The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing views, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

Zimbabwe & Cricket

This might be of interest. The ICC response to the article below is:
"The ICC welcomed the decision of the Sports and Recreation Ministry to appoint an interim committee to run ZC and we also accepted as a sensible step the decision of ZC to step back from Test cricket later that same month.  Such a decision allows the country's young players to develop away from the extreme pressure of that level while, at the same time, affording the administration the opportunity to resolve several key issues facing it.  Those issues include the completion of a new constitution and an independent audit of its finances.
"We will continue to monitor the progress of ZC to address these issues but it is not the ICC's role to interfere in the running of the administration of a Member, although we will, as always, be happy to offer any assistance if requested to do so by that administration."
Here is the article:-

Former board president slams Chingoka regime
Cricinfo staff
June 6, 2006
Dave Ellman-Brown, the former president and later chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union, has added his voice to those criticising the current Zimbabwe cricket leadership which opponents claim has taken the game to the blink of oblivion.
Ellman-Brown, who is now the re-branded ZC life-president, said the game in Zimbabwe has continued to sink since the interim board was given the reins in January.
"I am extremely disappointed with what has happened since the SRC decided to appoint an interim committee which had question marks," he Cricinfo. "Now they have disbanded old provinces and set-up new ten ones. I don't believe what happened was legal. The provinces are affiliated to ZC but they are independent associations with their own assets. But by the stroke of a pen ZC, went ahead and disbanded them. We are still to see genuine forensic audit of Mashonaland. We won't see that because they no longer exist. That to me is very depressing."
Ellman-Brown expressed reservations about the source of funding for the new provinces at a time the national association is in a deep financial crisis. "Who's going to fund these provinces? Where is the money going to come from? I can't see it."
He said the former administrators had not been consulted by the Peter Chingoka-leadership since the problems in cricket worsened. "I have never been consulted by Chingoka," he remarked. "We've asked if we could meet with him to discuss matters of general concern. He refused to meet us. We were worried about matters of general issues, about the captaincy, about players leaving, and about other issues. It was in the best interest of cricket why we wanted to see him."
Ellman-Brown added that if the present leadership stays on for two more months, he believes Zimbabwean cricket will be damaged beyond restructuring.
"I believe they have been successful in destroying the game in Zimbabwe. You can't blame it on anything. You can't say its racism. You can't say its elitism. You can't say all those people who have left, both black and white, do not have genuine grievances."
The elimination process by ZC, Ellman-Brown said, had reached a point of no return. "ZC is just manipulating so that they will have people around them who won't criticize them. Anyone with different views to Chingoka and Bvute will go. I do not think the ICC has been strong enough. They have to step in and put corrective measures."
Ellman-Brown also slammed the new format which will domestic cricket run from January to the penultimate months of the year. "In the southern hemisphere, we play in summer. In winter we tour, or players go overseas. For what good reason has this format been introduced?"
He concluded: "I think this regime has got to disappear. They no longer have the respect of anyone. The sponsors have deserted them. In our days we had a lot of corporate support because the sponsors believed in the administration. Cricket is in the hands of people who are not worthy administrators."

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Makwavarara set to get the boot>

By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 06/07/2006 14:49:24
SEKESAI Makwavarara and her fellow commissioners running the Harare City Council are set to get the boot when their term of office expires Friday, New has learnt.
After presiding over a period marred by unprecedented poor service delivery, the commissioners have become "sitting ducks" and the government will have no justification keeping them, sources said Wednesday.
Sources said Makwavarara’s tenure would not be extended on the strength of her extravagance that saw her moving into the controversial mayoral mansion despite a court injunction obtained by former mayor Elias Mudzuri.
Makwavarara who has been unusually targeted for criticism by the state-run Herald newspaper has also made demands for billions of dollars to furnish the mansion as well as splashing millions of dollars on groceries without getting the commission’s approval.
Makwavarara's commission has also been placed under probe by the anti Corruption Commission.
Zanu PF insiders said Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo intends to give the top Harare post to perennial Zanu PF election loser and politburo member Tendai Savanhu.
They, however, added that the ruling party’s two rival factions, one loyal to Vice President Joice Mujuru and the other to Emmerson Mnangagwa were pushing for their favoured candidates.
Elections for Harare were supposed to be held this year, but Chombo last year announced that they would now be held in 2007. Opposition officials say Zanu PF fears defeat in Harare, a major opposition stronghold.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) recently announced the opening of the inspection of the voters roll for Kadoma and Chitungwiza mayoral elections but was mum on Harare.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Short lives lead to short-term goals in Zimbabwe

Christian Science Monitor

The average life span for Zimbabweans has declined sharply in recent years, according to a recent report.
By Ryan Truscott | Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor

MUTARE, ZIMBABWE – Brian Mutenda is an energetic 30-year-old with a vision.
He wants to establish a flea market on the outskirts of his home city of Mutare, on Zimbabwe's border with Mozambique.

The best thing about his flea market project is that it won't take years to set up.
"A flea market is not a long-term thing," he explains. "Anything that would take me three, four, or five years [to establish] - I'm not very comfortable with, because at the back of the mind you say: 'At 40, I'll be no more.' "
Life is short here, and that's official.
According to the 2006 World Health Report, published recently by the World Health Organization (WHO), Zimbabwean men on average can expect to live only to age 37. In the past 12 months, life expectancy for women plummeted by two years to 34, the shortest in the world.
Behind the statistics is a grim tale of AIDS, financial hardship, and stress. But it wasn't always this way in what was once one of the most prosperous countries on the continent. Between 1970 and 1975, Zimbabweans could expect to live to the age of 56. The sharp decline in life expectancy has drastically changed the outlook and aspirations of people here.
As a teenager, Mutenda dreamed of being "a managing director, or a company executive. I dreamed of myself in a high-backed chair," he says.
But now he and his friends are only too aware their lives might soon be over. So they plan accordingly.
"With all my friends, this is the trend. Those who had money or those who had parents who are well-off, they have decided to buy [liquor] stores so that they will have quick cash."
The low life expectancy has a host of negative effects on Zimbabwean society, says Eldred Masunungure, the executive director of the Harare-based Mass Public Opinion Institute.
He says young people are less committed to the companies they work for.
"Why invest energy in the development and growth of an organization you're not likely to be a part of in 14 years' time?" he asks.
Older people can remember when things were different. Retired teacher Gilbert Rondozai, 79, says he believes a rise in crime and promiscuity is a result of young people's lack of hope.
"Everybody says they can't control the young. They're drunks and promiscuous. And crime. It was never known in my growing-up time that you'd have burglar bars over your windows," he says.
Mr. Rondozai's father lived to age 110. Six of his nine siblings are still alive.
"We lived long compared to today," says Rondozai. For young people now, it's "live today, live tomorrow, what happens after that is of no consequence," he says.
The World Health Report says the decline is mainly due to the effects of a devastating HIV/AIDS pandemic, which kills more than 3,000 people here every week.
But Mr. Masunungure says that growing poverty may also play a part. "Dealing with poverty is the government's responsibility," he says. But "government is broke."
Once-thriving Zimbabwe is battling its worst-ever economic crisis. Inflation topped 1,000 percent in April, and has gone up since. Fuel is in short supply. So are medical drugs, machinery supplies, and foreign currency. Shoppers are now used to seeing food prices go up nearly every day.
But there are glimmers of hope.
In the working-class town of Chitungwiza, the Girl Child Network Trust is working with young women to help them build longer lives.
Zimbabwean girls up to the age of 18 are highly vulnerable to HIV infection because they fall victim to sexual abuse, and early marriages, and they lack knowledge about their rights, says Betty Makoni, the director of the group, which oversees 350 clubs countrywide with a combined membership of 20,000. The clubs meet regularly to discuss self-empowerment strategies. Schoolgirls are taught to stand up for their rights - and hopefully, avoid HIV infection.
"The more we empower them, the more they speak out," explains Ms. Makoni. "If we don't start with this girl, the woman we're talking about will be lost."

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Under Fire Over Electric Power Cuts, CEO of Zimbabwe State Utility Resigns

By Carole Gombakomba
Washington, DC
08 June 2006

Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority Chief Executive Sydney Gata, who came under fire for his utility’s failure to provide an adequate supply of electric power, stepped down Thursday as CEO while retaining the position of non-executive chairman.
Gata told journalists at a Harare news conference that ZESA has initiated a search for a new chief executive. Gata remains chairman of the Rural Electrification Agency.
Gata, brother-in-law to President Robert Mugabe, had drawn mounting criticism for his management of the public utility. Recently, Energy and Development Minister Mike Nyambuya wrote to the president to complain about Gata's job performance.
Industry has been seriously hurt by nationwide power cuts, said National Chamber of Commerce President Luxon Zembe, who told Studio 7 that many companies are losing money paying workers who spend the day doing nothing due to power cuts.
Zembe said power cuts are also hitting the agricultural sector, as crops cannot be irrigated properly, which was very likely to impinge on harvests.
Residents of Harare, Bulawayo and Chinhoyi complained that household appliances are burning out as power is intermittently interrupted and restored. Lengthy cuts in electricity, often coming twice daily, are causing refrigerated foods to spoil.
ZESA has been hobbled by a shortage of foreign currency to purchase electricity from South Africa and to overhaul worn-out generating equipment, but Gata had also been criticized by the central bank for massive, inflation-fueling rate hikes.
The utility's former chief executive officer, Simbarashe Mangwengwende, who was displaced by Gata, explained in an interview with reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe why power cuts have become more frequent.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe: Committee Queries Nurses' Competence

The Herald (Harare)
June 8, 2006
Posted to the web June 8, 2006
A Parliamentary portfolio committee on Health and Child Welfare has questioned the competence of nurses being trained today.
In a report submitted to the Senate on Tuesday, a member of the committee Makonde-Chinhoyi Senator Douglas Mombeshora (Zanu-PF) said the numerous challenges faced by nurse training institutions impacted negatively on the country's health delivery system. Mechanisms need to be put in place so that malpractices in the recruitment process were curbed.
"The pass rate of students in (nursing) programmes is declining. This can be attributed to the non-conducive learning environment and lack of basics for effective learning. "The irregularities in the recruitment and selection process also contribute to the drop in pass rates," he said. The committee found that laid down criteria and guidelines on recruitment were not being followed and corruption was rampant in the recruitment process.
The corrupt recruiters were mainly some Government officials, politicians, church administrators and at times some personnel from hospital management. Cde Mombeshora said the committee visited Marond era Provincial Hospital, Nyadire, All Souls and Bonda mission hospitals where it was confirmed that inadequate financial and human resources were affecting the institutions' operations. "They receive very little in grants from the Government such that the nurse training schools become a burden. The staffing situation is not pleasing as well. Most institutions operate at half or less of the staff establishment," said Cde Mombeshora.
Besides being overworked, he said, the clinical tutors and instructors were not happy with their conditions of service, particularly those in the rural areas. "They do not have fixed pay dates and do not enjoy other benefits such as housing and car loans like their counterparts in Government," Cde Mombeshora said.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe: City Council Runs Out of TB Drugs

