Njabulo Ncube Chief Political Reporter
lRelations strained for a year
BATTLE lines have been clearly drawn between Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa and his equally influential subordinate Sobusa Gula-Ndebele over
the running of the Attorney-General (AG)'s Office - leading to a heated
exchange between the two at last week's Cabinet meeting.
Highly placed sources said relations between the retired army
colonel-cum-lawyer and his principals at the Justice Ministry had been
strained for over a year now but the situation deteriorated last week when
Chinamasa and Gula-Ndebele clashed in full view of their Cabinet colleagues.
The AG's Office recently clashed with the Central Intelligence Organisation
(CIO) over the handling of the Mutare arms cache saga in which Gula-Ndebele
allegedly wrote to the minister over the interference of the dreaded spy
agency in the administration of justice.
Gula-Ndebele, who took over from Andrew Chigovera in December 2004 after the
office had been vacant for one-and-a-half years, is an ex-officio member of
Cabinet. He reports directly to the Justice Minister. The AG is the
principal law officer of the state, empowered to act in all litigation in
which the law-executing power is a party, and to advise the supreme
executive whenever required.
Sources told The Financial Gazette this week that the heated exchange
between Chinamasa and Gula-Ndebele, which continued for over an hour had
brought to the fore the widening rift between the two legal minds over
policy issues and raised fears that Chinamasa might want to interfere with
the activities of the office.
They said Chinamasa was livid that the AG's Office is usurping the powers of
his ministry and had previously acted like an autonomous government organ
and yet it falls under the Justice Ministry.
He also raised concern about the salary disparities between staff from the
AG's Office and employees from the rest of the ministry that might threaten
industrial relations within the Justice Ministry.
Chinamasa refused to comment when contacted yesterday.
"The ministry is also alleging that the AG's Office had sought funding
directly from the banking sector without going through the ministry.
Gula-Ndebele proved during the exchange that he is no pushover and he argued
his side of the story.
"In the end, President Robert Mugabe has to intervene otherwise the working
environment there will get out of hand," said the source.
Sources privy to operations within the ministry said the fallout between the
two officials has been brewing since last year when lawmakers tried to push
for the Attorney-General's Bill which sought to establish a board
constituting the AG's Office as an arm outside the public service and
provide for the administration of the office and conditions of service of
The Bill, which appeared to have been shelved indefinitely, was seen as
giving the A-G undue autonomy rooted in the ruling ZANU PF's succession
Information reaching The Financial Gazette indicates that the A-G is
undertaking a reorganisation exercise in what insiders described as a
mini-reshuffle by Gula-Ndebele allegedly to plug loopholes the minister has
used to blame his office for such incidents as the leaking of documents.
Gula-Ndebele yesterday refused to discuss the alleged clashes.
Asked if he was reorganising his department he said: "I can only be able to
do that when the Bill is passed but I am not sure when this will happen."
Sources also disclosed that what has riled the minister and other government
officials that were vehemently opposed to the appointment of Gula-Ndebele is
the support he is enjoying from his staff, who credit him with delivering
better perks and salaries than their principal.
"There has been some movements but this is part of the A-G's re-organisation
strategy which seems unacceptable at the ministry," said another source.
"The minister seems uncomfortable but the A-G is partially independent from
him. I don't see the Bill being passed with the present impasse but as
employees of the department, we are aware it is for our good and we wish
that it be passed, not tomorrow, but now."
The Financial Gazette can reveal that one Mr Shoko is now the acting Chief
Law Officer Economic Crimes after taking over from Joseph Jagada who has
been sent to Tanzania for further training in preparation for a new post
when he comes back.
"We expected the Bill to immediately sail through last year but this has not
happened due to the politics in the ministry. However, the A-G is
nonetheless proceeding with reshuffling staff for the efficient operation of
the office. It is difficult to do it without the proposed law," he said.
Munyaradzi Mugowo Staff Reporter
INTERNAL squabbles over the unsanctioned sale of assets by some members of
the executive - allegedly to pay wages - threaten to split the Zimbabwe
Liberators Platform (ZLP), a war veterans' body.
The assets include motor vehicles and office equipment such as computers.
In a statement released yesterday, founding members of organisation
comprising founding national chairman Webster Gwauya (Happison Nenji) and
founding national secretary Godfrey Rangwani (Abel Sibanda) accused the
incumbent leadership of corruption, embezzlement and insidiously extending
their tenure beyond December 5 2005, when a new executive was supposed to be
elected according to the ZLP constitution.
The current executive, comprising Wabata Munodawafa, Happy Mariri, Celestino
Gavhera, Ishmael Dube and Killian Masuku, also allegedly illegally sublet
some ZLP offices at the organisation's headquarters to their "friends and
acquaintances without the approval of the national council," according to
the founding members.
"It has come to our attention that these same individuals, for reasons best
known to themselves, have unilaterally disposed of the organisation's assets
without authority from the ZLP national council and its general assembly and
without consultation with the organisation's structures, its membership and
founding fathers," read part of the statement.
ZLP programmes manager Ishmael Dube told The Financial Gazette that last
year's annual general meeting had been postponed because of financial
constraints, but would not comment on the unprocedural sale of ZLP assets.
"The organisation was almost broke and the founder members are aware of
that. That is the reason why the AGM was postponed to this year. But
preparations are under way at the moment to hold the AGM," Dube said.
According to information received by this newspaper, the assets in question
were acquired through the efforts of the founder members of the
organisation, who have since taken a back seat.
The ZLP emerged out of a split in the Zimbabwe National Liberation War
Veterans Association (ZNLWVA).
Those who broke away from the ZNLWVA alleged that the association was
digressing from the vision of protecting the interests of liberation war
fighters and aligning itself with the ZANU PF government.
Njabulo Ncube Chief Political Reporter
SPEAKER of Parliament John Nkomo has turned down a request by a splinter
faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to withdraw Innocent
Gonese and Thoko Khupe as the opposition party's Chief Whip and Deputy Chief
Whip respectively as the fallout within the party shifted to the House of
Nkomo, in a letter to Gibson Sibanda and Gonese dated March 7 2006, said he
would not accede to the request- by Sibanda's faction in Parliament to
replace Gonese and Khupe with Blessing Chebundo (Kwekwe Central) and
Nomalanga Khumalo (Mzingwane) as Chief Whip and Deputy Whip respectively,
arguing that no notification of a formal spilt of the MDC into two new
political parties had been submitted to his office as required by Section 41
(1) (e) of the country's Constitution.
Nkomo also turned down a counter request, made by MDC president Morgan
Tsvangirai's supporters in Parliament to have Sibanda stripped of his powers
as leader of the opposition in the House.
"The MDC party won 41 of the 120 contested seats in the general elections of
2005 and retains those seats to this day. The authorities on Parliamentary
practice and procedure agree that the appointment of Whips is the
prerogative of the political parties represented in Parliament. Accordingly,
at the time of its election to Parliament, and before its split into two
factions, the MDC party appointed Hon Gonese and Hon Khupe (Makokoba) as its
Chief Whip and Deputy Chief respectively. The Speaker had no difficulty in
accepting these appointments since the party had spoken with one voice on
the matter and thereby properly exercised its prerogative to make
appointments," said the Speaker.
"Today, 23 members of the MDC party calling themselves the "official
opposition" have, in opposition to the other 18 members, purported to oust
these Whips and replace them with new ones. The question before me,
therefore, is whether, given the divisions in the party over this matter, I
should regard the purported appointments as having been properly made by the
MDC party," added Nkomo.
The Speaker said Section 41 (1) (e) of the Constitution provided that if a
member of parliament had ceased to represent the interest of his or her
party, such a party was entitled to declare that fact by written notice to
the Speaker of Parliament whereupon the seat shall become vacant.
"The MDC party has not availed itself of its right in terms of Section 41
(1)(e) to oust any of its Members of Parliament whom it deems to no longer
represent its interests. In the absence of such a Constitutional ouster from
Parliament of any member of the party, I find no legal basis upon which to
treat the 41 MDC members of the House of Assembly as anything other than a
single political entity. I have difficulty in accepting the purported
appointment of the new Whips given the disagreements between the two
factions of the same party in Parliament in this matter. I am of the view
that to accept these appointments would amount to recognition of a split of
the MDC Party into two political parties, in violation of the provisions of
section 41 (1)(e) of the Constitution. Consequently, I cannot accept the
appointment of Hon. Chebundo and Hon. Khumalo as the new whips of the MDC
Party. In the absence of a legal pronouncement of a split of the MDC Party
in Parliament, whose constitutional consequences I would have to address
first, Parliament will continue to work with the current Whips," reads part
of Nkomo's letter.
In the same vein, the Speaker has upheld Sibanda's position as the
opposition party's leader in the House.
"Regarding the status of Hon Sibanda as the Leader of the MDC Party in the
House, again, for the same reasons cited above, I find no basis for
recognizing the alleged suspension of the Hon member from his duties as
Leader of the Opposition in the absence of uncontested evidence from the MDC
Party to that effect," he said.
In arriving at his decision, Nkomo said he had given careful consideration
to the alleged split of the MDC.
Zimbabwe's largest opposition party and ZANU PF's closest challenger since
independence in 1980, split last October following sharp differences over
Senate elections that were necessitated by a controversial constitutional
amendment the party had vigorously opposed.
The split left one faction following Tsvangirai, while the other threw its
weight behind Sibanda and secretary general Welshman Ncube.
The two parties have since held separate congresses, with one endorsing
Tsvangirai while the other, held in Bulawayo in February, elected Arthur
Mutambara as head of the splinter group previously headed by Sibanda.
Rangarirai Mberi Senior Business Reporter
ZANU PF's Jongwe Printers edged closer to collapse this week, failing to
print its The Voice newspaper after bids to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and
government for urgent financial aid failed.
