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Inflation surges under threat

http://www.theindependent.co.zw/

Thursday, 15 April 2010 21:08

FINANCE minister Tendai Biti yesterday painted a gloomy picture of the
economic outlook in the face of rapidly rising inflation and a crippling
public service wage bill, warning government might be forced to crack the
whip on business barely a year after liberalisation to curb price increases.

Biti's ominous delivery on the economic situation would have caused anxiety
among the business sector and ordinary members of the public who thought the
economy was fast recovering while inflation was a thing of the past.

Zimbabweans are still trying to recover from the ravages of hyperinflation -
which scaled trillion-dollar levels - hardly a year and a half ago.
Hyperinflation had left many businesses in ruins and livelihoods destroyed.

Biti told journalists in Harare yesterday that although economic stability
had been restored, the economy was still facing serious "downside risks"
which could "reverse the gains realised" to date.

In a statement on the economic performance in 2009 and the first quarter of
this year, Biti said the major threats to the economy were building
inflationary pressures, lack of fiscal space, an unsustainable high wage
bill or employment costs, lack of investment in power generation, water and
road infrastructure rehabilitation, vulnerabilities in the financial sector
and a deteriorating balance of payments situation.

In an announcement which could shock the public and arouse nightmares of the
past, Biti said inflation had resurged and quickened from an annual average
of -7,7% in December last year to -4,8%. Month-on-month inflation rose to 1%
in February from 0,7% in January.

"The build-up in inflation is being driven by rising prices of food,
non-alcoholic beverages, health, education, as well as services of public
utilities," Biti said. "Such a situation is threatening disinflation gains
of 2009 as well as the objective of maintaining within targeted single-digit
levels."

Biti said it was critical to rationalise the pricing of public services to
contain inflation within single-digit margins and "avoid the economy
slipping back into a high inflation environment".

If the current inflation trend continues, Biti warned, the annual inflation
rate could surge to 10% against a projected 5% by year-end.

"There are strong signs that inflation is on the increase as demonstrated by
the month-on-month inflation of January and February 2010," he said. "What
is clear and self-evident is that speculation tendencies are back on the
market and that there is a huge constituency of the business sector that is
keen to draw us back to the hyper-inflationary matrix of 2008," he said.
"Going backwards where there was no confidence and business people increased
prices for the sake of increasing prices, we will not accept that."

Biti attacked industry for "having its own cake and eating it". He said they
had benefited from economic liberalisation but were profiteering. "They
(business) cannot expect us to play basic liberal economics when they
themselves are not playing by the book," he said. "Business cannot have
their cake and eat it. We are making a clear message that we are not
accepting inflationary pressures on our economy."

But industry has justified price increases citing high public utility
tariffs. Biti however says since January there has not been any public
utility tariff increases.

On the wage bill, Biti proposed a freeze in civil servants' salaries, saying
they were too high and  unsustainable. He said the civil service wage bill
accounts for 70% of the total domestic budget revenues. Government has a 236
000 staff complement, which the treasury minister said was "too high for an
economy such as ours".

However, he said the figure could be reduced should an ongoing public
service audit unearth ghost workers.

"Such a proportion of the budget wage bill, which is far above international
thresholds would, if not corrected also crowd out necessary capital
development expenditures and hence compromise economic recovery and growth
prospects," Biti explained.

The minister warned that his ministry would invoke "statutory instruments"
to encourage lending from the country's financial services industry. He said
government was "equally concerned" with the "huge disparity" between bank
deposits' and lending rates.

The minister said unattractive interest rates on deposits of less than 0, 2%
and high lending rates of 25% per annum by some banks would not encourage a
savings culture in the country.

"Such a situation is also unacceptable as this is counter-productive to the
country's economic recovery and growth efforts.Government will in the
meantime observe the behaviour of the financial institutions in adhering and
complying with this request, failure of which legal instruments would be
invoked through the central bank in order to correct market failure in this
regard," Biti warned.

Biti said balance of payments remained in a "precarious" position burdened
by a negative trade balance of US$1,6 billion. This, he said, has further
compromised industry competitiveness.

A negative balance of payments position means that a country imports more
than it exports.

Biti also bemoaned the absence of foreign direct investment and vote of
credit saying there was need for policy clarity on indigenisation.

An empowerment law forcing foreigners to "cede" controlling stakes to
indigenous Zimbabweans has spooked investors and split the unity government.

Biti said although government had hoped to have a budget deficit of US$810
million to be funded by the donor community, the treasury was "left alone"
and only got a meagre US$2,9 million.

He said: "Put simply and differently, we have received only US$2,9 million
from donors. This reflects what we have been saying all along that we are on
our own."

Turning to external debt, he said government had adopted a "hybrid approach"
that entails the use of a natural resources and the Highly Indebted Poor
Countries (HIPC) strategy in its bid to clear a ballooning debt owed to
multilateral institutions.

Zimbabwe owes the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and African
Development Bank close to US$6 billion in arrears, he revealed.

Chris Muronzi / Bernard Mpofu


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Fistfight breaks out at Zanu PF meeting

http://www.theindependent.co.zw/

Thursday, 15 April 2010 21:06

POLITICAL divisions in Zanu PF's Mashonaland West province have deepened
after senior provincial officials were assaulted at a meeting in Chinhoyi on
Sunday as the fight for control of the province intensified

Tension was on a knife's edge at a provincial coordinating committee meeting
where former chairman John Mafa and Chakari MP Wurayayi Zacharia Ziyambi
were dragged out of the meeting and beaten up by Zanu PF party officials

This, Mafa said in a letter to the party's national leadership, was all done
in front of politburo members who attended the meeting, who included
political commissar for the Women's League Olivia Muchena, lands secretary
Ignatius Chombo, national commissar Webster Shamu, (pictured) and his deputy
Ephraim Masawi.According to the letter Mafa wrote to the secretary for
administration, Didymus Mutasa, asking for the party presidium's
intervention, only Masawi and Muchena tried to intervene, while the others
just watched.

