Nelson Banya, Njabulo Ncube & Kumbirai Mafunda St
Unity hopes dashed as Tsvangirai digs in
MOVEMENT for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai has poured
cold water on prospects of a speedy reunification with a splinter faction of
the party despite a congress resolution that the fractious party works "for
the unity of all genuine cadres to the struggle."
The former trade unionist, who was reinvigorated by the support of over 15
800 delegates who attended his camp's congress and reaffirmed his leadership
at the weekend, appears eager to lead the MDC in a war of attrition against
his former colleagues now led by polished academic Arthur Mutambara.
But analysts have warned that only a united opposition can dislodge the
ruling party from government. ZANU PF, which has remained intact despite
being riven by factionalism, has further consolidated its grip on power
since the MDC's October 12 split.
Former University of Zimbabwe student leader Mutambara has made overtures
for the reunification of the party, which split right down the middle
following the emergence of sharp differences over participation in the
November 2005 senate elections.
Hopes for a détente were raised last Sunday when resolutions read out by
newly elected party secretary general Tendai Biti did not include the
expulsion of Gibson Sibanda, Welshman Ncube, Gift Chimanikire, Gertrude
Stevenson, Paul Themba Nyathi and a host of MDC Members of Parliament who
have thrown their weight behind the splinter faction.
It had been speculated that the omission of the expulsion resolutions had
left the door open for re-engagement between the two factions.
The party had, prior to the reading of the resolutions, passed a resolution
to expel Sibanda, Ncube, Stevenson and Chimanikire, while giving a 14-day
ultimatum to all 'rebel' MPs to submit themselves to the party's
disciplinary process. Failure to do so would lead to expulsion, the congress
"What I know is congress resolved that they were dismissed from the MDC. We
wish them well wherever they are. In fact I prefer not to talk about them,"
declared Tsvangirai as he categorically ruled out unity between the two
The opposition leader, President Robert Mugabe's most serious challenger
since independence in 1980, has, however, sent conflicting signals over the
In his opening remarks on Saturday, a conciliatory Tsvangirai magnanimously
acknowledged the pioneering work of his estranged colleagues.
"Allow me, congress, to note the work done by my colleagues who have chosen
not to be with us today, but who pioneered and
contributed to the growth of the MDC and this democracy project together
with us for years.
"We say to you all: Thank you for your contribution to this struggle. Thank
you for your courage. Thank you for risking life and limb to try and rebuild
Zimbabwe. We have not forgotten that contribution. You taught us valuable
If Tsvangirai sounded valedictory in his message to his former comrades, it
is perhaps because he believes the party's split was, as he said in the same
speech, a "temporary diversion." He seems to view his rivals in the other
MDC camp as inconsequential comrades who have fallen by the wayside and can
be packed off nonchalantly.
"I am happy to note that we have dealt with this temporary diversion by
surrendering the party back to you today. You are the rightful owners of the
MDC. The choice is up to you.
"You have to take corrective measures and sort out the leadership squabbles
at the top," Tsvangirai thundered to applause.
However, when he stood up to make his acceptance speech and formally
introduce the new leadership after Sunday's elections, Tsvangirai said the
new leadership was tasked with establishing unity within the party, saying:
"These men and women have the responsibility to reunite the MDC."
Political commentator John Makumbe said Tsvangirai's attitude towards his
rivals had clearly hardened after the weekend congress.
"The attitude seems to have hardened. Tsvangirai's camp has demonstrated
that they may not have money, but they have the support of the membership.
"It could be a bit difficult to reconcile the two, unless Mutambara gets off
his high horse and admits that Morgan is the president of the MDC. Mutambara
will have to work with Morgan as a regular member of the party," Makumbe
Takura Zhangazha of the Media Institute of Southern Africa said the fact
that the weekend congress had strengthened Tsvangirai's hand meant prospects
for reunification with the Mutambara faction were dimmer.
"Tsvangirai's faction feels triumphant. Any potential for reunification
might arise if the other faction succumbs to the dictates of the Tsvangirai
faction, but they are still defiant and have resolved to go it alone.
"The differences are too sharp and they are personal, not based on
principle," Zhangazha said.
"They are going to fight each other, but that's more like lofty politics and
we will see legal challenges which, however, will play into ZANU PF's
Dave Coltart, the legal brains behind the MDC over the past six years, has
proposed an amicable divorce to avoid a protracted court process.
"What deeply concerns me at present is the attitude, which appears to be
adopted by both sides that only their faction is the legitimate MDC. I have
also been concerned by the intolerance displayed by both sides towards each
other; it appears that both sides refuse to recognise that the other side
has the right to exist.
"If the vying claims to legitimacy are not settled by mediation they will
have to be settled in the courts. If the Zimbabwean courts are entrusted
with the role of settling these issues that in itself will play directly
into the hands of the Mugabe regime," Coltart wrote in letters to Tsvangirai
and Sibanda last month.
He has also warned against the expulsion of the MDC's MPs by either faction,
saying this would precipitate by-elections each camp could scarcely afford.
THE period following the attainment of independence in Africa gave birth to
politics of ethnic balancing on a grand scale following protracted wars of
liberation, the rationale being among other things to create political
stability and guarantee civil obedience.
In Southern Africa, ethnic balancing was part and parcel of the organisation
and stabilisation of liberation parties. In particular, the people of
Zimbabwe were primarily bound together by the idea of a common enemy, in the
name of the brutal white colonialists at the time. There was no Ndebele or
Shona during the war, they were all freedom fighters.
To begin with, in Zimbabwe the concept of ethnic accommodation or balancing
became popular after the split of the original ZAPU which was a very strong
multi-ethnic party whose membership was characterised by a diversity of
languages and cultures, Ndebele and Shona being the dominant factors. Dr
Joshua Nkomo became the first leader of the original ZAPU on merit and the
issue of tribe was secondary. His style of leadership transcended the tribal
and cultural divide and was admirable. His lieutenants were equally
competent and worthy of the positions they held. These include Dr Samuel
Parirenyatwa, Nikita Mangena, Lookout Masuku, Dumiso Dabengwa, Josiah
Tongogara, Leopold Takawira, Ndabaningi Sithole, Herbert Chitepo and Robert
Mugabe among others.
The issue of Ndebele and Shona which is being opportunistically adulterated
by vana mafikizolo (late comers) has negatively affected the political
landscape of Zimbabwe today. The point that comes out clear and strong here
is that tribe was never the overarching factor in determining who leads the
liberation movement otherwise Joshua Nkomo would never have had the
opportunity to be at the helm. Nkomo was a Kalanga from Kezi. Whatever
happened after the split of ZAPU and the formation of ZANU everybody knows
It was after the civil war and the unity accord that ensued when the issue
of ethnic balancing became a salient feature of politics and politicking in
Zimbabwe. This follows a period of general mistrust between the two
liberation parties and the notion by ZANU that as the governing party they
deserved to occupy all the influential posts. The Ndebeles were relegated to
second rate politicians and in some cases it was ironic to see an educated
and inspiring Ndebele politician deputising some uneducated and incompetent
It is against the above background that l argue against ethnic balancing
because it has never been an egalitarian or fair process. Ndebeles
constitute about 20 percent of Zimbabwe's population and surely this is a
significant demographic representation to provide a President in Zimbabwe in
the near future given the chance. There is a very subjective mentality in
Zimbabwe that Ndebeles should never be allowed to rule Zimbabwe in the role
of president because of their minority status. It is true that some elements
within the Shona ethnic group have popularised this negative perception.
In other countries, progressive l suppose, in as much as the majoritarian
view is understandable in terms of the election of leaders, it does not
always follow that top leaders should come from the majority tribe. For
instance in South Africa, Presidents Mandela and Mbeki are both Xhosa
speaking but the largest tribe is Zulu where the vice president comes from,
Chiluba of Zambia came from a minority tribe, so did Kaunda. Chissano of
Mozambique came from a minority tribe, Presidents Museveni and Kagame of
Uganda and Rwanda come from minority tribes. Former Kenyan President Moi's
Kalenjini tribe is a minority in Kenya.
It is clear that the issue of ethnic majority is not a major determinant as
to who should be president. Ethnic considerations can be ignored for the
sake of quality and substance in leadership. It should not be given that if
one is Shona one is guaranteed of leadership ahead of a capable Ndebele who
may be better qualified. If one wants to make wild parallels, even in the UK
the heir to Blair's throne Dr Gordon Brown is a Scot and so is Sir Menzies
Campbell, the leader of the Liberal Democrats. It should be noted that
politics of ethnicity have deprived Zimbabwe of some of the best brains
simply because their ethnic affiliation is 'not politically correct'.
Who knows, may be if we had some of these brainy Ndebeles in influential
posts our problems could have been eased. Gibson Sibanda suffered the fate
of being a leader from the minority when he lost his influence to Morgan
Tsvangirai, as did Welshman Ncube and many other capable cadres from the
Ndebele tribal divide.
Under the current situation, it would need attitudinal political changes of
seismic or cataclysmic proportions for Zimbabwe to have the first defence
forces chief, chief justice, police commissioner, registrar general, UZ vice
chancellor or foreign minister and president who is Ndebele, not because
they are not there but they will not be allowed to get there. It is
unfortunate that those who dare publicly challenge the status quo are
branded tribalists, but in a healthy society issues such as deprivation of
leadership opportunities on the basis of ethnic background should be openly
deliberated. The nationurgently needs a healing process before genuine
discourse on the above matter progresses.
Time has come to accept that we are all equal as Zimbabweans and that no one
tribe is anointed to rule. The recent elections in the anti-senate MDC prove
my point of ethnic deprivation of top posts, the highest post that a Ndebele
person was allowed to have is that of vice president which is ascribed not
based on meritocracy. This scenario inevitably compromises quality, people
should just be given a free rein to contest posts they feel they are
qualified for and let the best person get the post. In ZANU PF it is the
same scenario as in the opposition - aspiring Ndebele politicians can only
be guaranteed the post of vice president and anything better than that is
This essay is not supposed to ignite ethnic tensions as has been advocated
by those people of the likes of overzealous clergymen and traditional
politicians from the establishment. This is an eye opener to all Zimbabweans
who see things from a rational spectacle.
Food for thought
Crisford Chogugudza is a political commentator based in North London, UK
Mavis Makuni Own Correspondent
When a scandal is unearthed, the people can be certain that it will not be
swept under the carpet
IN its March 19 issue, the South African weekly newspaper, the Sunday Times,
published a revealing story about a problem that is prevalent in many other
African countries - the failure or unwillingness of government officials to
take conflict of interest issues seriously by adhering to agreed codes of
Following an investigation by the country's auditor-general, Shauket Fakie,
it emerged that at least 14 ministers and deputy ministers had not declared
their business interests and directorships in private enterprises. Those
caught in Fakie's ethics dragnet, according to the paper's own
investigations, include Deputy President, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who was
found to have undeclared interests in a company known as Lesila.
Mlambo-Ngcuka was embroiled in another controversy last year when she was
accused of abuse of privilege involving the "hijacking" of a jet plane to
transport her family and friends to a holiday in a foreign country.
Under South Africa's parliamentary code of conduct, ministers and
legislators who fail to declare their business interests and directorships
face disciplinary measures in the form of fines imposed by parliament and
also by their party if they are members of the ruling ANC. The South African
legislature's rational for imposing penalties against culprits as quoted in
the Sunday Times is that: "MPs are in a powerful position to influence
high-level decision-making. There may be times when their personal or
business interests conflict with their role as elected officials
representing the public interest."
South Africa is a land of some superlatives - such as being the biggest
economy on the continent and producing Nelson Mandela, the most iconic and
revered elder statesman in the world today. However, it is also a nation of
some considerable negatives. It has some of the highest figures for crime
and HIV and AIDS infection rates.
