The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Where is the bumper harvest?

FinGaz

Nkululeko Sibanda Staff Reporter

IT IS 5:45am on a chilly Thursday morning when 75-year-old Mkhunjulwa Ndlovu
wakes up and drags himself out of his makeshift pole and dagga hut.

He looks up to the sky, hoping to see evidence of possible rain. But today,
the skies are, once again, clear.
He prays audibly, "Oh God, I lay my life in your hands. Come to our rescue.
Look, dear Lord, your sky that you created is clear and there are no signs
of any rains falling soon."
After the short prayer, he begins his daily, tiring journey to his field,
his mind still clouded with apprehensions over his fate should the rains
fail again.
He inspects what is left of his maize crop. Slowly, he grabs his hoe and
starts weeding around the wilted stalks.
Ndlovu, a resident of the Maphisa area of Kezi district in Matabeleland
South, has given up hope that the rains will come in time to save his crops.
"The rains appear to be very far away. We have been
surviving on food handouts. Donors have been coming to our rescue and we
hoped that this time around, the heavens would open up and rescue us from
having to rely on handouts," says Ndlovu.
In this drought-prone Matabeleland South district - as in most areas of
Zimbabwe - evidence of the government's claims of a bumper harvest this
cropping season is nowhere to be seen.
The predicament of villagers in Maphisa has been worsened by government's
failure to repair the road linking the area to Bulawayo, just 120km away,
where stocks of imported maize are kept for distribution to other parts of
the region.
The villagers ask about reports gleaned from radio broadcasts, that there
are adequate grain stocks in the country. They ask when any of that food
will reach them.
Ndlovu cannot recall when residents in the area last received food aid.
He says, however, that some well-wishers rounded up all the elderly people
in the area last September and treated them to an early Christmas party. The
Good Samaritans also handed out food hampers.
"They came here and took us to Maphisa Growth Point where they gave us food.
It was only
for that day and that was the last we heard of people wanting to help.
"We have communicated our worries to district administrators and other
officials but they all seem to be in the dark about what is happening. We
are now pinning our hopes on the Almighty," Ndlovu said.
Miriam Mkhwananzi, a home-based caregiver in the area, said if there was no
further assistance from either the government or the donor community, there
was a high likelihood that many elderly people could starve to death.
"We have so many elderly people here and they are unable to till the land
even if the rains come. There should be a scheme to collect grain for these
vulnerable groups of people. If that is not done, there is a high risk that
these people could die," said Mkhwananzi.
She said efforts had been made to approach the Grain Marketing
Board for a special
dispensation allowing vulnerable groups to be charged a discounted price for
maize.
However local GMB officials advised the villagers to lodge their appeal with
the parastatal's head office in Harare.
But nobody in this arid district can afford a bus ride to Bulawayo, let
alone Harare.
"We are not even guaranteed that if we travel to Harare to present our
appeal, it would
be accommodated. The GMB management here says it cannot help us with that
kind of
request and we wonder whether travelling to Harare can bring us joy or more
misery," said Mkhwananzi.


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Army deployed at dry fuel stations

FinGaz

Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter

THE government has deployed the army, the Central Intelligence Organisation
(CIO) and the police to monitor fuel stations supplied by the National Oil
Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM).

But there is one little problem. These service stations rarely receive the
commodity.
This disclosure is made in a parliamentary report tabled before the senate
this week.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on mines, energy, environment and
tourism report said: "A national oil taskforce, comprising soldiers, police,
CIO and other government agents has been set up to ensure the smooth running
of business at these service stations. Your committee noted that these
designated sites are not allowed to sell any fuel other than that from
Noczim."
"However," the MPs reported, "the biggest challenge is that these stations
can go for months on end without the commodity. So how are they supposed to
break even?"
The committee said Noczim was fortunate to have received fuel under the
US$50 million BNB Paribas deal, brokered by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and
Bindura Nickel Corporation last year. But the committee said the deal "was a
drop in the ocean."
Submissions made to the parliamentary committee indicated that from January
to November 2006, Noczim received enough foreign currency to procure a
quarter of the national fuel requirements for the year. However,
Noczim-supplied service stations remained dry, and the committee has
recommended stricter monitoring to ensure this fuel is not diverted to the
black market.
According to the committee, Zimbabwe needs US$100 million per month for
fuel.
The committee said there was a lot of suspicion between the government and
multinational oil companies.
"The ministry of energy was not willing to engage in dialogue for a
different pricing formula on Direct Fuel Import (DFI) fuel because it
strongly believed this would be tacit approval of the parallel market or
devaluation of the dollar," the report said.


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Govt to trade sugar for maize

FinGaz

Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter

GOVERNMENT will export 10 000 tonnes of sugar from Hippo Valley Estates to
raise foreign currency for grain imports, it has emerged.

The move comes despite recent claims by a Parliamentary portfolio committee
that producers were exporting 70 percent of the country's sugar output,
worsening shortages on the domestic market. Producers deny the charges.
GMB acting chief executive Samuel Muvuti said there was nothing wrong with
exporting sugar.
"This is trade, like any other trade. Any country can export whatever it can
export," Muvuti said.
Muvuti however denied that the proceeds of the sale would be used to import
maize, saying instead that they would be used to pay off debts owed to
foreign grain suppliers.
"We owe a lot of people money and the money (from sugar sales) can offset
those debts," Muvuti said.
Muvuti gave no details on where the government intends to export the sugar,
or how much grain the GMB has so far imported.
It was not immediately possible to get comment from Hippo Valley, the
country's largest sugar producer, owned by South Africa's Tongaat-Hullett.
In January, government approved a 117 percent hike in the price of sugar in
a move it said that was aimed at improving sugar supplies.
At the time, the Zimbabwe Sugar Association (ZSA), which represents cane
farmers, sugar millers and refineries, had said the industry was under
serious threat due to significant cost increases and a capped sugar price.
The Parliamentary Committee on Lands and Agriculture last year recommended
an audit of land ownership in the lowveld, where they feared corruption in
the allocation of farms was threatening sugar output.
Previously, the ZSA has denied government charges that its members were
involved in sugar illegal exports, saying the Ministry of Industry and
International Trade controlled all export of sugar. Any export is agreed
at the beginning of each milling season, in April.
The country consumes an average of 158 000 tonnes per month.


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Social Welfare crumbles

FinGaz

Zhean Gwaze Staff Reporter
Department refers citizens to NGOs
Zimbabwe's social welfare delivery system is close to collapse due to a lack
of funding by the fiscus, welfare groups say.

Faced with an inflation rate of 1 593.6 percent, depleted grain stocks and
rising unemployment, the Department of Social Welfare has been forced to
refer vulnerable groups to aid institutions, many of which are hamstrung by
financial constraints resulting from donor pull-out.
Although Social Welfare department director Mhishi could not be reached for
comment, welfare associations confirmed that they had not received any
assistance from the department this year, despite an increase in the number
of needy cases.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Permanent Secretary Lancaster
Museka said the department had received a grant of $24.5 million from the
budget, a fraction of the $18 billion it requested for 2007.
"We are feeling the pinch like everyone else in the country. The
effectiveness of social welfare depends on the performance of the economy.
All ministries are competing for resources," Museka said.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates that one in four
Zimbabwean children is orphaned, while more than two million more are
regarded as vulnerable.
A joint Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee - comprising the World
Food Programme (WFP), Southern Africa Development Community institutions,
non-governmental organisations and the government - estimates that more than
1.4 million children are in immediate need of food aid.
Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) secretary for Labour and
Social Welfare shadow Minister Paurina Mpariwa, who toured the homes of
vulnerable people in the country this week, said most institutions were
under funded and could no longer provide basic needs.
"The economy is failing to facilitate any welfare. Feeding schemes have
ceased to exist and the Social Dimensions Fund is no longer available, "
Mpariwa said.
However, through the joint financial efforts of donor agencies like the
United Kingdom Department for International Development, New Zealand AID,
the Swedish International Development Agency and the German Government,
vulnerable people are getting some assistance.
Under an agreement between UNICEF, the government and 21 non-governmental
organizations, about US$70 million will be earmarked for child welfare.
More than 3 000 metric tonnes of grain were distributed to at least 500 000
people through the WFP.
But aid agencies say the number of people needing relief will increase once
government authorises the group's feeding programme.
Aid workers also say the fixed exchange rate is eroding the value of aid
money.
The local currency is pegged at 250 to the US dollar on the official market,
but fetches about $7 000 on the parallel market.


