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Zimbabwe opposition leader tells Mugabe to step down

Zim Online

Mon 10 April 2006

      BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Sunday
called on President Robert Mugabe to step down to pave way for a
transitional government that should lead to the writing of a new
constitution and fresh elections to be supervised by the international
community.

      Tsvangirai, who again vowed to lead Zimbabweans in street protests to
force Mugabe to accept democracy even if it could lead to his own death, was
speaking at a rally at Bulawayo's White City stadium.

      The rally attended by more than 5 000 supporters was the fourth the
opposition leader has held in major cities in the last two weeks to mobilise
Zimbabweans for mass anti-government protests whose date he has not yet
announced.

      "Mugabe should step down and let a transitional government lead the
process of (writing) a new constitution that would lead to internationally
supervised elections in the country," said Tsvangirai, castigating the
government for unilaterally changing Zimbabwe's Constitution in the past.

      Among other changes to the country's fundamental law, the government
last year amended the Constitution to virtually nationalise all farmland by
banning citizens from contesting in court seizure of their land by the
state.

      The government also changed the Constitution to create a House of
Senate, opposed by Tsvangirai and critics who say it is a waste of resources
and only meant to extend Mugabe's patronage network.

      Tsvangirai, who leads the main faction of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party after the party split into two last year,
accuses Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party of rigging elections since 2000
to retain power.

      He says the veteran Zimbabwean leader has during the same period
ruined the country's economy through controversial policies such as his
seizure of white farmland that destabilised the mainstay agricultural sector
and knocked down food production by about 60 percent leaving the once food
self-sufficient country dependent on food aid.

      Mugabe denies ruining the economy or stealing elections and has in the
past strongly rejected suggestions that the United Nations or any other
international body should supervise elections in Zimbabwe.

      He has also banned the United States and European Union states from
observing polls in Zimbabwe accusing them of bias against ZANU PF. But the
Zimbabwean leader has welcomed election observer missions from Africa and
other developing nations that are friendly to Harare.

      Mugabe has also warned Tsvangirai against calling street protests
saying the opposition leader would be dicing with death if he tried to
instigate popular revolt against the government.

      A defiant Tsvangirai told the cheering crowd at White City that he
remained committed to mass action despite Mugabe's warning. He said: "If it
means Tsvangirai should die in order to free this country then let me die
because there is no easy struggle where people do not die and I say I am
prepared to die for Zimbabwe." - ZimOnline


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Fear could undo Tsvangirai's call for street protests

Zim Online

Mon 10 April 2006

      HARARE - For James Chirwa the day begins with a long walk from his
home in the working class suburb of Budiriro to Harare city centre, about
10km away.

      A lorry driver at a supermarket along Harare Street on the outskirts
of the capital's central business district, Chirwa, says he can hardly
afford to survive on his Z$3 million monthly salary. He walks to work to cut
on transport costs and also carries food because he cannot afford to buy
lunch.

      "It is a punishing life," says Chirwa, as he took a large bite of his
home-made sandwich which is his lunch today. Wiping off a morsel of bread
from his upper lip, he adds: "They (President Robert Mugabe's government)
have really let us  down .. I mean, who would have known these guys would
betray us in this way?"

      Ask Chirwa if he supports calls by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
for street protests to force Mugabe to accept a new and democratic
constitution critical to ending Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis and
his quick reply could be the answer to any who may wonder why the world's
worst peacetime economic crisis has failed to spur mass revolt in
Zimbabweans.

      "I am afraid of the guns," says Chirwa, explaining his reluctance to
join Tsvangirai in the streets of Harare.

      He added: "If only the armed forces were on our side, I tell you the
whole of Zimbabwe would certainly support Tsvangirai's call for protests. I
think Tsvangirai doesn't need to worry about the people, we are behind him,
he should concentrate on getting the soldiers to our side. But I do not know
if that is possible."

      Tsvangirai, who leads the main faction of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party after it split last year, has vowed to
mobilise Zimbabweans to take to the streets in a Ukrainian-style mass revolt
to end Mugabe's  26-year rule.

      The opposition leader, who accuses Mugabe of ruining Zimbabwe's once
vibrant economy has since two weeks ago been touring major cities and towns
meeting and mobilising supporters ahead of the protests whose date he has
not yet announced.

      Mugabe, who has in the past deployed soldiers and police in the
streets to crush dissension, has not taken Tsvangirai's  threats lying down,
warning the opposition leader he was "dicing with death" in calling for
street protests.

      But talking to Chirwa or 21-year old university student Gladys Zvayi
it seems for now the greatest hurdle for Tsvangirai is not the government's
security forces - the trade unionist-turned-politician must first inspire
and galvanise Zimbabweans to overcome their fear which has held them back
for so long.

      The ruthlessness with which the government has suppressed dissension
in the past has certainly yielded handsome results with many who have faced
the police and army in the streets before not willing to repeat the
experience as, Zvayi, who is at the state's National University of Science
and Technology in Bulawayo city testifies.

      "We have been clobbered during student demonstrations at our Bulawayo
campus," says Zvayi, who was in Harare visiting her parents.

      "Some students are still nursing life-threatening injuries sustained
during clashes with the police, I guess the pain we have suffered before at
the hands of the police might just be enough to force some of us to stay
in-doors," says Zvayi.

      But not all Zimbabweans appear cowed by Mugabe's strong-arm tactics.

      For Augustine Ndou, a factory worker in Harare, staying aloof from the
crisis is no longer an option. Ndou says when Tsvangirai calls the protests,
he will be right there in front, bullets or no bullets because "we have to
do something about this situation".

