By James Parks
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) President Lovemore Matombo
and First Vice President Lucia Matibenga were among trade unionists badly
injured during the government's September 13 attack on a peaceful
demonstration by the nation's unionists. AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer William
Lucy, who traveled to Zimbabwe says "the police just went crazy" in their
attack in the capital Harare.
Lucy described his experience today during a meeting with union
members at the AFL-CIO building in Washington, D.C., where he showed a
12-minute video of the Sept. 13 assault given to him on their trip. (Note:
The date of the attack is incorrect on the video. The attack occurred Sept.
When Lucy, along with a delegation of members from the Coalition of
Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), went to Zimbabwe to meet with the unionists,
they were denied entry.
On Sept. 13, some 1,500 ZCTU activists were peacefully protesting the
nation's abysmal economic conditions. Witnesses say police attacked the
crowd and brutally beat many of the union members and arrested 265. Matombo
and Matibenga were among those arrested, as was ZCTU General Secretary
Wellington Chibebe, winner of the AFL-CIO's 2003 George Meany-Lane Kirkland
Human Rights Award. (Last night, Ela Bhatt of India received the 2005 Human
Rights Award for her efforts in improving the lives of impoverished women in
Lucy, who also is a member of the AFL-CIO Executive Council, where he
chairs the AFL-CIO Committee on International Affairs, says he believes the
Zimbabwean government sought to bar the delegation because they would relate
the real conditions in the country. In fact, after denying U.S. unionists
entry, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe said the Zimbabwean leaders
deserved the beating.
The trade unionists took to the streets of Harare, Lucy says, to
demand a raise in the nation's minimum wage for universal access to
antiviral drugs to combat HIV/AIDS. Here's why:
- 50,000 children in Zimbabwe under five years old die each year from
- The average income is about $4,800 a year in U.S. dollars or less
than $100 a week. In fact, 56 percent of the country lives on less than $1 a
day and 85 percent to 90 percent live below the official poverty line. Yet
inflation is running at 1,204 percent as of last month.
- Seventy percent of the workforce is unemployed.
- HIV/AIDS is devastating the country, with some 1.6 million people
living with the disease. Last year, 3,000 people, on average, died from AIDS
each week. New drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis have broken out and
now TB kills most of the people suffering from AIDS.
As Lucy put it:
When you look at those statistics, it doesn't take a genius to figure
out why the workers were demonstrating, it is not legitimate for a
government to beat folks up for raising their concerns.
Lucy, president of CBTU, one of six AFL-CIO constituency groups, says
he and the five other CBTU members in the delegation received visas to enter
Zimbabwe three or four weeks ahead of their visit.
They planned to visit the southern country in Africa after attending a
meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa. The others in the delegation included
Harold Rogers of AFT, Miriam Poe of UAW, Henry Nicholas of AFSCME,
Marguerite Morrison of the unaffiliated 1199: The National Health Care
Workers' Union and Bob Wilson of the unaffiliated United Food and Commercial
When they arrived at the Harare airport, the passport control officer
told the group the foreign ministry had sent a memo that they were not to be
allowed into the country.
In its annual report on workers' rights violations, the International
Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) cited Zimbabwe for arresting and
torturing hundreds of union protestors. On Sept. 22, trade unionists around
the world marched and rallied in an International Day of Action on Zimbabwe.
Marchers in Washington, D.C., also demonstrated in front of the Zimbabwean
Embassy that day and on Sept. 18.
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney sent a letter to Zimbabwe's President
Robert Mugabe urging him to release the ZCTU leaders and to enforce workers'
rights. AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Linda Chavez-Thompson and ICFTU
President Sharan Burrow also sent a joint letter on behalf of a global
coalition of women union leaders, as well.
The U.S. State Department denounced Zimbabwe's last-minute denial of
entry to the delegation. Zimbabwe has been cited in the U.S. Department of
State's annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for its repression
of workers' rights. In its most recent report, released March 8, the State
Department pointed to a host of blatant human rights violations, including:
restrictions on freedom of speech, press, academic freedom, peaceful
assembly, association, and movement . and harassment and interference with
labor organizations critical of government policies and attempts to supplant
legitimate labor leaders with hand-picked supporters.
Click on this link to watch video of the attacks on the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) leaders by the police on 13 September.
Ray Matikinye/Loughty Dube
THE United Nations yesterday joined local and international
human rights organisations in remarks seen as censuring President Robert
Mugabe over his endorsement of the brutal attack on trade unionists by the
The UN Country Team (UNCT) in Zimbabwe yesterday expressed "a
profound sense of dismay" over "Zimbabwean authorities"' statements
regarding the police, which it said "might be interpreted as condoning the
use of force and torture to deal with peaceful demonstrations by its
The UNCT reminded government of its obligations to the African
Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and the ILO Convention on Freedom of
Association, which Zimbabwe has ratified.
"The UNCT calls upon the government to respect the universally
held principle that the detention of trade unionists for exercising their
right to defend their interests constitutes not only a breach of their civil
liberties, but more particularly the fundamental rights of trade unions,"
the body said in a statement.
Mugabe on Monday defended the police who assaulted ZCTU leaders,
saying they deserved what they got. He said police will crush such protests
in the future.
The UN statement came as the International Bar Association (IBA)
executive director Mark Ellis on Tuesday said Mugabe's statements added
weight to evidence that torture and other serious violations of
international law were sanctioned at the highest level in Zimbabwe.
"The torture of the trade union activists is not an isolated
incident, but part of a dangerous and illegal system of repression which
constitutes crimes against humanity in international law," Ellis said.
"Decisive action is required by both the United Nations and the African
Union to end impunity and violence in Zimbabwe,'' Ellis said.
He said there was urgent need for international and regional
action to hold the Zimbabwean government to account.
l Meanwhile, this week Zimbabwe was forced to reply to
allegations of human trafficking at the United Nations Human Rights
Commission meeting while the US indicated it would tighten sanctions on
Washington said it would suspend financial support for certain
projects in Zimbabwe except pro-democracy and health programmes.
The human trafficking allegations, the first against Zimbabwe,
arise from a June 12 report Washington compiled on countries that have done
little to stop the practice.
The UN Human Rights Commission meeting in New York also gave
Zimbabwe a right of reply to allegations of human rights abuses emanating
from the destruction of housing structures in Epworth in Harare last month.
Zimbabwe's representative, Enos Mafemba, said the evictions
being carried out were not arbitrary or illegal as notices had been
published to forewarn people about pending demolitions. Zimbabwe had been
adopting measures to uphold the rights of its people and to advance
development, Mafemba said.
But human rights groups maintained their condemnation of the
government's handling of Operation Murambatsvina saying there
was need to pool resources to help the 700 000 people left
homeless by the blitz.
Sebastian Gilloz of Human Rights Watch, in a joint statement
with the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions said the UN rapporteur on
the right to adequate housing should be invited to Zimbabwe to further study
IN a week of high drama within the corridors of power,
government is now scrambling to cover-up the wholesale looting of
state-owned assets at steel-making company, Ziscosteel, amid fears the
scandal could rock the political establishment to its foundations.
The stampede to suppress the report - to protect looters instead
of public assets - involved hurried manoeuvres to withdraw the document from
those who have it and tightening security measures to ensure those likely to
raise the alarm did not lay their hands on it.
"Authorities are trying to bury the detailed report which
exposes one of the biggest cases of graft by ministers and MPs," a source
said. "This report is likely to suffer the fate of similar previous
investigations which were buried to protect corrupt government officials."
Ministers who had spoken out publicly about the high-profile
corruption detailed in the report are said to have been intimidated by the
powerful culprits into retracting their remarks, even those recorded in
Industry and International Trade minister Obert Mpofu, who was
widely quoted last week as saying "influential people" had pillaged
Ziscosteel through "underhand dealings that have left the company bleeding",
was at pains on Wednesday to withdraw his statements.
Mpofu's new line now appears to be that ministers and MPs did
not loot Zisco but their companies benefited from contracts, while the state
firm made huge losses. Observers say this is clearly an attempt to sweep the
issue under the carpet via semantics.
Anti-Corruption minister Paul Mangwana, who last week threatened
that those implicated would be arrested soon, was quiet this week. Although
President Robert Mugabe was vocal this week in justifying the brutal assault
on ZCTU leaders for public protests, he has remained tight-lipped on the
To dramatise the cover-up, there was also official censure of
the state media, especially the daily Herald, for agitating in an editorial
on Wednesday to "make the Zisco report public". Sources said government
officials angrily complained about the editorial which urged the publication
of the report and prosecution of the suspects.
The report, done by the National Economic Conduct Inspectorate
which is controlled by the Ministry of Finance and state security agents,
was distributed to a few government officials, some of whom were intimidated
from leaking it to the media.
THOUSANDS of Harare vendors and push-cart operators in Mbare and
Highfield were on Monday morning drafted from their stalls and press-ganged
into attending President Mugabe's homecoming at the airport. Mugabe was
returning home from a two-week trip to Cuba and the United States.
The vendors from traditional opposition strongholds said they
had no option but to go as they had been threatened with withdrawal of their
"We were rounded up and told to go to the airport. Most of us
could not refuse as these markets are our only source of income," said one
Zanu PF Harare provincial officials who were in charge of the
operation used market records to ensure that all the vendors complied.
Zupco provided transport for the vendors but failed to ferry the
crowd back from the airport. Most of them were left stranded as they did not
have money to pay for transport. One woman who is a vendor at Mupedzanhamo
said: "Can you believe that we spent the whole day without eating anything
waiting for the president? To make matters worse the weather was unbearable,
it was just too hot."
The vendors were also prejudiced of income as they lost a day's
earnings while at the airport.
CONFUSION swirled this week over whether the ruling Zanu PF
would dodge the 2008 presidential election by postponing it to 2010 under
the pretext of harmonising it with the parliamentary poll.
Zanu PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira unleashed a wave of
speculation on the issue after he was quoted by state media on Sunday saying
his party would soon amend the constitution to delay the election until
2010. He then made the situation worse on Monday when he told the Voice of
America that the Attorney-General's office was already working on the
Sources said the initial plan was to delay the 2008 presidential
poll and have Vice-President Joice Mujuru elected by parliament as interim
leader from 2008 to 2010. This would give her the opportunity to consolidate
her grip on power before the simultaneous presidential and parliamentary
elections in 2010.
The constitutional amendment would also restrict future
presidents to two terms and possibly introduce the post of prime minister. A
new constitution in 2010 was also being mulled. But sources said President
Robert Mugabe was now contemplating extending his term to 2010 instead of
doing it for Mujuru.
While Mugabe has promised on several occasions to go in 2008,
last week he refused in an interview with AP in New York to guarantee his
departure in 18 months' time. He only said "I think the time will come soon"
without giving details, suggesting he was keeping his options open.
Mugabe has also of late slammed his party lieutenants for
jostling for his job, claiming some were even consulting witchdoctors to
secure the position.
Although Shamuyarira has since denied having said the election
would be postponed, sources say he did say that, but was backtracking
because his party colleagues were unhappy with the remarks that confirmed a
story published by the Zimbabwe Independent in May last year.
This is not the first time Shamuyarira has denied something he
has said on the record to journalists, even when recorded on tape.
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, Zanu PF administration
secretary Didymus Mutasa and Attorney-General Sobusa Gula-Ndebele said
separately this week there was no Bill as yet to amend the constitution to
delay the election.