As if to confirm that it also has one of the highest incidences of rape, the
latest disclosures about the breach of parliament's code of conduct come
amid the sensational trial of former deputy president, Jacob Zuma, for
allegedly raping a young woman described as a family friend at his
Johannesburg residence. On top of this, Zuma's trial on corruption charges
in an unrelated case is pending.
Since the end of apartheid and the advent of Uhuru in 1994, South Africa has
been hit by numerous scandals including those involving Mandela's former
wife, Winnie. Former minister Tony Yengeni was in the limelight for all the
wrong reasons a few years ago. A racket involving the abuse of travel
allowances by ministers and government officials and a number of other cases
of impropriety have been widely publicised.
The excesses, corruption, avarice, influence peddling, abuse of privilege
and other scourges that have been reported in South Africa are in fact more
prevalent in some countries on the continent that have received more
negative ratings for corruption from the global civil society organisation
spearheading the fight against graft, Transparency International. What sets
South Africa apart, in spite of enjoying a better rating than most other
nations, is its willingness to look at itself, warts and all.
When a scandal is unearthed in South Africa, the people of that country can
be fairly certain that it will not be swept under the carpet, as is the norm
in other African countries. In some of these countries, commissions will be
set up with great fanfare to investigate improprieties but once the findings
implicate big fish or their cronies, these initiatives die a natural death.
It is due to the transparency and vibrancy of the South African political
system that a heavyweight like Zuma can be tried for his alleged crimes
while his own party is in power.
This glasnost or openness is part of the bounteous legacy Mandela has
bequeathed to his nation. From the moment he re- emerged into the public
consciousness after 27 years behind bars, the former South African
president's life has been an open book. As a result, the citizens of many
African countries probably know more about Mandela than they do about their
own secretive and ivory tower bound heads of state. Contrary to the belief
of some leaders that an autocratic and disdainful attitude towards their
subjects is the best way to exude power, Mandela is revered for his
humility, accessibility and sheer humanness.
Last week, Mandela, who has in the past not hesitated to talk candidly and
openly about personal matters such as his divorce from Winnie, his courtship
of and marriage to Graca Machel, his battles against tuberculosis and
prostate cancer and his only surviving son's death from AIDS, added another
anecdote that serves to further validate his status as a human being like
the rest of us. He told the director of Oscar winning South African film,
Tsotsi how he and his friends were tsotsis (thieves) who stole pigs in Qunu,
Mandela's rural home in the Eastern Cape, when he was a teenager.
The moral of the story is the capacity of human beings to change. "Some of
the leaders of this country and elsewhere in the world started with
misdemeanours of all kinds but as they grew up, they became responsible
people who have served our country very well," he said.
Beginning with his decision to set up the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission to enable South Africans of all races to confront their ugly past
under the brutal tyranny of apartheid to his announcement that he would step
down after only one term of office as president, Mandela has always walked
And contrary to all the speculation about Thabo Mbeki having ulterior
political motives in sacking Zuma, it is difficult to imagine him having the
cheek to cling to power when his current term expires in 2009 after his
predecessor set such a spectacular example not only for him but also for
leaders across Africa.
It sometimes sounds like a tired cliché to say that leaders should lead by
example but the case of Mandela proves that this approach can pay dividends
and stand a country in good stead.
Fakie said about the ministers involved in the violation of the code of
ethics referred to above that he hoped corrective measures would be taken.
It is easy for ordinary South Africans to believe his statement because
parliament has meant business in the past and fined those caught violating
its rules and procedures. It is a far cry from what happens in most other
African countries where officials will go to great lengths - and expense -
to deceive their people about fighting corruption when, as its main
beneficiaries, they actually do not want things to change.
THE two congresses of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have come to
pass as the controversial and interesting events that they were amid the
celebration of personalities and attendant claims at being the "real MDC".
Arguments, laden with comparative insinuations about which congress had the
greater number of delegates or the highest numbers of civil society
representatives and diplomatic corps had filled the pages of newspapers in
bids to ascertain which of the two resonates more with the "people".
These were valid issues that needed constant debate and discussion from any
Zimbabwean concerned with the future of the opposition in the country, let
alone with the future of the processes of democratisation. But now that the
energies for the holding of the two congresses have seemingly subsided and
it is now back to the seemingly routine politics of seeking ways and means
of confronting the ZANU PF regime, we must place into perspective the
national significance of the main opposition in its split format, as well as
the potential implications for the future of Zimbabwean politics.
I shall seek to explain the major questions that the two congresses seem to
have presented and these pertain to legitimacy (who is the real MDC?);
agreed upon plans of action for democratic change (resolutions of
congresses); and the newly elected leadership of either faction.
Issues of legitimacy in opposition parties are not new in Zimbabwean
politics. From the days of PF ZAPU, through to ZUM, the legitimacy of an
opposition party has always been measured against the seats it garnered in
Parliament or the potential support it had in the immediate run-up to an
election. Both factions of the MDC meet this criterion. They both have seats
in Parliament, even though these were acquired after a unified election
campaign in early 2005. In the occurrence of the two congresses, the issue
of "who is the real MDC?" was touted on a regular basis. It had the
aforementioned dimension of trying to ascertain which sitting Members of
Parliament were on whose side and possibly why. It also had the added
dimension of trying to assess the constitutionality of the congresses and
who would attend them.
This was against the backdrop of a High Court judgment rescinding the
suspension of Morgan Tsvangirai and effectively rendering the Arthur
Mutambara faction's congress illegal. Regardless, when the Mutambara/Ncube
faction held its congress, the issue of legitimacy shifted significantly
from that concerning legality or numbers of MPs in support or attendance, to
one which dwelt on the numbers of delegates in attendance. The 3 000-odd
delegates that attended this faction's congress was probably a hard won
number, but all the same it was significant in that they indicated that they
had some form of "grassroots support".
The debate for the Tsvangirai faction, and rightly so, then became about
trying to get a greater number of people attending its own congress. This
they achieved last weekend, much to the chagrin of the Mutambara camp, which
declared that it was never an issue about numbers, but about programmatic
issues for the future of Zimbabwe, a point which must be taken with a pinch
I contend that the numbers in attendance at either congress were important
due to the format the split had taken. The split was seen in the public eye,
among other considerations, as a question of "who is the real MDC?" and
there is nothing that moves political perception such as numbers. The
Tsvangirai faction, without doubt, proved to be more legitimate on this
basis but even then, the higher turnout, was partly due to a commitment from
its membership to the leadership of that faction as well as a clearly well
managed political event aimed at proving that Tsvangirai, if not in charge
of the "real MDC" is at least in control of a larger version of it.
The second issue that I wish to consider is that of programmes of action or
resolutions that emerged from these congresses. The Mutambara camp had a
critical issue on its mind, that of finding a "replacement" for Tsvangirai
and this was clearly understandable given the fact neither of the persons in
that camp felt they had enough national stature to equal that of Tsvangirai.
To that extent, the way forward was a quasi rebirth of the MDC with a
mythical figure at its head in the form of Mutambara.
The congress, held in Bulawayo, therefore did not espouse a significant
programme of action because, by and large, its main aim was to present an
alternative leadership to that of the Tsvangirai faction.
Its nationalistic tone, slightly reminiscent of ZANU PF's narrow-minded
nationalism, was more of a defensive one and did not necessarily equate to
any new ideas being placed on the table. As such, when its members left the
congress, they felt more able to complain about the lack of adequate food,
among other necessities because the euphoria of a "way forward" had eluded
them or perhaps, had not been articulated well enough.
The Tsvangirai camp was also concerned with the issues of leadership and
filling of the positions left by those who had fallen out with them. The
critical issue was however the fact that their congress was held after that
of the pro-senate faction and as such, based on comparative analysis, they
decided to ensure that their congress was not just about leadership contests
but also had a hue of greater seriousness about the way forward.
As expected, Tsvangirai took centre stage and essentially highlighted his
critical way forward to be one of mass protests and leading from the front,
allied together with civil society in the drive for a new democratic
constitution. This way forward, as supported by the over 15 000 people in
attendance would easily have greater resonance than that of the
Added to this, the distinct legitimacy of Tsvangirai and company was the
recognition of their history in this particular struggle over the last seven
or so years. The public were better placed to receive such a declaration
from Tsvangirai, whom they would remember and know with greater ease than
they would Mutambara. As such, the politics of the "way forward" was reliant
on the critical consideration of which leader espoused it, together with the
numbers that were in attendance.
For all the media reports that emerged after the Tsvangirai faction's
congress, there was actually no distinct coverage of issues concerning food
shortages or accommodation problems (which undoubtedly there were) but more
of reports around the way forward and the support it received.
This point leads to the final issue which I wish to bring to the fore, that
of the emergent leadership of either faction. Whereas Mutambara has been
lauded and viewed by some as a "messiah" of sorts, it is quite debatable
whether he can match the stature that Tsvangirai clearly has with the people
of Zimbabwe. That the pro-senate faction's congress chose Mutambara to lead
them is not a bad thing in itself as it is their democratic right to do so.
What is amiss however, is good political judgment. As it stands, it is
difficult for an ordinary Zimbabwean to easily dismiss Tsvangirai for
Mutambara, given the former's presence on the national scene during all
major elections since 2000 as well as his trade unionism in the late 1990s.
This difference between the two leaders is succinct in that it shows that
there is a perception among the people of an ongoing process of struggle,
and that one cannot just wake up and attempt to captain a ship's after it
has been through so many storms with an incumbent captain. Tsvangirai, for
many, is the legitimate alternative to President Mugabe, never mind what the
latter says or whatever apparent mistakes he has made.
The other leaders selected by either congresses are largely tapping upon
their legitimacy with the members of their respective factions from branch
level upwards. They shall have to perform in order to be legitimate
nationally and outside of their party structures. In either of the two
factions' new leadership, there shall be need to engage the public at a more
visible level, as well as to be able to stomach all the dangers that come
with greater national visibility.
In conclusion, I reiterate a number of factors that need to be considered
about the two congresses. The first is that they were by and large, events
in which each faction sought to outdo the other through a greater show of
numbers as indicative of greater legitimacy. Both factions were probably
hoping for the dismal failure of the opposite congress. It therefore became
for a while, and as the congresses progressed, a struggle for individual
ascendancy over and above that of a struggle for the democratisation of
Zimbabwe. But be that as it may, there is obviously hope that one of the
factions will, now that the personality clashes have subsided, re-engage the
masses in true selfless leadership format. The second point is that the
practicality of a declared way forwards is perhaps the most important. The
way forward will need the will and dedication of those that seek to
challenge ZANU PF hegemony and the need to ensure the people back them. And
lastly, there is no such thing as the 'real MDC'. There is just us, the
ordinary people of Zimbabwe, 'Waiting for Godot'.
Financial Gazette (Harare)
March 22, 2006
Posted to the web March 23, 2006
Audrey Chitsika Property Reporter
THE $972 billion allocated for the National Housing Construction programme
by government in the 2006 budget is far below what the country needs, the
City of Harare has said.
Harare town clerk Nomutsa Chideya, said the capital city alone required
$1.86 trillion to fund its planned building projects for this year.
Harare has been building more houses, but demand continues to outstrip
supply by far, with the housing waiting list growing to more than 200 000
from the 164 432 recorded in December 2005.
Chideya said housing schemes launched under Operation Garikai had also
benefited from the funds, adding that council hopes to complete the
installation of water and sewerage reticulation systems soon.
"Hopley and Whitecliff are City of Harare's schemes, which will benefit from
some of the funds. Part of the money will be used to connect the two sites
to water and sewerage reticulation," he said.
The government has a National Housing Policy that governs all housing
projects. The policy allows private sector participation in the delivery of
new housing, as well as the participation of private community based
organisations and individual investors.
