Zimbabweans converge for Dzamara prayer in Chitungwiza

The Dzamara FamilySeveral political parties today joined the MDC and the Dzamara family at Huruyadzo shopping centre in Chitungwiza at a prayer meeting for the abducted activist, Itai Dzamara.

Speaking at the prayer meeting, Vice President  Hon. Thokozani  Khupe said the MDC was demanding that Dzamara be brought back to his family alive. She said that Zimbabweans  owed it to no-one but to themselves to demand their own liberty and freedoms.

"We all love animals but it is our wish that the outpouring of concern and grief over Cecil the Lion be transferred to Itai , the person " she said.

The MDC  Vice President  said the evil done to Itai Dzamara return to the perpetrators ten-fold.  She also said the party is deeply worried by the disappearance of Lancelot Masaraure, the Organiser for Zengeza East  who has not been found since 2012.

Dzamara's friend, Job Sikhala, said petitions will be sent to SADC, the African Union and the United Nations over the Zimbabwe government that was complicit in the disappearance of Itai Dzamara.

The political and civil society leaders publicly read out the declaration demanding the safe return of Dzamara.

Zanu PF unconstitutionally decimates elected Gweru City council

City of GweruTrue to his political mandate to decimate the MDC in all urban areas ahead of the watershed 2018 harmonised elections, the newly appointed Local Government Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, has decimated operations of a whole town by unconstitutionally dismissing two MDC councilors and suspending 13 others in the Midlands City of Gweru.

Section 278 (2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe makes it abundantly clear that elected councilors can only be dismissed after investigations by an independent tribunal, meaning the Minister no longer has powers to dismiss councillors. Section 114 of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15) is ultra vires the provisions of Section 278 (2) of the Constitution and as such, the Minister of Local Government cannot lawfully dismiss and/or suspend any elected local government official from office.

In fact,the Zanu PF regime has deliberately failed to harmonise the Urban Councils Act with the provisions of the new Constitution that became operational in May 2013. The Zanu PF regime has absolutely no respect for both the Constitution and also for the principle of constitutionalism.

Kasukuwere is clearly suffering from a debilitating deficit of common sense and good governance. It appears that he is unmindful of the fact that the Constitution contains rules,regulations, parameters and guidelines for the Minister that are consistent with the principle of devolution of power to local authorities.

The Minister of Local Government has therefore conducted himself in a blatantly unconstitutional manner by purporting to dismiss as well as to suspend elected councilors without following the provisions of Section 278 (2) of the Constitution. This is, however,typical of the Zanu PF regime that has literally condemned Zimbabwe into a lawless banana republic. Saviour Kasukuwere has to be brought to order. He cannot continue to act like a mad bull in a china shop.

The MDC will be urgently approaching the courts and in the interim, our elected councilors will simply ignore their purported suspension and thus, remain in office.

As a party, we will not pander to the whims,fantasies and misguided political dictates of an overzealous and thoroughly misguided Zanu PF Minister who is abusing a government portfolio to do party commissariat work and in the process, blatantly violating the Constitution of the country.

The MDC will vigorously pursue all available legal and political options to ensure that the unconstitutional actions of Kasukuwere are promptly reversed.

MDC: EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL
Obert Chaurura Gutu
National Spokesperson

Mid term fiscal policy review statement clueless

Patrick Chinamasa Introduction
Ideally, economic blueprints are programmes that are created to achieve agreed objectives usually embedded in election manifestos of the party that wins a national election and forms a government. As a result, these programmes have the same time frames as the election periods for each given country. For ease of management, annual plans and budgets are then made to breakdown that economic programme into sub programmes and chunks which, when put together, make up the original plan.

Accordingly each of these annual plans and budgets must necessarily be consistent with that plan and must be carefully contrived to achieve the overall objectives and targets espoused in those blueprints. In this context therefore, a mid-term fiscal policy review statement is a tool used by Governments to assess progress made, on a six-monthly basis, in attaining the plan objectives. Naturally such reviews create opportunities for governments to make the necessary policy and programme adjustments which may be required to ensure that the original plan objectives are met. This notwithstanding, these reviews are also used to take into consideration changed circumstances which are bound to happen as all plans are based on some stated assumptions, the assumptions of which may not come to pass.

