Mugabe’s appointment of generals and colonels to top public sector jobs seen
as political survival strategy.
By Zeff Sithole in Harare (AR No. 65, 31-May-06) - IWPR
Senior military officers have in recent months been appointed to top posts
in public institutions, including state-run companies, the central bank and
the judiciary, as the armed forces increase their influence over civilian
The officers’ upward march has been so swift that it has taken the public by
surprise. The latest appointment was of an army general to be the country's
top tax collector, overseeing the running of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority,
A retired army general, Solomon Mujuru, is being widely touted as the man
most likely to succeed Mugabe as state president. Mujuru, under the war name
Rex Nhongo, was commander of Mugabe's guerrilla forces in the war of
liberation against white rule in the 1970s.
The head of Zimbabwe's powerful and much-feared Central Intelligence
Organisation, CIO, is a former army brigadier. Two judges are former top
military officers. One of the eight provincial governors is a former
general. An army colonel is permanent secretary in the ministry of
The list goes on. Military men head the strategic Grain Marketing Board and
the prison service. Mugabe's inner cabinet has four soldiers serving as
ministers or deputy ministers.
Less visible, but perhaps more important, is the extent of the military's
influence further down the bureaucratic chain. Many managers at the Grain
Marketing Board are ex-soldiers. Having thrown white farmers off their land,
the military has taken over many of the farms in a move termed Operation
Maguta. Military men at the Grain Marketing Board are also setting up camps
on the land of black farmers and ordering them to grow maize, the country's
staple food, to try to avert widespread hunger. Teams of soldiers are
forcing farmers to plough up other crops such as onions, tomatoes and
potatoes without telling them what price they will be paid for compulsory
acquisition of maize.
Gordon Moyo, the leader of an opposition pressure group, Bulawayo Agenda,
said, "The army has targeted those [farming] areas that are potentially
opposition strongholds. It is partly a retributive act to take over their
land and send signals to the surrounding landowners. It's an act of
intimidation, and a violation of the human rights of those people."
"All basic foods are now under direct military control," said Eddie Cross,
an economist and adviser to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
Military officers and CIO officials, led by armed forces chief General
Constantine Chiwenga, have taken hold of a number of functions of the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, RBZ, bearing on monetary policy, such as the
determination of a viable foreign exchange policy and managing the national
money supply, marginalising RBZ governor Gideon Gono.
Economic policy has in recent months come into the hands of the Cuban-style
Zimbabwe National Security Council, assigned overriding powers by Mugabe
under the recently launched National Economic Development Priority Programme
which has been tasked with reversing catastrophic economic decline. The
National Security Council is dominated by officers from the army, the air
force, the police and the CIO. It has set up nine task forces to manage all
economic sectors and oversee foreign exchange and monetary policy.
The government has defended using military and intelligence personnel to
oversee the revival of the economy, described by the International Monetary
Fund as the fastest shrinking in the world outside of a war zone. "There is
nothing sinister with involving security force personnel in areas like the
economy and food security," said Obert Mpofu, minister of industry and
international trade. "The government is doing what is best for Zimbabwe. Any
complaints to the contrary are only meant to rubbish a genuine economic
revival and food security programme."
Dumisani Muleya, news editor of the weekly Zimbabwe Independent and one of
the country's most astute political commentators, said, "There is still no
decisive proof that army authority has taken root and is now the basis of
governance in Zimbabwe … [but] anecdotal evidence shows the military might
be pulling the strings in civilian government issues.
"There are clear signs of the executive's erosion of confidence in public
officials and the encroachment of armed forces in civilian matters. While
this might serve Mugabe's self-preservation needs at the moment, it creates
problems for future governments which might have to struggle to uproot an
entrenched military culture in civilian government."
Military men have been appointed to senior posts in the prison service, much
to the anger of long serving prison officers. "It's demoralising, as it
means that promotion for committed career prison officers becomes more
difficult," a junior prison officer told IWPR.
A serving brigadier heads the government 's Sports and Recreation
Commission, and an airforce officer, Air Commodore Mike Karakadzai, heads
the National Railways of Zimbabwe, NRZ, with Army Brigadier Douglas
Nyikayaramba as chairman of the NRZ board. Half of the NRZ’s wagons lie
derelict because there is no hard cash to import spares, including wagon
wheels. A deal with the Chinese to modernise relay equipment fell through
because Zimbabwe could not raise the required deposit. More than 4000 wagons
are awaiting repairs.
Mugabe is believed to have a variety of goals in appointing military men to
Political survival is undoubtedly a major aim. On the eve of the 2002
presidential election, senior army and air force officers issued a statement
saying they would not support a president who lacked credentials from the
1970s war of liberation against white rule - a clear reference to opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who in the 1970s was a young miner who had just
left school. General Constantine Chiwenga reiterated this partisan stance in
a speech just before parliamentary elections in March last year.
Political analyst Themba Dlodlo, of the National University of Science and
Technology, said Mugabe also has his retirement prospects in mind. "For him
to survive after he stops ruling he needs to have these people in power
because they are his supporters and are unlikely to prosecute him for the
atrocities he has committed in this country," he said.
As far as Giles Mutsekwa, a member of parliament for the MDC and shadow
minister of defence, is concerned, Mugabe's motives are more complex. "He
believes that drawing the military into civilian life has the effect of
enmeshing it in Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis, so that as the
economy continues to collapse those in the military will also be blamed," he
Mutsekwa said the appointment of generals and colonels, lacking
administrative skills, to run the commanding heights of the civil service
and the economy will not succeed. Dlodlo agreed, saying, "Theirs is
administrative rule by force and it will not lead us anywhere." He said the
ease with which military men had slipped into top civilian posts had a lot
to do with the fact that the ruling ZANU PF party is less a political party
than a paramilitary organisation, dating from its days as a Marxist-Leninist
rebel liberation movement. "You can see from the way they behave, how they
act and speak, that they are still operating as though they are guerrillas,"
Most of Zimbabwe's top military brass are veterans of the 1970s liberation
war against white minority rule and are fiercely loyal to ZANU PF. With new
recruits to the military now coming from Mugabe’s hated youth militia, there
is little hope that the military will become an impartial body in the near
future. The militia training camps, which have been in existence since 2001,
are places where school leavers are imbued with "patriotic values" as
defined by the ruling party. Graduates from these camps, known as Green
Bombers from their distinctive olive green uniforms, have been used to
terrorise government opponents at successive elections.
