Njabulo Ncube, Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporters
. . . As SADC plots Mugabe exit
POLICE briefly held opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader
Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday after raiding his party's headquarters in
central Harare in what they described as a search for petrol bombs and
weapons the party has been accused of amassing for the purpose of
At least 10 activists were arrested in the mid-day swoop, during which
police sealed off adjacent streets. The drama happened as President Robert
Mugabe flew out of Harare on his way to Tanzania to attend an extra-ordinary
Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit that will discuss the
tense political situation in Zimbabwe.
Diplomatic sources told The Financial Gazette yesterday that SADC member
states namely Tanzania, Botswana, Lesotho and Zambia - which has broken
ranks on the region's policy of calm engagement - would today pressure
President Mugabe to come up with a timetable for his retirement.
Tsvangirai's brief arrest occurred shortly before the former trade unionist
was to hold a key press conference at which it is understood he was to
announce that his party would boycott the 2008 elections. Sources in the
main opposition party said Tsvangirai also intended to brief the media on
the abductions of party members, which have continued over the past year.
Police trucks with heavily armed police details descended on the MDC's
Harvest House offices, sealing off four streets and causing congestion of
both traffic and pedestrians. Tsvangirai was later released.
Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said the raid had been carried out to
flush out those behind a series of petrol bombings throughout the country.
"We are not witch-hunting. We are carrying out proper and thorough
investigations to bring to book all those committing acts of terror," said
He denied that Tsvangirai had been arrested, as claimed earlier by the MDC,
but stressed that if the opposition leader was linked to the bombings,
police would arrest him.
The police spokesperson confirmed the arrest of Piniel Denga, the alleged
mastermind behind the bombings. Dynamite and detonators were recovered from
Denga's house, said Bvudzijena.
Ian Makone, a top Tsvangirai advisor, was also arrested after unlicensed
firearms were discovered at his home, Bvudzijena said.
He claimed that some of the MDC members carrying out "acts of sabotage" had
been staying at Harvest House, and that 10 activists had been arrested.
Tendai Biti, secretary general of Tsvangirai's faction of the MDC, calling
the swoop an act of "fascism" said: "The initial number of people arrested
at Harvest House is about 20. They also arrested members of staff and
everyone they found on the 4th and 5th floors. This is fascism. These are
actions of a mad and erratic regime that has lost all direction."
Harvest House also houses private companies, whose staff were also detained.
Shops around Harvest House were forced to close, with shoppers and
pedestrians reporting random police beatings during the raid.
Tsvangirai's brief detention yesterday was his second brush with the police
within a month. He was one of 50 opposition leaders and activists arrested
on March 11 in Highfield as a coalition of opposition groups attempted to
gather for a rally. Despite repeated government charges that the MDC leaders
had been arrested for inciting violence, the Attorney General's is yet to
prosecute any of them.
Two days after the March 11 arrests, Tsvangirai and other senior MDC
officials emerged at the magistrates' court bearing signs of heavy beating,
images that outraged the world and sparked African alarm.
Yesterday, President Mugabe arrived in Dar es Salaam, the Tanzanian capital,
amid growing signs of unease among his SADC neighbours over the political
and economic crisis in Zimbabwe.
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, who chairs the SADC organ on politics,
security and defence, and who was in Harare two weeks ago, convened the
two-day meeting. Apart from Zimbabwe, the meeting will also discuss fighting
in the DRC and the recent Lesotho polls.
The special two-day summit will be a test for the 14- member SADC grouping,
accused in some quarters of not flexing its collective muscle against
President Mugabe's government. Political analysts said while regional
leaders were unlikely to condemn President Mugabe publicly, the Tanzanian
summit was important in focusing world attention on Zimbabwe's escalating
Although impatience with President Mugabe is clearly spreading in the
region, diplomats said yesterday it was unlikely that leaders would come out
in public as stridently critical of his rule as Zimbabwe's western critics
But other diplomats said the only demonstration by the region of its unease
with Zimbabwe would most likely be in the form of stricter border controls,
on which Botswana took the lead last week.
Analysts say although it is certain that leaders will express their concerns
to President Mugabe today, it is unlikely that they will echo the shrill
criticism of the West, as many governments across the continent remain
suspicious of the MDC.
Since the March 11 protests, in which at least one activist was killed,
police have reported a spate of petrol bombings that they blame on the MDC.
Last week, a petrol bomb was thrown into a passenger train leaving Harare
for Bulawayo, while this week, ZANU PF district offices in Mbare were
attacked. Similar bombings have been reported in Bulawayo, Gweru and Mutare
where, police say, there was an attempt to bomb a fuel tanker.
The MDC, which denies responsibility for the attacks, alleged yesterday that
police assaulted the family of opposition Budiriro Member of Parliament
(MP), Emmanuel Chisvuure. According to party officials, police raided the
MP's home and demanded to know his whereabouts. They then beat members of
his family, the MDC said.
On Tuesday, opposition member Last Maengahama was abducted in Harare by six
unidentified men outside a Borrowdale shopping mall. He was later found by a
roadside in Mutorashanga, officials say, where he was dumped after being
According to Bvudzijena, yesterday's raid was part of a wider operation that
included swoops on an undisclosed number of homes in Harare on Tuesday
A meeting of Tsvangirai's national executive is expected to be held on
Saturday to endorse a poll boycott and to press for constitutional reform.
However, Nathan Shamuyarira, the ZANU PF spokesman, said elections would go
ahead despite threats by the opposition to boycott them.
Meanwhile, Britain has urged the United Nations Security Council and leaders
attending the SADC summit to reprimand President Mugabe over his country's
deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation.
The Security Council is due to be briefed today about the situation in
"We believe that the United Nations and specifically this council should
accelerate action on Zimbabwe to match that of the European Union and other
regional organisations such as SADC," Britain's UN Ambassador Emyr Parry
Jones told the Security Council.
European Union president Germany said it was "deeply concerned" at the
arrest of opposition politicians, while the European Parliament said it was
time to end the "brutality."
But South Africa's UN Ambassador, Dumisani Kumalo, the council president for
March, has said the situation in Zimbabwe is not a threat to international
peace and security and therefore, should not be dealt with by the Security
Jones Parry said Britain welcomed plans by the 14-member SADC to discuss
Zimbabwe at its leaders' meeting in Tanzania.
"We hope that summit will send a strong message about the human rights and
humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe where daily the news seems to get worse,"
National Agenda with Bornwell Chakaodza
Not a question of rushing but doing things properly to end economic meltdown
and political paralysis
HISTORY is scarred with examples of how hate, careless and inflammatory
language has raised the level of tension in any country to the point where
things unexpectedly just explode.
There is nothing exceptional about Zimbabwe to this rule. It could happen
here if we are not careful. It happened in Rwanda, in Liberia, in Somalia,
in Sierra Leone, in the Ivory Coast -the list is endless. In all these
countries if you asked people at the beginning of the troubles whether they
were going to descend into chaos and non-stop violence, the answer would
certainly have been a big no. We all know what then happened.
I am saying all this by way of underscoring the fact that President Robert
Mugabe in particular and leaders of opposition parties in general must be
extremely cautious and careful about the tone and language they use in these
very trying and challenging times we live in. Political leaders must always
ask themselves the question: If I say this or that, am I not in danger of
creating events that develop a momentum of their own and eventually become
Indeed, most words we use are not offensive. It is how we use them that
becomes offensive. As someone once rightly pointed out: "The words
themselves mean nothing, it is the way we use the words". The point I am
making here is that we can create events but fail to control those events by
just the way we use words.
Words such as "they deserved to be bashed" or kudashurwa in Shona as
President Mugabe said when addressing ZANU PF Women's League members last
Friday in reference to the physical brutality on the members of opposition
parties and pressure groups were extremely offensive and uncalled for.
Zimbabweans do not expect their President to sink so low.
