Hama Saburi Deputy Editor-in-Chief
Ailing Vice President breaches protocol
ZIMBABWEAN banks have snubbed an invitation to an urgent meeting called by
the under-the-weather Vice-President Joseph Msika to discuss the plight of
the sector, hit by the flight to quality ahead of the September 30
Msika was reportedly not amused.
Impeccable banking sector sources yesterday said that Msika, who recently
dismissed speculation about his retirement on medical grounds, instructed
the Finance Ministry to call all bankers to an urgent meeting. The Minister
of Finance, Herbert Murerwa, only managed to tie down the meeting for May 3.
He then advised the chief executives of all banking institutions through the
Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ).
However, on noting that the meeting breached protocol by excluding the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), which controls the country's financial
levers, the CEOs turned down the invitation, saying they could only attend
if the central bank boss, Gideon Gono, was part of the meeting.
Some observers however said that while the absence of the RBZ governor was
indeed a contentious issue, the move by the bankers was widely seen as
calculated to clearly signal their opposition to the fact that at such
meetings, political measures are persistently suggested as a remedy for the
country's economic woes and disintegration.
Murerwa, who could not be reached for comment at the time of going to print,
promised to relay the bankers' concerns to the Vice-President. But he is yet
to come back to the bankers with feedback.
"It is not correct to say that we snubbed the meeting," said the BAZ
president Pindie Nyandoro. "The Vice-President calls often to discuss issues
and, in this case, the invitation came through the finance ministry. We are
still waiting for confirmation of the date of the meeting," she said in a
Highly placed sources said while the Vice-President was not amused by the
response, he might put pressure on the central bank to meet the bankers and
tackle the industry's concerns.
They said the government was forced to call for the meeting after being
stung by a $4 trillion recapitalisation request by one of the retail banks
in which it is a shareholder. That made it eager to understand the magnitude
of the problems in the sector many say is still sitting on shifting sands.
Sources said the failed meeting was also to have discussed a letter written
by BAZ to the central bank in March in which the association called for
urgent action to mitigate what then appeared an imminent crisis within the
banking sector, whose phenomenal growth was brought to a halt in 2003.
In a memo to the RBZ, BAZ said it was lumbered with a huge portfolio of
Treasury Bills (TBs) and had suffered liquidity shortages because of the
high statutory reserve that removed substantial amounts of market liquidity.
BAZ also cited the rise in accommodation rates among the policies that could
precipitate bank failures if nothing is done to correct the situation.
On receipt of the memo, the central bank is said to have called for a
meeting with the bankers at which the RBZ stuck to its guns.
Sources said as a result of the impasse, some bankers have been Nicodemously
lobbying the Vice-President's office to exert pressure on the RBZ.
Hama Saburi Deputy Editor-In-Chief
DANIEL Shumba, the former ZANU PF chairman for Masvingo whose star lost its
shine the moment he got entangled in the Tsholotsho saga, has for the first
time added his voice on the intriguing political plot that clearly exposed
the divisions within the ruling party.
The former freedom fighter, who later resigned from ZANU PF, was among the
six provincial chairmen slapped with five-year suspensions for attending the
November 2004 Tsholotsho meeting, whose architects were ruthlessly dealt
with by the party.
The coterie, which threw its weight behind former ZANU PF secretary for
administration, Emmerson Mnangagwa, for post of vice-president ahead of the
party's congress, was considered a dissident network out to block Joice
Mujuru from ascending to the second most powerful post in the party and
Speaking for the first time on the ill-fated indaba Shumba, who now heads
the rival United People's Party (UPP) as its interim president, said he has
no regrets about the role he played in trying to shape the future for ZANU
"The so-called Tsholotsho meeting never took place. A meeting was, however,
held in Bulawayo to update members on the ZANU PF politburo meeting and
resolutions taken in respect of the pending elections," he said.
"Naturally, individuals lobbied for a number of options. I took a position
that would have provided for a balanced distribution of power and
leadership," he added.
The ZANU PF politburo, which seemed to have long settled for Mujuru, had
resolved to propel a woman to one of the positions of vice-president. But
unknown to the Politburo, tacticians that met in Bulawayo had other ideas to
keep Mnangagwa in contention.
A nationwide purge that was meant to punish the meeting's participants has
worsened the divisions within ZANU PF, giving the impression that the
succession wars rocking the fractious party could be far from over.
"The Masvingo vote was 100 percent behind me. Why is there no mention of the
Marondera meetings? The rest is history," said Shumba. "It became clearer
that it is impossible to bring democracy to Zimbabwe through ZANU PF
structures. The country should not expect a ZANU PF miracle."
The interim UPP president also spoke about his relationship with Jonathan
Moyo, the dismissed former government spin-doctor. Prior to UPP's formation,
Shumba had been linked to Moyo's United People's Movement (UPM).
"I have had discussions with members of the UPM, as much as I have had
discussions with members of other opposition parties in the past. At a
personal level, people are free to relate and communicate without fear or
permission from ZANU PF.
"It is every individual's right to freedom of association, is it not? I do
not belong to the UPM nor have I ever held a UPM membership card," he said.
Kumbirai Mafunda Staff Reporter
THE government's ambitious project to electrify rural communities is in
jeopardy because of lack of funds.
Sydney Gata, the chairman of ZESA Holdings, said the funds budgeted for the
programme had run out, stalling the project midway.
The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) - the power utility undertaking the
project - has completed only 49 percent of the planned projects or 2 835
projects out of the targeted 5767.
"REA is ailing because of lack of resources," said Gata who also doubles up
as chairman of REA.
Gata said the termination of financial support from ZESA Holdings coupled
with the virtual freeze on electricity tariffs, had crippled REA.
President Robert Mugabe launched the expanded rural electrification
programme in 2002. At the time of its launch, critics said although the idea
of the project was noble it was being revived to placate a disgruntled
electorate in rural areas where President Mugabe's party enjoys massive
The REA board is lobbying the Energy Ministry to force the power utility to
release the five percent development levy to REA. It is also lobbying for an
increase in the rural electrification levy to raise more funds to speed up
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
STATE-RUN National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) has discontinued
subsidised fuel sales to some health institutions and practitioners, a move
likely to further cripple the already collapsing health delivery system.
Noczim notified the health practitioners late last month about the
cancellation of the facility.
Doctors and nurses said they were last served fuel at their designated
service stations on May 21. Since then fuel attendants were turning them
"They told us that fuel allocations will be stopped on the 1st of June
without giving reasons," said one doctor.
At Montagu service station where the bulk of the health practitioners were
refuelling, a litre of diesel was retailing for $22 000 while petrol cost
$24 000. But the majority of Zimbabweans are buying a litre of diesel and
petrol for over $500 000 at service stations that mobilise their own
resources to import the precious liquid.
Paul Chimedza, the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Medical Association
(ZIMA) confirmed that supplies were being limited.
"It (fuel) comes very erratically," said Chimedza. "Some doctors are failing
to cover hospitals and are now boarding taxis, which are very expensive," he
Chimedza said his association was currently receiving
5 000 litres of fuel, which he said is inadequate to serve the more than 700
members affiliated to ZIMA.
"Only 200 of us are getting that fuel and some of our members are going for
three to four months without accessing it," he said.
Noczim's marketing and distribution director Krispen Mashange this week
confirmed the termination of the subsidised fuel facility strangely
ascribing it to improvements in the supply of the commodity.
"We have screened some of them," said Mashange. "When we came up with that
facility the objective was to make fuel available to them (medical
practitioners) but we have now just realised that fuel is now available on
the market so they can go and buy," he added.
Zimbabwe is grappling with a seven-year-old fuel crisis, which has halted
industrial operations while thousands of workers have resorted to walking to
A severe shortage of
foreign currency caused by a poor export performance,
decimated agricultural output and the drying up of balance of payments
support, is making it difficult for the country to import fuel.
Zhean Gwaze Staff Reporter
THE government has reportedly reneged on its pledge to compensate fully,
displaced white commercial farmers for developments on their acquired
This represents a major government volte-face and could draw sharp attacks
from the international community, which has accused Zimbabwe of spurning
international advice on how to proceed with land reform.
Although exact figures could not be ascertained at the time of going to
press, displaced white farmers this week claimed that they have since been
advised that contrary to earlier official assurances, they will now get only
between five and 10 percent of the total value of infrastructural
developments on the farms.
Government had pledged to pay for the developments in full and had proceeded
to set aside $820.8 billion for the exercise in the 2006 national budget,
which critics say falls far short of the true market value of the
improvements on the farms up to the time the fast-track land reform exercise
began. The authorities insist that compensation for farms acquired under the
controversial land reform exercise, which has led to tragic consequences for
the economy, is the responsibility of former colonial master, Britain.
Government, which accuses Britain of pushing for regime change in Zimbabwe,
says this is what was agreed at the Lancaster House Conference of 1979. The
British government, however, says it made no commitment to compensate
dispossessed farmers. Between 1980 and 1985 it provided 47 million pounds
for land reform under the United Kingdom Land Resettlement Grant. The grant
was signed in 1981 and was terminated in 1996 with three million pounds
still unspent. The British government has maintained that it will support a
"transparent, just and fair land reform"programme implemented in accordance
with the principles agreed at the 1998 Land Conference held in Harare.
The latest turn of events will stir up bitter feelings among the over 4 500
farmers who have waited for compensation for the past six years. Farming
sector sources indicated that only 200 farmers in near-destitute situations
have accepted the revised offers. Sources said the rest of the white farmers
were still trying to persuade the Land Reform Ministry to revise the
"It puts the industry into disarray," lamented John Worsick, president of
Justice for Agriculture, a radical farming pressure group.
Contacted for comment this week, Lands and Land Reform Minister Didymus
Mutasa darkly hinted that government was unequivocal on the issue. He said
compensation would be based on calculations by government evaluators without
saying exactly how they would assess improvements on those farms where
movable property had been looted.