Zeff Sithole is the pseudonym of an IWPR contributor in Zimbabwe.
Dianna Games- Business Day SA
As the Zimbabwe economy steadily declines, one surprise is that relatively
few foreign companies are leaving the sinking ship. In fact, interest in
finding bargains in the country’s crippled business sector appears to be
picking up. While conducting research among South African companies in
Zimbabwe for a South African Institute of International Affairs report, I
found a number of incumbent companies "holding the line" in anticipation of
change, although growing increasingly perturbed that it was taking longer
than they had anticipated. "Rock bottom" has become a relative term, as
companies somehow adjust to ever-worsening conditions. The business
environment is a daily headache. The currency has declined from about Z$700
to R1 less than a year ago to Z$45000 to the rand last week; inflation is
above 1000%; foreign currency and fuel remain scarce; and the government’s
interference in the economy has extended to involving the security forces
through its newly formed Zimbabwe National Security Council. A key concern
of business is the fact that Zimbabwe has stalled on signing a negotiated
trade and investment protection agreement with SA. Officially, both sides
say it is simply a question of finding time to sign it but, off the record,
people say Zimbabwe is exercising a policy of passive resistance on the
In light of the nationalisation of land, talk of nationalisation and
enforced "indigenisation" of mining assets, and regular threats over the
past five years by government officials to take over companies "in the
government interest", the lack of a protection agreement is a problem. Apart
from the foreign currency and fuel problems, the hyperinflationary
environment precludes long-term planning, and forces companies to revise
salaries and other costs on a quarterly, or even monthly, basis. Some
companies’ products have been subject to government’s price controls, a
situation that has rendered production unviable, as they are required to pay
market-related costs for inputs but are not allowed to charge market-related
prices for the goods they produce. Shortages have led to political
harassment, with producers blamed for hoarding goods. The role of the
Reserve Bank has become increasingly unclear as it has assumed several
functions that put it in competition with the commercial banks; and the
government’s continual policy twists and turns have played havoc with firms’
Despite increasing pressure for companies to "indigenise", there is a lack
of clarity on empowerment targets and a dearth of equity in the local market
for local partners to take up stakes in big companies. The declining skills
pool - a result of vast migration and the high HIV/AIDS infection rates in
the workforce - adds to the difficulties; as does the shrinking domestic
market. Deteriorating living conditions have forced people to become
self-sufficient by using borehole water and generators and importing their
own fuel. Crime is also worsening and becoming more sophisticated. While
corruption was not high on the list of problems mentioned by companies, some
business people said it had become an increasing factor in doing business,
particularly government-linked business. Long delays in obtaining currency
for purchasing mean that when goods can eventually be secured, prices are
much higher and even more currency is required. Credit arrangements can be
withdrawn and factories can lie idle, waiting for parts. Many companies,
even large ones, rely on "cross-border" traders or merchants, who procure
the goods in SA and other nearby countries. Such traders handle the currency
exchange themselves, and sell the goods on in Zimbabwe dollars. But such
deals are reliant on the volatile currency rates. Currency problems have
also reduced regional trade, and high operating costs have cut the
competitiveness of many Zimbabwean exports.
Ironically, the economic problems have precipitated greater investment in
the economy by Zimbabwean business on the back of South African companies
selling off majority stakes or noncore holdings. This has been a factor in
the staying power of the companies in this economy. But nevertheless, South
African-linked companies comprise by far the majority of foreign investors
in Zimbabwe - 60% of the 75 companies on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. Such
companies are significant employers. A survey by research firm Africa Inc
suggests that among the largest 40 companies listed on the JSE, 27 have
operations in Zimbabwe, employing about 20000 people. South African
investment has been substantial over the past few years, but mostly confined
to the mining sector, invested by companies such as Implats and Anglo
Platinum. Companies in some sectors, such as retail, franchising, commercial
agriculture and banking, have expanded into the region as a hedge against
problems at home, while others, such as Old Mutual, have adapted products
for the economic climate that they have been able to roll out into other
countries in the region.
Trade volumes between the countries are still high despite the problems,
although exports from Zimbabwe are based primarily on minerals, and imports
on food, notably maize. This year to date, Zimbabwe dropped to 13th in SA’s
ranking of export destinations worldwide, from 12th last year, while it fell
from 25th to 27th place over the period in terms of SA’s import
destinations. Although long-standing business ties have not been severed
because of the economic problems, many companies have preferred to
ring-fence their Zimbabwe operations, keeping financials separate from the
overall group operations, as a way of riding out the storm. The value of
Zimbabwe operations has, for some companies, been diminished by the fact
that they are unable to repatriate dividends on a regular basis because of
foreign currency shortages, despite some good gains on the stock exchange, a
safe haven for investment. Now SA is being played off against countries such
as China, India, Russia and Iran, which are gaining influence in Zimbabwe
because of their willingness to ignore human rights abuses and political
repression in the interests of getting a foothold in the economy. Companies
expressed concern about the competition presented in the market by
businesses from China, particularly for government contracts due to the
preferential political relationship that has developed.
Notwithstanding the problems, many South African companies believe that
Zimbabwe is still a better and easier place in which to do business than
many other African countries because of its strong business culture,
diversified industrial base and relatively good infrastructure. And many
companies are still making good, albeit often declining, profits. Whether or
not the latest diplomatic shuttling between President Robert Mugabe, United
Nations chief Kofi Annan, South African President Thabo Mbeki and former
Tanzanian president Ben Mkapa yields fruit, a political solution to Zimbabwe’s
problems will eventually be found. Shareholders, bombarded by bad news about
Zimbabwe, might disapprove. But, ironically, there may be no better time for
investors to take a long, hard look at the opportunities that Zimbabwe
presents right now.
