Treger probe steers clear of party chefs Vincent
Kahiya SENIOR Zanu PF politicians sit on the Treger Holdings board which
was responsible for authorising foreign currency transactions for which
the company's subsidiary, Treger Industries, is now being
The Zimbabwe Independent has also learnt that Anti-Corruption
and Anti-Monopolies minister Didymus Mutasa is a former director of
Records at the companies registry show that Zanu
PF secretary for administration Emmerson Mnangagwa and secretary for finance
David Karimanzira sit on the Treger Holdings board by virtue of Zanu
PF's shareholding in the company. Karimanzira, who heads the committee
currently investigating ruling-party companies, replaced Mutasa on the
Police two weeks ago arrested 13 board members of
Treger Industries on allegations of externalising $39 billion in foreign
currency. They recorded warned and cautioned statements before they were
The politicians' role in Treger Holdings could however
escape public scrutiny as police have now decided to prosecute Treger
Industries, the corporate entity, and not its directors.
about his role yesterday, Karimanzira would only say: "I've no comment on
Mutasa confirmed that he "used to attend board meetings at Treger
The change in the target of prosecution followed
submissions by Treger's lawyer, Jonathan Samkange, who argued that the
directors of Treger Industries executed decisions by the holding company
whose directors should be charged instead. That could have entailed charging
senior Zanu PF officials as well.
On Monday Samkange began
negotiations with police officers investigating the case over who should be
charged with externalising foreign currency.
Samkange argued that the
police could not charge directors of a subsidiary company but only those of
the holding company who made policy decisions. He said, alternatively, the
police could charge the subsidiary company and not its directors. The second
Samkange yesterday confirmed that police would
charge the company and not the 13 directors.
"Yes, they will now
charge the company and not the 13 they originally arrested," said Samkange.
"If they wanted to charge directors, they should have gone for the directors
of the holding company because they are the ones who make
Observers believe the change of approach will protect
senior Zanu PF officials from investigation. Quizzing Karimanzira would have
been embarrassing as he is the chairman of the committee set up to
investigate the goings-on in companies owned by Zanu PF.
Zanu PF's collective responsibility in the Treger Holdings case, Mutasa said
it was up to the police to effect arrests if they felt that a crime had been
"The decision to arrest rests with the police," said
Mutasa yesterday. "It is up to the police to decide who to arrest."
Nkomo cracks whip Dumisani Muleya RULING Zanu PF
political heavyweights are seething over what they see as rampant
indiscipline by ambitious newcomers amid an escalating succession struggle in
Official sources said yesterday that Zanu PF bigwigs were
infuriated by growing "rogue politics" permeating party structures ahead of a
critical congress in December.
The issue of indiscipline and
intensifying infighting was discussed at a long Zanu PF politburo meeting on
Wednesday which lasted late into the evening.
A senior politburo
member close to the meeting said Zanu PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira, who
last week appeared to come under fire in the government press from his deputy
Jonathan Moyo over President Robert Mugabe's Sky News television interview,
tabled a document by party chair John Nkomo on
"Shamuyarira tabled Nkomo's document and it was
discussed. Almost everyone in the party is worried about this infighting but
the party has resolved to deal with the issue once and for all," the official
"There is pending but unspecified action that will be taken
against power-hungry individuals creating confusion by attacking senior
Shaumuyarira could not be found for comment. "He
is not in, phone tomorrow morning," a secretary in his office
Sources said Zanu PF officials indicated during the politburo
meeting that ambitious individuals were now overreaching themselves by
attacking or defying superiors, including Vice-President Joseph
Ugandan researcher David Nyekorach-Matsanga, who was
instrumental in organising the Sky interview, last week circulated an e-mail
statement accusing Moyo of being "over-ambitious and flying too
Matsanga attacked Moyo in vitriolic terms after he was barred
from entering Zimbabwe. He said Moyo was a "ranting and shallow-minded
propagandist who has sapped the moral authority of the
Nkomo's document on discord in the ruling party was
partly reflected in his weekly column in the Zanu PF mouthpiece, The Voice,
last Sunday. It complains about indiscipline and personal attacks by
officials against each other.
"Differences of perception, which
may lead to differences of opinion, are sometimes inevitable. However, these
must, within the revolutionary establishment that our party is, be aired
procedurally through the organs of the party," Nkomo said.
should never be the case, even when aspiring candidates are jockeying for
positions at whatever rank within the party and its leadership, that
we deploy verbal or other arsenals against each other."
yesterday said he could not comment on the issue as it was
Asked about attacks on senior party
members such as war veterans leader Joseph Chinotimba's remarks about Nkomo
on land allocation on Monday, Msika said: "We are going to deal with them.
They are now losing direction."
Zanu PF youths aid nuns in farm seizure Munyaradzi
Wasosa IN a new dimension to land reform, three nuns, working with Zanu PF
youths, have occupied Malabar Farm in Darwendale, the Zimbabwe Independent
has been told.
Spearheading the invasion are the Little Children of
the Blessed Lady (LCBL) Order superior-general Sister Helen Maminimini,
regional superior Sr Electa Mubaiwa, a "farmer nun" only identified as Sr
Notvurgo, and Zvimba district lands officer Stanford
Malabar Farm is a sub-division of the original Hunyani
Estates and is now owned by Les Harvey who is leasing it to Sagar Farming
(Pvt) Ltd whose directors are Arthur and Ansy Swales.
interview this week, Arthur Swales said: "On May 3, Katonha and the nuns
visited us and said we had 24 hours to vacate the farm to make way for them.
We explained to Katonha and the nuns that Minister Joseph Made did
not register the Section 8 order (of the Land Acquisition Act) timeously
with the (administrative) court and therefore it was
A Section 8 notice is an acquisition order that
government serves on the owner of a farm being acquired subject to the
service of a Section 5 preliminary notice (of intention to acquire the
In terms of Section 7 of the Act, the Agriculture minister has
to apply to the Administrative Court for confirmation of the acquisition
within 30 days after service of a Section 8 order.
Failure to do
so renders the acquisition defective and invalid.
Made served the
Section 8 acquisition order on December 1 last year but did not file an
application in the Administrative Court within the
Sagar is thus still the legal lessee of the farm
despite it having been listed for compulsory acquisition in August last
The new owners of an acquired farm are required by law to
present a Letter of Offer with a ministerial approval to occupy the
The nuns failed on several occasions to produce
Swales said Katonha issued a threat to the farm workers to
"Katonha addressed our 80 workers and demanded that they leave
immediately as the nuns were prepared to retain only four workers," Swales
Five LCBL employees illegally living in the farm compound have
been fencing off the invaded land using wire allegedly stolen from the main
perimeter fence. The 874ha farm produces tobacco on contract for Tobacco
Sales Ltd and seed maize for Seed Co.
Swales said Katonha, working
closely with the nuns, allegedly invited about 30 Zanu PF youths to invade
the farm around midnight on May 15.
The youths are said to have
rounded up the farm workers and made them chant Zanu PF
Sr Notvurgo, who expressed an interest in Sagar's farm
equipment, demanded two tractors, irrigation equipment and other farm
implements, Swale said.
The equipment is bonded to Barclays Bank
under a notarial bond drawn up by legal practitioners Scanlen &
Holderness as security for seasonal financing to the
According to the Land Acquisition Act, Sagar is entitled to
remove any or all of its moveable assets.
The company has managed
to relocate most of its irrigation equipment to a safer place for security
The youths told the Independent that Katonha instructed them
not to allow Sagar to remove any more equipment.
visited the farm this week and saw the youths who have raised the national
flag close to the farmhouse.
The paper heard that the nuns have
targeted the farm since 2002. In November 2002, Swales was accosted by a
group of six LCBL nuns led by Maminimini, asking for land alongside the
Swales prepared 10 hectares for them in the interests
They subsequently demanded more land.
Independent has in its possession a copy of a letter signed by Maminimini to
Swales declaring the nuns' intention to occupy the farm.
letter, dated February 9 2003, Maminimini admitted she lacked farming skills
despite their intentions to diversify into commercial
"Since we lack farming expertise, and Sister Electa and
myself are already too busy with administration in the congregation, we have
decided to form a board of directors to help us run the farm efficiently,"
She even asked Swales to join the board, because
"you are a very experienced farmer on the spot".
According to the
letter, Maminimini sought to keep the new farming venture secret from her
"The three of us, Sr Electa, yourself and me will continue to
deal with matters regarding ownership or handing over of more land (because)
the (LCBL) board does not discuss that," Maminimini said in the
Swales said the nuns' action was irregular.
not want to interfere with the government's land reform programme," Swales
"It's just that it is not being done in a regular and legal
He said the nuns forced him to give them more land last
"In March 2003 Maminimini declared the nuns' commercial farming
interests and demanded title deeds to the farm," Swales said. "Under extreme
duress, we agreed to let them use a further 20 hectares of arable
"The nuns clapped their hands and thanked the Lord for 'their
farm' and assured us that they would never allow Malabar to be issued with a
Section 8 order."
