THE United States government has widened sanctions against President
Mugabe's ruling clique by including his economic strategist Gideon Gono and
his wife, and spouses of senior government and Zanu PF officials on the new
The list also includes children of Zanu PF officials, some of them barely in
US President George Bush this week issued an executive order to spread the
economic sanctions net against Zimbabwean officials and blocked more assets
owned by Mugabe's cronies.
A statement from the White House said Bush had issued the order allowing US
authorities to "block the property of additional persons undermining
democratic processes or institutions in Zimbabwe, their immediate family
members, and any persons assisting them".
The executive order, which took effect on Wednesday, expands sanctions
imposed by the United States on 77 Zimbabweans in March 2003.
The new list includes officials of the newly-created Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) and police chiefs.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Information minister Ambassador Tichaona
Jokonya said the list was "inconsequential".
"The list is completely immaterial, it is inconsequential," said Jokonya who
has already been targeted. "Who said we want to go to America? I don't know
who told the Americans we want to go to their country when we have our small
but beautiful Zimbabwe."
Jokonya served as Zimbabwe's ambassador to the United Nations in New York
Reserve Bank governor Gono is the most prominent addition to the US
blacklist, together with his wife Hellin. Information permanent secretary
George Charamba, who was on the original list, has been joined by his wife
Rudo, while Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo's two wives, Ever of
Warren Park and Marian of Alexandra Park, are among the newcomers.
Interestingly, former Labour minister July Moyo and former Finance minister
Chris Kuruneri have been removed from the list. Moyo was banished from
government and Zanu PF over his involvement in the ill-fated Tsholotsho
declaration, while Kuruneri spent more than a year in remand prison on
charges of externalising foreign currency. He is currently out on bail.
Former Information minister Jonathan Moyo, the architect of the Tsholotsho
declaration, however, remains on the list.
Other spouses included on the list are Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa's
wife Monica, defence forces commander Constantine Chiwenga's wife Jocelyn,
deputy Science and Technology minister Patrick Zhuwawo's wife Beauty Lily,
and deputy Finance minister David Chapfika's wife Abina.
Others are Shaloitte Msipa, wife of Midlands governor Cephas Msipa, Ruth
Chipo Murerwa, wife of Finance minister Herbert Murerwa, and Rose Jaele
Ndlovu, wife of deputy Higher Education minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu.
Consultant in the President's Office on Small Enterprises Sithembiso Nyoni
has been joined by her husband Peter while Georgina Ngwenya joins her
husband, Speaker of parliament, John Nkomo.
Sons and daughters of President Mugabe's close associates have been netted
as they now appear on the sanctions list.
These include Ijeoma Dabengwa, son of former Home Affairs minister Dumiso
Dabengwa, and Chinamasa's 14-year-old daughter, Gamuchirai.
Louise Sehlule Nkomo, the daughter of nationalist and former Vice-President
Joshua Nkomo, who is married to Environment and Tourism minister Francis
Nhema, has been added to the sanctions list.
Other children of Zanu PF officials on the list are Oppah Muchinguri's two
daughters Natasha and Tanya, aged 11 and 16 respectively.
President Bush, in signing the declaration, said since the first order in
2003 conditions in Zimbabwe had deteriorated.
"This action is not aimed at the people of Zimbabwe, but rather at those
most responsible for their plight," he said.
"The failed political and economic policies of the Robert Mugabe regime have
devastated Zimbabwe. The United States has repeatedly called upon the
government of Zimbabwe to abandon its harassment of civil society, the
press, and the political opposition; to restore the rule of law; to
negotiate in good faith to resolve the impasse created by the flawed 2002
election; and to hold free and fair parliamentary elections in 2005," Bush
said in a statement after signing the executive order.
The extension of sanctions comes hot on the heels of a diplomatic row
between Harare and Washington following ambassador Christopher Dell's speech
in Mutare in which he castigated gross mismanagement and corruption in
government as the root case of the economic meltdown. The government
immediately summoned the diplomat and threatened him with expulsion for
"meddling in Zimbabwe's internal affairs".
FUEL procured by government agencies is finding its way onto the lucrative
black market where it fetches higher prices compared to the formal market.
Hundreds of thousands of litres of fuel have been siphoned from the
state-run National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) and CMED to the parallel
market which has become a thriving sector of the underworld economy.
This comes at a time when the country is reeling from acute fuel shortages.
Zimbabwe has been in the grip of a fuel crisis since 1999 due to lack of
foreign currency. The country is now virtually dry on the formal market.
The black market, a preserve of the well-connected and powerful, has become
the sole source of fuel for the whole economy. The ruling elite and their
cronies who have access to foreign currency either hijack national stocks or
buy fuel from neighbouring countries to offload onto the parallel market
where racketeering is rampant.
A recent parliamentary portfolio committee report on the state of
preparedness in the agricultural sector revealed thousands of litres of fuel
secured at subsidised rates from Noczim for farming purposes had been
diverted and sold on the black market.
Noczim distributes fuel directly to individual A2 farmers who purchase bulk
quantities of over 5 000 litres. A1 farmers, on the other hand, apply for
fuel from Noczim through the Agricultural Research & Extension Service
(Arex) while the Energy and Power Development ministry vets the
"Your committee was concerned that the current system was not watertight as
it appeared to be riddled with glaring loopholes," the report said.
"Agricultural stakeholders and Noczim officials confirmed to your committee
that some unscrupulous farmers were channelling fuel meant for agriculture
to the black market where it is fetching anything as high as $100 000/litre
compared to the subsidised price they would have bought it for at $11
A CMED audit report in the possession of the Zimbabwe Independent also
revealed that fuel was disappearing in large quantities from the
quasi-government agency to the parallel market. The report said 605 049
litres of fuel worth $1 billion at the subsidised price disappeared from the
CMED in one month last year.
Of the total fuel which disappeared, 247 041 litres of blend worth $432
million vanished while 16 340 litres of unleaded petrol valued at $49
million could not be accounted for.
The report says 341 668 litres of diesel valued at $563,8 million could also
not be accounted for. During the time of the disappearance, farmers,
government departments and local authorities were receiving subsidised fuel
at $1 650/litre for diesel, $3 000/litre for unleaded petrol and $1
750/litre for blend directly from Noczim at what is known as the "prescribed
"A lot of fuel could be siphoned from the system without detection. The
internal audit was not able to reconcile all purchases of fuel with
deliveries," the report says.
The Caltex invoices, which were used for fuel procurement, did not contain
essential procurement details such as cheque number, receipt number or order
"The Caltex invoices, despite having a provision for order number, delivery
station, cheque number and the name of the receiving officer is many a time
incomplete," it says.
The CMED scandal caused receiving stations to wait for fuel delivery without
knowing the exact quantities to be delivered.
"At times the quantity ordered for them is communicated over the telephone
but may not be what Caltex eventually delivers," the report says.
"There is a serious internal control weakness imported into the fuel
procurement and control process by the appointment of a Senior Loss Control
Officer as the fuel procurement facilitator or coordinator," the audit said.
The audit also noted there were outstanding fuel requisitions with a total
of 79 000 litres of petrol, 94 600 litres of diesel and 60 litres of oil
which were at Caltex Mutare offices.
OPPOSITION MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai's challenge to President Mugabe's
election victory in 2002 is now of mere academic interest as the incumbent
has already served more than half his term.
Tsvangirai has filed at least half a dozen applications in a bid to get a
speedier resolution of the case and his frustration with the country's
judiciary rings loud in his latest application heard in the Supreme Court
He brought the application to the appeals court after Justice Ben Hlatshwayo
in June last year dismissed Tsvangirai's High Court application without
giving reasons. In fact Hlatshwayo had prior to the ruling reserved
judgement for seven months and more than a year later now Tsvangirai is
still waiting for the judge to provide reasons for his ruling.
The latest application exposes problems in the conduct of the judiciary in
failing to deal expeditiously with electoral cases since the disputed
general election of 2000 and the allegedly rigged presidential poll two
There appears to be a trend developing in the judiciary where no reasons are
given for rulings made, especially in politically sensitive cases.
Tsvangirai sees the failure by the court to give reasons as an infringement
of his rights, hence the application to the Supreme Court.
But President Mugabe's heads of arguments deposed on October 10 say the
delay in issuing the reasons for the ruling does not violate Tsvangirai's
right to a fair hearing.
"It is submitted that having determined the existence or lack of these
rights, the adjudicating authority was not required to provide reasons for
this order," Mugabe's papers read.
Mugabe cites cases in apartheid South Africa and from the court of appeal in
Vanuatu to bolster the notion that the court is not obligated to give
reasons for its rulings. In the Vanuatu ruling, the judge noted: "The act
that the giving of reasons may be regarded by a citizen as increasing the
protection that the law provides does not mean that a failure to give
reasons is a denial of protection ."
Mugabe avers that Tsvangirai's rights have not been violated by the delay by
the High Court in providing reasons for its ruling because the need for the
court to give reasons is not provided for in the statutes.
"It is therefore submitted that as neither the constitution, the statutes
nor common law require reasons to be provided by the High Court, this is not
a fundamental right, and the deprivation thereof does not entitle the
applicant to the relief claimed," Mugabe said in his papers.
But Tsvangirai in his affidavit contested this averment, saying the failure
by the court to provide reasons for its ruling takes away the right to
appeal against that ruling.
"A right of appeal cannot sensibly be exercised if the reasons for the order
are not disclosed," he said. "The parties' legal representatives cannot
sensibly obtain instructions to appeal, or to defend on appeal, as the case
may be, without these.
"They cannot sensibly show that the order is either right or wrong without
the basis for it being disclosed. Their right to appeal itself is thus
He said the duty to give reasons was "moreover, inherent in the
constitutional function of the court". He cites a ruling in the South
African Constitutional Court in the Mphahlele v First National Bank of SA
Ltd case which reads:
"There is no express constitutional provision which requires judges to
furnish reasons for their decisions . Nonetheless . the rule of law is one
of the founding values of our democratic state, and the judiciary is bound
"The rule of law undoubtedly requires judges not to act arbitrarily and to
be accountable. The manner in which they ordinarily account for their
decisions is by furnishing reasons. This serves a number of purposes. It
explains to the parties, and to the public at large which has an interest in
courts being open and transparent, why a case is decided as it is.
"It is a discipline which curbs arbitrary judicial decisions. Then, too, it
is essential for the appeal process, enabling the losing party to take an
informed decision as to whether or not to appeal or, where necessary, seek
leave to appeal.
"It assists the appeal court to decide whether or not the order of the lower
court is correct. And finally, it provides guidance to the public in respect
of similar matters."