Ever since the Zimbabwean economy collapsed, the Mugabe regime has been
misleading the nation, other SADC leaders, and indeed the world to believe
that the problem stems from "international sanctions" imposed by Britain,
her European Union partners and the United States. This is a lie.
The fact of the matter is that no country in the world has imposed economic
sanctions against Zimbabwe. Our problems are home-made, by Mugabe and Zanu
The only trade embargo is military - whereby the army and airforce cannot
buy weapons of war from these countries. Which is just as well because we
know from bitter experience that the government would not hesitate to use
them against its own people. They would be used for repression - not for
defence or aggression - hence the arms embargo.
Nobody in the region wants to fight against Zimbabwe. Mugabe is the only
aggressor. Not content with sending his troops into Matabeleland in the
1980s, he has caused mayhem in Mozambique and the Zimbabwean army, backed by
the airforce, marched into the DRC years ago.
The looting of diamonds and other precious resources that took place under
cover of this armed aggression, purportedly to prop up a fellow African
dictator, continues to this very day.
The government is even embarrassed to tell us how many Zimbabweans were
killed during the DRC war, and are now buried somewhere in the jungles
More than 200 British companies have investments in Zimbabwe and they
continue to do businesses in the mining, banking, financial services,
construction, manufacturing and agro industries - without any hindrance from
Zimbabwean firms can buy anything they require from Britain, the EU or the
USA - provided they can find the foreign currency of course. In fact,
despite Mugabe's much-touted Look East policy, Britain and the EU remain our
latest trading partners.
They are also the largest donors - both to government and the NGO
community - and have been ever since independence. Many Zimbabweans are
alive today only thanks to the generosity of these countries.
The only sanctions that have ever existed against the Mugabe government are
targeted, personal travel and financial restrictions against Mugabe himself,
his wife and his cronies. All this means is that they cannot travel to he
countries concerned, nor access their ill-gotten gains stashed away in
foreign bank accounts located in those countries.
The president can no longer purchase his hand-tailored suits at Saville Row
and the First Lady can no longer indulge her passion for shopping at
Harrods. That's all these "sanctions" mean.
For Mugabe to continue to pontificate that the Zimbabwean economy is in
trouble because of these sanctions is patently ridiculous.
DPA, 30 May
Harare - Zimbabwe, which has faced successive years of poor maize harvests,
has declared potatoes a "strategic crop" to ensure food security, state
radio reported Monday. The declaration comes despite assurances by the
country’s agriculture minister two weeks ago that the country will this year
harvest the national requirement of 1.8 million tonnes of the staple maize.
"The government has declared the Irish potato a strategic crop following the
realisation that the country cannot continue depending on maize alone for
its food security," the radio said. Potatoes are generally available in
Zimbabwe, but are much more expensive than the staple maize meal. Potatoes
cost around 200 000 Zimbabwe dollars per kilogramme, while 10 kilogrammes of
maize meal, where available, also costs just under 200 000 Zimbabwe dollars.
The radio quoted Shadreck Mlambo, the director of the Department of
Agricultural Research and Extension Services as saying the government wants
to see 30 000 hectares of potatoes planted and harvests undertaken three
times a year. "Dr Mlambo says many resettled farmers are keen on embarking
on Irish potato farming, a development that could see the country’s food
security receiving a major boost," it said. Mlambo said potatoes were suited
to farming districts in eastern Zimbabwe. Aid agencies have predicted that
as many as three million Zimbabweans - around a quarter of the population -
will need food aid this year. Last year the Zimbabwe government spent around
135 million US dollars on imports of maize to make up for poor harvests, and
the country’s central bank governor has warned the tightly-stretched economy
cannot afford such bills. In an interview in New York last September,
President Robert Mugabe was quoted as saying the country’s food problems
stem from his people’s reliance on maize as a staple, when there were "heaps
of potatoes" and rice available in the country.
The Zimbabwean government has taken measures to increase its fuel supplies
amid a sudden price hiking caused by shortage which threatens to cripple all
sectors of the economy, particularly industry and commerce.
On Tuesday, the central bank Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) unveiled a
50-million-US-dollar revolving fuel import facility by signing an agreement
with local commercial banks and institutions, namely, the French bank BNP
Paribas and the co-arranger of the facility, Loita Capital Partners
The facility will see the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe initially
importing fuel for both the public and the private sectors for the next 12
months. And it will be renewed depending on the ability of the central bank
to maintain it.
Private dealers have raised the price of fuel to about 300,000 Zimbabwean
dollars (approximately 2.97 U.S. dollars) a liter, apparently in response to
a shortage that has resurfaced over the past week.
The suppliers, who provide most of the country's fuel needs, had been
selling petrol and diesel both at about 190,000 Zimbabwean dollars a liter
before the sudden increase.
Experts here held that the sudden price hiking will further fuel inflation,
currently at an all-time high of 1,042.9 percent.
Nickel producer, Bindura Nickel Company, will leverage its exports to
service the facility as part of the deal while local banks, the Stanbic Bank
and the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ), are also parts of the deal.
RBZ governor Gideon Gono said the deal is within the context of the National
Economic Development Priority Program that will leave no stone unturned in
addressing the current challenges facing the economy and form partnerships
to finance procurement of fuel.
But observers noted that the new prices were being illegally quoted against
the prevailing parallel exchange rate of the local currency to the U.S.
dollar. Sources here said the exchange rates at the paralleled market are
around 260,000 Zimbabwean dollars to one U.S. dollar.
The government also blames the shortage and artificial prices on "fuel
corruption." Monetary authorities concede that "fuel corruption" is rife and
have called for specially-made interventions to rid the sector of price
distortions and illegal dealing.
"We are ready to enter into some arrangements where tailor-made
interventions are put in place to cushion, on a targeted basis, the
vulnerable groups, to allow for the realignment and liberalization of fuel
prices," Gideon Gono said.
Continued hikes in the prices of basic commodities, among other crucial
services, as well as the recent 200 percent increase in salaries for the
public service have been cited as factors that might further fuel inflation.