"What is important is that the offer is available for those who qualify and
the farmers know the modalities," he said. "Of course they (farmers) can do
their independent assessments, but we will go by what is done by a
government evaluator," he added.
Mutasa dismissed the farmers' complaints as "statements from people who just
want more money".
This is not the first time the government has tried to coerce displaced
farmers to accept paltry compensation offers. In 2003, the government paid
less than $100 million instead of the $72 billion it should have coughed up
to compensate displaced farmers. By then the former commercial farmers
claimed that $23 billion worth of equipment was looted, seized or vandalised
before and after the expiry of Section 8 orders.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
IN yet another kick in the teeth for the rule of law, the powerful State
Security Minister, Didymus Mutasa, has ordered the eviction of a new black
farmer, Langton Masunda, who is locked in a fierce ownership wrangle with
Speaker of Parliament John Nkomo over a lucrative hunting concession in
Barely a week after the High Court ordered Nkomo, who is also the ZANU PF
national chairman, not to meddle with operations at Lugo Ranch, Mutasa on
Tuesday served Masunda with a letter ordering the Bulawayo businessman to
immediately cease all farming and hunting operations and vacate the
"Please be advised that the Minister of State for National Security, Lands,
Land Reform and Resettlement in the President's Office is withdrawing the
offer of land made to you. You are required forth with to cease all or any
operations that you may have commenced thereon and immediately vacate the
said piece of land," reads part of the withdrawal letter signed by Mutasa.
Masunda was given an offer letter in 2002 under the government's
resettlement programme, which was supposed to economically empower the
majority of landless Zimbabweans.
But in 2005 Nkomo, widely viewed as level headed among President Robert
Mugabe's lieutenants and who at one time was in charge of land
redistribution, filed papers in the High Court seeking Masunda's eviction
claiming he was offered the farm by the government in 2003. However, Masunda
successfully challenged Nkomo's eviction bid resulting in the Speaker of
Parliament withdrawing the case.
However, Nkomo renewed his bid to evict Masunda a fortnight ago when his
loyalists reportedly drove out four international tourists who had paid
Masunda deposits for a hunting safari.
In a provisional order granted by Justice Nicholas Ndou last Wednesday
following an urgent chamber application filed by Masunda seeking to stop the
eviction of the tourists, Justice Ndou ruled that Nkomo and his agents
should stop interfering with the occupation and use of the lodge. He also
ordered Nkomo not to interfere with hunting activities and let Masunda
conduct hunting safaris in the area allocated to him.
In a letter written to Mutasa yesterday and seen by The Financial Gazette,
Masunda's lawyers charged that Mutasa did not serve their client with a
notice of his intention to cancel the lease as stipulated under the
Agricultural Land Settlement Act, which could have accorded Masunda an
opportunity to make representations. The attorneys also say the annulment of
the offer letter is motivated by improper motives since Nkomo has on several
occasions failed in his bid to evict Masunda.
"It is a basic tenet and a fundamental of our law, whether customary or
general, that a party is entitled to be afforded a hearing before a decision
adverse to his interests is taken. Equally fundamental is the tenet that
such a party must know the case he has to meet and be allowed time within
which to prepare his defence," read part of the lawyer's letter to Mutasa.
The legal representatives say they will resort to a court challenge in seven
days if Mutasa does not reverse his decision to withdraw his land offer.
Masunda's eviction is the latest in a series of blunders by the government
in the execution of its jumbled land reform exercise. The government has, in
the past six years, overridden court rulings in favour of former white
commercial farmers who were dispossessed of their farmland and properties.
Critics say the government's disrespect for the rule of law and property
rights is to blame for the country's economic woes. Besides battling a
severe hard currency squeeze, the country is reeling from out-of-control
inflation, officially estimated at 1 193.5 percent, a shrinking agricultural
output and endemic poverty.
THE Media and Information Commission (MIC) has fired two of its senior
employees who were suspended last month over unspecified irregularities.
Finance chief Clifford Govo and the MIC chairman's understudy, Munyaradzi
Nyamagodo, were served with dismissal letters this week as attention briefly
shifted from the commission's court battles to human resources issues.
The MIC has been embroiled in a lengthy court battle with the Associated
Newspapers of Zimbabwe, which is challenging the closure of its mass
circulating Daily News and its sister weekly The Daily News on Sunday.
Sources said Govo and Nyamagodo incurred the wrath of Tafataona Mahoso, the
MIC boss, after attending an Egyptian embassy reception without his consent.
A disciplinary hearing was later held after which the pair were sent
Mahoso this week refused to comment and said it was not a media issue while
Nyamagodo also refused to shed light on the matter.
A small organisation with a staff complement of less than 15 people, the MIC
has had its fair share of problems with labour issues. Last year, the
commission had to part ways with two female employees who were accused of
dealing in foreign currency.
The pair received US$50 each from a South African journalist in exchange for
Zimbabwe dollars at parallel market rates.
Zhean Gwaze Staff Reporter
THE trial of the five trustees and three staff members of the Voice of the
People (VOP) has been deferred to September 25-28 after the state indicated
it was not yet ready.
The case, which had been due to begin on Thursday last week at the Harare
Magistrates' Court, was postponed after the state indicated that its key
witness, a Mr Muganyura from the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ)
was not available and that it had not subpoenaed some witnesses.
The station's employees and directors are being charged for contravening
sections of the Broadcasting Services Act.
Prominent Harare lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa of Mtetwa and Nyambirai Legal
Practitioners is representing the trustees and staff members of VOP.
Although charges had not been preferred on the staff members Nyasha Bosha,
Kundai Mugwanda and Maria Nyanyiwa, they were issued with summons recently
to appear in court along with the directors as the state launches a fresh
crackdown on officials at the private radio station.
One of the directors, Isabella Matambanadzo who is based in South Africa,
was issued with the summons alongside the staff members.
"We were ready to proceed to trial. We were raring to go and we had all our
witnesses present," Mtetwa said.
The three staff members and were arrested in January this year and released
four days later when police and officials from the BAZ ransacked the VOP
offices in Harare at Beverley Court and confiscated equipment and documents.
The private radio station, owned by Zimbabweans, has been battling since
2000 to obtain a commercial licence to broadcast locally on FM. The station
produces programmes on a variety of community and political issues but does
not broadcast within Zimbabwe.
A bomb destroyed its Milton Park offices in 2002 and no one has been
arrested in connection with the crime.
BAKERIES might seek a court order to suspend the gazetted prices of bread in
the wake of the arrests of their merchandisers and the confiscation of
over-priced bread that has spurned serious shortages of the product.
Industry sources said the National Bakers Association (NBA) is seeking legal
advice before mounting a court challenge that might signal the breakdown in
price negotiations between bakeries and the state.
Members of the NBA hiked the price of bread by at least 52 percent this
month, citing exponential costs of flour and diesel among other things.
A standard loaf of bread is now selling for $130 000 against the gazetted
price of $85 000.
President Robert Mugabe's populist government, fighting its worst economic
crisis, has responded by issuing tickets worth millions of dollars to
non-compliant retailers, seizing bread and arresting their merchandisers.
Instead of pushing the price of bread down, the state's heavy-handed
response has caused nationwide shortages, giving rise to a thriving parallel
market of the product.
"Bakeries have found themselves in a catch-22 situation whereby the company
laws do not allow directors to operate at a loss," said a representative of
"At the same time, there is the government gazette with unrealistic prices.
All we want to do is to prove to the courts that there is no way we can sell
at these unviable prices," added the source.
At least 50 bakeries have closed shop since the beginning of the
seven-year-long economic crisis that has reduced the one-thriving Zimbabwean
economy from being a breadbasket into a basket case.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
THE rapidly deteriorating Zimbabwean economy continues to claim more
corporate victims, with leading industrial lobby groups saying even big
companies now have their backs against the wall and are scaling down
Although the government has set up the Distressed Companies Fund which is
aimed at reviving closed firms and support troubled companies with cheap
loans, manufacturers are still burdened with rising input costs, which are
driving them out of production.
Luxon Zembe, president of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC)
placed the blamed squarely on the country's runaway inflation, which
recently went up to 1 193.5 percent, foreign currency shortages,
intermittent power outages and the high cost of borrowing, among other
"Companies are scaling down operations," said Zembe. "Things are pretty
tough and it's getting worse on the ground," he added.
Zembe said despite the launch of the much-vaunted economic blueprint, the
National Economic Development Priority Programme (NEDPP), which government
hopes will arrest a seven-year-old economic crisis, manufacturers are yet to
derive benefits from the programme.
"Things haven't started improving," said Zembe. "If you need foreign
currency you have to go on the open market so a lot of companies are being
pushed against the wall."
Zembe blamed the prevailing high interest rates for pushing up the cost of
doing business in the country and inhibiting most companies from borrowing
to fund operations.
He also lamented the high prices of fuel, currently hovering over $400 000
per litre on the black market, and high rentals. As a result Zembe said most
manufacturers' order books were diminishing while workers were losing their
Zimbabwe is grappling with one of its worst energy crises caused by the
drying up of foreign currency to import electricity and fuel. Harare imports
35 percent of its power needs from neighbouring South Africa, Mozambique and
the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president Patison Sithole
concurred with Zembe, blaming the distortion in the exchange rate for
inhibiting exporter viability.
"Companies have been operating under difficult conditions and things are
tough," said Sithole. It's more or less survival of the fittest," he added.
Sithole however said his body has since made recommendations during
engagements with government for the devaluation of the skidding Zimbabwe
dollar which, at $101 000 to the United States dollar, is overvalued.
"We are recommending a complete review of the whole system to have a stable
exchange rate," he said.
So evident is Zimbabwe's economic crisis that Mutare-based timber producer
Border Timbers Limited has already cut down on working shifts due to
diminishing timber supplies following the torching of its timber plantations
by illegal settlers.
At the same time construction giant Murray & Roberts has already closed down
four of its branches owing to a reduced order book.
