Rangarirai Mberi News Editor
Top ZANU PF officials' firms lose lucrative airport security contracts
AT least three security companies with links to ZANU PF officials have been
stripped of lucrative contracts to provide airport security services after
the Joint Operations Command (JOC), which consists of senior government and
security figures, raised concerns that the firms could have been used by top
politicians to facilitate the smuggling of minerals through Harare
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono said recently that
smuggling is costing Zimbabwe US$50 million every week.
The JOC, comprising military, intelligence and government officials, met on
Thursday, February 22, and resolved to banish all private firms from airport
security and replace them with a special police squad.
Sources say Security Minister Didymus Mutasa chaired the meeting, which was
also attended by Transport and Communications Minister Christopher Mushowe,
Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri and Home Affairs Minister Kembo
Mohadi. A change in security provision arrangements was effected the
following day, Friday, February 23, when police details were deployed to
take over all airport security
However, the JOC's decision has, once again, stoked factional hostilities
within ZANU PF. This is because most of the security companies that have
been dropped are owned by at least two figures with reported links to Vice
President Joice Mujuru's faction, some of whose alleged members have known
interests in mining.
A Financial Gazette investigation this week identified two of the security
firms as Catiss Security and Professional Security. It was established from
Company Registry records that Professional Security lists, among its
directors, Ray Joseph Kaukonde, the Mashonaland East governor who is
perceived as an ally of Mujuru.
No official information was available on Catiss Security. However, ruling
party sources say Claudius Makova, ZANU PF MP for Bikita West, owns the
company. Makova was unavailable for comment.
Another of the security firms, Coin Security, has been traced to Karikoga
Kaseke, the former head of the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ)
and current chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA).
Kaseke confirmed previous ownership of the company, which had enjoyed a
contract to supply security services to Catercraft, the state-owned company
that supplies on-board meals for Air Zimbabwe. This raises obvious questions
of conflict of interest. But Kaseke says he has since sold the company to
his younger brother.
The Financial Gazette this week visited the airport, where sources - senior
security and ground personnel - revealed widespread smuggling, which they
euphemistically referred to as "facilitation".
"There is a network. It starts from some very big people, people we see on
TV, to ordinary handlers and customs people. Everybody gets a piece," an
official said. "It is nothing complicated. Couriers, sometimes security
companies, arrive with stuff, and everybody knows the routine. They know
which handlers to target and which points to avoid through the chain (of
clearing goods). That guy was just unlucky. He's obviously a small timer and
he didn't follow the right channels."
The official was referring to William Nhara, Principal Director in the
Office of the Minister Without Portfolio, arrested last Thursday while
allegedly trying to help a Lebanese business partner smuggle diamonds past
According to one source, apart from gold and gemstones, other contraband,
including cigarettes, is brazenly routed through airport security. "We don't
mind what it is. This is just facilitation."
However, this paper's investigations established that although many other
goods are smuggled, the "facilitators" place a high premium on handling gold
and other minerals. "Facilitating a few boxes of cigarettes or bottles of
brandy pays a bit. But if somebody wants to sneak through emeralds, for
example, they must pay between US$5 000 and US$7 000. But this can go up
depending on the size of the parcel and on what airline (it is being
Private security companies, these sources suggest, were merely part of
organised "syndicates" of influential figures running a thriving smuggling
The airport officials also described how several empty buildings within the
airport complex - neglected over the years because of declining business -
are being used as "private cargo areas" for top smugglers, which the
officials freely named during the visit. Minerals and other contraband are
stored in the buildings "if conditions (for their export) are not right."
The officials however denied The Financial Gazette access to these areas,
only pointing out a single, barricaded, run-down building. They then
insisted on escorting this reporter back to the car park.
Last week, sources reported that the JOC had discussed airport security
after Zambian police seized 121kg of gold from a Zimbabwean man at Lusaka
International Airport as he allegedly tried to smuggle the precious mineral
to the United Arab Emirates. The gold, worth US$2.6 million, is Zambia's
largest ever illegal gold haul.
Source now say sections of the JOC believe the man, Ernest Moore, has "links
to top political figures" in Zimbabwe. Moore allegedly carried forged
documents to export the gold. However, it was impossible to establish his
alleged links to local politicians.
Police have been on a campaign to curb the smuggling of minerals since last
year. However, critics say the operation, in which over 40 000 illegal gold
miners have been arrested, has targeted only small-time dealers while
avoiding top politicians believed to be behind increased gemstone and gold
trafficking. While deputy Police Commissioner Godwin Matanga has told a
parliamentary committee that he is aware of the involvement of senior
government officials in smuggling, Nhara is the highest ranking government
official to be charged so far.
Last week, police searched the home of Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI)
managing director, Tshinga Dube, and arrested his son for illegal possession
of gems. He is out on bail.
Government blames smuggling for falling gold deliveries to Fidelity, the
country's sole buyer of gold. But mining executives say the decline has more
to do with the economic crisis depressing production and restricting
exploration than smuggling.
Nkululeko Sibanda Staff Reporter
THE Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) will record a $60 billion
deficit this year if the government does not lift a cap on water and sewage
reticulation tariffs for Harare, an official at the parastatal says.
The official, who spoke anonymously said the authority would not be able to
recover lost revenue if the government took too long to approve a tariff
The source said the Ministry of Water Resources and Infrastructural
Develop-ment had been informed of an urgent need to raise tariffs, but had
not yet responded to ZINWA's request.
"In terms of estimates that were made at the beginning of the year, the
annual income in case we are allowed to increase tariffs, stands at about
$78 billion for the Harare area alone.
"We also worked out the annual income against the current structure and we
discovered that all we can raise is $18 billion and that leaves us with a
deficit of plus $60 billion," the senior official said.
ZINWA has applied for permission to treble tariffs.
"If the government agrees to our proposal, residents will pay at least $15
000 per month for both water and sewer reticulation, while industrial
properties will be expected to pay at least $40 000 per month," he added.
The ZINWA official said the authority was in dire need of foreign currency
to import plant and machinery to replace ageing infrastructure.
"(We estimate that) 35 percent of the water in Lake Chivero, one of Harare's
major supply dams, is pure sewage that has been discharged into the water
system because there is lack of proper treatment of the effluent."
Stanley Kwenda Staff Reporter
YOUNG Martha Jonhera has secured a place at one of America's top
universities and under normal circumstances, she should be on cloud nine
because a bright future is ahead of her.
But she does not have a passport and will lose this once in a lifetime
opportunity if she does not get one by the end of this week. She must be in
the United States by the end of this month, but given the problems at the
Registrar-General's Office, her chances of getting the document are nil.
For Jonhera, this is like a death sentence.
"I am shattered. I don't know what to do now. I will never get a chance like
this again," she moans.
"I see very few opportunities for me in this country. Besides, there is no
more conducive learning environment to talk of, so for me not getting a
passport this week is a straight death sentence."
On this particular day, Jonhera is grim-faced and stands motionless against
a wall at Makombe Building, the Registrar-General's (R-G) passport office in
Harare. Her mind is in turmoil as she tries to think of possible
alternatives. But she has no allusions about the paucity of options.
Despite having a wad of 1000-dollar notes, a bundle of papers and two
passport-sized photos ready, a chasm still stands between Jonhera and her
dream to acquire a world-class university education.
Jonhera is not alone in this predicament. She is just one of hundreds of
young Zimbabweans who have had to forfeit opportunities to study at foreign
universities because of the unavailability of passports. Tales are told of
what a Herculean task it has become to get a passport.
As if to confirm the gravity of the passport crisis, it was reported this
week that 390 students due to study at South African universities under the
Presidential Scholarship Programme may have their dreams shattered too if
they do not get travel documents. Anxious to avoid the consequences of
embarrassing the President, the R-G's Office was this week making frantic
efforts to speed up the processing of the students' passports and identity
The R-G's office stopped accepting new applications last year because of a
crippling shortage of foreign currency needed to import the special paper
used to make passports. As a result, the R-G's office now only issues
Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs), which can only be used in the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) region.
