For whom the bell tolls . . .
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe could soon ring the changes in his under performing
cabinet following the death of Information Minister Tichaona Jokonya last
week, amid growing consternation among his ministers who have been
increasingly overshadowed by taskforces set up to revive the enfeebled
The taskforces, seen as a desperate measure to arrest the unprecedented
economic meltdown, were set up under the auspices of the National Economic
Revival Council (NERC). The council, chaired by Vice President Joice Mujuru,
is in charge of the National Economic Development Priority Programme
(NEDPP). The NEDPP is the latest economic recovery roadmap, which many fear
could meet the same fate as the many other economic blueprints that have
remained mere paper reforms.
Some ministers have expressed dismay at the emergence of the powerful
taskforces, saying these committees had become de facto government
departments and rendered their ministries redundant.
Sources said although President Mugabe had uncharacteristically swiftly
moved to replace Jokonya who died in Harare last Saturday, with
Anti-corruption Minister Paul Mangwana, he would take the opportunity to
reshuffle his cabinet.
President Mugabe has expressed dissatisfaction with the performance of his
cabinet, with which he has presided over a worsening economic crisis.
Speaking in an interview with Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings' Newsnet
current affairs to mark his 82nd birthday in February, President Mugabe said
some of his ministers were not delivering.
"There is a lot of self-centredness amongst some of my ministers. You see,
when we talk of national development and a development cabinet, we want to
see each and every minister moving towards the attainment of the goals set
for the particular ministry.
"There has not been that much vigour shown and therefore there hasn't been
the necessary accomplishment of the goals that we had set for ourselves,"
President Mugabe said.
He went on to single out the agriculture, mines and industry ministries as
portfolios lacking leadership. Since then, speculation has swirled about the
political future of the heads of these ministries, Joseph Made, Amos Midzi
and Obert Mpofu. Cynics however said they did not have any high hopes for
changes because President Mugabe was not known to sack incompetent
The Tsholotsho debacle, which threatened to split ZANU PF in the run-up to
the party's December 2004 congress, continues to cast a long shadow over
President Mugabe's government, with senior officials divided on the basis of
their positions on the power struggle between Vice- President Mujuru and her
rival, Rural Housing Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The fallout from the controversial election of Mujuru at Mnangagwa's expense
has continued to brew suspicion and mistrust within government among top
officials aligned to the rival camps ahead of President Mugabe's expected
retirement in 2008.
Nasty clashes have been reported within the higher echelons of government,
with the most recent being a row between Mujuru and State Security Minister
Didymus Mutasa, a trusted Mugabe loyalist who is reported to have thrown in
his lot with Mnangagwa. Mutasa and the vice-president reportedly crossed
swords, over the looting of equipment from Kondozi Estate in which the
former was implicated.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, also aligned to Mnangagwa, has
reportedly clashed with the powerful Attorney General Sobusa Gula-Ndebele,
who is frequently linked to the Mujuru camp.
Nelson Banya News Editor
Government bursts statutory limit
THE government's domestic debt has more than doubled within one month to an
amazing $48 trillion, the bulk of which is made up of interest on Treasury
The ballooning debt, economists say, shows government has not reined-in
expenditure and is losing the fight against inflation. The total debt stood
at just over $21 trillion at the beginning of the month, but rose to $48.22
trillion by June 23.
Independent economist, Daniel Ndhlela, said by failing to keep a tight rein
on its expenditure, government was stoking the flames of inflation.
"The inflationary consequences of this ballooning debt are obvious. Because
governments cannot become insolvent, but can resort to printing money,
creating another inflation spiral," Ndhlela said.
A significant part of the debt is in the form of advances, by the central
bank, to government.
In terms of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act, central bank lending to
government is limited to 20 percent of the previous year's revenue
This excludes government securities purchased on the secondary market for
monetary policy purposes. Based on year 2005 estimated revenue, this
translates to a statutory limit of $6,6 trillion for 2006.
However, in June alone, advances to government exceeded $7 trillion.
"The government has long breached that rule. Successive permanent
secretaries in the Finance Ministry, who tried to put their
foot down over that issue, were told not to interfere with the running of
government. So if we do not
abide by our rules, who is to take us seriously as creditworthy?" Ndhlela
The central bank has largely maintained a short money market through the
aggressive issue of TBs, in a move meant to curtail the expansion of credit
and money supply.
Economists have, however, said the measure was creating future money supply
problems in the economy.
"This has grave implications for the economy and shows government cannot
possibly achieve its inflation targets.
"It also shows government is increasingly relying on TBs to finance
expenditure. The government has been confronted by higher-than-expected
expenditure requirements, which cannot be met by revenues. That is why they
will soon table a supplementary budget," a Harare bank economist, who
declined to be named, said.
Zimbabwe's inflation raced to a new all-time high of 1 193,5 percent in May,
amid fears the rate could peak at 1 500 percent.
Economists have cautioned the central bank against compounding money supply
problems by issuing the paper in the absence of any discernible
complementary initiatives to revive production.
The existence of distortions in the economy, such as the dichotomous
exchange rate system, made any attempts to arrest inflation futile.
A pegged exchange rate has rendered the defenceless dollar susceptible to
bouts of speculative attacks, with dire consequences on the economy.
Although the official rate of the local unit to the United States dollar is
just above $101 000/$US, the exchange rate on the thriving parallel market
soared to an average $400 000/$US upon the release of last month's inflation
The official rate has only marginally moved since January, when the Bank
effectively reintroduced the peg after a three-month flirtation with a
High levels of money supply growth in a contracting economy add to
inflationary pressures and it is imperative for the authorities to keep on
maintaining a tight monetary policy stance so as to rein-in inflation.
However, a tight monetary policy stance also needs to be accompanied with a
prudent fiscal policy.
THE government will create a commission to license fuel importers and
dictate fuel prices through a new law seen as yet another move that could
spark worse shortages than have been witnessed to date.
Government says the proposed commission will operate as an autonomous
entity, although past experience suggests the body would have very little
freedom from government interference.
The bill is expected to be tabled in Parliament, where it would be easily
passed by ruling party legislators who are in the majority.
From 1999, the country, neck-deep in an economic recession, has grappled
with fuel shortages blamed on donor fatigue and reduced exports.
While deliveries of petroleum products have improved lately, prices have
shot through the roof, as the local unit lost ground to the greenback and
other major currencies.
Direct fuel importers are charging as much as $400 000 per litre of petrol
against the official government price of $22 000 per litre.
The Energy Minister, who launched a programme allowing private importers to
buy fuel using free funds, currently prescribes fuel prices .
Hama Saburi Deputy Editor-in-Chief
A LATENT but intense succession battle is reportedly brewing within the
Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) as senior officers jockey for the coveted
commissioner's post ahead of the expiry of police chief Augustine Chihuri's
term of office in August, The Financial Gazette can reveal.