      "I no longer care if the army is there. They have always been there in
all the demonstrations in the past. I am going there to register my anger
and disgust with this government," said Ndou, his voice shaking with
emotion.

      To demonstrate how hard things have become, Ndou narrates how he
bought a 2-litre bottle of cooking oil for Z$211 000 last week and that when
he went back this week to the same shop wishing to buy another bottle to
send to his mother who lives in the rural areas, the price had gone up to
$314 000.

      "What kind of an economy is this? We need to go out in the streets and
show the whole world we are fed up with this government," said Ndou.

      And in what should certainly be encouraging words to Tsvangirai,
University of Zimbabwe (UZ) political science lecturer and Mugabe critic
John Makumbe says the anger against the government seething in Ndou was
shared by many Zimbabweans.

      Makumbe believes Zimbabweans, who have been criticised in the past for
their docility, are finally awakening from their slumber and might be ready
this time round to confront the government and security forces in the
streets.

      "I am of the opinion that people will certainly defy the heavy
presence of the armed forces. The pain in the people has reached their
bones," said Makumbe.

      "The time is ripe for mass demonstration because fear has now been
overridden by hunger and suffering. In fact, people out there are itching to
put an end to all this poverty," said Makumbe.

      Another UZ lecturer, Lovemore Madhuku, concurred with Makumbe, adding
that Tsvangirai could succeed in getting  Zimbabweans onto the streets
because he was being backed by several civic bodies across the country.

      Madhuku, who chairs the National Constitutional Assembly pro-democracy
civic alliance, said: "All the democratic  forces are agreed that we should
put pressure on the regime. We support the call as the civic society and
from the all-stakeholders meetings that we have held people are gearing to
go. The people can no longer be stopped."

      But it remains to be seen whether by the time Tsvangirai gives the
order for mass revolt to begin Chirwa would have overcome his fear of guns
and ready to confront the army in the streets. - ZimOnline


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Student arrested for taking photos during demo

Zim Online

Mon 10 April 2006

      BULAWAYO - Zimbabwean police on Thursday arrested a second-year
university media student at the National University of Science and
Technology (NUST) in Bulawayo for taking photographs during protests at the
campus without their approval.

      In a statement to the press at the weekend, the Media Institute of
Southern Africa, (MISA), said the student, Fungai Machirori, had been
assigned to take photographs of the demonstration as part of her journalism
training programme.

      But the police pounced on the student and arrested her "for taking
photographs without their consent." She was released without charge after
the intervention of Bulawayo lawyer Kossam Ncube.

      The students were protesting against the erection of an
"apartheid-style security fence" to bar students who have not paid fees from
entering the campus.

      Students at universities and tertiary colleges around the country have
staged several protests over the past two months against moves by the
government to hike fees by more than 100 percent.

      The Harare authorities maintain strict laws for the media, with for
example, journalists liable to up to two years in prison if  found carrying
out their work without being registered with the government's Media and
Information Commission.

      Earlier this year, four University of Zimbabwe students were arrested
at a holding camp for displaced people just outside Harare after the police
had mistaken them for journalists.

      The students, who were released after questioning, were at the camp
research on the effects of the Zimbabwe government's controversial home
demolition exercise last year which saw at least 700 000 people rendered
homeless. - ZimOnline


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Fears mount over Zim harvest seizures 

IOL

   Christelle Terreblanche
          April 09 2006 at 06:05PM

      The Zimbabwean government is reported to have deployed soldiers to
control small-scale farming operations across the country.

      In the wake of a chilling report by the church-based Solidarity Peace
Trust released this week, the Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube,
has warned that militarisation of the sector could kill people in rural
areas.

      The report alleges that the government has sent troops to control the
planting, harvesting and selling of maize, and it expresses the fear that
they are poised to confiscate subsistence crops to fill up the
state-controlled grain reserves. The move is, among other things, aimed at
feeding the increasingly restive armed forces and at persuading the
international community that Zimbabwe has adequate food reserves, the report
says.

      In an interview Ncube said that Bulawayo - a traditional opposition
base - had been without maize meal, the nation's staple, for two months.

      A year ago, on the eve of Zimbabwe's national election, the outspoken
archbishop called on Zimbabweans to rise up and "kick [President Robert]
Mugabe out of office". This week he repeated the call, stressing that the
country was "leaderless".

      Solidarity Peace Trust's report, titled Command Agriculture in
Zimbabwe: Its Impact on Rural Communities in Matabeleland, deals in depth
with the latest government land policy, "Operation Taguta/Sisuthi", which
means "eat well".

      On the report's finding that the operation gave the army "effective
control over large aspects of agriculture, keeping soldiers who might
otherwise get bored and angry at their poor conditions, active and fed",
Ncube said the army was not trained in agriculture "so the yield won't be
better".

      He was disturbed by a recent statement, attributed to Vice-President
Joyce Mujuru, calling on people not to sell their harvests but to wait for
the military to arrive: "We fear this could mean harvests will be
confiscated," Ncube said. "It would kill the people."

      Ncube is co-chairperson of the Solidarity Peace Trust, which aims to
build social equality and peace in Zimbabwe.

      "It makes me feel really powerless," he said. "People just do not know
what to do, this government is so pig-headed. They should rise up. Even the
army is fed up and the police are fed up. Many of them have fled to South
Africa. This government wants to pretend things are not all that bad, but
there is no [leadership] direction."

      The latest militarisation of land owned by subsistence farmers, who
now produce two-thirds of the country's maize crop, comes in the wake of
land grabs by war veterans that Mugabe instituted six years ago.

      At a meeting in South Africa this week the trust appealed to global
organisations and diplomats to put further pressure on the Mugabe government
to end its repressive practices.

