Tag Archives: Zimbabwe

26 June: Remembering Zimbabwe’s torture victims and the role of the Zimbabwe National Peace and Reconciliation Commission

27 Jun

On June 26, Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in commemorating the United Nations Day in Support of Victims of Torture. This commemoration is important in reminding perpetrators especially those aligned to the state that the crimes committed will not be forgotten just like that. On the other hand, it serves to remind victims, survivors and their families that their pain and suffering will not be forgotten until they receive justice.

In Zimbabwe, much focus has been placed on the work of the constitutional body that is the Zimbabwe National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC). Lately there has been a lot of publicity on its work vis a vis violence prevention in the upcoming 30 July Harmonized elections in Zimbabwe. This is important and commendable. While this work continues, I would like to note a few points related to the work of the NPRC, past victims of torture and how the NPRC can contribute further to the achievement of sustainable peace in Zimbabwe.

The issue of human rights investigations – the NPRC looking for an elephant standing in front of them

The NPRC has since its formation carried out wide consultations across the provinces and communities in Zimbabwe. I cannot speak for them on what they have achieved thus far but certainly there are issues that they might want to consider as they carry out the work of reconciling Zimbabweans. Firstly, it is important for the NPRC and its sister institution the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) to acknowledge that the information about who was violated, by who, when and how is largely known to most Zimbabweans. Minor details might be missing but most of this information is held by reputable human rights and civil society organizations in Zimbabwe and at the international level. It would be at the least time wasting and at most preposterous for the NPRC to want to go on a frolic purporting to be investigating past human rights violations when they can as well approach most of the human rights organizations that have carried out this work before for information and clarifications if need be.

The need to attend to the mental health issues of victims and their families

Secondly, it is a known fact that Zimbabwe has in the past experienced very serious levels of human rights abuses by state security agents such as the police, the army, the intelligence as well as other private organizations working with the acquiescence of the state especially during election periods and other significant national events. Most of the victims and even their families have suffered major post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) leading to mental health challenges. These challenges are well documented and known in communities. While families might have challenges in identifying such issues as clinical problems it is important for the NPRC to take this matter up and decisively deal with it. Zimbabweans are a traumatized people coming from years of abuse by the Mugabe regime. Our traditional beliefs where people suffering stress disorders are easily considered to have been bewitched or plain crazy are very real and play a detrimental role in perpetuating the plight of victims of torture who suffer from PTSD or mental health issues.

The NPRC could do well by articulating a policy to government where it requests government and its financiers to avail funds so that mental health programs are implemented countrywide free of charge. One program that could be implemented is that of having “mental wellness clinics” in most major hospitals and other safe centers with dedicated staff to cater to the needs of such patients. What would be most critical in such a policy and program is to ensure that no questions are asked to the victims and even the perpetrators but generally just ensuring that those who feel they need help are assisted by the doctors and mental health experts deployed to the hospitals and the other “safe zones”. The NPRC could work with the Ministry of Health as well as mental health practitioners at home and abroad for the finer details of implementing such a program.

Government’s failure and refusal to pay damages/compensation to victims

This issue has been discussed at length in Zimbabwe but never seems to get solved no matter how much noise is made about it. The Government of Zimbabwe has managed for a very long time to dodge paying damages for crimes of torture and other human rights violations committed by its agents citing inability to pay and a weak economy. While at face value this argument seems to hold water, it is largely absurd and needs to be held with all the contempt it deserves. The Government of Zimbabwe has also managed to rope in the State Liabilities Act and continues to abuse such legislation to their advantage. While this strategy of refusing to pay by pleading poverty looks “clever”, it simply looks arrogant and treacherous to the victim and their families who would have lost breadwinners and loved ones.

The NPRC and even the ZHRC by extension cannot argue that they are bound by what the law of the country says when such matters arise. If anything, by now the NPRC should have gone to the High Court or the Supreme Court to ask for an opinion on how the Government of Zimbabwe’s refusal to pay damages for crimes committed by its agents should be handled.

Neither the NPRC nor the ZHRC are extensions of the state – they are independent institutions set up to serve the people of Zimbabwe. To remain quiet without even trying to question the government on such an important issue is to abrogate a very important constitutional mandate. The refusal by the government of Zimbabwe to pay compensation/damages has an added negative effect of touching on issue of accountability.

The question that the NPRC and the HRC must be asking themselves is that: If the Government of Zimbabwe and its agents cannot be asked such important questions who else will be able to hold them accountable to anything?

The problem of crimes that just fall away because of time – Prescription

On numerous occasions one hears victims of torture and past human rights violations lamenting that they failed to report or act against their perpetrators on time. The Prescription Act in Zimbabwe gives elaboration on the time periods to report violations which is usually 3 years for civil matters and 20 years for criminal matters.

This is highly problematic and fundamentally wrong. While the law could have been made with the purpose of wanting to ensure the swift administration of justice and preventing fraudulent claims against other people or the state, this law is no longer fit for purpose considering our circumstances in Zimbabwe.

The NPRC and the ZHRC know fully well what has happened in the past with regards the reporting of human rights violations at police stations. It is important to note that reports abound of victims being arrested when they had gone to lodge their cases; it is known that several case files were destroyed by the police during the 2008 election violence and most evidence was destroyed.

Now, when faced with such scenarios – it is difficult and unrealistic for the Government of Zimbabwe, the courts or anyone in his or her right state of mind to argue that cases of torture and related human rights violations can prescribe.