However, it is known in official circles that the issue was
under discussion. The matter was discussed by the politburo on Wednesday.
A FRESH wave of evictions has hit the country and further
disruptions are in the pipeline with Mashonaland West and Masvingo provinces
being the worst affected areas.
Nearly a dozen of the few remaining white commercial farmers are
threatened with eviction before the start of the cropping season due in four
Farm evictions, that government officially said were over, have
resurfaced with two white farmers being served with summons to appear in
court next week for defying orders to vacate their farms.
Government has also served eviction notices on an additional 50
farmers across the country.
The fresh wave is premised on the provisions of the
newly-promulgated Gazetted Land (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2006 which
stipulates that anyone on any land that received a Section 5 notice sometime
in the last six years, will have 45 days to get out of his house and wind up
his farming operation. If he does not, and he has no lease or offer letter,
he will face criminal penalties that will involve up to two years'
Endorsement of the Bill would automatically push out all white
farmers by virtue of not having any lease or offer letters.
Investigations by the Zimbabwe Independent established that Dana
Neil of Templecombe Farm and G Terblanche of Dandazi Estate would appear in
court on October 3 for failing to observe eviction notices served on them on
Their 90-day notices expired on September 14 and they were
expected to have left the farms. Both farmers are prominent producers of
wheat, maize and tobacco. Terblanche is rated one of the biggest maize
producers in the country.
CFU officials confirmed that two farmers would next Tuesday
appear in the Karoi magistrates court.
"Two farmers have been issued with summons to appear in court on
Tuesday at 8am," the official said.
"They are being accused of ignoring eviction notices that were
served on them. But the tragedy is that the two are amongst the best tobacco
and cereals producers. One of them had just delivered 1 000 tonnes of maize
to the Grain Marketing Board and now he is going to be prosecuted for doing
Reports from other provinces show that pressure is mounting on
up to 50 farmers to give up their properties.
"There are farmers facing threat of evictions throughout the
country, from Mvurwi, Centenary, Chipinge, Rusape and the Eastern Lowveld,"
one farmer said.
An estimated 400 large-scale white commercial farmers remain in
Zimbabwe after the land reform programme drove the majority off the land.
Sources said in Masvingo provincial governor Willard Chiwewe two
weeks ago wrote to a number of white farmers ordering them to surrender
their land and equipment to the government.
The move deals a deadly blow to prospects of increased
production in the 2006/7 season.
"Your farm has been acquired by the government and we therefore
request you to wind up your business before the start of the rainy season,"
Chiwewe wrote to Ronny Sparrow, one of the remaining farmers in Masvingo
"You are advised to comply with this order since you risk being
forcibly removed if you fail to comply. We also take this opportunity to
tell you that you are not allowed to move out with any of your farming
Under the government's Constitutional Amendment 17, a farmer
cannot challenge in court the expropriation of his land by the government
and faces jail for removing equipment from the farm.
Sources said apart from Sparrow, at least another 10 white
farmers have also received similar letters from Chiwewe notifying them to
vacate their properties.
One farmer from Masvingo, who identified himself as Mike
Nickson, described the situation as unbearable, adding that farmers had no
option but "to surrender our properties in order to save our lives".
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono as well as
Vice-Presidents Joseph Msika and Joice Mujuru have on separate occasions
this year publicly called for an end to farm evictions, saying it was time
to consolidate the government's controversial land reforms by increasing
But disturbances have continued on farms with powerful
government officials who already own more than one farm being accused of
seizing more land from whites. - Staff Writer.
RURAL council elections set for the end of October have all the
ingredients of yet another stern test for the main contenders on Zimbabwe's
For the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) the
polls next month pose a challenge as to whether steady hysteria whipped up
by its leaders claiming they have made inroads into Zanu PF territory and
chiselled down its support in the countryside is real or imaginary.
And although MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has acknowledged a
critical mass of people was needed to dismantle the Zanu PF behemoth and
exhorted his supporters to "be prepared to make a mark to ensure that we
will never again be oppressed", the party appears unsure of how to master
Winning an election never rolls on the wheels of perceived
success. "It comes," as American human rights campaigner Martin Luther King
said, "through the tireless efforts of men."
Seldom over the past six years has the MDC failed to rehash the
claim that Zanu PF manipulates the electoral process.
"The electoral laws require that prospective candidates acquire
clearance letters from government institutions, which clearly is a
ridiculous rigging mechanism," complained Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the
"Our candidates in Bikita and Hurungwe have been fined various
amounts for coming late to seek council clearance even though there is no
legal provision for such fines," said Chamisa.
Spokesperson for the Mutambara-led MDC, Gabriel Chaibva,
appeared to sing from the same hymn sheet, blaming state bureaucracy for
failure to field candidates in all wards contested.
"We had serious logistical problems and undue financial demands
from rural district council offices which made it extremely difficult for
our people to get their nomination papers through," said Chaibva.
He said his party needed at least $2,55 million to get police
clearance alone for all its candidates. "And that is besides fees charged by
rural district councils before a candidate gets a letter showing he does not
owe the local authority any levies or charges, apart from the transport
costs involved," he said.
Excuses aside, the main opposition party has failed to put
decent cover over its failure to put forward candidates, despite claims of
gaining rural ground.
The Mutambara-led MDC succeeded in fielding 294 candidates
mostly in rural Matabeleland North and South provinces. The party won two
seats unopposed in Nkayi and Mangwe districts. At least 34 of its candidates
were disqualified countrywide.
Significantly, in the Midlands district of Zhombe, five of its
candidates were disqualified in seven of the contested wards. Four
candidates each were disqualified in the Zanu PF stronghold of Mhondoro and
Mberengwa districts. The rural elections on October 28 serve as a sharp test
case of the success of the MDC in eroding Zanu PF's rural support base and
broadening its own reach.
Less than five weeks before decisive polls get underway, the
ruling party already has pocketed more than 400 - close to a third - of the
contested 1 277 wards in 59 of Zimbabwe's rural districts.
Observers see signs of the splintered opposition beginning to
flounder in these elections as evidence that it still has to grasp the
critical role rural voters play in first-past-the-post polls under which
Both camps seem to lack the inspiration to win elections where
it matters most.
Zanu PF is able to keep a few streets ahead of its opponents by
ensuring that the rural electorate, who form the bulwark of eligible voters,
is safely under its wings.
Already the fractured opposition is howling protests on being
short-changed by the electoral institutions and processes under which the
polls are held.
Chamisa says the party has proved its national character after
fielding candidates in all the provinces despite Zanu PF machinations to
elbow them out of rural areas.
"Over 300 candidates failed to file their nomination papers due
to bureaucratic impediments orchestrated by Zanu PF," Chamisa said. This
contrasts sharply with the gloating by the Tsvangirai-led MDC after winning
uncontested in five wards in Gokwe South, Shamva, and Bikita "where Zanu PF
candidates chickened out fearing imminent defeat".
Chamisa claimed in other districts such as Shamva, government
had connived with headmen "to deny our candidates letters confirming that
they are ordinarily resident in the areas in which they are contesting".
The party has already written to the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission raising serious reservations over these glaring irregularities.
Interestingly, the Mutambara-led camp laments that their
prospective candidate in the Bubi district, Timothy Tshuma, was "bribed and
defected to the Tsvangirai group". It appears, from a list announced by the
Mutambara-led camp, that there is a tacit agreement between the two
opposition camps to concentrate their efforts in areas each stands a better
chance of winning.
Chaibva denied complicity and blamed logistical problems as a
The rural district council polls come three weeks before two
parliamentary by-elections in Chikomba and Rushinga where the Mutambara-led
camp has not fielded a candidate.
"It was strategic not to field a candidate in each of those two
constituencies," Chaibva said. "We are glad our colleagues who have a habit
of shunning elections have revised their stance. We are impressed that they
have finally seen the light."
He said the decision was not grounded on fears of splitting the
vote. "We decided that our colleagues should have a go at it so they can
test their support," he said.
"If they have the courage to field a candidate in Rushinga it
signifies political maturity beyond a stage where one thinks boycotting
elections is an answer to the political crisis Zimbabwe."
DISTRIBUTION of government aid is being politicised by the
ruling party in Manicaland, according to a faith-based rights organisation.
The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), in a report, said most of the
victims were members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
but did record instances of ruling Zanu PF supporters being sidelined.
Lists of beneficiaries from government assistance, like
subsidised fertiliser, anti-retroviral HIV and Aids drugs, aid to orphans
and some food support, are drawn up by local authorities, most of whom back
"The victims were ... asked to produce a Zanu PF card in order
to benefit from food and agricultural inputs. In some instances they were
simply denied registration for aid and were blatantly told that the food
belonged to members of the ruling party," ZPP said in its report,
Politicisation of Food and Other Forms of Aid.
Christine Kwangwari, ZPP's acting national director, told Irin
the survey in August was part of a pilot project to monitor allegations of
abuse of aid for political influence.
"We had heard of claims of politicisation of aid in many
provinces; we decided to study Manicaland as a test case."
The group has documented 83 cases of abuse of aid based on
political affiliation, which included not only denying food but also
anti-retrovirals, and exclusion from the Basic Education Assistance Module
(Beam), a national plan to help orphans get free healthcare and schooling.
"Children are sometimes arbitrarily withdrawn from the Beam
project on the basis that their parents are supporters of the opposition ...
The main perpetrators of this type of violence are school heads who
sympathise with the ruling party," claimed the report.
"The complete disregard for children's rights, particularly
those of orphans, is a major drawback to the attainment of justice in
According to ZPP, the internationally recognised principles of
aid distribution, such as neutrality, impartiality, independence and
universality," are rarely respected because the beneficiation from food aid
is highly politicised".
They, however, did not record cases of diversion of
international food relief, which is distributed by respected
non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
"We did not find instances of politicisation of aid at the hands
of NGOs like World Vision, Goal and Christian Care, who also disburse food
aid in the province," Kwangwari said. The food-aid NGOs follow strict
international guidelines, which stipulate the registration of beneficiaries
at public meetings.
Political analyst John Makumbe said beneficiaries of
state-sponsored food aid and agricultural inputs were listed by traditional
leaders, and "the chiefs prefer to include people who have Zanu PF cards in
their lists over MDC card-holders, and this is common place across the
Food has tremendous influence in Zimbabwe.
Independent estimates indicate only 800 000 tonnes of maize were
produced this year, or about two-thirds of the country's annual requirement.
Government has insisted the harvest was around 1,8 million tonnes.
Zimbabwe has one of the world's highest rates of HIV infection.
ZPP recorded instances of people being denied treatment on the basis of
their political affiliation, and pointed out that food was also a critical
element in ameliorating the effects of HIV/Aids.
Agriculture minister Joseph Made slammed the ZPP report as
"ridiculous" and "nonsensical".
"The Zimbabwean government has made a commitment to ensure that
no Zimbabwean will starve, so this cannot be true. Even in the urban areas,
which we do not control, we have moved a large amount of maize to ensure
that everyone has food." -- Irin.
A ZANU PF supporter was on Wednesday fined $500 by the Chegutu
magistrates court for calling the Minister of State for Policy
Implementation and Chegutu MP Webster Shamu a liar at a farmers' meeting.
Passing judgement on Wednesday, magistrate Remigious Jemwa, said
Forbes Mutsvangwa had violated the Miscellaneous Offences Act in the
incident that occurred last year at Selous Tobacco Estate. Forbes is a
brother of Zimbabwe's ambassador to China, Chris Mutsvangwa.