The Herald (Harare)
June 8, 2006
Posted to the web June 8, 2006
Harare City Council has run out of TB drugs while stocks of other drugs are low.
The health department needs at least $22 billion every month to purchase drugs and maintain its clinics and hospitals. But treasury is not releasing the money despite requests to prioritise health. Chairperson of Harare Commission Ms Sekesayi Makwavarara and town clerk Mr Nomutsa Chideya yesterday toured Beatrice Infectious Diseases Hospital to acquaint themselves with operations at the health institution.
So critical is the situation that the city is contemplating reintroducing the TB injection, which was discarded some years ago after the introduction of the Directly Observed Treatment Short Course (DOTS). An official in the health department said TB drugs have to be administered as a full course and giving them as single doses would be counter productive.
Ms Makwavarara and Mr Chideya were shown empty drug storerooms and were informed about the critical situation in the city's health department. The acting director of health services, Dr Stanley Mungofa, confirmed the sho rtage of the drugs when he briefed Ms Sekesayi Makwavarara. "There are no TB drugs. We might have to reintroduce the injection because some of the drugs are not available," he said. Journalists were also shown storerooms with empty cabinets. The section that normally carries the TB drugs was empty although just a few of the drugs were seen in the wards.
The Deputy Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr Edwin Muguti, also confirmed the shortage of the drugs. "The drugs are in short supply. Harare was given the drugs. We are expecting more soon," he said. Officials told The Herald the Ministry of Health made available a few drugs after repeated requests by council. The drugs that were supplied are inadequate to cater for all the council's clinics and two hospitals. Harare caters for the largest number of TB patients in Zimbabwe. Dr Mungofa said because of the high numbers of TB patients, the hospital was running out of space to keep patients records. Dr Mungofa said at least 80 percent of TB patients were HIV positive.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe: Consumer Basket Surges to $49,1 Million

The Herald (Harare)
June 8, 2006
Posted to the web June 8, 2006
Tawanda Chigwaza
The cost of living for a family of six for the month of May surged to $49,1 million, up by 19,5 percent from the April figure of $41 million, according to statistics released by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) yesterday.
The CCZ said notable increase were recorded in water and electricity which rose by 185,9 percent, transport costs which rose by 66,7 percent, salt by 51 percent, health by 40 percent while the price of white sugar went up by 34 percent, margarine by 18,3 percent. Vegetables and rent increased by 17,9 percent and 16,7 percent respectively over the survey period.
The consumer watchdog also observed a visible improvement in the supply of roller meal as maize has started trickling into the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depots countrywide and this might have resulted in the continued decline in the price of roller meal on the market. In April the price decreased by 22,2 percent, going down by a further 9,2 percent in May. "The cost of vegetables continues to increase owing to the shortages of local products like onions and tomatoes of which only imported substitutes are available," said CCZ.
The CCZ also observed that the cost of drugs has been on the increase and this could be link ed to the 40,8 percent increase in the cost of the health component of the basket. Last month saw widespread increases in rentals, impacting negatively on consumers as some of the costs are now beyond the reach of the average worker. "The supply of sugar continues to be erratic and this continues to push its price up each time it is available on the market," said the consumer watchdog. "The biggest shift in the month of May was recorded in the water and electricity cost component of the basket. Water shortages for most consumers ballooned owing to the tariff increase at the beginning of the month," said CCZ.

The CCZ calls for the respective authorities to clarify the situation as consumers are still in the dark on which authority is responsible for water billing system and the correct tariffs. "Many consumers have received huge water bills to which they seek clarity on. Electricity tariffs were increased as of the beginning of June, hence consumers are urged to conserve the electricity in order to avoid huge bills at the end of the month," said CCZ. According to the consumer watchdog, a casual comparison of shopfloor wages and the Poverty Datum Line reflects that some consumers are now forced to forgo some basic food and non-food items owing to the high costs thus compromising their livelihoods.
"Employers are therefore called upon to give their workers salaries that take cognisance of the cost of living. CCZ continues to advocate for the meeting of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) parties and we also call on every Zimbabwean to rally behind the National Economic Development Priority Programme (NEDPP) for the betterment of the economic situation," added the consumer watchdog. Surveys for the consumer basket are conducted twice a month while the basket is calculated by averaging the prices of goods in retail outlets across the country.
In view of rising inflation, the CCZ continues to urge consumers to exercise their right to choose and in tensify their search for affordable commodities or cheaper substitutes.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Fresh evictions in Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwean

HARARE - As the world responded with horror to shocking pictures of last year's Operation Murambatsvina released by Amnesty International last week, Mike Davies, chairperson of the Combined Harare Residents and Ratepayers Association reported that some of the victims of last year's so-called clean up exercise were being evicted again.
"Armed ZRP details evicted a group of about 30 squatters living near Glen Norah on the banks of Mukuvisi. These are people who had been displaced after Murambatsvina and had erected a makeshift habitat. They were given two hours notice to get out and the police said they were coming back to burn down those structures," he said. "There are also some dwelling/formal structures in Mbare where people are being evicted as well. So Murambatsvina is by no means over." The news comes in the wake of satellite images providing the clearest possible evidence to date of the devastating impact of the Zimbabwean government's policy of house demolitions. Amnesty International released images taken before and after Murambatsvina to show the wholesale destruction of Porta Farm, a large informal settlement just outside Harare and home to nearly 10 000 people. More than 850 structures were destroyed. At least 2.4 million people were affected by the operation. Most of them were dumped in remote rural areas while others are still eking out a miserable existence in squalid holding camps like Hopely Farm. Human rights groups, lawyers and church groups are denied little or no access to these holding camps. - SW Radio Africa

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Chari's education hopes dashed

The Zimbabwean

JOHANNESBURG - Givemore Chari's hopes to graduate with an accounting degree in 2007 are now shattered after constant persecution by Zanu (PF) forced him to leave Zimbabwe.
The 23 year-old Student leader of Bindura University is now squatting with friends in the rough and populous high density suburbs of Yeoville in South Africa, after escaping from his captors, he suspects to be members of the dreaded Secret State operatives. Chari is just one of the many brilliant Zimbabweans whose lives were disturbed by the political turmoil playing itself out in Zimbabwe. "I jumped out of a brown moving vehicle after my captors turned into a bush. They had apparently told me that they were going to kill me. I out-sprinted them because they were drunk since they have been drinking beer all the way from Bindura until Mazowe road where I jumped out of the car," said Chari during an interview. Chari told The Zimbabwean that members of the CIO had beaten his father and mother, Eliah and Vidah Mpaso this week in an effort to force them to reveal where he was hiding.
"I heard from my contacts in Zimbabwe that my family is being visited and tortured everyday, but they are not aware of my whereabouts," said Chari. Chari said his problems started after he attended a Zimbabwe National Student Union (Zinasu) meeting in Harare where a resolution to carry out mass actions against hiking of fees was reached. He said the student leaders' initial cardinal sin was to remove president Robert Mugabe's portrait from the venue of the meeting. "Zinasu leadership believes that Mugabe is not the legitimate leader of Zimbabwe and holding a meeting in a room with his portrait hanging on the wall was against our conscience and we removed and handed it over to the people who were cleaning the premises," said Chira. Chira said he was shocked when the entire executive was rounded and taken to Rhodesville police station soon after the meeting where the police unsuccessfully tried to charge them with stealing Mugabe's portrait. "But when the portrait was found in possession of the cleaners they still continued to detain us until our lawyers secured our release in the early hours of the following morning," said Chirwa. Though young Chirwa is now away from his persecutor, he however remains an angry man. Chirwa is bitter that his colleagues who were arrested on the day he escaped were still in detention and being tortured for allegedly bombing the university premises.
The young leader however said members of the CIO bombed the commerce building, which went up in smoke.
"Tests carried out found that the building was bombed by a real bomber and where would students get explosives of that magnitude? Charges Chira. Chira, a self-confessed zealot of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is also worried about his education. "I am not regretting anything about my clashes with the regime, but all I now need to pursue my education and finish my degree. My biggest hurdle now is finance," said Chira. Anyone who is willing to assist Chira with money to continue with his education in South Africa can contact Tawanda Mswazie on +27 (0)763233723.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

SA’s Home Affairs office knows nothing about Zim

Zimbabwe Independent
9 June 2006

IT has been encouraging to read the almost universal outrage in the South African media over the decision by that country’s Home Affairs department to refuse asylum to Roy Bennett and his farm-workers.

“Despite the blatant human rights violations taking place in Zimbabwe — the systematic persecution of political opposition, of civil society and of the remaining vestiges of an independent media — South Africa’s Home Affairs essentially says this is not so,” wrote Nicole Fritz, director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre, in the Star last weekend.

“You have to hand it to the officials of the Home Affairs department: they appear to make no attempt to disguise their bad faith with any pretence at credible justification.”

Fritz in particular slams the department’s claim that Zimbabwe has an independent judiciary on the basis of Morgan Tsvangirai’s acquittal on treason charges.

“No single case,” she says, “and certainly not one which drew fierce international attention and pressure, as Tsvangirai’s did, can be a convincing affirmation of the credibility of a country’s justice system. Were the Home Affairs officials more concerned to appear competent, they could have done a better job representing Zimbabwe’s judicial system as one able to deliver fair and impartial outcomes. Quite apart from Tsvangirai’s case, there are, in fact, a number of Zimbabwean cases that have upheld human rights. Only recently, for example, in a bail application brought by a number of individuals who had allegedly conspired with Bennett in a plot connected with the discovery of an arms cache, the presiding judge observed that several of them claimed they were tortured by security officers and induced into falsely implicating Bennett and another MDC MP, Giles Mutsekwa.

“That some Zimbabwean judges continue to issue rights-enforcing judgements, despite the inhospitable environment in which they find themselves, is testimony to their own personal courage and conviction in the principles of rule of law. But the integrity of a justice system cannot rely on the good offices of a few. It must depend on the credibility of the institutions that support it.

“With many of the country’s judges thought to have been given confiscated farms — their only tenure, the president’s continued pleasure — and the prospect of forced removal from office, like previous Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay, judges are as (if not more) likely to respond from fear or favour as they are from considered judicial principle. In any event, even if the court system was completely credible in Zimbabwe, that clearly isn’t, even for the most uninformed observer, the chief complaint.

“Time and again, court orders are ignored or blatantly defied by the Zimbabwean state and its law-enforcing agents. That has clearly been the case with the court-granted interdicts against the government’s recent Operation Murambatsvina and in respect of the occupation of farms.

“But if South Africa’s Home Affairs shows itself to be short of the facts when it instructs Bennett to place his faith in the courts of Zimbabwe,” Fritz says, “it invites ridicule when it requires of his ex-farmworkers that they should have reported their alleged persecution at the hands of Zimbabwe’s law-enforcing agents to those selfsame agents. At best, this refusal to grant asylum to Bennett and his workers demonstrates incompetence on the part of Home Affairs and an inability to appreciate what the situation in Zimbabwe is really like.”
In case anyone was in any doubt about that situation, we had the “commander-in-chief of farm invasions” complaining bitterly in the Herald last week about the US embassy’s refusal to issue visas to individuals who are responsible “for actions that threaten Zimbabwe’s democratic institutions”. Which included him.