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Corruption survey a waste: watchdog

FinGaz

Christella Langton Staff Reporter

ZIMBABWE'S huge US$800 000 spending on a corruption survey is wasteful as
most culprits are already known, the head of a leading anti-corruption group
says.

Government recently announced the Ministry of State Enterprises,
Anti-Monopolies and Anti-corruption is to embark on a survey on corruption.
The exercise will cost US$800 000, of which government would account for
US$450 000 while the remainder would be funded by donors.
But Goodwill Shana, head of anti-corruption group Transparent International
Zimbabwe (TIZ), said yesterday that although the survey was welcome,
priority should be given to targeting known culprits for prosecution.
"The priority is to deal with the cancer right now by taking immediate
action on known culprits. We are trying here to take stock in a room that is
on fire; we should first put out the fire, and then stock-take," said Shana.
Shana said a survey was "politically safer" for the Ministry, as taking
action against corruption means confronting top political figures.
The survey's promoters say it will investigate perceptions that corruption
is rampant only in the public sector and would look at the effects of a
consolidated piece of legislation dealing specifically with corruption.
"Unless one carries scientific research into the levels, the different
mutations and the perceptions of society about corruption, anti-corruption
policy formulation becomes an uphill task," said the Minister of State for
State Enterprises, Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies, Samuel Undenge.
University of Zimbabwe (UZ) social sciences lecturer Claude Mararike will
lead the survey, which will run over eight months. The survey will poll 500
000 people.


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MDC fights ban

FinGaz

Njabulo Ncube Chief Political Reporter
Opposition seeks court order to hold rallies
THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will file an urgent application in
the High Court today to compel the government to lift the ban on political
rallies. The court action comes as political tensions continue to escalate
following the arrest of 50 protesters yesterday and as labour unions press
ahead with plans for a nationwide strike.

The application by the Morgan Tsvangirai camp of the MDC will be its second
in three days. On Tuesday, the opposition party applied to have Police
Commissioner Augustine Chihuri and six of his top lieutenants charged with
contempt for defying a court order sanctioning the holding of an MDC rally
in Highfield a fortnight ago.
Legal counsel for the MDC, Selby Hwacha of Dube, Manikai and Hwacha, told
The Financial Gazette yesterday: "It is an urgent application seeking to
have Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi set aside the prohibitions. We want
the prohibitions to be declared null and void. The intention is to have
these reversed after firstly dealing with the minister as stipulated under
the Public Order and Security Act (POSA)."
Hwacha said the legal team representing the MDC lawyers was collecting
evidence showing that police caused the violence that rocked Highfield and
other high-density Harare suburbs on February 18.
"We want to prove that it was not the opposition supporters but the police
that started the whole chaos," he said.
Police last week outlawed rallies and demonstrations in Harare and other
parts of the country that are regarded as opposition strongholds, in
reaction to growing unrest over the economy.
Using teargas, batons and water cannons, police scuttled a rally that
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was to hold at Zimbabwe Grounds in
Highfield to launch his 2008 presidential election campaign in defiance of a
High Court order barring them from interfering with the rally.
This week, MDC lawyer Jessie Majome, filed an urgent court application to
have police charged with contempt of court. Majome warned that failure by
the courts to charge the police would be seen as tacit approval of state
repression and would dent public confidence in the judiciary.
"Take note that an urgent chamber application is made to the honourable
court on the grounds that the respondents are in abject contempt of court
after having violently violated an order of the honourable court of 17
February 2007, granted on an urgent basis," reads part of the application.
Justice Anna-Mary Gowora had granted Tsvangirai an order allowing his party
to proceed with the meeting. However, heavily armed police and ZANU PF youth
militias sealed off the Zimbabwe Grounds venue, setting off violent clashes
with opposition activists that left scores injured. At least 40 protesters
were arrested.
"The order interdicted the respondents and the Minister of Home Affairs
(Kembo Mohadi), from unlawfully interfering with, disrupting or prohibiting
the applicant's rally that was critically timed for 18 February 2007 and
which still requires to be conducted urgently, and in any case by 17 March
2007 in terms of the Applicant's lawful political programme," said Majome.
Apart from Chihuri, the five other respondents cited in the application are
Chief Superintendent Thomsen Jangara, the Officer Commanding Harare South,
an Inspector Manyere, Assistant Inspectors Chingoruro and Moyo,
officer-in-charge, Machipisa Police Station, and an Inspector Bangamu.
In her certificate of urgency, Majome said if the order sought by the MDC
were not granted, police would continue to unlawfully and with impunity
suppress the opposition party's right to organise politically and launch a
campaign for a presidential election, which in terms of the Constitution
must be held by March 11, 2008.
Said Majome: "If the order sought by the Applicant is not granted, the
Applicant will be unable to conduct its watershed rally whose purpose is to
launch its Presidential Campaign which it was supposed to have done on 18
February 2007, but was prevented by the respondents' aggravated and violent
contempt of court."
"The esteem for the administration of justice in the eyes of the public will
be shaken and therefore suffer irreparable harm if the honourable court does
not react swiftly and decisively to the naked contempt of court of the
respondents because of the fever-pitch level of public interest in the
brazen and arrogant defiance by the respondents of the honourable court's
order."
Majome said the timing of the MDC's rally was of the essence in terms of its
political programme and any stoppage would derail the Tsvangirai camp's
lawful political programme. The MDC lawyer said Jangara's objection to the
holding of the MDC rally on February 18 was communicated too late after the
opposition party had made final preparations, expecting "500 000 supporters
to attend".
Elias Mudzuri, the party's organising secretary, said in an affidavit
backing the application that Chihuri's conduct "ranks amongst the most
brazen species of contempt of court . . . Their (police's) reaction
certainly brings the administration of justice into disrepute and undermines
the authority of the honourable court in the eyes of the public."
As opposition groups seized upon rising political temperatures, the National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA) yesterday caught police off guard and staged
demonstrations in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare and Masvingo against the
police ban. The NCA, which had vowed to defy the ban, said 50 protesters
were arrested.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) announced plans for a series of
national protests next week, saying it would ignore threats by State
Security Minister Didymus Mutasa that any such action would be "met with the
full wrath of the law".


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Mat ZANU PF heavyweights in rare show of unity with council

FinGaz

Nkululeko SibandaStaff Reporter

THE ZANU PF politburo will decide whether to allow the Zimbabwe National
Water Authority (ZINWA) to take over water supplies in Bulawayo, a member of
the party's top body says.

In a rare show of unity of purpose, ZANU PF heavyweights from Matabeleland
have joined forces with Executive Mayor Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube and the
MDC-dominated city council to oppose the planned ZINWA takeover.
A decision by cabinet has given the water authority the greenlight to assume
jurisdiction over water supplies in all cities and towns, ostensibly to
lighten the burden for local authorities.
In an interview on Tuesday, ZANU PF politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa said
while he appreciated ZINWA's position, it was clear that the issue of water
supplies "was beyond the authority's mandate". The politburo would therefore
discuss the matter "at the appropriate platform."
"We held a meeting with officials from the ministry (of water resources) who
were here a few weeks ago. They told us that they were acting on a mandate
that was given to the authority by the government.
"We told them that we saw no problem with the cabinet directive, but we
hastened to highlight to them that since the order was given to them from a
higher office, we as members of the ZANU PF politburo would seek to discuss
the matter at the relevant platform, and that is at politburo level," said
Dabengwa.
He said there could have been an oversight when the cabinet made the
decision to transfer jurisdiction over water supplies to ZINWA.
"This matter is not about simply taking over the water supply from the city
of Bulawayo. There are very serious issues that have to be dealt with before
the actual handover-takeover.
"One has to look at issues of assessing infrastructure currently being used
to supply water, evaluation of the infrastructure, as well as assessing
other water provision channels that were being exploited by the local
authority.
"All that is the homework that ZINWA still has to do before talking about
the actual takeover of water supplies."
Dabengwa also said ZINWA had been tasked with ensuring that the completion
of the Mtshabezi dam and that the upgrading of aquifers near the city was
speeded up.