Tsvangirai says election petitions need to be dealt with urgently.
"The public at large need to know whether persons purporting to hold elected
office were in fact duly elected to that office. Regrettably, the courts of
Zimbabwe have failed to deal with the majority of the election petitions
filed following the general election in 2000."
But Mugabe regards Tsvangirai's application as "frivolous and vexatious". He
says Tsvangirai's petition was an "attempt to short-circuit the Electoral
Act so as to give him a technical court victory to the highest office in the
"This he clearly knows cannot and will not happen." Mugabe declared in the
AN incident last week during which a foreign currency dealer was shot dead
in an attempted robbery illustrates vividly the emergence of a vibrant
secondary economy beyond the remit of the state.
The few details in the state media revealed that the two foreign currency
dealers had more than $460 million in their car. Despite the inherent
dangers involved in illicit deals, foreign currency dealers at Road Port
have continued with their business.
Here the value of the Zimbabwe dollar is determined and pegged according to
the market and regardless of what the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe says its
This community, bound by their will to eke out a living, determines the
price of the South African rand and the United States dollar.
Although it is called a black market or parallel market, its magnitude
resembles a vibrant secondary economy which government and the central bank
have lost control over.
As the economy crumbles, a parallel market for almost everything from sugar
to fuel has emerged in Zimbabwe.
Ironically, it is this black market that has kept the economy running since
the crisis started almost six years ago.
If RBZ governor Gideon Gono's evidence in former Finance minister
Christopher Kuruneri's case is anything to go by, then it is the parallel
market that made the 2000 parliamentary election possible. Gono claimed in
his court evidence that government secured foreign currency from Kuruneri
for a national cause, which turned out to be importation of indelible ink
for the election.
Government departments are buying foreign currency on the parallel market.
The city of Harare recently bought foreign currency on the parallel market
to buy spare parts and water chemicals. Other parastatals like Noczim have
also bought foreign currency on the black market.
In short, illegal traders have taught the government that if it can't run
the economy they will take it over and run it in ways they deem necessary.
The growth in the black market activities is a clear sign that government
has lost its grip on the economy.
Analysts say no matter how many policies government announces, it will be
very difficult to eradicate the black market amid rampant shortages of basic
commodities. They say government is now hostage to parallel market traders
who ironically were created by its own skewed policies.
Economist John Robertson says the rise of the parallel market is a sign that
business is frustrated with government interference with market forces.
Government has over the years insisted on taking a lead role although it has
limited muscle to control the forces of demand and supply.
"It (parallel market) is a rejection of government's interference with
market forces," Robertson said. "The black market is an expression of the
power of the market," he said.
Government's disastrous policies have turned the country into a vendor
economy where people are constantly searching for something to sell instead
While manufacturing companies are battling with counter-productive price
controls, dealers who buy commodities at fixed prices make massive premiums
on the parallel market where price is determined by demand. For instance,
people who buy cement at Circle Cement at government fixed prices end up
making more than 200% on the black market.
"Such cases are a result of government's interference. It undermines
production," Robertson said.
"There is a dearth of production. Vendors are making more money than
manufacturers yet they produce nothing. They have not invested in anything,"
The government has trapped the manufacturers who produce while letting the
vendors trade in the same controlled goods at huge mark-ups.
Prosper Chitambara, an economist with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions,
said the blame lies squarely with the government. He said although the RBZ
was trying to let market forces determine the foreign currency market, the
damage has already been done.
"It's clear that the government has lost the battle. But the crisis is that
the whole government is still in denial," Chitambara said.
The recent relaxation of the forex market has not improved the situation.
The black market is still the major source of foreign currency. While the
interbank rate of the greenback is about $67 000, the parallel market its
offering about $87 000. Most companies still source their forex on the black
Perhaps one of the major causes of this crisis is that people no longer
trust the government with anything. People with foreign currency prefer to
sell it to strangers on the black market despite the risk because they don't
believe in the government.
"The people believe government might say bring your money to the bank as
part of a plan to trap them," Chitambara said.
Cases like that of Kuruneri actually explain why the parallel market will
continue to thrive. Kuruneri is being prosecuted after he heeded Gono's
invitation to sell his foreign currency to government. Nobody will make that
OPPOSITION Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai has
denied a series of allegations levelled against him by the rival faction led
by party secretary-general Welshman Ncube.
In an interview last week, Tsvangirai denied accusations he had become a
dictator by "wilfully violating" the constitution, overruling the party's
national council, the administrative and policy-implementing organ, and
unleashing youth militia on colleagues.
"As to whether I have become a dictator, let the people judge. I don't want
to reduce myself to gutter verbal exchanges," Tsvangirai said.
However, Tsvangirai said the arguments by his rivals were meant to vilify
him and mask their agenda to manipulate him. He insisted that he was not
wrong when he overruled the MDC council because "the national council can't
make new policy".
"The accusation that I acted unconstitutionally has no basis. Not only was I
politically correct, but I was also constitutionally right. In the MDC
(council) you can't vote on a matter of principle. It was wrong to vote on
the senate issue," Tsvangirai argued.
"When we went into that council meeting these guys (Ncube faction) already
had a plan. After debating in the council and running into a deadlock, it
was said the management committee had to meet on the issue. I was not the
chair and I had no choice but to agree."
Tsvangirai said when the "top six" met he found himself isolated as the
other five - Gibson Sibanda, Isaac Matongo, Professor Ncube, Gift
Chimanikire and Fletcher Dulini Ncube - "ganged up" to force him to accept a
vote on the matter.
"When we went back to council after the top six meeting I discovered
everything was already in place for a vote, showing it was pre-planned.
There was certainly a sinister agenda. The vote happened and the result was
33 to 31 in favour of participation in the election."
Why then did Tsvangirai go ahead to misrepresent the outcome, claiming it
was a 50:50 situation and that he had cast a deciding vote?
"What I meant was that there was a deadlock in the council meeting. I meant
the provinces were deadlocked. In the management committee I was outnumbered
by 5:1," he said. Pressed on the claim that the vote was tied, Tsvangirai
said: "I did not say that." His rivals say provinces were not deadlocked at
On allegations of sponsoring violent politics, Tsvangirai said that was
untrue. "I haven't built any institutions of violence. I'm in fact against
violence," he said.
Why then did he re-hire youths who were fired for attacking party officials?
"The youths were not fired, but were relieved of their duties. They are back
and they are my bodyguards. The problem is that the other guys want to
appoint my guards so that they can monitor what I do using them," he said.
"Besides, what has that got to do with the senate election?"
Tsvangirai said there was nothing wrong with his advisors - the so-called
"kitchen cabinet" - because "they worked very hard and even walked by foot
to ensure this party got started. They just offer advice and that is
different from decision-making. You can accept, reject or alter advice," he
Does Tsvangirai believe Ncube and his group are state agents and that they
collaborated with the state during his treason trial?
"I have never accused them of that. Some people might have said it, but not
me," he said.
Augustine Mukaro in Banjul, Gambia
GOVERNMENT'S efforts to defend its human rights record at the African
Commission for Human and Peoples' Rights meeting in Gambia this week faced
stiff resistance from civic groups who lambasted the state's unwillingness
to uphold basic freedoms.
Justice ministry permanent secretary David Mangota struggled to present a
cozy picture of Zimbabwe at the 38th Ordinary session of the ACHPR.
Representatives of local civic groups in Banjul countered Mangota's claims,
prompting the commission to ask the government to respond.
Mangota then blamed the West for sponsoring NGOs to peddle falsehoods about
"It is the duty of the donor community to sponsor NGOs to be watchdogs,"
Mangota said. "Governments on the other hand must be accountable, but donors
have overdone it in Zimbabwe," he said.
"Of the five youngsters from the NGO sector who made presentations on
Zimbabwe, only one comes from Zimbabwe. It's unfortunate that they continue
to feed the commission with old information recycled from 2002," he said.
Mangota defended Operation Murambatsvina saying the brutal demolition blitz
was meant to improve the welfare of disadvantaged groups.
"Government's Operation Murambatsvina seeks to provide better accommodation
to people who were living in destroyed slums and the Constitutional
Amendment No 17 was meant to resolve the land question once and for all,"
Contrary to Mangota's assertion, all NGO representatives who presented
papers on the situation in Zimbabwe, except for Amnesty International, were
NGO presentations were made by Wilbert Mandinde of Misa, Abel Chikomo of the
Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe, Harrison Nkomo of the Zimbabwe Human
Rights NGO Forum, and Irene Petras of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
Major highlights of the Misa and MMPZ presentations were on the shrinking
space for freedom of expression, continued harassment of journalists and the
Media and Information Commission's refusal to register the Daily News and
the Daily News on Sunday.
The forum concentrated on government's failure to implement African
Commission recommendations of its July 2002 fact-finding mission while the
ZLHR called for the protection of the judiciary and respect for court
rulings which government often ignored.
The forum criticised what it called the continued persecution of human
rights defenders. It condemned the recent arrest of National Constitutional
Assembly and Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions leaders for what government
described as unlawful demonstrations.
"Recently, members of the ZCTU and NCA have been maliciously, unlawfully and
wrongfully detained for engaging in a peaceful demonstration. During the
detention the victims were denied access to legal representation and food.
The detainees included people living with HIV and Aids," the forum said.
"We urge the commission to implore the Zimbabwe government to ensure that
its domestic legislation is consistent with minimum international standards.
The commission should impress on the government the need to ratify and
domesticate the convention against torture," the forum said.
The NGOs are set to make five presentations to the commission's private
SUSPENDED Zimbabwe Mirror Group of Newspapers CEO and editor-in-chief Ibbo
Mandaza's case took a dramatic twist yesterday after the Mirror board
summoned him to a disciplinary committee hearing despite an ongoing court
Mandaza's attorney Joseph Mandizha said yesterday Mirror chairman Jonathan
Kadzura had written to his client on Tuesday summoning to a disciplinary
hearing next Monday at the company's boardroom at Charter House.
Mandaza was recently suspended from the Mirror by disputed group chair
Kadzura and his deputy John Marangwanda in the wake of disclosures about the
takeover of the Mirror titles, the Daily Mirror and the Sunday Mirror, by
the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) using public funds. The CIO also
has an interest in the Financial Gazette.
Mandizha said Kadzura's letter this week to Mandaza contained eight
allegations of fraud framed as "purported grounds" for his suspension almost
two months after the action.
The lawyer said he would today approach the High Court in terms of an
earlier consent order issued by Justice Bharat for the matter to go for
Mandizha's remarks came as the chairman of the panel formed to hear and
determine the "propriety" of Mandaza's suspension, former chief justice
Anthony Gubbay, issued a ruling yesterday following Monday's initial
hearing, saying his team had no jurisdiction to hear the case.