Much worse however, is when one sees grown-up women of the ZANU PF Women's
League cheering the President on. What did Oppah Muchinguri and her gormless
battalions of supporters think they were doing clapping hands and swinging
their big hips in such a senseless manner when President Mugabe was uttering
his offensive words? Motherly instincts tell me that far from celebrating
physical brutality on fellow human beings, women are appalled by any form of
violence unleashed by anyone and from whatever quarter.
President Mugabe can slightly be understood with regards to his intemperate
language as he appears to be living in his own world now. We know that the
President is an arrogant man and his arrogance has obviously got much worse
with age. The man is 83. But Oppah Muchinguri and her gang is a different
ball game altogether. We do not expect such things from her. These are very
difficult days for all Zimbabweans and the last thing that they want to be
assaulted with is a sense of the absurd from a group of women who should
And I also think that opposition parties can contribute to the easing of
tension in the country by their use of words and their behaviour. Words such
as "illegal regime", "illegitimate regime" are not helpful either. When a
government is so pressured and pushed against the wall, it becomes difficult
in such an environment sometimes to see a peaceful solution to a country's
That is of course not to say that pressure must not be applied on the
government of Zimbabwe. Pressure indeed must continue to be ratcheted up on
the Harare authorities by the international community especially by SADC.
And I do think that for the Zimbabwean government to drop its bravado and
"go hang" position, it requires much tougher pressure than the SADC
countries, particularly South Africa, have been willing to exert so far.
But in the last analysis, it is really down to Zimbabweans themselves to
determine their own future. When a people are facing a desperate situation
like we are facing at the moment, the world out there can help but it is up
to us to handle the change and the transitional phase properly.
By properly handling the transition, I mean diagnosing our problem correctly
and embarking upon a process of change that is non-violent, all inclusive
and has consensus all round as the driving force behind it. This is
fundamentally important. For nothing is achieved by trading insults at each
other. Every Zimbabwean regardless of political affiliation wants to live in
It is not a question of rushing to hold 2008 Presidential elections just
because the constitution says so. It is a question of doing things properly
in order to bring to an end the economic meltdown and the political
paralysis that has engulfed this once beautiful country. What will be the
point of holding elections in 2008 when nothing will really change. If
anything, the country would have completely collapsed by then. The burning
question is: What will President Mugabe achieve after 2008 which he has
failed to achieve during the passed seven years? Will it therefore be
election for elections sake?
If by a stroke of a pen we get President Mugabe to leave the political scene
before 2008 and we get a new constitution agreed upon by all Zimbabweans and
a constitution which guarantees freedom, democracy, free and fair elections
and a process which all Zimbabweans have confidence in - if all this
miraculously happens before March 2008, then we will all sing halleluiah and
we will proudly say that the Spirit of the Lord has descended on Zimbabwe.
But if not, what will be the point of holding both Presidential and
Parliamentary elections in 2008 - that is if we can get there before the
My fundamental point, therefore, is that let us establish what needs to be
done before even thinking of 2008 and beyond. We have said time without
number that our situation has become unsustainable - moreso now when the
parallel market is running riot, inflation is running riot, prices are
running riot and practically everything running riot. Indeed, a doomsday
scenario is looming on the horizon unless we take the bull by the horns and
do what needs to be done.
History tells us that force is not the best way to solve our crisis. It is
wishful thinking on the part of ZANU PF if it thinks that brutal force will
do the trick. In any case, the popular reaction to police brutality in
Zimbabwe as in any other country is not one of fear but of anger and
indignation. People will be radicalised even further!
The ruling ZANU PF party must realise that the economic meltdown and the
resultant anger from most Zimbabweans as well as the growing international
pressure - all this has checkmated their ambition to cling to power at any
cost and for all time. The ruling party must face this problem: the march of
history in which they have become puppets of events beyond their control.
So there is no escaping a political settlement in which there is a total
buy-in from all Zimbabweans. I do not think it is prudent for President
Mugabe to continue soldiering on but losing friends in the process. Not only
his friends within ZANU PF itself, but also in the country, in SADC, in
Africa and the entire international community. We have burnt our bridges
diplomatically not only in Africa but in the entire international community
In conclusion, my strong point is that let us hammer out a political
solution that we can all live with. What is important is the future. Past is
past. When things get tough it is no good turning around and blaming
everything on external forces. We are our own liberators, as we used to say
in the days of old.
A botched election in 2008, hastily organised, unfree and unfair, will
provide the ideal conditions for a losing MDC and other losing parties to
argue, perfectly plausibly, that the elections were not free and fair just
like in 2002 and 2005.
For how long can we go on doing that?
Nkululeko Sibanda Staff Reporter
THE Southern African Development Community (SADC) is edging towards the
creation of the first-ever food reserve facility that will mobilize grain
and cereals to alleviate hunger in the drought-prone region.
Dubbed "Framework for the establishment of the SADC Reserve Facility"
the initiative will be launched on April 20 when agricultural ministers from
the trading bloc convene at a venue yet to be announced.
Two agricultural experts from Zimbabwe have been contracted to formulate an
operating framework, which will be presented at the ministers' meeting.
An official close to the developments told this paper that the initial
target is to raise between 300 000 and 500 000 tones of maize to be stored
in different parts of the region.
The ministers will also consider the
possibility of establishing a fund that
would be used to assist countries failing to procure maize to avert hunger
among their people.
"The recommendation that has been put forward to the regional leaders is
that there is need to start up a grain reserve facility that will be used to
store maize and any other cereal that can be used to avert hunger and
starvation in the region," said the official.
"According to the document plan, SADC member states will be able to borrow
money from the revolving fund for purposes of buying maize, either from the
facility or elsewhere. This arrangement comes against a background of a
steep rise in the cost of buying maize from other parts of the world".
Rangarirai Mberi News Editor
'Titanic Levy' strikes again
IT is unlikely that today's regional summit in Tanzania will have the
outcome that many of President Mugabe's critics wish for - such as regional
leaders ganging up on the man and pleading in unison : "for God's sake,
please go". A more likely scene, though, is of President Mugabe cornering
Zambian leader Levy Mwanawasa and asking why he is so against the veteran
Then, perhaps with a cup of tea in one hand and a hot cross bun in the
other, he would send burly Mwanawasa reeling with the now famous verbal
hook: "Go hang".
Only last week, Mwanawasa called Zimbabwe a "sinking Titanic". Now, days
later, saying he has no regrets for making those hurtful remarks, Mwanawasa
goes on to ask why, if President Mugabe is as popular as he says he is, he
finds it necessary to "rule his people in such a fashion."
The Namibian newspaper reports that Mwanawasa told a meeting of Zambians
resident in Namibia on Friday that while he supports Zimbabwe's land
reforms, he does not support President Mugabe's style of governance.
"I hear from some intelligence that President Mugabe is popular in his
country. But why should his government be ruling its people in such a
fashion? Why should he be denying his people freedom of speech?" asked
"Zimbabwe is our neighbour. When people in Zimbabwe cough, Zambians also
cough. We cannot sit back and watch when things are going wrong there."
But, were Mwanawasa to repeat that kind of talk at today's SADC summit,
President Mugabe would respond, as he would be likely to react to such talk
from any other leader: "Yes, whatever, and what are you going to do about
According to The Namibian, Mwanawasa was responding to a speech by the
chairperson of Association of Zambians in Namibia (Azana), Professor CD
Kasanda had said his group supported Mwanawasa's comments on Zimbabwe. "We
have been concerned about the apparent silence of our leadership in the SADC
region. We note with pride that our president has the courage to call a
spade a spade and not a spoon," said Kasanda, to applause.
He went on: "We hope that when Zambia assumes the chairmanship of SADC this
August, you will continue with this zeal without being distracted."
That should be a lot of fun.