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Shoko suspension upheld

FinGaz

Clemence ManyukweStaff Reporter

THE High Court has upheld the suspension of Chitungwiza Executive Mayor
Misheck Shoko by Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo on the grounds
that he did not file an appeal against his dismissal within the stipulated
period.

Chombo suspended Shoko last year on allegations of incompetence, but Shoko,
who was elected on an opposition MDC ticket in 2002, challenged the move,
saying it was politically motivated.
In her ruling, judge president, Justice Rita Makarau said: "In terms of the
rules, the first applicant must have filed his application for review within
eight weeks of the date of the decision (to suspend him). According to my
calculation, the eight-week period expired around February 19 2006. The
application before me was filed on March 6 2006, a week after the expiry of
the eight-week period."
The judge said since the court was dismissing Shoko's application on grounds
not raised by Chombo, there would be no order pertaining to legal costs.
Shoko is the third elected opposition mayor to be suspended by Chombo after
Elias Mudzuri of Harare and Misheck Kagurabadza of Mutare. Chombo was the
sole respondent in the legal suit, while Shoko, Collin Gwiyo, a councillor
in Chitungwiza, as well
as the Chitungwiza Residents and Ratepayers Association, were the
plaintiffs.
Shoko had sought an order declaring that sections of the Urban Councils Act
that Chombo invoked were unconstitutional. Shoko also argued that due legal
process was not exhausted when he was suspended. Chombo's actions were
"grossly unreasonable and motivated by political malice", he said.


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UN launches US$215m food aid appeal for Zim

FinGaz

Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Reporter

THE United Nations (UN) has launched a US$215 million appeal for food aid
for Zimbabwe, amid grim projections that this season's grain yields will
only represent half the nation's annual requirements.

Zimbabwe requires about 1.8 million tonnes of maize to meet its annual
domestic consumption needs but world crop monitoring agency, the United
States Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA) warned
this week that the country will only realise 850 000 metric tonnes. This
would leave a deficit, obliging Zimbabwe to import food, exerting further
pressure on what is left of its depleted foreign currency reserves.
"Zimbabwe's 2006/07 corn crop plantings were delayed by weather and input
shortages. As a result both the crop and the area planted will not be up to
expectations. At this stage a crop of 850 000 metric tonnes from 1.3 million
hectares is expected, marginally lower than the 900 000 metric tonnes
harvested in 2005/06 from a similar area planted. This will again be well
short of domestic requirements," reads part of the latest USDA report,
entitled Zimbabwe Grain and Feed Update.
The USDA crop warning came as the UN said it needed US$215 million to enable
its agencies to feed close to two million Zimbabweans facing starvation. In
its latest humanitarian appeal, the UN said more Zimbabweans are seeing
their livelihoods eroded by an economic crisis that has further undermined
food security.
Out of the UN's total appeal, US$62 million will go towards food aid
requirements. The agricultural sector appeal is US$53 million. The rest will
be earmarked for health, education, economic recovery, water and sanitation,
shelter and non-food items.
In an executive summary of its appeal, the UN says the most acute
humanitarian needs include
those of the populations affected by food insecurity and cholera outbreaks,
and homeless groups affected by the fast-track land reform programme, the
controversial Operation Murambatsvina/ Operation Restore Order - which the
UN says left more than 700 000 people without shelter and jobless - and
victims of more recent evictions.
"The 2007 Consolidated Appeal aims to save lives, mitigate the impact of the
humanitarian situation on vulnerable populations, enhance positive coping
mechanisms and provide transitional support for the most vulnerable
populations at the household and community level. The Consolidated Appeals
Process (CAP) acts as a bridge between humanitarian assistance and
transitional support, and more sustainable initiatives undertaken by
development organisations. To this end, a total of 53 appealing agencies,
including UN organisations, national and international NGOs, community and
faith-based organisations, are requesting a total of US$215 million to
implement programmes and projects as part of the 2007 CAP," reads the UN
appeal.
Zimbabwe's controversial seizure of thousands of commercial farms for
resettlement has been blamed for the country's food crises. Following the
collapse of commercial agriculture after the land seizures, which began in
2000, foreign aid groups have, through the World Food Program (WFP), fed
millions of starving Zimbabweans each year.


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Rio diamonds dim as mill spoils gold

FinGaz

Staff Reporter

RIOZIM has reported a 4 percent dip in output from its jointly owned Murowa
diamond mine, and said record quarterly gold output in the fourth quarter at
Renco Mine had failed to prevent a fall in total annual gold production.

Murowa Diamond Mine, jointly owned by Rio Tinto and ZSE-listed RioZim, saw
2006 production down to 240 026 carats from 251 000 carats of diamonds in
2005. RioZim told shareholders the fall was a result of a weaker surface ore
body and worsening power cuts. RioZim said the diamond dip had been
expected.
"This decline (in diamond output), which was due to the exhaustion of the
richer surface ore body, had been predicted and advised in 2005. The decline
in production was however exacerbated by contractor plant breakdowns and
ZESA load shedding."
RioZim owns 22 percent of the diamond mine, while Rio Tinto, the former
parent company, owns the remaining controlling stake. RioZim's share of the
diamond profits was $485 million, up from $172 million in 2005.
The company was on a project to mitigate the effects of the ore body
depletion with depth on the existing operation to be implemented in
February.
RioZim said gold production at Renco for 2006 was 740kg, lower than 753kg in
the previous year, hit by a 53-day breakdown of its primary mill. Gold
output in the fourth quarter, at 244kg, "was the highest quarterly output
for a while", the company said.
RioZim is on a US$120 million expansion plan to lift output, but last week,
there were fresh suggestions of a government takeover after President Mugabe
made remarks in a state television interview that some took as meaning
government would nationalise all diamond mining in the country.
However, Nick Cobban, a spokesman for Rio Tinto, told Bloomberg: "The word
nationalise wasn't used.''
RioZim chairman Eric Kahari warned in a report to shareholders last year
that business at the mine would start winding down in 2009 without the
planned expansion.


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Who woke them from deep slumber?

FinGaz

Stanley Kwenda Staff Reporter
Parastatals stir to life once a year, to congratulate president

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe celebrated his 83rd birthday last week with
elaborate feasting at State House and Gweru's Mkoba Stadium, where he was
presented with a range of unusual gifts, including a bus, a stuffed
crocodile and a heifer.
And, as if failure to fete the head of state would attract the death
penalty, bankrupt state companies led a stampede to flight gushing
advertisements in the press..
Some of the struggling parastatals that fell over each other to be the first
to have their congratulatory messages published were the National Railways
of Zimbabwe (NRZ), the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), and the
Zimbabwe Water Authority (ZINWA). Ziscosteel said it had been "inspired" by
the President's wise leadership, the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company
(ZUPCO) wished him "a longer journey", and the National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) concluded its message with its rather comical motto:
"NOCZIM: Fuelling the nation".
But the newspapers had nothing to complain about, as the flood of birthday
messages meant easy pickings for them. A full page advertisement in a
broadsheet costs $6 million while an equivalent placement in a tabloid goes
for $4 million . The cost of a half- page advertisement is enough to cover
the salaries of 10 senior teachers.
The glut of messages provided an insight into how essential political
patronage is, for business in Zimbabwe.
But the controversy over the huge costs notwithstanding, it was the contents
of the advertisements that really caught the eye. Most of the messages had
more to do with grovelling to the President than merely wishing him a happy
birthday.
The Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, which was recently on the
receiving end of critical remarks by the President, posted a message
reading: "We humbly request Your Excellency to exude more light to guide the
entire nation, including students in higher and tertiary education. Let the
joy that comes with this celebration follow you as you provide visionary
leadership to Zimbabwe."
The Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing waxed
lyrical: "Wind blows from all angles and at many speeds, weathering wood,
smoothing edges, but Gushungo, you have been able to withstand all gales."
The Harare City Council was "inspired by your visionary leadership" in its
bid to turn around "the fortunes of Harare."
Parliament said: "As a revolutionary, outstanding nationalist, you are a
role model to progressive forces throughout the world. You have also
championed the causes of the downtrodden everywhere through your dynamic
leadership. Gushungo, yours is a shining example of a life worth
celebrating."
The ZANU PF Harare province placed its congratulatory message in The Herald
on Tuesday, almost a week after the birthday, probably as an afterthought.
Some messages were in bad taste.
An individual took out an advertisement asking the President to celebrate
his birthday by arresting opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai: "Makorokoto
baba. Sungai chematama icho, chishamwari chaBush naBlair, Tsvangirai.
Sungai."
An aptly named company, Wack Industries, said: "Mukuru mukuru hanga haigari
bvunde."
"What else would one want from a leader blessed with Solomon's wisdom, Cde
Bob you are the best," proclaimed another personal tribute to President
Mugabe.
Then came the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), which tended to confuse happy
birthdays and welcomes. Said Samuel Muvhuti: "All of us are happy to welcome
our new Minister of Agriculture Cde Rugare Gumbo. We wish you limitless
success in your new office as we work together to ensure national food
security."
But the prize goes to The Herald. The paper was literally speechless. So it
published a picture of a bronze bust of the President, saying only icons
could describe his contribution to Zimbabwe, because it was "immense and
cannot be captured in finite syllables". Hailing the President's "enduring
legacy of principled oratory", the paper declared : "The celebration of the
President's birthday is a celebration of life."


