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Mugabe faces end of political career

Saturday, 02 June 2012 19:42


PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma will now have a hands-on-approach to Zimbabwe’s
political crisis amid fears in Zanu PF that last week’s Sadc extra-ordinary
summit held in Angola effectively ended President Robert Mugabe’s ambition
to stand in elections.

Sources said Zanu PF plans to hold a crisis meeting this week or next week,
following the Sadc Troika on Defence, Politics and Security meeting which
shot down the party’s demands to have elections held this year with or
without a new constitution.

The party also wanted the polls before the implementation of agreed reforms
to allow 88-year-old Mugabe to contest the election while still in good

“Our plans to have Mugabe as our party candidate are now in disarray,” said
a Politburo source.

“With him turning 89 years next year, we are not sure how feasible it will
be for him to stand if elections are held in 2013, given his advanced age
and the health factor. From what I am gathering, the politburo and Central
committee are likely to meet as a matter of urgency to respond to Sadc.”

The source said Sadc had stabbed Mugabe in the back, considering that he
recently sent envoys to various countries seeking their support to hold

But Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo said the party was not in a crisis,
insisting that even if the elections were held next year, Mugabe would still
be “as fit as a fiddle.”

“We only want to hold elections this year because we don’t want this to
interfere with the UN World Tourism Organisation congress, which will be
held in 2013,” he said.

MDC-T secretary general, Tendai Biti, said the Angola meeting was probably
the most important post-GNU summit.

It tasked Zuma, who is the Sadc facilitator to the Zimbabwean crisis, with
directly ensuring the implementation of the outstanding GPA issues.

He said Sadc resolved to set up an implementation mechanism, which would see
Zuma coming to the country soon to meet the principals as part of Sadc’s new
stance to have a more hands-on-approach to Zimbabwe’s political problems.

Biti’s counterpart in MDC, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, confirmed Zuma
was coming to review the implementation of unresolved issues.
Biti said the troika meeting sent a clear message that for the next 12
months, all agreed electoral, political, security sector and media reforms
should be implemented.

Biti said elections could only be held between June and October next year.

He said the lifespan of Parliament would only expire in June 2013, five
years after Mugabe was sworn in accordance with section 28(5) of the
Constitution, meaning that elections would have to be held within four
months after its dissolution.

But Gumbo accused the two MDC formations of misinterpreting the Sadc
resolutions saying the bloc merely said reforms should be implemented within
12 months.

“We still have seven months before the end of the year. I am confident
within the next few months, we will have implemented the reforms in time for
elections in 2012,” he said.

Mugabe against inclusive govt

Sources said Mugabe was not happy with the GNU, which he described as
unconstitutional. He complained that it had been foisted on Zimbabwe by
Sadc, the African Union and outsiders.

He said the two MDCs were afraid of elections and that since his party
differed ideologically with them on policy issues, the inclusive government
had become an impediment to progress.

Tsvangirai read a written statement, where he lamented the resurgence of
violence linked to elections and expressed dissatisfaction with the police
and appointments, which Mugabe made without consulting him in violation of
the GPA.

“Tsvangirai also accused Mugabe of blocking reforms and not putting pressure
on people like (the Minister of Media, Information and Publicity, Webster)
Shamu to implement media reforms that were agreed on,” the source continued.

MDC leader, Welshman Ncube was the last to speak and disputed Mugabe’s
claims on the lifespan of the GPA and what had led to its formation.
He is said to have accused Mugabe of being the stumbling block in the
implementation of the election roadmap. This drew Mugabe’s ire who said
Ncube was unelected and his party was split and he did not recognise him but
instead, he recognised Arthur Mutambara, who he had sworn in as deputy prime

Fireworks at Angola summit

Sources who attended the Sadc summit revealed the meeting was full of

They said Tanzanian Prime Minister, Mizengo Pinda, told Mugabe to behave
like an elder statesman and stop calling for elections this year, warning
this would only take Zimbabwe back to the “dark days of 2008”.

Pinda did not understand Mugabe’s impatience on holding elections and told
him to do it “for the people”, not just himself.

Pinda was however continuously interjected by Zambian president, Michael
Sata, the only leader to support an election this year.

“Sata kept saying ‘Pamberi ne Zanu PF’, interjecting anyone who dared
criticise Mugabe,” the source said, adding that at times, the Zanu PF
contingent of Emmerson Mnangagwa, Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche,
seemed embarrassed by the chants.

Sata said Mugabe had no business discussing issues with “these boys who were
not there in 1963 (at the formation of Zanu), like Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai, who was on holiday, while the two presidents fought colonial
regimes in their respective countries”.

Sata visited Zimbabwe last month, where he bonded well with Mugabe.

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Zanu PF Mash West DCC wants chairman out

Saturday, 02 June 2012 19:30

SERIOUS divisions within Zanu PF have persisted, with information emerging
that the six District Coordinating Committees (DCC) in Mashonaland West have
passed a vote of no confidence in the provincial executive led by chairman,
John Mafa.

Sources said the DCC’s have petitioned the party’s national commissar,
Webster Shamu, to fire Mafa’s executive, accusing it of failing to properly
handle the ongoing restructuring exercise.

“We have told the provincial executive to stop the DCC elections until a
proper record of membership has been established and verified, but they are
refusing to do that,” said a member of the provincial executive.

He said the Mafa-led executive had also attempted to suspend Hurungwe DCC
chairman, Temba Mliswa, replacing him with Steven Karinda, his deputy, as
punishment for contributing to the blocking of the election of businessman,
Phillip Chiyangwa to be the provincial vice-chairperson.

Mliswa confirmed that a suspension letter signed by a Chirongoma, who is the
provincial secretary for transport, had been written, although the letter
had not yet been delivered to him.

He said only the provincial vice-chairperson had the powers to suspend him,
but the post was still vacant. “Zanu PF is a party of procedures and I don’t
refuse to be brought before a disciplinary committee, provided this is done
in a proper manner,” he said.

Sources said Shamu was struggling to bring together the different factions
which have been jostling for positions in chaotic DCC elections,
particularly in Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland Central.

Shamu could not be reached for comment yesterday. — BY OUR STAFF

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Mystery surrounds Book Café closure

Saturday, 02 June 2012 19:12

THE Book Café was on Thursday night shut down again by the police under
unclear circumstances.
This is not the first time that the Café has been shut down as they were
forced to close shop in March, a few weeks after their official opening.
The closure on Thursday came just an hour before the start of a highly
anticipated show by Sakaki Mango, a Japanese musician who is touted for his
knowledge of African music and instruments.

