The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, 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

Arms farce

FinGaz

Nelson Banya & Kumbirai Mafunda
State case crumbles as CIO fights AG
THE state yesterday dropped charges against six people arrested in
connection with the discovery of an arms cache in Mutare, providing a
farcical denouement to what the ruling ZANU PF had played up as a conspiracy
by the opposition to mount an insurgency.

Mutare North legislator Giles Mutsekwa, Knowledge Nyamhoka, Thando Sibanda,
Edwin Chekutye, Jerry Maguta and Peter Nzungu all walked away free men
yesterday after prosecutor Levison Chikafu withdrew charges before plea.
The six had been charged along with Peter Hitschmann, who remains in custody
after being directed by magistrate Fabian Feshete to apply for bail through
the High Court.
Yesterday's development follows a ruling by a High Court judge that the four
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) members - Mutsekwa,
Manicaland provincial executives Brian James, Nyamhoka and Sibanda - brought
before the courts in Mutare last week and charged with conspiracy to possess
weaponry for insurgency were being held unlawfully by police.
The case took a bizarre twist last week, with the dreaded Central
Intelli-gence Organisation (CIO) allegedly turning against officials from
the Attorney General's office.
Justice Charles Hungwe, who was on circuit in Mutare, said the police and
state security agents acted unlawfully and brought the administration of
justice into disrepute through the manner in which they handled both the
accused and the prosecution team, which claimed it was bullied by the
intelligence agents.
In his ruling, Justice Hungwe revealed that area prosecutor Chikafu of the
AG's office had reported a series of clashes between prosecutors in the AG's
office and state security agents. The clashes saw senior law officers in the
AG's office, Joseph Jagada and Florence Ziyambi, beating a hasty retreat to
Harare "in fear for their liberty" after threats from the CIO.
"On 14 March 2006, serious developments in the matter were brought to the
attention of the court by Mr Chikafu. According to Mr. Chikafu, Mr Jagada
and Mrs Ziyambi went to Mutare Rural Police Station where the applicants
were being held in order to assess the evidence against the applicants. He
later joined them. The defence team was allowed access to their clients and
they proceeded to conduct interviews. The respondents left the room where
the interviews were conducted on their own their accord.
"As a result of threats against the senior state counsel, the situation got
tense. In fear of their safety, both senior state counsel left for Harare,"
Justice Hungwe said.
Attorney-General Sobusa Gula-Ndebele is reported to have then telephoned his
officers in Mutare, instructing them to discontinue the interviews.
Defence lawyer Law-rence Chibwe told the court how the officer commanding
Manicaland province, Assistant Commissioner Ronald Muderedzi, accused the
prosecuting team from the AG's office of undermining the state's case.
"The senior state counsel went into conference with the security agents. Mr
Chibwe says he later heard first respondent (Muderedzi) shout at counsel
accusing them of behaving as if they were defence counsel.
"The atmosphere was tense. No one shouted back at first respondent.
"Later, according to Mr Chibwe, state counsel emerged from this office
appearing shaken and subdued. Mr Chikafu, fearful of the threats by the
enraged state agents, did not sleep at his usual place of abode that night."
Hungwe described the CIO's attempts to bully the prosecution team as
"shocking." He added that the fact that the respondents - Muderedzi, one
Detective Inspector Dhliwayo and Chief Superintendent Makone, the district
criminal investigations officer for Mutare - had not opposed the arrested
MDC officials' application for release from illegal detention showed they
realised they had acted illegally.
"I asked Mr Chikafu to state the case for the respondents, his clients. He
stated that in view of this abjectly unlawful behaviour by his clients, he
could hardly make any meaningful submissions.
"This behaviour deserves the highest possible censure. It cannot be
justified in a democratic society. One cannot simply condone such a blatant
refusal of access by the police. This is the type of conduct that brings the
administration of justice into disrepute," Justice Hungwe said.
The released MDC officials - who were charged under Section 10 of the Public
Order and Security Act for allegedly conspiring to possess weapons for
purposes of insurgency, banditry, sabotage and terrorism - have alleged that
they were tortured by the police. It is the state's case that the suspects
had hatched a plan to assassinate President Mugabe during his 82nd birthday
celebrations held in the eastern border town on February 25.
Nyamhoka, who is the MDC's Manicaland provincial youth chairperson, has said
he was subjected to torture, beatings and other forms of abuse, including
having a firearm pressed against his temple.
He revealed how he was enticed with the promise of release on bail if he
signed a prepared affidavit implicating Mutsekwa and former Chimanimani
Member of Parliament Roy Bennett in clandestine activities connected with an
armed insurrection. He would, as a consequence, be treated as a state
witness in the case, as has become Hitschmann, the first man to be arrested
in connection with the case.
Hitschmann, who is alleged to have recruited the MDC officials for the
covert operation, was arrested in Mutare on February 7 after police
reportedly uneartheded an arms cache at his house.
The collection of weapons alleged to have been found at the house included
one AK-47 automatic rifle, four FN rifles, seven Uzi machine guns, four .303
rifles, 11 shotguns, six CZ pistols, four revolvers, tear gas canisters,
flares, thousands of rounds of ammunition and a two-way radio communication
system.
Hitschmann has professed his innocence, saying he was an arms dealer and the
law does not forbid him from stocking weapons for sale. He has also said he
was yet to see the arsenal police claim to have unearthed at his house


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Politicians dupe gullible villagers

FinGaz

Perspectives with Jonathan Maphenduka

A DISAPPOINTING fact about Zimbabwe is that most people live in the
countryside. And the majority of them are tragically gullible.

I watched a recent television report featuring a politician who was telling
villagers how they were being short-changed by some obscure culprit who
failed to contribute to their well-being by not developing irrigation
schemes in the area.
The area in question is in Chief Murinye's mountainous domain east of
Mutirikwi Dam. The complaint was that nothing was being done to utilise
available water resources to promote irrigation for the people's benefit. No
one raised a finger to ask how irrigation could be developed in that rugged
terrain. Yes, there is a lot of water from Mutirikwi but no land. Even with
all the goodwill and engineering know-how in the world, irrigation is not
possible. This is why Mutirikwi was built for the lowveld.
Those people from neighbouring Chief Mapanzure area or its neighbour
Mshawasha Purchase Area offer a better, not perfect or ideal, alternative.
But one would have to build a pipeline from Mutirikwi's western limits,
by-pass Chief Fortune Charumba's birthplace to deliver water to farmers in
Mshawasha in the not-so-rugged Tokwe-Mukorsi Valley.
If you are sceptical, ask Walter Mzembi. But if someone insists that the
farmers in Mshawasha should go for irrigation, he will have to wait a long
time for Tokwe-Mukorsi Dam to be completed. Minor excavation on the line of
the damwall was done years ago, and if work on the dam can be expected this
year the country must wait until the current rainy season is over to enable
a cofferdam to be built ready for next season's floods. Completion of the
dam therefore is still a murky few years away.
But then even when the dam is completed, Mshawasha farmers will not be the
main beneficiaries, indeed, some of them like the Munodawafa family, Samuel
Munodawafa's surviving children, may lose their farm completely, submerged
under the dam's floodwaters.
Tokwe-Mukorsi will not be a fly-spit like Bangala or that other dam near
Renco Mine which Rio Tinto donated to the people of Nyajena. Tokwe-Mukorsi,
even in its curtailed capacity which became necessary to avoid flooding the
Tokwe Bridge, will be the second largest to Lake Kariba, a position which is
held by Mutirikwi. On the west bank of Tokwe, in Chibi, settlements in the
Jaka and Mandiva areas along the Masvingo-Beitbridge road will find
themselves on the shoreline of the dam. I cannot wait to pay the site of the
damwall another visit, the sixth over the years.
While still in the Chief Murinye area, I cannot ignore the urge to make a
passing mention of a great son of the soil, Jonas Dadirai Zvobgo, Eddison
Zvobgo's father. He died an unsung hero some years ago. A founder of
Shonganiso Mission on the eastern bank of Mutirikwi River, downstream from
Mutirikwi Dam, Jonas Dadirai Zvobgo was bitten by the bug of nationalism in
the heydays of the Zimbabwe African People's Union. He probably never
renounced his allegiance to African nationalism as ZAPU taught its followers
that despite the great divide that came with the formation of the Zimbabwe
African National Union. African nationalism has never been the same ever
since, despite the fanfare that has greeted the l987 Unity Accord.
Zimbabweans have proved to be nothing but a bunch of hypocrites.
After the unity government broke up in l982, Jonas Dadirai Zvobgo stood
fast. He sent his son, Eddison to invite Joshua Nkomo to witness the opening
of Shonganiso School. I am told shonganiso means a uniting factor or words
to that effect. It was while they were coming from that ceremony that Nkomo
and his assistant, Mhetu from Zaka, were nearly lynched by an angry mob
shouting: "Ngomo uyo, Ngomo uyo."
Talking about the need for irrigation development, one cannot help but
recall that there are small irrigation schemes dotted along the Shashi River
from a place of the same name opposite Bobonong in Botswana near Phikwe, to
Chikwalakwala some 40 kilometres east of Beitbridge.
Together with Tongwe west on the border town, Makwe near Gwanda, and
Silalabuhwa in Filabusi, the schemes were developed many years before
independence to keep the wolf from villagers' door. Most of them have been
grossly neglected over the past 20 years and the SOS from hungry villagers
has gone unanswered.
In the late l980s, a Scandinavian country exhibiting at the Zimbabwe
International Trade Fair offered to build a solar collector the size of a
football pitch for the people of Binga.
It was considered big enough to pump water up the Zambezi escarpment with
the water gushing inland by gravity, all 80 kilometres of the way to the
Kariangwe flats. There is a small irrigation scheme near Kariangwe Mission
which draws its water from the fly-spit that is Tungwalala Dam.
The government turned down the offer, saying solar was still largely an
unknown science, another golden opportunity missed. If you love water and
irrigation you will feel a pang of sadness that a black Zimbabwean who
carried out the feasibility study for Zhovhe Dam on the Mzingwani River did
not live to see the dam completed. Driving from site one day, he was
involved a head-on collision and perished in the accident. He had been hired
by white farmers in the Mzingwani valley to do the work.
One of Zimbabwe`s water pipeline wonders, built in record time, is the
54-kilometre Pungwe Drift-Christmas Pass pipeline built for the eastern
gateway city of Mutare. The pipeline takes its water from the turbulent
Pungwe River where it forms an elbow, taking floodwaters off course to form
a perfect take-off point. When the river comes down in flood from the
Nyangani Mountains hurtling down like a landing Spitfire, the pipeline is
gaping to swallow scores of thousands of cusecs of water.
I was privileged to go on a tour of the pipeline a few years ago. A section
of the pipeline goes through a four-kilometre tunnel of solid granite. The
tunnel is big enough to take a double-decker bus. In one place it goes
through a cluster of villages, just missing an old man's reverred grave. But
what must be a national monument in honour of the engineers who surveyed the
pipeline is a massive Msasa tree near Penhalonga that blocked the way. They
decided, because of a great deal of fuss from conservation fanatics, to dig
the tree up roots and all for replanting off the route of the pipeline. That
Msasa is still a living testimony of good health.
With all its well-known shortcomings, the white settler government had a lot
to be admired for. The people of Makulela and Bambadzi, in Bulilima North`s
western corner, will testify to this statement. This area of the country,
the home of the San people, is drought-prone. So the government of the day,
way back in the l960s, built Maitengwe Dam on the Manzanyama waterway to
give both the people and wildlife a source of water. Large tracts of land
were cleared for irrigation, only for the sticky black soil in the area to
prove a formidable match, and the irrigation scheme was abandoned.
After Maitengwe, the government crossed the waterway to Garia in Tsholotsho,
another San settlement, where the government scooped a massive pan to create
a huge dam fed by a canal from the Manzamnyama River. Every rainy season the
dam gets filled up.
A few years ago floods, like the ones experienced in Tsholotsho two months
ago, came and swept away the earthfill Maitengwe damwall, sending thousands
of fish across the former irrigation fields to rot. Maitengwe Dam has never
been the same again.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Catch and punish despots before they die