The letter was copied to President Robert Mugabe, his deputies John Nkomo
and Joice Mujuru, and national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo.

"The surprising and disappointing factor in all this is that senior party
members had watched all these happenings without any attempt to intervene or
alleviate the situation with the exception of Cdes Masawi and Muchena," read
the letter dated April 13.

Mutasa last night confirmed to the Zimbabwe Independent receipt of the
letter, saying he would present the matter to the politburo at its next
meeting on April 28.

"I have received the letter. I will present it to the politburo at its next
meeting on the 28th of April and the party leadership will decide then what
to do," Mutasa said.

Shamu yesterday said the commissariat did not condone violence in the party,
adding that they would look into the matter.

He said people should learn to resolve their differences amicably instead of
resorting to such "wayward behaviour".

"We condemn unreservedly any behaviour like that," he said. "We shall
definitely be looking into all issues like this and anywhere else. Where
there are contradictions people need to learn to deal with such
contradictions. We don't condone behaviour that is wayward, just as much as
we are going to wage a war against unbridled ambition, corruption,
factionalism, regionalism and tribalism," Shamu said.

He said Masawi intervened to control the situation on behalf the
commissariat and him.

However, Chombo dismissed Mafa's allegations that he was beaten up in front
of them as fiction.

"The meeting was very good," he said. "Nothing like that happened at that
meeting on Sunday unless he is talking about another meeting which I did not
attend. I just saw him talking to Shamu and Masawi and he walked out
thereafter. Talk to Shamu. All I know is that they were not supposed to be
there because they are no longer members of the provincial executive,"
Chombo said.

While Mafa said he called for the meeting to welcome Shamu, Masawi, Muchena
and other politburo members who were appointed to their new positions in
February, Shamu said it was organised by the commissariat as part of its
familiarisation tour of the provinces.

According to Mafa's letter: "Before the meeting was convened, Cde (Robert)
Sikanyika (the new provincial chairman) ordered (Temba) Mliswa (suspended
provincial lands secretary) and myself from the meeting. I was violently
removed from the room by what I deem to be thugs hired by the senior party
members.

"The action was based on the premise that I am no longer the provincial
chairman. Further, the MP for Chakari, Ziyambi, was beaten up at the meeting
and had his mobile phone damaged."

Mafa is challenging his suspension together with seven other provincial
members. They were suspended in January.

He said as far as he was concerned he was still the chairman after he was
supposedly reinstated by the then acting political commissar, Richard
Ndlovu.

"I then tend to wonder if it is party policy to hire, embarrass and to beat
up party members and if so the repercussions this will have on our
sacrosanct party policies and principles," Mafa said. "The action of these
thugs recalls to my mind the 'Top Six' which we thought was a passing phase
in our esteemed party. Cde Sikanyika was the leader of the group and it is
disconcerting that as he has been appointed chairman, the group has yet
again reared its ugly head."

He said the violence and rape committed by the 'Top Six' was something which
the province had vowed would never be repeated.

Faith Zaba


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Govt delegation set to meet EU over sanctions

http://www.theindependent.co.zw/

Thursday, 15 April 2010 20:52

A GOVERNMENT delegation is on Wednesday expected to meet three senior
European Union (EU) officials in Brussels to plead for the removal of
sanctions and seek financial aid to revive the economy.

The delegation headed by Economic Planning and Investment Promotion minister
Elton Mangoma of the MDC-T, will meet separately with EU Foreign minister
Lady Cathy Ashton, director-general for development Stefano Manservisi, and
Commissioner for development Andris Piebalgs.

Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa of Zanu PF, Regional Integration and
International Cooperation minister Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga of the
other MDC formation, and Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Joey Bimha will
complete the delegation.

Mangoma told the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday that the meeting would be
the first after Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai launched the re-engagement
dialogue process with the EU last June.

"This is a further step in that dialogue process for the purpose of Zimbabwe
to re-engage the EU and stop our isolation," Mangoma said. "We are agreed
that the meeting would be held under the Cotonou Agreement. This means
putting forward our issues. At the last meeting, we had agreed that there
would be a need for Zimbabwe and the EU to exchange their commitment plans.
We have forwarded ours and we are hoping to get theirs in Brussels."

The Cotonou Agreement is a comprehensive partnership agreement between
developing countries and the EU. The European Development Fund (EDF) is the
main instrument for providing EU aid for development cooperation in ACP
(Africa/Caribbean/Pacific) states under the agreement.

In a separate interview, Chinamasa said one of the key issues that would be
discussed was development assistance that Zimbabwe has been denied over the
years.

"We have a list of development assistance that has been denied under the ACP
arrangement -- the European Development Fund that provides soft loans for
development," he said.

Mangoma said they would also want to come up with modalities for bilateral
discussions with EU member states.

He said the meetings with the three top EU officials would give them an
opportunity to discuss issues around Zimbabwe's debt.

"We also have issues that we would want them to consider regarding debt --
what it is they can do as Europe. They also have their own issues which they
will bring forward and we will give them a true position of where we are
now," Mangoma added.

Asked how they are going to respond to concerns that the unity government
had not made much progress in implementing the Global Political Agreement
because of the disharmony within government, Mangoma said they hoped they
would be able to convince through their body language.