The jockeying for the commissioner's post comes amid as yet unconfirmed
reports that the incumbent, who joined the law-enforcing agency at
independence as a patrol officer, is seriously considering retiring after
President Robert Mugabe has extended his tenure by 12 months on several
President Mugabe's nephew, Innocent Matibiri, who has the distinction of
being one of the only two senior police officers to get to the top without
serving at the rank of senior assistant commissioner, is likely to take over
from Chihuri whose 13-year tenure at the helm of the ZRP has been chequered
by allegations of political bias and complicity in human rights abuses.
Sources within the police force yesterday confirmed the development, which
they said could stir up discord within the force if it is not "handled
properly". The internal dispute, they said, would pit a new generation of
police officers without liberation war credentials against the old guard.
Already some liberation war hardliners within the ZRP are reportedly
stirring up feelings over the issue. As a result the rise of Matibiri, the
deputy commissioner in charge of crime, was being resisted by some
servicemen who strongly believe that the ultimate authority in the force
should be an officer with liberation war credentials.
This brings rank outsiders Godwin Matanga, the deputy
commissioner-operations and Levie Sibanda, the deputy commissioner in charge
of administration, back into contention for the top job. It was widely
believed that Matanga would be retired when Chihuri leaves office in order
to make way for Matibiri.
"It's such a delicate issue that requires careful handling," said a source.
"The ZRP could be split in the middle if the executive fails to handle it
carefully," added the source.
President Mugabe has the final say on the issue. But speculation was rife
yesterday that the veteran politician would ensure that the ZRP is headed by
an absolute loyalist before he could quit active politics. The ZANU PF
strongman has hinted at vacating office in 2008 although popular sentiment
is that he might stay put until 2010 by tampering with the constitution,
which has been amended 17 times since 1980.
Kembo Mohadi, the Home Affairs Minister, was not responding to calls to his
mobile phone yesterday.
Chihuri, an ex-combatant who received his military training at Mgagau in
Tanzania and operated in the Mt Darwin area, replaced Henry Mukurazhizha in
1991 as acting commissioner and eventually took over in 1993.
While the police commissioner's term is limited to four years, President
Mugabe has repeatedly extended Chihuri's term by a period of not more than
12 months at a time in line with the law.
Since the divisive 2000 polls that were preceded by the emotive land
seizures, the ZRP has faced criticism for alleged political bias against
opposition parties and what is claimed to be its part in systematic
violation of rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
Chihuri has been open about his loyalty to the ruling party. In 2001 he was
quoted saying: "Many people say I am ZANU PF. Today, I would like to make it
public that I support ZANU PF because it is the ruling party. If any other
party comes to power, I will resign and let those who support it take over."
Hama Saburi Deputy Editor-In-Chief
THE United Nations (UN) is keeping a tight lid on secretary-general Kofi
Annan's scheduled meeting with President Robert Mugabe at the African Union
(AU) summit over the crisis in Zimbabwe, which has attracted increased
This week, Annan's spokesman Stephane Dujarric further skirted around the
specifics of the UN secretary general's visit to Banjul for the continental
body's fifth summit.
"In Banjul, he will attend the AU summit. On the margins, he will hold a
series of bilateral meetings," said Dujarric in a terse reference to Annan's
visit. "He is also expected to host a mini-summit on Cote d'Ivoire, which
will bring together President Laurent Gbagbo and other African leaders," he
said in highlights of Tuesday's UN briefings.
Diplomatic sources said South African President Thabo Mbeki, who tried in
vain to broker an amicable settlement to the political crisis in Zimbabwe
will, together with the UN secretary-general meet President Mugabe on the
sidelines of the AU summit possibly to pave the way for the UN chief's visit
to Zimbabwe. The AU summit opens on July 1 and ends on July 2.
Mbeki is on record as saying that the proposed visit to Zimbabwe by Annan
could mark a carthatic turning point for the increasingly isolated nation.
Political commentators believe that Annan's visit, which, to all intents and
purposes now hangs in the balance, could give President Mugabe a chance to
defend the most cherished aspect of his rule, his name, in the twilight of a
political career marred by allegations of human rights abuses. It was widely
expected that Annan would cut a deal with President Mugabe to tackle
Zimbabwe's deepening crisis.
But President Mugabe is understood to be against Annan's planned visit to
Harare, which could see Zimbabwe being dragged before the powerful UN
Security Council, particularly following a damning report by the world body
on its widely condemned Operation Murambatsvina that left 700 000 people
Harare is fast running out of options to ward off the inexorably rising
pressure for political reforms and is trying every trick in the book to
avoid censure by the UN.
Zimbabwe, which last year said it had invited Annan to come and assess first
hand the impact of its clean-up exercise, has indicated that Annan, who it
now views as a pawn of the US and British governments, was no longer
This is despite the fact that Mbeki had earlier said that Annan's visit
would help normalise relations between Zimbabwe and the rest of the world.
An alleged democratic deficit has left Zimbabwe in a spot of bother with the
international community. Harare denies the charges, laying the blame
squarely on the shoulders of the country's critics, whom it accuses of
demonising Zimbabwe as retribution for embarking on controversial land
The Geoff Nyarota Column
TWO of the strangest stories to emerge in Harare last week were both linked
to the same man.
On Monday Information and Publicity Minister, Tichaona Jokonya, now late,
launched an unexpected and vicious attack on Zimbabwe's independent
journalists. Five days later he died mysteriously in the tub of a hotel
Jokonya reportedly addressed a press conference in the capital city on
Monday. He was accompanied by an official of what was described in the press
as the Washington-based Pan-African Liberation Organisation. The official
was said to be on a fact-finding visit to Zimbabwe. My research has failed
to yield any useful information on the organisation in question. Describing
journalists who work as correspondents for western media organisations as
traitors, Jokonya warned them not to serve the interests of Zimbabwe's
"You know what the end of a traitor is?" Jokonya asked. "The end of a
traitor is always death."
It was reported over the weekend that the minister checked into the Rainbow
Towers Hotel in Harare on Friday night following a meeting late into the
night with ministry officials. They were reportedly discussing details of
the much-talked-about restructuring of the problematic Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Holdings. On the following morning, repeated knocks on the hotel-room door
by his bodyguards elicited no response. They then forced the door open and
found the minister dead.
The Sunday Mail quoted sources as saying Jokonya had died while taking a
bath. "He had not even got into his bed," the unnamed sources told the
newspaper. The sources must have been close enough to the tragic event to
gain entry into the hotel room
Meanwhile, the Internet-based New Zimbabwe.com did a better job. They spoke
to Nathan Shamuyarira, ZANU PF's official spokesman. Journalism is all about
the credibility of sources, especially if they can be identified by name.
"I can indeed confirm the minister's death," Shamuyarira said. "He died in
his sleep in a local hotel."
Shamuyarira did not specify where Jokonya was sleeping at the time of his
death. While The Sunday Mail stated categorically that he had not yet gone
to bed at the time of his demise, Shamuyarira states equally unequivocally
that Jokonya died in his sleep. There can only be one conclusion - that the
deceased was sleeping in the bath-tub. This contradiction in detail creates
a significant problem - whom to believe. Both Shamuyarira and The Sunday
Mail are official sources of information on issues pertaining to ZANU PF.