Jonhera says she first applied for a passport in August 2005. But, almost
two years later, all she has is a collection of receipts. Under normal
circumstances before the crisis began, an emergency passport application
would be processed in 24 hours, while normal applications did not take more
than three months .
For many trying to escape the economic crisis prevailing in Zimbabwe the
green book is perhaps the only gateway to a meaningful life.
Despite official explanations, many Zimbabweans still cannot understand why
passports have become so elusive.
Peter Chekai of Budiriro thinks it has to do with much more than just the
shortage of materials. "I think the government has something up its sleeve.
The government is trying to stem the movement of people to other countries,"
Those wishing to travel have to give a valid reason in order to get the
temporary six-month ETD. Usually a signed letter of invitation and other
documents are required.
"But should we travel only when there is an emergency? Are we not supposed
to visit our relatives for more than six months?" asks Chekai.
And as if to add insult to injury, a notice staring down on the long queues
of passport seekers at Makombe Buildings announces an increase in passport
"The Registrar-General's Department has increased passport fees with effect
from 12/01/2007 as follows," the notice reads.
An ordinary passport application now costs $15 000 up from $2 500 while the
fee for an executive passport is now $100 000 up from $25 000. An ETD costs
$5 000. Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi was recently quoted as saying
passports are being processed, but the situation on the ground is that only
ETDs are being issued.
Scenes at the passport office show that Zimbabwe's youths no longer see a
future at home. Teenagers with at least one parent who is of foreign descent
swarm the Citizenship Office every day in a bid to renounce their Zimbabwean
citizenship. This enables them to get foreign passports, which are easier to
come by than Zimbabwean travel documents.
Others apply for passports from abroad. It costs US$70 to get an ordinary
passport, an applicant has to cough up US$100 for an urgent dispensation.
When asked when processing of passports would resume, officials at Makombe
Buildings claim they are as much in the dark as the rest of Zimbabweans. "We
are not sure, maybe April," says an official.
Those who applied for passports in August 2005 are being asked to check for
them at the end of this month.
Charles Rukuni Bureau Chief
BULAWAYO - The people of Bulawayo can shout, boo, whine or even invoke
bitter memories of Gukurahundi - the 1980s massacres in Matabeleland and the
Midlands that left more than 20 000 dead - but the government will not back
down on its plan to take over water supplies in the country's second largest
This was made abundantly clear by Water Resources Minister Munacho Mutezo
last Friday at a meeting organised by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority
(ZINWA) and the Bulawayo Press Club.
Mutezo, who at one time had to seek protection from club chairman Edwin
Dube - the editor of Trends magazine - after some rowdy elements started
booing and shouting profanities about Gukurahundi, said his ministry was
already implementing the plan but was holding discussions with stakeholders
so that it could incorporate their views.
He said ZINWA, which would take over the water supplies, would work closely
with the Bulawayo City Council during the transitional period and would
enter into revenue sharing with the council.
The council is against the takeover because water contributes 40 percent of
its revenue. The profits from water are also used to fund other projects
like housing, health and education.
Mutezo said this was precisely one of the reasons why the government had
decided to take over because councils were misusing the easy revenue they
obtained from water and were not reinvesting the money to improve water
supplies and infrastructure.
ZINWA is taking over water supplies in all urban centres in the country but
it met stiff opposition from Bulawayo where ordinary citizens and
politicians closed ranks to fight against the takeover.
The Bulawayo United Residents Association said it would seek the help of
former ZAPU politicians and now ZANU-PF politburo members such as
vice-President Joseph Msika, party chairman John Nkomo and Dumiso Dabengwa,
to get government to change its decision.
Mutezo's speech dashed these hopes. He made it clear that the government was
going ahead with the takeover and was now only explaining the
"misunderstandings and apprehensions" people had.
Mutezo last week toured Matabeleland North and South to explain the takeover
and introduce the staff of ZINWA which the local authorities will be working
Zhean Gwaze Staff Reporter
THE government says applications by evicted commercial farmers to return to
their farms will be processed on a case-by-case basis, a move farmers say
perpetuates the uncertainty surrounding land reform.
In a letter last Friday to the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), the main
representative body of the farmers, Agriculture Permanent Secretary Ngoni
Masoka said provincial and district land committees would process the
farmers' applications before submitting them to the ministry for approval.
More than 700 commercial farmers have applied for offer letters or
permission to farm over the past four years.
Emily Crookes, spokesperson for the CFU, said the union hoped that in
assessing the applications, the government would stick to the ministry's
stated guidelines that productive farmers would be given priority.
"There is need to address the issue as a matter of urgency as farmers are
busy on their farms, and are looking forward to the start of the winter
cropping season," Crookes said.
Zimbabwe's food production has plummeted since the beginning of the land
reform exercise under which thousands of white-owned farms were seized for
redistribution to the landless black majority, ostensibly to correct
colonial land imbalances.
The land invasions have often been violent, but the CFU says of late the
situation on the farms has been relatively quiet.
However, in a note to members this week, Justice for Agriculture, a radical
splinter farmers' group, reported a foiled attempt to take over the property
of prominent member Ben Freeth.
Confusion persists on the status of the land reform programme, with some
sections of government saying the exercise is over while others have vowed
to press on with evictions until the last white farmer is ejected.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Reporter
NGOs clash with UN over Human Rights Commission
THE National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO) has once
again spurned renewed attempts by the United Nations Development Programme
(UNDP) to broker consultative discussions on the establishment of a national
human rights commission, which faltered last year.
Influential rights and pro-democracy groups told The Financial Gazette this
week that the UNDP had revived attempts to broker talks to discuss the
setting up of the controversial human rights commission this month by
lobbying individual rights and civic groups.
But NANGO, an umbrella body of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) this
week maintained that it will not take part in the consultations unless the
government first repeals harsh and repressive security laws, which are
stifling its members' operations in Zimbabawe.
"Several organisations have so far been approached to endorse and support
the commission as well as to attend an upcoming meeting and NANGO would like
to advise that its position on not attending any consultations on the
commission until efforts are made towards meeting pre-conditions, stands,"
reads part of a statement sent this week to NANGO affiliates.
NANGO spokesperson Fambai Ngirandi, said there was no basis for discussing
the setting up of a rights commission when there was no letup in the
government's suppression of people's rights. Ngirandi who deplored the UNDP's
bullying tactics in trying to broker the meeting cited last month's
clampdown on an opposition rally and the subsequent banning of rallies and
demonstrations saying this infringed on the freedom of association and
"There hasn't been an honest broker in place. It is not the UNDP's role to
support the government in imposing a human rights commission. Day in and day
out the government is attacking us and they can't respect our very
existence," said Ngirandi.
Authoritative civic groups and constitutional reform activists have
previously criticised the plans to establish a national human rights
commission, which were initiated last year saying the government is not
qualified to monitor human rights issues because some state institutions and
authorities have been implicated in human rights violations over the past
Rights groups say the human rights commission should only be a product of a
holistic constitutional reform process aimed at entrenching democracy and
human rights in the country.
This month's proposed meeting is the latest in a series of attempts to bring
rights groups and the government to the negotiating table following the
collapse last year of consultations to set up the contentious rights
Zimbabwe's failure to uphold the rule of law and to address a widening human
rights deficit has invited targeted travel and economic sanctions on
President Robert Mugabe and his lieutenants by western governments. Human
rights watchdogs have in recent years ranked Zimbababwe among countries with
the worst records for abusing human rights through lawlessness, restrictive
laws and bad governance, a charge, which the government denies.
Stanley Kwenda Staff Reporter
A ZIMBABWEAN academic, Professor Mandivamba Rukuni, is tipped to take over
the reins at the World Food Programme (WFP), following the departure of
James Morris, who stepped down last year.
Morris was the WFP Executive Director and special United Nations
Humanitarian Envoy in Southern Africa.
According to WFP spokesperson, Michael Huggins, the Zimbabwean's name
emerged during a meeting of the organisation's 36- member board held in
Rome a week ago.