FinGaz

Mavis Makuni Own Correspondent

THE publication of a report in the press last weekend that former Liberian
strongman and warlord Charles Taylor could soon be extradited to his
homeland, a day before the announcement of the death of former Yugoslav
president Slobodan Milosevic in The Hague, highlights the need to deal
expeditiously with "unfinished business" pertaining to leaders accused of
genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and human rights violations.

It was reported that Taylor, who has lived in exile in Nigeria for the past
three years, could soon be extradited to his homeland for onward transfer to
Sierra Leone, where he has been indicted by a United Nations-backed special
court in Freetown for war crimes and crimes against humanity arising from
his support for the Revolutionary United Front rebels who waged a brutal
insurgency in the 1990s.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was quoted confirming that the
former dictator would be brought to justice following negotiations with her
Nigerian counterpart, President Olusegun Obasanjo, for his extradition.
Nigeria granted Taylor political asylum after his ouster in 2003.
Johnson-Sirleaf, who assumed power in January this year, did not, initially,
seem to regard the prosecution of her predecessor as an item requiring
urgent attention on her agenda.
After being challenged by human rights groups, not long ago, to act urgently
on the Taylor issue, she replied that the matter was not a priority and
would not be allowed to derail her government from what it was trying to
achieve for the people of Liberia who had endured 14 years of civil war.
But the first woman to be elected in her own right to lead an African nation
seems to have bowed to pressure and responded to appeals for her not to
emulate the example of her male peers who have shown dubious solidarity by
allowing such matters to be swept under the carpet under the guise of
non-interference in each other's internal affairs.
Such a stance would have negated most of Johnson-Sirleaf's pronouncements
and declared positions on democratic governance and human rights prior to
her ascendancy to the presidency.
Latest reports from Monrovia now show a new sense of urgency, with a
Liberian government official declaring that no time would be wasted before
handing over Taylor to officials in Sierra Leone as soon as he was
extradited from Nigeria.
"We cannot keep Taylor here for more than an hour if he has to be turned
over," he said.
The death of Milosevic, who was facing 66 counts of genocide, crimes against
humanity and war crimes only months before his trial for atrocities relating
to situations in Kosovo, Croatia and Bosnia was to be concluded, has left
his country and the world in general feeling cheated that there has been no
closure.
Over the past four years that he spent being tried at the International
Court of Justice in the Netherlands, Milosevic, who conducted most of his
own defence, fought mightily to prove his innocence.
It is ironic that a man accused of regarding other human beings as
expendable at the height of his political power was prevented by his own
mortality from finding out whether he would be exonerated.
As former Balkans peace negotiator David Owen, who once served as Britain's
foreign secretary, has said: "It's sad that justice in a way has been
cheated. He was the first head of state to be given a trial, he's been given
a fair trial. It's taken an extraordinarily long time."
The outcome of his trial would have set many precedents in international law
regardless of whether the verdict was guilty or not guilty.
The former Yugoslav president's death will, all the same, put the spotlight
on the as yet unconcluded cases of other leaders facing prosecution for
similar abuses such as Augusto Pinochet of Argentina and Saddam Hussein of
Iraq.
Their cases have proved that bringing a human rights abuser or perpetrator
of genocide to justice is an extremely complex and time- consuming process
requiring political will and commitment.
The lack of a willingness to commit resources and to persevere until the
process is completed will allow more tyrants to take the dark secrets of
their unfathomable cruelty and brutality to the grave as Africa's Idi Amin
and Pol Pot of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia have done.
Both died with blood on their hands for the butchering of millions of their
fellow countrymen and women.
Taylor is not the only former leader of an African country who must be taken
to account for abuses committed during his rule.
Former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre, who brutalised his impoverished
country for about a decade from 1982 to 1990, has been ensconced in exile in
Senegal since then.
He will only be brought to trial if a Belgian judge who issued an
international arrest warrant in October last year succeeds in getting him
extradited to Belgium. If this happens, Habre will be charged with crimes
against humanity and torture under the European country's anti-atrocity
statute.
Habre's regime has been accused of killing 40 000 political opponents and
torturing and imprisoning thousands of others during his eight-year reign of
terror.
If Taylor and Habre are extradited, this should send a chilling message to
other despots and dictators who have escaped answering for their brutal
deeds by seeking refuge in friendly countries.
These include former Ethiopian strongman Mengistu Haile Mariam, who has been
a guest of the Zimbabwean government since 1991.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

ANZ headache as . . .

FinGaz

Own Correspondent
Govt walks legal tightrope
THE government last week began walking a legal tightrope as a keenly
interested world kept an eye on events: was it going to fall on the side of
the rule of law, or was it yet again going to ignore the pronouncements of
its appointed judicial officers?