The magistrate said the law "prohibits people from misbehaving
in public or using foul language".
Mutsvangwa, who had no legal representative, denied saying "the
minister is a liar and is talking s.t" while under the influence of alcohol.
The accused in his defence said Shamu had told farmers that they
should all grow tobacco and sell it to a certain white farmer, which he
contested saying doing so violated the Tobacco Act.
In his judgement the magistrate said Mutsvangwa had said he was
only making a modest contribution to the meeting, but Shamu had denied
telling people to sell their tobacco to a third party other than the tobacco
After examining submissions by both parties, the magistrate
ruled that the accused person's side of the story could not be trusted.
A CLASH is looming between the Zimbabwe National Water Authority
(Zinwa) and Harare City Council over non-payment for water treatment assets
taken over by the parastatal.
Sources at Town House said council shot down a government
directive to transfer council workers, liabilities incurred by council on
water treatment chemicals and other assets to Zinwa at no cost.
Despite the protest, Zinwa proceeded to take over the Harare
bulk water supply, Morton Jeffery Waterworks plant, workers and other
council assets, making a conflict imminent.
Council spokesman Percy Toriro confirmed that Zinwa had not paid
anything since last year when it took over water distribution.
"It's a year now since Zinwa took over water distribution but
they have not paid anything," Toriro said. "It is not likely that Zinwa will
pay anything to council."
Zinwa chairman Willie Muringani said the authority was not going
to pay anything to the city council because that would unnecessarily
increase water rates and overburden the ratepayer.
"The assets we took over are owned by the ratepayers and for us
to pay council would mean making ratepayers buy the assets for the second
time," Muringani said.
"Zinwa as a government-owned company would have to increase its
water rates to get money to pay Harare council which translates to demanding
more money from the ratepayer."
Muringani said the assets were after all bought using government
"Virtually all the assets were bought using government grants
and loans so it is the government which decides the fate of the assets," he
Council officials said assets taken over by Zinwa include all
dams that supply water to Harare, treatment plants, engineering staff,
houses and even the council bus, which used to ferry staff to the waterworks
in Norton from Harare.
The rift is worsened by Zinwa's continued failure to resolve
Harare's water crisis in the face of increasing demand due to the current
hot spell. Harare's northern, eastern and southern suburbs are experiencing
serious water shortages and have been subjected to rationing, sometimes
going for weeks without water.
Zinwa on Wednesday published its schedule of water cuts that
would apply until the onset of rains expected in November.
The authority said "northern suburbs will be cut at 7am on days
when the date is an even number, with supplies resuming at 7am the following
day. Southern and north-eastern suburbs will be cut at 7am on days when the
date is an odd number," Zinwa said in a statement.
JUSTICE minister Patrick Chinamasa cannot escape conviction in
the High Court in his attempt to obstruct the ends of justice case if all
the evidence led by the state is considered, the Attorney-General's Office
In appeal papers filed at the High Court last week against
retired magistrate Phenias Chipopoteke's decision to acquit Chinamasa, the
AG's office said the lower court had erred.
Chinamasa stands accused of putting pressure on key state
witness and war veteran James Kaunye to drop charges against National
Security minister Didymus Mutasa's supporters, who have since been
imprisoned for three years.
"It is humbly submitted that the respondent (Chinamasa) cannot
escape conviction if a complete and meaningful judgement touching on all the
material evidence led during the trial is passed," the appeal says.
It says that the lower court misdirected itself when it assessed
evidence on the alleged rift between Kaunye and Mutasa as the Zanu PF
secretary for administration was not on trial.
"The learned court erred and misdirected itself in law when it
assessed evidence in a case which was not before it, inter alia the
representation between James Kaunye and Didymus Mutasa was not material to
the issue before the court. Didymus Mutasa was not on trial," the appeal
Chinamasa has denied any wrongdoing saying he was caught in
"crossfire" between Kaunye and Mutasa after the former had failed to wrestle
the right to represent Makoni North on the ruling party's ticket.
The appeal also disputed the lower court's ruling that the state's
key witness James Kaunye could not be trusted.
"There was no basis in law to disbelieve the evidence of James
Kaunye, a competent and credible witness," the appeal said.
It added that the magistrate's court also failed to go through a
court record involving one Kudzanai Chipanga as that matter resulted in a
court order being issued culminating in Chinamasa's arraignment.
"The court stated that it could not go through that record as it
was voluminous. In its wisdom, the court went on to comment on a court order
that was issued in the Kudzanai Chipanga case without reading the record,"
the appeal further contended.
Chinamasa's lawyer James Mutizwa said the appeal was just an
"The AG has every right to appeal but it will not change
anything. It is an academic exercise which may achieve a clear statement of
the law," said Mutizwa
THE board of the local chapter of the Media Institute of
Southern Africa (Misa) met on Monday to discuss allegations that one of its
officials is a member of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), board
chairman Thomas Deve confirmed yesterday.
Deve said the issue came up during an induction meeting for new
Apart from claiming mid this month that the top Misa official
was an intelligence operative, a local news website, NewZimbabwe.com, also
alleged that the media organisation's member "is very close" to President
Robert Mugabe's press secretary George Charamba, a relationship said to have
begun during their days at the University of Zimbabwe.
In an interview yesterday, Deve said: "We discussed how to
respond to the allegation. Since the source of the allegation did not name
the official, we agreed that for now there is no need to respond to the
Deve refused to answer other questions regarding the meeting
saying issues discussed were confidential until approved by board members.
"It was an induction meeting for new board members. I cannot
comment because our minutes are confidential until we pass them as a correct
record at our next board meeting," Deve said.
On claims that he was asked to step down during that meeting,
Deve said: "There is nothing like that, there was nothing like that."
Misa is a media freedom advocacy organisation with chapters in
11 southern African countries including South Africa, Namibia and Zambia.
THE country's coal crisis, which is threatening to cripple
economic activity, has been blamed on government's non-payment of coal
supplies by Hwange Colliery, a document titled "Update on Coal Supply
Situation" prepared this week by the coal producer reveals.
Government, through power utility Zesa and steel company
Ziscosteel, consumes 66% of national coal output, according to the document.
Without making a candid reference to government, the coal producer says the
supply of adequate coal to all industries in Zimbabwe is well within the
company's capacity as "a permanent solution that addresses the non-payment
by major customers is being put in place with the involvement of all
Zesa's Hwange power station and its old thermal power stations
alone chew 2 700 000 tonnes of coal annually, which equates to 55% of
national output estimated at 4 945 600 tonnes.
Ziscosteel uses 540 000 tonnes of coal per annum or 11% of total
production. Other key customers of the company include coal distributors,
cement companies, mines, brick makers, agriculture and general industry
accounting for 34%.
Hwange Colliery marketing and public relations manager Clifford
Nkomo on Wednesday said the firm was facing cashflow problems and had
obsolete equipment. He said production had plummeted due to Zesa and
Ziscosteel's failure to make timely payments for coal supplies.
"We're facing cashflow challenges and our machinery is now
obsolete," he said. "Failure to make payments by companies such as Zesa and
Ziscosteel - our biggest customers - has left us without money to buy spare
parts and fuel, thus reducing production capacity. However, the two are now
showing willingness to pay. In July the central bank paid $1,5 trillion to
settle Zesa and Zisco's debts."
Failure by Hwange to produce adequate coal supplies has resulted
in some companies importing it from Zambia and Botswana. Nkomo said the coal
miner had since come up with investment
valued at over US$15 million to achieve optimum production
through two new mines - the 3-Main underground and Chaba Opencast.
The new mines mark Hwange's transition from its old mine, the No
3 M Block underground and JKL Opencast opened in 1981. The two new mines,
Nkomo said, have a lifespan of 25 years.
ZIMBABWE'S defenceless dollar this week plumbed fresh depths on
the parallel market as buyers scrambled to park their funds in foreign
currency on the back of a grim inflationary outlook.
Dealers said even after suffering massive losses over the past
few weeks, the Zimbabwe dollar was still battling to find a bottom due to
escalating demand from both institutional buyers and individuals trying to
escape inflation-induced losses on local currency holdings.
The local unit, which traded on the thriving parallel market at
a rate of $900 to the greenback last week, was by yesterday selling for $1
500: US$1 for large volume transactions, with small transactions attracting
a rate of between $1 200 and $1 300 per US dollar.
Other currencies, mainly the Euro, the British pound and the
South African rand, were moving around the benchmark US dollar rate.
The Zimbabwe dollar traded at $100 000 (or $100 under the new
currency system) per US dollar on the parallel market at the beginning of
the year, from between $95 000/$96 000 per greenback at the close of 2005.
Parallel market dealers said the currency had been moving daily
during the week in line with mounting demand.
They indicated that supply was being limited by fears on the
part of the seller that they would sell short in a rapidly moving market.
An International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecast putting inflation
at an average 1 200% this year, and 4 279% next year had sparked heavy
buying on the parallel market as both individuals and institutions sought to
hedge themselves against inflation, market analysts said.
Inflation last month touched an all-time high of 1 204,6%
year-on-year, and there are indications it could swell to record levels in
the coming months.
The hyperinflationary cycle has made it unattractive to hold the
local currency when costs for goods and services go up almost everyday.
This has meant that rather than saving, people are now making
sure they spend their little incomes as fast as they can, on goods.
Analysts predict a pronounced flight from the domestic currency
as a store of value by people holding cash shifting their wealth into hard
currency or durable goods.
MONEY supply surged 126,7 percentage points during the month of
June to 826,6% on the back of increased demand for cash and increased cash
circulation in the economy, the central bank said this week.
Money supply was at 669,9% in May.
"Annual broad money continued on an upward trend, rising to
826,6% in June 2006 from 669,9% in May 2006," the central bank said.
Narrow and quasi money for the period increased to 823,9% and
817,4% from 690,2% and 657,6% respectively.
Money supply growth has been blamed for worsening inflationary
pressure in the economy. Inflation reached 1 204,6 year-on-year for August
after a brief decline during the previous two months.
The central bank said reserve money rose to $56,6 billion in
June from the May figure of $48,3 billion. The increase was largely driven
by currency in circulation which increased by $10,6 billion.
The bank's required reserves and other deposits however declined
by $2,8 billion and $430 million respectively.
Analysts said money supply was too high and detrimental to any
prospects of economic stability in the country.
Brains Muchemwa, chief economist at Metropolitan Bank, told
businessdigest that the latest increases were a reflection of how the
monetary bases in the economy were ballooning due to high domestic credit
from government borrowing.
Muchemwa said the large concessionary facilities availed to the
private sector were stoking inflationary pressures in the economy because
these were not being complemented by increased productivity.
Output growth, he said, was not responding to increases in money
supply from both the demand and supply sides.
"The problems of high money supply growth are expected to
continue haunting the country from the perspective that the revenue base of
the government is shrinking in real terms and to meet its expenditure
requirement, it has to continue resorting to the domestic market to raise
funds," he said.
Muchemwa said the recent bloated supplementary budget was
testimony to the problems facing the government.