Although the CZI did not report on the number of companies that shut down in
2005, it instead said Zimbabwe's manufacturing sector had lost 42 percent of
its labourforce in the last two years as companies closed down or downsized
operations due to a sustained economic meltdown.
In its February State of the Manufacturing Sector report which measures
manufacturing sector performance, the apex industrial body said the few
remaining workers have had their hours severely reduced because of capacity
underutilisation. According to the CZI, more than 750 companies closed shop
between 2000 and 2004.
Tawanda Karombo Staff Reporter
LEADING industrialist Shingai Mutasa has called on the government to
prioritise economics and rigorously implement sound policies if the
enfeebled economy is to recover from a seven-year slump. "What is lacking, I
believe, is a combination of the courage to put economics first and the will
to implement policies accordingly.
"Zimbabwe has earned a double first in the areas of hyperinflation and gross
domestic product growth. Zimbabwe has suffered from both the highest
inflation rate in the world and the lowest economic growth rate in 2005,"
Mutasa, who is executive chairman of TA Holdings, said in statement to
The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed TA is an investment holding company with
interests spanning the hospitality, insurance and agrochemicals industries,
all of which have taken a battering from the economic crisis.
Mutasa said TA's prospects for excelling as an investment holding company in
a hyperinflationary environment are bright as the firm has three sources of
revenue - operating profits, investment gains and profits derived from
For 2005, TA recorded historical best cost accounting results since 1971.
"The encouraging performance for 2005 creates the confidence that we are now
structured to grow and achieve our ambitions," Mutasa added.
He also said Zimnat Lion did not perform well as it recorded a second
consecutive year of underwriting losses.
Mutasa said operating profits in the holding firm's hotel divisions were
modest while Sable Chemicals' profits mask the harsh reality of massive
asset impairment because the company can no longer afford basic repairs and
He, however, said that TA has its own failures, the biggest being the group's
inability to generate huge amounts of cash from operating activities, a
failure which springs from the firm's failure to lower its unit cost of
production to the lowest industrial levels in subsidiaries. Cash flow from
operating activities for the group increased to $274 billion in 2005 from a
cash outflow of $21 billion in 2005.
Mutasa concluded his statement on the note that the current
hyperinflationary environment should be used as a spur to improve the
operating performances of TA's subsidiaries to increase cash flows.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
Banks urged to merge to raise capital
INTERNATIONAL rating agencies - increasingly wary of the turbulence shaking
the local financial markets - are placing Zimbabwean banks on watch in yet
another kick in the teeth for the troubled economy.
Sources said the banks were being downgraded in their rating status owing to
the volatility within the economy, which has impacted on profitability and
ultimately their ability to meet the new United States dollar-linked capital
As if to confirm this, the Global Credit Rating Company (GCR), an
influential international rating agency, was quite critical in its analysis
of the banking sector in its April report.
Following intense scrutiny in recent months, GCR announced important changes
to the services it has been providing to Zimbabwe. It says it took the
decision to downgrade the country's status because of escalating volatility.
GCR says it will closely monitor and review statistics on all its rated
banks so as to better analyse the impact that the current liquidity crunch
is having on the individual participants in the Zimbabwean banking industry.
". . . all ratings will be closely monitored by GCR," the prominent credit
rating agency said. "In addition, due to the breakdown in the traditional
links between short and long term ratings, GCR will in future only accord
long term bank ratings in Zimbabwe."
Credit ratings are a broad measure of a country's creditworthiness.
Accordingly, a formal rating provides an independent and internationally
recognised measurement of an organisation's financial strength.
A favourable rating can immediately result in an increased pool of
investors, can facilitate direct access to capital markets and can
ultimately result in reduced funding costs.
Zimbabwe's banks are facing a nightmarish threat to their liquidity owing to
movements in statutory reserve requirements, which are soaking away
substantial amounts of market liquidity, causing banks to fall into major
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has also set a tough hurdle for most
financial institutions as they have to pump up their capital bases to US$10
million or $1 trillion for commercial banks, US$7.5 million or $750 billion
for building societies and merchant banks and US$5 million or $500 billion
for discount houses by September.
The central bank says the review in minimum paid up capital will act as a
buffer when banks run into liquidity crisis.
However, GCR said though it backs the enlarged capital requirements as a
fallback position in times of crisis, the capital leap over could
precipitate the collapse of most commercial banks who are battling the
central bank's painful reforms.
"Banks that are not strategically well positioned, and or have limited
access to capital, could be particularly vulnerable in the prevailing
circumstances," said GCR.
As a way out of the pending catastrophe, GCR advises Zimbabwean institutions
to merge to raise the much-needed capital set by the RBZ. It says failure to
consolidate operations could result in a major fallout in the banking
Zimbabwe, which lost four commercial banks due to a clean-up of the then
soiled financial sector in 2004, currently has 32 financial institutions
comprising 14 commercial banks, six merchant banks, six discount houses,
four building societies and two finance houses.
Chris Muronzi Staff Reporter
TIME Bank employees last week besieged the offices of the institution's
curator demanding payment of their May salaries, The Financial Gazette has
This comes after the bank's workers committee appealed to the curator,
Tinashe Rwodzi, seeking clarification on their employment status following
the cancellation of the bank's licence by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
A letter to Rwodzi from Time Bank workers dated May 31 2006 read: "We refer
to the above-mentioned and our subsequent meeting with Mr W. Militala, and
seek clarification as to our status as employees, since Time Bank's licence
has been cancelled (RBZ press statement). Since we are employed by Time
Bank, the implications are that we have now been made redundant.
"We therefore, seek your advice on options available to us, the way forward
and notification of any development that affect our welfare. Furthermore, we
are concerned about our welfare, our salaries, which are very low, and
benefits. We are keen to know whether our employment contracts are still
valid," said B. Mushipe chairman of the workers' committee.
The workers have also appealed to the Ministry of Labour over non-payment of
salaries and failure to pay increments since November last year despite its
continued membership to Zimbabwe Bankers and Allied Workers Union.
The bank has been under curatorship since October 2004, when the RBZ shut it
down after a probe showed its balance sheet had negative equity of $174
billion. But Time, in turn, has a claim of $400 billion against the RBZ from
what it calls "incorrect" debiting of its current account and also alleges
the central bank overstated its liquidity support to the bank.
More than five banks were closed in 2004 at the height of a sector-wide
THE nation no doubt wishes Vice President Joseph Msika a speedy recovery
after undergoing surgery in South Africa.
He appeared on television a few days ago looking rather poorly but to his
credit, he admitted openly for the first time that he had been unwell and
had sought treatment in a neighbouring country because of the collapsed
state of the Zimbabwean health system.
The Vice President said he had been referred to South Africa by his
Zimbabwean doctors because the equipment and facilities needed to treat his
stomach ailment were not available in this country. I remember that in April
when Msika had been absent from public view for sometime, this newspaper
reported that he had once again, been receiving medical treatment in South
Africa. On that occasion, however, the Vice President was less candid in
spite of the fact that he had been accompanied on that trip by no less than
the Deputy Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr Edwin Muguti,
Both Msika and Muguti dismissed The Financial Gazette's story, saying it was
the work of speculative journalists who were being used by imperialists. "As
you can see, I am quite fit. I did have some ailments, you can call them,
but far from cardiac ailments. I have never suffered from heart problems . .
. " The tone of Msika's interview with a state-controlled newspaper in which
he pooh-poohed this paper's report was belligerent when all he needed to do
was to clarify the nature of the ailments that had necessitated his being
flown to South Africa to be attended to by specialists.
Msika and other public figures who get hot under the collar when the press
makes enquiries about the state of their health, seem to believe that it is
infra dig to be unwell. And yet if death is the leveller, physical
infirmities are the most undeniable harbinger that all humans, whether they
are rich or poor, leaders or ordinary people, will one day go the way of the
flesh. Msika's candid admission of his ailments on this occasion is
therefore refreshing and commendable because it shows he is a mortal being
like the rest of us.
What needs to be admitted with equal candour, however is that while top
leaders and other men of means can access the best medical care outside the
country for themselves and their families, ordinary Zimbabweans literally
become sitting ducks if they fall ill. The majority cannot afford the most
basic preventive medical care while hundreds of thousands are condemned to
unnecessary and premature death because of the collapse of the health
I know I will be called a zealot or worse but I will say it anyway:
something is seriously wrong if our leaders are quite happy to have their
own health needs taken care of outside the country in the full knowledge
that ordinary Zimbabweans cannot access similar care at home. This
nonchalant I am-alright-Jack-every-man-for-himself attitude is preposterous
especially as the same leaders are culpable for ruining the economy and
destroying public institutions through corruption and ill- advised populist
What is tragic is that the chances of reversing this rot continue to be
remote as long the leaders continue to harden their hearts and bury their
heads in the sand. And as far as the health delivery system that is now in
the intensive care unit, what hope is there for its recovery when the man
directly in charge has caught the same malady - denying glaring realities -
afflicting the rest of his government colleagues?
The Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa was quoted
in the press about a week ago, blasting the public for being ungrateful for
the good work being undertaken by his ministry. "I am disappointed that with
the tremendous work being done by health workers the public is not being
grateful", he fumed. "Harare Hospital has about 600 patients admitted and
it's a lot of work to look after these people but the public never
appreciates the efforts but continues to insult the nurses and doctors."
The good doctor needs to be reminded that the real reason the public feels
shortchanged is that the health delivery system has simply collapsed under
his stewardship. Nobody disputes the fact that doctors and nurses, like
professionals in most other sectors, are toiling under extremely difficult
conditions. But this hard work comes to naught as long as there are no drugs
to administer to patients and no equipment to undertake other life-saving
medical interventions. The people are frustrated and angry because there is
mostly no health delivery taking place at all. Where equipment and
medication are available to diagnose and treat particular ailments, the fees
are so out of this world that many people die at home after being turned
away from health institutions. Dr Parirenyatwa's ire against the public is
therefore misplaced because he is railing against people who have borne the
brunt of the government mismanagement and corruption that has spawned
pervasive general decay in all sectors of public life.
