Friday, 25 November 2011

Tsvangirai’s Prime Ministerial baby mamas


Lothario: Tsvangirai has been linked with a string of women since his wife's tragic passing in a car accident in 2009
There's something incongruous about how Zimbabwean independent media journalists at home and in the Diaspora are reporting the debacle surrounding Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's marriage-that-allegedly-never-was. Whilst the state-controlled Herald has, predictably, gleefully reported on the 'union' and its attendant soap operatic saga, the independent press has bizarrely preoccupied itself with efforts to ‘uncover’ the ‘truth’ about the origins of claims that Tsvangirai had married his lover, Locadia Tembo, a wealthy businesswoman hailing from a traditionally ZANU PF family and whose sister is an MP in President Mugabe’s party.

Newzimbabwe.com published a story entitled The curious case of Tsvangirai’s marriage on Thursday which sought to reconcile the gaps between the Tembo family’s claims of a marriage between their daughter and the Prime Minister on the one hand, and denials of such a union by Tsvangirai’s spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka on the other. The story quoted journalist and political commentator Pedzisayi Ruhanya who suggested that Tamborinyoka’s denials correctly reflected Tsvangirai’s position on the alleged marriage. Further, Ruhanya averred that Tsvangirai could be a victim of factions in his party that are trying to play matchmaker for him in a bid to gain influence and control over him.

SW Radio Africa took it a notch further with a story also published on Thursday alleging an apparent conspiracy to corner Tsvangirai into marriage. The story also quoted Tsvangirai’s aides dismissing the veracity of the marriage claims. Ruhanya also features in this story, and this time he openly fingers Tsvangirai ally and co-Home Affairs Minister Theresa Makone as the troublesome matchmaker whose interference in the Prime Minister’s private life portends ill not only for Tsvangirai himself, but for the MDC-T’s overall mission to deliver democratic change. It is hard to quarrel with Ruhanya’s perspective on the goings-on within the MDC-T as he is solidly well-informed on the subject.
Married or merely 'damaged'? Tembo is said to be carrying Tsvangirai's twins

All this is very well and makes for interesting reading too, what with the sense of political intrigue and sex scandal it throws up all at once. Indeed, the story has provided much comic relief to legislators in Parliament, where the Prime Minister was yesterday mockingly hailed as a ‘ZANU PF’ son-in-law by MPs from that party as he arrived for the national budget presentation by Finance Minister Tendai Biti.

However, what I found most disturbing and disheartening about the independent media’s reporting (I’m not addressing the Herald for obvious reasons – they have no pretensions about their partisanship!) on this latest Tsvangirai debacle was their apparent diversion of popular attention from the real controversies of this episode. What’s beyond dispute is that the Prime Minister has made yet another young Zimbabwean woman pregnant, and out of wedlock. Immediately after official denials from Tsvangirai’s office rolled into newsrooms, alarm bells should have rung long and shrill about the falling moral probity of a national leader, a father figure, a grandfather and, inevitably, a role model for young men across the country.

The confirmation by his office of Tsvangirai having paid damages to the Tembo family in acknowledgement of his responsibility for Locadia’s pregnancy should have elicited hard questions by the media about the growing notoriety of the Prime Minister’s salacious lifestyle in the wake of his wife Susan’s tragic passing in 2009. The insistence of the Prime Minister’s office that Tsvangirai had only paid damages and no marriage had taken place seems to put it beyond doubt that Tsvangirai has no intentions to take Locadia as his lawfully wedded wife now or any time in the future. Otherwise, why create all this hullabaloo between two people who have every intention to live together happily ever after?
One notch in along string? The PM with Arikana Chihombori

Journalists are no secret-keepers for the PM and they’re doing him no favours by failing to hold up his increasingly embarrassing lifestyle to public scrutiny under the specious excuse that it is his private business. Well, for what it’s worth, it ceases to be his private business if young people living in one of the most HIV/Aids-affected societies in Sub-Saharan Africa should find encouragement to eschew condom use because their Prime Minister goes ‘bareback’ and still appears untouched by disease.

You might say that’s a presumptuous conclusion, but not so if you factor in poor Loreta Nyathi, the young Bulawayo girl whom the Prime Minister allegedly knocked up and left to raise his son on her own and whome he claimed to not remember. And that brings me to another worrying point – this apparent sowing of wild oats by Tsvangirai. One expects an irresponsible young man who knows no better – nhubu yomunhu - to leave a litany of baby mamas across the country, not the Prime Minister! Anywhere in the civilised world, this unbecoming and morally reprehensible behaviour would have haunted any politician into resignation, but not so in Zimbabwe.

Powerful men have carte blanche to behave outrageously when it comes to sexual affairs, and society tends to acquiesce to this appalling indulgence. Journalists sustain it by nibbling at the periphery of these disquieting moral contradictions, preferring to leave the core of the matter publicly untouched. They do gossip of course, over a beer or two, about all the skirt-chasing and altogether unbecoming behaviour of national leaders which they’re privy to.