The issue under the spotlight was the recent ruling by Judge Rita Makarau on
the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ)'s application for registration.
On July 18 2005, the Media and Information Commission (MIC) - the state body
responsible for the registration of journalists and media houses - denied
ANZ a licence for the second time in a row.
The MIC board had in 2003 refused to grant the ANZ an operating licence,
citing alleged infringement of the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (AIPPA) the law that requires journalists and publishing houses
to register, by the applicant.
The board's decision was later set aside by Chief Justice Godfrey
Chidyausiku, who ordered that the application be remitted to the board for
fresh consideration.
When the case was eventually brought before the board again on July 18 2005,
the board threw it out, saying the applicant had previously contravened
AIPPA and could not be registered as a mass media provider.
Following the second MIC board refusal to register the company, ANZ sought
litigation in the High Court and Judge Makarau ordered the application
remitted to a reconstituted MIC board, barring the current one headed by
chairman Tafataona Mahoso from any further participation in the case.
The judge ordered that all commissioners who had participated in the
disastrous July 18 2005 decision were disabled by the taint of bias of
chairman Mahoso.
Justice Makarau delivered her judgment on February 8 2006, giving the
commission until last Friday to resolve the matter.
There were two options left to achieve this: the secretariat of the
commission could simply write out a certificate of registration and invite
the ANZ, publisher of the closed Daily News and Daily News on Sunday to pick
it up, or the Minister of Information and Publicity, Tichaona Jokonya, as
appointing authority, could appoint a special board to deal with the
application.
As the deadline ended last Friday without resolution of the case, the
minister, as appointing authority, is in breach of the Act, which stipulates
30 days for an application to be determined.
The minister last December re-appointed six of the seven members of the
board for another six months, saying there remained some unfinished business
arising from the tenure of their office since 2002.
Commending the commissioners for their "invaluable contribution" to the
board, Jokonya appealed to them to remain "loyal and focused".
But Judge Makarau, with the stroke of a pen, has overturned their
participation in the ANZ case to which Jokonya alluded in his extension of
the commissioners' tenure of office, saying there were still some legal
challenges for them to resolve.
As the day drew to a close last Friday, there were no signs that the
minister intended to respond to the call for intervention "in terms of the
law", a reference to last Friday's deadline.
ANZ chief executive Sam Sipepa Nkomo, in his letter to Jokonya dated
February 22 2006, said the company had no desire to "embark on any further
litigation", expressing the hope the minister would act to finalise the
issue.
But the spectre of possible litigation against the minister remains and
cannot be discounted.
The expiry of the deadline with the matter remaining unresolved has put
Jokonya under the spotlight, with observers watching to see how he plans to
walk the tight rope.
What steps he takes will be watched with the greatest of interest, not only
by the country but also by the world at large.
The government has never lost an opportunity to lecture the international
community on the rights of a sovereign state.
But a burning question is: does national sovereignty grant the executive the
power to ignore the decisions of its appointed judicial officers? If it
does, can the government of Zimbabwe acquit itself when accused of treating
the rule of law with so much contempt?
The government has often been accused of bench-packing, meaning that those
so appointed were expected to further its political programmes without
regard to the dictates of justice.
Is the judiciary expected to pass no opinion against government
expectations? Can failure by the government to abide by the decisions of its
appointed judicial officers acquit the executive of pining for a subservient
judiciary? Many observers would say not at all.
How then does this help this country get out of the rut of intransigence the
executive has adopted to spite the so-called "detractors" in its own
backyard where the government wishes to be left alone to run its own show?
This country is faced with a polyglot array of intractable problems, a good
many of which are self-created in the name of sovereignty to spite our
critics. Can this country survive the onslaught as long as the government
refuses to swallow its misplaced pride?
No right-thinking Zimbabwean should have any quarrel with the rights of a
sovereign state. It is an inalienable right of a people to rule themselves
with justice to all.
But a country cannot be subjected to political or any other machination and
still survive, let alone prosper. Rulers cannot oppress their own kith and
kin in the name of sovereignty.
Does the government believe that its legitimate authority to appoint judges
grants the executive the right to interfere with the decisions of the
judiciary? Can the executive ignore the opinion of the judiciary in matters
of law and still claim the rights of a sovereign state when the government
flouts its own laws?
This is especially damaging when, with so much bare-faced rancour, we
profess to be adherents of an independent legal system, only to negate our
professed beliefs by doing the opposite. We are not impressing the sceptical
and hostile world in which we live.
A judge recently declared it was not the function of the judiciary to
install or remove governments in this country. Comforting words indeed, many
will say.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

ANZ's fate left in Jokonya's hands

FinGaz

Staff Reporter
MIC admits it is unable to make decision on registration

INFORMATION and Publicity Minister Tichaona Jokonya has been left to
determine the fate of the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ)'s two
titles, The Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday, shut down for operating
illegally in September 2003.
This follows this week's admission by the Media and Information Commission
(MIC) that its board, chaired by executive chairman Tafataona Mahoso, was
unable to make a decision on the ANZ's protracted bid to be registered.
Admission of the commission's disability follows a ruling on February 8 2006
by High Court judge Rita Makarau who declared the MIC board chairman to be
biased against the applicant. Makarau further ruled that the entire MIC
board was tainted by the chairman's proven bias, barring all members from
involvement in the case.
In a letter to the ANZ dated March 3 2006 but received by the applicant on
March 13 2006, MIC chairman Tafataona Mahoso agreed with the applicant's
legal representative that Makarau's judgment barred the entire MIC board
from further involvement in the ANZ case.
"As you rightly point out", wrote Mahoso, "the chairperson and all the
present commissioners are disabled from handling the same application." It
was apparent from the court order, Mahoso said.
This effectively reversed Mahoso's earlier position.
On February 16 2006, the MIC chairman wrote tersely to the ANZ saying the
case would be "attended to in due course."
He was reported to have called a meeting of a select few commissioners to
determine the ANZ's fate. The meeting however broke up in disarray amid
complaints by one commissioner that it was illegal.
With the current board barred from the ANZ case, the matter has shifted to
Minister Jokonya's court for resolution, with two options open to him. He
can appoint a special board or instruct the MIC secretariat to issue a
certificate of registration.
The ANZ management has already written twice to the minister in the space of
19 days appealing for his intervention.
In his first letter of February 22 2006, ANZ chief executive Sam Sipepa
Nkomo said the company had no desire "to embark on any further litigation",
and hoped this could be avoided.
The latest letter was delivered to the minister's office of March 13 2006,
according to ANZ's legal advisor, Mordecai Mahlangu.
Commenting on the minister's failure to respond, Mahlangu said the ANZ
management was distressed by the minister's attitude.
"We are distressed by this. We are all patriots and would like this matter
resolved in the best interest of the country," he said.
The protracted bid to get ANZ registered has been likened to a fight to the
finish. Justice Makarau said it gave the impression that the parties to the
conflict were "locked in a deadly legal battle in which no party will take
prisoners," meaning that the litigants had to do or die.
The history of the battle opened on September 15 2003 when the MIC board
refused the ANZ a hearing. This decision was set aside by Chief Justice
Chidyausiku who ordered the ANZ to submit a fresh application.
On July 18 2005, the board again denied the applicant registration, citing
previous records of infringement of the Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
On February 8 2006, Makarau, in her celebrated judgment, set aside the board's
determination but went further and declared the entire board disabled from
dealing with the case, saying Mahoso's proven bias against the ANZ "tainted
all commissioners" who were part of the disastrous July 18 2005 decision.
This effectively placed the resolution of the matter in the hands of the
minister whose failure to move is not only an infringement of AIPPA but also
raises the spectre of yet more litigation.
The ANZ earlier this week was already mulling the idea of going back to the
courts. Last week the company was considering suing the commissioners in
both their personal as well as official capacity, but with the realisation
that the board is barred from further involvement, the spotlight has now
swung to the minister.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Who's to blame: sanctions or govt?

FinGaz

Charles Rukuni Bulawayo Bureau Chief

BULAWAYO - Sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the United States and Europe are
taking their toll on the average Zimbabwean, but political and economic
commentators say the government, and not the sanctions, is largely
responsible for the mess the country is in.

