|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
This emerged as President Robert Mugabe this
week renewed his hunt for fuel
in Libya. Mugabe, who last year said the fuel problem was giving him
"headaches and stomach pains", left for Tripoli on Wednesday in a bid to
resuscitate the frozen US$360 million fuel deal with Libya's Tamoil, first
signed two years ago.
The deal has been on ice because Zimbabwe is unable to pay.
Sources said Mugabe was likely
to return from Libya empty-handed unless he
mortgages what his government has classified as "strategic assets" as part
of the deal.
been demanding specific assets before it agrees to revive the
arrangement that guarantees Zimbabwe a year's supply of fuel.
The Libyans, who
last visited Zimbabwe in May in connection with the fuel
wrangle, want to acquire Noczim's 50% equity in Petrozim, which it jointly
owns with Lonrho.
Noczim is asking US$100 million while the Libyans are
prepared to pay only
Tamoil, which is owed over
US$60 million by government, also wants to
acquire vital fuel infrastructure before any deal is done.
They want to buy the Mutare-Harare pipeline
and Msasa depot and acquire
service stations as part of the arrangement. The government is reluctant to
release the assets because of the deadlock over the price.
Before Mugabe left for Libya with a large delegation of
officials, bankers and fuel sector representatives, a meeting was held by
stakeholders on Monday at the Jewel Bank's executive chambers. Sources said
the asset- mortgaging issue loomed large at the meeting.
Efforts to get comment from Jewel Bank chief executive
Gideon Gono yesterday
were unsuccessful as he was said to be in Libya.
Sources said government is now hoping against hope that
help it out of the crisis that has been lingering since 1999.
"We understand government has been in touch with TotalFinaElf
for a fuel
supply deal," an industry source said. "It appears there has been a
gentleman's agreement on the issue although there are still things that need
to be sorted out first."
Stanislas Mittelman, TotalFinaElf
Zimbabwe chief executive, and the
company's marketing and public affairs director Stanley Hatendi were not
available for comment yesterday.
The TotalFinaElf group is currently developing a US$3,4
billion oil project
Angola's state-owned Sonangol, the
concessionaire, recently authorised
TotalFinaElf to tender key contracts for the development of the Dalia oil
field, which includes 34 production wells, 30 water injection wells and
three gas injection wells.
multinational has already launched the project capable of processing 240
000 barrels of oil per day.
The Dalia floating production storage and
offloading facility will have a
storage capacity of two million barrels of oil.
Government has been trying to entice TotalFinaElf, which is
Belgian-owned, to enter into a deal. It has sold the company the country's
largest storage facilities at Beitbridge. Now the government is in the
process of selling its 51% stake in the vital Oil Blending Enterprises Ltd
(Obel) which supplies lubricants. Total already controls 49% of Obel.
Zimbabwe has been trying to source fuel from Angola for some
Angola, the second largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa after Nigeria,
is pumping 760 000 barrels a day from its vast offshore oil fields.
The government has also been trying to secure fuel from
Kuwait, United Arab
Emirates, Sudan, Iran, South Africa, Botswana, and Nigeria.
New Ziana to take over two ZBC radio stations
INFORMATION minister Jonathan Moyo intends to widen the state propaganda
base by transferring two ZBC radio stations to his troubled New Ziana
project, the Zimbabwe Independent has been told.
The move is part of a restructuring exercise which seeks to extricate the
state broadcaster from debt by streamlining operations.
The dismal failure
of the much-touted restructuring exercise, dubbed Vision
30 in November 2001, has driven the ZBC into further debt, leaving
management and the board without any option but to try another
re-organisation which could result in more retrenchments and staff
ZBC chief executive
officer Munyaradzi Hwengwere confirmed yesterday that
the corporation would soon implement a restructuring exercise, but claimed
"not a single worker will be retrenched".
Last September the ZBC retrenched 435 workers
under its Vision 30
restructuring exercise. The workers claim they have not received their
Hwengwere refused to give
details on the transfer of stations to New Ziana.
The New Ziana project was launched last year to replace the poorly-funded
news agency, Ziana. Under the project, community radio stations as well as
newspapers would be established to improve the dissemination of information
to grassroots communities.
However, a general lack of funding has so far delayed
the launch of the
Happison Muchechetere, head of the
electronic division at New Ziana, said he
was not aware of the transfer of the stations.
"I am not yet aware of that," he said. "That is news to
me, but I would
appreciate it. We will have radio and television services. We have already
invited tenders for the provision of equipment to be used by the stations."
As part of the streamlining of operations sources at
Pockets Hill this week
said two out of the four radio stations under ZBC would be transferred to
New Ziana. The other two would become autonomous entities, which Hwengwere
said would be registered as separate companies but continue to operate under
the state-run broadcaster.
stations under ZBC have failed to operate as commercial entities
advertisers have fled from the airwaves in droves.
ZBC this week said the decision to restructure followed a series
of meetings held by the board and management over the past weeks
Morale is reportedly at its lowest ebb at ZBC, with suspensions and
dismissals now frequent. The restructuring, sources said, was aimed at
reducing the workforce and generating income through the various stations
and services offered by the corporation.
The sources added that ZTV would also become an
independent company, as well
as the corporation's Production Services.
"We have always been telling the world that we are
implementing a continuous
restructuring exercise," Hwengwere said. "In other words, we are still
implementing Vision 30. This time we want to establish the commercial
viability of the corporation. Our plans are to create six companies from the
radio and television stations, which will be legally registered and stand
alone as independent entities," he said.
Hwengwere refused to comment on the transfer of two radio
stations to New
Ziana. "We can't engage in such talks now," he said. "Aren't we talking
about ZBC? How does New Ziana come in?"
the restructuring process would affect at least 150 of the 500
workers currently employed by the corporation.
"They want to reduce the
workforce, but at the same time they are trying to
avoid paying retrenchment packages. We wonder how they are going to achieve
that," said a senior ZBC employee.
The state-run corporation has been in difficulty since Moyo
embarked on a
campaign to use the broadcaster as a propaganda machine for the government
and ruling Zanu PF party. After the launch of Vision 30, massive recruitment
and appointments were made to boost its partisan agenda ahead of last year's
This raised the workforce to
about 900 and pushed the salary bill to an
unsustainable $7 billion which led to the accumulation of huge debts. Last
August, ZBC owed debts to various companies of up to $655 million.
At the same time, advertisers
shunned ZBC en masse, and that, coupled with
Moyo's ill-advised move to order the abandonment of sponsored programmes,
effectively destroyed the corporation's income-generating potential.
Hwengwere yesterday confirmed the broadcaster's financial crisis.
"We inherited a
historical debt which will not be dealt with overnight. I
think since the launch of Vision 30 a lot has happened which has seen an
increase in the commercial value (of ZBC)."
Election campaign will hurt economic recovery - analysts
ZIMBABWE'S economic recovery and social regeneration have been thrown into
turmoil after President Robert Mugabe last week called for an early campaign
for the 2005 general election.
Analysts this week said this might be a signal that he intends to amend the
constitution to hold both the presidential and general elections
concurrently in 2005.
Mugabe's term as president should officially end in 2008.
Civil rights campaigner Brian Kagoro said
Mugabe wants to save face by
shortening his term as a way of bargaining his exit with the opposition.
"It might be an indication that he wants to amend the constitution and have
the presidential election concurrently with the general election in 2005,"
suggested last week during his whirlwind tour of the
countryside that his party should start preparing for the 2005 election.
"We should start preparing for the elections now because 2005 is not far
away. There is only one and a half to two years to go," he told party
supporters at a rally in Shurugwi last Thursday.
This is expected to usher in another period
of political upheaval. Most
seriously it is bound to jeopardise economic recovery.
The country has been in election campaign mode for three
politicians embarking on self-serving programmes at the expense of key
policy issues like Aids prevention and food security.
say Mugabe would be happy to have the country in a perpetual state
of instability as a way of distracting the populace from his failed policies
on land and the economy.
MDC secretary for Legal Affairs David Coltart
however said Mugabe's rallies
were not necessarily electioneering but an attempt to garner confidence
after he was rattled by the mass action.
"I am convinced that he is not electioneering but that he is
reacting to the
mass action," said Coltart. "The mass action was a close call for Mugabe. He
is trying to build his own confidence in areas where he believes he has a
residue of support."
He said Mugabe would not
call for an election until he was sure that Zanu PF
supporters would coalesce around a chosen successor.