Gubbay said the panel, which includes former Institute of Chartered
Accountants president David Vincent and chairman of the Institute of
Directors Much Masunda, could not deal with the issue since it was not a
labour court unless Patel's ruling had directed that the case be heard in
terms of the Arbitration Act.
Mandizha said he would file an application with the court today seeking
"It's an option we are going to exercise. Dr Mandaza finds Kadzura's letter
extremely in bad faith and in bad taste and wants the protection of the
court," Mandizha said.
"He was only served now with the purported grounds of suspension. There are
eight charges of alleged fraud which allegedly emanate from the (Ernst &
Young) audit report although the report does not sustain such charges. All
these charges are contrived and Kadzura knows that."
The Monday hearing got off to a false start and eventually collapsed after
the parties to the case failed to agree on the route of proceedings. - Staff
Loughty Dube/Godfrey Marawanyika
AN expected voter boycott in the senate election tomorrow could land the
ruling Zanu PF its first contested seats in five years in several urban
areas. Political analysts this week said the expected low voter turnout
could hand Zanu PF seats in urban areas where it last won representation
during parliamentary elections a decade ago.
The ruling party takes to the ring against a section of the fragmented
Movement for Democratic Change, weakened by a vigorous anti-senate campaign
by its own leader Morgan Tsvangirai, in polls that most people have
dismissed as irrelevant to the country's pressing economic problems.
Analysts say most people in urban areas will boycott the poll due to apathy
and the mixed message coming from the opposition.
"There will be significant voter apathy in this election," said John
Makumbe, a Harare-based political analyst.
"We have a situation where the anti-senate part of the MDC that appears
larger than the pro-senate group is calling for a boycott and the result is
that people in urban areas will not take part in the senate election."
The MDC is split along two lines with one group led by party
secretary-general, Welshman Ncube, advocating participation in the election
while the other group, led by party president Tsvangirai, is against taking
part in the poll.
Makumbe said the pro-senate group was wasting resources by campaigning when
it was clear that the majority of MDC supporters had paid attention to
Tsvangirai's message of boycotting the election.
Political analyst Eldred Masunungure of the department of political science
at the University of Zimbabwe, said voter apathy had always worked in favour
of Zanu PF. And in this instance Zanu PF will win some seats in urban areas.
"As it is, Zanu PF has won seats unopposed in Harare and other areas. The
polarisation in the MDC will work in favour of Zanu PF as there is no
consensus around candidates within the MDC," Masunungure said.
He said the senate election did not excite political instincts that would
spur an ordinary Zimbabwean to find time to vote in the election.
"Zanu PF knows that and that is the reason the party is mobilising strongly
in urban areas because they know they will pick up seats but the people will
stay away from the polling stations," Masunungure said.
Lovemore Madhuku, the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairperson,
said the expected voter apathy was not simply a result of divisions in the
MDC but voter scepticism of elections that are conducted under the current
"The voter apathy expected on Saturday is not really over the divisions in
the MDC but is a result of people not being sure of voting under the current
constitution. The MDC divisions only worsened the situation," Madhuku said.
Madhuku said it was difficult for the Zanu PF to win elections in urban
areas, especially in Bulawayo and other centres.
"As long as a few people go out and vote, Zanu PF will not win in urban
areas," Madhuku said. "No one in their right minds will vote for a party
that has destroyed their lives. Zanu PF does not have the capacity to
attract even its own supporters to go and vote."
Makumbe however said divisions within the MDC came at a very unfortunate
time and that would give Zanu PF significant ground in areas that were
traditionally MDC strongholds.
"The more space Zanu PF gets in urban areas the more the party can boast
that the MDC is a dead party," Makumbe said.
Meanwhile the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) says if people vote
the same way they did in the March election, the MDC will not win any of the
senatorial seats even in provinces it won during the parliamentary polls.
According to Zesn's analysis of the senatorial constituencies, government
collapsed the existing 120 constituencies as delimited under the December
2004 Delimitation Commission into 50 constituencies.
The report said that the basis for delineating the 50 constituencies remains
a mystery, igniting all sorts of allegations of gerrymandering with a view
to fixing the election outcome.
"Overall, whether intentionally or not, the senatorial constituencies are
demarcated such that were the electorate to vote the same way on November 26
as it did on March 31, the MDC would not win any senatorial seats even in
those provinces where it won some seats in March 2005, such as in the
Midlands and Masvingo," Zesn said.
"In Manicaland, the MDC would marginally win the new Mutasa-Mutare seat,
thanks to the inclusion of Mutare North but would lose the new Mutare
In total, Zesn said the MDC, under the new senatorial dispensation would win
17 seats, one of them very marginally in Manicaland and eleven in
ZIMBABWE'S national savings now stand at 10% of gross domestic product (GDP)
instead of the ideal 25%, as the country's galloping inflation continues to
wreak havoc on the economy.
The high inflation, which increased by 51,2 percentage points to 411% a
fortnight ago, has not only depleted the nation's savings but has also
killed a spirit of saving among ordinary Zimbabweans.
The Minister of Finance, Herbert Murerwa, who has been trying to promote a
culture of saving, has admitted that national savings of 10% of GDP are way
In his 2005 national budget statement, Murerwa said high domestic savings
were a prerequisite for investment and sustained economic growth.
"Regrettably, overall savings in Zimbabwe have remained low and are
estimated to be about -1,7% of GDP in 2004," he said.
He added that this has denied the economy resources for productive
investment at a time when both the public and private sectors require higher
levels of investment.
"Consequently, investment has remained low at levels of about 5% of GDP," he
Zimbabwe has not received significant external investment over the past five
years due to poor governance and lack of the rule of law. Investors have
shied away from Zimbabwe because of its unstable political and economic
conditions. Instead, major investors in the country like BHP and Lonrho have
closed down operations and several others have relocated to neighbouring
countries that offer better prospects.
Before investing in a country, investors consider the level of savings to
determine whether the target market can afford to buy their product.
Currently investors are shying away from Zimbabwe because a majority of its
population do not have enough disposable income.
Zimbabwe's GDP per capita is about US$300. Economic analyst John Robertson
said that savings are declining because it no longer makes sense to save
money in a market where the inflation rate is triple digit. "Savers are
getting negative return on their money because of galloping inflation which
government has failed to tame," Robertson said.
Workers can no longer afford to save from paltry incomes which they live on.
While inflation is hovering above 400%, banks like the POSB and the Central
African Building Society (CABS) offer interest on savings accounts of only
11% and 7% respectively.
Robertson said the decline in savings would make it increasingly difficult
for government to fund budget deficits and will have a negative impact on
both domestic investment and foreign direct investment.
The country's working population can no longer afford the benchmark of US$1
a day - equivalent to about $60 000 on the official market and approximately
$100 000 on the parallel market.
According to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, a basket of goods for a
family of six last month cost $11,9 million from $9,6 million in September.A
majority of workers in Zimbabwe earn far less than that a month.Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono has been forced to revise his inflation
forecasts for year-end from between 20-35% earlier this year to between
35-50% and later to 50-80% before recently climbing down again to settle for
By Admire Mavolwane
A WEEK from now the Minister of Finance as has become tradition, will be
caught on camera holding a brief case emblazoned with the national coat of
arms. This will be the occasion for the presentation of the 2006 budget
proposals and the 2005 fiscal and economic performance review. The economic
scenario seems to be continuing on the downward path, albeit at an increased
speed and the optimistic expressions that could be discerned on many faces
after the last monetary policy statement are fast disappearing.
The last International Monetary Fund report emphasised, among other things,
the need to exercise fiscal restraint. However, this looks unlikely given
the fact that over the past couple of months we have seen the government
taking on an increasing role in certain non-core activities. The collapse of
urban councils, with Chitungwiza being the more prominent one as it was
recently taken over by government, means that the need to spend in unlikely
to be curtailed. The 50-member senate; Operation Taguta (if last week's
press reports are true); and the imperative to rescue Air Zimbabwe as well
as most of the other parastatals, makes the minister's job unenviable.
Furthermore, the revenue base seems to be shrinking, with even greater
momentum if the numbers provided by the Minister during the mid term fiscal
policy review and subsequent concerted efforts to tax every dollar are
anything to go by. Real GDP continues to contract, conservatively estimated
at 7,2% this year and, as expected, the government's revenue base is also
shrinking in tandem. Although spending patterns take time to adjust, the
entrenched thinking within some sections that government can and must do
everything as well as the apparent lack of political resolve to slow down on
spending does not help efforts to live within our means or, at the very
least, to adapt to the changing environment. One wonders what forms of taxes
and levies the bureaucrats will come up with this time around.
As the business climate becomes less friendly and more strenuous the private
sector, which in our view is the country's most prized asset at the moment,
continues to scheme and work tirelessly, trying to make sure that businesses
not only survive but also grow in real terms. The performance of listed
companies, the most visible barometer, bears testimony to the efforts of
business executives and employees which sadly does not appear to be
complemented by government.
With this week probably marking the end of the September reporting period,
we look at the interim numbers from heavyweight Delta. Although below market
expectations, the results were presented to the analysts with the aplomb and
statesmanship that befits the status of the most highly capitalised counter.
The results although not spectacular, were of the solid state that is
expected from the blue chip with group turnover growing by 286% to $3
trillion. Attributable earnings increased to $575 billion from $125 billion
as a decline in volumes - in almost all the product lines bar plastics and
package and non-carbonated soft drinks which increased by phenomenal 47% -
were neutralized by aggressive price increases. The earnings per share of
$575,2 came in under consensus estimates as few had factored in exchange
losses on foreign creditors which took a $93 billion bite out of the $286
billion earned from finance income. Management admitted to being startled by
the resilience of the sorghum beer volumes which lost only 3% in volumes
despite pricing which now sees the popular Scud costing as much as its
top-end lager cousins.
The group's management team has over the years displayed strict adherence to
adopted strategies, be it margin maintenance, volume growth or cash
generation. There have been no vague, middle-of-the-road strategies. It
appears that when management decides a course of action based on assumptions
of a particular economic outlook, that route is stuck to religiously and
ruthlessly, hence the sacrifice of volumes for margin preservation in this
At the analysts' briefing management took the opportunity to expound the
rationale behind the offer to Ariston shareholders which saw Delta
controlling 54% of the former through both actual shares and proxies.
