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Govt intensifies drive to mobilise poll funds

March 15, 2013 in News

GOVERNMENT is crafting a new Statutory Instrument (SI) to enhance its
capacity to mobilise funds for general elections expected mid-year after it
managed to raise US$54,4 million for tomorrow’s referendum.

Brian Chitemba

Finance minister Tendai Biti met with the principals, President Robert
Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur
Mutambara this week to finalise the issue of funding for the referendum and

The SI, being drafted by the Attorney General’s office, seeks to give
government legal powers and authority to collect outstanding diamond revenue
for 2012 from companies mining the gems in Marange.

The new law will enable government to immediately collect money for future
diamond sales while also empowering the state to sell chrome stockpiles and
mining concessions. The SI also seeks to capitalise on platinum and gold in
a frantic bid to raise funds for the make-or-break polls.

Initially, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) came up with a referendum
budget of US$85 million, but it was rationalised to US$73 million.

Treasury on Monday announced the release of US$31,5 million for the
referendum and of this figure, US$20 666 320 caters for allowances while
US$5 860 350 is for materials (indelible ink, ballot papers and ballot
boxes), US$3 226 400 is for vehicle hire and US$1 746 930 for fuel. The
outstanding US$41,5 million was further rationalised to US$22 878 690 of
which US$13 631 990 would cover allowances, US$3 487 470 for materials while
vehicle hire will gobble up US$2 827 330 and US$2 931 900 is for fuel.

From that US$22 million, Zec would receive US$8 877 620, the police US$12
400 000 and Registrar-General’s office US$1 601 070. Money for the
referendum was sourced from the National Social Security Authority (Nssa)
and Old Mutual, each contributing US$20 million while the remainder was
secured by government.

Government recently wrote to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
seeking US$$250 million for the polls. The UN Electoral Assistance Division
team will be coming to Zimbabwe after government approved its trip to assess
the situation.

“We would like to thank all the companies that contributed. We did our best
under difficult circumstances and now we expect Zimbabweans to turn out in
their numbers tomorrow to vote for a resounding yes. After what we have
done, we hope the international community will come in to help us so that we
can hold successful elections,” Biti said in an interview yesterday.

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Zanu PF politburo clashes over election strategy

March 15, 2013 in News

Owen GagareSENIOR Zanu PF politburo members clashed this week over election
strategy and tactics as suspicions and mistrust rooted in factionalism
erupted ahead of make-or-break elections later this year.

The clashes on Wednesday exploded after Dr Millicent Mombeshora, a Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe senior official eyeing a constituency in Mashonaland West,
presented a commissariat department’s election strategy report to the
politburo despite not being a member of the body.

Mombeshora touched on a number of strategies that could help Zanu PF win

Although President Robert Mugabe welcomed the suggestions, other politburo
members were not impressed as they felt the party’s political commissar
Webster Shamu had outsourced his duties to an outsider.

Shamu is believed to be in Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s faction and some
politburo members felt he was attempting to introduce a parallel elections

Josiah Hungwe, an ally of Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa believed to be
leading a faction fighting the Mujuru camp, was the first to register his
disapproval, although he welcomed some of the suggestions.

Party strategist Jonathan Moyo, a former member of the Mnangagwa faction but
now a Mugabe loyalist, and Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere, who
for long was in the Mujuru camp but is now fighting her, also welcomed the
presentation, but attacked the commissariat department for trying to
legitimise informal structures.

“There was a problem because Shamu had abdicated his duties by bringing
Mombeshora,” a senior politburo member said. “What he did was to not only
bring things through the back door, but through the ceiling”. Sources said
party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, a Mujuru ally, also welcomed the proposals,
but was unhappy about the involvement of outsiders. Mujuru is said to have
appealed for cohesion within the party, saying she symbolised unity. As part
of its elections preparations, the politburo set up a finance committee
chaired by Zanu PF acting treasurer Charles Tavengwa. The committee also
includes Mines minister Obert Mpofu, Transport minister Nicholas Goche and
Kasukuwere who were targeted by the Anti-Corruption Commission over
indigenisation deals.

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High Court thwarts plan to raid NIEEB

March 15, 2013 in News

THE High Court has granted interim relief stopping the Zimbabwe
Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) from executing search warrants on the
National Indigenisation and Economic and Empowerment Board (NIEEB) and the
Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC).

- Staff Writer.

In its application to stop the search, NIEEB, which also cited police
Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and Attorney-General Johannes Tomana
as respondents, sought a provisional order stopping ZACC from executing the
search warrant obtained from the same court on Monday pending determination
of the matter.

ZACC had obtained a search warrant from the High Court to search and seize
certain documents from the offices of three government ministers — Mines
minister Obert Mpofu, Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere and
Transport minister Nicholas Goche.

The three are alleged to have been involved in corrupt deals.

NIEEB, which falls under Kasukuwere’s portfolio, was represented by lawyer
Gerald Mlotshwa of Titan Law Chambers while ZACC was represented by the AG.

NIEEB chief executive Wilson Gwatiringa, who deposed the affidavit, argued
ZACC acted ultra vires its own enabling Act to exercise power it does not
have. He said the commission caused the higher court to issue a search
warrant in circumstances where the judge concerned did not have the power to
do so in view of the section of the law relied upon.

He said execution of the illegal search warrant would disrupt NIEEB’s
operations and irreparably prejudice the successful execution of the
indigenisation programme.

Gwatiringa added NIEEB had a right to protection of the law in circumstances
where a party such as ZACC acts in clear violation of its own enabling Act
as well as the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (CPEA).