Meanwhile the youths camped on the farm are now
demanding a share of the farm's spoils "for our projects".
interview, Maminimini admitted LCBL's involvement and pleaded with this paper
not to reveal their complicity.
"We do not want this story to be
mentioned or published because it will tarnish our good image," Maminimini
She claimed that the nuns were solving the issue with
"We are sorting out the issue by ourselves," she said. "If you
respect us just leave us alone."
Quizzed if their invasion had the
church's approval, Maminimini declined to comment and refused to answer
In an interview yesterday, Bulawayo Archbishop
Pius Ncube expressed shock at the nuns' actions.
"This is news to
me, and it definitely was not with the blessing of the church," Ncube
"If a nun, a priest or even a bishop steals, it's definitely
wrong because it's against God's law," Ncube said.
Sagar wrote to
the Minister of Special Affairs in the President's office Responsible for
Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement, John Nkomo, in February asking to stay
on the farm until the expiry of Sagar's contract with TSL on October
This would facilitate the grading and marketing of the current
tobacco and seed maize crop to best advantage.
Nkomo is yet to
About 80 000 kg of tobacco valued at over US$160 000 is
expected to be realised from sales to TSL, while 120 tonnes of strategically
essential seed maize is expected to be harvested.
Katonha, who did
not deny his involvement in the invasion, declined to comment.
will not discuss that issue with you because it's not possible for me to do
that," he said.
Zim's poll rules backward says Tsvangirai Gift
Phiri OPPOSITION Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan
Tsvangirai is seeking the intervention of international election observers to
help improve electoral standards in Zimbabwe.
"While we are doing as
much as we can to campaign for a review of our electoral standards, it is
important for international observers to help us to achieve our goals in this
national assignment. Our electoral standards are still very backward. They
are a source of instability," Tsvangirai said in his weekly
Zimbabwe goes to the polls in March next year. The MDC is
continuing its preparations for the parliamentary elections confirming
earlier assurances that the MDC will participate despite the killings,
violence and threats.
Pressure is getting harder and the obstacles to
organising free elections are increasing every day, according to
The MDC leader lashed out at Sadc government - as
distinct from parliamentary - election observers whom he accused of
legitimising fraudulent ballots.
"We are disturbed by the conduct
of official observers from the Sadc region who are quick to find adjectives
to puff up public explanations in an attempt to justify what could clearly be
a fraud," Tsvangirai said.
"They choose to blame administrative
bottlenecks, which they conveniently assume to be natural, instead of
condemning openly questionable electoral practices in their own
The MDC leader said when confronted privately, the same
official observers admit their mistakes, but raise spurious arguments about
stability, solidarity, the liberation struggle and the fact that it is normal
for elections to present difficult challenges in Africa.
2000, Zimbabwean elections have sparked immense political controversy and
divided the Sadc region, Africa and the international community.
The divisions are clearly visible between political parties, civil society
During the 2000 parliamentary election and the
2002 presidential election, observers from South Africa, Nigeria and Sadc
governments generally approved of the outcome.
local independent observers disagreed with them - "justifiably because we
lost close to 300 lives and billions of dollars in destroyed property to Zanu
Other observers such as the Sadc parliamentary forum,
the European Union and those from the Commonwealth, led by a Nigerian,
criticised the elections as less than free and fair.
said the failure of African leaders to restrain each other or merely to
acknowledge evil intentions against the people has made it possible for
dictators to bludgeon their way into office.
Muluzi, Joachim Chissano, Olusegun Obasanjo and Thabo Mbeki visited Zimbabwe
in an attempt to find a solution to what they clearly saw as a crisis from
Robert Mugabe's self-proclaimed victory," said
Tsvangirai. "Still nothing
significant happened to assist Zimbabweans, or better still to push the
Mugabe regime to change the nation's electoral standards."
leader said Mugabe's regime went on to constrict the democratic space by
promulgating repressive laws that have pushed the political environment to a
stage of heightened internal tension thereby closing off all avenues for
principled political dialogue.
Tsvangirai said international
observers need to move into the country early enough to observe the electoral
process right up to the counting of ballots.
"We recommend a period of at
least 90 days before the election day.
Observers and monitors, as
stakeholders, must put pressure on Mugabe and his regime to open up political
activity to all interested parties and individuals in Zimbabwe. They must
impress upon the regime that for a democracy to be seen to be effective
everybody, or at least the majority, must recognise an election, and an
election result," said Tsvangirai.
Hostile to business Shakeman Mugari ZIMBABWE has
one of the most hostile business environments in Africa, according to a World
Economic Forum (WEF) report released in Maputo this week.
Switzerland-based WEF's annual Africa Competitive Report ranked Zimbabwe as
one of the worst investment destinations in Africa.
Zimbabwe is at
the bottom of the rankings based on a survey of world economic leaders in 25
African countries surveyed in areas of macroeconomic environment,
macroeconomic stability and governance.
The ranking coincides with
another report by Transparency International, which shows Zimbabwe continued
to drop in the corruption index. The report, produced this week, revealed
that Zimbabwe's average Corruption Perception Index score has continued to
decline, from 4,2 in 1998 to 2,3 last year. The points range between 10
(clean) to 0 (highly corrupt).
According to the index, Zimbabwe is
the third most corrupt country in Southern Africa after Angola and the
Democratic Republic of Congo, both countries just emerging from debilitating
Transparency International noted that average CPI scores
for countries in Africa have continued to decline despite strategies adopted
to fight graft.
The WEF report on the other hand noted that Zimbabwe's
economic demise was self-inflicted because of misguided policies. It made
reference to the country's battered human rights record which has been the
subject of widespread international condemnation.
seriously backtracked in the areas of individual freedom and human rights,
with the efficiency and stability of its economy suffering greatly from
self-inflicted and misguided policies," the WEF said.
ranked Zimbabwe 22nd out of 25 countries on the growth competitiveness index
due to lack of rule of law, intimidation of opposition, violent elections and
government's iron-fisted rule.
The government has also nullified
individuals' property rights through hurried land laws, used to justify its
seizure of white-owned commercial farms, it said
Botswana continues to
be the most conducive investment destination in Africa, coming first in six
The report cited the country's democracy and fiscal
stability. South Africa was ranked third on the growth competitiveness
Zambezi water project stalled Loughty Dube WORK on
the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project has not yet taken off despite the
injection of $2 billion by government in the current financial year and the
payment of $300 million advance fees to the main contractor, a
report compiled by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) on the
progress of the project has indicated.
The Zinwa progress report was
presented to the Bulawayo City Council's future water supplies and water
action committee two weeks ago.
The report also says Hope Mount
Services, a company formed by Matabeleland Zambezi Water Trust (MZWT) and
Zimbabwe/Malaysia (Zimmal) to spearhead the ambitious pipeline, has failed to
disburse US$60 million to kick-start the project.
According to the
Zinwa report, Hope Mount Services was expected to disburse the US$60 million
60 days after the signing of a Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) agreement
with the Ministry of Water Resources and Zinwa on May
"The agreement for BOT was signed between the Ministry of
Water Resources and Infrastructural Development, Zinwa, and Hope Mount
Services representing MZWT and Zimmal on 15 May 2003," the report
"Disbursement of US$60 million was expected 60 days after
signing the contract but to date it has not been made available by Hope Mount
Under the new agreement, Hope Mount Services will be the
financier of the project, MZWT the overseer while Zinwa will be the
The water project has been on the drawing board
for the past 90 years but has been put on the back burner by previous
governments and is now expected to cost in excess of $33
However, progress on the first phase of the project, which
is the construction of the Gwayi-Shangani dam, has been compromised after
it emerged that the Chinese company contracted to work on the project has
not returned to the site after being paid $300 million before the
December holiday last year.
However, Zinwa is understood to be
making efforts to reverse the terms of the contract and induce the Chinese
company to accept payment in local currency.
The report says that
meetings between the government and the Chinese contractor have been lined up
in a bid to have the contract executed in local currency.
No shortcuts, Mugabe tells aspiring Zanu PF
MPs Augustine Mukaro PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has dealt a major blow to
parliamentary hopefuls who wanted to fast-track their entry into parliament
next year by short-circuiting party rules.
In an interview screened on
ZTV on Monday, Mugabe said Zanu PF would not endorse candidates imposing
themselves on constituencies and those claiming to have been chosen through
Mugabe's statement this week confirms Zanu PF chairman
John Nkomo's disclosure last week in the Zimbabwe Independent that all
aspiring candidates must observe the party's primary election
This comes at a time when Information Minister Jonathan Moyo
and other aspiring Zanu PF parliamentary candidates have offered themselves
without going through primaries in the constituencies they intend to contest
in the 2005 election.