But lack of adequate funds by individuals, private sector and private
communities to purchase building materials and to pay for labour has seen
many housing projects failing to get off the ground, while the completion of
other projects has been delayed.
The city has tried to cushion prospective homeowners from problems besetting
the construction industry by providing them with serviced stands or
Economists and property analysts have, however, recommended that the city
council avoid relying on the fiscal budget for its projects.
Rashid Mudala, an anast with First Mutual Limited, said the council should
not use the money from the national budget for water and sewerage
reticulation but should use its own resources.
"The council is charging high revenue rates and that money should be enough
to pay for the residents' water and sewerage reticulation.
"If the council is to rely on government funds, this will widen the budget
deficit for the nation, so they must not rely too much on government
donations but try to limit government expenditure," Mudala said.
Financial Gazette (Harare)
March 22, 2006
Posted to the web March 23, 2006
Tinashe Mawerera & Kumbirai Mafunda
CHILDREN of three ZANU PF councilors, among them a teenager, have allegedly
benefited from the distribution of houses and stands under the
government-sponsored Operation Garikai in Ruwa.
Ruwa Board officials told The Financial Gazette this week that the
councilors altered an initial list of 110 beneficiaries drawn from the town
council's nine wards by all councilors at a meeting convened late last year.
Councilors from both ZANU PF and the MDC had drawn up a list made up of 12
displaced people from each ward, which did not include the councilors'
children as beneficiaries.
But a top executive with the Ruwa Board later prepared another list, which
omitted some of the MDC councilors' nominees and replaced them with some of
the ZANU PF councilors' children, it is alleged.
The revelations come to light at a time when Local Government Minister
Ignatius Chombo, who early in the year ruled out irregularities, has
conceded that some senior government officials, politicians, legislators,
council officials and their relatives had abused the scheme.
Although the government emphasised that the scheme is designed to benefit
people who were left homeless after last year's destruction of "illegal"
structures, there has been rampant abuse of Operation Garika regardless of
the fact that most of the affected families are still sleeping in the open.
Investigations by The Financial Gazette show that the initial and altered
list was prepared in November and addressed to Harare Metropolitan Province
Governor David Karimanzira.
However the amended one--which was signed by the Ruwa Board chief executive
Juliet Makombe--was prepared early last month, some few days before the
official handover ceremony, which was presided by Karimanzira.
Among some of the disputed beneficiaries are Joyce Gukwe, the teenage
daughter of Councillor Stella Gukwe, Memory Nyakwima, the daughter of
Councillor Captain Elias Nyakwima and Paradzai Bimha, the son of Councilor
MDC councilors said efforts to challenge the discrepancy by moving a motion
at a council meeting in February failed as Nyakwima, a former army personnel
and now a ZANU PF official abruptly declared the meeting closed. The
Property Gazette could not verify the allegation at the time of going to
print. Later on another attempt to bring the irregularity to Karimanzira's
attention and a request to delay the allocation date while they worked on
settling the issue yielded nothing, it is further alleged.
When confronted by the MDC councilors, the ZANU PF councilors are alleged to
have argued that the wards represented by the MDC councilors in Windsor Park
and Zimre Park were not affected by Operation Murambatsvina. But MDC
councilors charged that beneficiaries who took up the MDC councilors' slots
have their home addresses in the same suburbs.
Rangarirai Mberi Senior Business Reporter
Proposed changes to shareholding being viewed as seizures
MINES have warned government that the proposed changes to the Mines and
Minerals Act, giving it control of mines, were being viewed as outright
seizure of their investments, as such a law would hand government 40 percent
of all companies' profits for free.
Mines Minister Amos Midzi has been given a comprehensive report that shows
how his proposals to take over 51 percent of all mines would affect mining.
The mining groups warn the proposed law would freeze bank support to mines,
sending output plummeting and causing massive job losses.
"(The proposals) mean any major player interested in investing in energy
minerals, platinum and diamonds in Zimbabwe can do so only as a minority
shareholder to government. For every US dollar already invested by any
shareholder in energy, platinum and diamonds, government shall be entitled
to US$0.25 without any capital outlay. This represents an immediate loss of
value of funds invested in good faith by companies and individuals who
showed support for the country by committing their funds," the meeting
"Mines believe that investors will find this decision hard to live with. No
large scale miner would carry out exploration with the intention of setting
up a mine where he does not have control," the miners told Midzi.
Platinum and diamond mines would become quasi-state owned companies where
government would be in charge of appointing the board and management, the
mining groups said.
Support from financial institutions and direct investors would cease if the
law was passed, mines warned. Output would be frozen at current levels and
would immediately start to decline upon the passing of the law.
As mines closed down, they said, mining's contribution to the fiscus would
shrink. There would be an eventual dependence on subsidies from the fiscus
"as has occurred in the steel industry", the meeting was told.
Metallon Gold Zimbabwe, the country's largest gold producer, has confirmed
industry worries by announcing a deferment on planned projects at How Mine -
the largest of its five mines - and also at Redwing mine, citing concern by
its foreign bankers.
In last week's meeting, miners told Midzi: "In considering indigenous
participation, sources of funding and the risks involved are the major
Cancelling special agreements would further knock already battered investor
confidence, and government was neglecting the fact that, as a majority
shareholder, it would be required to source most of the foreign currency for
expansion and greenfield projects.
Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Zambia, the DRC and Tanzania have previously
nationalised their mines, but all of them have reversed such policies after
watching their mining industries collapse. The Chamber of Mines has
previously said Zimbabwe was attracting large investors because its mining
laws-up to now-had been the most investor-friendly in Africa.
Chris Muronzi Staff Reporter
THE government is reported to be eyeing 25 percent of David Whitehead, but
controlling shareholder and chief executive Edwin Chimanye says the leading
textile firm does not require the involvement of the state in its business.
It emerged this week that the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of
Industry and Trade, Christian Katsande, summoned Chimanye to his office this
week and urged the David Whitehead boss to start talks with the Industrial
Development Corporation for it to buy 25 percent of the company's stock as
part of efforts to rescue the company.
Sources said Chimanye told the government to put its offer in writing so
that the textile firm's board of directors would consider it formally.
They said David Whitehead viewed the government's overture as undue
The move by the government comes a few weeks after Industry and
International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu, Policy Implementation Minister
Webster Shamu and newly appointed Chegutu mayor Martin Zimani toured the
company and held meetings with shareholders, management and the workers'
There was uncertainty at David Whitehead last month after President Robert
Mugabe addressed a campaign rally for the town's mayor, at which he picked
on the textile company - the largest employer in the town - over alleged
poor staff welfare.
While the Zimbabwean leader deplored the situation at David Whitehead,
state-owned enterprises have continued to bleed the fiscus - contributing to
the current high levels of inflation.
A few months ago, the government had targeted full control of local
fertiliser companies, proposing to amalgamate them to form a National
Fertiliser Company. The plans were later abandoned.
Until Chimanye's Guscole took over the business, David Whitehead was owned
by Lonrho. The company has not been spared by Zimbabwe worst economic crisis
since independence, highlighted by an inflation rate of 782 percent.
David Whitehead requires foreign exchange, which is not available, to
replace ageing equipment and secure raw material supplies. The domestic
market for textiles and clothing has also shrunk, leaving the business with
no option but to export. But Zimbabwe's skewed exchange rate system has
rendered exports unviable.
Contacted for comment, Mpofu confirmed the meeting between Chimanye and
Katsande, but said the government was still to make a decision on whether to
participate at an equity level in David Whitehead.
"From our assessment, we realised that they need support and have to
consider the decision to take equity. But no decision has been taken as yet
by the government on David Whitehead. A technical team has been tasked to
compile a report and do a due diligence exam into the company so that we can
make a decision to take equity or give financial assistance so that they
boost capacity," said Mpofu.
ANZ back in court
THE Minister of Information and Publicity, Tichaona Jokonya, will be named
as the respondent in an application to the High Court by the Associated
Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) for the publishing house to be deemed
registered, ANZ management announced on Tuesday.
The application will be filed tomorrow.
The move, which had been expected following the March 10 deadline stipulated
by the law to resolve the matter, was announced in an interview with The
Financial Gazette by ANZ legal adviser Mordecai Mahlangu.
"It will be a court application and not a chamber application. We are taking
this step reluctantly as a last resort," said Mahlangu. "It will seek an
order declaring the applicant duly registered," he added.
The application was postponed from Tuesday to tomorrow because ANZ chief
executive Sam Sipepa Nkomo was not available to sign the papers. He is
expected back in the country today.
Speaking before leaving the country on Tuesday, Nkomo said the matter had
been under consideration since March 10 when the deadline for its
The ANZ chief said the minister's failure to respond to two letters
appealing to him to interpose had left the company with no option but to
resort to litigation.
"We are going to ask the court to either declare us duly registered or,
alternatively, to compel the minister to appoint an ad hoc board to
determine the fate of our application," Nkomo said.
The move by the ANZ follows last week's admission by the executive chairman
of the Media and Information Commission (MIC), Tafataona Mahoso, that his
board was disabled from further dealing with the application.
The MIC has twice refused to grant ANZ registration.
On February 8 2006, Justice Rita Makarau nullified an earlier decision of
the board denying ANZ a licence, and further declared the entire board
disabled from involvement in the case.
She reaffirmed an earlier order by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, which
found Mahoso to be biased against the applicant. But Makarau added that the
entire board had been tainted by the chairman's bias.
With the board barred from dealing with the matter, the fate of the
application shifted to the minister, who is the appointing authority. The
expiry of the deadline on March 10 meant that the minister was in breach of
the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which
stipulates 30 days for the determination of an application.
Although in the past the focus was on ANZ's defiance of AIPPA, which led to
a number of court challenges, at least three of which ruled in favour of the
company, it is the first time that the minister stands accused of breaching
AIPPA, Zimbabwe's universally condemned media regulation instrument.
Observers said this week the paradox of the impending legal contest is that,
after Justice Rita Makarau's landmark judgment, it could have been avoided.
Failure by the minister to foresee where the judgment would lead was a sad
indictment of the nation's attitude towards the administration of justice,
The Daily News would need at least $1 trillion to re-launch should it have
its ban lifted.
The Independent Media Trust (IMT), majority shareholder in ANZ, has issued
an international appeal for funds to help re-launch the paper.
IMT chairman Norman Nyazema said re-launching The Daily News would take at
least six months at a cost of Z$1 trillion.
Much of the paper's capacity to publish had gone and it would be like
starting from scratch, Nyazema said.
Rangarirai Mberi Senior Business Reporter
WARREN Buffet, the world's smartest investor, has been talking about eternal
optimists in his latest investor notes: "They behave like the fellow in a
switchblade fight who, after his opponent has taken a mighty swipe at his
throat, exclaimed, 'You never touched me.' His adversary's reply: 'Just wait
until you try to shake your head'".
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) must be sending the same message to the
stock market. After delivering a series of swipes with a sharp blade to the
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE)'s throat, the bank is daring the market to
make the next move.
Now only the bravest - and the greediest - can dare move outside the herd
now huddling scared in the money market.
Three rate hikes and two jerks of the statutory reserves have given bank
boss Gideon Gono the upper hand over the stock market for the first time in
But like Buffet's victim, Gono's targets believe his swing has missed. He
cannot sustain real rates over inflation for long, they say.
His rate hike policy is already past its elastic limit, and he cannot raise
statutory reserve requirements any higher without sending banks into a fresh
crisis. But the harshest sceptics say that could be the whole point.
"Maybe this will only stop when he gets two or so casualties," quipped one
fund manager last Friday.
Most central banks worldwide despise stock market "exuberance" as it betrays
gloomy inflation expectations. In April 2005, Gono wagged a long finger at
bankers at a meeting, sending shares plummeting. But the market soon raced
back up after he did not back his threats with action.