Joseph Chinotimba, who signed himself “war veteran and proud Zimbabwean” in an open letter addressed to Dan Mozena, director of the Office of Southern African Affairs in the US State Department, wanted to know “what exactly have we done?”

He evidently has very limited powers of recollection. There were threats made against Chief Justice Gubbay at his chambers which the government did nothing to control, abuse of municipal office, the shooting of an opposition supporter in Glen Norah, the occupation of productive farms on the city’s periphery, and the establishment of a trade union body aimed at neutralising the authentic voice of workers.

Apart perhaps from Hitler Hunzvi, nobody’s career is more emblematic of the assault on civic institutions than Chinotimba’s in the early years of the decade. We still don’t know who in the upper echelons of the City of Harare authorised the municipal policeman’s depredations but one day that person will be held to account.

Chinotimba said he wanted it put on record that in response to the targeting of their leaders by the US, war veterans would not “continue sitting back on our laurels”. If this treatment continued, “then we will loose (sic) our tamper (sic) as Zimbabweans”.

“If you want to treat us by the back of the palm, then we will also treat you by the back of the palm,” he warned menacingly.

We are sure the Americans are quaking in their boots! Let it be noted that the last time Chinotimba purported to speak for Zimbabweans, in a Highfield by-election, he was decisively rejected.
President Mugabe continues to provide evidence of delusional leadership. He thinks church leaders should not “unnecessarily” criticise government.

The government was always ready for dialogue to resolve differences, he said.

When was the last time government listened to anybody? Have they listened to business leaders on economic management issues? Have they listened to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on issues of governance? Have they listened to church leaders on the trauma caused by Gukurahundi or Operation Murambatsvina? Have they listened to the courts on rulings made regarding property rights?

Who will decide whether criticism is “necessary” or not? Isn’t it the same people who have a vested interest in ensuring that criticism is suppressed? If anybody wants to test Mugabe’s sincerity they need go no further than ZBC which daily fails to provide any evidence of national dialogue despite being publicly-owned.
Muckraker was gobsmacked last Friday to see Information minister Tichaona Jokonya saying he had told the Voice of America that the removal of sanctions was key to setting up a Mugabe/Annan summit.

This is all a bit confusing. Not so long ago we were told that sanctions were having no significant effect on Zimbabwe’s economy. Then that sanctions were responsible for all our woes without exception. Now we are being told that we can’t talk to the UN secretary-general without their removal!

Several points need clarifying here. It is true that US legislation prevents the IMF from extending balance-of-payments support. But why is Zimbabwe dependent on the IMF when it is supposed to be a sovereign state?

In fact, the IMF is declining to extend balance-of-payments support because Zimbabwe has not met any of the conditions, particularly those regarding economic reform, which have been raised in every visit by IMF staff. In other words, it is not the Americans blocking IMF support, even though they can, it is the IMF itself operating in terms of its mandate.

That point has been blurred by the isolationists in our midst. As for the lifting of sanctions, that is not the business of the UN. They would have to be lifted by the US president acting in terms of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (which by the way had no input whatsoever from Jesse Helms or the MDC), or, in Europe, by the EU commission.

The problem with sanctions is that, contrary to the claims of Zimbabwe’s state propagandists, they are altogether legal and will need very specific revocation measures by their authors if they are to be lifted. Annan does not have a magic wand. And Ibrahim Gambari, if he is eventually allowed in to negotiate an agenda for talks, will make this abundantly clear. Zanu PF got us into this fix. Now it must get us out!

That includes UN involvement in recovery and reconstruction following Murambatsvina. Annan will not want to see Garikai houses or any other Potemkin Village displays. He will be guided by the Tibaijuka Report. The sooner the authorities here get used to that the better.
We were amused by Swedish ambassador Sten Rylander’s remarks on his national day this week. His wife has now joined him in Harare. He described her as his “spirit medium” who will protect him from “spin-doctors” and other “dangers you are sometimes confronted with here in Zimbabwe”. He repeatedly referred to the need for change.

We were pleased to see our colleagues from the state media present to capture Rylander and Foreign Affairs Secretary, Ambassador Joey Bimha, toasting better times — which sadly are not just around the corner.
A good example of sunshine journalism was evident on Tuesday when the spin-doctors at the Herald discovered a two-week old story saying President Jacques Chirac had praised Bolivian land reforms. They managed to slip in a line suggesting Bolivia’s land reforms were similar to Zimbabwe’s.

But any similarity with Zimbabwe was in the eye of the beholder. President Evo Morales came to power in free and democratic elections. Bolivia’s land reform programme will help the poor. It will not be used to reward VIP cronies such as police chiefs and judges.

We had “a Zimbabwean political analyst” fatuously telling us that no one questioned Bolivia’s land reforms because the landowners facing expropriation were non-Caucasian.

In fact the land-owning class in Bolivia is of largely Hispanic descent. But the important point to note here is that the group of emergent leftist South American leaders have been careful not to associate themselves with Zimbabwe’s chaotic and often violent land grabs.
The story said Morales had nationalised Bolivia’s natural gas and petroleum industry, to which the spineless “political analyst” remarked that no one was “questioning the correctness” of Bolivia’s land reforms as happened in Zimbabwe.

A few things are wrong here. There are many countries that have nationalised what they call strategic industries, including Britain under Margaret Thatcher. So long as that is done according to the law and in the public interest, it is an issue of national consensus.

Secondly, it would be difficult to prove the “correctness” of Zimbabwe’s land reform in the wake of the poverty it has spawned. Essentially, the Harare 1998 donors’ conference stressed that one of the key aims of land reform was to alleviate poverty and empower the poor. None of that is evident on the ground.

Third, the Herald tried to hide the truth from itself and its readers by burying it in the belly of the article. Morales launched the land reform programme by distributing “state-owned land” to the poor. Thousands of the beneficiaries were immediately given title so that they could borrow money to use the land productively. Six years down the line Zanu PF mandarins are still seizing land and very few beneficiaries of that corrupt process have title. The 99-year leases have remained a pipedream.

Fourth, the Associated Press story which the Herald drew on made it clear that none of the land distributed to the poor in Bolivia had been confiscated from large landholders. “But the government says it will eventually seize and redistribute privately-owned land that is unproductive, was obtained illegally or is being used for speculation.”

If somebody cannot see the glaring difference between these undertakings and Zimbabwe’s anarchic process they need to have their heads looked into immediately before they cause serious danger to themselves.
We are in trouble when propaganda is pursued for its own sake.
The other story playing big was about the emergence of so-called “illegal grain buyers” on the market. The paper claimed these buyers were “intercepting” farmers before they delivered their grain at GMB depots and buying it at a higher price. A cursory look at the details showed there was nothing like interception of grain.

Those interviewed by the paper stated that they were getting more for their grain and they didn’t have to incur onerous transport costs taking the grain to GMB depots.

Some of the grain producers said they incurred extra costs because the GMB often rejected their grain for alleged high moisture content, forcing them to transport it back home when they desperately need the money. In the end they sold their produce to the nearest highest bidder.

Need we ask which transaction makes economic sense? What that means of course is that government will be very much off target with its grain projections because of the bungling GMB in addition to Joseph Made’s nutty estimates.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Inadequate income better than nothing

Zimbabwe Independent
9 June 2006
Eric Bloch Column

By Eric Bloch

THE Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) was created to facilitate constructive and productive dialogue between government, the private sector and labour on issues of common concern with a view to arriving at agreements between those parties which would effectively address those concerns.  

Over a period of about three years, the TNF has functioned on a “start, stop, start, stop” basis where innumerable meetings have been held between the negotiating partners, but no meaningful agreements have been reached.

Almost all of the deliberations have been focused upon concluding a prices and incomes stabilisation protocol (otherwise known as a social contract), perceived to be an important and conducive element of attaining a substantive economic recovery. 

However, despite the very extensive, if intermittent, negotiations within the TNF, a social contract has not been concluded and, at different stages, each of the negotiating parties has blamed one or other of the participants for frustrating attainment of an accord.

Although a social contract is not a magical cure-all for Zimbabwe’s very many and intensive economic ills, it would create an enabling environment for economic transformation, and would contribute in a substantial manner to achieving that transformation. In essence, a social contract is one wherein all the contracting parties agree that there be an almost absolute freeze on prices, wages, governmental service charges and taxes.

Commerce and industry would not, during the continuance of the social contract, increase prices for goods and services. While that price freeze continues, salaries and wages would remain fixed and unchanged, as would all charges and taxes by government, parastatals and local authorities.

The only exception to the standstill in prices, wages and charges would be that they would increase to the extent that factors external of Zimbabwe necessitate increases, such as when there is an escalation in fuel costs as a result of an international rise in crude oil prices, or when exchange rate movements cause increases in landed costs of imports. In such instances, prices would be permitted to increase appropriately, with correspondingly commensurate increases in wages and in governmental and parastatal charges.

Save for such permissible adjustment to prices, wages and charges, all would be frozen for an agreed period of time. Such a social contract would not bring about an instantaneous economic metamorphosis, but would be greatly facilitative of change. That is because, although there are many causes of inflation, one of the greatest is inflation itself.  

When collective bargaining negotiations on wage increases are entered into, the labour negotiators generally consider that the minimum of wage increases must be to the extent that, since the preceding wage increase, purchasing power of workers has been eroded by inflation.  And, when the wages are increased, be it to the extent of compensating for prior inflation, or to a greater extent, the employers necessarily have to increase prices to recover the additional wages, thereby fuelling yet further inflation. 

In like manner, most landlords regularly adjust rentals to the extent, at the least, of inflation sustained since the previous rent review, and in consequence the tenants of industrial or commercial properties increase prices in order to fund the increased rentals, while the increases also have inflationary impacts upon the tenants of residential properties.

And all other inflationary impacts upon commerce and industry have similar repercussive effects.  Be they cost increases in respect of electricity, transport, telecommunication, bank charges or any of the myriad of other expenditure components of business, those increases must be passed on to customers, whomsoever they may be, and ultimately become constituents of the inflation burden upon consumers.

The unavoidable need of producers, distributors and all others within the economic chain to pass on cost escalations is a very major fuellant of inflation and repeats itself endlessly, resulting in a continuous inflation spiral.

This can only be effectively halted by a social contract, as evidenced in Germany in 1924 (when inflation soared upwards at such a horrific pace that employers resorted to paying salaries and wages twice daily, so as to enable employees to spend their earnings before their buying power diminished further).

A social contract was a key element of Roosevelt’s 1933 “New Deal” to end the Great Depression, which he successfully achieved. And social contracts enabled the economic recoveries of the countries that constituted the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s, Israel in the late 1970s, of Bolivia in 1981, and more recently of Mexico and Argentina, among very many others.