The United States and the European Union imposed "smart" or "targeted"
sanctions on Zimbabwe more than five years ago to force the country to
implement good governance.
The sanctions were slapped on soon after Zimbabwe's land reform programme,
giving the government a convenient excuse for its shortcomings.
The sanctions are supposed to be targeted at top ZANU PF officials, their
businesses and companies associated with the ruling party.
The officials are barred from travelling to the United States and to Europe
except on United Nations business, and their assets in those countries are
also supposed to have been frozen.
Central bank governor Gideon Gono says the sanctions, both declared and
undeclared, have caused untold suffering to the average Zimbabwean.
Quoting United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Gono said: "Sanctions
remain a blunt instrument which hurts large numbers of people who are not
their primary targets."
The sanctions have ravaged the country, with four out of every five people
now classified as poor.
Those employed are no better off as inflation, at 782 percent, eats away
workers' incomes.
The average worker now needs six months' salary to afford a single month's
basics.
Zimbabwe, once regarded as the jewel of Africa, has been reduced to a basket
case and can no longer feed itself. Even with the heavy rains it received
this year, the country may have to import 1.3 million tonnes of maize.
The economy has contracted by nearly half over the past five years and
continues to shrink. Only 3.6 percent of industry is operating at full
capacity.
Gono says international isolation has cut off foreign currency inflows into
Zimbabwe, with capital flows to the private sector slumping from US$144
million in 1998 to US$8.9 million in 2001 and to zero last year.
Foreign direct investment declined from US$444.3 million in 1998 to a mere
US$3.8 million in 2003.
Zimbabwe cannot, therefore, service its debts. Its arrears ballooned from
US$109 million in 1999 to US$2 073.7 million by the end of last year.
Credit lines have been cut off and businesses have to pay cash upfront. When
granted credit, they pay high rates of interest ranging from eight to 15
percent above the London Inter Bank Offered Rate, the rate at which larger
banks are prepared to borrow and lend.
Donors have deserted the country, abandoning even social projects such as
education and health.
Tourism had become Zimbabwe's second largest foreign currency earner, but
after visitors were warned by their governments that it was risky to travel
to the country, arrivals dropped by more than half from 600 000 in 1999 to
281 105 in 2002.
The shortage of foreign currency resulted in the country failing to pay its
electricity and fuel imports. Zimbabwe imports 40 percent of its electricity
from South Africa, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Motorists now rely on fuel brought by individuals in drums from neighbouring
Botswana and have to cough up more than $220 000 per litre.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce President Luxon Zembe said sanctions
had adversely affected business because Zimbabwe had been excluded from
programmes such the United States' Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA),
which offers preferential treatment for exports from Africa.
Thirty-seven African countries are benefiting from AGOA.
Harare was, until recently, unable to access funds under the Global Aids
Fund, yet it has one of the highest AIDS prevalence rates in southern
Africa, with an estimated 1.8 million people in Zimbabwe being afflicted
with the disease. This is more than the entire population of neighbouring
Botswana, which is one of the beneficiaries.
But Zembe, who at one time was included on the Australian sanctions list,
was quick to add that the government was to blame for 80 percent of the
country's problems because it was not willing to work harmoniously with the
business sector and labour.
"Sanctions are hurting, yes, but we can beat them if we work as a team,"
Zembe said. "Rhodesia had worse sanctions but it survived. We can do better,
but government has ditched business and labour, accusing them of working
with its enemies."
He said the greatest problem in Zimbabwe at the moment was that people "just
love to be told lies".
Zembe said Zimbabweans had been told a series of lies over the years and
swallowed them.
He cited bumper harvests that had been predicted only to see the country run
out of food, fuel supplies that were promised only to see the pumps run
completely dry, and declines in inflation that were projected only to see it
reach record levels.
"Look at how much we poured into food imports. We could have averted this if
we had simply accepted that we had a shortage of food. When someone starts
accepting one's mistakes half the job is done," Zembe said.
"Half the time we are behaving like a sick person who will not admit that he
is sick and will therefore not take his medicine. But even the bible says:
'It is better to have wise people reprimand you than to have stupid people
sing your praises'," he said.
Political scientist John Makumbe said though sanctions were hurting the
poor, they were also working.
"I personally think they have done a tremendous job. They are hitting the
right target. I know two ministers who could not attend their daughter's
weddings because of the travel ban. They were really hurt and, despite their
statements to the contrary, you can see them salivating to go to London.
"(President Robert) Mugabe has started opening doors to talks with British
Prime Minister Tony Blair. He has paid off the International Monetary Fund
arrears because he does not want to be kicked out. So the sanctions are
working. It may be slow but they are working," Makumbe said.
Lovemore Matombo, president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union, said
the sanctions were just a travel ban. They were not likely to change much
because Zimbabwe's problems were internal.
"We have always argued that the government has to change the country's
political risk factor, the way people view Zimbabwe as an unsafe country to
work or invest in and even to visit. It has to sign the Kadoma Declaration
but it is prevaricating."
But as the saying goes, when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.
While the government, business and labour defend their positions, the
average Zimbabwean is finding it harder and harder to survive.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mudzuri to bounce back

FinGaz

Njabulo Ncube Chief Political Reporter

FORMER Harare executive mayor Elias Mudzuri is expected to make an emotional
return to Zimbabwe today from the United States of America to take a shot at
one of the top posts in the anti-senate MDC.

MDC insiders said Mudzuri, hounded by the ruling ZANU PF government out of
Town House, Harare's administrative nerve centre, would be cutting short his
studies at Harvard University to vie for the post of national organising
secretary at the party's congress starting tomorrow.
News of Mudzuri's return comes as it also emerged that former ZANU PF
politburo member and Matabeleland North governor Welshman Mabhena has agreed
to contest the post of MDC vice-president left vacant after Gibson Sibanda
and other pro-senate members defected to form a new grouping, now led by
Arthur Mutambara.
Sources claimed this week that Mudzuri had been overwhelmingly nominated by
most provinces and was likely to be part of the leadership seeking to revive
the MDC, dealt a severe blow by last October's split over senate elections.
Mudzuri nonetheless faces a stiff challenge from Matabeleland favourite
Sayiso Moyo and Gweru businessman Patrick Kombayi, who will also contest the
post left by Pumula-Magwegwe legislator Esaph Mdlongwa.
On Monday, Mudzuri was quoted by the Voice Of America's Studio Seven saying
after serving as Harare's executive mayor for nearly a year, he was well
equipped to be the party's national organising secretary.
Sources said elders in Matabeleland close to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai
had successfully lobbied Mabhena, a veteran politician who was at one time
detained together with President Robert Mugabe and the late vice-president
Joshua Nkomo, to contest the post of vice-president, in which Thokozani
Khuphe, the Makokoba MDC legislator, and Gertrude Mthombeni, a national
executive member, are understood to have also shown interest.
The sources said that although age was catching up with him, Mabhena
remained a political heavyweight in tribe-conscious Matabeleland.
"Don't pre-empt me before I get there. I will see when I am there, I am
waiting for them (Tsvangirai's camp) to come and get me for the congress in
Harare," said Mabhena when contacted for comment yesterday.
Mabhena was unceremoniously removed from the post of governor of
Matabeleland North in 2000 a few hours after being sworn in, amid
revelations that some ZANU PF politicians had told President Mugabe he was
sympathetic to the MDC cause and had not campaigned for the ruling party in
the run-up to the June 2000 parliamentary polls, in which the opposition
swept all but one seat in the region.
Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, might retain his post unopposed at the party's
congress, which opens at Harare's City Sports Centre tomorrow and continues
until Sunday.
Isaac Matongo, the party chairperson, is also tipped to retain his post as
no candidate has emerged to challenge him.
There is some jostling to replace Welshman Ncube, seen as the face behind
the rebellion against Tsvangirai, as secretary-general, with Tendai Biti,
the MP for Harare East, Tapiwa Mashakada, the legislator for Hatfield, Elton
Mangoma, a senior party official from Manicaland, businessman Ian Makone and
Professor Eliphas Mukonoweshuro crowding the ring for the post.
Businessman Lovemore Moyo, the Motobo MP in Matabeleland South, is set to
clinch the post of deputy secretary-general.
Roy Bennett, who the state media this week claimed had skipped the borders
in light of allegations of plotting to assassinate President Mugabe, is
tipped to win the post of national treasurer unchallenged, taking over from
Fletcher Dulini-Ncube.
Nelson Chamisa, the current spokesman for the anti-senate grouping, who
looked set to retain his post unopposed, faces a stiff challenge from
Belgium-based Grace Kwinje, who, sources said, could end up settling for the
post of secretary-general in the MDC's women's league where she could face
Faith Musarurwa.
Lucia Matibenga is tipped to retain her post as chairperson of the women's
league, while Thamsanqa Mahlangu is expected to take over from Chamisa as
leader of the youth assembly. Mahlangu was Chamisa's deputy in the youth
wing of the MDC.
Bhekithemba Mpofu is set to retain his post as secretary general of the
youth assembly.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Annan lashes out at Zimbabwe govt

FinGaz

Chief Political Reporter

A RUDE awakening awaits President Robert Mugabe's government, which had
hoped to enlist United Nations (UN) secretary-general Kofi Annan's backing
to silence a chorus of disapproval against its policies after the UN chief
this week took a swipe at the authorities in Harare over bad governance.

Annan's veiled attack on Harare has put a damper on expectations that the UN
boss might water down damning reports authored by his officials on last
April's clean-up exercise that left 700 000 families homeless and heightened
concern about the man-made humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.
Sources said the UN secretary-general's proposed visit to Zimbabwe later in
the year could turn out to be of little benefit to the government, which is
seeking to raise its human rights profile.
Speaking from South Africa Annan, who is on a four-nation tour of the
continent that excludes Zimbabwe, said the continuing crisis across the
Limpopo was a cause for concern to the world and heaped praise on President
Thabo Mbeki's attempts to right it.
"The situation for the Zimbabweans is extremely difficult. It is difficult
for Zimbabwe. It is difficult for the region and it is difficult for the
world," said the UN secretary-general. "I know that South Africa has done a
lot to help with the Zimbabwe situation as any good neighbour would want to
do," added Annan.
Annan said when any country gets caught in a downward spiral of poverty,
mismanagement and conflict; this is bound to be a problem for its
neighbours.
He said: "And the best neighbours are those who play a constructive part in
helping to halt and reverse the spiral before it leads to a complete
meltdown".
Mbeki has led attempts to hammer out a political solution between Zimbabwe's
feuding parties - the splintered MDC and ZANU PF - but his so-called "quiet
diplomacy" is yet to bear fruit.
As the bickering continues, the economic meltdown has accelerated with
inflation scaling past 780 percent. At least 85 percent of the country's
population is now classified as poor.
President Mugabe's government has refused to take responsibility for the
crisis, blaming it on sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United
States ostensibly to hit back at its chaotic land reforms.
Annan, who is perceived as having a soft spot for Zimbabwe, did not seem to
buy Harare's side of the story on Tuesday.
"It is easy to blame these ills on the past and on outsiders. The
depredations of imperialism and the slave trade, the imbalance of power and
wealth in a flagrantly unjust world. But that cannot absolve us, the
Africans of today, from our own responsibility to ourselves," Annan said,
adding that Africa needed a new approach and "the good news is that South
Africa is pointing the way".
Annan, who by-passed Zimbabwe on his visit to South Africa this week,
addressed the South African parliament on Tuesday before flying to
Johannesburg to meet former President Nelson Mandela.
He has however, promised to visit Harare during a special trip to assess the
humanitarian crisis before he retires at the end of the year.
Following UN special envoy Anna Tibaijuka's report last July condemning
Operation Murambatsvina, the government has wanted Annan to see things for
himself.
Harare criticised Tibaijuka's report as hostile and false, saying it
"described the operation in vastly judgmental language, which clearly
demonstrates its inbuilt bias against the operation".
Annan spoke as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)'s office in
Harare and President Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba confirmed his trip
to Zimbabwe.
"We are hoping that he will eventually come but the dates for the Zimbabwe
visit have not been confirmed by both New York and Harare. We look forward
to his eventual visit to Harare because all the planning has been done since
Mr Annan indicated he will take up the invitation but this is not within the
current regional trip," said a UNDP official.
Annan arrived in South Africa's Cape Town on Monday this week to begin a
three-day four-nation tour. From South Africa he travels to Madagascar for
talks with that country's president. He will then go to Congo-Brazzaville to
meet President Denis Sassou-Nguesso, the current chairman of the 53-member
African Union.
He wraps up his itinerary with a visit to the Democratic Republic of the
Congo where he will meet President Joseph Kabila.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Retailers report big clothing sales slump