The minister and his colleagues in government are the ones who need to
change their outlook and examine their consciences so as to move away from
policies that have left skilled health professionals no choice but to seek
greener pastures in other countries. The long-suffering public cannot be
blamed for this brain drain, which cannot be stemmed as long as the root
causes - poor working conditions and remuneration - are not addressed.
Dr Parirenyatwa knows the real reasons why the health delivery system has
collapsed. He alluded to them when he said: "The country must channel more
resources into the health sector. I am appealing to us as government to
allocate more resources and release more funds towards improving the health
delivery system in the country. I would like to see shortages of blood
ending, equipment being sterilised, drugs being made available."
The minister is not the first member of government and cabinet to resort to
the incongruous ploy of appealing publicly to an entity of which he is part
and parcel. Are we to believe that it is not possible for him to make a
pitch for the needs and requirements of his ministry at cabinet meetings and
other government fora and has to do so via the media? All this is not very
reassuring about the calibre of official deliberation on such important
CHINA, whose economy is feared to be over-heating, is known for many things.
With the world's fastest growing economy, it is now indisputably a key
player in the global economy.
But it also stands accused by its Western critics of shoring up despotic
regimes in the world. As if to confirm this, the Chinese Prime Minister, Wen
Jiabao, this week categorically stated that China attaches little or no
importance to the issue of human rights because its foreign policy is
defined by the "principle of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit and
That is probably why Zimbabwe, ostracised over an alleged democratic deficit
by erstwhile key trading partners in the West, has joined the crowded path
to the East. In China, its human rights record would not be put under the
microscope as would be the case in the EU bloc and the Americas - the
regions that are opposed to Zimbabwe's politics.
And inside 12 months Zimbabwe, whose friends are few and far between, has
sent high-powered delegations to negotiate bilateral deals with China. Among
these was one led by President Robert Mugabe in July 2005 and of late
another led by Vice President Joice Mujuru last week, just to mention but
And if the hype surrounding the much-vaunted Look-East policy is anything to
go by, in China, Zimbabwe has found a friend indeed - not only flushed with
cash and eager to lend but also keen to finance infrastructural development,
which could be the lifebelt for the sick economy. Or so we are made to
Indeed from what the government propagandists have been saying, Zimbabwe is
China's biggest friend in Africa! Yet nothing could be further from the
truth. If anything, recent developments expose the Sino-Zimbabwean bilateral
relations as a partnership full of sound and fury signifying very little.
Our argument is not without reason.
In April this year, Chinese President, Hu Jintao visited Nigeria, Morocco
and Kenya among other African states. That Zimbabwe, once one of the most
robust economies in Africa, was not part of the itinerary almost a year
after President Mugabe had been to Beijing, speaks volumes about the
significance the Chinese
attach to their relations with Zimbabwe. This could be understandable if
only because while trade between China and Africa was estimated at US$40
billion in 2005, Zimbabwe accounted for a very negligible amount, which
makes for some pretty dismal reading.
As if that was not enough, the Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao last Saturday
embarked on a seven-nation African tour that will take him to Egypt, Ghana,
Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, South Africa and Tanzania. Again
Zimbabwe is not part of this latest African visit.
Whatever their reasons, the Chinese leaders' actions are even more
perplexing in light of the fact that the African tour is widely seen as a
diplomatic push for deeper bilateral relations of which Zimbabwe is supposed
to be part of the equation, if the political posturing from both sides, as
regards the "solid" bilateral relations between the two countries, is
anything to go by. Unless of course, they are sending some ominous signal.
Indeed, there is a justifiable feeling among many an observer who do not
want to risk speaking too soon that this was clearly intended as a
deliberate snub on Zimbabwe which we are told has the most favoured nation
What then is the moral of the Chinese preference of the African countries
that are also ironically in favour with the West? Despite the diplomatic
niceties over recent years, just like the West, China is also avoiding
Zimbabwean risks like the plague. Given what happened during the wildcat
farm invasions under the controversial fast-track land reform exercise,
China does not trust that Zimbabwe will uphold bilateral investment
protection agreements. Thus, other than the good words of intent emanating
from Beijing, very little will come from this initiative. What is now clear
is that the Chinese view Zimbabwe with the same suspicion as does the West.
The only difference is that they do not say it.
Even with their "soft diplomacy" driven by their insatiable appetite for raw
materials which has seen them use their veto power in the United Nations
Security Council to protect dictators, the Chinese will maintain a
wait-and-see attitude as regards Zimbabwe. And that will remain so unless
there is macroeconomic management to international standards and Zimbabwe
stops the arbitrary violation of that which is fundamental to market economy
and business confidence - the law of property and law of contract.
Of course being the good businessmen that they are, the Chinese will
maintain the low level contact with Zimbabwe, just to keep the lines of
communication open, until such a time that the situation is deemed to have
returned to normal. True, Zimbabwe might have signed many business
agreements with China mainly due to the "good" political relations between
the two countries. But these would have to be implemented on a purely
commercial basis or else they would not be worth the paper they are written
on. And therein lies the rub which has seen many such an agreement
collapsing. The Libyan fuel deal is a case in point. Thus for now, all
Zimbabwe will get from China are good words but very little, if any, action.
Continued from last week
In the UK, authority to intercept communications can only be given by the
Secretary of State personally. Where the warrant is the result of a request
for assistance made under an international mutual assistance agreement and
where the subject or premises to which the interception relates appear to be
outside the United Kingdom, a senior official may give authority. Such
authority can only be given to those persons specified in Section 6(2) of
the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. They are:
the Director-General of the Security Service;
the Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service;
the Director of the Government Communications Head Quarters;
the Director-General of the National Criminal Intelligence Service;
the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis;
the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (now the Police Service
of Northern Ireland);
the chief constable of any police force maintained under or by virtue of
section 1 of the Police (Scotland) Act 1967;
the Commissioners of Customs and Excise;
the Chief of Defence Intelligence; and
a person who, for the purposes of any international mutual assistance
agreement, is the competent authority of a country or territory outside the
Further, authority can only be given where the Secretary of State is
satisfied that the interception is necessary:
(a) in the interests of national security;
(b) for the purpose of preventing or detecting serious crime;
(c) for the purpose of safeguarding the economic well being of the United
(d) in circumstances where he would issue a warrant under (b) above, to give
effect to an international mutual legal assistance agreement.
In the United States, it is necessary to state that one of the crimes that
electronic surveillance is authorised for is being committed; the identity
of the location and persons being targeted; certification that normal
investigative procedures have been tried and failed, or are likely to fail
or are too dangerous; and a promise to minimise the interception of
conversations to only those relevant to the investigation. Other countries
including Canada and New Zealand have similar procedural requirements.
In Uganda, law enforcement agents usually require information as part of
surveillance which is largely due to suspicions or investigations relating
to offences such as threatening violence, robbery and terrorism in which
telecommunication devices are used as well as the theft of
The court orders are requested for by the Criminal Investigations Department
and other agencies such as the Inspectorate of Governance in whom the law
Wire-tapping and electronic surveillance are invasions into communication
privacy and these are usually occasioned by private-investigative firms,
telecommunications operators, service providers who have the capacity to
look at what they transmit and public-law enforcement agencies such as the
police particularly the Criminal Investigations Department and the
Inspectorate of Government.
The Judiciary has participated in this process by issuing court orders,
which authorise telecommunication companies to release traffic data. Such
orders are based on provisions made in the law. In Uganda the rules or
principles of privacy and guidelines concerning interception on the basis of
law enforcement or intelligence gathering have not been developed which may
culminate in abuse.
Unlike other countries, Uganda lacks wiretap law with express provisions on
how the surveillance is to be conducted.
Consumer protection agencies have not come up to address privacy concerns,
as they tend to focus on quality and standard of goods.
Under Section 4 the Bill establishes a Monitoring of Interception of
Communications Centre. Section 4 (3) establishes that the centre shall be
manned, controlled and operated by designated technical experts from the
MICC. Technical and other staff within the service providers and the
monitoring centres have access to highly sensitive information and are
vulnerable to approaches by criminals and others determined to know whether
their communications are being monitored and/or demanding access to the
content of monitored communications. Staff who have access to intercept
related information should undergo a vetting procedure.
Initial indications are that state security agents will man the Centre.
However, it is important to note that such a sensitive issue has to be
handled by an independent commission.
An independent commission should be established to oversee all monitoring
and interception activities. Independent commissions have been established
in many nations that have implemented surveillance laws, such as Australia,
New Zealand and Britain.
The commissions ensure that only the communications of the suspect are
intercepted and sent through to the monitoring centres, and that
communications of a suspected party are methodically intercepted and
time-stamped to ensure evidential integrity.
The commission undertakes a full and public reporting process; the report
can be presented in such a way as to not compromise the information.
The need for such a commission is especially critical in a developing
country context where people have concerns about trusting those in power. It
will also curb the potential for abuse within the communication monitoring
centres, and ensure that accidental interceptions of unwarranted
communications are reported and minimised.
The Bill requires that industry providers bear the costs of upgrading and
maintaining their networks to make them capable of interception. The SA Act
also makes any communication service that cannot be monitored by the
authorities illegal, and gives the minister of communications broad powers
to specify technical and security requirements, facilities and devices as
well as the type of communication-related information to be stored.
This will result in increased surveillance, a stifling of innovation,
reduction of the availability of services, and higher costs on consumers.
Industry commentators in many countries around the world have consistently
asked for the inclusion of a reimbursement requirement, and the private
sector has supported such requests.
Requiring that law enforcement agencies pay for their surveillance
capabilities provides an important level of accountability through the
budget process. The lack of reimbursement significantly lowers the barriers
to law enforcement surveillance by removing budgetary limits that would
require that new surveillance capabilities be cost effective before they are
implemented. Without it, it has been the experience in many countries that
law enforcement places unreasonable demands on providers for expansive
surveillance capabilities without justifying their demands.