Moyo, who is currently an unelected MP, has
been setting up development projects in the Tsholotsho constituency. He has
already made a public declaration that he wants to be MP for the
A host of other Zanu PF politicians, including Masvingo
provincial chairman Daniel Shumba and his Manicaland and Mashonaland West
counterparts, Mike Madiro and Philip Chiyangwa, have also declared themselves
as candidates for Masvingo Central, Mutare South and Chinhoyi
In the interview, Mugabe said the primaries would be
held shortly before or after the party's congress in
Mugabe's disclosure effectively means that the aspiring
candidates will have to go back to the drawing board and face a rigorous
selection process through party structures.
Sources in Zanu PF
said aspiring candidates are first selected at lower organs of the party such
as district co-ordinating committees for verification purposes. Provincial
election directorates then deliberate on the proposed names before presenting
them to the national commissariat, which presides over a meeting of the
national elections directorate to review the submissions.
candidates' profiles are then submitted to the politburo for further review
Govt lines up Ndebele paper Gift Phiri THE
government is finalising plans to set up an Ndebele newspaper designed to
cover Matabeleland provinces with Zanu PF propaganda ahead of
the parliamentary election scheduled for March next year, the
Zimbabwe Independent has established.
The vernacular newspaper,
understood to be strongly supported by President Robert Mugabe's information
chief Jonathan Moyo, will be published under the ambit of the Bulawayo-based
government mouthpiece, the Chronicle.
The Zimbabwe Newspapers Group
(Zimpapers), the holding company for government-controlled newspapers, has
already lodged an application for licensing of the newspaper with the media
regulatory body, the Media and Information Commission (MIC).
chairman Tafataona Mahoso could neither confirm nor deny that Zimpapers had
applied for registration of the envisaged Ndebele publication.
is confidential information. We do not announce plans that are still in the
pipeline. We have a lot of applications but it is not for us to go around
announcing them. It is up to the person lodging the application to disclose,"
Government sources said plans to set up the Ndebele
paper were mooted by Moyo, who said the paper "would tell the story of
Zimbabwe to people in Matabeleland in their own language".
overall aim is to counter reports in independent newspapers that
Moyo considers hostile to Mugabe," said a source.
The ruling party
in the last general election lost in Matabeleland provinces. In Bulawayo, for
instance, eight of the parliamentary seats and 29 municipal seats were all
won by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
recently been on a drive to smother the entire sub-region with ruling party
propaganda. The government recently signed a memorandum of understanding with
Namibia, which will culminate in the launch of a propaganda mouthpiece titled
the New Sunday Times.
Said Moyo about the setting up of the paper:
"We need media that do not apologise about their nationalist and
NRZ in cash squeeze Loughty Dube THE National
Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has for the second month running failed to pay its
workers on time as its cash crisis deepens.
Workers at the parastatal
were supposed to be paid their May wages last Friday but the NRZ, in a
special notice sent to workers, acknowledged that it was facing cash flow
Workers at the parastatal are however seething with anger
over the late payment of their wages. The NRZ, with a workforce of 9 000,
says the wages payments will be staggered starting this week.
NRZ is reeling under a huge wage bill estimated to be over $12 billion as a
result of massive wages increments and the award of a hefty cost of living
adjustment to workers at the beginning of this year.
"It is with
regret that the administration has to advise that due to our current cash
flow problems the railways is unable to meet the pay out dates of 28 and 31
May 2004," says the notice signed by NRZ acting general manager, Lewis
"Accordingly, the May, 2004 payroll will only be disbursed
on a staggered basis with effect from 4 June, 2004."
New wage and
salary awards by the NRZ have seen the lowest paid workers in the Grade 11
category getting between $1, 4 and $ 1,6 million while those in white collar
jobs and artisans receive up to $6 million per month.
middle management are earning well over $5 million while senior managers are
taking home over $15 million per month.
Zimbabwe Amalgamated Railways
Union secretary-general Gideon Shoko said the workers were demoralised by the
move but would wait for Friday (today) before taking any action.
Call for alliance on Sadc rules Staff writer THE
International Crisis Group (ICG) has called for the formation of a democratic
alliance between the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and
civil society to force the ruling Zanu PF government to comply with Sadc
norms and standards on free and fair elections.
The ICG says the
envisaged alliance would make a strong regional diplomatic offensive and
formulate smart strategies for non-violent protests that will bring pressure
to bear on the ruling party to ensure conditions for free and fair elections
Zanu PF intends to win the March 2005 parliamentary election
at any cost. The party has effectively banned civic meetings by enacting
repressive legislation such as the Public Order and Security Act, retired
impartial judges, militarised political stru-ctures, and systematically
arrested and beaten activists.
"Zanu PF not only wants to win, but
it wants a two-thirds majority to make constitutional amendments that
entrench its rule under (President Robert) Mugabe," the ICG said in a
statement sent to the Zimbabwe Independent.
"It has no intention of
conducting free and fair elections but will endeavour to garner as much
legitimacy as possible in the process, especially in the eyes of its Sadc
The ICG said Zimbabweans and the international community,
especially Sadc countries, should agree on benchmarks and a timeframe to
ensure that the electoral process in the run-up to Zimbabwe's forthcoming
parliamentary election meets the Sadc norms and standards for free and fair
elections, a protocol to which Zimbabwe is a signatory.
levels of violence and intimidation have characterised all recent Zimbabwean
The ICG said if the MDC ignores recommendations to set
benchmarks for the forthcoming parliamentary vote, it will be trapped in a
fundamental strategic dilemma.
"If it contests the elections it
will legitimise a patently flawed electoral process, managed and controlled
entirely by the ruling party. When it loses the election, as it clearly must,
its plaintive cry that the election was neither free nor fair will be ignored
by invited observers," the ICG said.
"If, on the other hand, it
boycotts the election, it would lose all its seats without a fight, and leave
every government institution in the hands of the ruling party. It should also
be remembered that if, against all odds, the MDC won the election, the
president and his executive would still hold the reins of power. This power
could be exercised to severely curtail the effectiveness of an MDC-dominated
legislature," the ICG said.
To avoid this dilemma, the group said, it
was imperative that an international consensus is found on the dividing line
between a relatively free and fair election process and one that is so flawed
that it should be declared null and void.
Maya joins MDC Shakeman Mugari IN a significant
political move, National Alliance for Good Governance (Nagg) president
Shakespeare Maya has dissolved his party to join the opposition Movement For
Democratic Change (MDC), the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.
spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi confirmed yesterday that Maya had joined the
"Yes I can confirm that Shakespeare Maya has joined our party
(MDC)," said Nyathi. "I am not sure when he joined but he is now our
Asked whether this was a form of opposition coalition ahead
of next year's election, Nyathi said the move meant that the whole Nagg party
was now part of the MDC.
"In this case it would mean that the
whole party has moved to MDC. It means more people share our vision." It is
not clear how many other members the party had.
Maya is due to
announce his move to the MDC today at a press conference. He could not be
reached for comment yesterday
Maya's move signals the death of Nagg which
was widely seen as an extension of Zanu PF - which could make it an
uncomfortable partner for the MDC.
State editors want to gatecrash Swedish trip Itai
Dzamara STATE media editors were this week making last-minute attempts to
be included in the group of journalists leaving tomorrow for Sweden to
study the media framework there.
This came after Information minister
Jonathan Moyo had blocked journalists in the state media from going to
Sweden. Communications manager at the Swedish embassy Sizani Weza said Moyo
had issued a directive last week to reporters from the state media advising
that they shouldn't be part of the visit to Sweden.
journalists from the state media, one from ZBC and four from Zimpapers, had
been cleared by their editors to undertake the tour and had applied
for Swedish visas.
Kristina Svensson, Ambassador of Sweden to
Zimbabwe, confirmed this week that state-media journalists had withdrawn from
the study tour after receiving a directive from
However, through the Zimbabwe Association of Editors
(ZAE), formed earlier this year, state-media editors went to the Swedish
embassy this week asking to be included in the trip.
Mponda, the secretary-general of ZAE on Wednesday wrote to the Swedish
embassy in Harare saying: "After an executive meeting yesterday, it was
resolved that we should send two representatives to the study tour to Sweden
and the following will represent the Association - Willie
Mponda (secretary-general) (and) Remington Jari Jari (committee
The Swedish embassy in Harare has since responded to the
request by forwarding it to Stockholm for consideration. The state-media
editors are now unlikely to make it to Stockholm in the time
Asked whether their resolution to take part in the trip
would not jeopardise their relationship with Moyo, Muponda said: "What
politicians say does not affect our editorial decisions. We don't take
directives from politicians."
Forex parallel market was inevitable says
Robertson Ngoni Chanakira
AS business executives and politicians
skip the country before they are hauled before the courts facing charges of
trading on the foreign currency parallel market, economist John Robertson has
come out strongly in their support arguing government should shoulder a
bigger burden of the blame.