THE government will not make a formal appeal for food aid immediately
despite declaring 2007 a drought year, Agriculture Minister Rugare Gumbo has
Gumbo said the government would not ask for outside help to feed over 1.4
million Zimbabweans estimated by United Nations (UN) agencies to be in
urgent need of food aid. The number is likely to rise sharply with another
poor harvest this year.
Gumbo insists, however, that the government can feed all needy Zimbabweans.
"Most provinces need food, but this will be done by the government through
its drought relief programmes," said Gumbo. "We (government) have the
capacity to feed the people and we won't need outside help."
Gumbo said last week that the 2007 harvest was inadequate to meet national
requirements, in a rare public admission by a government minister of a poor
Gumbo replaced Joseph Made in February when President Robert Mugabe
reshuffled his bloated cabinet. Made had a tumultuous stint at the helm of
the Ministry, presiding over seven consecutive disastrous agricultural
seasons when he repeatedly denied that Zimbabwe needed food aid.
Zimbabwean officials and donor agencies say the government, with one eye on
an election next year, is anxious to take firm charge of all grain
The government stopped the distribution of food aid by donors to able-bodied
villagers in 2004, forcing many agencies, including the World Food
Programme, to scale down their operations.
The government has repeatedly accused donor agencies of using food aid to
sway voters against ZANU PF.
Estimates indicate that the government needs close to US$240 million to
import maize to compensate for an expected grain deficit of about 1.3
million tonnes. It costs about US$180 to import a tonne of white maize,
investigations revealed this week.
But experts doubt that the country can achieve a yield of 700 000 tonnes
from the 2006/2007 agricultural season.
Renson Gasela, agriculture secretary in a faction of the Movement for
Democratic Change and a former chief executive of the Grain Marketing Board
(GMB), claimed the country's silos were virtually empty.
"The national requirement is two million tonnes, but the production will be
about 700 000 tonnes for the 2006/7 harvest. There is no foreign currency to
import maize to cover a shortfall of 1.3 million tonnes," said Gasela.
He disputed Gumbo's assertion that the state had the capacity to import
whatever grain would be required to cater for every starving citizen.
"People are starving right now and the minister has the audacity to tell the
nation that the government will be able to feed the people," he said.
The government is currently importing 400 000 tonnes of maize mainly from
South Africa to augment supplies at the GMB. The southern parts of the
country - Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Masvingo and Lower
Midlands - have reportedly suffered the most devastating crop failure. A
report this week said Matabeleland South had recorded a 95 percent crop
While government critics attribute the weak harvest to the haphazard land
reform, independent agriculture experts blame the 2007 crop failure to the
El Nino weather phenomenon, associated with drought in the southern
Njabulo Ncube Chief Political Reporter
THE ZANU PF politburo has referred a decision to let President Robert Mugabe
seek re-election next year, to the central committee although remarks by a
senior official yesterday suggested the meeting, as expected, had endorsed
his bid to serve another term as party leader.
Politburo sources said in a
tense meeting yesterday, President Mugabe curtailed debate on his bid for a
new term, after Simon Khaya Moyo, Zimbabwe's Ambassador to South Africa, had
moved a motion for a firm position on the President's candidature and a
timetable for the next election.
A source reported: "The President stopped the discussion, saying it was an
issue for the central committee to decide. People were really agitated, they
wanted the issue to be put to rest, but now they have to wait."
However, ZANU PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira said yesterday that discussion
in the politburo had been "extensive and conclusive". Shamuyarira said the
politburo had agreed on a candidate and on a date for merged general and
He said these decisions would be made public tomorrow. His remarks suggest
the central committee will now only meet to rubber-stamp the politburo's
Despite his crafty manoeuvres, President Mugabe now faces growing resistance
from his people who believe that the 83-year-old fighter of the guerilla
movement has traded on his legacy as a leading light in Africa's
President Mugabe says he is the victim of western sabotage of his land
President Mugabe has
already successfully rallied war veterans, the youth and women's leagues of
his party around
his candidacy, effectively shutting the door on any would-be opponents to
President Mugabe only chaired part of yesterday's meeting before handing
over to Vice President Joice Mujuru. He left the meeting in progress to
travel to Tanzania for a crucial Southern Africa Development Community
After his departure, debate continued on other issues, the sources said. The
highlight was a motion by Joshua Malinga, calling on ZANU PF to re-engage
the international community. This received particularly vocal support from
Mujuru and Dumiso Dabengwa, said the source. "Malinga said having dealt with
the land issue, Zimbabawe should engage the international community. This
was well supported." This issue has also been referred to the central
Government spokesman George Charamba yesterday claimed the issue of the
scheduling of the next polls was never concluded at ZANU PF's Goromonzi
conference, as frequently reported. He said ZANU PF had "admitted to
slothfulness" on the matter, but that it had subsequently benefited from the
ensuing speculation which kept its opponents guessing.
Chris Muronzi Staff Reporter
PRESSURE is mounting on ZESA Holdings to honour outstanding financial
obligations as it emerged that the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
power utility - SNEL - has dispatched a team to Zimbabwe to demand payment
from the cash-strapped parastatal.
Highly placed sources said creditors were considering upping pressure on
ZESA to reduce their exposure to the power monopoly following
politically-motivated disturbances over the past few weeks that might have
increased Zimbabwe's country risk index.
Irked by ZESA's failure to settle a long-standing US$2.8 million debt, SNELL
sent a three-member delegation two weeks ago led by board member Mbuya wa
Nkulu to follow up on the matter.
On March 16, the delegation met Ben Rafemoyo, the acting ZESA chief
executive officer and other senior executives of the parastatal. An
undertaking to retire the debt was made.
It has since been established that ZESA is now in breach of its pledge,
raising fears that the DRC power utility could be forced to take drastic
action against its government-run counterpart, which is teetering on the
brink of insolvency.
Rafemoyo claimed this week that the debt did not pose a serious threat to
ZESA's contract with SNEL, which has continued to supply Zimbabwe with
electricity despite worsening economic conditions characterised chronic by
foreign currency shortages and runaway inflation.
"The correct position is that since 2004 we have not had any arrears. The
funds in question relate to payments that we made into their local account,"
he said. "We have been servicing this debt because at one time it was
actually US$7 million. This was a ring-fenced debt. There were no ultimatums
at the meeting because, fundamentally, we made a commitment to pay the debt.
But we did not want to over- commit ourselves on the issue. The debt does
not threaten our current contract because we are now paying as and when it
Sources however, said SNEL had told ZESA that its failure to settle the debt
had spawned both commercial and political challenges for the company as it
is now failing to secure essential spares.
Zimbabwe imports 60 percent of its power needs from Eskom in South Africa,
Cahora Bassa in Mozambique and SNEL. Reduced power supplies from Cahora
Bassa and breakdowns at Snell have contributed to worsening power cuts in
SOUTH Africa runs a "standby" facility for Zimbabwe, because its economic
crisis is "political" rather than "technical" SA reserve bank governor Tito
Mboweni has disclosed.
Mboweni is quoted as telling a parliamentary committee that the South
African Reserve Bank (SARB) had a facility with Zimbabwe that was "fully
secured and the central bank in Zimbabwe uses that facility from time to
time when it needs to make some payments particularly in South Africa".
"At the end of every year it is squared off. They have never defaulted on
Mboweni is quoted as saying attempts by SARB to help Zimbabwe had been
frustrated by problems he described as being "political, in the main."
"We have tried to engage in policy discussions with our colleagues in
Zimbabwe to see what we can do collectively to help... at every turn our
attempts are frustrated by other constraints. That is really what we can
do... the rest (we) leave to other people."
He said it was impossible for the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to slow inflation
"unless, for example, the fiscal policy position changes."
Mboweni also told the committee that inflation in the Southern African
Development Community region was under control and below 10 percent, "except
for one country, whose name I will not mention" where inflation was running
at over 1700 percent, "which is quite something".