Economist John Robertson said Mugabe's
election campaign will drain the
limited resources left in government coffers since he often uses state
resources to fund such campaigns.
will be using money that should be going towards infrastructure
development," Robertson said.
Govt blocks Geneva-based parliamentary union tour
THE government this week blocked a visit by a delegation from the
Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in a move likely to further
galvanise international opinion against Harare.
President Mugabe's government which stands accused of wanton human rights
abuses also ignored the United Nations International Day Against Torture
which was commemorated yesterday.
The IPU delegation was
expected to interview MPs and government officials on
the on-going country-wide human rights violations in a mission that had been
timed to start on Sunday and end yesterday. The IPU is an international
organisation of parliaments of sovereign states.
MDC MP for Harare North, Trudy
Stevenson, yesterday said Foreign Affairs
minister Stan Mudenge failed to approve the visit thereby scuttling the
arrangement to which both the Minister of Justice, Patrick Chinamasa, and
the Speaker of Parliament, Emerson Mnangagwa, had agreed.
"Mnangagwa actually came back to us at
the last minute to say the IPU needed
the approval of the Minister of Foreign Affairs," Stevenson said. The IPU
delegation was due to interview the MPs, their families and lawyers on the
human rights abuses which have seen opposition MPs arrested and tortured by
law enforcement agents.
Already the IPU has identified 19 MPs from the MDC who have
arrested on trumped up charges, tortured or assaulted by state agents and
the Zanu PF militia.
According to the Zimbabwe Human
Rights Forum statistics for the year ended
December 2002 show there were 1 061 cases of torture, 227 abductions, 121
unlawful arrests and 111 unlawful detentions.
According to correspondence between Stevenson and the IPU
officer in charge
of human rights, the delegation could now come at the end of July when
parliament is sitting.
"You may rest assured that we
will make every effort for the mission to take
place," said Ingeborg Schwarz of the IPU's Standing Committee on Human
Rights for Parliamentarians
"We will propose new dates, most probably either the
week 28 July to August
1 or the week 4 to 8 August when parliament is sitting, and seek the
agreement of the authorities to either of these dates."
In May 2003 Parliamentarians for Global Action asked the
adhere to the requirements of international law and asked Zimbabwe to ratify
the International Criminal Court.
Kunonga stirs fresh controversy
CONTROVERSIAL Anglican Bishop of Harare Nolbert Kunonga has stirred a fresh
wave of controversy after ordering the immediate transfer of three priests,
a move being fiercely resisted by Anglicans in the affected parishes.
Members of the church have accused Kunonga of being driven by political
Kunonga last week ruled that Lameck Mutete, the priest at St Paul's parish
in Highfield should transfer to Marondera at the end of this month, sparking
demonstrations in the parish last Sunday.
Mass at St Paul's was held under a cloud of uncertainty after
members of the
congregation had demanded a full explanation from the church executive
regarding reports of Kunonga's latest controversial move. The bishop made
the ruling last Wednesday.
The mass only proceeded
after the priest pleaded with the congregation for
the issue to be discussed at the end. As soon as the church executive had
notified the congregation about the bishop's decision, anti-Kunonga
Youths holding a placard inscribed, Kunonga wairasa,
(Kunonga you have lost the plot, what you intend to do is impossible) toyi-
toyed as they led in singing derogatory songs.
Jonathan Makoni, a parishioner at St Paul's, took to the
addressed the congregation.
"We are not going to bow to
Kunonga's scheme aimed at bringing his puppet
here," said Makoni.
"We are demanding that Kunonga himself comes here and we tell
him the truth.
We can't accept his political and poor ways of administration."
Mutete refused to comment, referring all questions
to the executive, which
condemned Kunonga's decision as strange.
Sources within the Anglican Church said that the bishop was
priests whom he deemed "politically incorrect" as well as those opposed to
his leadership style. It is understood that two other priests, in Mabvuku
and Marlborough, have also been ordered by Kunonga to transfer at very short
notice. Anglicans at the two parishes have expressed their displeasure with
Kunonga's latest moves.
Kunonga couldn't be
contacted for comment as he was said to be out of his
office last week. However, the diocesan secretary, who only identified
himself as Gwedegwe said: "The diocese transfers priests whenever it feels.
The demonstrations as well as explanations being given by parishioners are
not important at all. That's all."
Meanwhile, sources said Anglicans from the three
affected parishes are
planning to collaborate with those from St Mary's Cathedral in Harare to
petition Kunonga over his leadership, or alternatively file a lawsuit
against the bishop.
Kunonga has been involved in
running battles with members of the church
since he took over from Tim Neill as bishop in 2001.
Kunonga has also been in the news for his open
support of the ruling Zanu PF
party as well as government policies, especially the violent land seizures
widely condemned both at home and abroad.
He is also the only man of the cloth to have been slapped
with sanctions by
the European Union last year.
Tobacco merchants clinch fuel deal
ZIMBABWE'S three tobacco auction floors have entered a deal with Noczim to
get preferential treatment in the allocation of fuel, the Zimbabwe
Independent has learnt.
President of the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association Duncan Miller said Noczim
would deliver fuel to the floors, which would then sell direct to farmers.
"The three auction floors have put
storage facilities in place," Millar
said. "It is our hope that the new arrangement will ease the transport
problems and boost deliveries of the crop to the auctions," said Miller.
The three auction floors are Tobacco
Sales Floor (TSF), Burley Marketing
Zimbabwe (BMZ) and Zimbabwe Tobacco Auction Centre.
BMZ managing director Bruce Searles confirmed the
arrangement to avail fuel
to farmers so that they can bring their crop to the floors. He said farmers
also needed fuel for land preparation in the coming season.
"Tobacco Marketing Board (TIMB), through Noczim, has agreed
to source fuel
and deliver it to the three auction floors," Searles said. "The auction
floors will store the fuel so that farmers can buy it as they deliver their
crop to the floors. However, we haven't received anything as yet."
TSF managing director David Mashingaidze also confirmed the
deal and their
capacity to store the fuel.
"We have tanks that can
receive the fuel," Mashingaidze said. "As we speak
we are waiting for the fuel to be delivered to the floor."
These developments come amid
reports of a record low delivery of the tobacco
crop to the auction floors this year. According to latest TIMB figures, a
mere 10,93 million kilogrammes of tobacco have gone through the three
auction floors over the past six weeks compared to a seasonal average of 22
million kg over the same period last year.
The figures also show that only 124 092 bales have been sold at
floors this year instead of a seasonal average of 228 201 bales.
Farming experts have attributed this year's thin delivery of
crop to unavailability of fuel, shortage of curing coal and a small crop
caused by the chaotic land reform programme. An estimated 85 million kg
should be delivered to the auction floors, a drop from the 166 million kg
delivered last year.
The country has been hit by a fuel
crisis owing to the failure by Noczim to
source the commodity. Noczim needs US$40 million a month to import fuel.
Miller said tobacco production was likely to decline further next year.
"We are concerned about next
year's crop. The Tobacco Growers Trust does not
have enough inputs for the farmers. The interest rates for banks have also
been hiked and the cost of production has gone up by 500% this year," he
farmers were pinning their hopes on the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
to review the export rate to cover production costs.
MDC botched 'final push' - civic groups
THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) failed to sufficiently
mobilise supporters for the recent mass action, a coalition of local civic
groups has said.
In a report titled Reflections on the Final Push: Defiance versus
Repression, Crisis in Zimbabwe says the MDC's preparedness for an effective
campaign of resistance was inadequate to match the situation.
"While the MDC's call for a stayaway from June 2/6 was
extensive state repression clearly had an effect on the willingness and
capacity of many individuals to participate in other aspects of the week of
action," the report says.
"Indeed, the aggressive
role of the military and police may largely account
for the non-occurrence of anticipated mass demonstrations across the
report states that "these factors notwithstanding, the question
of the preparedness of the pro-democracy movement to engage in mass
demonstrations needs to be interrogated".
"There is a further need to reflect on
four critical factors (from civil
society's perspective) that might also serve to explain the shortcomings of
"the final push", it says.