Inflation is not the only one of Zimbabwe’s disastrous economic circumstances, but it is a very major one and, to some extent, is a contributant to many of the other very negative circumstances.  Inflation is a significant factor in Zimbabwe’s diminishing export market competitiveness, and therefore a trigger of diminished productivity in the manufacturing sector, resulting in increasing unemployment.  

The reducing extent of exports results in intensifying foreign currency shortages, further worsening the economy and contributing to the markedly declining infrastructure of energy generation, rail and air services, roads, telecommunications, health services, and much else.  And the continuing hyperinflation is a major influencing factor driving Zimbabwe’s pronounced  “brain drain”, which has seen more of Zimbabwe’s skilled living and working in the diaspora than in Zimbabwe.  These are but a few of the economic ailments which are caused, or worsened, by inflation.

Therefore, if a social contract were to be reached in the TNF, it would be a strong plank in a platform for economic recovery. It would ensure that instead of NEDPP standing for National Extreme Destitution and Poverty Programme, it could be the National Economic Development Priority Programme, which it claims to be, but cannot possibly be until, among many other prerequisites, inflation is set upon a path of genuine containment, instead of being only governmental wishful thinking and self-delusion. 

It would create an environment wherein other economic   remedial measures could then be pursued with conviction and intent, including reformation of land reform, belated compliance with Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements, restoration of justice, law and order and respect for human rights, and consequential re-establishment of constructive and harmonious international relationships, resulting in investment, trade development support.

For these to be pursued, there needs to be a genuine will for change and recognition of faults, so that those faults can be addressed, but such will can be dramatically reinforced by the enabling environment created by a social contract.

Regrettably, however, once again the TNF has been in deadlock. The most recent “deal-breaker” has been the demand by labour that the social contract must be preceded by an increase in minimum wages to a level equating with the poverty datum line (PDL), and those wages must be maintained at whatsoever the PDL may be at any time.  

Private sector enterprise accepted this demand, in principle, but wished it to be qualified by a limitation, being the extent of ability to pay.  This has been unacceptable to labour, which is unfortunate and unrealistic in the extreme.

None can credibly argue that it is unreasonable for labour to wish to earn at, or above, the PDL, and one must be sympathetic to labour for the immense hardships imposed by the present economic environment.

However, the labour negotiators overlook that, in the average family which exists on or below the PDL, there are normally at least two income earners, albeit that one may be in the informal sector, and earning less that the other. But, therefore, if the principal income earner earns, say, 65% of PDL, the income of the other income earner is likely to raise the combined income to, or above the PDL. 

More importantly, the labour negotiators are evidencing a gross disregard for the fact that if wages are at levels beyond the employer’s ability to pay, and if it is mandatory that they are paid at such levels, then the failure of the employer’s business is assured, the employees become unemployed, and then have no income. An inadequate income is better than no income, and the labour negotiators need to recognise that. 

In addition, as inflation declines as a result of a social contract, and as the economy progressively recovers, so the lot of the workers will improve. Resisting the very necessary qualifications sought by private enterprise prevents conclusion of a social contract, inhibits economic recovery, worsens the plight of labour and is therefore against the best interests of the workers.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

A naked ploy to cushion Zanu PF

Zimbabwe Independent
9 June 2006
Candid Comment

Joram Nyathi
PLANS by government to register all political parties in Zimbabwe show not only that we have irresponsible leaders, but also that there is a sinister motive to this measure. They are irresponsible because they betray misplaced priorities.

In a crisis such as we face in Zimbabwe, people expect government to be working to alleviate their suffering. It is hard to see how registering political parties for whatever reason can be a priority for any government that feels anything but contempt for those who voted it into power.

There is a sinister motive too.

Although the recommendation was first mooted by a supposedly independent electoral body last year, there is no question about the influence behind it. Much like the registration of media houses and the accreditation of journalists, it is Zanu PF that sets the ground rules and determines who gets registered under its own conditions.

The same paranoid mind that conceived legislation like Aippa and Posa is evidently at work once again.

There is nothing edifying in telling us that registration of political parties will rid the country of “rogue parties”.

Who defines and classifies rogue parties? Hasn’t the Zanu PF regime been condemned as a rogue state itself?

State Security minister Didymus Mutasa was quoted as saying the registration would separate “serious parties from pretenders”.

His reference to parties that champion “foreign interests” has a familiar ring. It doesn’t augur well for democracy in the country when ministers pick and choose which parties should be registered on the spurious grounds of “national outlook”.

There is no hiding the fact that the purpose of the planned law is to shield Zanu PF from competition for the hearts and minds of a disgruntled populace. The idea is also to intimidate the opposition so that it behaves the way Zanu PF dictates, instead of being robust and critical for fear of deregistration.

Whether a party is serious or not or “national” in outlook should never be the business of government to decide.

It is the democratic right of the owner who founds it and that of the voter to reject it based on its programmes.

Political parties are voluntary associations and government has no business screening them for voters. This is a flagrant violation of the  Sadc electoral protocol.

It is shocking that the Electoral Supervisory Commission made the registration of political parties one of its recommendations ahead of protests against an uneven playing field and a voters’ roll described by opposition parties as a shambles. It claimed shamelessly that lack of registration had led to the emergence of “non-descript” parties “with little content and no standing, let alone sustainability”.

Why then should a government that wants to be taken seriously preoccupy itself with nondescript formations in the midst of a debilitating national crisis?

The reasons lie elsewhere. Just as in the case of newspapers, there is money to be made through registration fees. A more sinister requirement is that parties would have to show their sources of funds and traceable addresses for these sources. Contrary to Mutasa’s claims about stopping saboteurs and fighting
foreign interests, the motive is clearly to intimidate voters and to punish businesses that support the so-called “rogue parties”. It is to starve opposition political parties of financial assistance by labelling those who support them as unpatriotic or agents of imperialists.

The Political Parties (Finance) Act outlaws foreign funding for political parties. We all know that this piece of legislation became necessary once it became clear the ruling party was losing friends across the globe while the opposition MDC was receiving a deluge in inverse proportion to Zanu PF’s waning popularity at home. That element of jealousy has not gone away, it is now called “national security”.

It is hard for instance to see how the mere registration of a political party will enable government to discern that party’s “intentions”. What intentions could a political party have except seeking political office? Has replacing the incompetent Zanu PF now become a treasonous undertaking?

Already I can imagine a group of Zanu PF mandarins sitting down to list the criteria for a party to be registered:

*  It must be nationalistic;
* It must defend Zimbabwe’s sovereignty against Western imperialism;
* It should be Pan-Africanist;
* It must have liberation war credentials; and
* Its leaders must be war veterans and therefore card-carrying members of Zanu PF.

At best this is what is called enlightened self-interest by Zanu PF. At worst it is a determined attempt to curtail our civil liberties and the right to make free choices of who should rule this country.

Democracy demands that parties seek votes from the people by forming and advertising their programmes. Why should this right be taken away from voters through a partisan legislative process of amending the constitution?

Where does government get the locus standi to interpose itself between those seeking political office and the voters, unless such leaders and would-be parties have been convicted of criminal behaviour by a competent court of law?

I hope that should such a Bill be drafted and brought before parliament, our representatives will chew it and spit it into the Indian Ocean.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zim business trickles to Botswana amid tensions

Zimbabwe Independent
9 June 2006

DOZENS of Zimbabwean companies have relocated to neighbouring Botswana, perceived as the region’s most investor-friendly country, while inflation in Zimbabwe is expected to hit record levels before the end of the year as the economy continues its downward spiral.

Zimbabwean-run small- and medium-scale business, such as bus and truck operators, funeral parlours, vehicle repair shops and sawmills, have mushroomed in the northern city of Francistown and the satellite towns of Tati and Tonota to the south of it, all near Botswana’s border with Zimbabwe.

The steady influx of Zimbabweans, reportedly up to 125 000 a month since the country launched its chaotic fast-track land reform programme in 2000, has created tension between the two countries, with Botswana blaming the immigrants for increased crime. Botswana flogs people who cross its borders illegally, which has not helped defuse the situation, despite years of talks between the two governments. Botswana has clarified that it does not single out Zimbabweans, as corporal punishment is legal and applied to anyone breaking rules.

However, in 2004 it pointed out that 26 214 Zimbabweans were involved in criminal activities in Botswana. “There is a clear correlation between the increases in the rise of crime in Botswana with the presence of illegal immigrants, most of who are from Zimbabwe,” the government said in a statement.

Described by the International Monetary Fund as one of the fastest growing economies in the world over the past three decades, Botswana has opened its doors to skilled Zimbabweans and businesses, while less cumbersome bureaucratic procedures and low taxes have lured Zimbabwean businesses to set up shop across the border, within easy access of operations back home. According to popular assessment, there are two kinds of Zimbabwean businessmen in Botswana: optimists and realists.

The optimists keep their businesses in Zimbabwe operational because they believe the crisis will end and they will be able to go back; the realists have shut down their Zimbabwean operations and relocated to Botswana because they think the government is neither serious nor honest about tackling the socioeconomic emergency in the country.

“Anyone who allows a crippling crisis of the Zimbabwean proportion to roll on for six years is not serious, and they cannot be sincere. That is why I think it is more practical to prepare for a long stay in the diaspora,” said Mkhululi Bhebhe, a Zimbabwean businessmen living in Botswana.

Unable to cope with crippling shortages of foreign currency and fuel that drove the cost of inputs beyond reach, migrant businessmen said moving was a question of survival. Among them was Thulani Sibanda, owner of a bus and truck company, who established a cross-border operation as a result of the foreign currency and fuel crises.

“Two things combined to push me out (of Zimbabwe),” Sibanda told Irin. “The fuel crisis worsened so much that for one week my trucks remained on the fuel queues. I had the foreign currency to buy fuel then, but government laws banned private operators from sourcing their own fuel – I could have been arrested for dealing in fuel in the black market.

“So I realised that I was incapacitated by the laws governing the business environment . . . I started relocating my trucks to Botswana, got registered and moved into Francistown.”

He said his Botswana business operations had been profitable enough to enable him to maintain a fleet of 10 buses that were still operating in Zimbabwe. Botswana’s business-friendly tax regime and immigration laws, which allow migrants to take up citizenship after working and living there for five years, have helped.

“In Zimbabwe, nowadays, companies make losses, not profits. Because of a stringent tax regime and a highly regulated foreign currency system, they pay more taxes than their annual earnings. Across all the sectors companies are retrenching or scaling down, if not closing shop altogether,” he added.

Construction companies have also taken advantage of Botswana’s business-friendly climate. “The death of the construction industry (in Zimbabwe) almost killed us by extension, but when we looked across the border we saw the sector growing and came here to set up as suppliers. I can safely say what we were doing in Zimbabwe now looks like child play, because we are now making very good business,” said one manager.

The going has been so good that the Forestry Company of Zimbabwe-Botswana (FCZ-Botswana), an offshoot of the Forestry Company, the parastatal charged with managing state forests and wood products in Zimbabwe, has also relocated to the neighbouring country. Irin was unable to contact the company, which has also posted profits, for details.

