Source blog: The Bearded Man


My wife remains in hospital.

We are unsure as to what has bitten her and what has caused the allergic reaction. Suffice to say that she is very uncomfortable and quite distressed.

As you can see, the reaction is widespread and yesterday she told me that it had spread to her face.


The idea that being a civil servant is easy is easily dispelled when you read an article like this.

Tendai Biti has one of the most unforgivable jobs in the world - and any financial woes in Zimbabweare blamed upon him.

Zimbabwe's Finance minister Tendai Biti said the constant visits to his office by war veterans and civil servants demanding money has given him sleepless nights and left him wasted.

Biti, who upon his appointment as minister in 2009 described his job as the “worst in the world”, told a civic society constitutional briefing on Wednesday afternoon that he had lost touch with life.

“Zimbabwe is the lowest on the happiness index, some of us, you can look at me, I have lost weight because every day I have war veterans, civil servants and Robert Mugabe and all kinds of nonsense that impinge on my right in pursuit of happiness,” said Biti in a jocular manner to much laughter from his audience.

“I used to play golf, I used to support Black Rhinos, I don’t know how all that ended. I don’t know the last time I have ever been to a night club. My right to pursue happiness has really been infringed. I used to phone girls but all that is gone and I don’t think it’s fair.”

Biti who appeared at the meeting in black faded jeans, a red and black sweater and his trade mark Scottish cap appeared to have indeed lost a significant amount of weight. Biti is a staunch English premier league club Arsenal supporter.


Picking up the wreckage of the financial world in Zimbabweleft by the previous ZANU PF incumbent cannot be easy.

And whilst they say a new broom sweeps clean, Biti has found a huge resistance to change when it comes to ZANU PF, who insist on carrying on spending money, even though the money would be better spent elsewhere.


Mugabe is 88 years of age – and even if the new constitution allows him to be prosecuted, the chances of any case being completed before his demise is remote.

President Robert Mugabe can be prosecuted for “civil and criminal” crimes he might have committed before and during his time in office according to the country’s new constitutional draft.

Section 5.11 of the draft, which deals with presidential immunity, states that “while in office the president is not liable to civil or criminal proceedings in any court for things done or omitted to be done in his or her personal capacity.”

It however further states that “civil or criminal proceedings may be instituted against a former President for things done and omitted to be done before he or she became President or while he or she was President”.

Mainstream MDC party Secretary General Tendai Biti, a lawyer by profession, told members of the civic society on Wednesday afternoon that this was the most important feature of the new constitution.

“One of the most important things we have done is that the president can be prosecuted after office for civil and criminal omissions done before he became president or during his presidency,” said Biti.

“If the president were to order 30 000 people to be shot and killed during Gukurahundi when he becomes a civilian he can be prosecuted and it’s a very important safe guard to democracy.”

Biti said apart from providing for the prosecution of the president the new constitution also makes it very difficult for the president to amend the constitution.

The country’s current Lancaster House constitution has been amended 19 times since independence in 1980.

But now one will require a two thirds parliamentary majority and a referendum to do so.

“To change the bill of rights you will have to seek two thirds of parliamentary majority and you will have to go to a referendum. It’s no longer that easy and the use of the simple majority that the Zanu (PF) government used to change the constitution,” said Biti.

In addition he said the president will be expected to be the biggest defender of the constitution and derive his power to rule from it. Section 5.1 of the new constitution says the executive authority of Zimbabwe is derived from the constitution.

“In Zimbabwe at the moment those who are exercising authority do not feel that they derive authority from the people and executive authority has never been exercised in terms of the constitution. The law is secondary. The president must uphold, defend the constitution of the country.'

'So the ultimate defender of the constitution is the president and that’s something that the founding presidents of America did and respected,” said Biti as Zanu (PF)’s highest decision making body the politburo was meeting to discuss the constitution.

The Zanu (PF) party wants an all powerful president with undiluted powers and the 5.2 clause which seeks to deal with succession issues by making it mandatory for presidential candidates to choose two running mates who will automatically become first and second vice presidents scrapped.

“I hope our presidents will respect this constitution. The obligation to defend this constitution begins and ends with you because you are the constitutional embodiment of Zimbabwe.”