The ZimAsset Framework
ZANU PF’s ZimAsset is a purported development programme put together to steer the economy to achieve the objectives espoused in their election manifesto. These objectives are repeated here to contextualise this discussion and to remind Zimbabweans how citizens are always taken for a ride by that party.                                              

The Zim Asset, spanning the period October 2013 to December 2018, was put together to, among many “lofty” objectives, ensure:
    Accelerated economic growth and wealth creation in Zimbabwe,
•    Sustainable development and social equity anchored on indigenisation, empowerment and employment creation.
•    A result based agenda which was to reposition the country as one of the strongest economies in the region and Africa.
•    A commitment to evolve “robust and prudent fiscal and monetary policies to buttress and boost the implementation of the programmers”
•    The attainment of a people centred government which would promote equitable development and prosperity for all Zimbabweans, and finally, to ensure that
•    The country becomes “ a growth leader in Sub-Saharan Africa towards 2020”

Failure To Achieve The Critical National Growth Targets
As a strategy to achieving the above objectives, the government stated that the budgetary process would be aligned to the programming requirements ZimAsset. In addition, the economy would be cajoled to achieve an average GDP growth rate of 7,3 % per annum with all sectors attaining positive growth rates during  the plan period. As history has it, this growth rate the ZANU PF government has persistently  failed to attain as it has garnered only a GDP growth rates of  4,5 % in 2013, 3,5 % in 2014 and is, by their own admission, forecasting a growth rate of a mere 1,5 % by the end of 2015. Such a performance compares very poorly with Sub – Saharan growth rates of 5 % in 2014 and 4,4 % in 2015. Nearer home the average growth rate in SADC countries (which is weighed down by Zimbabwe's poor performance) was 3,4 % in 2014 and is forecast to grow at 3,8 % in 2015.

In view of the fact a resource rich Zimbabwe is in the same geo-political environment as the other less resource endowed SADC countries, these statistics emphasize the point Zimbabwe is being left behind by the entire world because of its unavailing policies which they have persistently followed since independence, policies which do not grow the economy or resolve the fundamental structural problems facing it.

ZANU PF's failure to grow this economy is due to its prime preoccupation with its pre-independence programmes of wealth redistribution which has been done at the expense  of the need to create centres for sustained growth in the economy. As a result the major thrust of its policies continues to focus on the redistribution of the little resources inherited at independence particularly to its cronies at the expense of the rest of the population. This policy is not an economic growth model and has led to stagnation and worsening poverty for the masses as it overemphasizes current consumption vis a vis productive investment for present and future generations.

It must be pointed out that the dwindling productive capacity experienced throughout the economy today is not a coincidence but a direct result of little or no investment in productive infrastructure over the years. It is a truism that ZESA has no capacity to meet the energy needs of this underperforming economy, that ZINWA cannot provide the much needed water for irrigation, that NRZ is unable to move the volume of goods demanded by all sectors of the economy, that ARDA has almost mothballed its operations, and that the CSC is having little or no contribution to the cattle industry in the country.

These are just a few examples in the litany of public institutions which are failing to deliver to their mandate as a result of ZANU PF’s failure to place sufficient balance on investing for the improved welfare of the population of Zimbabwe. Consequently the 1,5 % growth GDP envisaged for 2015 fiscal year is a direct result of that party’s shameful failure not only to plan for investment in increased capacities in all sectors of the economy  but also its refusal to allocate adequate resources for the maintenance of  the inherited infrastructure. Statistics posted elsewhere attest to the fact that the productive capacity of the country is well below that achieved in 1972. Hence the 1,5 % growth in GDP must necessarily be considered in the context of a failed economy which is going nowhere and whose drivers have either, at best, no intention to steer it in the positive direction, or, at worst, are only interested in obtaining the most they can salvage from it.