The suggestion here is that the NPRC and the ZHRC need to move from their comfort zones and deal with the hard questions of reconciliation and healing in today’s Zimbabwe. Part of the solution will lie in these bodies challenging laws that do not make sense or stand dead against reconciliation and healing in Zimbabwe.

It is ironic that the state in Zimbabwe can try to give Zimbabweans, the NPRC with one hand and then take away whatever the NPRC will give with the other. It cannot be right and this mentality and or policy by the Government of Zimbabwe will need to be turned on its head.

Pushing for law reform and standing for justice –

Such issues of changing laws or interpreting laws positively definitely need collaboration with the Parliament as well as seeking the advice of the judiciary in certain instances. The NPRC and the HRC need to elevate their work to a higher ground where they discuss the moral fiber of society, where they talk about the software of the microcosm that is the individual Zimbabwean and ensure that our values as a people are respected by all who live in our country. A new parliament and senate will be in force by August. It would be important for the NPRC to also have its legislative agenda set for the next few years so that they deal with some of the issues if at all this is something they regard as critical.

In this regard, the NPRC besides carrying the mundane tasks of investigating human rights violations now needs to more actively confront some of the ugly issues bedeviling healing and reconciliation in Zimbabwe. This kind of work does not need people who toe the line and want to be people pleasers.

Parting shots

There was a time during the early years of South Africa’s independence when most of the country clamored for the death penalty because of high levels of crime. The courts were confronted with this matter but ultimately, unanimously decided for different reasons that the spirit of ubuntu which everyone had fought for needed to be respected. Killing perpetrators was vengeful and did not represent the true values of a society running away from such an ugly past.

The same is true for Zimbabwe. The time is now for mindsets to change. The government cannot send its security officials to torture citizens. Private organizations affiliated to the state or ruling party cannot be allowed to victimize fellow citizens. The scourge of impunity and corruption that has seen most perpetrators walk scot free from the jaws of justice cannot be allowed to reign supreme in Zimbabwe. The idea that a whole government can refuse to pay for damages through its Ministers and hide behind the fat finger of the state should be long gone. Zimbabweans are a broken society from years of abuse. The evidence is there and we all know it. Zimbabweans need healing and reconciliation. Part of that healing will come from an NPRC that fights for the repeal of archaic legislation that prevents victims of torture and other human rights violations from claiming damages. Part of that reconciliation will come from the efforts of an independent and impartial NPRC that questions government and the legislature about senseless prescription laws.

Advertisements

“Operation Restore Mugabe Legacy”: The Catholic Way

1 Dec

When Robert Mugabe, a staunch Catholic finally resigned after 37 years in power as the Head of State in Zimbabwe, it was with a sigh of relief not just for Zimbabweans but for the whole world. What has been confusing though is the way Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwean war veterans and the rest of the military in Zimbabwe have been insisting that Mugabe’s legacy needs to be kept intact. The government has reportedly proposed that Mugabe’s birthday “21 February” be declared a national holiday. In all this hullaballoo, one figure stands out so much not only for his body size but in the manner that he has been defending and sanitizing Mugabe’s resignation as a voluntary process done through Mugabe’s own volition.  It is rather interesting that this man, Father Fidelis Mukonori in interviews with the BBC and local media is telling a narrative that seeks to protect Mugabe’s legacy in a positive way when the truth is harkening him the other way. Father Mukonori noted in the interview with the BBC that “Mugabe’s face glowed and … was not weeping unless there were some angels weeping elsewhere …“ after signing the resignation papers on 21 November 2017. What could be the interests in peddling such a narrative which amounts to some sort of nonsensical religious propaganda whitewashing the fact that Robert Mugabe was forced out of office?

Self-serving interests to feed VIP status ego

First, it seems the interests for Father Fidelis Mukonori to continue peddling a narrative that Mugabe finally capitulated on his own accord is purely personal and individualistic. Fidelis Mukonori has played a prominent role in Robert Mugabe’s life as his spiritual leader having met each other in the 1970s. There is no doubt that Fidelis Mukonori is an important figure in his church and his relationship with the Mugabes makes him a Very Important Person (#VIP) in Zimbabwe and among his social circles. Not so many people knew this man until the day he was first in the pictures standing behind Mugabe. To continue denying what reportedly happened during the time Mugabe resigned keeps Fidelis Mukonori in the driving seat of this narrative. In a society full of people who want to be seen to be “important and relevant” this works well for Fidelis Mukonori. WhatsApp chats in Zimbabwe swarmed with all sorts of reverence about Fidelis Mukonori’s powers as a member of some Catholic Jesuits grouping. His participation in the Mugabe ouster negotiations only adds to this mystification and  his supposed importance.

Positioning the Catholic as a VIP Church and player in Zimbabwe politics

Second and closely linked to the individualistic reason above, this narrative being pushed by Fidelis Mukonori seemingly places the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe at the center of Zimbabwe’s difficult politics. His involvement in the negotiations whether invited or not makes the Catholic church a seemingly VeryImportantPlayer (#VIP) in Zimbabwe’s politics. As mentioned above, Zimbabwe is a society that thrives on this misguided notion of VIPs (persons or political players including the church).