"The reason why we are going is for them to be able to look at our body
language. It is not only about talking but they must be able to look at the
body language and tell for themselves," he said. "Obviously, in some areas,
there is a good working relationship and in areas where there might be
disagreements, we need to work on them and they must understand that certain
issues might take longer."

In February, the EU renewed its sanctions against Zimbabwe for another year,
citing a lack of progress in implementing the power-sharing agreement.

Meanwhile, the South African facilitators -- Charles Nqakula, Mac Maharaj
and Lindiwe Zulu -- are in the country and expected to meet with the three
principals to the GPA to try and bring to finality to the outstanding issues
of the pact.

The three political parties are still to agree on the appointments of
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Gideon Gono, Attorney-General Johannes Tomana, and
the swearing-in of Deputy Agriculture minister-designate Roy Bennett, among
other issues.

Faith Zaba


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GNU to amend Cabinet, Council of Ministers rules

http://www.theindependent.co.zw/

Thursday, 15 April 2010 19:39

ZANU PF and MDC negotiators have agreed to amend the consolidated Cabinet
and Council of Ministers rules and procedures to reflect the current
situation within the inclusive government following a dispute last year over
the issue.
The deal was reached during the recent negotiations and is part of the final
report on the talks handed over to President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and South African
President Jacob Zuma last week.

Zuma's team of facilitators comprising Charles Nqakula, Mac Maharaj and
Lindiwe Zulu is back in the country to try to settle remaining issues. The
team yesterday met Tsvangirai and is expected to meet Mugabe, although it
was experiencing difficulties in pinning down an appointment with him.

This consolidated Cabinet handbook sets out essential requirements for
effective Cabinet operations during the tenure of the inclusive government.
It spells out the guidelines, procedures, composition and functions of
Cabinet, the Council of Ministers, standing Cabinet committees, ad-hoc
Cabinet committees, ministerial task forces and working parties in the
letter and spirit of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and Amendment No
19 of the Constitution.

Several editions of the Cabinet handbook have been published in the past,
with the objective of fostering the efficient and effective operation of the
Cabinet system.

Following the signing of the GPA on September 15 2008 and the consequent
formation of the inclusive government in February last year, it became
necessary to come up with a Cabinet handbook that would adequately reflect
the Cabinet system structures and processes in the new dispensation.

However, there was a battle between Zanu PF and the MDC last year over the
issue. The row threatened to degenerate into a quarrel which would have made
it difficult to come up with changes in consonance with established Cabinet
conventions and best practices.

The new handbook would capture notable features of the current framework of
government which includes the post of prime minister and two deputy prime
ministers as well as the Council of Ministers.
The review focuses on highlighting and clarifying the respective roles of
the new structures from the perspective of Cabinet system operations, and
more especially, the role of the Council of Ministers vis-à-vis cabinet,
standing Cabinet committees, ad hoc inter-ministerial committees or task
forces and working parties.

The amended handbook will show the new structure of Cabinet and who sits in
it. Mugabe is the chairman and Tsvangirai is the deputy chairman of cabinet.
Other members are vice-presidents, deputy prime ministers, ministers and the
Attorney-General.

Others who attend Cabinet are Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet
and a nominee of the secretary to the prime minister and Council of
Ministers.

The Council of Ministers, which coordinates policy implementation, is
chaired by Tsvangirai. It is also attended by the deputy prime ministers and
ministers. The chief secretary to the prime minister and Council of
Ministers and a nominee of the chief secretary to the president and cabinet
also attend.

The prime minister, as chairman of Council of Ministers, determines the
times for meetings. Usually, the Council of Ministers meets every
alternative Thursday from 9am in the New Munhumutapa boardroom.
The council's agenda is prepared by the chief secretary to the prime
minister and Council of Ministers for approval by the prime minister.

However, Cabinet is the supreme organ of the executive with the principal
responsibility of approving government policies. In this regard, its
functions as defined by the constitution are as follows:

lThe responsibility to evaluate and adopt all government policies and the
consequential programmes;
lSubject to approval by parliament, the allocation of financial resources
for the implementation of such policies and programmes;

lThe responsibility to prepare and present to parliament all such
legislation and other instruments as may be necessary to implement the
policies and programmes of the executive;
lExcept where the constitution requires ratification by parliament, or
action by the president, the approval of all international agreements;

lEnsuring that the state organs, including the ministries and departments,
have sufficient financial and other resources and appropriate operational
capacity to carry out their functions effectively; and
lTaking decisions by consensus, and taking collective responsibility for all
cabinet decisions.

The president, as chairman of Cabinet, determines the times for meetings of
Cabinet. Generally, Cabinet meets every Tuesday from 9:00am in the cabinet
room at Munhumutapa Building in Harare.

The business of the Cabinet is defined by an agenda, prepared by the Chief
Secretary to the President and Cabinet for approval by the president in
consultation with the prime minister.  The chief secretary circulates to
each member a copy of the agenda usually on Friday preceding the Cabinet
meeting.
The quorum for Cabinet meetings to occur is half of the total membership.

Attendance at Cabinet meetings is compulsory, unless a member is outside the
country on official business or has been granted prior approval by the
president to attend to other private business. Members wishing to be excused
from Cabinet should seek direct clearance with the president or convey a
written request to the president through the chief secretary to the
president and cabinet.

Minutes of Cabinet are recorded and capture the main points of discussion
and decisions reached on each item. The Chief Secretary to the President and
Cabinet is responsible for ensuring the accurate recording of minutes and
Cabinet proceedings.

It is the responsibility of the ministers under the supervision of the prime
minister to ensure implementation of Cabinet decisions. Line ministers
responsible for implementation of Cabinet decisions are expected from time
to time to brief the prime minister and the Council of Ministers on the
progress they are making in implementing Cabinet decisions.