In view of the above, we contend that the ZimAsset goal of accelerated economic growth and wealth creation is a pipe dream, never to be achieved in the context of the current crop of socio-economic and political policies employed by ZANU PF.

No Sustainable Development
The Mid-Term Fiscal Statement does not attempt to assess to what extent it has addressed the second fundamental ZimAsset policy objective of engendering “a sustainable development and social equity anchored on indigenisation, empowerment and employment creation” through the judicious exploitation of the country’s abundant human and natural resources.

Nowhere in the said statement is there mention of what progress has been achieved in the indigenisation process and what specific targets are attainable. In addition, there is no mention of an overt process towards the equitable distribution and development of resources the country has. We have pointed out in the past and also do so now that the indigenisation act has to be repealed because it is indeed the stumbling block to the very development Zimbabwe is after. Any indigenisation programme has to be based on the nation’s ability to access technology and the requisite human and material resources needed to implement the development programme. To the extent that Zimbabwe does not possess the full complement of these critical inputs, such a policy must be discarded at the earliest opportunity.
The ZANU PF government cannot, in the context of the current economic environment punctuated by inadequate development infrastructure, policy inconsistences, liquidity challenges, shrinking markets, and the unacceptable shortage of skills occasioned by the brain drain, hope to attract meaningful foreign direct investment needed to shore up the economy.

Zimbabwe one of the weakest economies in Sub-Saharan Africa
Further to the above, the Mid – Term Fiscal Policy Statement has shied away from assessing the progress achieved in “repositioning the country as one of the strongest economies’’ in Africa by 2020. As indicated earlier on in this discussion, Zimbabwe is fast losing even its precarious position as the second poorest economy on the continent as it continues to underperform and is lagging badly behind other countries in Africa and in the SADC Sub-region.

By its own admission, the Government acknowledges its failure to influence growth in the critical sectors of manufacturing and agriculture. These sectors are suffering from decades of under-investment, adverse policy prescriptions, and brain drain that to hope for a sustained economic growth without implementing robust and internally consistent economic policies which address the structural problems debilitating these sectors borders around fool hardiness. In the absence of adequate amounts of working capital and investible funds, in the absence of production technology which makes them competitive at home and abroad, in the absence of the requisite infrastructure (energy, water, telecommunications, and transport) needed to support production, in the absence the skills, and in the absence of a conducive policy environment, no significant growth in output can ever eventuate. The agricultural sector, for instance, is beset with intractable problems that sustainedgrowth is impossible in the absence of fundamental policy prescriptions.

The lack of sufficient long term investment funds, difficulties in  accessing viable markets, cost of capital, lack collateral security, inadequate research and development, and inability to access utilities, are the major impediments to the growth and development of the sector. Accordingly, the repositioning of the agricultural sector as one of the strongest sectors in Africa is a dream which can never be realised unless and until Zimbabwe resolves these fundamental problems militating against production and productivity.

Public Finances
Consistent with its appetite forconspicuous consumption, the ZANU PF government has continuedto spend excessively on current consumption at the expense capital investment. Whilst sanity would have dictated that government allocates a significant proportionof  itsrevenues towards infrastructural development, only $31,4 million was disbursed towards capital projects. This is a paltry 1,5 % of total  government expenditure. Given the serious need to address the infrastructural deficit that is militating against the growth of this economy and the fiscal space problems confronting the fiscus, this paltry allocation for capital expenditure more than demonstrates the serious lack of political will, at the highest level, to address the underdevelopment  problems facing the entire nation as national poverty levels deepen.

The unbridled expenditures pertainingto the presidential office illustrate this as the travel expense in this department alone during the period under review far exceeds the capital expenditure for the whole nation. Further, it is instructive to note that government borrowed heavily on the domestic financial markets for current consumption amounts which are far in excess of ten times the amount expended on capital projects. This tendency, unfortunately, clearly illustrates the utmost insensitivity to the welfare of the poverty stricken people of Zimbabwe, and crowds out the private sector in the financial markets.

