Nelson Banya News Editor
Massive industrial action looms
THE government, under fire for excessively running the printing press at
Fidelity Printers, has frozen all salary increases for civil servants and
ruled out bonus awards this year in what could worsen the plight of its
Sources said the blanket freeze could worsen the already fragile industrial
relations between the usually populist ZANU PF government and the main union
representing the civil servants while further negatively impacting on the
quality of public service delivery countrywide.
The Public Service Commission (PSC), which oversees Zimbabwe's civil
service, has circulated a letter informing heads of government departments
that there would be no further increments following January's 231 percent
"Reference is made to the Public Service Commission's minute reference
B/C/33/2006/14 20 January 2006. You are being requested to advise your
members that there are no funds to cover the filling of vacant posts,
performance advancement, cash in lieu of leave, and the 2006 performance
awards/bonus and be guided accordingly," reads a memorandum signed by the
PSC's secretary, a Mrs Chigwamba.
"It is noted that the PSC approved with Treasury concurrence the increase in
salaries and allowances for the public service with effect from January 1
Chigwamba further advised that the National Joint Negotiating Council, at
its meeting on the review of salaries and allowances held on December 13
2005, agreed to transfer funds initially allocated for filling vacant posts
and performance advancement and earmark them for housing allowances.
"Furthermore, funds initially allocated for cash in lieu of leave days were
re-allocated to transport allowance," she said.
"In view of the above, heads of ministries are therefore, requested to
advise their members that there are no funds to cover the filling of vacant
posts, performance advancement and cash in lieu of leave. Be further advised
that there are also no funds to cover the 2006 performance award/bonus," she
The Public Service Association (PSA), which represents government workers,
could not be reached for comment, as its president Maxwell Kaitano was
unavailable at the time of going to print.
However, a member of the association revealed that the PSA had engaged
government on the matter, with no success so far.
"Last week we were in a meeting but nothing came out," the official said.
With inflation expected to hit a record 800 percent before tapering off to
around 200 percent towards year-end, Zimbabwean workers cannot cope with the
relentless increase in the cost of living.
At the same time, the government has come under pressure from the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) to rein in its excessive expenditure
pattern that has widened the budget deficit to unsustainable levels.
The civil service wage bill gobbles up at least 50 percent of Treasury's
revenue and accounts for 40 percent of total expenditure or 19 percent of
gross domestic product (GDP), according to Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa.
Efforts to rationalise the civil service have been limited by the fact that
80 percent of the workforce is employed in the key social services of health
The government, which recently owned up to printing $21 trillion to raise
foreign currency for the payment to the IMF and stoking inflation in the
process, faces a widening budget deficit this year.
Murerwa has put the 2005 deficit outturn at about three percent of GDP,
following a strong revenue collection sprint in the second half of last
year, but the IMF last week cast serious doubt on that figure, with external
affairs director Thomas Dawson telling the press that the figure was likely
to be above 60 percent, if the impact of the central bank's quasi-fiscal
operations were taken into account.
The central bank's extra-budgetary expenditures to support parastatals,
agriculture and municipalities are not reflected on the government's balance
sheet, a factor which helps conceal the real budget deficit.
The IMF has urged the government to transfer these to its balance sheet this
Charles Rukuni Bulawayo Bureau Chief
FORMER student leader Arthur Mutambara, who was elected president of the
pro-senate faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) at the
weekend, is not intending to lead a faction but is gunning for both
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's job and the country's presidency when
President Robert Mugabe retires in two years.
Though a lot of people are still questioning the way he made his entry,
Mutambara is using a new tactic not employed by his predecessors. He
recognises the role played by Tsvangirai in founding the strongest
opposition party in the country and the one played by President Mugabe in
liberating the country from colonial rule. But at the same time, he says
Zimbabwe must now move on.
This was clearly demonstrated in his acceptance speech soon after he was
elected leader of the pro-senate faction in Bulawayo. He said ZANU PF no
longer had a mandate to run the country because those in power did not know
the needs of the present generation.
"Every generation has its mandate," he said. "Our generational mandate is
the economy and economic empowerment. Our generation demands the fruits of
independence. They want to become commercial farmers, innovative
entrepreneurs, productive workers, and creative managers. They want to be
global players. They want to be globally competitive."
Sounding as militant as he was as a student leader nearly two decades ago,
he added: "We want our freedom now. We demand human rights now. We want
solutions to the economic crisis now. There will be no compromise, retreat
or surrender. Defeat is not on the agenda."
Analysts and those who went to college with him, however, said despite his
militant words, Mutambara was not going to be confrontational. He was
looking for a compromise. He wanted to bring the opposition together first
and then go for President Mugabe to either form a government of national
unity or contest whoever succeeds him in 2008.
He clearly spelt this out in his statement when he said all democratic
forces in Zimbabwe needed to engage each other. A reunification strategy had
to be established immediately. He was prepared to step down as president and
allow fresh elections. He would, however, contest anybody nominated for the
post and if he lost he would work vigorously under the new leadership.
"If as part of the reunification framework, a new leadership has to be
elected, I am prepared to step down as president of this great party and
allow for fresh elections," he said. "However, to demonstrate the
seriousness and respect with which I take the responsibility and honour that
you have bestowed upon me today, I will be prepared to contest anybody who
is nominated to stand for the presidency of the new united political
formation. If I lose in such an election I will submit to the will of the
people, and work vigorously under the new leadership."
Mutambara was also clear on a number of issues. He said though he was now
leader of the pro-senate MDC, he was actually against the party's
participation in the elections. His view was that the MDC should not just
have boycotted the elections but should have withdrawn from parliament and
all other election-based institutions to "constitute a consistent and
effective regime de-legitimisation strategy".
He had joined the pro-senate group because of the need for unity, not just
of the MDC factions, but unity that brought in other opposition parties such
as Jonathan Moyo's United People's Movement and Daniel Shumba's United
"Morgan Tsvangirai deserves a place of honour in the fight for democracy in
Zimbabwe. He is a Zimbabwean hero," Mutambara said. Even President Robert
Mugabe needed to be recognised as a soldier for social justice and democracy
in the fight for liberation.
He said the opposition should not be brushed aside as western stooges as
President Mugabe has repeatedly said, arguing: "We are better defenders of
the liberation war legacy than the current ZANU PF party whose activities
are a negation of the principles and values of that great struggle. If we
appear combative, it is because of love for our country".
On the contentious land issue, Mutambara said he did not agree with western
governments because land reform should not be driven by the interests of
white farmers but those of all Zimbabweans.
While ZANU PF was to blame for the present crisis, western governments were
also to blame because they had reneged on their agreements and the inertia
of white farmers in seeking pre-emptive solutions.
He would seek "equitable, transparent, just and economically efficient
distribution and use of land" which emphasised productivity, food security,
self-sufficiency and collateral value of land.
Mutambara's biggest problem will be how to convince his colleagues in the
opposition to form a broad-based opposition. Tsvangirai's faction is holding
its congress this month and has already shrugged off the pro-senate congress
as a non-event.
One observer said no matter what people said about Tsvangirai, he had a
large constituency. Mutambara therefore could not afford to ignore
The faction Mutambara leads has been discredited and is regarded as a
regional faction and a creation of ZANU PF to get rid of Tsvangirai.
Observers, however, said Mutambara was aware of this but he wanted a
stepping stone. He could not form a new political party but had to come in
through one of the existing structures.
"He has done his homework," an observer who went to college with Mutambara
said. "But he is looking at the bigger picture."
If he wins Tsvangirai's support he should have no problem with the other two
opposition movements. The United People's Movement is still largely
considered to be stillborn while Daniel Shumba's party can only have support
in Masvingo, but even this is doubtful.
Mutambara has several aces up his sleeve.
He is not tainted by the bickering within the opposition. He can bring
respectability back to the opposition. But more importantly be can bring
money to the party and to the country.
Mutambara is chief executive officer of Africa Technology and Business
Institute which has operations in 13 African countries. Prior to that he was
a director of Standard South Africa, one of that country's largest banks,
and was responsible for 17 African countries. This makes him a major
business and political player on the continent.
He is still young, 39 turning 40 on May 25. He has the right academic
qualifications. He has a PhD in robotics and mechatronics from the
prestigious Oxford University in England. He seems to have the backing of
South African President Thabo Mbeki, the most powerful man in Southern
Africa running the most powerful economy on the continent.
His links with McKinsey and Company of Chicago is another ace up his sleeve.
He could bring in the necessary foreign direct investment to the country
because he was their management consultant providing advice to senior
managers and global players. He also has permanent residence status in the
US, which is both a plus and minus because ZANU PF can use this against him.
The biggest question at the moment is, with such an impressive CV, why is
Mutambara gambling by entering politics - a dirty game, especially in the
Observers say he was persuaded to go into politics because he offered the
best compromise, not just for the MDC but for President Mugabe as well. But
most important of all he is good for business, which Zimbabwe badly needs to
turn around its fortunes.