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Survey on graft: throwing away good money after bad

FinGaz

Personal Glimpses with Mavis Makuni

I REMEMBER once reacting with incredulity upon reading a story in an
international newspaper about a study that had been commissioned by the
mayor of an obscure small town somewhere in Europe.

The mayor, who was either an ardent advocate of gender balance or a crafty
campaigner for the female vote for his next bid for the job, had ordered a
study to be conducted to establish whether it was true that the majority of
the males in the town did not help their wives with household chores. I
could not believe that this mayor was causing money to be spent to establish
a reality that was already self-evident. All he would have needed to do to
satisfy his curiosity was to visit a number of families at random without
prior notice to see for himself what went on. I felt that the budget he
allocated for research to be conducted would have been better spent if he
had earmarked it for the establishment of subsidised day care centres or
free laundry or house cleaning services. Availing such services to the
town's harassed and overworked housewives would have been more meaningful
than confirming an already self-evident truth.
I experienced a similar sense of disbelief recently when it was announced
that the Ministry of State Enterprises, Anti-Monopolies and Anti-Corruption
is to spend US$800 000 on a baseline survey on graft. The survey was
officially launched by the new head of the ministry, Samuel Undenge, who was
appointed to the portfolio when President Robert Mugabe undertook a mini
reshuffle of his unchanging cabinet recently. Undenge said his ministry
would provide the necessary support to ensure success in the implementation
of the baseline survey. "Whatever solutions we come up with to fight
corruption, for them to be effective, they have to be based on findings of
scientific empirical data, hence the need for such research," a
state-controlled newspaper quoted Undenge as saying.
The survey is reportedly expected to define corruption in the Zimbabwean
context, analyse existing legislation and the institutional framework
"forming part of the anti-corruption mechanism and its effectiveness in
achieving the objective of fighting corruption in public life." I find all
this hard to believe in the prevailing suffocating situation in Zimbabwe
where one could see corruption and avarice with one's naked eyes closed. In
these untenable circumstances, the top priority should be to tackle the
rampant cases of impropriety that have been exposed so far rather than
divert attention from them by embarking on a study that has a foregone
conclusion. The survey will take almost a year to complete, during which
time the ministry will no doubt fold its hands while the looters of national
wealth and resources redouble their activities.
Since its establishment almost four years ago, this ministry has proved to
be a big letdown because of its failure to tackle corruption in the public
sector. Events since the first Anti-Corruption Minister, Didymus Mutasa, was
appointed in 2002, have lent credence to public complaints that the
government's anti-graft crusade is in fact a charade designed to shield
corrupt fat cats in officialdom.
Since the crackdown was launched, only relatively small fish and petty
offenders from the private sector have been netted despite the existence of
well known scandals involving top politicians and government ministers.
During Mutasa's tenure the multiple farm ownership racket, the looting of
the War Victims' Fund and the abuse of the VIP Housing Scheme were already
public knowledge but there was no attempt to bring the culprits to book.
Instead of sending out a clear signal that he would sink his teeth into his
new assignment without fear or favour, Mutasa made the confounding statement
on national television that all those who knew they were involved in corrupt
activities should approach his ministry and "confess their sins". If these
wrongdoers gave themselves up before the ministry went after them, their
sins would be forgiven. Naturally, in the midst of the copious rhetoric and
hype that surrounded the launching of the government's anti-graft crusade,
even a fool would have found it difficult to believe such a cock-and-bull
story. Mutasa was obviously buying time so as to do nothing about corruption
in high places. Not surprisingly, he was reshuffled from the ministry
without recording a single success. He never gave the nation feedback on the
response to his call for confessions so that the public could have an idea
how many influential and powerful crooks had been let off the hook.
His successor, Paul Mangwana's tenure as the head of the ministry was
characterised by the unearthing of even more shocking corruption involving
government and ruling party bigwigs. The new scandals included the looting
of equipment from Kondozi Farm, the abuse of subsidised farm inputs and
fuel, the corrupt allocation of stands to relatives and friends under the
Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle hosing scheme, the looting of ZISCO, illegal gold
mining and the hottest one, the diamonds racket.
Details about the involvement of ministers and other high- ranking
government and ruling party officials in these corrupt activities have been
reported extensively in the press. Even the head of state, President Robert
Mugabe, has conceded on several occasions that the hands of some of his
ministers are not clean. He memorably complained at a ruling party meeting
one time that he was surrounded by thieves. In a television interview to
mark his 83rd birthday recently, he complained some more about some of his
ministers being involved in the illegal mining of gold and diamonds and
focusing only on enriching themselves.
But incredibly, Mangwana, like Mutasa before him, remained catatonic in the
face of this mounting evidence of corruption in the corridors of power.
Mangwana's "outstanding" achievements during his tenure include organising
anti-corruption workshops, marches and jingles. At one anti-corruption
workshop in October 2005, Mangwana was quoted as saying: "There should be no
preferential application of the law since no individual should be above the
law on the basis of their relations with the powerful and mighty or the
filthy rich, let alone on the basis of their political affiliation." One
wonders what Mangwana has to say today after spending two years engaging in
subterfuge so as to avoid confronting the scourge that has enabled the
powerful and influential to enrich themselves beyond their wildest dreams at
the expense of the rest of the people.
And now we have Undenge starting his tenure as Anti-Corruption Minister by
virtually declaring an indefinite truce in the anti-graft war before he has
even settled down in the portfolio. It is almost guaranteed that during the
next year or so when the baseline survey is underway, nothing will be done
about the old and new cases of corruption in the public sector. And before
we know it, it will be time for another cabinet reshuffle and a new minister
will move in to start all over. In five or six years' time, nothing will
still have been done. Instead, the greedy will have become bolder in their
looting of national resources that should benefit all Zimbabweans. The $800
000 to be spent on the baseline survey is money down the drain. It would be
more plausible to earmark those funds for a more worthy cause, such as
reviving the health delivery system.


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How the cookie is crumbling: bakers speak

FinGaz

QUESTION (Q): Who are the NBA? ANSWER (A). The NBA is an umbrella
organisation for all bread manufacturers in Zimbabwe and is an affiliate of
the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI).