Robertson says the country's
hyperinflationary environment should also be taken into consideration because
it created impossible conditions for citizens engaged in normal business
"Falling foreign earnings and rising demand that was
sometimes exaggerated by acute scarcities caused inevitable increases in the
number of Zimbabwe dollars that buyers would be prepared to offer sellers of
foreign exchange," Robertson told business executives gathered in Harare
"In this way the parallel market became the only
functioning market for foreign exchange. Every importing company that
survived through the years from 2000 to 2003 came to depend upon money
sourced from the parallel market as none of them had the slightest prospect
of buying foreign exchange at the official rate from any licensed foreign
exchange dealer in the country."
He said every exporting company also
came to depend on the additional Zimbabwe dollars they could obtain by
trading part of their export proceeds at the rising parallel market
"In essence without the parallel market exchange rate, every
company producing commodities, goods or services for export would have been
forced into bankruptcy at some stage between 2000 and 2003," Robertson
His sentiments echo those of prominent lawyer and former
Minister of Justice, Advocate Chris Anderson who, when defending Telecel
Zimbabwe in its case on charges of breaching the country's foreign currency
regulations, said the company was doing business in good
"The state benefited in the sum of $24 billion and after this
it is now asking for a mandatory sentence to be imposed. How can this be
justified?" Anderson asked .
He however submitted that Telecel's
dealings on the parallel market were not because it was not aware of the law
but arose from foreign currency shortages.
Gono's policy changed
the face of the country's financial sector and sent shock waves within the
NMB Holdings bosses Julius Makoni, James Mushore, Otto
Chekeche and Francis Zimunya left the country before they were hauled before
the courts. So did Intermarket Holdings founder and chief executive officer
Nicholas Vingirai, Barbican Holdings boss Mthuli Ncube and, more recently,
Africa Resources chairman Mutumwa Mawere.
Already in the cells
awaiting their fate are Telecel chairman and Zanu PF politburo member James
Makamba and Finance and Economic Development minister Christopher
There have been widespread calls for an amnesty for those
caught on the wrong side of the exchange control rules and regulations
dealing with externalisation of the country's foreign exchange resources or
dealing on the illegal parallel market. In his monetary policy review in
April Gono said while the central bank had taken a "softer and more
understanding approach to parallel market transgressions" because of
circumstances prevailing before he took over office, he however rejected the
suggestion that a blanket amnesty be extended to those who externalised
foreign currency under one guise or the other.
"The granting of
any amnesty is the prerogative of the head of state and therefore such calls
for a reprieve should not be directed at the central bank as has been the
case recently," he said. He said law enforcement agents would still continue
to pursue and discharge their functions of investigating offenders under
their own enabling statutes and this should not be construed as the work or
initiation of the Reserve Bank.
President Robert Mugabe at several
gatherings has said no amnesty will be granted to wrong-doers because they
were saboteurs trying to destroy the economy to undermine his
government. He said the net would close in on all and sundry including
members of his cabinet.
Robertson however said because the
Zimbabwe dollar had not been permitted to float in response to domestic
inflation since the beginning of 1999, the official exchange rate soon became
a seriously misleading measure of the value of Zimbabwe's
"During the whole of 1999 and up to August 2000, and again
during the months from October 2000 to the end of 2003, the official exchange
rate was held at fixed levels that, because of inflation, soon bore no
relation to the real value of the currency," he said.
rate was about US$1: $38 from January 1999 to July 2000. It then moved to $53
in August and $55 in September where it stayed until the end of February
"Then the rate of $824 was adopted, but ostensibly only for
exporters," Robertson said. "Reserve Bank statements said that the official
rate remained at $55 to US$1 and this official position was maintained until
the Reserve Bank auction system started on January 12 2004."
said when the $824 rate was announced, the central bank gave an
assurance that it would be reviewed every quarter to prevent the need for
such harsh adjustments in the future.
"However, this undertaking
was not honoured," Robertson said. "Inflation continued to increase at an
accelerating rate and by the end of 2003 another significant increase was
He said there appeared to be an "unbelievable degree
of professional incompetence" among the authorities responsible for the
management of Zimbabwe's exchange rates.
"However, on closer
examination it has become evident that political control and interference in
financial matters has prevented the responsible Reserve Bank and government
officers from exercising their authority,"
"Inflation, generated by declining export revenues
and mounting shortages of imported goods and by huge deficits, placed
considerable pressure on the exchange rate of the Zimbabwe dollar. A basic
economic truism is that the domestic value of a currency and its value in
terms of the currencies of other countries must bear a mathematically defined
relationship. Any deviation from a logical correlation will lead to the
currency becoming over-valued or under-valued."
He said the
parallel foreign exchange market began to emerge while the fixed rate was
still at about US$1:$38.
He said by the time the currency auction
system was adopted in January the instability experienced in the banking
system in earlier weeks had led to the liquidation of some foreign currency
holdings as borrowers tried to repay high interest rate loans.
the country's inability to pay in advance for essential imports
caused increasingly disruptive and damaging shortages, importers had no
option but to offer attractive rates of exchange to any exporters,
tourists, cross-border traders, expatriates or currency traders who had
foreign exchange for sale," Robertson said.
"The emergence of the
parallel market on which these transactions were carried out soon came under
the regulatory forces of any open market. Set procedures were adopted and
respected by buyers and sellers, many of whom were introduced to one another
by the banks who were holding foreign currency accounts on behalf of clients
or assisting other clients with import advice and
Robertson pointed out that Air Zimbabwe, Noczim,
embassies, the United Nations, and even the RBZ, sourced money from the
parallel market and there was therefore no justification for penalising
bankers. "Government should accept full responsibility for the entirely
predictable behaviour patterns that emerged," he said. "Its own active
involvement in the parallel market was ample proof of the inadequacy of the
laid-down policy directives and the maintenance of these defective
measures year-after-year is proof of the incompetence of the
IT is now one year since President Thabo Mbeki assured the
international community there would be a solution to the Zimbabwe crisis
within a year. His officials underlined the June deadline in subsequent
That deadline has now arrived and Zimbabwe's crisis is
deepening by the week. There has been no progress on dialogue and no movement
by government to reform the lopsided electoral
President Mugabe's remarks during his recent Sky News
interview should have removed any doubts as to his indifference both to the
situation on the ground and to dialogue with the MDC.
visited Harare in December it was hoped that he had made some progress
towards engineering talks between the two political parties. There was an
assumption, which he fed in a number of statements, that a consensus was
emerging on the need for talks.
When German Chancellor Gerhard
Schroeder visited South Africa in January he was told talks were about to
begin. Speaking in Pietermaritzburg during the recent South African election
campaign, Mbeki said he envisaged parliamentary and presidential polls in
Zimbabwe taking place simultaneously.
Meanwhile, Zanu PF and the
MDC are worlds apart. Any hope of dialogue has been eclipsed by the ruling
party's preoccupation with winning the March election. There can be little
doubt that it will get its wish. Everything that was defective and biased in
the ruling party's favour in 2000 and 2002 is still in place. If anything its
in-built advantage has increased.
Skewed electoral laws are being
tightened to confine voter education to the Mugabe-appointed Electoral
Supervisory Commission. The voters' roll remains a closely guarded secret.
And Posa, which Mbeki assured the world would be repealed, is still very much
in evidence preventing opposition rallies and making their spokesmen liable
to prosecution for statements that would be considered normal discourse in an
election context. That will not of course deter Mugabe and his spokesmen from
saying what they like about the opposition! Voters will be unable to make
an informed choice given the state's monopoly of broadcasting and its closure
of popular newspapers.
A court case this week revealed how
individuals implicated in political murders in Buhera in 2000 had been
protected from prosecution for four years.
It is now over four
years since Mbeki became involved in the search for a solution to Zimbabwe's
problems at the Victoria Falls mini-summit in April 2000. It needs patience,
South African officials tell us. How much patience? Five years or ten?
Because what we have here, whatever the best intentions of Mbeki and his
officials, is a monumental failure of South African diplomacy. Other
presidents such as Bakili Muluzi of Malawi and Joachim Chissano of
Mozambique, who have been drawn in, have little to show except privately
Perhaps most disappointing for Zimbabweans
has been South Africa's abandonment of its regional commitment to human
rights, good governance and the rule of law. Mbeki's spokesmen have often
appeared to endorse misrule by claiming they were not going to "shout from
the rooftops". A simple statement of principle appears to be beyond
them. But what will Pretoria say of the March election: that it was
legitimate or free and fair when they know perfectly well it can't be when
the Sadc parliamentary forum's electoral standards are being studiously
Mbeki has said democratic elections are fundamental to
development. Mozambican leaders have said their new electoral law must be
acceptable to Renamo and not passed by a 51% Frelimo majority in parliament.