Events that were lined up for the venue on Friday and throughout the weekend
had to be cancelled.

A number of people coming for the Sakaki show were seriously inconvenienced
as they were informed of the cancellation while on their way to the show.
Contacted for comment, Book Café staff directed all questions to Paul
Brickhill, the director of Pamberi Trust, who runs the venue.

Brickhill also refused to comment insisting that they were going to release
a statement soon.

“Yes I can confirm that we had to close on Thursday but you will have to
wait for a written statement,” said Brickhill.

Ramiouf Chagonda, secretary of the Liquor Licensing Board said his office
was not aware of any licence irregularities, as speculated last week.
“Your best bet is to talk to the Book Café people because they know why they
have closed down,” said Chagonda.

Last year, Book Café and The Mannenburg were evicted from their old venue at
Fife Avenue Shopping Centre under unclear circumstances.
The eviction came soon after Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai launched his
book At the Deep End at the same venue triggering speculation that the
eviction was politically-motivated.

The place used to house and nurture upcoming talent by exposing them to the
various markets owing to clientele that cuts across races and nationalities.

Brickhill had not issued out the written statement by the time of going to
print yesterday.

Harare provincial spokesperson James Sabau said he would only comment after
the OK grand challenge, which was held yesterday.

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No let up to vehicle licensing chaos

Saturday, 02 June 2012 19:08


CHAOTIC scenes of motorists jostling to get the new vehicle licence discs at
the country’s post offices continued last week despite an extension of the
registration deadline to June 30.

Motorists who spoke to The Standard said they were spending many hours
queuing to get the new licence discs and criticised the Zimbabwe National
Road Administration (Zinara) for lack of forward planning.

A Harare motorist, Artwel Sibanda, who was queuing with hundreds of other
motorists at Borrowdale Post Office, said getting the new licence discs had
become a daunting task as people were spending up to eight hours without
being served.

He bemoaned alleged  poor planning by Zinara which had failed to foresee
problems of phasing out old discs before putting in place proper and
effective mechanisms to help in the change over to the new system.

Sibanda said he had tried and failed to get the new discs at Causeway and
Newlands post offices due to long queues and chaotic scenes.
“Considering the number of motorists that want to get the new discs and the
few designated points available, Zinara is doing a disservice to the
 people,” he said.

Other motorists also complained that there were only two tellers serving
hundreds of people in a process which was slow and labourious.

The elderly, sick and disabled also complained that they were not being
given first preference as they queued along with able bodied motorists.

Journalist Ropafadzo Mapimhidze, who is diabetic, said she had to skip meals
in order to keep her place in a queue.

“Right now, I am still trying to recover from the ordeal,” she said. “I
suffered a great deal just to register my vehicle and no special care was
given to me as I suffer from a chronic condition.”

Mapimhidze said she was only served after six hours when a “kind gentleman”
sacrificed his spot in the queue.

Post offices such as the one in Borrowdale last week had only two tellers
serving over 300 people at a “snail’s pace”.

Zinara corporate communications executive, Augustine Moyo, attributed the
chaotic scenes to Zimpost, which he said should have been prepared for the
new system.

“I won’t speak for Zimpost, but I think they should have been ready enough
for the computerisation process,” he said. “Another challenge is that the
selected points are located in residential areas and as a result rampant
power cuts have stalled the exercise in areas such as Waterfalls and

Zinara has since bought generators to speed up the exercise. The
administration phased out the old vehicle registration disc that has now
been replaced by an improved licence disc with enhanced security features.

Zinara claims it was losing millions of dollars in potential revenue
annually  to a well-connected syndicate of people who were producing fake
The body has so far  registered 350 000 out of an estimated 800 000 vehicles
in the country.

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Activists slam GNU over death penalty

Saturday, 02 June 2012 19:06

HUMAN rights activists have slammed the inclusive government for lack of
sincerity and political will to improve the country’s human rights record
after it became apparent that the new draft constitution is likely to retain
the death penalty despite earlier pledges to abolish capital punishment.

They said if the practice is indeed retained in the new charter, the country
would be missing an opportunity to significantly improve its own human
rights record and align itself with the global trend towards abolishing the
death penalty.

Amnesty International (AI) Zimbabwe executive director, Cousin Zilala, said
despite submissions to the Constitution Select Committee (Copac), meetings
and workshops with senior officials from Zanu PF and the two MDC formations,
it was shocking that the proposed draft had retained the practice.

Defence minister and Zanu PF legal affairs secretary, Emmerson Mnangagwa,
who survived a death sentence during the liberation war because he was under
age, is among the officials who have publicly said they were against capital

Zilala said MDC-T vice-chairman Morgan Komichi, MDC legal affairs secretary,
David Coltart and others also indicated their support for the abolition of
the death penalty.

The current constitution has three crimes that lead to the death sentence
which are treason, murder and mutiny, but in the proposed draft capital
punishment would be restricted to “aggravated murder”.

But Zilala said the changes were cosmetic and the fact would remain that
Zimbabwe would still be in the minority of less than one third of countries
in the world retaining the practice. “There is no excuse to retain the death
penalty, which was one of the most hated pieces of legislation and was
applied by the white minority government against freedom fighters who were
labelled terrorists and executed,” he said.

Zilala said AI recently wrote to the principals in the GPA, President
Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC president, Welshman Ncube,
urging them to intervene in order to have the practice excluded in a new

The Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference has also condemned the death
penalty saying it goes against God’s law of life and the revelation that
each person was unique.

“We firmly believe that the abolition of the death penalty would send a
clear message to the citizens of Zimbabwe concerning our deep belief in
worth and dignity of each person, no matter what they have done,” the
Catholic Bishops said in recent Pastoral letter.

“Indeed, it reminds us that the destructive cycle of violence can be broken,
that the taking of another person’s life ultimately solves nothing. More
humane methods of responding to serious crimes can be envisioned.”

But Copac co-chairperson, Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, said over 60% of the
people who participated in the constitutional outreach programmes for “right
or wrong reasons” supported the death penalty.

“The death penalty for aggravated murder cases has been retained in
accordance with the wishes of the people. No one has the mandate to change
this,” he said.

However, Zimbabwe Association for Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation of the
Offender (Zacro) chief executive officer, Edson Chiota, argued that the
estimated 560 000 people who participated in the outreach programmes should
not determine the right to take one’s life.

“The outreach programmes were predetermined with people being coached on
what to say,” he said.

“We will mobilise over one million signatures to petition for the abolition
or alternatively challenge the practice in the courts,” said Chiota.

Currently, an estimated 55 people are on the death row, with the last known
execution in Zimbabwe having taken place in 2004, while 78 prisoners have
been hanged since 1980.