Although most Zimbabwean professionals complain of growing xenophobia, businessmen appear unaffected.

“To the best of my knowledge, there is indeed a group of locals who believe that local construction or transport tenders, for example, should be given to local companies. The same is being said about jobs in the mines, where we are told there are too many Zimbabwean and underqualified South African technicians at the expense of locals. But that has not really affected the way tenders are given, because they are still being won by the best bidders,” said Bhebhe.

However, Zimbabweans working in Francistown told Irin about a growing tendency towards xenophobia by the local population.

Besides competition for jobs, the latest outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease linked to Zimbabwe, has aggravated the situation. A shortage of dipping chemicals, the break-up of large commercial farms and the resultant loss of fencing allowed the disease to spread from Zimbabwe to Botswana, causing Botswana’s export beef industry, already limping after successive droughts and a series of disease epidemics in recent years, to collapse.

“Being a Zimbabwean here is not easy. The people hate us because they say we take their jobs, although they hate doing most of the menial jobs we do. Those without valid travel documents can be employed on the promise of payment, which may, in fact, be delivery to the local police station as soon as the job is done,” said Charles Nkonjeni, a Zimbabwean graduate in Bostwana.

“They say we should go back to Zimbabwe and vote Mugabe out, yet they know that Zimbabwe does not hold presidential elections every day. These days we are also being blamed for causing the death of many Batswana cattle, because the recent foot-and-mouth disease outbreak has been traced back to Zimbabwe. Judging by the importance of cattle among the Batswana, I think the hatred has a strong motive and could be genuine,” he added.

Although the government itself has employed over 100 Zimbabwean nationals, a public outcry against hiring foreigners bore fruit last year when Botswana announced that it would not be renewing the permits of those working as teachers and drivers and would probe the hiring of artisans in the mining sector.

However, local residents stressed that only certain Zimbabweans were unwelcome.

“Illegal immigrants are the same (as criminals), because the thieves often turn out to be undocumented people: because they are undocumented, they can break the law and escape to Zimbabwe,” said Letsile Silaigwana, a civil servant in Francistown. “We just hate the criminals, as we believe they also do in Zimbabwe.”

Many Batswana interviewed by Irin admitted that the abusive exploitation of desperate Zimbabwean job-seekers was a growing problem which they strongly condemned.

“To be honest, almost everyone here knows of a Zimbabwean who was abused one way or the other. The most common method is giving them a huge job, like weeding the fields, and promising them good pay. When the job is done, the employer just calls the police and reports that they have seen an illegal immigrant. The police then ask them to detain the person until they come, from there they are deported without ever getting their pay,” said Kefilwe Molefhabangwe, a businesswoman in Tonota.

“First, they cannot complain because they are illegal, and secondly they have no work permit, and therefore no right to work in the country. It has been done by far too many people, and I also believe that this unfair treatment is the cause of many serious attacks when the Zimbabweans come back to exact revenge for the abuse, and they often do,” she commented.

Rampant stock-theft along the common border, and low-intensity feuds over cattle grazing and watering have all aggravated relations. The thieves are blamed for cutting big holes into many sections of the new electric fence erected as a livestock disease-control measure.

The rustlers have caused havoc on both sides by stealing cattle from Botswana and selling them in Zimbabwe and vice-versa. Although they deny it, Batswana butchery operators in rural areas near the border are accused of abetting the thefts by buying stolen Zimbabwean stock at give-away prices.

Not many large-scale Zimbabwean farmers have relocated to Botswana, which is mostly arid and more suitable for ranching.

Botswana’s President Festus Mogae was among the few African leaders critical of the Zimbabwe situation, but has since adopted the more low-key approach of trying to engage with the government. The unfolding crisis in Zimbabwe has had a ripple effect on the region’s economy, but perhaps the most serious consequence has been the brain-drain and the flow of much-needed investment from the crippled country.

Economist Tony Hawkins, of the University of Zimbabwe, pointed out recently that between 1995 and 2000 — before the crisis — the Southern Africa Development Community region, excluding South Africa, grew at less than 4% a year. Since 2000 it has grown at over 11% annually, underlining Zimbabwe’s relative insignificance. — Irin.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

here’s every reason to be afraid . . . very afraid

Zimbabwe Independent
9 June 2006


LAST week, President Mugabe was taken to the Zimplats mining complex in Ngezi where he got a tacit reminder of the benefits of foreign investment and big business’ contributions to community development.

The president saw a US$19 million road that the mining giant built in the area, a power line constructed and handed to Zesa, workers’ houses, and a water reticulation system. The company has also built a police station, expanded a school and put up a fibre optic line and ancillary equipment in the area.

This exhibition of a functioning mini-economy in Mashonaland West was in stark contrast to the pervasive gloom in the rest of the economy. From the seat of government in Harare, the president and his colleagues in Zanu PF have told us that foreign-owned mining firms are milking the economy and that locals are not benefiting from the exploitation of mineral resources, hence the need to amend mining legislation to ensure locals benefit. President Mugabe has proposed legislation that will see foreign-owned mining firms ceding 50% of their stake to indigenous players or government. The legislation has not yet been tabled before parliament but Mugabe, after touring the Zimplats plant, started proposing “amendments” to a law that is yet to see the light of day.

Mugabe told investors at Zimplats that they should not be “frightened” by the proposed legislation because the law only seeks to ensure the miners “plough back into communities they operate in” which he commended Zimplats for having already done.

“So do not dread us…We are not there to take that which is not ours,” Mugabe promised.

There is a problem here. What sort of statute would give such guarantees to investors? In fact, it would be an administrative nightmare to legislate the thresholds of ownership structures based on companies’ corporate social responsibility programmes.

But more importantly, it would be naïve for would-be investors in the mining sector and those already doing business here to derive comfort from the presidential assurances. Government’s history of deception and outright dishonesty should provide a warning.At the inception of the land reform programme in 2000, government assured the world that land reform was all about fairness and equitable distribution of wealth. Agriculture minister Joseph Made said the criteria for expropriation was derelict or underutilised land, land under multiple ownership, foreign-owned land (land owned by foreigners for holiday or speculative purposes), and land adjacent to highly-congested communal areas. 

Coffee, tea, sugarcane and timber plantations were exempted.  Farms belonging to church organisations, missions and wildlife conservancies were also exempt as were lands under bilateral agreements with investors.  Made said since commercial farmland adjacent to communal areas was a top priority, “in those rare cases where a white commercial farmer only had a single farm … government would acquire the farm but in return the owner was invited to choose any other property that the government had already acquired and the owner could relocate there at government’s expense”.

President Mugabe, in an article published in New African magazine in September 2002, said: “We shall always welcome and respect loyal citizens or residents who co-operate with government and respect our policies and decisions. Many farmers have relocated in compliance with our one-farmer, one-farm policy. No farmer has been rendered landless on this principle. Only the greedy ones are complaining.”

Can there be any greater dishonesty, looking at the state of affairs in the farming sector?

There are agro-industrial firms like Hippo Valley Estates whose land is being expropriated despite its huge investment in infrastructure and social services in Chiredzi. Kondozi Estate, at the heart of development in Odzi, which employed more that 5 000 workers, was expropriated, looted and run into the ground. Business has come to a jolting halt in agricultural towns and service centres which once thrived on well-organised commercial agriculture. Disinvestment in the mining sector would be a major blow.

Remember this Mugabe warning to farmers in his New African article: “We cannot allow those who plot our ruin to continue to make rich pickings here. Let the hostility of their actions turn into the costs they deserve.”

Like white commercial farmers who opposed chaotic land reform, mining firms which will stand up to oppose the legislation could easily be branded hostile and made to face the “costs they deserve”.

There is every reason to be afraid. And no room whatsoever for the investor confidence which we are told is key to economic recovery.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Jokonya can appoint committee to register Daily News- ANZ

Zimbabwe Independent
9 June 2006

Clemence Manyukwe
THE Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) says Information minister Tichaona Jokonya has the power to appoint an ad hoc committee to deal with its registration after the Media and Information Commission (MIC) was disqualified by the courts due to perceived bias.

The ANZ, publishers of the closed Daily News and Daily News on Sunday, said this in court papers in response to a filing by Jokonya.

Jokonya said in papers he had filed earlier that he was unable to appoint another committee in line with a court judgement as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) did not provide for that.

The minister said the media law would have to be amended first before he could do so.

Jokonya and the MIC are the first and second respondents while the ANZ is the sole applicant in an application where it seeks to be deemed registered by the court.

In court documents, ANZ’s acting chief executive officer, John Gambanga, said Jokonya could appoint a committee because the MIC as presently constituted was an ad hoc committee that was appointed for a six-month term after the expiry of its statutory three years in office.

“I do not accept that second respondent is disabled from appointing another membership of the first respondent ad hoc or otherwise to deal with this matter,” said Gambanga. “Effectively the current membership of the first respondent is ad hoc in that its term of office has in fact expired and was only extended for a limited period.”

He said Jokonya and the MIC’s conduct had left the ANZ to conclude that they wanted to ensure that “the Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday are never ever printed and published in Zimbabwe”.

He also said claims that Aippa needed to be amended first to comply with a directive to constitute another body not tainted by bias was an attempt to ensure that the matter was not urgently resolved.

“The government of Zimbabwe has on many occasions resorted to the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act to urgently amend or create legislation whenever it wished,” Gambanga said.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

The church has a place in politics

Zimbabwe Independent
9 June 2006

By Chris Mhike
TOO often, too many politicians have declared that politics should be exclusive to politicians. The church has been specifically blacklisted as one of many societal institutions without a place in national politics.

President Robert Mugabe has been one of the most vociferous proponents of that fallacious theory.

Recently, as he met with prelates at State House, the president reminded the church that it should refrain from politics. He denounced church leaders “who wear political robes”. 

A few years ago, at the consecration of Harare’s Catholic Archbishop, the Rt Rev Robert Ndlovu, the president openly declared that politics was out-of-bounds for the church.

Politicians have also proclaimed that non-governmental organisations, diplomats, teachers and numerous other organisations and individuals should stay away from the politics of the nation. 

But why should politicians monopolise politics? Why should certain organisational and individual citizens be excluded from political activity? Why shouldn’t the church delve into political issues?

To date, politicians have not proffered any cogent answers to these questions.

Here, “the church” refers to all institutionalised forms of religion, or the collective body of all Christians. Most denominations in that collective body are, for instance, capable of suing or being sued, hence their legal personality. The church as a body is also, in a spiritual sense, a person.

Being a person in civic or legal terms, the church, as is the case with all other citizens, has, or should therefore have, as much right as any in-office or out-of-office politician, to be part of the political processes and political moments of the nation.

“Politics” is not an easy term to define. But on the basis of common observation, some of the basic features of politics include the formation, direction and administration of states and other societal units. The political decisions, policies and programmes designed by reigning politicians to this end affect all citizens, including the church.

Politics could also be defined to include any activity concerned with the acquisition of governmental or political power over citizens. The power so acquired is exercised over all, including the church.