Jokonya was reported to have been due to brief Cabinet on Tuesday on the
current ZBH restructuring exercise. He had apparently worked a very heavy
schedule on his last day. During the day he had performed unspecified duties
in his Chikomba constituency, where his Samaita Farm is situated. Then he
had conferred with ministry officials late into the night. He had been
scheduled to meet the heads of parastatals operating under his ministry on
Meanwhile, The Zimbabwe Standard reported that he had been scheduled to then
rush to Samaita Farm where he had summoned the editors of all state media
institutions to a meeting. Such a tight work schedule reflects a state, as
the Romans of old would say, of "mens sana in corpore sano", a healthy mind
in a healthy body.
The Sunday Mail reported that the minister had checked into the hotel after
his late-night meeting to avoid travelling the 65km to the farm, only to
return to Harare early in the morning for the meeting. So the minister lived
on a farm in Beatrice?
Investigative assignments in the press are usually prompted by the surfacing
of details of occurrences that range from the extraordinary, the
contradictory or somewhat inconsistent with reality, the outright suspicious
to the utterly bizarre. A government minister dying in the bath of a luxury
hotel, less than 30 minutes away from home in a chauffeur-driven limousine,
is the kind story that should trigger the flashing of warning lights and the
shrill ringing of bells in the mind of even the most dumb reporter in town.
Up to 2003 I lived in the same Highlands neighbourhood as the Jokonyas. The
2006 Zimbabwe Telephone Directory (Volume 2, Harare), which is produced by
government's TelOne, lists the following entry in the third column on page
154: Jokonya, T.J.B., 72 Rhodesville Avenue, Highlands.
The full name of the late minister was Tichaona Joseph Benjamin Jokonya. He
may have leased or sold this property after compilation of the volume to
take up full residence at Samaita Farm.
Unfortunately, neither The Zimbabwe Standard and New Zimbabwe.com nor The
Sunday Mail sought to establish the identity of the officials with whom
Jokonya had worked late into Friday night. They would, naturally, be the
last people to have seen the minister alive. They should, therefore, be in a
position to shed useful light on the condition of the minister during his
last hours. Sherlock Holmes would have started by interviewing the officials
in question. Basic investigative journalism requires that the same officials
should have been the first port of call.
Any meeting of senior officials of the Ministry of Information would
obviously include George Charamba, the permanent secretary. As he issued
statements on Saturday about his boss' sudden death Charamba gave no
indication that he had been with him the previous night.
To add mystique to the tragedy, Jokonya died while, according to an obituary
in Monday's Herald, his entire family was away in the United States to
attend the graduation of a daughter in New Hampshire. While he described as
traitors journalists who correspond for British and American news
organisations and wished death on them, Jokonya's own daughter acquired
education in the States. It is such naked hypocrisy that has lost ZANU PF
the support of most right-thinking Zimbabweans.
May Jokonya's soul rest in eternal peace.
I will now turn to a totally different matter. There has been a flurry of
correspondence behind the scenes over the past few days between David
Coltart, the new secretary for legal affairs of the Arthur Mutambara
breakaway faction of the MDC, and myself.
I made reference in this column a fortnight ago to a previously reported
allegation that Coltart had attempted to introduce, on the occasion of the
17th Constitutional Amendment last year, a clause seeking to bar politicians
without university degrees from aspiring to hold the office of President of
Zimbabwe. It was speculated that the MDC president, Morgan Tsvangirai, was
Coltart immediately approached me to deny most categorically that he ever
did anything of the sort. He claims that, if anything, it is he who removed
the offending clause from proposed amendments submitted by the MDC during
the constitutional amendment exercise in 2005. I pointed out to the Bulawayo
lawyer and politician that this allegation against him had previously been
published without rebuttal.
"Your name gives the story extra gravitas," Coltart retorted. "Whilst I have
since last year been writing to a variety of people protesting I do not
think that my challenge has ever been published. I have also taken the issue
up with Morgan (Tsvangirai) to request that he set the record straight -
this was also in vain."
I sincerely sympathise with Coltart over his vain effort to clear his name.
"But if the statement is repeated by you the public will believe it," he
continued. A day after my column appeared Coltart officially announced his
alignment to the Mutambara faction of the MDC following the failure of his
endeavours to bring it back into the mainstream MDC.
Constitutional lawyer Brian Crozier, apparently one of the consultants
engaged by the MDC to work on draft proposals for the constitutional
amendment, has meanwhile stepped forward to rescue Coltart.
"I was the main draftsman of that constitution," Crozier stated in a letter
to Coltart which was immediately forwarded to me, "and I put in the
provision requiring the President to have a university degree. I was
responsible for it and you were not, because I did not consult you about
Crozier says, however, that while he has previously read the allegation
against Coltart in the press, he has not bothered to issue a public
statement by way of correction.
"So far as I was concerned it was an internal MDC dispute and I am not a
member of the party," Crozier says.
"In the circumstances I wish to apologise most sincerely to Mr David Coltart
for any embarrassment he may have been caused when I repeated a previously
published allegation, whose accuracy he now contests. It is clear, however,
that I am not authorised to retract the original statement where ever it was
While on the same subject of corrections, another reader tells me that I
misstated in another recent article that the National Heroes Acre shrine and
the National Sports Stadium were constructed by North Korean contractors.
These are the same Koreans who now cause United States President, George
Bush, and Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, sleepless nights over
threatened missile tests.
The correct position, so I am now informed by a reader more knowledgeable on
these issues than myself, is that while the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was
sculptured in North Korea and shipped to Harare for erection at the National
Heroes Acre, the shrine itself was actually built by a local contractor,
John Sisk and Son Zimbabwe. It is widely believed, however, that the entire
project was funded by the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea. Early
last year the Ministry of Home Affairs invited the submission of quotations
for the extension of the National Heroes Acre. While they received estimates
nothing further seems to have happened in that regard.
Meanwhile, construction of the National Sports Stadium was a feat of
Chinese, not North Korean workmanship, so I am reminded.
"The correct position," my informant intimated with obvious relish, "is that
the latter was built by indentured Chinese convicts who had been given what
was literally Hobson's choice of either being dispatched to our beloved
country or languishing in jail in China. They opted for Harare where they
left two enduring legacies in the form of poor workmanship, as evidenced by
the cracks and fissures at the National Sports Stadium, and many children
with distinctively Chinese features in the nearby Warren Park high-density
May readers, please accept my sincere apology for having misled them.
Another reader submitted, rather belatedly, a suggestion that I again erred
when I revealed in an article published in the Zimbabwe Standard some weeks
ago the identity of Industry and International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu as
the Chronicle's own Deep Throat during the Willowgate Scandal investigation
back in 1988. In fact, Mpofu was never a confidential source. He spoke on
the record and his name was publicly linked to the investigation from the
The same reader suggests that I also slipped up in blowing the cover of
David Masunda as The Zimbabwe Standard's now shamed columnist, Woodpecker.
This I deny categorically.
