The Sunday Times, UK March 05, 2006
A ZIMBABWEAN rocket scientist has swept back into his country
after 15 years abroad and launched himself as a radical opposition leader,
vowing to bring down President Robert Mugabe and end the misrule that has
left millions on the edge of starvation.
"We can't expect the outside world to bring about change," said
Arthur Mutambara, 39, in his first newspaper interview since being named
leader of a breakaway faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic
"As a Zimbabwean, I've had enough of seeing my fellow citizens
suffering. The game's up. I'm going to remove Robert Mugabe, I promise you,
with every tool at my disposal."
Zimbabweans have been astonished by the sudden arrival on the
political scene of one of the country's most eminent expatriate academics.
His last involvement in politics was in leading the first student protests
against Mugabe in 1989. Since then he has completed a doctorate in robotics
and mechatronics at Merton College, Oxford, and worked on the American space
programme. He has been a professor of robotics at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology and other American universities and a management
consultant for McKinsey & Company.
He recently moved to South Africa, from where he has been
travelling to Zimbabwe as a consultant, and says he has been horrified by
Violent "redistribution" of farms to Mugabe's cronies has caused
food production to plummet so low that people have been fighting with dogs
over scraps in rubbish dumps.
Inflation is more than 600%. Teachers send pupils out to sell
sweets to supplement their salaries and students are on strike after a 700%
increase in fees.
"I felt ashamed that my country, which has so much potential,
has become the basket case of Africa," said Mutambara.
His decision to intervene was prompted by a crisis in the
opposition. After contesting three rigged elections the MDC split in
November when its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, decided not to fight for seats
in a new senate, even though the party's national executive had voted to
participate in the poll.
"I felt we were going backwards," Mutambara said. "It's all very
well to keep analysing the situation but I decided to walk the talk and
actually get involved."
Last week the so-called "pro-senate MDC" held a congress in
Bulawayo at which the split was formalised and Mutambara emerged as leader.
His backers include the MDC's secretary-general, Welshman Ncube. He claims
the support of 24 of the party's 40 MPs.
The so-called "anti-senate" faction led by Tsvangirai will hold
its own congress next week and a legal battle is underway over the use of
the party's name and funds.
The division seems to be playing into the hands of Mugabe, who
celebrated his 82nd birthday last weekend with a lavish party while many of
his countrymen went hungry.
But Mutambara insists that the MDC needed to be overhauled. "How
do you talk about a regime which is criminal and violent when you yourselves
are carrying out violent acts and violating your own party rules?" he asked.
"We won't be qualified to fight Mugabe if we are little Mugabes."
Mutambara, the father of two boys under the age of two, says he
is well aware of the risks of taking on the president. As a student activist
he jumped out of a window in a vain attempt to escape from the police during
the unrest that brought Tsvangirai to prominence as a union leader.
Tsvangirai was the target of three assassination attempts after
he founded the MDC in 1999.
"I'm not worried about me," said Mutambara. "I'm worried about
where Zimbabwe will be in 50 years or 30 years from now. It's about making a
difference and leaving a legacy. My wife, Jacqueline, understands that."
Although Zimbabweans are desperate for change, it is not
surprising that this fresh-faced figure promising to "rebrand" the
opposition has aroused suspicion. One of his professors at Zimbabwe
University was Jonathan Moyo, who became Mugabe's spin doctor before being
elected as an independent MP. One Tsvangirai loyalist suggested that
Mutambara might be a Mugabe "plant".
Mutambara said: "I respect that some people think that I have
come from nowhere, but I represent the opportunity to have fresh ideas and
fresh strategies to change the regime. I am the opportunity for change that's
But Nelson Chamisa, the MDC's youth chairman and spokesman for
Tsvangirai, said: "That's absolute rubbish. The struggle is not for the
untainted, it's for the tainted - those of us who have been tainted by
Mugabe's handcuffs, by his killings, by his destruction of houses."
Mutambara says his aim is not just to oust Mugabe. "After 26
years the Zanu-PF system has become a culture and Mugabe is just a symbol of
that," he said. "It's not just a political party, it's a way of doing things
that has corrupted and destroyed every sector of society."
Mutambara, whose parents were teachers, has three sisters, all
with doctorates. "I'm coming from a tradition of academic excellence where
if you came second in the class you were seen as a failure," he said. "I don't
With no elections due until 2008, Mutambara said his first aim
was a new constitution. "Even if we have to fight elections under the
current constitution, we will build an opposition so strong and formidable
that if Mugabe tries to rig elections, it will be impossible for him to get
away with it."
Mutambara, who hopes some of the 3.4m Zimbabweans believed to
have left their country will return to join him, is eager to be seen as a
revolutionary. He offers no reassurances to white farmers who have lost
their land and believes any expressions of support from western leaders such
as Tony Blair would be counter-productive.
Asked if his plans might include a Ukrainian-style mass
mobilisation of opponents of Mugabe's regime, he replied: "We're going to
use every tool we can get to dislodge this regime. We're not going to rule
out or in anything - the sky's the limit."
By Gibbs Dube
BULAWAYO - The High Court has issued an order for the attachment
of Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa's property worth $112 billion after Gweru
business mogul, Patrick Kombayi, successfully sued him for US$20 million.