"The end game of the 'final push' was blurred in the messaging.
repeated advertisements in the private press, flyers and posters informed
Zimbabweans that some action was imminent, communication of the specific
objectives of this action was less consistent."
report states adverts inserted by the MDC before the action featured
cartoon of an individual resembling President Robert Mugabe being chased by
a crowd led by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, which was accompanied by
messages about the "countdown to the final push".
have led many readers to believe that the 'final push' was about
chasing Mugabe out of State House, or forcing him out of office," the report
It says as the mass action drew closer, the MDC
changed the tone of its
messages and started urging Zimbabweans to "stay calm and peaceful as we
engage in the on-going campaign to encourage Zanu PF to come to a serious
negotiating table and resolve the national crisis".
It exhorted the public to "protest peacefully - march for
your freedom" and
announced that there would be marches in all major city centres.
But the report says the road map and finer details for the
mass action were
not clear. It says the MDC was "vague about the specific form, content and
timing of the action".
"It was unclear, however,
how such marches would proceed, in what way these
demonstrations would yield dialogue, and what demands the MDC was making on
such dialogue," it says.
"Adverts and messages before the 'D-Day' demonstrations
scheduled for June 6
were more clear about the venue, but did not specify the time people were to
The report says this "contributed to
some frustration among activists who
wanted to participate in demonstrations but who were not sure what was
expected of them".
was looking for something beyond the stayaway, many were not
sure exactly what that would be," it states.
The report points out that Tsvangirai
fuelled confusion days before the
protests when he said the MDC wanted a three-month transition arrangement
before fresh elections.
days before the commencement of the 'final push'," the MDC released
statement which indicated that transition should occur in terms of the
current defective Constitution of Zimbabwe," it says.
other words, it recommended that Mugabe should step down from office
allow new elections to be held within 90 days of his resignation. This sent
mixed messages to civil society, as it smacked of "power first, principle
New farmers cripple rural council operations
SERVICE delivery in rura1 district councils (RDCs) has ground to a halt as
new farmers have failed to pay rates and taxes to fund local authorities'
operations, it has emerged.
Before the fast track resettlement exercise three years ago, commercial
farmers contributed large amounts in rates and taxes to the coffers of the
RDCs. Commercial farmers also helped to maintain roads and other
landowners have not started to pay tax while the government has refused
to give local authorities grants.
Councillors attending the fourth
biennial congress of the Association of
Rural District Councils (ARDC) in Masvingo earlier this month appealed to
the Ministry of Local Government for help. The councillors complained that
their allowances were minimal.
"We are being paid as little as $90," said one councillor
"The government has refused to give us
allowances arguing that we have to
engage in income-generating projects. This is not possible because we cannot
compete with our ratepayers and taxpayers," he said.
The non-payment of levies and taxes by the new farmers is
operations of the 58 RDCs throughout the country.
Chairman of the ARDC Jerry Gotora said there was no going
back on demanding
what councils were owed.
"We will attach the
property (agricultural implements) of any defaulters,"
"The property will then be sold if the payments are not
settled. It is clear
that farmers do not want their properties to end up this way and we hope
they will pay," he said.
Gotora said they expected
to raise more money because the number of farmers
had increased as a result of resettlement.
He accused the Ministry of Agriculture of being a
stumbling block in the
collection of taxes.
"We need the ministry
to supply us with the exact number of people who have
been resettled for easy collection of levies and taxes. It is this absence
of correct figures that is causing problems," said Gotora.
The government continues to issue
conflicting figures on the number of
people who have benefited from the land reform exercise. The official figure
is 300 000 under the Model A1 scheme but this was recently interpreted to
The farmers are
required to pay unit tax to their district councils and some
local authorities have started collecting the money. Those settled under the
A1 scheme are required to pay levies
Gotora said the taxes and levies
would be used for development projects such
as the construction of roads, clinics and schools.
The government has passed the buck to the new
farmers after failing to fund
the land reform exercise which has also been shunned by the international
Bennett sues Mugabe for incitement
MDC MP for Chimanimani Roy Bennett is suing President Robert Mugabe in his
personal capacity for inciting Zanu PF supporters to cause mayhem on his
farms, he has told the Zimbabwe Independent.
Bennett this week said he was consulting his lawyers on how to proceed with
the lawsuit against Mugabe.
This follows Mugabe's utterances at a rally in Nyakomba in
Nyanga on June 12
where he reportedly said there was no place for white farmers whom he
accused of destabilising the country. He singled out Bennett and another
farmer, Pieter de Klerk.
"These Bennetts and the De
Klerks are not deserving cases in regards to
allocation of land, because they are destabilising our society," said
Mugabe. "They are for illegality; they are supporting a party in its
programme of pursuing an illegal course to power," he told the rally.
"All those who are working in this illegal
way, in this manner of
destablising our society, do not deserve a portion of our land at all. If
they have it, if they have that land, that land will be taken from them and
be given to more loyal citizens," he said.
I don't want to hear that there is a Bennett, that there is a de Klerk
who continues to destablise our well being, they must go from here," he was
reported as saying.
Soon after Mugabe's remarks, on June 15,
250 Zanu PF youths and war veterans
descended on the farm being leased by Bennett in Ruwa, destroying property
valued at around $111, 5 million.
Bennett said he lost property amounting to $60 million while
belonging to his farm manager and workers was also lost.
"I will sue Mugabe in his personal capacity," said Bennett.
"The president of a country is not God and he is not above
the law," he
"He is a normal person like you and me and when
he personally orders acts of
violence and criminality he is accountable and no immunity can protect him,"
However, the suit
faces legal hurdles as Rule 18 of the High Court
stipulates that no civil suit may be raised against the president without
leave of the court.
Bennett said he had a video and a transcript of the Nyanga
rally which he
would use as evidence.
"The three police officers
who came from Epworth to investigate the matter
were told (by the invaders at Ruwa) in no uncertain terms that the invaders
were responding to the president's call. The officers left without doing
anything," said Bennett.
Bennett's Charleswood farm in Chimanimani was also invaded last Saturday.
Bennett said members of the Central Intelligence
Organisation, war veterans
and police moved onto the farm and arrested six workers before charging them
under the Miscellaneous Offences Act.
Dispossessed farmers to export maize to Zim
ZIMBABWE is set to import maize and seeds from farmers who migrated to
Zambia after losing their land under the land reform exercise.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stan Mudenge, two weeks ago said Zambia was
ready to export maize to Zimbabwe.
One of the farmers, Peter
McSporran, confirmed that Zimbabwe's former
commercial farmers had produced a good maize crop which they would export to
commercial farmers who have settled here are close to 50,"
"These farmers managed to grow over 30 000 tonnes
of maize and next year
this is likely to increase to about 50 000 tonnes and most of it will be
McSporran said they were also
targeting Zimbabwe for the export of
hope to export seeds to Zimbabwe and this includes seed maize in
excess of 12 000 tonnes, soyabeans and wheat," he said.
Zimbabwe has a deficit of
1,2 million tonnes of maize and farmers have
complained that they do not have enough seeds for the next season.
The taskforce on food security,
together with the Ministry of Lands,
Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, would work out the modalities of
importing maize after assessing the quantity required.
Mudenge acknowledged that Malawi and South Africa also had
and said it would be quicker and cheaper to import maize from these
countries than from suppliers in the Americas.
Zimbabwe was a net exporter of maize before the war veterans led
Daily News editor charged under Posa
DAILY News editor Nqobile Nyathi was yesterday charged under the Public
Order and Security Act (Posa) over adverts run by the paper last month.
Nyathi confirmed to the Zimbabwe Independent that she had been summoned to
Harare Central Police station.
"I was summoned to the
Law and Order Section at the Central police station,"
"I was charged under Posa and they were referring to
appeared in our paper from May 16-19. I was made to sign a warned and
cautioned statement and they said they were still investigating the case,"
The adverts, placed by the opposition MDC,
depicted a person resembling
President Mugabe being chased by a crowd. "Do you recognise him? Thief!
Thief! Thief!" the advert read.
Section 16 of Posa it is an offence to make any false statement about
the president where there is risk of engendering feelings of hostility
The charge carries a fine of $100 000 or five years imprisonment
On June 11 Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe editor-in-chief Francis
Mdlongwa was charged with the same offence when he was still at the
Financial Gazette in 2002.
On Tuesday Daily News On Sunday
editor Bill Saidi was charged under Posa for
authorising a report in the Daily News last year which stated that Mugabe
had arrived in South Africa to attend an ANC conference.
Condemning the charges, Zimbabwe National
Editors Forum chair Iden Wetherell
said President Mugabe is not only head of state but head of government and
leader of the ruling party.
is therefore at the centre of the nation's robust political discourse.