Dumisani Muleya

 


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Parties’ fight over SA diplomatic post looms

http://www.theindependent.co.zw/

Thursday, 15 April 2010 19:39

A FIGHT is on the cards between Zanu PF and the MDC formations over the soon
to be vacant South African ambassadorial post.
Current ambassador Simon Khaya Moyo is winding up his business in South
Africa to return to Zimbabwe to work full-time as Zanu PF chairman following
his election to the party presidium at its congress last December. Moyo has
been the country’s ambassador for the past 10 years.

Moyo told Zanu PF supporters at his victory celebrations in Sanzukwi,
Matabeleland South, last week that he would be coming back home to assume
the party chairmanship full-time.

Zanu PF and MDC formations have since declared their interests in the
diplomatic post. Zanu PF wants to retain the critical post, while the Morgan
Tsvangirai-led MDC sees the position as an opportunity to land an
influential diplomatic mission in the region. The MDC led by Deputy Prime
Minister Arthur Mutambara is also eyeing the mission.

According to an agreement reached by the two MDC formations and Zanu PF last
year, the allocation of diplomatic posts is to be decided as and when
vacancies arise.
Last year the two MDCs shared five diplomatic posts that were left vacant
when terms of ambassadors appointed by President Robert Mugabe expired.

MDC-M was allocated an ambassadorial post in Senegal, while the MDC-T got
Germany, Australia, Sudan and Nigeria. Zanu PF at its congress in December
however resolved that it will not make any concessions to the MDC formations
unless and until sanctions imposed on Mugabe and senior Zanu PF officials by
the West are removed.

Edwin Mushoriwa, MDC-M spokesperson, this week said the vacant post in
Pretoria should be filled by his party as it currently has only one
ambassadorial post.

“We also believe that if we look at issues in the tripartite nature of
government we also deserve to get the post that will be left vacant by Moyo.
We only have one ambassador’s post and it is proper that posting be
allocated to us,” Mushoriwa said. “The diplomatic postings should also
reflect the coalition government.”

But MDC-T spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said there was no need to discuss who
should get the Pretoria posting as it was clear that it belonged to his
party.

“We do not expect a quarrel from our colleagues,” Chamisa said. “When
President Mugabe and Prime Tsvangirai meet to decide who gets posted to
Pretoria it should be obvious. We do not expect Zanu PF to have the grab-all
mentality and we hope the selection and deployment of the new ambassador
will be done with due recognition of the political dispensation in the
country.”

Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said the issue of who will be deployed to
Pretoria has not been discussed at the politburo and that Mugabe has the
discretion to decide who gets appointed.

“President Mugabe will make a decision on that since the matter has not been
raised at the politburo level and it is his duty to do that,” Gumbo said.

He however said he was aware that the MDC-T was interested in the post.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai have to agree on the choice of ambassadors to be
appointed in line with the global political agreement.

The parties are also set to fight it out for another diplomatic posting
after the death last October of the country’s representative to Belgium, the
Netherlands, Luxembourg and the European Union, Hurudza Punungwe.

Loughty Dube


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NRZ set to buy 29 Chinese coaches

http://www.theindependent.co.zw/

Thursday, 15 April 2010 19:36

THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is procuring 29 state-of-the-art
passenger coaches from a Chinese company with the first delivery set for
June.
According to information from NRZ sources, CSR Nanjing Puzhen Rolling Stock
Company Ltd, a subsidiary of China South Locomotive and Rolling Stock
Corporation (CSR), would supply the coaches.
NRZ spokesperson Fanuel Masikati confirmed the purchase, but declined to
give details saying it could jeopardise the arrangement.

"It's true that we are arranging the purchase of coaches," Masikati said. "I
cannot give more details as that could jeopardise the deal. We once gave
details of an Angolan deal and our counterparts pulled out as they were not
happy."

Masikati would not reveal the amount involved.
But sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that NRZ officials have visited
the headquarters of the companies in China to "tie loose ends of the deal".

According to the order, the ailing parastatal would get six types of
coaches -- special express hard-seat coach, special express cushioned-seat
coach, special express semi-cushioned berth sleeper, special express
bar-coach, luggage and power generating combination coach and a commuter
car.

NRZ sources say the parastatal is urgently in need of both locomotive and
passenger coaches.
"At present NRZ has 168 locomotives of which only half are functional. It
has 10 123 wagons, but only 5 000 are available for operations," said the
source.

The parastatal plays a major role in the transportation of goods and
materials for the mining, manufacturing and agricultural industries.

Currently NRZ is operating at between 30% and 50% of its capacity because of
a myriad of challenges.
In 2004, NRZ concluded other contracts with CNR of China for the supply of
the locomotives, train sets and mainline coaches at a cost of US$110,4
million.

Each contract required the establishment of a letter of credit covering the
total price of the equipment against which a 10% deposit would be drawn for
production to begin.

NRZ paid US$2,5 million in 2006 as part of the deposit, leaving a balance of
US$8,9 million.
However, the parastatal is buying coaches when workers are going for months
without pay.

Last month scores of wives of the parastatal's workers demonstrated outside
the headquarters building in Bulawayo over their husbands' unpaid salaries.

Nqobile Bhebhe


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MDC supporters fear renewed Zanu PF terror

http://www.theindependent.co.zw/

Thursday, 15 April 2010 19:33

MDC members in Muzarabani South, a Zanu PF stronghold in Mashonaland
Central, are living in fear after a church in the area was burnt down and
some of them threatened with death by suspected supporters of President
Robert Mugabe.
Close to 60 MDC-T supporters fled their homes on March 30 after a
Pentecostal Church building was burnt by alleged Zanu PF youths.