At the peak of membership in 1998 it had a total membership of around 700.
This number has since gone down to about 300 due to closures and other
reasons mainly related to viability. The industry is currently facing
serious viability problems and its future hangs in the balance, with
capacity utilisation now less than 30 percent.
Q: In your opinion, what can be done to save the industry from collapse?
A: The baking industry is an agro-based industry and its survival is
anchored on three basic pillars, which are:
1. Availability of raw materials (wheat). The industry requires plus 400 000
metric tonnes of wheat per year in order to supply adequate bread to the
nation. For three years now wheat production has fallen far short of this
target. The solution lies in making the bakery industry participate in the
agrarian reform programme by funding wheat farming through contract farming.
For the industry to do this, we need to capacitate the industry first by
giving them viable prices for their product so that they are able to plough
back their profits into wheat farming.
2. While bread remains a controlled commodity, 90 percent of bread input
costs are not controlled. Applications for bread price reviews have either
not been readily understood or in most cases not speedily dealt with. This
had often resulted in bakers having to incur huge operational losses.
Government must seriously consider removing controls on bread in line with
what they have done on wheat where the Grain Marketing Board (GMB)'s subsidy
had been withdrawn.
3. Availability of spares and machinery. These require foreign currency,
which is not available. However those industry members with free funds must
be allowed to import machinery duty free.
Q: Have you raised these concerns with the responsible authorities and, if
so, what was the response?
A: The issues have constantly been discussed or raised with the authorities
and we believe efforts are being made to address some of them.
Q: You are pushing for another price increase less than two months after
being awarded another price review. Why didn't you anticipate the cost
build-ups for the sake of price stability?
A: I do not think we can talk of price stability in an inflationary
environment such as we have in this country, where prices change by the
hour. However, the fact of the matter is that the price that was gazetted in
December 2006 coincided with a decision to remove the GMB's wheat subsidy,
which pushed the price of flour from $120 000 per tonne to $610 000 per
tonne. The reviewing committee on bread pricing appears to have focused its
attention on flour only and failed to take into account other input costs,
which had gone up quite considerably. This resulted in the committee
awarding a bread price that was far less that the cost of manufacturing
bread at the time, hence bakers' request for another price review soon after
the gazette under notice was announced.
Q: Apart from the pricing issues, are there no other variables that your
industry can play around with to make bread affordable to the consumer, such
as reducing unnecessary overheads?
A: The industry continues to determine and implement various cost cutting
measures and it is precisely because of these innovative efforts that we are
still able to provide some semblance of service to the consumers despite the
problems the industry is experiencing. Ours is no mean feat and history will
one day bear evidence that we tried all in our power to keep bread on the
shelves against odds that would have dismayed many an industry. The
situation could be less painful if government were to make available cheaper
fuel to the industry as it has done to farmers.
Q: At the price levels proposed by your association, are you not running the
risk of getting to a stage where consumer resistance can start to creep in,
thereby destroying the sector?
A: I am aware that any producer runs the risk of consumer resistance if his
or her product becomes too expensive. However, bread in Zimbabwe remains the
cheapest in the region in terms of pricing. Bread in most countries costs an
equivalent of US$1 and in South Africa bread costs five rand. The point to
consider is to come up with a balance between affordability and viability.
We firmly believe that people should be paid reasonable wages to be able to
at least afford food. The closure of a production plant due to viability
problems does not help the cause of consumers, as it is them who suffer when
the product is not available in the first place. There is need to have
policies that protect the vulnerable groups against the vagaries of
inflation other than price controls. Other countries provide meal coupons
for such groups or, alternatively, the rich subsidise the poor.
Q: We are aware that there are two bakeries operating in your industry
producing bread at well below the gazetted price. How come these bakeries,
facing the same problems, are selling at these prices?
A: Officials from the institutions that you have alluded to have attended
our meetings in the past and are in full agreement with the costing model
that we use when seeking a price adjustment. I cannot comment as regards to
their marketing strategies and various discounting methods they avail to
their customers, as it is normal that a company may choose to make a loss in
order to position themselves in the market. Suffice to say that our industry
views competition as healthy and we welcome the arrival of any new
competitors.
Q: There is talk that your push for a price increase could be a political
move, meaning it is meant to raise people's anger against the government.
A: Nothing could be more mischievous than that and I think that kind of
nonsensical talk should be dismissed with the contempt it deserves. Quite
the contrary, the baking industry in the past is one of the few industries
that have kept their machines running during stayaways. We have done so not
because of any political considerations but purely because we believe we are
a critical service industry whose commodity is essential to the health and
indeed livelihoods of our populace.
Q: A survey by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) came up with
astounding revelations that none of the major bakeries is in conformity with
the prescribed weight of bread, which is 700 grammes. Recently CCZ chairman
Phillip Bvumbe gave your members three days to rectify this anomaly. Has
this been done?
A: As an association we recognise the CCZ's role and we have engaged them on
the issues they raised and I am happy to say they now appreciate the serious
problems surrounding bread as a product. For the record, let me point out
that the current general malaise in the bread industry arises from the cost
of producing the standard loaf which has risen to more than $1 600 before
overheads are included. This is the same loaf that should be sold at a
controlled price of $722. One way out of the present impasse is to allow the
introduction of various brands of bread that accommodate consumer choices in
terms of affordability, quality and tastes.
Q: It has not just been the question of weight alone, but other issues such
as packaging, the quality of the bread itself.
A: The NBA is not proud of the quality of bread on the market. The standards
have continued to deteriorate over the years and we are working hard as an
association together with the authorities to improve the situation. I must
say though that bread as a product is a function of many inputs; a defect in
any one input can result in a poor product. I am positive that the issue of
quality can easily be addressed once the problem of cost of inputs and
availability is addressed. One sure and quick way to improve quality is to
free the market and allow competition. Those with poor products will soon
find themselves without customers.
Q: You have been throwing around figures relating to your costs structures.
How do we know that these are not thumb suck figures?
A: The NBA has conducted its business in a very transparent manner. Each
figure that we have put across to government has been backed by an official
receipt or invoice from reputable companies and these can be verified.
Q: What are your views on the proposed social contract?
A: The NBA buys into that and we stand ready to cooperate and play our part
if and when we are called upon to do so.


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No country is an island

FinGaz

Comment

BY March 2006, in a move that stirred controversy and political ridicule,
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) had paid a cumulative US$210 million in
General Resources Account (GRA) funds that the country owed to the
International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The objective of the politically opposed payment was to placate the IMF and
avert what could have been an inglorious exit from the most influential
international lender through expulsion. The regaining of Zimbabwe's voting
and other related rights was, at that juncture and in essence,
inconsequential. To that end, the repayment achieved its goal. The IMF did
not slam the door on Zimbabwe.
But that the IMF did not take any precipitous action against Zimbabwe did
not mean that the country was out of the woods, which is why the cautious
monetary authorities warned at the time that the paint was still wet for
Zimbabwe to lean against the wall. Critical balance of payments remained on
ice, voting rights were not restored and Zimbabwe, with all its payments
difficulties, was not eligible for the IMF's Multilateral Debt Relief
Initiative which last year benefited, among others, countries such as Benin,
Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guyana, Honduras,
Madagascar, Mali, Nicaragua, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Tajikistan, Uganda as
well as Zimbabwe's fellow SADC member states, Mozambique, Tanzania and
Zambia.
And predictably, the Fund, which lends to countries with balance of payments
problems, last week maintained its suspension of financial assistance to
Zimbabwe mainly because the country has failed to implement sound economic
reforms. But a lot is said by the unsaid. And what the IMF implied but did
not declare openly was that Zimbabwe is no longer part of its global plans
not only because of its failure to implement austerity measures but also
because of its pariah status.
Despite Zimbabwe's political posturing, we have consistently warned against
a fallout with the IMF, which is why we categorically stated, in our comment
of January 12, 2006 that Zimbabwe should swallow its pride and seek a deeper
rapprochement with the Bretton Woods institution.
Yes, the Zimbabwean government, if the utterances of Cabinet ministers are
anything to go by, considers the IMF a self-appointed international central
bank or a powerful and disapproving political institution - a lap dog of the
US government's cowboy capitalism. A US government pawn or not, the fact
remains: the IMF is a powerful and influential international player whose
opinions of any given country are respected and influence foreign investor
decisions. And Zimbabwe's increasing isolation and the foreign investor
stampede for the exits should be seen against this background.
Admittedly, considering the country's external support requirements, what
the IMF itself can give Zimbabwe as balance of payments support could be the
proverbial drop in the ocean. But its very presence is widely seen as a seal
of approval and could therefore trigger a massive inflow of external funds.
Thus the Fund is a necessary evil Zimbabwe should embrace. In any case, the
end will justify the means.
It is instructive to note that most countries under the IMF are currently
not borrowing from the institution. Still, these countries, big and small,
cherish and jealously guard their membership of the IMF. This is precisely
because of the direct signalling effect such continued membership has to the
investor community.
Not only that but such membership is also particularly important for
troubled economies such as Zimbabwe because 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.
Is this so difficult for the Zimbabwean authorities to understand? Why then
are they digging in their heels on the implementation of broad and sound
structural reforms around the management of the budget deficit, interest and
exchange rates, all of which impact on inflation and the stability of the
economy in general?
In any case, it is not as if Zimbabwe would swallow IMF proposals hook, line
and sinker. The Fund does not have effective authority over the domestic
policies of its members. It is in no position to force a member country to
spend more on hospitals or less on buying military aircraft or constructing
grandiose presidential palaces. There is always room for consultations so
that at the end of the day, the specifics of the reform programme adopted,
are the respective members'.
If this is so, why is it so difficult for Zimbabwe to normalise its
relations with the Fund to open the doors for the country's re-integration
into the broader community of nations? After all, metaphorically speaking,
no country is an island. That's the bottom line.