The search warrant was obtained after its investigators were reportedly
denied entry to conduct searches at the three offices. The search warrants
were obtained in terms of Section 50 (1) of the CPEA. In his ruling, Justice
George Chiweshe ruled that the search warrant issued by the High Court on
March 11 is null and void and consequently of no force and effect

Meanwhile, sources said officials could be arrested over the issue. The
body will be in court today over a labour.

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Discord rocks MDC-T… as Tsvangirai, Gutu make conflicting Zec remarks

March 15, 2013 in News, Politics

The MDC-T is rocked by serious clashes over the need to reform the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commissin (Zec) ahead of the referendum tomorrow and general
after party leader , Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangiraiand senior official,
Deputy Justice minister Obert Gutu made public conflicting remarks on the

Herbert Moyo

While Tsvangirai, who is accused of now being cosy with President Robert
Mugabe, this week made a statement expressing satisfaction with Zec’s
secretariat, Gutu has added his voice to calls demanding urgent reform of
Zec saying the militarisation of the electoral body and the continued
failure to give legal effect to the appointment of a substantive chairperson
is detrimental to the holding of credible elections. The MDC-T has been
demanding an overhaul of Zec secretariat, saying it is full of Central
Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and other security operatives allegedly
responsible for the chaos that characterised the 2008 presidential elections
condemned as a sham. While Tsvangirai appeared to exonerate Zec blaming an
“underhand force” for the “shenanigans” that led to the disputed polls, Gutu
said the presence of personnel with security backgrounds in the Zec
secretariat was cause for concern.

“There are hygiene issues which need to be addressed with respect to Zec,”
said Gutu. “Zec must be cleaned up to remove those people who have
compromised the credibility of elections in the past. As for (Zec acting
chairperson Joyce) Kazembe, I have nothing personal against her, but the law
is very clear that Zec should be headed by a legal practitioner of at least
seven years standing or someone who qualifies to be appointed as a High
Court judge.”

While Tsvangirai backed Kazembe to continue as acting chairperson at least
until after the referendum, Gutu took exception with the failure to
timeously appoint Justice Rita Makarau, charging this is in contravention of
the constitution.

Gutu said he has not been “kept in the loop about the failure to give legal
effect to the appointment of Makarau, whom he described as a “distinguished
jurist with impeccable credentials”.

Gutu’s comments contradict those of Tsvangirai, who is ready to proceed with
the referendum under the leadership of Kazembe.

“The principals expect Justice Makarau to be sworn in soon after the
referendum subject to the completion of the procedural requirements under
the constitution,” Tsvangirai said.

Although Mugabe, Tsvangirai and deputy premier Mutambara agreed to the
appointment of Makarau, procedural requirements that need to be followed to
regularise the appointment include the convening of parliament’s Standing
Rules and Orders Committee to deliberate on the matter.

However, Gutu concurred with Tsvangirai that Zec, and not the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, had the legal mandate to invite poll observers. Foreign
Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi has said American and European Union
(EU) observers would not be allowed into Zimbabwe because of the sanctions
they imposed on Zanu PF officials.

“It is Zec and not the Foreign Affairs ministry which has the legal mandate
to invite observers,” said Gutu. “We expect them to exercise that mandate,
including inviting the EU and they should not be seen to be toeing the Zanu
PF party line.”

Zec acting chairperson Joyce Kazembe said the EU and American observers
would not be coming to the referendum, but denied claims the electoral body
was taking directives from Zanu PF or any other quarter on the issue which
has divided the shaky coalition government.

“It is actually the prerogative of the (Zec) commission’s accreditation
committee to make those decisions,” said Kazembe while briefing Sadc
observers and other stakeholders on the state of preparedness for the
referendum in Harare on Wednesday.

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Sadc leaders lose faith in MDC parties

March 15, 2013 in News, Politics

SADC leaders are beginning to view the two MDC formations as part of the
problem in Zimbabwe for abandoning their push for the full implementation of
the Global Political Agreement (GPA) resolutions and their failure to
articulate issues with one voice ahead of tomorrow’s constitutional
referendum and general elections around July.
Faith Zaba

Although MDC-T leader, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai dispatched his party’s
secretary for international relations Jameson Timba to Sadc capitals with
evidence of resurgent violence two weeks ago, it has emerged Sadc leaders
are not impressed by the MDC parties’ failure to push for the implementation
of their resolutions ahead of the elections.

Sadc has made key resolutions on Zimbabwe, including implementation of an
election roadmap at its summits in Windhoek, Namibia, Livingstone, Zambia,
Maputo, Mozambique and Sandton, South Africa, which the MDC parties have
seemingly dropped at the weekly principals forum and cabinet meetings or in

At the Windhoek summit in 2010, Sadc leaders adopted a report by South
African President Jacob Zuma, which called for implementation of 24 agreed
GPA items to lay the basis for free and fair elections.

These included media reforms, security sector reforms on a continuous basis,
regularisation of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, appointment of a
new Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation board and a re-constitution of the
Zimbabwe Mass Media Trust, all within a month. However, most of these have
remained unimplemented.

At the March 2011 summit in Livingstone, Sadc resolved to deploy a taskforce
team to work with the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic)
in monitoring and evaluating the full implementation of the GPA.

But Zanu PF has successfully blocked deployment of the team arguing that
Zimbabwe is a sovereign state. The team only arrived this week for the

The Maputo summit recognised MDC leader, Industry and Commerce minister
Welshman Ncube as a political principal but he has been blocked in relevant

Diplomatic sources told Zimbabwe Independent in separate interviews this
week Sadc leaders feel the MDC leaders have become too comfortable in
government, forgetting their presence was meant to create an environment
conducive for credible, free and fair elections.

