhari said: “The government’s
reluctance to give us borrowing powers has worsened our plight and our
delivery of service has deteriorated.”
Council officials announced
that rates for low and high-density residential areas would increase from
$530 to $1 430 a month with effect from 1 July.
commercial rates will increase from $2 080 to $2 780 a month.
Water rates for the first 13 cubic litres used in residential areas were
increased from $19.60 to $117.60 for every cubic litre.
and 39 cubic litres, water rates will now cost $301.20, up from $50.20. More
than 300 cubic litres used will now cost $545 for every cubic metre, raised
Sewerage charges in residential areas will increase by
160 percent from $530 to $1 450 a month from the beginning of next month,
while industrial and commercial rates will rise from $1 000 to $2 700 a
Reserved parking at the council’s garages is increasing from
$4 000 an hour to $28 000, while those parking in unreserved areas will have
to fork out $350, up from $50.
The cost of Harare City Council
ambulances is rising by 300 percent for every call from $1 500.66 to $6 000.
Adult membership fees at the city council’s libraries have been hiked from
$840 to $2 520.
Those wishing to register on the city council’s
housing waiting list will be required to pay $1 200 from 1 July, up from
Renewal of the waiting list will now cost $800, up from
The council said its sewerage account was expected to have
an operating deficit of $1.4 billion before the new tariff
The Harare City Council said because of lack of finance
several crucial projects had not been implemented for a long period of
time, affecting service delivery.
The municipality said these
projects included the Chisipite and Budiriro water pump stations, Chizhanje
Sewerage Reticulation and Crowborough Outfall Sewers.
presentation at yesterday’s council meeting, Nhari said: “An additional
income amounting to $5.7 billion will accrue to council this year, which will
transform the operating deficit of $4.3 billion for 2003 to an operating
surplus of $252 million.
“On waste management, additional income
amounting to $1.2 billion will accrue to council this year. This will result
in an operating surplus of $436.4 million and accumulated surplus of $696.2
In its supplementary budget highlights, the council said
the city would now take tough measures to recover arrears owed to it by
the government, residents, industry and commerce, for services
The Harare City Council is owed millions of dollars by
ratepayers, which has also affected its ability to provide some services
is working to tighten regulations governing Zimbabwe’s pension funds because
of continued abuse of loopholes in the rules, according to Finance Minister
Herbert Murerwa.He told The Daily News yesterday: “Certainly, we are looking
at more than that issue. We have had several cases in the past of the
continued abuse of pension funds.
“We are also setting up a
regulating authority that will govern the administration of all pension
“That is a very important topic and the ministry is giving
it the attention it deserves. It is in the national interest that we should
tighten the rules and regulations.
“The objective is to tighten
the supervision of the pension funds so that those who contribute to the fund
should get a return to their investments.”
officials said there had been several incidents where directors co-opted into
pension funds were faced with conflict of interest issues because regulations
did not specify who could or could not sit on the boards.
senior official in the Finance Ministry said apart from proposing changes to
pension fund regulations, the government was also in the process of
finalising a syllabus for trustee training programmes to ensure that trustees
understood matters relating to the administration of pension funds.
“We are realising that education programmes are a priority in
the administration of pension funds where some of the people managing the
funds do not really understand what they are really supposed to be doing
according to the act and regulations,” the official said.
need to take upon employers and trustees to see to it that whoever goes onto
the board goes for trustee training programmes first and the ministry is
doing something about it, but resources have slowed
The officials said Zimbabwean pension funds were
administered under Statutory Instrument 323 of 1991, which did not specify
the minimum qualifications of trustees.
Section 6 (c) of the
Statutory Instrument says of trustees “at least one half must be elected or
appointed by the members and the remainder shall be appointed by the
The Finance Ministry official said this
section of the regulations had caused problems in several of the 2 030
pension funds in Zimbabwe.