"The WFP executive board met last week in Rome and a Zimbabwean name came up
for consideration, and I understand that there was discussion on it. The
board meets and decides what it wants, so I wouldn't know," said Huggins by
telephone from Johannesburg.
Rukuni seems to be the frontrunner. He is the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Programme Director for Africa and is based in Pretoria. The Financial
Gazette was unable to reach him
Rukuni, a renowned international nutritionist, holds a Ph.D from the
University of Zimbabwe (UZ) and a
Masters degree in Tropical Agricultural Development from the University of
Before joining the W.K.Kellogg Foundation, he was Professor of Agricultural
Economics at UZ and a visiting professor at Michigan State University. He
has also consulted for the World Bank, USAID, CIDA, Ford Foundation and
CIMMYT among other organisations.
If he takes over the reins at WFP, he would be responsible for the world's
largest food aid organisation, which is currently feeding over 100 million
people in 81 countries.
Stanley Kwenda Staff Reporter
ZIMBABWE was placed close to the bottom of the World Economic Forum's latest
Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI), hurt by the economic
crisis, negative world perception and a distorted pricing system.
Zimbabwe came 107 out of a total of 124 countries included in the survey,
used by tourists as a measure of the best tourist destinations.
The annual competitiveness report measures factors and policies that make it
attractive to develop the travel and tourism sector in different countries.
"The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report aims to explore factors and
policies driving travel and tourism competitiveness worldwide," said
Jennifer Blank, a senior economist at the WEF's Global Competitive Network.
The report examines issues crucial to tourism, such as policy rules and
regulations, environmental regulations, safety and security, health and
hygiene, prioritisation of travel and tourism, air transport, tourism ICT,
road infrastructure, national tourism perception and price competitiveness
in the travel and tourism industry.
Over 11 000 business leaders from 125 countries were polled.
In Zimbabwe, the University of Zimbabwe Graduate School of Management was
cited as a partner.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), which has been leading efforts to revive
the country's battered tourism industry, said it was not aware of the global
index when approached for its reaction.
Switzerland leads the index, followed by Austria and Germany. Tunisia got
the nod as Africa's tourism paradise, the highest placed African country at
number 35. It was closely followed by Mauritius at number 39 and Egypt at
South Africa was placed number 62, a lowly position tourism experts there
attribute to crime. Zambia, Namibia and Botswana, which have benefited from
the breakdown of tourism in Zimbabwe, were placed at number 94, 73 and 70,
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
THE Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara), the state body
responsible for raising funds for road maintenance and construction, has
applied for government approval to double the fuel levy.
Zinara chief executive Francis Hwekwete told the parliamentary portfolio
committee on transport and communications this week his group wants the levy
increased from the current five percent of the landed fuel to 10 percent.
"We are making efforts to see if they can be increased. The Ministry of
Finance said we can increase the fuel (levy) to 10 percent and that would
increase our revenue. We are currently talking to the Ministry of Energy,"
He said insufficient funds, a result of low levies, were hampering efforts
to raise money for road construction.
During the same hearing, the Ministry of Transport and Communications
Permanent Secretary, George Mlilo, said Treasury was scuttling the
development of roads by holding on to foreign currency collected from
tollgates at the country's border posts.
Mlilo said his Ministry had approached the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority
(Zimra) to collect levies on their behalf on the understanding that it would
be directly passed to them. However, Treasury insisted all proceeds be
deposited with it instead.
Mlilo, who said that he was now "desperate" for the release of the money,
said he could not trust his own staff to collect the forex on behalf of his
"The rightful collector of public funds is Zimra. I could post my boys there
but they would fill their pockets every night," Mlilo said.
Mlilo also accused the committee of disrupting progress by opposing the
construction of tollgates, which had received cabinet approval.
However, committee chair Leo Mugabe said his committee only stepped in after
the Ministry of Local Government had indicated it was concerned that
tollgates were being constructed within the city of Harare.
"There is nowhere in the world where tollgates are constructed in the middle
of the city," Mugabe said.
Chris Muronzi Staff Reporter
THE sharp fall of the dollar through February and steep price hikes ahead of
the anticipated implementation of a prize freeze will have pushed inflation
to new records over 1700 percent, economists forecast this week.
The Central Statistical Office (CSO) is expected to release February
inflation figures either tomorrow or Monday.
According to a Financial Gazette poll of analysts and economists this week,
the market expects annual inflation to come in at a range between 1700
percent and 1900 percent.
The poll returned an average forecast of 1769 percent.
The Fingaz poll last month recorded its most pessimistic forecast at 1595
The actual figure came out only two percentage points lower, showing
inflation had risen faster than expected.
A keenly watched part of the new data will be the month-on-month rise.
Inflation rose at 45.4 percent month-on-month in January, its second fastest
monthly rise, but is expected to beat the all time high of 47.0 percent set
ZB Bank chief economist Best Doroh sees inflation surging, fuelled by
speculative increases in prices of basic goods and services ahead of the
proposed social contract, which under the central bank's initial
recommendation should have been agreed last week.
"My forecast for February 2007 is 1737 percent, on the back of speculative
increases in prices of most goods and services, ahead of the adoption or
expected implementation of the social contract. In addition, import costs
for most importers and manufacturers rose sharply in February 2007, as the
Zimbabwe dollar weakened significantly on the parallel market. Naturally,
such costs were passed onto the consumer in the form of high prices for
goods and services," said Doroh.
The Zimdollar broke $8000:USD last week, a big drop from $3000 early last
A research firm forecasts February inflation at 1971 percent, while another
analyst gave more conservative forecasts of 1850 percent.
ZABG group economist David Mupamhadzi says inflation will remain on an
upward trend, and he also blamed price hikes ahead of the anticipated
"social contract", energy and Zimdollar weakness.
He sees inflation ending the first quarter at 3000-3500 percent.
"Production costs will also rise as a result of the weakening of the Zim
dollar. Generally the outlook remains bearish for inflation and this will
affect production going forward," said Mupamhadzi.
But one economist quipped: "If I had up-to-date official figures on money
supply from the RBZ, at least for December 2006, I guess my forecasting
would be even better."
Njabulo Ncube Chief Political Reporter
THE deepening economic crisis and the impact of Western sanctions on the
personal business interests of key ZANU PF officials will draw feuding
factions of the ruling party together to push for President Robert Mugabe's
retirement, an international political think-tank has said.
Describing the current political situation in Zimbabwe as being similar to
the one that prevailed in the final days of Mobutu Sese Seko's then Zaire,
the International Crisis Group believes a realistic chance has begun to
emerge for the resolution of the crisis. The Brussels-based ICG believes the
resolution could be achieved through the retirement of President Mugabe, a
power-sharing agreement, a new constitution and elections. President
Mugabe's government, which views the ICG as pro-Western has always accused
the West of pushing for regime change.
In a report entitled "Zimbabwe: An End to the Stalemate" released on Monday,
the group said: "Both factions of the divided Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) opposition and powerful elements of the Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) party support the concept in outline."
The think-tank said although ZANU PF liberals were pressing for the
President's retirement in 12 months, when his current term expires, radicals
sought to extend his tenure to 2010 by way of a constitutional amendment to
harmonise presidential and legislative elections in that year.
"Increased pressure and intervention including from the regional
organisation, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the
West, in the run-up to the mid-year parliamentary session, could lead to a
new political order, but concessions to ZANU PF should only be made in
exchange for true restoration of democracy. The economic meltdown, as well
as the bite of European Union (EU) and US targeted sanctions, is pushing
ZANU PF towards change, since business interests of key officials are
suffering," it said.
ICG claims that ZANU PF is split over the succession issue but President
Mugabe's long established divide-and-rule tactics had started to backfire,
as the two main factions were coming together in a bid to prevent him from
remaining in power beyond his current term.
"A deal that merely removed Mugabe while in effect maintaining the political
status quo by keeping ZANU PF in power would be no change at all. The
situation is reminiscent of the last stages of Mobutu's reign in the Congo,
" ICG observed.
The economy would prove to be President Mugabe's toughest challenge.