“Sadc has done a lot for Zimbabwe,” said one diplomat. “It has been firm and
resolute, but we are disappointed with the MDC parties which have not been
pushing strongly enough for the necessary reforms that would allow for free
and fair elections.”

“Resolution after resolution has been adopted by Sadc but up to now, the
three parties in the inclusive government have chosen to ignore them. These
resolutions are very clear and there are even timelines to them, but months
before critical elections little has been implemented.”

“What more do you want Sadc to do? Nothing is being implemented and the
parties that are supposed to be pushing are quiet and focusing on the
constitution and referendum. What about other reforms?” the diplomat said.

The sources said to their surprise, Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC speak with one
voice at joint meetings with Sadc facilitators indicating the situation has
improved and everything is progressing smoothly, but the MDC groups complain
of an uneven playing field and escalation of political violence in separate

The sources pointed to last week’s joint meeting between the three parties
and Zuma’s facilitation team led by Lindiwe Zulu.

A Zanu PF official who attended the meeting said: “Everything went on very
smoothly and it was just a routine meeting. We all spoke with one voice on
the progress made so far.”
However, MDC secretary-general Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga (pictured)
said her party had briefed the South African facilitation team about its
concerns on the lethargic pace of reforms in a separate meeting.

“We told the facilitators we believe one area we have failed in is
implementing governance reforms,” Misihairabwi-Mushonga said.

The MDC also told Zuma’s team it was unhappy with the recent appointments of
the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) and Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission
(ZHRC) chairpersons. The party is also unhappy Ncube was not consulted
before the appointment of Supreme Court judge, Justice Rita Makarau as new
Zec chairperson, and the installation of former Zanu PF politburo member
Jacob Mudenda as ZHRC chairperson. The MDC-T recently told the facilitation
team the security situation was deteriorating, citing the death of 12-year
old Christpower Maisiri in a mysterious inferno three weeks ago in

Tsvangirai only sent Timba into the region to lobby for a regional
extraordinary summit on Zimbabwe following a recent crackdown on
non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and Christpower’s murder, but regional
leaders were dismayed that he had sent a junior minister.

They believed this showed his “lack of seriousness” and view it as a
reflection of the MDC-T’s internal power dynamics showing who Tsvangirai
really trusts.

Timba met Malawian President Joyce Banda and foreign ministers of Botswana
and Tanzania a fortnight ago.

Sadc leaders have been demanding President Robert Mugabe, Tsvangirai and
Ncube should implement the agreed elections roadmap, including all necessary
reforms, before the next polls.

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Mugabe is no Chavez

March 15, 2013 in News, Politics

ZIMBABWE’S President Robert Mugabe will always be a complex character and an
enigma, usually attracting varied perceptions as to the true nature of his
ideological leanings and overall contribution to the country.

Herbert Moyo

Cabinet ministers recently described Mugabe as a double-faced politician, a
trait which they say has helped him cling to power.

MDC leader Welshman Ncube, who is also Industry and Commerce minister, said
last year Mugabe is a “complex character” who purports to champion the
interests of the poor people yet his government, through political
repression and economic mismanagement, has impoverished the nation.

“No doubt he is a complex character. When you talk to Mugabe, you can hear
in his mind he talks of the interests of the people,” he said. “How then do
you reconcile what he says and what he and his Zanu PF party goes on to do,
you then ask yourself ‘What is wrong with the man?’”

Ncube paid tribute to the late journalist-cum-author Heidi Holland for
writing the biography Dinner with Mugabe which sought to explain Mugabe’s
history and personality. He described the book as a fairly accurate and
candid analysis of the 89-year-old ruler’s unpredictable character.

“At Independence in 1980, Mugabe emerged a hero, but turned tyrant after
presiding over the impoverishment of the masses and ruining the country’s
economy as he deteriorated into a dictator under the guise of ‘defending the
revolution’,” Ncube said.

“History has already made judgment on Mugabe and his legacy. No matter his
sincerity or not in championing the cause of the people, the truth is that
under his watch, the people of Zimbabwe suffered and were impoverished.”

At a poetry festival in Bulawayo in 2010, one performance artiste spoke of
“Uncle Bob: the long play song — in Western capitals who could do no wrong.
Harare played host to Western leaders who all stampeded to confer Mugabe
honorary doctorates in humanities even though the 1980s in Zimbabwe
reverberated with untold calamities”.

The artiste went on to describe the West’s obsession with Mugabe in the
first two decades of Independence while his government unleashed political
repression as “a vanity, a vanity of all vanities”.

However, Zanu PF sympathisers and the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
fondly spoke of Mugabe as a “revolutionary” whose socialist rhetoric has
been matched by practical if unsustainable action in the field of health and
education in post-Independent Zimbabwe. Mugabe’s fanatics simplistically
compare him to the likes of Vladimir Lenin, Ho Chi Minh, Mao Zedong, Fidel
Castro, Che Guevara, Simon Bolivar, Kwame Nkrumah, and mostly recently,

More appropriately, Mugabe is seen by his admirers as some kind of a Chavez.
The Venezuelan ruler died last week on Tuesday after a struggle with cancer,
leaving behind a bitterly divided nation in the grip of a political crisis
that grew more acute as he languished in hospitals in Havana, Cuba, and and
the Venezuelan capital Caracas.

In 2004, Chavez praised Mugabe as a “freedom fighter” while presenting him a
replica of South American liberation hero Bolivar’s sword.