Members were reminded that foreign currency shortages had already severely
compromised profitability in the first half with stock outs of crowns for
lager beer and concentrates for carbonated soft drinks. Apart from bringing
a ready-made high volume contract grower with significant agricultural
expertise into the group's direct influence, the acquisition of the
agro-industrial concern secures about a sixth of Delta's annual US$64
million foreign currency needs. It may not be enough to quench the thirst
but it is a start which, if augmented by other supplies which would include
own exports of maltings and bottles, places the group in good stead.
Management also gave a fairly comprehensive presentation which highlighted
the investments and greenfield ventures that Delta has embarked on in order
to ensure the survival of the core beverage business.
These include, the US$4,5 million glass manufacturing entity, Headend,
plastics manufacturing (Megapak), Kwekwe Maltings including even its
strategic 49% shareholding in Food and Industrial, which manufactures corn
starch a key ingredient in lager brewing. The need to ensure grain security
and foreign currency inflows meant that a key horticultural and foreign
currency earning entity had to be brought into the fold.
A contrast could be made with Innscor, another market heavyweight which
seems to be on an acquisition spree snapping up sometimes end of the
spectrum companies and does not seem to be focused on its "core activity".
Many in the market have failed to define Innscor's core activity, and hence
have difficulties modelling it.
Echoing the sentiments from OK Zimbabwe, a former Delta subsidiary before
being weaned off, management pointed out that whilst volumes appear to be
holding at least for now, the first three months of next year could see a
huge slump as economic conditions deteriorate further. The recently
announced school fees hikes, and transport cost increases as well as
shortages of fuel do not auger well for the partaking of the waters of
wisdom. Management however, have indicated that they are planning with such
an eventuality in mind and strategies are already in place to preserve
profitability when push comes to shove.
AIR Zimbabwe's board of directors has ordered the closure of four regional
offices and one in the Far East as part of the turnaround strategy.
The board took the decision after noting the continued decline in business
from the regional offices. The board's decision was also influenced by the
continued ballooning of its foreign currency liabilities which included
meeting its bloated wage bill and expenses of running the regional offices.
Regional offices targeted for closure include Zambia, the Democratic
Republic of the Congo (DRC), Uganda, Kenya and one in the Far East.
"We have agreed to the closure (of regional offices) after considering a lot
of factors such as the cost of keeping them operational and the size of
business we were receiving from there," said a source on the board.
Currently the airline has a network of over 15 offices dotted around the
The source said the board was currently carrying out investigations into the
administration and operations problems at the national carrier to restore
"Investigations are being carried out, but it should be clear that we have
not failed in our endeavours as individuals and professionals, why should we
be associated with failure?" the source said.
He said the board was waiting for an investigation report into the crisis at
the airline and those found to have caused the problems will be dismissed.
"Either he fails or we fail, but one of us has to go," he said.
He said fuel shortages that resulted in the grounding of the airline's
entire fleet were a clear sign of incompetence on the part of the airline's
"We were only told on Friday evening that there was no fuel and one of the
planes had failed to take off. Surely this shows an element of management
relaxation and the board had to act for the integrity of the airline," he
By Thursday, Air Zimbabwe had managed to source fuel for its fleet after
government intervention, a situation which saw all its flight operating on
schedule including its Dubai route. The current situation will see the
airline procuring fuel directly from the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe as
compared to its previous arrangement where it bought the fuel from private
The recent problems at the national carrier comes after it cancelled its
US$2 million lease agreement with PB Air of Thailand after it proved costly
for the airline in relation to the amount of business the plane was bringing
FINANCE minister Herbert Murerwa's budget next week will focus on measures
to restructure government debt and rein in expenditure, documents in
possession of the businessdigest reveal.
A meeting of the business community, bankers and Ministry of Finance
officials three weeks ago, noted that reduction of inflation and policy
inconsistencies would go a long way in influencing investor perceptions and
expectations of Zimbabwe.
The recommendations at the meeting are likely to form the crux of the
The meeting was meant to discuss the "possible policy direction in the
restructuring of government debt from short-term to long term debt and
financing of the 2006 national budget, especially capital expenditure".
At the meeting, the government was represented by Judith Katerera, the
principal director in the Ministry of Finance.
According to minutes of the meeting, the use of money supply as a nominal
anchor in the fight against inflation when, in fact, there are more factors
driving inflation than money supply growth is not appropriate.
"There is need to target inflation and not money supply growth," the minutes
Of concern to the private sector was the need to raise the proportion of
capital expenditure in budgetary allocations so as to support projects that
have the potential to generate real income in the country.
"Firstly, there is a need to work towards rectifying the weak fundamentals,
particularly reducing inflation, before any serious restructuring of
government debt can be attempted," the minutes state.
"Control of inflation, backed by policy consistencies, will go a long way
towards influencing investor expectations."
The budget will be presented on Thursday. Domestic debt, which over the past
two months has been heading north, has largely been pushed by excessive
government reliance on money from the central bank.
Currently, domestic debt is $14 trillion, having increased by $2 trillion in
a space of two months, a trend which has been blamed on the need to finance
civil servants' salaries.
"There is a need to create a secondary market for government debt, which
will give the holders of such paper (boll or bonds) the right to sell to
third parties even before the maturity date. Securitisation of government
debt should encourage voluntary participation by investors," the minutes
"Evidence shows that such mechanisms have less adverse effects on the
economy than forced purchase of government debt."
At the meeting, it was recognised that there was need to incentivise private
sector participation in funding capital projects.
Having the private sector incentivised could include transparency in the
tender procedures so as to enhance investor confidence in the whole process.
The private sector also pleaded with the government to create a stable
environment with consistent supplies of raw materials and equipment.
CHATTING to our publisher Trevor Ncube last week, he spoke of the
corruption in the Russian media. One egregious example he gave is of a
journalist who goes to interview someone and then demands payment for the
job. The interviewee then presents two packets, one for the journalist and
another for the publisher.
A Russian media executive, Trevor said, made the stunning revelations
at a recent conference in Prague. He boldly declared that he would continue
to do it because if he did not, his competitors would.
For a country which in its heyday as the Soviet Union had propaganda
as the working tool of communication, the vice is evidently far from dead.
It has only taken a new dimension called "black PR".
The origins of this PR mode can be traced to the huge public relations
campaign in the country to mark the launch of McDonald's in Moscow in the
late 1980s. This was a PR stunt that turned into propaganda as Soviet
journalists had no choice but to praise the only fast-food chain in town,
particularly in the midst of a frenzy to praise anything Western as the
country dumped Communism.
This propaganda/PR hybrid has had a lasting effect on the Russian
public relations industry. It evolved into the so-called "black PR", used
mostly by political parties during election campaigns, when PR tools were
combined with such methods as the pouring of disinformational garbage on
political rivals. In this market, hundreds of millions of unaccounted
dollars landed in the pockets of corrupt journalists and "PR technologists".
Black PR has in a number of countries become an industry on its own
where the media has been suborned to align themselves to strong political or
commercial interests. Leading Russian PR consultant Andrew Sveshnikoff says
black PR has become a useful tool for oil oligarchs and raw materials
companies which use this combination of PR and propaganda as an alternative
to outsourcing public relations services to professional companies. The more
enterprising companies not only bought stories, editors and reporters, but
entire media outlets.
The mainstream media then becomes a PR arm of a business entity or
political party in an arrangement where media practitioners and media bosses
benefit materially from this black PR.
Zimbabwe, which is powered largely by the black market, is in a number
of respects not very far off from the Russian experience, especially during
this election period. I have no evidence of money changing hands or
journalists returning from farms with bags of potatoes and maize but our
state media can pass for an extension of the ruling order. This is true
because the government has told us that there is nothing wrong with this
So when the aspirant for a senatorial seat in Nkulumane, Dumiso
Dabengwa, tells the electorate that the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project
will be completed in 2007, it is reported in the government press in the
same vein as "the sun will rise tomorrow".
I hope the same reporter will visit Dabengwa in 2007 to interview him
on how he achieved this miraculous feat that has eluded successive
governments - including those of which he was a part - for nearly a century.
Remember the seven-year-old still incomplete Tokwe-Mukorsi dam
Certain private-sector entities also do not mind dabbling in black PR.
They are very quick to pull out advertising from newspapers that write
"negative" stories about them and reward those that produce puff pieces with
long-term contracts secured by a black PR arrangement.
This is our own form of black PR and the opposition MDC, while
castigating government for abusing the state media, will not mind getting
the same treatment from the privately owned press in the country.
Opposition party officials have publicly stated that the death of the
Daily News was catastrophic for them.
"The attack on the Daily News is not an attack on the owners of the
paper to prevent them from becoming rich and making money," Welshman Ncube
told a Peace and Democracy Project seminar in Johannesburg in October 2003.
"It is principally an attack on the MDC, for the simple reason that if
you remove the Daily News as a source of news, you have literally made it
impossible for the opposition's voice to be heard by the mass of people."
At the Quill Club this year he complained that this paper has not
given the opposition enough support. My foot!
Then I have had calls from senior MDC officials questioning why we
write about the United People's Movement and why we criticise the country's
main opposition party. "We cannot be competing for media space with this
Jonathan Moyo party, he can go to ZBC if he wants coverage," an MDC official
lectured me two weeks ago.
Put simply, someone thinks we should be a PR extension of their party.
That is poor politics.
Let me restate our role as a newspaper. We have a professional
obligation to tell the story of Zimbabwe from differing viewpoints and this
does not include fawning treatment of any individual or grouping. Nor does
it include shutting out views because their authors may be unpopular.
I know it may be painful for some to discover they are as much subject
to our searching spotlight as Zanu PF. But that's the way it works.
ON paper an indigenisation programme covering all aspects of black economic
empowerment (BEE) to create employment and reduce poverty among Zimbabwe's
indigenous people looks comprehensive enough to impress.
But the demands on government for its successful implementation also seem
too hard an act to follow.
Government is yet to fully adopt indigenisation as a policy to redress the
imbalances of the past. Until recently the programme was without a clear
policy framework and operational guidelines.
A first attempt at indigenisation succeeded in creating a legion of
briefcase businessmen and petty traders. It also created a small clique of
nouveaux riches, largely thriving on crony capitalism and feeding on an
intricate patronage system.
Now a revised policy framework devised by the Department of Indigenisation
and Empowerment in the Office of the President spells out clearly what the
government intends to do in various sectors of the economy.
Chief among the sectors targeted for black involvement are mining,
agriculture, manufacturing, telecommunications, and the financial sector.
The framework document says legislation should be enacted so that when the
state commercialises or privatises parastatals, it ensures that half of the
shares are immediately taken up by indigenous entrepreneurs.
It says government itself should arrange to procure 75% of its goods and
services from indigenous companies. An act should make it mandatory for any
companies merging or unbundling to set aside half its shares for
indigenisation and empowerment.