FinGaz

Rangarirai Mberi Senior Business Reporter

RETAIL sales fell over the traditionally strong Christmas season, while more
poor parents are spending less on themselves and more on their children,
according to two of the country's largest clothing stores.

Edgars said sales at the country's largest clothing retailer slumped in the
last quarter, hit by weaker than expected Christmas sales.
"In the last quarter of 2005 we started to experience a decline in unit
sales. Given the currenct economic conditions in the country this is likely
to continue for most of the first half of 2006. Nevertheless, optimistic
budgets have been set and we will endeavour to achieve or exceed them," said
Edgars managing director Ray Mlotshwa.
Edgars has also become the second top retailer after Tedco to reveal it had
been hit by Operation Murambatsvina. Sales at Express were hit by a knock on
informal market earnings after the government's controversial clean-up
operation.
Group sales grew 378 percent last year, better than average Consumer Price
Index of 238 percent over the period. Most of that sales growth was however
seen in first half of the year.
In the final quarter, credit sales at the flagship Edgars grew higher than
cash sales.
Truworths, owner of Topics and mass market store Number 1, has reported a
growing trend in sales mix where there is a marked volume decline in adult
wear and an increase in kidswear. This was being seen especially at lower
price points.
Truworths saw volume growth, but this was coming off a low base. The company
says it sees trading conditions remaining restricted in the coming year.
Interim turnover grew 429 percent, below average inflation on clothing and
footwear of 549 percent.
"Due to hyperinflation, trading conditions for the next six months will be
difficult and the focus will be on maintaining a balance between volumes
sold and pricepoints charged."
Edgars shares are trading at around $22 000, while Truworths is at round $7
000.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Pressure to open up airwaves

FinGaz

Njabulo Ncube Chief Political Reporter

PRESSURE is mounting on the government to open up the airwaves as it also
emerged this week that a number of ZANU PF heavyweights are eyeing prospects
of operating private broadcasting stations.

ZANU PF insiders said pressure to open up the airwaves, especially from the
ruling party bigwigs, had forced Parliament to take up the issue with the
Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ).
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Communications
visited a private broadcasting production house in Bulawayo last week to
check on its preparedness to establish a private community radio station.
Leo Mugabe, President Robert Mugabe's nephew and chairman of the committee,
confirmed meeting executives from Radio Dialogue and deliberating on the
need for the government to expeditiously award private broadcasting licences
following the enactment of the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA).
"We, as a parliamentary committee, are doing something with the BAZ on the
issue of private broadcasting licences," said Mugabe. "We are meeting with
BAZ next Monday where we are going to have a public hearing on the issue. It
is something most people are interested in," he said.
Takura Zhangazha, an advocacy and research officer with the Media Institute
of Southern Africa (Zimbabwe), said the opening up of the airwaves was long
overdue considering that small nations such as Lesotho had about six private
radio stations.
Zhangazha said: "The present delays in establishing private broadcasting
stations is due to the BSA, which forbids foreign funding. Broadcasting is a
very capital-intensive industry so potential players need foreign technical
partners to acquire equipment - just like ZBH (Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Holdings) is doing with the Iranians."
Zhangazha attributed the ever-increasing listenership of Voice of America's
Studio 7, SW Radio and other foreign-based stations broadcasting into
Zimbabwe to ZBH's monopoly.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

What the Kadoma Declaration entails

FinGaz

Charles Rukuni Bulawayo Bureau Chief

IT was a homegrown solution aimed at providing a quick fix to the country's
economic crisis. Inflation, the country's worst enemy was still only at 76.1
percent, but the technical team on Zimbabwe's Country Risk of the Tripartite
Negotiating Forum representing government, business and labour was already
worried.

Inflation, which had steadily declined to a low of 18.8 percent by 1997 when
the slide began, had shot up to an average of 58.5 percent two years later.
Though it had dipped to 55.9 percent in 2000, it was on the rise again
reaching 76.1 percent in August 2001 when the team came up with a document
for the way forward, which was subsequently known as the Kadoma Declaration.
The team had agreed that politics, rather than the economy, was the main
problem. The government had to take the lead in addressing the country's
problems, including the country risk factor - the way people looked at
Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe was already being viewed as a country where there was no rule of
law, where the press was being muzzled and journalists were arrested and
tortured. It had become unsafe to invest in or even to visit.
The team noted that there was likely to be prolonged economic depression if
the country risk factor was not addressed. There was also likely to be
capital flight, a reduction in foreign direct investment and donor support.
Credit lines would dry up and there would be massive de-industrialisation as
well as a reduction in capacity utilisation.
It also said there would to be huge brain drain, high unemployment and
underemployment.
When the document was tabled for discussion and signing in January 2003, the
government balked and refused to sign it. Five years down the line, all the
technical team's predictions have come true but the government is still
prevaricating. A meeting scheduled for February 3 to discuss the document
was postponed indefinitely.
It is not clear why the government has been dillydallying because the
document offers a simple 10-point plan to solve the country's problems. And
it does not only ask for reform from government, but from the other
partners, business and labour, and even touches on civil society.
The eight-page document says the government should ensure the rule of law
and should not politicise institutions of government. There should be no
selling of political cards in government offices or by government officers.
Civil servants should not wear party regalia at workplaces and there should
be no collection of money for political parties at work.
The same applies to employers and workers. They should depoliticise
workplaces and should not sell party cards at work or wear party regalia.
They should also not collect money for political parties at their
workplaces.
The government must commit itself to implementing its own policies and any
other agreed policies. Business and labour should also support
implementation of agreed national policies.
The government should democratise the economic landscape through deliberate
policies that ensure social equity and empowerment in a legal, transparent
and systematic way. Business should also facilitate economic empowerment
while labour should identify empowerment opportunities for workers and
promote their empowerment.
Employers and workers should ensure good industrial relations and desist
from any action that might lead to violence and to solve any disputes
timeously and through the appropriate legal channels.
Government, on the other hand, should ensure that civil and pressure groups
do not usurp the powers of constitutional and statutory institutions of
governance. It also had to be tolerant and apply the law equally on those
who incited and perpetrated violence. It had to ensure that elections were
free and fair and urge political leaders to speak against violence and not
to demonise each other. Business and labour also had to promote political
tolerance and depoliticise workplaces.
The team also tackled the country's worst enemy, corruption. It said the
government should prevent and fight corruption. It should make the civil
service professional and pay civil servants better salaries.
The government also had to blacklist all givers and receivers of bribes in a
clear database and make sure that those convicted of corruption were
punished severely. Business and labour were called upon to collaborate in
preventing and fighting corruption and report any cases to relevant
authorities.
The team noted that corruption was not only confined to government but
included such activities as transfer pricing, black market activities,
awarding of tenders, issuing of
To C8
From C4
licences, allocation of public resources, immigration, police,
privatisation, tourism, education and price monitoring.
It also called on the government to enunciate clear, consistent policies and
apply them uniformly. The government had to speak with one voice and avoid
contradictory statements that would clash with those of the other social
partners, especially on matters of national importance.
Workers and employers had to support agreed macroeconomic stabilisation
programmes but the government should take the lead by complying with
budgetary limits and implementing agreed programmes to address issues like
hyperinflation, poor export performance, exchange rate distortions,
increasing poverty and balance of payments.
Above all, each of the partners had to ensure good governance to improve the
image of the country.
That was all the document asked for.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

ZESA woos Asian, SA investors to coalfields

FinGaz

Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Reporter
Three companies already carrying out geological surveys
ZIMBABWE'S troubled power utility ZESA Holdings, which stands accused of
doing little to avert an impending power deficit, has signed up some Asian
and South African investors to partner it in exploiting its coalfields.