I investigated and exposed, in the public interest, the identity of a rogue
columnist who had taken to wilfully besmirching the good name of innocent
citizens while hiding behind an ornithological pseudonym. It was the
responsibility of the editors of The Zimbabwe Standard to protect the
identity of their columnist by expunging his name from the article in
question. They apparently decided that not only should Woodpecker be named
and shamed, but that he should also be gagged, as appears to have happened
ZIMBABWE enters another phase of electoral activity, with the forthcoming
rural district council elections, set for August, bringing the country's
sleepy political backwaters alive.
Rural Zimbabwe has long been a ZANU PF stronghold, but the three opposition
groups that have already confirmed participation in the polls say conditions
Sesil Zvidzai, Gweru mayor and secretary for local government in the
dominant Movement for Democratic Change faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai
said his party was fielding candidates in all the 1 359 wards.
"People are demanding that we participate because they want a return to
democracy. The purpose of the rural district council is to assist people at
the grassroots levels such as the old and disadvantaged members of the
society and as a party we are ready to go into any election," he said.
"Past ZANU PF victories are evidence of chicanery. Otherwise there is no
ZANU PF in the rural constituency but what exists is their art of cheating,"
added party spokesman Nelson Chamisa.
Gabriel Chaibva, spokesperson for the rival MDC faction led by Arthur
Mutambara, said his group would also contest.
"I have said it before that we will participate in any election because that
is part of the democratic process. I cannot say how many candidates we will
field as we are waiting for a comprehensive report from the electoral body,"
Even Daniel Shumba, whose United People's Party (UPP) was only launched last
week, said the party would field candidates in the polls.
"We are going to win and we are fielding candidates in the local government
elections," he declared during his party's launch.
Zimbabwean elections have, of late, been characterised by poor voter
turnout, which political analysts attribute to a myriad reasons, among them
election fatigue and general disenchantment with the process and failure to
bring change after the opposition groundswell of 2000.
The country has 59 district councils with an average of 34 wards per council
giving a total of 1 359 wards to be contested.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Reporter
Shumba puts on unimpressive one-man show
DANIEL Shumba, the former ZANU PF chairman for Masvingo province and the
interim leader of the obscure United People's Party (UPP), last week left
Zimbabweans weighing his political potency after he failed to reveal the
names of those constituting his party's leadership.
Shumba, who launched his political project - born out of disenchantment with
the ruling ZANU PF - last Saturday at the Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfields,
left his supporters guessing whether the little known party had other
credible backers besides himself.
Instead, the former ZANU PF provincial chairman devoted much of his address
to criticising ZANU PF, telling less than 1 000 of his followers that he
will unveil the UPP's interim executive at a press conference to be held at
the end July.
"Starting from the end of next week to the end of August we begin provincial
road shows where we will meet the people and explain the party's ideology,"
Shumba told the lacklustre gathering, largely made up of rural folk.
The TeleAccess boss was suspended from ZANU PF together with five other
provincial chairmen for attending the disastrous November 2004 Tsholotsho
meeting which sought to block the ascendancy of Vice President Joice Mujuru
ahead of Emmerson Munangagwa, the former ruling party secretary for
He later quit ZANU PF following nationwide retribution meant to punish the
Shumba, an ex-combatant and former army officer, also rounded on his former
colleagues accusing them of being manipulated to serve the interests of
President Robert Mugabe and the ruling party.
"State security forces are being used as an extension of the ZANU PF
security department. They expend their energy on preserving ZANU PF rule.
They operate in lieu of ZANU PF," said Shumba, who draws most of his backing
from Masvingo province.
Political analysts told The Financial Gazette this week that UPP still has a
big hurdle to jump on the political amphitheatre.
"There is a real danger that if UPP doesn't work hard between now and 2008
to attract numbers it will end up like the Ndande, Ndinde and Ndous," said
John Makumbe, political analyst at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ). Makumbe
was referring to other fringe political parties that have emerged in the
past but failed to garner any meaningful support.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Reporter
ZIMBABWE'S vegetable oil processors, who have been hurt by price controls on
their commodities, have suffered another blow in the form of a massive hike
in the retail price of cottonseed- a key raw material- by 700 percent.
The country's leading cottonseed merchants Cottco and Cargill recently hiked
the price of seed to $40 million per tonne from $5 million.
But vegetable oil processors told The Financial Gazette this week that the
massive hike in the price of cotton seed had the effect of increasing the
retail price of cooking oil. A 750 ml bottle of cooking oil is now selling
between $280 000 and $300 000.
Busisa Moyo, managing director at United Refineries Limited (URL), the
country's second largest oil processor told The Financial Gazette that the
increase in the price of cotton seed is putting pressure on oil processors
to constantly review the prices of their products.
"That is the critical raw material," said Moyo.
Apart from cotton seed Moyo said some soyabean farmers had recently hiked
the price of their produce to between $70 million to $100 million per tonne.
Cotton seed and soyabeans are key raw materials in the manufacture of edible
oils. The food processors are also battling to secure foreign currency to
import crude oil, which is used to augment local raw material supplies.
Vegetable oil processors have been reeling from relentless increases in the
prices of inputs that are not commensurate with adjustments in the prices of
finished products. In typical communist style, the government in 2001
imposed price checks on some oil products thereby impacting negatively on
Moyo also said it was irrational for farmers to speak of high funding costs
because they were accessing funding from the central bank at concessionary
"Farmers are given concessionary funding and yet they charge as if they are
borrowing at market rates," he said.
Together with URL, Olivine Industries and National Foods Limited account for
the bulk of vegetable oil extractors in Zimbabwe.
Seventy-one percent of URL's production is in the form of edible oil, with
the remainder being soap. The firm markets its oils under the Roil, Honey
Gold, Sunshine, Pot O' Gold and Family Favourite brands. Pot O' Gold is
produced under contract for leading retailers OK Zimbabwe while Family
Favourite is produced under contract for Jaggers/Trador wholesalers.
THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) has pounced on the funeral assurance
industry where it is demanding Value Added Tax (VAT) on the sum assured
value of policies backdated to 2004, raising concern that some of the
industry players might find themselves closing shop.
The revenue collecting body, which only last month had a serious run-in with
stockbrokers, moved on funeral assurers last week saying they should pay a
15 percent VAT on the ultimate sum assured value paid in the event of death.
Because they were not collecting the tax from their clients, the money has
to be sourced from somewhere, which is proving to be a tall order for most
In any case, because of inflation, industry players are already losing out
because the payouts made to members are always higher than the money they
would have collected.
The umbrella association for the industry has approached a tax consultant
for advice before the industry could engage ZIMRA.
"ZIMRA has already visited individual institutions with its outrageous
demands. The industry might end up not selling funeral policies if there is
no giving in on the part of ZIMRA," said a source. "While we are yet to come
up with a position as an industry, individual institutions have already
voiced their concerns to ZIMRA," added the source.
THE death of Information and Publicity Minister, Tichafa Jokonya last
weekend could not have come at a more inopportune time.
The soft-spoken head of a ministerial portfolio that has become one of the
most controversial over the last six years died when he was on the verge of
announcing major changes at the amateurish, loss-making and confusion-ridden
state broadcaster, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH).