The gulf between Zanu PF and MDC supporters in the area is widening despite
the formation of the inclusive government last year. It is so wide that the
protagonists attend different churches depending on which political party
one belongs to. The church that was razed is attended mainly by MDC-T
members.

Villagers affected in the resurgence of violence in the area were also
victims of the bloody June 2008 presidential election run-off.

In 2008, the villagers fled Muzarabani South for Harare where they camped
outside the South African Embassy and sought assistance from the German
Embassy. They were later housed at Ruwa Rehabilitation Centre.

Muzarabani South became a no-go area for the MDC and as a result Zanu PF's
Edward Raradza was elected a member of the House of Assembly unopposed.

The resurgence of violence in the area has brought sad memories and fear to
MDC supporters.
With most Zimbabweans generally agreeing that political violence had gone
down tremendously as a result of the formation of the inclusive government,
MDC-T supporters in Charunda Village Ward 17 of Chief Kasekete, Muzarabani
South, still live in fear.

When the Zimbabwe Independent visited the area on Tuesday, the villagers
were suspicious of the news crew and only relaxed when they saw MDC-T
Muzarabani South chairperson Freddie Matonhodze in their company.

One of the villagers narrated how Zanu PF members were instilling fear in
them.

"They (Zanu PF members) tell us that this GNU between Mugabe and Tsvangirai
is in Harare," said Virginia Charunda. "It's a crime to belong to the MDC
here. Just before Easter we had to flee our homes and stayed at St Albert's
business centre, at an open place with no food. This was after we were
warned of more violence against us by a concerned Zanu PF member."

She said Zanu PF in the area launched what it refers to as Operation
hatisvike tese - a terror campaign targeted at MDC supporters in the area.

"We were told that kuseri kwe World Cup kune zvitsvuku, come July muchaona
henyu, chichatsva (It is going to be bloody after the World Cup in July. We
are coming after you)," Charunda - a mother to a two-year-old son - said.
"They tell us that if we survive in July we will be lucky."

These, according to the villagers, are some of the threats they have to
endure daily from Zanu PF.
The World Cup ends in July and there is a general fear that any disturbances
in Zimbabwe before the games kick off might have an impact on South Africa
hosting it.

Charunda is continuously intimidated by Zanu PF supporters and she does not
know where she will end up if the violence escalates.
She said: "Everywhere I go, it might be to the fields or even when I am
bathing, I make sure I move around with a few dollars. I have to be ready to
flee with my child."

Samson Chenzira, MDC-T Ward 17 chairperson, said the church was burnt soon
after senior party officials Sekai Holland and Shepherd Mushonga held a
meeting with members at Muzarabani Growth Point to discuss party issues and
talking points they intended to raise with the Constitution Parliamentary
Committee  (Copac).

"The meeting fuelled the tensions," Chenzira said. "It did not go down well
with the Zanu PF leadership. "They started having their own meetings where
Chimurenga songs were sung. They said the MDC should not hold meetings in
the area. Youths patrols commenced to monitor the situation."

Wirimai Gono - who lost in the council elections in March 2008 - said a Zanu
PF youth leader (name supplied) burnt the church during the night of March
27 after the party had held a meeting earlier in the day at Hoya Business
Centre.

"He (the youth leader) thought that people were asleep when he lit the
church. It's the light that glowed that drove us to go and see what was
taking place, but he quickly ran away and we pursued him," Gono narrated.
"We later caught up with him at an MDC member's homestead where he also
wanted to burn a hut. He told us that he was acting on instructions from his
Zanu PF leaders."

Gono claimed that they took the youth leader to Hoya Police Station where
they were reportedly told it was a complicated case and the culprit was
released.

Gono said Zanu PF was out to intimidate them to abandon the MDC.
"They want to instil fear so that no one talks when Copac comes. They want
us to surrender to their other operation, Hapana anotaura (No one will
participate)," added Gono.

The villagers, he said, only returned to their homes when they were assured
by the police that nothing would happen to them.

Police Spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said he was not aware of the case and
promised to find out from Bindura police.

Wongai Zhangazha


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Chombo, Chiyangwa saga: A test case of police reform

http://www.theindependent.co.zw/

Thursday, 15 April 2010 19:11

ZIMBABWEANS are waiting to see how the police and the inclusive government
in general are going to deal with Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo
and business tycoon Phillip Chiyangwa who were implicated in illegal land
deals by a special council committee.

A police complaint filed by acting Harare mayor Charity Bango on Monday at
Harare Central Police Station accused Chiyangwa and council officials
Psychology Chiwanga and Cosmas Zvikaramba of fraud.
Bango told the Zimbabwe Independent that he would soon make a more detailed
report implicating the rest of the people named in the special council
committee report.

"I can't give you more details of who else we are going to implicate until I
file that report. I am currently working on it and will soon make the
detailed report," he said on Wednesday.

Assistant police commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed receiving the
complaint saying: "A report for fraud which they said occurred on the 2nd of
September 2009 in which they are alleging that two City of Harare officials,
Psychology Chiwanga and Cosmas Zvikaramba with Phillip Chiyangwa committed
fraud in the sale of Odar Farm. We are now investigating."

Legal experts, however, pointed out that the police should not have waited
for the council to make a complaint but should have summoned Chombo,
Chiyangwa and all those officials named in the report as soon as the media
reports hit the streets.

But now that the council has lodged a complaint, it will be interesting to
see how those named will be dealt with by the police and how much pressure
is brought to bear from the co-Ministers of Home Affairs, Giles Mutsekwa and
Kembo Mohadi.