Datong Coal Mine Corporation, which is based in China's Shanxi Province,
will exploit ZESA's coal bed in Western Fields, while Coal India Limited
(CIL) will dig up the Entuba Fields.
An unnamed South African company will partner ZESA to mine its Sinamatella
Fields as the electricity generator races to beat an imminent power
shortfall.
Although the actual cost of the projects will be determined by the
geological survey, ZESA corporate affairs general manager Obert Nyatanga
said the entire joint venture projects would gobble about US$300 million.
The three external investors are presently undertaking a geological survey
to prove the volumes (reserves) of coal underground as well as the quality.
Nyatanga told The Financial Gazette that both volumes and quality are
important for the design of the Hwange Expansion Project in determining the
size and types of generators to be commissioned.
After the completion of the survey the investors will develop and do the
mining to feed the existing and expanded power stations.
Nyatanga said the fossil energy would be used to generate additional power
at its thermal power stations and in the expansion of the Hwange Power
Station (HPS).
ZESA entered into coal mining after the investor undertaking the expansion
of HPS - believed to be the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export
Corporation (CATIC) - made it conditional that there must be an investment
in coal mining to supply the expanded power station. Nyatanga said this
would allow maximum dispatch and generation from the expanded HPS.
"The objective is to ensure that there is no coal shortage to the expanded
power station as is the case in some instances whereby HPS and the Small
Thermal Power Station are not generating at full capacity due to
intermittent coal shortages. The investor would like to mitigate against
this problem by having backward integration and investment in the fuel
supply (coal)," he said.
ZESA, the country's sole electricity services provider, operates five power
stations, four of which are coal-powered.
The expansion of HPS whose design is in progress involves two units of 300
MW each, which will result in an additional 600MW to the existing six units
whose total capacity is 920 MW. After the expansion, the total installed
capacity of HPS will be 1 520 MW. Although factors such as prompt payments
for the tasks will determine the date of completion Nyatanga hopes both
projects will be completed before the end of the year.
Nyatanga said digging up its own coal would enhance the power utility's
energy security and mitigate fuel risk.
"ZESA will be able to control the coal delivery to the power stations, the
price of coal and the quality of coal to the power stations," said Nyatanga.
"This will allow ZESA to properly manage its power stations dispatch plan
from the generation stations," he added.
The Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) has already cautioned that surplus
energy will run out in 2007. Power utilities in neighbouring countries are
already completing some of their expansion projects but Harare, which
imports about 35 percent of its electricity needs, mainly from South Africa,
Mozambique and the DRC has been accused of doing too little too late.
Zimbabwe has been plagued by recurrent power cuts that have affected its
mining, manufacturing and industrial production.
Government critics warn that a string of deals being signed with the Asians
in the critical energy sector puts the government at the risk of mortgaging
Zimbabwe's vast coal reserves.
Harare, which is facing increasing international isolation, has also signed
a string of investment deals with Chinese firms ranging from supply of
telecommunications equipment to passenger vehicles and civilian and military
aircraft.
As of December 2005 the power parastatal, which is saddled with a foreign
debt amounting to US$330 million, recorded an estimated $8 trillion
operating loss.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Staff exodus at ZBH

FinGaz

Njabulo Ncube Chief Political Reporter
Disgruntled journalists flee poor pay, conditions
AN exodus of staff has hit the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH),
formerly the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, as employees desert the
public broadcaster citing deteriorating working conditions and poor
salaries.

Insiders, who revealed staffers at the Bulawayo-based Spot FM were still to
get their February salaries, said the lossmaking parastatal had lost several
of its "key" journalists and personnel in other departments in the past few
weeks.
In Harare alone, ZBH lost Nyaradzo Makombe, Ellen Mukaka, Freddy Murewa, Sam
Kasiya and Ishmael Ndlovu, all of whom have sought sanctuary in the private
sector.
A salary schedule shown to The Financial Gazette showed the highest paid
reporter at ZBH is grossing $7 million, with the least paid taking home a
paltry $2.9 million, which can only buy about five dozen loaves of bread.
Radio presenters and disc jockeys earn far less, with the highest paid
taking home about $3.5 million per month against estimates by the Consumer
Council of Zimbabwe that a monthly consumer basket for a family of six has
gone up to $28 million.
Foster Dongozi, the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists
(ZUJ), said the issue of poor salaries at ZBH had been brought to the
attention of the association, which had engaged a lawyer to try and address
the problem.
Said Dongozi: "As a union, we confirm the issue of poor salaries and working
conditions which has caused this exodus of qualified staff. We have tried to
assist by availing a lawyer to bargain for better salaries for journalists
at ZBH. The irony of the whole issue is that it is the same organisation
which is not accepting advertisements from some private companies."
Several other journalists are understood to be contemplating leaving the
country's sole broadcaster in protest over ever plummeting standards of
journalism.
It has also emerged that authorities at the state broadcaster, fearful of a
damaging industrial action, last Friday refused ZUJ, the country's largest
journalists trade union, authority to address workers at Montrose Studios in
Bulawayo.
A Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Communications is said
to have expressed shock at the lack of professionalism and low moral at the
ZBH.
Leo Mugabe, the ZANU PF legislator who is chairman of the committee,
expressed concerned about the goings-on at the ZBH.
"The ZBH is an extreme case. The generality of Zimbabwe journalists have
resorted to freelancing due to poor salaries being offered by employers.
Also, the lack of media diversity has cost journalists as there are now few
employers following the closure of the otheralternative media," added
Dongozi.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

An open letter to ZANU PF old guard

FinGaz

National Agenda with Bornwell Chakaodza

THIS is an open letter to the living old guard of the ruling ZANU PF that
saw Zimbabwe through the battles of the Second Chimurenga.

They are, among others of course, President Robert Mugabe, Vice-Presidents
Joseph Msika and Joice Mujuru, national chairman John Nkomo, secretary of
information, Nathan Shamuyarira and Ministers Emmerson Mnangagwa and Didymus
Mutasa. It is very easy to condemn and there is much that is condemnable in
what you have done but from time to time we have to be constructive. And
this is the spirit in which this open letter is being written to you.
For I believe very strongly that journalism's ultimate justification is not
to solve problems but to look truth in the eye, even if it hurts. "You will
know the truth, and the truth will make you free" John 8:32. Someone once
said that free speech is not free if it is only to say nice things to
people. I agree with this statement wholeheartedly. The key point to be made
in this regard is that if people disagree with you, they are just being
different. They are not your enemies.
Having stated these preliminary remarks, let me get straight into the topic
under discussion. You are occupying the highest offices in this land and by
virtue of that as well as your track record in the liberation struggle; you
are the people with the power to do something to stop this madness.
I believe powerful individuals like you could dramatically change the course
of the history of this country if only you decide to open your minds and
hearts and listen to pleas from men and women of goodwill both at home and
abroad. In your hands lies the ability to resolve our crisis and I do think
that it is a responsibility you should take lightly.
Zimbabwe has become a 'House of Hunger'. Life under your rule has become a
living nightmare. Good and productive Zimbabweans are leaving the country in
their droves. The crisis is acute and the future very bleak indeed.
Agriculture is in bad shape despite the good rains this season. Companies
are closing shop all the time. Tourism, which was once the milk cow of this
economy, has virtually collapsed. Not to mention the current assaults on
sectors that have been beacons of hope: mining, education and a few others.
With an inflation of 800 percent and galloping to 1 000 percent, how do you
think fellow Zimbabweans are coping? It does appear to me that the reality
of life without work as a permanent state has yet to strike home to you.
Have you ever thought of the stresses and strains of people going for days
and weeks without water, without electricity and with nothing to eat? The
country has been transformed into one big circle of despair.
You need no reminding that Zimbabweans are much poorer now than in 1980. In
1997 the Zimdollar was 12 to 1US dollar. Now it is more than 200 000 to 1US
on the parallel market and free-falling on a daily basis. Scarcity of fuel
is now the norm and the little that is available is prohibitively expensive
not only for the ordinary traveling public but for businesses as well.
Forex - ah, well, very very little and no way of earning it. Prices of goods
and services are skyrocketing everyday to the point where there is now a
feeling of resignation and helplessness in the vast majority of Zimbabweans.
Needless to say, stress has really become the No. 1 killer in this country.
The question is often asked: How are people surviving? Yes, Zimbabweans are
incredibly resilient but this resilience should not be taken for granted.
The ability of ordinary people to inflict damage on the political
leadership, if they are driven to do so by frustration and hopelessness,
should not be underestimated. For that ability is a function not only of
power measured in conventional terms, but of desperation and a willingness
to resort to extreme actions even at great cost to themselves. We need to
avoid that and the ZANU PF old guard has the power to prevent that from
happening.
Edmund Burke once warned that "there are critical moments in the fortunes of
all states, when they who are unable to contribute to your prosperity may be
strong enough to complete your ruin". It is a warning worth pondering.
Indeed, at a certain moment, the people will have had enough and when they
reach that point, the groundswell of discontent will take the political
leadership head-on.
In times of crisis like we are going through now, there are decided limits
to which a leadership can continue keeping the lid on the discontent of
people.
We have to get our house in order. Others like President Thabo Mbeki of
South Africa may help but South Africa and the rest of the world does not
owe us a living. We must take responsibility for our own actions. Yes, the
legacy of colonialism has a lot to do with it but that legacy should not be
blamed for everything that has gone badly wrong in this country. The time
has long passed for our political leaders to drug themselves with
recollections of imperialism and neo-colonialism. For heaven's sake,
colonialism ended more than 20 years ago. Let us therefore stop blaming
outside forces.
The most important question for the ZANU PF old guard at this time is
whether you are willing, able and ready to make change 'your friend and not
your enemy'. I will be the first to admit that change is always difficult.
It implies pain, inconvenience and the agony of foregoing the privileges of
power and sweetness of office. But there are times when these have to be
surrendered in the interest of the majority of people. If we are to survive
as a country and survive we must, then we must be prepared for change and we
must change.
Problems are there to be solved and not to sit back and watch them worsen.
There is no point in haggling within the ruling party and between political
parties while the country is burning. When a house is on fire, it would be
naÔve in the extreme to start trading accusations over who started the
blaze. The most critical thing is to put out the fire first. The quarrel can
begin - if people are still in a quarrelsome mood - when the house is
secured, not before. What is important at this particular juncture in our
history is to get Zimbabwe out of the intensive care unit that it finds
itself in now.
My message to the old guard of ZANU PF is that if you are not part of the
solution, then you are part of the problem. Admitting mistakes and
explaining errors that produced untenable positions and turning the rhetoric
of building bridges into a practical policy is the only way forward for our
country. It is indeed a time which requires cool heads, a time to build
bridges, not burning them. It is never too late. Timing is everything - in
politics, in life, in everything that one does. The policy of national
reconciliation President Mugabe enunciated in 1980 was remarkable and a huge
success in the first 15 years or so of our independence. If you did it then,
why can't you repeat the same feat now?
I think the time has come for the ZANU PF old guard to reflect on these
matters. There
To Page 15
From Page 9
are good Zimbabweans within ZANU PF and from without who are working
tirelessly to return Zimbabwe to normalcy. Gideon Gono, Morgan Tsvangirai,
Archbishop Pius Ncube immediately come to mind. There are many others in
civil society, the churches, the media, the private sector, in the
grassroots organisations as well as in the international community who wish
Zimbabwe well and who want Zimbabwe to become the granary of Africa once
again. They need to be supported by those who wield power at this time: the
ZANU PF old guard.
It is now a race against time. Unfortunately, we do not live forever. Time
therefore is not on the side of the ZANU PF old guard. I am sure President
Mugabe, Vice-President Msika, Nathan Shamuyarira and Didymus Mutasa would be
the last people to want to leave a terrible legacy to their children and
grandchildren.
I strongly and sincerely believe that the possibility of fruitful
discussions between political parties and Zimbabweans of goodwill is now
greater than for a long time past - otherwise the kind of Zimbabwe that you
the old guard and the rest of Zimbabweans fought for will no longer be
there.
Email borncha@mweb.co.zw