The Catholic Church can try all it wants to be a VIP in Zimbabwe’s politics and is entitled to as much as any other Zimbabwean. However, it should never be forgotten that the church was also instrumental in quests for democracy battles against Mugabe for a long time. One case in mind was during the height of the economic breakdown and the Catholic faithfuls would walk out of the Roman Cathedral in Harare whenever Mugabe and his family walked into the church for Sunday Mass. Robert Mugabe reportedly ended up attending Sunday mass in his rural home, Zvimba to avoid further embarrassment. For Fidelis Mukonori to try to present a narrative that Mugabe left power voluntarily is to demean and trample on the Catholic faithfuls’ wishes who for a very long time hated and prayed for the dictators’ downfall. Fidelis Mukonori, cannot peddle the narrative that Mugabe left voluntarily innocently like that and get away with it.

Coup not a coup – serving the military narrative

Third, it is most likely that Fidelis Mukonori swore to secrecy that he would not reveal what transpired at the Blue Roof (Mugabe’s personal residence) during the takeover period. A deal might have been struck between him, the military and ZANU PF officials that he tells a certain narrative that Robert Mugabe “sighed” showing huge relief after he had signed the resignation papers. This sort of narrative serves the military and the new President, Emmerson Mnangagwa very well. The narrative that has been peddled has always been there was no coup in Zimbabwe to depose Mugabe. For Fidelis Mukonori to say anything else would go against this much-desired narrative. Thus, he sticks to his guns that Mugabe was so happy to “voluntarily step down”. That line cannot be true. The correct narrative is that Mugabe was forced out of power and he resigned kicking and screaming in a process that took almost a whole week to complete. Tweets and media interviews from Mugabe’s inner circle and his nephews show that Mugabe would not have resigned because he intended to stand for elections in 2018. If Robert Mugabe was ready to stand in 2018 why would he happily step down before the elections? Fidelis Mukonori is being economical with the truth and by doing so is trying to sell Zimbabweans and the world a narrative that is incorrect and self-serving for him, Mugabe and the new rulers in Zimbabwe.

What is the concern with father Mukonori’s narrative?

The issue is over and done with. Mugabe is now history and no longer the President of Mugabe. His true legacy is of a man who led Zimbabwe through the first few years of his reign with magnanimity after the liberation struggle, significant development in education, health etc. He is a man who can be credited for standing strong against Western imperial forces during his heydays. Robert Mugabe is a man who will always be credited with pushing for and executing the long-delayed land redistribution exercise. What happened afterwards in that process can always be questioned but that is a story for another day.

However, Fidelis Mukonori, cannot possibly say that Mugabe left power gracefully. Robert Mugabe ceased to be the people of Zimbabwe’s choice at least by 2008 or even earlier. Catholic faithfuls in Zimbabwe were among the people who wanted him to step down and the sentiments would not have changed now. Presenting a narrative that Robert Mugabe left with GRACE is a complete lie and misrepresentation of facts and history.

If no other Zimbabwean will question this narrative, the Catholics in Zimbabwe and all over the world need to question this. The same church where one goes to pray for peace cannot be seen to be protecting a broken legacy of a man who broke the spirit of a nation and his fellow Catholics in Zimbabwe.

This is not a call for personal and image attacks on Robert Mugabe or Fidelis Mukonori. However, if there is nothing else to say, the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe should probably say “NO COMMENT” when asked about Robert Mugabe. The church in Zimbabwe cannot continue to be used/abused to suppress the wishes of its faithfuls because of the need to maintain a VIP culture for individuals and religious institutions in Zimbabwe aligned to politicians and their political parties.

Robert Mugabe full immunity – so now he goes scot free?

26 Nov

The Zimbabwe “coup not a coup” came and went. Emmerson Mnangagwa is now the President of Zimbabwe taking over from Robert Mugabe who had ruled with an iron fist for 37 years. Mnangagwa has a lot to deal with: plans to secure the next election for his party and Presidency; a new Cabinet to run for the next 6 – 8 months among other key issues. The new President should be very careful how he maneuvers this period before the next election otherwise the voters will give him a shocker. In fact, he runs the risk of being the shortest ever serving President in Zimbabwe if he does not play his cards right. A more odious challenge will continue to haunt his reign: What to do with Robert Mugabe with regards his alleged crimes of human rights violations and kleptocracy. News has it that in the negotiations to secure his stepping down, Robert Mugabe was offered full immunity in Zimbabwe from prosecution for his family and himself. One sees political expediency on the part of Mnangagwa not wanting to be seen to be retributive after their Lacoste vs G40 factional wars in ZANU PF. However, this position is problematic as it seemingly does not respect Zimbabwean laws and neither the wishes of Zimbabweans who would like to see Robert Mugabe held accountable for his myriad of crimes committed during his reign.

In the interim the bigger question is on what should be done to Robert Mugabe and his cronies who plundered Zimbabwe and committed human rights violations.

Immunity – what immunity and who gave it anyway?

It is quite interesting to note that the news Robert Mugabe was given full immunity for wrongs committed during his reign is being given so much prominence in the news and elsewhere. The issue of immunity post Robert Mugabe’s Presidency has always been on the table for as long as anyone who has tried to convince Robert Mugabe to step down can remember. There are different views with regards this matter.

One can only imagine that the army and Emmerson Mnangagwa would have agreed to this deal because Robert Mugabe is one of their own. They would not want to be seen to be vindictive. More importantly, going after Robert Mugabe has the unwanted potential of unravelling issues about themselves as well with regards corruption and human rights violations (unotsvaga n’anga neinobata mai).