ONE of the six opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) activists accused of kidnapping and murdering Bulawayo war veterans’
leader Cain Nkala in November 2001 voluntarily confessed and made indications
to the police, Harare High Court judge Justice Sandra Mungwira heard
Cross-examined by prosecutor Charles Kandemiri,
detective inspector Lewis Maphosa said he had interviewed Sazini Mpofu at
Nkulumane Police Station on 13 November 2001 and recorded a warned and
cautioned statement from him.
Maphosa said Mpofu had not been
assaulted, had no complaints against the police and had freely admitted that
he and others had kidnapped and murdered Nkala.
kidnapped from his home in the Bulawayo high-density suburb of Magwegwe on 5
November 2001. His body was exhumed from a shallow grave on a farm near
Solusi University a week later.
Maphosa said: “Sazini said they
kidnapped Cain Nkala because they wanted to know the whereabouts of Patrick
Nabanyama, an election agent for the MDC, was kidnapped
in the run-up to the June 2000 parliamentary election and has not been seen
Maphosa said Mpofu told him that he and the other alleged
Nkala abductors were paid $5 000 each by Sony Masera, the MDC’s director
of security, who is also on trial.
He said he and other officers
had taken Mpofu for further indications at Norwood Farm, where Nkala’s body
was exhumed from a shallow grave on 13 November.
“I asked him if Nkala was alive when they brought him to the grave
“He indicated that he was dead. He said he was strangled by
Matshobana and the others using his (Mpofu’s) shoe laces.”
Maphosa alleged that Mpofu had said he held Nkala’s feet while he was being
Asked by Kandemiri what he had observed at the scene,
Maphosa said Nkala’s toes were protruding from the shallow grave and there
were tree branches and a broken shovel handle on top of the
Mpofu and Masera are facing trial with Fletcher
Dulini-Ncube, the Lobengula-Magwegwe MP, Army Zulu, Kethani Sibanda and
riot police yesterday dispersed striking Zimbabwe Electricity Supply
Authority (ZESA) workers gathered at the parastatal’s Workington offices in
The workers went on strike on Monday to press ZESA
management to reinstate nine colleagues who were suspended for participating
in another industrial action undertaken by the power utility’s employees last
Workers’ representatives said management yesterday refused
to talk to them, prompting the ZESA employees to gather at their Workington
offices to discuss their next course of action.
The meeting was
broken up by the police, although none of the workers were assaulted. Several
striking ZESA employees sustained injuries during a meeting that was broken
up by riot police last month.
An official with the Zimbabwe
Electricity Energy Workers’ Union (ZEEWU) yesterday said there seemed to be
no solution to the current industrial action because management was insisting
that the strike was illegal.
Under Zimbabwean labour laws, ZESA
workers are not allowed to go on strike because they are said to be providing
an essential service.
“Workers were meeting to deliberate on the
latest developments and the police arrived on the scene and everyone
immediately left for their homes because they were afraid,” the workers’
“The strike action will continue until
management treats us as equal partners in ZESA’s development,” the
Asked to comment on the matter, ZESA
spokesman Shepherd Mandizvidza said: “The police as a law enforcement agency
are in a position to clarify their course of action”, adding that channels of
dialogue between management and workers’ representatives were always open in
the interest of industrial harmony.
“The workers are urged to
utilise these existing channels to address any pertinent issues since they
are important stakeholders of the power utility so that their concerns are
ZESA workers last month went on strike demanding a pay hike
as well as the immediate dismissal of Sydney Gata as executive chairman of
The workers submitted a petition to the Energy
Ministry in which they accuse the ZESA chairman of mismanaging the ZESA
Meanwhile, ZEEWU officials and management were still
in a meeting by late yesterday, the details of which were
A ZEEWU official said workers would meet today for a
briefing on the outcome of yesterday’s discussions.
however said workers from Karoi, Kariba, Chinhoyi and Mhangura had joined in
the strike to also demand the immediate reinstatement of their
A HARARE magistrate
yesterday postponed to tomorrow a hearing on an application by former
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association projects secretary
Andrew Ndlovu for refusal of remand.