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Govt has obligation to clean up Moyo's mess

FinGaz

Mavis Makuni Own Correspondent

THE March 12 to 18 issue of the ruling party publication, The Voice carried
a story that will be of great interest to journalists who were made
redundant during the term of office of Jonathan Moyo as Minister of State
and Publicity in the President's Office.
The paper, quoting the ZANU PF secretary for information and publicity,
Nathan Shamuyarira said the government was to dismantle all programmes
established by the disgraced former minister. Shamuyarira, who is also a
member of the ruling party's politburo, said the former propaganda czar had
abused the state media by establishing programmes and projects that were
designed to promote his personal agendas and interests.
The report did not identify the programmes to be dismantled but based on the
fact that Moyo himself literally demolished most facets of the media as it
was known in Zimbabwe before his arrival on the scene in 2000, the
government has an enormous task. Moyo turned things topsy-turvy in every
department and the ill will and human misery he caused will take years to
ameliorate.
It was during Moyo's stint as minister of information and publicity that a
crude and hate-filled form of state propaganda which was not designed to
influence people and win friends, first became evident. This used tactics
similar to those employed by regimes in communist countries and Nazi Germany
to gain and hold despotic control. But if the truth be told, the amateurish
and misguided offensive mounted by Moyo won the state more enemies than
friends or supporters. As happened during the McCarthy era in the United
States in the 1950s when innocent Americans were accused of being
communists, large numbers of people, especially journalists, lost their jobs
after unsubstantiated accusations of being unpatriotic or disloyal to the
ruling party were made against them.
On the basis of these inquisitorial methods, thousands of media workers were
summarily dismissed under the guise of Moyo's endless restructuring
exercises at the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, Zimbabwe Newspapers,
Zimbabwe Information Services, the old Zimbabwe Inter-Africa News Agency
(ZIANA) and Community Newspapers Group. The most common aspersion cast
against the majority of Moyo's victims was either that they supported the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) or were agents of foreign
powers.
These workers had no recourse to any kind of redress and had no choice but
to accept under duress whatever peanuts were offered as terminal benefits.
Although there were regular complaints about Moyo's mad-cap antics, no one
came forward to intervene. Now that those in government openly concede that
the former minister wreaked havoc during his tenure, they have an obligation
to address all issues pertaining to this disastrous and sad episode in the
country's post-independence history. They cannot expect all those who were
rendered jobless and destitute by the former minister's machinations to
vanish into thin air.
Dog-eat-dog journalism, in which newspaper columns are used to attack,
humiliate , embarrass and verbally abuse colleagues, first reared its ugly
head under Moyo's stewardship of the media. The trouble is that some of Moyo's
accomplices, who helped him to establish this toxic media culture, are still
ensconced in their positions and are faithfully continuing where he left
off. Left to their own imaginations, these amateurish propagandists could
soon be sprinkling their writings with outright obscenities. Parental
guidance could soon be necessary to shield children from this pervesity in
certain media. The question is, what possible benefit can the state derive
from having the public media used as a verbal boxing arena by Moyo's
disciples when it should be used for rational discourse on national issues?
If Moyo used these tactics because he had personal axes to grind and
personal agendas to promote, what excuse do those perpetuating these uncouth
methods under the guise of defending the government and ruling party have?
In his interview with The Voice, Shamuyarira said following Moyo's
dismissal, there was now a better working relationship between the ministry
and the ruling party's departments of information. This may very well be so,
but is the need for adequate, credible communication between the government
and the populace being served? There has to be something wrong when angry
spokesmen using fighting words are needed to communicate good news from the
state.
American senator, William Fulbright once said: "There is something basically
unwise and undemocratic about a system which taxes the public to finance a
propaganda campaign aimed at persuading the same taxpayers that they must
spend more tax dollars to subvert their independent judgement." Enough money
was spent when Moyo spearheaded this sort of propaganda campaign. All it
achieved was to relentlessly strain the relationship between the state and
the bewildered and disillusioned citizen. It is doubtful that it has paid
any dividends. Why should it continue?
It would be hypocritical for the government and ruling party to crucify Moyo
for the ills of the past few years and then adopt a piecemeal and selective
approach in addressing the ramifications of his antics. If this happened,
the rocket scientist would simply be a scapegoat. The litmus test of whether
Moyo alone was responsible for causing the traumas of the last few years is
how prepared the government is to put things right for all those who were
affected.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Some forlon hope!

FinGaz

††††† Comment

††††††††††† IT is morally repugnant that the Zimbabwean government has for
this long tolerated uncouth, corrupt and self-centred individuals who have
continued to plunder national resources for self-aggrandisement with
impunity.