“For you, who like Bolivar, took up arms to liberate your people. For you,
who like Bolivar, are and will always be a true freedom fighter,” Chavez
said. “He continues, alongside his people, to confront the pretensions of
new imperialists.”

Mugabe’s vilification in the Western world, for many reasons including
repression and human rights abuses, as well as undermining the interests of
global capital, is presented as evidence of his “revolutionary credentials”.

However, political analysts are not convinced about Mugabe’s pedigree. They
say while he has been vilified as a socialist in Western capitals due to his
controversial land reforms and indigenisation policies, he is not cut from
the same cloth as Chavez or other icons of the communist or socialist world.

“At a practical level, Mugabe is no Chavez,” said political commentator
Godwin Phiri. “Where Chavez literally took issues into his own hands,
redistributing revenues from oil incomes to improve the lives of ordinary
Venezuelans and other Latin American countries, Mugabe was at best a
‘reluctant revolutionary’ who reacted to events rather than initiated them.”

Phiri said Mugabe acted, not out of conviction and vision, but short-term
interests, including political expediency and survival.

“Left to his own devices, he would not have pursued land reform, but the
issue was forced by land-hungry villagers from Nyamandlovu and Svosve who
invaded farms in 1998. He would not have awarded war veterans any
compensation had they not marched to State House in 1997. Even the
indigenisation programme has been forced on him by the need to contain
widespread discontent and stave off popular support for the MDC. In any
case, the programmes he has implemented are largely elitist,” said Phiri.

International Socialist Organisation leader in Zimbabwe Munyaradzi Gwisai
said Mugabe is a “poor copycat” of Chavez.

“Chavez represented the real anti-imperialist front and empowerment of poor
people while Mugabe is engaged in fake and sham activities like the
indigenisation programme,” Gwisai said.

The significance of Chavez’s contributions to the economies of struggling
Latin American countries cannot be under-estimated and clearly underlie his
capacity to walk the socialist talk.

For example, Venezuela is now Cuba’s “lifeboat” as it imports 100 000
barrels of Venezuelan oil a day at preferential prices in addition to
receiving an annual subsidy of US$4 billion. Similarly, Nicaragua receives
US$500 million a year in subsidies from Venezuela.

Although Mugabe has no such largesse to give his allies, he has not
displayed such practical solidarity in other ways with his allies, except
when he needed support.

Also instead of helping his own people, Mugabe has presided over economic
collapse and political repression, leaving Zimbabwe a pariah and
impoverished state.

Endowed with vast mineral deposits, particularly diamonds and platinum,
Zimbabwe under Mugabe has failed to achieve economic prosperity. Realising
his failures could result in him being voted out, he initiated a chaotic and
violent land reform programme in which the political and business class
emerged with the biggest spoils. The indigenisation programme is widely seen
as an elite rent-seeking scheme.

Political and media observer Takura Zhangazha said there were major
differences between Chavez and Mugabe, noting regardless of whether Chavez
was socialist or not, he demonstrated “organic leadership of his society and

“It was a leadership that had a direct link to the concerns of the poor
majority and understood that the state, whatever else it does, is there to
protect its citizens,” wrote Zhangazha on his blog. “He did not change the
fundamental democratic tenets of Venezuelan society, but he did not take
kindly to what he perceived as foreign influence on it, particularly after
the failed coup in 2002,” said Zhangazha.

Mugabe has apparently been reacting to events. His own history and actions
also attest to a schizophrenic personality. While he likes posturing as a
Marxist revolutionary, sometimes by only wearing Communist attire during
elections and emitting searing populist rhetoric, some just know him as an
educated man recognised for his Western suits, love for English cricket, tea
and admiration for British royalty. Mugabe was for long content and not
inclined to upset the applecart when it came to Western interests.
Most importantly, after Independence in 1980, apart from command economic
and social services delivery approach, Mugabe did not seek to reform the
settler colonial state structure in line with his party’s socialist and
one-party state manifesto. He happily inherited colonial institutions, laws
and even top individual officials and bureaucrats to run the state while he
learned the ropes.

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Referendum: Voters weary of polls

March 15, 2013 in News

A LOW turnout appears likely in tomorrow’s constitutional referendum as
Zimbabweans seem to be suffering from political fatigue, with the coalition
government’s exhortation for people to vote “Yes” on the Copac draft
constitution and token publicity campaigns on the process set to fuel voter

Paidamoyo Muzulu

Unlike the run-up to the 2000 constitutional referendum when there was
frantic activity with opposition political parties and civil society
vigorously campaigning for a “No” vote against the then Zanu PF government’s
“Yes” campaign, tomorrow’s polls appear in danger of being characterised by
apathy despite the constitution-making process having taken four years to
complete at a cost of more than US$50 million.

Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC, bitter rivals in the 2008 poll, are united in
campaigning for a “Yes” vote, while civil society groups such as the
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) are campaigning for a “No” vote.

NCA leader Lovemore Madhuku and his allies are opposed to the Copac draft
constitution, arguing it is a flawed document as it was a compromise between
three self-interested political parties in government.

After gathering views from the people following an outreach exercise,
political parties argued since the constitution-making process was a
parliament-led process, they had the final say as parliamentarians are
elected representatives.

In contrast, civil society organisations argue the constitution-making
process should have been people-driven in keeping with provisions of the
Global Political Agreement (GPA) — a precursor to the unity government. The
organisations have also been stressing people should have been given at
least two months to study the draft as the GPA states, instead of the one
month the coalition government has granted voters.