But for now, people have to wait and see what happens at the Tsvangirai
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE'S top milling companies have virtually switched off most of their
flour mills because of a massive reduction in wheat allocations by the Grain
Marketing Board (GMB) to a meagre 600 tonnes per week.
Against a background of food shortages, milling industry sources reported
that the state-run GMB, which has the monopoly to purchase wheat, had
slashed wheat rations by 30 percent, the second cut inside three months.
This could trigger serious bread shortages and retrenchments in the baking
and milling industries which employ an estimated 15 000 people.
They said the parastatal had completely failed to deliver its promised
allocation of wheat to the country's three largest millers - National Foods
(Natfoods), Blue Ribbon Foods and Victoria Foods.
Mike Manga, chairman of the Millers Association of Zimbabwe, confirmed this
week that the major millers were getting between 600 and 700 tonnes per
week, adding that they had relayed a distress call to the government.
"The allocation is equivalent to one-and-a-half days milling per week and
this is constraining capacity. We cannot sustain the present workforce," he
Prior to the reduction the millers were getting 900 tonnes. Officials said
their wheat allocations were only being milled at their plants in the
capital, leaving some of their plants across the country grounded.
"We have nothing in Bulawayo and Mutare," said the millers.
Insiders at one of the milling companies said they were being forced to
switch off their mills for some weeks to enable them to build up stocks.
"In order to build up stocks we sometimes have to spend some weeks without
operating," said the insiders.
Because of the limited wheat and grain stocks, millers said that they could
no longer sustain the existing employment levels hence they had been forced
to sacrifice contract workers.
Zimbabwe's annual domestic consumption of wheat is estimated at between 350
000 and 450 000 metric tonnes. But farmers have been unable to produce
enough to meet demand as they lack the necessary skills and inputs. In 2005
farmers only harvested 95 000 tonnes, which could not satisfy demand. The
GMB has had to make up for the difference through imports, which are being
impeded by a six year-old foreign currency crisis.
Sources told The Financial Gazette that millers had also slashed wheat flour
supplies to bakers by 30 percent of normal demand and warned that this could
result in the drying up of bread supplies in the next few weeks. They said
the supply of flour was now down to 120 000 tonnes a year against an annual
demand of 450 000 tonnes.
"It is not enough to supply the minimal needs of the country," bakers said.
Reports of a sustained reduction in wheat allocations come on the back of a
warning by the Millers Association that some of its members were filing for
bankruptcy. The association says capacity utilisation has collapsed to less
than 16 percent.
Meanwhile, millers reported that they began taking delivery of maize grain
allocations this week after almost two months of non-delivery. They said the
supplies were coming through Mozambique and South Africa.
"We have an order for 500 000 tonnes of maize that we are receiving now,"
said one of the leading millers.
Mavis Makuni Own Correspondent
During a state visit to Zimbabwe in 2004, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni
made his views abundantly clear about what kind of outcome should be
expected each time elections are held in an African country.
Museveni, who this week won the right to extend his already formidable
20-year stint as head of state by a fresh five-year term, declared that
"regime change" would never work in Africa, despite the fact that he himself
would not have come into power, albeit through a coup, if this philosophy
had applied to the administration of his predecessor, Milton Obote.
The term "regime change" now has a pejorative ring because some African
leaders regard it as a code word for an imperialistic agenda to depose them
and install puppets.
But all this phrase, which American President George W Bush popularised
before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, should connote is the right of the
people to elect a government of their choice.
Museveni, who forced an amendment of the Ugandan constitution to enable
himself to serve an additional term of office after the expiry of his
constitutionally limited stint at the helm, is not the only leader to have
shown intolerance towards the idea of an incumbent administration losing its
hold on power through an election. Tanzania's immediate former president,
Benjamin Mkapa has spoken out in a similar vein against such a possibility.
During a visit to Mozambique for the inauguration of Armando Guebuza as the
country's new leader last year, he sermonized at length on the need for
opposition parties on the African continent "to learn to accept election
He complained about a trend he claimed was developing in Africa involving
the refusal by opposition parties to accept election outcomes, stressing
that accepting defeat was part of the democratic process.
What these long-serving leaders are loathe to countenance is the fact that
it is also part of the democratic process for opposition parties to assume
In 2003, Zimbabwe's then foreign minister, Stan Mudenge, while addressing a
meeting of the Southern Africa Development (SADC) Committee on governance,
which had been tasked to formulate guidelines for the conduct of free and
fair elections, spoke derisively about opposition parties in the region. "Do
not only expect to win, be prepared to lose", Mudenge instructed the hapless
parties. He, like other proponents of this idea, did not explain why the
same dictum should not apply to ruling parties and why flawed electoral
procedures remain in place.
Since then, elections have been held in a number of countries where the
expectation that ruling parties must win every time and that the appropriate
role of opposition parties is, per se, to lose polls, has become a
These include Egypt, where president Hosni Mubarak is into his 25th year of
incumbency, Tanzania where a new leader was elected late last year but the
ruling party, Chama Chama Pindudzi has retained control for 42 years, Gabon
where Omar Bongo has begun his 39th year at the helm and Zimbabwe, which has
been ruled by one party since independence 26 years ago. Elections were also
held in Togo to facilitate the transfer of power to Faure Gnassingbe to
succeed his late father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who had been in power for
almost 40 years.
These elections, whose outcome was pre-determined, were only held after the
people had protested the army's attempt to bring Gnassingbe through the back
As with all these polls, Museveni's election was accompanied by familiar
complaints from his main opponent, Kizza Besigye's Forum for Democratic
Change about electoral irregularities and an uneven playing field Besigye
has rejected the election results.
The Ugandan poll, which was characterized by the arrest of Besigye on
accusations of treason and other intrigues in the run-up to voting, was
reminiscent of pre-election scenarios in countries like Togo, Gabon and
Zimbabwe where opposition parties have also cried foul about harassment,
lack of access to the media and flawed electoral laws and procedures
perceived to favour the party in power.
African countries demand to be respected and to be regarded as standing
shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the world in terms of entitlement to
fair trade and an equal voice in international fora such as the United
Nations. They, however, insist on being left alone to conduct elections the
African way and govern in accordance with an African version of democracy.
This has ensured the political survival of the parties already in power. And
yet a crucial requirement for the existence of truly popular governments is
the holding of genuinely free and fair elections. Under normal
circumstances, these polls should afford the people the right to throw out
corrupt and dictatorial regimes rather than be permanently saddled with them
as has been the case up to now.
Despite the fact that against all odds, ruling parties have won election
after election for over 40 years in some countries, the question remains
whether these are popular governments. This is because a crucial ingredient
for the existence of a genuinely popular government is the conducting of
free and fair elections, which cannot be possible until certain basic
conditions and principles are observed.
These include allowing voters the right to have access to facts, criticism,
competing ideas and views
This is not possible in many countries where draconian media laws either
ensure the outlawing or muzzling of non-state newspapers.
This is often accompanied by the harassment, persecution and incarceration
of media practitioners accused of working in cahoots with the opposition or
being agents of foreign interests seeking to effect regime change.
Zimbabwe has such an unpopular law: the Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Act , which nevertheless is often defended here as a statute most
African governments find desirable.
It is also a fact that elections cannot be free and fair unless citizens are
free to organise for political purposes prior to the day of voting.
But taking the case of the latest Ugandan elections as an example, Besigye
did not have enough time to campaign and canvass for support because he was
in detention on allegations of treason. Even when he was released at the
eleventh hour, his campaign rallies were disrupted by the army and the
police when his supporters - the potential voters - were said to be violent.
The leader of the Zimbabwean opposition party, the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai
was politically immobilised in the same way when allegations of treason were
levelled against him and he was only cleared after his party had lost two
Elections in most African countries are characterised by fraud, vote buying
This violates another important requirement for free elections, namely that
all citizens in a country should have equal voting power. The tricks and
subterfuge resorted to by incumbent governments to ensure victory at any
cost means a few individuals have the power to decide the destiny of an
Yet true democracy should mean that whether one is a company chief
executive, a labourer, a housewife, a doctor, a traditional healer, a
university professor or a student, a man or a woman, one should cast only
one vote and it should carry the same weight as everyone else's.
Nelson Banya News Editor
POLITICAL horse trading is not rocket science but Arthur Mutambara - who has
had a distinguished academic career as one of Africa's foremost scientists -
might have set himself one of the most difficult assignments he has
encountered to date: the reunification of the two feuding Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) factions.
Mutambara, a robotics and mechatronics professor who has had stints with the
United States' famed NASA, assumed leadership of one of the two factions
over the weekend, albeit 'with a heavy heart' and immediately undertook to
unify the splintered party - the ruling ZANU PF's biggest threat since
independence in 1980.