††††††††††† We have here in mind the deplorable multiple-farm ownership
racket, the abuse of the War Victims Compensation Fund and the VIP Housing
Scheme, the deeply rooted and officially acknowledged looting of minerals
and farm equipment, to mention just but a few.
††††††††††† As if these deplorable acts, still fresh in the minds of the
people, were not enough we now hear of ZANU PF officials exploiting a
glaring policy loophole that allows them unfettered access to millions of
litres of fuel at ridiculously low prices. Most of these politicians have
abused the fuel facility offered by the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe
(NOCZIM) under the guise of using the precious liquid for farming
activities. But there is no evidence to show for that.
††††††††††† While the cases cited above underline how the cancer of
corruption has spread like wild fire, the rot in the fuel sector is
worrying, to say the least. It comes at a particularly irksome moment for
the fragile agricultural sector as it has, alongside shortages of
fertilisers and farming chemicals, inevitably negatively impacted on what
could have been an otherwise good agricultural season. Most farmers could
not work their land because they could not access the same fuel some
well-placed politicians and their cronies are getting in millions of litres!
This also partly explains the sub-optimal utilisation of land.
††††††††††† Not that we are surprised by what is unfolding. The fuel sector
has always been susceptible to corruption. Way back in September 2004 when
all signs pointed to the fuel crisis getting out of hand, another scandal
hit the sector. This was when a plethora of fuel companies, most of which
were owned by influential ZANU PF politicians, were implicated in the abuse
of scarce foreign currency allocated to dealers by the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe through the auction system even as foreign currency was flowing
into the country in dribs and drabs.
††††††††††† The government was, just as with the multiple farm ownership
scandal, reluctant to name the culprits. Yet it goes without saying that
releasing such information would have served the specific public interest in
exposing waste, fraud, abuse and criminal activity, thus promoting public
sector transparency and accountability. But of course, as always, in the
eyes of the government, the identifiable harm of such an exposť to the
ruling ZANU PF outweighed the public interest!
††††††††††† We warned though against failure to stem the rot on the part of
the authorities. The government put on a brave face and pretended to have a
firm hand on the tiller. But we, and indeed millions of Zimbabweans, were
not fooled. We felt that the abuse of close to US$268 million by about 60
independent fuel dealers was a straw in the wind - a sort of wake-up call
that all was not well in the sector. That is why we urged government to move
with speed as pressure to clean up the sector intensified. We stated that it
was time to grasp the nettle and get to the bottom of the mess. We did not
stop there. But we also argued that it was time to go back to the drawing
board to do a cost benefit analysis as regards the relevance of the monolith
that is NOCZIM to the Zimbabwe of today. We said this in full cognisance of
the fact that the quasi-government fuel procurement agent is prone to
corruption spawned by the country's deeply-rooted political patronage system
and influence-peddling, both of which have poisoned the very soul of the
nation.
††††††††††† Our warnings fell on stony ground as the government, known for
its short-sighted populist policies, retained NOCZIM. And this has now come
back to haunt the nation. The devil is on the loose again and the economy is
haemorrhaging as the political vultures complete their encirclement around
NOCZIM.
††††††††††† This raises the same old questions that we have asked time
without number over government's sincerity and commitment to deal with
corruption. How will the situation develop from here? True, two members of
the ruling party, Enock Porusingazi and Esau Mupfumi have since been nabbed
in the fuel scandal probe. But is this not just window-dressing for the
public's benefit? Is it enough to earn government the much-needed plaudits
for sincerity and commitment to the much-vaunted anti-corruption drive?
Couldn't it be that the two individuals are political lightweights with no
clout and are therefore expendable, just like the former Minister of
Finance, Chris Kuruneri before them?
††††††††††† In other words, how far will government go this time around in
order to lower the boom on corruption? If all the other cases cited above,
in which trillions in public funds silted up the pockets of a corrupt few,
are now being treated as water under the bridge or as if they never
happened, what has changed now? Is there anything fundamentally different
between the corruption committed then and now?
††††††††††† These burning questions are born of healthy scepticism among
Zimbabweans angered by government's inaction despite its hollow rhetoric
about ridding the country of institutionalised corruption.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

FinGaz Letters



Harare city council's inhuman actions

EDITOR - Whatever rationale the heartless Harare City Council may want to
use for its by-laws, the bottom line is that there is a clear abuse of
tenants' rights in this latest crusade against the poor of our society.
Having said that the arrears which these families in Mbare have incurred are
a "causative of not-yet-a clear surcharges" which arose during Operation
Murambatsvina. Tenants were abused and fraudulently charged various amounts
whose costing mechanism was to anyone's guess.
The City of Harare has failed the people of Harare in many ways than we
imagined in terms of service delivery. Does it want people to react in the
manner it is doing to these poor families in Mbare and other high-density
areas? Debt rescheduling should be cognisant of the debtors' income source
and accordingly scheduled.
Does the council want to manifest itself as an inhuman and heartless
institution? Does the council know that it is the biggest fraudster in
collecting revenue for services it has ceased providing?
Joburg Lines tenants have got every right to repay their genuinely accrued
debts, but not in the manner the City of Harare is carrying out the
exercise.

Israel Mabhoo
Vice-Chairperson
CHRA
------------
Seamy side of land reform

EDITOR - The seamy side of land reform, as illustrated by your story on
Kasukuwere's takeover of Interfresh's citrus estate, threatens to remain the
single most definitive character of Zimbabwe's land reform programme long
after President Robert Mugabe has gone into retirement.
As ordinary peasants struggle to eke out a living on their new plots with
neither funding nor inputs, the pseudo-nationalist elite within and around
the ruling party and government continues to cherry-pick the country's
choice farms in the name of land reform. If the so-called "Third Chimurenga"
was a revolution, then this fake bourgeois class has been its biggest
winners, what with the billions of dollars they continue to harvest without
as much as planting a single seed!

Disgusted
UK
----------
Gata, Nyambuya must go

EDITOR - Service delivery at all parastatals has certainly gone to the dogs,
but at this point in time allow me to air my opinion with regards to the
Zimbabwe Electricity Distribution Company (ZEDC).
As a resident of a suburb in Harare I have (with others in the suburb)
experienced a power-cut of up to one week, if not more and this has been
continuous.
Let us identify the root causes of all this. Firstly we all know (and to
some who do not know) that Sidney Gata is the brother-in-law of the
President. When we have never-ending problems of such magnitude we begin to
question his level of competence and professionalism among other notable
qualities. His incompetence can certainly be linked to his connections.
We hear neighbours complaining that thieves and robbers are taking advantage
of the situation to promote their area of trade. We are having sleepless
nights because who knows, maybe tomorrow it might be me languishing from the
theft of my property.
Tell me, where do I get $50 million to replace my stolen TV, radio, VCR or
DVD?
Get real Sydney. Just do the most honourable thing at this point it time -
just relinquish that post because you do not deserve it.
Mike Nyambuya (Minister of Energy and Power) what do you know from your
experience in the army which relates to efficient running of the energy and
power sector?
Your presence in the arena certainly has not livened or made things better
but the opposite is true. Again just like Sydney your appointment to that
portfolio raises eyebrows which is also further exacerbated by your
incompetence as well.
Why do you bring shame upon the one who has appointed you? Guys you do not
deserve those posts. We need efficient service delivery and I am sorry to
say that you are not the men for the jobs. I suggest you go to your farms or
constituency (Nyambuya) because you have made Harare a living hell.
I rest my case.

Disgruntled Resident
Harare
-----------
Journalism deserves better recognition than this circus

EDITOR - The annual journalism "Oscars" came and went and it seems they left
a discord among some journalists and even editors who feel that the whole
objective of rewarding professional excellence and integrity has been lost
somewhere.
The main reason is that some journalists, rightly or wrongly, feel that the
competition has become a monumental charade and has succeeded in belittling
what is otherwise a very noble profession that plays an important part in
shaping public opinion on many issues.
I remember the days when the competition was sponsored by corporate giant,
Anglo American Corporation, and winning an award was every journalist's
dream. There was such intense professional rivalry among journalists to
write the best articles that could vie for honours at the presentation
ceremony. The entrance conditions were no different from what the Zimbabwe
Union of Journalists (ZUJ) is presently using, but what made the difference
was the quality of articles that were submitted, the integrity and
professionalism of the judges and the quality of the event management.
It therefore made horrific reading when it was alleged in one of the local
newspapers that some journalists who did not even bother to enter the
competition were somehow "nominated" and "judged" to be some of the country's
cream of print journalists! Surely the profession deserves better
recognition than this circus!
To regain the professional integrity of the competition, I suggest we need
to go back to the drawing board, and agree that the real aim of this
competition is very simple - to encourage excellence in journalistic
standards both in print and electronic media, even though journalists in the
electronic media are competing against themselves because of the absence of
competing television and/or radio stations.
To achieve that objective, the competition rules for each category need to
be revised, judging criteria re-written and eminent current and retired
journalists and journalism lecturers of repute roped in to ensure we have a
competition that not only attracts corporate sponsorship, but raises the
enthusiasm and interest of not only the journalists themselves, but that of
the public as well.
We also need to encourage the current crop of junior and senior journalists
to strive to aspire to be publicly recognised as the country's cream of top
writers and this recognition should be elevated to the same national
prominence that is enjoyed by globally watched awards such as the Oscars.
And journalists should be seen to be "earning" this recognition through
writing quality articles and not through dubious nominations.
There is an urgent and real need to further improve writing standards in the
country's newsrooms, and such competitions play an integral part in
achieving that objective, together with continuous on-the-job training and
refresher courses.
But if a competition is reduced to a poorly organised beauty contest, then
the contestants will feel that they have cheated their way into glory and I
do not think that is something any journalist worth his/her salt is proud
of.
I would urge ZUJ and the main sponsor to do an honest and critical
post-mortem of the last awards and see where the wheels might have come off
and chart the way forward. ZUJ should also not shy away from overhauling the
rules and conditions of the competition so that only the best journalists
are rewarded for excellence, and not "nominated" by unknown persons.
Journalists are fond of writing about and ridiculing shoddy preparations and
awards ceremonies of artists and musicians and beauty contests, and the last
thing the nation wants to read is about professional confusion in the
journalism fraternity itself.
ZUJ should therefore take the lead and regain its status as the voice of the
media and ensure that this year's competition is not fraught with the
inconsistencies and confusion that we read or heard about, and that only the
best are rewarded and recognised for their efforts.
It would be a tragedy if we were to have a repeat of this come the next
journalism "Oscars" next year, and for the sake of the profession, I just
hope not

Sure Kamhunga
South Africa

Back to the Top
Back to Index