The term also includes opinions, principles or sympathies with respect to politics.  It is therefore “politics” when one expresses his/her opinion about how the country should be governed.

Politicians who advocate the exclusion of the church from politics have not specified the part of politics that the church should shun. They have not justified their desire to monopolise politics and thereby exclude the church.

Of the numerous grounds that should justify the involvement of the church in national politics, three are worthy of accentuation. The first is judicial, the second theological, and the third dogmatic. That arrangement of the arguments is not necessarily in any order of importance.

Judicially, or at law, there are various legal instruments that grant citizens the right to participate in politics. Under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Constitution of Zimbabwe, among numerous instruments, citizens are entitled to take part in the politics of the nation.

As already proposed, the church should be considered as a citizen fit to take part in the politics that affect it.

Because it is also affected by national politics, the church is entitled to make reference to politics. It follows, under the principles of natural justice, that persons who are affected by particular decisions or processes should be allowed to have a say in the subject decisions or processes. 

Further, if the inhibition by politicians upon the church’s role in politics includes a bar to the church’s right to hold and express opinions, such inhibition becomes undemocratic and unconstitutional as far as it takes away the church’s freedom to hold opinions and its freedom of expression.

It is true that rights and freedoms ought to be accompanied by responsibilities. In their expression of opinions about the political situation, citizens and the church must remain truthful and sincere. Indeed, truth and sincerity are consistent with Christianity.

In the theological sense, it seems clear from scripture that the original source of politics and political power is divine.

At the genesis of the world, the Creator vested mankind with dominion, authority or power over the elements of earth. Dominance, authority, power, management, and governance, as they were instituted at creation, are all very closely related to politics. 

As human history progresses from creation towards the days of Christ, God develops the concept of governance. He goes as far as defining the parameters of appropriate governance. 

The book of Isaiah states that persons in government should “rule with integrity”. It says “national leaders (must) govern with justice . . . Their eyes and ears will be open to the needs of the people . . . they will act with understanding and will say what they mean.”  There is God Himself in politics.

Most ruling politicians in this country claim to be rooted in the politics of liberation and freedom. The cornerstone of the Christian faith, Jesus Christ himself, was, like his Father, political. Christ indubitably installed an agenda for liberation and freedom. He was revolutionary not just in spiritual respects, but also politically.

The redemptive process had commenced in the Old Testament days, with the liberation of Israel from a repressive government, or rogue regime of Egypt. Moses’ leadership in liberating Israel from Pharaoh’s political state was both spiritual and political.

Christ’s incarnation from the divine heavenly state into human form was part of the plan to bring about fullness to human life — so that mankind could realise “life in its fullness”. A full life must be full, complete with spiritual, political, economic and other existential ingredients.

Does it therefore not follow that if the impediment to the completeness of the life that God desires for the world is economic, then the church, politicians, and all other concerned citizens ought to attend to such economic maladies, in accordance with their respective abilities and capacities?

Is it not sensible that when the impediment is political, then the church, politicians and all other concerned citizens ought to attend to the political disorders! The church must be capable of coming up with such economic, political and other relevant solutions.

Indeed, religion, which is the church’s core business, is not inimical to economics, politics, or any other study or sphere of human existence.

As scripture and contemporary human experience reveal, God was, and is political.  The church may therefore as well be so. Indeed, should the church fail to be progressively political as Christ was, and fail to be part of the practical solution to the world’s woes, then it faces the danger of extinction, or non-relevance.

Allan Boesak once said:  “African churches all too often cling to a pietistic, other worldly religiosity which has no bearing on the present situation in the world, not only denying the Lordship of Christ, but forgetting that it is the kind of theology that justified slavery and oppression right through history to the present.”

Measure the validity of that statement against words of clergymen who, after a few hours at State House recently, said: “We found that we (the church and government) are just one. We know we have a government that we must support.”

Despite all the callousness of Operation Murambatsvina and the subsequent human suffering that was witnessed by all who cared to open their eyes; and despite the monumental waste of erstwhile productive farmland, the reverends still claim that “the church fully supports the government and its members are also in need of land”.

Scripture shows that when people are unnecessarily impoverished and oppressed, the church assumes the prophetic role of speaking out against the perpetrators of the misery.  Such prophetic action is almost invariably taken to be political conduct by politicians.

In such situations, the church is left with the choice of answering either the call to prophecy or the whims of politicians.

Dogma refers to the official teaching, doctrine or ideology of the church. As stated earlier, the president subscribes to the “no politics for the church” movement.  Because he worships in the Catholic Church, the dogmatic justification for the involvement of the church in politics is herein drawn from the teaching of that Catholic Church.

In its social teaching, the Catholic Church describes politics as an “honourable” or “noble” profession. Although its clergy are barred from active party politics so that they devote all their time to God’s work, and to avoid partisan divisions, individual members of the church may join and participate in political parties of their choice, subject to their Catholic principles.

While the clergy may not partake in party politics, they are not barred from making statements that may have a bearing on the politics of the day. The late Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated by politicians in El Salvador because he spoke out for the poor and the down-trodden. Today the church honours him.

For judicial, theological and dogmatic reasons, therefore the church should continue to find its voice in politics.

Society and posterity will have a special place for that which challenges a blundering and unjust political system. Rise up church, rise up!

* Chris Mhike is a Harare-based lawyer.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Ethnic card bodes ill for democracy

Zimbabwe Independent
9 June 2006

By Paul Themba Nyathi
THOSE who are not familiar with Zimbabwe’s violent politics, on reading some of the vitriolic and hysterical articles in the press about Arthur Mutambara would be forgiven for concluding that the man must have committed a political crime punishable only by death.

What crime has Mutambara committed to provoke so much anger and animosity? His crime was to do what free men and women the world over do daily. He chose to stand for office in an opposition group of his preference.

In a country where 26 years of Zanu PF thuggery and political intolerance exacts a heavy price for political activism, we are witnessing, sadly, a manifestation of this same culture within opposition ranks.

As if denying Mutambara the right to choose the side he prefers to work with in his fight against Zanu PF’s tyranny is not enough, we are also witnessing the resurgence of an ethnic-based nationalism that bodes ill for our country.

Some of the problems in the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are located both in Zanu PF’s succession debacle and in its battle to destroy the MDC.

Over the last five years, the state media has presented an increasingly racist and ethnic interpretation of history and the present. Sadly, within the structures and functioning of MDC itself, this had an impact. Certain individuals within the MDC became determined to split the party rather than see a challenge to a tribal clique of people involved in the Zanu PF succession race who were determined to control the MDC.

The supporters of Emmerson Mnangagwa, who are upset by what they consider unfair treatment in the succession stakes, are agitating for an ethnic awakening unprecedented in the political history of the country.

Similarly, within certain elements of the MDC, tribal discourse has taken hold: it seems Mutambara’s sin of daring to choose his own democratic space is compounded by the fact that he is seen as siding with an ethnic minority.

For six years we worked patiently within the MDC to try and manage the destructive divisions of ethnicity. The Bulawayo congress this year resulted in a national executive that is ethnically and regionally balanced, with strong and recognised leadership from all parts of the nation, in order to build a sense of national oneness that has never been achieved under the rule of Zanu PF. 

In contrast, the other congress in Harare produced an executive that reflects the ethnic anger that drove the MDC to split. 

One is amazed by the line-up of Mutambara’s attackers. Is it possible to imagine that civic leaders, whose core mission should be to promote pluralistic discourse in society at large, would be at the forefront of attacking Mutambara for making a choice that is his birthright and entitlement? We hear reckless pronouncements from civic leaders who should know better suggesting that Morgan Tsvangirai is the only possible legitimate leader for the MDC.

In Africa, the tendency to treat specific individuals in the political arena as cult heroes or demigods who can do no wrong is the scourge of the continent, and Zimbabwe has been no exception. It is this tendency that has littered Africa with thousands of mass graves, and the progress in some of our neighbouring countries towards limited terms of political office and greater accountability is to be applauded.

At the heart of the MDC constitution and principles has been the concept of accountability and of decentralised power within the leadership to try and avoid this sort of destructive cultism. However, large elements in the media — and civil society — are now portraying Tsvangirai as an “untouchable” in the Zanu PF succession race, who is to be protected at all costs.

This unfortunately has also had the effect of mobilising Tsvangirai’s thugs against those perceived to be trespassing in his terrain. Morgan Femai, chairman of Harare province in the Tsvangirai faction, recently made a public statement about “uprooting” and “stamping out” Mutambara’s group before dealing with President Robert Mugabe.

Such comments are reminiscent of phrases we are more used to hearing from Mugabe — such as Gukurahundi: up to 20 000 civilians were “washed away” like chaff in the 1980s. After the 1985 election, Mugabe instructed his supporters to “weed their garden”: scores of Zapu supporters in Harare and elsewhere were murdered.

Where are the voices of human rights defenders warning against the use of such inflammatory and evocative rhetoric by the Tsvangirai faction? Very few voices have raised themselves publicly to condemn the intra-party violence instigated by Tsvangirai’s thugs who include senior party officials. Rather, it seems Mutambara and his supporters are the obstacle and must be maligned, distorted, insulted and demeaned.

Among the vocal Mutambara critics are those who in the past six years did not dare open their mouths or put pen to paper in opposition to Zanu PF and Mugabe. Suddenly these elements are crawling out of their cowardly holes to attack Mutambara and his leadership. They have suddenly found this cost-free courage to malign people who have an impeccable record in the fight against tyranny.

In our 1970s collective struggle against white minority rule in this country, we were all obsessed, understandably so, with the urge to get rid of colonial rule. We spent far less energy defining the post-colonial state that would meet our collective aspirations.

Unfortunately, Mugabe and Zanu PF crafted the state for us, while too many of us stood by and let him establish himself as absolute dictator. Twenty-six years later, a ruined country stands as an indictment to our collective dereliction of duty. But we believe that we have learnt something and will not repeat our mistakes.

Those of us who stood in support of the MDC’s constitution on October 12 2005 did so as a result of the strong conviction that no country builds a sustainable democracy on a foundation of impunity characterised by deliberate violations of the constitution and promotion of violent behaviour in political activity.

We were chided for our principled stand. We were told that we were wrong because Tsvangirai had the people behind him. What has happened to moral leadership? This lynch mob mentality suggests that rules, regulations and party structures should give way to the crowd out there. We reject that notion.

The Mutambara group has been criticised for taking part in the Budiriro by-election. Did we not know that Tsvangirai would trounce him? Why is he interfering with Tsvangirai’s opposition business? Mutambara should stick to robotics. The mob says Tsvangirai can do no wrong.

Even though the Tsvangirai congress resolved not to participate in elections, resolutions are made to be violated as long as the people agree. Even though the MDC national council voted in June 2005 to suspend Emmanuel Chisvuure from holding office for two years because of his perceived violent and destructive role within the party, the people presumably wanted him as their Budiriro candidate — and he now sits in parliament.