This year, stock market investors brought home gains of 125 percent in
January. Hours ahead of Gono's January 24 speech, the market rose 3.11
percent. A day later, the ZSE beat the 40 million mark for the first time
with a 14.2 percent rush.
Gono had appeared to concede defeat in January, hinting at a softening of
his aggressive rate policy. He said: "On an ongoing basis, the bank's
accommodation rates will be revised, consistent with levels deemed to be
appropriate, based on projected inflation profiles, at the same time
minimising the adverse effects of the interest rate instrument to the
But lately, Gono has been brandishing the switchblade freely, and the market
has failed to beat its January 27 peak and is now trading at its lowest
levels this year. The strongest indication of just how scared the market is
to "shake its head" came last week when shares kept heading lower despite
softer rates. But even as over $5.5 trillion moved out of the market on
Monday in statutory reserve payments by banks - after yet another swoop of
Gono's switchblade - some analysts still maintained that Gono had still
"Yes, rates will go up because of this deficit. But I am looking medium term
here. Can the RBZ keep this kind of grip on the market forever? With the
last inflation figures (782 percent in February), and especially the
month-on-month figure (27.5 percent), you can't convince me that this will
last past April," an analyst said.
In three weeks' time, March inflation figures will be out. Treasury Bill and
investment rates would be higher then, according to dealers.
How high those two numbers go will be what determines whether Gono's mighty
swipe has missed, or whether market kingpins will be advised to take Buffet's
advice and not move their heads.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE'S commercial banks, which have to surrender the bigger part of
deposits they take to the central bank, have hiked minimum bank balances on
savings accounts, citing rising transaction fees.
Most banks have begun asking customers to beef up their accounts by 100
percent from $250 000 to $500 000. They reason that the fee increase is
designed to align their prices with rising costs.
The banks list rising transaction costs that include monthly service charges
and Automated Teller Machine (ATM) use.
Bankers told The Financial Gazette this week that accounts with stumpy
balances are very costly to maintain while the operating costs, including
information technology systems, stationery and employee work time are now
higher than the revenues used to maintain them.
They reasoned that the increase in minimum bank balances would act as a
catalyst to more meaningful savings among customers and reduce the loss
experienced by the banks from operating low balance accounts.
But the recent hike in minimum bank balances is contrary to a central bank
directive to maintain bank balances at a ridiculously low $25 000. The
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) took the measure as a means of promoting bank
One of the country's leading commercial banks, Stanbic, defended the
adjustment of its minimum savings accounts balances this week saying while
it fully supported the regulatory minimum balance of $25 000, changes in the
bank's cost structure had necessitated all savings accounts to maintain a
lien of $500 000.
"The increase has been necessitated by an increase in ATM fees for both
Stanbic and Zimswitch users resulting from ATM maintenance and switch fees,
which have gone up by over 158 percent since October 2005," said Tanaka
Marotsi, a spokesperson for the bank.
She said since Zimswitch is currently charging $48 770 per transaction it
would imply that where a customer withdraws the full daily limit of $8
million through Zimswitch ATMs, it would cost Stanbic $195 000, a charge
which is way above the stipulated $25 000 minimum balance.
"Our experience is that a customer will transact a minimum eight times per
month on either Zimswitch or Stanbic ATMs resulting in minimum transaction
fees of $349 000 per month," Marotsi said.
"These charges are debited to the savings account post the transaction and
they result in unauthorised overdraft for most of our customers. We could
have charged penalty interest on such overdrawn savings accounts, however,
in view of the prevailing high interest rates, we feel that our customers
would not be able to sustain penalty interest charges," she added.
Marotsi said Stanbic had increased the lien on savings accounts - which is a
right to retain possession of another's property pending discharge of a
debt - to $500 000 to cushion its customers from high penalty interest
"This will ensure that the account does not fall into an unauthorised
overdraft position," the spokesperson said.
Marotsi also revealed that other transaction charges, which are beyond the
bank's control such as the mandatory government levy had also risen to $500
However, economic analysts note that the higher minimum account balances for
traditional checking and savings accounts could increase the cost of banking
and kill the incentive to save particularly low-income earners.
Nonetheless, while some customers and critics expressed dismay at the
increases, bankers and other economists said the higher fees, which mostly
affect small checking or savings accounts, will help pay for new services
and finance better products.
"We have to ensure that the savings make sense," said a top banker who
preferred anonymity. The banker said that due to rising inflation, now
running at 782 percent and one of the highest in the world, a savings
account with $250 000 would earn much less than it did in previous years
"There is a cost to maintaining these accounts . . . and very small accounts
are not profitable," he added.
Daniel Ndlela, economic consultant at Zimconsult says it is unrealistic for
the RBZ to peg minimum balances at $25 000.
"Banks are going suffer as institutions," said Ndlela. "How will they pay
their workers?" he asked.
Rangarirai Mberi Senior Business Reporter
THOSE unpatriotic people who accuse Zimbabwe of being a nation of losers
that never leads the world in any field have obviously never looked at the
world inflation rankings.
Zimbabwe - whose annualised rate of inflation soared to 782 percent in
February - outpaces everybody on that front, beating the likes of Nauru,
which has the lowest inflation in the world at -3.6 percent. That's probably
because nothing ever happens on that Pacific island anyway. Then you have
the Libyans, second with inflation at -1 percent.
Other notables are the Japanese at sixth with -0.2 percent. And still their
central bank, the BoJ, has the nerve to end its ultra-easy monetary policy
and is now rumoured to be close to lifting rates to a massive 2 percent.
World lending rate rankings were hard to come by, but at over 500 percent,
it's a safe bet on Zimbabwe beating the world in the commercial lending
stakes as well.
And while they were busy slapping sanctions on Zimbabwe, the Euro-pean Union
and the British have been left with inflation of only 2.2 percent. Their US
allies are tied at 103 with the likes of Benin and the Cook Islands with
inflation at 3.2 percent. Then Cuba, that last bastion of Communism whose
economy is carried by the cigar and US dollars from Miami, is at number 130
at 4.2 percent.
Equatorial Guinea, the country whose leader had his hide saved by Zimbabwe
two years ago, has inflation of 5 percent and is ranked 148.
Zimbabwe has little competition in the Southern African region. Namibia is
at number 46 with inflation at 2.7 percent, Zambia has 17.2 percent,
Mozambique has 14 percent while there was horror in Botswana last week over
the rise of inflation to a new high of 17 percent. South Africa, the
continent's biggest economy that is targeting annual growth of 6 percent,
had a Consumer Price Index of 5 percent in February and is ranked at number
Then comes Zimbabwe, proud holder of the much-sought-after wooden spoon at
the bottom of the 223-country survey, with inflation of 782 percent.
Closest rivals are Iraq, but they are way back in the field with their puny
40 percent, so they would have to print a lot more Iraqi dinars if they want
to catch up any time soon.
Personal Glimpses with Mavis Makuni
THE uncooperative and disdainful response of the deputy Minister of
Environment and Tourism, Andrew Langa, when approached by the press to
comment on his use of a National Parks lodge as his personal residence, that
way prejudicing the department of revenue it should collect from paying
guests, underscores how deeply ingrained the culture of unaccountability and
impunity has become within government.
A Sunday paper reported last weekend that Langa was booked indefinitely into
a refurbished lodge near Lake Chivero for which the Department of National
Parks and Wildlife Management should charge $3.2 million per night. When
asked to comment on this questionable arrangement, Langa saw no reason to
bother explaining anything to the reporter, whom he proceeded to tell off.
"Who gave you that information? Go and get that comment from your source, I
can't talk to you about my personal life", the paper quotes the deputy
minister as saying.
Langa's dismissive attitude towards the reporter betrays a lack of
appreciation for the role of the press as a watchdog with a responsibility
to ferret out and publicise the actions of government officials. This, if
Langa does not know, is because public officials, who are servants of the
people, must be accountable for their conduct, especially when the
expenditure of public funds and use of public facilities is involved. It is
therefore not a matter of Langa's "personal life" but a matter of legitimate
public concern when the deputy minister uses his position to gain access to
benefits that he is not entitled to.
The deputy minister, like all government officials, receives allowances,
including one to cover housing, all financed by taxpayers. These
over-burdened taxpayers are therefore not exactly thrilled when these
officials elect to have the best of both worlds by splurging on opulent
lifestyles while the rest of the populace is barely able to make ends meet.
Langa, who is from Matabeleland, could argue that it was difficult to find
affordable accommodation in Harare but he should put himself in the shoes of
a penniless retrenchee struggling to give his family a roof over their heads
after losing his abode to Operation Murambatsvina.
No mercy was shown towards the victims of this operation by allowing the use
of public buildings such as school halls as temporary shelters even at the
height of winter and the rainy season. What the general public wants to know
is if the hearts of those in authority were so hardened in respect of people
they had deliberately rendered destitute, why should the rules be bent to
cater for the extravagant tastes of government ministers? Remember the case
of Matabeleland North governor, Thokozile Mathuthu, who not long ago
covertly got herself ensconced in a five-star hotel in Bulawayo at the
painfully exorbitant expense of the over-burdened taxpayer?
She was only shamed into vacating these opulent, self-allocated lodgings
after the press exposed the scandal, enabling President Mugabe to step in
and put his foot down. What is even more disturbing is that Mathuthu and
Langa's cases may only be the tip of the iceberg. How many other ministers
are operating like a law unto themselves and simply throwing their weight
around to grab whatever they want while the majority of Zimbabweans are
living below the poverty datum line? More importantly, can the flames of
graft, corruption and avarice now engulfing the nation still be doused, if
as it seems, the running of government is now such a free-for-all affair
that there are no controls and rules? Matters of indiscipline and
impropriety are dealt with on an ad hoc basis only when they are exposed by
the press but the permanent solution should be to have an enforceable code
of conduct in place.
Of late some ministers have railed against the public for blaming President
Mugabe for the chaos in the country, saying the real culprits are some of
his corrupt and inefficient ministers. The obvious, inescapable question is
why the head of state is keeping these known culprits in his administration.
The buck stops with him and just as he gets the credit when things are going
well, the brickbats are also aimed at him when a chaotic and repressive
dispensation becomes the order of the day as the case now.
His Excellency may not have noticed it, but most of his ministers and
officials behave as though they have something to hide, particularly in
their dealings with the media. When approached for information or
explanations on touchy issues involving their conduct they resort to
threats, sarcasm or the self-righteously indignant but false claim that the
issue at hand is personal. Hapless reporters from the independent media
approaching ministers for reactions and comments on specific issues have
been told, "Go hang", "I know you are working for foreign interests", "I
don't want to speak to you, write what you want", or "I don't speak to
reporters from your newspaper."
Others simply switch their cell phones off or threaten to sue when reporters
ask probing questions about their roles in public matters and events. If,
for example, a public official is reported to have resigned when he hasn't,
should he not simply explain the situation rather than feign defamation and
threaten litigation? Surely democracy can only thrive where there is free
communication of information about the decisions and actions of government.
The maze of government needs to be explained and clarified to the ordinary
Zimbabwean and ministers and other public officials have an obligation to
bridge the gap through the media.
When they get hot under the collar when asked routine or even difficult
questions pertaining to their portfolios or their conduct, they are not
doing His Excellency any favours. They are actually making government more
remote from the voters' reach and enhancing perceptions that it is
unresponsive and even hostile. And yet these unforthcoming officials will
also hit the roof if frustrated journalists obtain the same information they
are withholding from alternative sources.
It goes without saying that there is a great need for a more efficient,
democratic, friendly and transparent transmission belt. This is the only way
the people can get problems solved or grievances known. The prevailing
situation where ministers and other officials openly refuse to submit to
public scrutiny because they know they can get away with it with impunity
inevitably breeds corruption, influence peddling and abuse of power. What
Jefferson said more than 200 years ago still holds true today. No nation
should expect to be ignorant and free.