The question that begs answers and must be answered promptly is whether the said immunity granted to Robert Mugabe has any legal status per Zimbabwe’s laws? It cannot be morally or legally right whether for political expediency or national stability that a settlement be reached only by the army, ZANU PF represented by Mnangagwa and Robert Mugabe alone on his fate with regards such serious allegations of ill-gotten wealth and human rights violations.

This question now needs to be interpreted by the courts as well discussed by civil society groups in Zimbabwe to ascertain the legal status of such immunity. If indeed, the said immunity has any binding legal status, would it not need to be promulgated into a law consistent with Zimbabwe’s constitution.

Food for thought!

Sixes and sevens on Robert Mugabe’s immunity

Various interviews have shown opposition leaders such as Morgan Tsvangirai and Tendai Biti expressing opinions that Robert Mugabe should be left to retire in peace. While it is important that these leaders express their views on this matter, one hopes that they are personal opinions. Without a clear and transparent process of seeking the views of the people, political leaders cannot purport to give such stances on behalf of the people.

Robert Mugabe’s past is tainted with egregious records of human rights violations which were reportedly committed in his name as Head of State, Head of security services as well as ZANU PF party leader. State coffers were plundered left right and center by his officials using his name in most instances or by virtue of his perceived protection. It would be difficult for anyone to fathom a general immunity being to such a person.

Opposition forces, civil society organizations as well as the rest of Zimbabweans need to critically think about the implications of Robert Mugabe’s purported immunity. Moreover, people who were around Robert Mugabe will need to be held accountable. If as much as they implicate Robert Mugabe when they are under investigations or trial what will that mean for them being held accountable? The potential of any investigation being halted because it has encroached onto Robert Mugabe’s turf will be very real.

Who to hold accountable. Robert Mugabe the system or Robert Mugabe the person?

Robert Mugabe is old and almost senile. Chasing him will not yield much against his own person. However, it must be made clear that what needs to be held accountable is more of the system he prevailed upon. In the spirit of ubuntu it will make sense to argue that Robert Mugabe – the 93-year-old man should be left alone. However, for Robert Mugabe the corrupt and violent system, total immunity should and cannot be an option.

Civil society organizations and opposition political parties need to remain seized with this matter and take it head on. Arguments will be made that Zimbabwe needs to be rebuilt and the prevailing peace should not be derailed. One is of the opinion though that these arguments are defective and throw away principled reasoning. If ZANU PF through Emmerson Mnangagwa wants to give Robert Mugabe immunity then it should be a political party choice not a national choice that has legal implications barring the rest of the country from questioning Robert Mugabe’s past.

Infact, one would expect that by now that legal challenges would have started flowing to the courts to question the legality of this said immunity for Robert Mugabe. More importantly, those aggrieved should also even now start preparing court cases against whatever violations they have suffered because of Robert Mugabe.

Way forward

Mnangagwa did what he had to do with regards Robert Mugabe’s immunity. This should not however hold any other Zimbabwean back. The immunity granted to Robert Mugabe looks fickle and was meant only to subdue the old man Robert Mugabe, show a ruse of magnanimity to the international community and Robert Mugabe’s friends. There is no doubt that Robert Mugabe the old man needs to be allowed to rest. However, as Zimbabwe moves forward, one of the most important issues will be the question of accountability for past human rights violations including the country’s stolen wealth. It is critical that any stolen funds that Mnangagwa can lay his hands on be returned to the national vaults.

For instance, questions need to be answered about Robert Mugabe’s businesses. Have they been paying taxes to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority? Questions need to be answered about how the Robert Mugabes have secured all the money they flaunt around at home and abroad. If indeed it is genuinely theirs, then they still need to answer questions on whether they have given Zimbabwe’s Caesar her share.

This strategy should apply to the rest of the Robert Mugabe hangers on or as the “criminals around him” as coined by the military. Their activities need to be investigated. The stolen money needs to be returned to the fiscus and revive the ailing economy.

The charade cannot continue. Mnangagwa has an opportunity under very difficult circumstances to change the tide. Emmerson Mnangagwa can save his mentor Robert Mugabe’s skin for his wrongs but he can at least extract some of the money stolen by Robert Mugabe and his hangers on back into the Zimbabwe fiscus. Therein lies one path to the healing of Zimbabwe and possibly his path to being properly elected as Zimbabwe’s President in 2018.Robert-and-Grace-Mugabe-laughing

Zimbabwe! Calling others gay, barking dogs & mafikizolos will not solve Command Ugly Cultures

2 Jul

So, it goes in ZANU PF that if your erstwhile and yesteryear Dinyane colleagues irritate you, you label them gay, you call them mafikozolos, you call them deserters, barking dogs and all sorts of nasty names. This all in the hope that the name calling should end their tirades on twitter and wherever they exercise their misdemeanors against the revolutionary party. This sort of diversionary tactic would have worked back then, years ago, but it seems no one ever bothered to tell Cde Constantino Guveya Chiwenga, Minister Chinamasa, Vice President Mnangagwa, Nathaniel and Ambassador Mutsvangwa that they should look for new tactics as this one is now less diversionary, tired and boring. It is understandable that these comrades would have been immensely irritated by the twitter rants by Jonathan Moyo and jabs by Savior Kasukuwere about the Command Agriculture saga. Honestly, after hatching such a good looting plan who would expect that even the beneficiaries of such a thieving scheme would oppose it. For me, it is not even the rantings by Proff. Jonso and Tyson that are the problem here. It is rather the lousy and near violent responses by these top ZANU PF officials which point to a refusal to be censured, and a lazy attitude that the country should be governed by Command policies. The rantings by Chinamasa, Mutsvangwa, Chiwenga and Mnangagwa as well as the (re) tired Cde Nathaniel reveal the smelly underbelly of the Command Agriculture scheme more than it dissuades critics and observers from asking objective questions.