Zimbabwe has been facing fuel shortages for the past six years, a situation
that has affected all sectors of the economy. The country requires at least
40 million U.S. dollars a month to meet its fuel needs.
By: Gareth Tredway
Posted: '01-JUN-06 06:00' GMT © Mineweb 1997-2004
JOHANNESBURG (Mineweb.com) -- Impala Platinum has reached agreement with the
Zimbabwean government, releasing 51Moz or 36% of its platinum resource base
in exchange for what it describes as empowerment credits and cash.
The world’s second largest platinum producer says the land does not fall
within the company’s long-term mine plan. Zimplats holds virtually all of
the Hartley Complex which is the largest of the platinum hosting centres of
the Great Dyke, according to its website.
“The released ground is outside of Zimplats’s long term expansion programme
of 1 million platinum ounces per annum over a fifty year life of mine,” said
a company release. Zimplats is an 86.9% owned subsidiary of Impala.
According to the latest Impala Annual Report the company’s Zimbabwe resource
contains 140.8Moz of platinum and has reserves of 14.1Moz. Zimplats made up
over half of the entire company’s attributable reserves and resources at the
end of June 2005.
A few months ago tension between the Zimbabwean government and the country’s
mining industry flared up after ministers and the President himself were
quoted saying that all mines would require 51% indigenous ownership. Implats
officials have been plugging away ever since to resolve the issue.
Impala says the value of the claim being released has been calculated using
the market value of the Zimplats using a 30-day weighted average share
price. Zimplats is listed in Australia.
The market value of the released claims is $153 million (R1 billion),” says
the statement, “Using these values, and the agreed formula, Zimplats will
therefore receive a cash credit and an empowerment credit to realize the
full value of the released claims.”
The new agreement has also given the board the confidence to green light the
$258 million (R1.7 billion) Phase One expansion of the operations in
Zimbabwe. The open cast mine will be replaced with an underground operation,
while platinum production will be boosted to 160,000oz per year from the
current 90,000oz level. Construction will take three years.
BY ERIC W. BLOCH
BULAWAYO - The plight of Zimbabwean Labour is intensifying exponentially,
with the woes suffered by them and their families becoming ever greater. As
with all the population, labour is confronted with an endless, horrendous
erosion of spending power, caused by hyperinflation. By April 2006 inflation
has soared to a back-breaking 1042,9%. The Poverty Datum Line (PDL), for a
family of six, reached Z$41 million in April. Assuming, as is generally the
case in low income families, that there are at least two income earners in
the family (of which one is probably engaged in the informal sector) the
principal income earner would need to earn about Z$28 million, but very few
workers earn such a wage.
The workers' circumstances are worsened by many factories having
discontinued overtime operations, which had afforded the workers some
opportunity of increased earnings, and a great number of factories having
scaled-down operations to 3-day weeks, usually because of an inability to
obtain imported manufacturing inputs.
In addition, most workers are now not only supporting themselves and their
immediate families, but are also giving some financial assistance to
numerous others within the admirable Zimbabwean "extended family" culture.
Concurrently, most workers are also subject to ongoing psychological stress
brought about by uncertainty of continuance of employment. Many are employed
on a “contract” basis, whereby the service can be terminated at any time.
Others, although permanently employed, also have no assurance that their
employment will be secure, for not only do they witness many enterprises
closing down, but they also see their employers’ businesses contracting and
struggling for survival in the face of continuously rising costs, declining
market demand, scarcity of operational inputs, consequences of unreliable
supply of energy, and diverse other factors.
Tens of thousands of workers can no longer afford public transport to travel
to and from work. Long before sunrise streams of workers can be seen walking
distances from 10 to 20 kilometres, from the high density areas in which
they live, to their workplaces. Most do so without even having had a meal,
for they can only afford one meal a day, at best. The same scenario occurs
as the day ends, with the same, exhausted workers having to walk home,
except for the lucky few who manage to obtain a lift from a passing
motorist. And they know that when they arrive home, they are likely to be
received by an angry and frustrated wife who has had to cope with crying,
hungry children, and with demands from schools for payment of overdue fees.
In these circumstances, there is an ever-increasing divide between employers
and workers. The workers demand, with rising stridency, that the minimum
wage be not less than the PDL (disregarding the fact that there is usually a
second income earner in the family), and that all wages rise to at least the
same extent as inflation. As a general rule, employers are sympathetic to
the plight of their workers, but with rare exception they simply cannot meet
the workers' expectations.
The continuing contraction of the economy is fast shrinking profits of many
enterprises, and the ravages of inflation have resulted in the majority of
businesses being under-capitalised. This results in having to resort to
substantial borrowings, often at rates exceeding 700 % per annum, further
eroding profits and limiting ability to fund rising costs, inclusive of
Most workers reject employer claims that the wage levels demanded are
unsustainable. On the one hand, the workers are driven by desperation,
resulting in an automatic rejection of even the most convincing of employer
representations. On the other hand they observe that while they have been
reduced to walking to work, and to taking in tenants in their already
overcrowded homes, in order to generate a little extra income, the employer
still arrives at work in his executive motor vehicle, and still resides in
his upmarket home in a low-density suburb.
These worker attitudes are also fuelled by the trade unions, who do so in
order to retain and enhance membership, and who receive a portion of any
wage increments they have successfully negotiated. Disregarding that the
wage demands are pitched at levels that could well cause the failure of many
businesses, and, therefore, yet further unemployment, the trade unions are
doing themselves and their members a great disservice for the sake of a
possible short-term gain.
This tension between workers and employers is not new - but it takes on an
added dimension of desperation in Zimbabwe today. Yes, half a loaf is better
than none. Yes, just one slice is better than none. Yes, a crumb is better
than none. At what stage do both sides agree that the loaf is no longer
sliceable? Trade Unions and those firms still in business are on the horns
of a very unpleasant dilemma indeed.
BULAWAYO - Commuters woke up to a hefty 50% increase in public transport
fares this week as the cost of living spirals out of control.
A single trip from Bulawayo city centre to the nearest low-income
residential suburb now costs Z$80 000, up from the previous $50 000.