Studies in the USA and Canada have shown that states and countries which
have abolished capital punishment have lower murder rates than those
retaining the practice.

Nearly 30 years after Canada abolished the death penalty, the murder rate
has reduced by 44%.

Death penalty is the worst form of torture: Mawanza

International human rights researcher, Simeon Mawanza, said the death
penalty constituted the worst form of torture, inhumane and degrading
treatment which was used as a political tool by the colonial regimes.

He said since the earliest known executions of Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru
Kaguvi in 1898 ending the First Chimurenga, crimes such as murder have
continued. “It’s a fallacy that if you execute a person, then you will deal
with complex crimes like murder,” said Mawanza.

“To reduce crime, you may need to address social ills such as poverty and
improve education, as well as having a better trained and equipped police

He said “progressive” countries such as Angola and Mozambique, which
suffered decades of ravaging civil wars and others such as Namibia and South
Africa have abolished the practice.

Mawanza said Zimbabwe was a state party to the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights and other international human rights treaties that respect the
right to life and outlaw cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or

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Pillay’s visit: Zanu PF lost the plot

Saturday, 02 June 2012 19:04

ZANU PF’S invitation of the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner on
human rights recently on the guise that the party had nothing to hide was
miscalculated and blew up in their faces, analysts said last week.
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa said his party and government had nothing
to hide on its human rights record and UN Commissioner, Navi Pillay’s visit
was supposed to endorse this view, but in the end the party was left licking
its wounds after the she gave a damning report.

“Chinamasa’s assessment was misplaced. He thought their house was in order
and he underestimated civil society’s ability to document human rights
violations,” Dumisani Nkomo, from Habakkuk Trust in Bulawayo said.

Nkomo said what probably shocked Chinamasa and Zanu PF more, was the manner
in which Pillay’s report was detailed, covering even the Gukurahundi
massacres of the 1980s.

“Who would have thought that Gukurahundi would come up? She covered
everything including the (army) generals’ involvement in politics and this
left Zanu PF shocked,” he said.

Nkomo said Zanu PF had expected to give Pillay a sanitised look at Zimbabwe
by organising meetings with briefcase non-governmental organisations, which
were supposed to absolve the party of human rights violations.

The political analyst praised Pillay for being balanced and objective in her
assessment and seeing beyond Zanu PF’s charade.
Nkomo said the human rights situation in Zimbabwe had fallen off the
international radar, as there were more pressing issues like the ones in
Somalia, Sudan and the DRC.

But he was hopeful that with Pillay’s visit, more attention would be
focussed on the Zimbabwe situation in Zimbabwe.

He said while there had been an improvement in the human rights situation in
the country, there was still a lot to be done and Pillay’s visit might just
be the tonic Zimbabwe needed.

“The visit was significant because Pillay is the UN’s point person on human
rights and this means that the United Nations is watching,” Nkomo continued.
Charles Mangongera, a political analyst concurred, saying Zanu PF had tried
to shepherd Pillay to certain places, so she would not get the complete

“The visit was in a way stage-managed and I think she would have got more
information had she come on her own rather than being brought in by the Zanu
PF government,” he said.

“But she made some useful observations, touching on the military and asking
the parties in the inclusive government to come up with a framework on

Mangongera said the visit showed that Zimbabwe was still on the global
agenda and with pending elections, more eyes will be fixed on the country in
the hope that violence will be stemmed.

“There is a resurgence of violence and even immediately after her visit,
there was a politically motivated murder in Mashonaland East,” he said.

Both analysts agreed that the commissioner should have also touched on
issues such as the selective application of the law, with particular
reference to the death of a police officer in Glen View last year. The 29
MDC-T activists accused of murdering the officer are still languishing in
custody while police officers who murdered a “defenceless” person in Shamva
were awarded a US$50 bail.

Soon after Pillay’s departure, an MDC-T official Cephas Magura (67) was
murdered by suspected Zanu PF supporters in Mudzi in Mashonaland East
province. Magura is expected to be buried today.

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‘Zesa abandons load shedding schedule’

Saturday, 02 June 2012 18:09

POWER supply remains erratic in most parts of Harare with the Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) failing to stick to a load shedding
schedule it published in the media recently, seriously affecting many
business operations.
Despite the long hours of power cuts, residents complain of exorbitant bills
at the end of every month. The cost of electricity is affecting thousands of
households as they have to buy paraffin and firewood at a higher cost, yet
still have to settle their bills.
Community coordinator, Ronia Gwaze, said that residents of Vainona and
Hatcliffe suburbs had electricity cut off recently due to unpaid electricity
bills. Abrupt power outages have resulted in electrical gadgets being
damaged. In Vainona, a house at 14114 Tern Avenue was gutted by fire caused
by a burst paraffin stove during one of the numerous power outages. Some
residents have resorted to using generators or solar lights because of the
constant power cuts.

Water Supplies
Water supplies in Waterfalls remain poor with most areas going without the
commodity for several days. During the past week, several residents had
their water disconnected by the City of Harare yet supplies are erratic. The
water bills are so high that most residents feel they are unjustified.
Residents in Glen View are receiving water three times a week. Given this
situation, residents have to queue at the few boreholes sunk by humanitarian
Women and school-going children wake up very early to line up for water and
at times are bullied at the boreholes. Some residents in areas without the
boreholes have dug shallow wells which are unprotected, raising fears of
disease outbreaks.

Health and Environment
Refuse is not being collected in Mbare National and Mbare Musika. The same
situation prevails in Waterfalls at shopping centres such as Park Town and
Zindoga business centre. Residents of Hatcliffe Extension have resorted to
burying or burning rubbish in pits.
This is quite the opposite of what is happening in Hatcliffe 1, where there
is frequent refuse collection. Refuse is supposed to be collected every
Saturday in Glen View but they hardly come. This has led to residents
throwing rubbish everywhere in the area, along the roads and on street
Residents in most parts of Harare pay for their plumbing services if they
experience blocked sewer pipes on their premises. This is despite that
council plumbers are supposed to provide that service to the residents. — By
Harare Residents Trust (HRT)

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Some cash in on water woes, others share

Saturday, 02 June 2012 18:16

SOME enterprising Harare residents have taken advantage of water problems
bedevilling most parts of the capital city to cash in on the scarce
For residents with wells in Harare’s high-density areas, water has become a

This is most pronounced in Mabvuku’s Hanyani, Matongo and Churuwa areas,
which have gone for several months without a regular supply of running
However, in other areas such as Belvedere there are people who have taken
the lead in helping others cope with the water crisis.
These good Samaritans have installed taps outside their security walls where
anyone can fetch water at no cost.