The publisher's troubles have forced President Robert Mugabe to intervene,
and yesterday he was handed a report he had demanded from Jongwe chairman
Nathan Shamuyarira on the financial status of the company, our sources said.
President Mugabe's intervention came after Nhanhla Masuku, a managing
consultant for Jongwe, had recommended to the board that the company be shut
down until it was assured of fresh capital.
"The company has reached a stage where it is no longer printing anything,"
the source said.
Jongwe's financial troubles became apparent last week when Sovereign
Printers refused to print The Voice. The printing firm, run by a former
Jongwe employee, is owed over $2 billion by the ZANU PF company.
Desperate to raise cash, Jongwe had attempted to sell off its former offices
in Harare. Although a buyer had shown interest, President Mugabe reportedly
barred the sale, demanding instead that Shamuyarira and his board explain
the virtual collapse of the company. In his report to President Mugabe,
Shamuyarira pleads for additional funding from government for working
Jongwe has seen creditors lining up to have its assets auctioned off over a
pile of debts. Art Corporation is owed $1 billion, while Jongwe's two
printing machines went under the hammer last month over a sum of $300
million owed to Print Originators.
In 2004, Jongwe spent a $10.5 billion RBZ loan for a printing press on a
machine that can only print exercise books, a blunder that has haunted the
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
A RUSAPE man staged a solo demonstration at the weekend, a few weeks after
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai told
Zimbabweans to ready themselves for mass protests against the government.
Charles Zinyembe, 46, a Makoni East MDC executive, took to the streets of
Rusape on Saturday carrying a banner with an inscription denouncing
President Robert Mugabe.
The banner read: "Mugabe must go. We are tired and sick of him. Let's joins
The man took his protest from Vengere township into the city centre, where
he was apprehended by the police and charged with contravening Section 16 of
the notorious Public Order and Security Act (POSA).
It is a crime under POSA to "undermine the authority or insult the
President". An offender can be fined up to $400 000 or be imprisoned for a
period not exceeding one year or both.
Zinyembe's lawyer Innocent Gonese, who is also the MDC legislator for Mutare
Central and the party's secretary for legal affairs, told The Financial
Gazette yesterday that his client, who appeared before a Rusape magistrate,
had been granted $1 million bail.
According to Gonese, Zinyembe will appear in court on April 28.
Zinyembe's stunt comes shortly after Tsvangirai urged his supporters to gear
up for mass protests to intensify pressure for political change.
The MDC congress, which was held two weeks ago, backed Tsvangirai's call for
a wave of protests against President Mugabe's government, saying Zimbabwe
had become a failed state under the 82-year-old's rule, "with its economy
deteriorating faster than a country at war".
Meanwhile, members of the infamous Border Gezi national youth service and
police in Chimanimani apprehended 18 MDC supporters loyal to former
Chimanimani legislator Roy Bennett on charges of violating POSA by allegedly
unlawfully assembling without police clearance.
The 18, who were arrested last Saturday in Chimanimani and handed over to
Birchenough Bridge police station, include Patricia Tambirai Makamera, the
MDC's district executive committee member, and James Mujuyuko, a secretary
for ward four in Chimanimani.
Fifteen of the accused, including Aaron Kurumani, Flora Makute, Ndanya
Sanduma, Mudisi Marikopo and Finet Mutetwa, were later released after being
forced to pay $250 000 admission of guilt fines.
Those detained from Saturday to Tuesday included an MDC district executive
committee member. They were later released after being granted bail by a
The MDC said the arrests were spurious, charging that this was retribution
against its supporters for consistently backing Bennett.
"Our supporters did not hold a meeting," said Pishai Mucha-uraya, the MDC
Manica-land provincial spokesperson. " It is just a ploy to intimidate our
people and scare them from supporting Roy Bennet," he added.
Former workers and their families on Bennett's Charles-wood farm, which was
seized by the government, have over the past six years been targeted in a
series of violent attacks by state agents and ruling party supporters.
Calls for investigations into allegations of human rights violations on the
farm have been ignored.
Charles Rukuni Bulawayo Bureau Chief
CALLS for a separate state of MaNdebeleland are a luxury people can hardly
afford at the moment, political commentators have said.
They said that while autonomy and the proliferation of parties that seek to
represent the interests of Matabeleland were healthy for the promotion of
democracy, this could only make sense if things were normal in Zimbabwe.
While calls for a separate state have been going on for ages, they have
taken a new meaning since the split of the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), the most formidable opposition party in this country ever, in October
The split, which saw the creation of the anti- and pro- senate factions has
largely been described as ethnically-based though both factions have a
national composition. The split dashed any hopes of the opposition unseating
President Robert Mugabe, whose 26-year rule has seen the country plunge from
being the jewel of Africa to a basket case that cannot even feed itself.
Things have been made worse by the formation of a new party called the
Patriotic Union of MaNdebeleland (PUMA) which proposes the division of
Matabeleland and the Midlands into 10 provinces based on the traditional
boundaries set by King Mzilikazi before the collapse of the Ndebele nation
more than a century ago.
There is already ZAPU-Federal Party which is calling for a separate state
for Matabeleland. Other parties claiming to be national but whose
support-base can only come from Matabeleland include Professor Jonathan
Moyo's United People's Movement and ZAPU, formerly led by Agrippa Madlela.
"We are a small country. We need to be united, but by being united I do not
mean we should have one party like ZANU PF but we should have unity of
purpose," a political observer in Bulawayo, Jericho Habana, said.
Another observer, Reggie Moyo echoed the same sentiments. He said the
proliferation of parties claiming to represent the interests of the people
of Matabeleland was healthy for the promotion of democracy but there seemed
to be no direction as far as the Matabeleland issue was concerned.
"Everyone purports to represent the Matabeleland issue but apart from
Gukurahundi (the massacre of civilians from Matabeleland during the civil
strife in the 1980s) what is the Matabeleland issue? If we are talking about
the devolution of power it cannot be a Matabeleland issue. It is a national
issue. Every province wants autonomy. Every province wants proceeds from its
natural resources to be reinvested in that province," Moyo said.
ZAPU-FP leader Paul Siwela said the people from Matabeleland wanted a
separate state because the government of President Robert Mugabe was not
adequately serving them. He said people from Matabeleland felt that
President Mugabe was ignoring them and their needs because people from the
region were not being given key posts in government such as heads of
parastatals, ministers of key portfolios like foreign affairs or
intelligence, and were not being appointed to key ambassadorial posts like
to the United Kingdom or United States.
Dumisani Matshazi of PUMA agreed. "Tribalism has been used to scare the
people of Matabeleland from emancipating themselves from ZANU PF hegemony,"
he was quoted as saying. "We will not succumb to fear because I am prepared
to die for the Ndebele cause."
Habana said if things were normal there would be no problem with autonomy or
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like that in the United Kingdom where England, Wales and Scotland were
autonomous but still fell under the British government, or in the United
States where each state ran its own affairs but left certain functions to
the federal government.
"But this is a luxury we can hardly afford at the moment. We can only think
of that when I can go and live in Zvimba and someone from Zvimba can come
and settle in Tsholotsho without anybody raising eyebrows, when we can call
each other wena Shona or MuNdebele without anyone getting offended. This is
hardly the case now."
Moyo said the calls were coming from opportunists and confusionists who did
not even have a common purpose. "If they have one common purpose, that of
representing the people of Matabeleland, why can't they come together, so
that they can be more effective. Why are they so fragmented?" Moyo queried.
Another observer who preferred anonymity said the issue was more complex
than most people thought because once that autonomy was granted, people
would start asking who was Ndebele and who was not.
"I am a Ndlovu. Right now I am a Ndebele but once there is autonomy someone
will start saying I am Kalanga and not Ndebele. The only true Ndebeles are
Ngunis," the observer said.
Nelson Banya News Editor
WITH the two congresses of the splinter Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
factions having come and gone, many people rightly expected their war of
attrition to persist until a solution, possibly through court action,
settled the burning question of legitimate leadership.
Few could, however, have expected the two factions to go all out on a
propaganda war that is at times as puerile as to be reminiscent of those
dark days when Jonathan Moyo presided over the government spin machinery.
Numbers play a big part in politics and Zimbabweans have, over the past few
weeks, been subjected to conflicting accounts of how many people attended
whose rally, depending on who the source is.
There seems to be a convergence, however, on the attendance figures at both
Most accounts say the Bulawayo congress, during which Arthur Mutambara was
elected president, drew about 3 700 delegates.
The Harare congress, which retained Morgan Tsvangirai as president, drew
over 15 000 delegates - by far the largest number of people to gather at a
political party's congress in the country, and certainly in many other
countries for that matter.
Officials aligned to the Mutambara faction have sought to ridicule the
Harare gathering, saying it was not a congress, but a rally. Huge crowds do
not make for quality deliberations, they contend.
For Tsvangirai, the attendance put to rest any lingering questions about his
legitimacy and popularity, confirming him the leader of the opposition in
Zimbabwe and President Robert Mugabe's biggest rival.
In any case, the MDC constitution provides for a total of 17 998 congress
delegates - a situation which party officials have said needs to be revised
in the interests of organisation, logistics and costs.
Arguing that such representation - from wards, districts and provinces -
would compromise the quality of debate was hypocritical of a faction that
has claimed to be a stickler for upholding the party constitution,
Tsvangirai's supporters have countered.
The propaganda war does seem to have intensified after the Harare congress.
A Mutambara rally, held in Bulawayo's White City Stadium on March 19, the
day the Harare congress wound up, is said to have attracted a crowd ranging
from 800 to - wait for it - 10 000 people.
The rally, meant to introduce Mutambara to supporters, was initially slated
for February 26 but had to be postponed for several reasons, depending on
where one stands.
Reports suggested this was due to lack of support, while others cited lack
of the requisite police clearance, in terms of the Public Order and Security
Journalists attending the rally spoke of how it had to be delayed as
officials waited for the crowd to swell.