      Efforts to draw reaction from Mugabe's government on the detailed
report were fruitless.

      Field workers of the trust, a non-governmental organisation registered
in South Africa, found that in a number of areas in Matabeleland, the most
underdeveloped province, soldiers had "wantonly and systematically"
destroyed established irrigation schemes and fruit and market gardens,
"taken custody of early maize harvests" for their own consumption and
"beaten farmers" while withholding food. The report says "command
agriculture has to be contextualised against a background of the collapse of
agriculture since 2000" and the food deficit of the past few years.

      "Zimbabwe is becoming increasingly militarised as a state, and the
disastrous Operation Murambatsvina ("drive out trash") and Operation Garikai
("live well") were undertaken with the collaboration of the army.

      "The army has been in control of food distribution for several years
now via control of Grain Marketing Board sales - the only source of
affordable maize in rural areas," the report says.

      Bishop Rubin Phillip, the Anglican Bishop of KwaZulu-Natal and the
other chairperson of the trust, said he had personally seen evidence of the
militarisation of subsistence farms.

      "We are saying [to the international community] that the government
has taken away just about every single right of the Zimbabwean people, and
now to take away their right to produce and consume food has got to be the
lowest you can go," Phillip said.

      It was time for the African Union to take a stand. "And if in the face
of this the international community is silent, they have to be seen as being
complicit with the Zimbabwe government."

      This article was originally published on page 3 of Sunday Independent
on April 09, 2006


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Mass strikes loom as Zim's economy worsens

Mail and Guardian

      Godfrey Marawanyika | Harare, Zimbabwe

      09 April 2006 11:52

            The possibility of mass strikes loom on the horizon for
Zimbabwe's embattled economy as workers demand higher wages to cushion them
against soaring living costs because of hyper-inflation and shortages of
foreign currencies.

            Wage talks opened two weeks ago and were expected to continue
until the end of the month in Zimbabwe, where large-scale labour action
could become a reality for the first time in eight years, according to
unionists.

            Zimbabwe's inflation reached an all-time high of 913,6% on
Friday with no end in sight for price hikes, analysts added, bringing more
hardship to the Southern African country.

            "Although there have not been many strikes for some time now,
industrial actions are most likely to happen this year," said union
spokesperson Collin Gwiyo.

            "The salaries that most workers get are an embarrassment. By the
time we get to August there will be a series of wage and salary deadlocks,"
said Gwiyo, acting secretary general of the major Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU).

            Independent economic analyst Best Doroh added: "It's obvious
that the potential for deadlock between employers and employees is quite
high."

            "The purchasing power of wages for the factory worker even those
for civil servants have been severely eroded," said Doroh.

            Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate rose from 613,2% in January to
the record high Friday, blamed partly by central bank governor Gideon Gono
on the printing of money to service debt to the International Monetary Fund
(IMF).

            Gono revealed in February that the central bank resorted to
printing 21-trillion Zimbabwean dollars ($211-million) to buy foreign
currency to clear the country's arrears with the IMF.

            Zimbabwe last month paid nine million US dollars to the IMF to
avert expulsion from the global lender over the long-overdue arrears.

            Analysts however said Zimbabwe's galloping inflation was the
sign of a failed economy, with economist David Mupamhadzi saying "we are now
feeling those effects of printing the money".

            The National Employment Councils Union said in its latest
figures that farm workers earned a meagre 1,3-million Zimbabwean dollars
($13) a month, mine workers got 6,5-million Zimbabwean dollars, while school
teachers got 8,5-million
            Zimbabwean dollars.

            The average room rental price in the high density areas of the
capital Harare topped at between 1,5 and two million Zimbabwean dollars,
while Zimbabwe's highest currency denomination, a 50 000 bearer cheque
introduced in February, is not enough to buy a loaf of bread.

            Gwiyo said the average worker needed 25-30 million Zimbabwean
dollars a month to make ends meet.

            He said the Southern African country's workforce have for years
refrained from taking to the streets in numbers fearing reprisals under
Harare's tough security laws which forbid strikes and marches without police
clearance.

            Unionists also feared that mass action would be construed as
political as the leader of one faction of Zimbabwe's divided opposition is
Morgan Tsvangirai, a former ZCTU secretary general who led mass strikes in
1998.

            But employees said their hands were tied should strikes go
ahead.

            "Employers are in the same predicament as their workers," said
Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe president Mike Bimba.

            "We have not had many strikes over the years because of our
cordial relationship with workers ... and I hope it will continue," he said.

            Everybody knows that the economic situation is to blame for
these problems both employers and employees are facing."

            Economist Erich Block said although wage talks would see a
number of deadlocks, he believed that strikes were unlikely.

            "Both employers and employees are facing the same difficulty but
I doubt that we will have widespread strikes. Everyone wants to protect the
little that they have," he said. - Sapa-AFP


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Zim denies new mortality reports

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2006-Apr-10

 THE GOVERNMENT yesterday denied international media reports that the
average life expectancy for Zimbabwean women had dropped from 36 years in
2004 to 34 this year.