It is called consensus and it drives all successful societies.
it is wholly absent in Zimbabwe where an obdurate leader and his squabbling
subordinates are placing their own selfish needs above those of the nation.
The intention may be, 1980-style, to assert the electoral superiority of Zanu
PF and then seek to absorb what is left of the opposition. But having
deterred voters from exercising their democratic right and hijacked the
election there will be no national mood for that sort of
Zanu PF had a chance to mend the gaping fissures in the
fabric of the nation and chose instead to bludgeon the country into
submission. If South Africa endorses that, it should not be surprised when
Zimbabwe's crisis becomes its own.
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe and his plethora of obsequious
ministers who fawningly will do and say whatsoever he requires of them - in
particular the minister of fiction, fable and myth - habitually seek to blame
Zimbabwe's distraught economic conditions upon Britain's Prime Minister Tony
They also blame the hundreds of thousands of "Rhodies" - being
whites who emigrated from Zimbabwe during the years of the liberation
struggle, or over the 24 years since Independence. Some very necessarily
emigrated because their abhorrent and unacceptable racial beliefs would have
made life untenable in the independent Zimbabwe.
Many others had
little alternative but to emigrate, because the equally abhorrent and
unacceptable racism of the post-Independence regime rendered their lives
impossible, with the government promulgating oppressive and unjust laws to
deprive them of all, or virtually all, of their
Contrary to the state's false justifications
of the legislatively enabled, virtual "theft" of their farms, their homes,
their crops, their equipment and their livelihoods, most of them had invested
a lifetime of diligence, intense work and all capital they had. They did so
to develop and use those farms for not only their own benefit, but also the
support of more than 300 000 farm workers and their families, and as the
mainstay of the country's economy.
The government would have one
believe that there is no foundation to the contentions that reflect Zimbabwe
in a negative and adverse light. They wish all to believe that Zimbabwe is a
democratic state which preserves absolute law and order, pursues racial
harmony and reconciliation and wellbeing for all.
government, all suggestions to the contrary are not only devoid of fact, but
are the malicious and evil stratagems of Blair, the "Rhodies" and their
cronies, not only to denigrate Zimbabwe, but either to destroy it or assure
its recolonisation. And the government further claims that these virulent
enemies of Zimbabwe reinforce those actions against Zimbabwe by also
motivating the application of economic sanctions.
people dismiss these claims with the contempt they deserve, for evidence on
the ground is very pronounced as to the real reasons for the sad economic
plight that is Zimbabwe's lot. The evidence is equally manifest that, in
reality, almost all Zimbabwe's economic ills can be laid fairly and squarely
at the feet of Zimbabwe's government.
It is the government's
ill-advised, destructive policies that are the principal causes of the
economic malaise that afflicts Zimbabwe. It is also those policies, and
concomitant actions, that have given Zimbabwe its appallingly bad
international image, and it is that image that is the main deterrent to
foreign direct investment into Zimbabwe, to trade growth and to the
considerable touristic patronage which Zimbabwe would otherwise
However, the astounding development a fortnight ago was that
when Mugabe surprisingly accorded Sky News an exclusive interview, much of
what he said corroborated many of the allegations that are the foundation of
Zimbabwe's loathsome image abroad. Certainly it was not his intent to provide
such corroboration, but provide it he did.
The number of times
that he did so in the interview was great, but a few examples should suffice
to make the point. On the issue of whether or not the 2002 presidential
election was free and fair, the Sky News interviewer, Stuart Ramsay,
suggested that there were significant irregularities, such as the closure of
polling stations before many had been able to vote, confused voters' rolls,
and the like. The president's response was: "Sure, there might have been
hitches here and there and there are always hitches, not just here but even
in democratic countries."
Usage of the word "even" was extremely
telling, for effectively the President was, for the first time, acknowledging
that Zimbabwe is not a democratic country. And the absence of democracy is a
significant factor which discourages donor development funding, investment
and trade. Ramsay pursued the electoral issue further, stating that "one of
the concerns of the international community . . . has been the level
of political violence . . . ". The presidential response was not to deny
such violence. He did not suggest that the guardians of law in Zimbabwe
strive to prevent or, at least, contain political violence. Instead, he
impliedly admitted to that violence, and on the part of the political party
led by him, for he said to Ramsay: "You are just looking at violence,
alleged violence affecting Zanu PF. What about the other side . . .
Apparently, he felt he had not sufficiently acknowledged the
extent of the violence and the lawlessness in Zimbabwe for, when Ramsay said
that he had "met people who have been beaten and they say they are beaten for
putting out leaflets calling for industrial action", the President did not
deny such acts. Instead, he sought to justify them by saying: "But you will
get those actions even in Britain".
Most viewers were undoubtedly
conscious of the spuriousness of that statement, and instead received
reaffirmation that Zimbabwe's government saw nothing wrong when violence is
wrought against those that differ with it.
The interview also focused
upon Zimbabwe's impending food crisis. Despite the fact that the World Food
Programme says that urban food shortages are approaching critical levels, and
despite the fact that a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
memorandum says that the tonnages projected by the Zimbabwean government crop
assessment cannot possibly be realised, and that the estimates are completely
impossible of materialising, the President was adamant to the
The evidence of impending disaster is incontrovertible, but
the President chose to ignore the evidence, and instead to believe the
estimates. Has there been a single instance in the last five years that the
Ministry of Agriculture has been able to issue a correct crop assessment? No!
The president not only claimed that there would be enough food this year to
feed all, but went as far as to claim that there would be a
surplus! Unfortunately, Zimbabwe's far-mers, indigenous and the few remaining
white farmers and the populace know otherwise. So too do leading,
authoritative international organisations, donor states and
With that knowledge is the recognition that the food crisis,
when it occurs, will impact very markedly upon the economy. Addressing the
crisis, without the cavalierly rejected international humanitarian aid, will
place an immense burden upon the exchequer. It will heavily drain Zimbabwe's
scarce foreign currency resource. It will fuel inflation, negating much of
the achievements of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono. And the tourist does
not wish to come face to face with intense poverty, hardship and
Still on the issue of agriculture, the President claimed that
Zimbabwe has "an agricultural system second to none in Africa". When tobacco
production has fallen by over 60% in three years, grain production has fallen
by 75% in the same period and thousands of farms have been vandalised and
decimated, such a statement defies belief. And the results of such disbelief
include yet further losses of confidence in the economy and in the
government's ability to run it. The reluctance to accept realities was
further demonstrated when the President said: "The whites who were here were
mere actor farmers, ill-educated and we brought in a system which is much
more enlightened than the system they had."
It was those whites
or, more correctly, their antecedents, who 100 years ago turned uncultivated,
unutilised lands into flourishing fields. They were the ones who developed
agriculture to an extent that it fully fed Zimbabwe, exported to the region
and earned much of the country's foreign
And it is those whites who are now being
welcomed with open arms by Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria
and elsewhere. Are all those countries wrong, and only Zimbabwe right? Surely
These and many other responses by the President to Sky News
served directly and indirectly to confirm the poor impressions much of the
world has of Zimbabwe, its economy and its lack of adherence to fundamental
principles of human rights and good governance. The interview showed beyond
doubt that, unfortunately, Zimbabwe's bad image internationally is
self-created, no matter how much Zimbabwe may like to pretend otherwise. And
until Zimbabwe recognises that reality, and does something about it, the
economy will continue to head downwards.
"A BIG yawn" is the best way to describe what was billed as "an
exclusive interview with President Robert Mugabe" by Newsnet on Monday
night. We thought it would be something to match the Sky News interview
Mugabe had last week. Instead it was one of those dull "specials" that
Newsnet churns out after a free ride with the president. The only thing that
turned out to be exclusive was that the interview was conducted on a plane
somewhere between Addis Ababa and Cairo.
But how can one have an
"exclusive interview" that has no questions? It appears Reuben Barwe was
doing his voice-overs somewhere on board while Mugabe was having a quiet
monologue on his own in another part of the plane. It was difficult to tell
what question, if any, Mugabe was responding to as he rambled
We thought the president would be tackled on the serious problems
facing Zimbabwe. That he would give a feisty defence of his disastrous
policies. Instead he went on and on about the AU security
The only useful disclosure was that the general election will
be held as scheduled in March and that there will be primaries for all
aspiring Zanu PF candidates.
It would be useful to hear from ZBC
viewers how they think they benefited from the interview. Because, to put it
bluntly, it was a complete waste of time. Is this really how Mugabe wants to
be remembered in his twilight years? Is this the much-vaunted "national"
response to Sky News: a dysfunctional, meandering private discourse free of
challenge or relevance? Is this Zimbabwe's Al Jazeera?