The script appears to mimic the South African model, itself currently the
subject of embittered protests from intended beneficiaries who feel
Major complaints revolve round the repeated appearance of the same
beneficiaries in different deals and guises. In striking similarity, most of
the board members in Zimbabwe's statutory bodies are the same charmed
Even when legislation regarding BEE comes into force, the Zimbabwean policy
framework for indigenisation goes out the window.
Black empowerment can only succeed in an environment of economic growth
buttressed by a vibrant private sector with full accountability all the way
down the line.
However, policy inconsistencies over the years have led to disinvestment and
gradual de-industrialisation by major international conglomerates due to the
hostile economic environment.
Populist policies that government adopted for political expediency since
2000, which witnessed the destruction of agricultural industry and company
invasions have colluded to make black economic empowerment unworkable.
The framework notes that to create an enabling environment for mobilisation
of financial resources, government should reduce its expenditure and
accelerate the commercialisation and privatisation process so as to reduce
the high budget deficit.
At the moment, Zimbabwe's weakened economy does not bode well for
For instance, in 1997 the government sought to nurture the Affirmative
Action Group (AAG) and Indigenous Business Development Centre (IBDC) and had
made headway in uplifting the status of indigenous entrepreneurs.
But it did not take the public long to realise that whatever noble
intentions government had, these were likely to be accompanied by crony
When asked why the Affirmative Action Group - the black empowerment lobby
group - was not helping Strive Masiyiwa in his protracted battle to get a
licence for a mobile phone project, businessman-turned-politician, Phillip
Chiyangwa, replied: "We have advised him not to confront government. I have
also realised in my dealings with government that if you can't beat them,
join them. But he has remained stubborn."
That response at a media economic workshop left no doubt the Zimbabwean
genre of black empowerment was founded on shaky grounds.
Lack of concrete policy had resulted in indigenisation being perceived by
most of the key stakeholders in a narrow context, with limited focus on the
disposal of state-owned enterprises, buying of shares and takeovers of
Televised scenes of Zanu PF legislators harassing and haranguing
industrialists in a show of misplaced radicalism have also done little to
retain the confidence of local and international investors. More importantly
the erosion of property rights has scared off the few investors who showed
an interest in the country.
Such limited focus by government and empowerment lobby groups vitiated
genuine empowerment. It was perceived as only resulting in the enrichment of
a few indigenous people at the expense of the disadvantaged population.
In Zimbabwe and other countries that have embarked on BEEs, the programmes
have been stung by criticism that they have become vehicles to enrich a
few.Strident debate is raging in South Africa - a country that has made
commendable progress in BEE - that the scheme is benefiting a small circle
of an elite clique of those connected to the ruling party.
Former state bureaucrats have lined up to receive plum empowerment deals
with big corporations by virtue of their connections in the African National
Congress in a similar fashion that the political elite in Zimbabwe have been
the main beneficiaries.
South Africa's Black Economic Empowerment Commission suggests in a draft
report that "the state's privatisation and restructuring programme has
failed in so far as empowerment objectives are concerned".
It argues that "effective black participation has been hindered until now by
a multitude of factors. Assets are privatised or restructured with the
assumption that empowerment will flow from new black ownership. Instead new
owners have been confronted with debt-burdened enterprises, a tough
financing environment, and in some cases, confused privatisation objectives
and conflicting interests."
In Zimbabwe ultimate policy framework should include crucial indigenisation
activities like land redistribution, expansion of the economic base through
greater participation in productive activities, and entrepreneurial skills
development, industrialisation and mobilisation of financial resources.
The need for a more appropriate strategy is widely recognised. But in the
current climate it is unlikely to happen.
By Bill Saidi
IT wasn't Christopher Dell who originated "vomiting on their shoes", the
exciting new epithet to describe rampant corruption in an African country.
But what the US ambassador to Zimbabwe did say caused almost as big a
diplomatic explosion as the remark by a former Western diplomat in Kenya,
Britain's High Commissoner Sir Edward Clay.
Dell flew back home for consultations with his government after such
reactions as President Robert Mugabe's patently unpresidential "Dell can go
African leaders, in general, are smugly contemptuous of Western accusations
of runaway corruption among their governments. Some claim the West does not
understand how Africans run their governments, which is to say they don't
run them like Western governments.
Others say the Western government pots have no right to call the African
kettle black when they themselves are no better - in other words, corruption
in the West has now been so institutionalised some of it is hardly
considered graft at all.
Still other African leaders believe the corruption in Africa is a result of
Western colonialism, which created the poverty that has now spawned the
The crux is this: the West pours money into Africa in the form of
development aid. It doesn't believe that most of this money really goes into
aid. Some clever, corrupt politicians, instead, put it into their pockets to
promote their obscenely lavish lifestyles.
In general, African governments want the Western donors to trust their
honourable intentions implicitly. When they donate billions in aid, they
should trust the beneficiaries to do the right thing with the money. So far,
this is where the hitch has developed into a mountain. For most of the West
this vomiting on their shoes is a direct result of those lavish dinners they
give themselves with donated money which should have been used to build
roads, bridges, schools, clinics and hospitals for the poor.
In Kenya, when President Mwai Kibaki fired the head of the anticorruption
bureau he had set up, not even the Kenyans could believe their leader was
sincere in his intention to fight corruption on all fronts, particularly the
Kibaki was in the first independence government in Kenya, under Mzee Jomo
Kenyatta. It was accused of corruption right up to the end of the Kenyatta
The era of Daniel arap Moi fared no better. Kibaki was there too. When he
took over, with his coalition partners promising to fight to rid the country
of corruption, Kenyans were encouraged. Later, Kibaki reverted to type: the
corruption in which he had wallowed in the Kenyatta and Moi regimes
resurfaced full blast.
Kenya's level of corruption does not match that of Nigeria, which is to
corruption in Africa what Monte Carlo is to the gambling population of
Europe. Zimbabwe has had one leader in 25 years of Independence. So far,
nobody has accused the leadership of vomiting on their shoes, which is not
to say that they haven't consumed those same sumptuous dinners whose total
cost would probably have built an entire school in one rural area.
The government has set up a whole paraphernalia against corruption,
including a cabinet minister, in the person of Paul Mangwana. He may not be
the commission himself but he personifies the entire campaign and its
success or failure will definitely reflect on his own performance in the
Mangwana has brought an evangelical zeal to the fight against corruption. He
will always be remembered for a very peculiar hairstyle or the lack of one.
His hair looks uncombed most of the time. Perhaps this is how he wants to be
recognised as Harold Wilson was recognised by his pipe, Margaret Thatcher by
her hats, Helmut Schmidt by his snuff, Fidel Castro by his beard and Mugabe
by his dyed hair.
Mangwana may want to smite the corruption dragon the way St George did to
another like-named monster, but he has to begin from the beginning, where
real corruption started in Zimbabwe. Mangwana may be familiar with the
recent cases of James Makamba and Chris Kuruneri. But is he old enough to
know that a few very influential people made bags of money in two civil wars
in which Zimbabwe intervened in Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of
the Congo (DRC)?
He ought to be curious about the fate of Edwin Nleya, a casualty of one of
the scandals involving top people. No doubt if he looked deep into the files
of our involvement in the Mozambique imbroglio, he will be bound to find
some dirty secrets linking influential people to corruption in that war.
Today, there is the land reform scandal with chefs holding more than one
property. Are the people named as being involved still holding their
positions in the ruling party and the government? If they are, what the hell
are the people supposed to believe? That the government is serious about
tackling corruption in high places?
Mangwana's education into the corruption file of Zimbabwe must necessarily
entail a long look at the War Victims Compensation Fund and perhaps the
entire catalogue of how much of the taxpayers money was dished out to the
war veterans, not only in the gratuities and the allowances but also in
their sorties into private companies after their destruction of the
commercial farming structure in 2000.
What may scare Mangwana and really make his hair stand on end may be the
discovery that most of the people involved are living war heroes, the people
perhaps without whose participation the liberation war might not have been
The arrogance with which these people dismiss any hint of their wrong-doing
has intimidated many would-be enquirers into stupefied silence.
Mangwana will discover that the culture of rewarding the liberation heroes
has blighted any thorough probe into the origins of corruption in this
There has existed a culture of treating such people as if they were
In the DRC, top people have been named publicly as having amassed illicit
wealth from their illegal activities in that war-torn country. Not one of
them has been brought to book in Zimbabwe. If the charges against them, made
by an agency of the United Nations, have been disproved, will someone please
let us know?
The status of the living war heroes became almost sacrosanct when one chief
government spokesman publicly reminded the people that without the action of
the freedom fighters the country might not have been freed from colonialism.
So, he said, it would not be out of place for such individuals to be
entitled to some reward by the people.
If this reward includes the right to loot and prosper on ill-gotten wealth,
then we must be told. There cannot be one law for one class of citizens
which does not extend to all others.
Africa's war against corruption is linked to its struggle against poverty.
The reason is that the poor are helpless to fight against the corruption of
the powerful, which may be why the whole citadel will crumble unless there
is some form of participatory democracy in operation.
Unless the poor can protest or be allowed the unfettered freedom to protest
that it is indecent and immoral for a few people to be entitled to enrich
themselves while the rest remain poor, neither corruption nor poverty will
be eliminated on the continent.
All people on the continent must feel that they matter, whether they are
poor shanty-dwellers outside Nyameni township in Marondera or politicians in
Philip Chiyangwa-size mansions in Borrowdale in Harare.
In many countries which won independence through the barrel of the gun,
probing among leaders is problematical because during the war no structures
existed to ensure people did things legally.
After all, in most cases, the line between the legal and illegal was so thin
as to be invisible. In Zimbabwe, it was no different. Shortly after
Independence, there were people who grabbed property, including farms,
without following the strict procedures demanded by the law.
Jacob Zuma, the former South African deputy president now in so much
trouble, could trace all this to his status in the struggle.
Unless Mangwana and his team are willing to dig into the dirty, murky past
and come up, at the very least, with the truth about who did what to whom,
our fight against corruption will not eliminate the scourge of the fat
people vomiting on their shoes.
* Bill Saidi is editor of the banned Daily News on Sunday.