A poll among local journalists covering the event returned an average
turnout of 1 200. Agency reports put the figure at about 3 000, while other
reports put the figure at 10 000!
Another Mutambara rally, held at Huruyadzo shopping centre in St Mary's,
Chitungwiza, over the weekend also produced an astonishing divergence in
A state-controlled daily reported that a crowd of about 800 turned up, while
journalists on this newspaper, who also covered the same event, put the
figure at just about 1 000 people.
However, an official statement from the faction's information department
announced that "an ecstatic crowd of 5 000" turned up.
"The MDC president, Professor Arthur Mutambara, addressed an ecstatic and
jubilant crowd of more than 5 000 people at Huruyadzo shopping centre in
Chitungwiza, as Tsvangirai's thugs tried in vain to disrupt the rally," the
faction's deputy publicity secretary, Morgan Changamire, said in the
Changamire then lays into Nelson Chamisa, recently elected publicity
secretary in the Tsvangirai faction, accusing him of coordinating thugs to
disrupt the meeting.
"We have a few lessons for Chamisa and others who think and behave like him
. . . he has to appreciate that MDC, under the leadership of Professor
Arthur Mutambara, is now a reality, and no amount of political hallucination
or twisting of facts by understating figures of our rally attendances will
change this fundamental fact. The sooner the Chamisas of this world realise
this, the better for them and the group they purport to lead.
"The people of Zimbabwe are no longer interested in leaders who fiddle with
crowd figures in order to mislead the nation about their waning popularity,"
His statement ends with a dark warning.
"The MDC president, Professor Mutambara, is on record denouncing violence of
any form. This should, however, not be construed by Chamisa, and others like
him, as a sign of weakness or lack of capacity on our part to defend
ourselves when provoked.
"We wish to warn Chamisa that he is treading on dangerous ground. He has no
monopoly of violence. We advise him to check with those that once boasted of
possessing degrees in violence, but still have nothing to show for it."
Meanwhile, Welshman Mabhena, the veteran politician and former Matabeleland
North governor mysteriously dropped by President Mugabe in 2000, conjured an
interesting sideshow to the MDC battle.
Mabhena was quoted in a weekend paper as saying he had spurned Tsvangirai's
invitation to take up a senior position in his faction "because I do not
want to be involved in such type of politics that border on factionalism".
Mabhena had been nominated for the vice-president's post, which eventually
went to Thokozani Khupe after she beat Gertrude Mthombeni.
It had been announced by Tsvangirai, prior to the voting, that Mabhena had
withdrawn his candidature.
Although Tsvangirai did not offer any explanation, congress delegates spoke
of an agreement that would see Mabhena dropping out of the race to allow
Mthombeni and Khupe to contest, while he was in line for a post on the
A campaign for Mabhena was in full flight early on the voting day, with his
supporters distributing fliers that read: Unite the party - Vote Welshman
The flier also had the former ZAPU secretary-general's brief history.
"The MDC president invited the fine calibre of Mabhena to help MDC for the
next phase of the struggle. To achieve the solutions of congress 2006,
national unity is essential.
"Welshman Mabhena has the stature, the history, the credibility and unique
life achievements to lift the MDC programme to fruition," read the
However, Mabhena was quoted last weekend as saying: "I did not agree with
Morgan, nor did I accept the nominations. I also refused the post of senior
political adviser. The true fact is that I do not want to be involved in
such type of politics that border on factionalism."
Mabhena had, prior to the Harare congress, told The Financial Gazette that
he would attend the congress.
"Don't pre-empt me before I get there. I will see when I am there. I am
waiting for them (Tsvangirai's camp) to come and get me for the congress in
Harare," said Mabhena when contacted for comment on his nomination.
Party sources said this week although he eventually did not attend the
congress, he was represented by his son, Norman Mabhena, who had the power
"The truth was that Mabhena wanted the vice-presidency, but both Gertrude
and Khupe said they would challenge him.
"So the problem was the very real prospect of humiliation at the hands of
the girls, who had covered a lot of ground with their campaigns. There were
belated, but futile, attempts to get Tsvangirai to use his influence to get
the girls to drop out, but he declined. Mabhena then faxed his withdrawal on
election morning," an MDC insider said this week.
Mavis Makuni Own Correspondent
A SOUTH African politician has been forced to say, "I resign", the two most
rarely used words in public life, which most of his peers in the Southern
Africa Development Community (SADC) or the rest of Africa for that matter,
cannot normally bring themselves to utter regardless of the untenability of
the situation they may find themselves in.
Kwazulu-Natal Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Tourism, Narend
Singh was forced to resign after apparently irrefutable evidence in the form
of a DVD surfaced, showing him having illicit sex with Roseanne Narandas, a
married woman from Durban.
The South African media reported last weekend that Singh tearfully announced
at a press conference about a week ago that he was stepping down as a member
of parliament and of the provincial cabinet. He, however indicated that he
would continue to be a member of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) under whose
auspices he had been elected and appointed to head the tourism portfolio.
The media reported that in resigning, Singh had bowed to pressure from
Kwazulu-Natal premier S'bu Ndebele, who had rejected the embattled tourism
chief's earlier decision that he would take leave of absence pending the
completion of a police investigation into charges of crimen injuria over the
shooting of the video recording his tryst in a hotel. But whether Singh
resigned voluntarily or because he knew he was about to be fired, his
approach is in sharp contrast to the stance taken by former deputy president
Jacob Zuma, who stubbornly refused to resign last year when he was
implicated in a corruption scandal.
In fact, displaying the "I am indispensable" delusions that afflict many
politicians in the region and the rest of Africa, Zuma dared Thabo Mbeki to
sack him and must have been stunned when the South African president
proceeded to call his bluff and give him his marching orders. But undaunted,
Zuma has maintained an air of invincibility and has taken the same
I-can-do-no-wrong-to-justify-public-censure stance with regard to the latest
controversy in which he is embroiled, in which he is alleged to have raped a
31-year old HIV positive woman who was a guest at his Johannesburg mansion.
Singh's resignation over his philandering is a rarity in a continent where
more unfathomable horrors attributed to political leaders are routinely
swept under the carpet.
Compared to genocide, kidnappings or killings of opponents, plunder of
national resources, looting of national coffers or bankrupting of countries,
being caught with one's pants down is child's play. In many countries heads
of state and other politicians openly keep mistresses and sometimes sire
illegitimate children. They get away with having these "informal wives" or
"small houses" in Zimbabwean parlance, because of a blurring of boundaries
between what is culturally acceptable and what should constitute a code of
ethics and conduct for those who offer themselves as candidates for public
In most western countries married politicians who project themselves as
paragons of virtue and upholders of wholesome family values cannot get away
with having mistresses and many have paid dearly when they have been caught
out in a double standard. The most well known case in the United States in
recent years for example, involved former president Bill Clinton whose
illicit love affair with a White House intern led to his impeachment.
Clinton's affairs with other women over the years have also been well
documented by the media. Even black American civil rights leader Rev Jesse
Jackson, was forced to admit he had fathered a love child a few years ago
after the media got wind of his shenanigans.
America's main ally, Britain, has over the years, had its fair share of
scandals involving the extramarital activities of some of its well-known
politicians. These have included Jeffrey Archer, a former Conservative party
deputy chairman who ended up serving a jail term for perjury arising from
his involvement with a prostitute. At the height of the cold war between the
West and the Communist bloc in the 1960s, an illicit love affair between
Britain's then war minister and a woman suspected to have had a similar
relationship with a Soviet spy almost brought down the administration of
Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. The errant minister, John Profumo, who died
recently, was forced to resign.
In Africa, however, while leaders' infidelities and sexual adventures are
often an open secret, they rarely cause any ripples in the corridors of
power. There is an impenetrable imperviousness to public opinion.
Kenya's Mwai Kibaki is said to have a mistress who enjoys semi-official
status and whose existence has caused his official wife barely concealed
fury. Throughout his long tenure as Malawi's life president, Hastings Kamuzu
Banda, who, it must be conceded was a bachelor, however kept at the taxpayer's
expense, a mistress who was described as his official hostess. He never felt
obliged to account to his subjects for this unconventional arrangement.
In most other African countries, while speculation is rife on the grape vine
about the philandering, sugar-daddying, sexual abuse of minors, conducting
of "carpet interviews" and granting of public dispensations to girlfriends
by those in high places, these rarely prick any consciences.
In Zimbabwe for example, the tangled marital affairs of some ministers have
become public knowledge through court cases resulting, for example, from a
scorned wife suing the "other woman" for damages or an official wife and a
mistress coming to blows and one of them filing assault charges. In one such
confrontation, the wife of a then cabinet minister tragically died in a
shooting incident in the 1990s.
The only Zimbabwean politician known to have once resigned over an outcry
over a controversy involving matters of the heart and flesh is Gutu South
Member of Parliament Shuvai Mahofa who was accused of having an affair with
a married man. Male politicians caught up in similar disputes simply adopt a
business-as-usual attitude and carry on as if nothing happened. This is a
definite manifestation of double standards that judge women more harshly
than men for similar indiscretions. The lead being taken by South Africa
through its openness about the failings and shortcomings of its politicians
and public officials should enable other countries to follow suit.
The resignation of Singh in particular should help to dispel the fallacy
that a politician's integrity can be compartmentalised into personal and
professional categories with regard to his or her accountability for his or
her conduct. Politics is a full-time job and the spotlight should rightly
linger all the time on the men and women who voluntarily choose to step
forward to declare themselves the best candidates to serve the people. It
really boils down to a question of trust. If a politician cannot be relied
upon to conduct his personal affairs honourably, how can he be expected to
have any qualms about being similarly deceitful in the discharge of his
African countries need to develop political systems with built-in checks and
balances that make it impossible for violators of acceptable codes of
behaviour to do so with impunity. Cheating on his wife of 31 years with the
spouse of one of his constituents is not behaviour Singh should have been
allowed to get away with by claiming that it was a personal and private
Jonathan Maphenduka Own Correspondent
BUILDING diplomatic bridges between Zimbabwe and its former colonial power
Britain has become topical lately, leaving observers wondering just what
might be going on behind closed doors.