His public remarks dealing with opponents or critics are often offensive and
unrestrained. Apart from that, the state media has frequently carried
falsehoods which, to the best of our knowledge, have never been investigated
by the police.
"The action of the police suggests a
political agenda to target the
independent media. This selective application of the law and bid to protect
President Mugabe from legitimate public comment is unacceptable and
illustrates the lopsided political playing field in Zimbabwe."
Local News Friday, 27 June 2003
Land reform hits dairy/beef exports
ZIMBABWE'S unplanned land reform programme has severely cut
agricultural activities and reduced dairy and beef exports, a United Nations
agencies report says. It also shows government figures for the number of
people resettled are at variance with those estimated by land experts.
According to the Food and Agriculture
Programme's latest Global Information and Early Warning System report dated
June 19, land reform activities have extensively disrupted farming.
"Farming activities have been severely
disrupted as many resettled
farmers lack access to capital and other inputs or need time to settle
down," the FAO/WFP report said. "This has contributed to the catastrophic
decline in the national dairy export beef herds and a record low cereal
production this year."
The report said
production of maize that has been estimated at around
800 000 tonnes, 46% lower than the 2000/1 production, would leave over 5
million people in need of food handouts.
"The major cause of the much lower than
normal production of cereals
this year includes erratic rainfall and limited availability of seed and
fertiliser. The new farmers failed to utilise all the land due to lack of
adequate capital and inputs or collateral to secure them," the report said
The commercial farming sector now
produces only 10% of its 1990s
output, it said.
report said government would need to import an estimated
1,2 million tonnes of maize.
"Given the acute shortage of forex, government is
unlikely to import
more than 370 000 tonnes and the rest would be met by the emergency food
aid," the report said.
Other than maize,
government is also expected to import an estimated
298 000 of wheat if looming bread shortages are to be averted.
The report said
there was also a severe shortage of maize seed in the
country which if not addressed would limit plantings in the coming season.
"Appropriate varieties of maize and also small grain seeds need to be
sourced immediately for delivery in September," it said.
The report said 205 823
people have been allocated land under the A1
model while 28 665 benefited under the A2 model. The figures contrast with
official claims of 300 000 families resettled under the A1 scheme and more
than 50 000 under the A2 model.
Govt muddles through economic policy vacuum
GOVERNMENT has resorted to crisis management instead of devising sustainable
economic policies in an attempt to remove policy-induced distortions,
analysts said this week.
They say this day-to-day management style has caused irreparable damage to
Finance minister Herbert Murerwa conceded that government had failed to
harness runaway inflation and persisting foreign currency shortages when he
addressed a National Economic Consultative Forum meeting two weeks ago.
“Under such circumstances, we have virtually moved to the practice of
crisis management in place of sustainable development,” Murerwa said.
“Yet it is clear that this form of management is not sustainable and can
never build the confidence much required in reviving our economy.”
He said the government was “committed to removing policy-induced distortions
and regulations such as price controls and implementing other fiscal and
monetary stabilisation measures that promote production in all sectors”.
Economic commentators said the advent of price controls was a result of poor
The short-term benefits of price controls was to conceal lingering penalties
for the economy, the commentators said.
“Investors do not welcome authorities imposing controls as these lead to
confusion as to whether Zimbabwe was a controlled or a free market economy,”
one commentator said.
“The introduction of controls was a retrogressive step that scuppered
Price controls were introduced in October 2001 to cap price increases, which
however continued to race behind the inflation rate.
In a significant departure from Zanu PF policy, as set out by the politburo,
Murerwa said price controls had proved ineffective in containing inflation
or protecting consumers.
Inflation is currently at 300,1% and still heading north.
Government would limit price controls to a few basic commodities and monitor
the prices of other essential commodities, Murerwa said.
Analysts said the impact of these controls was reflected when companies
published half-year and full-year results.
The companies said price controls restricted growth in turnover and reduced
margins against a background of continual increases in input costs.
“Willdale reported that price controls resulted in the discontinuation of
some face-brick lines,” an analyst said.
“ZSR Corporation’s sugar business, which was forced to sell refined sugar at
below the cost of production during 2002, sustained a loss of $167 million
compared with a profit of $278 million in 2001 … due to price controls,
while a tonne of Sable Chemicals product (ammonium nitrate) was selling at a
controlled price of $30 000 when the same tonne was being sold on the open
market at over $170 000. Analysts also said while companies were yet to come
to terms with price controls, government had introduced new measures
governing corporate foreign currency accounts in November 2002.
The liquidation of FCAs was a repeat of the December 1997 fiasco, which led
to the dwindling of the country’s foreign currency reserves, the analysts
Both domestic and foreign savings have been declining since 1995.
The country’s domestic savings ratio fell from 20,8% of gross domestic
product (GDP) in 1995 to 9% in 2000, while the capital account balance
deteriorated from a surplus of 7,1% in 1995 to a deficit of 6,5% in 2002.
Zimbabwean exporters have lost the benefit of accessing their own foreign
currency to import essential inputs due to the requirement to dispose of
half of foreign-exchange earnings to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) at
the official US$1: $824 rate, while worse still, the other 50% is available
to exporters on request through a priority list. The bureaucracy involved
has retarded operational efficiency.
Commentators said government was addressing symptoms rather than the real
concerns of the industry.
They said there was need to address export market competitiveness to
redefine Zimbabwe as a major regional exporter and improve forex inflows.
Retention and expansion of export markets has slumped while many competitors
have enjoyed benefits of greater productivity and economies of scale such as
Analysts argued that the disparity between Zimbabwe’s inflation rate and
customer countries had proved to be a problem for exporters. Exporters said
the rate at which the dollar was depreciating was reflective of the currency
strength of trading partners South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Malawi where
inflation rates are 11,3%, 11,1%, 25% and 16,7% respectively.
“The massive inflation rate made exports uncompetitive in export markets
because of the increased costs of production,” an executive with an
exporting firm said.
Recent reports that individual foreign currency accounts were now affected
by the 50:50 foreign exchange retention requirement shows government would
stop at nothing in search of the elusive forex.
But analysts say the government’s policy is ill-advised and would worsen
cash shortages currently prevailing. They say the central bank should
consider offering higher interest rates to US dollar account holders and set
a mechanism on the forex account which would guarantee the account holder
access to the greenback.
The lunge for individual FCAs exposes the failure entrenched in a regime
focusing on its stay in power at the expense of restoring and reviving the
economy, analysts say.
Such knee-jerk policy decisions were reminiscent of the 1997 government
decision to award $5 billion in gratuities to war veterans. The government’s
arbitrary decision to buy war veterans’ political support using taxpayers’
money caused a major knock on the economy.
The recently announced salaries for civil servants, where the lowest paid
would earn $54 650 a month and the highest paid received at least $800 000
would push both inflation and the domestic debt to unprecedented levels.
Analysts said the increments were coming at a time when interest rates have
shot up to levels above 70% providing expensive money for government
“The salary increments, though justified, were awarded without regard to
market salaries and were not performance-related and would stretch
government’s capacity to pay,” economist Eric Bloch said.
Government has also failed to come up with a comprehensive fuel policy since
last year when President Mugabe announced that the government would stop
importing fuel for private players amidst assertions that the fuel sector
was strategic and had to be regulated.
Last Wednesday, deputy minister of Energy and Power Development Reuben
Marumahoko announced that the fuel industry had been deregulated and the oil
industry could import its own fuel, with the National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe importing only for strategic “reserves”.
The absence of policy has resulted in a multiple-tier pricing regime in
which dealers charge according to demand.
Industry sources said above 70% of Zimbabwe’s fleet was running on fuel
sourced at prices above the gazetted tariff.
Bloch said reflex reactions characterised decision-making in government. He
said where government came up with new policies, they were either
implemented too late or not implemented at all.
The Economic Structural Adjust-ment Programme, which was supposed to have
begun in 1991, was only implemented three years later in 1994, while the
Zimbabwe Programme for Economic and Social Transformation (Zimprest) was
published in 1998 when it should have been implemented in 1996. Bloch said
Zimprest was never implemented.
“The government has also come up with the National Economic Revival
Programme (Nerp) which is yet to be implemented. We have become good at
devising economic policies but bad at implementation,” Bloch said.