Minister of Health and Child Welfare, David Parirenyatwa, said the reports -
which attributed their information to the World Health Organisation (WHO)'s
2006 World Health Report - were false.
"Those reports are false. There is nothing like that. Phone the WHO
representative and he will tell you it's not true," Parirenyatwa said,
without elaborating.
Efforts to get a comment from the United Nations' health arm yesterday were,
however, fruitless, as there was no one picking up calls to their offices.
The media reports said the high mortality was a result of current economic
challenges in the country.
According to the reports, the average life expectancy at birth of males in
Zimbabwe remained at 37 while that for women went down to 34 from 36 in
2004.
The reports further said Zimbabwe and Swaziland were among the countries
worst affected by the HIV pandemic on the continent.
The average life expectancy was reportedly less than half of the 82-year
life span in Japan, which was placed at the top of the table together with
San Marino and Monaco.
According to a press release posted on the WHO website on April 7, a health
workforce crisis in 57 counties is having a deadly impact on their ability
to fight disease and improve health.
"More than four million additional doctors, nurses, midwives, managers and
public health workers are urgently needed to fill the gap in these 57
countries, 36 of which are in sub-Saharan Africa,'' the report said.
WHO Director-General Lee Jong-wook was quoted saying: "The global population
is growing, but the number of health workers is stagnating or even falling
in many of the places where they are needed most.
 "Across the developing world, health workers face economic hardships,
deteriorating infrastructure and social unrest. In many countries, the HIV
and Aids epidemic has also destroyed the health and lives of health
 workers."
There was, also on the WHO website, a research carried out in Manicaland
between 1998 and 2003. The report, titled 'Assessing Adult Mortality in HIV
Afflicted Zimbabwe (1998-2003)' was released last month in a WHO bulletin
Volume 84-No.3.
That article sought to relate HIV prevalence to mortality in Zimbabwe, but
did not mention economic hardships as directly related to mortality rates in
the country.
"Overall, HIV positive men and women had mortality rates 8.6 and 10.2 times
higher respectively than those who were HIV negative. Sixty-one percent of
mortality in males and 70 percent adult females can be attributed to HIV.
"However, the current results do suggest that reduction in HIV-associated
mortality achieved through the use of antiretroviral therapy for example
could have a major impact on general mortality patterns," read part of the
research findings. Zimbabwe's HIV infection rate has actually fallen in
recent years to around a fifth of the population, apparently due to
increased condom use and sexual abstinence.
But the population of some 12.5 million still has one of the world's higher
HIV prevalence rates, and more than half the infections and deaths strike
women.


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Proposed media law amendment roundly condemned



      April 9, 2006

      By Andnetwork .com

      ANALYSTS have condemned a proposed amendment by Media and Information
Commission (MIC) chairperson Tafataona Mahoso seeking to tighten the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa).

      Appearing before the Parliamentary Portifolio Committee on Transport
and Communications recently, Mahoso called for the regulation of
distributors of foreign publications to avoid having "a planeload of
subversive material being dumped on the country's streets on the eve of an
election".

      "It is essential that we should regulate both the publishers and the
distributors," he said.

      "Those distributors who import foreign periodicals should indicate
where they are procuring such periodicals."

      The committee indicated that they would soon be recalling Mahoso to
hear his views on other proposed amendments by other interested parties.

      Observers last week expressed fears that Mahoso's proposed amendment
was aimed at censoring publications such as The Zimbabwean, published in
Britain, South Africa's Sunday Times and the Mail & Guardian - all weeklies
that have carried reports critical of government policies.

      They added that the move would result in the reduction of independent
publications in the country.

      Mathew Takaona, the president of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists,
said the move would isolate the people of Zimbabwe from the rest of the
world.

      "We are surprised by the proposal.

      The world is now a global village and you cannot isolate Zimbabweans
from the rest of the international community by regulating the distribution
of media products," Takaona said.

      "Government should allow citizens access to unfettered information.
People should read all the information and make up their own minds," he
said.

      Takaona said the proposal would create a dilemma for international
visitors and to get round it journals from all over the world may need to be
registered for purposes of screening which he said is unrealistic.

      "The market should be allowed to make a determination.

      If people want it, they will buy it, if they do not want it they won't,"
Takaona added.

      Human rights and media lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said it was surprising
for Mahoso to make such a proposal when the government told the African
Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights that it would be relaxing the
draconian legislation.

      She said that the move may result in the disappearance of independent
international publications from Zimbabwe.

      "Regulating distributors may mean refusing distribution. Where do we
draw the line?" wondered Mtetwa. She added:
      "One hopes that Mahoso was not speaking on behalf of the government
otherwise it would mean that the government went to the African Commission
and told an untruth."

      The president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe Joseph James also
condemned Mahoso's proposals saying they were not necessary in a global
village.

      Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe's assistant advocacy coordinator
Dumisani Gandhi said Mahoso's proposal would affect the people's capacity to
make informed decisions.

      "I think he has a sinister intention. When others are campaigning that
Aippa be repealed or amended to meet international norms and standards, he
is in fact tightening it," said Gandhi.

      He added that freedom of expression should go beyond borders.

      "The papers that would be targeted were giving an alternative source
of information.

      The other side is necessary for people to make informed choices and
decisions," he said.

      Source : The Independent


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Govt avails $100bn for ZRP school

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2006-Apr-10

THE government has so far availed $100 billion towards the constrution of
the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) boarding school in Harare.

 This was revealed by the Minister of Home Affairs, Kembo Mohadi, during the
commissioning of 11 staff houses at the school at the weekend.
"Treasury released funds to the tune of a total of $20 billion as government
grant to the project during the 2005 fiscal year. During the same year
government further injected an additional $80 billion towards the project.
This has brought much relief to the project management who can now
concentrate on other outstanding business at the school," he said.
Mohadi commended the school authorities for providing accommodation to its
employees.
"Indeed, the welfare of workers with special regard to the provision of
adequate and decent accommodation rank among the thorny issues among many
organisations today. It is without doubt that the failuire by organisations
to address welfare problems of their workers lead to a decline in motivation
and morale. It is therefore with a sense of delight that I appreciate the
consideration made by the board of governors, alongside the project
directorate to ensure completion of these houses," Mohadi said.
The construction of the school was started in 1997 with all members in the
police force contributing funds for the project.
In a speech read on his behalf by deputy police commissioner Innocent
Matibiri, the force's commissioner Augustine Chihuri commended the private
sector for chipping in with assistance.
"We also pay tribute to the corporate world whose unequalled donations in
the face of debilitating adversities spurred by the enfeebled economy has
made the schoool what it is today," Chihuri said.
Zimtile also donated roofing tiles worth $360 million at the occasion.