President Robert Mugabe was the first in February to talk about the need for
bridge building between the two countries. "Blair must talk to us," the
public media reported the President as saying when receiving the new British
ambassador, Andrew Pocock.
Pocock echoed the President's remarks last week. "Before we build bridges we
need to do a lot of work to lay the foundation (for such an exercise). The
commitment of the British government to the people of Zimbabwe is profound,"
he told journalists in
The British envoy was quoted as saying the problem between Zimbabwe and its
former colonial master was a "misunderstanding" of issues that have wreaked
havoc on everything that Zimbabweans hold dear. But we all know better, and
also that the British, even outside the corridors of diplomacy, are famous
for their understatement.
The sharp economic downturn has, especially during the past three years,
caused untold harm to the entire spectrum of Zimbabwean life with rocketing
inflation, unemployment and a sharp decline in service delivery across the
On the political front government leaders have been banned from entering
Britain and its allies. Meanwhile, after the 2000 elections in which the
opposition came very close to ousting the ZANU PF government, the government
has won the 2005 general elections, reducing the MDC's representation in
Parliament to 41 seats.
With this trend, helped by a gaping split in the opposition party, ZANU PF
has continued to make inroads in traditional MDC strongholds in urban areas,
winning most of the senate seats and a number of local government
by-elections in parts of Harare, Bulawayo and the recent mayoral elections
All this must make the ruling party feel pleased with itself. Euphoria is
running high. But the election results have not translated into solutions
for the host of problems facing the country. Although the government would
be the last to admit this, it has become clear that winning elections has
become irrelevant in the search for lasting solutions to the problems
besetting the country.
There is a growing realisation that ZANU PF's performance in elections since
the landmark 2000 general elections could well prove to be the ruling party's
undoing sooner rather than later.
If you win elections, you must deliver economic and social benefits to the
electorate to maintain your hold on power. This the government has failed
dismally to do.
A classic example of disenchantment with government programmes in the city
of Harare and the dormitory town of Chitungwiza is government's failure to
do better than the ousted MDC which took a lot of flak for causing mounting
health problems in both cities.
Harare is run by a commission installed in the place of elected MDC
councillors, and the MDC mayor of Chitungwiza has been removed, ostensibly
to improve service delivery.
But complaints by residents are mounting in both places and earlier this
year Mbare was hit by a cholera outbreak that forced the authorities to
close down a vendors' markets.
Residents are increasingly becoming disillusioned with unkept government
promises about the situation in urban areas. The tragedy about the
Zimbabwean situation is that government promises are being used to prolong
the ruling party's hold on power, and not to ensure the people get the
benefits of those promises.
It is this determination that offers no hope for the country's future in the
short term, and no amount of talk about the need to build bridges will
change the situation. The country faces an agonising experience.
The gulf that stands between Britain and the Zimbabwean government is too
wide to be bridged by mere wishful thinking and the only thing that can
narrow the gap is the attitude of the government of Zimbabwe. Can the people
of Zimbabwe, with realism, expect this government to swallow its pride and
abandon its time-honoured intransigence?
It must be clear to all that the British government is not under any
pressure to make concessions. If any talks about talks - referred to as the
foundation to the bridge building exercise - are to succeed, President
Mugabe and his colleagues must be prepared to make far-reaching concessions
for the British government to mend fences with the country.
There is nothing on show that suggests the government is ready to abandon
its obduracy to carry the bridge building exercise forward. There is
absolutely no reason for the British to come forward with an accommodation
on Zimbabwe's terms.
It is not the British economy which is under siege. It is not the people of
Britain who are suffering deprivation in all areas of life, who are hungry,
who lack the means to pay for essentials of a modern state. It is not the
Britons who are being ravaged by cholera, whose streets are littered with
uncollected garbage swarming with flies and mosquitoes.
It is not the Britons who are fleeing their own country to escape economic
hardship never experienced before. It is not the people of Britain who are
daily being deported from neighbouring countries fed up with an influx of
illegal immigrants seeking the so-called greener pastures.
It is not the British who are emigrating to all corners of the globe to
escape anarchy in all walks of life. It is not Britain which is bleeding
from the frightening brain drain that has sent medical standards plummeting
to the ground and educational standards that are writhing on the ground with
no trained teachers to sustain standards.
The list is limitless.
Blair must talk to us? The government of Zimbabwe is guilty of stooping to
the basest form of indignity, using the public mass media to denigrate the
British leader. "Blair is a toilet" is a familiar slogan at political
rallies attended by supporting villagers.
One of the weaknesses of human nature is self-esteem because it often leads
one to seek the best of both worlds. If one must go by what President Mugabe
said to Pocock last month, the government of Zimbabwe must feel it is in an
position now that the land issue, for one example, is considered a fait
Can the people of Zimbabwe in their sober disposition expect the British
government to say to Zimbabwe: "OK, Mr President, my government agrees to
pay compensation to your displaced farmers."
Zimbabweans accept that the land question has reached a point of no return,
it cannot be reversed without precipitating a catastrophe. But what is the
government offering in return for a successful bridge building?
This is just one of a whole host of sticking issues that must be settled in
any talks that both governments will want to undertake. But is the fact
that, we are told, the British government at Lancaster undertook to provide
money for this purpose, still relevant today? Or is the fact that the
affected happen to be Tony Blair's "kith and kin" a bargaining point?
Zimbabwe has been declared one of the world's six rogue states, meaning that
to those who have stuck this label on the face of the government it is
guilty of more than just the land issue. Together with Britain they are
therefore concerned about fair compensation for the displaced farmers as
well as issues of governance.
Zimbabwe is seen by many countries as a state where land rights have taken a
backward step with little or no protection for land owners. In view of the
extent to which land issues have been internationalised, it is unlikely that
the British government will simply sweep the issue under the carpet.
The land question therefore is bound to be a contentious issue in any talks
that may be arranged. But the government of Zimbabwe should not expect -
indeed cannot expect an easy task ahead. It may well find there is no point
of convergence leading to an agreement.
It is clear that the country cannot face an uncertain future for much longer
and survive, and so the ball is in the government's court to ensure that the
British government remains willing to take any talks beyond the foundation
to make bridge building worthwhile.
The public watching these initial moves should be careful not to conclude
that the British are pining for talks at any price. Britain is in a
formidable position to dictate the temper and speed of any talks.
Pocock has made it clear that the talks are not around the corner. "Before
we build bridges we need to do a lot of work to lay the foundation." But the
fact that the commitment of the British government to the people of Zimbabwe
is profound does not guarantee success of the talks.
Britain's commitment is not a new subject of interest. We have known all
along the commitment is there and its level. Also it has always been clear
that the British government holds a certain position on Zimbabwe.
What we do not know is whether the position has changed enough since
sanctions were imposed to make sanctions and other international instruments
obsolete. But since we all know they were designed to make Zimbabwe toe the
line, it is safe to expect the talks to fail. Zimbabwe has not let up in its
drive to dig in and defy the international community.
The only change that has become noticeable is that the country is now in a
sorrier state than when the dispute started. It is unlikely therefore that
what was unpalatable then has become more acceptable.
Pocock could not have made it any clearer when he said the real crunch will
become known when he returns from consultation after Easter. That his
government's position may well show a further hardening of attitudes should
not be dismissed as far-fetched.
In public Zimbabwe has continued the non-compromising stand it has always
taken in the dispute. It is this attitude that is unlikely to result in a
thaw in relations leading to an accommodation.
Any Great Expectations are therefore likely to prove a sore disappointment
at a time when the country needs relief more than ever before.
Nelson Banya News Editor
Rare show of unity as poor planning comes under fire
YET again, poor agricultural planning will translate into declining
production, the three leading farmer organisations have revealed.
Making a joint presentation to a parliamentary committee this week, the
Commercial Farmers' Union, Indigenous Commercial Farmers' Union and the
Zimbabwe Farmers' Union, displayed rare unity to jolt the government from
its complacency, warning that the country faced a huge wheat deficit next
year as preparations for the winter crop have, as has become the norm,
The farmers' unions openly contradicted agriculture permanent secretary
Simon Pazvakavambwa who, after a nasty experience with the powers-that-be
last year when he sounded the alarm over the country's maize stocks, had
tried to give a sunny assessment of the winter wheat's prospects.
Pazvakavambwa had told the parliamentary portfolio committee on agriculture
that government was confident farmers could put 110 000 hectares under
winter wheat. This would have produced about 350 000 tonnes of wheat.
Zimbabwe, which has had to import the bulk of its wheat and maize
requirements after a chaotic land redistribution exercise and successive
droughts, requires about 420 000 tonnes of wheat annually.
However, the farmers' organisations told the committee they could only
manage about 45 000 hectares (to produce about 135 000 tonnes of wheat)
owing to a litany of problems, including the shortage of key inputs such as
seed, fertiliser, tillage and irrigation facilities - much of which were
damaged during upheavals on most of the farms.
They also criticised the delays in announcing viable producer prices to
properly incentivise producers as well as to aid their planning.
Another wheat deficit will compound Zimbabwe's problems, as it would
necessitate yet another expensive grain importation programme at a time when
the country is grappling with a chronic foreign currency crunch.
Bread prices have soared on the back of wheat shortages and there does not
appear to be any respite for the Zimbabwean consumer.
Rangarirai Mberi Senior Business Reporter
Gono keeps 'em guessing
A FIRST quarter that began with a rare new listing and a buying spree on the
stock market is ending tomorrow with many blowing on their burnt fingers.