Service providers in acquiring the necessary equipment for interception,
providing technical maintenance thereof, can incur significant costs in
meeting the running operating costs. This has been a contentious issue in
other countries that have dealt with the same issues that have not been
An alternative approach would entail making the service provider responsible
for the monitoring of information on its communication networks to cover the
costs. Some argue that this brings exorbitant and unfair expenses on the
Internet and telecommunications industries particularly at a time when the
international economy is experiencing a downturn in these sectors.
The Netherlands serves as an illustrative example. The Netherlands
Telecommunications Act places the responsibility for the cost of acquiring
and maintaining interception technologies on the service providers. In
February 2001, up to a third of Dutch Internet Service Providers (ISPs) were
facing bankruptcy due to the high costs of mandatory Internet traffic
interception and due to the technical difficulties and the high costs
involved, ISPs were unable to make their systems interceptable by the
deadline date of 15 April 2001
Others argue that the current software utilised by many of the larger
service providers already has the routing capabilities required for
interception. Smaller service providers would incur costs, but there are
appropriate solutions to help them defray the expense. For example, British
legislation holds that the Government will cover "reasonable costs" incurred
by the smaller ISPs in ensuring that their services conform to the
There is concern that the Bill will place onerous demands on smaller ISPs
and that the growth of the industry will be affected at a time when access
to communication services needs to be actively expanded. The demise of
smaller service providers can have a detrimental effect on the overall
economy and the integration of ICTs into society, especially within a
developing country context. The imposition of these requirements will be
difficult and very expensive. Most equipment does not come with the
capability for surveillance, so no off-the-shelf solution is available.
While it is argued that a market for technologies with embedded surveillance
capabilities may emerge and reduce the costs, there are three intertwined
problems inherent in this argument. First, particularly within ISPs, each
network is very different and introducing these technologies may harm the
effectiveness and efficiency of the networks. Second, these technologies are
being developed within strict standards regimes. Meanwhile the Internet
Engineering Taskforce (IETF), a relatively open body, has refused to develop
And third, such a market has failed to emerge, perhaps because of the
technical burdens and substantial public opposition in many countries to
facilitate increased electronic surveillance.
Countries that have attempted to impose wholesale the law enforcement costs
on the industry have seen delays and loss of new companies and jobs. In the
Netherlands, the Telecommunications Act imposes a similar burden on
providers as envisaged under the Zimbabwean Bill.
The costs for creating this capability are not compensated by the
The government did not assess the probable costs and it was particularly
difficult for ISPs to comply, as there is little experience in creating such
capabilities in networks. The Industry Organisation of Internet Service
Providers in the Netherlands (NLIP) has estimated that the costs will be
several million Euros, and there are strong concerns as to how this will
affect small local and regional ISPs. NLIP expects an increase in the price
of Internet access in the Netherlands as a result and a mass closing of
small ISPs. After much lobbying, the deadline for lawful interception
implementation was delayed for ISPs and it is expected that the majority of
the ISPs will not meet the extended deadline.
In Australia, carriers are also obliged to develop and implement at their
own expense an interception capability. The costs and burden upon the
operators have proven more difficult and expensive than anticipated. As a
result, the carriers were given both a waiver from the requirement for
several years and, it is understood, a subsidy towards the cost.
There is also the issue of the unquantifiable opportunity cost. While
technological researchers and network experts expend time and resources on
interception capability, they are losing time that could be spent
researching network efficiency and operations. As a result, the costs
incurred by the interception capability work are enormous. A study conducted
by Privacy International and the London School of Economics on the economic
impact of the UK's wiretap bill concluded that opportunity costs were a
major part of the economic costs of the legislation.
LACK OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY
Another important oversight measure missing in the Bill is a provision
requiring the production of annual public reports on the use of electronic
surveillance by government departments. This is a common feature of wiretap
laws in English-speaking countries and many others in Europe and should be
included in the draft law.
Countries that issue annual reports on the use of surveillance include the
U.S., U.K., Sweden, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and France. These reports
typically provide summary details of the electronic surveillance conducted,
the types of crimes authorised for, their duration and other relevant
information. In the US, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts
produces the report and submits it to Congress. In Australia and Canada, an
annual report to the Attorney General must be tabled in Parliament. In the
UK the Interception of Communications Commissioner publishes the report.
These countries recognise that openness and transparency are essential to
limit abuses. They are widely used in many countries by the Parliaments for
oversight and also by journalists, NGOs and others to examine activities
related to law enforcement.
A number of countries including the United Kingdom and France also have
special commissions that review wiretap usage to check against possible
abuses. These bodies have expertise that most judges who authorise such
surveillance do not have. They also have the ability to conduct follow -up
investigations once a case is complete. In other countries, the Privacy
Commission or Data Protection Commission also has some ability to conduct
investigations on possible oversights of electronic surveillance.
In addition, there are no provisions in the Bill to inform individuals who
have had their communications intercepted or their transactional information
collected once the investigation has been completed. Nor is there any
timetable set for expunging information once it is no longer necessary. This
is an important feature found in many laws around the world that provides
another level of oversight, especially in those cases where innocent parties'
communications are intercepted.
EVIDENTIAL INTEGRITY OF INTERCEPTED INFORMATION
Section 8 of the Bill deals with the inadmissibility of unlawfully
The Bill, however, does not state the processes required to ensure
evidential integrity of intercepted information. This should be clearly
stated. The entire content of the intercepted message has to be made
available to the defence if an intercepted communication is to be used as
evidence in a court of law.
It is recommended that the systems and procedures that will be in place to
ensure the integrity of the information and prevent evidential tampering be
The Zimbabwean government, borrowing from other jurisdictions worldwide,
should develop a policy to:
ensure that privacy protection is a core consideration in all activities;
ensure that accountability for privacy issues is clearly incorporated into
the duties of all institutions, jurisdictions and sub-sectors;
provide decision-makers with the information necessary to make
fully-informed policy decisions based on an understanding of the privacy
implications and risks and the options available for avoiding and/or
mitigating those risks;
promote an awareness of sound privacy practices and also regulate
surveillance as other countries such as Australia have done. Law enforcement
agencies and other entities require law to guide the conduct of
investigations. In Australia, the Telecommunications Act 1997 includes
provisions dealing with the privacy of personal information held by
carriers, carriage service providers and others, provisions that embrace the
development of voluntary industry codes and standards relating to privacy.
Policies on privacy should among others address:
obligations and other related duties; rights; sanctions and compliance
enforcement, monitoring and implementation mechanisms;
institutional framework and collaborative arrangements required implementing
Departments and agencies must ensure and document that privacy principles,
legislation and policies are adhered to and that privacy impacts and risks
associated with programme and service delivery activities have been resolved
Disclosures of information should be monitored so as to reveal what
information was disclosed, the source of the request, justification and the
Law enforcement officers need laws and guidelines to keep them in line with
the requirements of privacy laws so as to prevent abuse when conducting
investigations. An example could be the UK Regulation of Investigatory
Powers Act 2000 discussed above.
There is need for telecommunications companies to develop privacy policies,
to raise awareness for customers through consumer organisations and to
establish and boost the activities of complaints desks in telecommunications
companies with better capacity to address growing needs.
There is need for more education and awareness of privacy vis-ą-vis cultural
considerations and perceptions of what amounts to privacy.
Capacity building remains crucial especially where it concerns legal issues
pertaining to ICTs including privacy concerns. This process involves the
development of curriculum at universities and other tertiary institutions
and specialised institutions such as the Judiciary, Parliament, human rights
bodies, criminal investigation arms and state security agencies. This will
cater for the expected demand for human resources and also meet the human
resource capacity standards required at all levels.
The constitutionality of privacy-invasive laws has to be determined at all
times before policies are passed and reduced to draft laws and passed in
Parliament should make a special requirement for the proposed Zimbabwe Human
Rights Commission to make a report on the state of privacy in Zimbabwe to be
able to develop benchmarks on the basis of which regulators can operate.
Overall, the Bill is flawed, as it does not contain basic safeguards against
the invasion and unwarranted intrusion into privacy as found in other
countries. The Bill represents a step backwards and is inconsistent with
international standards on human rights and other legal requirements. On the
basis of international experiences, the lack of these essential safeguards
to protect the right to privacy will inevitably lead to abuses.
The lack of legal protections in this Bill will invite abuse and have a
severe impact on human rights and privacy.
It is recommended that the Bill in question should be subjected to rigorous
scrutiny before it is even tabled before Parliament as it has immeasurable
inadequacies compared to laws in other jurisdictions which respect the right
1 See Lee. A. Bygrave; 'Privacy Protection in a Global Context-A Comparative
Overview', Scandinavian Studies in Law, 2004, Vol. 47, p 319-348.
No Holds Barred with Gondo Gushungo
OUT-OF-FAVOUR toffee-nosed ZANU PF businessmen whose riches remain one of
the greatest mysteries of modern times, never cease to amaze me.
While all is well, they see, hear and speak no evil about their beloved ZANU
PF. To them, the ruling party is the best thing to happen to Zimbabwe since
sliced bread. Those critical of the ugly face of the party's attack machine
are branded unpatriotic as if ZANU PF is Zimbabwe.
But when things fall apart and their businesses hit hard times, they turn
around, quick as a flash, accusing the very party about which they saw
nothing wrong, of not only orchestrating the collapse of their businesses
but also of picking over the corpses of those companies - adding a probably
imagined political dimension to their woes.
But I know of no one who could say something so intrinsically preposterous,
as did TeleAccess founder Daniel Shumba - that other politician of
monumental littleness - and still expect to be taken seriously.
With all due respect to the editor of The Financial Gazette, what Shumba
who, just like other former ZANU PF activists-cum-businessmen remain utterly
unspoiled by their great failures, said about his businesses being under
siege from the ZANU PF government was undisguisedly nonsensical. The page on
which Shumba's story appeared was wasted and it deserves to be used for that
other purpose and flushed down the toilet - hoping that it will not clog the
". . . 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 . . ." the
out-of-sorts Shumba said as he tried to make the world believe that his
fixed telecommunication services project is doomed because the government is
trying to punish him for taking part in the ill-fated 2004 Tsholotsho
meeting which ZANU PF believes was meant to block the rise of Joice Mujuru
to the position of vice president.