"Salaries of the security services and civil servants alike are mostly below
the poverty line. Economic issues, discontent among underpaid police and
troops and the increasing willingness of opposition parties and civil
society to protest in the streets all increase the risk of sudden major
violence. The desire to remove Mugabe within the year provides a rare
rallying point that cuts across partisan affiliations, and ethnic and
regional identities. Opposition party leaders are keeping lines of
communication open with the ZANU PF dissidents while preparing for a
non-violent campaign to demand immediate constitutional reform."
The think-tank said the MDC's credibility and effectiveness, however, would
continue to be severely compromised unless rival faction leaders Morgan
Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara unite.
SADC governments, which for long had been reluctant to press President
Mugabe, now privately acknowledged they wanted him out to pave the way for
what ICG describes as a "moderate" ZANU PF government.
"Without applying public pressure, the SADC troika is quietly beginning to
explore ways to negotiate a retirement package for the President while
persuading the West to relax pressures. Mugabe's exit, however, should be
only the starting point. Zimbabwe needs a more radical change to get back on
its feet. The West should both maintain pressure at this crucial point and
increase support for democratic forces but also be more precise about the
conditions for lifting sanctions and ending isolation. SADC, the EU and the
US should adopt a joint strategy with a clear sequence of benchmarks leading
to a genuinely democratic process for which removal of sanctions and
resumption of international aid to government institutions could be used at
the appropriate time as incentives."
ICG said consultations were needed now to get such a strategy in place by
July, when Parliament is expected to make crucial decisions either on the
harmonisation of elections or on a transition. It urges the government and
ZANU PF to abandon plans to extend President Mugabe's term beyond its
expiration in March 2008 and support SADC-led negotiations to implement an
exit strategy for him no later than that date.
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
IN an unusual twist to a criminal case yet to be finalised, William Nhara,
the Principal Director in the Ministry Without Portfolio and ZANU PF Harare
Province spokesperson, has sent a letter to President Robert Mugabe
apologising for his involvement in diamond smuggling.
Harare area prosecutor Tawanda Zvekare disclosed Nhara's unusual move
yesterday during the accused's bail application before Harare provincial
magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe.
Nhara (46) was arrested on Thursday on charges of trying to smuggle diamonds
weighing 10 773.85 carats, valued at $33 million (US$130 000 at the official
rate). He also faces charges of trying to bribe the police.
The state opposed the bail application of Nhara's co-accused, Tonderai
Simbarashe (23) and Lebanese national, Carole El Martini (36) who are facing
charges of illegally possessing diamonds, smuggling and bribing police
officers, on grounds that they would abscond and interfere with state
witnesses. Nhara, Simbarashe and El Martini were all denied bail and
remanded to March 21, 2007.
The state said it needed more time for further investigations, particularly
to consult an expert to determine the type of the seized diamonds.
The accused persons are suspected to be part of an international syndicate
ing a Zimbabwean inSouth Africa, and more Lebanese nationals who are still
"A letter was written (by Nhara) apologising to the President. The fact that
he wrote that letter shows that his hands are not clean," Zvekare said.
"It is only those who are well connected that are able to involve themselves
in such crimes. This is not the kind of crime that every Tom, Dick and Harry
can be involved in."
Nhara is said to have offered police details US$700 as a bribe after
receiving US$4 500 from Simbarashe for the purpose.
The prosecutor described the three accused persons as economic saboteurs who
were depriving Zimbabwe of foreign currency.
Nhara's lawyer, Chris Venturas said as a government official, it would be
impossible for his client to flee either to Europe or the United States
because of targeted travel sanctions imposed on senior government officials.
Venturas argued that Nhara would be extradited if he absconded to any
Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) country.
"His ability to abscond is seriously undermined. By association with
government, he cannot travel to Europe or the United States," Venturas said.
He said Nhara suffered from a kidney ailment and was on prescribed
Nhara was a high ranking government official, a ZANU PF spokesperson as well
as the ruling party's shadow MP for Harare Central, and this meant he could
be easily recognised if he tried to escape, Ventura said.
The state argued that if Simbarashe was released on bail, he would interfere
with witnesses as he was "a young man already involved with large sums of
El Martini's lawyer, Steve Chibune, denied the state's submission that his
client could easily escape as she was of no fixed abode and staying
temporarily in a hotel. He said a Lebanese national living in Belvedere had
offered to accommodate her if she was granted bail.
"I implore the court to impose the most stringent conditions that have ever
visited anyone so that the state can have some sleep," the lawyer said.
Economic Viewpoint with James Jowa
AS Zimbabwe continues to battle against inflation, the question that needs
to be asked is what triggered the inflationary spiral and what should be
done to bring price stability.
Inflation can simply be defined as sustained increase in the general level
of prices for goods and services, measured as a percentage increase. There
are two related variations of inflation - hyperinflation and stagflation.
Hyperinflation is usually rapid inflation and in extreme cases can lead to
the breakdown of a nation's monetary system. Stagflation is the combination
of high unemployment and economic stagnation with inflation.
The Zimbabwean, inflation at 1 594 percent year-on-year for the month of
January 2007, seems to break new records every month. It remains the world's
highest, far exceeding those of countries at war or facing civil strife such
as Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Chad and the Sudan.
Zimbabwe can be best described as being in a stagflation situation where
economic decline has been accompanied by massive unemployment, productivity
decline and hyperinflation.
The high inflation emanates from a decline in the country's productive
capacity leading to demand-pull inflation, a situation that can be described
as "too much money chasing too few goods". It has also been created through
increases in the cost of production which generates what is known as
cost-push inflation. In more general terms, government policies that
increase demand without increasing supply or that restrict supply or
decrease productivity, are inflationary. These policies must bear the blame
for the rising prices, loss of purchasing power, slow or nonexistent
productivity growth, capital flight, stagnant capitalisation or
On the supply side, the single major factor that contributed to economic
decline and stagflation in Zimbabwe has been the fast-track land reform
programme. The programme, initiated by the government in 2000, led to a
significant decline in agricultural productivity and output. Out of more
than 4 000 large scale white-owned commercial farms, only an estimated 400
remain in production. The result of the takeover of the farms has been a
decline in agricultural output by at least 60 percent of the pre-land reform
The decline in agricultural supplies destroyed linkages that the
agricultural sector had with other key sectors. The manufacturing sector,
especially its agro-processing sub-sector, became starved of critical raw
materials. It is estimated that more than 60 percent of agricultural output
used to be absorbed by the country's manufacturing sector prior to the
fast-track land reform initiative.
As a result of the agriculture sector decline, manufacturing enterprises
have had to import production inputs, ballooning the national import bill
and further putting pressure on the country's foreign exchange reserves.
On the other hand, the manufacturing sector used to supply 20 percent of its
output to the agricultural sector in the form of farm machinery, fertilisers
and chemicals. Industries dealing in farm inputs faced reduced demand and
serious viability problems.
Apart from land reform another supply factor that has contributed to
stagflation has been adverse weather conditions, especially the 2002
The flight of capital, reduction in exports and suspension of balance of
payments support by key bilateral and multilateral institutions following
the political uncertainties during the beginning of the decade have resulted
in severe balance of payments problems. The resulting foreign exchange
shortages have led to the erosion of the external value of the Zimbabwe
dollar and the emergence of the foreign exchange parallel market and
consequently increased cost of imported inputs.
On the demand side, high money supply growth has been a major source of
inflation. The growth in money supply to levels above 1 000 percent is
largely a result of high government spending. Increased government spending
has been necessitated by the need to service a rising domestic debt, salary
increases for civil servants to cushion them from the impact of inflation
and an increase in size of government. The size of government has grown
after the introduction of the Senate, new government ministries and
In a bid to deal with the inflation problem the authorities have introduced
administrative measures such as price controls. This approach has seen
prices of basic products such as bread, milk, cooking oil, sugar and mealie
meal being determined through the Ministry of Industry and International
Trade. This is also the approach being advocated by the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe in its latest endeavours to revive the collapsed Tripartite
Negotiating Forum discussions.