Murerwa, the chief architect ofNerp, cast a shadow on the programme’s future
conceding that its implementation would not be easy under the present
“The implementation of policy in Nerp will not be easy under the present
environment where external assistance is limited to food aid and other
humanitarian assistance. As partners, we need to jointly rekindle
international support,” he noted.
Analyst Tony Hawkins said government’s “fire fighting measures have failed
to put out the fire as officials have been hopping from one policy
distortion to another without success”.
“Nerp is an incoherent policy in an environment where the government does
not adhere to any productive policies but rather opts to approach events as
they unfold,” he said.
DO you recall the days when our leaders used to strut upon the world stage?
When they made keynote speeches at international conferences and hardly a
month passed without some state visit here or there?
Do you remember Samora Machel Ave and the road to the airport being
festooned with flags and portraits of visiting potentates? When was the last
time we had a state visit from anybody?
The government claims Ethiopian leader
Meles Zenawi's visit last July was a
state visit. But it could not have been a state visit because Zenawi is a
prime minister. Only heads of state can make state visits. And they are
accompanied by set protocol. Prime ministers don't cut it.
The state media don't fully grasp this and like to
refer to official visits
as state visits.
was Ethiopia's president. But constitutional changes
turned that post into a ceremonial one handing the prime minister executive
power. So he swapped jobs!
I recall Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu's state visit in
1983. He was
taken to Kintyre Estate near Lake Chivero to see its impressive cattle herd
and irrigated crops. And he was given the freedom of the City of Harare.
A ZRP officer trained in Romania impressed everybody by
saying a few words
Relations with Romania were closer
than those with other East European
states because Ceausescu had thrown off Soviet tutelage in 1965 and pursued
an independent path just as Yugoslavia's Tito had done nearly 20 years
earlier. This opened the way for close relations with Zanu while Zapu
adhered to the Soviet bloc.
Ceausescu and his wife Elena did not remove too many of the fittings
from their guest house during their stay here. When they went to London in
1968 the French president called Buckingham Palace to warn the British
royals to nail everything down. Several antique objects had gone missing
after the couple's stay as guests at the Elysée!
The Ceausescu's met a grisly
end, executed on December 25 1989 after a brief
military trial. I have seen the video footage of Elena shouting at the
soldiers not to tie her and her husband up prior to their execution. Her
indignation was palpable. Here was a couple that had presided over every
facet of their nation's life - Elena even claiming authorship of scientific
articles she didn't write.
the most striking aspect of their fall was the balcony scene at
presidential palace. As Ceausescu addressed the normally obedient multitudes
below, a murmur of discontent began to rise from the crowd. Who started it
we shall never know. There were a few shouts. And then it became a rumble of
An official whispered in Ceausescu's ear -
overheard by the microphone -
"the Securitate are coming".
was too late. Romania's dreaded secret police - reported at one time
to have trained our own - were unable to suppress the popular insurrection
that had erupted. Ceausescu left his palace in a helicopter but was then
intercepted by the army before he could leave the country.
The events of 1989
were instrumental in our own political evolution. The
Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, the fall of the Berlin Wall and
Ceausescu's demise removed the ideological buttressing of the one-party
culture in Zimbabwe. President Mugabe's explanation that Zanu PF adopted
Marxist-Leninism because its sponsors espoused it is thoroughly
disingenuous. Zanu PF was able to get away with a proto-dictatorship because
it had the support of other dictatorships. When they fell, its own Berlin
Wall crumbled and Zimbabweans claimed the rights to which they were
followed in 1998 not long after his state visit to Zimbabwe. One by
one the old guard was booted out. Apart from Cuba and North Korea, only
China remained, and there a capitalist revolution has propelled it along an
entirely different trajectory. While China forges ahead with 8% per annum
GDP growth Zimbabwe is wallowing in its own version of the Great Leap
Forward, Mao's failed land experiment which set his country back 25 years.
Zimbabwe's isolation becomes more complete by the month. The
exhibited by blacks in the diaspora has been replaced by support for
Zimbabwe's civil society as letters to President Mugabe from influential
African American groups reveal. Even in Africa, states adopting Nepad know
the scheme has no future unless the Zimbabwe crisis is addressed.
Meanwhile, countries like Botswana, Rwanda and Uganda are
economic performance - with 6% GDP growth a year - has been among the most
successful in the world over the past decade. Its president, Yoweri
Museveni, is pursuing policies that create jobs through engagement with the
"For decades Africa has demanded
aid, aid, aid," Museveni said recently in
Washington. "I don't want aid, I want trade."
Having destroyed its agricultural base, Zimbabwe is
holding out the national
begging bowl to the World Food Programme for another year.
It's a long time since we saw those flags and portraits
plastered around the
capital. And when was the last time President Mugabe was invited anywhere?
Are the British really so influential that they can organise a global
What we are witnessing, both along the
route to the airport with its bare
flagpoles, and above all in our economy, is the isolation of a regime that
refuses to see sense. This is a government that punishes people who carry
fuel in containers because they cannot get it at the pumps; which says we
must not carry around bank notes when the banks have no money; that breaks
up meetings of school children because it fears free speech.
Zimbabwe is rapidly becoming a failed state, not because
its people are a
failure, but because its government has resorted to failed policies. So long
as those policies persist and Ceausescu's legacy lives on in Harare, the
flagpoles are likely to remain bare.
Africa needs help - from blacks and whites
By RW Johnson
"I HAD a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong hills. The equator runs
across these highlands," Karen Blixen begins Out of Africa.
For Karen - and other whites who came to live in Kenya - the key was the
altitude of 6 000 feet and the cool air. "Up in this high air you breathed
easily, drawing in a vital assurance and lightness of heart. In the
highlands you woke in the morning and thought: here I am, where I ought to
It seems slightly odd to be celebrating her book and her
life as a key piece
of Africana. A nearby shop prominently displays a picture of Meryl Streep
during the filming of Out of Africa. It is as if Karen Blixen's real
achievement was that, long after her death, Robert Redford and Ms Streep
were in a film about her.
As you drive around Karen, the
name boards at the gates tell their own
story - Harney, Griffiths, Koch, Bulloch, Mbwa Kali, Pelizzioli, Dobie,
Fryer, Ballantyne Evans, Cross - but the houses are invisible, for the
properties here all have several acres and long drives, populated with tall
trees and thick multi-coloured bushes.
But there is more than a touch of sadness even here.
"Lots of people are leaving," I'm told, a fact borne out by the
"For Sale" signs. "Not just whites and Asians, but many black professionals.
Some of the blacks go to South Africa but otherwise they go to the same
places as the others, the US, Canada, Britain and so forth. They've just
given up on Kenya."
You can see why they might. The
arrival in power of the reforming Mwai
Kibaki government has been the most heartening thing to happen in decades,
but the problems are such - and the government's naiveté so obvious - that
it is hard to believe it can quickly reverse the banditry and vigilantism,
the ubiquitous power cuts, potholes, vanishing services, sky-high prices,
and the Aids orphans in the streets.
I've spent a good deal of the last three years in Zimbabwe
and the feeling
of déja vu is strong. But not complete: after all, the Zimbabwe crisis is
about the death frenzy of the liberation culture, of President Mugabe
pulling down the pillars of the building rather than be survived by his old
enemies, the white farmers. Far worse, Mugabe is deliberately trying to
starve out the half and more of Zimbabweans who support the opposition
Nothing remotely like that is
going on in Kenya to explain the same
despairing emigration. The only thing in common, and perhaps the only thing
that matters, is that both countries have for too long endured an African
elite in power which knew no bounds of law, patriotism or even of
rationality in its enjoyment of power and its kleptomania.
I think of a white Zimbabwean couple I know, their
Harare house a beautiful
refuge I cannot pass without a surge of warmth. As a young lawyer, Morris
abandoned his practice in the Cape after a client was re-classified from
white to coloured.
Morris set himself to fight
this ruling but the client, overwhelmed by the
collapse of his marriage, the dispatch of his children to inferior schools
and the need to relocate to a slum, hung himself. Morris and his wife
Sandra, atheist Jews both, had found the incident Hitlerist and had decamped
to the more liberal world of Southern Rhodesia. Morris became a leading
lawyer; Sandra devoted herself to human rights work and, later, to helping
In the end, as
Mugabe destroyed the country, I helped them pack for Sydney.
Australia was a country where the pillars would not fall down. That, rather
than any sense of bitterness, was what they talked about as they packed to
leave the country they loved, which they had intended never to leave. I
remember one evening after helping them pack, lying in a bedroom full of
boxes, wondering: perhaps all whites who stay in Africa long enough will
leave as refugees.