Some have signs written “borehole water, help yourself”.

A number of people from Warren Park, Westlea, Kambuzuma and Kuwadzana
suburbs fetch water for free from boreholes in Belvedere, mostly for
drinking purposes.

Such is the benevolence of some borehole owners that they even provide
hosepipes which people use to fill their containers with ease.

“I have been living in this neighbourhood for six months now and I found the
people I live with fetching water from boreholes outside fellow residents’
yards because the tap rarely has water,” a Belvedere man who had just
fetched water from one of the boreholes said.

But it is not everyone who allows the public to fetch water from their

Some have their taps secured and are only opened when they water their lawns
and flowers.

Residents said most of the people who allow the public to fetch water were
Moslems of Indian origin.

“As Moslems, we believe that water is a gift from God and as such we freely
share it with others,” a man who preferred anonymity said. “We cannot ask
anyone to pay for something we get from the ground for free.”

However, the Harare City Council has ordered all those with boreholes to
register with the local authority so that they can be charged for the

Efforts to get a comment from Harare City Council spokesperson Leslie Gwindi
were fruitless last week.

Meanwhile the situation is getting worse in Mabvuku.

“We rarely have water in this part of Mabvuku and also in Hwenga, Save and
Kariana,” said one resident, Arnold Banda. “There is one borehole in our
area and even if you wake up at 2am, you will find a long winding queue such
that you may spend half of the day waiting for your turn to fetch water.
Some of us end up buying water from those with wells and boreholes.”

A 20-litre container of water costs a dollar but most households said they
needed at least 60 litres every day.

Lack of potable water lowers living standards: residents

Although the residents rarely get running water, they still receive huge
water bills every month, some reflecting four digits.

“We have a bill showing more than US$1 000 and I wonder where that is coming
from because we rarely use council water,” Banda said.

Some residents said the council’s failure to supply them with water has
lowered living standards of most urban dwellers who now live like villagers.

“Look around you and see the many people, especially teenagers and senior
citizens walking around with dirty clothes on,” Mutsa Mangwiro said. “It is
no longer surprising to see someone with clothes as dirty as those of small
boys in rural areas because of lack of access to clean water.”

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Chinotimba clashes with MDC-T in Buhera South

Saturday, 02 June 2012 19:03

WAR veterans’ leader Joseph Chinotimba has clashed with the MDC-T over the
implementation of several developmental projects in Buhera South
Chinotimba, who narrowly lost the constituency to Naison Nemadziva in 2008
amid charges of spearheading a violent campaign, recently set up a maize
milling plant and is giving maize meal on credit to civil servants and
ordinary villagers. However, the MDC-T officials accuse him of hijacking the
project from the local MP.

Councillor for ward 24, Bodier Nendanga, also accused Chinotimba of
hijacking the construction of a bridge along the Nyarushanga River.

“He only took advantage of the fact that the contractors had ran out of
cement and he immediately took over,” Nendanga said. “The MP has no power to
stop him because he even bought some of the equipment that went missing.”

Nendanga also accused Chinotimba of taking over a government event where the
local district administrator was distributing maize to villagers in the
area. “He came to Mutiusinazita claiming to be the one who brought the
maize. We failed to stop him because most of the beneficiaries were Zanu PF
activists,” he said.

But Chinotimba denied the allegations producing receipts of three tons of
maize, which he said proved he bought the commodity from the Grain Marketing
Board Buhera Depot.

“They are lying,” said a fuming Chinotimba. “I have the receipts.  If the
District Administrator distributed maize it was his own programme. I
distributed my own maize and everyone accessed it, including that councillor
who is also benefiting from my credit project.”

Chinotimba also produced a contract he purportedly signed with 10  local
builders to construct the bridge and another one he claimed he entered with
a Harare-based contractor, for hiring earth moving equipment, including four
graders to gravel the road for a month.

“My main aim is to upgrade the constituency, which has been regarded by many
as backward. To tell you the truth, I have been using money from my pocket
to implement these projects and these guys (MDC-T) just come and say they
are their projects,” he said.

Asked where he was getting the money to fund his project, Chinotimba was
reluctant to tell where he was getting the money saying he was just like a
father who brought food for his children. “Iwe kana baba vakabuda
kundokorokoza vodzoka vakabata chingwa ungavabvunza kuti machiwanepi here
kana kuti unongotambira. I get the money mandinofamba,” said an emotional

While his efforts are welcome, it was reported that when he lost in 2008 he
demanded some of his “donations” to the people, an allegation he denied.

Chinotimba known for losing elections

Chinotimba is an interesting character. He tried many times to get elected
into  political office, abandoning one constituency after the other, but
losing all the time. His campaigns have however been dogged by reports of

Chinotimba  contested in Harare’s Glen Norah and Budiriro constituencies but
lost and then tried his luck in Highfield where he dished out cheap shoes
without any success. In the 2008 harmonised elections, Chinotimba decided to
return to his roots and contested in Buhera South constituency where he lost
to  Nemadziva.

But it appears that this time around, Chinotimba, who reinvented himself as
a pious man, has decided to stick to Buhera South where he has continued to
be visible.

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Zinwa threatens to cut off Arda Transau families

Saturday, 02 June 2012 18:38

MUTARE — The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) has threatened to cut
water supplies to families relocated to Arda Transau because a Chinese
mining firm, Anjin Investment, is failing to pay its huge water bill.
The families were relocated from Marange diamond fields where the company is
mining gems.

Zinwa last week issued a warning, threatening  to close down pumps supplying
water to the 474 families resettled at Arda Transau over non-payment of
bills now amounting to about US$215 000.

The bill has not been paid for more than six months since the people started
using water, which is pumped into a reservoir, before it is piped to
designated points.

Zinwa Manicaland Area Manager Vengesayi Mazambani last week confirmed that
the authority was planning to cut water supplies to families relocated to
Arda Transau.

“As water providers, we provided a service to them which they must pay for,”
said Mazambani. “We have been having discussions with the representatives
from Anjin regarding the payment of the bill, but it has now taken too long.
The account is in their name and they should pay for it.”

He claimed that the water piping system at Arda Transau was constantly
breaking down after the Chinese replaced it with their own.

“They laid their own pipes and changed our water system replacing it with
theirs,” said Mazambani. “Their system is very difficult to maintain and we
are experiencing a lot of breakdowns there. We are now in the process of
rectifying the situation with our own engineers. But, again they will pay
for the repairs.”

An official from Anjin last week said they were going to engage Zinwa and
the Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development to come to an
agreement over payment.