"It is with a heavy heart that I accept the presidency of our great
democratic movement. This is because there are many of our soldiers and
fighters in this struggle who are not here today.
"We are not the only democratic force in the country. Morgan Tsvangirai
deserves a place of honour in the fight for democracy in Zimbabwe. He is a
Zimbabwean hero. All the democratic forces in Zimbabwe need to engage each
other. We need to unite. A reunification framework and strategy must be
established immediately," Mutambara said.
Political analysts, while lauding Mutambara's overtures to the country's
pro-democracy groups, have, however, expressed guarded
optimism over the prospects of re-engagement in the near future.
Brian Raftopoulos, a political analyst who unsuccessfully sought to broker a
truce between MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and the Welshman Ncube-led
faction last year, says Mutambara's challenge is to project himself as a
"It's early days yet as we have to see how both Arthur and his leadership
introduce him to the Zimbabwean public. The biggest challenge that faces him
is how he grows as a national figure," Raftopoulos told The Voice of America's
Studio 7 this week.
"What's important is that both sides consider national issues in Zimbabwe,
that they can find ways to work together to find common strategic
"The common issue is to change the current political environment in
Zimbabwe," Raftopoulos implored.
This task is not going to be easy, judging by the acrimony that has followed
after the October 12 2005 MDC national council vote on whether or not to
participate in last year's Senate elections.
Although Mutambara's detailed acceptance speech has resonated well among
opposition supporters in the country as well as government spin-doctors who
have sought to cynically twist the message as an endorsement of ZANU PF rule
from the most unlikely source, the response from the Tsvangirai camp has
been anything but warm.
Tsvangirai's spokesperson William Bango has said Mutambara's entry into
mainstream politics was "on a platform we do not recognize."
Nelson Chamisa, spokesperson of the Tsvangirai faction, acknowledged the
value of Mutambara's call to close ranks, but was categorical about who the
MDC leader is.
"We are not aware of any other president other than Mr Tsvangirai," Chamisa
Chamisa described Mutambara as "an enthusiastic and patriotic Zimbabwean who
wants to see the termination of dictatorship in Zimbabwe".
"The president of the MDC, Mr Tsvangirai has been very clear that unity is
fundamental in our efforts to dislodge ZANU PF dictatorship.
"Professor Mutambara's comments are quite welcome and in sync with the
aspirations of Mr Tsvangirai of bringing a new dispensation to the struggle
for democracy. Mr Tsvangirai has an open door policy which is often
misconstrued by others for weakness."
Tendai Biti, a senior member of the Tsvangirai faction told The Financial
Gazette this week that Mutambara could not launch a reunification bid as he
was a "nonentity."
He also said there was a clear ideological difference between the two camps,
after the weekend congress that catapulted Mutambara to power.
"When you look at their proposed constitution, it will overhaul our
preamble, which says we are a social democratic party, to bring in
paragraphs about dead people, our nation, our pride, our heritage. That's no
different from the ZANU PF land mantra.
"There is no difference between ZANU PF and these guys. One has to realize
that this is (South African president Thabo) Mbeki's project. Mbeki is
afraid of social liberation movements because they are a threat to
nationalist movements ... he wants a reformed ZANU PF to partner these guys
in a government of national unity, but we are not worried about that. We are
going to congress, after which we will emerge with a plan to confront
Mugabe. ZANU PF should not be left to go on leave," Biti said.
"Mutambara says he is untainted, of course he is untainted while we bear the
scars of the battle against ZANU PF over the past six years while he has
been on holiday," Biti charged.
However, developments since Mutambara caught all and sundry by surprise and
strolled onto Zimbabwe's political stage, suggest his political rivals, both
in the opposition and ruling party, have been stirred somewhat. Reports of
visits to dissuade Mutambara from throwing his lot with the Ncube faction
have been widespread, while the ruling party appears to have been stunned
into inactivity and is inadvertently sending mixed signals.
Political analysts believe the country could be on the verge of an
interesting period in its politics.
Writing ahead of the MDC congress last weekend, political scientist Eldred
Maunungure, said this was inevitable.
"Arthur Mutambara's entry into Zimbabwe's politics has generated a lot of
interest and indeed anxiety and even panic amongst all political
gladiators - ruling and aspiring - and has excited many Zimbabweans.
"I would say both the anxiety and the excitement are warranted," Masunungure
Masunungure said Mutambara's entry into politics would have ripple effects
no one could ignore.
He said the move to rope in Mutambara was a masterstroke that had swung the
pendulum in favour of the Ncube faction, as it had the potential to steal
Tsvangirai's thunder. ZANU PF, on the other hand, could scarcely afford to
be smug as Mutambara had the potential to attract the young vote, whose
influence will continue to grow, Masunungure averred.
He, however, says the prospect of unity between the factions, offered
"Even more devastating a scenario for the ruling party is the prospect of
the two rival factions re-unifying. Unification of the two MDC factions,
though distant and improbable, is not impossible.
"The combination of Mutambara and Tsvangirai would be an even bigger threat
than the united old MDC. The two leaders have different but strong and
complimentary support bases.
"In that combination, opposition politics would have been rejuvenated and
re-energised. That would completely change the political landscape of the
THE Senate's amendments to the Education Amendment Bill are "blatantly
unconstitutional" and will cause a massive fee hike at boarding and mission
schools, an association of the country's private schools has charged.
Jameson Timba, chairman of the Association of Trust Schools (ATS), said
yesterday the changes "were not based on any rational economic thinking" and
had been arrived at without prior public consultations as required by law.
The Amendment Bill, which seeks to link fee increases to the Consumer Price
Index (CPI), says the ministry shall allow fee increases if they do not
exceed the percentage increase in the costs of living as measured by the
Central Statistical Office (CSO), if the fees or levies for day school
students who are provided with meals at the school are not more than 40
percent of the fees paid by boarders, and if the fees or levies for day
school students who are not fed at the school are not more than 30 percent
of the fees or levies paid by boarders.
"These amendments do not only reflect poor draftsmanship but are also, in my
opinion, blatantly unconstitutional. We are concerned as to how the two
amendments passed a constitutional test when they were put before the
Parliamentary Legal Committee," Timba said.
The new bill compels the Secretary for Education to approve any fee increase
not in excess of CPI as long as the percentages for day scholars are not
"Subsection 4 of Section 21 of the new Bill only permits the Secretary to
approve fee increases in excess of CPI. So what happens to the school if the
Secretary's hands are tied with respect to the day scholar percentages? It
ceases to operate."
The ATS and the Association of Church education Secretaries would begin an
investigation into the impact of the amendments on the more than 500 private
schools "in order to alert the Presidency of the dangers of these two
amendments before Presidential assent", Timba said.
Chris Muronzi Staff Reporter
SAM Sipepa Nkomo, the chief executive of the publishing concern fighting to
revive The Daily News and its sister weekly might be arraigned before the
courts this month facing fraud charges which surfaced when he was still the
Mining Industry Pension Fund (MIPF) boss.
Sources at the Attorney General's Office told The Financial Gazette this
week that the department, which falls under the Justice Ministry, has had a
fresh look at the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) chief executive's
file and wants his case finalised without delay.
Nkomo left the MIPF in 2000. At the time, he was facing fraud and corruption
charges involving about $4 million, a substantial amount of money then.
The charges arose from a joint venture, which he allegedly misled the MIPF
to enter into for the construction of the plush Angwa City project and the
gifts he allegedly received as a result of the construction contracts. The
17 storey high-rise building took two years to complete.
The state alleges that Nkomo defrauded the MIPF of $3 million in
contavention of the Prevention of Corruption Act
It futher alleges that some time between 1997 and 2000, Nkomo received cash
and goods worth about $1.6 million from Concept Furnitures and Makoni Cooper
P/L, both owned by his personal friend, Trevor Carelse Juul.
Nkomo is said to have misled the MIPF into going into partnership with Juul's
construction company without disclosing his personal interests in the deal.
The case is still to be concluded.
Nkomo, whose ANZ mounted a legal challenge seeking the re-licensing of its
two titles - The Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday closed in September
2003 for operating without a licence, confirmed the latest development.
He said, "I am also told that that is what is happening but I have not been
served with summons as yet. I was phoned by a certain person in the Fraud
Squad saying they were trying to have summons served on me. The problem that
they have is that there is no complainant."
The director of Prosecutions in the AG's Office Loyce Matanda-Moyo could not
immediately comment on the issue when contacted yesterday.
Charles Rukuni Bureau Chief
BULAWAYO - The High Court has barred deputy Public Service Minister Abednico
Ncube from kicking out his mining partner saying though their partnership
had not yet been formalised in writing it was still valid.