Guvamombe said the police should check the shareholding structure of Sankorp
Holdings (Private) Limited, which Ndlovu is accused of defrauding, at the
Registrar of Deeds and Companies and provide the information to the court on
“The police must search for the company’s directorship,” he
David Drury, who was representing Ndlovu, said Mthwalo Nkomo,
who brought fresh fraud charges against his client, was not a director
or shareholder of Sankorp and did not have the mandate to represent
The State alleges that Ndlovu sent cheque books to
Sankorp’s provincial administrators in Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare,
instructing them to sign blank cheques that he would subsequently
He allegedly abused his position as Sankorp’s managing
director and converted $12 756 846.92 to his personal use between 17 August
2001 and 7 June 2002.
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Manicaland yesterday said the
opposition party’s leadership in the area had gone into hiding after they
were told that state security agents were looking for them.
MDC Manicaland spokesman Pishayi Muchauraya said most members of
the provincial leadership were being hunted down by state security agents
in what he described as “a clandestine operation to weed the MDC activists
out of Manicaland politics”.
“We are in hiding right now because
the police and the army are hunting us down. But what is ironic is that when
they are approached by our lawyers, they deny that they are looking for us
yet they continue to visit our homes at night.”
something fishy about the whole operation,” added Muchauraya.
Police in Mutare yesterday refused to respond to the MDC’s claims.
But Timothy Mubhawu, the MDC Manicaland provincial chairman, said virtually
all officials in the party’s Manicaland structures were in hiding, while the
whereabouts of several others were unknown.
“Provincial members are
still on the run. I do not know about their whereabouts since the mass
action. We are now fearing for their lives,” said Mubhawu.
Manicaland women’s league secretary Christine Dube said unknown people had
visited her Dangamvura home several times since the mass action.
“People were knocking at my door every day threatening me so I was left with
no choice but to run away,” said Dube.
representing Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai
have filed an application asking the High Court to urgently set a date to
hear the party’s challenge of President Robert Mugabe ’s 2002 presidential
The election petition was filed 15 months ago
and no date has been set for a hearing.
MDC shadow justice
minister David Coltart said Tsvangirai’s lawyers had last Friday filed a
mandamus, a court petition asking the High Court to urgently set a date for
He said the opposition party expected the petition
hearing to be set within the next few weeks following the filing of the
In their heads of argument, the lawyers, led by Advocate
Adrian de Bourbon, said Registrar of the High Court Jacob Manzunzu ignored an
order by Judge President Paddington Garwe to set a date for the
According to the High Court application, Justice Garwe on
15 January ordered that Manzunzu was to liaise with the judge assigned to
hear the petition and was “as soon as possible” to give notice of a hearing
not less than 30 days from that date.
In last week’s
application, Tsvangirai’s lawyers submitted that the people of Zimbabwe were
entitled to know whether Mugabe was fairly and lawfully declared as the
winner of the 2002 presidential election.
“Equally, the people of
Zimbabwe are entitled to know whether or not Tsvangirai ought to be serving
as their president,” de Bourbon said in the application.
regrettably the case that delays in determining this dispute may lead some to
the perception that this Honourable Court is taking sides in the
He said any delay served neither the interests of justice
nor those of the people of Zimbabwe.
He said a delay served only
the interests of Mugabe’s supporters, adding that urgency in electoral
petition matters was paramount.
Tsvangirai’s lawyers noted that
Mugabe had already gone through a fifth of his term while the case remained
“The law requires that his entitlement to continue
serving be subject to scrutiny through the trial procedure of the election
petition. If he considers that he was properly elected, then he can show in
court that the challenge to the election by the applicant (Tsvangirai) is
misplaced,” part of the petition reads.
“If he was not properly
elected, then the people of Zimbabwe have the right to be represented by the
person who was duly elected, or to have another election to determine who
should be president of this country. The delay in setting down the election
petition merely interferes with those rights.”