By Phillip Pasirayi
TAKURA Zhangazha, a frequent media commentator and a long time colleague
from the University of Zimbabwe, wrote an incisive piece entitled "MDC:
looking beyond leadership crisis", which appeared in The Standard of October
In his analysis of the political developments in the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), Zhangazha argues that the differences on whether the MDC must
or must not participate in the senate election are symptomatic of a serious
departure by the MDC leadership from the party's founding principles and
what he calls the creeping in of "political elitism" that feeds on
Zhangazha argues: "Elitism has the tendency to emerge in a period where a
party or an organisation becomes too comfortable with itself, and negates
the principles upon which it was founded. (Morgan) Tsvangirai gravely erred
in allowing this sort of elitism to creep in, where a system of patronage
about who participates in parliament or not becomes the order of the day. Or
alternatively, where the "Top Six" begin to behave as though they were a
Zanu PF presidium and in the process battle for control of as elite an organ
as the National Council as if that is what the party was formed for."
There can be no analysis that surpasses the one the writer shares with us in
trying to understand why, over the years the MDC and its leadership have
behaved in the manner they did. If the opposition party was still as
consultative and as inclusive as it was from the onset, there was not going
to be any problems such as the petty differences that its leadership shows
at the moment.
Although I would argue that differences, especially in a big political party
like the MDC, are necessary and the essence of democratic discourse, the way
the MDC leadership is behaving is amateurish and retrogressive.
The behaviour of the MDC's so-called "Top Six" is no different from the way
the Zanu PF politburo behaves. But the problem can be traced back to
Tsvangirai who has forgotten the reason why the party was formed and has
himself become too bureaucratic and elitist in his approaches and
The MDC is a civil society initiative, formed by the leadership of the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), the National Constitutional
Assembly (NCA) and the Zimbabwe National Students Union in consultation with
the people of Zimbabwe.
Prior to its formation, teams were dispatched to the provinces, including
areas such as Binga, Lupane, Tsholotsho, Mudzi, Nyazura, Chimanimani,
Rutenga to mention but a few to consult with the people of Zimbabwe to speak
on the Zimbabwe they want. The template that was used in the data gathering
and consultation exercise had three questions: What is the current economic
and political situation in Zimbabwe? What are the remedies to the situation?
And how should the situation be resolved?
The process culminated in the production of a voluminous document called the
"raw data" that was used by delegates at the All Working Peoples National
Convention that was held under the theme "An Agenda for Action" in February
1999. It is this convention which gave birth to a political movement that we
are calling the MDC today.
It is this history that we can use to explain why things have turned out the
way they have in the main opposition party. The point that Zhangazha raises
about political elitism in the MDC which is fashioned out in a manner
reminiscent of Zanu PF politics is responsible for the cracks that are
emerging in the opposition party.
Some of the most vocal members of the MDC today who are creating confusion
may need to be lectured on how the party was formed. Some of these members
had been active in opposition politics and had flirted with parties like the
ruling Zanu PF, Zimbabwe Unity Movement and the Zimbabwe Union of Democrats
and failed to make an impact.
The late Learnmore Jongwe was sent to the University of Zimbabwe by
Tsvangirai to talk to some of his lecturers in the Law School and other
academics to come and join the party. Needless to say that some of these
former lecturers were used by the Zanu PF regime to silence and punish vocal
student leaders who were opposed to government. As leader of the UZ student
disciplinary committee, Welsman Ncube was well known for his severity
against students fighting for academic freedom. The argument was that there
is need to have a blend of activists and academics in the new party that was
dominated by ZCTU, Zinasu and NCA activists.
Various emissaries were sent to talk to other bodies and constituent groups
that had not been part of the initial processes that led to the formation of
the MDC. Taking a cursory look at the MDC politics today, they resemble a
completely divided movement, with the divisions taking tribal, regional and
We have heard talk about the existence of a faction of academics in the
MDC - a faction said to be dovish in its approach to political challenges.
It has been said that this group favours the courts and dialogue as opposed
to street protests to resolve political disputes.
While factions are inevitable in a political party as big as the MDC, what
can be said is that the ruling party has a hand in the factions emerging in
the MDC. It is inadequate to talk of a group calling itself academics even
though some of its members have just a two-year college diploma.
What is evident is that some MDC leaders have played squarely into the hands
of Zanu PF intelligence by trying to be legalistic or academic as opposed to
being revolutionary in their conduct. This is the reading that we get from
the differences that ensued as a result of the impending senate election.
The MDC leader has left it too late to deal with these problems, some being
of his own creation. There are reports of other people having being
catapulted to top positions in the party through the help of Tsvangirai. In
previous elections, there have been reports of candidates being imposed by
Tsvangirai and Matongo on the electorate.
After the death of Jongwe, there were efforts to bar Chamisa from standing
as a candidate in Kuwadzana because the seat had been reserved for Murisi
Zvizwai, himself a late comer in MDC politics but also a close confidant of
the MDC leader. Had it not been a screaming front page story in The Daily
News that pre-empted Tsvangirai's motive, Chamisa would not be the
legislator for Kuwadzana today.
Because of the persistence of patron-clientilism in the rank and file of
MDC, some current MPs have bought their way into parliament through sending
birthday presents either to Tsvangirai or his wife Susan. But it is not
surprising that some of the people who are claiming that Tsvangirai is
undemocratic are the very people who were handpicked by the same man and now
hold influential positions in the party even without the approval of the
party membership at the grassroots level.
In all this process, some genuine founding fathers of the MDC have suffered
as a result because they have no money to buy presents for their president
or because they have no Mercedes Benz to drive the leader to a meeting. Many
people have suffered in this patronage system that the MDC leader has
When all the dust has settled, it is imperative that Tsvangirai reflects on
the reason why the MDC was founded and why some of the founding fathers are
now taking a back stage in the party processes.
Names that immediately come to mind, are people like Mudhara Makuyana, known
for his loyalty to the party since its inception but was elbowed out of the
race in Mbare during the March parliamentary poll because Gift Chimanikire,
the deputy secretary-general who had lost in Mazowe constituency in previous
elections now wanted an easy run.
The same happened in Mabvuku where many young and vibrant party activists
were barred from contesting on an MDC ticket because Timothy Mubhawu, who
was at that time the chairman for Manicaland province, was in the race. The
youths were warned against fighting Mubhawu because he had the blessing of
Tsvangirai and they all come from Buhera.
Unless the MDC reflects on its past mistakes and reverts to being a
revolutionary party founded on the basis of entrenching social welfarism,
then its future as an alternative to Zanu PF is doomed.
* Phillip Pasirayi is a human rights activist and can be contacted on
By Cris Chogugudza
WHEN President Robert Mugabe first announced his intentions to retire
in 2008 at the end of his current term, I and many others paused a little
and wished 2008 was like next year. It appears most Zimbabweans at home and
in the diaspora cannot wait that long for the man to resign.
Mugabe has been at the helm of the country for 25 years and 10 of them
have been wasted.
His announcement and subsequent re-announcements to retire in 2008
seem to have fallen on deaf ears, quite rightly because the plan does not
address the immediate problems of the country which may be resolved if he
announced that he is resigning within 12 to 18 months.
The complex nature of the country's problems require a succession plan
to be put in place sooner rather than later. Again, some people's renewed
interest in the Zanu PF succession plan stem from the "failure" of the once
mighty opposition MDC party to unseat the increasingly unpopular but crafty
Zanu PF leader through the polls.
Some have questioned the logic of having elections whose results do
not reflect the popular will of the electorate. Mugabe can be succeeded by
members of his own party or by the opposition through democratic elections
or a bloodless popular uprising akin to the Orange Revolution in Ukraine.
Mugabe has committed a litany of errors which have made Zimbabweans
sink deeper than countries such as Mozambique, the Central African Republic,
Malawi and Tanzania in the UNDP development index. Mugabe does not seem
convinced that his continued occupation of State House is increasingly
becoming more of a liability than anything.
He is not at all concerned about the rapid death of the nation and the
collapse of the economy. The man carefully talks about succession to soften
people's minds and divert their attention from matters important to their
daily lives to only remotely important issues such as UN reform and his
obsession with the Blair-Bush alliance in world politics.
Mugabe uses the succession debate so tactfully in the same way he
talked about land reform to absolve himself from the obvious blame on the
status quo which has made some of us, especially in the diaspora, lose our
pride and respect among fellow Africans.
The Zanu PF elite does not seem to understand how crucial a properly
planned succession could help in resolving our current problems at home.
In the UK, the ruling Labour Party is already openly discussing Tony
Blair's succession and the opposition Conservatives are doing the same. In
France and other progressive democracies of the West and elsewhere,
succession is more of a palatable topic than a taboo as in Zimbabwe. Closer
to home in Botswana, Tanzania, Namibia, Zambia and South Africa, succession
plans proved to be very effective and had a stabilising effect on the
economies and politics of the countries, debatable though in the case of
Tanzania and Zambia.
Early succession to Mugabe has never before been as important to
Zimbabweans as it is now. The issue of succession will always help people,
business and industry to plan ahead in a predictable fashion.
Analysts believe that Zanu PF's lack of clarity on the succession
issue could be a way of reinforcing its personality cult, or great leader
concept on Mugabe. This has the effect of Zanu PF apportioning blame on the
new leader for the problems created by Mugabe if there is chaos during the
transition from Mugabe to whoever - whether Zanu PF, MDC or United People's
It is manifestly true beyond any reasonable doubt that Mugabe's
hostile foreign policy against the West compounded by archaic and
ineffective economic policies reminiscent of the banana republics of the
1970s and 80s have worsened Zimbabwe's crisis and are largely responsible
for the current state of affairs in Zimbabwe.
Conventional wisdom states that you do not fight the West, UK and US
in particular, irrespective of how seemingly vindicated your course could
The result is that you will be ignored and condemned to starvation if
you are a small country.
The MDC on its part has a responsibility to the people of Zimbabwe,
especially the urban folk, to try and analyse its own policies and
leadership style and possibly effect some changes at the top. This may be
the only way the opposition can ever succeed in reclaiming the people's
If the MDC does not reflect very seriously on its leadership
structures and style, it risks being thrown to the very fringes of national
politics and could still remain in opposition for the next 20 years as what
happened to President Abdulaye Wade of Senegal.
The MDC, like the Conservatives in the UK, may need rebranding or
reinvigorating to be effective and be prepared to succeed Mugabe and his
Zanu PF party in the ascendancy at any time. Essentially, the MDC needs to
behave like a government-in-waiting. What this means is replacing the party
president or the president replacing some of his rotten apples, which like
their adversaries in Zanu PF are ineffective, and becoming increasingly
irrelevant to the contemporary geo-politics of Zimbabwe.
The re-branding exercise may be painful but necessary and may result
in losing some influential but lethargic and irrelevant figureheads. The
problem of the opposition's failure to reform accordingly may result in the
MDC being relegated to a stay-way party or a mere debating society where
people just meet to demonise the Zanu PF monster without challenging it.