This week, the question most investors would have been asking their fund
managers is how to escape another round of bloodshed - and how to make money
in the next quarter.
The short answer is that nobody has the slightest idea.
The stock market whipped up over 100 percent in returns for investors in
January, with sentiment high on Red Star's listing and expectations that
high inflation would help stocks maintain the gap they had on other asset
classes. But drastic shifts in monetary policy have hung many investors out
Shares are ending the quarter up only some 60 percent on the start of the
year, a major contrast to the first month of the year when investors doubled
their wealth in weeks. But as the quarter draws to a close tomorrow, there
is no time for fund managers to draw back - as they usually do at this
time - to take stock and draw up new blueprints for the next three months.
It is usually easy for them at this time, with company results being a good
indicator of the future. However, although the just ended reporting season
for annual earnings has been one of mostly above-forecast numbers, few
market players are factoring too many company results into their strategies
for the next quarter. This is why one fund manger this week described the
reporting season as a " total waste".
"It's been a total waste if you ask me. There are companies that have strong
prospects, but the market has not responded because everybody is too busy
trying to put out their little fires to notice," the fund manger said.
But Donaldson Mandishora, analyst at ZABG Stockbrokers, sees big
opportunities for investors who buy low, especially in April. He sees the
second quarter as being one of two contrasting halves. Shares will struggle
in the near term, he said, but the ZSE will make a big comeback to finish
the quarter strong.
"The first part of the second quarter will be one of tight money market
liquidity and high rates on the money market, which means equities will
continue falling in the immediate term. But in the second half, rates should
soften on major maturities expected in May. We should see a full-fledged
bull run in June," said Mandishora.
But skeptics say there is one big factor that will decide who gets burnt and
who makes money in the next quarter - the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).
Having lulled the market into a false sense of security on January 24 with
his dovish comments on the future of his rate policy, bank governor Gideon
Gono has turned out punters on the stock market with a hawkish stance on
rates. Analysts say his policies will be as key to directing the direction
of the markets in the second quarter as they have been in the first.
Gono thrives on shock-and-awe. So only those who have the inside track on
his next move - and there are a few who claim as much - are the only ones
who will make all the money.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
TIMBER could join the growing list of materials in short supply in Zimbabwe
after Border Timbers Limited (BTL), the country's top timber producer, lost
3 000 hectares of timber at its Eastern Highlands estates.
BTL revealed in its interim results that its estates in Chimanimani were
once again a victim of a series of devastating fires ignited by new farmers
resettled under the government's controversial land reform programme.
BTL, which has been in the business of growing, milling and manufacturing
timber products from managed plantations for over 50 years, attributed most
of the fires experienced in Chimanimani, which recorded 60 fires, to arson
by illegal settlers.
As a result of the wanton destruction of its plantations, which cost the
company $62 billion, BTL warned that Zimbabwe will experience severe
shortages of timber in the next five years.
Timber has 25-year production cycles, according to BTL.
"These fires will have a disastrous effect on the availability of timber in
Zimbabwe in the future," the company warned last week.
The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed company said production at its sawmills
had declined because the forest operations could not supply adequate volumes
of logs, while erratic and unscheduled power outages also contributed to
The company, which revealed that much of its management focus would now be
directed at sourcing timber from other players in the industry, noted that
the destruction of is estates by newly resettled farmers would remain the
greatest threat to the the sector.
Arson fires in the company's plantations have become an annual occurrence.
Since 2000, BTL has been a victim of the fires, ignited by illegal settlers
who moved onto its estates with the encouragement of the government.
In 2004, BTL lost 706 hectares of timber to 75 fires, 93 percent of which
were attributed to arson. The chronic fire outbreaks have gobbled up a large
chunk of BTL's profits as the company invests in fire protection equipment.
BTL protested at the compulsory requirement to acquit foreign currency to
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, saying they were inhibiting it from meeting
its foreign creditor commitments on time.
The timber producer also reported that its wrangle with the government over
the listing of its plantations for compulsory acquisition was still raging.
The government has listed BTL's timber plantations for compulsory
acquisition in spite of a bilateral investment protection agreement that
spares them from expropriation.
BTL grows timber on managed plantations at Sheba, Imbeza, Charter, Tilbury
and Sawerombe estates in the Eastern Highlands.
The plantations occupy a total of 47 000 hectares.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
REFRIGERATOR manufacturer Imperial Refrigeration has secured an export deal
to supply refrigerators in Zambia.
Chief executive officer Callisto Jokonya told The Financial Gazette that
Imperial had begun exporting commercial units to the neighbouring southern
He said the consignment consists of commercial fridge units, domestic
refrigerators and chest freezers.
"We are currently fulfilling an order from Zambia and we are looking for
more orders," said Jokonya.
Jokonya, who is also the vice-president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe
Industries said proceeds from the exports would augment the company's
foreign currency requirements since the company imports most of its raw
Apart from Zambia, Imperial exports its products to South Africa, Malawi,
the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Botswana and Mozambique.
Jokonya also revealed that Imperial has secured 8 000 euros from the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe, which it will use to repair one of its vacuum forming
machines which broke down recently.
Jokonya said a team of technicians and engineers from Germany were already
fixing the machine, which when finished at the end of this week, will ramp
up the production of refrigerators.
Imperial, which commands 20 percent of the market share in domestic
refrigeration and 70 percent in commercial refrigeration started operating
in 1960 as an importer/distributor of fridges and freezers.
Six years later, it started manufacturing fridges and freezers under the
brand name Imperial, Royell and Guardian. In 1995, having entered into a
strategic joint venture, the company was restructured to incorporate foreign
investors, which resulted in a name change to Imperial Refrigeration.
The Geoff Nyarota Column
I LAST wrote for The Financial Gazette on a regular basis between 1990 and
1991, when I was the paper's executive editor.
Among my leading columnists at the time were veteran journalist Bill Saidi,
the illustrious Professor Masipula Sithole, now late, and the then
politically uncompromising Professor Jonathan Moyo, both of the University
of Zimbabwe at the time.
I created a column for Moyo on the recommendation of my then deputy editor,
Trevor Ncube, who knew the professor pretty well, having befriended him at
the university where Ncube lectured before his appointment at The Financial
Between the two of us, Ncube and I can lay legitimate claim to the dubious
distinction of discovering Moyo and setting him on the road initially to
fame and success.
Today I return to my old newspaper as a regular columnist, contributing from
across the Atlantic in Massachusetts in the United States, where I have
lived since my unceremonious departure from the Daily News early in 2002.
Despite the long distance from home and despite the extremely fluid nature
of the political environment in Zimbabwe I have tried my best to keep
abreast of events that occasionally defy the total comprehension of even
those at the epicentre of the events. I am too humble a man, however, and
always cognisant of my own limitations to present myself as the repository
of all useful information on or workable solutions to the economic,
political and social crisis that has brought our once prosperous and proud
Zimbabwe down to its knees, with President Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF at the
Despite the current economic doldrums, the hardships and the severe
shortages endured by the majority of the population of Zimbabwe and despite
the lack of enterprise and loss of direction on the part of ZANU PF, I
remain an optimist. I am motivated by a personal philosophy. It is that the
state of economic ruin and political turmoil prevailing in Zimbabwe cannot
in any way be the final destiny of our otherwise beautiful, bountiful and
Despite my long distance from Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, Gweru and Masvingo,
I will make a persistent effort to identify, without fear or favour, popular
threads in political and socio-economic discourse and seek to highlight them
in order to provoke mature and sincere debate in the national interest.
I have been a journalist long enough to know that a writer does not exist
anywhere in the world who can please all readers at all times. Where I make
a mistake, which is normal where human endeavour is concerned, I will
subject myself to correction. Fear of rebuttal or challenge will, however,
not deter me from ventilating issues that may not be palatable among certain
sections of our community.
If it is my sincere belief that Zimbabweans must not blame all their
short-comings on Ian Smith, I hope I can say so without offending the
sensibilities of ZANU PF. Likewise should I state that any white person
spotted at Mbare Musika is likely to be a foreigner, and not a Zimbabwean,
the statement should trigger off a process of introspection among our white
compatriots; not anger against me. I have suffered personally for freedom of
speech and I will not give it up easily.
In similar vein, I hope I can argue against the logic of setting up a
separate Republic of Mthwakazi, as is being proposed by certain section of
our community, without incurring the wrath of my compatriots from the
western regions of Zimbabwe. I simply do not believe that for Matabeleland
to secede is the appropriate prescription to counter the emergence of
dictatorship in Harare. If in due course dictatorship should surface in
Bulawayo, capital city of the proposed Mthwakazi, will the people of
Matabeleland South have a legitimate cause to establish the Republic of
South Mthwakazi? And should dictatorship then emerge in South Mthwakazi,
will the citizens of that state exercise the option to jump en masse into
the Limpopo River?
Serious problems demand serious solutions. I believe the correct strategy
for addressing Zimbabwe's current debilitating problems must start with a
national effort to overcome the national culture of fear, our fear of ZANU
PF. Zimbabweans must forge a sense of national unity as they challenge the
arrogant dictatorship of the ruling party. They also must overcome their
crass intolerance of diverse political opinions and views, a liability that
has been engendered in them by the ZANU PF leadership.
In this column I will make a supreme effort to dwell primarily on issues. I
will refer to personalities only in the context of those issues in which
they are players or participants.
For that reason I will constantly refrain, even under acute provocation,
from launching attacks on fellow journalists, this perhaps with the notable
exception of one Michael Mtungwa, should he make any further scurrilous
attack on my person in a rival newspaper. I believe, though, that in time
the public will see through the shallow interventions of such hired
The journalists of Zimbabwe should do an honest and dedicated job of
investigating and exposing the numerous ills of their country. They should
uncover the abuse of power and the corruption of the Mugabe regime, on the
one hand, and the torment, the humiliation and the deprivation endured by
ordinary citizens as a result, on the other. If they did that those
concerned would have little energy left at the end of the day to devote to
attacks on fellow journalists.