The official, who declined to be named, said: “Our senior officials have
already had talks with the Mutare District Administrator regarding the
issue. We hope that this issue will be solved amicably.”

The Mutare District Administrator, Simon Sigauke, confirmed that he had met
officials from Anjin over the impending water disconnections.
He, however, could not shed more light on the issue.

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Apostolic sects provide a ready market for cloths vendors

Saturday, 02 June 2012 18:15

VENDORS in Mbare high-density suburb are making brisk business selling
cloths used in sewing church regalia or performing religious rituals as more
people turn to religion in the midst of increasing socio-economic problems.
The enterprising vendors have taken advantage of the proliferation of
apostolic sects in Mbare to set up market stalls near areas where the
churches hold their prayers.

Some vendors are earning a living through selling the cloths which come in
various colours used for different religious functions.
One vendor in Mbare, Honest Benza (34) said selling the materials sustained
his family of four.

“I used to have a stand inside the bus rank but I lost it to someone else
prompting me to look for other means of survival,” said Benza, a father of
two. “One day, as I was walking into town, I saw several groups of people
gathered for prayers and decided to supply them with some things they may

Benzo said he started selling soft drinks and buns but was soon to realise
that the congregants did not eat anything because they fasted most of the

“Some would walk into town after the prayers and I soon realised they were
going to buy materials needed at church,” he said. “There were people here
who were already selling white cloths but I decided to buy more of the other
colours like red, green, purple, satin, blue, pink and black.”

Most apostolic sects use satin to make gowns they wear during baptism, which
they do frequently as part of their healing sessions.

Most prefer immersion at rivers, where water is sometimes polluted by soil
deposits, hence the use of satin which is more tolerant to polluted water
than the popular white material.

Pink, purple, blue, maroon and green cloths are used for gowns, mostly for
church leaders.

“Red and black are popular with those who visit traditional healers,”
another vendor said. “But apostolic members, too, do buy small pieces of the
cloths for use in healing sessions.”

A quarter metre of the white cloth costs US$0,5 while the coloured material
costs US$2 per metre.

The vendors said selling the cloths in Mbare helped their customers save
time and money for transport into town.

Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association spokesperson George
Kandiero said different colours had different functions.

“Various colours have different meanings, and these may also vary according
to region and their sizes,” he said.

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Mahere threatens unregistered creches

Saturday, 02 June 2012 18:15

A senior government official has threatened to shut down all unregistered
private Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres unless they register with
the ministry of education.
The Permanent Secretary for Education, Sport, Arts and Culture, Dr Stephen
Mahere said the move was necessary to ensure effective service delivery in
the ECD centres countrywide.

“It is now common cause that ECD classes have been established at every
existing primary school. Over 98% of government primary schools have
established ECD ‘B’ and 68% have established ECD ‘A’ classes to date,” said

“I should however remind all concerned stakeholders that for effective
service delivery, all private ECD centres should be registered with the
ministry in line with the Statutory Instrument 106 of 2005.”

Mahere called on provincial education directors (PEDs) and district
education officers (DEOs) to make sure that all private centres are
“PEDs and DEOs should identify those private centres which are not
registered and help them to do so,” said Mahere. “Those which do not meet
the requirements should be closed.”
—By Sofia Mapuranga

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Professionals desert Binga

Saturday, 02 June 2012 18:13

BINGA — Professionals, mainly qualified teachers, are leaving Siabuwa, a
remote area in Binga in droves citing poor infrastructure such as roads,
schools and health facilities, a local organisation has said.
The Siabuwa Development Trust (SDT) said for many years the area has been
losing qualified teachers and nurses to places where there are better roads,
clinics and accommodation.

Siabuwa is a rural community situated in the Zambezi Valley, 100 kilometres
from Binga centre. It is home to an estimated population of 60 000 members
of the Tonga tribe, often referred to as the “forgotten people”.

Most of the people drink water from unprotected wells. The Trust said some
of the teachers in the district lived in poorly ventilated storerooms or in
pole and mud huts.

“Despite the availability of humanitarian aid agencies, since independence
there has not been any meaningful change to the lives of the vaTonga,” said
the Trust in a report. “Currently, residents of Siabuwa drink unsafe water
from unprotected shallow wells.”

The report added: “Siabuwa has lost 98% of its jobs, as corporations or
local factories have shut down or moved operations elsewhere.”

The area has a total of 120 boreholes, 62 deep wells, six small dams but
“60% of them need to be mechanically rehabilitated and 95% require head
works rehabilitation.”

Some of the villagers travel over 100km to access health care.

To compound this problem, most roads connecting Siabuwa and other parts of
the district “are rundown and are characterised by collapsing bridges, sand,
stones and streams flowing across roads”.

The few public transporters that still operate in the area have hiked fares
citing the poor road network.

This, according to the report, has also resulted in investors shunning the

The lack of doctors has made it difficult for the few health care centres to
adequately service the population. There is no hospital in the area.
The SDT said the health centres at Tyunga, Siabuwa and Sinansengwe are
seriously understaffed. For instance, there are no doctors in any of the
centres, which are manned by nurse aides.

While the government’s teacher-pupil ratio stands at 1:40, in Siabuwa it
tops 1:61.

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Red Cross drills boreholes in Chivi

Saturday, 02 June 2012 18:12

MASVINGO — The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) has launched a massive
water, sanitation and hygiene (Wash) project set to improve water
accessibility to residents of Chivi through the drilling of new boreholes
and repairing those that had broken down.
ZRCS information and marketing officer Takemore Mazuruse said the 4-year
project was part of the society’s nationwide humanitarian efforts to improve
the health and quality of life of the vulnerable communities through
increased access to safe water and hygiene promotion.

“A total of 100 000 people in 400 communities in Chivi district will benefit
from the US$3 286 121 programme which will be implemented in 16 wards of
Chivi South district in Masvingo,” said Mazuruse.

“The programme targets rural people, particularly vulnerable groups such as
people living with HIV, orphans and vulnerable children, disadvantaged
schools as well as single-parent households,” he said. “The project is being
implemented in consultation with key stakeholders in  the government.”

Apart from drilling new boreholes and rehabilitating those that are run
down, a total of 3 400 pit-latrines will be built for the communities.

The project is funded by the European Union (EU), the British and Finnish
Red Cross with the Zimbabwe Red Society (ZRCS) being the implementing

ZRCS country representative Majidu Amisi said the society appreciated the
work being done by volunteers as they were the driving force behind the
whole programme.

“Volunteers are the driving force behind humanitarian work that is
consistent with the Red Cross movement,” said Amisi.