Kombayi says Mnangagwa made false claims about him on his role during the
Kombayi also obtained the same writ of execution against the
property of former cabinet minister and Zanu PF director, Frederick Shava,
who was cited as the third respondent in the matter while Professor Ngwabi
Bhebhe and Mambo Press are the first and second respondents respectively.
The former Gweru mayor filed a US$80 million dollar lawsuit in
November 2004 claiming US$20 million from each of the four respondents
following the publication of a book - Simon Vengayi Muzenda and the Struggle
for and Liberation of Zimbabwe - with sections which Kombayi believed were
Justice Maphios Cheda last August ordered Mnangagwa, the
Minister of Rural Housing and Social Amenities and former Speaker of
Parliament, to pay Kombayi US$20 million or Z$112 billion with interest and
cost of the suit for defaming the Gweru businessman.
A writ of execution against Mnangagwa's property was
subsequently issued by the High Court in November last year directing the
Sheriff of Zimbabwe or his lawful deputy to "take into execution the
immovable goods of E D Mnangagwa" in order to cover the sum of $112 billion.
The Sheriff was also ordered to recover all the costs and
charges of the plaintiff in the suit incurred, together with interest at the
rate of 30% from the date of summons of January 2004.
The writ, witnessed by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, reads
in part: "You are further required and directed that you attach and take
possession of the defendant's property executable for the sum of $112
billion together with interest at the rate of 30 percent per annum from the
5th of August 2005 to date of full payment together with costs of the suit."
Last November Justice Cheda also ordered Shava of Tropicana
Lodge in Gweru to pay Kombayi US$S20 million or $112 billion for having been
the source of defamatory statements in the same book which cast negative
aspersions on the plaintiff.
A writ of execution against his property was then issued by the
High Court on 23 January this year ordering the deputy sheriff or his deputy
to attach Shava's property.
According to court papers filed by Kombayi's legal
representatives, Mnangagwa and Shava were quoted in the book as the sources
of "wrongful, deliberately false, fictitious and concocted lies which were
meant to undermine the role he played in the liberation struggle".
Shava allegedly stated in the book that Kombayi was part of a
coup plot in 1977 and 1978 in which Henry Hamadziripi and others attempted
to derail the liberation struggle.
Kombayi claimed in his founding affidavits that the statements
were designed to expose him as a sell-out during the liberation struggle.
On the other hand, he claimed that Mnangagwa provided distorted
information about his role in the 1970s war of liberation with statements
calculated at assassinating his character and good standing in the eyes of
The Minister allegedly stated in the book that Kombayi was among
top Zanu PF cadres who were totally opposed to the late Vice President Simon
Muzenda's powerful role in the party and government as President Robert
Mugabe's right hand man.
Kombayi, in his court papers, was of the view that Bhebhe, who
is the author of the book and currently Vice Chancellor of the Midlands
State University, "without verifying the truthfulness of these statements
failed and neglected to hear or seek" his side of the story.
Mambo Press, dragged into the matter as the publishers of the
book, is being sued for printing, publishing and distributing the book with
the alleged defamatory statements without verifying the truthfulness of the
information derived from all the sources.
Bhebhe and Mambo Press - represented by Dzimba, Jaravaza and
Associates through Coghlan and Welsh and Mabhikwa, Hikwa and Nyati
instructed by Danziger and Partners respectively - have filed a notice of
appearance to defend against the lawsuits.
By our staff
CHEGUTU - At least three MDC supporters were arrested in
Chegutu yesterday after they confronted Zanu PF agents taking down the names
of voters at polling stations.
Incumbent mayor Francis Dhlakama of MDC was facing Martin Zimani
of Zanu PF.
The Standard understands Zanu PF agents were promising voters
maize meal after the mayoral election, which was marked by a low voter
At the polling stations visited by The Standard news crew, there
were virtually no queues. But streets in the town were full of people going
about their daily business. Others were drinking beer at shopping complexes.
However, Officer Commanding Chegutu, Superintendent Charangwa,
denied that skirmishes had occurred between Zanu PF and MDC youths.
He said: "The incident was just a misunderstanding between Zanu
PF and MDC supporters. It is of no consequence."
There was heavy Zanu PF presence at many polling stations, in
what locals said showed the determination of the ruling party to wrestle the
seat from the MDC.
At a polling station at Hartley, some Zanu PF supporters were
partying less than 100 metres away from the school gate. Some wore party
Only 388 people had cast their votes by 1PM at the polling
station while 109 had been turned away for a variety of reasons. These
included voting in the wrong wards and having no identity documents. Results
were expected late last night.
By Nqobani Ndlovu
BULAWAYO - The Department of National Parks and Wildlife has
reportedly blocked the distribution of equipment and engine spare parts
worth more than US$60 000 destined for Hwange National Park where dozens of
elephants died of thirst last year.
The equipment has been lying idle due to differences between
National Parks and the Zimbabwe Conservation Taskforce (ZCFT), singled out
by the donors for the implementation of the project.
The equipment includes spares for the repair of diesel engines,
broken down water pumps, upgrading of water troughs, repair of National
Parks motor vehicles and cash for the purchase of fuel for the engines.
There is also an undisclosed amount of cash to be used in
repairing roads to make all corners of the park more accessible.
Johnny Rodriguez, ZCFT chairman, last week confirmed that the
donated equipment was still lying idle while cash to implement some of the
projects still remained unused due to differences with National Parks. These
centre over who should implement the project.