In a functional democracy the mass media or the fourth estate, as they are
collectively called, have the power to check and counterbalance the three
state powers - the executive, the legislature and the
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From Page 14
judiciary. In Zimbabwe the media can only exercise this power as a
formidable force, however, only if journalists stand together in solidarity,
with clarity of focus in keeping the people fully informed on matters of
public interest and relevance and in confronting tyranny.
I will primarily be motivated by a desire to write in the forefront of a
campaign to achieve that kind of national unity that brings together all the
citizens of Zimbabwe, regardless of their political, religious, racial or
ethnic background. Strictly speaking, all Zimbabweans, including, even the
most ardent ZANU PF supporters, have a common foe - the arrogance of the
Any division, for whatever reason, among those challenging President Mugabe's
dictatorship can only work to the benefit of ZANU PF. One does not require a
university degree to understand that or to feel the pangs of hunger.
I will, above all, seek to be guided by a profound respect for the ordinary
citizen. Zimbabwe has the highest level of literacy on the African
continent, yet the intelligence of its citizens is often grossly
underestimated by both the politicians and the media.
During the struggle for independence of Zimbabwe, Rhodesian Prime Minister,
Ian Smith blamed the communist regimes of China and Eastern Europe during
the Cold War for inciting the African population to rise against his racist
government. In similar vein, as his popularity plummeted, President Mugabe
has accused the capitalist leaders of the West, George Bush of the United
States and Tony Blair of the United Kingdom, of turning his own people
In each instance, the assumption is that Zimbabwe's black population is
incapable of independent thought. There is more than a hint that a black man
requires the intervention of a white person to appreciate that he is
In similar fashion the media tend to adopt an impertinent and patronising
attitude towards members of the public who are routinely fed falsehoods,
half-baked stories and downright propaganda in the assumption that they
cannot tell the difference.
With regard to issues where my own knowledge is somewhat deficient, I will
constantly consult the experts, of whom Zimbabwe has no shortage and in a
diversity of fields too.
In returning to The Financial Gazette I want to publicly profess my ongoing
respect for and pride in the paper, which in my opinion, is doing an
excellent job of keeping Zimbabweans informed in increasingly difficult
circumstances. When copper-bottom evidence is produced that this paper
belongs to the Central Intelligence Organisation, as is being alleged in
certain quarters, I will then review my position.
Zimbabwe belongs to all its citizens. Let them not be divided by the
machinations of the ruling party or of those paid by its agents to sow seeds
of disunity among them.
l(The writer can be contacted on: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Perspectives with Jonathan Maphenduka
Screaming headlines in two public media editions on Tuesday last week
announced the so-called Media and Information Commission (MIC) proposals for
the amendment of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
But it turned out to be an anti-climax, with Tafataona Mahoso pursuing his
old hobby horse to claw The Zimbabwean newspaper and those journalists who
write for "organisations hostile to Zimbabwe".
The MIC chairman was also reported as saying he would "welcome"
self-regulation among journalists. What he omitted to say is what steps he
has taken to remove regulation by law.
But of course we all know that such a move would leave him without a job.
His job hinges on using AIPPA, not to promote self-regulation among media
practitioners, but to ensure that they walk the streets without jobs after
closure of their newspapers.
So no one will be fooled by this seemingly sudden change of heart. A leopard
cannot change its spots.
But no one knows more than Mahoso just what makes AIPPA unacceptable to most
people in this country.
Who can expect him to propose the removal of sections of the Act that have
been used as an iron rod to batter private media businesses to death and, as
a measure to ensure their permanent demise, remove vital equipment imported
at high cost?
Why is it that AIPPA has no other penalties for offenders but the ultimate
sentence of death?
We all know what the man lives for, and why. He knows where his bread is
buttered. He tries hardest to outdo authors of AIPPA as though he is anxious
to cover up an unknown past.
I have a few suggestions for him to propose their repeal, not just
amendment: Why not start with Section 71(1)(a) which ensures victimisation
of citizens in the media industry, like it did with publishers of the Weekly
Times newspaper after only one edition?
How about scrapping all the clauses that provide only for closure of a
newspaper for minor breaches of the Act like twice happened to the
publishers of The Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday? All this in
shameful disregard of the fact that the courts had acquitted the publishing
company of a trumped-up criminal offence.
All the inexplicable vindictiveness has been witnessed even after the
Supreme Court absolved the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ),
publisher of The Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday and ordered its
application remitted afresh.
The MIC has no shortage of public funds to hire legal advisers to interpret
the law accurately, although, by practice, some of them have failed in their
hour of duty to the nation.
On March l4 2005, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, in the Supreme Court
judgment 111\05, ruled against the MIC board decision of September 15 2003
which denied ANZ a hearing on its first application for registration.
In an earlier judgment, the chief justice had already declared the applicant
to be operating with "dirty hands", urging the ANZ to submit to the
requirements of the law.
The sum of the judgment was simply that there was nothing to prevent it from
pursuing its constitutional challenge later, but that it had to first
cleanse itself of charges of defying the law, no matter how abhorrent it was
to the company.
In response to the Supreme Court advice, ANZ submitted its first application
for registration, an admission that defiance of the law did not pay, and an
abandonment of its earlier stance of confrontation.
But, instead of recognising this as a welcome change of heart, the MIC board
saw the submission of an application for registration as a victory for the
board and an admission of weakness by the applicant.
The board, in pursuance of its agenda to frustrate the applicant,
disregarded the Supreme Court order to consider the application on its
merits or demerits, denying ANZ registration for the second time.
Perhaps saying the board disregarded the court order is not accurate. It
would be better to say it was a combination of a disregard of the order and
poor legal advice.
This decision of the board was declared an irregularity and the
determination was not only set aside by the chief justice as a breach of
some rules in law, but the board was ordered to consider the application.
A key point to remember was that contravention of the Act could only emerge
"after commencement of consideration of an application by the commission.."
The MIC board had on September 15 2003 refused the applicant a hearing on
the grounds that the ANZ had a record of operating without a licence.
But there is no provision in the Act which stipulates that "records" of past
infringement of the Act should be used to determine the fate of an
application before the board.
If there was such provision, Trends magazine could have had its registration
certificate cancelled for failing to protect the privacy of a television
celebrity who complained to the commission and the magazine was compelled to
retract a report.
There are two important points to remember.
The one is that the "record" of the breach of the Act was not recognised by
the Supreme Court in its judgment of March 14 2005. The other is that the
MIC had denied the applicant a hearing in September 2003, and how could the
applicant had breached the Act when the board had refused it a hearing?
Because the commission failed to observe Section 69(1), which requires that
a breach of the Act "can only emerge after commencement of consideration of
an application by the commission", the Supreme Court set aside the MIC's
ruling of September 15 2003.
The commission missed the whole point of the ruling, which was that the
application had to be considered on its merits or demerits "after" its
submission for consideration.
The advice later given to the MIC board on July 18 2005 was that it had to
focus attention on the "record" of contravening the Act, which, as already
explained, the Supreme Court judgment did not uphold.
Even if the Supreme Court judgment on the
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constitutional case No 323\03 of March 3 2004 had declared the ANZ to be
operating "with dirty hands", this record could not be proffered as an
excuse to deny the applicant registration in the case where the applicant,
armed with a superior court order, was now seeking the right to operate a
media service and not to challenge the constitutionality of the Act.
The MIC board on June 16 2005 took the position that there was no legal
excuse to continue denying the applicant registration.
This understanding was, however, on July 18 2005, overturned by fresh legal
advice that the board was required only to focus on a "record" which is not
provided for in the Act, but was also not recognised by the Supreme Court.
This led to the debacle of July 18 2005.
The commission has no authority of a criminal court. But has it got
authority, like it was led to attempt to do, to confirm or review decisions
of a superior court? The zealous manner in which it ignored the decision of
the Supreme Court would suggest that it has that ambition.
Questions have been asked why I voted with the rest of the board on July 18
and then proceeded to resign in protest. I have never attempted to conceal
the manner in which I voted because there was a compelling, though
disappointing, reason why I did so.
The compelling reason was that the board, on that fateful day, was advised
by legal experts that determination of the board had to focus purely on the
"record" of publishing without a licence after December 31 2002. This could
The guiding principle in my resignation, however, was that I could no longer
be associated with a body whose sole function is the closure of newspapers,
and I have explained this in a detailed letter to the Minister of
Information and Publicity dated August 18 2005. I do not consider I would be
serving my country's best interest by such association.
I have further explained to him and all those who feel impelled to ask me
why I believed the MIC board had erred in its judgment, which appears to
have been caused by an obsession to keep the ANZ out forever at whatever
This obsession appears to have clouded the interpretation of Chief Justice
Chidyausiku's judgment, whose message becomes clearer and clearer with the
benefit of hindsight that I have found with the patient study of the history
of the case.
The letter to the minister was a confidential document intended to highlight
how the MIC board had erred in its judgment, and was not an attempt to
After Justice Rita Makarau's judgment last month, I have decided that it
created a completely new dispensation which overtook the confidentiality of
the contents of the letter.
I am now, therefore, able to refer to its existence without compromising
confidentiality of the subject. Readers who may want an unedited copy are at
liberty to ask for it.
An attempt has been made to play up the bit about who was involved in the
July 18 decision. This argument, however, is beside the point. The point to
remember is that the decision was in error and it has been explained why the
The effect of that decision is that it has prolonged the agony and
frustration the applicant has had to endure, let alone the cost to all
parties to the case.
The commission, instead of trying to vindicate the decision, should swallow
its pride in shame, recognising its responsibility to the nation.
It is clear to all that the calibre of the current members of the board
leaves a great deal to be desired. Commissioners should be men and women who
command respect and not scorn. Otherwise it would be better to have no
commission at all.