The current bickering about the senate election is unnecessary and
could have been avoided as a matter of principle. Some important decisions
need not be referred to the democratic process all the times.
Rivalries, divisions, polarisation of ideas, personality clashes and
disagreements are characteristics of powerful parties and the most important
thing is the management of those issues to levels of sanity which may result
in the party being stronger. In view of the aforementioned, I take the
current "power struggles" in the MDC aristocracy as an inevitable passing
If the differences become irreconcilable then factionalism becomes
inevitable and the stronger faction should be allowed to prevail as long as
it has the support of the majority of the people. Similar trends happened to
the ANC giving birth to PAC and Zapu giving birth to Zanu.
However, if anything, a split in the MDC should be the last thing the
people of Zimbabwe wish for now.
The Zanu PF succession plan may succeed if the MDC does not change its
national leadership style and structure. If the leadership changes are
delayed in the MDC, Zanu PF may decimate the opposition and become the only
player in the succession game with its backbenchers being the de facto
The people of Zimbabwe may be seemingly docile, devoid of the vigour
that characterised the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, but are still eager to
invest their votes and political future in an MDC party that evolves and
responds to the changing leadership demands of the 21st century politics. A
rebranded MDC appears to be the only answer to a chaotic Zanu PF succession
In fact, contrary to the overwhelming consensus of public opinion
within the establishment, Zanu PF succession's rhetoric could be a gimmick
to either buy time or test the waters so that they can extend Mugabe's term
* Cris Chogugudza is a London-based Zimbabwean.
Eric Bloch Column
THE thought of an airline pursuing the law of diminishing returns conjures
up horrendous images, but intending passengers of Air Zimbabwe need not fear
for their safety. The diminishing returns will not be those of the airline's
aircraft, and of the passengers on board, but of the revenues accruing from
an ever-diminishing number of passengers.
This is so because, under the law of diminishing returns, ill-considered and
excessive increases fail to generate anticipated increased income, and
instead result in a fall in operational earnings. And that will,
inevitably, be the consequence of Air Zimbabwe's recent gargantuan hikes in
This week the board suspended CEO Tendai Mahachi and grounded its fleet.
That the national airline had to raise its charges is indisputable, for not
only is it as subject to the hyperinflationary impacts that afflict all
Zimbabwe but, in addition, a very great proportion of its essential
expenditures are foreign currency-denominated. Undoubtedly its major costs
include aviation fuel, spares, international landing fees, crew
accommodation abroad, reinsurance and much else. Therefore, not only must
fares be realigned to address inflation in local costs, but also the
escalation in operational expenditures caused by exchange rate movement.
However, the magnitude of fare increases in the last month has left
passengers, and would-be passengers, aghast. Despite three prior price
increases in 2005, fares were increased during the last months by almost
200% on domestic routes and more than 300% on most regional and
In seeking to justify such immense increases, the airline has cited exchange
rate movement but, on the one hand, that movement was to a lesser extent
than those percentages and, on the other hand, not all the airline's costs
are foreign currency-denominated. As to the exchange rate, the airline
appears to apply the rates existing in the unlawful alternative markets, as
distinct from the rates prevailing within the official interbank market.
The latter have been between $60 000:US$1 and $63 200: US$1 (being the mid-
rates) since the foreign currency auctions were discontinued on October 20.
In contradistinction, Air Zimbabwe appears to be applying rates ranging from
$75 000:US$1 to $100 000:US$1. An economy class return fare on the
Bulawayo-Harare route is now an astounding $21 550 250; on the
Bulawayo-Johannesburg route $29 850 000; Harare-Johannesburg route $39 600
000; and to London Gatwick $146 925 000 (before taxes and departure fees!).
Adding insult to injury, it applies those rates to the entire fares, instead
of recognising that a significant portion of the revenues are required to
serve local costs, including salaries, administrative and other overhead
expenditure, domestic marketing and finance costs. Those costs should
increase only in tandem with inflation, as distinct from being exchange
Compounding the insults to injury even further is that when the airline
launched its newly acquired MA60 aircraft about six months ago, it trumpeted
with very great razzmatazz that those aircraft were exceptionally
cost-efficient, lowering operational costs by at least a third!
And to compound the appalling state of affairs even further, the airline's
customer care continues to decline apace, with the sole exception being the
remarkably great attentiveness of the cockpit and cabin crews. They
demonstrate continual concern for the well-being and comfort of the
passengers, but the same cannot be said for management, who cannot (or will
not) even ensure adequacy of aircraft supplies.
On at least eight flights out of 10, on domestic routes, there is no soap in
the toilets. Compliance with international airline catering standards of
providing decaffeinated coffee, for those allergic to caffeine, was
discontinued sometime ago. Similarly, it is now the exception, rather than
the rule, for whisky to be available on evening flights, be it in business
or economy class, and irrespective of whether on routes catering mainly for
international tourists, or for domestic travellers.
Announcements are not made at the airports when flights are delayed, printed
timetables have ceased to be available (although, if available, would
probably qualify for an international prize as works of fiction), and even
business-class travellers are restricted on the refreshments of which they
may partake at many airports, let alone members of the much-vaunted
frequent-flyer Rainbow Club.
Air Zimbabwe is clearly suffering from "monopoly disease", for it has no
competition on domestic routes, and non-accessibility of foreign currency
forces most Zimbabweans to patronise the airline, instead of its
competitors, on regional and international routes.
As a result, the management of Air Zimbabwe appears to pursue a "passengers
don't matter" philosophy, in contradiction to the helpfulness and concern
demonstrated continuously by check-in personnel and aircraft crews. That
passenger disregard attitude has prevailed for an extended period of time,
but has markedly intensified recently, reaching new heights with the latest
Air Zimbabwe recently had a new board of directors, including some renowned,
very able, businessmen, and hopefully they will urgently focus upon
achieving passenger-oriented, efficiency-targetted, cost-containment
policies. If they do not, the law of diminishing returns will set in for,
despite Air Zimbabwe's near-monopolistic supremacy, potential passengers are
beginning to balk at the tyrannical fares and the service inadequacies.
Bulawayo businessmen, who used to travel as much as twice weekly to Harare,
are rescheduling to consolidate commitments into one trip per fortnight,
thereby depriving Air Zimbabwe of three return fares. Others are grouping
together to charter aircraft, for six can fly to Harare and return in a
chartered light aircraft for a fraction of six return air fares on Air
Zimbabwe. Yet others, notwithstanding fuel shortages, are now resorting to
A month or more ago, every flight between Bulawayo and Harare on the
52-seater MA60 aircraft carried an 80% or greater passenger load. Each
flight would carry in excess of 40 passengers, and many were fully booked,
but in the last few weeks numerous of the flights have had only 20 to 30
passengers, which loudly proclaims the market resistance to the exorbitant
fares now prevailing.
JUST a few days after President Mugabe returned from Lesotho where regional
leaders discussed smart partnerships, the government demonstrated what it
meant by such arrangements. On Saturday the Herald disclosed that the
publicly owned bus company Zupco had "donated" $1,5 billion to Zanu PF.
The company posted an after-tax profit of $117 billion in its last financial
year, of which $25 billion went to government as a dividend. This enabled
the Herald to use words such as "resurgent" and "turnaround".
Harare governor David Karimanzira announced that the "donation" would go
towards meeting the costs of the ruling party's so-called National People's
Conference next month.
Is all this entirely above board? Are publicly owned companies allowed to
make "donations" to political parties? Even if it is legal, it is certainly
not ethical. Public companies have a responsibility to manage their affairs
in a professional and non-partisan manner. Can you imagine the storm of
protest in the official media if the same sum had been given to the MDC?
The board of Zupco appears to have decisions dictated to it.
"We are grateful for this gesture," Karimanzira said. "We appeal to other
companies to also assist us."
Let's see who else has been suborned!
Muckraker is delighted that Vice-President Joice Mujuru has secured a
degree. This was a fitting reward for her perseverance as a late-comer to
the educational scene.
Her BSc in Management and Entrepreneurial Development Studies from the Women's
University should enhance her capacity in dealing with small businesses. But
in view of her excoriating remarks about mismanagement in parastatals
recently we wonder what her view was of those companies using public funds
to curry favour with her by placing gushing adverts in the state press.
Ziscosteel, a basket case if ever there was one, Potraz, which can't tell
the difference between a transmitter and a receptor dish, Net*One which
offers "the world in your pocket" but has difficulty connecting you anywhere
else, and Air Zimbabwe, which has proved very entrepreneurial in charging
fares well above other airlines before it was temporarily grounded this
week, all fell over each other to offer their fawning congratulations to the
vice-president. Even companies that should know better like Barclays and DZL
joined the stampede.
On a more disturbing note, the Ministry of Defence, police, and Prison
Service added their patriotic voices to the chorus of congratulation.
But of all those offering their praise we were most impressed by Zanu PF's
message. "From Salvation Army to Liberation Army to Development Army", the
ruling party chronicled, leading to the award of a degree in "Management and
Enterprenual (sic) Studies".
Looks as if the "secretary, national executive, and entire membership of the
Women's League" which placed the ad could do with a course at the Women's
And we thought the message from the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund was a
tad misplaced. Shouldn't that be woman-power?
Another parasitic parastatal is the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority. This
blood-sucking monster levies a charge on tourism players which enables its
Zanu PF-connected executives to live comfortably while doing nothing useful
to promote tourism.
For example, its website is threadbare. While it describes the ZTA's primary
function as promoting tourism, it is unable to provide dates or venues for
forthcoming fairs. Perhaps there aren't any?
Its officials should be told they have more to do than sitting around in
comfortable offices. Telling the world what Zimbabwe has to offer involves
more than pretending all is well when it manifestly isn't!
Somebody should also advise them on the spelling of "sectoral".
Meanwhile, the government of Zimbabwe's website remains a mess. A surfer
entering www.zim.gov.zw is told that "The requested URL could not be
retrieved" alongside a portrait of the president taken many years ago
together with "the Honourable JT Mujuru, vice-president" and a picture of
their Munhumutapa Offices. The other honourable vice-president appears to be
absent, or perhaps, like the rest of them, is simply irretrievable!
Where is Jonathan Moyo when you need him? And what exactly does Bright do
all day? Answers on the back of a postage stamp please.
President Mugabe has announced that the discovery of uranium deposits will
help address Zimbabwe's power needs.
This sounds like another of those "Zimbabwe's woes will soon be a thing of
the past" stories.
But as economists were quick to point out, processing uranium requires a
great deal more than finding a few deposits. And the technical expertise to
then build a nuclear power industry is well beyond Zimbabwe's competence. It
must first learn to transmit power from existing generators.