Ncube, who owned mining claims at Ceasar East 2 and 3 in Gwanda, sought a
partner who could invest "time, money and expertise" into the operation last
year and entered into a "partnership arrangement of some sort" with Gurus
The claims, which were previously registered in the name of Ncube, were
re-registered by the Mining Commissioner in the name of Abednico Ncube and
Gurus Mining Corporation owned another mine, Freda, which processed gold ore
for other mines in Gwanda. It built five houses for workers at Ceasar 2 and
3 and hired security guards to clear gold panners.
It began operations and on November 11 and sold gold worth $752.3 million to
the central bank. The company deposited $346 million into Ncube and Gurus
Syndicate's account with Agribank in Gwanda.
It called a board meeting on November 19 to brief its directors on the
arrangement with Ncube and to formalise the agreement in writing but Ncube
did not turn up for the meeting. Instead, he wrote the company a letter
stating that Gurus Mining Corporation had ceased to be a partner with effect
from that date.
The letter also claimed that Gurus' business partner, Lawrence Botha, had
taken seven truck loads of seven tonnes of ore each to Freda Mine in October
but that gold had never been delivered to the central bank. He warned the
company that if he did not receive a satisfactory explanation within seven
days, he would report the matter to the police.
"Our partnership is invalid. To me this is a blessing as this has come to
light before starting our operations," Ncube wrote. "Our laws require every
miner to deposit all gold to the central bank. But that was not the case
with the gold that was taken to Freda by your partner Lawrence. How then do
I continue working with you?"
Ncube was taken to court by Gurus managing director Ignatius Manners Gonah.
Justice Nicholas Ndou said Ncube could not back out of the partnership
because even though the two had not formally signed a contract, they had a
Rangarirai Mberi Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE'S budget deficit will have widened to 60 percent in 2005, much
bigger than official forecasts, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has
Thomas Dawson, IMF director of external affairs, disputed Zimbabwe's
statements that the $21 trillion that government printed to fund its IMF
repayments had been behind the resurgence in inflation. The central bank's
quasi-fiscal activities were to blame for bigger deficits and accelerating
inflation, Dawson said at a press briefing in Washington last week.
"The reality is that inflation in Zimbabwe has been driven mainly by
quasi-fiscal activities of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ). The
government deficit that is reported at some three percent of GDP (Gross
Domestic Product) in 2005 is only a small part of the picture. A truer
picture of the public deficit is provided by the consolidated deficit of the
RBZ and central government, which is estimated to have reached nearly 60
percent of GDP in 2005, up from 27 percent of GDP in 2004," Dawson said.
Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa has in fact forecast a deficit of 8.6
percent, an upward revision - following a supplementary budget - from an
earlier forecast of five percent.
Murerwa sees real GDP down by 3.5 percent in 2005, but has predicted the
economy would grow by between two percent and 3.5 percent this year, saying
this would come on the back of a recovery in agriculture. He was unavailable
for comment yesterday.
In reaction to criticism that handing out cheap funds to farms and state
enterprises was inflationary, RBZ governor Gideon Gono has said the
programme had been necessary to save both agriculture and parastatals from
collapse. But he has since ended the policy, conceding it had indeed heated
Following Zimbabwe's completion of payments on its IMF arrears, Gono
revealed that Zimbabwe had printed $21 trillion to buy the foreign currency
it needed for the repayments.
Dawson, however, said the IMF "cannot reconcile the numbers that the
Governor cited with the information previously provided by the authorities
on the sources of payment."
Said Dawson: "There's also been comments made that because of payments to
the Fund in some fashion by the Zimbabwean Government, Zimbabweans have had
to do without medicines, adequate food, fuel and other essentials, and we do
not believe that has been the case at all.
"If in fact there have been shortages in that regard, it has been entirely
because the authorities have chosen the course of action in not implementing
the comprehensive package of macroeconomic and structural reforms that the
Fund and including the Fund Board have repeatedly recommended."
Njabulo Ncube Chief Political Reporter
lParadza to be sentenced in absentia
FUGITIVE High Court judge Benjamin Paradza will be sentenced in absentia
next week as the police continue to hunt down the former liberation war
fighter, now believed to be in the United Kingdom.
The Financial Gazette can reveal that Justice Simpson Mutambanengwe, who
presided over Paradza's widely publicised trial, has been requested by the
Justice Ministry to travel to Zimbabwe at the weekend so that he can hand
down judgment between Monday and Wednesday.
Justice Mutambanengwe, a former High Court judge, is now based in Namibia
where he is a supreme court judge.
"I have set the matter down for 6 to 8 March 2006," said the Master of the
High Court Charles Nyatanga. "I have also written to his lawyers, Selby
Hwacha and company and Matanda-Moyo (the director of public prosecutions)
advising them that the matter comes up on the stated dates," he added.
Hwacha confirmed that his law firm had received the letter.
Sources said the sentencing of the judge in absentia, the first of its kind
in Zimbabwe, presented his lawyers with legal headaches in that a "fugitive
from justice has no recourse to justice."
"His lawyers are in a dilemma because they have not been given instructions
to defend or appeal against the sentence. The lawyers only have instructions
to contest the conviction not the judgment expected next week," sources
closely following the case said.
Hwacha acknowledged the legal headaches posed by the sentence, saying his
client had not given instructions to defend or appeal against the sentence.
"In fact we are still to mitigate against the conviction so it is very
difficult at the moment to comment but we will look into the issue," Hwacha
Paradza skipped bail early this year, a day before Justice Mutambanengwe
found him guilty of two counts of corruption. It is thought Paradza
travelled to the United Kingdom via South Africa. He is believed to have
made the first leg of the journey out of Zimbabwe hidden in a haulage truck.
He was convicted of two counts of corruption for allegedly attempting to
coerce two fellow judges to release a passport belonging to his business
partner in a safari-hunting venture in which he stood to lose about US$60
The business partner, Russell Labuschagne, was at the time facing murder
charges at the Bulawayo High Court.
Labuschagne, who was subsequently convicted, is serving a 15-year jail term
for the murder of a man he found poaching fish at his fishing camp in Binga.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
A BREAKAWAY faction of the splintered opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) last week adopted a raft of amendments to the party's
constitution at its Congress held in Bulawayo, further widening the rift in
the once formidable opposition party.
Faction spokesperson Paul Themba-Nyathi told The Financial Gazette yesterday
that the bulk of the 100 amendments were approved by congress with minor
alterations to tighten loopholes in the original constitution.
"Every time you have a meeting an issue comes up which has to be dealt with
under the provisions of the constitution," said Nyathi. "But some of these
provisions were not sufficiently clear hence the need to tighten loopholes,"
Last week's amendments increase the number of people who constitute the
management committee to seven, while reserving two of those slots for women.
Prior to the amendment the management committee was made up of six people.
The amendments also resulted in an increase in the number of elected
officials from branch to national council level. For every three people
nominated by a province on the national executive, one should be a woman.
Nyathi said the amendment was designed to improve the quality of the
organisation and eliminate gender imbalance.
"Constitutions are dynamic documents and these amendments are meant to
enhance democracy in the party," said Nyathi.
The amended constitution now takes away disciplinary responsibility from the
Vice-President to a separate committee chaired by Laison Mlambo, the
secretary for disciplinary matters.
The party spokesperson said an amendment was also affixed to the preamble to
the constitution that acknowledges the role played by fallen heroes in the
war of liberation and mentions all organisations that met at the March 1999
National People's Convention, which resulted in the formation of the MDC.
Although the pro-Senate faction said the alterations constituted mundane
business at last weekend's congress, their rivals in the opposing faction
attacked the move.
Nelson Chamisa, spokesperson of the MDC camp led by former trade unionist
Morgan Tsvangirai, said the party's founding constitution remained intact.
"It would be amiss and mischievous to comment about a congress of a
different party," said the youthful but combative Chamisa. "But let me
hasten to say that the MDC has not held any congress. The legitimate
congress will be held from the 17th to the 19th of March. Any other
gathering is bogus and has no effect legally and politically. We are
consulting the people and the people are giving us feedback on where we are
supposed to put amendments to the constitution," he added.
Welshman Ncube who led the faction in breaking away from Tsvangirai's camp,
said the past six years of the party's life had uncovered some weaknesses in
the party's constitution.
"Constitutions are amended from practice and experience you have with them,"
Ncube said, denying expanding his considerable powers as secretary general
through the amendments.
"We have known the shortcomings so we need to strengthen and improve that
Ruramai Mutizwa Staff Reporter
A NEW board would be unveiled this week for ZESA Holdings, which has been
operating with an amorphous structure for the past three years, The
Financial Gazette can reveal.
Sources said Sydney Gata has been retained as the executive chairman of
ZESA, adding that astute business executives have been fused into the board
to ensure the power utility boss does not continue to enjoy a free rein.