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Police recover 200kg gold

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2006-Apr-10

ZIMBABWE police recovered 200 kg of gold worth $5 billion from illegal
dealers this year, a spokesman said at the weekend.
Inspector Andrew Phiri told New Ziana: "There is a lot of illegal trading
and dealings in gold going on."
Phiri said police recovered more than two kg of gold worth at least $6
million in Harare.
On gold smuggling, Inspector Phiri said there was need to have specific
cases to determine the extent of smuggling.
Phiri said police set up a special gold section in the Minerals Unit to work
with stakeholders like the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Mines
and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority.
Police, Phiri said, were carrying out spontaneous raids on illegal gold
panners and were monitoring licensed gold diggers to ensure that they were
following correct procedures.
Illegal gold panning has caused widespread damage to the environment
especially in Bindura, Chikuti, Mazowe, Shamva, Kwekwe Battlefields,
Filabusi and Gwanda.


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Institute worried over shortage of engineers

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2006-Apr-10

THE Zimbabwe Institute of Engineers expressed concern on Friday at acute
shortage of engineers leaving the country for greener pastures.

ZIE vice president, Winfield Vengesayi told New Ziana that engineers were
going to South Africa where the salaries were competitive. " The situation
is very very bad," he said. "We cannot match salaries  companies in South
Africa pay. The economy has to improve."  Vengesayi described 2005 as a
difficult year as inflation wrecked the industry.
Inflation, he said, forced builders to abandon properties midway as prices
of materials escalated, and clients could not cope with increasing costs.
They were forced to review their budgets every quarter instead of drawing
annual ones for projects. Vengesayi said the institute invited engineers
from Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi and South Africa to their annual conference
in May in Victoria Falls.
"This conference is meant to bring engineers together and breaking the
barriers of contacts," he said. "This will create opportunities for
engineers to interact. The theme will be 'engineers without borders'," he
said. -


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Poverty datum line shoots to $31.1m

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2006-Apr-10

THE poverty datum line for a family of five for March went up to $31,1
million from $25,5 million in February, the Central Statistical Office has
announced.

 The statistical office announced at the weekend that the Food Poverty Line
had also gone up from $9 million in February to $10,3 million in March. The
Total Consumption Poverty Line and FPL figures represent a 21,72 percent and
13,69 percent jump from the February figures.
According to CSO acting director Moffat Nyoni, the food poverty line
represents the minimum amount of money a family requires to ensure that each
member consumes a minimum food basket that the government measured.
The total poverty consumption line on the other hand represents all the
requirements including food and other basic necessities. "The food poverty
line shows that an individual requires a minimum of $2,1 million and $6,2
million inclusive of other expenditures per month," he said. He said the
poverty consumption lines varied according to province.
The average TCPL ranged from $26,4 million to $37 million in Mashonaland
East and Bulawayo provinces respectively, he said. According to the Consumer
Council of Zimbabwe, a family of six now requires $34,9 million to meet its
requirements per month.
The increase in the bread basket leaves many families below the poverty
datum line as a result of low wages and salaries, which the average
Zimbabwean is taking home per month.


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New price for bread

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Farirai Machivenyika
issue date :2006-Apr-10

THE government has gazetted new wholesale and retail prices of bread with
effect from Friday amid calls by bakers for higher prices.

The new wholesale price of a standard loaf of bread has been set at $80 000
while the retail price has been set at $85 000 up from $44 000.
Some retailers were, however, selling the bread above the gazetted prices
with the commodity selling between $85 000 and $90 000 in some outlets
yesterday.
The latest increases comes barely two months after another increase, which
government declared illegal. The increase had seen a rise in the price of
bread to an average of $65 000 despite an agreement by the government and
bakers setting its price at $44 000.
 The chairman of the National Bakers Association, Burombo Mudumo, yesterday
confirmed the new prices saying they had been approved by the government.
"The new prices were approved by the government although it has taken too
long. The wholesale price has been set at $80 000 while the retail price is
$85 000. The price of a tonne of flour has been gazetted at $50 million," he
said.
Mudumo added that his association was still communicating the new prices to
its members. "We haven't informed all our members but in two or three days
time everyone would be informed," he said adding that bakers wanted the
price to be set at $120 000 a loaf.
"We had wanted the price to be $120 000 but we are happy with the new
prices. At least we will break even," he said.
Consumers interviewed by The Daily Mirror said the latest increase was going
to make life difficult for them given the hikes in the prices of other basic
commodities.
"Things have been going up sharply of late and I was shocked this morning
when I went to buy bread and was told that the price had increased from $65
000 to $90 000," said Wadzanai Dimingo from Tafara.
She added that her family consumed two loaves of bread a day and was finding
difficult to cope with the ever increasing cost of the commodity.
Another resident from Budiriro, Fungai Lupande, said she had resorted to
other alternatives due to the high bread prices.
"My family has resorted to alternatives because the prices are just high.
Bread is now a luxury and we buy it on special occasions. We are just happy
that we received good rains and we are expecting a decent harvest," she
said, adding her family had resorted to samp and potatoes.
John Tamburayi from Chitungwiza said the cost of living was already high and
the bread prices would worsen it.
"My brother, things are now just difficult. With the way the price of bread
is rising I expect that by the end of the year a loaf would be going for
$200 000. Government has to do something as a matter of urgency," he said.
At one OK Supermarket outlet the commodity was priced at $88 000 while at TM
and Friendly supermarkets it was $85 000. Other smaller retailers in
high-density suburbs were charging $90 000.
Efforts to get a comment from the Ministry of Industry and International
Trade were fruitless as both mobile phones for the minister Obert Mpofu and
his permanent secretary Christian Katsande were unreachable.


