Source blog: The Bearded Man
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Howzit

This posting was ready at 0800 hours my time, but I struggled to work with Blogger, as, having signed in, I was unable to access the dashboard - I just end up at a blank screen. And I note that my links to Photobucket for the blog header are not working.

And the situation is no better using Internet Explorer…

It should be real fun at home today. We have decorators coming in to begin work on our bathroom, whilst we also have an electrician coming in to look at our power shower which has been making an unholy racket when turned on.

And I want to see a doctor this morning to a) show them that I am still alive, and b) to get a new prescription for my pain tablets and muscle relaxants.

Oh well, that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…

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ZANU PF love to point fingers at the MDCofficials when it comes to performance within government. So it comes as no surprise that ZANU PF are not that impressed with an enforced lower budget – caused, according to the finance minister, Tendai Biti, by the failure of those in charge of the diamond mines to submit the income to government coffers.

ZANU PF believe that they have a God-given right to do whatever they want with the diamond revenue, forgetting that the precious stone is a national asset and not the Mugabe party’s possession.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti said Wednesday he had been forced to cut his 2012 budget from US billion to US,4 billion, blaming poor revenue inflows from diamonds from the eastern Marange fields.

Presenting his Mid Term Fiscal policy in Parliament, Biti said of the US million which was expected from diamond sales this year, only US,6 million had been received during the first half of the year.

'We thought by June about half of the amount would have been achieved. I am very worried about the amount coming from diamond sales which is way below what we anticipated. It is a very worrying situation,' he said.

The Marange diamonds have remained a source of constant bickering in the coalition government with Biti and his MDC party claiming proceeds from sales of the gems were being diverted away from treasury.

But one of the companies targeted for criticism by Biti, the Chinese-owned ANJIN Investments, accused him of trying to find scapegoats for his own mistakes. The company claimed Biti had based his US million projection on the assumption that a carat of diamond was worth US,300 when, in fact, its average value is US.

“It is either he is untruthful, incompetent or illiterate. He made the blunder and miscalculated. He must be man enough and admit that he made a mistake,” Anjin board member Munyaradzi Machacha said last month during a visit to Marange by EU envoys.

“He (Biti) is scapegoating companies like Anjin for his miscalculations. He is persecuting a cash cow because he made a blunder.”

Meanwhile, Biti also cut his growth forecast to 5.6 per cent from the 9.4 per cent projected earlier blaming a poor harvest, lack of donor funding and policy inconsistencies.

Zimbabwe registered expansion of 9.3 per cent in 2011, the third straight year of growth after a decade of economic decline that peaked in 2008 when inflation hit 500 billion per cent.

However, the economy looks to be losing its momentum as the coalition government struggles to attract donor funding, while bickering over policy discourages foreign investment.

Biti said government revenues had stopped growing, a sign that the economy now needed foreign investment to expand production and boost jobs, especially in the manufacturing and mining industries.

'The first half of the year has been the most economically challenging in the last 40 months,' Biti told parliament in a mid-year budget review.

'This economy needs foreign direct investment to increase this little cake into a bigger cake that will generate jobs.'

Biti said the government would increase taxes on fuel and wheat imports in a bid to shore up state revenues, adding that this would not put pressure on inflation, which he still expects to be below 5 per cent by year-end.

He said government wages, at 74 per cent of total expenditure, were unsustainable.

Investors have stayed away, rattled by a government drive to force foreign miners to surrender at least 51 per cent shares to black Zimbabweans.
 
Uncertainty over the date and conduct of elections due within the next year, has also unsettled investors given Zimbabwe's history of violent and disputed polls.


It is apparent that the problem with the produce of the Marange fields is a carat and stick affair.

ZANU PF hangs on to the carats, and they will use the stick on anyone who attempts anything other than that.

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We have read reports over the last few weeks that the draft constitution is ready - so what is different about this report?

The draft needs to be made public so that work can begin on a national referendum for the Zimbabwean people to either accept or reject the document.

The major problem, however, is that even if it is accepted by the population, it still requires Mugabe’s signature for it to be adopted.

And Mugabe, renowned for his inability to hold up his side of the bargain, can cancel out any referendum by refusing to sign into law the document.