Do we recall
Mugabe saying recently that he doesn't read any media except the Herald? If
that's true, we pity him. The Herald can never say anything now unless it
bears Jonathan Moyo's imprint. Which is to say the paper looks as if it is
being increasingly used to fight the minister's political battles. These
in most cases have nothing to do with the so-called national interest or
sovereignty but everything to do with personal advancement.
media attacks have been directed at old-guard nationalists who have been with
Mugabe since the days of the liberation war such as Joseph Msika, John Nkomo
and Nathan Shamuyarira.
In Msika's case we all know the gripe is over
Kondozi Farm. When government talked about a one-man one-farm policy we
didn't think that in the end a parastatal such as the inept Agricultural and
Rural Development Authority would turn out to be a beneficiary. Why should it
be allocated land ahead of the needy?
It is difficult not to feel just
a little sorry for Dr David Nyekorach-Matsanga who was unceremoniously
bundled out of Harare airport recently when he tried to visit the country.
The former Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army spokesman had no difficulty getting
in on previous occasions.
Matsanga was instrumental in securing
approval for the Sky News team's documentary on Zimbabwe and subsequent
presidential interview which seems to have annoyed the hell out of the
ministerial Big Head who has appointed himself Chief Gate-Keeper to the
nation's highest office. (That is of course in addition to doubling up as
Minister of Justice, Attorney-General, Police Commissioner, Minister of Home
Affairs, Minister of Agriculture.)
The message sent to Matsanga in
the departure lounge was unambiguous: "I am the only authorised gate-keeper
around here. By applying elsewhere you have questioned my immense authority
over the media and dared to challenge my growing monopoly on
We hold no brief for Matsanga. He was an uncritical admirer
of the regime that has now spat him out. And he was a virulent critic of the
independent press. But the manner of his going has illustrated as nothing
else could the abuse of power that is taking place by those who deal in state
retribution. Because he didn't genuflect before the Big-Headed one and
instead approached his ostensibly senior party colleague, he has paid the
Forget his unyielding loyalty to the throne; he defied the
Gate-Keeper and thereby exposed the president to a hostile interview. Never
mind the mantra that the president is his own best spokesman. That claim has
been abandoned now in favour of the fawning interview by approved eunuchs of
the Newsnet court who invite their subject to share with viewers his
Matsanga has achieved a small measure of revenge
for his humiliation by circulating as widely as possible an e-mail attack
upon his present nemesis that is typically as wild and defamatory as its
recipient can be. Nobody will profit from that sort of exchange. They deserve
But we will be interested to see what sort of
"researcher" Matsanga turns out to be when he produces the evidence he now
says he is hunting down. Muckraker is sceptical. This could be another Kenyan
project that turns out to be less than enlightening!
Readers who may
be wondering why the Sunday Mail's Lowani Ndlovu sounds suspiciously similar
to Nathaniel Manheru were given a clue last Sunday as to where this
mendacious defence of political delinquents is really coming from. Ndlovu
accused the Independent's editor of using his newspaper "to publish patently
defamatory words like 'immoral little boys' in reference to some cabinet
ministers whose only sin was to stand by government's policy and decision to
evict (Piet) de Klerk from Kondozi."
So where a vice-president uses
those words in an interview, the Independent is forbidden to use them in case
they apply to "some cabinet ministers"? What form of new censorship is this,
where a newspaper is not allowed to publish an interview with the nation's
vice-president because state newspaper columnists, clearly reflecting the
views of their over-ambitious handlers, say so?
And who could John
Nkomo be thinking of when he told the Independent last week that aspiring
ruling party MPs should not be allowed to claim a constituency without the
preliminary consultative procedures being followed? Should we have spiked
that interview as well?
Ndlovu seems to think that Nkomo misled the
public when he said he had not signed any letters reversing so-called land
reform. He said Nkomo's denial was "unconvincing" because there was a
"well-orchestrated diabolical and thus systematic effort to reverse the land
reform" by bureaucrats "against the backdrop of political inaction by those
who should politically supervise the bureaucracy".
But he didn't
give a single example of a new farmer who had been evicted. Nor one white
farmer who has been given back his farm illegally. Why are Ndlovu's so-called
new farmers being evicted so craven that they will not come out in the open
and be identified by name? Are these the same brave soldiers who reportedly
spearheaded the so-called Third Chimurenga and are always threatening to go
back to the bush to defend land reform, we wonder?
Ndlovu last week
suggested we had described all photos of British and American soldiers
brutalising Iraqis as fakes.
The only ones we branded as fakes were
those that turned out to be fakes.
But whatever the facts, Lying
Lowani is obliged to distort them. BBC claims of torture and rape at youth
training centres turned out to be "totally false", we are
Really? And what about all the other documented cases of
torture and rape since 2000? Are they "totally false" as well?
latest Amnesty International report is very clear. "There was an escalation
in state-sponsored attacks on critics of the government, particularly
supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change," it states. "The
perpetrators of human rights violations continued to enjoy impunity and
allegations against state agents remained without investigation."
done to Sunday Mail reporter Andrew Ncube. He was able to defend himself
recently by using his karate skills, the newspaper reported
last weekend. Ncube was returning to town from the university when he was
set upon by a gang of thugs. They grabbed him by his belt and then cut it
with a knife. But he was able to frighten them off.
"They used a
knife to cut my belt," he said. "I don't know what they wanted to do but I
think I saved my life by demonstrating my karate skills." But this was not
before they had searched his pockets and removed his money, his ID card, ATM
card and cash, the paper reported.
No doubt next time Andrew will
remember to demonstrate his skills at an earlier stage of the
Joseph Chinotimba said this week unless John Nkomo "comes
out in the open and acts like a minister" - that is bows to the wishes of the
war veterans - they will be forced to wear their straw hats once
The Herald translated this as a reference to the farm
occupations of 2000.
Instead of wearing his straw hat once again and
threatening government officials or the tiny handful of white farmers who are
still left on the land, why doesn't Joseph Chinotimba try and win a
That would show he can do something other than
being an overpaid municipal policeman and general Zanu PF enforcer!
Zimbabwe spends US$79,5m on fuel Ngoni
Chanakira RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono, once the country's
major fuel deal broker, says the country has so far spent US$79,5 million
The cash was raised from the weekly foreign currency
auctions held by the central bank on Mondays and Thursdays.
said this was against exchange control approvals for fuel for the period
January 8 to May 27, amounting to US$115 million.
In an exclusive
interview with businessdigest on Friday Gono said most of the foreign
currency had been allocated to traditional fuel importer BP and Shell who
received US$6,5 million from the amount which is 12,9% of the total
proportion allocated by the central bank.
Following closely behind BP
and Shell is Country Petroleum, which has received US$4,1 million from the
central bank, which is 8,3% of the total figure.
currently 46 major fuel importers in Zimbabwe that benefit from the RBZ's
Zimbabwe has been facing a serious fuel crisis
resulting in kilometres of queues springing up
However the fuel situation has improved a little but
prices have been increased for the product.
"With the new auction
system that we introduced in January it seems the fuel situation has
improved," Gono told businessdigest. "Cumulatively, a total of US$50,2
million was allotted at the auction so far for the importation of fuel and
other petroleum products such as oils, gas, paraffin and lubricants, since
the inception of the auction on January 12. The total amount allocated for
fuel at the auction represents 17,8% of the total amount allotted through the
auction of US$282,9 million as at May 27."
He said other transactions
for which foreign currency was being dished out by the central bank included
pharmaceuticals, maize, seeds, aircraft and freight.
chief executive officer of the Jewel Bank, has been at the centre of fuel
negotiations with his institution bankrolling deals by organising off-shore
funding for the commodity especially from Kuwait.
banker also facilitated trade deals between Zimbabwe and Malaysia,
culminating in the latter agreeing to accept local currency in payment for
Gono said in Auction 38, which was the last auction held at
the time of the interview, oil companies submitted bids valued at US$3
He said this together with the amount allotted through the
auction brought the total amount of foreign exchange which went towards the
importation of fuel to US$79,5 million.
Fuel importers who
benefited from Auction 38 were Mobil Zimbabwe (US$764 000), BP and Shell
(US$679 508), Wonder Petroleum (US$177 724), Caltex (US$125 226), FSI Trading
(US$95 179), Mberengwa Enterprises (US$58 850), Fylke Trading (US$45 486),
Velvet (US$17 903) and Wedzera (US$11 009).
Price controls set to return Shakeman
Mugari GOVERNMENT is planning to bring back price controls in an effort to
stop the sudden surge in basic commodity prices.
The Ministry of
Industry and International Trade is understood to be compiling a list of
basic commodities whose controlled prices would be gazetted in the near
future, sources in the ministry's consumer relations department
The decision comes on the back of drastic increases slapped on
commodities by retailers and manufacturers in an effort to remain
The consumer affairs department of the ministry has been directed
by the minister to carry out an urgent price study that would culminate in
the gazetting of the controlled prices.
Commodities on the
controlled price list would include bread, cooking oil, maize meal, baby
food, and milk.