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Governor Gono's dossier of despair

FinGaz

National Agenda with Bornwell Chakaodza
Governor paints a picture of a profoundly depressing scenario

IF there is one thing that stands out reflecting the general decay in our
country and the extent to which all segments of the Zimbabwean economy are
in shambles and urgently in need of drastic surgery, it is the dossier of
despair that was presented to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on
Defence and Home Affairs by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon
Gono on Tuesday this week.
Add to that the more than 80 percent unemployment in the country, the daily
price increases of most goods and services, the continued suspension of
Zimbabwe by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the extension of
sanctions against the country because of its poor human rights record
including the recent crackdown on opposition parties and the ban on
political rallies and peaceful demonstrations - then you have a picture of a
country that is profoundly depressing.
Giving oral evidence on Tuesday before the Committee already referred to,
Gono went to great lengths in painting a picture of government departments
and parastatals that are now universally acknowledged to be terminally ill.
Said the central bank governor:
"I would receive an SOS from the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe, saying
there was no fuel; and the next hour, another urgent call from the Ministry
of Health and Child Welfare, requesting for funds to import drugs.
"In the next hour I would receive a call from Air Zimbabwe, saying they had
not paid their aviation fees. They would say, Governor, we have no Jet A1
fuel and we have no money to feed the people on the plane.
"The next is a call at 4pm from ZESA Holdings saying, Governor, in the next
one hour if you don't give us money, the nation will be in darkness.
"Towards 5pm, I get a call which says the National Railways of Zimbabwe
(NRZ) has no money which it requires to ferry coal from Hwange"
The central bank chief concluded: "The list goes on and on and I could wail
where you are crying."
Money, money, money, money to do this and that, but nowhere to be found. Not
that it can not be found, no. It can be. But because of the intransigency
and useless bravado of the political leadership which believes that they
alone must eat and eat, the money for the rest of us mere mortals can not be
found. The mindset of those in power might not be that easy to change but
they must realise that the long-suffering people of Zimbabwe are paying the
price for their meaningless macho and bravado.
How does one explain a situation in which a Cabinet minister says in the
same paragraph, if not the same breath, that the recent extension of
sanctions against Zimbabwe by the European Union is a non-event but that the
suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans is a direct result of these "illegal"
sanctions. The word "illegal" not mine but his.
Is this not indicative of a government which is totally confused and does
not know what to say, how to respond to the EU and what solutions to try to
hammer out?
Hear once more what another Cabinet minister said not a long time ago, 2004
to be precise: "What you are saying is," he told a Congress of Zimbabwe
Industries (CZI) meeting," let us go back to the conditionalities of the IMF
and the World Bank, no, we are doing well without them".
Again, is this not indicative of this government's failure to understand
what business is all about and what drives investment? Without attracting
foreign direct investment, is there any hope of turning around the fortunes
of this country? The answer is obviously a big No.
Without balance of payments support from both the IMF and the World Bank,
can the war on inflation be won, really won? The answer again is a big No.
Without a global outlook on our part and becoming part and parcel once again
of the community of nations, can we survive as a country, small as we are?
The answer is a big NO.
Why then should Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, the new Minister of Information and
Publicity, the man who dismissed the extension of sanctions by the European
Union as a non-event fail to see the massive contradiction when in the same
breath he attributes the suffering of Zimbabweans to the same sanctions?
Why should Samuel Mumbengegwi, the new Minister of Finance, of all
portfolios and of all people be so illiterate financially and business-wise
as not to understand and appreciate the linkages between high expenditure
and the poor performance of export sectors on the one hand and the lack of
balance of payments support on the other. The mind boggles - really boggles!
And to think that these two gentlemen are in charge of the finance and the
public relations arms of government. Ah! The mind really boggles!
Is it any wonder therefore that we are not going anywhere as a nation with
such custodians of critical portfolios of government. I find it quite
worrying that we have such pilots piloting our country in such critical
areas. Genuinely worried! The point that needs to be made here is that
without acknowledging and addressing the root causes of our predicament, the
current crisis will not go away. We need, as a country and as a government,
to face this brutal truth.
In this hyperinflationary environment of ours, costs of production as well
as the prices of goods and services will continue to skyrocket. Real wages
will continue to fall exponentially. Real incomes will continue to stagnate.
It does not matter what salaries you come up with to cushion teachers,
nurses, doctors, the judiciary, civil servants as a whole and indeed
employees in the private sector and elsewhere - you can never cushion them
enough from the ever-rising cost of living. This is the plain truth and only
a fool can not appreciate this.
The old mantra on the part of the government and ZANU PF that we can go it
alone or that the Look East policy is bearing fruit is not only misguided
and na´ve but downright untrue. It is apparent and clear to everybody that
we have no choice but to engage constructively both internally and
externally. It might be a bitter pill to swallow for President Mugabe and
some elements in ZANU PF but this bitter pill must be swallowed for the sake
of Zimbabwe.
I am all for going to Namibia as a friend and fellow Southern African
country but at the same time I know for sure that economic and
business-wise, I get very little if not nothing from there. Politically and
perhaps personally, I will gain something but then people in Zimbabwe as
elsewhere around the world do not eat politics - even for a minute.
Zimbabwe must now move on. Improving the working conditions and salaries of
all employees across the board is okay but is no different from offering a
few bandages here and there. What we need is a cure for the disease. As
Governor Gideon Gono rightly put it to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee
on Defence and Home Affairs: "This nation needs to go back to the basics and
ask whether it is doing justice to future generations."
Are we indeed doing justice to the future generations of this country after
we are all gone? I think we all know what needs to be done to take Zimbabwe
out of this current abyss of political and economic despair.
borncha@mweb.co.zw


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Desperate bid to justify land reform

FinGaz

Economic Viewpoint with Vincent Gwarazimba

THE ZANUPF government never fails to come up with surprises that are mostly
desperate attempts to save face from a failed land reform initiative. Below
is a chronicle of surprises that are well documented.