That someone had to find a way to fund, subsidize or bankroll the cash strapped farmers who got land from the land grab that happened over a decade ago is beyond doubt. Banks have refused and continue to ask questions about the bankability of the 99 year leases. Government is forcing the banks to charge 4% interest rates. This was bound to be a recipe for disaster, still someone had to cough up the cash to supply inputs for the farmers to start farming without too many stringent conditions. So, in comes Dr Grace with the Command Agriculture Scheme. It is said farmers who could prove that they could farm, were operating close to water sources and had irrigation equipment etc. were allowed access to the inputs which would be collected from GMB. Farmers collected their inputs and went to farm. There is no question about this, somehow funds were needed for agricultural revival in Zimbabwe. This money had to be provided and yes, the Government intervened and provided the much-needed support.

Questions came in as soon as the Command Agriculture project started. Rightful questions which needed and still need forthright answers. For me, this is where the Lacoste team misses the point and fails to address the information needs of Zimbabweans including Proff. Jonso and Tyson. Of course, it known to all and sundry that Jonso and Tyson and ohh yes muzukuru wa sekuru Mu Rasta are not asking questions because they are worried about Zimbabwe. The problem that finds the Lacoste team in sixes and nines and make their responses childish is that they are failing to deploy intelligent responses and the right people to respond to the tirades from Jonso and his G 40.

First, who names a policy as big as this agricultural finance scheme “Command Agriculture”. It is as if we are in some Soviet Stalinist era or Nyerere’s socialist era. Yes, the process is in every way Command like, but it could have been given a name – a Zimbabwean title for that matter, to give it dignity, a home and belonging. But alas some douche bag cleverly thought it could be called “Command”. By calling this process “Command” it opened it up to ridicule and all these unnecessary proceedings from the likes of Proff. Jonso and his G40 and now they should manage to eclipse this whole process as “Command Ugly Culture”.

Secondly, questions have been asked about the transparency with which this process has been implemented. For God’s sake, if everything is above aboard and there is nothing to hide, why would it be difficult for Chinamasa, Chiwenga and the King Crocodile himself to simply issue a spreadsheet showing who got what inputs, when and what value they were. Is it that difficult? Jonathan Moyo can continue playing his trumpet so loud and for so long because he knows most probably that the people managing this process do not even know what inputs he received.

I raise the point of inventory above because it would be able to answer a follow up question on what outputs were achieved by each farmer. It is a simple evaluation process. If x amount of inputs were given to Farmer Jonso with all things being equal (rains, fuel, labor etc.), Farmer Jonso would have produced so much tonnage isn’t it. Exact figures might be difficult to come up with for the final output but at least estimates can be drawn up. Team Lacoste continues to play around with the mantra that Command Agriculture produced a bumper harvest and Zimbabwe will for the first time in a long period not require to import grains. Well, fair and fine, but this response fails to answer critical questions on what farmer produced what products and in what quantities. This kind of knee jerk response does not provide for a future looking government and policy making process. What farmers did well, which regions and all those sorts of questions are critical questions that need ready answers from the Minister of Agriculture and GMB. The idea that Zimbabweans can be Commanded to believe that the Command Agriculture project was a success without seeing clearly tabulated results is so Commandist and so yesterday. Word of advice for Ngwena – please get a bit more sophisticated and have the boys in your office do more work. Maybe the politicians can be allowed the ranting but certainly the task force Commanded by you to manage this process can and could have done better in terms of providing clearer information.

Third, the name Sakunda Holdings continues to be tossed around as the funders of this project. The newspapers run around with information that these “petrol” people are somehow related to the first family and mukwasha Simba. Whichever way it is, I see arrogance on the part of the Lacoste team in the way they respond. If nothing is amiss with these funds and this company then clearly someone clever enough would have responded intelligently and given accounts of what funds were agreed to be lended to the Government of Zimbabwe, at what interest rates, for what period, disbursed in what procedures etc. This information is not coming through and what Zimbabweans get daily are allegations of corrupt dealings, inflated interest rates, fake disbursements etc. Even if Team Lacoste wanted to take over the government and run the state after the demise of the Great One, I believe it would be cleverer to have a more responsive press officer, a more able manager of information, not these hocus pocus responses from Chinamasa. It’s just not cutting it!

The arrogance with which the Team Lacoste has responded and continues to soldier on Commanding more funds for Command Livestock and Command Fisheries just shows poor politicking on the Team Lacoste. I reckon the proceeds from Command Agriculture were so sweet that people want to continue mauling the fiscus before the old man kicks the bucket. Ngwena and Chinamasa could as well try to up their game before implanting Command Livestock and Fisheries. This idea of Commandeering everything even information is not working.