Price controls are initially pleasant, but ultimately have a multitude of
ill effects. They allow demand to remain high and deter production
increases. They lead to gross distortions in economic and financial flows
that materially and cumulatively reduce the economy's productive efficiency.
They inhibit investment - leading to stagnant capital growth. Maintenance of
affected assets may be rendered impractical - leading to decapitalisation.
The government has also offered cheap credit to the productive sectors in a
bid to stimulate supply. However, because of low investor confidence and
lack of requisite productive skills, the impact of this credit on the
economy has been insignificant.
As a way forward adequate attention should be focused at measures that
stimulate the supply side of the economy. Given the deep nature of the
problems, this process will require significant political will if it is to
generate the desired results.
As a starting point, there is need to enhance the confidence of existing and
potential investors. This would imply the enactment of structures that
guarantee the respect and protection of private property rights. In this
regard, the rule of law should be re-established and the process should
start by a revision of the country's constitution to re-enact the checks and
balances necessary for democratic governance.
To follow this process should be a revision of laws that violate fundamental
freedoms and the holding of free and fair elections that should steer a new
political dispensation. It is only after the establishment of an enabling
political, social and economic environment that the country will be able to
attract balance of payments support, reverse the brain drain, enhance
productive capacity, stimulate employment, increase supply, stabilise the
exchange rate and move out of stagflation.
James Jowa is a member of the Zimbabwe Economic Society. These articles are
coordinated by Lovemore Kadenge and he can be contacted on e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org or on cell number 091980016
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe says he is optimistic his latest economic plan will
end the country's economic crisis despite already having sanctioned more
than half a dozen previous blueprints that all failed.
In a foreword for government's latest economic recovery plan, the Zimbabwe
Economic Development Strategy (ZEDS), the President says the new plan - a
rehash of the Vision 2020 document - was a response to "changes in the
"Government has reviewed and updated the Vision 2020 - Long Term Economic
Transformation Strategies Document, which was formulated in 2000. The
objective of the review and update is to take into account the changes in
the environment and to improve the coordination of the formulation and
implementation of Short, Medium and Long Term Policies, Programmes and
National Budgets," reads part of President Mugabe's preamble.
"The updated Vision 2020 Document gives us an opportunity to mobilise all
our financial and human resources as we strive to strengthen unity, peace
and democracy in order to build a strong and prosperous Zimbabwe with high
moral values by the year 2020. As President, I am committed to ensure that
this Vision and all that it represents be translated into concrete actions
that will transform the lives of all Zimbabweans. I commend Vision 2020 to
the nation and people of Zimbabwe who should draw inspiration from it in
their various spheres of life."
The new economic plan claims to go beyond achieving macro-economic variables
such as a steady exchange rate and taming inflation, to include political,
cultural and social aspects.
Although the Ministry of Economic Development will be the lead agency of the
new plan, sources say the ministry will report to the Zimbabwe National
Security Council, a body headed by President Mugabe and comprising security
chiefs and cabinet ministers.
ZEDS is the eighth such blueprint since independence.
Stanley Kwenda Staff Reporter
THE Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) has begun "vetting" senior Air
Zimbabwe technicians and engineers, in an exercise ostensibly aimed at
halting the flight of experienced key staff from the national airline,
Under the exercise, aircraft technicians and engineers are being called in
weekly for "impromptu interviews" at Hardwicke House, which houses the
The interviews reportedly began after plans by engineers to leave the
national airline en masse for the Ethiopian Airways were leaked to
government. No comment was, however, available from Ethiopian Airways.
According to sources, an average of three engineers are taken in for
"vetting" each week.
"An anonymous lady makes the now infamous phone call and the engineers are
selected randomly. So far, about 13 engineers have gone through the
interviews," said the source. "The engineers are asked a variety of
questions related to family, friends, personal history and political parties
that they voted for in the last elections."
Each worker was asked to bring five copies each of their ID, passport pages,
birth and educational certificates. At the interviews, questions asked are
as to why an employee wants to leave for greener pastures, and how they
think working conditions at the embattled airline could be improved.
New Air Zimbabwe CEO Peter Chikumba, when asked to comment on the matter,
said: "I cannot say anything on that matter because it is not within my
mandate. I think the answer is at Hardwicke House, since these are security
issues. If it was being done within the confines of Air Zimbabwe premises, I
would have been able to give you a straight answer."
Air Zimbabwe spokesman David Mwenga said he was unaware of any such
But an Air Zimbabwe official said the reported inquest recalled a 1996
incident in which cables were removed from an aircraft. The case was never
successfully pinned on the engineers, but the airline suffered a massive
exodus of skilled personal after the incident, forcing it to recruit 15
South African engineers.
CITRUSDAL, SA -Soft-drink companies use it by the tonne, natural health
devotees swear by it and it forms part of secret recipes for French perfume
despite having a bouquet similar to cat's urine.
The South African herb buchu is now so valuable it is attracting poachers.
They are not deterred by the remote mountain slopes where it grows,
sometimes clear-cutting entire stands of the metre-high shrub.
"Buchu is very lucrative," said Hedley Peter who farms in the Cederberg
mountains north of Cape Town where buchu grows wild. "In the last two
seasons about 200,000 rand (US$26,600) worth of buchu was stolen.
"A guy just has to hop across the fence and collect one bag, and it's like
1,000 rand," said Peter whose farm is accessible from a highway that runs
from Cape Town to the Namibian border.
Distilling companies that extract essential oils from the herb, which has
green leaves and tiny white flowers, pay farmers about 40 rand a kilo for
The oils help enhance fruit flavours, particularly blackcurrant, making them
ideal for soft drinks, and "it's used by the fragrance houses," says Lindsey
Chicken, whose family owns a distilling business that processes buchu.
The herb is said to have medicinal qualities, a reputation that dates back
in South Africa to the 17th century when Khoi tribesmen passed on their
knowledge of buchu to Dutch settlers.
The growing use of buchu in medicine in European society and as a source of
income for South Africa's early farmers prompted the British governor of the
Cape Colony in 1824 to ban its destruction.
Nowadays, Betucare Science and Technology (Pty) Ltd. markets a
buchu-containing health product called Betucare, which it bills as an
antiseptic and a diuretic that can be used to treat everything from
arthritis to pre-menstrual syndrome.
Until recently most buchu was harvested from wild plants, but the profits to
be made have prompted scores of farmers to begin cultivating the shrub in
irrigated fields in the Cederberg and elsewhere in South Africa .
Mounting cultivation has cut the price of buchu and thefts have been
curtailed by anti-poaching campaigns, mostly carried out by ex-soldiers.
Mannetjies du Plessis, spokesman for distilling firm Grassroots group, said
South Africa was now producing about 600 tonnes of buchu a year, a figure
likely to increase by 25 percent annually for the next four to five years.
Buchu producers are even eyeing the world's giant soft drink producers,
including Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc.
"The whole world is turning to natural organic products," Les Abrahams said.
"Coke and Pepsi would use buchu, but we don't have enough volume to supply
what they would need."
Despite growing markets in France, Germany, Britain, Switzerland and the
United States, there is no getting round the fact the wild version of the
herb has a very pungent aroma.
"When you have a pick-up truck full of workers who have been cutting buchu,
it smells like a cat has done its business in there," said Cara Abrahams,
who farms with her husband Les in the Cederberg region. -Reuters
The Geoff Nyarota Column
I HAVE just finished reading Edgar Zivanai Tekere's "best-seller", A
Lifetime of Struggle.
What I have crafted here is by no means a review of the book. I don't
believe that it would be entirely appropriate for me to write one. I would
certainly be accused of sinister motivation if I reviewed a book that was
published a few months after my own title Against the Grain, Memoirs of a
On ethnic grounds, I am most reluctant to write a review of A Lifetime of
Struggle. I am of the Makoni clan in the eastern districts of Zimbabwe.
Tekere's mother was, in the words of her illustrious son, a Makoni princess,
a muzvare, as the daughters of our clan are proudly called.
It is with a very heavy heart that I find myself in a professional situation
where I have no option but to discharge, as Tekere's sekuru or uncle, the
onerous task of ventilating very pertinent issues pertaining to some claims
of mysterious income that he makes. I believe I do this in both the public
and the national interest.