The MDC has
assembled a defence team led by South African senior counsel Jemmy Gauntlet,
who will be assisted by Zimbabwean advocates de Bourbon and Pearson
Coltart yesterday told The Daily News that the state and
the MDC had agreed that the hearing of the petition would be in two
He said the first phase would be to deal with legal issues,
mainly concerning the Electoral Act, which the MDC wants to prove were
flouted, resulting in Mugabe’s victory. The second phase would involve oral
and physical evidence which the MDC believes contributed to Mugabe’s
“The fact that Mugabe wants Tsvangirai to
withdraw the case before talking to us shows that he knows that the case will
be very damaging to him, as there is overwhelming evidence against him,” said
He was referring to statements by Mugabe that the MDC
should recognise him as the legitimate leader of Zimbabwe before dialogue can
resume between the country’s main political parties.
threatened exodus of magistrates from Zimbabwe’s primary courts could just be
the last nail into the coffin of the country’s justice delivery
The departure of the magistrates, if they are
eventually allowed to go, would come at a time when Zimbabwe’s judicial
system, once one of the most professional in the Third World, is under the
spotlight for the wrong reasons.
Its reputation sullied by
allegations of interference in the judicial system by powerful government
officials and politicians, Zimbabwe’s judiciary was this month categorised
the least independent out of 21 benches in Africa reviewed by the
globally respected World Economic Forum (WEF).
spin doctors predictably rejected the WEF’s verdict as yet another attempt by
a Western-dominated organ to demonise the regime for its revolutionary land
But even these apologists of the regime, blinded as they
are by their own propaganda to be able to distinguish truth from falsehood,
could never deny that Zimbabwe’s justice delivery system is choking almost to
a standstill because of a serious shortage of staff at all
The time-honoured principle upheld by any justice system in
the world worth its salt that justice delayed is justice denied, is trashed
and trampled upon every day in Zimbabwe as thousands of unconvicted suspects
rot in the country’s over-crowded remand prisons, all because there are
not enough magistrates to expeditiously preside over their
In Harare alone, the backlog of criminal cases stood at 3
200 by mid-March this year while pending civil cases stood at 12
The total backlog of untried cases countrywide is an alarming
60 000 cases, with the figure rising by the day as about 57 magisterial
posts remain unfilled.
And now, as reported earlier by this
newspaper, five out of the seven regional magistrates currently presiding
over cases at the country’s biggest magisterial court, the Harare
Magistrates’ Court, are said to have tendered their resignations because of
poor conditions of service.
It can only be a matter of time before
the remaining magistrates at the court and others elsewhere across the
country take the same step and quit the service to go to greener pastures, in
the process crippling the magisterial division, the very bedrock of
Zimbabwe’s justice delivery system.
The government is, of
course, reacting to the emerging crisis in the justice system with the same
deplorable lack of seriousness and urgency which have always marked this
administration’s misrule, the trigger of Zimbabwe’s wider economic and
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa even professed
ignorance of the looming crisis when contacted over the issue by this
newspaper last week.
Needless to say, there has been no public
explanation so far by Chinamasa as to what he is doing to ensure the
magistrates’ department does not collapse.
secretary, David Mangota, was on Monday this week running helter-skelter at
the Harare Magistrates’ Court, almost paralysing work there as he held
last-ditch talks with the court officials in a bid to convince them to
We wonder when he first knew that the magistrates were
Surely Zimbabweans deserve better than this from both
Chinamasa and Mangota. In normal societies where public officials are held to
account, the two gentlemen would have resigned in shame over the way they
have handled the magistrates’ grievances.
But in Zimbabwe, where
officials and the leadership are determined to hang on to power even when it
is clear they are no longer wanted by the people, these officials stay on in
office and tend to be promoted.
In many societies in the history of Man, different kinds
of revolutions were born through the efforts of men who, using their
intellect, managed to change the course of history, and others who, by
stupendous genius, also changed how the world thinks.
Copernicus to Isaac Newton, from Karl Marx to Sigmund Freud, from Mohandas K
Gandhi to Mother Teresa of Calcutta, these men and women managed to impress
upon mankind different and new ways of viewing the world.
the world celebrates these exceptional individuals, one province of our lives
remains tainted by sorry tales that would impart brilliant ideas to a wannabe
Politics, since the beginning of Africa’s
independence from colonising powers, has remained an occupation where rules
of propriety are by tradition jettisoned seemingly for a higher ideal, which
for the ruling elite would be election into public office.