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Dairibord to venture into Asian market

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2006-Apr-10

ZIMBABWE'S biggest milk processor, Dairibord Zimbabwe Limited, plans to
venture into the Asian market if it is satisfied with business prospects
there that are being studied, an official said this week.
The firm said it would start with Malaysia and China where there  was a
potential big market for its products.
"Slightly outside Africa we are exporting to Mauritius, but we would like to
pursue business opportunities in Japan and China where we feel there is
potential demand for our juice products," said DZL chief executive officer,
Anthony Mandiwanza.
Mandiwanza said some of the company's products were exhibited at the Aichi
Expo in Japan in June last year where they were favourably received.
The company exports some of its products into the southern African region.
The company is, however, facing difficulties in expanding the national dairy
herd, its main business line, that has declined from a peak of 191 000 to 43
000.


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Moyo at it again!

Sunday Mirror, Zimbabwe

Godwine Mureriwa
issue date :2006-Apr-09

FORMER Information Minister and Tsholotsho Member of Parliament, Jonathan
Moyo, speaking at a seminar entitled The Future of Opposition Politics in
Zimbabwe organised by the Mass Public Opinion Institute at a Harare hotel,
claimed he was not the leader of the United Peoples Movement nor was he even
a member but just a "staunch supporter" of the movement.

 Moyo, however, has been at the forefront of promoting the UPM as a 'Third
Way' and is generally regarded as its leader. He also glibly pointed out
that he was not guided by any particular ideology but, rather, by a brand of
opportunism which he preferred to label "dynamism".
He added, with relish, that the media and the public were boggled by
questions concerning the existence and visibility of the UPM because "they
look for it (UPM) where it is not."
Forever the master of mudding the waters, Moyo made the startling remark:
"The UPM is in Zanu PF."
Not surprisingly, however, the remark was not backed up by any startling
revelations or substance.
However, Zanu PF has poured cold water on Moyo's claims saying they can
never be taken seriously since there were no divisions within the ruling
party.
"As usual Moyo is a big-headed dreamer. If he claims that his UPM is in Zanu
PF, why didn't it (the UPM) leave together with its master? Leadership is
about principles and he has none.
"Zanu PF is one party as united through the Unity Accord of 1987," Zanu PF
secretary for the commissariat, Elliot Manyika wryly observed.
Manyika added that it was ironic that Moyo felt the ruling party was a
"sunset party" when he was himself finding it difficult to completely
disengage from the same party.
It has been alleged that Moyo's ploy was to destroy Zanu PF from within and
that his is not the Midas touch that turns everything to gold, but rather a
destructive streak, that leaves chaos in his wake.
 "Politics by its very dynamic nature is forever full of endless
possibilities with twists and turns in which nothing is ever ruled out," he
once said.
Now, it would seem that he has cast his eye on the possibility of leading a
united opposition movement, with the only major obstacle standing in his way
being that he seems to be the sole member of this particular movement.
 Indeed, it would appear that now that he has been ostracised by Zanu PF, he
has been ostracised by all.
Looking out of place among a line-up of speakers from established political
movements like the two MDC factions, which were represented by Morgan
Changamire (MDC pro-Senate) and Nelson Chamisa (MDC anti-Senate), Moyo
seemed to be under pressure by the seminar attendants to define what the UPM
stood for and its membership.
It would appear that Moyo is now vying to appear as an Elder Statesman and
political guru to Zimbabwe's beleaguered opposition movement.
"It would be foolhardy for anyone to expect hordes of Zanu PF rank and file
to flock to
either of the MDC factions," he told them.
The statement, it would seem, tacitly positions Moyo himself as the provider
of the hordes.
However, analyst Michael Hama said it would be foolhardy for Moyo to
anticipate a large scale exodus from either Zanu PF or the fractured MDC to
the UPM and that the professor hoped to draw relevance and support from the
consequences of a divided ruling party and opposition.
 The chairman of the department of politics and administrative studies at
the UZ, Eldred Masunungure, present at the public seminar, said Moyo sought
to create a pragmatic posture of someone who exploited any opportunities
whenever and wherever they presented themselves.
"He is saying I am not an ideologue or doctrinaire. I do not know what his
UPM really is, but he certainly hopes to maximise on an open door policy,
which is perhaps why he is trying hard to
minimise friction with the leaders of the two MDC factions and Zanu PF
itself.
"Of course he knows Zanu PF will not accept him back, but he is prepared to
go to bed with anyone else - provided the relationship can catapult him to
where he
wants to be.
"That is typical of all opportunists who are ultimate politicians," said
Masunungure.
But who will trust Moyo?
 "Moyo's vitriolic words and deeds of the past had entrenched a long hate
memory in the minds of many Zimbabweans. It is said once bitten twice shy.
"During his time as minister of information Moyo's absolute power corrupted
him absolutely and beyond redemption.
"Even his former allies are afraid of him because his colours keep changing
as he pursues
individual interests at the
expense of those of the collective," observed Donald Muyengwa, an analyst.
There was, however, a member of the audience at the seminar who seemed taken
by Moyo's presentation.
 "Not taking anything away from Morgan Changamire and Nelson Chamisa (the
other speakers), I think Moyo's presentation appeared to have been the most
interesting.
"He seems to be able to convince even those who do not agree with him so it's
difficult to put him in a corner," he said, preferring to remain (perhaps
like UPM) anonymous.
What became abundantly clear at the seminar, was that Moyo sought to justify
what his critics have termed political prostitution in the name of dynamism,
saying he could not be in opposition permanently, just as
his allegiance to the ruling party and government was not cast in stone.