ZIMBABWE would have noticed how The Fingaz came in for some flak for its
front-page anchor story on the projected grain deficit this year.
Government spin-doctors, obsessed with guiding journalists in search of the
truth and informing the public, got bent out of shape over the article
sourced from the US Department of Agriculture.
That they decided on picking this paper apart is hardly surprising. Any talk
of a failed harvest is a hot-button political issue. This is something
government would rather have a veil drawn over no matter how factual and
accurate it might be. And it is not difficult to see why.
It is out of line with the political and economic thinking in government as
it bodes ill for the land reform exercise where the law of the unintended
took hold when influential politicians reduced the initiative to a land grab
orgy while crippling input shortages have raised the spectre of hunger. It
however goes without saying that it is largely the chaotic land reform
programme that plunged the economy into an unprecedented crisis. And there
is no gainsaying it. But it would be unpalatable to admit as much.
This is why the Ministry of Agriculture headed by Joseph Made has over the
years lied to the dregs of infamy about the country's food security
situation at incalculable cost to the nation which has so far had to fork
out a whopping US$135 million to finance grain imports.
It is also the reason why that crazy assortment of government apologists -
among them those political chameleons who over the years have turned into
any colour that was useful to them and are now trying too hard to endear
themselves to the establishment - will not hear of any bleak outlook
especially from American and British institutions. Yet it is the same
western organisations that in the past gave the lie to official assurances
that Zimbabwe had produced adequate food when they came up with more
accurate projections. Thus piercing self-serving government secrecy over the
food security situation after the nation had been lulled into a false sense
of food self-sufficiency. A case in point, without necessarily raking over
the coals, is when we were told that the country had produced 2.4 million
tonnes of maize in 2004 when it had produced a paltry 600 000 tonnes. The
Ministry of Agriculture's off-the-mark projections were probably after those
infamous aerial surveys or assessments of one or two farms. Suffice to say
the country has not yet recovered from that debacle.
Yet these are the people that we are being asked to rely on for credible
information on the country's food security situation? How do we trust
someone who, under darkness, looks into a few lighted closets and concludes
that the light is shining outside? There is no denying that the Ministry of
Agriculture is not a credible source of information where grain projections
are concerned. The less said about Made's projections the better. Ditto the
"award-winning" Grain Marketing Board.
On the eve of his 82nd birthday, President Robert Mugabe himself darkly
hinted at the spectre of a grain deficit for the very same reasons given a
fortnight ago by the US Department of Agriculture - the sub-optimal
utilisation of land resulting from a shortage of critical inputs. He knows
that successive agricultural seasons have been blighted by the shortage of
seed, fertiliser, tillage facilities and fuel. It had nothing to do with
London, Washington and Brussels. But no, to the government apologists, among
them some of the country's most affected intellectuals, it is the Americans
and their British colleagues who are to blame for the chaos in agriculture.
Or is the information on the projected harvest as provided by the US
Department of Agriculture not permissible simply because an American
institution compiled it while Zimbabwe's institutions take all the time in
the world to compile such strategic data? Can the spin-doctors vouchsafe
that the A1 and A2 farmers put the targeted two million hectares under
maize? Did the EU-US conspiracy fetter the farmers or they were hamstrung by
those in charge of agriculture in Zimbabwe?
It is trite to state here that The Fingaz holds no brief for the Americans,
British and EU. But we find it incredible that government spin-doctors still
maintain the lie that Zimbabwe's economic woes are solely the product of
sanctions and have nothing to do with skewed economic policies which have
created distortions that the ruling class and its cronies continue to
ruthlessly exploit to the hilt.
They know as much as everybody else that the issue of sanctions has been
cynically turned into a propaganda tool to justify the economic
haemorrhaging the country has gone through during the past six years. Yet
they continue to ignore the impact of detrimental policy reversals and
contradictions as well as the destruction of commercial agriculture -
through a badly managed land redistribution exercise - on which the
reassuringly resilient economy stood for all those years. Which leaves all
and sundry wondering as to when the Zimbabwean leadership will accept
responsibility for what is going on in the country instead of blaming
everyone else but itself.
I WISH to start by tendering my most profuse apologies to the esteemed
readers of this publication that for reasons totally beyond my control I am
forced to do a Tafataona Mahoso on them today. For the uninitiated this is
the act of subjecting newspaper readers to articles of exceeding length.
I will take every precaution, however, to ensure that this article is both
imbued with wholesale relevance and totally devoid of tedium.
This response to the scurrilous attack on my persona which was penned by one
Michael Mtungwa of Johannesburg and published in last Friday's issue of The
Independent is published in The Financial Gazette today for two reasons.
I am not entirely convinced that The Financial Gazette is a CIO newspaper,
despite the spirited assertions of its commercial rival, The Independent.
The journalists at The Independent have so far not furnished the public with
empirical evidence to back the allegations they have repeatedly levelled
against their major rival. In any case in Zimbabwe's politically volatile
environment it has become increasingly difficult to discern who is CIO and
who is not with any certainty. The CIO has systematically permeated
virtually every facet of our daily existence.
It is my suspicion, fast becoming a conviction, that Michael Mtungwa is not
Michael Mtungwa, that this is the assumed name of some hired hatchet man too
scared to be associated by name with the virulent defamation that he caused
to be published in The Independent. The onus lies on those who seek wantonly
to tarnish my reputation for personal benefit to prove that Mtungwa exists
in real life. A picture would do the trick. For the uninitiated Mtungwa is a
Kalanga name which could easily be mistaken for a Shona name. The intention
to deceive is, therefore, obvious.
My article was published in The Fingaz. It would be interesting to hear why
Mtungwa submitted his response to The Independent. A professionally-run
newspaper would refuse for ethical reasons to publish responses to articles
which appeared in different, especially, rival publications. In this case
the editors of The Independent created a practical dilemma for those of
their readers who don't read The Financial Gazette. Sales of the rival
newspaper, the Fingaz must have suddenly increased after this munificent
promotion by The Independent.
I have been flooded with messages of support from people who read my
article. Mtungwa, or whatever his real name, is the only respondent to
attack me personally. My article had little to do with Mtungwa and less to
do with The Independent. I criticised Welshman Ncube, whom Mtungwa defends
obstinately, and Arthur Mutambara. I was also critical of Morgan Tsvangirai,
whom Mtungwa continues to dismiss with reckless flourish of hand, even as he
moved political mountains in Harare over the weekend.
This assault on me by Mtungwa is only the latest episode in a series of
events that date back to 1990 when I arrived at The Financial Gazette to
assume the position of executive editor. A couple of months earlier Trevor
Ncube, the executive chairman of The Independent, had been recruited from
the University of Zimbabwe, where he was a junior lecturer, to understudy
outgoing editor Clive Wilson. At the last minute, publisher Elias Rusike
decided Ncube was not ready to edit any newspaper, having no previous
journalistic experience. He side-stepped him, approached me at Zimbabwe
Newspapers, and appointed me instead.
It is an open secret that Ncube has never forgiven me for his humiliation by
One-and-a-half years later Rusike dismissed me from the position, saying
staff members were not happy. In my own assessment the only member who was
not happy was Ncube himself. He said this to me constantly and made me feel
guilty that I was his boss.
While Rusike was forced to settle out of court for wrongful dismissal, my
erstwhile deputy rushed into the now vacant office. He never uttered a word
in sympathy or out of concern or just idle curiosity.
When I was dismissed from the Daily News in 2002 in similarly suspicious
circumstances my then deputy editor, the highly principled Davison Maruziva
immediately resigned in sympathy once he realised that the reasons cited for
my departure by chief executive Sam Sipepa Nkomo were a load of claptrap.
The Daily News never recovered.
When Maruziva and I launched the Daily News in 1999 the first salvo fired
against the fledgling newspaper came, not from the government, as would be
expected. Ncube's Independent fired that first salvo. When I left the Daily
News four years later Ncube's newspaper, the Standard was on hand to fire
the parting shot, courtesy of a most scurrilous attack on a professional
colleague who was down and not given an opportunity to defend himself.
Someone in the company then imposed a blackout on news about me and that was
supposed to be the end of me.
We have all since moved on in our respective lives. Ncube has become an
adventurous publisher with publications on both sides of the Limpopo.
Expectation would be that he becomes magnanimous in his victory and his
magnificent achievement. Sadly it appears he seeks to continue to torment me
by allowing Mtungwa to attack me in his paper. Ncube seems to believe that
his power as publisher can legitimately be used to fight personal vendettas,
with the public obliged to buy as news the frenzied invective of instant
correspondents such as Mtungwa. He believes he is powerful enough to defame
with total impunity.
Whether acting spontaneously or on instruction, Mtungwa levels thinly veiled
accusations against me of complicity with the infamous Gukurahundi. He does
not offer a shred of evidence to back his assertions. Mtungwa seeks to
punish me for daring to state the obvious in respect of Professor Welshman
Ncube, with whom I have regularly corresponded for three years in a bid to
avoid the break-up that finally occurred in October. I gave up in November
but held onto the correspondence.
I leave readers to make their own judgment on the many specious accusations
made against me by Mtungwa such as that he is "frightened that Nyarota's
views mirror the opinions of many people in civic society and among
intellectuals in Zimbabwe today, some of whom he mentions by name." Mtungwa
must explain why such a healthy situation frightens him.
Mtungwa accuses me of failing to chastise Tsvangirai for alleged violence.
Yet he says, "Not even one of our boisterous civic groups condemned that
orgy, because doing so would have cast aspersions on the moral authority of
Tsvangirai." It is possible that Mtungwa sees orgies by Tsvangirai where
civil society groups don't see them. Surely, it is his own perception of
orgies that should be subjected to scrutiny.
Mtungwa accuses the Chronicle under my editorship of failure to express the
tribulations and despair of the people of Matabeleland yet he refers in the
same breath to Gukurahundi as "an act of lunacy that was ignored by the
whole world". So the Chronicle was not an isolated case, after all? He
states that I am one of the editors of the Chronicle during the Gukurahundi
era. Does my predecessor have a name that the public might be interested in
Mtungwa says what makes my article worse is the fact that it was published
on March 9 a few days before March 13, the day, 23 years ago, on which
Joshua Nkomo fled Zimbabwe for the United Kingdom. Is he really serious?
With due respect to the late Dr Nkomo, how many Zimbabweans either remember
or commemorate the anniversary of his flight from persecution by ZANU PF?
For the record, my article in its original form under the heading "MDC
conflict" was submitted to the Standard which belongs to Ncube on Wednesday
December 28, 2005 as the MDC internecine war raged countrywide. I believe
that it failed to pass the paper's stringent "pro-Senate" test and was duly
spiked. Two months later, Arthur Mutambara arrived back in the country to
take over Welshman Ncube's rebel faction of the MDC. I gave the article a
new angle and submitted it to The Financial Gazette. They were happy to
publish. That it came out a few day's before Mtungwa's important
commemoration is purely coincidental and totally irrelevant.
I deny that I ever sought in my article to justify the senseless mass
murders committed in Matabeleland by the Mugabe government. All I stated was
that it was mischievous to visit those crimes committed by President Mugabe
on 11 million Shona people. Mtungwa's mind appears to conclude in mysterious
Mtungwa then accuses me of making "the same accusation of regional focus
against Zapu 2000, but astonishingly leave out the ZUD, a Harare-based
grouping that never made any pretensions to being national". My simple
argument was that the people of Matabeleland rejected Zapu 2000, a
regionally based politically party, in 2000, suggesting that they were more
mature than some of those radicals who claim to represent their interests. I
could not, in any way, have cited Margaret Dongo's ZUD to convincingly
illustrate this particular point.