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Polls in Egypt, Lesotho: Lessons for Zim

Saturday, 02 June 2012 18:39

WHEN the announcement that Lesotho’s prime minister of 14 years was stepping
down, after failing to win an outright majority, many Zimbabweans could not
help but wonder if this was possible in their own country.
Two elections, one in Lesotho and another in Egypt, were held recently and
all brought about a new wave of democracy and leadership change, that only
Zimbabweans can imagine and wish for.

A massive 25 million people cast their votes in Egypt and the smoothness
with which the election was run can all but give Zimbabweans hope that their
elections can be held in a similar fashion.

Critical to the elections in Egypt was that for the first time the country
allowed its Diaspora to vote, something which Zimbabwean authorities sneer
their noses at.

“We have eight million people outside Egypt and for the first time they were
allowed to vote,” Hassim Bashiri, an official at the Egyptian Embassy in
Harare said. “Maybe because it was the first time something like this
happened, only less than 600 000 voted in that manner.”

Egypt, unlike Zimbabwe, was able to call in foreign observers, leading to a
somewhat credible election.

The southern African country has since the 2002 presidential election been
loath to invite foreign observers, accusing them of having an agenda against
President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party.

Closer to home, Lesotho’s transition showed that the country was seriously
transforming into a modern democracy.

Observers from the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn), say they were
impressed with the election and that Zimbabwe has a lot to learn from the
small mountainous country.

“What impressed me was the involvement of civic society,” Emma Chiseya, from
Zesn, said. “Civil society and the IEC (Independent Electoral Commission)
worked together to come up with a manual on voter education.”

In Zimbabwe, civil society must get permission from the Zimbabwe Election
Commission (ZEC) before carrying out voter education, something that has
always caused friction between the two sides.

Chiseya, who marvelled at the transparency of elections in Lesotho, said
observers were allowed freely into the country, compared to Zimbabwe, where
they were expected to pay a fee, which sometimes could be restrictive.

She said in Lesotho they had a biometric voters’ role, compared to Zimbabwe,
where the registrar general was against providing an electronic copy of the
voters roll.

As Mugabe pushes ahead for elections this year, it remains to be seen
whether he will allow for reforms considering the risk that transparency
could ultimately push him out.

But with changes of guard across the continent, it is only a matter of time
before reforms are implemented in Zimbabwe.

Egypt allows online voter-registration

An element that could make Zimbabweans go green with envy is that Egyptians
can register to vote over the internet, making voter registration a less
than cumbersome process.

Critics of the Zimbabwe’s voter registration exercise often complain that it
is murky and the voters’ roll is in a shambles.
Past researches have revealed that the Zimbabwean voters’ roll is not
updated, allowing “ghost” and unregistered voters to cast their votes.

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Time running out for Zim over AfDB loan facility

Saturday, 02 June 2012 18:07

TIME is running out for Zimbabwe to access the US$500 million facility
availed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) for countries with
outstanding arrears to the bank ahead of its review in September 2012.
Zimbabwe, alongside Somalia and Sudan, have outstanding arrears to the bank
and the facility in place is on a first come first served basis, Ebrima
Faal, AfDB’s director for the Southern Region told Standardbusiness last

The US$500 million is provided under the African Development Fund (ADF), a
concessionary window of the bank that provides loans and grants to regional
member countries.

A proven record of policy implementation and commitment is a key requirement
to qualify for assistance under the programme.

“Approximately US$0,5 billion has been set aside to help with the clearance
of arrears of Zimbabwe, Sudan and Somalia. The country that is ready will be
the first to access the facility. We think Zimbabwe is well-placed to access
the facility,” Faal said.

Faal said governors would review whether to continue with the facility at a
mid-term review meeting in September.

He is hopeful the governors may ring-fence the facility, “given that
tangible progress has been made in all the three countries”.

Zimbabwe’s arrears to AfDB, headed by Donald Kaberuka, are estimated at
about US$500 million.

Faaal said there has been tangible progress in Zimbabwe’s macroeconomic
issues as the country had crafted a home-grown debt and arrears clearance
strategy — the Zimbabwe Accelerated Arrears Clearance, Debt and Development
Strategy (ZAADDS).

ZAADDS uses a combination of debt relief and resources pledging to clear the
country’s debt.

“We believe this (ZAADDS) is implementable during this ADF 12 period. Good
progress has been made at the technical level because there are requirements
that are needed including an SMP (Staff Monitored Programme) with the IMF,”
he said.

ADF 12 is the 12th resource replenishment programme for the Fund’s
activities in the period 2011 up to 2013.

Last year, the AfDB’s board of directors approved a US$8 million loan to
finance Lake Harvest Aquaculture project on Lake Kariba, the bank’s first
private sector investment in Zimbabwe after several years.

Zimbabwe cannot borrow from multilateral and bilateral institutions due to
the country’s negative arrears situation.
Zimbabwe has an estimated

US$9,1 billion external debt and Zaadds provides strategies on how the debt
and arrears would be cleared.

AfDB was mandated by the AU and Sadc to help Zimbabwe re-engage with the
international community. This culminated in the bank hosting several Friends
of Zimbabwe meetings, including an indaba of Zimbabwe’s creditors in Tunis
in March.

Another meeting was held on the sidelines of the IMF/World Bank Springs
meeting in Washington in April. Discussions also took place during the AfDB
Annual General Meeting that was held in Arusha last week.

Private sector eligible to access funds: Faal

Faal said despite the arrears the country is facing, the private sector
could access the bank’s funds, as long as it presented bankable projects and
good financials.

“If we see good bankable private sector projects that come to us, we will
look at it.

“At the moment Zimbabwe’s borrowing capacity with the bank is low because of
the arrears. We look at private sector investments on exceptional basis
depending on their merits,” he said.

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US$4m ICT academy on cards

Saturday, 02 June 2012 18:05

INFORMATION Communication Technology (ICT) consultants, ECB, intends to
establish a US$4,7 million academy before end of year to train banks on
setting up IT systems that will improve efficiency and lower risks of fraud.
The company is presently procuring vendor specific hardware such as US-based
IBM (International Business Machines) products while the expensive software
has already been acquired.

It has partnered with London Stock Exchange-listed and FTSE 250 Index
constituent, MISYS plc, to serve banks across the continent that use the
Misys software solutions, with Harare serving as a hub. ECB consultant,
Taurai Chinyamakobvu, said the academy would also train banks that run on
ECB’s treasury dealing system (TDS.) A TDS allows banks to efficiently
manage treasury operations by offering a single entry point for all trades.