The chairman of the Bulawayo Public Transport Association (BPTA), Strike
Ndlovu said the latest increase was due to the difficult economic
environment they were operating under.
"I will not comment much on this issue but transport operators are also
feeling the economic pinch. They also have to survive, why are other
business entities not stopped from effecting price and fare hikes in this
tough economic climate?" Ndlovu said.
Public transporters in the capital Harare and other cities were also
expected to hike fares within the week.
But the police, who in the past have arrested public transport operators for
hiking fares, immediately threatened to descend on the operators saying they
should increase fares only after first seeking approval from the government.
"Fare increases can only be effected when they have been gazetted by the
government and commuter omnibus operators who over charge will be dealt
with," said Bulawayo police spokesman Andrew Phiri.
In a sign of more trouble to come for Zimbabwe, a leading regional financial
services firm, Imara Asset Management, last Thursday said data collated from
Zimbabwe's key industrial sector indicated a sharp rise in inputs costs
which could see annual inflation jumping to 2 000 percent.
The Botswana-based Imara was in mid-April able to predict that Zimbabwe's
inflation would breach the 1,000 percent barrier. The figure was confirmed
when the Central Statistical Office announced at the end of last month that
annual inflation had surged to 1,042.9 percent up from 913.6 percent in
March. - ZimOnline
Botswana Daily News
30 May, 2006
GABORONE - The political and economic situation Zimbabwe worries Botswana
Congress Party (BCP) says the partys Secretary General Taolo Lucas.
Addressing a two-day BCP trainers training workshop, sponsored by the
Westminister Foundation for Democracy and New Labour Party of Britain in
Tlokweng, Lucas said Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe was violating all
known norms of democracy with impunity.
SADC leaders remain quiet under this state of affairs, he said. They call
their muted strategy silent diplomacy.
Lucas told the workshop that the strategy was tantamount to doing nothing
and it was a conspiracy by Southern African Development Community (SADC)
leaders against Zimbabweans.
The Zimbabwean situation qualifies for crime against humanity, he said,
adding that by products of the silence diplomacy for Botswana were, a high
crime rate, foot and mouth disease and xenophobia.
He said the BCP believed that democracy under the ruling Democratic Party
(BDP) government had stagnated.
We believe that there is need to usher a qualitatively superior form of
democracy in Botswana, he added.
We believe in a thorough and extensive democracy which emphasises
transparency, accountability and responsiveness.
Among other things that BCP believe should be done urgently, include the
devolution of the power of the presidency to Parliament, direct election of
the president, giving more power to the ombudsman and the accountant
general, entrenching press freedom as well as funding of political parties.
Lucas said the political playing field in Botswana was not level, adding
that opposition was cash strapped while the BDP was awash with cash from
Big business is totally mortgaged to BDP, he said. In an economy dominated
largely by government activity business people literally buy favour from the
government by supporting the BDP with large sums of money during elections.
Democracy becomes the casualty in the process.
Lucas also said unless the democratic reforms were instituted without delay,
Botswanas democracy would continue to degenerate.
He further said the BCP believed in ushering a growing economy driven by the
private and public sectors in collaboration with workers.
We believe that the benefits of economic growth should touch the lives of
ordinary citizens, he said. While we believe in attracting Foreign Direct
Investment (FDI), we also believe in a strong domestic economic investment
therefore local business must be nurtured and supported.
Regarding the workshop, which attracted party cadre from all over Botswana,
Lucas encouraged attendants to train others in the regions, constituencies
Trainers are expected to be knowledgeable and competent in imparting
knowledge, he told the participants. You ought to read and read widely as
The objective of the workshop was to develop and pilot a cadre policy that
would enhance organisational development and build capacity of BCPs cadre
involved in operational activities of the party at all structures.
The workshop was also meant to enhance the basic principles of social
democracy, as a central tenet of the BCP ideology and motivation as well as
to develop and strengthen the organisational capacity so that members
understand the partys mandate, role and responsibilities in general party
administration among other objectives. BOPA
BY LITANY BIRD
Dear Family and Friends,
They say that there is no smoke without fire and if that is true then there
is a big bonfire burning somewhere very close to home this week. It has been
a very confusing few days in Zimbabwe with a number of different media
reports about diplomatic manoeuverings that are going on to help us.
First we heard that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was putting together a
plan to rescue Zimbabwe from its political and economic crisis. Then,
insinuating that something was already well underway by Annan, South African
President Thabo Mbeki said "We are all awaiting the outcome of his
Then came reports on South African television that Kofi Annan was going to
visit Zimbabwe and that international aid would be given in exchange for
President Mugabe's retirement. Those reports on SABC TV even went as far as
to say that President Mugabe would be given immunity from prosecution for
human rights abuses. As the days passed the reports seemed to become more
speculative than factual and the atmosphere got smokier.
Things got confusing when Zimbabwe's state-owned TV announced that both Zanu
(PF) and the MDC would accept Annan as a mediator. Whew, I must have missed
something, where did the question of mediation come from all of a sudden? A
few days later the mediation theme popped up again but this time it wasn't
Annan's name being fronted but that of former Tanzanian president Benjamin
Just as things had started getting interesting someone must have poured a
bucket of water on the fire. The smoke got thicker than ever and from all
sides came denials, back tracking and classic claims of "I Am Not The One."
Ibrahim Gambari, the UN under secretary-general for political affairs said :
"I think it is premature to talk about any package, and certainly even more
premature to talk about that package including the possible departure of
Zimbabwe then said that the invitation extended to Kofi Annan to visit the
country was no longer valid or applicable. Full stop. End of manoeuverings?
Who knows, as they say there's no smoke without fire. In the midst of a
confusing week, and to make everything seem even more delusional, there was
Most of us can't ever remember earthquakes in Zimbabwe or at least not for
the last 30 years but now all of a sudden we've had two series of quakes and
aftershocks in the past three months. At around midnight on Sunday two
earthquakes measuring 3.9 and 4.0 on the Richter scale shook eastern parts
of Zimbabwe. This time the epicentre of the quakes was much closer to home
and near the Nyamudzi River in Wedza. Some people are saying that all these
earthquakes are a sign that God is coming.