The final draft of the new constitution for Zimbabwe is now complete and has been signed by all the party negotiators to the GPA and members of COPAC’s management committee.

Douglas Mwonzora, the MDC-T party spokesman and COPAC co-chairman, said principals to the GPA will receive a copy of the draft constitution for perusal before Friday. Zimbabweans have been waiting for a new constitution for almost three years.

‘We could have handed them the document today (Wednesday) but we faced a slight problem in that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is in Japan on a government visit. The person who was supposed to receive it on his behalf, Vice-President Thokozani Khupe, has had bereavement in the family and is away attending a funeral,’ Mwonzora said.

The moment Khupe is available COPAC will hand over copies of the drafts, a move described as merely symbolic by the MDC-T MP for Nyanga North.
 
‘Handing the principals the draft is simply symbolic, it has no legal relevance really, it’s a public relations exercise,’ Mwonzora said, adding that COPAC was also ready to share the document with the media.

He stated that COPAC is now planning for the 2nd all stakeholders’ conference, expected to be held in the next 30 days.

‘We have not yet set a date but it will be staged in the next 30 days where stakeholders will interrogate the document. After that it will be sent to Parliament for gazetting in preparation for a referendum.

‘The way things have gone, it is possible to have a referendum this year. In my respectful view, this could happen in October,’ Mwonzora said.

The legislator, a lawyer by profession, said the constitution belongs to the Zimbabwean people, men, women, children and the old.

‘If we use it properly, maintain it properly, improve it properly, it can become a powerful instrument for our collective liberation from oppression, human rights violations and all forms of indignities.

The release of the proposed constitution ends months of political wrangling over the document, expected to replace Zimbabwe’s current constitution which was drawn up when the country won independence in 1980.

The proposed constitution’s most significant reforms are aimed at the country’s political and legal systems. Under the new constitution much of the vast powers of the President have reportedly been transferred to parliament.

Tens of millions dollars of donor funds have been spent on this constitutional exercise and 4,500 outreach meetings were conducted countrywide, gathering people’s views on a new constitution. But there are clear indications the new charter is nothing more than a negotiated document between political parties.

Analysts and civil society organizations are extremely concerned that ultimately the views gathered during the outreach exercise will count for nothing, as the parties have inserted into the constitution positions that are favorable to their political party agendas.


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It does look like Mugabe is attempting to fulfill the Supreme Court order to hold by-elections by using the same as a testing pit for the main event.

I am not so sure that this is the greatest idea I have ever heard.

Coalition government partners are agreed that a “mini-general election” can proceed this year without key reforms such as security sector realignment.

A Supreme Court ruling last week ordered President Robert Mugabe to gazette a day for by-elections in three constituencies in the Matabeleland region by August 31.

But this could turn into a mini-general election as more than 30 constituencies are vacant and legal experts say elections should be held there too.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party and a breakaway formation led by Industry minister Welshman Ncube had previously stated their resistance to any elections held before the implementation of electoral and security sector reforms.

But they appear to have softened up in light of the Supreme Court ruling and are now saying they will participate, joining Zanu PF in the chorus for the by-elections to proceed.

In separate interviews, the three parties in the fragile three-year-old coalition say they are ready for the polls notwithstanding the fact that the power-sharing Global Political Agreement (GPA) has not been fully implemented.

The by-elections are key because they will act as a measure ahead of a more pronounced watershed poll to be held most likely next year.

Douglas Mwonzora, the spokesperson for Tsvangirai’s MDC formation, said the by-elections are a test of the country’s commitment to peace.

“We are ready for any eventuality, even (by-elections) without reforms. This is a true test of the GPA parties and also of Zanu PF regarding its sincerity to end violence,” said Mwonzora.

The smaller MDC formation said it was ready for the elections even though political reforms are still to be fully implemented.

“Our position as a party is that we have always been prepared for by-elections. We respect this ruling and we will participate but this is only for the by-elections,” said Nqobani Moyo, the party’s director of policy.

Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa said his party has always wanted elections and the Supreme Court ruling came at an opportune time.

“We are prepared for elections and for by-elections we do not need to be prepared,” said Mutasa adding, “If you win now it does not mean that you will win the bigger elections.”

The parties had stayed by-elections after reaching a gentlemen’s agreement not to contest each other in case of parliamentary vacancies in a bid to maintain stability after the violent 2008 polls.