Personal Glimpses with Mavis Makuni
A REPRESENTATIVE of the commission running the affairs of the city of Harare
appeared on a television talk show last weekend to give the local authority's
side of the story regarding the non collection of garbage from residential
The man recited all the usual excuses the local authority has given in the
past for the total collapse of its service delivery system which has
transformed a once pristine city into a stinking dump characterised by
mountains of rotting garbage almost everywhere one looks. The municipal
representative cited the shortage of diesel and spare parts as some of the
reasons that had grounded the private fleets used for refuse collection.
In response to a contribution by a member of the studio audience who made a
no-holds-barred attack against the local authority for its dereliction of
duty while it continued to increase and collect service charges, the man
resorted to an alibi that is now commonplace among public officials. This is
the apportionment of blame and transference of responsibility to
stakeholders for the breakdown of institutions.
In this case, city residents were blamed for not doing enough to contain
refuse and manage its disposal themselves. Many fanciful suggestions were
made on how the residents could make money from garbage and how trash could
in fact be the panacea to most problems in the urban areas. Finally, the
council official appealed to residents to bear with the City Fathers while
they grappled with the problems of shortages of foreign currency and other
requirements in a bid to restore Harare's service delivery capacity.
But before they had even finished cursing under their breath for the council
official's attempt to sell them this cock-and-bull story, the residents of
Zimbabwe's former "Sun Shine" city got a mighty kick in the teeth. A
screaming headline: "CITY ON VEHICLE BUYING SPREE" on the front page of a
state-controlled newspaper on Tuesday left the residents of Harare in no
doubt whatsoever that the local authority whose representative had been
shedding crocodile tears on television just two days earlier had no qualms
about splurging trillions on staff cars.
The report indicated that the city council was seeking borrowing powers to
source the bulk of $13.8 trillion on the open market with only $644 billion
to be borrowed from the Public Sector Investment Fund. The local authority
would pay interest for these loans at the rate of 500 percent for the funds
borrowed on the open market and 50 percent for those sourced from the Public
Sector Investment Fund. In a truly extravagant shopping spree, the council
is to splurge $342 billion on 90 sedans and a staggering $1,1 trillion on
183 one-ton trucks, which, it is important to note, are ideal for all kinds
of personal and private errands.
According to the press report, the council's shopping list is almost
inexhaustible and money appears to be no object. It is noteworthy, however,
that the bulk of funds allocated to various departments goes towards paying
for the creature comforts of staff members rather than towards service
The question to ask is, what kind of priorities are these? How can the city
council expect the long-suffering residents of Harare to continue to
tolerate the putrid smell of uncollected garbage and negotiate unrepaired
crater-size potholes while municipal officials wallow in the lap of such
What rationale is there for the city council to indulge in such ostentatious
consumption for the benefit of staff members when the rest of the people
have to make do without basic essentials such as drugs at municipal clinics?
Does it make sense, for example, for the City Fathers to buy new executive
desks at $50 million each when large sections of the city are plunged into
darkness at night because of lack of street lighting? There is no doubt that
the city's priorities are wrong and it should go back to the drawing board.
Last year, city officials were vociferous in declaring their support for
Operation Murambatsvina, which left hundreds of thousands of residents
homeless and without means to survive. What has the city done to facilitate
the rehabilitation of those of its residents who were rendered destitute by
the clean-up exercise? Instead of making endless calls for the private
sector to chip in with assistance for things that the local authority has an
obligation to do, the council should lead by example in displaying a spirit
Surely, while the economic hardships the residents are grappling with
prevail, it would not kill city executives to continue working from their
old desks and to continue driving the vehicles they already have until
things improve. In the meantime, the trillions they plan to splash on
themselves could be spread around to benefit the generality of the people
through the resuscitation of the collapsed service delivery system. There is
no justifiable reason for rewarding council workers so extravagantly when to
all intents and purposes; they are not being of any service to the
residents. They can of course, argue that they are helpless and cannot help
the situation because of the shortages of inputs and fuel.
But I would then want to know where they want to drive their gleaming new
cars and twin cabs? On personal errands at their farms and businesses,
perhaps? Not long ago, the chairperson of the commission supposedly running
the affairs of Harare wanted to splash $35 billion on furniture for her
residence. This and other extravagant tastes displayed by city council
officials leave no one in any doubt that the make-hay-while-the-sun-shines
approach characterising the operations of most government institutions has
taken root at Town House.
The Chombo-controlled commission running the affairs of Harare cannot resist
being included in the government's extensive patronage system. That is why
its priorities are geared towards meeting the extravagant tastes of its
staff rather then addressing the needs of ratepayers.
THE increasingly isolated Zimbabwean government has clearly been driven
round the twist by continued criticism of its human rights record. To the
extent that it considers its critics a squalid nuisance.
But to say that in the eyes of the international community Zimbabwe's human
rights record is appalling, is an understatement of significant proportions.
As the saying goes it is like saying the sea is wet. Indeed the government's
poor human rights record has been the point of bitter attacks by the
international community even though the authorities in Harare have
maintained a cavalier attitude towards the human rights issue. This is
moreso with regards to civil liberties and political rights as there are
known restrictions to the freedom of movement, expression and association.
It is against this background that we cautiously welcome, as indeed would
every sane Zimbabwean, the Cabinet approved amendment to the Constitution to
provide for the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission. We understand only too
well the implications, political meaning and basic significance of the
suggested changes which for now remain mere paper reforms. It will, if it
takes that giant leap from rhetoric to reality, further enhance the country's
Our only hope being that this is not yet another smokescreen for the public's
benefit. Or a question of taking aim with no intention of pulling the
trigger by a government accused of violating human rights on a grand scale
and is desperate to express its commitment to those rights. It is hoped that
the move will see the country's constitution, which does not seem to
explicitly define and preclude all authoritarian traits and tendencies in
government, being rid of the last vestiges of what was borrowed from the
Rhodesian Constitution but should have been swept away with the rubble of
the colonial regime, so that it does not rise again to the demands of some
future oppressive ruling class.
Zimbabweans, who for years have yearned for untainted, indisputable, free
and universal elections amid an orgy of political violence, intimidation and
systematic bullying of political opponents are watching the development with
keen interest. Zimbabwe, which lost hundreds of people to
politically-motivated violence since 2000, has been turned into a theatre of
political bigotry which spawned chaos, brutality and purposeless sadism that
has not only disefranchised whole families but has also left many with
permanent emotional scars.
Such violence perpetrated by political attack dogs violated the rights of
those it prevented from exercising their universal adult suffrage. Which is
why we believe that political violence is therefore a fundamental
constitutional issue because it involves the violation of people's right to
participate in governance.
Political violence should never be admissible for whatever reasons and the
dangerous political zealotry should therefore be nipped in the bud. Only
this way will Zimbabweans be allowed to freely organise on the basis of
their political convictions. It was high time the ruling elites, notorious
for their intolerance of political opponents, realise that the democratic
renewal of the country should be based on the voluntary and individual
choice of the people. And the Act under which the proposed Zimbabwe Human
Rights Commission will be established should therefore have provision for
this so as to send a clear message that those who torture, maim, rape and
kill to deny others the freedom of choice and association do not deserve
that freedom themselves.
As already alluded to, we have cautious optimism about the government's
sincerity and commitment to establish a truly independent Zimbabwe Human
Rights Commission. Not least because we do not understand how the government
hopes to reconcile a law on human rights and the existing bad and
retrogressive pieces of legislation such as AIPPA. Isn't that a
contradiction in terms?
As already noted by Development Dialogue which is published by the Dag
Hammarskjold Foundation, among the most vital concerns in the world today -
both in their own right and as a cornerstone of the efforts to build
democracy on all continents - are the questions of access to information and
the right to free expression. Yet in Zimbabwe, with the promulgation of
AIPPA, there has been a climate of constraint, uncertainty, new limitations
and controls on information, communication and the media in general.
The point is that what the government should realise is that human rights
credentials are not earned on the basis of half-hearted measures as this
promises to be. This is moreso when the selection of commissioners will not
be through a balance between Presidential appointments and nominations from
Parliament, civic society and other interest groups. Such self-serving
commissions that clearly have political bias as they only pander to the
whims of the ruling ZANU PF are already in existence in Zimbabwe and they
are not serving Zimbabweans but the ruling party. The rights commission's
allegiance should be to the people. And for this to happen it should have
the courage as well as the moral and professional fibre to condemn even the
actions of those that put it into office.
No Holds Barred With Gondo Gushungo
A cry for national consensus
JUST like Tom Shales' tree that grows into a sequoia size in the forest
eventually falls when no one is there to hear it, so did James Chikerema,
the pipe-smoking colossus of the Zimbabwean war of liberation who died last
Chikerema, one of the pillars of Zimbabwe's war of independence died in some
far off land across the Atlantic. He went the way of flesh in the United
States of America. The sad news of his death was brought to my attention by
Richard Mashave on Wednesday last week just after The Financial Gazette had
gone to bed.
Admittedly I don't know much about Chikerema but those who knew him paid
glowing tributes to the departed politician, making it clear that the man
took away with him a piece of their souls. Far from being influenced by the
wafa wanaka syndrome, they painted a picture of a fearless and dedicated
freedom fighter who had around him an atmosphere of benevolence, cordiality
The emotion-filled obituaries gave the impression that Chikerema was one of
that rare breed of Zimbabweans who played an inestimable role in the 1970s
war of liberation that took away a lot of Zimbabwean treasure and blood.
Alongside Robert Mugabe, Joshua Nkomo, Edgar Tekere, Dumiso Dabengwa, Josiah
Tongogara, Lookout Masuku and 30 000 odd freedom fighters, he risked life
and limb and suffered torture at the hands of the Rhodesians just for the
sake of Zimbabwe and the rights of the black people.