The use of expletives and foul language to respond to criticism to Jonso and Tyson is counterproductive for Team Lacoste. What such responses do is reveal an arrogant stance that Zimbabwe belongs to ZANU PF and the only thing that this side of ZANU PF needs to be worried about is the G40 faction and nothing and no one else. Zimbabwe is much bigger than Team G 40 and Jonso. Team Lacoste get a life and stop responding with jibes that Jonso and Tyson are gay. Unless of course Command Sexuality was introduced and we were not told. It is very clear that the idea is to try whip up emotions of Zimbabweans on sexual orientation debates and because President Mugabe is adamant that “gays are worse than pigs”. Zimbabweans know this and it is a bit futile for Team Lacoste to want to appeal to President Mugabe in this manner. If these attacks are going to be made, at least let them come from elsewhere. For once, Team Lacoste has a chance to speak policy and respond in a clean and sober manner on questions regarding the funding of Command Agriculture. That Jonso deserted the war is also well known. But frankly, who really knows how the fought was fought when there are so many disputed narratives. Joice never fell any helicopter, so and so was just a mujibha, so and so was just a cook etc. That so and so joined ZANU PF later does not necessarily mean that they cannot ask questions when the revolutionary party implements questionable policies. Commanding allegiance through Command policies such as Command Agriculture, Command Livestock and Command Fisheries will only work for if the money lasts. After the money is finished, it will be back to square one. Policy questions asked today will still be there waiting to be answered

All Zimbabweans want to know is how exactly those who have been given inputs under the Command Agriculture will repay their loans. This process that farmers will pay back with grain at 75% or whatever quantity is well and clear. Mnangagwa has noted that farmers are already depositing grains at various GMB depots. It would be good for whoever is monitoring and evaluating Zim Asset and this Command Agriculture process to keep Zimbabweans updated on an online portal, throught the Herald and whatever means about the state of affairs with this Command Agriculture process. The idea of having policies discussed via twitter by Jonso and Cde Pats ranting in private newspapers is not working!

In any case, if ZimAsset is going to proceed by way of COMMAND economics and funding, then when will see COMMAND HOUSING, command ROADS and COMMAND STOP CORRUPTION at ZIMRA and from the boys in blue whose boss wears the wrong shoe sizes to work!

Last word for Sakunda Holdings and all these other people enjoying lending money to this government. I note as well the Afreximbank loan to fund the bond notes. I noted earlier, that someone somewhere has and had to fund the different projects under Zimasset. These projects have very high returns at the moment, they are quite interesting but I sincerely hope that they will not one day become odious debts. Just saying! Remember, the Guptas down South – hint hint! Just one day, gava richadimbura musungo Sakunda!

UGLY as this whole COMMAND CULTURE looks, Team Lacoste can do better and respond in better ways in a manner that can serve all Zimbabweans. Zimbabwe will not be fed by the jabs between Lacoste and G 40.

The tragedy of Zimbabwe’s policy making: Dokora’s education for Goats = Antoinette’s let them eat cake:

25 Apr

In Zimbabwe, the past few weeks have been animated with jokes and memes poking fun at Zimbabwe’s Minister of Education, Sport and Culture, Lazarus Dokora’s  pronouncements that school fees can be paid using goats. Indeed, these kinds of pronouncements could not have been imaginable but …, well it happened. In the aftermath Dokora attempted to sanitize the whole issue and noted that he only meant parents and guardians could sell their goats (read livestock) to pay for school fees. This pronouncement is problematic on several levels:  It gives a very confused view of how the Zimbabwean economy is run and what Zimbabweans value as currency; what the government policy is with regards to access to education and how this pronouncement affects peoples’ livelihoods especially those in Zimbabwe’s rural areas. I will focus on a simple matter with regards to how this seemingly laughable and innocent matter has the potential of disrupting the resilience of rural communities’ livelihoods all in the name of wanting to send their children to school.

That Zimbabwe strives to have a well-educated population is not in dispute. However, with the strained and poor economic conditions bedeviling the country it has not been easy for the government as the service provider and parents/guardians as the customers of this service to pay for the goods delivered. Government has tried all sorts of mechanisms under its Social Welfare grants and schemes but this never seems to be enough. Children dropping out of school or failing to write their final examinations now seems to be the order of the day in most parts of rural Zimbabwe and other urban areas. Faced with such challenges, citizens have tried to look up to the government for solutions through policy interventions. As sure as the sun would rise, government through Lazarus Dokora came up with the pronouncement that parents struggling to pay school fees for their children could use goats as a form of payment.

I would like to give the Honorable Minister, the benefit of the doubt and think that goats were a figurative expression. I’m trying to convince myself that he meant well as he has tried to defend himself in his latest pronouncements. However, I still find even his rejoinder problematic.

Since time immemorial, Zimbabweans have used livestock to engage in barter trade as well selling it for cash to pay for their other needs. Government and other civil society groups have had numerous projects of enhancing income in most rural families by ceding make and female goats, cows etc. so that they can rear them and increase their resilience to shocks and generally can look after themselves. Thus, the pronouncement by Dokora was and cannot be news at all. There was nothing genius about his pronouncement if for any reason he thought that he was saying something outside the box meant to relieve the pressure from parents who are currently struggling to pay school fees for their children.

In fact, Dokora’s pronouncement is dangerous to the extent that it encourages poor households to strip their assets so they can pay for school fees for their children. Taking the goats for example, it is a fact that most rural folk no longer have such assets after the last drought in 2015. Moreover, because of the economic hardships most families in the rural areas have sold these assets to cater for food needs mostly. So, it would be interesting to know from Dokora who exactly he will be referring to when he says these folks can use or sell their goats to pay for school fees. For those that have the goats (read livestock), I’m sure they get milk which is used to feed children etc. Selling off such vital sources of food to pay school fees does not look intelligent and exposes families to malnutrition unnecessarily. The same goats need to breed and produce more offspring before someone can think of selling them and making money out of them. This encouragement coming from such a high-powered government official is quite forceful as it is misleading. The real risk that those who have such livestock will be tempted to sell their “only” livestock to pay for their children’s school fees is too high.