How convenient? No wonder it is said sometimes we can learn a lot from
watching politicians than listening to them. If we are to believe him, then
there is a political backlash against the businessman. And that is supposed
to explain the failure of TeleAccess? Please! Didn't the cataclysmic
Tsholotsho meeting happen in November 2004, exactly two years after Shumba
had been given a licence? What had been holding him back from rolling out
his network? I hold no brief for ZANU PF. And I will be the first to admit
that the ruling party touches nothing it does not dehydrate. The evidence is
there for all to see. The unprecedented economic meltdown is a case in
point. But a few home truths need to be told.
TeleAccess Zimbabwe (Pvt) Limited was granted licence number PFT 20030102 on
January 3, 2003. And the licence was cancelled on November 24, 2005 - almost
a staggering three long years after it was issued. With all due respect to
Shumba, it seems to me that the project, whose future is still up in the
air, had since come unstuck long before the licence was cancelled three
years down the line. It, to all intents and purposes, suffered a stillbirth.
If, as we are told, the terms of the licence were that TeleAcess should have
been offering commercial services by May 1, 2003. Why then had it not been
on stream by November 2005? Thus I might as well observe, as did David
Houston of Williams Jennings Bryan, that one could drive a prairie schooner
through any part of Shumba's arguments and never scrape against a fact.
Unfortunately, Shumba is not alone. There are so many of these businessmen
who are singing the same blues tune. And they are blaming it all on their
erstwhile party, ZANU PF. They can say it in their millions, it will never
transform from balderdash to the truth. The truth is never dependent upon
consensus of opinion. Of course in this debate, highly charged rhetoric has
often been substituted for informed and reasoned analysis. But those of us
who had ringside seats when it all started know that were it not for
political connections and back-scratching relationships, most of the ZANU
PF-linked businessmen did not have what it takes to start or acquire
existing businesses. Their wealth has therefore a lot to do with ZANU PF
It is an open secret how licences in banking and in the mobile phone sector
were awarded on political rather than purely business considerations. And
yet legitimate businessmen who had the technical know-how and financial
wherewithal such as Econet founder and CEO, Strive Masiyiwa had to literally
walk through a legal minefield to get a licence!
When these ZANU PF businessmen emerged, they were touted as unique and
incomparable - just in the mould of Masiyiwa who seemed to have an internal
compass which showed him which direction to go.
But as it has turned out, most of them were either retail minds in wholesale
businesses or they were nothing more than errand boys and frontmen for their
political Godfathers in the ruling party. And inevitably, failings of
businesses run by these out-of-favour ZANU PF politicians-cum businessmen
have become a permanent feature of the Zimbabwean corporate landscape.
Check how the companies they took over - after doing the equivalent of
putting guns to the heads of the companies' former owners under the black
economic empowerment drive where government navigated without a compass -
have gone down the tubes.
They found these companies in fine fettle. And they ran them down. But not
before making billions of dollars from crony capitalism where banks pumped
funds to these politically well connected businessmen who ran up large debts
in misguided expansion plans during their pursuit of empire-building as
opposed to a more value-driven approach.
When they took over the companies we were told that this was a triumph for
financial engineering. But these were politically-motivated leveraged
buyouts. The outside investors financed the takeovers of the companies by
borrowing at high rates against the promise of thumping earnings growth in
While admittedly, risk is an unavoidable consequence of doing business,
banks extended credit to this risky crop of new businessmen. It is not as if
sound risk management is a discipline less developed in Zimbabwe. But the
banks were arm-twisted into doing so against their better judgment. And
those in the know will tell you that loans extended under these
circumstances threatened the very existence of the banks saddled with these
under-secured and unsecured exposures.
Before long, after the frenzied company takeovers, asset-stripping was
commonplace. The fly-by-night new owners, who could not develop the
businesses as they could not carry out an idea and work through the full
result, were driven by the desire for quick profits. Some of the companies
were failing to pay their workers and facing bankruptcy proceedings with
creditors scrambling for their assets. Examples abound. A classic one is the
fate of those companies taken over by a loud-mouthed former ZANU PF
businessman who now thinks himself deaf because he no longer hears himself
being talked about!
When all is said and done, the moral of this story is that being associated
with politicians for a businessman is both a blessing and a curse. In most
cases, no business can keep to its course if the owners dabble in the
treacherous waters of Zimbabwean politics and rely on the deeply-rooted
patronage system. It is as simple as that. Like any other wheeler-dealer,
they will always find themselves indebted to ZANU PF. That is a sort of
situation moral examplars do best to avoid because it is not healthy. Come
to think of it, what stops the ruling party from pushing, cajoling and
threatening the businessmen to do things its own way, which way is not
That is why I feel the businessmen, most of whom are self-inflated
mediocrities, have been stupidly and grossly undiscerning even when
discernment was called for. Now they are like sausages sizzling and
sputtering in their own fat. And I, as indeed would many, say stiff cheese!
I have no sympathy for them - It is all their fault. They made a deal with
the ravenous cannibal to eat them last. And dinner is now being served.
The Geoff Nyarota column
WHEN Daimler-Benz AG, the world-famous German manufacturer of luxury
automobiles, emerged in 1924, little did executives realise that their
product would make such an intoxicating impact on the life-style of the rich
and the powerful of Africa for ages to come.
Following the merger of two companies founded by Karl Benz and Gottlieb
Daimler, a decision was taken to name the company's cars Mercedes-Benz.
Mercedes was the name of the daughter of Daimler's earlier partner, Emil
Jellinek. Daimler is credited with designing the world's first four-wheeled
car in 1886.
One hundred and twenty years later, in 2006, a businessman of indeterminate
entrepreneurial hybrid and infamous pretentiousness led journalists from a
daily newspaper in Harare into the cavernous basement garage below his
lavish mansion to show off his latest acquisition.
Phillip Chiyangwa, a born-again Christian, whose rarely coherent excerpts
from the Bible Herald reporters quote with gay abandon, had become the proud
owner of the ultimate in Mercedes-Benz luxury and power. The S600 model is
the top-of-the-range model currently manufactured by Daimler-Chrysler, apart
from the exotic Maybach, which I will refer to later. Daimler-Benz merged
with United States automobile-maker, Chrysler, in 1998 to form the world's
third largest car manufacturer DaimlerChrysler.
Chiyangwa reportedly paid a cool £103 000 to indulge his insatiable craving
for luxury chariots. The journalists fawningly described his new car as the
only one of its kind in Africa. I doubt that they checked in Nigeria, South
Africa, Egypt, Algeria or wherever else well-heeled Africans are attracted
to the famous German marque.
"The businesses that I have demand such a car," the failed politician and
former music promoter boasted. "I am celebrating my own success. Everything
that I have, I owe to God."
Any businessman who genuinely believes that he requires a vehicle powered by
a 5.5-litre, 12-cylinder engine to travel to his appointments needs to have
his head examined. But when a country has businessmen of repute such as
Joseph Chinotimba what else can one expect? More competent journalists
would, in any case, have inquired whether God had provided the currency
required to import such a car into a foreign currency-strapped country.
While I do not dispute the fact that God the Almighty is Christendom's
ultimate benefactor, in the case of Chiyangwa I dare state, even at the risk
of being accused of blasphemy, that his constant acquisition of very
expensive assets must be the consequence of the intervention of the ruling
ZANU PF party rather than that of the Almighty.
It is amazing that Chiyangwa's foreign currency-gobbling pursuits do not
arouse the curiosity of the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. Gideon
Gono is usually a man of sternly inquisitive temperament.
It positively was not a case of divine intervention that Chiyangwa was
mysteriously spirited out of Rhodesville Police Station, while his alleged
conspirators were put on trial and convicted in that celebrated case of
Chiyangwa's surprise arrest back in 2004 on charges of allegedly spying for
an undisclosed foreign power occurred not long after he had taken another
group of journalists on a guided tour of the same palatial mansion. They
described the opulent palace in a subsequent article as having 18 bedrooms,
25 lounges, nine servants' quarters, two swimming pools, a basement garage
with space for 17 cars and three heliports, in case friends literally drop
in for dinner. Such impudent showmanship must have incurred the wrath of
even his staunchest allies in ZANU PF.
After his sojourn in remand prison, during which he traded the luxury of his
palatial manor for the flea-infested rags that passed for blankets in the
cells at Rhodesville, where Wilf Mbanga and I spent a miserable night in
2001, Chiyangwa instantly became a born-again Christian. Mbanga and I were
co-founders of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, publishers of the now
banned Daily News. Around the time of our arrest, Chiyangwa granted
Australian Television Network an interview. He frothed at the mouth while
denouncing us as unpatriotic.
After Rhodesville he followed in the spiritual footsteps of more
accomplished politicians, Enos Mzombi Nkala, who was forced into premature
retirement, and the once fearsome Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa.
Curiously, some of Zimbabwe's born-again pastors treat the ranks of the
moneyed, the powerful or the obviously corrupt as fertile hunting ground for
new converts. As a result the lifestyle of some of the clerics, by all
accounts, exudes an ambience of opulence that, alongside the abnormal sexual
appetite of some, is totally inconsistent with their devout calling and the
penury endured by the greater part of their flock.
The guerilla war that liberated Zimbabwe sought to eradicate the racial
discrimination that sustained a wide gap between the rich white minority and
the poor black majority. Today, 26 years after the attainment of that
independence, the gap between the rich and poor continues to widen
defiantly. Paradoxically, it has become a gap between rich black and poor
black. To add insult to injury, the wealth of the black nouveau riche is
more visible to the poor. The wealthy whites lived in a racially segregated
world, away from the prying eyes of the masses. The newly rich flaunt their
immense and often ill-gotten wealth as they cruise in their powerful BMW and
Mercedes SUVs along the port-holed streets of poverty-stricken Mbare and
Makokoba, where they grew up. For the poorest nation on earth ownership of
luxury vehicles is inordinately high in Zimbabwe.