Mtungwa must appreciate, again with due respect, that there must be millions
of Zimbabweans, some in Matabeleland, who may spend a day without thinking
once about the Gukurahundi atrocities. Some of these issues need to be
raised and debated openly before our country is thrown again into ethnic
conflagration through the activities of a few irresponsible characters such
When I made reference to the 300 victims of President Mugabe's rule after
2000 being mostly from parts of Zimbabwe other than Matabeleland I certainly
did not suggest that the people of Matabeleland should therefore forget
their own trauma and suffering in the 1980s. My point was that all those who
challenge the tyranny of ZANU PF should recognise that they are all regarded
as enemies by that party. They should, therefore, bury their own cosmetic
differences to form a united front against the ruling party's tyranny. If
Mtungwa has any particular problem with such thinking then he should stick
to whatever he did for a living before he ventured into totally strange
territory last Friday.
If the meaning now claimed by Mtungwa is what he genuinely understood from
my statement then it is quite clear that I write beyond his level of
Mtungwa accuses those, myself included presumably, who waited until they
realised that Tsvangirai still has support, before attacking his opponents.
If I was given such choice, I would rather stick to this group for
self-survival than associate with those who realise that Tsvangirai does
command grassroots support yet they still dismiss him as becoming an
irrelevant factor of opposition politics.
"It is the common language of the Zimbabwean press that the MDC is ZANU PF's
biggest challenge since independence?" Mtugwa complains bitterly.
The MDC won 57 seats in parliamentary elections held in 2000 and nearly
unseated ZANU PF. That is how it established its status as the biggest
challenge to ZANU PF since independence. The next biggest challenge
manifested itself when PF-Zapu secured 20 seats in 1980. The problem with
Mtungwa is that he views every Zimbabwean issue or situation through
Gukurahundi eyes. Such emotional thinking cannot be progressive.
Finally, Mtungwa declares that the various editors and opinion leaders (here
read Chronicle editor) who helped President Mugabe cover up the crimes of
the Gukurahundi atrocities should be charged with genocide when the time
I have no problem with appearing before a properly constituted Truth and
Reconciliation Commission. But I obviously would refuse to be subjected to
media kangaroo courts where desperate rivals sit in judgment.
During my six years in Bulawayo I never came across any academic or civil
society leader who either cheered President Mugabe on or happily looked away
when the Five Brigade rampaged through Bulawayo and Matabeleland, not that I
ever saw Gukurahundi rampaging through the streets of Bulawayo. But then I
could have been looking the other way as suggested by Mtungwa.
I deny vehemently that the Chronicle ever urged the Five Brigade to
slaughter Ndebele peasants, as is now being claimed by a few reckless
individuals with a bee in their bonnet.
This is a preposterous allegation which is made without offering a shred of
evidence. Such evidence would, in any case, have been published in the
report of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in 1989. It is
defamatory to suggest that I ever cheered Robert Mugabe, Enos Nkala and
Perrence Shiri as they caused people to be massacred. Can that be possible?
The Chronicle did urge the deployment of the army against the dissidents who
were marauding through the countryside of Matabeleland and massacring poor
villagers and farmers and generally causing havoc and mayhem. If today these
same people are now Mtungwa's heroes, then he should be forced to explain.
To those who are not motivated by hatred and malice the difference is vast.
That the Chronicle, like every other newspaper or news medium of the day,
did not acquit itself commendably in terms of providing adequate coverage of
the Gukurahundi atrocities cannot be denied. I accept full responsibility
for how the Chronicle covered the atrocities. But I accept such
responsibility in the context of the state of emergency then in existence
and the curfew which the government declared over the affected areas.
Why does Mtungwa not refer to these factors? Because he does not want the
truth to stand in the way of his scurrilous attack on me?
I also accept responsibility, fully cognisant of the fact that when Donald
Trelford, editor of the London Observer, published details of the
Gukurahundi story in his paper in the safety of London, after he visited
Matabeleland, he was humiliated and nearly fired by his publisher Tiny
Rowland. Even Prince Charles took the poor Trelford to task for his article.
As Mtungwa himself states categorically, the world was not interested in the
plight of the victims of Gukurahundi at the time. The much-lauded CCPJ
Report was only published in 1999.
It is typical cowardly strategy to let the known perpetrators of Gukurahundi
go scot-free for two decades before suddenly discovering a more convenient
villain in the person of the editor of a government-owned newspaper. I
challenge Mtungwa to challenge Perrence Shiri.
At the material time I was just as petrified of the ruthlessness of the Five
Brigade as any other person living in Matabeleland, including Mtungwa,
assuming he was born. At least throughout the Gukurahundi era I never
witnessed or heard of a march of protest against the atrocities staged by
those who now speak with the wisdom and courage of hindsight.
More importantly, I did not view my appointment at the Chronicle as a
suicide mission. When I eventually risked my life during the Willowgate
Scandal on behalf of the people of Zimbabwe and was subjected to harassment,
humiliation and deprivation did I ever hear from Mtungwa?
As for Ncube, when he was my deputy at Fingaz I never heard him voice the
concerns now raised by Mtungwa with such emotion and venom. When he took
over the paper as editor I have no recollection of him ever carrying that
particular flag. If he ever waged that campaign in the Independent and the
Standard it must have gone largely unnoticed.
The power of a publisher derives from the public perception of him as a
principled person, committed to justice and fair play. Publishers who allow
their papers to be used to mount vicious and malicious attacks on innocent
individuals and organisations ultimately undermine the credibility and the
viability of those publications.
Last week I sent good-natured email to Ncube asking him for his portrait to
include in my forthcoming book, Against the grain, Memoirs of a Zimbabwean
journalist. Ncube wrote back to say his personal assistant would attend to
"On a completely different subject," he went on to say menacingly, "I wish
to let you know that I disagree with you strongly regarding views expressed
in an article that appeared in The Financial Gazette. I will touch base with
you on this when I have time."
I never heard from him again. Instead Mtungwa spoke.
As the launch of my book in July approaches I have become increasingly
apprehensive that efforts will be made to discredit me by jealous rivals.
Mtungwa's article is not a genuine attempt to expose those responsible for
the Gukurahundi atrocities. Mtungwa's effort at finding scapegoats for
Gukurahundi in order to cover up for the perpetrators of these heinous
atrocities is shameful and pathetic.
Newspaper publishing cannot be the most profitable business venture in
Zimbabwe today. Newsprint and production costs keep escalating. While
advertising revenue is the mainstay of newspaper publishing, during an
economic recession advertising budgets fall victim to vicious slashing. More
critically, when people struggle to survive, their appetite for expensive
and elitist newspapers diminishes. This is particularly true when the
newspapers in question are driven by certain narrow-minded political agendas
or are so clearly out of touch with the political environment in which they
exist as they circulate in the leafier suburbs of Borrowdale and Gunhill,
far away from the wretched peasants of Nkayi and Lupane, on whose behalf
donor funds are sometimes accepted.
It would be challenging to investigate how some newspapers continue to
flourish, especially after they miraculously escaped unscathed the
vicissitudes of the capricious former minister of information, Professor
Meanwhile, let us all join hands as Zimbabweans to challenge the tyranny of
ZANU PF. So God help us.
lGeoff Nyarota is the founding editor of the now-banned Daily News
National Agenda with Bornwell Chakaodza
"I NORMALLY sell not more than seven out of the 20 copies of The Sunday
Mirror that I get each week but today (Sunday March 19, 2008), all 20 copies
are sold out", said a visibly elated newspaper vendor at the corner of Kwame
Nkrumah Avenue and Angwa Street in Harare.
Asked why there was such a change in his fortunes as far as The Sunday
Mirror was concerned, he responded forcefully: "Tsvangirai! You see, their
front page story headlined 'Tsvangirai pulls coup on Mutambara' did the
trick. For the first time they reported the way The Standard, The Financial
Gazette and The Zimbabwe Independent normally do, reflecting the national
mood and calling a spade a spade".
He added: "Look at those heaps and heaps of The Sunday Mail . . . No takers.
Zimbabwe Newspapers and the Zimbabwe Mirror Newspapers are depriving us of
our livelihood because they are a hard sell. You know mukoma that the more
papers we sell the more commission we get but with these government-owned
papers, it is a hard slog."
Almost as an afterthought he concluded, "The Mirror newspapers are as bad as
they come. It is better with The Sunday Mail and The Herald because we know
that people buy them for the classifieds and sports otherwise tainge
tichidya nhoko dzezvironda".
I have quoted this particular newspaper vendor at length not only because
newspaper vendors are the experts when it comes to what sells and what does
not but also to show that Morgan Tsvangirai's popularity and support is not
only confined to the more than 15 000 delegates who attended the MDC's
two-day congress in Harare but that support is also reflected across the
length and breadth of the country.
Observing the sheer numbers of delegates from Matabeleland, Masvingo,
Midlands and Mashonaland Central for example, I asked myself: "Who has
remained with that arrogant, rude and political upstart called Arthur
Two days ago my family and I visited Guruve District in Mashonaland Central
Province where Gift Chimanikire and myself hail from and the talk on most
people's lips was Tsvangirai and last weekend's MDC congress. "He is our son
with an independent mind of course, but quite frankly he has lost his way,"
said an elderly man from Chimanikire Village. So much for the grassroots
support that the MDC faction led by Mutambara commands not only in
Chimanikire's home turf but in all provinces of the country.
The real truth though is that we are witnessing the demise of the
Mutambara-led faction of the MDC. Not only is the "overgrown student"
confused as to what he intends to do but he is far removed from the struggle
and the suffering of Zimbabweans. For starters, their Bulawayo congress last
month was attended by a paltry 3 000 delegates. Gibson Sibanda could not
finish his speech because the last pages were missing, prompting him to say
an embarrassing 'thank you' in mid air. Generally, their congress was badly
organised. We are entitled to ask these pro-senate chaps: If you could not
organise things at the level of a mere congress, what more a whole country
like Zimbabwe? The mind really boggles!
If and when - more when than if - the so-called pro-senate dies a natural
death as it surely will, I do not think that I and most Zimbabweans will be
among the mourners. My only advice to Arthur, Welshman, Gibson, Gift, Paul
and other misguided elements is this: Repent. It is never too late to repent
for there is more joy in heaven over one or three sinners who repent than
multitudes of them.
Now to Tsvangirai and the authentic MDC. It is heartening to hear Morgan say
that this time around he and his colleagues are prepared to go into the
trenches and lead physically from the front in the fight for a free and
democratic Zimbabwe. The natural state of mankind is freedom. And the proof
is the lengths to which Zimbabweans went to gain it during the liberation
struggle and the lengths to which they will go to regain it now that it has
once again been taken away from them.
Last weekend's congress must have opened Tsvangirai's and many other
people's eyes to this reality. There has been a feeling in the air for a
long time now that change must come. ZANU PF's rule has been a wasteful and
costly ambition particularly during the last six years of the national
The one fundamental weakness of the MDC before the split was the fact that
it was a movement fractured into two main wings, each with divergent views
on the way forward. Some believed in militant direct action while others
believed in the slower course of changing public opinion. There was no
unanimity on the best way to confront the current regime of President Robert
One lesson that the MDC should learn is that Zimbabweans are looking for
heroes to inspire them, for people prepared to suffer alongside them and for
leaders willing to face the consistent state terror waged against them. The
time to prattle on about this and that without translating the rhetoric into
some form of sustained peaceful resistance is long gone.
Of course, confronting the ZANU PF regime would be no tea party. Politics is
power and not many people would give up power easily. What needs to be done
is to consider very seriously the whole idea of peaceful resistance. The
last thing that anyone wants to see is this country sliding into anarchy
like Somalia (among a number of African countries) did. Peaceful resistance
will in the end force all the country's political leaders to sit down and
resolve the crisis before it spirals out of control. I do think that among
the majority of Zimbabweans, there is an unprecedented degree of consensus
on the nature of the problem and on the nature of the solution.
