Top stories October 1-5


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Gono has to wait, again – Former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono will have to wait again to know his fate about the Senate seat for Manicaland left vacant following the death of politburo member Kumbirai Kangai. The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front politburo today said it would follow the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission ruling, that disqualified him, for now but tasked Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa to see how Gono, could at some point, become senator. ZEC boss Rita Makarau disqualified Gono for the seat because he was not a registered voter for Manicaland. His registration could not be transferred from Harare to Manicaland because there was currently no legal framework to enable that. Gono blamed his disqualification on the internal squabbles in ZANU-PF but added that he was prepared to wait even up to 2023. Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said Gono’s claim was just a sign of how desperate he was to become a senator.

Did US sanctions buster try to con Mugabe?

A Chicago man charged with illegally lobbying for the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe may have tried to con President Robert Mugabe as it emerged yesterday that one of the State Senators for Illinois Donne Trotter who was allegedly fighting for the lifting of sanctions did not write some of the letters of support sent to the Zimbabwean president. Gregory Turner forwarded several letters from Trotter to top Zimbabwean government officials which claimed that he would fight for the lifting of sanctions and would lobby United States President Barack Obama not to renew sanctions imposed by his predecessor George Bush. Turner and his associate Prince Asiel Ben Israel are alleged to have entered into an agreement with the Zimbabwean government to lobby for the lifting of sanctions against senior government officials. They were to be paid US$3.4 million. The only payment of US$89 970 that was wired to Ben Israel was frozen by his bank when he failed to give a satisfactory explanation of what the money was for.  The Consulting Agreement was signed by Ben Israel and Senator Monica Mutsvangwa, wife of Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Christopher Mutsvangwa. She is also a former Deputy Minister. Ben Israel pleaded guilty and was sentenced to seven months jail last month. Trotter worked with Obama for seven years in the Illinois Senate but he said he could not have pushed Obama to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe because he “didn’t have that kind of relationship with the president”, according to The Chicago Tribune.  Trotter also said that though he had always been against the imposition of sanctions on Zimbabwe, especially their effect on the impoverished people, as a State Senator he had no powers to have them lifted. He said he had never authorised Turner to sign letters on his behalf promising top Zimbabwean government officials that he would lobby Obama to lift sanctions against Zimbabwe. According to the State case, Turner forwarded several letters and emails from Trotter stating what he was doing to lift sanctions.

 

 

 

Mnangagwa is offside, Gumbo says

Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front spokesman Rugare Gumbo says Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa is offside. He should not speak on behalf of the party, he told The Herald. Gumbo was trying to clarify the discrepancy between what he said after Wednesday’s politburo meeting about former Central Bank governor Gideon Gono and the senate seat in Manicaland. Gumbo said the party had decided to abide by the decision of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission which disqualified Gono but had tasked the chairman of the legal committee Mnangagwa to look at ways Gono could be accommodated.  Mnangagwa said the politburo had never made such a decision. The Gono issue was a closed chapter. Gumbo insisted: “I am not a chameleon I don’t change. Ndikakutaurirai kuti ndizvozvo, I try to do it as accurately as I can. It is not finished. There are all these kind of processes, which have to be done and the legal team was directed to do just that. It is not complete. It is not final. The chairperson of the legal committee is offside.” The tiff between Gumbo and Mnangagwa seems to be part of the infighting within ZANU-PF rocking the party as it heads for its congress scheduled for December in Harare. Mnangagwa is reported to be one of the key contenders. Gono has claimed he belongs to President Robert’s Mugabe’s faction something that was rubbished by Information Minister Jonathan Moyo who said Mugabe does not lead a faction. Mnangagwa’s main rival is reported to be Vice-President Joice Mujuru, who too has claimed she does not lead any faction but belongs to the Mugabe faction.

 

 

Bulawayo companies abusing law to dodge debts

Companies in Bulawayo are abusing the option for judicial management to dodge huge debts they would have accrued and to buy time, judicial managers have said. This year alone from January to September, the Bulawayo High Court has placed more than 10 firms in key industries under judicial management and three under provisional liquidation as the economy continues to stall.  Firms placed under judicial management include Marvo Stationery, Wet Blue Industries, Lowveld cotton ginner, Romsdal Investments, Chakata Resources Zimbabwe, Tagarira Brothers, Setsail Equipment, Observant Enterprises, Hadad Enterprises, Willsgrove and Savanna Wood. Lasker Brothers, makers of the Archer brand of shirts; Trade Power and Wenbrough were placed under provisional liquidation. “Some companies are opting for judicial management just to run away from debts they would have accrued and some because they have no business plan at all. In other words they are abusing the system to buy time,” said Chrispen Mwete of C Mwete and Company, who is a judicial manager. Judicial management would give companies some breathing space and an opportunity for them to use outside expertise to recover. Marvo owes 103 workers, who have gone for 20 months without pay, in excess of $200 000 while Chakata Resources owes creditors $357 000, including its employees. Lasker Brothers has debts of $6.559 million while Trade Power owes $4 million. Economic analysts have said the situation was exacerbated by a serious liquidity crunch afflicting the economy, high cost of utilities as well as aggressive taxation by a dollar-hungry government. Another judicial manager, Philip Ndlovu of PNA Chartered Accountants said as judicial managers they were finding it hard to manage some companies because of lack of capital. “There is no cash for products as customers do not have money,” said Ndlovu, adding that some companies under the judicial management needed restructuring to survive which often takes a long time to complete by which it may be too late to save them. With the manufacturing sector in particular struggling, some economists have called on the government to provide a stimulus package for firms through concessional funding.

 

 

US tells Zimbabwe don’t do business with Russia

The United States government has warned Zimbabwe not to do business with Russia because Moscow is under United States sanctions.  The warning is said to have been issued, a week or two ago, through the US embassy in Harare after the signing of the US$3 billion platinum deal between Zimbabwe and Russia, according to Herald columnist Nathaniel Manheru. Zimbabwe was warned not to do business with Russia otherwise it would be placed under sanctions too which Manheru says is baffling since Zimbabwe is already under United States sanctions. Zimbabwe and Russia signed the platinum deal on 16 September. The mine, at Darwendale, will create 8 000 jobs at full development in 2024 and will produce 800 000 ounces of platinum. A United States citizen, C. Gregory Turner, is currently on trial in Chicago for illegally lobbying to have sanctions on Zimbabwe lifted. The United States insists that its current sanctions are targeted at individuals and companies yet the law forbids international financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank from giving loans to Zimbabwe unless this is approved by the United States President.

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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