According to Mboweni, the major driver of Zimbabwe's record inflation is its
"very large budget deficit". The central bank there could, therefore, not
tame "that inflation picture".
The general economic situation in that country "is difficult because there
are major constraints on the production side of the economy" - in
agriculture, mining, and manufacturing. These problems, Mboweni said, were
"not technical, but political in the main."
"So we keep hoping and praying that the policy makers in Zimbabwe could
adopt such policy measures that will be of assistance to the central bank.
The technical solutions are insufficient."
-Staff Reporter/I-Net Bridge
Nkululeko SibandaStaff Reporter
GMB appeals against High Court judgment
THE Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has appealed against a High Court judgment
reversing the suspension of former chief executive officer (CEO) Martin
High Court judge Chinembiri Bhunu had ruled in favour of Muchero on the
basis that the GMB's lawyers had failed to file opposing papers on time.
Bhunu ruled that Muchero be awarded benefits accrued since his suspension in
The GMB has deferred the appointment of a substantive CEO pending the
resolution of the drawn out legal wrangle with Muchero, which is likely to
have significant financial implications on the parastatal if it ends in
favour of the former GMB boss.
In its appeal, the GMB, which is currently operating without a board, argues
that Bhunu erred in his
judgment when he declared Muchero's suspension null and void on the basis of
the grain monopoly's failure to file opposing papers within the mandatory 14
In his judgment, Bhunu ruled: "I only wish to say that the respondent was
given 14 days by the Supreme Court to file opposing papers . It is common
cause that the respondent filed papers out of time.
The respondent was therefore, automatically barred. There has been no
application for the upliftment of the bar. All that its lawyer has done is
to tell the court that the delay (in filing opposing papers) was due to him
being taken ill.
"There being no application for the upliftment of the bar, it remains firmly
in place. For that reason as well, this application cannot succeed. The
applicant is therefore, entitled to the relief sought."
However, GMB lawyers insist an oral application had been filled with the
Said the GMB: "The learned judge erred in holding that no application for
the upliftment of the bar was made when such an application was orally made
in court before the learned judge on the 19th of July 2006.
"The learned judge therefore, misdirected himself in failing to decide on
oral application, which, he allowed to be made before him in terms of the
High Court rules."
THE Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) has shortened settlement periods for trade
in shares in response to high inflation, which the exchange says is
Prior to the changes, which will take effect by April 1, a share sale could
be settled in up to seven days.
However, because of inflation, this meant that by the time a seller got paid
for his/her stock, real value would have been eroded.
Yesterday, the ZSE announced new rules to protect investors.
"Settlement performance is the cornerstone of every stock exchange. The
current settlement cycle of T+7 is too long in the current hyperinflationary
environment and investors are being prejudiced," the ZSE said in a statement
The T+7 cycle refers to the period between the time of a trade and the last
date payment must be made.
"The ZSE is working with the transfer secretaries and listed companies to
ensure that the settlement targets are achieved," added the local bourse.
The settlement period will be gradually reduced to 5 days from 1 April, 3
days from 1 July, and then to a day starting September.
Meanwhile, the stock market traded sideways yesterday as money market rates
fell slightly despite gaping deficits.
Dealers said the money market remained deep in deficit due to corporate tax
payments and a drought of treasury bill (TB) maturities. The stock and
parallel foreign currency markets slowed.
The ZSE's main industrial index closed at 4 256 126.95 points yesterday,
down just 0.75 percent, while minings fell 2.8 percent to 1 615 491 34
points. Volumes were generally light across the market, brokers reported.
Analysts see the negative liquidity position on the money market continuing
into next month, as only $21 billion will be seen in TB maturities.
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
ESCALATING input costs have forced the National Bakers Association (NBA) to
further revise upwards the proposed price of the standard loaf of bread to
about $7 500, The Financial Gazette has learnt.
In its latest costing schedule submitted to the government, the NBA
recommended that the gazetted price of bread be increased to $7 451 (retail)
and $6 800 (wholesale) to enable the industry keep up with relentless cost
increases. While the gazetted price for a standard loaf of bread is
currently $824, the product has vanished from the market and is now
available on the shadowy market where it is fetching over $2000 per loaf.
In arriving at the proposed price, the NBA took into account the anticipated
increase in the price of flour from $610 000 to $3 million, the huge jump in
the price of petrol and the upsurge in the cost of packaging from $103 to
"The industry is no longer able to bake a standard loaf at $4,825 and we are
requesting the ministry, once more, to finalise the bread pricing issue,"
the NBA pleaded. "Costs are continuing to escalate weekly at an astronomical
rate as our suppliers site production costs increases as the main reason for
the adjustments," added the association, which is battling to get an
official price increase since January.
Efforts to get a comment from officials at the Ministry of Industry and
International Trade were fruitless.
The government, which is accused of pursuing populist policies at the
expense of business, has imposed price controls on basic commodities to
protect the consumer.
Sadly, the price controls have failed to keep up with the market realities
resulting in manufacturers of products affected by the controls either
cutting down on production or closing shop.
Parliament recently passed the National Incomes and Pricing Commission Bill
to look into the contentious pricing issue. The blueprint now awaits
The proposed legislation provides for the establishment of a National
Incomes and Pricing Commission mandated to develop pricing models.
Pricing regulations will, however, continue to be made under the Control of
Stanley Kwenda Staff Reporter
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor, Gideon Gono, has made startling
revelations that the lender of last resort has been handing Air Zimbabwe
(AirZim) US$600 000 every week in bailout money.
The funding, he said, was meant to pay for "basic things", including the
airline's catering costs. AirZim has been availing the Zimbabwe dollar
equivalent to pay for the foreign currency, airline officials said.
"Air Zimbabwe has been on top of our list of companies that knock on our
doors for assistance. The nation does not know that we are giving the
company US$600 000 every week for basic things such as catering services
done in London and Johannesburg," said Gono at a meeting with tourism
industry officials. "There is a mismatch on foreign exchange (in AirZim's
pricing). Let us say someone is going to a destination, say, New York, a
route AirZim does not service. They book this person in local currency, but
when he connects, those people taking the person to his destination ask the
airline to pay in foreign exchange. The next day, they will come to queue at
RBZ, yet they are behaving as if they are some Father Christmas," said Gono.
"We are not saying that they should profiteer; they should make profit, but
not by fleecing people. I believe there is a way of doing that. It is
gratifying to see the new energy and zeal of the new CEO (chief executive
officer). That's what we have been missing for quite some time. We look to
the day when the airline will win the hearts of the monetary authorities."
The new Air Zimbabwe CEO, Peter Chikumba, had earlier made a presentation on
the state of affairs at the airline. He said the airline was battling to
reconcile its debt and incomes.
"At the moment, we have 70 percent of our costs in foreign exchange and 30
percent in local currency, but we have 10 percent earnings in foreign
exchange and 90 percent earnings in local currency. We are saying for us to
successfully turn around the company, we should be an export oriented
company," said Chikumba.
He also said AirZim was saddled with a US$20 million debt.
The airline has previously said it would remain dependent on RBZ funding as
long as it had to pay for foreign currency costs in catering, fuel, airspace
and landing fees while government still bars it from billing in hard
BULAWAYO - The foreign currency black market has gone haywire but at the
same time it has left illegal dealers at the "World Bank", as the city's
parallel quarter is known, in a quandary. They can hardly trade, as they are
likely to incur losses.
Sources said most dealers were being forced to buy hard currency and
hoarding it because of the volatility in the market.
"The market is so volatile that if you sell hard currency in the morning,
you can not recoup a similar amount by the end of the day," a source said.
Dealers usually have a profit margin,
which differentiates the buying and selling
prices but because the rates have gone haywire the margin can be wiped out
before the day is over.