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Stormy dispute hampers progress at farm

Sunday Mirror, Zimbabwe

Chakanza Paranji
issue date :2006-Apr-09

A DISPUTE has ensued between newly resettled farmers and former farm workers
at Bathurst Farm in Norton over ownership of infrastructure and other
properties at the farm.

A visit to the farm last week by this paper revealed that all was not well
between the two feuding parties.
Some new farmers said their operations were being hindered by former farm
workers, whom they alleged were being used by the former white commercial
farmer - name supplied- to derail the land reform programme.
It is alleged that a group of former farm workers led by a woman (name
supplied) were working untiringly to reverse the land redistribution
exercise by vandalising farm equipment and denying the use of the
farmhouses.
"It is very disappointing that we still have black people that are again the
land redistribution programme. There is a group of people led by  a woman
who are being given money by the former white owner of this farm in making
sure that he comes back," said Dewa Moyo, the chairman of Bathurst Farm.
A petition dated 15 January 2006 was written to the woman in question
advising her to vacate the eighty-roomed farmhouse to pave way for other
developmental projects.
Moyo, his deputy Enock Makaza, the secretary Tapiwa Fambai, Bybit Musariri
(Women's League) and headman Chikwaira signed the petition.
"You are accordingly advised to vacate the farmhouse on or before the 16th
of April 2006 to pave the way for our projects at the house. It has been
noted that you continue with your negative attitude towards the land reform
selling of GMB inputs and vandalism of state property," read part of the
petition.
Moyo also accused the woman of spearheading the vandalism of farm equipment
that includes iron sheets on tobacco bans destroyed two months back.
The alleged gang leader, a former worker for the white commercial farmer, is
said to have compelled other workers not to work for the new farmers as
their former boss had promised them that he was coming back.
"Yes, it is true that at one time we had serious shortage of labour after
the majority of these farmer workers refused to work for us after being
influenced by this woman. I think the government must intervene in this
matter before it goes out of  hand," said one of the affected farmers.
Although efforts to get comment from the accused proved futile as she was
said to be away when this paper visited the farm, some former workers
insisted no one would remove her from the farmhouse until the former owner
returned.
She is one of the beneficiaries at Bathurst, which is 60 km along Bulawayo
Road, and she owns Plot Number 7.
A local headman, John Chikwaira, confirmed the disturbances at the farm and
said he had since issued an ultimatum for the woman's eviction from the
farmhouses.
"The farm has more than 60 farmers and all of them are complaining against
her actions of trying to reverse the fruits of the land programme.
"She and her team have shown us that they are totally against the new
farmers because she has a belief that blacks cannot match the capabilities
of the departed white farmers," said headman Chikwaira.
In an interview with The Daily Mirror in Rusape last month, the Minister of
State for National Security and Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement in the
President's Office, Didymus Mutasa expressed disappointment over such
disputes involving ownership of farmhouses and infrastructure by some newly
resettled farmers long after the conclusion of the fast-track land reform
programme.
"Some people were eyeing infrastructure on the farms yet the land reform is
not for one to enrich himself or herself but to resettle the landless.
"We are disappointed by people who are given farms and later sell what is
there (equipments) and seek yet another farm. That is not land reform, we
want beneficiaries to compete with commercial farmers who were on the farms
before," said Mutasa. The government embarked on a land reform programme in
year 2000 with the intention of resettling millions of landless Zimbabweans
but there were allegations of multiple farm ownership and negligence of land
by some top government officials and employees.


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ZESA shelves expansion plans

Sunday Mirror, Zimbabwe

Staff Writer
issue date :2006-Apr-09

ZESA Holdings has shelved expansion plans designed to increase its power
generating capacity, in the wake of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) decision
to bar the power utility's proposed one- off 2280-percent tariff increase
and advice that the process be staggered. The company has warned of its
"total collapse" before year-end if the status quo continues.