"We received the donations three months ago, mainly from
America, but we reached a stalemate over disbursement because the
department of parks wanted to take charge but the donor wanted ZCFT to be in
control and since then, the department of national parks is no longer
interested in dealing with us. The donation is still with us," Rodriguez
He said his organisation had written a letter to National Parks
director, Morris Mtsambiwa, and Environment and Tourism Minister, Francis
Nhema, seeking clarification on the way forward. There however has been no
Contacted for comment, Nhema confessed ignorance of the ZCFT
letter and the stalemate with the national parks authority.
"As far as I am concerned there are no problems because I met
with some of the donors and they were happy. What I hear from you is news
and the issue of the letter from ZCFT is also news to me," Nhema said.
The donated cash and equipment was sourced by the ZCFT after
realisation that the government lacked the capacity to save elephants in the
Hwange National that were dying due to drought.
Rodriguez warned that last year's events were likely to be
repeated if the watering points at the national park Park were not attended
"The best time to repair the boreholes and the water pumps is
now when we still have the rains because later the situation will be
catastrophic when there are few watering holes left," Rodriguez said.
By Godfrey Mutimba
MASVINGO - War veterans and senior police official, Assistant
Commissioner Loveness Ndanga have finally started complying with High Court
and Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri's orders to return illegally
seized farm equipment worth trillions of dollars, The Standard has learnt.
However, there are reports that some Zanu PF politicians are
determined to hold on to their loot, in a move that could prejudice
commercial farmers of billions of dollars. Some of the equipment is on sale
through the black market and police are yet to recover it.
Ndanga, war veterans and senior politicians had defied high
court orders to return farm equipment looted from remaining white commercial
farmers, prompting Chihuri to intervene.
The equipment looted included tractors, harrows, ploughs,
harvesters, trailers, planters and irrigation machines.
When The Standard visited Phoenix hall, a police recreation
centre in the city, last week, it saw piles of farm equipment that had been
returned. It appeared more equipment was being ferried to the place.
Some of the farming equipment came from as far as Rusape, where
politicians own farms.
A white commercial farmer from Mwenezi, who also preferred
anonymity for fear of jeopardising the on-going process, confirmed to The
Standard that the equipment was being returned.
"We have received reports that the processing of and returning
the equipment in line with the High Court order has started and we are
looking forward to repossessing our equipment,'' he said.
However, the move did not please provincial war veterans'
leader, Isaiah Muzenda, The Standard was told. Muzenda allegedly called for
a meeting last Sunday where he unsuccessfully tried to incite demonstrations
against the return of the illegally seized property.
A war veteran who spoke to The Standard said Muzenda who chaired
the meeting pleaded with his colleagues to stage demonstrations in the city.
"Muzenda wanted us to demonstrate against the order to return
the property but we refused.We can't be seen fighting for the gains of
individuals who do not think of us when they will be benefiting," said the
war veteran who declined to be named.
Muzenda declined to comment. "I can not comment on that one now.
Call after two to three weeks, may be I will be able to comment," he said.
By Godfrey Mutimba
THE Deputy Minister of Education and Culture and Mwenezi MP,
Isaiah Shumba is battling to take over a shop left behind by a commercial
farmer at the height of the chaotic land seizures that began in 2000.
Shumba is embroiled in an ownership wrangle with a Rutenga man,
Tarisai Mare, who was left in charge of the supermarket by the commercial
farmer identified only as Patel.
The deputy minister has since approached the Mwenezi magistrate's
court seeking the eviction of Mare who says Patel left the shop to him after
having worked well for him for a long time.
Mare of 4 Rutenga Growth Point told the court that Shumba was
using his political muscle in order to evict him from the property.
He said Shumba initially approached him and persuaded him to
sell him the property but Mare declined.
This, he said, angered Shumba who sought the help of Mwenezi
Rural District Council where he obtained a lease agreement with an option to
buy the shop from the council.
The deputy minister then rushed to the courts where he is
seeking the eviction of Mare.
In the summons, Shumba claims that he is entitled to take the
occupation of the shop. Part of the summons reads:
"On 3 July 2004, Plaintiff entered into a valid lease agreement
with Mwenezi Rural District Council in terms of which Plaintiff hired from
the Rural Council stand number 4 situated in the district of Mwenezi at
Rutenga Growth Point for a period of 4 years with effective from 1 July
Shumba prays for an order, with costs for the eviction of Mare
from the stand.
Mare told the court that the wrangle has been raging from the
time his former boss fled the country. He also claimed that Shumba ordered
his relatives, including his children, to assault him and at one time he was
beaten up and left for dead.
By our staff
THREE senior security officers, who were allegedly selling maize
meal at exorbitant prices to residents at Hopley Camp in Harare, are now
under investigation by the army's special investigation branch, The Standard
Officers from the army's special branch recently visited the
camp and ordered the three, who were allegedly buying maize from the Grain
Marketing Board (GMB) cheaply and reselling it at exorbitant prices, to stop
the practice forthwith.
"They came and held interviews with residents here but the
outcome of the inquiry will depend on the recommendations of investigations
team," said a senior official at the camp.