Further to the above, the paltry allocations to capital expenditures and other development needs underscore the serious excess capacity utilisation of in the civil service at a time when employment costs continue to chew a disproportionate 74,5 % of the total expenditure.

Credit must, however, be accorded to government for acknowledging this in its fiscal policy review, but the resolution of the problem is not just to cut down on employment numbers but also the disproportionate allocations to non-productive  expenditures which assumedly remain unaffected. More importantly, the problem of ghost workers has been a creation of government over the years. Hence the serious question government has to answer is why it has failed to deal with this unacceptable mismatch of expenditure almost three years into its Zim Asset programme.

The perennial problems of poor public finance management practices and the leakages which result therefrom continue unabated.  Year after year reports of the Auditor General attest to a growing culture of public funds mismanagement which go unpunished. Both the police and the Anti- Corruption Commission cast a blind eye to these frauds and as a result the volume of crimes related to abuse of public funds continues to grow at the expense of the suffering masses of the country. It is not enough for government to recognise the problem but to stop the practices forthwith and bring to book all perpetrators of these crimes without further delay.

Public Debt
Zimbabwe’s debt overhang continues to be a serious impediment to the growth of the economy as the failure to service debt necessarily inhibits the inflow of new cheap loanable funds from abroad. Such funds are desperately needed for investment in the productive sectors of the economy and to unlock productive capacities in industry and commerce. A loan repayment of $183,6 million in a six month period represents 2,2 % of the $8,4 billion public and public guaranteed debt and a paltry 8,9 % if total expenditures for the period. It is in the context of the urgent need to unlock the structural problems militating against improving the liquidity situation in the country at the earliest opportunity that the priority placed on repayment of loans is found wanting to say the least. The time it is taking to flush out ghost workers who continue to drain the fiscus at the expense of the majority is inordinately long and can only be sustained in order boost the political fortunes of the ruling party during elections.

Further to this, the time it is taking for government to decide on which parastatals to commercialise or sell off is a policy which is weighing down the prospects of economic recovery as the revenues generated in the process could have a telling impact on both the debt overhang and on speeding up infrastructural development. This would increase inflows into the consolidated revenue fund, create opportunities for higher debt repayments, and reduce government loanobligationsto the creditors outside the country.

As indicated elsewhere in the fiscal policy review, government is aware that the debt reported officially by it understates the quantum figure that is owed on the domestic market due to the fact that ministries and government department continue to contract services in the absence of funds needed to pay for them. This not only creates financial difficulties to the service provider from a cash flow point of view but also to the nation at large because the funds required to pay for such expenditures may not be available in the consolidated revenue fund. Such practices show lack of adequate expenditure controls on the part of the central ministry of Finance which must be exhorted to exercise its mandate.

New Revenue Measures
The Minister of Finance failed to quantify the expected impact of each of the policy revenue measures he introduced in his mid – year statement. This is essential to inform policy and strategies to ensure that targets are met.    More importantly, the banning of imports of second hand clothing and shoes is inhuman when full cognisance is taken of the volume of vendors who were eking a living out of this. Moreover, the fact that these vendors had a ready market for their wares is evidence enough that a market existed especially in the context of the unacceptably high levels of unemployment and the non- availability of  a reasonable disposable income. To assume that banning such imports will help to substantially improve the fortunes of the textile and shoe industries is being far- fetched indeed.

Webber Chinyadza
Secretary For Economics

President Morgan Tsvangirai’s Heroes and Defence Forces Day Message to the people of Zimbabwe

The National Heroes Acre - ZimbabweToday, the nation remembers the gallant sons and daughters of this country who fought a brutal war to bring about self-determination in the country of our birth.

We stand proud on their shoulders, well aware that their determination and fortitude made the difference between subjugation and political independence. Some paid the ultimate price, and indeed others lost limbs so that the aspirations of future generations could walk again.
Yet that freedom was also due to our mothers and fathers as well as the sons and daughters who remained at home to support those on the warfront.