Tekere's claims of multiple funding by well-wishers and benefactors during
periods of hardship and adversity is so shrouded in mystery that I feel a
strong urge to unravel the puzzle.
The fact that, as an investigative journalist, my stock-in-trade is to
unravel mysteries augments my misfortune in this case. After going through
my muzukuru's most sensational revelations, I decided I could not stand by
and watch while he makes certain preposterous claims that have the potential
to even undermine the credibility of the entire clan of his sekurus.
I, therefore, write with profound apologies to my muzukuru in an effort to
set records straight from my vantage point on the periphery of some of the
events that Tekere delves into.
I had the honour to meet Tekere at the time of Zimbabwe's independence soon
after he returned from his eventful sojourn in the Republic Mozambique from
where the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (Zanla) waged its
campaign of insurgency against the Rhodesian Front government of rebel
leader, Ian Smith.
I had the honour to accompany, along with Tekere, the late Chief Rekayi
Tangwena when he travelled back to Nyafaru, up in the misty mountains of
Nyanga, to meet his Tangwena people after an absence of five years, while
participating in the liberation struggle.
I drove Tangwena from Harare down to Nyanga in a Herald Mazda 323. He
transferred into Tekere's majestic Jaguar XJ6 at Troutbeck Inn while I drove
behind as we negotiated the steep and twisting road for the rest of the
journey to Nyafaru. This was a momentous and extremely happy occasion for
both the Tangwena people and their visitors, especially Tekere.
As Editor-in-Chief of The Daily News I visited Mutare and spent an afternoon
with Tekere in his home in the suburb of Greenside in 2002. This was at a
time when many had dismissed him as a political spent force - and worse. He
fell short of restoring my faith in him as the firebrand politician I had
met in Nyanga 12 years earlier. I was, however, impressed by his generally
humble demeanour and by his very modest existence. He spoke of the hardship
he was undergoing, which was self-evident, both from his appearance and from
There was absolutely nothing about Tekere that day to suggest it and I spent
the afternoon blissfully unaware that I was in the company of a
multi-millionaire. He spoke so passionately and so convincingly about penury
and the hardship of his existence I even made a small donation myself.
Millionaires were rare in Zimbabwe those days. This was of course before the
period when even beggars on the street often became millionaires, thanks to
In his own printed and published words Tekere says of one of Zimbabwe's
early indigenous millionaires, the eccentric tycoon, Roger Boka, now late,
that he received from him, starting in 1988, "monthly cash payments, none
amounting to less than Z$800,000.00, which was a goodly sum in those days".
In 1992 fellow journalist, Tonic Sakaike, now also late, and I registered a
publishing company as the first step towards the launch of a newspaper. We
then canvassed the business community for potential investors in our
newspaper project. Among the entrepreneurs we approached was the same Boka,
who showed interest in our project but said the best he could do was make a
donation. He signed a cheque for the then princely sum of $2 000.00 and
handed it over to our project, much to our genuine delight. We thanked Boka
profusely for such rare generosity.
Little did we know that four years earlier Boka had routinely deposited
cheques amounting to $800 000.00 every month into the account of Tekere,
starting soon after the latter was dismissed from ZANU PF for his principled
stand against corruption.
Tekere speaks fondly of another sponsor, one Abdulatief Parker, a Cape Town
businessman who settled in Harare, and with whom the politician says he
struck a relationship.
"At one time Laatief (sic) opened an account in my name at a local bank,
into which he deposited Z$500,000.00 every month for a period of three
years," Tekere says.
From this benefactor alone Tekere received a cool $18 million, at least.
Then there was Jonathan Kadzura. The managing director of Rural Industrial
Development (Pvt) Ltd, trading as Pamberi Marketing, Kadzura was the first
person to be prosecuted for corruption following the exposure of the
Willowgate Scandal by The Chronicle. He pleaded guilty to selling four
Toyota Cressidas for figures far beyond the controlled price. His source of
vehicles was the late senior Manicaland politician and government minister,
Maurice Nyagumbo, who committed suicide as a result of the exposure of his
involvement in the scandal by The Chronicle and subsequent humiliation by
the Sandura Commission.
Kadzura told Mutare magistrate Philip Drazdik that Pamberi Marketing was
experiencing serious cash-flow problems at the time when he sold the
vehicles at grossly inflated prices. Drazdik convicted Kadzura,
Now Tekere has the temerity to cause to be recorded for posterity with
regard to the same Kadzura that, "between 1986 and 1987 he would pay
Z$1,200,000.00 into my bank account every month".
That's another cool $28 800 000.00 paid into the Tekere account between the
provident years of 1986 and 1989. I am not making up these amounts, merely
adding them up. After Drazdik found Kadzura guilty he fined him a total of
$9 500, apart from the $75 000.00 he was ordered to refund to those he had
over-charged on vehicles. This certainly did not leave Kadzura with much
spare cash to donate to any charity. If my assessment is wrong Kadzura can
always vindicate both Tekere and himself by explaining for the benefit of
the public from where he obtained the millions he allegedly deposited into
Tekere's account every month.
In 1988, at the height of the Willowgate Scandal the factory price of a new
Toyota Cressida was $27 657.00. For the amount of $1,2 million, which
Kadzura dutifully and mysteriously deposited into his bank account, Tekere
could have purchased 43 brand new Toyota Cressidas every month. Kadzura was
convicted of making an illegal profit of $75 000.00 on four Cressidas, which
he was asked to refund.
The salary of a government minister at the time was a total of $24 000.00 a
Apart from the obvious ridiculousness of Tekere's claim, an obvious question
arises. Assuming Pamberi Marketing, despite the cash flow problems
encountered, was raking in so much in profits, why would Kadzura be so
extremely generous as to pay $1.2 million to Tekere every month?
For the record Tekere says Mutare businessmen, Enoch and Farai Musabaeka,
who are father and son, also made unspecified but regular deposits into his
account. So did politician Ephraim Masawi. Apparently he still does from
time to time. Retired General Solomon Tapfumaneyi Mujuru, who is now linked
to Tekere in the current ZANU PF succession battles, was another benefactor,
making deposits from time to time into the account. The retired soldier is
the husband of Vice President Joice Mujuru, who aspires to be President of
The line-up of depositors into the Tekere account reads like a "Who-is-who?"
of Zimbabwe's political and corporate establishments. Reserve Bank governor,
Gideon Gono apparently made a donation of $500 000.00 but his contribution
was made at a time when many citizens now carried that kind of money in
Perplexingly, Tekere continued through the years to accept, possibly after
much solicitation, further bounty from his benefactors. With all these
millions in his bank account, Tekere continued to pose or to portray himself
as destitute, thus attracting even more astoundingly generous donations.
Astute observers would characterise such conduct as deceitful or outright
A revelation that is glaring by its absence from Tekere's text is what
happened to this vast largesse. Did he spend it? Did he invest it? Or did
he, like a latter-day Robin Hood, steal the wealth of the corrupt to
redistribute it among the impoverished masses?
A possible explanation is that the funds could have been channelled into
funding the activities of his political party, the Zimbabwe Unity Movement.
But in A Lifetime of Struggle Tekere is brutally candid in describing all
facets of his eventful life and would certainly have said so, had these
funds been donations to ZUM. In any case, ZUM would have easily attracted
its own funding, not that there is anything to show now for the fact that
any huge sums of money ever found their way into the coffers of that
Tekere will probably try to wriggle out of these huge sums by suggesting
that he converted all figures to values at the time of writing. But why
would he do that? If this was indeed the case, then Tekere still has to
explain why he cited unconverted donations of $2 000.00 and $3 000.00,
alongside the breathtaking contributions made by Latief, Kadzura and Boka.
Tekere does not make this explanation in his text and, in any case, normal
practice would be to cite the 1988 value (with the 2006 value in brackets).
"When I was sacked from the Party, his concern mounted, and I would find
that my rates had been paid, in credit. I would receive monthly cash
payments, none amounting to less than Z$800,000.00, which was a goodly sum
in those days."