The system offers financial instruments such as money market and foreign
exchange deals, as well as derivative instruments. “The main purpose of
having an ICT system in a bank is to automate processes,” said

“There are a few banks in town that have spent a few millions on systems
that are not serving them well. Some of them have had to rip and replace
their core systems, two to three years after investing in them.”

Zimbabwe’s banking sector deposits rose to US$4 billion recently from US$3,3
billion in January this year as public confidence in the financial sector
slowly returns. “To play an effective intermediary role, banks need a robust
ICT system. That system will maintain, coordinate, process and marshal bank
balances, transactions, delivery channels, information, and so on,” said
Chinyamakobvu. “Without an efficient ICT system the modern bank would not
exist. That is why many banks are upgrading those systems.”

Customers have on several occasions been left stranded and frustrated after
learning that their bank’s IT system would be down or being revamped thereby
affecting their ability to access their deposited money.

Said Chinyamakobvu, “To be fully automated, banks must have systems that
detect and correct their own operational problems. But acquiring such a
system would not be cost-effective. This means that the people in the banks
need to check physically across processes, so that hiccups are detected
before customers feel or see them.”

Earlier this year, Agribank invested in a US$2,5 million ICT upgrade while
ZB Bank poured in over US$3 million to enable faster processing of
transactions and ensure quick turnaround time.

Other banks have also invested substantially in technological upgrades.

The project targets all banks in Africa that use Misys’ core banking
systems, in particular, Equation, Bankfusion Equation and Bankfusion
Universal Banking, as well as all those that run Misys departmental modules
such as Opics risk and Almonde for risk management.

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Workers caught in debt trap

Saturday, 02 June 2012 18:03

THE general shortage of cash on the domestic market has forced many
Zimbabweans into a spiraling debt trap. Many are heavily borrowing from
banks as well as micro-finance institutions to keep going.

Some people have taken credit facilities, for cash, clothing or household
products effectively becoming ensnared in a debt trap as they run multiple
accounts, which they find difficult to service.

Henry Shirichena, a young man employed at a local milling company, said he
took up loan facilities from various financial institutions to make ends
meet but was struggling to service them.

“It all seemed reasonable at the time considering the unavailability of such
facilities before 2009. However, the effects of the loan on me and the
family are largely negative,” he said. “Yes I can repay part of the loan,
but with the present financial difficulties, we are left with hardly
anything to live on.”

A government worker who requested anonymity, said he had been driven to take
up a bank loan by the need to settle issues that had arisen.

“Quite frankly I felt I had no choice but to take a loan. I had an important
family business to attend to, but had no money at the time. I couldn’t wait
for month end to access cash,” he said. “I am presently repaying the loan
but the deductions are taking their toll on my salary. Fortunately I will be
through repaying the loan by the end of the year.”

Prior to the use of multi-currencies in February 2009, credit facilities had
become non-existent, as hyperinflation ravaged the local currency.

But with the coming in of the multi-currency regime, various companies and
banks have consequently been forced to revisit their business models, as the
macro-economic scenario dictates the devising of the best methods of tapping
into the scarce cash circulating in the economy.

Some clothing stores have over the past financial quarters reported solid
performance results against the background of increased credit accounts
Last year, Truworths recorded a 204% mid-year operating profit increase
buoyed by an increase in credit time periods extended to customers while
Edgars this year recorded a US$3,3 million profit as the number of debtors
accounts jumped by 43%.

Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) executive director, Rosemary Siyachitema,
said economic hardships were forcing people into debt.
She said businesses have found themselves with products that are not being
bought so they offer seemingly attractive payment terms and periods to
customers. She however urged people to exercise due diligence before
executing a credit transaction.

“It becomes difficult when month-end comes, as people have rentals, food,
school fees and other expenses to meet. It ultimately becomes a debt trap,”
said Siyachitema.

The problem is more evident among civil servants who earn salaries below the
US$500 Poverty Datum Line.

Tendai Chikowore, president of the Apex Council which represents all civil
servants, acknowledged the chronic debt trap that has engulfed a
considerable number of government workers.

“There are two sides to the coin. When civil servants began receiving
allowances (in 2009), there was an outcry that they were not deemed
creditworthy, but now that the business community considers them as fertile
ground, the deductions are really serious,” she said.

The government-endorsed survey is a research tool which shows how
individuals source their incomes, and how they manage their financial lives.

Few borrowed from formal institutions

However, a 2011 Zimbabwe FinScope consumer survey, focusing on financial
inclusion indicates that only a small percentage of people actually had
loans from formal financial institutions or banks.

The findings also indicate that Zimbabwe largely remains a cash-based
economy and the rising cost of living due to economic instability is
perceived to be the biggest risk and the main reason why people save or

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Disturbing discord over Essar, Green Fuel deals

Saturday, 02 June 2012 18:35


There are currently two major investment deals that the government of
Zimbabwe is, surprisingly, unsure about how to proceed with, even after
initially approving of them.
The first, which was launched amidst much fanfare, was the Essar deal that
was described as being intended to ensure the revival of Ziscosteel in the
Midlands. It is now being reported that cabinet has ordered some sort of
review of the deal because the processing plant and the iron deposits were
sold for far too little.

The other investment deal is the Chisumbanje/Green Fuel one where the
Minister of Energy has publicly told the company involved to export its
ethanol. Apparently, the minister has not seen any cabinet minutes on a
directive that the ethanol from Green Fuel be compulsorily blended with all
imported petrol in Zimbabwe. Deputy Prime Minister, Arthur Mutambara, has
since told Parliament that cabinet has set up some committee to look into
the matter. The two deals leave one perplexed as to what exactly is going on
in cabinet and in the offices of various ministers.

The two deals, prior to being approved by the government, had been reported
on for a while in the media. In some instances cabinet ministers travelled
to various countries to see examples of where the relevant investor had a
similar operation. In other instances, particularly as regards the Essar
deal, there were further media reports about serious jockeying for the
lucrative tender by not only the Indian company but also South African
companies that were alleged to have strong links with the African National

After all the trips, lobbying, verification and other measures had been
undertaken, the government, of its own volition, decided to award Essar and
Green Fuel the relevant investment contracts. With both deals however, there
now seems to be a turnaround by government without adequate reason or public
explanation. The versions are many, but suffice to say, there can only be
something fishy on the part of cabinet in both cases. The lack of clarity on
these two matters is not only appalling, but patently indicative of a
government that does not take its work or its own people seriously.