While it is true that Jokonya was part of the ZANU PF government and
therefore had to embrace its very unpopular authoritarian policies, it is
also a fact that as an individual, he adopted a more mature and humane
approach than his predecessor, the mercurial Jonathan Moyo. When he was
first appointed to the post, he extended an olive branch to the private
media, on which his predecessor had publicly declared war.
Jokonya met representatives from this beleaguered sector and indicated he
was willing to listen to their concerns. Although this open-door policy had
not yet yielded much in terms of bringing sanity back to the media scene, it
was like balm to battle-weary practitioners some of whom had been routinely
subjected to unjustified arrest and harassment during Moyo's tenure. They
can attest to the reassuring morale boost of having a minister who was
willing to listen and reason with stakeholders. It was the first step
towards building bridges.
But now that Jokonya's stint has been cut short, there must be concern
within the private media as to whether the absence of his moderating
influence will not result in a relapse into the toxic and belligerent
atmosphere that became the ministry's normal modus operandi during Moyo's
iron-fist reign. After all, the sacked professor's nucleus of support,
consisting of senior civil servants and parastatal heads who were his main
advisers and prodders vis-a-vis his vindictive decisions and actions, is
In fact, some of Moyo's more aggressive former subordinates sought to
overshadow him and Jokonya by adopting more high-handed and unreasonable
stances on issues pertaining to the media. This raises the question of
accountability and continuity with regard to the laws and policies governing
the operations of the media. Are these the collective consensus of cabinet
or are they based purely on the whims of over-ambitious individuals?
Did the provisions of the most notorious law in the statute books, the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) enjoy the
considered approval of Cabinet as a whole or were they the crude offerings
of overzealous upstarts in the civil service during the chaotic Moyo era?
Are we not saddled with these draconian regulations because of a laissez
faire laxity within government that allows individuals to get away with
murder only for the rest to sit up and take notice when the damage has
already been done?
It would be easy for those who cannot tolerate the scrutinising of
government decisions and actions to accuse me of being mischievous by
raising these questions but the manner in which the dismantling of
structures set up during Moyo's reign as Minister of Information and
Publicity is being undertaken creates the impression that he acted "while
nobody was looking" in setting up these costly monstrosities and formulating
the vast culture of hate and confrontation that his crude brand of
propaganda spawned. These questions must now be asked because even those of
Moyo's staunchest former disciples in the ministry and related organisations
who have done a Judas Iscariot by distancing themselves from their former
boss to save their jobs, have nevertheless continued to espouse some of his
more extreme views with regard to issues such as media regulation.
The question is, when they say these things, are they articulating the
philosophy of the head of the ministerial portfolio or projecting their
individual prejudices and hatreds? After all there have been numerous other
embarrassing situations when government officials have shown that they do
not always sing from the same hymn sheet, resulting in policy contradictions
and reversals whose enormous costs are passed on to the over-burdened
In view of the vacuum created by Jokonya's death, the public is entitled to
ask whether the changes he planned to implement at the state broadcaster
will still be undertaken or whether they will be regarded as ideas that will
die with their proponent. ZBH has of late stepped up its campaign to get
motorists, householders and business organisations to pay the new exorbitant
licence fees. The hype is that collecting these astronomical amounts from
the cash-strapped viewing and listening public will enable ZBH to improve
the quality of programming.
But if the truth were told, the public is being forced to pay for the
excesses and theatrics of the Moyo era when a top-heavy structure was
created at the state broadcaster. The restructuring and unbundling of the
old Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation into numerous loss-making entities
headed by Moyo loyalists after a ruthless cleansing exercise resulted in the
unceremonious ejection of all experienced hands. This was a recipe for the
unmitigated disaster that has unfolded over the last five years. And even if
the public is milked of billions more through the new exorbitant licensing
fees, broadcasting standards will remain in the dumps as long as the same
clueless novices are allowed to remain in charge. To put it bluntly, the
public is being asked to pay more for the same ennui-inducing juvenilia
churned out by ZBH.
We may never know the full details and scope of the changes Jokonya had in
mind and whether they will still be pursued in their original form. However,
although he may have been slow to act, he was generally moving in the right
direction. It would be a shame for who ever takes over as minister or holds
fort before a new substantive minister is appointed, to revert to the
adversarial approach of the Moyo era whose remaining vestiges include the
crude and abusive Nathaniel Manheru column in a state-controlled daily.
Despite the efforts being undertaken currently to spruce up Zimbabwe's
image, that column and other toxic offerings like it are among the best
nullifiers of these efforts. Can you imagine any prospective investor or
tourist reading that hate-filled stuff and getting a burning desire to
include this country in his or her Southern African itinerary?
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
REPRESENTATIVES of the private sector in the National Economic Recovery
Council (NERC) are increasingly becoming agitated by what they see as
government's insincerity and lack of commitment to reverse Zimbabwe's
worsening seven-year economic crisis.
Impeccable sources who attended a meeting convened in Harare last Friday to
assess the progress of the National Economic Development Priority Programme
(NEDDP), said the private sector is growingly disillusioned by the lack of
seriousness on the part of the government to arrest the unprecedented
Expectations were raised in April when the government launched the NEDPP, an
ambitious economic revival blueprint, pledging to resuscitate the country's
waning economic fortunes.
As part of NEDPP, the government seeks to mobilise US$2.5 billion by the end
of July, reducing inflation and grow the economy by two percent among other
But barely three months after the launch of the programme, members of the
NERC technical committee say government, which is accused of plunging the
country into the economic mess, is not taking the initiative seriously.
This, some of the members said, meant that there was no hope for NEDPP. The
NERC monitors and coordinates the NEDPP.
They accuse permanent secretaries of some key ministries of boycotting
crucial meetings of the technical committee, which is chaired by Misheck
Sibanda, the chief secretary in President Robert Mugabe's office and
"We are beginning to have an impression that this thing is being downgraded
to an advisory board," said one of the representatives who requested
anonymity. "Permanent secretaries are not attending meetings and the high
hopes we held initially are no longer there," he added.
The private sector representatives also said they were worried by the
continued farm occupations despite an undertaking to halt the invasions by
some influential government ministers.
"We must stop these senseless and misguided disruptions on farms," said the
ZNCC president, Luxon Zembe, confirmed last Friday's meeting saying it was a
routine meeting to discuss and review progress.
He however, disclosed that the private sector bloc had recommended the
scrapping of price distortions in the economy.
"There are serious challenges of price distortions which are mitigating
against the benefit of this whole process," said Zembe. "We need to remove
all price distortions and allow market forces to be at play . . . it's
painful but better," Zembe said.
WE have, time without number, called for the firing of the deadwood running
the country's parastatals which we have said have become national symbols of
corruption and greed.
The chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Accounts,
Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, has also weighed in with the same
sentiments on these bottomless black holes, most of which are dependent on a
life-support system from the over-stretched fiscus. She recently said that
government should not continue to dole out large tranches of public funds to
sustain the ruins of what was once state-owned companies in fine fettle,
unless these institutions produced audited accounts. Government, which
itself is strapped for cash, has always thrown a lifeline to most of the
parastatals to stave off what appeared an imminent collapse.