The addiction of Zimbabwe's ruling elite to luxury cars of Teutonic origin
is a post-independence phenomenon. Cabinet ministers under the regime of the
rebel Rhodesian leader, Ian Smith, were allocated the French
sanctions-busting Peugeot 404, a modest and fairly common model. Then they
graduated to the Peugeot 504, which in its old age has become the butt of
uncharitable political jokes following the announcement of the decisive
outcome of the recent Budiriro parliamentary by-election in Harare.
Zimbabwe's first generation of cabinet ministers inherited this robust and
durable model, but not for long. While the new political elite dutifully
preached socialism, self-denial and social equality, they soon displayed an
unnerving penchant for that ultimate symbol of the decadence of the
capitalist west, which they decried daily - the three-pointed star, as
attached to the bodywork of the latest offering from Stuttgart.
When he rides in his latest acquisition Chiyangwa faces little prospect of
competition, apart from that posed by State House, where a similar model was
reportedly delivered not so long ago. Elsewhere, opposition leaders in the
Kingdom of Swaziland condemned Africa's last absolute monarch, King Mswati
III, in 2004 after he invested R3 million in an awesome Daimler-Chrysler
"It is puzzling how a head of state could buy a car for US$500 000 when his
nation is surviving on food aid," The Sunday Times of Johannesburg quoted a
University of Swaziland political scientist as saying. "It is unfortunate
the king's government is unable to prioritise and do things that will save
the nation, as opposed to the interests of the monarch and his family."
At the time of Mswati's shamelessly lavish spending the English-educated
monarch was already the proud owner of a stretch Rolls Royce, as well as a
fleet of BMW and Mercedes Benz limousines to whisk him and his one dozen or
so official wives in style and comfort around the tiny and impoverished
mountain kingdom. The newspaper reported that Mswati had been forced to
shelve plans to purchase a private executive jet after his long-suffering
subjects took to the streets in protest. Mass action became an effective
deterrent to royal profligacy.
Any reference to lavish spending takes me back to my first visit to the
United States back in 1983. I covered the visit of the then Prime Minister,
Robert Mugabe, to New York where he addressed the United Nations General
Assembly. The delegation was huge by any standards. Numbering around 30, it
included the usual coterie of foreign affairs officials, officers from the
Prime Minister's department, the press corps, secretaries, medical staff, a
culinary technician and other domestic staff.
The entire delegation was booked, quite extraordinarily, into the Waldorf
Estoria on Park Avenue, then the world's most expensive hotel. The rich and
famous pay a fortune to indulge in the luxury of the hotel when visiting New
York. During our own stay, management never got wise to the fact that their
important guests from the newly independent Republic of Zimbabwe gave the
culinary delights of the hotel's world-famous restaurants a wide berth while
smuggling into their plush rooms hamburgers from the nearest MacDonald's
outlet. Meanwhile, junior staff at the UN mission was kept on their toes
buying colour television sets, a novelty then, for delegates, using their
The Mugabe government launched its campaign of mismanagement of the economy
as soon as it entrenched itself in power. Let's call a spade a spade here.
While Smith's Rhodesia was buffeted by international sanctions and civil war
for more than a decade, the economy was robust when the new government took
over. So was the infrastructure. The Zimbabwe dollar was stronger than the
US dollar in 1980. Space limitations prevent me from quoting the current
While our ruling and wealthy elite wallow in the lap of luxury, the masses
responsible for their empowerment or their enrichment wallow in abject
poverty. The emergence of a breed of Zimbabwean entrepreneur with that rare
combination of wealth and a big heart that has transformed Bill Gates into
the most charitable human being on earth appears destined to remain in the
realms of a pipe dream. Not that Zimbabwe suffers from any shortage of
In fairness, I must mention that Strive Masiyiwa of Econet has set up the
Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Scholarship Fund for the furtherance of education of
young Zimbabweans. He also had occasion to donate towards the welfare and
development of our popular sport, soccer. President Mugabe has lately made
numerous donations of computers to rural schools, especially during election
campaigns. His detractors are quick to suggest, however, that the computers
may have been donated to him, while others question the prudence of donating
computers before ensuring a regular supply of electricity. I understand Vice
President Joice Mujuru recently donated 10 000 day-old chicks to women's
organisations - a very practical gift.
But too few of our affluent plough back into their communities some of what
they make out of them. The religiously zealous Chiyangwa could have
sacrificed his new S600 to fund the construction of a magnificent clinic for
the rural poor, and still have enough money left over to cover running costs
for many years to come.
Chiyangwa would then be remembered by posterity as a conscientious and
public-spirited hero, rather than as the pretentious and profligate pain in
the public neck that many Zimbabweans outside Herald House regard him as.
The problem which they unwittingly created for Africa must occasionally
cause Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler to turn in their sepulchres.
National Agenda with Bornwell Chakaodza
ONCE upon a time, they used to call Harare the sunshine city but today all
that has changed, thanks to the Minister of Local Government, Public Works
and Urban Development, Ignatius Chombo who has done virtually everything
conceivable to ruin this yester year beautiful city.
Last Friday, the government through the Minister of Local Government
reappointed for the fourth consecutive time the semi-literate Sekesayi
Makwavarara and four members of the illegal and unaccountable commission
running the capital city for a further six months.
This was done against all the expectations and objections of the
long-suffering Harare residents and ratepayers.
To say that Harare residents were left open-mouthed by this reappointment
will be an understatement. They truly could not believe it. This was yet
another example of the attitude that government could not care less what
people think and want.
In reappointing these self-serving commissioners, Chombo unashamedly said
that government was pleased with the work being done by the commission,
adding that the establishment of business units and utility agencies has
enhanced the city's revenue base.
"I observe and hear with extreme pleasure that, to date, this strategy has
paid dividends in the increased visibility of the city in areas such as road
maintenance, street and traffic lights management, improved refuse
collection capacity as the plant and equipment is slowly but surely being
brought back on the city's roads," Chombo opined.
Democratic unaccountability of this Makwavarara woman and her commissioners
aside, what Chombo said is simply not true.
No sane Harare resident will swallow that piece of insulting nonsense from
you Chombo. Patching roads and filling portholes here and there does not
amount to improved service delivery.
Harare has become a run-down city and there is no hard evidence on the
ground that the so-called turnaround process in the city is succeeding.
Residents will continue to pour scorn on your claims Minister as long as the
evidence is not there.
What the residents of Harare continue to see and experience is uncollected
garbage, water cuts for days on end, poor sanitation, filthy and smelly
street lanes, non-working street lights - in a phrase: terrible service
All this reflects very badly on the government, unfortunately.
It is common knowledge that the unelected commissioners do not give a damn
about the Harare residents and ratepayers. Essentially, we are dealing with
people who want to enjoy the privileges of power: buying houses and stands
for a song.
The illiterate and completely clueless Makwavarara is a notorious case in
point. I cannot imagine for the life of me why such a person should be
reappointed - in fact, why was she appointed in the first place?
Of course, this woman is not alone in sin. There are hundreds, if not
thousands, of people in this country who are misbehaving in the same way as
Makwavarara but their actions are not being scrutinised by the media and the
public to the same extent.
Nevertheless, she is the public face of the City of Harare at the moment and
must therefore be made accountable. By the same token, the media must shine
its lamp and ferret out the corrupt thousands who are hiding in dark corners
throughout the country.
The City of Harare, unlike Bulawayo and other towns, finds itself in this
unlucky position for a number of reasons.
First, it is the seat of the government of Zimbabwe and the ruling party
thinks it owns the city hence the unlawful dismissal of the MDC-led council
in 2004. Strange and unbelievable, yes, but ZANU PF genuinely thinks that
they own us Harare residents - body and soul!
Incredible as it may seem, that is what ZANU PF believes.
Second, we are stuck not only with Chombo's poodle - Makwavarara - but we
are also unlucky in the sense that the Town Clerk himself, Nomutsa Chideya,
is somewhat incompetent. I do not know whether he can reform himself, but
the truth of the matter is that the cock-up in Harare should also be laid at
Chombo, of course, is the number one culprit, but Chideya comes a close
third after the clueless Makwavarara. Chideya is the number one advisor to
Council so there is no way we can separate the uselessness of the City of
Harare from him. This is the crux of the matter.
We can all agree, I am sure, that the best Town Clerk that post-independent
Zimbabwe has ever had is the former Town Clerk of Bulawayo, Mike Ndubiwa.
The man was just competent and knowledgeable and how l wish to God that all
town clerks everywhere could take a leaf from Ndubiwa's book. Bulawayo was
not only the best-run city in the country but even now under the able
leadership of Josephat Ndabeni-Ncube continues to be so.
This tradition has its roots in the pre-independence period in the various
successive Bulawayo mayors including the then far-sighted director of
African administration, Hugh Ashton
People with good management skills do not make excuses like Nomutsa Chideya,
the Harare Town Clerk, who recently said "Some of the problems affecting
Harare should be understood from a historical perspective". He went on ". .
. the City of Harare was created for whites in the colonial era and a few
blacks who provided labour . . . at the moment the city has a population of
three million people, while the infrastructure can take one million people
Twenty six years after independence this is a crazy observation by Chideya.
While his observation is true historically it does not hold water anymore.
No right-thinking Zimbabwean will buy into that backward thinking at this
point in time. Chideya, colonialism ended more than 20 years ago and there
is no way we can continue hacking back to it time and time again.