Has anybody tried calling Zesa's fault line over a weekend? If you manage to
get through, they give you a report number and promise they will be there
"today". The next day there is another promise of same-day service. On the
third day there is an admission of diesel shortages and problems with "rain",
meaning lots of customers to visit.
But Zesa's polite and friendly staff cannot disguise the fact that the
company is far from being a modern, efficient utility. Can you imagine a
Zimbabwean parastatal managing nuclear reactors? Talk about "duck and cover".
Not unrelated to this are reports that Mugabe surfs the Internet and can do
so from his limo. Muckraker is frankly sceptical that our leader is
following in the footsteps of Thabo Mbeki. Next they will be telling us he
can drive a car!
And didn't you like the way the Mirror invented a story about Gibson Sibanda
calling for an Ndebele state which then provided Mugabe with a text for his
address in Chitungwiza last Saturday, posing as the defender of the nation's
Sibanda has denied making any such claim. Those with him confirm that he
said no such thing. He simply quoted from the party's constitution on the
devolution of power. But that didn't stop Mugabe from using it to his
Now we see the true meaning of the Mirror's servitude.
What we would love to know is who dropped in the word "Lesotho"?
"None of us," say the Mirror's staff. They didn't even cover Sibanda's
speech where the alleged remarks were made. Got them from a "source" you
Muckraker does not want to discourage editors from giving young staffers
their shot at op/ed writing. But at the same time such forays need to be
watched for purple prose and mixed metaphors.
Here was Robert Mukondiwa in the Sunday Mail last weekend: "The excitement
over what is fast being seen as the swansong for the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change is by far one of Zimbabwean history and journalism's most
myopic moments. A period not a hint short of an anti-climax. Like birth
pangs at the onset of labour, the demise of the MDC was a long time coming.
There is little to celebrate or even wonder about as the house that Morgan
Tsvangirai, on behalf of a Caucasian master-lurking-behind-in-the-shadows,
built. Like a pregnancy, loud before the face for all to see and carried
about for a long time and just about to be delivered, the MDC has finally
and expectedly come face to face with its death."
It would be nice to say it got better after this display of prolix. But
sadly the author remained "inebriated by the exuberance of his own
Did anybody see a picture of sulky Vivian Mwashita being introduced to the
people of Epworth by Vice-President Joseph Msika in the Herald last Friday?
She looked distinctly unhappy about being a candidate for the senate.
Vivian is one of several deadwood candidates being nominated by Zanu PF. She
distinguished herself in farm invasions on the periphery of Harare in 2000
and then led rent-a-mobs to welcome President Mugabe back from his overseas
jaunts at Harare airport. For this service she is now being rewarded. Msika
declared she would "work tirelessly to uplift your livelihood". He didn't
say why nobody had done this before.
The MDC had no common nationalist ideology, Msika declared, saying the party
only wanted to "wine and dine with imperialists".
Where has his party's "nationalist" ideology got the people of Epworth, one
of the most deprived parts of Harare whose shack-dwellers were recently the
victims of Operation Murambatsvina?
Mwashita was awarded a 94% disability payment, the Chidyausiku Commission
into abuse of the War Victims Compensation Fund learnt, for "loss of
We wonder how peckish she is feeling now as all those senate "pecks" beckon!
We enjoyed Innocent Mpofu's cartoon last Friday. There was the superhighway,
all full of a long Western vehicle convoy. On the side of the road trying to
barge in from the bush was a little flivver labelled "Africa: ICT
Development" and calling out to the passing convoy: "Give way, please" with
an emaciated arm jutting out of the window.
There was no sign that anyone in the convoy was prepared to stop. Rightly
so, we reasoned. There was no road or a chimney to suggest a homestead
nearby where the car was coming from - highway robbers or a Zimbabwean kombi
driver, we wondered?
Lack of a road ordinarily symbolises lack of planning or policy, a
predictably Zanu PF phenomenon.
And what sort of access does Mpofu think Mugabe would provide once he got
his hands on the Internet?
After running mad with their propaganda on why US ambassador Christopher
Dell had gone to the United States, state media have made a sudden change.
Initially they claimed Dell had gone back home to protest at being summoned
by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs over his "undiplomatic" remarks on
Zimbabwe's economic crisis. Once this line ran out of steam, it was time to
invent another excuse. This week Caesar Zvayi "revealed" that Dell's trip to
Washington was in fact an "annual pilgrimage" by all US ambassadors
accredited to Africa.
The startling part was the claim that Dell's attack on government for
mismanagement and corrupt rule was merely to provoke an incident so that he
could have something to report back home. How egregious can propaganda get!
So the crisis in Zimbabwe is all an invention of the American ambassador? Is
that the view of starving Zimbabweans across the country who survive on the
generous donations of foreigners? Which part of Zimbabwe does Zvayi come
from where Mugabe is seen as a saviour?
Air Zimbabwe has no fuel. This should not surprise those of us who have been
in this crisis for the past six or so years. It was bound to come. Whatever
source used to provide them with foreign currency, it was bound to dry up
eventually given the clueless leadership the country is saddled with. Not
even Venezuela is prepared to be helpful.
So the culmination came this week when the national airline was temporarily
forced to cancel all flights because there was no Jet A1 fuel. The response
from the authorities was uncharacteristically swift. Air Zimbabwe chief
executive Tendai Mahachi was immediately given his marching orders.
We don't know much about Mahachi's skills or the reasons why he was
appointed chief executive officer of the airline in the first place. What we
know is that he reportedly drafted Harare council's turnaround strategy. Ask
residents of Harare and they will tell you they are better off without any
strategy for all it has done to clean up refuse or provide water.
Then there is the big question: if the issue at Air Zimbabwe is about
foreign currency, what is a chief executive expected to do where a whole
government has failed over six years? Mahachi has been in charge for less
than a year since December.
The answer is to be found in the circus taking place in Chitungwiza where
the council is expected to deliver services without money, then it is blamed
Let's just call it management by blaming.
Meanwhile, somebody please tell the writer of that story and Newsnet
reporters that Air Zimbabwe is the national airline, not "airliner".
Finally, we were interested to see criticism from President Mugabe of the
absence of irrigation equipment in Masvingo. He said not much ground had
been covered in the provision of irrigation equipment. He wasn't sure
whether this was the result of inaction or poor performance.
Hasn't he been reading the newspapers recently? There have been detailed
reports of concerted raids by police and other state personnel on farms in
the Mwenezi area where irrigation equipment has been seized together with
other farm implements. It would be useful if somebody could brief him on
these developments before another useless committee is set up to "spearhead
irrigation development and end chronic food shortages"!
IT is trite to say that governments have never been good at running
businesses. This is most certainly true of a government struggling with its
core business of governance.
Events at Harare International Airport last weekend provide a graphic
illustration of the argument that the state should stay out of the
day-to-day operations of parastatals.
There was embarrassing chaos at the airport when the national carrier ran
out of fuel and was forced to ground its planes and cancel flights.
Government responded by firing general manager Tendai Mahachi and calling
emergency meetings to solve the crisis.
Air Zimbabwe planes were back in the air this week but not before the
incident had exposed the unmistakable parallels between poor corporate
governance in parastatals and the administrative inadequacies in President
Here is a parastatal which every Transport minister since Herbert
Ushewokunze in the early 1980s has regarded as a personal plaything. He even
got involved in designing the new airline's colour scheme! That is when it
made a profit and ran on schedule. Now it is an example of what happens when
politicians can't let go.
Numerous working documents have been tabled while the door to the CEO's
office has never stopped swinging. Successive Ministers of Transport, not
least the incumbent, appear unable to see that their degrees don't equip
them to run a highly complex operation. The solution which has been advanced
to bring normalcy at Air Zimbabwe is privatisation or entering into a
strategic partnership with established and competent international carriers.
This has worked in the Kenya Airways/KLM linkup for instance. Kenya Airways
is the model of a successful African airline that runs on time and
encompasses routes to West Africa, Southern Africa, Europe and the Far East.
But our rulers, encrusted in the protectionist jacket, would rather see the
parastatal grinding to a halt than cede control to private players or a
foreign concern. The government's whole psyche on the subject of
privatisation of paraststals has shifted backwards over the last five years
to the need to control all enterprises, despite the cost to the taxpayer.
Lessons from the successful privatisation of Dairibord and Cottco seem to
offer no incentive for the state to do the same with the loss-making Air
Then there is also the awkward belief that parastatal reform, especially the
turnaround at Air Zimbabwe, can be achieved by "looking east",
notwithstanding the poor economics of flying there. Parastatals have become
agents of implementing government's flawed political decisions.
The costs to the economy are huge, especially the opening of new routes. Our
rulers believe there is method in the madness of flying a single passenger
across continents in a 200-seater plane. This excursion into folly becomes
more intriguing when it is blended with the false fight to ensure "Zimbabwe
will never be a colony again".
This government has labelled public corporations, like Air Zimbabwe and the
National Railways of Zimbabwe "strategic", the country's "last line of
defence" against loss of sovereignty. The state appears unfazed by the decay
and virtual collapse in parastatals as long as they can be manipulated to
fulfil a political role in promoting nationalism and sovereignty.
The Privatisation Agency of Zimbabwe, launched with pomp and ceremony a few
years ago, has become another state monolith devoid of purpose. We were told
privatisation had been replaced with commercialisation. There is nothing to
show for this mantra other than corporate incompetence exemplified by huge
debts and poor service delivery.
The mess at Air Zimbabwe is a microcosm of the state of parastatals in
Zimbabwe. They are badly run and ministers entrusted to right them are
equally incompetent, if not agents of confusion themselves. We should ask
what State Enterprises minister Paul Mangwana has done since his
appointment? Not much, other than providing another layer of useless
Air Zimbabwe planes took to the skies again this week but real problems are
far from over as long as political decisions continue to supersede business
sense. Politicians, in a bid to get friends in their corner have forced the
airline into opening routes to China, Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore.
This is pitiable for an airline with only two long- haul planes. The two
Boeing 767s are overstretched and passengers are bound to be inconvenienced
if one of the planes develops a problem. The three Boeing 737s and the two
smaller Chinese-built aircraft flying regional and domestic routes have not
been put to full use.
Air Zimbabwe, despite its record of inefficiency and limited resources, is
spreading itself too thinly on the ground. It has to first get its act right
on the domestic routes where disruptions are commonplace. The potential in
the region has not been fully exploited. The airline does not seem to
understand what it is really good at. This is a major weakness which
requires government to think rationally to prevent further embarrassment.
But can we trust ministers to get it right?