These are the unequivocal words of Tekere.
Failure by Tekere to provide satisfactory or convincing answers to all these
burning questions will merely serve to endorse a growing perception that he
has an idiosyncratic relationship with the truth. This trait has so far
escaped media scrutiny only because Zimbabwe's journalists have a weakness
of their own. They tend to hunt in packs like wolves, with little latitude
in their professional conduct for independence of thought or enterprise.
As of now, Tekere is the flavour of the month in our section of the media
and he can get away with murder, as long as he is seen to undermine the
perceived common enemy of the people of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe. Meanwhile,
it is a cruel paradox that while, with cavalier disdain, he speaks ill of
Nyagumbo throughout his book, Tekere apparently owes his very existence to
Kadzura, who owes his prosperity to Nyagumbo, who unfortunately is not
available to defend himself.
One is left wondering, however, who else in ZANU PF has raked in millions in
cash and kind from Zimbabwe's business and farming communities, both white
and black, since independence in circumstances similar to those described at
length by Tekere. He certainly could not have been the only one to exploit
his political position for grotesque self-enrichment, which included
donations of houses and powerful Jaguars.
At one point he owned three of the luxury sedans, including two donated to
him in one week.
Njabulo Ncube, Stanley Kwenda and Synodia Bhasera
BLOODIED baskets, shoes, pieces of clothing, broken CDs, spectacles and
mobile phones were yesterday still strewn along the deadly level crossing at
Kirkman Road where a horrific crash claimed 35 lives early on Tuesday.
"The baskets are a symbol of hard work," said Nelson Chamisa, the spokesman
of the main camp of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), as opposition
politicians, including party leader Morgan Tsvangirai, and journalists
toured the site of the horrific crash yesterday.
Pointing at debris at the crossing where a 25-seater commuter omnibus,
overloaded with over 60 passengers, crashed into a locomotive near Sanganayi
Inn, Chamisa added: "Those who died are the core of the country's
A sombre atmosphere greeted Tsvangirai and his entourage as residents of the
poor suburb battled to come to terms with the loss of many lives in one
single Tuesday morning. The majority of those who perished, the residents
told The Financial Gazette, were breadwinners who eked out a living by
"God has forsaken us," said a relative of Daniel Musiringofa, a security
guard who perished in the crash. Musiringofa leaves behind two wives and
A tour of the homes of the bereaved revealed most had been paupers. Some
lived in plastic shacks, while others' places of abode were simple pole and
"It's a sad, tragic situation from the point of view of all Zimbabweans,
especially because of the manner in these accidents have been occurring.
There are causes, from the point of view of the driver, and also because of
the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ). There are safety measures that must
be followed. Sadly, they are not being observed," said Tsvangirai.
"Accidents do not just come, they are a manifestation of the plight of these
poor people. They are forced to scramble for survival. We should ask why
anyone would leave their home at 5am."
For a moment yesterday, funeral proceedings stopped as mourners joined
Tsvangirai's convoy as he visited several of the mourning families.
Tsvangirai also visited and offered his condolences to the family of a
prominent Dzvivarasekwa war veteran and ZANU PF supporter who lost his wife
in the accident.
"The accident was declared a national disaster, but mourners got peanuts
compared to what an individual spent for a birthday party. It really is a
shame," said an elderly man, emerging from his wooden cabin.
The government on Tuesday declared the accident a national disaster and
offered a $100 000, a 100kg of maize meal, a coffin, a blanket and transport
to the burial site to each of the bereaved families. But The Financial
Gazette established during the visit that the government had by yesterday
only given each family a 50kg bag of maize meal.
One of the dead, Stephen Ndungwa, was on his way to work in the Graniteside
industry area. He was a breadwinner and has left a wife and three young
Good Choko, a survivor, a tenant at Ndungwa's house, gave his testimony.
"I was sitting in the middle of the bus, and I saw the train coming. I knew
we were in trouble. The next I heard was a big bang and people's bodies all
over me. Up to now, I cannot believe what I saw," said Choko.
And just a stone's throw from Choko's humble dwellings, Elizabeth Chitsike
Munemo left behind three children and Betty Zuze also left behind three
LIES in all shapes and sizes have gone forth unchallenged in the state media
where highly charged rhetoric about the supposed success of the land reform
exercise has been substituted for informed and reasoned analysis.
Zimbabwe and a highly sceptical international community have been served a
daily diet of fawning coverage of government and ruling ZANU PF officials
invariably engaged in an orgy of self-congratulation on the "resounding
success" of the land reform exercise. A visitor from Mars would think
Zimbabwe boasts food self-sufficiency.
Yet nothing could be further from the truth. And even the ruling ZANU PF
politicians who talk in cavalier fashion about the deep-seated problems in
agriculture know it. The sad fact is that the country's food security
situation is as dangerously precarious as ever. Thus Zimbabwe, the erstwhile
regional bread-basket has been reduced to a perennial grain deficit country.
And for the umpteenth time, the United Nations, which in the past has played
an inestimable role in averting human crises of catastrophic proportions in
Zimbabwe, has just appealed for US$62 million for the 2007 food aid
requirements in the country. The UN and other international aid agencies
have over the past six years always been in the eye of the storm when hunger
and famine stalked Zimbabwe.
The world body's latest appeal comes at a time when the United States
Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA) has darkly
hinted at the spectre of yet another poor harvest in the current season. It
said Zimbabwe, which requires 1.8 million tonnes of maize to meet its annual
domestic consumption, will only realise just 850 000 tonnes. All this means
is that Zimbabwe has once again failed to produce enough of the staple crop
and continued grain imports are inevitable.
The USDA, which government apologists have in the past accused of
dramatising Zimbabwe's crisis situation, blamed this on the weather and
input shortages. And the former must have been sweet music to a government
which over the years, hardly behaving as though it has nothing to hide, has
always blamed intermittent droughts, ad nauseam, for the savage slump in
But we are not going to read much into the issue of the increasingly
unpredictable rainfall pattern. Drought, whose impact could have been
minimised if only government had realised that in irrigation infrastructure
lies the future of agriculture and thereby planned ahead, is not a new
phenomenon in Zimbabwe. Thus drought or no drought, the country should be
able to feed itself. And that more than a quarter of century after
independence, drought is still being blamed for the failure of the country's
agriculture, is not only emblematic of everything wrong with the way the
land reform initiative was handled but a damning indictment of the
government too. For all we know, since the government embarked on the
chaotic and disruptive land reform initiative, even in the years that Mother
Nature has not sent its worst, the story has been the same old sad one of
failed harvests supposedly due to unpredictable weather as the Zimbabwean
authorities sought to hide a multitude of sins. The 2005/06 farming season
is a case in point.
Thus the back-to-the-land idealism, which saw the launch of so many
small-scale agricultural schemes, faces the spectre of failure because of
the government's strategic mistakes. The mistakes, which the government has
refused to acknowledge, have fed through into the sub-optimal utilisation of
land resulting from crippling shortages of seed, fertiliser, tillage
facilities and fuel, all of which have blighted successive agricultural
seasons. Most of the so-called new farmers have been hamstrung by a
psychology of impotence and pessimism against a background of these biting
input shortages. And in 2005, the last year for which figures are available,
the government, which provides data that are barely trusted and which are
often referred to in jest as "guestimates", begrudgingly admitted that only
44 percent of the land allocated under the land reform initiative was under
productive use. And we have no reason to believe that the situation has
changed for the better. If anything, agriculture is going to hell in a
handcart. The evidence is there for all to see in the shrunken state of what
was once the engine that powered the erstwhile reassuringly resilient
That the land reform initiative, which for practical purposes Zimbabweans
and the international community should accept as a fait accompli, has
slipped on so many banana skins, has everything to do with government's
upside-down priorities informed by political expediency. It failed to take
into consideration what we have in the past referred to as the country's
implementation capacity and affordability of the initiative when it embarked
on its land reform exercise. Hence the crippling input shortages and the
sorry state of the agricultural sector (read economy), which has hit
Matters Legal with Vote Muza
A FEW weeks ago, the High Court delivered a judgment whose effect was to
confirm undoubtedly that urban municipalities and other local authorities
have a legal obligation to keep roads under a good state of repair.