On Tuesday, the British pound was trading at $40 000, while the United
States dollar was going for $25 000, the Botswana pula for $3 000 and the
South African rand for $2 700.
Money transfer agencies abroad were offering even higher rates.
Last week, the rand and pula were both trading below $2 000.
Industry sources said lack of trading on the parallel market was likely to
affect companies that buy foreign currency from the black market and could
see some companies in the city either scaling down operations or temporarily
Central bank governor Gideon Gono hinted this week that there could be
bigger forces at play on the illegal parallel market.
Charles Rukuni Bureau Chief
. . . only a paltry 172 000 pounds frozen so far
BULAWAYO - European Union sanctions targeted at members of President Robert
Mugabe's government and senior officials of the ruling ZANU-PF appear to be
a monumental joke and may be hurting the ordinary Zimbabwean more than the
Ian McCartney, Britain's Minister of State (Trade and Investment) in the
Foreign and Commonwealth Office, recently disclosed that his government had
frozen 42 accounts belonging to Zimbabweans that were on the sanctions list.
The so-called "smart sanctions" were imposed on Zimbabwean leaders five
years ago and now cover 126 politicians including President Mugabe, his wife
Grace, sister Sabina and almost all cabinet ministers.
Though McCartney did not disclose the amount involved, a report by
Independent Television (ITV) at the weekend said only a paltry 172 000
pounds sterling had been frozen.
The British government refused to disclose the names of the people whose
accounts had been frozen.
"We are unable to provide the detail requested as this is prohibited by the
relevant sanctions legislation and data protection laws," the Financial
Sanctions Unit of the UK's treasury said in response to inquiries from The
Some British politicians have queried the effectiveness of the "targeted
sanctions" saying they were hurting ordinary Zimbabweans more than the
intended people, but the British government insisted the sanctions were
Lord Howell of Guildford told the House of Lords that while the British
government must keep up the pressure on President Mugabe's government, the
so-called targeted sanctions were not very effective in hitting the right
"It appears on the contrary that, while the ruling tyranny in Zimbabwe is
maintaining its position and even strengthening it, more women and
children are dying," he said. "There is more starvation. More and more
other horrors and atrocities are being committed. The country's economy is
less than half the size it was a few years ago and a great deal of suffering
is going on?
"As we renew pressure on Zimbabwe, should we not look at the other, shadow
sanctions which are hurting the poorest people, particularly the withholding
of some loans from international institutions and development banks and
"Should we not try to refocus the whole of our operation vis-à-vis Zimbabwe
in ways which hit the criminals who are ruling the country and do not hit
the poor people who are starving in very large numbers and longing for
greater help?" he asked.
One of the Labour government spokesperson in the House of Lords, Baroness
Royall of Blaisdon agreed with Lord Howell saying the sanctions had to hit
President Mugabe's regime and not the poor people of Zimbabwe.
She added, however: "The EU sanctions put real pressure on the regime. They
ensure that Mugabe remains isolated - hence his attempts to seek financial
lifelines from China and Iran to buy time . . . Mugabe and his regime detest
the restrictions on their movement. Therefore, they (sanctions) can only be
a good thing."
THE Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) has spent close to $10.5
billion since the beginning of the year on the importation of 56 629 tones
of water treatment chemicals, sources say.
ZINWA was obliged to import the chemicals because the local supplier,
Zimbabwe Phosphate (Zimphos), could not meet demand.
Said a source: "Critical chemicals like white hydrated lime and aluminum
sulphate are now being imported from the manufacturer (outside the country).
Aluminum sulphate is now being imported because of the fact that Zimphos can
no longer cope with the demand from the water works."
Without elaborating, the source also revealed that the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe had pledged to come to ZINWA's aid.
The water authority has resorted to importing chemicals directly, so as to
avoid the expense of engaging middlemen.
ZINWA is campaigning to take over water supplies in all urban centres across
the nation, a drive that has been greeted with stiff resistance.
Recently, Vice President Joseph Msika used his authority to influence
matters in Bulawayo after council activists from both the opposition and
ZANU PF had joined forces to back the city council's opposition to a ZINWA
Nkululeko Sibanda Staff Reporter
Long arm of the law left grasping thin air
TOP executives who fled to other countries at the height of the crackdown on
alleged economic crimes appear to have outwitted the state security
machinery, which is yet to nab any of them.
Mthuli Ncube, Nicholas Vingirayi, Julius Makoni, Francis Zimuto, James
Makamba, James Mushore, Dipak Pandya, Mutumwa Mawere, Jayant Joshi and his
bother Manharlal are among Zimbabwe's wealthiest businessmen who hastily
packed their bags to avoid arrest.
It is reliably understood that most of the executives have continued to
apply their entrepreneurial skills and are running thriving businesses in
their host countries.
It is alleged that some of them continue to exert considerable influence in
Zimbabwe through proxies.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said the police would not give up in their
efforts to bring the fugitives to justice. Police are still making efforts
to hunt down the businessmen in conjunction with the International Criminal
Police Organisation (Interpol) with a view to having them extradited back to
"As a police force, we believe that once an accused person commits a crime
here in Zimbabwe, he is supposed to be brought to book regardless of when
they are arrested," he said. "If a crime is committed, it will always remain
in the books until the person is tried. If they win the case, then tough
luck but the police would have done what is expected of them, that is, to
bring the culprit to book. We do not have the powers to judge, we can only
take them to court and if they are cleared by the court, then that is
another issue," Bvudzijena said.
ZIMBABWE'S main labour union has vowed to forge ahead with its proposed
two-day stayaway on Tuesday and Wednesday next week despite a continuing
crackdown by state security agents against its officials and members.
"The stayaway is still on," said the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
(ZCTU) secretary-general Wellington Chibebe. "Nothing has changed despite
the crackdown we are experiencing," he added.
The ZCTU, whose members were this week removed from remand on charges of
engaging in an illegal demonstration is planning to stage a two-day stayaway
to protest the economic hardships affecting its membership and the alleged
persecution of its officials by the state.
On Tuesday, police raided the ZCTU offices in Gweru, Chinhoyi and Mutare in
search of subversive material.
Wayne Bvudzijena, the national police spokesman has, however, professed
ignorance over the police blitz.
Khumbulani Ndlovu, the ZCTU spokesperson, said about 40 armed policemen
stormed the offices of the Zimbabwe Domestic Workers Union, an affiliate of
the main labour movement, demanding to see Zacharia Chikwenya, an official
of the trade union.
"The policemen had no search warrant but said they were looking for fliers
on the ZCTU stayaway and wanted to know who had distributed the fliers
overnight," said Ndlovu.
In Chinhoyi, plainclothes police allegedly swooped on the ZCTU's offices
also demanding to know the person who had distributed the stayaway fliers
the previous night.
In Mutare, police are said to be hunting down members of the ZCTU.
Last year in September Chibebe and 40 other members of the ZCTU were
arrested and allegedly tortured while in police custody after a scuttled
demonstration against the prevailing economic meltdown.
Medical reports produced by independent doctors confirmed that injuries
suffered by Chibebe and others were consistent with torture.
EMBATTLED Industry and International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu has been
summoned to appear before the Parliamentary privileges committee chaired by
Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi for the second time in as many weeks.
The hearing was initially to be held yesterday but it was cancelled at the
last minute and rescheduled for next week. Although members of the committee
could not comment as they are barred from speaking on the matter, it is
suspected the cancellation could have something to do with a ZANU PF
politburo meeting held yesterday. "The committee has resolved to seek
clarification from the minister following his denial of the allegations at
the first meeting. The meeting will now take place next Wednesday," a source
Mpofu first appeared before the committee on March 7. He is accused of
telling members of the portfolio committee on Foreign Affairs, Trade and
Industry last year that there was a "shocking" report on alleged graft at
giant steelmaker, the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company and then denying
making the statement later.