Others are saying that they are a sign from God. So from the country of
smoke signals and shaking beds and mysterious signs, until next week, Ndini
- ZWNEWS, 30 May
In a sharply worded statement, senior EU representatives have publicly
criticised persistent government claims that the EU has imposed economic
sanctions on Zimbabwe. Xavier Marchal, head of the European Commission’s
delegation to Harare, and Michael Brunner, Austrian ambassador and speaking
for Austria as the current holders of the EU revolving presidency, jointly
signed a letter on Friday on behalf of all EU members states. Referring to
an article in the state-owned Herald on 19 May which claimed that the
Swedish ambassador had said that EU sanctions were hurting the poor in
Zimbabwe, the two envoys said: "Your front page article is biased and short
in facts. There are no economic EU sanctions against Zimbabwe. There have
never been economic EU sanctions against Zimbabwe." Trading relations
between Zimbabwe and the EU remain strong, they continued. "The EU takes
more than 30 per cent of Zimbabwe’s exports. In 2004, Zimbabwe had a trade
surplus of E261 million with EU states." Apart from these commercial links,
the EU is also the largest source of humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe, amounting
to E70 million in 2005. The only restrictive measures are travel bans and an
asset freeze targeted at around 100 individuals, and an arms embargo, they
This latest protest follows a heated exchange in the pages of the Herald
concerning Sweden’s recently arrived representative in Harare. In a letter
published in the paper last week, Swedish ambassaor Sten Rylander protested
that his words had been twisted in both the Herald and the Manica Post,
another state-owned publication. "Once again I am forced to point out that
my views have been deliberately distorted," said Rylander, also referring to
the 19 May article. "I, and the country I represent, am fully behind the
position as it still stands, including the imposition of targeted sanctions
vis-à-vis Zimbabwe." He added: "Any attempt to try to divide the EU or blame
poverty in Zimbabwe on these sanctions will fail." Rylander’s complaint was
followed a few days later by a vehement attack in the Herald’s opinion pages
by Caesar Zvayi who labelled the Swedish diplomat a liar. Rylander
responded: "I am totally dismayed by Caesar Zvayi’s article. I am surprised
that The Herald does not understand the difficulties involved in an evolving
dialogue. But I am encouraged by feedback I receive from other people on
what I am trying to do, including people in Government and Zanu PF."
Harare - In a flagrant style that must have left President Robert Mugabe green with envy, lawyer Lovemore Madhuku and other leaders of Zimbabwe's National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) last weekend chopped and changed the constitution of the country's largest pro-democracy group so they could retain its control. While Maghuku - who is NCA chairman - has argued that the amendment of the constitution was legal, his civic society allies as well as critics in the government are both agreed that the manipulation of the NCA's constitution during a violent annual general meeting last Saturday could only have left the organisation weaker and without moral authority to demand a new and democratic constitution for Zimbabwe. On Tuesday Zim Online spoke to Madhuku about this and other issues. Excerpts:
QUESTION: Many people including your allies in civic society say you are power-hungry, that you pushed - President Mugabe-style - for the NCA constitution to be changed so you could remain in office, what is your comment?
ANSWER: Those are very unfortunate comments. They arise from a misunderstanding of what we stand for and what is involved in the struggle for a new constitution. It would be very wrong to equate the processes that we are currently engaged in with the processes of what the government is doing.
Q: But the point is that by pushing for the old NCA constitution to be changed so you could remain in office, you have forfeited whatever moral authority you had to lead the search for a new and democratic constitution for Zimbabwe?
A: The amendments came from the NCA membership. The constitution does not allow the chairman to change the constitution. My moral authority must be judged from the perspective of the people on the ground, the ordinary members, and the struggling majority of the people of Zimbabwe. These are the people who know as a matter of fact that they need a new constitution. They decide on any change in the organisation, whether the organisation needs any changes in leadership and so on. So as far as we are concerned you can't talk of a lack of moral authority because the NCA membership wanted me to stay on. But if you are looking at it from an outsider's point of view or from that of someone who wanted to take over, then certainly you would think that there is now a lack of morals.
Q: Even if it was the NCA delegates who proposed and adopted the constitutional amendments, why did you have to accept being re-elected when you had served the maximum two two-year terms under the old order?
A: I believe that my leadership at the moment will go a long way in our fight. So when the request came to re-elect me, I was more than happy to accept it. So it doesn't follow that the people who asked me to stand again for re-election were talking to an unwilling person. I have been around working with them and I know why they need me to remain in this position. They believe I still have a role to play as chairman of NCA. I share that belief and I am not trying to second guess them. It is fact.
Q: Can you tell us why you did not simply recuse yourself from contesting for the chairman's post, not only so that new blood could take over but also for the sake of setting an example to others both inside and outside the NCA that leaders should be prepared to give up power even if not legally bound to do so?
A: We are not here to set examples on how long people should stay in power. We are here to fight for a cause. We are agenda driven and the best person to lead that agenda to fruition should be given a chance as long as the membership agrees.
Q: Do you really feel you still have the respect of the people to lead the fight for a new constitution or let alone to pressure Mugabe to accept limiting of terms in office?
A: Well, I think you need to understand the role of the NCA. The role of the NCA is not to get Mugabe out of power. It is to push for a constitution that is democratic and a result of wide consultation. We will continue pushing for that. We will not ask Mugabe to leave, we will ask him, force him if we can to embrace constitutional reforms, whether they affect his continued stay as President or not.
Q: The fact of the matter is President Mugabe has no term limits and has refused to yield to pressure for him to leave and you are following exactly in the same footsteps or can you tell us why you think you are different?
A: I think there is a big difference between national constitutions and constitutions of organisations fighting for a cause. First it must not be assumed that we always have enough volunteers to take up the risks involved. The people in the NCA are not in power. They are trying to push for a certain cause. In that case we should be willing to open up space for whoever is willing to push that cause, instead of shutting them out. In that case you would make a mistake if you would rigidly impose term limits on people who have the capacity and the interest to lead that cause. But in a national constitution, it would be a whole issue of governmental power. We will be talking about people who control the army, the police and a lot of state agencies. They need limits, lest they corrupt governmental systems. But we have no such power in the NCA. Our only interest is in seeing democracy flourish.