Dokora and the government of Zimbabwe need to come up with a solid policy and sustainable action to deal with the rising problem of parents failing to pay for their children’s’ school fees. Such a cavalier mentality and attitude to the rights of millions of Zimbabwean children’s right to education by senior government officials is unwarranted and reckless. Dokora needs to realize that the problem is not simply a matter of raising money. The Zimbabwean economy has been in the doldrums for years in the meantime, depleting peoples’ sources of livelihoods and resilience to poverty. Pushing for such a policy written or otherwise will only lead to entrenched poverty among Zimbabweans especially those in rural teachers all in the name of trying to send their children to school. Dokora needs to think more about the possibility and dangers of a lost generation, that will lose out from school because their parents could genuinely not pay for their school fees is unimaginable.

This goat business, is not going work. Period. The pay for education with goats pronouncement is as arrogant as the supposed Marie Antoinette’s “let them eat cake” stupid pronouncement and as hair brained as Mugabe’s utterances in 2005 that if Zimbabweans didn’t have food they could as well eat potatoes.

 

The art of bathing in dirty water: Joice Mujuru and land compensation in Zimbabwe

12 Oct

The theatrics to take over after the geriatric President Mugabe kicks the bucket or calls it quits (honestly I don’t see him leaving office on his own volition anytime soon) seem to be reaching a crescendo in opposition quarters. What with all the drama last week from former Zimbabwe Vice President Dr. Joice Mujuru when she announced that she met with the white man whose farm they grabbed or got “reallocated to” by ZANU PF when her late husband was still alive. At the least I find the whole thing unfunnily theatrical and at most cheap propaganda trying to sway the international community (read white people) to believe she is a repentant former ZANU PF zealot. I am convinced that her theatrics were not even meant for the general Zimbabwean audience. This is just trying to take a shower in dirty water, IT CAN’T!

I am not getting it. Joice Mujuru says she wants to compensate this man, this former white farmer whose land she alleges they “grabbed”. My understanding is that ZANU PF policies and laws that were enacted at the time the land was taken from most white farmers and redistributed to black people converted all that land into state property. So if the land belongs to the state, how then will she be able to compensate this white farmer when the land does not belong to him and purportedly never belong to him?

Maybe, Joice Mujuru wants people to believe that she wants to work out an arrangement that she will compensate him for “developments” made on the farm. Maybe she wants to compensate the former “landowner” for his machinery and or crops they “looted” at the time. That would in a sense be understandable but still it would be interesting to see how they will reach an agreement on the compensation rates. Of course, whoever lost his property would have an inventory but I’m really interested in seeing how the values for these properties/machinery etc. will be calculated.

This same Joice Mujuru who pleaded bankruptcy in recent court processes after her alleged step – children stepped in to claim their inheritance from their dead father is the same person who is claiming she can compensate people? Okay?

Cheap, very cheap, miscalculated propaganda I say!

One might want to see racism in these questions. However, I am of the opinion that the land question that Joice Mujuru wants to fiddle with cannot be used as a backbone for her attempts to get back into politics. There is no question that the majority of former white farm owners inherited from their ancestors this land that was stolen from black communities that were in Zimbabwe at that time. Joice Mujuru now wants to ride on a charade that seeks to trivialize this matter. She of all the people cannot forget that the liberation struggle was fought for among others to retain this same land from the erstwhile colonizers.

That ZANU PF is rogue and could have made mistakes in handling the land question does not mean that Joice Mujuru can try to downplay the need for land to be repossessed and be utilized by black Zimbabweans. The argument that white people were “very good’ and were good farmers is just unacceptable hogwash that should be told as folktales in faraway lands. It is a fact that most white families benefited from cheap bank loans, protected markets and so on such that they became “profitable farmers’. The new farmers in Zimbabwe who have been given that same land need to be given the same chance. There is nothing special about being white and neither is anything wrong with being black.

If there is one issue that will break Joice Mujuru’s attempts at the Presidency in Zimbabwe’s future it will be the land question and how she proposes to deal with the land redistribution process from the controversial “Third Chimurenga”. There are questions of principle on the much delayed and botched land redistribution process as well as questions about black empowerment and the need to possibly compensate the white folks who lost “their farms”. For her to conflate and confuse these issues with her attempts to renter politics is just mere political suicide and puerile propaganda which will not fly or win her the hearts of Zimbabweans! In any case, it is not these folks who will vote in 2018, if her recent theatrics are about looking for votes.

Compensation! Compensation for what purpose, to who and how much is the question she has to answer!

Who will tame Zimbabwe’s CABS and ECONET and Others from fleecing citizens through bad services?

27 Feb

It can be challenging to distinguish whether it is a company providing sub – standard services or the bad service is a result of the general comatose economic situation in Zimbabwe. Nevertheless, it is also challenging to continue with silence when one’s hard earned money is fleeced by corporations in scandalous ways and they remain quiet about it. For now I will raise my issues with two corporations: the bank: Central Africa Building Society (Commonly known as CABS) and the cellphone network provider: ECONET. At the least one would expect the Zimbabwean government and its power wielding regulatory bodies to look into these matters as a matter of regular monitoring and provide much needed protection to consumers. I have been into contact with a number of service providers and have found their service provision sub – standard. In instances, where there have been apologies, this has become so regular to be ridiculous. I am of the view that while most companies would plead other excuses, the general conditions are scandalous to the extent that at least they are deliberate and at most ignored in a bid to fleece unassuming Zimbabwean consumers of their hard earned money.