While The Financial Gazette could not obtain a full list of board members by
the time of going to print, sources said farmer and economic commentator
Jonathan Kadzura, Financial Holdings Limited chief executive officer Elisha
Mushayakarara and Harare lawyer Francis Chirimunda are part of the new
Corporate governance concerns at ZESA - unbundled into five companies in
2004 to rationalise operations and improve service delivery - had been a
major cause for concern. Before the appointments, Gata had technically acted
as both the ZESA board, which should direct policy and a key member of the
management team, which should implement policy.
The new appointments come at a time ZESA has been dogged by foreign currency
shortages needed to acquire transformers and other spare parts, leading to
Contacted for comment last week, Gata said the names of the new board
members had been forwarded to the Ministry of Energy and Power Development
for consideration. He said: "The board members will be announced by the
ministry next month (March) on the 1st or 2nd, although some of the board
members have been appointed."
Kumbirai Mafunda Staff Reporter
EFFORTS to prop up Zimbabwe's gold production, which sank to its lowest
level last year, could be in jeopardy once again as a concoction of
tribulations hamper production.
Gold producers have made distress calls, saying the deepening economic
crisis and some skewed government policies were wrecking production of the
precious yellow metal.
First to send out a distress call was the country's former top producer,
Falcon Gold (Falgold), based in Bulawayo, which reported that viability was
being impaired by a static exchange rate in the face of galloping inflation.
Inflation, which is now approaching record highs, continues to drive
production costs through the roof.
Falgold said a reprieve for gold producers has failed to materialise from
currency devaluations effected during the past seven months, as the rate
remains far below the black market exchange rate.
Although the RBZ, which moved towards liberalising the exchange rate in
October through the introduction of an interbank foreign exchange regime had
provided some form of cushion to miners, that buffer had since been blown
off after the central bank terminated the liberal system in January.
Now that the exchange rate is capped, producers said profit margins are
being squeezed by the static exchange rate and as a consequence the benefits
of surging international bullion prices have eluded them.
Falgold chairman David Marshal said the capping of the currency early in the
year at $99 202 against $175 000, a disparity of 76.4 percent is prejudicing
the gold producer of substantial revenue. Although the RBZ is paying $1.7
billion/kg, Falgold noted that benchmarking the earnings to the parallel
market rate would earn it $2.8 billion.
"This will have a disastrous effect on the group's results as escalating
working costs will drastically reduce or eliminate forecasted profits," said
The mining boss reported that Falgold had lost 24 kg of gold worth US$425
000 in the past five months because of the shortage of replacement parts and
frequent power outages. He said a 36-hour loss of power at its Dalny Mine
had resulted in the flooding of the mine and a 135-hour loss in production.
"This is an indication of what load shedding can cause in mining during the
rainy season," he stated.
Another gold producer, Rio Zim, also bemoaned chronic shortages of critical
production inputs, and power cuts, which it said had resulted in plant
underutilisation at its Renco Mine and Empress Nickel Refinery.
The miners' complaints come at a time when authorities are whining about the
shrinkage of gold output. Deliveries to the RBZ fell 37 percent from 21 342
kg's in 2004 to 13 453 kg's in 2005, robbing the country of US$160 million.
However the Chamber of Mines said though smuggling could have contributed to
the decline in output, there had been a depletion of surface gold while hard
currency shortages had continued to pin down both small and large-scale
Apart from fighting the twin evils of rising inflation now running at an
annual rate of 613 percent and a hard currency crunch, the plight of
Zimbabwean miners has not been helped by the loss of investor confidence in
Zimbabwe, which has seen a lot of companies failing to secure offshore lines
of credit. Faced with a hostile operating environment, some big mining
houses have exited out of Zimbabwe. Lonmin, formerly Lonrho, sold its five
gold mines to South African entrepreneur Mzi Khumalo's Metallon Gold.
Marshal said gold producers were being prejudiced by not receiving briefly
freed the local unit against the Almighty greenback in October 2005.
Tinashe Mawerera Own Correspondent
THE people of Mudzi district have always grown the Jatropha plant for use as
a form of fencing. But they never realised that they were sitting on a
potential gold mine.
Last Thursday, the Canadian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Roxanne Dube,
commissioned an $8 billion Jatropha oil pressing, soap-making and bio-diesel
plant in a project designed to ease poverty in the impoverished Mudzi
The Jatropha plant has several by-products, which experts and aid workers
say could benefit the people of Mudzi and, on a larger scale, Zimbabwe as a
whole. The Jatropha plant could help solve part of Zimbabwe's fuel crisis,
which has gripped the country for years.
Recently, the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) began a programme to
encourage farmers to grow the plant, offering technical support and
educating them about the benefits of the plant. Noczim, which is the state
fuel importer, has said it would purchase Jatropha seedlings at a price
between $7 million and $10 million per tonne.
Women in Mudzi who are participating in the Jatropha project have been
pressing oil from the plant, which they use to make bars of washing soap.
After seeing a demonstration of the use of the soap by members of the
project, the Canadian envoy said she would immediately explore a possible
investment in the soap industry.
"After witnessing the qualities of the soap, I will personally work on a
soap export industry to Canada," Dube said.
The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) funded the project
under the auspices of a local non-governmental organisation, Edit Trust. To
date, the project has benefited 300 households in the area.
The project focuses on empowering women and aims to promote the growth of
drought tolerant and resistant crops that will benefit the communities. The
crops include cassava, sunflower and Jatropha, the by-products of which can
be used to generate income.
Senior Business Reporter
THE hard currency crisis blighting the country could scupper ZESA Holdings'
bid for a strategic 25 percent shareholding in Mozambique's Hidroelectrica
de Cahora Bassa (HCB), which would guarantee Harare of additional power
ZESA executive chairman Sydney Gata told industrialists in the capital last
week that the Mozambican government had offered Harare, which is HCB's
second most important customer after South Africa's Eskom, shareholding in
the power utility.
The Mozambican government is the majority shareholder in HCB.
Although he could not reveal the monetary value of the shareholding, Gata
said the power monopoly was weighing the offer, which would guarantee the
southern African country of additional power supplies before the region runs
out of energy next year.
"The Mozambican government has made a 25 percent equity offer and Zimbabwe
is responding," said Gata, whose company is frantically seeking to make
itself self-sufficient in power before 2007. "We are in a very dire
situation at the moment and we have to come out of this distress possibly
faster than South Africa," he added.
The Cahora Bassa dam on the Zambezi River recently passed into majority
Mozambican ownership although Maputo still has to make some final payments
to the Portuguese government, previous owners of the dam. Initially, the
board of directors will be restructured so that half its members would be
appointed by Mozambique and half by Portugal, but still under a Portuguese
In the final stage Mozambique will hold 85 percent of the shares, and will
appoint the chairperson of the HCB board. The Portuguese will retain 15
percent of the shares, but the agreement provides for the Mozambican
authorities to request that a third of these shares (five percent of the HCB
capital) be sold to third parties at their market value.
But energy experts warn that it will be taxing for ZESA to fork out funds
for the equity as it is already struggling to secure foreign currency to
meet its domestic electricity needs and complete refurbishment and expansion
of its electricity generation plants. Instead, ZESA has contracted
foreigners, among them some Chinese, Indian and South African companies to
mine coal for use in its thermal
power stations and in the expansion of both the Kariba and Hwange Power
Stations. The power parastatal is saddled with a foreign debt amounting to
US$330 million and is reported to have made an operating loss of $8 trillion
"Money for equity must come from the savings of the shareholder and the
shareholders cannot borrow that money," said one expert. "So where are we
going to get the money," he added.
Zimbabwe imports 35 percent of its electricity from South Africa,
Mozambique, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. But a looming
regional power deficit is threatening the continuation of power supplies to
the crisis-hit southern African nation. Besides struggling to pay for
imports due to severe foreign currency shortages, ZESA has also battled to
repair power generation machinery, while vandalism of its equipment and
insufficient coal supplies to its thermal power stations have contributed to
recurrent power outages that have crippled industrial production.
Critics accuse Harare of doing little to assuage the looming energy crisis.
Already, Eskom has whittled down its energy export units to Namibia,
Botswana and Zimbabwe to 100 megawatts as signs of an energy crisis in the
southern African region become evident.
Economic critics concur that it will be arduous for Harare to mobilise
resources to take up equity in HCB as the power utility is snowed under by
the country's debilitating foreign exchange crunch, which is now in its
sixth year. Evidence of a worsening hard currency squeeze came to light last
week when Gata revealed that South Africa's power utility ESKOM would sink
US$37 million in ZESA's Hwange Power Station and repay the gargantuan debt
through exporting power for a period of 18 months. However, Eskom denied the
deal over the weekend.