In this ruling, the Harare City Council (read commission, since strictly
speaking there is no council to talk about) was ordered to pay prominent
banker Pindie Nyandoro damages after her luxury car suffered mechanical
damage after hitting a huge pothole.
This article seeks to investigate or assess the correctness of this judgment
and most importantly, through drawing comparisons with the South African
It would appear that within certain sections of the legal and insurance
fraternities, misunderstandings and confusion abound about the seemingly
trivial but otherwise important subject of liability arising from non-repair
Almost on a daily basis, road users not only in the capital city, but
outlying cities, towns and growth points are exposing their vehicles to
danger because navigating some of our roads has become an extremely odious
task. A great number of these roads are so infested with potholes that
driving through them is worse than driving through a potato field.
As a result, tyres are quickly worn out, vehicle suspensions need constant
repair, shocks require regular replacement, all at a huge cost to the road
user. In other aggravated cases, some vehicles have had to be immobilised
due to extensive damage resulting from hitting potholes. This is without
doubt causing a lot of hardship to motorists.
In this contribution, I am indebted to a kind reader in the insurance
business who passed on to me an opinion that was given to his organisation
by his lawyers concerning the issue of whether or not municipalities have an
obligation at law to maintain roads.
This opinion, very compelling as it is, placed complete reliance on the
South African law and little endeavour appeared to have been made to
investigate thoroughly local jurisprudence on this contentious matter.
Reliance was placed on the somewhat old South African case of Moulang -vs-
Port Elizabeth Municipality 1958 (2) SA 518 in which it was held that
municipalities that have permissive powers in respect of construction and
maintenance of roads are not by statute required to keep them in repair and
are not liable for damage caused by the mere omission to construct or repair
them. This is a general immunity, but the court went on to give instances
when a municipality may be liable for damages.
Thus where a new danger or source of danger has been introduced, or where
repair work has been done negligently, or where dangerous excavations are
done then liability cannot be escaped.
The South Africa court also reasoned that the danger posed by a pothole is
no different from that by a dangerously parked car, or other road
Accordingly, a motorist is bound to avoid hazards that he sees or which are
capable of being seen in good time by a driver keeping a proper look out.
Therefore, if a pothole is clearly visible during the hours of daylight, and
because he is not keeping a proper lookout, a motorist causes an accident as
a result of an impact with the pothole, then he has only himself to blame.
Similarly, where a motorist knows about the existence of a pothole on a
particular stretch of road because he uses that road on a daily basis, he
cannot drive heedlessly and after an accident seek to place blame elsewhere
instead of himself. This to me appears to be quite a compelling argument,
and given a proper opportunity our courts might adopt the same position.
I doubt if our High Court's judgment ventilated these several issues in the
manner done by the South African courts. I am constrained in that my
knowledge about this judgment does not go beyond what I read in the press.
Much as I may not be privy to the full reason behind the ruling, I feel that
what I gleaned from media reports will not do much harm to my attempt to
critique this ruling. I hope I am not doing so at the risk of being labelled
a reckless armchair critic.
I thoroughly foraged through our own Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15) to
see if I could find any helpful provisions regarding this contentious
subject. I discovered that among the many powers that urban councils have,
there exists specific powers to "renovate, keep in repair, improve, develop,
alter and maintain any roads . . . under the control of the council".
This provision is found under the section dealing with general powers of
councils. Important to note is the fact that the Act makes reference to
"powers" and not "duties" of councils. Further, the exercise of these powers
is, according to my interpretation, understood from the construction of the
entire Act. Therefore these powers are obligatory and not mandatory. Thus
much as municipalities have powers to "renovate, keep in repair, improve,
develop, alter and maintain roads", they do not have a compelling duty to do
so. In my view therefore, our statutory law does not impose a general duty
on municipalities to ensure that potholes are covered, but rather urban
councils may if they so wish, repair roads.
If my reasoning is correct; that I believe finds support from a fair and
proper interpretation of the Act, then the legislature may have to introduce
an amendment specifically imposing a duty on these councils to repair and
maintain roads. It would appear therefore that the local High Court was not
furnished with sufficient legal arguments, particularly by the lawyers for
the Harare City Council to adequately assess the merits of Pindie Nyandoro's
I wonder what legal authorities, if any, were used by both litigants to
justify their positions. In the absence of proper legal justification,
perhaps in the nature of the judicial precedent and statutory provision
stated above, I am left to believe that Justice Hungwe's ruling is
potentially erroneous, with grave consequences to many urban councils which
face the real possibility of multiple pothole related claims.
Of course all this is to the detriment of ratepayers since their money is
not paid to meet legal claims, but to improve services and enhance their
lVote Muza is a legal practitioner with Gutu and Chikowero Legal
Practitioners. He can be contacted on Email:
The pain of being oppressed by your own people
EDITOR - I stand to be corrected but we all seem to be agreeing on one
fact - lying as to who we are. We keep on making this mistake and have this
illusion that we are independent. This has got to everyone's head including
the police and all the so-called political parties.
My dear Zimbabwean friends, let's wake up and smell the coffee. If we are
independent and hence can determine our own future, why is that we do not
have the future? Is it because we cannot plan or is it that we have no
capacity to plan?
We seem to be going around in circles over issues that we thought should be
history. Why is it that after our so-called independence, the police still
have the final word in who can or cannot hold a rally?
It's painful to be oppressed but even more painful to be oppressed by your
own. We need to grow up and start allowing people to be free and say their
mind out as this is the only way we can see where we are going. Being
independant does not mean that you abuse your power and assume you are the
only one with brains.
True liberators will never be oppressors. So Comrades, let's be realistic
about what we have been aiming for since the launch of the chimurenga -
masimba kuvanhu kwete kumusangano.
An independent audit of NSSA should be done
EDITOR - The statement by the general manager of the National Social
Security Authority (NSSA) to a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee that
placing an advertisement or taking a time slot with ZBH would render NSSA
"broke" should be of extreme concern to the millions of Zimbabweans who fund
this parastatal in hopes of getting some return on retirement, or on other
forms of demise.
Rumblings on the streets that not all is well at NSSA would now seem
confirmed, and of even more concern now is the proposed compulsory medical
health scheme to be administered by them. Heaven help patients and doctors
Maybe the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee should demand an independent
audit, for public consumption, of this publicly funded organisation,
detailing income, expenditure and other mis-appropriations.
TNF has failed completely
EDITOR - In my opinion the Tripartite Negotiating Forum has completely
failed to take off for the past 18 months or so.
What's there now that shows that there is a possibility of a mutual
understanding on the tripartite table?
I think going the legislative route is the most definite answer to our
problems of declining productivity and spiralling prices. Some of the
parties in the TNF are not serious and they take the whole process like a
joke. They just do not care. The sooner we realise that it has taken an
unnecessarily long period to get the economy on its rails the better.
Otherwise, we will be in the same quandary for the next hameno years.
Sort It Out
We're racing with the devil
EDITOR - When I come across a Zimbabwean anywhere in South Africa, no matter
how wealthy or poor that person is, and I ask why the person is here I
always receive the same response: "Everything will be all right, but how
long should we wait?"
Nowadays in Zimbabwe, there is segregation. If you are not a ZANU PF member
you are an enemy of the country. On the other hand, everybody alse sneers at
the Zimbabwean government. This is terrible for my countrymen and I ask you
to unite in this kind of situation.
We are in a race with the devil himself but at the end the people of God
will rejoice if we are patient.
The so-called Zimbabwean intellectuals who are in power are suffocating
their own people and are a disgrace to the nation. How are we going to
return the erstwhile bread-basket of Africa to its former glory? Nowadays a
desert is better than Zimbabwe in terms of tourism and economic matters.
In terms of suffering and hardships, we have had enough. Now is the time for
the knowledgeable people to take over and the luxury lovers to step aside.