Central Africa Building Society (CABS)
In the month of February 2016 alone, I have been to several Central Africa Building Society (CABS) ATMs in Avondale, Westgate, Bond – Mt Pleasant and the city center and have found the machines “out of order”. This can be quite distressing especially if this is on a weekend when the bank halls are closed and there is “nowhere else” to get cash. One has to end up making phone calls to look for cash from other people or having to cancel whatever plans one had that particular day. I don’t even want to imagine what happens to those people who have to buy medication or pay for goods in the highly cash operated economy in Zimbabwe. The inconveniences are just too much.

But that is beside the point. My argument and observation is that the bank in this instance (CABS) is benefitting unfairly from such a situation where its ATMs are perennially “out of order”. Firstly, when an ATM is “out of order” one is either forced to go back home or use other banks’ ATMS. The use of “other” ATMs automatically attracts a service charge. Secondly, when the ATM is “out of order” one has the option to wait until its working or go into the bank where a set service fee will be charged. On both occasions, the customer has to pay for these charges and also endure any other connected inconveniences. I do not think that this is tenable in a situation where the bank’s ATMs and their systems are always out of order.

I contend that the CABS is making a hell lot of undeserved money and the “out of order” ATMs have actually become a source of revenue for them. The amounts involved can be very small depending on who is talking and affected but a mere crunching of the numbers of people who go through the banks’ counters when ATMs are “out of order” will reveal that the banks are earning more than they deserve. This is pure fraud and a sort of “organized” fleecing of clients by the banks. Either the Minister of Finance and or the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe needs to note such anomalies and crack the whip on the banking industry.

Recommendation:
My recommendation would be that if the ATMs are not working, banks should be forced to serve their clients free of charge inside the banks until they restore services or their systems. The argument by banks that they are not responsible for power cuts or the internet fluctuations cannot hold water. Zimbabwe has experienced power cuts for so long and internet services have never been that good anyway. By now the banks should have invested in companies that offer better services for their internet services to work and to push that power is guaranteed so that the internet grid is always working. This situation is untenable and should now be seen as corporate fraud of some sort.

ECONET
Besides the internet and calling costs on the mobile networks being so expensive in Zimbabwe, the service is fraught with numerous problems ranging from poor connectivity to not being accessible at all in a number of instances.

The experience with ECONET over the past few weeks has been hellish to say the least. On a number of occasions I have had tried to use the WhatsApp calling service with little luck at all. The network always tries to “reconnect” after 7 seconds of initiating a WhatsApp call to wherever I will be calling.

To put all this into perspective, ECONET has a number of promotions for their internet services and one of them expires on a daily basis. Now, considering that most Zimbabweans use this particular service it is important to note that the company is unfairly benefitting from such a service/product. When a customer buys for example, the data service for a $1/day the time starts ticking as soon as the purchase and confirmation is made. This is devoid of whether the internet service is good/bad; connected/unconnected and unavailable/available.

The experience with this ECONET service has been that the data is so slow that it takes time to open browsing pages; the WhatsApp calls never go through as the network is always “reconnecting” and even just refuses completely to even download emails.

So even after this “terms and conditions apply” $1/day service has been purchased, ECONET still enjoys the pleasure of taking one’s money even when the service paid for is not performing up to standard. I’m sure it would be difficult to measure when and for how long the service would be down however I also believe that a serious investigation by government regulators or even the company itself would reveal other information useful to inform how they can tackle such problems.

Recommendation:
I am thinking that the ECONET technicians can see on a daily basis how much data has been purchased and how much is used and also be able to gauge when their internet is down or performing slowly. The Post and Telecommunications Minister/Ministry should also be monitor and receive complaints about such issues. It cannot be that such big corporations operate in a vacuum and there is no one to watch how they operate.
In such instances where customers make genuine complaints the company should be able to reinstate or compensate what has been lost by the customer.

Conclusion:
The need for corporate responsibility and making sure that private corporations do not benefit unfairly in Zimbabwe is important. Big corporations cannot continue to riding on the back of monopolies, weak government inspections, government regulatory inaction and or poor customer agitation unabated.

Where services are deemed to be poor corporations must acknowledge and be able to compensate customers. The profiteering attitude exhibited thus far by most corporate service providers in Zimbabwe cannot continue unabated.

They must just do the right thing and provide good services!

NB: Just to note as well that I have complained on several occasions verbally and with CABS, the bank tellers at the Westgate Branch apologized and noted that there was nothing she could about the “out of order” ATM but I still had to pay for the charges incurred for transacting in the banking hall. One bank teller at the Avondale branch told me that if I could not afford the “bank hall charges” I had to wait until the ATMs were repaired and she was not in control of how long that would take.

With ECONET, the attendant at the Westgate shop noted at first that there was something wrong with my handset, but after a while noting that the handset has worked well in the past she then said she would call their technicians to fix the problem. The internet problem persists. I am sure I can get another service provider but that is not the point. ECONET just needs to provide a good service worth the money paid for by its customers.

%d bloggers like this: