9 June 2006
THREE Zanu PF politburo members have clashed over the manner in which the land reform exercise is being managed in the Midlands with one member saying the harassment of white commercial farmers was affecting production.
The clashes involving politburo members Rugare Gumbo, Didymus Mutasa and Emmerson Mnangagwa, occurred last month while President Mugabe was visiting Malawi.
According to sources in the ruling party, Gumbo is last month said to have approached Vice-President Joice Mujuru and told her that white commercial farmers in the Midlands province were being harassed by Mnangagwa who is also a senior politburo member in the province. Mujuru instructed National Security and Lands minister Mutasa to look into the issue, a source said.
The Zimbabwe Independent understands that Mutasa summoned all politburo members in the province who include Gumbo, Tsitsi Muzenda, Richard Hove and Mnangagwa to the Zanu PF headquarters where a meeting was held with the white commercial farmers present.
At the heated meeting, Mutasa allegedly accused Gumbo of not following protocol by reporting the matter to Mujuru and side-stepping him as the minister responsible. He pointed out that he was senior to Gumbo in the politburo.
The source said Gumbo told the meeting the continued harassment of white commercial farmers was disturbing the implementation of his ministerial programme under the National Economic Development Priority Programme (NEDPP).
When Mutasa was contacted he confirmed that a meeting on the issue was held.
“Inyaya yakaitika pasichigare (This is an ancient story). I don’t think it’s something worth talking about now. I am going into a meeting, can you talk to Gumbo,” said Mutasa.
Mnangagwa confirmed that he attended a meeting where A1 farmers were complaining that white commercial farmers in Midlands should be left alone as they are helping with farming ideas and equipment.
“I went to the meeting to listen to input from A1 farmers who were saying that white commercial farmers should not be chased away from the Midlands province because vanovabatsira kurima (they help them with farming skills).
“I think it’s better you also talk to Mutasa about this issue,” said Mnangagwa.
However, sources in the Midlands provincial leadership say Gumbo is doing all he can to undermine Mnangagwa who is a fierce competitor to Mujuru in the succession debate.
Gumbo said he didn’t say farmers were being harassed but that they should be given a chance to produce.
“I did not say that farmers were being harassed but I said farmers should be given a chance to produce and it is known that whether you are a white, black or yellow farmer, we should work together to see products of the programme (NEDPP),” he said. — Staff Writer.
9 June 2006
THE Bulawayo City Council has turned down a request by government to rename a section of Cowdray Park Hlalani Kuhle suburb, saying the houses were built on the site of an existing suburb.
The portion in question has houses built to help victims of government’s controversial Operation Murambatsvina under Operation Hlalani Kuhle.
The Bulawayo Inter-Provincial Command in April wrote to council and proposed that the new settlement be named Hlalani Kuhle, but a full council meeting last week turned down the recommendation.
The council resolution stated that “the proposal to officially name the Operation Hlalani Kuhle site, ‘Hlalani Kuhle’ be not acceded to as the site is an integral part of Cowdray Park suburb. There would be no objection to that section of Cowdray Park being informally called Hlalani Kuhle as there are numerous precedents of such a nature in the high density suburbs.
“Precedents exist at Luveve and Entumbane where some sections of the suburb were known as Tshaka, Geneva, Villages I and 2 respectively. These were not official names,” Bulawayo mayor Japhet Ndabeni Ncube said.
The latest refusal by council to accede to government demands flies in the face of President Mugabe who, when he officially commissioned the houses, indicated that there should be a new name for the area.
Some of the houses in Bulawayo have not been occupied after construction defects, caused by the commencement of the construction before a sewer system had been laid out, were spotted.
The builders hit bedrock that made it impossible to set up the sewer system. — Staff Writer.
9 June 2006
THE Harare Commission’s future hangs in the balance as central government has failed to agree on whether to extend its term or call for elections.
Highly-placed sources in the Local Government ministry said a serious rift had emerged between Minister Ignatious Chombo and his deputy Morris Sakabuya over the fate of the Sekesai Makwavarara-led commission forcing Town House administrators to seek clarification on the future of the commission.
Chombo is understood to be pushing for an extension of the commission’s term while Sakabuya and ministry officials want elections to be held.
Makwavarara’s term of office expires today — June 9 — amid speculation that it is not likely to be renewed after she fell out with central government over her extravagant lifestyle.
“Town House dispatched a letter to Minister Chombo on Tuesday seeking clarification on the future of the commission for administrative purposes,” a source said. Town clerk Nomutsa Chideya would only say: “The decision is solely the minister’s prerogative.”
Last week Sakabuya said elections for Harare must be held soon after the expiry of the Makwavarara-led commission’s tenure of office. “Government’s position is that if elections are due, then they must be held and it is not a Harare situation alone but in all other district councils where elections are due,” Sakabuya said.
Chombo on the other hand remained mum on the matter insisting that ministry officials would decide. Local Government director of Urban Councils Jacob Chikuruva could not be reached for comment as he was said to be on leave.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was yet to respond to questions faxed to them last Wednesday on what preparations were in place for the Harare elections. ZEC spokesperson, Utloile Silaigwana, promised to respond but didn’t.
Sources said if the Harare Commission’s term of office was extended, Makwavarara was likely to be stripped of her powers in favour of some sitting commissioners. Zanu PF central committee member Priscilla Mpfumira and Viola Chasi have been named as top contenders for Makwavarara’s job.
Removal of Makwavarara from the post of chairperson would strip her of the privileges of using the mayoral limousine, staying in the mayoral mansion and other benefits such as shopping on council’s expense account.
Makwavarara, a political turncoat who arrived at Town House on an MDC ticket, replaced fired mayor Elias Mudzuri before defecting to Zanu PF, stirring outrage over the past few months with her extravagant spending.
First was the proposal to furnish the mayoral mansion at a cost of $35 billion, followed by the acquisition of a $104 million satellite dish she had installed at the mayoral mansion without approval. As if that was not enough, Makwavarara proceeded to spend over $175 million on groceries at the commission’s expense and is set to purchase a council house at a cost of $5 billion. Independent valuers pegged the house at $20 billion.
l Meanwhile, Chombo ordered the commission to sell the council house in Highlands to Makwavarara at a giveaway price, it has been established.
The revelation was made by Chideya in two reports in March and June to the finance committee.
Chideya states that no one was consulted in the matter that saw Makwavarara initially asked to pay $780 million.
The figure was revised to $5,5 billion after a public outcry.
Properties are being sold for up to $20 billion in the upscale suburb.
In his report (No 45 DHCS/06), Chideya wrote: “The instruction to dispose of the property to the sitting tenant came from the Minister of Local Government and Urban Development (Dr I Chombo).”
Although Makwavarara is said to be the sitting tenant, she has never occupied the property.
An evaluation report attached to Chideya’s submission to the finance committee noted the house was not maintained and in a state of neglect.
“The structure appears abandoned hence in a state of disrepair. One bedroom door is missing,” the report said.
It added that the three-bedroomed house has a staff quarters with two bedrooms and a carport, among other features.
Sources yesterday said commissioners were concerned at reports that they were behind the sale of the house to Makwavarara, but were afraid to publicly point out that it was Chombo’s instruction.
The commission is currently awaiting her written response explaining her use of money without council approval. — Staff Writers.
9 June 2006
By Stefan Armbruster
AUSTRALIA has removed 53 individuals from a sanctions list against Zimbabwe, some of whom have accused the government of carelessly targeting individuals and blackening their reputations.
A renowned critic of President Robert Mugabe and leading business figures say they immediately complained to Australian diplomats after being named among 127 people in November that faced financial and travel sanctions.
The revision in April also removed from the list two dead people and corrected dates of birth and job titles. Some of those targeted received apologies but they remain disillusioned with their treatment by the Australian Government.
Included in November was Trevor Ncube, the publisher of Zimbabwe’s last two independent newspapers and South Africa’s Mail & Guardian.
Ncube, who is now based in South Africa, says he complained to Australia’s High Commissioner and received an apology within 48 hours.
“I was shocked and really could not understand why my name had been included amongst a list of people who to me looked like government officials, people who are pro the Mugabe regime, which is a government that has abused the human rights of a lot of Zimbabweans and cannot be said to be a democratic government,” Ncube said.
“I am known quite widely as someone who is very critical of that government and for my sins I have been thrown into prison for writing stories over Robert Mugabe.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) says the sanctions lists are compiled using information “available at the time” gathered in Canberra, by diplomatic posts and from “like-minded countries”.
A DFAT spokesman said in a statement that the “delisting” of individuals like Ncube was part of a “periodic review”.
“The department took all representations seriously and when legitimate reasons for the delisting (of individuals) were presented and new information brought to our attention, such individuals were removed from the list,” DFAT said.
“The opaque information environment within Zimbabwe makes the compiling of appropriate biographical detail for the list a challenge.” After the revision in April all superseded sanctions lists, which were previously available on the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) website, were also removed.
DFAT said that “previous versions of the sanctions list should be removed from the RBA website to ensure the most current sanctions regime is being implemented”.
Another target of the November list was the former Zimbabwean head of international financial services group Old Mutual, which runs the country’s largest pension fund.
Fifteen months after retiring and leaving Zimbabwe, Graham Hollick found himself the target of Australian sanctions.
“The move had a devastating effect. I did not waver under sustained pressure to support (Mugabe’s) economic policies or individuals seeking to advance their own interests using political threats,” he said from the United Kingdom.
“For these actions it seems that the Australian Government was casting aspersions to my character and my credibility. The whole episode was unpleasant for not only me, but also my family and friends worldwide.”
Hollick says he received a letter saying he would be taken off the sanctions list but not an apology.
Australia first imposed bi-lateral sanctions against Mugabe and members of his Zanu PF party in 2002 after the controversial presidential election.
The decision by Foreign Affairs minister Alexander Downer to apply the “smart sanctions” was the centrepiece of Australia’s efforts to “influence the current government to return to good governance and the rule of law, while avoiding harm to the people of Zimbabwe”.
“They are not going to overwhelm the Zimbabwe administration in any way, but they are an important statement by Australia,” Downer said at the time.
The “smart sanctions” involve travel bans to Australia and a freeze on Australian assets for ministers and officials in the Mugabe government.
Shortly after the November list was issued, Australian Ambassador in Zimbabwe Jon Sheppard told Associated Press that the list was difficult to compile and may have been released prematurely.
“It will be reviewed and expect deletions. We are asking people who were surprised to find themselves on the list to bear with us,” he reportedly said.
Ncube says he is concerned by how the lists are compiled.
“There doesn’t seem to have been a careful gathering of facts. The intelligence that was used was faulty,” he said.
“Whoever was compiling this list doesn’t seem to — well, I don’t know the criteria — but doesn’t seem to know what they were doing. I think it is important for the Australian Government to come out clearly and let us know what the criteria (for being listed) is so that people understand exactly where they stand.” Ncube was listed without a job title and date of birth on April 18, 1971, instead of September 9, 1962.
Also named and then removed were the Zimbabwean head of global bank Standard Chartered, Washington Matsaira, and an executive of mining giant Anglo-American, Godfrey Gomwe.
Spokespeople for both say they received apologies from Australian diplomats. RioZim executive John Nixon, who was head of Rio Tinto’s subsidiary in Zimbabwe and is now deputy chairman of its joint-venture partner in the Murowa Diamond mine, was also listed and removed. — ABC News.
Platinum miner Zimplats, a subsidiary of the world’s second-largest platinum miner, Impala Platinum, has announced the approval of a $258-million expansion project for its Ngezi site south-west of Harare.
This is according to Implats financial director David Brown, who spoke exclusively to Mining Weekly hours after having attended a mine visit for the opening of a new underground portal by President Robert Mugabe. Brown stated that the decision to go ahead with this expansion project was taken against the backdrop of the announcement of a mining-rights deal struck between Zimplats and the Zimbabwe government at the end of May. In terms of this deal, Zimplats agreed to release a portion of its mining claims to the State in exchange for a combination of empowerment credits and cash. Moreover, this deal involves the release of claims amounting to 36% – or 51-million platinum ounces – of its resource base on Zimbabwe’s Great Dyke. The released ground, valued at $153-million, is outside of Zimplats’ long-term expansion programme of a million platinum ounces a year over a 50-year life-of-mine.
The agreement came against the backdrop of the Zimbabwe govern-ment’s announcement in March that a 51% share in all platinum oper-ations was to be owned by the State, of which 25% was to be by way of a noncontributory stake and the balance by way of a contribution over a period of time. Brown told Mining Weekly that the significance of this deal was that it had created an enabling environment in which to move forward with the company’s expansion programme. The $258-million expansion programme entails the construction of two underground mines at Zimplats’ Ngezi site, as well as the construction of a new concentrator.
Part of the expansion project involves the extension of the existing underground mine at Ngezi, at a cost of $46-million, as part of Zimplats’ transition from opencast operations to underground mining. The transition will see underground mining tonnage increase from the current 240 000 t/y year to 960 000 t/y, substituting the higher-cost opencast tonnage from the existing Ngezi mine.
The need to substitute underground ore for opencast ore has become a key short-term objective for the platinum miner, in view of the significant cost differential between the two mining methods and following the successful operation of the trial underground mine at Ngezi. The expansion project is due to start this month.
Andrew Meldrum in Pretoria
Friday June 9, 2006
One of Britain's richest men is reported to have fled Zimbabwe in a private jet this week after President Robert Mugabe, his former business ally, launched an investigation into his companies' affairs.
John Bredenkamp, who was a sanctions-buster and gun-runner for the former Rhodesian leader Ian Smith, switched allegiances to become one of Mr Mugabe's most influential business associates.
Often named as one of Britain's 50 richest men, with a fortune estimated at between £400m and £700m, Mr Bredenkamp flew out of Zimbabwe this week to escape possible arrest, according to the government-controlled Herald newspaper.
"The National Economic Conduct Inspectorate raided local companies owned by business tycoon John Bredenkamp to investigate cases linked to economic crimes," the Herald reported. It said the businessman was "being probed on allegations of flouting exchange control regulations, tax evasion and contravening the citizenship act".
A spokesman for the tycoon's Breco group told the Guardian: "It's true there are investigations at the moment into a number of allegations, but it's ridiculous to say the chairman (Mr Bredenkamp) fled the country. He is on a scheduled trip to London."
A Harare businessman who deals with Breco said: "They're under siege. The government is ransacking the place to find a shred of evidence to bring charges against Bredenkamp."
Mr Bredenkamp, 66, owns a home in Sunningdale, Berkshire, as well as residences in Harare and Cape Town and an island off Mozambique. He was deeply involved in arms and mining deals when the Zimbabwean army was fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo from 1998 to 2004, although he was not implicated in a United Nations report on the illegal plunder of Congo's resources.
Mr Bredenkamp's meddling in party feuds within Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF is seen as the real reason for the investigations. He was associated with Emmerson Mnangagwa, once Mr Mugabe's heir apparent who is now out of favour for having been too eager to see Mr Mugabe retire.
Breco's holdings include international interests such as arms, aircraft, tobacco, mining, petroleum and hotels. The company employs 1,000 people in Zimbabwe.
Mr Bredenkamp came from a humble background in Rhodesia and graduated from Prince Edward School. Big, blond and charismatic, he was a star athlete and captained Rhodesia's rugby team from 1965 to 1968.
He started a tobacco-broking firm, Casalee, which became known for its skill at breaking international sanctions on Rhodesian tobacco exports.
He later helped the Rhodesian government get around sanctions to purchase arms for its war against African nationalists, according to reports in Harare. He has always denied breaking any laws.
When Zimbabwe became independent in 1980 he moved his operations to Belgium and was declared persona non grata by the Mugabe government. But by 1982 he had returned to the country, running his international businesses from Harare and having friendly relations with several in Mr Mugabe's regime.
When the seizure of white-owned farms began in 2000 Mr Bredenkamp was associated with a group of white farmers who sought to appease Mr Mugabe.
Mr Bredenkamp's swift exit from the Zanu-PF inner circle leaves the British property magnate, Nicholas van Hoogstraten, as Mr Mugabe's most prominent friend in international business. Mr van Hoogstraten, who has a vast ranch in central Zimbabwe which has not been seized by the president's supporters, has spoken frequently of his friendship with Mr Mugabe, and said recently that he had lent him $10m, although Mr Mugabe's spokesman later denied it.