THE central bank remained unperturbed by market concerns over
low interest rates in a hyperinflationary environment and continued to
suppress bids asking for higher rates on its daily treasury bill (TB)
The three-month paper, which the Reserve Bank had abandoned on
August 4, bounced back on Tuesday with an average rate of 66,33%, down on
the old rate of 200% when the central bank last issued the three-month
"As expected, there was an awful stampede for it as total bids
of $12,1 billion were received yet the central bank only allotted $1
billion," equities firm, Kingdom Stockbrokers, said in its weekly commentary
"Surprisingly, one bank went in at 200% and obviously got
nothing. The highest tendered rate was 200% while the lowest was 50%,"
The stockbroking company said indications were that Tuesday's
tender "was only meant to align rates to what has happened to six months and
"For instance, the 181-day rate, which stood at 250% prior to
its stoppage on August 31, resurfaced on Tuesday (12/09/06) and Wednesday
(13/09/06) lower at 199% and 143,44%, respectively. Last week the paper was
on offer since Tuesday (19/09/06) and the rate closed lower at 128,5% while
on Wednesday (20/09/06) it slumped further to 105.91%," the firm's analyst
said in the weekly report.
On Monday, the rate closed even lower at 100,93%.
The 365-day Treasury bill that had early this month stabilised
at 300% fell to 192,38% when the central bank brought it back during the
middle of the month.
Last week, the rate closed lower on Friday at 150%. - Staff
By Jonathan Moyo
AS President Robert Mugabe's troubled days in power become truly
numbered amid ill-fated machinations by his military and security handlers
to keep him at State House until 2010 through a subversive constitutional
amendment that has been on the evil deck of cards for more than a year, his
continued stay in office has become a source of national pain and
international shame for Zimbabweans.
Three events in the past week conspired to make this point with
some telling drama.
The one event is the confirmation by Nathan Shamuyarira, Zanu PF's
secretary for information and publicity, that Zimbabwe's military schemers
have resolved to extend Mugabe's presidency outside the electoral process
through an undemocratic constitutional amendment that will put Mugabe's
interests first and those of the people last.
The other event was Mugabe's visit to New York for the annual UN
General Assembly meeting where his growing international isolation once
again came to the fore.
And the third event was Mugabe's unpresidential, unstatesman and
scandalous response to the shocking brutality against some 15 arrested
leaders of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) in police cells.
The facts surrounding the arrests and the severe beatings of the
trade union leaders are now common cause. According to the police, the
arrests were made because the labour activists were about to lead a widely
publicised demonstration that predictably the authorities considered
illegal. By all reported indications, the demonstration was doomed to fail
as those who had been expected to participate in it had stayed at work for
one reason or another.
As such there was no commotion of any kind when the police
arrested the trade union leaders because there were only a handful of
individuals present and the atmosphere was uneventful. What has shocked the
world is that after they were arrested and while they were in police cells,
the 15 labour leaders were subjected to savage brutality at the hands of
police and other spooky security personnel.
The severe beatings were illegal and therefore without any good
cause whatsoever. When Mugabe was initially asked about the brutality by the
Associated Press in New York he acknowledged the savagery of the security
personnel involved and described the incident as "the overzealousness of one
or two police exaggerating their role".
It was quite some relief to hear these presidential words from
Mugabe speaking to a foreign news agency in New York and the words fuelled
positive expectations that legal action was on the way against the
overzealous security personnel who had violated the human rights of the 15
trade union leaders to the detriment of the national interest.
But, alas, it did not take long for Mugabe to come out in his
true traditional violent mantra. Mugabe only needed an obliging Zimbabwean
audience, away from New York, to rant and rave in support of naked violence.
That audience was delivered to him by the Zimbabwean embassy in Egypt during
a stopover from New York on his way back home.
Perhaps feeling secure in Africa, Mugabe abandoned his New York
view that the severe beatings of the 15 trade union leaders had been the
result of overzealous security personnel who had exaggerated their role and
adopted a violent Cairo stance that the beatings were most deserved.
By the time he got back to Harare on Monday, Mugabe's Cairo
anger had become as brutal as the severe beatings themselves, effectively
telling a Zanu PF crowd that received him at the airport, most of it drawn
from Mbare Musika which had to be closed for the purpose, that when the
police say move you must move or risk being left with broken limbs.
Forgetting about the effects of sanctions against him and others
associated with his contested rule, Mugabe claimed that there was nothing
that the Americans and Europeans could do about the savage beatings and
those complaining about them.
Many well-meaning people have been left dumbfounded by Mugabe's
claims that the beatings were deserved and his promise of more and worse of
the same brutality.
Here is a president on his way out, whose 26-year controversial
rule has left him open to various serious charges of committing crimes
against humanity including Gukurahundi and Operation Murambatsvina, still
refusing at this eleventh hour to secure his legacy by atoning for his
brutality; still continuing to cherish the language of brutality and torture
when the bells of justice are tolling by his exit door.
As a grandfather emeritus, Mugabe is squandering his last
opportunity to engender good national will. If you ask anyone with an
80-something grandfather, they will tell you that old age can be a wonderful
blessing that brings with it not just exemplary wisdom but also a kind of
engaging human innocence and spiritual purity that breed fairness.
Yet for some reason, most probably a very strange one, Mugabe
continues to lack these essential qualities found in abundance among his
African peers like Nelson Mandela and Kenneth Kaunda and the late
vice-presidents Joshua Nkomo and Simon Muzenda.
Mugabe's lack of human innocence and spiritual purity explains
why he has become a very lonesome and now irrelevant figure as demonstrated
by the kind of cold reception he now gets at various international forums.
An examination of his recent trip to the United Nations shows that it has
now become dangerous to allow Mugabe to represent Zimbabwe at any
The speeches that he makes at the UN, at Sadc or wherever have
become too predictable and utterly inconsequential in terms of defending or
promoting Zimbabwe's national interest. For example, his recent trip will be
remembered for his scandalous defence of the severe beatings and torture of
the 15 trade union leaders whose crime was to be in police custody for
engaging in a peaceful demonstration that did not even take place.
It is notable that while in New York, the only foreign leader
that Mugabe met was Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete whom he had ample
opportunity to meet only last month closer to home in Lesotho during the
Sadc summit which he inexplicably left in a huff.
If there is anybody in government or Zanu PF or anywhere else
who thinks it was proper for Mugabe to travel in the national interest to
New York with his wife and a retinue of mandarins to read an old speech and
thereafter only to meet with the president of the Republic of Tanzania, then
that person needs to have their head examined by a competent psychiatrist.
Some cynical Zimbabweans are now openly saying the reason Mugabe
and his wife continue to make these trips to the UN in New York and
elsewhere in western capitals is to beat the travel sanctions for the First
Family's shopping interests only, with nothing for Zimbabwe to
gain. This is indeed a cynical view but it does drive the point home rather
Against this backdrop, and given the worsening economic meltdown
in the country that has seen galloping inflation projected at more than 4
000% next year in an economy in which there is no shortage of shortages of
anything important or essential, it is unbelievable that Shamuyarira had no
qualms confirming that the Constitution of Zimbabwe would be amended yet
again to deny Zimbabweans their right to elect a president in 2008 in order
to give Mugabe at least two more years at State House through a manipulated
Zanu PF vote in parliament.
Apparently, the military and security establishment that is
behind Mugabe's throne has realised rather too late that Mugabe has not only
become internationally isolated but also that he has failed to groom a
successor and, even more ominously, to make any room for interested or
potential successors to groom themselves. This is the reason for the
proposed amendment - to ensure that Mugabe succeeds himself.
But in the name of what Chimurenga?
The argument that the presidential election due in March 2008
should be nullified to save costs by harmonising parliamentary and
presidential elections in 2010 is so manifestly stupid that even those
advancing it cannot possibly believe it and still remain sane.
If there is indeed an argument about high election costs, then
the rational thing to do is to harmonise presidential and parliamentary
elections in 2008 because there is nothing at law preventing the dissolution
of parliament at anytime during its life.
This would give the nation the much-needed space and opportunity
to provide a critical political solution to the economic meltdown which
would otherwise get worse should presidential elections be nullified through
a constitutional amendment that puts Mugabe above the people.
* Professor Jonathan Moyo is independent MP for Tsholotsho and
former Information minister.
NEWS last week that Zimbabwe's domestic debt had doubled in half
a month was the clearest sign yet that government continues to spend beyond
its means and confirms its role as the major driver of inflation through
printing of money to fund the debt.
Domestic debt this month doubled in a space of less than 15 days
to reach its highest peak of $127 billion, a serious indictment of a
government which has consistently promised to cut its excessive expenditure.
According to Reserve Bank figures released last week, government
debt opened the month of September at $64 billion, reaching $97 billion in
seven days before jumping to $127 billion by mid-month.
About $45 billion of the debt is the principal amount of
treasury bills that have been floated while $81 billion (about 67% of total
debt) is in interest that government will have to pay.
The debt translates to 15% of nominal gross domestic product -
the country's total wealth of $840 billion. Put differently, by borrowing
excessively government is eating into the national pie.
So far there are no signs that government will ease its foot on
the pedal of borrowing any time soon. If anything, the debt crisis will get
Events in the past six months indicate government is not, even
though it claims otherwise, committed to cutting down its expenditure. It
remains tethered to the irrational notion that the flow of time will
inevitably cure such skewed practices.
Over the past six months President Robert Mugabe's government
has come up with policies and activities that can only drain the fiscus and
force the state to borrow more to fund them. They show that reducing
expenditure is certainly not a priority in the government.
The government has overrun its budget targets to force a
supplementary budget of $327 billion, an amount that far exceeds the revenue
that it has generated.
The introduction of the senate, the purchase of fighter jets and
a new fleet of vehicles for ministries, together with the expensive currency
change bear testimony to a government unwilling to live within its means.
All these expenses were not originally budgeted for and so were
financed through borrowing that was facilitated by money printing. They were
all inconsistent with policy priorities and could therefore have been
postponed or avoided altogether.
Economists say it is these irrational policies that have driven
the country into a debt trap.
Commentator Eric Bloch said public debt was increasing at an
alarming rate because government had resigned itself to running on borrowed
"They will continue to borrow because the country is not
generating enough revenue to fund its activities. Such a high debt leads to
more inflation and is an indication of the poor policies that they have been
implementing," Bloch said.
While government seems unfazed by the surge in domestic debt,
experts say the "borrowing craze" has far-reaching consequences on the whole
economy especially on the vulnerable groups who are already battling with
swingeing inflation and shortages of most basic commodities including food.
Government has no means of raising money other than through
taxes and any debt that it acquires will have to be paid by taxpayers as its
major source of revenue.
Bloated public debt means government is pushing it citizens into
an abysmal debt trap. Apart from the normal debt that every Zimbabwean has
acquired in their individual capacities, they also have a national
obligation that has been created for them by a government that cannot tame
Calculated on the assumption that Zimbabwe has a population of
13 million, the debt figures mean that each person it this country,
including children born today, has a debt of $9 769.
Economic consultant Peter Robinson said the debt made
Zimbabweans poorer because government would charge them high taxes to meet
Robinson said while in the short-term money would be printed to
cover the debt, that expedient would come back to haunt the people of
Zimbabwe because it would increase money supply, resulting in even higher
"The debt affects the poor because if government prints money to
fund it this will lead to more inflation. Inflation will not come down for
as long as government continues to run the printing machines," said
"High domestic debt, four-digit inflation and high money supply
are a characteristic of failed regimes."
Zimbabwe has had to rely on the local market for funds because
it has been isolated from the rest of the world.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the
Paris Club have refused to give money to Zimbabwe because of its poor
economic policies and political risk profile. A very poor human rights
record and lack of property rights have compounded things.