The committee headed by ZANU PF Chipinge South legislator Enock Porusingazi
then resolved to move a motion for Mpofu's impeachment, which was granted by
Speaker of Parliament, John Nkomo.
Mpofu has been charged under the Privileges, Immunities and Powers of
Parliament Act, and if convicted he can be fined or jailed for two years.
The committee may also summon Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister
Munyaradzi Mangwana depending on Mpofu' testimony on the role-played by the
former in the Zisco saga.
Mpofu alleged that he and then Anti-Corruption minister Paul Mangwana, had
discusses the suppression of the Zisco report in order to avoid discouraging
potential investors from partnering with the Redcliff-based parastatal.
In a report presented in Parliament on the aborted management deal between
Zisco and Global Steel Holdings Limited, the trade committee said Mpofu
violated the country's investment laws by bringing in the foreign firm. The
minister was also accused of bad corporate governance by sidelining the
company's board in decision-making.
Economic Viewpoint with John Robertson
MOUNTING evidence that we are about to suffer another massive food shortage
and that the costs of importing the shortfall have doubled invites us to
focus our attention on an undeniable fact: we have never needed expertise in
the farming sector as much as we need it now.
Another fact is that the quickest way to start a recovery process that will
ease all of the country's economic problems will be to rebuild the
foundations of commercial agriculture.
Political problems that will no doubt remain will present other challenges,
all of which will deserve careful thought and special attention, but we must
prevent these from deflecting or derailing our efforts to achieve economic
recovery. Now it is urgent that we make clear distinctions between what is
needed to make amends for past failings and what is needed to ensure future
Undiluted attention has to be focused on proposals that can deliver future
recovery and growth. With success behind us, we will all be far better
placed to concentrate far more useful attention on challenges caused by past
errors of judgment.
Currently, Zimbabwe's broader options can be placed into three categories:
The first is that we carry on as we are now, trying to make about a million
small-scale farms work successfully against all the odds. Small farms need
subsidies. Even the brilliantly equipped and expertly run farms in Europe
need subsidies because farms throughout Europe are small.
Zimbabwe, as a developing country, cannot afford subsidies, but subsidies
are being paid anyway. To fund them, Zimbabwe has to borrow or print most of
the money. The more the government borrows, the larger the budget deficit
and the higher the inflation rate; the more it prints, the more vigorously
it forces the already severe inflation to rise.
Subsidies that rescue farmers from inadequate performance, if not
bankruptcy, also relieve them of the need to improve their operating
techniques. Therefore, subsidies help perpetuate low yields, and this they
do at very high cost. This generates even more inflation. As government
finances become more stretched, budget deficits rise, the shortages become
worse and yet more inflation becomes inevitable.
On this track we will not progress. In fact, the stronger probability is
that the rural areas in Zimbabwe will become patchworks of derelict farms.
If we look to other countries that have seen a similar decline, we might
expect these areas to become competing fiefdoms, run by warlords who are
each trying to capture more of the less that will exist. More people will
migrate to the already overcrowded cities and these pressures will carry
Zimbabwe into worsening chaos, increasing conflict and deepening political
The second possibility is that we could try to make our new farmers
productive under the discipline of state-run central planning authorities
that depend upon the considerable involvement of the military and other
uniformed services. At best, we might see these management methods lead to
gradual improvements in output, but subsidies will remain essential and the
skills that still have to be learned could see us still floundering in 30
The third option is to go for large-scale farms. For these, we will have to
encourage our experienced farmers to return to the land. They will set tough
requirements, but assistance that will certainly be denied under the first
two options will undoubtedly become available if we choose this third route.
To succeed, we have only to install the components needed to make commercial
farming function as a big, successful industry in a modernising economy.
These components are property rights, title deeds, security of tenure and
the transferability of land in an open market. Between them, they will give
the land the collateral value the farmers need to access essential bank
funding and they will give the farmers the confidence to make long-term
commitments to create a productive and profitable, subsidy-free industry.
Zimbabwe could start the recovery process almost immediately by re-engaging
farmers who know what to do now. With government's acceptance of the need to
harness economies of scale, the knowledge and experience of skilled farmers
would soon become a driving force in Zimbabwe's economy, and they would make
possible the creation of well-structured and viable financial and technical
service centres as well as training institutions in the small farming towns
around the country.
Special tax advantages and other incentives would be needed, but they would
be extremely cost-effective as they would bring about the production of
reasonable crops and reduced imports in the shortest possible time. These
successes would lead directly to the revitalisation of every other kind of
economic activity throughout the country.
The farmers would need a lot of assistance to get to work, but the
indications are that assistance would be readily offered by the many
countries and development agencies that want to see rapid recovery in
Zimbabwe. However, no such assistance will be forthcoming if the country
remains committed to policies that deny civil and property rights, or depend
upon policies of collectivisation and central planning.
Zimbabwe's assistance needs will have to be matched by the country's
successful efforts to become deserving of that assistance. We must first
agree to work together. Industry, commerce, banking, transport,
construction, the tourism sector and the government all need to work with
the farmers because none of these can hope to see a revival of their own
fortunes until a recovery in agricultural output has started.
Once they have worked out their recovery strategies for their separate
enterprises, Zimbabwe's re-engaged skilled farmers should be able to rely on
considerable local support as well as help from abroad.
However, the essential first step is to redirect government's attention and
policy decisions to the country's recovery and future success. No recovery
will be possible while government concentrates on a history that cannot be
changed. It is the future that matters most, and Zimbabwe's commercial
farmers could lead the way in restoring hope for a full recovery of the
country's economic prospects.
Zimbabwe Economic Society articles are coordinated by Lovemore Kadenge and
he can be contacted on e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or on cell number
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
THE World Bank's private sector financing arm, the International Finance
Corporation (IFC), is to investigate allegations that its funds could have
been used to finance the operations of a local diamond mine whose ownership
is in dispute.
Bubye Minerals, in dispute with River Ranch Limited over River Ranch mine,
has complained to World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz after one of River
Ranch Limited's directors was quoted by local media as saying his company
was receiving financial support from the African Management Services Company
(Amsco). Amsco is a special purpose capacity building project jointly run by
the IFC and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Thierry Tanoh, the IFC department director for Sub-Saharan Africa, said IFC
would take Bubye Minerals' complaint seriously.
"We considered the issues you raised in your letter to president Wolfowitz
with the utmost seriousness and we will investigate," said Tanoh in a letter
written to Bubye last week.
"Amsco has been in operation for almost two decades and has been delivering
on its core mandate of capacity building and succession planning for African
businesses. As I am sure you will appreciate, Amsco makes every effort to
ensure that its client companies abide by local laws and regulations,
especially as one of its core goals is the improvement of governance in its
client companies," Tanoh said.
Although The Financial Gazette could not obtain a copy of Bubye's letter of
complaint, sources say the letter raises questions about alleged World Bank
support for River Ranch Limited, one of whose directors, Tirivanhu Mudariki,
has been specified by the United States government.
The US, which is the major contributor to the World Bank, has passed
punitive legislation that compels its representatives to any world financier
to block any financial support to Zimbabwe or to any businesses with links
to the ruling ZANU PF officials.
The UNDP last week said apart from supporting River Ranch Limited, Amsco
also availed assistance to other local companies such as Bindura Nickel Mine
and Shearwater, a tourism and leisure company.
The UNDP has denied charges by a lawyer for Bubye that it had allowed two of
its vehicles to be used by officials of River Ranch Limited. The charge was
the latest made by either side in a long running dispute between Bubye and
river ranch Limited over the Beitbridge mine.
Although production figures are not available, industry officials say River
Ranch has the capacity to produce much more than Murowa diamond mine,
currently the largest diamond producer in the country.