First was the land reform exercise itself. Embarked as a desperate attempt
to save declining support and revenge against a constitutional referendum
loss. As a result the land reform was often chaotic, violent and partisan.
War veterans and ZANU PF supporters went on the rampage, destroying a sector
so important to our agro-based economy. If the objective of the land reform
was to redress the imbalance in land ownership, surely ZANU PF had all the
time to do it since 1980. Why 2000? Why that year, month, day, hour and why
at all use violence? As patriotic citizens we have a right to know the
emotions behind this violent behaviour. What happened with land reform was
not a national agenda but expediency driven by a natural violent group of
people hiding behind the Chimurenga.
The second surprise was the introduction of the agrarian reform, launched
and advertised amidst pomp and fanfare. It is surprising that there are some
of us who purport to be patriotic but connive with destroyers of our very
livelihoods, providing song and dance to speed up the destruction. This
agrarian reform, giving farmers finance and inputs without accountability
was indeed a surprise. A surprise to those who abide by the law and "manna
from heaven" for thieves and corrupt officials. It was evident at the time
the agrarian reform was launched that massive properties went up in the
leafy suburbs of major towns. Money and inputs for agricultural production
was diverted to urban development. Hence the finance and the inputs failed
to produce enough food for the nation. Now the same ZANU PF government has
withdrawn support for A2 farmers. These farmers have to stand on their own.
These are interesting developments as these are the same farmers who abused
the input and finance support. After all they are of little significance in
the ZANU PF support base.
Another surprise was Operation Maguta. Members of the armed forces whose
mandate is to provide security to the country (now that we are threatened by
the West) are drafted into agricultural production. Why should the army get
into farming when land reform harnessed "competent" Zimbabweans into
farming? What has happened to the perceived planting of four million
hectares of maize by the new farmers? What has happened to the projected
"doubling of tobacco and wheat production?" These are questions which can
only be answered by the government.
Certainly this is a government not answerable to its people but to itself.
As we can see now Operation Maguta has failed to produce enough food.
Instead government is forcing people to deliver their maize to the Grain
Marketing Board (GMB) and claim this is a result of the operation. It is
important to note that when the nation produced two million tonnes (prior to
land reform) of maize, it was not from a single operation like Maguta, but
from efforts spread across the country, coming from individual farmers who
had the motivation to farm.
Now we have another eyebrow-raising surprise. ZESA is going into contract
farming. While the motive - to generate foreign currency - is noble, the act
is a sign of desperation and lack of trust. ZESA is a power utility not an
agricultural organisation. What makes ZESA think they can succeed where ARDA
failed? If government wanted more direct production of tobacco, ARDA is
there but because the latter has become a part of the ZANU PF and is riddled
with corruption, it will be a waste of public money to finance it. But alas,
ZESA has failed to generate and supply adequate power to the country (their
core business), so why go into agricultural production? Agriculture is even
more complicated than power generation. ZESA will need to set up an
agribusiness division, hire experts in tobacco agronomy, offices and
vehicles and all this will cost money. If ZESA's nemesis is coal supply,
this money could be channelled to Hwange Colliery as a loan to increase
production. This adventure is a further indication that in its panic, ZANU
PF is running around like a headless chicken.
ZESA is now also involved in tourism in a joint venture with the National
Parks Authority all in the name of generating foreign currency to pay for
power. The answer does not lie in imports. The solution lies in sanity and
more refined thinking. Running a country needs sobriety and responsibility.
Another new surprise is that of TelOne venturing into agriculture to
generate foreign currency. From phones to agriculture, that will be a
mammoth task. Surely the nation needs a break from this circus.
The private sector is also encouraged to get involved in contract farming.
For which crops? Not maize and wheat unless the government does away with
Statutory Instrument 235A of 2001. The SI qualifies who should buy and move
maize and wheat, the Grain Marketing Board. These are food security crops
and the trade monopoly as specified by the SI restricts production. Why
should the private sector contract farmers to produce crops which they
cannot move or trade in and crops which they are very likely to lose if the
ZANUPF government decides to apply the standing law (statutory instrument).
ARDA is an organisation well positioned for national food security with a
potential of over 50 000 hectares of land at it disposal and yet it can
hardly make an impact on production. The ZANUPF government has thrown money
into the organisation but not a cent of the money can be accounted for.
If these people were working hard and were an accountable to the
organisation, there is no doubt ARDA could be playing its national role in
food security. Perhaps these professionals are posted elsewhere but are paid
by ARDA. The only responsible authority who can stop our speculation on what
is happening at ARDA is the former Minister of Agriculture, whose failure as
CEO of ARDA is well documented.
lDr Vincent Gwarazimba is MDC Deputy Secretary for Lands and Agriculture
The Zi mbabwe Economics Society articles are coordinated by Lovemore
Kadenge. He can be contacted on email lovemore.kadenge@gmail.com, +263 91
980 016.


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Selling us a bill of goods

FinGaz

No Holds Barred with Gondo Gushungo

I HAVE said it time without number. The ruling ZANU PF government, most, if
not all of whose members should be subjected to an impartial wealth probe,
is selling us a bill of goods, that it is committed to curbing deep-seated
corruption.
To the uninitiated, all I am saying is that the government has been making
us believe something that is not true about its much-vaunted anti-corruption
drive.
It might have succeeded for some time to maintain a fašade of determined
effort to rid the country of the corruption scourge. But it is now easy to
drive a coach and horses through those claims. If anything, for the
government, which is always keen to keep a lid on anything that stinks,
corruption in high places is something it wants a veil drawn over. Forget
its political posturing to the contrary.
Examples abound. But just to cite one, let me focus on the long-standing
economic free-for-all in the mining sector where the country is losing a
shocking US$50 million a week through the smuggling of diamonds, gold and
other precious minerals. It is like a feeding frenzy in a zoo. And for as
long as I can remember, the culprits, whose abuse of political power knows
no bounds, have always enjoyed unfettered impunity.
Almost two years ago, this paper reported on a spate of mysterious robberies
involving platinum from Zimplats and Mimosa Platinum Mines as well as nickel
from Bindura Nickel Corporation. Most of these happened in South Africa. The
hijackings of mineral cargo from Zimbabwe in neighbouring South Africa was
blamed on sophisticated syndicates with an ability to re-export the platinum
matte abroad.
Accusing fingers were pointed at local company officials and the untouchable
influential politicians known to be corrupt to the dregs of infamy but have
always got away with murder. The frequency of the heists and the seemingly
inconclusive investigations gave credence to such accusations. The
government's deafening silence did not help matters either. While silence
cannot be misquoted, it can as sure as hell be misinterpreted, as is the
case with the latest wave of disruptive farm invasions.
Then last year Obert Mpofu told Parliament that ZISCO was a cesspit of
corruption. The story was picked up by almost every publication. But he was
hauled over the coals by his colleagues in ZANU PF including the insecure
and ill-poised writer of The Other Side column in The Herald, the
hail-fellow-well-met Nathaniel Manheru who is right next to the centre of
power. The government apologists were falling over each other to dismiss the
reports on ZISCO, sourced from the Parliament of Zimbabwe, as inaccurate,
biased, superficial and sensationalised, seemingly oblivious of the fact
that the truth will out.
I have no brief for Mpofu. And as I have said before, he is one of the many
senior government officials who sometimes lack the gumption to realise the
implications of their gaffes. But it is inconceivable that he could
deliberately lie to Parliament. And at the risk of repeating myself let me
say, predictably, like an oil spill, the ZISCO scandal has been slowly
spreading, tarring a growing list of all those enjoying the sweet crumbs of
power falling from the high table.
And before anyone could say Jack Robinson, we have yet another attempt at
denial of the involvement of senior politicians in the illicit gold and
diamond mining. But this is hardly surprising. Denying the obvious is as
natural to the ruling ZANU PF politicians as it is for crabs to walk
sideways.
In the case of illegal gold and diamond mining, no less a person than the
police number two man, Deputy Commissioner Godwin Matanga testified before
the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines, Environment and Tourism, not
only that politicians, MPs and ministers are involved in illegal gold mining
activities but that they are also interfering with the clampdown on the
racket, code-named Chikorokoza Chapera. Matanga would not have made such
serious accusations without incontrovertible evidence. Smoking guns are
lying everywhere. The small-scale miners themselves said as much.
And a senior Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe official, Mirirai Chiremba saw to it
that journalists were barred from a hearing where he was giving oral
evidence to the same committee on Operation Chikorokoza Chapera. He claimed;
"Because of the nature of my job I do not think it is suitable to have the
Press here. I do not wish to say anything that will cause instability in the
country . . . "
What exactly was he saying other than that the establishment, responsible
for the stupefying complex, pattern of deceit, fraud and criminality
characterising all sectors of the economy was afraid of what might come out
in the wash? Yet we have the acting chairperson of the portfolio committee,
Tsitsi Muzenda saying: "Honestly they (RBZ) are saying there are really no
godfathers . . ."
Ave Maria, Mother of Jesus Christ! Pardon my French but how absurd,
ludicrous and preposterously insincere can one get? Chiremba's message was
clear. The issue was politically sticky and he did not want to open a
Pandora's box. Which part of that did Muzenda not understand or thought we
did not understand that she needed to interpret it for us?
She could've fooled us. But such political machinations betray a lack of
unshakeable political will to deal with corruption. The lack of political
commitment to fight corruption can also be explained by the paucity of
action from the Anti-Corruption Commission, which has been sitting idly with
seeming impotence. Thus I have previously gone as far as saying that under
the ZANU PF government, the Commission is a sheer waste of time and
resources.
And I have my reasons. By compromising the principle of equality before the
law through giving directives on prosecutorial and investigative decisions
in corruption cases from above, the government is unwittingly putting
quicksand under the feet of the Commission. It is therefore not surprising
that some corrupt politicians tried to trip the Commission up at its very
first step.
Hence the sinking feeling that despite the noise surrounding the plunder of
the country's mineral wealth, the case will be swept under the carpet, just
like the abuse of the VIP Housing and the financial jiggery-pokery that went
unpunished at the War Victims Compensation Fund.
Yes, government claims that it will pursue corruption in gold and diamond
mining to its full expression. Chance would be a fine thing! That's what I
say. You don't believe me? Then let's wait and see. Other than the nobodies
arrested so far, how many ministers, MPs and politicians will be brought to
account? Or are they so clean?