Too many whites have behaved badly in Africa for their
emigration to arouse
much sympathy. In any case, it is beside the point, which is simply that
Africa's crisis deepens by the year. If that crisis is ever to bottom out,
if recovery is ever to happen, Africa will need all the hard-working, humane
professional people it can find - countries which drive away people like
Morris and Sandra are committing suicide.
the professionals who leave Africa today are Africans or Asians but
often, still, they're white. Many black professionals were brought on by
whites like Morris and Sandra; theirs was the innovating liberal impulse,
the first drive, the original model. It is this, rather than their skin
colour, which makes their leaving so significant and so sad.
It had always been
hoped that the coming of democracy would see a return of
the South African diaspora, for the country had leaked talent throughout the
apartheid period. In the event, not one tenth of the white émigrés returned.
I was one of the few white returnees of the diaspora. Many, even of those
who did return, did not stay long. Everyone welcomed democracy but none
could welcome the hugely higher crime rate, the anti-white, anti-Asian and
anti-coloured discrimination in the job market and the speed with which
Nelson Mandela's rhetoric of national reconciliation gave way to Thabo
Mbeki's black nationalism.
Young whites flooded abroad in numbers - there are said
to be some 300 000
in London alone - and the exodus continues. It is mainly the older age
groups who stay, which means that natural mortality will produce a huge
shrinkage in the white population in the decade or two ahead.
As the Aids debate has revealed, Thabo Mbeki feels a
particular fury over
the image (which he feels to be immanent in many discussions of Aids) of
black males as sexually irresponsible "disease-carriers" and the depiction
in JM Coetzee's award-winning novel Disgrace of a gang rape had predictably
set him roaring. Disgrace was savaged by the ruling party as the epitome of
white racism and pretty clearly by the president himself. Coetzee, who has
always avoided public statements, said nothing but it was not very
surprising when, a few months later, news of his emigration slipped out.
It is a good index of how fearful and ideologically bullied the South
African intelligentsia has become that no single word of protest or even
regret was uttered at this treatment of the country's greatest writer. Much
as I admire
Disgrace, its message is surely wrong. Given that the doctrine of collective
guilt is nonsense, it follows that whites in Africa should only feel guilty
if they have individually deserved to do so.
All this must have seemed very
obvious in Karen Blixen's day. What happened
in between was the great convulsion of Mau Mau, the ascent and now the
collapse of African nationalism. Even Kenyans refer disparagingly to the
group which took over in the 1960s as "the nationalists", for nationalism
turned out mainly to be a cover for theft.
It has been the same story elsewhere in Africa. The
determination to get rid of Asians and whites is a key part of this
irrational convulsion. What makes it irrational is that these are
nationalists devoid of patriotism. Moi is now reputedly the tenth richest
man in the world but Kenya's hospitals, schools and physical infrastructure
lie in ruins: everywhere the national patrimony has been plundered.
Similarly, Mugabe has cut Zimbabwe's GDP by 30% in three years and is
starving half his countrymen to death, actions justified in the name of the
same strange "nationalism" which has no regard for the national interest. -
l RW Johnson, a former South African Rhodes scholar, was fellow in politics
at Magdalen College, Oxford, for 26 years before he returned to South Africa
Mugabe’s battered ego not the priority
NOTHING could be more calculated to prejudice Zimbabwe’s ailing economy
than a two-year election campaign. President Mugabe announced last Thursday
in Shurugwi that he was on the campaign trail.
“We should start preparing for the 2005 election now because 2005 is not far
away,” he was quoted as saying.
In fact 2005 is a long way off. And the last thing this country needs is
more disruption, political violence and uncertainty. Admittedly Mugabe urged
war veterans and Zanu PF youths not to be lawless. But only days before in
Nyanga, his inciteful remarks about Roy Bennett had been followed by Zanu PF
supporters — youths and war veterans — moving on to Bennett’s Ruwa Farm
where they reportedly looted property worth close to $60 million. Cattle and
sheep were slaughtered.
On Saturday shots were fired when CIO agents and police officers arrested
workers at Bennett’s Charleswood Estate in Chimanimani despite a High Court
order preventing interference there.
This month two editors at the ANZ stable were charged under Posa for
publishing material that could engender hostility towards the president.
Quite clearly Mugabe intends to hide behind the cover of oppressive
legislation that enables him to get away with saying what he likes, no
matter how damaging to others, while preventing his critics from saying too
much about his own record. At the same time his supporters, backed by state
agents, will act with impunity in targeting political opponents, even where
they are elected MPs enjoying the protection of the courts.
This is an election campaign Zimbabwe needs like a hole in the head. But it
should be seen as Mugabe’s answer to the current diplomacy aimed at prodding
him towards the negotiating table. He may now be prepared to go earlier than
2008. The year 2005 would appear to be an optimal date providing a
presidential poll in tandem with parliamentary elections.
Any change to constitutional electoral provisions would require a two-thirds
majority in parliament or opposition approval. A defeat for the MDC would be
preferable, he no doubt reckons, to a transitional government. But that is
not guaranteed, even with his persuasive means! Nor are by-elections which
are likely to confirm existing patterns of support.
Resignation is out of the question, which removes the option of an automatic
election within 90 days — Morgan Tsvangirai’s favoured route.
Constitutional amendments providing for a prime minister have been suggested
as an option that would lift the 79-year-old president above the political
fray while a new party leader takes the helm. Again, opposition support
through the mechanism of a transitional government would make all this so
But “easy” is not Mugabe’s style. He may indeed be under unprecedented
pressure — both from his neighbours and within the country — to bow out.
President Thabo Mbeki appears to think something is about to give. But our
suspicion is that before any of that happens Mugabe will want to wave his
fists one more time.
What we are seeing now is probably less of an election tour, more an
exercise in self-affirmation. He wants to shake off the “prisoner of State
House” image created by months of self-imposed isolation as the political
and economic crisis deepened and the MDC took the political initiative.
Hence the turning of the tables on Tsvangirai as the opposition leader
became the prisoner of the “State House” remand prison. And then it was back
to the land — the only policy Mugabe has left.
Price controls, Nerp, trade ties with the East — all have fallen through as
we knew they would because they were based on illusions. So it’s back to the
land demagoguery all the way.
Mugabe wants to bond with his rural supporters because they provide a
comfort zone against the looming power of the cities with their “disloyal”
populations. Touring his rural bastions he can find solace in a
liberation-war legacy that proved him right and others wrong. Zimbabwe’s
revolution was not staged in the cities as Zapu had hoped but in the rural
reaches where he had identified his support base. He will now go out the
same door he came in basking in the contrived adulation of a semi-starving
but artificially-stimulated electorate. That way he will prove — at least to
himself — that he is still popular.
Meanwhile, the nation will suffer the consequences of his misrule.
Inflation — the product of tax, borrow and spend delinquency — will hit
people hard as everything becomes unaffordable. Herbert Murerwa was reported
in this paper last week as admitting the failure of price controls. He said
he plans to drop them. But we can guess the same people who are banning the
carrying of fuel containers and banknotes will give him his marching orders.
The worst possible minds are now applying themselves to managing a siege
economy. Those with any skill or intelligence have been marginalised. Ask
Eddison Zvobgo or Simba Makoni!
Despite the pocket of carrots Mugabe was shown shouldering in Shurugwi, the
land is barren. Agricultural production is down 70%. Irrigation machinery
has been vandalised or stolen, wildlife and domestic stock poached.
Mugabe may like to pose for his rural audience as the great deliverer but
really he is the great pretender. His legacy is one of desolation. It is not
another election we need so the president can nurse his battered ego. It is
a leader who can deliver recovery. He manifestly can’t.
Seeing ourselves as others see us
ACCOMPANYING a group of businessmen to the Victoria Falls last week to
attend the re-opening of the Elephant Hills Hotel, which was gutted by fire
two years ago, I went across the border for a brief visit to Livingstone. In
some significant respects those few hours were an eye-opener as to
Zimbabwean realities, and of the image Zimbabwe has developed not only
internationally, but even amongst the populace of the country’s immediate
The optical awakening commenced at the Zambian border post. Seated in our
tour bus we awaited our tour guide to return, having effected clearance of
all nine passengers in less than five minutes! Can Zimbabwe claim the same
efficient receptiveness to its tourists? During those few minutes a
newspaper vendor, hawking a Zambian newspaper, approached the bus in an
endeavour to obtain some customer. None of us had any Zambian (or other
foreign currency), but one of the businessmen asked the vendor whether he
would accept payment in Zimbabwean dollars.