Today, we reflect on the brutality and the tenacious struggle that we had to go through as a people to be where we are today. I and the party I lead are proud of the sanctity of our war of liberation and we take full pride in what the sons and daughters of this country did to remove the oppressed people of this country from the yoke of colonialism.

Indeed, the MDC is a proud post-liberation movement, not opposed to the sanctity of our previous struggle but formed merely to complete the unfinished business that remains outstanding to this day.
 
We realize, as a proud post-colonial movement, that independence came through blood, sweat and tears and we salute all those who took part in it, especially those that paid the ultimate price.

But the big regret for the nation is that political independence did not come with the attendant freedoms that so many of our people had fought and died for.

We in the MDC respect the heroes of our war of liberation and that is why at our 4th Congress in October 2014, we resolved to take an unequivocal position to commit ourselves to attend to the welfare of those who are still alive.

The MDC Congress therefore resolved to support the constitutional rights and welfare of genuine war veterans as enshrined in the new constitution and to ensure that they get assistance for rehabilitation, education, health and pension rights among others.

As MDC, we salute the heroic people of this country for supporting the MDC and the broader democratic movement in the fight for a new Constitution, which we had to force down the throat of our reluctant colleagues in Zanu PF.

Today, the national tragedy remains that the sacred document that we made for ourselves as a sovereign people remains unimplemented, despite its overwhelming authorship and endorsement by millions of the people of this country.

My biggest worry is that our Constitution remains a fantastic document in the closet, with the people not able to realize their aspirations  and enjoying the full rights they should be accorded in line with that charter!

And  today, as we remember those luminaries as the great Masotsha Ndlovu, Joshua Nkomo, Edgar Tekere, Sheba Tavarwisa, Josiah Tongogara, Margaret Dongo, Wilfred Mhanda and Solomon Mujuru; we must do so with a deep sense of reflection.

Today, if the dead among them were to resurrect, would they be proud of what has become of the country for which they waged a brutal and protracted war?

Would they be proud of the hunger and starvation now stalking the nation  despite our people taking the land that belongs to us?

Would they be proud of this joblessness and desperation amid huge mineral wealth that continues to be exploited for the benefit of a chosen few?

Would all those heroes and heroines be proud that we have become a nation of vendors, from women vending their bodies for a living to the vendors that have become a huge spectacle on the streets of our cities?

As we ponder and reflect on all these issues on today, I want to humbly broaden the narrow definition of a national hero and submit that in light of the hard work and toil our citizens continue to brave to make an honest living for their families, we have become a nation of heroes!

All those ordinary Zimbabweans by the street side who have decided to make an honest living by selling their wares by the roadside are the new heroes of our time! They should be lauded because they have chosen hard work and honesty, and not crime!

Those small scale miners, the millions of young, uneducated graduates for which this government has failed to provide jobs but have instead chosen restraint are a venerable generation of heroes!

The few remaining workers that are now losing their jobs every week following the recent Supreme Court ruling are indeed a new crop of national heroes!

And yes, all those in the opposition in various political parties from the early 80s to the era of the MDC who were brutally killed in State-sponsored violence are heroes; all those who perished at the hands of our former saviours deserve their due remembrance today.
They are also heroes!

All our hard working sons and daughters slugging it out in the Diaspora for the sake of their families and their country are national heroes.

And of course, all those beneath this soil who died so that democracy could take root; Tonderai Ndira, Rebecca Mafukeni, Isaac Matongo, among many thousands others were brutally killed by Zanu PF  are also national heroes.

And yes, Itai Dzamara, whose disappearance remains a mystery for after a tenacious fight for freedom and democracy in his country of birth, is a national hero.

And to the soldiers, the brave and patriotic men and women in uniform who defend us every day, our thoughts are with you this Defence Forces Day.