The severity of the problems in this country testify to the urgency
confronting us for committed and practically oriented leadership. The
question being asked by many people now is: the people who have been elected
to lead the MDC - do they have the intellectual capacity and the stamina to
lead this nation in the event of ZANU PF disintegrating? For example, can
Thokozani Khupe, the newly elected MDC vice-president hold fort in the
absence of Tsvangirai? Does she have what it takes to lead a complex and
such a highly educated Zimbabwean society? What about Isaac Matongo - the
man who has retained the chairmanship of the MDC: does he have the qualities
of leadership and the intellectual wherewithal required to lead this
country? I am not talking about addressing political rallies but the serious
business of running a country.
Being part and parcel of the then boys' network in the ZCTU should not be
the sole reason for appointment or election to top leadership in the MDC - a
movement that millions of Zimbabwean count on to help them realise their
hopes and aspirations for the future. It will be a big strategic mistake on
the part of the opposition leadership not to be inclusive of Zimbabweans in
and out of MDC who have a demonstrable track record, character, integrity
and credibility in the eyes of the generality of Zimbabweans. Some of the
top leaders in the MDC have neither the credibility nor the brains to write
In terms of courage and pioneering work in beating the ruling ZANU PF party
at their game in their so-called rural strongholds during the 2000
parliamentary elections, my heart goes out to two women: Hilda Mafudze, the
then MDC MP for rural Mhondoro and Evelyn Masaiti, the then MDC MP for rural
Mutasa. With all the violence and intimidation that characterised those
elections, it was not an easy ride for them. It was far far easier to take
on ZANU PF in the urban constituencies than in those far flung and remote
constituencies. Such women of courage must not be forgotten.
In conclusion, my purpose in this article has been threefold: to acknowledge
the real MDC given the evidence on the ground and for this authentic
opposition party to examine and learn from the experiences of the past six
years and finally to hold Tsvangirai accountable for what he is promising to
do. Pain and a price attends any progress that is going to be made. The road
between will hardly be a smooth climb. If Zimbabweans are to wrest progress
from the chaotic situation that we find ourselves in right now, a martyr or
two might be unavoidable.
But it is our hope and prayer that with the best will in the world, it would
be unnecessary to have martyrs.
Perspectives with Jonathan Maphenduka
IF recent press reports are anything to go by, the government is actively
working to bring about sweeping changes to the Access of Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), Zimbabwe's media regulation instrument.
Recent reports suggest that the government has agreed to remove offending
clauses and sections in AIPPA, which resulted in the closure of three
newspapers since the Act became law in 2002.
The reports quote freely from "informed sources" who attended an African
Union human rights organ in Banjul, Gambia, last December.
According to sources quoted in the reports, Zimbabwe, under pressure from
the African Charter on Human and People's Rights, is now willing to
institute changes to the Act to remove repressive sections or clauses in
AIPPA, and Information and Publicity Minister Tichaona Jokonya is said to be
in the process of effecting changes to the draconian piece of legislation,
sections of which merely complement the dreaded Public Order and Security
Against these expectations, Jokonya has been reported as saying the media
was a weapon of self-destruction. This statement, if the minister was
reported accurately, has been taken to refer to only a section of the
industry, which continues to bear the brunt of an Act that has been applied
selectively to cow and destroy the private media industry in the country.
If the minister is indeed working to bring about sweeping changes to AIPPA,
that would be a great day indeed for the beleaguered private sector
But watchers of government policy trends are sceptical. The government has
never shown itself to be willing to be influenced by the weight of public
opinion even in a matter of such great public interest as the application of
To the government, inflexibility is a virtue rather a vice, while moving
with the weight of public opinion is considered a weakness. But this
unyielding attitude is fraught with some problems for the government. It is
the making of the economic chaos now prevailing in the country, with
devastating poverty and other social evils for the majority of the
The problem facing the country is that its government is unwilling, if one
may borrow Justice Makarau`s now celebrated pronouncement, "to take
prisoners" in its war against its perceived enemies. To the government it
must be a fight to the bitter end. If you do not take prisoners in a theatre
of war then you must kill them off or be killed.
This appears to be the guiding philosophy of a government that has run out
of initiatives to find a lasting solution to the current problems gripping
In its confrontation with the independent media, the government maintains an
argument of silence, which, everyone knows will not lead to any conclusion
or resolution of matters of mutual concern.
There is an urgent need, therefore, for the government to take the
initiative to end the impasse by removing the causes of this impasse. The
government needs to work with all players in the industry to find a lasting
solution to the problems affecting the industry. Most of these problems have
been caused by AIPPA to the great detriment of the country.
Solution to these problems does not lie in working only with interests in
the public media. The answer lies in an all-embracing initiative to resolve
outstanding issues. AIPPA has affected the private sector more than any
other, and government should recognise this fact and consult the sector`s
These remarks assume that government is willing to resolve the problems
spawned by AIPPA, which has been used as an instrument of victimisation.
Glaring injustices have been meted out against the private media without any
one lifting a finger to redress the situation. The argument of silence
The Minister of Information and Publicity inherited an extremely untenable
legacy left by his predecessor, but is he willing to exorcise Jonathan Moyo's
ghost from the scene of his new responsibility to tackle the problems facing
the industry, or does he seek to maintain the status quo and become a
strange bed-fellow with a man most Zimbabweans yearn to forget?
The idea of an independent media council is laudable, but let first things
be done first. No amount of wishful thinking will, however, make the
proposed council independent as long as AIPPA remains in its present form.
The instruments of the Act that negate the ideal of an independent media
commission or council must be removed before there can be any hope of an
independent body overseeing the industry.
Those who have been in the industry for any length of time must know that
self-regulation has been the norm in this country since the establishment of
the first newspaper in the country at the turn of the last century.
But the industry now exists in an environment in which other people prefer
regulation by law, and in pursuance of this policy, AIPPA was promulgated.
We now know the results of the past three years of its existence and what
this means, not only to the industry, but for the country's future
well-being as well.
It is imperative that all sectors of the industry should work together
towards removal of those sections and clauses of the Act that inhibit the
growth and prosperity of in the industry as a whole. The industry should
stand united against those who want to drive a wedge between the public and
private sectors to confuse by remote control.
The Act as it is, is riddled with pitfalls, ambiguities and inconsistencies
all of which have been used to frustrate the dispensation of justice to all.
Citizens have been victimised, robbed and workers left destitute, all in the
name of AIPPA.
It is a fact of life that the Act has been applied selectively to ride
roughshod over the rights of the private media sector. It is also true that
sins of omission have been committed to frustrate citizens seeking to enter
A classic case is that of the Africa Tribune Newspapers whose only default
was its balance sheet. The Act says a successful applicant for registration
is entitled to l2 months grace to, it is implied, find money to operate.
In the ATN case the "only" reason registration was denied was that the
balance sheet did not meet the "perceptions" of the Act to qualify. So the
promoter of a media service provider that had been purchased as going
concern was not given time to find the money.
There are others, but let us for now spare the reader the details. The Act
has been manipulated to ensure citizens failed to qualify for registration.
Where in the world is an applicant required to produce a balance sheet as a
pre-condition to registration?
The tragic sadness of it all is that for over 100 years without AIPPA, this
country has done exceptionally well.
But for the first time in the history of the country, the population has
known real deprivation, pinching poverty affects the majority of the people,
and health services have collapsed for most of them and also for the first
time in the country's experience unknown diseases like cholera now ravage
the people in all centres of population
This has come as a great shock for the people of Zimbabwe who have always
associated cholera with what is disparagingly called banana republics, and
not their own country.
No Holds Barred with Gondo Gushungo
Myopic politics spoils it for Zim
THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) a fortnight ago refused to restore
Zimbabwe's voting and related rights as well as access to the Fund
resources. And it stated its reasons which are not the subject of discussion
This decision, coming as it did after the country had paid more than US$210
million in GRA funds owed to the IMF, raised a hue and cry among Zimbabwe's
incredibly foul-mouthed, narrow-minded, prejudiced and obstinate politicians
who pass for nothing but articulate ignorance.
The IMF's widely expected decision, to the delight of the hardliners, gives
the politicians the opportunity to complete the critical encirclement around
those that "misled" the nation to repay what it owed. Thus those who
spearheaded the repayment of those arrears, particularly Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono and Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa, are the
targets of this sudden, strong, negative reaction over the issue. There are
so many knives in their backs but they do not know whose hands are holding
Even some so-called intellectuals known for their soporific articles by
whose side newspaper condolence columns and the telephone book would be a
strong cup of tea, have joined in the bandwagon of criticism. Just as well
Zimbabweans have come of age and do not confuse real life with politics
anymore, otherwise they would be hoodwinked into believing that there is
some justification for this political backlash.
The politicians, who see the IMF not only as the face of imperialism but
also as a self-appointed international central bank or a powerful and
disapproving political institution imbued with missionary zeal for fiscal
rectitude, are arguing that the IMF's decision to deny Zimbabwe its voting
rights is the reason why the country should not have bothered to repay what
it owed the Fund.
With all due respect to these politicians, theirs is a myopic and uninformed
view. Suffice to say, their thinking, which is muddled by fads and
misleading politicking emotions, betrays ignorance of the underlying
realities of the IMF issue.
The question is: did Zimbabwe owe the IMF? If so, then it had to pay,
period! It has to do with ethics and integrity.
The decision to repay the arrears in question was therefore informed by the
bigger picture - the objective of blocking Zimbabwe's expulsion from the IMF
and the regaining of voting rights at that juncture was and is in essence
Admittedly financial support from the international monetarists is still on
ice but in the end the IMF did not slam the door on Zimbabwe, thus the
repayment achieved its goal. I believe that the move underlined the extent
to which Zimbabwe cherishes its membership of the Fund.
Of course this observation will certainly stir controversy and worse still
political ridicule from the same self-serving ZANU PF politicians from whom
the threat of expulsion provoked a muted response. The politicians have in
the past pretended that Zimbabwe's political and socio-economic life would
remain unshaken with or without the IMF balance of payments support at a
time when the country was facing payments difficulties. Yet nothing could be
further from the truth.
The far reaching adverse implications that could have befallen Zimbabwe had
the GRA arrears at the Bretton Woods institution not been cleared prior to
the IMF Board meeting held on March 8, 2006 are clearly lost to the voluble
politicians. They seem to forget that metaphorically speaking, no country is
an island. And Zimbabwe is no exception.
Expulsion from the IMF would have sent a damning and ominous signal to the
international community that Zimbabwe has its needle well and truly stuck.
This would be a red flag that would not escape the notice of international
fanciers most of whom have been sitting on the fence, maintaining a
wait-and-see attitude as regards Zimbabwe.
All I'm saying is that while what the IMF itself can give Zimbabwe as
balance of payments support could be the proverbial drop in the ocean, it is
much more important in that key international financiers take their cue from
the Fund. Its presence is widely seen as a seal of approval. The truth is
that without the IMF's stamp of approval, no matter how many times Zimbabwe
passes the begging bowl around, no international financier will twitch. It
is as simple as that and the evidence is there for all to see.
It is pertinent to state here that most countries under the IMF are not
borrowing from the institution but still these countries, big and small,
jealously guard their membership of the Fund. This is precisely because of
the direct signalling effect such continued membership has to the investor
Equally important is the fact that more and more donor and other
humanitarian funds are being indexed on an individual country's standing in
global financial institutions, of which the IMF is a critical one. I do not
have to belabour the fact that such a good standing has to be nurtured and
expanded on through honouring the country's debt obligations with the
The politicians who find the magical influence of populist phraseology too
strong to resist do not seem to realise that with expulsion, Zimbabwe would
find it increasingly difficult to sustain, let alone, penetrate export
markets particularly in those regions where there is strong anti-Zimbabwe
It is instructive to note that around 40 percent (amounting to US$480
million annually) of Zimbabwe's exports are currently destined for Europe,
the United States of America and Canada, which regions strongly voted
against Zimbabwe at the last meeting. It therefore is clear from the
foregoing that expulsion would have set a credible basis for these countries
to legitimately escalate trade sanctions against Zimbabwe, forcing the
country's dwindling export markets to find alternative sources of those
products they import from it.