International financial isolation has forced Zimbabwe to rely on
That trend, economists say, is crowding out productive private
players from the market.
The government has over the past three years become the major
player in the money market, taking a significant chunk of funds that key
sectors should be using enhance production.
The disaster, according to economist David Mupamhadzi, is that
government is borrowing for consumptive purposes and therefore denying funds
to other sectors that urgently need money for capital projects.
"Government is crowding out private players who are supposed to
borrow for production to drive the economy," Mupamhadzi said. The debt only
adds to the budget deficit that has been widening at an alarming rate.
Government's debt should certainly not help Zimbabwe's case when
the IMF team comes here for the Article IV Consultations that are now
scheduled for early November.
The bloated expenditure, budget deficit, money printing and
government borrowing are some of the issues the IMF has advised Zimbabwe to
Harare has however failed to deal with the problems despite
promises to do so.
By Gabriel Shumba
THE Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF) is deeply disturbed by the
public and shameful confirmation that torture in Zimbabwe is orchestrated
and supported by the government itself.
The report in the Herald of September 25 that President Robert
Mugabe openly encouraged police brutality has chilling effects.
ZEF is shocked that while commenting on the serious torture of
15 Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions leaders including Wellington Chibebe
and Lucia Matibenga who suffered broken limbs while in police custody for
organising peaceful labour protests on September 13, the president was
unsympathetic and unapologetic.
Rather, he openly gloated that those who dare challenge his
authority will face the wrath of state agents and that there is nothing the
international community, particularly the European Union and the United
States, can do about it.
It is highly unsettling that Mugabe shows scant regard for the
victims of this gruesome assault, even though they might suffer permanent
injury. This incident is another telling example of how President Mugabe is
more concerned about perpetuating his own misrule of the country at all
ZEF believes that, in part, this vicious cycle of torture is
exacerbated by impunity and the war mentality of those that govern us. The
government has turned monstrous, sanctioning the butchering of its own
We agree with the International Bar Association's and others'
view that there is need for regional and international action to hold the
Zimbabwean government to account for its actions. This call has been
repeated several times and we repeat again that Zimbabwe needs urgent
international intervention, even a military one as in Darfur and the DRC.
International law cannot be flouted with impunity while the
world remains silent. We warn that if this persists, Zimbabweans may be
forced to resort to violence against this repressive regime, a situation
that should be prevented.
* Gabriel Shumba, a human rights lawyer, is executive director
By George Ayittey
IT is extremely difficult to criticise opposition forces in Zimbabwe because
of the heinous brutalities unleashed on them by the Mugabe regime. Criticism
may sound like condoning the brutalities or rubbing salt into their wounds.
But the opposition in Zimbabwe needs a good talking to. The aborted Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) protest march was, to put it mildly, dumb.
To effect peaceful change in Zimbabwe, we need an intelligent opposition,
not one which continuously repeats old stupid mistakes. Harsh words but they
need to be spoken because if the corrupt and incompetent Mugabe regime can't
get it right, those who seek to replace that regime ought to get it right.
The people of Zimbabwe demand nothing more or nothing less.
A failed opposition strategy or move prolongs the tenure of a brutally
repressive regime and the suffering of the people. Further, it demoralises
the people and lulls them into thinking that if the squabbling and
ineffective opposition groups can't get their act together, then they might
as well let the tyrant stay or join him in order to survive. It is called
"politics of the belly".
Opposition groups need to realise that public patience is not inexhaustible.
If their actions continue to fail, the public may simply write off the
feckless opposition. Next time they call for a national strike, the public
will ignore it.
The ZCTU action was flawed on all fronts and doomed to failure right from
the get-go. The ZCTU had planned to march in protest against high levels of
taxation and inadequate anti-retroviral drugs for HIV and Aids patients
among the country's workforce. Some marchers intended to present a petition
to Labour minister Nicholas Goche and Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa.
First, the objectives were too broad, general or amorphous. How does one
define "high levels of taxation" for example?
The second problem was the exclusivity of the language chosen. It is not
just the country's workforce that is suffering. All the people are
suffering, including housewives, peasant farmers and everyone who is
self-employed in the rural and informal sectors of the economy.
Where was the ZCTU during Operation Murambatsvina that rendered more than
700 000 traders and informals homeless in May 2005? If the ZCTU does not
represent them, why should they embrace any planned mass action by the
Third, the nature of the objectives suggested that ZCTU does not want a
"regime change" but wants the same regime to introduce new policy changes to
alleviate the suffering of the country's workforce. It is an exercise in
grand delusion if the ZCTU thinks the regime, which has failed Zimbabweans
for the past 25 years, is capable of improving the lot of the country's
workforce, let alone that of all Zimbabweans. The vast majority of the
Zimbabwe people want regime change - a new horse, rather than flogging a
Fourth, the objectives were non-achievable. The regime could have allowed
the strike to proceed, accepted the petitions, and promise to import more
anti-retroviral drugs as well as introduce legislation that would give each
worker $1 million. Would that have amounted to victory?
It also appears the ZCTU acted on its own, without collaborating or
consulting with other opposition groups - the political parties, churches
and student organisations. But it is not the ZCTU alone that is guilty of
this. At one time, you hear of church leaders mobilising for action, then at
another time you hear of opposition parties taking their own separate
Divided opposition groups are a delight to a barbarous regime. If each group
does its own thing, the regime will play one group against the other and
remain in power. It is called "divide and rule", stupid.
It needs to be reiterated that no single opposition party or group by itself
can remove entrenched tyranny from power. It takes an alliance of opposition
forces. If Zimbabwe opposition group leaders don't get it by now, they never
will and the country will slide into war.
ZCTU leaders don't seem to have learned anything at all from their own
experience or that of other African countries. Name me just two objectives
that protest marches have been able to achieve in the past five years. Just
Protest marches, to put it bluntly, are just plain dumb. Just because they
worked against the white colonialists, who were "frightened" by a huge mass
of black people, does not mean they will work against black
Have ZCTU leaders not heard about security forces in other African countries
arresting leaders of protest marches, beating up demonstrators and even
opening fire on protestors? Have they not followed events in Ethiopia where
45 were killed when police opened fire on demonstrators protesting
fraudulent elections in May 2005? How about Nigeria, where trade union
leaders were arrested in a bid to protest high fuel prices in 2004?
You don't fight a tyrannical regime with protest marches unless the security
forces are neutral and professional or are on your side. Short of this, the
regime will unleash them on the protestors and their leaders. This does not
require rocket science.
There are better ways of fighting a tyrannical regime and they require a
huge dose of the imagination and learning from the experiences of other
countries. First, if a strike should be called, it must be of the "stay
home" nature, not in the streets for security forces to beat people up and
arrest leaders. Such a successful "stay home" - dubbed "dead city"
campaign - was launched by Pa Fru Ndi, of the Social Democratic Party of
Cameroon in 1991. On a certain particular day, all the residents of a
certain city just stayed home, rendering the city "dead". And it revolved
from one city to another across Cameroon.
The objective was simple: a demand for a new voter register. The government
caved in, although President Paul Biya subsequently stole the 1992 election.
Second, if a strike must be called to put pressure on government, the most
effective is a civil servants' strike. In March 1978, civil servants in
Ghana went on strike to press their demands for better working conditions.
It led to a chain of events which culminated in the ouster of the military
regime of General IK Acheampong in July 1978.
General Akuffo did not address the grievances of the civil servants. Another
strike was called in November 1978. That too set in motion events which led
to the overthrow of the Akuffo regime by Jerry Rawlings in June 1979.
In 1989, civil servants in Benin went on strike to demand payment of their
salary arrears. That strike too paralysed government and the country,
setting in motion events which led to the ouster of Mathieu Kerekou in
In Benin, the political parties, churches, and civil society groups stepped
in and convened the first Sovereign National Conference, which tossed the
Marxist-Leninist Kerekou out of office. Benin has been a democratic country
In the case of Ghana, Rawlings stepped down after three months in 1979. Two
years later, he staged another military coup to remove the civilian
government in 1981 and ruled for nearly 20 years. In 2000 and fed up with
his tyrannical rule, Ghanaians kicked him out of office. I was part of that
The bottom line is this: if opposition groups in Zimbabwe cannot shut down
the civil service or think imaginatively of effective ways of instituting
political change, they will be politely ignored by the international
community and the people of Zimbabwe will continue to suffer. Protest
marches, appeals and petitions don't work against a regime that is blind and
* George BN Ayittey is a Ghanaian academic who teaches at the American
University in Washington DC.
By Vincent Kahiya
JUST a week after its publication the much-awaited MDC
commission of inquiry report into the assault on MP Trudy Stevenson and
others has dissipated in the wake of this week's presidential support for
the police's brutal assault on ZCTU demonstrators.
That the report has quickly lost public interest is not
surprising because its "findings" were as predictable as sunrise. It was
wafer thin on tangible evidence to nail the Central Intelligence
Organisation in the assault on Stevenson and her colleagues from the
Mutambara faction. Even before the appointment of the commission, there were
two ready answers for anyone vaguely interested in politics as to who was
responsible for the beating up of the activists - it was either Tsvangirai's
people or the CIO.
The report accuses both and to some extent tries to suggest
collaboration between the two.
"Infiltrators could have used members of the MDC or their own
people pretending to be MDC members to perpetrate the attack in an effort
(which has been successful) to cause instability and further friction
between the two opposing groupings," said the report.
The report said there were three factions in the constituency
and all of them had been seriously infiltrated by state intelligence. It
said "the infiltrators in all three groups were working together and
coordinating their activities in the lead up to and the perpetration of the
attack". Conspiracy theories are clearly not the preserve of Zanu PF!
In the end the hazy picture of the plot is further muddied by
statements that the sort of violence which befell the Harare North MP did
not surprise the dozens who gave evidence. It appears to be the modus
operandi of the party.
This is summed up by the party's director of security Nhamo
Musekiwa's admission in a 2004 Report of the Commission into Disturbances at
MDC party headquarters, that violence was necessary. The report captures the
admission in this way:
Question: "Do you have faith in the use of violence as a way of
investigating offences in the party?"
Answer: "Oh yes, it is a useful method because people always
feign innocence when in actual fact they are guilty, so the best way is to
beat them up until they admit."
This is deadly ammunition for Zanu PF and the state.
It is blood-chilling to contemplate that this brazen admission
on the use of torture has been left to fester to this day. I do not recall
the statement being recanted anywhere.
This tactic could be employed tomorrow with impunity because
mere words by the party's leadership denouncing violence are not necessarily
supported by tangible action on the ground. The unwillingness of the
leadership to deal with violence was highlighted in the 2004 report. It is
also there in the current report because the cancer has remained untreated.
While the commission struggled to tell us "who dunnit", the
report is very useful in as far as it portrays the MDC as a sick political
entity rotting at the core as a result of disunity, self-aggrandisement and
lack of proper direction. This is not about Tsvangirai vs Mutambara. It is a
dislocation within the Tsvangirai faction itself, according to the report.
The evidence adduced by dozens of people who testified shows lack of trust
among office bearers in Mabvuku, hence accusations and counter-accusations
of officials working with the government intelligence
There is a disrespect of leaders, there is no clear policy
direction and there is also a feeling that occupying an executive position
in the party has become a vocation for officials. They are in it for the
money and they do not seem to mind where the money comes from. The testimony
of Mabvuku MP Timothy Mubhawu - himself not a paragon of virtue - supports
this unfortunate observation.