The two ministers were on Monday summoned by Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai after Harare Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda and eight councillors were
quizzed by the police over the report that implicated Chombo and Chiyangwa.

The councillors, who make up the committee that investigated the sale of
land in Harare between 2004 and last year, were "arrested" last week after
Chiyangwa made a report that they had criminally defamed him. They allegedly
leaked the report to the media.

The eight councillors - committee chairperson Warship Dumba, Casper Takura,
Herbert Gomba, Thomas Musharurwa Muzuva, Musa Macheza, Job Mbadzi, Paula
Macharangwanda and Panganai Charumbira - made warned and cautioned
statements last Thursday and were released.

Legal experts told the Zimbabwe Independent that this would be a test case
to see if the police had reformed in accordance with the global political
agreement, which states that the force should be impartial, non-partisan and
should fully appreciate their roles and duties in a multi-party democratic
system.

The experts said it will also be interesting to see at what speed the police
are going to investigate allegations from a report by an MDC-dominated
council accusing people linked to Zanu PF of serious irregularities.

Mutsekwa was quoted saying after meeting with Tsvangirai that: "As you are
aware, there is a problem at Harare City Council where councillors have been
summoned by the police after having rightfully done their job, instead of
Chiyangwa. It is now up to us to act."

What baffled many Zimbabweans was the reluctance by the police to
investigate the allegations against Chombo and Chiyangwa after local and
international media broke the story on the report by the council probe team.

Instead, the police summoned journalist Stanley Gama and visited the offices
of the Standard where they interrogated two reporters, Feluna Nleya and
Jennifer Dube, the day after the reports came out. They asked them to reveal
their sources. The detectives also talked to the Standard Editor Nevanji
Madanhire and the group Editor-in-Chief Vincent Kahiya.

Bvudzijena said on Monday they did not immediately after publication of the
press reports institute an investigation because council had not filed a
complaint with the police.
He said this when he was asked why they were not investigating Chombo and
Chiyangwa. This was before council had made its report.

Bvudzijena said: "With Chiyangwa's case, we had a complaint saying that the
report was incorrect and defamatory hence the charge of criminal defamation.
If councillors say they indeed did that, they should lodge a report that
they were defrauded, that is if they sincerely believed it happened. We need
a complainant and a witness before we can investigate."

However, legal experts said it was mischievous for the police to say there
has to be a complainant first before they can investigate a criminal act.

Constitutional lawyer Lovemore Madhuku pointed out that at law, the police
are supposed to investigate a complaint or whatever information that would
have come to its attention.

"Most crimes are investigated on the basis that it would have come to the
attention of the police. Many crimes are investigated on the basis of media
reports. It is very mischievous to suggest that they need a complainant," he
said.
In support, prominent lawyer, who is also chairperson of the Zimbabwe
Election Support Network (Zesn) Tinoziva Bere said: "The police have a right
and a duty to investigate suspected crimes even where no complainant has
come forward or where there is an anonymous complaint."

Law Society of Zimbabwe president Josphat Tshuma said the police should
investigate whatever information they get on a crime that has been
committed.
"They have a duty to investigate. It is their responsibility to ensure that
there is law and order. Their actions are both pro-active and re-active.

"As a council, they have a duty to protect the assets of the council and if
they believe that something has happened, they have a duty to investigate.
It is interesting to see what happens now and how the investigations are
going to be conducted," he said.
Another prominent lawyer, George Chikumbirike, said normally when a criminal
act has been committed, the police should investigate.

Madhuku said the fact that the police were reluctant to investigate those
named in the report showed that the matter was political because it involved
top people linked to Zanu PF.

"The matter is political. The police are still acting in the interest of
Zanu PF. They will follow the interests of a certain political line," he
said.

Just last year, a damning report by the comptroller and auditor-general,
Mildred Chiri, for the first quarter of the 2009 financial year exposed
corruption through abuse of state resources by top government officials.

In the report, several ministers and their deputies and permanent
secretaries took away vehicles from the ministries where they had been
working before the formation of the inclusive government. Up to this date no
police investigation has been instituted to look into the allegations raised
in that report.

Faith Zaba


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Zesa owed US$350m by consumers

http://www.theindependent.co.zw/

Thursday, 15 April 2010 20:22

ZIMBABWE Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) is owed close to US$350 million
by domestic and industrial consumers, with more than 100 000 domestic
customers in Harare and Bulawayo not having paid their bills since February
last year.

The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company managing
director, Ernest Machaya, said Harare has 73 000 debtors while Bulawayo has
28 178.

"Since the introduction of multiple currency system last February, in Harare
we have 73 000 consumers who have not paid a cent for their bills while in
Bulawayo 28 178 have also not paid," he said.
Machaya said this while giving evidence during a Competitions and Tariff
Commission investigation on Zesa in Bulawayo on Tuesday.

According to the commission, the investigation centres on "alleged abuse of
monopoly by Zesa through excessive tariffs, charging electricity not
consumed through estimates in billing and arbitrary cutting of electricity
supplies for domestic and industrial use".

Machaya revealed that domestic consumers owed US$128 million, commercial
sector US$93 million, industries US$44 million, farming US$43 million,
mining US$24 million, institutions US$10 million  and public lighting US$5
million.

On electricity usage, domestic consumers account for 37%, commercial sector
23%, industries 20%, mining 11% and farming 9%.

Machaya said both external and internal debt is impacting negatively on
operations.