Perhaps the new crop of national leaders from the MDC believes that any public scrutiny of their sexual lives is unfair, since many of their ZANU PF colleagues have enjoyed more than 30 years sexual and material profligacy unmolested by hostile press publicity. That is largely true, of course – many ZANU PF politicians have, over the decades, sired multitudes of fatherless children and sunk into putrefying sexual scandals involving small houses and even under age girls as well as gay lovers, in spite of their leader’s trenchant homophobia.

However, these ‘Chinja’ leaders have come into public life at a new historical juncture, and they have found a generation that seeks to escape the scourge of HIV infection and make up for the country’s sad loss of human capital over the last 20 years. Key to that survival is the restoration of its moral fibre, which can only be achieved by this generation taking responsibility for its future. The growing readiness to be tested and to know one’s HIV status means this generation is ready for openness and accountability in moral as in political matters.
Journalist Pedzisai Ruhanya: 'Romance will shape Tsvangirai's destiny'.

This is the generation that Prime Minister Tsvangirai wants to lead as president of the country. He may very well still do so in future, but presently his own personal affairs are an incorrigible mess. Hardly the picture of inspiration for aspiring young Zimbabweans, and firebrand independent politician Margaret Dongo is right to excoriate Tsvangirai for ‘dropping his pants everywhere’ and impregnating women. Pedzisai Ruhanya’s insightful observation that romance could shape Tsvangirai’s destiny appears even more illuminating in light of recent developments. 

Monday, 7 November 2011

Resource nationalism takes hold in Southern Africa

ANC Youth League president Julius Malema leads thousands of party cadres on a 56km 'march against poverty' from Johannesburg to the capital Pretoria recently
IT WAS Zambia’s then-opposition Patriotic Front (PF) leader Michael Sata’s shots across the bows to Chinese miners during the 2006 presidential election that brought the issue of resource nationalism in Southern Africa into sharp focus. The following year, south of the Zambian border, Zimbabwe was to pass a law claiming majority equity for black locals in foreign-owned mines, among other businesses.

Further down south, a resurgent radicalism among the party’s youth was to assert its boisterous confidence with Jacob Zuma’s election as the new leader of South Africa’s ruling ANC party in December 2007. Four years later, President Zuma’s government stands buffeted by the powerful ANC Youth League and its firebrand leader Julius Malema’s demands to nationalise the country’s vast mining sector.

Back in Zambia, Sata is now the new tenant at State House after putting an unceremonious end to the 20-year reign of President Rupiah Banda’s Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) in elections held in September. His fiery nationalism drew the admiration and support of largely young and unemployed Zambians who feel left out of the mining boom that has made the country’s economy one of the best-performing in Africa.
Sata is sworn in as the new Zambian President, bringing an end to the MMD's 20-year rule

Chinese companies have become key players in Zambia’s economy with total investments by the end of 2010 topping $2bn, according to official Chinese government data. Hungry for raw materials to power its burgeoning economy, the Asian dragon has in recent years led the influx of foreign direct investment (FDI) in natural resources in Africa, contributing to the continent’s accelerated growth.

Africa’s GDP growth rate is approximately 5% a year and is forecast to continue at this pace or faster. African countries face the challenge of translating this resource boom into continued and sustainable economic growth, as well as ensuring that it benefits ordinary citizens and is consistent with national and regional development priorities.  

‘The resource nationalism trend appears to be gathering pace in Southern Africa,’ observed Peter Leon, a South African legal expert who co-chairs the International Bar Association’s Mining Law Committee. Efforts by countries to secure an equitable share of their natural resources have led to calls for outright nationalisation, indigenisation, or state control of strategic minerals.

In response, mining companies have no choice but to surrender to the sovereign right of resource-endowed countries to establish a stronger participation in their mineral industries. If they should pull out, other companies with much less to lose stand ready to take up their place. This is already happening in Zimbabwe, where foreign miners in the country are moving to comply with indigenisation regulations forcing them to cede at least 51% of their stock to local blacks.

According to the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC)’s World Risk Developments newsletter for September, resource nationalism is proving to be a clear and present risk for miners as ‘governments in a variety of countries are examining options to gain a greater share of the windfall profits flowing from strong commodity prices.’

Advisory and accountancy firm Ernst & Young (E&Y) also noted in a recent report that resource nationalism is the biggest threat facing the mining sector this year and next as governments seek to take advantage of higher commodity prices to try to restore fragile finances.

‘Because the mining and metals sector rebounded quickly from the global financial crisis, it became an early target to help restore treasury conditions,’ the firm said, adding that it had identified at least 25 countries in 2010/11 that had increased, or announced plans to increase, their government take via taxes or royalties. E&Y also observed a growing trend by governments to seek to increase local participation in investment projects.