The commission makes this important recommendation on what the
party needs to do in Mabvuku: "The national organising secretary, together
with the Harare provincial chairperson, need to urgently put in place
measures to ensure that all office-bearers within Mabvuku constituency are
familiar with the provisions of the party constitution, especially insofar
as they relate to their own structures, the composition thereof, how they
are elected, how they may be removed, their mandate and function, and how
they interact with other structures within the constituency."
The commission further recommended that the measures "be
undertaken as part of a nationwide educational process of members by the
party, as we are convinced such lack of awareness is not limited to Mabvuku
constituency, and it is hindering the party's efficacy".
Reading Zanu PF Bulawayo province secretary for information
Effort Nkomo's Q&A session in the Sunday News this week about indiscipline
in the party, I couldn't help but draw parallels with the commission's
observation about the MDC. How ironic!
PRESIDENT Mugabe's endorsement of police violence has with one
stroke stripped the mask of reason that he likes to present to the world.
And it will have tarnished the nation's image irretrievably.
Abandoning the role of a more-sinned-against-than-sinning ruler
projected during his interview with Associated Press in New York, Mugabe has
now revealed the more vicious streak that has come to the fore in recent
years. ZCTU leaders got what they deserved, he told Zimbabwe embassy staff
in Cairo last Saturday, after complaints by foreign governments and human
rights bodies began to pour in.
He repeated these damaging remarks on arrival at Harare airport
on Monday, saying labour leaders who break the law and disregard police
orders would be beaten up. They got what they deserved for refusing to
disperse, Mugabe told supporters.
"The police must do their work," he said. "Anyone who resists is
actually inviting police to use force."
It is instructive to note here how Mugabe has given the
impression that the ZCTU leaders got their bones broken because they refused
to disperse when told to do so. Leaving aside the obvious point that the
police have no right to assault people in any circumstances, Mugabe must not
be allowed to get away with his deceptive spin on events.
The ZCTU leaders and others were assaulted in police holding
cells, not on the streets. Their attempt at mounting a protest on the
streets had been thwarted by a blanket police presence.
A magistrate who saw the condition of the ZCTU leaders in
hospital ordered a police investigation. It will be interesting to see how
this proceeds following Mugabe's remarks.
There is a precedent for all this. After Standard newspaper
editor Mark Chavunduka and his colleague Ray Choto were tortured in state
custody in January 1999 over a story claiming that disgruntled soldiers had
planned a coup, Mugabe went on television to warn them of further military
retribution if they published such a story again. He also threatened the
Meanwhile, a court-ordered police investigation of the two
journalists' treatment came to an abrupt halt at the gates of the KGVI
Just as egregious is the case of Joseph Mwale who, although an
employee of the Office of the President, continues to roam free despite
court cases linking him to the murder of two MDC supporters in 2000.
What Mugabe has done now is to spread the fire-wall of impunity
to rogue police officers who systematically assaulted the ZCTU detainees
held in their custody. The victims' only offence was to have attempted to
protest against prevailing economic conditions.
The head of state has sworn to uphold the constitution which
protects citizens from torture and other cruel punishment. Zimbabwe is a
signatory to international covenants barring the use of torture. His latest
outburst, coming a month after his threat that the armed forces have their
fingers on the trigger, expose him to the scrutiny of the international
courts. The maladroit remarks are also likely to embarrass the police who
have always denied the use of torture. This can no longer be portrayed as
the work of a few overzealous officers, as Mugabe suggested in New York. It
is clearly state policy approved by the highest office in the land.
Reported on the same day as Mugabe's menaces, acting Home
Affairs minister Nicholas Goche was lecturing the defence forces on the need
to conduct themselves "in bona fide". Members of the defence forces should
"conduct themselves in a manner that recognises the norms and values of a
civilised society when called upon to assist during times of civil
disobedience", Goche said.
Sadly these enlightened exhortations are likely to be overlooked
by a police force which has been given a greenlight to engage in brutality
against individuals held in its charge.
It is to be hoped that the victims of this violence will explore
their options in the civil courts. That includes identifying those giving
At the end of the day Mugabe has compounded a bad situation. His
remarks will have appalled most people reading them around the world and
will make defence of his regime doubly difficult for his few remaining
friends. At best they show a complete absence of judgement and at worst they
border on incitement. The nation has the right to expect better of the
SO, the "plot" to force the Reserve Bank governor to abandon his
currency reforms by burning his maize crop has turned out to be a less
Last month we were told suspicious visitors to Gideon Gono's
Donnington Farm in Norton had set fire to his maize crop to deter him from
pursuing Project Sunrise. Security around the governor was stepped up as a
result of this "arson attack" and President Mugabe warned Gono's detractors
against harming him.
But like so many other state-invented plots, this one has now
been exposed as a non-event - a "damp squib" as the Herald likes to say.
A Norton magistrate last week fined two villagers $400 each for
carelessness under the Forestry Act. They had allowed ash from their
home-made cigarettes to set fire to dry grass. There was no plot, just an
accident. And all that fist-waving about the governor refusing to be
intimidated proved to be empty melodrama.
Then, with the assassination of Andrei Kozlov, Gono got to play
the role of heroic besieged banker a second time. It was an "occupational
hazard", he declared. Let's hope not.
The CZI, ZNCC and Emcoz have been complaining bitterly about the
detention of business people for hiking the price of their products. This
was all grossly unfair, the CZI remonstrated. How could they function like
But just a week earlier CZI president Callisto Jokonya and ZNCC's
Mara Hativagone were shrill in their opposition to the ZCTU's planned
protests. Participants should have a day's pay docked, Jokonya declared. "We
are not into politics and we do not want to associate ourselves with those
elements that can create adverse conditions for us in the future."
Hativagone said much the same thing, pointing out that the mass
action was not her concern.
We are reminded here of Pastor Niemoller's remarks about the
"When they came for the Jews I said nothing, I was not a Jew.
When they came for the Catholics I said nothing, I was not a Catholic. When
they came for me there was no one left to speak."
It is grossly naïve for leading business figures to pretend that
they can conduct their business in a politics-free zone. Politics is about
policy. It is about creating the climate in which business can flourish. The
ZCTU protests against the economic wasteland the government has created
should elicit at least a sympathetic hearing from business leaders. Instead
they fall over themselves to see who can make the most hostile comments in
order to ingratiate themselves with the authorities.
Then it was their turn to feel the lash of the state's
delinquent response to market pricing. And nobody is feeling very sorry for
It is not the ZCTU's fault that inflation is at 1 200% or that
commercial agriculture has been decimated dragging industry down with it.
Jokonya and Hativagone must think of something intelligent to
say the next time protests are planned - lest we mistake them for government
Meanwhile for once government can pat itself on the back for a
master stroke of policy genius. Its controls on the price of bread have been
a complete success: there is none in the shops and so no one is complaining
about bakers profiteering. Instead a few enterprising individuals rush in
the morning to buy all the loaves available from the bakeries and sell them
to the public at almost twice the gazetted price. What a tricky way to
"protect consumers from unscrupulous" businessmen!
Still on bread and butter issues, government said this week the
bread crisis was due to "pricing wars", not a shortage of wheat. The
official position was that there were "sufficient wheat supplies" to meet
national requirements. Unfortunately that assurance came from Agriculture
minister Joseph Made. They say once bitten twice shy.
Another institution not to be trusted to tell the truth is the
National Oil Company of Zimbabwe. On Friday the firm claimed to have
distributed 3,2 million litres of diesel and petrol at 130 filling stations
across the country. This was duly lapped up by the Herald without any
attempt to verify where these stations were located.
The filling stations that got the fuel were obliged to sell it
at the official prices of $320 and $335 per litre for diesel and petrol
respectively, the paper told readers.
Noczim spokesperson Zvikomborero Sibanda told the paper that
initially they had experienced problems with filling station owners failing
to pay for supplies in advance but that this had been resolved "since
dealers could now pay from the proceeds of their allocations".
Naively we started looking around hoping to stumble upon a
filling station with either diesel or petrol out of the 130.
It was one of the most forlorn searches in Harare. Even queues
were scarce, suggesting either that all motorists had taken their fill
(impossible), that there was none (most probable) or that some filling
stations were hoarding it (likely) to sell later on the black market.
But we were quickly disabused of the possibility of hoarding by
a firm assurance from Noczim's Sibanda. "We are working closely with our
security forces to make sure that this does not happen and that is why you
see police officers and soldiers manning filling stations," chirped
Welcome to the world of propaganda Zvikomborero. But the
transition might not be that painful given lessons learnt at ZBC. Still we
could do with a few litres of fuel in our vehicles instead of newspaper
The UNDP no doubt believes that by assisting the Ministry of
Justice it can help produce a meaningful human rights commission. Evidently
the UN agency chose to ignore statements from government that human rights
abuses were "fabricated" and that NGOs would be the target of the new body.
The workshop in Kariba last weekend bringing together the UNDP,
government and civics to brainstorm the issue of human rights ahead of the
legislative process got off to an inauspicious start when officials barred
the participation of NGOs they didn't like. Others thought participation
would be pointless.
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition refused to participate on the
grounds that laws such as the Public Order and Security Act (Posa), the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) and the NGO Bill
"clearly show that government was not serious about the issue of human
The government could not deceive people of its "commitment" to
human rights, Crisis said, while it participates in organised torture
against its citizens, and recently the ZCTU leadership.
"The government has ignored and in general terms dismissed the
United Nations report on Operation Murambatsvina/Restore Order and its
recommendations on human rights," Crisis pointed out.
The government had failed, if not refused, to implement various
recommendations by the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
(2002) which recommended that Posa and Aippa should be amended to meet
international standards for freedom of expression, the police depoliticised,
youth militia camps closed and the independence of the judiciary assured.
These are fundamental conditions around which civil society
should mobilise. Otherwise the commission will very quickly become another
weapon in the state's armoury, particularly as it can block appeals outside
the country, and no self-respecting civics should lend themselves to its
design until they have the democratic basics in place.
The appearance of Jonathan Moyo on BBC's Hardtalk generated much
interest locally last week. Viewers were perhaps hoping he would use this
opportunity to distance himself from his checkered past as a leading hawk in
President Mugabe's cabinet and make an unequivocal apology to those he has
persecuted, particularly in the media.
Instead he attempted to justify himself, declaring: "I have
nothing to apologise for.I never harmed anyone."
"But you threw out journalists," Steven Sakur interjected. All
Moyo could manage in response to that was: "Nobody should be above the law."
And the furthest he would go in making an apology was to say: "You make
mistakes in public office. I made mistakes and I regret it."
And that confession came only after intensive probing by Sakur.
On the Daily News bombing, Moyo said it could have been done by
a "Third Force". We weren't told who constituted that murky outfit.
And he still clearly feels a parent's fondness for Aippa. It was
a bipartisan piece of legislation, he disingenuously claimed, and was
adopted "unanimously" by parliament.
The fact that he is still making such misleading claims suggests
he is in denial over the matter. One useful revelation was his disclosure
that it was difficult to see President Mugabe outside of cabinet meetings.
Moyo said he could count on one hand the number of times he met Mugabe in
the course of a year.
He admitted receiving a farm under the land reform and said
Zimbabwe would be a democratic and prosperous society if the Constitutional
Commission's reform agenda had succeeded. It was Eddison Zvobgo who had
invited him home to take up that cause, he pointed out, not Mugabe.