Three former MDC MPs who were expelled from their party for crossing the floor contrary to Zimbabwe’s laws however, successfully mounted a legal challenge resulting in the Supreme Court ruling.

Observers say the by-elections will be a testing ground of political support and electoral conditions and therefore could provide room for strategising towards the general elections.

Conditions on the ground however, appear to be as volatile as the ones existing in 2008 with civil society groups, churches and political parties recording increasing cases of violence and intimidation.

On Sunday, Finance minister and MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti was forced to hold a rally in the bush by soldiers and Zanu PF supporters in Darwendale, Mashonaland West Province in a sign of escalating tensions.


Care needs to be taken whilst the by-elections are underway. Mugabe’s crowd like to wait for attention to be elsewhere before they launch a physical attack away from the focal point.

We watch. We wait.

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ZANU PF treats the security forces as if they are an extension of their party – which they are not.

But, because Mugabe has loaded the police, army, air force and prison services with senior officers that are staunchly loyal to his party, they think nothing of allying themselves with that party and are prepared to stand and fight if need be.

Soldiers from the 3.2 infantry battalion at Tsanzaguru, outside Rusape have been deployed in Nyazura for an exercise, but their real goal is to campaign for ZANU PF, villagers said on Wednesday.

Truck loads of army vehicles dropped off close to 400 troops at Gwangwaza shopping centre late on Sunday. They were being transported from their main base at Tsanzaguru, which is 30 km away. Reports say so far they’ve not physically harmed anyone, but have been roaming the area menacingly.

The heavily armed soldiers have been telling villagers they’re in the area for a training exercise, although they are singing revolutionary ZANU PF songs and toy-toying.

David Makosa, a villager who resides close to the shopping centre, queried why, if they were on an exercise, the soldiers were warning people against voting for the MDC. He said that they’re moving door to door, urging people to vote ZANU PF and not to forget what happened in 2008. This is in reference to the state sponsored violence that rocked the country four years
when over 500
MDC-T supporters lost their lives, tens of thousands were injured and over half a million displaced.

‘As far as we are concerned this is not a military exercise, but a campaign exercise by the army for ZANU PF. Interestingly, the same soldiers are moving around the villages scrounging for food,’ Makosa said.

He observed that pupils from Mupangwi primary and Ruombwe secondary schools have stopped attending lessons out of fear of the soldiers, a situation they described as ‘very intimidating.’


It now becomes apparent as to why Mugabe will not allow any international monitors into the country at election time – well, not those that view his party with suspicion.

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Here we go again. Very few utterances by Mugabe omit the word ‘sanctions’.

But the Mugabe party fail to explain just how preventing him and his cohorts travel into participating countries has brought the country to its knees.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has pleaded with the African Union to forcefully campaign for the lifting of Western sanctions against him and his allies, saying the measures should be removed before Harare holds its next elections.

Mugabe challenged the AU at a summit that ended Monday in
Ethiopia, to emulate the regional Southern African Development Community, SADC, by actively pushing for the lifting of all travel and financial restrictions without conditions.

“May we get a word from this meeting that these sanctions are unjustified, these sanctions continue to impact on our people, these sanctions must go,” the 88-year-old politician challenged the continental bloc late Monday.

Mr. Mugabe’s statement came as the African Union inaugurated its new chairman, President Boni Yayi of Benin, West Africa, who took over from Equatorial Guinea's Teodoro Obiang Nguema Basango.

South Africa's Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma also took the oath of office as new AU Commission chairperson, making history of being the first ever woman to occupy the position.

Political commentator Effie Dlela Ncube of the Matabeleland Constitutional Reform Agenda told VOA the Zimbabwe question is now likely to dominate the AU with the influence of Dlamini-Zuma.

The AU has previously demanded the lifting of sanctions imposed by the U.S. and the European Union several years ago against Mugabe and his inner circle over human rights violations - without success.

But given it's full schedule of more serious challenges, including political crises and security issues in several countries, the continental body has had little, if any time at all, to focus on Zimbabwe, living the task to SADC.


Mugabe also fails to explain what is the difference between his administration blocking a torture specialist from the UN into Zimbabweand other countries preventing his entrance into their countries?