A high ranking official within the company said the power utility had no
option but to put on hold all plans to build new power generation plants or
refurbish existing facilities.
"Their (RBZ) decision has negatively affected not only our operations but
investor confidence in our company. Total system collapse is inevitable by
year end if the situation does not change," said the official.
He also said that potential investors continued to be deterred by Zesa's
tariff system, which is currently the lowest in the region and offers no
opportunity to recoup investment.
"Investors talks of returns on assets employed or managed. Zesa is just an
unattractive option for them at the moment, as our viability is severely
compromised," he added.
Zimbabwe faces  power shortages that will affect the region around 2007.
Zesa imports up to 35-percent of its electricity requirements from ESKOM in
South Africa, Mozambican HCB and Snel from the Democratic Republic of Congo
(DRC).
"They blocked a viability restoration plan of $44.6 trillion per year, that
would have seen us operate in such a manner that would have covered all
maintenance work, while generating a small profit to enable us to start a
few new projects to allow us to provide adequate power," the official added.
The official said the current plan would result in the company generating
only $16 trillion a year, and incurring a shortfall of $29.6 trillion.
Documents availed to this paper show Zesa will during the course of the next
five years remain dependent on its traditional Southern African Power Pool
(SAPP) suppliers of electricity, plus a new agreement signed with Zambian
power utility, Zesco, for power imports.
The supply and demand balances schedule in the document talk of
refurbishment and no construction of new power generating units.
Subsidiary, Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), will generate 1 680 MegaWatts (MW)
consistently from 2006 to 2010, broken down into 780 MW from Hwange Power
Station (HPS) and 900 MW from Kariba South - all operating at full capacity.
Imports from 2006 to 2009 will average a maximum of 750 MW, and they are set
to drop to 400 MW in 2010.
In addition the company has a guaranteed 100 MW from HCB and a
non-guaranteed 100 MW, with Zesa Holdings being required to pay a debt of
US$8.2 million before discussions for the post 2006 period can commence.
Eskom has a non-firm capacity of up to 450 MW, non-firm meaning the supply
is not guaranteed when Eskom is experiencing critical power shortages.
The Eskom contract expires on 31 March 2007 and no extension has been tabled
between the two power utilities.
Snel has a firm contract that runs to 31 December 2006 and while
negotiations are underway for supplies to Zesa Holdings to continue, there
is a precondition that Zesa honours a debt of US$7.75 million before any
progress can be registered.
Zesco is the only supplier which has guaranteed supplies to Zesa Holdings up
to 2010, and will supply up to 750 MW but the Zambian power utility has
stressed that "current payment obligations are to be met without fail."
Zesa Holdings urgently requires US$69.2 million classified under "Critical
Forex Requirements", with US$37 million for power generation being "an
urgent short term requirement, possibly in the next three months" according
to the source.
RBZ Governor, Gideon Gono could not be reached for comment this week but
made it categorically clear three weeks ago that the central bank would not
brook nonsense from Zesa Holdings, which he accused of coming up with
unrealistic and inflation fuelling tariffs to sustain the utility's
superstructure. By the time of going to press, correspondence to the central
bank, had not yet been responded to.
Zesa Holdings spokesperson, James Maridadi could not be reached for comment
at the time of going to press.


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'Make green gold lucrative again'

Sunday Mirror, Zimbabwe

Staff Writer
issue date :2006-Apr-09

URGENT solutions, long- term planning and lucrative pricing were fundamental
to the viability and recovery programme of the tobacco (popularly known as
green gold) industry, the parliamentary portfolio committee on Lands, Land
Reform, Resettlement, Agriculture, Rural Resources and Water Development,
learnt last week.

The deliberations saw presentations from the Agriculture ministry, tobacco
merchants and growers, tobacco auction floors, fertiliser companies, Zesa
Holdings and Hwange Colliery Company Limited.
Set up to assess the tobacco industry's viability and recovery programme,
the portfolio heard that the crop was beset by major financial and input
challenges that could have hampered the resurgence of the lucrative cash
crop, formerly the country's number one foreign currency earner.  But
currently, a static exchange rate has also contributed to the downturn in
the crop, among other factors behind dwindling tobacco output, leading some
farmers to turn their back on the crop.
William Nyabonde, representing Auction Floors, said the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) had failed to back up promises made to tobacco producers.
"Offshore facilities for inputs organised to rebound the Zimbabwe tobacco
crop have not materialised as monetary authorities (RBZ) have not managed to
secure the facilities," said Nyabonde.
Commenting on submissions, committee chairperson, Walter Mzembi said: "There
is evidence of farmers deserting the sector because of issues affecting
grower viability which is clearly linked to the exchange rate.
"The lack of transparency on the issue of 15-percent retention and
entitlements for tobacco farmers. Why do we have to put an existing facility
like this, which does not materialise on demand?"
The central bank responded later in the week by upping the guaranteed floor
price of $180 000 per kg.
It warned tobacco merchants against "predatory collusion" to get a
guaranteed floor price.
Earlier on, Agriculture permanent secretary, Simon Pazvakavambwa revealed
that there was urgent need to mobilise $19 trillion plus an additional
US$32.8 million (Z$3.3 trillion) before May when preparations for planting
begin.
He hinted that failure to do so would have catastrophic consequences for the
industry, as Zimbabwe would not be able to surpass the 73 million kg
harvested last year.
Tobacco output has declined drastically over the past six years and earnings
from the sector have been a far cry from the record US$680 million earned in
1996. Production has taken a nosedive from the 237 million kg traded in
2000, to all time record lows of 69 million kg realised in 2004.
Consequently, Zimbabwe has lost its place as the world's third largest
producer of tobacco, with India and the USA capitalising on the crisis faced
by Zimbabwe.
 "There is absolutely no reason why we should be failing to grow
tobacco .The sooner we realise that we are losing ground to other
international players, like Brazil which recently increased its market share
from 440 million kg to 660 million kg, the sooner it should spur us into
urgent action.
"Other countries are eating into our market share. We should come to accept
that there has been no significant increase in tobacco hectarage worldwide,"
observed Mzembi.
Nyabonde urged government to swiftly address anomalies, stating that auction
floors were only operating at a maximum of eight percent of available
capacity due to declining levels of tobacco throughput, Nyabonde warned all
auction floors faced closure in 2007.
He also appealed for a review of handling and selling charges that were
fixed by a statutory instrument in 2001 at $10 and $7.50 for commercial and
small-scale farmers respectively.
"We will be out of business unless they are revised to $150 000 per bale,"
said Nyabonde.
Mzembi observed that there was need for the tobacco sector to be harnessed
under an apex structure to eliminate fragmentation and misrepresentation to
planning authorities.
"The fact that evidence has been received from 12 sector players needs to be
eliminated so that the sector presents its challenges as one lobby group. If
we are serious about agriculture being the primary driver of economic
turnaround, we have to put tobacco at centre stage.
"It has the capacity to earn over US$700 million, which is enough to cover
the importation of all cereal and grain products, assuming we are not
farming them, while helping companies like Zesa and Hwange Colliery overcome
their debts," said Mzembi.

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