In fact, it appears that government is more preoccupied with grandstanding
about private-public partnership when it does not, in the end, demonstrate
the relevant knowledge of the intentions of the private partner when putting
pen to paper.  It is rather embarrassing to have a government that argues
with itself about an investment that is already approved and already on the
ground. Even if one is to assume that in the case of the Essar deal, all
government is seeking to correct is an anomaly, it would be irresponsible on
our part as citizens to let cabinet off lightly.

A key question is why the government failed to follow up with relevant
mining departments, regarding the content and nature of iron ore deposits,
before putting pen to paper? And if a minister is dealing with a
multi-million dollar investment deal, to what extent is he/she assisted with
the relevant expertise as regards the full implications of the deal? In the
case of Essar, it appears that the government did not do its homework and
was quick to claim credit for an investment that invariably has turned out
to be a sour one.

Where one reviews the limited public information that is there about the
Green Fuel deal in Chisumbanje, one can be forgiven for thinking that the
actual problem relates to community land rights. Instead, the problem is
that the government agreed to such a massive project, only to say it no
longer wants to use the end product (ethanol) locally. The relevant minister
then advises the investment company, via the media, to export the ethanol.
Now, there could be various reasons why the minister has done this,
including political reasons, but what stands out is that if cabinet agreed
to this deal, it must either cancel it altogether or else see it through.

Moreover, if there are serious differences in the fuel importation industry,
then the minister must openly seek to iron out these differences and explain
cabinet decisions for the benefit of not only the fuel oligarchs but also
the Zimbabwean public. Where government fails to do this, we would not be
remiss to assume that perhaps cabinet is not functioning in the best
interests of Zimbabweans.

In both deals, it remains imperative that the government cleans up its act
quickly and functions on the basis of demonstrating that it is serious about
running this country. Even where the arguments are that the inclusive
government does not function fully well, it can only be argued that all
cabinets the world over have collective responsibility and as such, botched
investment deals are the fault of all political parties that are in cabinet.

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Sunday View: Zimbabwe: Why sanctions should remain in place

Saturday, 02 June 2012 18:30

On her recent visit to Zimbabwe, Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights, said sanctions on the country applied by some Western countries were
having “a negative impact on the economy at large, with quite possibly
serious ramifications for the country’s poorest and most vulnerable
Her claim does not bear examination.

Nor does her assertion that the sanctions, on more than a hundred
individuals and on businesses owned by the ruling Zanu PF and the State, are
“a disincentive to overseas banks and investors” and have “limited certain
exports and imports”.

Official data tell a very different story. In the three years since the
country dollarised at the start of 2009, GDP growth has averaged 8% a year —
the fastest yet achieved over such a period since Independence 32 years ago.

Inflation has averaged less than 1% a year, while exports have increased 40%
annually — about 10 times the growth rate of world trade. Imports — far from
being limited by sanctions as Pillay says — have almost trebled to reach an
unsustainable 75% of GDP in 2011. The trade gap trebled from US$1bn in 2008
to US$3bn last year.

Pillay’s comments on investment and foreign loans are equally wide off the
mark. Foreign direct investment rose from US$105m in 2009 to US$373m last
year while portfolio inflows, mostly through the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange,
are put at US$140m. In the last two years the country has borrowed US$1,2bn

The real reason why Zimbabwe’s offshore borrowing is constrained is the
country’s foreign debt arrears of over US$7bn (70% of GDP). Targeted
sanctions are not part of the equation.

To claim that the vulnerable and poorest segments of the country’s 11
million people are suffering because of financial and travel sanctions
imposed on President Robert Mugabe and his closest supporters is misguided.

Per capita incomes have risen 5% a year for the last three years — the first
such growth since the mid-1990s. Some 45 000 new formal sector jobs were
created in 2010 (there are no employment data yet for 2011) after a decade
in which over half a million people lost their jobs. Meanwhile, average real
wages have more than doubled since 2008.

Living standards and employment collapsed in the “lost decade” to 2008, not
because targeted sanctions were imposed in 2002 but because Mugabe’s Za-nu
PF government adopted economically disastrous policies, from fast-track land
reform to reckless central bank credit creation that culminated in the
collapse of the currency and the disappearance of the Zimbabwe dollar at the
end of 2008.

The subsequent turnaround in the Zimbabwe economy is primarily the result of
dollarisation with a little bit of — usually exaggerated — help from the
inclusive government headed by Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
since February 2009. Whatever adverse effects the sanctions have had were
swamped by the positive impact of exchange rate stabilisation which squeezed
hyperinflation out of the system in just a few weeks, reviving the financial
sector and restoring business confidence, at least in the short term.

But the dollarisation bounceis beginning to run out of steam. Economists say
GDP growth in 2012 is likely to be little more than the estimated 9%
achieved last year.

Because sanctions have had minimal economic and social impact, their
immediate suspension, advocated by Pillay, would not stimulate economic
growth. Instead, it would give Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party a boost before
elections to be held sometime over the next 18 months — thereby putting at
risk the fragile gains achieved during the last three years

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Sadc stance on Zim polls laudable

Sadc’s decision to defer Zimbabwe’s elections until common ground is reached
on all outstanding matters provides the tonic needed to end Zimbabwe’s
political stalemate.
It may also have, albeit inadvertently, delivered a killer blow to
88-year-old President Robert Mugabe’s plans to secure another five years in

Ahead of the Angola summit, Mugabe, fighting to ward off the combined
effects of ill-health and old age, dispatched emissaries to the region to
canvass support for a 2012 election but these overtures backfired
spectacularly on Friday.

The Troika ruled that an early election was impossible under the prevailing
circumstances. The decision by the leaders was hardly surprising after the
daylight murder of Cephas Magura, an MDC-T official, killed at a political
rally in Mudzi, provided clear evidence the environment remained tense in
most rural and urban communities.

The  widely publicised statements made by Major-General Martin Chedondo,
about the army’s support for Zanu PF, also made it easier for MDC formations
to argue that conditions did not exist in Zimbabwe for a free and fair

The formations also argued that the select committee charged with drafting
the constitution and negotiators to the GPA, who still have a gamut of
issues to resolve, needed more time to complete its work. Some of these
contentious matters include repressive laws which tilt the electoral playing
ground in favour of Zanu PF.

The Troika should be commended for standing up to Mugabe and rejecting his
feverish push for elections, spearheaded by a coterie of Zanu PF
propagandists that include former Information minister Jonathan Moyo.

Elections in the absence of genuine reforms can only lead to another
political impasse that could drag the country further into the abyss.

The Sadc Troika has agreed that 12 months could be a reasonable time to
ensure that Zimbabwe puts in place conditions for a free and fair election
to take place. That time- frame, though unfavourable to Mugabe, who is 88,
is reasonable and gives the country enough room to fix the contentious

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