There were some interesting insights here but an absence of full
disclosure. Significantly, Moyo was interviewed in Johannesburg because the
BBC is not allowed into Zimbabwe - since Moyo banned them.
British Airways said on Friday it would continue supporting
initiatives being taken by the Zimbabwean government and other stakeholders
to promote tourism in the country. The airline's sales support executive
Rachelle Gough said they would support the Zimbabwean government's tourism
drive "because they believed the country would soon regain its status as one
of the world's premier tourist destinations".
And what leads her to play Pollyanna? She doesn't say. There has
been no improvement in the supply of fuel, in the inflation figures or in
the rule of law. On the contrary, President Mugabe last weekend said trade
union protesters got what they deserved when they were beaten up in police
Is this the sort of country BA should be encouraging people to
visit? Should they be joining in the official deceit that things are getting
Please Rachelle, can we borrow your rose-tinted spectacles. It
may be good at times not to notice things!
Meanwhile, we gather Zimbabwe delegates to the UN summit had a
bumper harvest in New York. As their motorcade swept into the capital on
Monday, several trucks packed with cardboard boxes could be seen bringing up
The Mbare boyz-in-the-hood who normally pillage vehicles
returning from the airport along Dieppe Road clearly gave this well-escorted
convoy a wide berth!
Finally, we rather liked the robust tone of the Sunday Times'
Hogarth columnist who responded as follows to a demand for an apology from
"Hogarth has incorrectly suggested that Jacob Zuma is a
blood-sucking, misogynistic, corrupt, shameless nincompoop who is gormlessly
seeking power at the expense of the nation's image.
"Zuma is in fact not shameless. Hogarth regrets the error."
By Eric Bloch
INFLATION in Zimbabwe has never been so great as it is at
present. Based upon the Consumer Price Index (CPI), it soared to an all-time
high of 1 204,3%, year-on year, in August, which is higher than anywhere
else in the world. As frighteningly abysmal as that is, even more fearful is
that it appears inevitable that, for the immediate future, inflation is
going to continue to spiral upwards, unless some very drastic and dynamic
actions to hold the inflation surge are taken by government and by all
sectors of society. In fact, a recently issued report of the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) foreshadows that Zimbabwe's inflation in 2007 will reach
The intense upward movement in inflation in August was
concurrent with the redenomination of Zimbabwe currency, the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe having slashed three zeros from all the country's currency.
Unavoidably, many had thought, albeit erroneously, that the primary
motivation for the restructuring of the currency had been in order to
When, instead of inflation declining, it rocketed upwards, there
was widespread criticism of the currency redenomination, with the majority
of the populace being oblivious to the RBZ statements that the exercise had
been driven, wholly and solely, in order to restore effective currency
management and security and was completely unrelated to other economic
It had been undertaken in order to restore transaction
efficiency, reinstate the ability of computers, cash registers, calculators,
petrol pump meters, and the like, to function effectively, whilst
simultaneously virtually eliminating dependency upon mechanical note
counters, and markedly reducing security risks of those necessarily handling
large volumes of cash.
Not recognising that these were the motivations and intents of
the introduction of the redenominated currency, and being aware that RBZ has
been taking a major role in endeavours to halt and reverse inflation, the
greater part of the population unilaterally assumed the exercise to be one
of inflation-targeting and the sudden, exponential rise in inflation fuelled
vitriolic attacks upon RBZ for an allegedly failed endeavour.
Concurrently, there was widespread allegation by the masses that
retailers had exploited the opportunity of the change of currency to
"conceal" yet further price increases, by resorting to upward rounding-off
of prices, and that had also contributed substantially to the cataclysmic
rise in inflation. Undoubtedly some retailers will have done so, but all
indications are that they were relatively few. Some recognised that doing so
would render their products uncompetitive, whilst most were fearful of
excessive governmental responses and actions if they did so.
The realities were diverse other very major causes of inflation.
First and foremost will have been the intensifying scarcity of foreign
exchange, having two very severe inflationary repercussions. The first has
been, and is, that all are dependent upon imports for their production, be
they raw materials, consumables, spares, plant and machinery, or otherwise
have been unable to access the foreign currency necessary for continuing
inflows of their needs. The result has been that productivity has plummeted
downwards. At the same time, as a result of inflation, fixed costs continue
to soar upwards. In order to survive, the producers have had little or no
choice but to increase prices on what little they do produce in order to
recover those fixed costs (fixed not as to price, but as to having to be
incurred, irrespective of whether or not production is attained, such as -
for example - salaries, rents, insurance, and so forth).
The second consequence has been that an ever increasing demand
for foreign currency has developed within the parallel and black markets, as
producers strive desperately to obtain critically needed currencies to fund
imports and other foreign-exchange based costs. The demand in those
alternative markets has also been fuelled by a massively increased endeavour
by some in the populace to externalise resources, in order to halt the
inflation-driven erosion of value. The demand has accelerated in part in
reaction to the continuing rise in inflation, and in part due to the
inability to invest funds in the money market at rates realistically aligned
As foreign exchange demands in the alternative markets rose and
rose, far in excess of availability, the rates of exchange ineviblity moved,
causing increases to the producer's input costs, and thereby necessitating
yet further price increases. A prime example, of a myriad that can be cited,
is the trend in prices of fuel. In July the black market average rate for a
litre of petroleum was approximately $450, whilst in August the average was
in excess of $600, and a week ago prices were as high as $1 030! Fuel costs
impact upon every part of the economy, and therefore their increases are
major stimulants of inflation. The same applies to much else that has been
subject to the gargantuan rise in parallel market rates.
Yet another key contributant to the overwhelming surge in
inflation has been, and continues to be, inflation itself. Almost all wage
negotiations include, as fundamental element of wage demands, that wages
increase by at least the extent of inflation (irrespective of whether or not
the employer is able to fund the increases). Most commercial, industrial and
residential rentals are closely linked to inflation. And most businesses, in
pricing their goods and services, do so having regard not to the original
costs of the goods, and to the operational expenses of the enterprise, but
also to the anticipated replacement cost of the goods. Thus, inflation is a
very great fuellant of further inflation.
A further escalating element of inflation is corruption. The
immensity of the hardships faced by the majority of Zimbabweans is so great
that ever more are resorting to corrupt practices in order to supplement
their meager incomes. Corruption has become pronouncedly endemic in both the
public and private sectors. Within the public sector, that exacerbates the
fiscal deficit, intensifying the state recourse to printing of money.
Although, on occasion, the ends justify the means, the printing of money is
necessary, and not always highly inflationary, more often than not such
printing has disasters inflationary consequences. Within the private sector,
the corruption increases yet further the operating costs of the business,
thereby necessarily repercussing upon pricing, and hence further stimulating
All these, and other factors, are resulting in inflation going
berserk. Even worse is that its rapidly escalating upward trend will
continue apace, unless very positive measures are now persued extremely
resolutely. First and foremost, government and the RBZ must very
expeditiously move official exchange rates to realistic levels which accord
viability to exporters, thereby enabling substantive export-generated
foreign exchange inflows.
Admittedly the Zimbabwe dollar was depreciated from $100: US$1
to $250: US$1 on August 1, but not only was that not wholly insufficient
devaluation, it has been negated by subsequent inflation. Merely on the
strength of August inflation, the rate should have moved to at least $325:
US$1 and, allowing for September inflation, it should probably now be in
excess of $400:US$1. In addition, exports must have creditable assurance of
continuing exchange rate adjustment commensurate with ongoing inflation.
Concurrently, interest rates must rise to inflation related, real rates.
At the same time, there must be a cessation of talk of
attracting investment, and instead a genuinely investment conducive
environment created. Not only must Zimbabwe drive towards rapid
re-establishment of democracy, justice, law and order, respect for human
rights, and economic deregulation but it must also cease its endless
declarations and actions of asset appropriation, be they of land, mines,
industries or otherwise. Instead, constructive, internationally and
nationally equitable economic empowerment incentivisation and facilitation
measures are needed.
And, at the same time Zimbabwe must urgently restore its
relationships with the international community in general, and the first
world states and international monetary bodies in particular. Zimbabwe's
"Look East" policy needs to become a "Look Far and Wide" policy,
encompassing North, South, East and West! Then Zimbabwe may enjoy meaningful
foreign exchange inflows.
Zimbabwe also needs to cease it's endless talk of containing
corruption, and must finally do so. And of especially great importance, the
long overdue social contract between government, private enterprise and
labour must finally be concluded, with utmost urgency and near total
unconditionality, in order to limit the ongoing creation of inflation by
inflation. Failing all these actions, inflation will continue to run
berserk, at an ever greater pace, the economy will reach almost total
collapse, and poverty and misery will be more and more universal amongst the
By Joram Nyathi
I ENDED this column last week by asking the tormented question
of who will protect us "from a vengeful police force so emboldened by a
culture of impunity that they can break people's skulls in broad daylight
without any fear of prosecution".
The response was swift from the supreme executive authority in
I asked that question because we live under very trying times,
as a terrorised population - terrorised by what in a democracy should be a
people's police force, not a colonial institution. I have asked myself
several times whether our armed forces have a code of conduct in relation to
the civilian population in peace time.
So much has been said about the excellent behaviour of members
of the ZRP on peacekeeping missions in Kosovo and other trouble spots.
However, these commendations ring hollow when you consider their terror
exploits back home, for the brutality perpetrated on ZCTU leaders at Matapi
police station two weeks ago was by no means an aberration. It is the staple
diet of all poor souls who are unlucky enough to land in the hands of the
police for whatever petty crime. The police have become a law unto
Last week we carried a letter from a man who witnessed a brutal
attack on an innocent woman in Avondale by suspected members of the ZRP from
Avondale police station. Her crime was to ask whether the vehicle they were
in was going to Greencroft.
About a month ago soldiers went on a rampage at Kuwadzana bus
terminus in town, beating up commuter bus drivers and civilians allegedly to
avenge a colleague who had been beaten by touts the previous day. There have
been tales of night revellers in pubs being forced by soldiers to have
unprotected sex with prostitutes.
These claims are always denied by officials or they are
"investigated" forever. We are still to get the "official truth" about the
"Butchers of Matapi" when the inquiry is over. This will be a particularly
telling example of state terror as the ZCTU leaders were seized in broad
daylight in full view of the public and before the end of the day all of
them had suffered multiple injuries or fractures inside a police camp. The
attacks duly drew worldwide condemnation.
What I however found extraordinary is the complicit silence on
the fate of the 70 or so other arrested workers. While the ZCTU leaders have
virtually been compensated for their injuries by the publicity they are
getting, a Martian would imagine there were only 15 people arrested on
Even the private media have forgotten about these wretched of
the earth who probably don't have money to go to private hospitals for
treatment, let alone the luxury of travelling to South Africa. Instead the
spotlight has been on the headline-grabbing lives of the leadership. The
public media have become the voyeuristic "Watchers of Abu Ghraib and
Guantanamo" atrocities while they see no evil at home.
Trade unionists from across the globe have protested against the
attack on the ZCTU leadership, not the majority of the workers who are
likely to suffer greater harm because they remain nameless outside the media
spotlight. Yet for any trade union movement or political party to succeed it
must rely on these nameless multitudes flippantly called the masses. They
are seen as expendable and come in limitless quantities. It is only the
leaders who matter when it comes to suffering pain because they are a rare
species of men.
Anyway, the executive response to my question came through an
interview President Mugabe gave in New York. Asked about the attacks on the
ZCTU leaders by the police, he blamed it on "one or two overzealous
policemen exaggerating their role".