Africa File with Mavis Makuni
Africa's former leaders stage unpopular political comebacks
When London-based telecommunications tycoon Mo Ibrahim announced plans last
year to offer prizes of up to US$5 million as an incentive for African
leaders to relinquish power, he overlooked an emerging category - former
leaders who are determined to stage political comebacks.
Ibrahim announced that the awards to be given by his foundation were
designed to reward leaders who were not guilty of rigging elections or
enriching themselves through corruption and pillaging during their stints as
leaders of their countries. The philanthropist believed that the initiative
would give African leaders an alternative to poverty, corruption and
clinging to power beyond their sell-by date. "Nothing is as important as
good governance in ensuring development and reducing poverty. Africa's
leaders Face many challenges and this award will help recognise those of
them that have done well.
But if Ibrahim's awards are to serve as an incentive to persuade reluctant
incumbents to pass on the baton, what is to be done to discourage former
presidents who have had their turn at the helm of the ship of state from
staging unpopular comebacks? This question has become pertinent in light of
moves by at least two former African presidents who tried unsuccessfully to
amend the constitutions of their countries to prolong their incumbencies to
contest elections once again. These are Malawi's former head of state Bakili
Muluzi and Namibia's founding president, Sam Nujoma.
It was reported in the press recently that Muluzi has declared his intention
to contest the 2009 presidential elections in Malawi if his party, the
United Democratic Front, nominates him. He has previously served two terms
of office that ended in 2004. His attempts to amend the constitution to give
himself a third term of office were rebuffed by parliament. As a result his
former protégé and now arch rival, Bingu wa Mutharika was swept into power
albeit in a disputed election. Muluzi is said to be capitalising on a
constitutional semantic loophole to revive his dream. He is reported to pin
his hopes on a clause in Malawi's republican constitution that limits an
incumbent's stint as head of state to "two consecutive terms" He says this
can be interpreted to mean that one can make a comeback after a break. It is
debatable however, whether this is the understanding of the generality of
the people, who regarded constitutional term limits as a means to ensure the
injection of new blood through regular changes of guard.
Former Namibian president Sam Nujoma is reported to be working on similar
plans. His attempt to amend the constitution to allow himself to prolong his
stint when his term of office ended in 2005 met with stiff resistance from
He is reported to be inching his way back through the control he still
exerts on the ruling South West Africa Peoples Organisation(SWAPO). The
argument often advanced by long-serving African presidents is that they need
to stay in office long enough to see their visions come to fruition but
"long enough" has come to mean decades or lifetimes. And in the case of
Muluzi and Nujoma, their comebacks would present a double standard in that
they would condemn their successors, wa Mutharika and Hifikepunye Pohamba to
During the World Economic Forum in Cape Town last year, South African
president Thabo Mbeki spoke out against unlimited presidential terms, saying
it was inconceivable that leaders would "continue to enjoy the support of
their people" if they clung to power for the rest of their lives. He said
the big challenge in Africa was to ensure that all components of society
enjoy access to resources in an equitable way. "That means access to
political power and access to resources." Ironically, after taking such a
principled stance against Life Presidencies, he has been accused of
harbouring ambitions to extend his own incumbency after its expiry in 2009
by amending the constitution.
Another head of state who has tried to tamper with his country's
constitution to allow himself to remain at the helm is Nigerian president
Olusegun Obasanjo. Last year a bill that would have enabled him to seek a
third term of office as leader of Africa's most populous state was thrown
out by the senate. Obasanjo had been accused of waging a smear campaign
against his deputy, Atiku Abubakar as a way to eliminate him from the
presidential race this year. To his credit however, Obasanjo accepted defeat
when his attempts to fiddle with the constitution failed, saying: "The
constitution must be held hallowed and sacred. And on the basis of the
constitution in hand we must start to plan the next election." Yoweri
Museveni of Uganda is into his 21st year as head of state this year because
he successfully forced an amendment of the constitution to allow himself to
remain in control.
The bottom line is that whether it is incumbents amending constitutions to
cling to power or ex-presidents exploiting loopholes to stage unpopular
comebacks, some African countries look set to be stuck with the same leaders
A THICK veil of camaraderie hitherto used by continental leaders to mask
their deep anger at Zimbabwe's somewhat irregular way of dealing with
universally accepted principles of good governance, human rights etc. seems
to be lifting at the least expected time for the government, whose
exasperation with its increasing isolation is reaching fever-pitch.
Least expected in the sense that the thunderous chorus of condemnation of
the recent brutal assault of civic leaders has broken out at a time when it
is almost certain that the fractious ruling party, which has dominated the
country's political landscape since independence in 1980, will face a
similarly fragmented opposition that will, however, be holding its tail high
after scoring valuable points in the court of public opinion.
With both parliamentary and presidential elections likely at the expiry of
President Robert Mugabe's term in 2008, the powers-that-be don't seem to
have much time on their hands to reverse the tide and defuse the groundswell
of public disenchantment now being echoed by some African leaders who had
previously preferred silence as opposed to megaphone diplomacy.
This is against the backdrop of looming starvation in some parts of the
country where the staple maize crop has been written off owing to drought as
well as human incompetence. This will undoubtedly worsen the impact of the
decade-long economic malaise, with the country having to scrounge around for
scarce foreign currency needed to import an estimated 600 000 tonnes of
grain to cover the deficit.
While we don't hold any brief for any political party, it is a fact that
Zimbabwe is losing valuable friends in its darkest hour and lacks the
wherewithal to wiggle out of the crisis in isolation.
It is quite refreshing therefore, that African statesmen whose deafening
silence on the Zimbabwean crisis had been taken to mean tacit endorsement of
Harare's actions, are slowly coming out of their shells to speak out on the
economic and political mayhem that is threatening to drag down the whole
Ghanaian leader John Kufuor, who doubles up as the African Union chairman,
was the first to shake officials in Harare, who had all along believed the
continental body would condone their actions, out of their complacency. Then
followed Tanzanian President and current head of the Southern Africa
Development Community organ on security, politics and defence, Jakaya
Kikwete who, despite the tight lid put on his recent visit, is said to have
preached the same gospel: Harare needs to repent.
As usual, the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Australia
have been scathing in their responses. The sharpest rebuke obviously came
from Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa whose "sinking Titanic"
characterisation of the situation in Zimbabwe should have surprised even the
country's worst enemies.
Even where the response has been demure, the tone has been quite candid, an
indication that patience is now wearing thin against Zimbabwe.
Predictably, a sizeable number of African democracies have opted to turn a
blind eye to the unfolding tragedy that is the shame of the continent. Once
one of the most prosperous countries in southern Africa, Zimbabwe has now
joined the ranks of failed African states with the highest inflation in the
world at over 1 700 percent.
The likes of Kenya, South Africa and Botswana, which are building traditions
of democracy and good governance, and which could offer continental
leadership on the unfolding humanitarian and economic crisis continue to
maintain a studious silence, even as evidence mounts that Harare is out of
But no matter how hard African leaders might try to bury their heads in the
sand for fear of being branded traitors pandering to the whims of
imperialists, the deteriorating Zimbabwean situation has had a serious
impact on regional economies in particular that have been inundated with an
influx of Zimbabweans seeking greener pastures.
A large number of Zimbabweans have taken up South African citizenship and
there are probably more Zimbabweans in South Africa than in the United
Kingdom, the country with the highest official tally of expatriate
From an estimated US$60 billion worth of developing countries' investment in
tertiary education lost through the brain drain in Third World countries,
the region could account for the greater portion of it.
Elsewhere in this week's issue, a senior executive from SNEL, one of the
country's major sources of electricity, highlighted to ZESA how the power
utility's failure to redeem a US$2.8 million debt had caused serious
operational problems that might spark a political storm in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo.
SNEL, as the official put it, has been unable to secure adequate spares and
other critical equipment to keep its systems running.