"The Mozambicans are just offering that stake as a bluff because they know
that we don't have money for sourcing spare parts," said Daniel Ndlela, an
economic consultant with Zimconsult. "Zimbabwe is broke and this is one
story that will just disappear. The real first refusal will be Eskom and
then because we are stakeholders they (HCB) will also make us an offer," he
AN approach to national issues based on the hypocritical dictum, "do as I
say and not as I do" is guaranteed to foster an "anything goes" culture
ensuring that the resultant confusion and chaos cascade to even the remotest
A story published in a daily newspaper this week about the local leadership
in the Kotwa area of Mudzi bears this out. Mashonaland East Governor, Ray
Kaukonde, is reported to have railed against the elders in this part of the
province for usurping the powers of the relevant educational authorities and
setting themselves up as the body that should determine school fees and
Kaukonde is reported to have ordered the local leadership to stop
interfering in the affairs of Dendera Mission School after alleging that the
elders had barred the United Methodist Church, which owns the institution,
from having any role to play in its running. "There is a lot of interference
in the running of the school by the local leadership. This place has been
turned into a filthy place", complained the Governor, who stressed that the
UMC and the Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture are the relevant
authorities responsible for running the school. "This school must operate
like any other learning institution. There should be no politics in
There was once a time when even the remotest and tiniest rural school ran
like clockwork and every one from pupils to teachers to parents knew their
limits. Teachers were kept on their toes because the inevitability of an
unannounced visit by inspectors always hung over their heads.
Officials responsible for monitoring and supervising these institutions such
as education officers and school inspectors could be relied upon to do their
work and woe unto the principal, headmaster or teacher caught flat-footed.
Every teacher was expected to follow the syllabus and curriculum so
meticulously that on the day of the inspectors' random visit he or she was
supposed to be teaching the designated lesson.
I remember an incident when I was in secondary school zillions of years ago
(I am no spring chicken as I have always admitted) when two inspectors
appeared at my school from nowhere. There was much scurrying around and an
elderly Latin teacher of mine who normally conducted lessons while sitting
down stood up for the first time because of the visitors. It did not mean
much to me then but I now see how these measures ensured that teachers did
their work and students got a fair deal.
The question one has to ask these days when one reads about leaked
examination papers, mix-ups in examinations written by students and horrors
such as the mass sexual abuse of pupils by teachers and other staffers at
Macheke High School is what has happened to these systems and the officials
who made them work. Where were the relevant Ministry of Education, Sport and
Culture officials when the Kotwa elders appointed themselves the school's
These are questions that must ultimately be answered by the Minister of
Education and Culture, Aeneas Chigwedere, but how morally and professionally
competent is he to tackle them when he has taken the lead in throwing
caution to the wind and running the ministry like a personal fiefdom?
Chigwedere is well known for his meddling in the affairs of private schools.
In 2004, after accusing these institutions of being used as instruments for
reasserting racism, despite the fact that the majority of the pupils
attending them were black, Chigwedere ordered some of the schools closed. He
accused them of charging exorbitant fees as a way to exclude poor blacks and
unleashed the police to enforce his orders.
The minister subsequently fought a bitter battle to have the right to
determine the school fees to be paid in these schools legally bestowed on
him and his ministry. In view of this, who can blame the Kotwa villagers for
reaching the conclusion that they can take a leaf out of the minister's book
as far as interfering in the affairs of schools is concerned? When
high-ranking government officials are allowed to do whatever they want with
impunity, it should surprise no one when the phenomenon cascades to local
And just how haphazardly things are being done these days is highlighted by
the fact that even Governor Kaukonde's intervention is not the right way
forward. Governors have no businessman firing headmasters or appointing
education officers as he is reported to have done at Dendera Mission when he
ordered the removal of the acting headmaster. In his place he appointed the
education officer for Mudzi, Austin Chipururo to oversee the running of the
mission school until a substantive headmaster could be named. What is the
responsible ministry's role in all this?
The tragedy is that as far as the education sector is concerned it is the
students who are hardest hit by the confusion and chaos just as residents in
some cases have found themselves shortchanged by Local Government Minister
Ignatius Chombo's meddling in the affairs of local councils. Chombo has
removed popularly elected officials from a number of councils thus
nullifying the people's democratic right to vote for candidates of their
choice. In cases such as Harare where Chombo has imposed a commission headed
by Sekesai Makwavarara, service delivery has not improved and things have in
fact become worse.
It is unlikely that piecemeal approaches such as Kaukonde's intervention in
Kotwa will solve the numerous problems bedeviling the education system and
other public sectors. What is needed is a complete overhaul.
OVER the past few years government, which has hardly behaved as
though it has nothing to hide, blamed the intermittent droughts ad nauseam
for the savage slump in agricultural production.
That the scandal-tainted land reform initiative has slipped on
so many banana skins such as lack of critical inputs and abuse especially by
influential and powerful politicians was not an issue.
Critics, who government accuses of being bent on discrediting
land reform and giving credence to claims that the exercise was the seal of
death for the sector however, see it differently. They argue that the
shrunken state of the once vibrant sector is mostly due to the strategic
mistakes made under the chaotic fast-track land reform programme.
And they could just be vindicated this season. Mother nature did
not send its worst as the country received above normal rainfall. Yet
indications are that Zimbabwe's food security situation could remain
precarious because the country might not produce enough of the staple maize
to feed itself - meaning to say it has now been reduced to a perennial grain
deficit country. The implications of this worst-case scenario cannot be
over-emphasised save to say it will certainly aggravate the deteriorating
economic situation and touch off a humanitarian crisis of catastrophic
But what would be the government's excuse this time? We ask this
question not because we had bought government's arguments about the
unpredictable rainfall pattern and droughts as the reason for plummeting
production on the farms over the years. Droughts or no droughts, Zimbabwe
would still have been able to feed itself but for the ruinous lack of
planning ahead coupled with upside down priorities.
We have said it before and we will say it again. After
identifying agriculture as key to addressing historical injustices and
economic prosperity government must, like a novelist, have known what its
last chapter was going to say and then worked towards that.
In this case, among other things, this entailed developing,
maintaining and encouraging utilisation of the country's irrigation
infrastructure as well as making sure that critical inputs such as seed,
fertilisers and chemicals were made available on time.
Such an approach would not only have demystified the terrible
aura surrounding land reform but would also have guaranteed food security,
the reformation and revival of the economy and, above all, the democratic
renewal of the country through the restoration of honour and dignity to
those who were historically marginalised.
This has not been so and Zimbabwe is beginning to count the cost
of lack of planning. True, those tasked with crop forecasting have not said
anything. Nor has Minister Joseph Made undertaken his infamous traditional
aerial surveys which have seen the country being taken up the garden path
over the food security situation. But the situation on the ground is not
encouraging at all. It tells a story different from the bumper harvest some
of the politicians, known for plucking figures from the air, have projected.
The lack of fertilisers, which were only distributed when it was too little
too late will certainly impair the quality of crops and affect yield levels.
As it is, a sizeable maize crop has turned yellow due to nitrogen
deficiency. The spectre of yet another failed agricultural season caused
mainly by human error is frightening given its incalculable consequences on
the enfeebled economy.
What is more worrying and disappointing though is that unlike in
the past when we were told that the shortages of critical inputs were mainly
due to the foreign currency crunch the country is experiencing, this time
the funds to buy the inputs had been mobilised. President Robert Mugabe
disclosed this on the eve of his 82nd birthday. So, where did the wheels
come off? Who slept on the job and could there be worse saboteurs? Will
Zimbabwe ever get it right vis-a-vis land reform whose goals have largely
remained a pipe dream? And above all, do those running the country's
agriculture have a guiding vision and a sense of purpose?
It should not be forgotten that it is the same lack of planning
that saw the government failing to bolster and enhance agricultural
production through the provision of irrigation. Yet it has always been of
exceptional importance to bolster the irrigation infrastructure because
therein lies the future of agriculture and indeed that of the economy.
In spite of years of official rhetoric that government would
invest in this area, much hasn't been done. The issue only regained currency
last year in the run-up to the Parliamentary elections, giving the
inescapable impression that it was an afterthought used as an election
By Geoffrey Nyarota
A FEW weeks before United States Vice-President Dick Cheney was embroiled in
controversy after he sprayed a Texas lawyer with birdshot in a hunting
accident, the Vice President of Zimbabwe, Joice Mujuru, was involved in
controversy of a totally different nature.
VP Cheney's victim, 78-year-old Harry M. Whittington, suffered a minor heart
attack after he was admitted to hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas, as a
consequence of birdshot being lodged next to his heart. Meanwhile, one
stroke of the pen by his counterpart in Harare had the potential to inflict
long-term torment on journalists in Zimbabwe, at least until the current
government is replaced.
At the beginning of February Vice-President Mujuru signed into existence yet
another draconian media law which seeks vigorously to protect President
Robert Mugabe from the prying eyes of the press or from perceived
persecution or prosecution by the media.
The new statute reinforces existing legislation which shields President
Mugabe from alleged insults in the media and another law whose objective is
to prevent the dissemination of perceived falsehoods. This later provision
already exists under the auspices of the Public Order and Security Act
(POSA), as enacted in 2002.