Progressively the new constitution also significantly whittles down the powers of the president by putting the executive power in the hands of both the president and the cabinet. The current constitution says executive power is practised by the president alone. It also limits the terms of office of the president to 10 years.

Africa is abused by leaders such as Mugabe who want to rule until the cows come home and die but in this constitution one cannot rule for more than an aggregate of 10 years which means that if one becomes an acting president for three years those are deemed to be part of the ten years,” said Biti.

In addition the president can now be impeached by a two thirds parliamentary majority through a motion which requires only 50 percent of signatures of members of parliament.


Let’s face facts. Mugabe always ends up on top of the pile. He leads a very lucky life insofar as he neatly avoids the major confrontations – unless, of course, he is the one holding the high ground.

In this respect, look at the Gukurahundi and Operation Murambatsvina.


I lived and worked in Chiredzu for 3 years – and I absolutely loved it.

I would visit all three of the major sugar estates – Triangle, Hippo Valleyand Mkwasine – and I would visit Masvingo town and Renco Mine.

I loved the weather, the people and the way of life way out in the bush…

Chiredzi, in Masvingo Province’s south eastern Lowveld, is a place described in the country’s geography textbooks as a land of vast money-spinning sugarcane estates. But it is also a place contemporary journalism fondly likes to identify with hunger, drought and searing heat.

All the descriptions are indeed true portraits of a land that is physically separated into two contrasting images by one simple feature: the 200-metre wide Runde River.

Occupying Runde’s northern bank are the lush Triangle, Mkwasine and Hippo Valley sugarcane plantations while on the southern bank are the dry and khaki communal lands, all reflecting on an enduring colonial legacy that 32 years of the country’s independence has failed to amend.

Chiredzi, before 1930, was undeniably hunger-stricken, drought-prone and simmering under sweltering tropical heat, but the lone efforts of a Thomas Murray MacDougall, who in 1931, decided to tame the hostile savannah countryside using water from Mutirikwe River, turned Runde’s northern bank into the luxuriance it is today.

MacDougall’s efforts to tame 300000 hectares of part of hostile Chiredzi, which began as far back as before the First World War when he was involved in cattle ranching then ended with the sugarcane estates that have endured time to this day. The southern bank of Runde, where the indigenous population has lived for generations, remained stuck in the belly of a hostile environment until today.

However, the success of MacDougall’s individual venture reflects on the potential the entire Chiredzi District possesses, albeit its hostile setting. The sugarcane greenbelt, occupying just over 300 square kilometres of countryside, is a mere two percent of the entire district measuring nearly 15000 square kilometres.

Although the largest part of Chiredzi is yearning for development through irrigation similar to that currently taking place north of Runde River, some Zimbabwean politicians who are seeking to redress colonial economic imbalances, are gunning for a share of the sugarcane greenbelt instead.

Demands that Triangle and Hippo Valley Estates, owned by Tangaat Hulett, cede 51 percent of the business to indigenous business people, are probably missing the point as The Financial Gazette observed recently. Even the spirited demand that conglomerates cede 10 percent of their shares to local communities is an empowerment drive that will forever condemn the rest of
the district to underdevelopment given past experiences with programmes such as the Social Development Fund that has been abused left right and centre by politicians.

Obtaining 51 percent ownership of the present sugar estates does not translate to people being able to avert hunger due to incessant droughts wrought by the hostile environment they live in because only a handful of individuals will enjoy the benefits.

Also, the country’s 10 percent Community Share Ownership Scheme model is ideal for communities with mining enterprises, but it is probably not the best option for the agro-industrial sector given the ever highly volatile commodity price regime on the international market, this reporter also noted.

ZANU-PF politburo member, Dzikamai Mavhaire, who is also a resident of Masvingo Province, hit the bull’s eye recently when he said: “Land ownership does not create wealth. Land production creates wealth,” adding that it is time that appropriate farming methods be applied in each natural region of the country.

Inspirational to anyone who loves tilling the land, Zimbabwe’s south eastern sugarcane estates, bound between Mutirikwe, Chiredzi and Runde rivers, can easily be a strong basis to unleash the latent wealth that abounds in Chiredzi.