Sources in the department said agricultural
essentials would also be included on the list.
unconfirmed speculation in political circles that government also plans to
use the price controls as a campaign to spruce up its image ahead of next
year's parliamentary election.
Government has over the past month
insisted that the price of basic commodities must come down in tandem with
the inflation rate which has been slowing down.
In defiance of
government's directive, industry has however increased the price of
commodities by between 12% and 25%, a move that has angered
The transport industry has since increased fares,
ostensibly to cover the cost of fuel and spare parts.
government has however vowed to crackdown on commuter operators that charge
The Acting Minister of Industry and International
Trade Olivia Muchena could not give further details saying she was "only an
"We have not discussed the issue of price controls
at the moment. In any case I am only an acting minister. I would not have the
actual details. Why don't you speak to the NECF, they held a discussion on
that issue," said Muchena.
In an effort to gather public views on
the price increases the National Economic Consultative Forum, which has
strong links to the industry and trade ministry, last week organised an
urgent meeting to discuss the pricing issue.
The controls are
likely to witness a repeat of what happened two years ago when government
introduced wide-ranging controls resulting in serious
In response retailers withdrew the controlled
commodities from the shelves - giving rise to the black
The controls were however lifted last year following an
outcry from industrialists.
Exchange rate needs reviewing, says parliamentary
committee Staff Writers THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign
Affairs, Industry and International Trade has described the stipulated 25%
taken by government on foreign currency earnings as a "disincentive" to
In a report tabled in parliament recently, the committee said
the current exchange rate should be reviewed upwards to benefit exporters and
that the time-frame for foreign currency usage should be
The committee said the time-frame should be revised from the
current 30 days to 45 or 60 days.
"While the foreign currency
auction system introduced by the Reserve Bank has made forex easily
available," the committee said in its report, "it has been observed that the
25% at US$1: Z$824 acts as a disincentive to exporters as profit margins are
almost eroded by this arrangement."
The committee said an industrial
and export strategy should be established through the introduction of export
credit facilities and guarantees which should be closely monitored to avoid
leakages into other markets other than in export production.
committee said convergence of exchange rates should be managed according to
terms of trade fundamentals with key trading regional markets.
recommended that government should put in place measures that would see the
re-entrance of foreign investors who were continuing to leave the country in
"Those foreign investors from friendly countries and
technology (should) be mobilised for investment in existing and new
capacity," the committee said.
The export incentives that were introduced
by the Reserve Bank have been criticised for not restoring profitability but
only reducing the amount of losses that were being made by
Economic analysts said individuals were under the
impression that exporters were making vast amounts of profits by virtue of
their previous realisation on the parallel market yet in practice exporters
were subjected to huge cost increases for a very long time.
said there was need to boost the country's image as an attractive investment
destination for foreign investors who could come in as
"There should be a deliberate effort by the
government to ensure adherence to transparency and accountability and should
show a credible commitment to fight against corruption and enhancement
opportunities for support regionally and internationally," the committee
The committee, after consultations with key stakeholders,
agreed to tackle, among other challenges, the interest and exchange rate
distortions in the economy and persistent high government budget
It admitted that strained relations with some countries and
the international donor and financial community were working against efforts
to revive the struggling economy. -
RBZ our parastatal, says Chapfika Ngoni
Chanakira THE Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development David
Chapfika yesterday said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is similar to a
government parastatal because it simply carries out decisions made by his
Chapfika said the central bank simply implemented financial
policies that had been made by the ministry in general and government in
He said the RBZ was similar to the Grain Marketing Board and
the Agricultural Rural Development Authority, which took instructions from
the Ministry of Agriculture.
The sentiments come as observers have
expressed concern about the country's financial state of affairs, saying
while the central bank was trying its best to shore up the struggling
economy, the Finance ministry was busy allowing government to gobble
They have said unless the fiscal policy works hand in glove
with the RBZ's monetary policy the economy will not get back to its 1980-1985
levels when it was one of the most vibrant in the region.
said while the national budget was currently under control, he could not rule
out supplementary budgets, which have continued to burst the nation's
"We might have emergencies so we cannot rule out
supplementary budgets," he said.
Election could slow down recovery Shakeman
Mugari JUST when government thought the ailing economy was improving,
analysts warn that the impending election period could worsen the situation
and scuttle claims of an imminent recovery.
They say that Zimbabwe's
negative international image could deteriorate further if the past election
experience is anything to go by.
The analysts note that violence, a
crackdown on opposition supporters and fears of vote rigging could dampen
hopes of economic prosperity together with unbudgeted
Political commentator Brian Kagoro said the current
electoral framework creates a platform for intimidation and violence during
the election period.
"The commotion usually associated with
Zimbabwean elections will put pressure on the economy. The political impasse
is already damaging the economy. An election marred by violence, intimidation
and allegations of rigging will kill it," said Kagoro.
depends on the outcome of the elections. The electoral framework, if not
changed, will worsen the economic situation. It could mean more violence,
intimidation and even rigging - all of which will damage
Experts warn that investors' perceptions about
Zimbabwe are likely to deteriorate as government embarks on efforts to
intimidate the opposition, media and civic organisations.
the stage for another economic depression has already been set by events in
recent by-elections in Zengeza and Lupane, which were largely marred by
Zimbabweans in the diaspora are very reluctant to
repatriate their money, saying the economic climate is unstable and they are
not guaranteed political and economic security back home.
say the outcome of the elections could also have a telling impact on the
They say a dark cloud will continue to hover over the
country if observers feel the elections were not free and
Previously the international community has disputed results,
saying the elections were not free and fair. This has resulted in Zimbabwe
being isolated from international forums and having credit lines
"If the international community think the election is not
free and fair then our plight could worsen," Kagoro said. "The history of
elections in Zimbabwe is not encouraging at all. The outcome of the elections
will also determine the fortunes of the economy."
been in a self-congratulatory mood over signs of recovery since the
appointment of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono.
Gono has tried to
kick-start the ailing economy with his new monetary
Analysts however point out that this alone
cannot do the trick and political goodwill is needed to accompany the
monetary policy statement.
These marginal gains, political and
economic experts say, could however be reversed by a marred
Companies too are more likely to take a cautious stance
towards production as we approach the elections.
the business community could lead to reduced domestic investment and
Tourism, which used to be one of the major foreign
currency earners, is likely to ground to a halt if violence erupts again
during election time. History has shown that the post-election period also
offers no respite for the tourism industry.
The farm invasions
that were rampant during the peak of the fast track land resettlement
programme have caused a dip in tourism figures.
tourists now regard Zimbabwe as a very risky destination.
tourism industry is still in the doldrums due to the country's
bad international image. The coming elections could certainly see a dip in
the industry," said a tourism executive.
"The general attitude
internationally is that elections in Zimbabwe are characterised by political
violence. This perception could certainly be with us during the next
As Zimbabwe draws closer to the election, which promises
another gruelling battle between the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) and Zanu PF, daggers have already been drawn.
Zimbabwean dollar has depreciated against major international currencies such
as the United States dollar, British pound, Botswana pula and the
South African rand.
During the week ending April 8 for example,
the Zimbabwe dollar depreciated by 1,2% against the US dollar. It also
depreciated by between 0,1% and 3,1% against other major
The depreciation has also caused gradual fuel price
increases and the sudden hiking of commuter fares.
production costs have also skyrocketed and, according to analysts, will keep
increasing unless economic prospects improve.
John Robertson says inflation will increase to 600% by the end of 2004,
casting doubt on the Reserve Bank's optimistic projection of 200% by
Robertson says the Zimbabwe dollar will plunge to an
unprecedented US$1:$18 000 during the same period.
He has also
warned of serious food and foreign currency shortages during the second half
of the year.
Robertson said the election period would lead to more
"The elections will have a tremendous impact on
investment. We must realise that the damage caused by the last elections is
still with us," Robertson said.
"I can foresee a serious food and
forex shortage. If things get worse in terms of political violence business
might grind to a halt."
The prices of basic commodities recently also
shot up drastically.
Bakers have however justified the bread increase
saying they are importing wheat.
Last year Zimbabwe only managed
to produce four months worth of wheat and bakers have now had to supplement
this with regional imports.
"Things will get worse before they get
better," Robertson said.
RECENT revelations by the state-controlled media that some
newly-resettled farmers are being evicted to pave way for original white
farmers are further proof of the chaos and confusion that have characterised
this Zanu PF land reform programme from the start.
Despite attempts by
the Herald and the Sunday Mail to place the blame on the doorsteps of a few
individuals in the Ministry of Lands, we all know that this so-called Third
Chimurenga has been a tale of madness from the moment Zanu PF-hired thugs
masquerading as war veterans were allowed to cause havoc on the white-owned
farms soon after the February 2000 referendum.