With some hesitation, he agreed, requesting $500 for a 2 000 Zambian Kwacha
newspaper. The businessman expressed surprise at the exchange rate, only to
be informed by the vendor that he was being very generous. He claimed that
the rate had fallen from K2,5: Z$1 to K3: Z$1, but that he was prepared to
accept the discounted sum of $500 out of compassion for Zimbabweans, because
“Zimbabwe is finished and Zambia is ticking!” (The immediate reaction was a
twofold recollection of the sayings: “Out of the mouths of babes and
sucklings comes truth”, and “Many a true word spoken in jest”).
We then proceeded to Livingstone. There was not one pothole on the main road
to the town, or on any of the roads in the town. The streets were impeccably
clean. There were many signs of recent property and business developments.
There were no queues at filling stations which were rapidly fulfilling all
needs of their motoring customers. There were also no queues at ATMs (there
is no shortage of bank notes!); nor were there queues outside bakeries for
bread, or at supermarkets for maize meal, sugar and the like.
The small, international airport, extended and refurbished in 2001, was
pristine in appearance, and those working there were glowing with pride and
enthusiasm, and helpful in the extreme.
The Zambian economy, debilitated by mismanagement over many years, is not
yet fully recovered, but the moves towards recovery were very apparent and
pronounced and in discussing the changes with Zambians, they attributed the
changes to progressive economic deregulation and liberalisation,
constructive action between public and private sectors, and co-operative
interactions between Zambia and the international community. The contrasts
to the Zimbabwean environment were expressively marked.
Then, whilst flying home from Victoria Falls to Bulawayo, I read a recent
issue of the world-renowned magazine Newsweek. That issue carried a very
extensive focus upon the world’s tourist industries, and included a
commentary that: “Serious risk lovers can visit Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe’s
country used to be regarded as a model for African economic management, as
well as one of the continent’s safest and most stunning safari destinations.
For the past three years, Mugabe’s desperate efforts to keep power have
skidded the country into chaos, hunger and near civil war … Lines at filling
stations can sometimes last for days — and that’s a mere nuisance by
Zimbabwean standards. As the collapse of Zimbabwe’s tourism industry has
compounded its economic crisis, street crime has worsened.
“A 27-year old Australian tourist was stabbed to death at Victoria Falls in
January. Outside the cities, travellers are advised to avoid driving at
night when armed thugs like to set up roadblocks and collect ‘tolls’. At the
same time, it’s best to steer clear of Mugabe’s security forces; they
frequently detain travellers on flimsy charges, suspecting them of being
spies or foreign journalists.
“Security forces at a checkpoint recently shot a foreigner who was not
carrying proper identity papers. And it’s also best to save your camera for
the wildlife. Photographing some official buildings (the president’s house,
for example) is a crime punishable by two years in prison. Two Canadians
were detained in February because one, a commercial photographer, was
spotted photographing a billboard.”
Such a commentary (and it is one of many that appear in the international
press and in other media with great regularity) casts Zimbabwe in an
exceptionally bad light, deters tourism and other economic interactions with
Zimbabwe, and repercusses very negatively upon Zimbabwe and its people.
The president and his vociferous Minister of Fiction, Fable and Myth
repeatedly castigate the world’s media, alleging that they resort to demonic
machinations of character-destruction. Both the president and his minister
contend that the appalling image that Zimbabwe has abroad is due to the
journalists of the world, aided and abetted by the allegedly equally evil
heads of government of first world countries bent upon either the
destruction of Zimbabwe and its political leadership, or upon “recolonising”
It cannot be denied that Zimbabwe’s image internationally is extremely poor.
It also cannot be denied that awareness of that image has been disseminated
widely by the media. But what Zimbabwe’s government fails to recognise, or
conveniently disregards, is that even if on occasion that media is biased
and one-sided, presenting a distortion of the “facts on the ground”, in
practice it is Zimbabwe that is providing the journalists with the facts
upon which they develop and build their reports and their opinions.
Whilst a craving for sensationalism motivates many reporters to focus only
upon exceptions, and especially so when such exceptions are contrary to
globally accepted norms, nevertheless Zimbabwe provides them with endless
material upon which to found their commentaries. (And it is not unique to
the international media to distort and misrepresent — that happens almost
daily in most of the state-controlled media in Zimbabwe!).
The Zimbabwean government needs to learn that just as one cannot make bread
without flour, so those who are purveyors of a negative image of Zimbabwe
need the foundations upon which to ascribe that image. And Zimbabwe readily
It continuously fails to do that which is necessary to revitalise the
economy. Instead, it pretends to do so, and then blames others for economic
failure. It pretends that law and order prevails, but the instances of
breaches of fundamental human rights, abuse of legislation and of
legislative power, discrimination according to actual or perceived political
allegiances, the disgraceful conditions of prisons, and countless other
occurrences, evidence irrefutably a very considerable break down of law and
order and of good governance.
If the Zimbabwean economy is ever to recover, having virile agricultural,
mining, industrial, commercial, tourism and service sectors, government
needs to don a new pair of glasses. It must cease usage of those which show
only that which government wishes to see, and distorts all else, and instead
must begin to see Zimbabwe as others do. It must cure itself of its myopic
blindness to realities, and instead develop a clear vision of
incontrovertible facts. It must cease to self-justify, and to blame all upon
Once it does so, Zimbabweans can become a united people, a nation of equal
opportunity, and a country with an economy of real substance. It has the
underlying asset base for such an economy. What it does not have is the will
to use that asset base effectively and fairly. Until that will develops,
with Zimbabweans seeing themselves “as others see us”, and doing something
to arrest and reverse all that others see as is negative, the economy must
destruct ever further, and poverty unavoidably intensify.
Don’t confuse the comrades
HOW refreshing to have the views of veteran nationalist James Chikerema on
our errant leadership.
In an interview with the Standard last Sunday, Chikerema said there was
little likelihood of President Mugabe leaving office any time soon because
he lived in terror of prosecution for human rights offences from the
“Mugabe is scared stiff of his 1980s sins,” Chikerema was reported as
saying, “and is strongly suspicious that once he bows out of office his
entire world will crumble around him. He doesn’t see any assurance of
security from prosecution if he relinquishes power. He has tasted the power
of the presidency. He will be there until death.”
Chikerema laughed uncontrollably, we are told, when asked if Jonathan Moyo
could assume the reins of power.
“That would be the joke of the millennium,” he replied recalling Moyo’s
Damascene conversion in reverse.
“Moyo will never be president. He cannot be trusted.”
But he could be worming his way into high office via an elected seat.
Muckraker doesn’t think the diversion of the presidential helicopter to
Tsholotsho recently was an unplanned stop. That constituency is being
cultivated the Zanu PF way! The “unelected” tag has begun to chafe and there
will be an all-out effort to win Tsholotsho with all the resources of the
state mobilised on the Titanic survivor’s behalf.
Meanwhile, Muckraker would like to put to rest reports that the MDC has set
up a fund to send him on another boating holiday.
Moyo’s alter ego Nathaniel Manheru has been busy attacking journalists in
his Herald column, The Other Side. Andrew Meldrum, we gather, was deported
for “compromising national security”. Anybody opposing his abduction and
illegal deportation is a “racist”, according to the Herald’s deeply troubled
And what “national security” did Meldrum compromise? The record of
brutality, subversion of the rule of law, and economic sabotage that Manheru
disgracefully defends, we can safely conclude.
He rails against the World Economic Forum for describing Zimbabwe as a
basket case. This followed a WEF report that ranked Zimbabwe among the
worst-governed and most corrupt countries in the world.
It was all a neo-liberal plot, according to Manheru. Reports of food
shortages were “an agricultural lie”. Suggestions that land reform may have
been violent were “reckless and false”.
Powerful British companies were behind the current collapse, the seriously
delusional Manheru blathered on. “Evidence of a resilient economy was
ignored,” he claimed. Perhaps because none could be found!
Manheru, like his delusional colleague Joseph Made who has been strangely
quiet recently, forecasts a “looming agricultural boom thanks to land
reforms”. Meanwhile, the World Food Programme and other donors are expected
to save the country from starvation by feeding over six million people. Most
readers — even Herald ones — will spot the contradiction!