Before the new law came into being, any journalist who had the temerity to
publish statements likely to undermine the reputation of the President was
liable, under Section 16 of the infamous POSA, to a fine of between Z$20 000
and Z$2 million or to one year's imprisonment or to both such fine and such
imprisonment. Under the new law the sentence went up to five years, while
the fine was increased to a staggering $Z10 million or US$66 on the
The temptation or pressure brought to bear on the bench to impose the jail
term will be tremendous on the part of judges carefully selected for their
implicit loyalty. Journalists are likely to desist from taking risks, as a
Few of them, if any, will contemplate spending, notwithstanding the
prevalence of such material, five years inside the notorious Chikurubi in
pursuance of the dissemination of matters likely to engender feelings of
hostility or to cause hatred, contempt or ridicule of the President,
especially if the definition of such contempt and such ridicule is the sole
prerogative of the state.
Effectively, therefore, VP Mujuru hammered home what could be the last nail
in the coffin of genuine Press freedom in Zimbabwe.
Any article about the government which is the outcome of investigative
journalistic enterprise has the potential to be viewed as somehow
contemptuous of the President. Self-censorship will, therefore, reign
supreme. Members of the ruling elite, given as they are, to flagrant abuse
of power, rampant corruption and a pervasive sense of unaccountability, will
have a field day.
Ann Cooper, executive director of the New York-based Committee to Protect
Journalists said of the new legislation: "CPJ is deeply troubled by these
measures, which will have a further chilling effect on independent
journalism in Zimbabwe".
Sadly, this legislation has other serious implications. Illustrious
cartoonist, Tony Namate, made his name on the now defunct Daily News, which
the government banned along with three other newspapers in 2003. Like
successful cartoonists the world over, Namate's stock-in-trade is the
lampooning of politicians and other public figures. A well executed cartoon
can deliver a more powerful message than the proverbial 1 000 words. Now he
will have to be more circumspect in what caricatures he causes to be
published. Most of the devastating excesses and idiosyncrasies of Zimbabwe's
head of state can only be commented upon at the risk of the journalist.
Technically, should any reader chuckle over his latest artistic rendition of
President Mugabe, Namate is off to Chikurubi for five years.
Hardly was the ink dry on VP Mujuru's injurious signature in Harare than VP
Cheney invited the ire of most sections of the US media after the White
House failed to expeditiously render public details of his disastrous
quail-hunting expedition in southern Texas.
When the news hounds discovered after 24 hours that the VP had missed the
quail and accidentally shot a companion, his world literally collapsed
As Whittington lay recuperating in Corpus Christi, radio and television talk
show hosts had a field day.
"Good news, ladies and gentlemen, we have finally located weapons of mass
destruction. It's Dick Cheney." David Letterman ventured on CBS's Late Show
with David Letterman.
To rub salt into the open wound he added: "We can't get Bin Laden, but we
nailed a 78-year-old attorney."
Not to be outdone, Jay Leno chipped in on NBC's Tonight Show: "I think
Cheney is starting to lose it. After he shot the guy he screamed, 'Anyone
else want to call domestic wire tapping illegal?'"
Meanwhile, Craig Ferguson of CBS spared the VP and targeted the White House.
"Apparently the reason they didn't release the information right away is
they said, 'We had to get the facts right'" he said. "That's never stopped
them in the past."
Had the acerbic sense of humour of Messrs Letterman, Leno and Ferguson been
broadcast over Zimbabwe's airwaves the trio would most certainly be
ensconced behind bars by now. That was the fate of scores of journalists
following the enactment of POSA and the wholly dreadful and quite
inappropriately named Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(AIPPA) also of 2002. In terms of the latter legislation media houses cannot
operate, while journalists cannot report news, unless registered or
licensed, respectively, by a commission appointed by government.
It is this stringent instrument that government has used to silence three
critical newspapers and a fourth that, miraculously, had just been launched
in Bulawayo despite former information minister Professor Jonathan Moyo's
clampdown on new publications. Hundreds of media workers were instantly
rendered jobless in a country where the rate of unemployment stands at more
than 70 percent.
Press freedom is a cornerstone of any democracy and, as Moyo was painfully
aware, an independent press is a powerful tool in influencing public
Whatever the configuration, whatever the determination and the credentials
of opposition party politics, as long as the present government enjoys total
control over the major newspapers and over radio and television, any
undertaking by long-disillusioned Zimbabweans to replace ZANU PF will remain
an uphill struggle.
lGeoffrey Nyarota is the founding editor of the now-defunct Daily News
Letter From America with Ken Mufuka
A BROTHER from Zimbabwe asked me to make a follow-up on my development
articles and address the issue of corruption.
The topic makes up one chapter in my book. The real problem with corruption
is not the theft and misuse of funds and government time of which we are all
familiar with. My research shows that the real cost comes when a whole
people are corrupted and adopt dishonest attitudes, open themselves to
immoral or unethical behaviour and lose integrity. It is the loss of
integrity that we shall emphasise here. You will find the results amazing.
The people and leadership of Zimbabwe have been so corrupted that no one
speaks the truth to the Mukuru and therefore stupid policies are announced
without honking them through. Everybody who has any sense knows how stupid
these policies are, but no one has the courage to say or advice the Mukuru
Here is an example. The Greek leader Pericles said that it is the worst
thing to do to rush into action before the consequences have been fully
discussed. A Standard One student would have asked Mukuru simple questions
about Murambatsvina. Sir, do you know that we are in the middle of winter?
What will happen to those put out of their houses in such intemperate
weather? We have a minister who is supposed to have a doctoral degree, and
he did not ask such pertinent questions. Vamwe vanhu vakafunda zvenhema.
The true cost comes when people no longer think doing anything lawfully is
the right way to do anything. They prefer extra-legal ways. Nobody in his
right mind would consider taking his British pounds to the bank because he
fears that the government intends to cheat him of the true value of his
money. That is sad.
The true cost of corruption comes when even if one has followed all the
rules in the book, as Strive Masiyiwa did with his Econet applications. It
was six years before he was allowed a portion of what the tender board had
already said should have been his allocation. Estimates of his legal costs
vary between US$1 million to US$6 million. That is a shame.
I bought a little house in Masvingo in 2002 so I would have somewhere of my
own to rest my weary bones when I come home. The seller, a scoundrel by the
name of Nyakudya took my money and resold the house to a second buyer. The
he rented the house to a third person. When we went to court, the civil
magistrate's list of cases is reported to have exceeded 1 000 cases. The
scoundrel was collecting rent for five years before judgment was passed
against him. The rascal never in a moment wanted to do right by us. That is
the point we are trying to make.
In a corrupt society, it is foolish to do right and do honest business. What
happens then is that honest men and women are driven out of town and
scoundrels like Nyakudya walk the earth proudly and are showered with
accolades by fellow corrupt citizens. That is how business is driven away
from such a country. Yet there is a lot of business still going on, but the
Internal Revenue Authority does not collect any proceeds from such
When a secretary is given a farm, and she keeps her secretarial job as well,
the corruption cuts across all possible angles. She uses her work telephone
to sell eggs from her desk. She is annoyed by legitimate customers who want
services from her. But she is not alone. The New York Times, perhaps by a
turn of phrase indicates that somebody must have been printing money in his
basement so that money is tainted with corruption. The London Telegraph
joins in by revealing that coins have vanished from businesses in Zimbabwe
and sales clerks don't give change anymore. It happened to me at a post
office, and I wondered if my counting abilities were errant to the tune of
The real cost comes when what is done publicly is not done for the purposes
for which they are said to be done. Take the example of farm allocations.
The Flora Buka Commission investigated the matter and gave a report. Nothing
was done but millions of dollars as well as endless hours were spent. Then
came the Utete Commission. It also wrote a report. Millions were spent and
endless hours were consumed. Then came a Cabinet Audit. Millions were spent
and endless hours were consumed. Don't be fooled. The aim is not to audit
the land allocation. The real aim is to spend millions of dollars on the
The real cost comes when even honest men begin to hedge their activities
because they live in a land of corrupt and unrepentant men. It is wiser to
be careful and not to reveal all the information one has about any business
deal one enters. When such people are in a position of making decisions,
then terrible things can happen. The Masvingo irrigation project was a good
idea and could have contributed about 10 percent of the maize requirements
of the country. Because the originator of the project is no longer in
favour, it must be dropped no matter what the merits of the case are.
Any money printed by such corruptible men is bound to be received with
suspicion by the populace. So where are we now? Nobody invests in tomorrow
because promises are not kept and there is no enforcement mechanism. That is
the real cost of corruption.
No Holds Barred with Gondo Gushungo
SOME of the most incapable, incompetent and self-centred people to ever fill
ministerial chairs are found in President Robert Mugabe's Cabinet.
President Mugabe himself did not say it exactly in those words on the eve of
his 82nd birthday. But he admitted as much.