Implicit in Misihairabwi-Mushonga's statement was that in addition to the
institutionalised corruption, inefficiency and cronyism among others, there
is also ever-shrinking accountability and transparency in the state-owned
companies. By failing to submit their audited accounts to the House of
Assembly as required by law, the heads of these parastatals are not only
evading scrutiny but are also not accounting for the public funds they would
have received. And that is legally and morally wrong. In a civilised country
that values transparency and accountability, integrity and honesty, this
would be unacceptable.
But transparency and accountability have been alien concepts not only at the
national governance level but also within the parastatal sector. And as
such, negligence, dereliction of duty and breach of trust are
inconsequential. Thus in the parastatals, "Chinese walls" have been erected
to prevent critical information about the operations of these parastatals
from getting under the microscope. This not only abets but also masks
corruption because it makes it difficult to detect and identify simmering
problems before it is too late to correct them.
The problem is widespread. And Misihairabwi-Mushonga cited among others
Arda, GMB, Sedco, NRZ, ZESA, Air Zimbabwe, Agribank, the Forestry
Commission, NetOne, TelOne, Sports and Recreation Commission, Tobacco
Research Board and the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council. Some of
these parastatals have not submitted their audited annual accounts to
Parliament for an unbelievable seven years. What kind of business ethics are
these? Under such circumstances, can we rule out a stupefying complex
pattern of deceit, fraud and criminality?
It is therefore unfortunate and disappointing that it is only now that the
minister who is supposed to be responsible for the parastatals, Paul
Mangwana, is just waking up to the poor corporate governance at these
monoliths. Even then, despite the well-documented malfeasance, it would seem
government, which is to blame for the business culture obtaining in these
companies, believes that it can staunch the never-ending haemorrhaging at
the parastatals under the same managements.
Unfortunately under these failed managements and boards, a turnaround at the
parastatals will not come any time sooner than the end of the third
millennium. The managements and the boards are more than a deadweight on the
businesses. It should be noted that those under whose stewardship the
parastatals were pushed to the brink of collapse cannot be trusted to turn
around the companies. It is not difficult to see why. Turnarounds by nature
challenge the status quo!
Thus we feel that the government, which over the years has failed to deal
with the shocking and confounding corruption and mismanagement in the
parastatals, should get rid of the incompetent boards and managements as
part of the incipient process of turning around the companies and returning
them to the black. The situation in these companies is such that there is
need for a radical approach. The parastatals are like a desperately ill man.
And the doctor has to operate rather than use outpatient therapy as has been
the case all along. This should include the dismissal of current managements
to ensure a decisive rupture with the past.
Only this way can government reverse the shambolic state of affairs within
the parastatals. Going about it as unbelievably and frighteningly suggested
by the overzealous Minister of State for Policy Implementation in the Office
of the President and Cabinet, Webster Shamu in 2005, that only ZANU PF
loyalists - who over the years have ruined the once vibrant parastatals
should continue to run them - would be disastrous and ruinous for the
economy. There is therefore only one option which we have stated before and
will again: fire the deadwood.
No Holds Barred with Gondo Gushungo
THE politically partisan public broadcaster, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings
(ZBH), will soon be in the throes of an inevitable if not unwanted
That is if a farewell to the late Minister of Information Tichaona Jokonya,
who was driving the exercise, will not be a farewell to ZBH restructuring.
But in this process, who will emerge the winners? How will Zimbabwe gain
from this? These are pertinent questions because their answers are not
obvious. This is particularly so given that the restructuring is an
after-thought that could have gone unthought of. It was not wanted. And it
is highly unlikely that the unwanted child will turn out to be perfect.
What is clear though is that the situation will not change much. ZBH will
not be a warts-and-all portrait of Zimbabwe unless those taking over from
where Jokonya left do not let the grass grow under their feet and also
realise that it is about serving the broader national interests and not
narrow political ones. It is either this or the whole restructuring will be
another exercise in futility. And the discredited broadcaster, operating
below the red ink line, will not be able to shed the financial handcuffs
clamped around its limbs.
Those behind the restructuring have to accept that Zimbabwe is today faced
with new political realities in which ZANU PF is no longer the only
political force, no matter how unpalatable this might be. Thus they should
aim to come up with a national broadcaster that has something for everyone -
one that commands respect across the political divide. Nothing less will do.
Of course, this is a sensitive exercise that is most likely to ruffle
political feathers and stir resentment among staff. That is understandable
because many politically-connected senior-level people will be forced to
walk the plank. But it would be difficult to achieve the set goals of such
an exercise without unpleasant effects. You cannot make an omelette without
breaking eggs. It is that simple.
And in deciding who to retain, especially those in decision-making, it is
also important to remember the words of celebrated South African writer
Nadine Gordimer: Censorship is never over for those who have experienced it.
It is a brand on the imagination that affects the individual who has
suffered it, forever.
Thus ZANU PF loyalists who think that following the flag is all about the
parochial, self-serving patriotism defined in terms of political party
affiliation will not accept that it is what it is. And they will therefore
continue to pander to the whims of the ruling party politicians and to
confuse ZANU PF interests with those of the nation. Retaining them will
therefore mean that ZBH will remain its horrible self that despises,
distorts and denies the plain truth as regards Zimbabwe and its people with
their rich diversity and plurality.
It would be naive to expect them to change now. They have always been told
about their incompetences and how watching ZTV is about as interesting as
watching the paint dry. But it's just water off a duck's back for them. What
is important is that their ZANU PF remains comfortable.
Firing the deadwood, no pun intended, is therefore the only way to go. And
there is no other because the only reason ZBH is in such a mess is because
it has been reduced to serving parochial political interests - ZANU PF and
its politicians, to be precise.
True, the mandarins at the Ministry of Information keep telling us that they
do not interfere with the operations at ZBH. Sure they don't - tell it to
That nothing could be further from the truth is beyond argument. Today, ZBH
stands in sharp contrast with other public broadcasters elsewhere, such as
the SABC and the BBC both of which at least endeavour to provide fora for
discourse and debate on pertinent issues to different interest groups.
Far from suggesting that ZBC was better than ZBH, but I think many will
agree with me that the broadcaster entered an era of new limitations and
controls and new lows around 2000 with the appointment of Jonathan Moyo as
government's chief propagandist. This coincided with the first real
electoral test for ZANU PF after the MDC, hoping to exploit the deep well of
disenchantment among disillusioned Zimbabweans, garnered 57 seats. Since
then, it has been downhill. If I can call a spade a spade, ZBH has been an
irresponsible sorry excuse for a public broadcaster run by a bunch of
incompetent ZANU PF apologists who use propaganda to intimidate and confuse
There is carelessness about almost everything at the public broadcaster from
facts to grammar. Not only is the reporting superficial but the political
bias is so glaring that it provides something for the books. When ever the
broadcaster touches on political issues there is every effort to avoid
political commentaries and information deemed critical and therefore
detrimental to the ZANU PF government. Yet ZANU PF as the ruling party is
constantly under public scrutiny and cannot by any stretch of the
imagination escape the harsh glare of the media.