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FinGaz Letters

Police chiefs contravened POSA

EDITOR - "Police ban political rallies for 3 months in Harare South
Districts and Mbare", read a headline in a daily paper last week. The police
officials announcing the ban, Tsitsi Sadzamari, a superintendent and a Chief
Superintendent Thomsen Jangara went on to quote sections of POSA which allow
them to effect this condemned piece of legislation.
Section 27 of POSA states in part: "If a regulating authority for any area
believes on reasonable grounds that the powers conferred by sections 25 and
26 will not be sufficient to prevent public disorder being occasioned by the
holding of public demonstrations or any class thereof in the area or any
part thereof, he may issue an order prohibiting, for a specified period not
exceeding one month, the holding of all public demonstrations or any class
of public demonstrations in the area or part thereof concerned."
Now to show how ill-informed these top police officials are, they banned
political rallies for three months but they quote the said section
mentioning categorically "not exceeding one month".
So where did they get these powers to extend this ban to three months? It
just goes to show show how the police and whoever is behind them are
illiterate and a law unto themselves.
Not even this government has the power to amend the country's laws
willy-nilly without Parliament's approval.
It's undemocratic and unconstitutional for police to be allowed to ban and
effect changes to our laws with impunity as they have proved time and again
that they are incapable of enforcing them, let alone interpreting these
laws.

Livison Kahondo
Australia
------------
áNot all is lost for Zimbabwe

EDITOR - While I completely agree with Pasi's sentiments in The Financial
Gazette of February 22 2007, let me say there is a lot of hope for Zimbabwe.
It might look as if we have an insurmountable problem ahead of us but it's
not the case. It would make sense to look at countries like Bolivia which
around 1985 had an inflation rate of 101 000 percent. Yes, it indeed was 100
times more than ours but they were able to fix it just like we can.
Let us also remember that like us they didn't have the support of the World
Bank or the IMF. No foreign bank saw it feasible to lend them any money.
They also faced numerous sanctions from the West as we are facing today.
They had to go through what they called "the shock effect" to control
hyperinflation which we are experiencing today. They forced their inflation
to drop to six percent in a short period by doing a few things which we can
do as well to tame this beast.
First, they encouraged the free market system where the law of demand and
supply takes charge. In this venture you have to get rid of price controls,
a move which will be initially painful for consumers but in the long run it
will benefit them because goods will be available and competition will lead
to falling prices. Secondly, they encouraged respect for property rights and
the rule of law. Thirdly, they discouraged bureaucracy which is tedious and
shackles development. They made the fight against corruption, which is our
biggest enemy in Zimbabwe, their number one priority.
Also, they encouraged entrepreneurship because the environment was now
ideal. This would increase employment, among other benefits to the economy.
The safer political environment also meant foreign investors were more
willing to invest in the country.
However, here is where Zimbabwe has a dilemma. Zimbabwe would not have been
able to push for respect for property rights because the average Zimbabweans
did not have any property to begin with. Before land distribution there were
no property rights to protect because nobody had any property given that 70
percent of the population is in the rural areas.
Thus the land was already unfairly distributed as children of colonisers
inherited farms which could be the size of a small suburb or town. They
would then pass on this land from generation to generation. While this was
going on, we were passing poverty, stress and disease from generation to
generation.
Instituting propety rights in such a scenario would not have served any
purpose. What was needed was equitable distribution of wealth first. Now
that this has been reasonably achieved, the government needs to ensure the
law protects the propety that people have acquired.
There is now need for a safe political environment to attract much-needed
foreign investment. We now need to encourage free enterprise and promote
entrepreneurship. Price controls should be abandoned and the law of demand
and supply should take its course. All it takes is effort from the
government and for the population to hang on. The economy right now is a
picnic as compared to what Bolivia and Argentina went through. Believe me,
there is salvation at the end of the tunnel.

Martin Majaji
United States
--------------
áNo need for a 'pocket scientist' here

EDITOR - let's say you have US$3 in cash, and let's pretend that the bank
rate is 250:1 and the "other" rate is 6 100:1. And let's say you actually
have access to US$ cash from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe because you are .
. . well, just because. It does not take a "pocket scientist" to work out
that from your US$3 you will have to make just four trips to the bank . . .
and you have US$1 million!
Show me a business which can turn $3 into $1 million with just four trips to
the bank. With zero output, zero costs, zero employees, zero taxes, and zero
benefit to society. And in hard curency too!
With such efficient money growth, I think it was a very wise move not to
devalue the "official" rate! Imagine the loss of potential earnings.

S Herring
Penhalonga
---------------
áPeace of the grave

EDITOR - I was disgusted by Vice-President Joseph Msika's fatuous speech at
an "election" rally in Chiredzi when he said there has been peace in
Zimbabwe for the past 15 years. This is the peace of the grave. How can
someone in control of his full faculties talk of peace when inflation is
running at 1 600 percent?
These people were not fighting for so-called independence. It was a fight
among the political parties for power. ZANU was formed in 1963 by those who
felt they were going to be left out by Joshua Nkomo in a future government
then. It has taken the people almost 20 years for the penny to drop and
realise that these nationalists are nothing but lazy people working for
their self-interest.
In 1993 former Chief Justice Enoch Dumbutshena, then leader of the Forum
Party, was exasperated and shocked about the docility shown by the people of
Zimbabwe who were unable to anticipate the despotism of their so-called
liberators.
It is the people who created a one-party state for themselves in the
euphoria of independence. There is a saying that "People get the government
that they deserve". There was never any altruism in crossing the border to
join the forces fighting against imperialism.
The nationalists got a chance to create their own personal militias who are
now the military and law enforcement organs. These organs are no more than
branches of the ruling party. We now have a binary society worse than we had
during the colonial era.
The ZANU PF secretary for finance, Richard Hove, was quoted as saying that
people should get their priorities right by saving scarce foreign currency
instead of buying luxury cars which are so common on our streets. He should
be telling that to the military chiefs who are spending money on luxury
vehicles, among other possessions. And then to his boss, President Mugabe,
that it is crass to have such an over-the-top motorcade. Ian Smith used to
use one vehicle and one driver when he was in power. It is suggested by this
government that a certain Peter Chikumba is going to turn the fortunes of
Air Zimbabwe because of his experience. What a load of rubbish. How can he
turn around an airline where the only passengers are the bloated
presidential entourages on shopping junkets?
What really is Msika's function in government? What does he do in a typical
working day? This is the kind of people who are earning huge salaries for
doing absolutely nothing.

S Chimbindi
United Kingdom

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