No wonder Mugabe’s parrots like Manheru are in the business of mass
deception. How else do they explain their record of criminal misrule? But
these losers pretending to speak on behalf of Zimbabweans need to be assured
of one thing. Assailing the press won’t keep their dark secrets hidden for
long — just like the scandalous shopping trips while the nation starves.
And is it really a good idea for them to speak on behalf of individual
judges while claiming the country has an independent judiciary? No
self-respecting judge would want to be seen as being in the pocket of a
A reader has sent us the following thought: Remember Reaganomics? This was
the economic policy advanced by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s which included
prudent monetary policies, lower fiscal taxes, balanced budgets, a stronger
dollar, lower inflation and full employment.
Not to be outperformed, Robert Mugabe has come up with what South Africa’s
Business Day has defined as “Mugabenomics”. This involves accelerated
economic regression characterised by value degradation, unprecedented
hyperinflation, and social decay.
To put it in the words of one prominent economist: “Mugabenomics amounts to
an idiot’s guide to a kwashiokored economy.”
Thanks to Nathaniel Manheru, we all now know who the idiot is. The same one
who wants people to believe that the banks are short of notes because Morgan
Tsvangirai withdrew $10 million for his bail!
Tafataona Mahoso, in a predictable effort to blame Zimbabwe’s isolation on
Don McKinnon, on Sunday pointed to the fine record of Shridath Ramphal as
Commonwealth secretary-general. He was parroting the state’s standard
propaganda line that the Club can be divided into the majority who support
Zimbabwe and a racist minority who support Britain.
This particular view is facing an uphill push. If the majority support
Zimbabwe, why haven’t they raised any objection to its continued suspension?
All we have heard are a few words from South Africa’s High Commissioner to
London. Instead there appears to be a consensus around McKinnon’s position.
He had clearly done his homework. And the regime cannot have derived much
comfort from Olivia Muchena’s treatment in South Africa recently despite her
inventive claims in the Herald.
The fact is nobody is coming to Zimbabwe’s rescue. And there has been a
significant change of attitude in the Caribbean, not to mention West Africa.
As for Ramphal, readers will recall that his efforts to engage Mugabe ahead
of its suspension in March were treated to a regal rebuff. The Commonwealth
hauled him out of retirement to spare Mugabe unnecessary humiliation by
attempting to engage him in dialogue as required by the Coolum process. If
he wouldn’t speak to McKinnon surely he would speak to his old friend
“Sonny” Ramphal? But Mugabe didn’t return his calls.
Mahoso is either unaware of this or is deliberately ignoring it. And his
bold attempts to claim that Zanu PF’s programme of agricultural sabotage
constitutes a scientific advance of some sort will be of interest to
agronomists. Perhaps next week, at the risk of boring us to tears, he could
explain why the UNDP has been blocked from assisting land reform. This might
enable him once again to mention the entirely fictional figure of 300 000
households who have been resettled! Note “households”, not people.
Another Sunday Mail correspondent — a pupil of Mahoso by the look of it —
complains of “white racist and capitalist imperialist interference” in the
Zanu PF leadership race. This is having the effect of “confusing the people
and stimulating jealousies and suspicions among comrades within Zanu PF”.
“Planted stories in planted media” are to blame, we are told. Listening in
on presidential telephone conversations by foreign agents posing as
journalists is also a problem. They end up knowing more than comrades. The
trouble is “some comrades may not be clever enough to see through the gross
manipulation” by the planted press.
The comrade writing this story was evidently clever enough. He could see the
“devastating propaganda effect on African interests” of this devious
strategy. It “demeans the incumbent as one who is so selfish that all he
cares about is putting his favourite boy in office at the expense of
national and Pan-African concerns and considerations”.
Surely not? And please remember everybody: Don’t confuse the comrades. It’s
an offence under Posa.
The Sunday Mail’s creepy-crawly Under the Surface columnist meanwhile chides
new Kuwadzana MP Nelson Chamisa for not contributing to parliament. He seems
determined instead to join the MDC’s campaign of “boycotts and walkouts”, we
Muckraker would like to reassure Cde Under that Chamisa is contributing
fully to the public discourse as the following quote from a newspaper
article on President Mugabe’s malign rule illustrates:
“We never imagined how his story would end. It opened with such promise and
Mugabe was poised to be one of the greatest African leaders of our time. But
now the last chapter is being written, it is one of despair and doom. Mugabe
the hero has been replaced by Mugabe the betrayer.
“To ask what went wrong is a big question. Mugabe became addicted to power.
He did not see democracy as the future. He wanted to rule until death, like
the old chieftains. Power became a habit. After giving so much, he took so
much. Now he has brought death to the edge of all our doorsteps.”
Cde Under the Surface: Are you sure you want Chamisa to contribute to
parliament? He might confuse the comrades.
The government this week came up with a surefire solution to end the
country’s nagging fuel crisis. “Carrying fuel in containers banned”
announced the Herald on Tuesday. The story was accompanied by a picture of
drums of all sizes, as if that was the fuel the country needs!
Pay up immediately, Zesa told
ZIMBABWE'S neighbours have begun to reduce even further electricity supplies
to the country because it is failing to make timely payments to clear
The creditors are also doubling the interest payable by Zesa every month.
Mozambique's HCB, South Africa's Eskom and the Democratic Republic of the
Congo's Snel have all reduced their electricity supplies to Zimbabwe.
Zesa executive chairman Sydney Gata
last week confirmed that the regional
players were now demanding advance payment for their power.
Last week the chairman of Eskom in South
Africa Reuel Khoza said his company
had reduced from 500 megawatts to 115 megawatts the amount it would provide
to be paid in arrears, and everything above 115 megawatts now has to be paid
for in foreign exchange.
Gata said HCB supplies had been curtailed from 400
megawatts to 250
megawatts for peak period.
"HCB have already
secured alternative markets for the power and have asked
Zesa to wheel the power," he said.
"HCB have given notice to terminate supply contract
unless a payment plan is
put in place. Eskom now demands advance payment for their power. Eskom have
classified Zesa an interruptible customer due to payment problems. Eskom are
now charging 12% penalty per month for defaulting on payments."
Zimbabwe's foreign currency crisis has seriously
affected the operations of
Zesa, which has also been rocked by several cases of industrial action by
which is being commercialised before privatisation, requires
US$10,9 million every month to survive.
It needs US$5 million for power imports, US$5
million for debt service,
US$500 000 for wheeling charges and US$350 000 for spares per month.
Zesa has arrears amounting to US$109,7 million. It owes HCB US$22 million,
Eskom US$11 million, Snel US$5 million, Mozambique's EDM US$5 million, and
Zamiba's Zesco US$4 million.
The company has on
several occasions introduced load shedding because of the
electricity shortages, sometimes disrupting the operations at several
The load shedding has worsened further the
country's industrial production
capabilities, resulting in firms reducing output levels. Analysts said this
reduction affected the availability of consumer goods on the market, leading
to a thriving parallel market.
Gata said some of the company's constraints included an
structure and lack of a regionally benchmarked tariff that is cost
"The cost of imported power at US3,1
cents per kilowatt is more than the
retail tariff Zesa is charging its industrial and commercial customers in
real terms," Gata said. "There is need for a new tariff adjustment mechanism
that reflects the undercurrent economic fundamentals."
He said Zesa was now unable to access offshore
financing because there was
no supportive payment mechanism in place due to the foreign currency
He said some of the parastatal's
future plans included the development of
sub-transmission network to support the expanded rural electrification
programme with end use infrastructure development.
As far as distribution is concerned, Gata said they were
reinforcing and upgrading the national distribution network.
Gata said: "We want to complete Electricity III projects
abandoned by the
World Bank and the African Development Bank urban works and service various
He said Hwange 7 and 8 needed to be expanded at a cost of US$368 million.
The project would last about three years.
Kariba South also needed to be extended at a cost of
This project would take about five years to complete.
Mozambique's HCB was undergoing a US$500 million upgrade
and would help
Zimbabwe when this was completed in about four years time.
Gata said because the energy situation was critical, Zesa was
the Gokwe North thermal power station at a cost of US$1,3 million and the
Batoka Gorge at a cost of US$1,1 million.
projects have long lead times and huge investments hence require
regional and international investor support," Gata said. "The Southern
African Power Pool market provides the market for this energy."