Sadly, and almost invariably,
a powerful bout of amnesia about the
concerns of the people they are ruling follows their election into public
office. In politics, some men in Africa have changed how we think, and they
could have revolutionised the whole idea of gladiatorial politics, where one
literally throws down the gauntlet and is ready for a fight to the
If you are looking for anything egalitarian and altruistic,
this is the wrong place to start looking and we use Zimbabwe as our reference
When Africa’s own Hall of Fame to honour the great men of
the continent comes to be erected, it would be encyclopaedic in that it would
be one voluminous compilation. Why is it that Africa, despite being
the so-called cradle of civilisation, has nothing to show of that
polished manner of behaving synonymous with that claimed
Unfortunately for the man in the street, his
character is adjudged by outsiders on how his leaders conduct themselves. It
would be folly to continue on that trail where we find some
pseudo-intellectuals fervently pleading the case for the continent – in the
fashion of Vimbai Chivaura and others – for strides in some spheres millennia
ago when the present sorely lacks those “virtues” that gave claim to that
What is extolled has been taken over by 21st Century
barbarism. As the gunfire continues in the Great Lakes region, Liberia,
Sierra Leone and other trouble spots, the world still receives reports about
rebels who decided that amputating the limbs of unarmed civilians is not
gruesome enough and so decided to make a meal out of fellow human beings –
Reports have emerged in the past few months about
cannibalism in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and they have to be the
worst as we journey into the 21st Century, the supposed age of
And as we recall the contributions that Africans
have made in the history of Mankind for the continent to be celebrated for
various contributions since the Egyptians built those mighty pyramids, and
the Shona erected the great stone walls at Great Zimbabwe, later generations
have had nothing to show of the great thinkers as presented to the world by
those two peoples.
From being endowed with vast mineral
resources – which in itself seems to have been some kind of curse – instead
of manifesting that wealth in the form of better lives for the millions here,
the poverty has been so abject it has to be something far from a blessing to
find that kind of wealth here.
Are Africans so inherently greedy
that they want everything for themselves, in contradiction of that great
African virtue called in other lands esprit de corps? So, what is it really
that the 21st Century inhabitant of this continent has to show of the
greatness of this place when millions have fled the continent to other lands
where black people still have to contend with the evil of racism but merely
grit their teeth, knowing that at least they will earn a better
It seems to make sense anyway: why take abuse from a fellow
African brother who is your leader and live a miserable existence when you
can live in a foreign land and have to deal with racism from a few bigots but
still be able to feed the whole extended family with just a month’s pay
cheque? African governments have reduced their people to that level
Our government obsesses about the racism of
the white commercial farmers and that of the countries up North, but
obviously the millions who have fled the country would rather opt for racism
than brutal punches from this regime.
And these punches they
take because all they demand is respect for their electoral rights. Ask
yourself just one question: how many people do you know who were in the UK or
the USA just five years ago?
It is a just a pointer of how
hideously this regime has treated its own people? The truth remains that,
given half a chance, this country’s citizens would flee the repression here
en masse and Zanu PF would be left to rule the trees.
As we take
stock of African politics and the manner in which political business is
conducted here, the only greatness that will remain in many people’s minds
about this continent is its vast geographical space.
Zimbabwe has in the past few years made strenuous efforts to ingrain that
stereotype of all things African by hogging the international headlines for
the wrong reasons. The country has become for some in the West a yardstick of
what goes on in Africa.
As long as the continent has leaders who
force their popularity on the people, the begging bowl will for a long time
remain a permanent feature of the continent’s identity.
because more often than not, the insistence on staying on in power is
informed by their unwavering yearning for lining their nests, such that exit
from power also means saying their valedictions to the good life. What this
continent desperately needs is a new breed of political leadership and
Only then will the continent have
contemporary great men, not those we have to consult in history books, who
have gone on to another world.