Those with an elementary understanding of economics will know that a country
whose financial standing in the global markets is under threat or whose
credit rating has been reduced to junk status, risks losing its export
markets. It is a matter of prudence for any business that supplies of raw
materials or even finished products be constantly reliable.
There is therefore a compelling case for those who say that Zimbabwe did the
right thing in repaying the IMF. In the intricate global space of intense
risk management, no country can afford to be classified as one that
deliberately reneges on its obligations to trading and financial
counterparts as its national policy.
Those of us who were born and bred in the rural areas know only too well
that a household which borrows salt from its neighbours and openly reneges
cannot expect to continue getting salt or any other requirements even from
those who are friendly to it. It is even worse if the villager speaks or
publicly expresses the mere thought of regret for having repaid what was
truly due to others! Yet this is exactly what the dishonest ZANU PF
officials who have turned the IMF issue into a political football wanted
Zimbabwe to do. The mind boggles.
But with politicians like these as key government ministers, is anyone still
surprised with government's Band-Aid approach to serious issues and its
obsession with wasteful pork-barrel projects meant to ingratiate the ruling
ZANU PF with what it considers to be strategic political groupings?
The day many people would like to forget
EDITOR - Many households are weeping. Why? ZESA is at it again. The guys at
ZESA have failed to execute their duties and Sunday March 19 2006 is a day
that many households in Harare would like to quickly forget about.
Electrical appliances were damaged because of continuous interruptions in
power supplies around Harare (most probably around other towns). Gata and
Nyambuya have exhibited incompetence and unprofessionalism. Gentlemen what
are you doing in those portfolios of yours? Whose job is it to inform the
public about inconsistent power cuts and that they should buy surge
protectors? I guess you just do not want to advise members of the public
about buying surge protectors because in a way it will be admitting that you
have failed to execute your duties.
I urge all those people who have very sensitive electrical devices to buy
surge protectors to ensure that no further damage is caused to your valuable
appliances. To those whose electrical appliances were damaged, I can only
say you know the responsible gentlemen, but I would also urge you to buy
surge protectors. They only cost about $2 million, a cheap price to pay
compared to the cost that you are likely to incur when repairing your
To Gata and Nyambuya, I say God is watching and do not say that I did not
warn you. What goes around comes around. You still have time to repent and
apologise to the masses for the losses that you were responsible for. If
legal action was to be taken against you then we could be talking of
billions if not trillions of dollars. I advise you gentlemen to leave from
the warpath that you are on and make peace with the people.
Company bosses prostituting honesty
EDITOR - Reading the latest batch of quoted company results, one is struck
by the various chairmen's sheep-like use of the word "challenges".
How sad they prostitute honesty and integrity by failing to call the
situation for what it is. "Challenge" by definition is optional. We have
government economic policy induced "problems", "disasters", "meltdown",
"tragedy", "economic mess" etc. etc.
And then to add insult to injury they try and make excuses, no doubt to try
and "keep in the government's good books" by attributing the "challenges" to
a poor agricultural season as a result of drought. Rather, viable
wealth-producing farms, mostly with facilities to overcome droughts were
destroyed. Period! It's time the captains of commerce and industry found the
guts to set an example.
Liberation from lies
EDITOR - The MDC congress was a delirious display of people power when they
reaffirmed their faith in Morgan Tsvangirai's leadership and new office
bearers. Months of pent-up frustration emanating from lies by the
regionally-based Mutambara group came to an end last weekend when genuine
MDC delegates chose new leaders whom they entrusted with the power to change
The congress also made it clear to ZANU PF and the Mutambara group that the
charismatic Tsvangirai is the critical ingredient for an alternative future.
Before the historic congress, the MDC was like the pilot of a plane that has
lost an engine but now the congress has shown the people that they have the
power to determine their future.
Let's not burn our bridges
EDITOR - In this day and age of rapid access to information I find some of
your headlines not only misleading but verging on being downright
Take for example the UN secretary general's comment on Zimbabwe when he was
in South Africa last week. Your heading was: Annan lashes out at Zimbabwe
govt. A cursory search on Google for news on Zimbabwe revealed how some
other news agencies reported Kofi Annan's speech: Annan plans mission to
Zimbabwe soon. - Business Day; Annan praises S Africa's role over Zimbabwe
crisis - Reuters AlertNet; Annan to help resolve Zimbabwe's problems. - Mail
& Guardian Online; Annan to pay special visit to Zimbabwe - Independent
The first thing we as Zimbabweans need to do is to love ourselves first. Too
much negativity will never get us from where we are to a point where we
begin to solve some of our economic problems.
We Zimbabweans in the diaspora have vigorous debates about our country but
not to the point of denigrating kumusha. It would be so easy for many of us
to burn the bridges that join us to Zimbabwe and some of your reckless
headlines will inevitably drive some of us and especially our young people
from having any residual affection for the land of their parents. Jesus said
"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" Matthew 22:35.
Spoilt ZANU PF brat
EDITOR - I think it is disgusting for your paper to keep telling the already
fed-up Zimbabwean populace about individuals like Saviour Kasukuwere, a
spoilt child of ZANU PF.
What has he ever done to prove that he has Zimbabwe at heart besides being
at the forefront of political machinations, and boasting of ill-gotten
wealth. Why is it that the so-called "Third Chimurenga" has one small
class - The ZANU PF elite - as its only beneficiaries?
We thought land redistribution was for the indigenous people only to
discover that the povo was just being used as they were later pushed out
after being accused of supporting the opposition.
Mutambara is just what the doctor ordered
EDITOR - Professor Arthur Mutambara's arrival at the leadership-haunted
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) sends a clear signal to President
Robert Mugabe that his time is now up.
Mutambara is a tried and tested revolutionary with all the necessary
qualities of a national leader.
President Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai cannot be allowed to take all
Zimbabweans for a ride at a time we should start building Zimbabwe.
The sudden loss of direction and adoption of dictatorial tendencies by
Tsvangirai is a sad development. Tsvangirai is fine as an opposition leader
and not as a state president. Zimbabwe won't get anywhere under Tsvangirai's
The future of Zimbabwe lies in a visionary, intelligent, vigilant, tactful
and vibrant leadership that can offer solutions for the problems bedevilling
the country. We all agree that President Mugabe must go but what do we have
in place to tackle the problems faced by the people.
Mutambara is just what the doctor has prescribed for an embattled country.
Contrary to some street analysts who have described Mutambara as an
academic, the man is capable of tackling the present regime head-on.
Will Tsvangirai give David a chance?
EDITOR - They say history repeats itself. This means that in order to
understand the future of our country we need to take a look at the past.
Remember Moses started the struggle that led Israel out of Egypt, but it is
Joshua who took them to the promised land. It was Joshua Nkomo who fathered
ZAPU, but it was Robert Mugabe who became Prime Minister. Even more still,
it was Sithole who led the revolt against Nkomo and formed ZANU, but it is
Mugabe who is now President. History is very stubborn and has this tendency
to repeat itself.
History says no founding president of a party can become president of our
country. To understand this theory, we need to go back a few thousand years.
For 40 days King Saul and the whole army of Israel were intimidated by a
giant called Goliath. Goliath, who stood almost 10 feet tall, defied the
armies of Israel, making them look cowardly and foolish. For 40 days they
tried but failed to defeat him. Goliath, who is described as a "champion" in
the Biblical text, positioned himself between the two armies and challenged
the Israelites to send out a warrior to challenge him. If that man won, the
Philistines would become the subjects of Saul's army. If Goliath won, the
converse would occur.
For 40 days, Goliath issued his challenge, but no man would dare him.
Meanwhile young David was busy looking after his father's sheep. He fought
and won many battles in the wilderness, against lions and bears. Nobody knew
about these victories since they were not in the battle front and away from
the public eye. Most importantly, these battles were seemingly unrelated to
the real battle against Goliath in which King Saul and the army of Israel,
including David's four brothers were engaged.
One day David decided to go to the battle front to see how his brothers were
doing, and to bring some "bread and grain". He saw Goliath and he remembered
how he had fought and won against the bear and the lion. He knew his time
had come. He asked King Saul for a chance to have a go at Goliath.
What? After leading Israel through so many battles and recording so many
victories? After being intimidated by this giant for 40 days and trying my
best to bring him down, a little boy is now asking me to stand aside so that
he can take a chance? This was ridiculous to King Saul. After all, Saul was
the tallest and the largest in the army of Israel, and therefore he was the
only one who could stand a chance against Goliath.
But a little boy called David wanted to take his chance. Since no other
soldier was willing to fight the giant Goliath, King Saul reluctantly agreed
and took off his heavy iron coat and gave it to David. David put it on,
jumped around and realised that it was too heavy for him. David rejected the
king's offer of armour and a sword and went out to fight Goliath with a
slingshot and five smooth stones. He knew that to defeat Goliath he needed
something different, not just an imitation of what Goliath already had.
With the first stone Goliath was dead. The situation in this story is
analogous to the current situation in Zimbabwe. King Saul (Tsvangirai) has
been fighting Goliath for the past six years. However this giant called
Goliath has managed to survive using intimidatory tactics. Suddenly a young
boy called Arthur (David) has arrived on the scene. He has just been
shepherding his father's sheep in the diaspora, from where he has been
sending "grain and bread" to his brothers in the battlefield. Whatever he
has been doing seems to be unrelated to the battle against Goliath in which
his brothers have been bruised and battered.
The question now is: will King Saul stand aside and give David a chance?
Will King Saul offer his armour to David? Does David have the shepherd's
armour and a sling with which to attack Goliath? Saul looked at Goliath as
too big to hit, hence he was intimidated for 40 days, but David looked at
the same Goliath as too big to miss.
The difference between the success and failure of the two men was in how
they interpreted the sheer size of Goliath. To one he was too big to hit, to
the other too big to miss. In my view Tsvangirai was the only giant in the
MDC who could stand a chance against Goliath (Mugabe). However a new boy has
arrived and he deserves a chance.
He is a "mighty man of valour" who should not be underestimated by reason of
his age, or the fact that he has been in the diaspora. Tsvangirai and
company have been fighting President Mugabe for so long that they have
started to imitate the same person that they are trying to remove.
Dictatorial tendencies have begun to show up, and the "handiende syndrome"
or the "founder member" disease synonymous with ZANU PF is beginning to
manifest itself. According to the MDC constitution Tsvangirai has only one
more presidential term left and it is now almost certain that he might try
to change the constitution to prolong his stay at the MDC realm.
His plan of attack is now to boycott certain elections, while participating
in others, and to pursue an unnamed form of "democratic resistance",
meanwhile causing a lot of confusion with his indecision and lack of clarity
in the process. Clearly his bag of ideas is now running on empty. Tsvangirai
and his lieutenants are breathing fire about the fact that an "outsider" is
trying to become MDC president when he is not a founder member, exactly the
same way that ZANU PF brags about, and hero worships its founder members.
Often President Mugabe (Goliath) has emphasised that his successor must have
a history of the liberation struggle, exactly the same way the MDC is going
on about those who have been fighting the dictatorship in the last six
years. What then can you say to our army commanders when they say that they
can not allow anyone who did not go to war to be President?
We have no moral ground to oppose them. They are simply applying the founder
member politics that you are applying in your own party. He who digs a pit
for others will fall in it. Sadly this is a "Zanunification" of the
opposition, to quote Brian Kagoro.