He made it clear that he is disappointed with the poor performance of his
Cabinet which has pauperised an entire nation.
The ministers who only see around them the fierce struggle of politics are
never concerned with productivity. They are neither serious about their jobs
nor do they have a passion for accomplishments. Inevitably the country is
sailing a little too close to the wind.
Far from suggesting that the ruins must of necessity obstruct the prospects,
all I'm saying is that the pendulum has swung too far the other way. The
situation is as precarious as it has ever been. The economy has suffered
breathtaking losses and it will take decades to undo the damage.
Yet Zimbabwe was told that an economic turnaround would be achieved under
this Cabinet. But frankly speaking, Zimbabweans did not have very high hopes
for it. The longer they waited, the less they hoped because it is
increasingly clear that the ministers are incapable of tackling the problems
besetting the country. The very paucity of evidence of a turnaround tells a
tale. And what is worse, most of the ministers do not behave like people who
understand the depth of the abyss from which Zimbabwe has to find a way.
The people of Zimbabwe have always known where they are with the country's
under-performing Cabinet ministers who suffer from delusions of grandeur. At
best nowhere, which denotes stagnation. And at worst plunging the depths of
darkness characterised by abject poverty and misery.
To the ministers it is scheming for political survival that is priority
number one. Which explains why they have been sucked into the maelstrom of
political gamesmanship and blackmail. That is also the reason why, to their
weak and diseased minds, sycophancy, flattery, bootlicking, cronyism,
influence peddling, self-concern, corruption, among other ills are a matter
They neither have regard for any moral obligation nor do they have a sincere
fibre in them. And about this I would observe, as did Adlai Stevenson of
Richard Nixon: they are the kind of politicians who can cut down protected
tree species threatened with extinction and then mount the stumps to make
speeches for conservation!
The tragedy is that like reptiles, the Cabinet ministers have marked their
paths with trails of unpleasant slime as can be seen by the suppurating
cancer of corruption now evident in every aspect of Zimbabwean life today.
It is hardly surprising therefore that in the court of public opinion, the
Zimbabwean state has been acting in the interest of one party - ZANU PF -
and not as an instrument of balancing different social interests. Whatever
the ministers do, they do it for political expediency and narrow political
interests without even sparing a thought for its implications on the greater
good. Examples abound:
lpainting a rosier than-real picture of the country's food security
situation just to create the impression that the back-to-the-land idealism
has been a resounding success when hunger stalks the regional
linsisting that even though Zimbabwe has lost its credibility, prestige and
friends, it is doing fine in isolation when the country is clutching at
straws in the face of an unprecedented economic meltdown and swingeing
balance of payments problems.
It gets worse. It is the same ministers, known for their patronising
arrogance and endless swirl of polemics rather than their substance who, all
along have been suggesting political measures as a remedy for economic and
national disintegration, ignoring the voice of reason, influence of
realities, economic laws, common sense, reason and objectivity!
Inevitably Zimbabwe, which once boasted a reassuringly resilient economy, is
reaping the whirlwind - Nyika yakarima nzara. What with Joseph Made fumbling
with agriculture like a chimpanzee would with a Sèvres vase!
Which is why one cannot help but be dismayed at the orgy of
self-congratulation and incredibly high marks these piscatorial politicians
have been awarding themselves.
That is the reason why I saw the justice of it all when President Mugabe
said in the main he was not impressed by the mediocrity of his ministers
although I thought that that was unwarranted flattery. He could have said
To this end I feel that it would be sacrilegious to say anything less than
that the current crop of Zimbabwean government ministers is devoid of any
notion of honour and shame.
To the extent that when President Mugabe - who I must admit will not come
out of the mess Zimbabwe is stuck in smelling of roses - was chastising them
live on television, they did not, even in the privacy of their homes, have
the decency and grace to get red in their faces!
But could there be a worse vote of no confidence than the one the President
delivered a fortnight ago? If not, so what are the ministers who are, to all
intents and purposes, a recipe for disaster for Zimbabwe still doing in
I thought the message from President Mugabe, who gives one the feeling that
he is more disappointed and disillusioned than he is ever prepared to
publicly acknowledge, was loud and clear: Take a jump before I push you.
It was not even a case of who the cap fits, let them wear it because he
mentioned some of the failing ministries. So why don't the ministers just
resign and go and wallow in their new found insignificance? They will not be
missed. It would be good riddance and we will only be too happy to write
their political epitaphs.
After all is said and done however, it is pertinent to point out that the
buck stops with President Mugabe, who appoints the ministers. And these
ministers who have shown ineptitude like great racehorses show breeding, are
a dismal reflection on the President who not only appointed them but also
kept them for this long.
Their appointment might be understandable because not much was known about
their competences at the time of their appointment. But it is difficult to
understand why they were retained a minute longer than was necessary.
By failing to fire the deadwood but at the same time publicly admitting
their failures, President Mugabe reminds one of a kamikaze pilot who keeps
apologising for the attack!
It is therefore understandable why moral pressure is inexorably rising on
President Mugabe to wield the axe on underperforming and corrupt ministers.
Hopefully his recent remarks, which I thought were suffused with a sense of
atonement for the ineptitude and malfeasance of his ministers, was a
harbinger of things to come.
Zimbabwe waits with bated breath, which in itself is an expression of the
general disillusionment of a people frustrated by years of social
How ZANU PF deflated the opposition
EDITOR - There are no mass executions or concentration camps in Zimbabwe
like in other banana republics. Civil society has not disappeared. In fact
in Zimbabwe today one can still find an active and vociferous opposition and
a feisty press. But when it comes to accountability and limits on
presidential power the picture goes dark. But what has been President
Mugabe's secret? The answer is simple:
lZANU PF commands the institutions that supervise elections. Voting
irregularities committed by the state are overlooked.
lMedia laws allow the ZANU PF government to supervise media content.
lToday ZANU PF is busy deflating the opposition. President Mugabe has enough
support to compete in elections but not enough to overwhelm the opposition.
Instead, ZANU PF's opposition in the form of the MDC is too strong to be
overtly repressed and the international consequences of doing so would, in
any case, be prohibitive. So President Mugabe maintains a semi-balance of
democracy which requires him to outsmart the opposition. And the solution
therefore for President Mugabe is to antagonise rather than ban. ZANU PF's
electoral success has less to do with what the party is doing for the people
of Zimbabwe than with how it handles organised opposition. President Mugabe
has discovered that he can concentrate power more easily in the presence of
virulent rewriting of the manual on how to be a modern day authoritarian.
lPolarising society - President Mugabe and ZANU PF attack the opposition
political parties at every given opportunity. And their campaign strategy
has been the pre-eminent theme - the "evil" of opposition parties, which has
been an instant hit with the party faithful. And this manoeuvre has resulted
in the polarisation of the political system, while maintaining unity within
the ZANU PF ranks. The solution is to provoke one's opponents into extreme
positions. The opposition has reacted predictably - it has panicked and the
centre begins to shrink.
lMeanwhile ZANU PF supporters get energised and are not inclined to quibble.
And this energy within ZANU PF is essential to President Mugabe who actually
faces a greater chance of internal dissent so he must constantly identify
mechanisms for alleviating internal tensions. And the solution is simple -
co-opt disgruntled groups/individuals through lavish rewards and provoke the
opposition so that there is always a monster to rail against.
The largesse creates incentives for the groups to stay and the provocation
eliminates incentives to switch sides.
lSpread the wealth selectively - Those expecting President Mugabe's populism
to benefit citizens according to need rather than political usefulness do
not understand competitive autocracy. President Mugabe's populism is
grandiose but selective. His supporters will receive unimaginable favours
and detractors are paid in insults. Denying the opposition while lavishing
supporters with booty has the added advantage of enraging those not in his
camp and fuelling polarisation.
lAntagonise the west - ZANU PF has found enemies in the west. And the
attacks have escalated noticeably at every election time. It has accused the
USA and Britain of crafting its overthrow and aiding the opposition etc.
All countries need international help and ZANU PF has yet to go it alone and
save Zimbabwe from poverty, corruption and shortages of basic commodities.
Mutambara for president?
EDITOR - Do we have the next president in Arthur Mutambara?
Here is a quick acid test:
lWhat has he done for his home village and people?
lHas he helped the University of Zimbabwe with any donations or
recommendations in improving how things are done there? (just as a token of
appreciation for contributing to the foundation of his latter achievements).
This is a very simple and easy way to find out if the man, (who certainly
has the intellectual capacity) has the interests of Zimbabwe at heart.
Give us your manifestos
EDITOR - Through the medium of your newspaper could I ask the two MDC
factions to give us their manifestos and ideas for the future. Like a great
many others, I have respected friends on both sides of the divide.
I would like to make a decision based on logic and reason; I am totally
uninterested in personality aspects and name calling.