Marko Phiri writes on social and
ZIMBABWE’S private sector, which is attempting to secure
foreign currency for fuel imports, is believed to be trying to talk the
government out of a joint venture with Libyan oil company Tamoil Trading, it
was learnt this week.
Sources close to the matter said local
banks, private oil firms and exporters feared that the oil deal could
mortgage National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) assets to
The sources revealed that during ongoing consultative
meetings between the government, oil companies and bankers, the private
sector had encouraged the government to shelve the deal.
officials argued that with the $5 levy the government will charge on every
litre of fuel sold in Zimbabwe, NOCZIM would be able to repay its local and
foreign debt, which would make a deal with Tamoil irrelevant.
government last month announced that a new fuel deal with Tamoil had been
struck and would result in fuel supplies resuming from the north African
country at the end of the year.
Oil industry officials said Tamoil
was interested in using the proposed joint venture to gain access to
Zimbabwe’s prized Feruka pipeline and to establish fuel outlets before the
government deregulated the fuel sector.
The sources said once
Zimbabwe’s fuel sector was deregulated, this would make the joint venture –
which was supposed to create a joint venture firm called Tamoil Zimbabwe
Limited – uncompetitive.
By jointly running the Feruka pipeline
with NOCZIM, Tamoil would be able to monopolise the pipeline and sideline
other competitors from using it, the sources added.
They said if
the government was to suddenly liberalise the fuel sector, Tamoil’s fuel
would not be able to compete with that provided by multinationals and some
local oil companies.
They said the multinational companies and
local firms had the advantage of having at their disposal extensive fleets of
fuel tankers to transport fuel and service stations to sell it
“At the moment, Tamoil only has fuel but it does not have
any transportation mechanism or fuel outlets through which it can sell it.
That’ s why the sudden rush to sign a deal with NOCZIM,” a well placed source
told The Business Daily.
The source added: “Their major problem
is that they will not be able to sell the commodity. If you look at
multinationals like BP Shell, Mobil or Caltex, for example, they can
transport the fuel and also sell it through their various service
“So what it means is that under the present
circumstances, the Libyan oil will not have a market and will be more
expensive. That is why they are running around to clinch a
Libyan Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mahmoud Azabbi, who has been
involved in negotiations with the Zimbabwe authorities over the joint venture
company, yesterday referred all questions to NOCZIM.
managing director Webster Muriritirwa promised to return calls from The
Business Daily but had not done so at the time of going to print.
Energy and Power Development Minister Amos Midzi was said to be attending an
urgent meeting yesterday afternoon and was not available
According to the Petroleum Marketers’ Association
of Zimbabwe, which is seeking an initial exchange rate of $1 700 for fuel
imports, fuel pumped through the Feruka pipeline would be $16.39 cheaper than
that imported by road through Beitbridge.
Although NOCZIM has
said it now intends to import fuel only for central government and strategic
sectors, it is understood that Tamoil also wanted the joint venture company
to supply fuel to private customers.
NOCZIM figures show that out
of 2.2 million litres of diesel consumed by Zimbabwe a day, the private
sector accounts for 70 percent and also consumes 85 percent of the 1.4
million litres of petrol used in the country every day.
industry officials said this would make it more lucrative for Tamoil to
supply fuel to private clients.
But the officials said even after
securing the pipeline, Tamoil would still have a distribution problem, hence
efforts to quickly seal a deal with NOCZIM to enable it to speedily acquire
existing fuel service stations.
If a deal is signed, Tamoil wants
to introduce mobile service stations to reach out to customers in remote
parts of the country.
In the past year, more local oil companies
have been setting out distribution points in preparation for the
liberalisation of the fuel sector.
we had occasion to need a security guard for a few nights.
thin, hungry, young man arrived. He had had no training in self defence, he
carried no baton and he had no radio link.
We asked what he would
do if a group of six healthy, young, armed thieves arrived, and he said:
“Run, and try to attract attention, in order to phone for
With the high walls, electric fences and the guard dogs
common in most parts of the northern suburbs, I am not sure that he would be
very lucky, and by the time he did have access to a telephone, the thieves
would be well away.
For the services of a guard, we paid a
well-known company $13 000 a night.
The guard, however, receives
a little less than $2 000 a night (i e $30 000 – $26 000 after tax – for
sixteen nights’ work).
After he has paid bus fare to and from
Chitungwiza – $1 400 daily – he is left with $600, which will scarcely buy
him a loaf of bread.
Here we have an honest worker trying to earn
his living by honest means, who doesn’t earn enough to pay for food, clothes,
rent, school fees, etc.
As we all know, the Zimbabwean economy
is in free-fall and the very fabric of society is crumbling under the
There are, however, two very fast-growing, presumably
lucrative, industries: security companies and increasingly professional
Since the police are unwilling or unable to provide their
citizens with normal policing services and have merely become the clerks of
crime, those who can afford protection turn to private
Can we, however, expect deliverance from thieves when
the young men who work as security guards, trying to do an honest night’s
work, are so poorly paid, have so little professional training, and do not
even carry batons?
THE current social, economic and political woes besetting Zimbabwe have made
life difficult for mothers as they struggle to fend for
The hardships have taken away mothers’
precious gift of nurturing and providing for their children.
Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga, the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change(MDC) member of parliament for Glen Norah constituency, said the crisis
in Zimbabwe had stripped women of their mothering nature. As a mother she is
no longer able to provide fully for her children.
Mushonga said: “I
think this is why we are saying this struggle is more of a female problem.
There has been a feminisation of poverty because you are no longer able to
provide things that you are expected to provide for your children. Indeed the
current chaos has stripped women of their motherhood.”
said it becomes a nightmare every time you think of what to cook for your
children. There are shortages of virtually every basic commodity ranging from
mealie-meal, sugar, salt, milk, soap and cooking oil.
gone are the days when mothers used to escort their children to school
because there is no fuel or enough money to catch public transport to do so.
Primary school going children who attend school far away from their homes are
now travelling on their own and risk being victimised or robbed along the
Mushonga said: “It is a mother’s wish to provide tea or
porridge to her children before they leave home for school but this is no
longer possible because there is no mealie-meal to prepare the porridge or
sugar to make tea.”
Renowned singer, Busi Ncube said she can no
longer afford to feed her children. She used to make money from live shows
but she said it is no longer possible because her fans are either out of cash
or have no fuel to attend her shows.
Ncube said: “I can’t afford
to feed my two children because I am not making money at all. There is no
fuel for the band to travel to shows, so I am stuck at home. We are only
surviving by the grace of God.”
Ncube said she can no longer afford
to drive her children, Angela and Tendai to school because of the fuel
Dadirai Matewere, 30, a hairdresser said she was now
finding it difficult to provide for her son, Leonard who is in grade two. She
said times were hard such that her salary was no longer enough to see her
through the month.
Matewere said of particular concern was the
ever rising transport costs she had to meet everyday. She lives in Budiriro
and commuter omnibus fares to the city were $300.
“While I am
working, I am failing to make ends meet. My child has to queue for bread
every morning before going to school and this is bad for him. I also can’t
provide bread for him everyday because it has become so expensive. A loaf of
bread costs $500,” said Matewere.
Paurina Mpariwa, the MP for
Mufakose constituency, said women were bearing the brunt of basic commodity
shortages and the political abyss that the nation had sunken
Mpariwa said: “There is no money for mothers to take care of
their children. Most of them are single mothers with noone to fall back on
while some have husbands but the men are so frustrated that they would be
away from home all the time.”
Mpariwa said the HIV/Aids pandemic
had left a lot of women taking care of families.
women’s role of nurturing, caring and loving for their children had been
Nelly Mutize, 66, thought her troubles were over when
she successfully raised her children a long time ago but the problem has
recurred as she has to look after her three grandchildren whose parents
Mutize said she is struggling to look after her
grandchildren. She cannot provide them with sufficient food every time they
go to school. She said she does not remember when she last provided her
grandchildren with bread. It has become difficult for her to even provide
them porridge in the morning because there is no sugar.
bird Chioniso Maraire said life has become difficult for her as
Maraire said: “It’s difficult for me as it is
difficult for any other mother. President Robert Mugabe and the opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai should sit down and talk things over between them.
There is a lot of lying, greed and selfishness that is going around such that
the man in the street is the one suffering.”
Maraire said as a
single mother her problems were profound. She however said the father of her
two children Andy Brown is supportive.
Catherine Machina from
Mufakose said she is the one who provided for her family because her husband
is unemployed. She works as a cook for a woman who prepares sadza and relish
for sale at a market place in Harare.
The current socio-economic crisis in Zimbabwe has reached such alarming
proportions that it is not possible for any normal thinking person to pretend
that it can be resolved by either the governing party, ZANU PF, alone or by
that party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in
consultation with ZANU PF.
The crisis has entered the much
feared destructive stage whereby the entire nation is facing dire want and
The warning stage of the Zimbabwean tragedy
occurred in about 1992 when the International Monetary Fund’s Economic
Structural Adjustment programme (ESAP) was introduced in spite of
reservations by several prominent Zimbabwean economists.
period was characterised by repeatedly increasing inflation and a sharp
decrease of investments throughout the country.
and the national standard of living fell drastically as a result of that
development. Industrial production fell and so did the value of the
Zimbabwean currency vis-a-vis those of neighbouring countries such as South
Africa and Botswana.
That development produced the MDC. We can
quite correctly say that that labour-backed political organisation was born
of the socio-economic mismanagement of the government of
It is a distortion of the situation for anyone to say
that the MDC was created by the British government, or that it is controlled
and guided by that administration. If anything, the MDC was created by the
nation’s socio-economic discontent.
That fact has been
acknowledged by every right-thinking political and social commentator in
Zimbabwe. The fact that the present British government led by Tony Blair is
also disillusioned with Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF administration just as many
other governments are, does not imply that it created the MDC.
The hungry, unemployed people of Zimbabwe do not have to be told by British
politicians that their government has failed them politically, economically
This plain truth should be borne in mind by all
Zimbabwean leaders if the current crisis is to be resolved.
Every leader has a solemn duty to accept the truth, and it is that the crisis
started several years before the MDC was formed in September 1999.
What the nation needs to do now is to craft a formula to put things right.
Since the crisis is national in character, the formula must be national in
its content and thrust.
It is obvious that involving only ZANU PF
and the MDC in resolving the crisis cannot take Zimbabwe further than
recriminations and counter-recriminations. That has already
What is needed is a national convention involving
traditional, cultural, political, industrial, commercial, professional, trade
union and civic organisations’ leaders.
Chiefs have a role to
play since their status and voice are highly respected by most of the rural
Church organisations have a very compelling duty to create a
just, peaceful and tolerant environment throughout the country. They should
play their role as cultural peacemakers.
Zimbabwe, as a
multi-party state, should resolve its socio-economic problems on the basis of
multi-partyism. Every party should be represented at such a
It is vital that industrial and commercial
organisations such as the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) and the
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) be involved in the search for
solutions to the national crisis.
We must always bear in mind
that the CZI and the ZNCC represent the national investment sector, and that
without that investment, there could be neither employment nor production of
goods and services.
Civic organisations represent a very important
public sentiment in this country. As part of the national socio-economic
boiling cauldron, it is necessary to involve them in the search for solutions
to the problems of the nation.
What the nation needs is a
level-headed political leadership that puts people, and not power, first. The
convention could bring together representatives of a wide spectrum of ideas
and aspirations that could, through a process of cross-fertilisation, put
Zimbabwe back on an even keel.
The alternative to this is the
tragic situation we are presently experiencing. No patriot would like to see
this abominable situation continue. It is imperative for the ZANU PF
hierarchy to understand and accept that they have a very urgent moral duty to
facilitate and accelerate the resolution of the national crisis.
They should also acknowledge that neither death nor imprisonment can deter a
determined, suffering people from achieving their democratic goals.
They should also realise that the nation is more important than individual
The sooner this fact sank in their heads the better for
the nation of Zimbabwe.