Q: Given the controversy surrounding your re-election and the obvious damage it is doing to the credibility of the NCA, are you still convinced that what you did was the best thing or do you think you could have handled things differently?
A: I don't think there is anything I could have handled differently. I would do it the same way because I don't see anything that was done wrongly. The amendments, the elections, were all done in a democratic and transparent manner.
Q: What specific steps are you going to take to repair damaged relations with other pro-democracy activists and organisations that at this point are dismayed by what has happened in the NCA?
A: I am actually not aware of who was for the amendments and who opposed them. We just left the process to be determined by the Annual General Meeting (AGM). There will be no bridge building or whatever because our understanding is that democracy won. What will happen from now onwards is to make the NCA even more formidable.
Q: And what is your programme of action to achieve the NCA goal of a new and democratic constitution for Zimbabwe?
A: We are going to deepen our penetration of the grassroots, to educate them about the new constitution to raise awareness so that they can join our resistance programmes. We are going to increase the activities, especially the resistance. This means more and more demonstrations until the government gives in to our demands. The support you saw at the AGM was a result of the good things we have been doing.
By Blessing Zulu
31 May 2006
Interview With Brian Kagoro
Tension is brewing between the Zimbabwean government and the United Nations over whether U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan should visit the country as proposed in 2005, despite statements from Harare that he is no longer expected there.
A spokesman for President Robert Mugabe said there was now no need for Annan to visit Zimbabwe as the initial purpose of the proposed visit had "fallen away."
President Mugabe initially extended the invitation to Annan so that the U.N. chief could personally witness conditions in the wake of Operation Murambatsvina, which Annan after reviewing a special envoy's report described as a "catastrophic injustice."
More recently, South African President Thabo Mbeki said U.N. and regional officials have been exploring the possibility of a U.N.-brokered solution to Zimbabwe's crisis under which Mr. Mugabe would step down - with assurances of immunity from prosecution - in return for an international economic bailout package.
Harare has responded by giving Annan the cold shoulder - though the U.N. chief told reporters in New York on Tuesday that he was not aware Harare had withdrawn the invitation and was continuing with his preparations in hopes of visiting Zimbabwe.
UN Undersecretary General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari said it was too early to discuss Mr. Mugabe’s resignation. But Movement for Democratic Change founding President Morgan Tsvangirai meanwhile indicated this week that he would not object to granting Mugabe immunity from prosecution under such a deal, suggesting the initiative to engineer a post-Mugabe transition sooner than later is still in play.
State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa declined to comment on the matter, referring all questions to Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi. But aides to the foreign minister said he was in Malaysia and unreachable.
For insight on these diplomatic moves, reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned to Kenyan-based human rights lawyer and analyst Brian Kagoro.
The Herald (Harare)
May 30, 2006
Posted to the web May 31, 2006
ZIMBABWE is set to benefit immensely from co-operation with China in the field of local government following an undertaking by a visiting Chinese delegation to cement relations between the two countries.
The Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development, Cde Ignatius Chombo, yesterday received a 10-member delegation from the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries. Head of the delegation Mr Wang Yunze said his country was keen to have twinning arrangements with Zimbabwe's provinces, cities and towns. "We appreciate the friendship between our two countries. We want to enhance and strengthen the friendship through the local government vehicle. We want to see twinning arrangements between cities, towns and provinces," he said. Mashonaland West is the only province in Zimbabwe twinned to a Chinese province. In 2005 China had 1 317 friendship ties with provinces, cities and towns around the world with 67 of them in Africa.
Mr Wang said China and Zimbabwe share a lot in common and would, therefore, work together to achieve development. He invited Cde Chombo to lead a local government delegation to China to further enhance co-operation o n local government issues. Cde Chombo said Zimbabwe wanted to benefit from China's experiences in housing, sewage reticulation, road construction and other aspects to do with service delivery in respect of local authorities. "We could benefit in terms of sourcing equipment such as refuse collection trucks, road construction and maintenance vehicles and other related equipment. We could work out a bilateral arrangement to that effect," he said.
Cde Chombo said Zimbabwe wanted to learn how China, with its huge population, had managed to provide decent accommodation to its people. He said Government was interested in the building expertise and technology employed by China. The minister said Zimbabwe was already a beneficiary of co-operation with China, citing the purchase of 50 conventional buses from First Automotive Works (FAW). At least five luxury buses and 17 engines are in transit from China to Zimbabwe under the same deal. The delegation also paid a courtesy call on Hara re Commission chairperson Ms Sekesayi Makwavarara. Town clerk Mr Nomutsa Chideya said council was looking for partners to help boost production at the Crusher Station which produces stone aggregates used for road construction in the city.
Currently, it produces only 210 tonnes of stone daily but if given equipment has potential to extract at least 1 275 tonnes every day. The drilling rig bought in 1975 was now broken down and beyond economic repair. Workers were using jackhammers to mine the quarry stone. The delegation is today expected to visit Marondera Rural District Council before proceeding to Matabeleland North tomorrow.
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
JOHANNESBURG, 1 June (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's response to food insecurity is too little and too late, a recent government fact-finding mission has revealed.
Presenting the results of an inquiry by the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare parliamentary portfolio committee into the drought relief distribution programme to the House of Assembly, committee chairperson and ZANU-PF Member of Parliament, Mabel Mawere, said distribution delay had left some people on the brink of starvation.
"Our fact-finding mission covered the hardest-hit areas of Masvingo and Matabeleland South [provinces in southern Zimbabwe], but according to my understanding it is affecting the whole country," Mawere told IRIN.
Warning that maize distribution was urgently needed, Mawere added: "the food is procured by the government from national production or from South Africa - the problem is that it can take four to six months for maize grain to be transported" to those in need. "Lack of fuel is the real problem."