In 1977 Colin Saunders, author of a book about the life of the pioneer of the sugarcane plantations titled: Murray MacDougall and the Story of Triangle, wrote: “The story of MacDougall’s pioneering feats in establishing the possibilities of large-scale irrigation in the south eastern Lowveld of Rhodesia is one of the great epics of human endeavour of our time, and his single-minded faith and determination provided a solid foundation on which were built the fortunes of a great company, whose example has already been followed, with success, by neighbours, and by other organisations which one can only hope will increase vastly, in the interest of our country.”

Granted, colonial rule was the worst thing that could have ever happened to the indigenous people of Zimbabwe but building upon some of the positive legacies, which at one time benefited a few white colonialists, can only make Zimbabwe much greater than what it is today.

With Triangle and Hippo Valley estates currently managing to satisfy only 20 percent of the estates’ total combined milling capacity of 600000 tonnes of sugar from 4,8 million tonnes of cane, room for new players is vast especially given the existing high demand for Zimbabwean sugar by the European Union (EU) nations.

More land beyond that currently occupied by Triangle and Hippo Valley can be opened up as the Tokwe-Murkosi Dam long-term development agenda suggest.

The completion of Tokwe-Murkosi Dam, currently under construction in Masvingo’s Chivi District, will result in the development of five irrigation schemes, Tokwane North, Tokwane South, Hippo Valley, Runde South and Matibi II, with Matibi II, located south of Runde River, billed to be the largest small-scale irrigation development ever to happen in the country.

The total irrigated area, whose development is expected to last a decade after the completion of Tokwe-Murkosi Dam construction, is expected to be 2400 square kilometres or 39000 hectares, exceeding Triangle and Hippo Valley estates by more than 10 000 hectares. It is envisaged that 65 percent of the irrigated area will be set aside for sugarcane, 24 percent for fruit production while 11 percent will be for annual crops for the resettled and communal farmers. This, however, is a pipedream that has existed in the country’s State blueprints for nearly half a century now.

Evidence on the ground, as exhibited by the villagers’ determined efforts to make hostile Chiredzi as comfortable as possible, indicates that something can meanwhile be done to unleash the area’s vast potential.

From the dust bowls of Chiredzi, at Mapume Village under Chief Masivamela some 50km from Runde River, the Chiwara family managed to harvest a tonne of healthy maize in a district where such a harvest is presently an unimaginable feat.

“It is virtually impossible to grow maize here but we managed to do so through conservation farming,” said Patricia Chiwara adding: “It was tough when we started but working as a group of four other farmers the task became easier.”

The ‘miraculous’ family harvest, from half a hectare of land, was achieved by purely relying on the area’s highly unpredictable rainfall which is largely detected by a climatic condition that allows less than 450 millimetres of rain every year.

About 10 kilometres away from the Chiwara’s homestead, at Chinyetu Village, the Matimbe family has turned part of the seemingly barren Mopani tree-studded landscape into a small greenbelt the size of a football field.

Flourishing on the small plot, by means of irrigation, are several types of vegetables and legumes in such a beautiful scene that one cannot help but marvel.

From the healthy looking herds of cattle and goats foraging for pastures in the countryside, Chiredzi is undoubtedly also suitable for intensive and extensive livestock production.

But unfortunately, as this reporter learnt, the majority of cattle are hardly offered for sale: They are mere symbols of wealth in a land that is ironically stalked by hunger due to perennial crop failure.

It is also doubtful whether the EU community’s yearning calls for the country’s world-class organic beef has ever reached this land.


I was there when the aircraft carrying buyers and managers back from the International Trade Fair crashed, killing everybody on board. What an incredibly sad time.

I remember the memorial service held on the rugby pitch at the country club in Triangle.

Aside from this tragedy, it was a wonderful time to live in the Lowveld and I look back on those days fondly.

So to read that the area has taken a serious dive is very upsetting, but it isn’t just the Lowveld, it is the entire country.