Army captain, Douglas Mhlanga; the Principal Prison Officer,
James Manganya; and a prison officer, Godfrey Jonyera, were allegedly buying
maize meal from the GMB Aspindale depot on the pretext of assisting
residents at the camp but were reselling it at a higher price.
A 10 kg of maize meal cost about $50 000 at the GMB but the
security officials at the camp would sell it for between $220 000 and $250
000. The security officers would also sell opaque beer (scuds) at the
Most of the residents at the camp are poor since they lost their
belongings during "Operation Murambatsvina", which rendered nearly one
million families homeless countrywide.
Mhlanga last week refused to comment, referring all questions to
Chief Superintendent Gabriel Dube, who is in charge of Hopley housing
Contacted for comment on Thursday, Dube said he would not
discuss the matter over the phone. He then switched off his mobile phone.
Army spokesperson Major Alphios Makotore, however, confirmed
that investigations had already begun.
BY NDAMU SANDU
CENTRAL Bank chief Gideon Gono flew out of the country last week
for Washington to face the International Monetary Fund (IMF) executive board
Standardbusiness can reveal that Gono flew out of the country on
Thursday and was accompanied by Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa for the
crucial meeting. The IMF executive board is scheduled to conduct its next
regular review of Zimbabwe's arrears to the Fund on Wednesday.
At the meeting executive directors will have an opportunity to
consider Zimbabwe's co-operation with the Fund on policies and payments, as
well as the remaining sanctions and remedial measures relating to Zimbabwe's
arrears. The sanctions include the suspension of Zimbabwe's voting and
related rights in the Fund; ineligibility to use Fund resources under the
GRA; declaration of non-co-operation; and suspension of technical
Zimbabwe all but survived the IMF's axe last month after
settling the US$9 million arrears under the critical General Resources
Account (GRA). The settlement removes the basis for the Managing Director's
complaint with respect to Zimbabwe's compulsory withdrawal from the Fund.
However, despite Zimbabwe settling its arrears under GRA, the
southern African nation owes the lending institution overdue obligations to
the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF)-Exogenous Shocks Facility
Trust (ESF) amounting to SDR 83 million (US$119 million). This means
Zimbabwe remains excluded from the list of PRGF-eligible countries.
The IMF Executive Board declared Zimbabwe ineligible to use the
general resources of the IMF on 24 September 2001.
Zimbabwe was edited out from the list of countries eligible to
borrow resources under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) of
the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on September 24, 2001 reviewed
Zimbabwe's overdue financial obligations to the IMF, declared Zimbabwe
BY OUR STAFF
A MANAGEMENT shake up looms at the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel
Company (ZISCO) after Indian firm Global Steel Holdings Limited (GSHL) was
awarded a 20-year management contract of the ailing parastatal. GSHL entered
into a management contract with ZISCO on Wednesday for the rehabilitation
and operation of the struggling State enterprise.
The transaction, dubbed Rehabilitation-Operate and Transfer
(ROT), will see GSHL injecting US$400 million for the rehabilitation of
ZISCO plant components particularly blast furnace, coke oven batteries, LD
furnace and rolling mills. But GSHL will not be receiving an equity stake in
ZISCO. The investment would be in tranches and disbursed within 18 months.
Sources said last week that there would be a re-organisation of
top management at the loss-making parastatal in line with a proposed turn
around strategy. However, other sources warned that the proposed shake up
faces a stern test on how it would deal with MD Gabriel Masanga, at the helm
of the company for over a decade.
IT is difficult to believe there is common consensus binding
government officials on how to run this country, apart from their naked
greed to prosper at the expense of people they purport to represent.
Several weeks ago, the Deputy Minister of Industry and
International Trade, Phineas Chihota, appeared before the Senate hotly
disputing opinion from senators to amend Clause 36 on the proposed merger of
the Zimbabwe Investment Centre and the Export Processing Zones Authority.
Chihota described as "improper and unreasonable" to consider
amending the clause. It was not until he was reminded that his Minister,
Obert Mpofu, had agreed with their opinion that he somersaulted. All of a
sudden he was prince charming!
Didymus Mutasa, the Minister of State [National Security]
Responsible for Overseeing Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement Programme,
recently stopped the invasion of Kent Estates, in Norton, by three
officials - two from government and a third from the ruling party.
However, two weeks ago the same Mutasa declared he wanted an
audit to establish what business the few remaining white commercial farmers
still on land had.
The pronouncement unleashed a fresh wave of disruptions to
farming. Ruling party militias spearheaded the purge, especially in
Mashonaland West. We have not heard anyone calling them to heel.
In yet another act that muddies his stance on Kent Estates he
then travelled to Chegutu, where he ordered a farmer's crop be shared with a
deputy minister, giving a new meaning to naked greed repackaged as land
Governor of the Reserve Bank, Dr Gideon Gono, has described any
disruptions to farming as sabotaging economic turnaround efforts. The
government mandated him to reverse the unprecedented economic decline.
But it will not help him act against those subverting efforts
to put Zimbabwe on the path to recovery. Instead the government and the
ruling party are promoting what amounts to open defiance.
Last week Vice President Joseph Msika, while addressing guests
to a field day at Seed-Co's Kadoma Research Centre castigated those who were
allocated farms but remained unproductive. Some of the new farmers
proceeded to evict white commercial farmers without the permission of the
government, Msika said in his attack.