Usually, apathy in the Zimbabwean electoral process has been caused by
violence, intimidation and fear, among other factors such as chaotic voters’
registration and depressing campaigns driven by abusive propaganda and
character assassination.

Zimbabwean voters’ perception of politics — how they see parties, candidates
and electoral events — has been increasingly changing, particularly because
of poll disputes and the resultant political stalemate since 2000.

Blessing Miles Tendi, an African History lecturer at Oxford University in
the United Kingdom said: “Zimbabweans have lost faith in political
processes. There is deep disgruntlement among the electorate over politics
that is soulless and is not attractive.”

Voter apathy is a growing problem in many countries in Africa and around the
world. Causes of voter apathy include people not knowing enough about the
parties, candidates running for office, negative campaigning and
advertisements, and the limited impact of their ballots on the outcome,
service delivery and democracy.

For the past four years, the coalition government partners acrimoniously
haggled over the contents of the draft constitution until the principals —
President Robert Mugabe (Zanu PF), Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T),
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, and Industry and Commerce minister
Welshman Ncube (MDC) — agreed to a compromise document in January, paving
way for it to go to parliament and then tomorrow, referendum. The meeting of
minds among the political protagonists and their agreement to campaign for
“Yes” vote ensured the referendum would be a foregone conclusion.

The poorly-publicised and hurried national awareness campaigns for the draft
charter have not done much to energise a weary electorate which has gone to
polls six times since 2000, with each vote registering a decreasing turnout.
Copac held a disjointed “Yes” vote campaign in the last two weeks. The
campaign has been limited to 144 meetings compared to over 1 400 meetings
during the first outreach.

Zimbabwe held a constitutional referendum in February 2000, general
elections in June 2000, a presidential election in 2002, general elections
in 2005, senatorial elections 2005 and harmonised polls in 2008.

Political analysts say the electorate’s lack of interest is a muted protest
against drab politics which leaders should be wary of ahead of general
Blessing Vava, a political analyst, says most Zimbabweans are unhappy with
the way the coalition government has handled the constitution-making
process, besides that the outcome is a given.

“Zimbabweans were given little time to debate and scrutinise the document;
so abstaining from voting would be a protest that they are not happy,” he

Political analyst Joy Mabenge observed: “The main reason for reduced
interest could be that in 2000 there was heavy contestation between the
 “Yes” and “No” vote with all opposition forces — civil society and
political parties — singing from the same hymn book against the draft
informed by both process and content. Now, with the main political parties
in agreement, there is no competition associated with the process since the
result is almost like a fait accompli — something done and can’t be

Hopewell Gumbo, an independent social and economic justice activist, said:
“People are now more concerned with social and economic survival issues
rather than the hullabaloo over a new constitution. So most people are
unlikely to go to vote in the referendum tomorrow. There is likely to be
serious apathy.”

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Banks under fresh threat

March 15, 2013 in Business

IN a move that will send shockwaves across the fragile banking sector,
already reeling from a chronic liquidity crunch, foreign-owned banks in
Zimbabwe have been ordered by Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere to
comply with the controversial 51% empowerment requirement by the end of

Report by Faith Zaba

Financial institutions under growing aggressive indigenisation pressure
include two South African-owned banks, Stanbic (a member of Standard Bank
Group) and MBCA which is owned by Nedbank, and British-owned Barclays and
Standard Chartered.

The banks, together with CBZ, form the core of Zimbabwe’s banking sector.

The latest move is set to fuel the on-going battle between Kasukuwere and
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono, engaged in an ominous
showdown of late over the indigenisation programme. The conflict has sucked
in senior Zanu PF officials, including Vice-President Joice Mujuru and
President Robert Mugabe.

Kasukuwere is demanding that banks comply with the empowerment law, while
Gono says he will not allow that to happen as several relevant pieces of
legislation still need alignment. Besides, Gono says a “one-size-fits-all”
approach would not work.

Mugabe agrees with Gono on this and said Kasukuwerehad made a mistake by
allowing mining companies to get fair value compensation, suggesting he
preferred seizures demanding mineral claims be used to secure equity.

In a clear indication the gloves are now off in the running feud, Kasukuwere
wrote a letter to Gono on March 8 2013, insisting indigenisation of banks
was well underway.

The minister warned the banking sector was not exempted from the
controversial Indigenisation, a demand Gono says he would not succumb to.The
letter, seen by the Zimbabwe Independent, was copied to the Chief Secretary
to the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda, his deputy retired Colonel
Christian Katsande and Central Intelligence Organisation director-general
Happyton Bonyongwe.

“You may recall that on June 29 2012, I published General Notice 280 of 2012
in terms of Section 5(4) of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment
(General) Regulations 2010, which prescribed the indigenisation framework
for the financial services sector,” the letter says.

“The General Notice requires all financial institutions to comply with the
51% indigenous shareholding requirement within a period of one year from the
date of publication of the notice.”

The letter adds:“I hereby wish to advise you that I am proceeding
accordingly to enforce the statutory requirement. As a regulatory authority
for the financial services sector, you will be consulted, consistent with
the laws of the country, at the appropriate time.

“May I underline that compliance with indigenisation and empowerment laws
and regulations is not optional and I, as the administering authority of the
Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment legislation, am duty-bound to
implement the laws of the land.”

The letter was written a week after Mugabe appeared to agree with Gono who
has always argued that a “one-size-fits-all” approach would not work.
Interestingly, the letter was done last Friday — the day this paper ran an
interview with Gono.

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Voting “Yes” endorsing Mugabe powers

March 15, 2013 in Opinion

I DON’T like this new Copac draft constitution and am going to vote a big
“No” because it leaves the executive or presidential powers largely
unchanged. This proposed constitution has been made to preserve President
Robert Mugabe’s rule.

Report by Zhanda Shumba

As he has done since 1980, Mugabe would still be able to do virtually
everything he has been doing as he retains the powers to do so.

Under the draft, the president has the powers conferred by this new
constitution and by any Act of Parliament or other law including those
necessary to exercise the functions of head of state.

Subject to the new constitution, the president is responsible for:

assenting to and signing bills;
referring a bill to the constitutional court for an opinion or advice on
its constitutionality;
summoning the National Assembly, the senate or parliament to an
extraordinary sitting to conduct special business;
making appointments which the constitution or legislation requires the
president to make;
calling elections in terms of this constitution;
calling referendums on any matter in accordance with the law;
deploying the defence forces;
conferring honours and awards;
appointing ambassadors, plenipotentiaries, and diplomatic and consular
representatives; and
receiving and recognising foreign diplomatic and consular representatives.
Subject to this constitution, the cabinet is responsible for:
directing the operations of government;
conducting government business in parliament;
preparing, initiating and implementing national legislation;
developing and implementing national policy; and
advising the president.
Subject to this constitution, the president may conclude or execute
conventions, treaties and agreements with foreign states and governments and
international organisations.

A decision by the president must be in writing if it is taken in terms of
In the exercise of his or her executive functions, the president must act
on the advice of the cabinet, except when he or she is acting in terms of
subsection (2) above.
Mugabe has appointed all the ministers by himself and chaired the cabinet
since 1980. He has had a lot of power since independence to control and
manipulate both Zanu PF and Zimbabwe. Now Articles 104 and 114 of the new
draft constitution are a reinforcement of his powers. Article 104 gives
power to the president to appoint all the cabinet ministers all by himself.
Article 114 gives him power to appoint the Attorney General alone.

Article 310 is not clear on the role of parliament’s approval since the
president will have already appointed an Auditor General. Article 310 is
ambiguous. In Article 238 we see the executive also being given power to
appoint the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. The president
through article 180 appoints Chief Justice, the Deputy Chief Justice, and
the Judge President of the High Court.

This is real absolute power which can easily be abused and make a president
a dictator. I would have preferred to see executive power shared and limited
or controlled through cabinet, parliament or senate. I prefer the executive
to only nominate people to these offices while the senate, for instance, is
given power to either approve or disapprove.

I also don’t prefer a president who can decide on his own to make war and
only advise parliament. Why should people accept that only one man can
decide to send their sons and daughters to die in war? We should not trust
one man to do this.

We are recreating the executive monster we have had for so many years and it
will be far more difficult to rein it in or to dislodge it. He will trample
on our rights and speak for us, while denying us our basic rights.

The constitution is being hurried through and many people have not read it,
let alone understand its content, yet are being coerced by state-driven
propaganda via ZBC and Zimpapers titles like the Herald and Sunday Mail to
vote “Yes”. There has been no serious public education and publicity
campaigns on this but people are expected to vote on it tomorrow even
without reading or debating it.

The big question is why is the coalition government, through the three main
parties involved in it, hurrying the nation to endorse the document? Whose
interest are the principals and their parties serving? It looks like all
they are thinking of now is the general elections dates, not creating an
environment for free and fair elections which is what a new constitution,
among other reforms, is all about.

People needed time to read and debate the document but principals in their
wisdom or lack of it thereof connived to hurry the nation to a referendum
after only fleeting meetings by Copac officials and those form the Ministry
of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs. As a result what is happening
is criminal. It only serves Mugabe or Zanu PF’s agenda. It is sad the MDC
parties are part and parcel of this national deception on a grand scale.

Making a constitution in a repressive environment inevitably produces a
flawed document, which does not reflect the views and will of the people.
The inclusive government should learn from Zanu PF’s mistakes. In 2000 Zanu
PF tried to force a constitution – which left executive powers intact – down
the people’s throats, but still the people rejected it in the referendum.

Even if the people are forced to vote “Yes” tomorrow that will not remove
the fact that the new draft constitution is a negotiated document which does
not reflect views of the people.

If Zimbabweans are serious about a new constitution and democracy, as well
as creating an genuine environment for free and fair elections, they should
reject this document the same way they refused to endorse the Constitution
Commission draft in 2000.

Of course, the only different thing this time around is that the MDC parties
are being used as lever to mobilise the electorate to vote “Yes” and this
means all main parties are conspiring to betray the people. Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai has shockingly not objected to Mugabe’s bid to maintain
his overbearing executive powers because it appears he thinks he is going to
win the elections in July.

If Tsvangirai, whom people have supported through thick and thin, is indeed
now thinking like that , he should as well consult Raila Odinga (Kenya’s
outgoing premier who recently lost elections to president-election Uhuru

We need a new constitution which looks far beyond the horizon, into the
future, not one designed to serve short-term political agendas and
forthcoming elections, while keeping Mugabe’s powers practically intact.

Shumba is a freelance contributor and writes from Nyazura.

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Indigenisation: From bad to worse

March 15, 2013 in Comment, Opinion

This columnist, and many others, leaders of Zimbabwe’s business community,
investment specialists and advisors, economists, national and international
bankers and financiers have repeatedly voiced their concerns at the manner
in which Zimbabwe has sought and continues to pursue indigenisation and
economic empowerment of the populace.