Mugabe’s party lost the election in 2008, and he only ‘won’ the presidential election through violence intimidation and his party taking the ballot boxes away for 5 weeks, so I am unsure just how the Prime Minister believes that he can be ousted through democratic means.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says President Robert Mugabe has failed to steer the country to prosperity and urged Zimbabweans to unite and vote him out in the next elections scheduled for 2013.

He said there was need for a third revolution to do away with African nationalist leaders who have failed to bring freedoms to their people despite getting rid of colonial masters.

Tsvangirai was addressing thousands of people at the memorial service of the late Zimbabwean nationalist and Zanu Ndonga leader Ndabaningi Sithole, an undisputed national hero who like many other liberation war heroes, was mistreated by the Mugabe’s regime after independence.

Tsvangirai promised the people of Chipinge that Sithole’s hero status will be recognised when his party gets into power.

The others who were ill-treated include the late vice president Joshua Nkomo, Dumiso Dabengwa, Edgar Tekere and James Chikerema among many others.

Tsvangirai was immediately endorsed by the Zanu Ndonga leaders who pledged their support to vote out Mugabe in the next elections.

The hugely attended ceremony was held at Sithole’s Freedom Farm, 30km south of Chipinge town, in Mt Selinda.

Tsvangirai said the first revolution was fought to bring the country’s independence and the current situation required another revolution.

The MDC leader said it was time citizens united for the common good and get rid of the current Zanu PF leadership which had plundered the economy to a stage where Zimbabwe is now a basket case from being a bread basket of the region.

“Ndabaningi Sithole was like a father, he had a unique character and left a historical legacy. Today we are celebrating the legacy he left on the history of
Zimbabwe,” said Tsvangirai to a cheering bumper crowd.

Independence and freedom are different. The nationalists brought independence but have failed to deliver on the promises. Instead the country has gone into reverse gear. To the nationalists, the people have become the enemies for demanding what they deserve which include their political freedom.”

Tsvangirai said Mugabe’s Zanu PF had since independence in 1980, lacked vision to steer the country to possible prosperity. The
MDC leader said if elected into power and fails to deliver, the people had the right to choose and elect another leader.

“Our people are hungry because of leadership that is afraid of leaving office and which has no vision. We also have some government officials that are careless and use intimidation to thwart winds of change,” said Tsvangirai. He said any Zimbabwean had the capacity to lead the country if elected by the people in any election.

Zanu Ndonga national chairperson Reketayi Semwayo pledged his party would back Tsvangirai. He said Zanu Ndonga did not have a president but a national chairperson.

“I have to announce it today that as Zanu Ndonga, we will back Tsvangirai in the next election. We will work together for an end to Zanu PF’s continued hold onto power,” said Semwayo whose party has had a long history of winning parliamentary seats in Chipinge District since independence.

Semwayo said Zanu Ndonga would throw its weight behind Tsvangirai and ensure he lands the top post he said he was robbed of in the 2008 harmonised elections.

Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole who was born in 1920 and died in 2000 is regarded as one of the fathers ofnationalism and first leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union, Zanu.

One of the Sithole’s surviving children, Sifiso Sithole who is based in Swaziland, said her father’s vision was to have a free Zimbabwe for everyone.

“My father’s vision was always engraved on having a free
Zimbabwe. But it is sad because Zimbabwe is not yet free. He was a father and national leader whose dream was to have people live in peace which is not the case at the moment,” said Sifiso Sithole calling on unity of purpose by all Zimbabweans.

Sithole paid tribute to the MDC leadership for arranging her travel and accommodation to the memorial service of her father who was denied national hero status by Mugabe.

Tsvangirai was accompanied to Sithole’s memorial service by senior MDC officials among them the party’s organising secretary Nelson Chamisa, party spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora, deputy national chairperson Morgan Komichi, deputy party treasurer Elton Mangoma among others.


Mugabe will tell the world that ‘illegal economic sanctions’ against Zimbabweare the true reason why the country has imploded. He will never admit that his party’s shoddy management of the country is the real cause.

Whilst I understand the land appropriation exercise, I am of the belief it should have been done properly and with rancour or violence.

And whilst the new constitution may suggest that Mugabe can be held responsible for much of the violence and destruction in the country, he will never be punished for it, and he and his party will get away with it – again.


Take care.