"We cannot remove any white farmer because it is stupidity. Some
of you when you take these farms don't make use of them. Don't evict a
farmer simply because of his/her colour. That is shooting yourself in the
foot. you should make productive use of the land."
Not surprisingly, this open rebuke was tucked somewhere in a
corner inside the pages of the State-run media suggesting these were
pronouncements of an old man only fit to be ignored.
We are reminded of the invasion of the horticultural concern,
Kondozi, in Manicaland that was taken over prejudicing the country of huge
foreign currency earnings. Msika was unambiguous in his condemnation of the
invasion. However, a pattern seems to be emerging. Unfortunately it appears
to say the government's view is that Msika's pronouncements should not be
taken too seriously.
Gono would have been heartened by Msika's remarks ahead of the
IMF Board meeting in Washington this week.
There are numerous other inconsistencies and contradictions that
scuttle efforts at bringing Zimbabwe back into the international fold. It is
difficult to assure the world that we mean what we say, and above all prove
it with our actions.
sunday opinion by Webster Zambara
THE last week of January 2006 will be remembered for bad
developments on the economic and social front. Urban and rural transport
went up by fifty and eighty percent, respectively. Beverages went up forty
percent. The black-market fuel prices went up significantly too.
These events preceded the announcement in the previous week by
the Reserve Bank governor Dr Gideon Gono that a new fifty thousand dollar
bearer's cheque would be in circulation from 1 February, to be followed by
the introduction of a new currency later in the year.
It is the introduction of a new currency that I am writing on,
not because price increases are irrelevant but we are so much used to them
now that we accept them as the norm. The introduction of a new currency, on
the other hand, is a far more complex issue. Of interest is also the fact
that the IMF team was in the country during that period.
The price increases and introduction of a higher denomination
bearers' cheque may be attributed to a number of factors but I will focus on
two aspects, the global geo-politics and a weak economy. While these two are
so much related, I would like to interrogate the second one first simply
because it is the nearest to us.
Our economy is so weak that the central bank governor and the
Ministry of Finance failed to handle the extra-yearly wages to our
hard-working but poverty threatened civil servants in a manner that is not
Gono even predicted a rise in inflation, which he once declared
the nation's "enemy number one", to rise further before receding.
Much has not been said about what exactly will lead to the
decline. The end of hyperinflation does not mean the end of suffering or
Far from it! I should ruefully say to the government's economic
team that if they are brave, heroic, steadfast, earnest and honest, they
could turn our impoverished, hyperinflationary country into an impoverished
country but at least with stable prices. I know I irk some people by saying
it so candidly that we are a very poor country.
Professor Jeffrey Sachs (2005:20) distinguishes between three
degrees of poverty; extreme (or absolute) poverty, moderate poverty and
relative poverty. To him, extreme poverty means that households cannot meet
basic needs for survival.
They are chronically hungry, unable to access healthcare, lack
the amenities of safe drinking water and sanitation, cannot afford education
for some or all of the children, and perhaps lack rudimentary shelter and
basic articles of clothing such as shoes.
Is this not what we are seeing in Zimbabwe today?
Our municipalities are at pains to tell us that the water they
pump is safe for drinking, on a day that it comes. Uncollected stinking
garbage is with us everyday. In any case, do you know that in our country
there are some people who spend the whole year without making or receiving a
Do you accept that in Zimbabwe there are people who spend the
whole year without boarding a bus or a car? In my rural home, Chiguhune in
Gutu, more than half of the children attending primary school go to school
bare feet, even in winter.
In any case, having four buns and a freezit is not having lunch.
It is keeping the body and soul together! What of our health delivery
These are the very basic needs for survival, so I am simply
saying the truth. Zimbabweans are the only people in the world who wish the
past would be the future, simply because the levels of poverty have been
deepening over the years.
Let me go back to my point of departure that we are eagerly
looking forward to a new currency in a weak economy. To make our currency a
convertible currency the Zimbabwe dollar should be pegged at a stable value
from the start of any reforms. To do that Zimbabwe will need foreign
currency reserves, which could be put in a highly visible stabilisation
This means reviving our foreign currency-earning agro-commercial
production, which is the mainstay of our economy. Let me take tobacco for
example, simply because I used to teach that Zimbabwe's highest foreign
currency earner is the golden leaf.
Then it earned us more than 30% of our foreign exchange.
In the year 2000 we produced 262 million tonnes of the crop. I
can't recall exactly how much we grossed, but last year we only sold 69
million tonnes of the same crop. Indications are that this year we are going
to produce even less than what we produced last year. This is the same with
maize production and other agricultural products. We wait to hear why we
will not produce enough now that the rains have come in abundance.
Our other foreign exchange earnings came from mining and
tourism, and these sectors are in shambles as well. These three sectors
could provide our currency with the foreign currency stability we need. At
the moment the economy is so weak that introducing a new currency makes
Gono risks making nothing more than a ceremonial posture of
fighting inflation, which will rise again because of the earlier, given
reason. When Poland returned to Europe, the Bush administration (Father) and
other governments set up a US$ 1Billion Zloty Stabilisation Fund in order to
inject convertibility and stability to the polish currency.
Unfortunately at the moment we do not have anything to stabilise
our currency on because our main productive sectors are asleep. The fact is
economic success requires not only bold reforms at home but also financial
help from abroad.
Much as our budget deficit which resulted in our hyperinflation
is just a symptom of much deeper ills, I find serious disparities in having
a "Look East" policy and at the same time trying to please the very "West"
that we are giving our backs to.
The geopolitics of the world has changed drastically since the
time of the Cold War. It's now a question of fundamentals in a globalised
world rather than simply the direction one looks to.
The creditor governments that control the IMF set debt policies
according to the wishes of major international banks rather than the
dictates of good macro-economic policy and international commitments to the
needs of extremely poor countries like us.
From a humanitarian point of view, renewed debt servicing is
completely inappropriate. Renewed debt servicing will crush the living
standards of already impoverished people, and has potential to politically
destabilise the country.
It is ironic that we can afford to pay back the IMF when our
hospitals are without equipment and drugs. I wish we would revise our
foreign policy so as to be able to deal with anyone economically for the
benefit of everyone.
Successful change requires a combination of technocratic
knowledge, bold political leadership on fundamental economic realities and a
broad social participation. We will not go it alone.
I look forward to a day when, as Zimbabweans, we will have
stopped spending our daily lives searching for goods on the black market, or
queuing up for goods in front of empty shops. On that day, we will not be
sundayopinion by Louise Arbour
IN the coming days the international community will have the
chance to start putting in place a reinvigorated system for the protection
of human rights around the world.
This unique opportunity comes in the form of a blueprint for a
new global rights watchdog now awaiting approval by the UN General Assembly.
The initiative deserves our support.
The world body is being asked to act on the establishment of a
Human Rights Council to replace the contested UN Commission on Human Rights.
The Council has taken shape over months of often heated and difficult
negotiations in the wake of the World Summit held last September in New
York. All the international leaders at that gathering reaffirmed the place
of human rights as a central pillar of the UN's work and decided that the
Commission should give way to a stronger institution.
The proposal submitted to the Assembly by its President has the
features to be that stronger institution. The draft will allow the future
Council to deal more objectively, and credibly, with human rights violations
worldwide. It sets standards for new member countries, who will be asked
to make an explicit commitment to promote and protect human rights. It also
provides for the suspension of members who commit gross and systematic
Unlike the Commission, the Council will be required to review
on a periodic basis the human rights records of all countries, beginning
with its members. No country will be beyond scrutiny, and no longer will
countries be able to use membership of the UN's premier human rights body to
shield themselves or allies from criticism or censure for rights breaches.
The Council will also meet for longer periods throughout the
year and be able to respond quickly to developing human rights crises.
Potential violators would be on notice that the world was watching
permanently, not just for six weeks in the spring, when the Commission
traditionally comes together.
The Commission gave the international community the Universal
Declaration on Human Rights and a number of core treaties to protect
fundamental freedoms. During its annual sessions, the Commission drew
attention to many human rights issues and debates. It allowed civil society
groups to bring the grievances of individuals to the international stage,
and as such was the only global forum where abusers could be directly
It also established a unique system of independent human rights
investigators. One of those experts was among the first to warn of
impending genocide in Rwanda, while another expert drew attention to the
situation in Darfur before it hit the headlines.
There is no escaping that the Commission has lost much of its
credibility. Some States wanted to become members not to strengthen human
rights but to protect themselves against criticism or to criticise others.
And the Commission was slow to act to stem grave abuses on a number of
occasions. This credibility deficit undermines the United Nations human
rights system as a whole. The Council goes a long way to addressing the
reasons for these shortcomings.
Let us be clear: the proposal now before the General Assembly
is the result of compromise. It cannot be an ideal blueprint. And there is
no reason to believe that more negotiating time will yield a better result.
But even an institution that is perfect on paper cannot succeed
if the international community does not make the necessary change in the
culture of defending human rights.
It was in large part its failure to make this change - its
inability to reinvent itself after laying down the framework for the
international human rights system -- that hobbled the Commission.
The case of Rwanda is sadly instructive. There, the Commission's
procedures worked, yet the investigator's warnings went unheeded. The
political will and commitment of the international community will be as
important to making the new Council work as any changes in structure or
* Louise Arbour is UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Her
Office works with the Commission and would be called upon to support the
work of the Council.
Government abdicates its responsibilities to nation
THE shortage of basic commodities has reached alarming
proportions and there appears to be no short or medium term solution to the
crisis. The national leadership seems to have run out of ideas and
strategies to resolve the crisis.
Maize meal, sugar, fuel and fertiliser are not readily available
on the open market. However, they are sometimes found on the parallel
market. Mbare Musika, for instance, stocks maize meal and fertilizer which
are in short supply while supermarkets desperately look for them.
Fuel is hardly found at service stations. But the black market
never runs out. Most Zimbabweans spend their meagre resources and valuable
time hunting for those basic commodities with little success. When they are
eventually found, the scarce commodities are very expensive and beyond the
reach of the ordinary citizens.
The impact of the shortages on the family, workforce, business
and the economy is multi-faceted. The shortage of food commodities affects
the health of the family and the workforce, leading to lower productivity,
profits and government revenue.
When fertiliser is in short supply, agricultural yields are
substantially reduced. Consequently, the nation faces food and foreign
currency shortages despite the abundance of land and rains. Foreign currency
is desperately needed to procure fuel and a host of other essential imports.
Without fuel, the whole economy will eventually grind to a halt.