An illustrious son of the soil if ever there was one. There is no denying
that he played a clearly more significant role than some of those who have
become the big bugs in the manure pile that is Zimbabwe's politics and whose
obsession with revolutionary mantras and hatred for the West is holding back
economic progress, visiting abject poverty and unprecedented misery upon
Of course the good old ZANU PF, known for pointing a finger of scorn at
those it does not agree with and casting aspersions on other people's
patriotism has not made a decision on Chikerema's hero status. So I don't
want to risk speaking too soon although the smart money is on ZANU PF
deciding that Chikerema does not have a place among the unique and
incomparable interred at Heroes Acre.
Cynics have always said that the ruling party can do anything and it has
indeed done many things that no other political party would have thought of
doing. To the extent that they say if that opprobrium of mankind, Jonathan
Moyo, who is still unable to take refuge in his insignificance, had died
while still in ZANU PF, he would have been buried at the Heroes Acre. Yes,
Jonathan Moyo, he who - together with a coterie of politically-confused,
ill-poised and insecure government spin-doctors - whipped up so much
anti-private media feelings within the establishment as he proved why
Abraham Lincoln once said that if you want to test a man's character give
him power, would have been buried there at the sacred national shrine.
Perish the thought!
It would seem like it is a question of which political party you belong to
and not necessarily what you have done for your country!
But after all is said and done, is there any earthly reason to deny
Chikerema his rightful place at the Heroes Acre? His contribution to the
liberation struggle was in no way small and insignificant. So what will be
the reason? Are we going to be told that just like ZANU's founding president
Ndabaningi Sithole and veteran nationalist Henry Hamadziripi, he differed
with his liberation war comrades in a big way?
So disagreeing with colleagues in ZANU PF diminishes one's role in the
liberation struggle? Since when has consensus of opinion become a virtue in
politics? Wouldn't it be dogmatically insensitive to deny him his rightful
place among Zimbabwe's war heroes simply because of the deeply entrenched
intolerance of those that have different political opinions? True, Chikerema
might have differed with his comrades-in-arms over tactics and strategy. He
nonetheless fearlessly fought against colonialism and black oppression. And
that, is the bottom line.
It is not Chikerema's sudden death that got me thinking of the whole saga
surrounding the conferment of the hero status and the national shrine
itself, the Heroes Acre which was erected to honour the memory of the
country's fallen heroes but which many feel has since been desecrated
through the burial of some ward politicians at the expense of deserving
But it is the fact that just like many other areas of public life in
Zimbabwe, the issue remains opaque and unfriendly to scrutiny. As regards
the conferment of heroes status, ZANU PF, which defines patriotism in
parochial and self-serving terms of political party affiliation, neither
values nor appreciates transparency. The process is undemocratic and
secretive. And the information on an individual's hero status is made public
only after decisions have been made by the ruling party's Politburo. And, so
what is eventually disclosed makes no impact on the decision-making.
And in most cases, the decisions always favour those with links to ZANU PF,
implying something I find very difficult to reconcile with - that ZANU PF
interests are necessarily the same as those of the nation. Yet it goes
without saying that ZANU PF is not Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe is not ZANU PF!
It is a tragedy that the heroes issue has over the years degenerated into a
ZANU PF affair, which it should not be. This explains why on each and every
Heroes Day occasion Zimbabwe has witnessed the erection of an edifice of
philosophy on a wasteland of sterile ruling party dogma instead of the
powers-that-be using the event for self-introspection and national
In any case it is not like ZANU PF will rule this country until the cows
come home. The inevitable question, which, with the benefit of hindsight,
makes the wisdom of establishing a heroes' acre in the first place a matter
of doubt and discussion is: What happens if another party gets into power?
Of course ZANU PF, which overestimates its capabilities, relevance, and
staying-power irrespective of the circumstances, is arrogant enough to think
that it is the only capable political force in the country. Suffice to say
nothing could be further from the truth. Unless of course the party is as
deluded as those that spend a good deal of their time looking at the world
upside down through their legs!
The foregoing is the reason why I believe that deciding on the status of the
country's heroes should not be the prerogative of the ZANU PF Politburo but
that of a properly constituted, representative and non-partisan body set up
by Parliament. Participating in the liberation struggle by those men and
women of exceptional personal responsibility was a sacrifice that
transcended narrow political party affiliation as indeed should the
conferment of hero status.
National Agenda with Bornwell Chakaodza
Accumulation of wealth through public office destructive
The recent arrests of low-ranking ZANU PF politicians, Mutare bus owner Esau
Mupfumi and businessman and Chipinge South MP Enock Porusingazi over the
abuse of the fuel facility is just but a tip of the iceberg.
Everybody in this country knows that the iceberg in its totality remains
In terms of almost everything, Zimbabwe is now two nations: the filthy rich
which is a tiny fraction and the more than 90 percent of the country's
population whose poverty to all intents and purposes has become very
This is a result of the system that the ruling ZANU PF has deliberately put
in place, whether they accept it or not.
Precisely because of the collapsing economy, the state is now the main locus
of accumulation in this country. It is therefore not surprising that control
of state office should be regarded as an attractive prize for both
individuals and groups. The struggle for spoils - corruption - should be
recognised as a necessary result of the circumstances of indigenous
capitalist class in a situation like we find ourselves in right now.
Zimbabwe's political, military and business elite - many of whom are
unproductive - largely depend on state and ZANU PF patronage and favours for
accumulation. They lack independent sources of wealth and merely uses the
state for private gain.
The cheap fuel that is supplied to farmers for farming operations but is
subsequently sold on the parallel market twenty-fold the original price must
be understood in this context. The strong propensity of the black Zimbabwean
elite for the good life instead of the difficult and back-breaking farm work
means that the huge profits so gained are used for gochi-gochi on the farms
rather than being ploughed in for productive purposes. Evidence of this
abounds. Just a drive around the country will confirm the desolation and the
extent to which the once buoyant agriculture sector has been destroyed.
In this regard, therefore, to talk about tightening the fuel allocation is
absolute lunacy. The government must be out of its mind if it thinks that
the heavily subsidised fuel will be used for the intended purposes by merely
putting checks and balances. It will not happen. It will never happen.
The facility must just be scrapped, period. The subsidy must be used
productively elsewhere. If there is a minister or a bureaucrat who thought
of the tightening idea, he needs his head examined. It should be clear to
everyone that these resources are not being used for the benefit of the
But then again, there is logic behind the tightening thing. Dropping the
whole subsidised fuel facility would put a stop to the pursuit of spoils in
this area and this is unacceptable to the political and the military elite
of this country. Corruption and state patronage have become the principal
methods by which the Zimbabwean elite is amassing large sums of money needed
to establish themselves as both an economic and political class.
They are not interested in creating wealth for the benefit of all. No. All
they want is to amass wealth at the expense of the mass of Zimbabweans.
State and ZANU PF patronage has been distributed through employment,
contracts of sort, loans and many opportunities for profit from state
regulation. Membership of ZANU PF is a passport to promotion, high office
That is why those who have been stridently anti-ZANU PF for years like the
disgraced Rasputin Jonathan Moyo became at one point more ZANU PF than ZANU
PF itself. Privileges of high office-holders include access to scarce goods
and services through a special distributive network and under conditions of
chronic shortages like we have in this country, this gives immense
advantages to such people over the rest of the ordinary folk. Other
privileges and especially for discredited Rasputin include the freedom to
insult all and sundry with impunity. Now the former persecutor of the press
is turning in desperation to newspapers he tried to destroy during his
heyday when it now dawns on him that the forces of the State no longer
protect him. Shame on you Jonathan Moyo!
I have said it in and out of season that nothing is permanent in this life.
The notion must be dispelled once and for all that the ruling elite can
continue feeding on the society, enriching itself at the expense of
everybody else and hope to get away with it. They will not get away with it.
It is a fallacy for the ruling elite to think that by virtue of their
privileged access to state resources, they can remain secure ad inifinitum.
Extravagant and obscene wealth in the midst of such grinding poverty is
counter-productive in the long run. There is nothing wrong with acquisitive
tendencies in an environment in which there is fair play, more social
justice and vast improvement in the welfare of all Zimbabwean people. These
ingredients are not there in present-day Zimbabwe.
What we see in Zimbabwe is an acquisitive class scrambling for wealth rather
than creating it. What we find in this country is a political, military and
business elite falling over each other in promoting their personal interests
at all levels of the state and ruling party apparatus. No wonder almost all
state institutions have been militarised. Instead of using the cheap fuel
and other things they get on a silver platter for long-term productive
goals, the ruling elite is presiding over an economy which is collapsing and
collapsing without actually collapsing. What a tragedy! A tragedy indeed
that the ruling elite is destroying a once beautiful country for destruction's
With all the good intentions of the Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono of
wanting to turn things around, unless the logic of primitive accumulation of
capital by Zimbabwe's acquisitive class is broken and our politics put
right, it will really be a huge mountain to climb.
The mass of Zimbabweans will continually be called upon to pay the bills to
run up in the struggle for spoils by their exploiters - many of whom are
free to enjoy these spoils in non-productive pursuits.
In conclusion and at the risk of repetition, my main point here is that
corruption has become and has remained the major source of accumulating
wealth for the ruling elite at the expense of the majority of Zimbabweans.
And in the process the state has served as the primary source of individual
enrichment of politicians, bureaucrats, business elite and high-ranking
That is why members of such a class have a strong appetite to engage in
politics or even to enter it on a full-time basis. They want to engage in
politics to have life without scarcity through corruption. And Zimbabweans
are right to feel very angry about all these things including the insolence
of office and the arrogance of power on the part of the ruling ZANU PF
Such excesses and consequences of unbridled amassing of wealth on the part
of the tiny fraction of the ruling elite has now reached intolerable levels
and this obviously contain seeds of political upheaval and looters running
riot destroying everything in the process as a result of poverty and
starvation. Such a course of action must be averted by political action and