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The phrase ‘for whom the bell tolls’ is loud in my head as I read this…

I am too young to have participated in the bush war of the 1970s, and I will be 50 early next year.

Just how a diploma or a degree will help someone older than me with a cloudy and murky past gain employment, I don’t know.

Security chiefs, uncertain of their future in the event of an MDC election victory, are scurrying to cushion themselves from the loss of power, influence and access to wealth.

The top brass in the security forces, who have exploited Zanu (PF)’s patronage to amass eye-watering riches for themselves, are unsettled by the likelihood of President Robert Mugabe and his party losing general elections likely to take place next year.

“It is now an open secret in the security services (comprising the army, air force, police and Central Intelligence Organisation) that there is no guarantee that Zanu (PF) will retain power come election time. As a result, senior officers are rushing to do whatever they can so that they are secure in the event that Morgan Tsvangirai and his party win,” said a well-informed
source.

South Africa and SADC are making it increasingly clear that they will not brook another Zanu (PF) stolen election victory, and will insist that free and fair elections are held to ensure the results cannot be contested by the losing party. “Remember, the next elections will be held under a new constitution that could make things difficult for Zanu (PF).

SADC is unlikely to tolerate rigging and violence, and Zann (PF) has been severely crippled by factionalism,” said the source. “Already, there are signs that Mugabe is weakening, especially as he failed to force elections this year.” Senior officers are reportedly making attempts to endear themselves to the MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. The party’s national spokesperson, Douglas Mwonzora, confirmed this. “A lot of these security chiefs are coming to us to dissociate themselves from the awkward position taken by the likes of (Constantine) Chiwenga (Zimbabwe Defense Forces Commander), (Douglas) Nyikayaramba (a Major-General) and the like.
 
“They are saying they are fed up with the partisan attitude of a few securocrats and are willing to serve under any government, including an MDC government. We are happy that most of these service personnel are still professional and we will welcome them in the event that we win,” Mwonzora told The Zimbabwean.

Nyikayaramba is one of the generals who have publicly expressed their allegiance to Zanu (PF) and vowed not to recognise a government formed by any other political party. According to documents released by Wikileaks some generals have in the past clandestinely approached western diplomats to discredit Chiwenga.

The panicky officers are also seeking safety in education, rushing to get diplomas and degrees. Another source, a senior officer himself, revealed that his boss had tasked him to find out ‘any diploma’ he could study for in preparation for the future.

The source visited commercial colleges in Harare to research available diplomas available and has recommended that his boss study management.

This paper has established an unusually high number of security chiefs enrolling at local colleges and universities, taking management, business and political science courses. John Makumbe, a professor of political science at the University of Zimbabwe, said army personnel from the rank of colonel upwards were ‘flooding’ his department.

“It’s all about panic regarding the political future of this country. There is a real flurry of senior army officers seeking to obtain educational and professional qualifications. They seem to have realized that there should be life after the bullet,” said Makumbe. He acknowledged that the military chiefs, whose tuition is paid for by the army, were performing well in their
studies at UZ.
 
Chiwenga graduated last year with a master’s degree in International Relations and has a Master of Business Administration from the Zimbabwe Open University.

The senior officers are reportedly hoping to be seconded to line ministries and diplomatic missions ahead of the next elections, get employed in the private sector or take up positions at a military academy currently under construction and at the army Staff College.

A lecturer at one of the leading commercial colleges in the capital said since the beginning of this year there had been an increase in the number of senior army personnel taking evening classes. “Military students, clearly senior judging by their epaulettes, have grown in numbers, particularly this year. They prefer studying business administration, personnel management, law and project management,” said the lecturer. He added that a sizeable number of senior police officers were also studying with them, “but the CIO guys are difficult to detect, even though we suspect quite a number to be our students”.

While the security chiefs have obtained lucrative farms under the fast track land redistribution programme that started in 2000 and hope to use them as business ventures, there is lingering discomfort among them because they do not have solid title deeds.

The Zimbabwean was told that many had set up private ventures, particularly poultry and piggery projects, to guarantee themselves a steady income in the future.


Anyone who would seriously consider employing these securocrats in a truly free Zimbabwedeserves everything that comes their way as a result.

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Take care.

‘debvhu