My question to you Chideya is this: Have you heard of the phrase 'Planning
for the future'? Is this not the kind of thinking which has killed our
country and wrecked our health delivery system, education and almost
everything else? It is failure to plan, stupid! I am sure you will dutifully
inform us again, for example, that Parirenyatwa Hospital is in such a sorry
state because it was built for whites in the colonial era! Get real,
I must point out that it no longer suffices to continue to claim that our
current problems are firmly rooted in the past. Absolutely not. Totally
untrue. We are solely to blame for the crises that we find ourselves in
whether it is in the Harare City Council or the country at large. Logic must
not be turned on its head and neither must people be asked to believe the
unbelievable like what the Minister of Local Government mouthed at his last
week's press conference when he reappointed Makwavarara and her fellow
The minister's ruling out the holding of municipal elections in the city
until Harare Metropolitan Province districts are properly defined was just
another ruse and excuse to keep out the Movement for Democratic Change
By way of conclusion, l want to emphasise the fact that it is a sad
reflection of what we fought for when democratic accountability is being
thrown out through the window the way it is happening with incredible
rapidity in the City of Harare.
My heart goes out to the residents and ratepayers of this city. There is
absolutely no reason why the Zimbabwe government should be seen to be at war
with its own people.
So, Harare limps on. A hopeless situation? I do not know. But for now it is
difficult to see what we can do to help these creatures at the top of the
council in their take-off into self-sustained doom except maybe to sing:
Bon Voyage Vampires.
Coltart driven by democratic principles
EDITOR - It is good to see that we still have Zimbabweans who are motivated
and driven by democratic principles.
David Coltart's move to join the Mutambara faction of the MDC is welcome
news. Their party is trully democratic driven fundamentally by democratic
principles which are slowly being removed in the Tsvangirai faction because
it is a hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil, ZANU PF type of party.
Lack of checks and balances in the MDC will, if the party were to come into
power, replace one dictatorship with another.
Unfortunately as Zimbos, hunger makes us fail to appreciate this. We are as
short-term minded as we were in 1980. We need to ask ourselves the question:
Once a new leader (not necessarily Tsvangirai) is in power what checks and
balances will there be to prevent another scenario like the one we have now?
We cannot leave this to a submissive secretariat like the one under Tendai
Biti. It is a disaster because it is a bootlicking secretariat. What we need
is an independent secretariat like what Welshman Ncube sought to build as
MDC secretary general but for which he is now being persecuted. Lies are
even being told about someone whose only crime was to try and build
democratic order and checks and balances in the MDC.
Finally to Arthur Mutambara and others, I urge you guys to keep going. You
have shown that you are driven not by economic need but by a desire for
democracy. You are all still relatively young and in a few years time you
will prove to Zimbabweans that at times a few people can be correct and the
We all know one day you will govern (not rule) this country and put in place
the very democratic institutions you are fighting for today. Then investors
will flock to Zimbabwe because they will know that their rights will be
respected. It is possible for a few people to exercise better judgement even
if the majority think they are a tribal clique or are wrong.
Daniel Shumba should shut up and ship out
EDITOR - I was really amazed to read your article titled "My empire under
seige: Shumba". It is amazing that after all these years of failure your
journalists still believe that the fall of Daniel Shumba is due to politics.
The man is just a failure as a businessman due to his failure to listen to
I say all this for I have been working for TeleAccess for the past four
years and nothing that Shumba touches turns to gold. The failure of
TeleAccess to launch a telephone service is because he spurned many deals
from manufacturers who wanted to be technical partners. That he now wants to
launch the service is like an April fool's day joke only that the month is
One of the companies mentioned in the article, Systems Technology, now only
exists at the Registrar of Companies as virtually everyone has left due to
non-payment of salaries by Shumba. His flagship TeleAcess is also collapsing
as workers have not been paid their salaries for the past four months. Even
if he were paying, the salaries are a mockery of the engineering profession
as he is paying technicians as little as Z$12 million - the same as a
security guard. So for this guy to now talk of buying equipment when he is
failing to pay such paltry salaries is total madness.
Shumba should just shut up and ship out. If the courts return his licence
that will be a travesty of justice for the man will not operate in a
'Evil eye' cause of our suffering
EDITOR - The evil eye is responsible for what is causing so much suffering
in Zimbabwe today. Whether it be Mawere against Moyo or whoever it is still
symptomatic of "the glance of malice". This energy has permeated everything
and anyone and is denying us our freedom.
I have felt since I was a kid that no one or anything is a threat to me
unless I allow them to become one. Believe me, growing up with a tyrant for
a father made it even easier. Zimbos need to rein-in this glance of malice
fast because it's a cancer that is invading our very beings and spreading to
our our children.
The evil eye is passed on when the person casting it is envious, jealous or
possessive.The act of transmitting the glance of malice is completed by
looking at the person whose possessions, happiness or good fortune is most
susceptible to injury. The spiritul energy from the eyes, when malevolently
charged, is what produces the effect we know as the "evil eye".
That's why we are now bound to one spot emotionally, physically, mentally
and spiritually. The intensity of this transmission of malevolent energy has
even bewilderded church leaders and traditional healers.
Zimbos living like kings
EDITOR - Life in the diaspora is not so rosy, wrote one Nelson Katsande in a
daily paper last week. Nelson you are lying and you know that's cheap
I live in London and not every Zimbabwean is a cleaner as you claim. Every
year in all univesities in the UK half or more of the graduates are
Zimbabwean. If you don't know the UK that well, feel free to contact me and
I will show you Zimbabweans living like kings.
How much is a Zim salary worth today? Nothing. My father worked for 40 years
in Zimbabwe and he is getting a $1 million pension a month which is £1.30.
I feel sorry for those who are living in Zimbabwe now. Mr Katsande, I
sincerely hope you are the only Zimbabwean who thinks like that because if
there are two like you, it would be a great shame.
African leaders never learn
EDITOR - Sir, If you go back to the '60s and '70s, if you are kind to the
truth, you may actually state that all black people lived in such amazing
harmony under the terribly racist Rhodesian government. Despite their
attempts at dividing and ruling Zimbabwe along tribal/ethnic lines, like
their kin had done elsewhere in the world, the black people had always
maintained a dignity and love for each other that must shame the current
leaders of the country.
I remember growing up in the Midlands and Matabeleland how as a Ndebele, my
closest friends were, and still are Shonas with whom I mixed so freely. In
fact, my being in London is because of a very dear Shona friend of mine.
Language was not a problem, as we would interchange between the main
languages in a jocular way we came to call 'Shobele'. You would find the
guys speaking in Shona with a sprinkling of Ndebele words and vice-versa.
My dad is Ndebele and mom is Shona and for me this was a perfect scenario.
Fast forward to the current thugs in government - I witnessed first-hand the
atrocities of the 5th Brigade. This was no laughing matter. The violence and
downright sadistic savagery traumatised some of us: no human being should
descend to such levels in unleashing inhuman treatment on others. The end of
such people (if they are that at all) is usually characterised by worse
tragedy that befalls them and their families - Ceascescu, Amin, Hitler,
Saddam. you name them. African political leaders (with few exceptions) are a
really disappointing lot. It's as if they come from the same mother (direct
translation from Ndebele: kungathi bazalwa ngunina munye). They learn
nothing from history and there has perhaps been none so great a
disappointment than our very own president. A man so imbued with such a high
intellect, articulation of issues, education, and undoubted leadership
qualities that if they had all been channelled correctly, Zimbabwe and
Zimbabweans would not be the laughing stock they are today.
Instead, like the Macbeth character, he's been full of sound and fury, all
signifying nothing. Then you have rogue ex-editors like Geoff Nyarota who
appears to hate anything Ndebele (specifically), accusing these same people
who have been abused by the white supremacist government of Ian Smith and
their own kith and kin government of not being able to rise up and do
anything about it.
If he knew what real trauma is, perpetrated over 40 years of unrelenting
racism and tribalism combined against them, and especially the unbelievable
savagery that was unleashed on them by their own black kin, then it would be
clear how unfair that kind of criticism is. Statements such as this from
your correspondent really relegate him to a nonentity: "The majority of the
population cannot articulate their views or concerns openly on such
sensitive but divisive issues as Gukurahundi for fear of being branded
tribalists or Mugabe-lovers. Ndebele subjects who campaign for justice on
this issue, however belatedly, do so away from public platforms, their
campaigns assuming the countenance of rebellious plotting against the Shona
This helps no one. I personally have yet to see a Ndebele person who rebels
against the so-called Shona majority: why this needless divisiveness Geoff?
Why are you so terribly blinded by such ethnic-prowess seeking? I doubt
normal Shona people think like you do. And this is the very cross of Africa
where tribal ascendancy is propagated above national interests and as long
as such narrow mindedness as so spectacularly displayed by Geoff exists,
Africa and black Africans can forget progress and will always play into the
hands of the oppressors of yesteryear, be mocked by the rest of the world
and lag behind in everything that determines self-actualisation.
Is it not enough that life expectancy is shrinking while it's increasing for
others - in the UK, for instance, there is a serious pensions crisis because
people are no longer dying when they were expected to. Is it not enough that
ZANU PF has destroyed agriculture, public transport, education, health, the
export/import sector, relations with other countries, given us all a bad
name (the Zimbabwean passport is a terrible curse for those of us who can
travel), confidence, etc?
Instead of attacking the Matabeles and accusing them of hiding, Geoff could
do the country a service by encouraging unity among us all; the sort of
unity that saw us all take up arms to fight Smith not as a divided tribal
pairing but as a nation. Instead of espousing unrealistic challenges for a
people that ZANU PF has sought to subjugate and/or decimate at all costs,
Geoff should have compassion for his fellow men and apologise for the role
he himself played in assisting in ZANU PF's savagery. I have communicated
with you Editor on this particular matter before and I am surprised that you
allow such a vile man so much space but you could never publish such a
letter as mine.
Why does your correspondent hate the Matabeles so much? I have written to
him in my personal capacity and the responses have, apart from intelligible
gibberish most times, drawn such far-fetched and surprisingly paranoid
conclusions about me. Once, because I have expressed common pain with Prof
Ncube, he assumed I had met him and that I participated in the MDC meeting
in London, neither of which is true. I have never met Prof Ncube but I
understand why he would break down and weep over his dead grandmother.