It was the South American revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara who once said
that we have a rendezvous with history and we cannot simply permit ourselves
to be afraid. Inspirational words those for journalists who, because of the
nature of their job, should have the courage of their convictions. But
obviously those at ZBH believe that they should not be in the eye of the
storm. And there is overwhelming evidence of fading commitment to factual
and serious reporting at the broadcaster, all because of fear. At no other
media house is the intelligence of the people underestimated or taken for
granted as is the case at ZBH.
And that is precisely because of extensive political interference by a
government bent on muzzling critical debate, divergent views and dissension.
Contrary to its public pronouncements, the government is not committed to a
free press, free speech and free spirit for its people. This is why it has
kept a vice-like-grip on the airwaves, blocking the entry of new players in
the media industry in general and broadcasting in particular. This it has
done by formulating objectionable media laws using national security claims
together with personal privacy and the need for privacy. Cases in point are
the Access to Information and the Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the
Broadcasting Services Act (BSA).
Indeed, the thought of allowing new players into broadcasting has always
been an alarming one for the ZANU PF government. That is why the law (BSA)
that is supposed to facilitate this was not only delayed and persistently
postponed but is also far from perfect. Hence the stringent conditions that
make it next to impossible for new players to enter the sector.
Thus basking in government protection against competition, ZBH is not - as
it should be - an indispensable voice of the truth that can be relied on at
all times by all citizens. Instead, it has been reduced to a fiefdom of the
ZANU PF ruling class. It is mainly a theatre of political bigotry - a ZANU
PF pawn if you will.
Sadly, it remains one of the most enduring ironies of Zimbabwe's
independence that censorship from a broadcasting point of view, which should
have been "swept away with the rubble" of the toppled Ian Smith regime, is
being used by the majority black government exactly in the same way the
Rhodesian regime did.
This has touched off a deep alienation from the public broadcaster by the
generality of the people and business community alike when advertising
revenue and licence fees are the lifeblood of a media organisation like ZBH.
As a result down went the little that was left of its credibility,
respectability and profitability.
HARARE - The following is a statement issued by the chief operating officer
of MWEB Zimbabwe, Nikki Lear, in response to an article in The Zimbabwean
"MWEB Zimbabwe has asked The Zimbabwean to withdraw and apologise for a
story published in its issue of June 22-28 headlined Cyberspace Blocked.
This story claims that MWEB has issued a statement inferring that the
Government is interfering with its technology systems to monitor customer
communications. This a complete misinterpretation of a statement to MWEB
customers sent out last week in which an explanation was given for recent
slow browsing speeds, attributing these to technical problems beyond its
control. This original statement did not refer directly or indirectly to
"interference" by the authorities and MWEB Zimbabwe is distressed and
disappointed that its statement could be misinterpreted and that no comment
or clarification was sought by the newspaper before the article was
* We apologise unreservedly for the story, which had been received from one
of our stringers inside Zimbabwe. - Editor
HARARE - Desperate Zimbabwean police this week rounded up more than 100
foreign currency dealers as authorities battled to suppress a booming
parallel market where the greenback hit an all-time high of Z$410 000
against the increasingly worthless Zimdollar.
Most of the arrests were made at the Roadport bus station in central Harare
where buses from the region arrive and depart.
"We have been conducting raids on a daily basis on the spots that are
prominent in foreign currency deals like Roadport and we have undercover
officers that are stationed at these areas," police spokesperson Andrew
Phiri said. "We can confirm that to date 134 arrests have been made."
Zimbabwean police recently launched a new blitz to enforce a ban on street
vendors, touts and black marketeers in the city centre. Dubbed Operation No
Going Back, this is a follow-up to Operation Murambatzvina, launched one
year ago that also saw the demolition of houses, cottages and backyard
shacks across the country and the arrest of tens of thousands of traders.
The UN roundly condemned the operation. - CAJ News
LONDON - The European Union and the United States pledged last week to
maintain personal travel and monetary bans on President Robert Mugabe and
his top Zanu (PF) officials in an effort to bring about the rule of law and
respect for human rights and democracy.
The travel restrictions affect about 120 individuals who are banned from
travelling in the EU and the US. Private assets in their names are supposed
to be frozen, but up to now not one has had any assets found as they are
hidden in the accounts of their children and other relatives.
Mugabe's propaganda machinery persists in claiming that these restrictions
are illegal 'sanctions' against Zimbabwe and are responsible for the
economic collapse of the country.
His critics say that the alarming economic meltdown is solely due to poor
governance, political repression and the corruption-riddled 'land reform
programme' that destabilised agriculture, sending food production tumbling
by about 60 percent.
However, the European leaders are not all united on this. According to
diplomatic sources, some countries such as France, are putting pressure on
the others to give the Mugabe regime an international platform.
A few years ago, the French were criticised for inviting Mugabe to attend a
Franco-African Summit in Paris in breach of the travel ban. - Staff reporter
HARARE - Zimbabwean business tycoon John Bredenkamp has denied reports he
has fled Zimbabwe after government opened full-scale investigations into his
business empire on allegations of economic crimes.
Bredenkamp, who has a wide range of mining and tobacco interests in
Zimbabwe, is rumoured to be linked to top ruling party politicians,
including former speaker of parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa. Unlike other
prominent white businessmen he has been spared from scrutiny until now.
The tycoon, ranked the 33rd richest businessman in the UK did confirm that
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had recently 'made enquiries' into his
Reports suggested he was being investigated by the National Economic Conduct
Inspectorate (NECI), a little-known body that appears to be part of
Zimbabwe's newly-launched drive against corruption. - CAJ News
We introduce a new column this week, to keep readers abreast of the bills
coming before both houses of Parliament in Zimbabwe.
HARARE - Both the Senate and the House of Assembly have adjourned until
August 1. The Gazetted Land (Consequential Provisions) Bill has been
gazetted [see summary below].
The Interception of Communications Bill has not yet had its first reading -
it cannot now be introduced until August.
The Suppression of Foreign and International Terrorism Bill introduced in
the Senate on May 9 is still under consideration by the Parliamentary Legal
Committee, so will now have to be dealt with in August.
The Companies Amendment Act has been passed by Parliament.
The following Bills are being prepared for Parliament by the Government
Printer, but have NOT yet been gazetted: Domestic Violence Bill, Petroleum
Bill July 1,2006 has been gazetted as the date of commencement of the
Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act No. 23 of 2004.
No new Acts have been gazetted. The next Acts to be gazetted, assuming the
President's assent, are the Zimbabwe Investment Authority Act, the National
Biotechnology Authority Act and the Companies Amendment Act.
Bills In the Senate: Suppression of Foreign and International Terrorism
Bill - still being considered by the Parliamentary Legal Committee following
its First Reading on the 9th May (also being considered by the Portfolio
Committee on Defence and Home Affairs). The PLC reporting deadline has been
This Bill aims to provide for the suppression of foreign and international
terrorism, including mercenary activities. The Bill provides for maximum
(but not mandatory) punishment of life imprisonment for engaging in foreign
or international terrorist activity; training as a foreign or international
terrorist; recruiting or providing training to foreign or international
terrorists; possessing weaponry for the purposes of foreign or international
Judicial Service Bill, Gazetted on June 9 2006. This Bill aims to set up the
Judicial Service [under the control of the Judicial Service Commission] as a
separate service outside the Public Service. The Service will include the
judges of the Supreme Court and High Court, the Labour Court judges, the
presidents of the Administrative Court, the office of the Ombudsman, all
magistrates and the staff of the Judicial Service Commission.