Who cares about accountability and process? What matters is what the people want. The people as referred to by Tsvangirai appear to be a very fickle lot. According to him at his March congress, the people wanted a winter of discontent. Now, by June they do not want mass action, but a negotiated settlement.  

Those of us who supported the Budiriro by-election did so aware of the obstacles ahead. Yes, we knew we were likely to be badly defeated in Budiriro, but that did not prevent us from participation. We do not believe that one participates only in those elections one is sure of winning. The outcome, disappointing as it was, has offered us some valuable lessons and insight into what lies ahead for this country.

In our view, the future of this country can be realistically built on the moral rectitude and resolve of 504 decent voters who refused to succumb to the exhortations not to vote for that “Ndebele party”. They resisted intimidation, rejected misinformation, overcame the discomfort of not being part of the crowd out there. Such people should not be betrayed by hiding them behind some cowardly bush for fear of being defeated.

We are in the midst of a protracted struggle to ensure a future Zimbabwe built on the principles and values of a democracy free from intimidation and violence; this fact seems to be lost on the short-termists who are unable to see beyond current numbers at rallies. This plays into the hands of the Tsvangirai faction, who are not being pressured by their supporters to provide a programme of substance, and who have in their national executive people who have been named as responsible for violence within the party.

Tsvangirai is now spearheading the aspirations of a particularly angry and frustrated group of people. They have openly stated that they will do everything in their power to make sure that Mutambara and his supporters are not an obstacle.

They have calculated that Zanu PF has sufficiently wounded itself as a result of the succession race and can therefore be overcome — even though the Budiriro results show Tsvangirai can only poll less than half of the votes, even in this stronghold, than he has polled before. The voter turnout of around 25% for this by-election was hardly more than the turnout for the senatorial elections last year, which were widely condemned for low turnout.

South African papers last week quoted Tsvangirai as accusing President Thabo Mbeki of preferring stability in Zimbabwe to change. However, change in our view does not preclude stability.

We believe in change that has content. That change is about deepening the democracy in Zimbabwe. This must inevitably lead to an improved quality of life. Positive processes occur sustainably where they are bound by a good constitution, and governed by a broad, consultative leadership.

One destructive Mugabe is enough for Zimbabwe: the future requires a leadership that is above ethnicity, that will be guided by a broad range of colleagues, that will respect the rights of all Zimbabweans to retain their dignity, and that will uphold accountability for the actions of the past, the present and the future.

* Paul Themba Nyathi is MDC director of elections (Mutambara faction) writing in his personal capacity.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zanu PF hounds Bredenkamp

Zimbabwe Independent
9 June 2006

CONTROVERSIAL tycoon John Breden-kamp has become the latest victim of Zanu PF’s depredations following raids on his business empire this week after a major fallout with ruling party heavyweights fighting to succeed President Robert Mugabe, it has been learnt.

Sources said Bredenkamp had clashed with Zanu PF leaders, including his erstwhile ally Emmerson Mnangagwa, over mineral deals in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The situation was worsened by links to one of Zanu PF’s factions battling to win a long-running succession struggle. Bredenkamp was cited as a financier of the Mnangagwa faction despite the recent fallout in a report allegedly compiled for Mugabe by former State Security minister Nicholas Goche in the wake of the Tsholotsho affair in November 2004.

It was alleged he had provided billions of dollars to fund Mnangagwa’s campaign to become vice-president and eventually succeed Mugabe. Although Bredenkamp has denied the claims, senior Zanu PF officials, in particular from the faction led by retired army commander, General Solomon Mujuru, continue to view him with suspicion.

The magnate also had a high-profile clash with Mnangagwa — the politician who made the businessman’s return to Zimbabwe in 1982 possible — over mineral concessions in the DRC. Mugabe is said to have been invariably suspicious of him after his role in propping up the Smith regime through sanctions-busting measures.

This situation, sources said, left Bredenkamp vulnerable to political attacks by warring Zanu PF officials who feel he has now outlived his usefulness in their power play. Insiders say this week’s raid on his companies reflects a loss of support in the party underlined by efforts to seize his businesses the same way South African-based local businessman Mutumwa Mawere lost his empire.

Zanu PF appears to be uncomfortable with businessmen who make their fortune outside their patronage network or those who use it to make money and then try to play clean.

Bredenkamp, a controversial international investor rated the United Kingdom’s 33rd richest citizen in 2003, was raided on Monday by police seeking to investigate cases said to be linked to economic sabotage. This reportedly involved the flouting of exchange control regulations.

He is also being investigated for carrying a Zimbabwean passport, another from South Africa and a third from the Netherlands.

Breco Group, Bredenkamp’s investment vehicle, confirmed in a statement yesterday that the tycoon left Zimbabwe on Tuesday. They however denied that he had fled the country as reported in the government media on Wednesday. The statement said he had “left for South Africa on a pre-arranged visit to his medical practitioners following which he departed to the United Kingdom for a business trip”.

Bredenkamp’s association with Zanu PF and in particular Mnangagwa dates back to the 1980s. Mnangagwa, then State Security minister in the early 1980s, and Mugabe’s first press secretary, Costa Pafitis, now corporate and public affairs director of Breco, negotiated Bredenkamp’s return to Zimbabwe in 1982 after he was declared persona non grata at Independence in 1980 for helping to sustain the Smith regime by sanctions-busting. The return was granted on condition that he would invest in Zimbabwe.

He proceeded to donate funds towards the construction of the Zanu PF headquarters. Mnangagwa and Bredenkamp became close as a result until the acrimonious DRC fallout.

Once involved with the financial affairs of the Rhodesian Defence Forces, Bredenkamp was involved in sanctions-busting in return for a highly lucrative concession to export tobacco from Rhodesia. He went on to turn his company, Casalee, into a multi-million pound empire with offices around the world, including Windsor in the UK.

Casalee’s business dealings were often rocked by controversy. In the early 1990s, Casalee acted as an intermediary in the sale of anti-personnel mines to Iraq. At the height of the fuel crisis in 2000, Bredenkamp, through a company called Zimalzam, offered to provide fuel by rail from South Africa. The deal went sour and led to a flurry of allegations of deliberately inflated tenders.

Bredenkamp told the Zimbabwe Independent in 2004 he did not give Mnangagwa any money towards his campaign to become vice-president. Mnangagwa has also said Bredenkamp did not fund him. He said he only received gifts at his daughter’s wedding held at the tycoon’s Borrowdale Brooke Golf Course in October 2004.

Sources said Mnangagwa fell out with Bredenkamp after the Zanu PF politician assisted another local controversial businessman, Billy Rautenbach, to retain cobalt and copper mining concessions in the DRC in 2001.

Rautenbach, founder of transport giant Wheels of Africa, is now said to have replaced Bredenkamp as Mnangagwa’s confidant. Sources said the money, which according to Zanu PF chairman John Nkomo “exchanged hands” in Tsholotsho, came from “DRC quarters”. — Staff Writers

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Powered by illegality

Zimbabwe Independent
9 June 2006
Editor's Memo

Vincent Kahiya

I AM back from my short but very eventful break during which fuel went up from $200 000 to close to $300 000 a litre, the RBZ introduced a new $100 000 bill and promised to unleash even larger denominations. The price of a loaf of bread went up “illegally” to $135 000 from $85 000 and the cost of urban transport also went up “illegally” to $80 000 trip. Boarding schools doubled school fees “illegally”, rentals went up and so did municipal rates and charges.

Our rulers who have been waving the NEDPP as the panacea to our predicament have continued to find it difficult to explain the current cycle of poverty. This week Industry and International Trade minister Obert Mpofu was telling us the hike in the bread price was “illegal” because government had not given it the go-ahead.

He said it was “mischievous” for bakers to say production costs had gone up because the price of wheat had not gone up. The Ministry of Transport has also told us the new kombi fares are illegal because they have not been sanctioned by government.

When bread went up “illegally” in February Mpofu was on hand to produce the threat. “We have already assigned police officers and inspectors to visit those bakeries and supermarkets that are charging between $65 000 and $70 000 for a loaf,” he said.

“Government allowed the bakery industry to increase the price of bread to $44 000 and that is the price we recognise. Any other price increases are illegal and we will take the perpetrators to task.”

Nothing of course happened to the perpetrators. The price of bread did not come down because of this imperiously feeble threat.

Mpofu’s statement this week is a carbon copy of the threat he issued in February and in his heart of hearts he does not expect the bakers to reduce the price.

Bereft of reason is the minister’s belief that the price of bread can only go up when wheat prices go up. The minister is aware that diesel has gone up, phone tariffs have skyrocketed to the extent that $100 000 now gives cellphone users two minutes airtime! Electricity tariffs have gone up and companies’ wage bills have at least doubled since the last hike in bread price.

Mpofu I am sure remembers his counterparts in government urging industry to give workers huge salary increases to match the “hefty” 300% increments awarded to civil servants in May.

And so it is illegal for industry to absorb the additional costs by increasing the price of bread? Perhaps yes, because Gideon Gono’s master stroke, the $100 000 bill, cannot buy a loaf of bread, or a pint of milk. It cannot even buy a pen!

Mpofu and his colleagues have to realise that measures to mitigate inflationary pressures, including price controls, interfere with the free working of the economy. No government regulation can take account of all the complex changes that occur within different industries. Prices of some goods may be falling while those of others are rising; such changes often reflect differences in production costs. The straitjacket of controls prevents the economy from adjusting to such changes in relative costs.

During World War II the US government in its quest to organise the economy towards military goals introduced price controls. Consumers were given coupons entitling them to buy limited amounts of essential goods to make sure that everyone got a fair share. When controls were discontinued after the war, prices rose rapidly for several years because of the excess purchasing power that had accumulated in consumers’ savings. But inflation in the US never exceeded 15% in any single year — modest compared to our 1 042%.

Hugh Rockoff, professor of economics at Rutgers University in New Jersey, says “restrictive monetary policy is the operation that cures inflation, and price and wage controls are the anesthesia that suppresses the pain”. But ours is a very sick economy and the illness has been exacerbated by too many operations carried out on the patient by incompetent surgeons in total disregard of convention.

This is where the illegality started Obert. This nation is powered by illegality. Where would industry be without the forex black market? Where did Gono source the forex he bought with the $46 trillion he printed last year? Is government not the chief distributor of fuel that finds its way onto the black market?

The government has raised the spectre of illegality. Now it must live with it.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

British ambassador explores ways to normalise relations

Zimbabwe Independent
9 June 2006

Loughty Dube
THE British ambassador to Zimbabwe, Andrew Pocock, says he is quietly exploring whether there is any room for the normalisation of relations between Britain and Zimbabwe.

Addressing British citizens and civic leaders in Bulawayo this week, Pocock said for relations between Harare and the international community to normalise, the country should correct its policies first.

“What I am trying to do at the moment is to explore quietly whether there is room to improve relations with the Zimbabwe government and we are committed to normalising relations with Zimbabwe. That commitment will remain,” Pocock said.

The British envoy however said whether there were chances of normalising relations between the two countries or not, the Zimbabwean government needed to get its policies right. Writing in the latest edition of Britain and Zimbabwe, published by the British embassy, ahead of his visit to Bulawayo, Pocock said Zimbabwe was at a crossroads.