This might be true, it might not. My prayer is that it is not
true because if it is, it confirms my fears of a complete breakdown of law
and order in the country.
The Butchers of Matapi have become too numerous in the police
and the army to be dismissed as a few deviant elements. Police brutality has
become the norm, especially among ordinary civilians who take the beatings
One only needs to observe police arresting vendors selling their
wares at undesignated points or soldiers controlling commuters in a bus
queue to appreciate their propensity to violence. And the people appear
completely overawed to respond even if it's just one unarmed soldier.
No Mr President, it's not the odd deranged soldier or policeman
spoiling it for the rest. Violence has become endemic in the uniformed
forces because there are no sanctions against those who violate people's
rights. It has become a part of policing culture that needs to be stopped
swiftly to heal the trauma that Zimbabweans are living everyday.
The experience of ZCTU leaders at Matapi served well to
dramatise the horror of Zimbabwean detainees more generally. Unfortunately
this perverse pleasure in violence and torture is not a sickness that can be
cured by merely setting up a Human Rights Commission or passing a Domestic
Violence Act about which there has been melodramatic hype.
And when a president pronounces a peaceful protest by hungry
workers an insurrection and extols the virtues of police savagery, it fills
me with a deep sense of dread. It means every little officer can now make a
papal bull against you, knowing it will get presidential assent.
Zimbabweans must be afraid, very afraid indeed. Mugabe has just
opened for us the gates of hell.
New law is the final straw
LAST week was a cataclysmic week in the history of Zimbabwe. It
was cataclysmic not so much for the law that sailed through parliament
without a hitch - we have come to expect it of our legislators that more and
more draconian laws will be passed by them for the sake of power - the week
was cataclysmic more for the deafening silence that met it.
The senate will pass the Bill (it next sits on October 3) and
then, after that, the president will sign it into law.
On that day, anyone on any land that has received a Section 5
notice sometime in the past six years will have 45 days to get out of his
house and wind up his farming operation. If he does not, and he has no lease
or offer letter, he will face criminal penalties that will involve up to two
Not a single white man has a lease or an offer letter to my
knowledge except perhaps the odd foreign non-Zimbabwean passport holder.
The silence appears to be all-encompassing. The legal
fraternity, the press, farmers and their workers themselves, the church, the
international community, businesses in town, the unions, opposition
political parties, human rights groups, people that eat... all appear to
have greeted the passing by parliament of this Bill with silence.
If the law takes its course, and it surely will, the last 400 or
so white farmers and perhaps a hundred thousand workers and their families
will be off the land. Many, if they try to stay, will be in jail. The ethnic
cleansing will be complete.
What country in the world would greet a law which will deprive a
certain racial group and their workers of their homes and livelihoods with
such a silence? Imagine if it were the minority blacks in America or the
Muslims in Europe who had built their homes and businesses in those
countries and were having such a draconian law passed against them!
The effect of this new law in Zimbabwe will be to speed up the
economic demise. Productivity will decrease. Food and forex will become
scarcer. Investment, already at an all-time low, will shrink further.
National infrastructure will fall further into disrepair. Schools and
hospitals will deteriorate. Poverty will increase....but the party's power
base will be consolidated. The history of the past six years speaks for
itself in this regard.
Like the last plums in the Christmas pudding, the farms will go
to a few high ranking party faithful who will ingest and destroy them. These
are the obvious results of this Bill that our country's leaders are pushing
through and that everyone else seems to be allowing to pass in silence.
Bob's ticket for violence
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's continued failure to condemn
torture is worrying. This week, state media quoted him saying that "police
were right" in dealing "sternly" with Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
Given the "command" culture in Zanu PF where a leader's
actions and statements are not questioned, it is very likely that his
statements will be seen by those under him, including the youth militia Zanu
PF has turned into law-enforcement agents, as a ticket to perpetrating more
violence against perceived opponents of his misrule and bad governance.
Simply put, Mugabe is openly and publicly encouraging
Further, it should be noted that Mugabe's comments come at
a time when senior officers of the law have admitted to their excesses by
instituting investigations into allegations of torture levelled against
them. It is unlikely that the results of these investigations will be taken
seriously, especially when they confirm what is already known, after Mugabe's
This is the time Zimbabweans, and indeed the international
community, should start asking whether the old man is still fit to be
president, let alone a father figure to our constitution and values of
ubuntu embodied in most Zimbabweans.
Barclays charges extortionate
RESERVE Bank governor Gideon Gono embarked on a
campaign to punish alleged "speculators" who hoard large sums of money which
he thinks belong to the banking system.
He obviously ignored one crucial factor discouraging
people from taking their money to banks: most people are fed up with being
plundered by heartless banks debiting large sums of money from customers'
accounts in so-called bank charges.
I am particularly peeved by one particular bank, the
"big" one called Barclays. The kind of charges made by this bank amount to
extortion, and, to be honest, do not encourage saving, but discourage it.
As a customer of the bank for the past 10 or so
years, I am discouraged to think that when other commercial banks are busy
sweating their assets to ensure they provide shareholder value, Barclays
appears determined to survive through hefty charges on customers.
A cursory look at the bank's recent results is
overwhelming: the bank's net interest income/total income was less than 10%,
with non-interest income/total income at some 90%.
Where did most of the non-interest income come from
given that the market has been bereft of any meaningful deals?
Apparently, banks like Barclays are taking advantage
of the flight to safety occasioned by the banking crisis of 2004, and
punishing undemanding depositors for choosing them rather than the newer
Of all the commercial banks in the country, NMB had
the highest net interest income/total income after Barclays at a negligible
45%, and the rest were at 50% and above. Barclays also took the distinction
of having the highest cost to income ratio at 75% against a market average
We need an explanation from Barclays management,
otherwise Gono has to forget about people parking their hard-earned money in
the banking system to prop up inefficient banks.
* Barclays responds:
We are cognisant of the effect on customers of the
difficult operating environment. A significant portion of our fee income is
not driven by bank charges as we have tailored structured facilities which
benefit our customers and provide us with opportunities to earn additional
The bank reviews its charges periodically and takes
into account various factors such as cost to provide service to the customer
as well as the absorptive capacity of our customers.
The income earned from bank charges was well below
inflation. The high cost of funding reduced the contribution of net interest
income which adversely affected the non-funded income to total income and
cost to income ratios.
Did Gono do economics?
I DON'T think our learned Reserve Bank govenor
Gideon Gono did economics at school because of all his experiments none has
He once introduced fuel buying coupons and the
system never worked.
What he should know is that serious investors
are not interested in Zimbabwe because of political instability and
mismanagement of the economy.
What you should, Mr Governor, tell your boss
is that he should remove all deadwood surrounding him. All they can complain
about are "sanctions" but they are busy milking parastatals such as
Inflation is now around 2 000% but you are
saying we should be patient because you are staying in a leafy suburb of
Harare getting everything you want.
Why did you waste billions of dollars buying
expensive cars like Pajeros for "Project Zuva Radoka", not "Project Zuva
Today Zupco is bleeding because the state
transporter doesn't have buses. As a serious person who wants ordinary
Zimbabweans to have at least a better living, you should have bought
minibuses for your so-called project which were going to help ease transport
Only a few are benefiting from your
experiments, Mr Govenor.
Lovemore P Maseko,
Zimbabwe waiting for a Black Moses?
RECENTLY, I travelled to South Africa for a
conference I met a gentleman who was very candid on his attitude towards
He talked about Zimbabweans as if he had
lived in the country. He said Zimbabweans, among other things:
* are hardworking, innovative and reliable;
* are arrogant, know everything about
* are tough and uncompromising;
* are good at preaching their folly to
others. They love platforms to shout to the world that they have been
wronged. Even their leaders also shout when an opportunity arises,
especially at United Nations conferences;
* are good at destroying;
* create unemployment and force-march their
citizens to neighbouring countries and abroad to work as slaves and
repatriate foreign currency;
* believe among them that some Black Moses
will pitch up to liberate them from the tide of poverty;
* look to others to solve their own in-house
problems. For example, Abuja Chogm, the Troika, Thabo Mbeki, Olusegun
Obasanjo and Kofi Annan;
* spend hours selling wares at traffic
lights in South Africa;
* fight among themselves instead of the
enemy Zanu PF; and
* are unacceptably tolerant. They never
raise a voice or revolt even if the Zanu PF government steals elections,
destroys their livelihood (agriculture), fuels inflation to over 1 000%,
destroys their houses with bulldozers and steals their money by removing
I also note they are blaming trade union
leaders for being savaged by the Zanu PF government.
All Zimbabweans should accept they have a
problem and the problem is themselves. Why berate others for not doing
enough when we can't do anything ourselves?
Let real cockroaches stand up
READING through Tony Namate's comments
(Zimbabwe Independent, September 22), I really appreciated his first
sentiments, as I was once a victim of speeding kombi drivers.
Every time I pass through Manchester Road to
Glen Norah it reminds me of one kombi driver who after evading the police
sped all the way to OK shops shouting insults to passengers for failure to
change things than complaining of fare increases.
The writer said Zimbabweans are now living
like cockroaches. I felt insulted and at the same time it reminded me of an
incident where for sure I acted as one.
I agree with Namate that our docility and
failure to change things where unfairness and oppression occurs makes us all
failures and we are where we are because of that, Tony concluded.
However, I would like to ask Tony what he is
really doing to change things, besides drawing cartoons?
Tony belongs to the same generation of
cockroaches that have failed to change things. Power lies in the people not
necessarily consumer power.
Tony's closing remarks of power to the
people and not to the opposition make me really wonder how he wants us to
tackle the current regime and neither is he suggesting an alternative.
An opposition is a healthy situation in all
democracies and all we need is a formidable opposition - accountable,
non-tribalistic, transparent and supported by the people.
Power is the people and changing things is
not merely cartoons but joining others in the revolution.
Shouting with one voice is the solution.
Glen Nora B,
The power is in our pockets
I COULD not help but notice a comment in
your article headlined "Of Cockroaches and the opposition" (Zimbabwe
Independent, September 22).
The remark was made "we have the power in
our pockets". I totally agree with this.
I as a "whitey" well remember during the war
in Rhodesia the banning of the three B's. The price of beer, bread and bus
fares were raised to a level that the povo thought enough is enough, no one
must buy it until it comes down!
I well remember driving round Gwelo and
seeing the United buses driving round empty, and seeing no one with a loaf
of bread in hand. In the industrial sites there was a beer hall which was
normally very busy but then empty. I did see the odd person hauled off a bus
and there was the odd loaf of bread trashed in the gutter but these were
normally people who were unaware of the situation.
Sure enough after a week or so of this the
companies relented and prices were brought back to their old levels. In view
of this why is this not tried now? Not on products but on unfair charges
levelled these days. Much easier to enforce without relying on thuggery, I
think. Hit them where it hurts - in their pockets!
Let's start a forum
I HAVE read a lot of letters in the papers
from people who seem to have real and practical ideas that could see the
real turnaround of our economy. Unfortunately, they are suggested randomly
and I feel we need to put them together and work a way forward.
I would like to propose a forum where such
ideas can be put together, panel-beaten if necessary and presented to the
responsible people for implementation be it at local or national government
Let's not sit back and cry all the time
while our country continues down the abyss. For those of us with children,
what future do you see for them at the rate we are going now?
If anyone is for this idea, please write to
firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas and suggestions.