Currently, reduced economic activity affects business growth and expansion,
government revenue as well as employment creation.
Soaring prices of commodities are fuelling hyper-inflation which
peaked in January and is expected to rise beyond 800% by mid 2006.
Among all stakeholders, the shortages are causing stress,
frustration, despair and despondency. The consequences are poor health, more
suicides, anger, crime and migration.
There is also increased criminal activity as people search for
ways of surviving.
Throughout the world, it is the duty and responsibility of the
national governments to create a good environment for business, work,
innovation, inventions and tourism. It is also their duty to provide enough
fuel and food for the nation. They are also supposed to foster international
relations, which attract foreign investment and tourism.
Unfortunately, the government of Zimbabwe has abdicated its
responsibility to provide enough food and fuel for the nation. The people
have looked up to national leaders but have been forced to scrounge around
inside the country and across its borders to fend for themselves.
As in the time of Ian Smith's days, Zimbabweans are leaving
their homeland to become economic and political refugees. It's time, not for
arrogance, but for introspection and facing up to the reality.
Zimbabwe Liberators Platform
Right move on MRDC by Chombo
FOR the first time, the Minister of Local
Government, Ignatious Chombo, has done the right thing in appointing an
investigating team to look into the affairs of Masvingo Rural District
Before delving into some of the many corrupt
activities of the Masvingo Rural District Council (MRDC), plaudits should go
to Kennedy Tachiona Chiminya for his integrity and courage in revealing what
has always been swept under the carpet by the spineless full council of the
If MRDC had two or more council members of the
calibre and integrity of Chiminya, the MRDC would be a force to reckon with.
The assumption that people under the MRDC area of jurisdiction do not know
what is going in their council is misplaced. We are fully aware of what has
been going on in our council offices but it seems we have been powerless to
do anything about it.
Our chief executive officer wielded so much power
and enjoyed the protection of powerful government ministers that is why he
enjoyed such immunity, despite allegations of multiple land ownership
especially at Nemanwa Growth Point.
It is common cause here that three of the stands
have buildings at window level, while there is a night club at Mapanzure
Business centre and a business complex at Mazari, which is quite
considerable by rural standards.
The question to pose to the minister is: Will the
investigating team be able to identify all these ill-gotten properties
without the involvement of the ordinary citizens living under MRDC? If the
team is after the truth and nothing else, it should listen to the ordinary
citizens of the area, or provide a mechanism where ordinary citizens can
forward written submission/evidence.
But council members of the MRDC should also be
investigated because a good number of them have benefited financially from
the extra legal activities at the council. Chombo should have the courage to
publicise the findings of the probe team into the MRDC.
Commercialisation of education deplorable
I learnt with shock the recent announcement
by the Ministry of Higher Education and the university authorities that the
tuition and all costs incidental thereto have been upped and students are
expected to pay out of their pockets, assuming they have any.
What is interesting however is that the
purported increase in student payouts is not commensurate with the increase
in fees, despite the efforts by the Secretary of Higher Education to fool
the world that students allowances have been increased to cushion them from
The news, which has sent shockwaves
reverberating across the country, came a few days before opening. Assuming
the issue of notice arises this does not constitute reasonable notice at all
having regard to the amounts the students are being asked to raise.
I say assuming because the issue of notice
doesn't even arise because whether or not the most reasonable of all notices
was given students are not going to pay anything out of their pockets. This
is not because they don't want nor do they want to be stubborn but they won't
because they can't.
It doesn't require any fertile imagination
for anyone let alone the University authorities to realise that 99.99% of
the students are indigent. What they have are the brains and not the money
but they have the fundamental and inalienable right to education recognised
the world over by any government that wants to be taken seriously.
In fact, the very existence of state
universities as opposed to private universities is to cater for the country's
populace irrespective of one's financial standing.
I shudder to imagine what will become of
the thousands of students across the country who can not comply with this
utterly ridiculous and outrageous decision.
To speak in their language, such
commercialisation of education as we are witnessing is tantamount "to
reversing the gains of our hard-won independence".
Let me hasten to remind those in authority
that they went through the same University of Zimbabwe and were never asked
to pay anything out of their pockets. If anything they were actually given
grants and not loans for being students.
If I may pose the question: what then is the
whole point of setting up the so-called provincial state universities like
Lupane when the government is failing to fund such universities of
longstanding as the University of Zimbabwe among others? It is not about
quantity but quality.
I therefore call for cool heads and rational
thinking on the part of the powers that be starting from the Chancellor, His
Excellency, and the Minister of Higher Education right down to the last man
in this hierarchy. I implore them to urgently and seriously consider
continuing with the loan system of funding tertiary education.
If this does not happen they should not be
surprised if the majority of students fail to pay. The most honourable thing
to do in those circumstances would be to shut down the institution.
We won't pay not because we don't want to
but because we can't.
Hazviiti F Chawatama
Oh, it's so easy for the whizz-kid Gono
PERMIT me sir, to express my admiration for
our central bank. Its team's
enterprise, innovation and quick
thinking continue to set new standards of
Most recently, the IMF thought they had us
in a tight corner
but with the wizardry of a Thierry Henry, we
are away and laughing.
Inspired, I have become determined to
emulate their exploits.