Eric Bloch

No one is opposed to the principle of indigenisation and its aims to
eradicate poverty and suffering afflicting of most Zimbabweans. However, in
expressing their well-founded reservations about Zimbabwe’s laws and
policies for economic indigenisation, critics say such laws and policies not
only violate property rights, but are also counterproductive in the extreme.
Not only do these laws and policies discourage and alienate much-needed
foreign direct investment (FDI) and investment by non-indigenous Zimbabwean
residents, but have heretofore only been geared towards enriching the
favoured, politically well-connected few.

The manner in which indigenisation has been carried out has intensified
business closures and downsizing, fuelled unemployment within the formal
sector, worsened widespread poverty, hardships and suffering that afflict
most Zimbabweans. Moreover, those policies have effectively been a very
major contributor to the withholding of critically-needed international
lines of credit, and especially so because they run counter to many
Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (Bippas) entered
into between Zimbabwe and other countries.

Tragically, despite the extensive and authoritative advice given to
government by many as to both the devastating effects and consequences of
the existing legislation and the application thereof, and as to how
constructive and beneficial indigenisation and economic empowerment could be
achieved, the political hierarchy consistently and intentionally and
obtusely disregards that advice and persist with their destructive policies.
Moreover, they exacerbate and compound the damage done by those endlessly
making inflammatory statements and demands, including frequent threats of
reneging upon agreements that entered into with business parties which,
despite the negatives of the policies, seek to be compliant therewith.

Recently there has been a very prime example of such threatened reneging of
a lawfully and morally binding agreement; that of government’s intent to
reject the agreement it had entered into with Zimbabwe’s largest and one of
the world’s biggest platinum producers, Zimplats.

Having reached an approved and legal agreement, statements by President
Robert Mugabe imply an intent to renege on that agreement. He apparently
claims the agreement is illegal or invalid, in that it prescribes payment
for shares acquired, or to be acquired, by the sovereign wealth fund,
whereas that payment has already been effected by virtue of the mineral
resources availed to Zimplats. That fuels a query as to how often must a
mining enterprise pay for mineral resources?

At inception it has to obtain, against payment, the mining claims and
attendant licences. Thereafter, as it extracts the minerals, it has to pay
royalties. Then, when it makes a profit from its operations, it is subjected
to corporate tax. Thereafter, when it distributes any of such profits to
shareholders, dividend withholding taxes are applied. In addition to all
that, it is also subject to diverse indirect taxes, including value added
tax (Vat) and customs duties, as well as periodic licence renewal fees.

Although the threatened reneging on the agreement with Zimplats has not yet
occurred, and that company has said it is interacting with government and
seeking legal advice, nevertheless, it has intensified the distrust and
concerns of the international community in general and of potential
investors in particular. This is constraining attainment of any substantial
economic recovery for the debilitated state of the economy, to an
ever-intensifying extent since 1997, critically requires as one of the key
components of recovery, very extensive investment.

Such inflows are greatly needed to ensure a net favourable international
trade balance, instead of imports vastly exceeding exports, with
consequential negative effects upon diminishing Zimbabwe’s magnitude of
international debt. Most of all, without investment, and without
comprehensive business confidence in the future, Zimbabwe cannot create, and
thereafter continue, needed formal sector employment.

Thus not only does Zimbabwe very urgently need to repeal the negative
indigenisation legislative provisions, substituting therefore positive and
constructive motivation and facilitation of wide-ranging (albeit
progressive) economic empowerment, but to do so in a manner that encourages
investment throughout the economic sectors, instead of deterring it. Key to
so doing will be unequivocal investor security, with total observance of all
fundamental provisions of property rights, inclusive of incontrovertible
assurance of full compliance with Bippas.

Also necessary are investor-conducive taxation legislation and incentives.
Most essential of all is that government be completely transparent in
honouring and complying with any and all agreements it enters into, and that
such agreements be justifiable internationally in world-recognised, courts
of law. In addition, government needs to facilitate, enable and motivate
ready transition of enterprises from the informal to formal sector by
removing many barriers to formal sector operations.

A very slight amelioration of the threatened governmental disregard for
agreements it has entered into, and for rescission thereof, or payment
defaults, was a statement by the President last week, that the
indigenisation mandatory threshhold for banks should be lowered, although he
only envisaged a very marginal reduction in the threshhold from 51 % to
either 49 or 50 %.

In reality, if Zimbabwe wishes its banks to have access to adequate
international lines of credit for, and loans to, its banks, it has to ensure
complete investor and lender confidence, and hence the mandatory
indigenisation threshhold in the financial sector should not be greater than
25%. Nevertheless, it must be hoped that the Presidential statement is a
moderate move forward to a practical, realistic and effective policy regime
for indigenisation and economic empowerment, and will lead to further policy
changes, including withdrawal of any intents to nullify or breach agreements
that government has entered into.

Failing a major transformation in the legislation, policies, and
implementation and enforcement thereof, the Zimbabwean economy will continue
struggling, and the circumstances of most of the populace, already
horrendous, will decline from bad to worse!

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Candid Comment:Zim’s growing trade deficit a ticking time bomb

March 15, 2013 in Opinion

ZIMBABWE’S bourgeoning trade deficit is a ticking time bomb; a disaster
waiting to happen. While ominous signs abound, the real tragedy is that
policymakers are pussyfooting only mentioning it in passing through fleeting
references to a crisis whenever an opportunity arises.

Clive mphambela

Finance minister Tendai Biti this week again rang the alarm bells, saying
the massive grain imports would be adding further strain on the already
depleted liquidity in the market.