Zimbabwe is trying to cope with four years of food shortages caused by erratic rainfall, the impact of the chaotic fast-track land reform programme on the agricultural sector and a critical lack of foreign currency to import inputs, such as fertiliser and fuel.
The official Herald newspaper quoted the portfolio committee as saying, "Drought relief food was taking too long to reach the intended beneficiaries" because of the "erratic supply of grain at the Grain Marketing Board depots [state-run outlets], compounded by the shortage of fuel to transport the available maize."
The Herald reported that "in Chiredzi District [southeastern Zimbabwe], 77,000 households [are] in need of food aid; maize was scarce", and in "Chivi District [southeastern Zimbabwe] 31,469 households required food aid", which meant about 1,573mt of maize had to be delivered every month.
However, Mawere said the amount of maize received could not cover the needs: Beitbridge District, for example, had requested 256mt of maize but had only received 100mt.
An aid worker warned that the food security situation could "become very critical" in Matabeleland South and Masvingo, which "are traditionally food-insecure areas", because "we understand food is going to run out in the next four months".
According to the Herald, "social welfare officials told the committee that due to insufficient supplies of grain, people engaged in the public works programme were now just receiving Zim$30,000 [about 30 US cents] without the [usual] 50kg bag of maize". The committee recommended that the Zim$30,000 be increased to at least Zim$100,000 [about 98 US cents] and that maize be dispatched to beneficiaries "as soon as maize was procured".
In Zimbabwe, food is not only delivered late or is unavailable, it is also unaffordable: "with inflation at 1,042.9 percent, most food items are beyond ordinary Zimbabweans' reach," commented John Makumbe, a senior political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.
Mawere said the committee had submitted its report to the National Taskforce on Food Security, chaired by Didymus Mutasa, the Minister of National Security. "They are going to readdress the problem," she said.
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By Peta Thornycroft
01 June 2006
For the second time in a year, Zimbabwe's stock market shut down, after traders clashed with the government. Peta Thornycroft, reporting for VOA, has more on the dispute at a time of extraordinary financial instability in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe's stock exchange, Africa's second largest after South Africa, closed down after a tax dispute with the government.
Analysts say, among the effects of the shut down was a sudden devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar, which will further fuel the more than 1,000 percent annual rate of inflation, the highest in the world.
Stockbrokers stopped trading nine days ago, after one of the largest traders received a tax demand from the government for nearly $150,000 (US).
The bill, backdated to 2004, was, according to the stockbrokers, illegal, and a misinterpretation of the tax laws. Brokers said the contentious tax levy would bankrupt them.
As a result, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange suspended trading, and sought legal opinion on the tax demand.
The shut down last year involved a similar dispute. It was resolved when the government backed down.
Economist John Robertson said the tax demand indicated that the government is so short of money that it is desperately looking for tax revenue. He said the government is not sensitive to, or does not understand, the role that the stock market plays in raising investment.
Zimbabwe has no foreign currency for imports and no direct foreign investment, and the government says it is forced to print money to pay expenses, such as salaries.
Late Thursday, some stockbrokers reported they had succeeded in securing a verbal agreement with Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa, and would resume trading.
Martin Matanda, head of operations at The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, told brokers that the government would begin collecting value-added tax from June 1, but would await a court ruling before demanding back payments.
By Blessing Zulu
01 June 2006
Countering reports that the Zimbabwean government is less than enthusiastic about receiving U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan on an official visit to Harare, Information Minister Tichaona Jokonya said Thursday that Annan is welcome there.
Jokonya also stated that President Robert Mugabe will step down in 2008 at the end of his term. The comment served to dispel speculation that the president might retire early under a deal brokered by the U.N. to rescue the Zimbabwean economy, and to quash reports that Mr. Mugabe might seek to extend his term until 2010.
Jokonya’s statement on the possible Annan visit also contradicted comments made by his permanent secretary, George Charamba, a spokesman for President Mugabe. He told the state-controlled Herald newspaper recently that the government was “no longer expecting” Annan because the initial reasons for the trip, related to the government's 2005 slum-clearance campaign, had since been resolved.
Harare extended the invitation to Annan about a year ago after a U.N. special envoy delivered a report to the secretary general on Operation Murambatsvina (Shona for "Drive Out Rubbish") detailing mass forced evictions and home demolitions. Annan himself called the operation a "catastrophic injustice." The government said reports exaggerated the impact and urged Annan to see conditions for himself.
More recently though, Annan's visit became associated with a reported initiative by the U.N. and South Africa to broker a deal with Harare extending financial aid in return for Mr. Mugabe's early retirement with guarantees of immunity from prosecution.
Senior administration officials privy to the developments said divisions in the cabinet accounted for the contradictory statements coming out of Harare.
They said hardliners led by Mr. Mugabe himself want to engage Britain, rather than the U.N., hoping it would lift the targeted sanctions it has imposed on top Zimbabwean government and officials of the ZANU-PF ruling party. But others led by Vice President Joyce Mujuru and Foreign Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi say snubbing Annan would only deepen Zimbabwe’s isolation from the international community.
Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe asked Information Minister Tichaona Jokonya to clarify Harare’s position on the Annan visit. He also spoke with South African-based human rights lawyer Daniel Molokela about the mixed signals.
Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo)
June 1, 2006
Posted to the web June 1, 2006
The Mozambican and Zimbabwean authorities are working to establish more border posts along the frontier, to facilitate the legal crossing of people and goods from one country to the other, according to Mozambican Defence Minister Tobias Dai, cited in Thursday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias".
Dai, who was speaking during a meeting in Maputo of the Standing Joint Defence and Security Commission between the two countries, said the establishment of more official border posts might also help reduce cross-border crime.
Zimbabwean Security Minister Sidney Sekeramayi agreed. He said that people continue to cross the border illegally, largely because of the long distances separating the border posts. Some people had to walk for over 50 kilometres before reaching a border post, he pointed out.
Sekeramayi added that the creation of new border posts should go hand in hand with the establishment of permanent communication between the Mozambican and Zimbabwean forces stationed along the border.
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