Interception of Communications Bill, Gazetted on May 26 2006. The purpose
of this Bill is to establish an interception of communications monitoring
centre and for the appointment of persons to that centre whose function
shall be to monitor and intercept certain communications in the course of
their transmission through a telecommunication, postal or any other related
Gazetted Land (Consequential Provisions) Bill, Gazetted June 16 2006. The
Bill aims to cater for certain problems that have arisen in the wake of
section 16B of the Constitution, enacted last year by the Constitution of
Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 17) Act. The Land Acquisition Act will be amended.
The Rural Land Occupiers (Protection from Eviction) Act will be repealed.
Two new terms, "Gazetted land" and "specially Gazetted land" will be adopted
and defined. Occupation or use of gazetted land "without lawful authority"
(offer letter, permit or lease granted by the State) will be prohibited on
pain of criminal penalties. - With acknowledgments to Bill Watch.
We condemn unreservedly the police action in disrupting the funeral of
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai last week. About 25 policemen, some of
them armed and carrying teargas canisters, deliberately misinterpreted the
law to provoke unnecessarily a family in mourning. This is despicable.
For a government that harps on about "our African culture" when it suits
them, they should know that of all events in Africa society, the funeral
ceremony is the most hallowed - an occasion when the bitterest of enemies
call a truce or a ceasefire while loved ones are laid to rest with dignity
and due reverence.
Those policemen who invaded the burial ceremony in Buhera obviously felt
confident enough to throw their weight around in this intolerable manner
simply because the rule of law has collapsed in Zimbabwe. The police force
is riddled with corruption and even junior officers now believe they can act
with impunity. The buck just never stops anywhere.
It is only natural that MDC supporters would want to console their leader at
a time like this. One way of demonstrating their support was to wear party
regalia. If it were not for Tsvangirai's position in the MDC and his
considerable grassroots support, most of them would not even have been
there. So to demand that people remove their t-shirts, bandanas and whatever
was totally unreasonable.
How come this has never been a requirement when Zanu (PF) buries its dead?
In fact, Mugabe has routinely used the funerals of party and his own family
members as a political platform. Supporters all wear party regalia and shout
slogans. It's the way Zanu (PF) has always done it. In life and in death,
politics reign supreme. And to the simpletons in police uniform, politics,
of course, is the sole preserve of Zanu (PF).
The unelected chairperson of the unelected commission running Harare City,
Sekesayi Makwavarara, has taken a leaf from Mugabe's book and conferred upon
herself draconian powers.
She is now accountable to no-one other than the minister of local
government, Ignatius Chombo, who reappointed her to the position in full
knowledge of her many corrupt practices and utter incompetence.
We are dumb-founded at the lengths to which he seems prepared to go to avoid
democratic municipal elections, which will undoubtedly return an MDC City
BY A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
LONDON - We are often told that the solution to Zimbabwe`s crisis must come
from Zimbabweans themselves but we are painfully aware that over a quarter
of the population has fled the country and those who remain are the most
vulnerable and ill-equipped to take on the might of a ruthless regime. In
the diaspora we ring our hands at every gathering and ask what we can we do
to help but other than raising funds to alleviate the suffering its hard to
see how we can make a difference and its easy to loose hope. This month`s
WOZA MOYA, the newsletter of campaigning group Women of Zimbabwe Arise
carries a moving allegory on hope. It tells a story of how the candles,
peace, faith and love have all been extinguished in Zimbabwe but hope still
burns with a weak flame and if Zimbabweans would lift it up they could
relight peace, faith and love to shine again.
Last week`s WOZA action in the tiny town of Filabusi is a significant
pointer to how widely their cause is taken up and how much hope is left even
in the most beleaguered corners of Zimbabwe.
When WOZA women were arrested on the recent school fees demonstrations in
Bulawayo, UK supporters made phone calls to the police stations holding
them. They urged the police to treat their captives with respect and asked
them whether they had kids in school and were finding it difficult to cope
with fees. The response was surprising. While some officers were brusque
and dismissive the majority sounded quite sympathetic. They hastened to
reassure callers that the women were receiving food from friends and that
they would be released soon and some even intimated that WOZA was doing a
good job because school fees were indeed too high and things were getting
tough. Behind the stern face of the ruthless state a little humanity was
detected and it gave us hope. Moreover, despite being thousands of miles
away from home we were engaging directly with `the enemy` and helping to
spread WOZA`s message on the ground in Zimbabwe.
In Zimbabwe now, WOZA is a powerful symbol of hope. `We have set ourselves
up as a litmus test to prove that the power of love can conquer the love of
power,` say the women, `Tough Love from the grassroots is the solution to
the crisis of governance in Zimbabwe. Our rulers need some discipline; who
better to dish it out than the women!` WOZA has staged more than 35
protests since they began campaigning in 2003 and over 1000 WOZA women have
been arrested and imprisoned for their efforts. And still they keep going.
BULAWAYO - Twenty members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) met
The Mayor, Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, last week as part of their ongoing campaign
defend their right to earn a living through informal trade.
They informed him that the women are unhappy with the Bulawayo City Council's
support for the oppressive Operation Murambatsvina "which is being conducted
by a government at war with its own people".
Members told the Mayor that council officials and police were harassing
indiscriminately taking their goods and, in some instances, demanding bribes
from the desperate vendors. A report was made by a woman from Njube who had
her outside cooking area demolished by a council police officer some weeks
ago. She had erected a temporary structure so as to cook outside during the
frequent power cuts.
Members also asked for help as to how they could become legal vendors when
the registration process had become politicised. Some have reported being
asked to produce Zanu (PF) party cards before being processed for vending
"Although WOZA as an organisation deals with socio-economic issues rather
than party political issues, in the current polarised climate in Zimbabwe,
anyone perceived to criticise government policy is accused of being a member
of an opposition party rather than a defender of rights," explained a WOZA
The Mayor made notes and promised to look into the issues raised by the
women. He said the council had been a respondent in a successful High Court
application wherein vendors were to be returned to their places of trade but
Council was to erect
structures. He indicated that he had made a representation to Government
requesting a temporary reprieve to allow trade whilst council seek funds to
erect said structure. He was still hopeful of a sympathetic response from
the Ministry as the High Court had ordered.
The meeting ended with the members of WOZA asking the Mayor to put an end to
Council involvement in the activities of Operation Murambatsvina that are
Burdening mothers who are hard pressed to educate and feed their children.
The delegation delivered placards with messages sent by members. One read
officials you have tormented us enough! We are pushed to the limit!" Another
said, "WOZA demand the right to earn a living - stop the looting by Council
The WOZA leadership has resolved to give the Mayor and Council one week to
reform or face a dose of "Tough Love".