“If it continues to take its current course it will put itself beyond rescue,” he said. “But Zimbabwe has a choice. It can change track, change policies and give its people the life, prospects and future they deserve.”

But time was not on Zimbabwe’s side, he pointed out. Policy needed to evolve in a new direction. Only the Zimbabwe government could make the choice.

“It can be done,” Pocock said, “and is being done in other African countries.” He pointed to the success of Tanzania and Rwanda.

“Both are current examples of African countries demonstrating that it is possible to have economically sustainable, market-friendly policies, and to work in close and fruitful cooperation with international donors, while those policies remain wholly-owned and driven by African governments and their people,” the ambassador said.

“Sovereignty and cooperation are not mutually exclusive.”

On helping ordinary Zimbabweans, Pocock said the British government would this year avail £35 million for supporting orphans, food aid for three million Zimbabweans and to fund areas of HIV/Aids.

“During last year’s G-8 meeting in Gleneagles in Scotland a billion pound development aid facility for Africa was unveiled and it is sad that Zimbabwe at the moment is not eligible to access the funds,” Pocock said.

President Mugabe has said his government was prepared to build bridges with the British government. He challenged Pocock to visit the rest of the country to see “the real” situation in Zimbabwe.

“I took the challenge from President Mugabe to see the real Zimbabwe and that is why I am here in Bulawayo, to see the real Zimbabwe,” Pocock said.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mbeki presses to meet Mugabe over crisis

Zimbabwe Independent
9 June 2006

Dumisani Muleya
SOUTH African President Thabo Mbeki has relaunched his diplomatic offensive to engage President Robert Mugabe in a bid to resolve Zimbabwe’s escalating political and economic crisis, it emerged yesterday.

Mbeki’s initiative comes at a time when Mugabe is under mounting pressure from several fronts, including the United Nations, local diplomats and churches, to give a firm timetable for his departure to pave way for the reconstruction of the country shattered by years of misrule.

A report by the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think-tank run by retired statesmen, this week said Zimbabwe’s multi-faceted problems had left Mugabe’s regime “increasingly desperate and dangerous”.

This, it said, was a recipe for disaster in a country that has virtually lost political direction and was hurtling towards a failed state. The report said the international community needed to intervene to prevent possible instability and violence.

Official sources said Mbeki — who has been battling for six years to find a negotiated settlement in Zimbabwe — yesterday dispatched his Intelligence Services minister Ronnie Kasrils to meet State Security minister Didymus Mutasa for talks on a possible summit between their two leaders.

Sources said Kasrils flew into Harare on a private jet shortly after midday accompanied by a high-powered delegation comprising South Africa’s National Intelligence Agency (NIA) chief Manala Manzini and South African Secret Service (Sass) boss Dennis Hilton. NIA deals with internal intelligence while Sass focuses on foreign intelligence.

After meeting officials from his embassy in Harare, Kasrils is said to have gone into a meeting with Mutasa for discussions on the state of affairs in both countries and their relations. Sources said the main issue on the agenda was to arrange a summit between Mugabe and Mbeki to address the local crisis.

The two ministers, who resolved the spy saga deadlock between the two countries last year, had dinner last night at a local hotel. Kasrils returns home this morning.

An official source said the need for Mugabe to meet Mbeki had become urgent in view of the accelerating national decline and strained relations between the two leaders following a number of rebuffs from Mugabe.

South African ministers have of late been pointing out the need to resolve the local crisis to prevent a regional contagion. Mugabe in February suggested Mbeki must “keep away” from Zimbabwe. Mbeki’s spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga yesterday said he was not aware of plans for a meeting between his boss and Mugabe. “I’m not aware of that,” he said when contacted for comment. 

Sources said Mbeki recently sent Kasrils to London to meet government officials and intelligence chiefs before his visit three weeks ago to meet British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Mbeki and Blair have met twice this year to discuss the local problem.

South African Intelligence Services ministry spokesperson Loran Daniels said she would “check” on Kasrils’ visit to Harare. “I have to check on that issue. Are you not able to check on your side, while I check this side?” she said. Efforts to contact Mutasa were unsuccessful.

Mbeki said in London three weeks ago he was hoping UN secretary-general Kofi Annan’s expected visit would sort out the crisis. Annan is preparing to come to Harare despite Mugabe’s attempt to block him to prevent Zimbabwe becoming a UN Security Council issue. Last week the UN boss recalled the world body’s ambassador to Harare, Agostinho Zacarias, for consultations over the issue.

A team of local diplomats and a think-tank have already secured the services of former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa to mediate between Mugabe and Blair. Mugabe has said he wants to “build bridges” with Blair.

Tanzania is sending a new ambassador to Harare as part of its strategy to help resolve the issue.

British ambassador to Harare Andrew Pocock said this week he has been “quietly exploring for room” to improve strained relations between Harare and London. Blair has given clear conditions for talks with Mugabe including a timetable for Mugabe’s departure and political reform.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mortgaging minerals govt's short-term survival strategy

Zimbabwe Independent
9 June 2006

Shakeman Mugari
THE current assault on the mining sector manifested by the threats of nationalisation and mortgaging of minerals is likely to undermine one of Zimbabwe’s few remaining vibrant economic sectors.

Remarks last week by central bank governor Gideon Gono that “the country will continue to leverage minerals” poses a renewed threat to the mining sector, coming on the back of ominous statements by government officials and President Robert Mugabe.

Few people took Transport and Communications minister Chris Mushohwe’s statement earlier in the year seriously when he hinted that government would “take over mines as it did with the land”.

Analysts say remarks by Gono are another way of saying Zimbabwe will mortgage minerals for economic essentials such as foreign currency that are in critical short supply.

Gono said government would continue to use minerals including those still embedded underground as security to get lines of credit to meet pressing needs.

“Zimbabwe has over 40 minerals and we should leverage these minerals, even if they are still in the ground, to get value,” Gono said at the signing of a US$50 million fuel deal with French bank, BNP Paribas.

The deal -with the French is the first with a major European institution in many years, with Bindura Nickel Corporation providing part of its product as collateral.

This raised alarm that government could mortgage mineral resources to secure lines of credit to prolong its stay in power. 

A similar deal with Malaysians involving Hwange power station raised national outrage a few years ago.

Government has of late been flaunting the country’s platinum and touting unverified uranium reserves as bargaining chips for economic aid and investment.

The plan, analysts say, is to get a short-term rescue package to save the economy from its current gridlock.

Such deals, they say, signal that Zimbabwe is now completely isolated from the international community both politically and economically.

The fuel-for-nickel deal comes barely three months after the government announced plans to take over a 51% stake in mines.

The decision has triggered speculation that mining companies, fearful of the security of their assets, could be buying their way out of the proposed takeovers by pledging their minerals as security for government’s credits.

Bindura said it had participated in the deal as part of its service to the country and good citizenry — a statement that analysts say was a thinly-veiled admission that the company had succumbed to pressure.

There are now fears that other mining companies could follow suit as part of strategic positioning ahead of implementation of the proposed law.

Analysts say mortgaging minerals illustrates that government has run out of ideas to save the sinking economy that has been hemorrhaging for the past seven years due to government’s populist policies.  

“We are yet to see how that will happen but from the look of things, they want to get instant value even from areas that have been prospected and claims,” said an economist with a local financial institution.

After failing to get the anticipated aid from politically-friendly countries like China or Russia, Zimbabwe is now planning to pawn its minerals to get lines of credit.

The Russians and Chinese are reported to have been keen to enter Zimbabwe’s mining sector although their concerns over the country’s international risk profile are similar to those of other investors.

While other countries have in the past swapped their commodities in advance to fund current expenditure, the bid by Zimbabwe is borne out of desperation to save an economy hurtling towards collapse.

But analysts warn that such deals are short-term measures that will not save the economy unless there are broader economic reforms underpinned by a change in the political mindset of the nation’s leaders. On a broader scale, the scheme amply demonstrates that international financial organisations have lost faith in Zimbabwe’s creditworthiness.

It is a serious indictment of Mugabe who has in the past said Zimbabwe did not need assistance from Western countries.

Since the fall-out with the West, Zimbabwe has not received any significant lines of credit from Western institutions. It has been cut off from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), one of its major sources of credit before the crisis started six years ago over anarchic land reforms.

Eager to be seen to be doing something about the economic crisis, Mugabe seems to have turned to using minerals as collateral, which economists say threatens a sector that contributes 4% to national wealth.

Mining has been the only industry that has witnessed growth in the past six years.

Although Mugabe has tried to allay fears of the land invasion-style takeovers, control and leverage, as Gono said, will include even minerals that have not been mined.

An economist with a local commercial bank said government was desperate, hence its bid to “sell fish still in the river”.

Political commentator Takura Zhangazha said bartering minerals was an indication that the ailing economy was now an albatross round the government’s neck as it battles to undo the impact of its damaging policies.

“It’s a sign of failure. It’s coming out clear that the economic problems have boxed this regime into a corner,” Zhangazha said.

“But they will soon realise that mortgaging state resources is not only a short-term measure but also a destructive one.”

He said while the deal might bring fuel for a few days, the root causes of the country’s problems would remain.

“It’s politics that has caused this international isolation. Unless the political crisis is resolved, the economy will continue to bleed and we will hop from one short-term deal to another,” said Zhangazha. 

Apart from the short-term nature of the deals, it will also not translate into sustained foreign currency inflows.

Zimbabwe has over the past six years systematically destroyed its foreign currency generating sectors like agriculture, manufacturing and tourism. Foreign currency income has shrunk from a high of about US$3 billion to about US$1,8 million in the same period.

Agricultural production has slumped on the back of reduced tobacco and horticulture output owing mainly to the allocation of land to cronies without an inkling of commercial farming. 

The production of tobacco, a prime foreign currency-generating crop, has plunged from a peak of about 200 million kg in 2000 to about 50 million kg expected this year.

Price controls imposed by government ostensibly to “protect the poor consumers” have constricted expansion in the manufacturing sector.

A long-term solution to these problems, analysts say, does not lie in pawning away national assets but a complete revival of the key sectors.

The problem though is that government has not been able to address key issues crucial to the revival of the sector.

Economist John Robertson said government could come up with many such deals but it would not ensure investment unless there was stability and property rights were secured.

“They need to restore property rights, correct governance issues and stability to revive these sectors,” Robertson said.

Government is however still to guarantee security of tenure in the agriculture sector. The land reform that Mugabe declared ended in August 2002 has continued to this day with fresh farm invasions and new offer letters in the Lowveld.

Robertson said there was a danger Zimbabwe could end up tying itself to expensive lines of credit out of desperation. The mortgaging of state assets is not a new practice in Zimbabwe.

The Zanu-PF government has in the past entered such deals with Libya as part of its efforts to secure fuel. As part of that deal, the Libyans got a stake in CBZ and the Rainbow Tourism Group.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP
Back to the Top
Back to Index