It is this unforgivable see no evil, speak no evil and hear no evil kind of
approach to issues the ruling party has previously capitalised on to
ward-off possible censure by the international community while perpetuating
acts of thuggery.
African leaders must stand up and be counted and that means telling the
powers-that-be in Zimbabwe in unequivocal terms that the game is over. The
country, which has been stripped of its regional breadbasket tag and now
ranks among laughable basket cases, has bled too long, and Africa is tired
of carrying its shame.
Kids ask the most unlikely things
EDITOR - I'm not disregarding Stephen Gowans' opinion (Herald March 22 2007)
but, the big question is: if your house is on fire, what sensible thing do
you do? Call for help, right? When we were fighting for liberation, did we
go it alone? We looked for help, right?
Zimbabwe is on fire and we don't care how the fire is going to be put off.
Our focus is to get enough help or support to accomplish this. Help from the
east, west, north or south is needed to rescue our sinking ship . . . If the
company is not performing, not generating business, who do you blame? The
head of the company, right?
There is more to life after ZANU PF. We cherish the party's contribution to
our independence, but you're now bringing less cheer and adoration among
supporters. You're making the exciting game less fun. We respect the
contribution you made to the liberation of the country - but freedom alone
doesn't put food on the table.
Our government is preoccupied with the past . . . our liberation struggle is
perfectly preserved in books; whoever wants to read or know about it should
simply visit the archives. By the way you sent us to school, we can read -
thanks for that. We don't want anyone to remind or narrate or sing the story
of the liberation struggle for us. ZANU PF mustn't use our national legacy
(liberation struggle history) as a bargaining tool for staying in power.
They shouldn't use it as a tool to justify corruption, oppression and
The liberation struggle was not waged in our beloved country only. South
Africa, Mozambique, Angola, Ghana and many more countries went through the
If your own kids were to ask you: How come there are no lights in the
streets? How come Morgan Tsvangirai is badly hurt? How come our teachers at
school have sad faces everyday? How come the buildings and streets in the
city are so dirty? How come there is no water and electricity at school? How
come food on Air Zimbabwe is so bad? How come there are fewer people on the
plane to Victoria Falls? How come our friends at school do not wear uniforms
anymore? How come our friends always ask us for lunch at school? How come
you're planning to send us overseas for education? Why is it that Mazoe
drink is labelled "made in Botswana"? Why is it you take us overseas for
medical check-ups? Why is it ministers drive luxury cars while many people
are walking to work? Why are our policemen not properly dressed and have sad
faces? Why it is Victoria Falls is being advertised as Zambian property?
How do you respond to these simple questions?
Living in a hell hole
EDITOR - Your country is falling apart all around you and you say nothing! I
was in a bureau de change yesterday and your money was being quoted at 3 000
000 to one Euro.
Stand up for yourselves and say something or is living in a hell hole to
It does help to laugh at ourselves
EDITOR - I read with great interest, and with much laughter, an article by
Rangarirai Mberi, (If Mugabe was CEO, March 15, 2007). It does help to laugh
at ourselves sometimes, as the article clearly does.
However, I am worried Ranga forgets a few important factors. He suggests an
executive chairman, in this case of Zimbabwe Incorporated, with an abysmal
record of management can never have an easy passage past shareholders. Fair
enough. But, what if the said executive chairman controls 100 percent of the
shareholder vote, through a potent combination of kickbacks and threats?
Is this not the situation in Zimbabwe Inc at the moment? Are the more
influential shareholders in, say an investment vehicle called Bambazonke PF
Investments, not under the control of the executive chairman through juicy
kickbacks for their own little companies in government contracts and free
farms? And are the rest of us, the ordinary shareholders not part of
Bambazonke, not intimidated into abstaining when vote time comes? Just a
Maybe placing the whole company under curatorship is the answer. Or perhaps
even allowing a hostile takeover; but no, that wouldn't do.
Tanaka Fitz Nyoni
Beatings are primitive
EDITOR - The beatings of opposition and civic leaders are a humiliation to
all Zimbabweans and a mockery of the freedom of speach we fought for.
The ZANU PF leadership should walk within and among the people, see
crumbling hospitals, crumbling farms, crumbling homesteads, crumbling
education, crumbling Zimbabwe. As intelligent people we must talk, discuss
and resolve. Beatings are primitive and have no place in a Christian
The perfect destination
EDITOR - I read with amazement your report on the Zimbabwe Tourism
Authority's suggestions that the recent round of political violence is
inimical to its strategies for market growth. It's probably the authority's
segmentation of markets that is at fault.
They ought to target neo-Nazis and Gestapo remnants who live quietly in most
of Europe and North America. Remnants of Mussolini's fascists in Italy. Not
to leave out British skinheads.
These people would find Zimbabwe a brilliant destination with its home grown
fascist political elite and presidential aspirants with names that celebrate
Stop this lunacy now
EDITOR - It is with regret that I witnessed the use of physical force to try
to silence the voices of fellow Zimbabweans. In my opinion this will never
lead us to true democracy as all we are doing is to attract attention for
the wrong reasons.
As far as I know, we have the capability to solve our problems and if a
third party is willing to mediate, let's be man enough to accept the help.
I remember in the eighties when Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai used to
sit down and talk on a common subject - the people. I strongly believe they
still have the same subject to talk about - the people.
Why can't the two gentlemen sit down and talk? They do not have to have the
same strategy - it is the objective that is important. Strategy will come
from the discussion. We are sick and tired of reading about how ruthless
President Mugabe is or how badly Tsvangirai was beaten up. We are sick and
tired of people having a condescending attitude towards us just because we
Is it not enough that we are struggling to make ends meet only to wake up to
bad news about our beloved country? We need to wake up and see that we are
cutting the tree that we all feed on - Zimbabwe.
How does it feel that we now go to SADC begging for help?
If you go back in history you will learn that ZAPU and ZANU sat down and
worked out a solution to the "dissident" problem. Why can't our leaders do
the same? Even if President Mugabe is wrong or Tsvangirai is wrong, why
can't we go above the blame culture and look at possible ways of getting out
of this mess?
The starting point is not for President Mugabe to admit that he is wrong,
neither is his going a solution. The starting point should be where we want
to go and what should we do? You will be amazed at the results if we focus
on the country and stop this lunacy of thinking that party politics is best.
The two parties, ZANU PF and the MDC, unfortunately think that they are
above the people. Just because we asked you to put our points across will
not make you the people. You still remain responsible and accountable to the
wishes of the people. Your authority is limited by the mandate that you were
given by the people. We did not vote for you to fight against each other but
to fight for our needs. We are not going to allow you to kill and maim us
for your own selfish interests. Just revisit your mandate and you will never
The whole world can't be wrong
EDITOR - I am analysing Ken Mufuka's perception of the goings-on in Zimbabwe
and am of the opinion that he's of the same mentality as Benjamin Netanyahu,
one time Prime Minister of Israel: "Sometimes the whole world is wrong!"
I'm not too sure how true this can be because he didn't get very far. Such
people do not deserve to be heads of state or government because they are
too individualistic, with too much self belief. They personalise issues
where the effects, such as the suffering currently being experienced by the
generality of the Zimbabwean people, do not affect them in person.
Ken focuses on the response of the international community, be they Western
or otherwise and draws up the work of the imperialist from that. On the
other hand these things did happen, the victims were brutalised and that is
what everybody is talking about; neighbours, region, the AU, international
media and in Ken's opinion, the plotters.
The whole world was not wrong to support the struggle for Zimbabwe's
independence and equally the whole world is not wrong to condemn what is
happenning in Zimbabwe now.
Who is responsible for the collapse of the economy, health services,
agriculture and industries? The West? If yes, are we then saying they were
responsible for keeping the country on its feet? If the answer is no then
something went wrong and there is need to identify what it is. If the brains
are there, swallow your pride and get back to it. It's a world where you
will never make it alone.