Mick Davis, chief executive of the London Stock Exchange-listed mining company Xstrata lamented the pattern by many resource-rich countries to pursue retrospective changes to mining contracts as they seek to increase rents from their natural resources. “Changes in resource rent sharing between the owner of the resource and the beneficiator of that resource should be prospective not retrospective,’ he wrote in Xstrata’s halfyearly report for 2011.
Xstrata's chief executive, Mick Davis

‘Mining companies take on board significant financial, development, construction and then operational risk when they invest their capital in projects. It is not sound policy to rewrite the basis on which those investments were made after the risks have been borne and the investment implemented.’

But according to EFIC, apart from a handful of countries, most seem intent upon not carrying resource nationalism to the point where it ‘kills the goose that lays the golden eggs’. Most countries have shied away from nationalisation and seem content to increase taxes and royalties, or buy into resource ventures, or both. In some countries the promotion of resource nationalism is consistent with healthy private investment and production, EFIC said. But others, such as Zimbabwe and South Africa, could threaten profitability and force mine closures and therefore needed to be watched closely.

Ever touted as the paragon of stability and good corporate governance, Botswana is the highest ranked African mining country in this year’s Fraser Institute report. The E&Y survey also hailed the country as a good example of how African governments can balance collective and individual participation in mining. The diamond-rich country jointly owns Debswana, the world’s leading producer of diamonds by value, with De Beers in a successful public-private partnership.

Mozambique also belongs to the more cautious group of resource-endowed countries as it treads carefully towards a review of its mining laws. Dubbed the world’s last coal frontier on account of its massive coalfields in the northern Tete Province, the country reportedly favours increased royalties and taxes on new mines, a 10-20% stake in ‘strategic’ projects for the state mining firm, and licence cancellation for firms that fall behind with their agreed development schedule, but has not hinted plans for a windfall profits tax.

Mines Minister Esperanca Bias said back in July that the review may be completed by year-end and emphasised that ‘we will not do anything without discussing with the companies.’ Unlike other countries in the region, Mozambique has no local ownership or equity requirements for miners and it is unclear if that could be subject to change. Mining accounts for less than 5 percent of the former Portuguese colony’s economy despite large deposits of coal, tantalum, gold and other minerals.

In Zambia, however, the mining sector is in for some anxious times, at least in the short term, as Sata sets about reconciling the promises of his election manifesto with the realities of the Zambian economy. He has moved quickly to suspend theissuance of new metal export permits ahead of the release of new guidelines. Analysts say Sata has been rightly concerned about exporters misreporting the amount of ore leaving the country and has directed that all export payments would now have to be handled by the central bank. But more significantly for the country’s miners, the new government wants to increase its shareholding to at least 35% in all mining projects.

‘But that will depend on how well we negotiate with the mining firms,’ Zambia’s Mines Minister Wylbur Simuusa made sure to point out in an interview with Reuters in early October. He swiftly allayed fears of nationalisation, saying: ‘We just want to have more benefits from the mines. There is no cause for apprehension, because nothing will be done without consulting the mining companies.’

Arguments in favour of resource nationalism have noted how mining companies, with their disproportionate might in relation to poor African governments, compel them to accept skewed terms that undermine their own people’s interests. Zambia’s current tax collection system is a case in point.

‘We want to introduce a tax collection mechanism based on production or earnings. Under the current system, which is profit-based, some mines have been declaring losses for the last 10 years,’ Simuusa said.

Growing disillusionment with their failure to benefit from resource extraction in their countries has engendered more radical approaches by some of Southern Africa’s nationalist governments. Earlier this year Namibia announced that it intended to declare copper, coal, gold, uranium, and zinc as strategic minerals, and thus subject to ‘additional national protection’.
Namibia's Mines and Energy Minister Isak Katali

Mines and Energy Minister Isak Katali said the state-owned mining entity, Epangelo Mining Company Limited (Epangelo) would now enjoy exclusive exploration and mining rights to all these minerals and that interested investors would in future be required to partner with Epangelo. The move sent jitters up the spines of mining investors as far afield as London, The Namibian newspaper claimed. The country is currently working on new mining legislation to effect the indigenisation of control over its minerals.
           
Whereas Zimbabwe has openly played its hand on indigenisation, South Africa’s ANC party is agonising over whether or not to nationalise the country’s mines. Its decision-making organ, the National Working Committee, appointed a research team in February this year to investigate and report back in a year on the feasibility of mine nationalisation. ‘This decision has left a cloud of uncertainty over the industry for the next year as it awaits the recommendations of the ANC’s policy conference in June 2012, followed by its elective conference in December 2012,’ Leon observed, ‘All of this potentially increases the country's sovereign risk profile.’

Mining investors are not expected to stay away, whatever the outcome of the ANC’s policy debate. ‘The few high-quality ore reserves left untapped in the world are largely located in Africa. As such, companies are unlikely to leave, even in the face of higher taxes and tougher economic terms,’ Javier Blas, the Financial Times’ commodities editor, concluded.