It is now all too easy
for the shallow-minded scribes at Zimpapers to sympathise with a handful of
unfortunate resettled farmers who are now losing "their" farms after
investing a lot of money and energy on them in the past two years, yet the
same sympathy was never extended to the white farmers who were forced to
leave their farms and many years' worth of hard labour and
I hold no brief for white farmers because I know none
personally, and I don't have any grudge against genuine war veterans (my
father was one - God bless his soul), but I believe it makes a mockery of our
political system to have important government policies made from the
rumblings of illiterate and uneducated clowns like Joseph Chinotimba whose
only academic cap he has ever worn in his life is a straw
AM I being unduly pessimistic in forecasting that the "economic
recovery" now under way, according to Zanu PF praise singers, will be as
illusory as the previously much-touted "tourism recovery?"
I have just
returned from a brief visit to Victoria Falls. The town is a virtual ghost
town as far as international visitors is concerned.
Almost half of
the recently re-opened Elephant Hills Hotel is in "mothballs" and its
occupancy rate is perhaps 10%.
On one day last week, I was told that
only one person was checking into the hotel on that day.
the restaurant one evening I witnessed the Ndebele traditional dance group
performing for an audience of two diners (not counting the
I visited the Kingdom Hotel twice in the early
evening. On both occasions the casino area was completely empty and the
number of people dining could be counted on the fingers of one
The same story was repeated at the Victoria Falls Hotel. Its
famous verandah, with its magnificent view, had not even a solitary guest
partaking of a sundowner.
Viewing the incredible Falls was as
always, awe inspiring. But I doubt that there were more than a couple of
international visitors sharing the experience during the time I was
The simple fact remains that neither a tourism recovery nor an
economic recovery will take place until there is a return to good governance
- governance that respects the rule of law, respects property rights,
respects universal democratic values, is free of violence and free of human
The sooner this happens the better for all
Zimbabweans, but it won't happen unless people work positively for such
Those who assist in the propping up of the present regime
which has inflicted such damage on the country are merely prolonging and
worsening our suffering.
to President Mugabe's statement at Independence celebrations this year
regarding anyone having any grievances on land to write in, he was referring
to the whites who have left and are now post delivery men and milkmen in New
Zealand, Australia and the UK.
In 1980 a lot of Zimbabweans bought land
and developed it. This was not given by the colonial powers. It took years to
pay installments and develop the land which was bought through the then
Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC), now Agribank.
was available to every race - blacks/whites/coloured - and some of the white
farmers' neighbours were blacks who bought land in the same areas.
have had land seized from whites only and the excuse - we stole it from the
blacks! My neighbours are still there and I have kept in touch
Why were our yearly installments accepted if this was
the case and the agreements not cancelled in 1980? I made payments for four
years during the Smith regime and 16 to the present
Why did the present government accept my payments after
Some of the younger generation were only born in the 70s and
had put everything into their farms only to have it taken away in the prime
of their lives. They didn't even know anything about colonial
This makes one recall President Mugabe's speech back in 1980 at
Cooksey Hall in Chinhoyi. After listening to the president speaking we
thought we had been wrong about him and gave him a standing
I purchased the book Mugabe by David Smith and Colin Simpson
(1980) and still have it in my possession. President Mugabe stated he would
not interfere with property, see pages 169, 197 and 206.
subordinates were still grabbing farms as of May 20 - some in their names and
one or two in their wives' names. These could be named
My grandparents ran a trading store in Zvimba
(Chikaka Store) close to Kutama Mission and several Italian fathers and nuns
used to visit quite regularly. They also ran a dispensary at Chikaka store on
behalf of the mission for minor ailments and treatment to spare the community
having to walk about 20km back to the mission. This was done as a community
service for no charge. My grandmother was a German nurse.
no intention of leaving Zimbabwe, having lost three ranches and the cropping
farm to resettlement exercises.
I cannot find a job as a milk or post
delivery man in Chinhoyi as there is no milk and the average person cannot
afford the postal service charges, let alone the envelopes.
posted four letters three months ago to New Zealand, the US, Australia and
Canada at an average of $10 400 per letter, not one has reached its
destination. Possibly our ex-Zimbabweans haven't delivered them yet or kept
Thought control Iden
Wetherell ALARM bells started ringing this week with reports that the state
was attempting to oblige Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to divulge details
of mailings deemed objectionable or dangerous.
The requirement is
contained in a proposed addendum to providers' franchise contracts sent out
by Tel*One with whom ISPs are tied by the umbilical cord of fixed-line
Zispa, the local association of ISPs, has correctly
pointed out that it is not their function to police the Internet. Nor would
it be practical to do so. They cannot be expected to store the thousands of
mailings they handle every day.
They would be obliged, the
addendum says, to provide tracing facilities of messages to Tel*One or
government officials where such information is required for investigation of
a crime or in the interests of national security. There is also reference to
the enforcement of "cyberlaws".
The use of networks for
"anti-national activities" would be an offence, it says.
wording would indicate where this is coming from. The move reflects
a heightening of the paranoia felt in the upper echelons of power.
President Mugabe and his advisors, instead of regarding the Internet as an
instrument of knowledge and freedom, see it as a tool of
Speaking at a conference on the information
super-highway in Geneva last year, Mugabe described the Internet as a tool
used by "a few countries... in quest of global dominance and
Only China, North Korea, Burma and Cuba, as far as I know,
restrict Internet access. Most governments sensibly regard it as undesirable
to do so except where individuals have broken the law, for instance regarding
child pornography. But I can understand the authorities here seeing it as
a dangerous ally of the democratic forces. It is already an offence
in Zimbabwe to engender hostility towards the president. That, we
argue, unfairly protects Mugabe from legitimate criticism when he is at the
centre of national debate.
Zimbabweans use the Internet to
communicate with each other both at home and in the diaspora. Websites abound
providing news and views that are accessed by thousands of people every day.
This newspaper was the first to go online in 1996. A significant proportion
of our readers access our pages via the Internet and we can receive detailed
breakdowns of how many people, and where, are looking at specific
But it is not so much newspapers that government - or its
wholly owned telecoms company - is seeking to regulate by its latest move. It
is the websites and mailings of Zimbabweans in the democratic movement who
are telling the real "Zimbabwean story". The authorities have made no
secret, for instance, of their desire to locate the people behind Zvakwana,
a popular site that advances democratic ideas and reports on the activities
of the civic sector.
In forcing ISPs to provide details of
mailings, the authorities are attemptinto circumvent a Supreme Court ruling
in March which struck down clauses in the Post and Telecommunications
Services Act (Potsa) that authorised the state to give orders to intercept
postal articles and messages.
The Law Society of Zimbabwe had in
2003 sought a ruling on the constitutionality of the provisions. In their
judgement the Chief Justice and his colleagues, after nearly a year of
deliberation, decided that the sections of Potsa that authorised such
interceptions were null and void because they interfered with the right to
Zispa has asked Tel*One to clarify its request which is
currently couched in woolly terms. (What for instance is "anti-national":
Zanu PF's depredations or democratic discourse?) ISPs have said they are
prepared to cooperate with authorities in investigations into such legitimate
concerns as terrorism or where a specific crime has been committed. But they
would quickly forfeit the confidence of their clients if they became snoops
for the government which, despite its boasts of political mastery, appears
more insecure by the day.
Why should the onus of monitoring
e-mails be placed on ISPs who in any case do not have the capacity or
resources to do so? Requirements regarding the enforcement of "cyberlaws" are
poorly thought out. There is no international agreement on regulation of
copyright. The latest David Bowie release, for instance, can be legally
downloaded. Many other MP3 files can't.
Because of zero public
confidence in the state broadcaster, Internet usage in Zimbabwe is relatively
high. There were as many as 100 000 registered users in 2002. There will be a
lot more today.
Attempts to clamp down on ISPs in the hope of
containing dissent can be linked to the bid by officials in the Information
department of the Office of the President to cultivate alliances with state
media outlets in the region and thus lessen dependence on Western sources. We
saw a result of that policy this week with a glowing account of Swapo's
choice of candidate to succeed Sam Nujoma as president of Namibia. There was
much talk of "safe hands". We can expect more of this sunshine journalism in
Which is why people will turn to the Internet and to
Zimbabwe-focused broadcasters overseas. Zimbabweans are hungry for news. And
they are fed up with being told what wonderful leaders they have when living
standards have plunged to pre-1975 levels.
If their experience on
the ground does not match the claims being made by their leaders and their
captive press a credibility gap is bound to emerge. No amount of
panel-beating and Pollyanna perspectives can satisfy that desire for
information that is accurate and timely.
Dinosaur regimes which
believe they can extend their tenure on power by muzzling news outlets like
the Internet or making others such as ISPs do their dirty work of policing
political messages are bound to fail. News can no longer be so easily
That is one of the admittedly problematic facts of the
world we live in. And the sooner this government comes to terms with it the