Never impressed with my personal academic
achievements, I chose to
extrapolate the principles of their recent
success to this area first. A
brief visit to the office photocopier later,
I am now the proud owner of
I am open to offers to lead any of the
opposition political parties that are presently in contention in seeking new
I am next focusing my attention on feeding
the hungry within our borders. With the wizadry demonstrated elsewhere,
there is no reason why this should not be possible.
If I can, somehow, convince the Minister of
Agriculture, Dr Joseph Made, to conduct, not one this time, but three aerial
surveys with adequate photography, I am convinced that there is a way to
treble our national agriculltural output in just one season.
I am nearly feverish
with excitement at the potential for success
with this and future projects.
Mugabe the problem
I refer to the interview on President Robert
Mugabe's birthday with Chris Chivinge. Chivinge forgot to ask the President
if after retiring he sees himself reverting to an ordinary citizen going
about shopping, mingling with the ordinary people and moving around without
any escort just like Nelson Mandela, Bakili Muluzi, Bill Clinton and the
late Julius Nyerere.
On the issue of blaming ministers and ZIFA
for non-performance, what can he say about his own performance when the
economy and virtually everything has collapsed right under his nose. He
(Mugabe) is the problem and as such must just disappear.
Yearning for success
THINGS are beginning to take shape up as
Zimbabweans come home to take their role in the circle of life ( Simba the
Okay, the equation is now balancing out. The
Mutambara's, pro-Senate Senators and the other faction that cooks sadza and
has it as well, are now in a race for the vacuum as it becomes more glaring
that indeed power will be relinquished soon.
It is not yester-years' success that the
people are after. Put it this way; we want not just change but
transformation of Zimbabwe into a competent and competitive country. So as
excitement peaks we wait to hear he that preaches transformation.
Zimbabwe yearns for the touch of excellence.
Zaka West is now the worst in the country
WHEN I think of my home area, my heart
starts to bleed. Zaka West has become Zaka worst, the worst constituency in
The roads are in their worst-ever state that
they should no longer be called roads but gulleys and animal-tracks. No
buses, no even Scotch carts.
Marbel Mawere is so quiet since she took
over from equally ineffective Jefta Chindanya. I always see the likes of Ray
Kaukonde talking about developments in his area, but Mawere is virtually
ZBC's Nathaniel Mlambo is all over in
Masvingo but nowhere have we ever seen him chronicling the achievements
Mawere has brought to the area.
To the people of Zaka West, I say don't just
vote for people you will only see during elections. Vote for someone who is
The idea of saying Mawere is married to
business people does not guarantee us her interest in the people of Zaka.
Zanu PF should drop all useless members
because they pose a serious threat to the future of its survival.
Finally I want to commend the Governor of
the Reserve Bank, Dr Gideon Gono for finally hitting the nail on the head
when he said politicians were the worst enemies of the country's economic
turnaround strategy. Down with corruption! We want those involved in corrupt
activities behind bars.
Poor fiscal, monetary policies 'killing us'
I was stunned when I heard that Zimbabwe had
used foreign currency belonging to individuals to pay off its IMF debt, and
has now printed more than $20 trillion to recompense the victims.
The Reserve Bank should be trying to attract
more investors and creating a stronger investor buoyancy level, instead of
these desperate measures that can only prolong the suffering among
After this latest move by the RBZ our
foreign currency shortages must have deteriorated.
Only a retard would deposit his/her foreign
currency in Zimbabwe right now. Zimbabwe's foreign exchange control
regulations are preposterous, tyrannical and are not doing the economy any
How are you supposed to attract deposits
when you are taking away what belongs to depositors? I guess the parallel
market will just get more lucrative thanks to you Dr Gideon Gono, the
Reserve Bank Governor.
It won't be long before the IMF and any
other foreign investor or donor agency want nothing to do with us. So does
Gono think what he has done is really worth it?
Our capital account is wretched just like
the current account and this move of his is definitely not going to do us
President Mugabe's reckless statements about
not following time-tested "bookish"economic rules such as not flooding the
money market with useless paper money is not going to help either.
Trevor T Chatikobo
Earning peanuts at Power FM
I am at present with Power FM, a subsidiary
of financially troubled ZBH. Things are not working out at this radio
station. Our salaries must surely be the lowest in the media industry.
An average DJ is earning something like
$7.5million a month. What can one buy with such peanuts?
You can also tell that things are not
working out at the station by the down-loaded international music we play.
The station does not have foreign currency to import music. Power FM is in
Advertisers are not coming to the station
because of the listeners we cater for. Who would want to advertise to
The room we operate from is so small so much
that at the end of the day it is stuffy and sweaty. It is very uncomfortable
to work in such an environment.
Worse still, with the peanuts we earn, who
can afford to buy deodorants to fight the bad odour that results from
working in such a a stuffy room.
I wonder why Jonathan Moyo removed us from
Pockets' Hill. We are lost here in Gweru. I urge the relevant authorities to
rethink and disband these useless subsidiaries so that we can go back to
Other radio stations such as SF and Radio
Zimbabwe enjoy the support of advertisers because of the listeners they
cater for. Just look at SFM and you can tell Tinashe Chikuse enjoys his
breakfast show by the quality of presentation as well as type of music, be
it local or international, that he plays.
By letting us go back to Pockets' Hill, the
poor DJs could be celebrating an early Christmas. For most of us, remaining
in Gweru is now pure torture.