We have great respect for you and we pray that you have utmost respect and abide by the provisions of the new Constitution in which Zimbabweans set out clear guidelines in which the security sector should interact and protect the interests of the citizens. At the centre of that relationship is respect for human rights and the need for our defence and security forces to defer to the civilian authority of the land.

The Constitution makes it clear that Defence forces or any other security institution must refrain from either promoting or demoting any political interests but should serve the nation professionally, in a non-partisan manner.

For the record, I as Morgan Tsvangirai and the party I lead will not create a new army, a new police force and a new intelligence unit. We will depend on the patriotic sons and daughters of this country who continue to serve their country in these security institutions with both honour and distinction.

We know that our security structures do not want to be abused but are national institutions committed to strictly abiding by their roles and responsibility as stipulated in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

What some in the army did in 2008 remains a shame beneath the dignity and mandate of a national Defence Force. The active participation in the subversion of the people’s will through outright violence and assaults was beyond the mandate of a professional soldier sworn to defending the country’s citizens and their rights.

Loyalty to the country and the zeal to serve the country should reign supreme rather than any political or partisan interests. We know that our security institutions have no wish to serve individuals, particular leaders or political parties but they wish to only serve their country.

As a party that will soon be in government, we remain worried about the welfare of our men and women in uniform and we pledge to look seriously into the welfare of those who protect this nation and its people.

We have noted with serious concern that most of these respected men and women have torn uniforms and worn-out boots unbefitting of their dignity while their salaries and benefits remain woefully lower than the magnitude of their national responsibility.

Lastly, our fallen heroes must rest in peace in the full knowledge and comfort that we, the citizens, do not take for granted their sacrifice and the dignity they bestowed on the people of this country.

To the living heroes, rest in the comfort that we cherish your contribution to the making of this country called Zimbabwe.

I wish all Zimbabweans a blessed Heroes and Defence Forces holiday!

MDC condemns unlawful dismissal of councillors

MDC condemns unlawful dismissal of councillorsThe MDC would like to strenuously condemn and denounce the purported dismissal of two MDC councillors in the City of Gweru. We call upon the Zanu PF regime not only to respect and uphold the Constitution of Zimbabwe but also to strictly adhere  to and comply with the principle of constitutionalism.

The letter dated July 29, 2015 written by the Minister of Local Government,  Public Works and National Housing is completely devoid of any details pertaining to the alleged gross mismanagement of funds and property of council against the two councillors in question.

The said letter is tantamount to just a bold allegation that fails to give the nuts and bolts of the alleged misconduct. Moreover, the Minister's letter violates the provisions of Section 278 (2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe that provides that an Act of Parliament must provide for the establishment of an independent tribunal to exercise the function of removing from office mayors, chairpersons and councillors.  

Section 114 (4) of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29 : 15)  is, therefore, ultra vires, the provisions of Section 278 (2 ) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. No independent tribunal was established by the Minister to look into the allegations that were levelled against the dismissed councillors and as such, their purported dismissal by the Minister of Local Government is null and void an initio.

The MDC therefore condemns, unreservedly, the unlawful usurpation of power by the Minister of Local Government in purporting to dismiss the two councillors from office without fully complying with the constitutional requirements as set out in Section 278 (2) of the Constitution.  As such, the party will proceed to take the relevant legal action to set aside the purported dismissal of the two councillors.

The Zanu PF regime has got absolute contempt and utter disregard for the principle of constitutionalism. Once again, we have witnessed the bastardisation of the country's constitution by the beleaguered and faction - ridden Zanu PF regime.

The MDC will continue to exert pressure on the renegade Zanu PF regime until such a time that the purported dismissal of our two councillors is reversed. Zimbabwe cannot continue to be run like a banana republic in which there is flagrant disregard for the rule of law. We know that Savior Kasukuwere is on a mission to dissimate all the urban councils that are under the control of the MDC as he continues to relentlessly pursue the thuggish and nefarious agenda of the bankrupt and crumbling Zanu PF regime.

MDC: EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL

Obert Gutu

National Spokesperson