Out of the total US$1,3 billion in imports for the first two months of 2013,
US$980 million was on consumptive imports comprising US$494 million in
manufactured goods for distribution and retail sectors, US$383 million in
services and US$103 million in imports by individuals.

According to Biti’s, imports continue to outpace exports. As at February 22,
cumulative exports and imports since the beginning of the year amounted to
US$523,7 million and US$1,297 billion, respectively, giving an aggregate
trade gap of US$773 million for the period. We dare not extrapolate this to
the end of 2013.

Last year Biti raised fears the deficit is potentially being funded by loans
from the banking sector, a scenario not too far-fetched, but which also
highlights the fact that Zimbabwe’s imports are being largely funded from
unknown sources.

As far as we know, there are no requirements to declare the source of
funding for imports at our ports, making the country a potential target for
money laundering syndicates. Such is the magnitude of the problem that it
goes beyond the burden of negative financial flows from the system, but
potentially open up the economy to other abuses. While the authorities
should worry and deal with the size of the hole being dug, they should
equally query how this massive gap is being financed. How can a country go
for so long spending what it doesn’t have? Clearly, something must and will

Economic analyst Tony Hawkins raised the red flag last month, saying the
ballooning import bill was in large part due to the fact that Zimbabwe is
over-consuming, generating excess demand that was being met by imports.

He said the consumption level of over 90% of the gross domestic product was
being sustained in part by the accumulation of arrears and foreign capital

The flip side of the problem and the real calamity is that the country
continues to export jobs. About US$383 million paid for “services” in just
under two months is as counter-productive as the US$494 million in
consumptive imports by the “retail and distribution sector”. Ironically, the
productive sectors accounted for 24% of total imports. With so much being
said about the trade deficit, what authorities have been doing is woefully
inadequate to resolve the problem which needs serious policy interventions
as part of holistic measures to address current economic problems. While the
country is obsessed with political processes, including the referendum
tomorrow and general elections later, the economy is once again taking a
severe battering.

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Editor’s Memo:Tsvangirai won’t have anyone to blame

March 15, 2013 in Opinion

OF late MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been making pronouncements on the
prospects of credible general elections which have shocked many including
party members, regional leaders and other progressive forces.

stewart chabwinja

The most recent such statement, delivered by Tsvangirai in his capacity as
supervisor of electoral processes ahead of polls — a position many deem a
poisoned chalice — was his exoneration on Tuesday of the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (Zec) secretariat from the 2008 election debacle. Instead, he
blamed “underhand forces” for the disputed polls despite his party demanding
new personnel at the body.

This was quite a shocker, given the MDC-T had resolutely maintained Zec’s
secretariat urgently needed overhauling to cleanse it of alleged state
security agents loyal to President Robert Mugabe.

Assuming Tsvangirai is right the Zec secretariat is credible and in the
clear, the question arises: Have the unnamed “underhand forces” been reined
in? And to what extent is Tsvangirai’s thumbs up for Zec linked to the fact
the commission has defended the premier’s involvement in election
preparations, describing his role as “facilitative” as if that is a favour.

In addition to his ringing endorsement of Zec secretariat, Tsvangirai has
backed the surprise appointment of Zanu PF politburo member Jacob Mudenda as
chairperson of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission.

Mudenda is a former Zanu PF Matabeleland North provincial chairperson who
was governor during the Gukurahundi massacres, and was also fingered in the
Willowgate scandal. His appointment caused an outcry, but Tsvangirai
surprisingly sprung to Mudenda’s defence, insisting his past was behind him
and thus did not matter as much as his legal experience.

This came at a time when Tsvangirai was accused of cosying up to Mugabe
after he had trampled on the MDC-T’s national executive and national council
resolutions on the Copac draft constitution and even though Mugabe had
previously ignored him on making some unilateral appointments of judges,
ambassadors and governors.

More disturbingly for those who feel the finishing line to Zimbabwe’s long
journey towards genuine democracy is now within reach, Tsvangirai’s
utterances increasingly appear to be those of a jaded fighter who has since
thrown in the towel, now merely resigned to fate. Unless, of course, he has
a secret grand political strategy and is managing certain political
dynamics, then his remarks are shocking. But even then, the way he is doing
it would still be problematic.

To show that Tsvangirai’s statements are worrying, Deputy Justice minister
Obert Gutu’s remarks this week contradicting Tsvangirai’s on Zec
demonstrates the problem.

While Tsvangirai now claims Zec doesn’t need reform, Gutu demanded changes
to flush out partisan staff members with security backgrounds and ensure the
urgent deployment of a substantive chairperson.

“There are hygiene issues which need to be addressed with respect to Zec,”
said Gutu. “Zec must be cleaned up to remove those people who have
compromised the credibility of elections in the past.”

Tsvangirai’s remarks place him in a tight corner by limiting his options
should elections be disputed again. Given the reform implementation deficit,
previous poll experiences and Zanu PF’s vice-like grip on state
institutions, it does not require extrasensory perception to predict the
forthcoming elections could be marred by violence and intimidation. The
recent crackdown on civic society groups and the death of Christpowers
Maisiri could be a harbinger of worse things to come.

What would Tsvangirai say if Zec botches its job and mishandles elections as
it did in 2008? Will he blame “underhand forces” or the people
constitutionally and legally appointed to run elections?

Some claim Mugabe’s decision to have Tsvangirai supervise electoral
processes is a political gimmick to ensure the premier acts as an alibi for
his own self-destruction by compromising his ability to complain and seek
redress should the elections be stolen again. Tsvangirai’s remarks could
come back to haunt him sooner rather than later.

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