"Currently, external debt for power importation stands at US$100 million, a
further US$156 million is owed to Zimbabwe Power Company. We are struggling
to service the debt as we do not have such amounts," he said

During the public hearing it was revealed that in January last year, Zesa
lost revenue amounting to US$18 million "as no consumer was billed".

In addition, a further US$25 million loss was incurred since February when
government directed consumers to pay a fixed monthly charge of between US$30
and US$40.

Early last year, Energy minister Elias Mudzuri set "ceilings" for
electricity charges after an uproar from consumers who were failing to pay
the huge bills from their paltry salaries.

He announced flat charges of US$30 and US$40 for high-density and
low-density residential areas respectively for the months of February,
March, April and May.

To adequately fund power generation, Machaya said US$383 million capital
injection was urgently required.
Zimbabwe has been experiencing excessive power cuts in the last decade due
to obsolete equipment, ageing infrastructure, skills flight and massive
vandalism of power cables.

Most households and industries in Zimbabwe are limited to less than 12 hours
of electricity supply daily because of lack of investment in power
generation.

Despite the power shortages, the country is exporting 150 megawatts to
Namibia under a US$40 million deal where Namibia power utility NamPower
provided capital for the refurbishment of power units at Hwange Thermal
Power Station in exchange for electricity.

Several potential investors have expressed interest in power generation but
the capital-intensive nature of the industry acts as a prohibitive factor
and coupled with scarce foreign currency for the importation of machinery.

Nqobile Bhebhe


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Regulations’ suspension lauded

http://www.theindependent.co.zw/

Thursday, 15 April 2010 20:17

GERMAN Ambassador to Zimbabwe Albrecht Conze has welcomed Cabinet’s decision
to suspend the controversial indigenisation regulations, saying this will
give the government opportunity to consult widely and come up with
constructive empowerment laws.

On Tuesday cabinet suspended the law to allow for broad-based consultations
on the best way to proceed.

“Time has now come for a sound and unexcited discussion about the best
methods for constructive empowerment which creates new wealth for
Zimbabweans instead of destroying existing assets,” said Conze in a
statement this week.

“German Embassy welcomes the Zimbabwean government’s decision to suspend and
review rules aimed at obliging foreign-owned companies to sell a majority
stake to ‘indigenous’ Zimbabweans.”

Conze said his country is “ready to participate in this debate and assist
the process where possible”.

Under the regulations, which took effect on March 1, foreign-owned
companies, including banks and mines, had 45 days to submit proposals on how
they planned to sell 51% of the shares in local subsidiaries to black
Zimbabweans within five years.

The deadline for submitting proposals was yesterday (Thursday).

Pressure has been mounting on Zimbabwe to review the legislation which had
the potential to scare away investors and was viewed as a racially-biased
document.

Harare-based independent economists John Robertson said it is premature for
investors to celebrate the suspension.

“As long it’s a suspension and not a total withdrawal, it does not wipe away
the serious concerns raised by investors. Investors would still feel that
the investment climate is still not conducive for meaningful business. The
suspension can be lifted anytime,” he said.

Robertson however said the suspension period affords government the time to
reflect on the “noise generated by the Act”.

“Government should now use this opportunity to remedy the mistakes of the
current Act. Everybody concerned should be allowed to input on the proposed
replacement act,” he said.

The suspension of the regulations is seen as an open rebuke to
Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere who
recently boasted that he “only consults when there is need”.

He vowed that there would be no going back on the implementation of the
regulations without any amendments.

Conze said international confidence in Zimbabwe as a safe environment for
foreign investment had suffered a serious blow after the gazetting of
regulations.

He said: “It will take concrete action by the Zimbabwean government to have
this confidence restored.”
The German business community would continue to assess progress and come
back to Zimbabwe with new investments as the rule of law is further restored
and property rights fully respected, he said.

However, a German business delegation postponed its planned visit to
Zimbabwe citing the controversial empowerment regulations as the main reason
for the deferment.

The Germans said the country was now a “no-go area” for foreign investment
and unattractive for German businesses due to the regulations.

Nqobile Bhebhe


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Give indigenous banks preferential treatment — Munatsi

http://www.theindependent.co.zw/

Thursday, 15 April 2010 20:15

ABC HOLDINGS chief executive officer Doug Munatsi says government should not
force financial services institutions to “cede” ownership to native
Zimbabweans but should offer preferential treatment to indigenous banks in
its quest to economically empower locals.
Munatsi on Tuesday told businessdigest on the sidelines of a black
empowerment conference that the state should not compel foreign-owned banks
to cede controlling shareholding to blacks but grant them government
business. His remarks come amid reports that the state had suspended the
implementation of the controversial empowerment regulations.

He was attending the Capitalist Nigger empowerment conference, which was
named after a controversial book authored by a US-based Nigerian scholar,
Chika Onyeani.

The January 29 empowerment regulations force foreign-owned companies worth
at least US$500 000 to surrender a 51% stake to black Zimbabweans.

Munatsi is a successful Zimbabwean banker behind BancABC, founded Heritage
Investment Bank which later merged with First Merchant Bank during the last
decade.

“I agree with what the governor (Gideon Gono) said that we cannot have
policies that are going to be perceived as negative,” said Munatsi. “All
these things are not positive for promoting a conducive investment
environment. We have lost a lot in the last 10-15 years and we need foreign
direct investment. As bankers, we don’t need empowerment because we have
been empowered already. What we need is for government to empower local
banks by giving them government business. Only indigenous banks should bid
for government business.”

His remarks could resonate with CBZ Bank which analysts say managed to get a
large quantum of total deposits owing to its preferential treatment from
government. CBZ, according to its latest financial statements, now accounts
for 33% market share of total deposits in the formal banking sector.

Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere who gazetted the regulations is
on a collision course with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, with the
premier describing the empowerment modus operandi as null and void.

The central bank chief also challenged the regulations in their current form
saying they should be sector-by-sector-based rather than applying a
“one-size-fits all approach”.

Seemingly referring to violence that characterised the land reform exercise
which expropriated white commercial farms at the turn of the millennium, the
ABC boss advised governments “not to repeat the mistakes that were made
before”.

Meanwhile, Onyeani who was guest speaker at the conference criticised
globalisation and also made a scathing attack at Chinese and Indian
businesses operating in Africa saying they were negating the economic growth
of host countries.

“We cannot continue to open our countries for other people to dump things on
us,” he said. “I am very angry at African leaders because they have allowed
the whites, yellows and browns to become African masters. The Chinese and
Indians have become African masters but this time it is more dangerous. Our
leaders are mortgaging the economic prospects of the next generation to the
Chinese and Indians forcing our factories to close.”

Government is among other options considering mortgaging its platinum
deposits to clear its ballooning external debt owed to multilateral lenders.

However, he said government should follow the Chinese and Indians by
adopting what he termed the Spider Web Doctrine.

The doctrine, according to Onyeani, is “an economic model that recognises
the selfishness within economic groups to prevent resources within their
communities from escaping out of their control”.

Bernard Mpofu


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Rio’s gold output down

http://www.theindependent.co.zw/

Thursday, 15 April 2010 20:14

Mining giant Rio Tinto produced 3,5 million carats of gold worldwide during
the first quarter of 2010, a 36% decrease compared to the same period last
year and a 21% decrease compared to the fourth quarter of 2009.
Of the 3,5 million carats of gold produced, Rio Tinto produced 29 000 carats
at its Murowa mine in Zimbabwe, down from 31 000 carats produced in the
first quarter of 2009.

“In the first quarter, most of our operations continued to run at capacity.
Chinese demand grew strongly and we saw some recovery in OECD markets, but
we are still cautious about short term volatility,” said Tom Albanese, Rio
Tinto’s chief executive in a statement.

The company produced 2,5 million carats at its Argyle mine in Western
Australia, a 43% decrease compared to the first quarter of last year. Rio
Tinto attributes the year-over-year decline in production to “lower feed
grade and frequent stoppages of the process plant due to wet weather.”

Regarding Rio’s Diavik mine in Canada, where 938 000 carats were produced
during the first quarter of 2010, this 12% drop in production compared to
the same period last year was due to lower volumes processed, which the
company said it “had planned.”

The Diavik underground mine commenced production in the first quarter, with
6% of total carats for the period sourced from the underground. The
underground mine produced its first ore at the end of March.

The Chamber of Mines this week said Zimbabwe’s quarterly gold production
surged to more than one and a half tonnes on the back of increased mine
output.

The chamber said the country’s quarterly production jumped to 1 667 tonnes,
from zero production during the same period last year.

“By year-end we are looking at between 6 000 -7 000 kgs given that things
have somewhat stabilised in the industry,” Chamber of Mines said.

“Monthly production figures keep going up and down like a yoyo, but the
problems of power supply, working capital and manpower are still affecting
the industry.”

“However, when compared to the same period last year when there was no
production, this year seems to be better for the industry in terms of
production,” added the Chamber of Mines.

In January, the gold sector produced 519 kilograms, followed by 487 kgs in
February and 661 kgs in March.
Finance minister Tendai Biti has projected that the mining industry sector
could grow by 40% this year.

Paul Nyakazeya


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Tobacco sales fail to ease liquidity crunch

http://www.theindependent.co.zw/

Thursday, 15 April 2010 20:12

LIQUIDITY problems since the adoption of multiple currencies 14 months ago
constrain government's capital expenditure and make local industries less
competitive.
Companies are directly affected by the shortage of cash on the market as
they have to borrow at very high rates thereby increasing operational costs.

Government, the major player on the money market, has largely been absent
and the balanced budget approach means it is unlikely to borrow.

The country therefore has to wait until government starts borrowing and
undertaking major capital projects.

Capital projects by government play a very important role in the economy as
they increase the ease of doing business. Immediate needs in the country
include infrastructure, power and energy supply as well as other utilities
where government plays a significant role and require huge capital outlay.

It was expected that the tobacco selling season, the traditional cash cow
that improves the liquidity in the market, would ease the problems but after
two months, it appears its role has been peripheral at most.

Traditionally the tobacco selling season is the country's period of
abundance as merchants splash millions of dollars which would supplement
money which is already in circulation.

Economic analyst John Robertson blames the liquidity problems on government
policies which "discourage the inflow of funds into the country".

"This means that the government would not be able to undertake any capital
expenditure under the balance budget and it is not possible to improve the
efficiency of the local companies," said Robertson. "Government would not be
able to improve power generation at Zesa and other utilities which means
that local companies will be less efficient (as a result of the huge
operation costs) and the country will be an unattractive investment
destination for everybody, including Zimbabweans."

This explains why local investors choose to operate from neighbouring
countries including Zambia and Mozambique.

Government plays a significant role on the money market as it issues various
bonds which are then traded among players in the financial sector.

There are two reasons why government cannot play any role on the money
market at the moment: A very low credit rating and the dryness of the market
at a time when it is unable to print any notes.

Robertson said the country is doing the opposite of what it should do by
gazetting laws such as the Indigenisation and Empowerment Regulations which
dampen investment as an investor may lose 51% through a piece of
legislation.

An analyst at ZB Financial Holdings concurred saying the liquidity problems
have been made worse by the "shaky political environment and uncertainties
caused by the gazetted Indigenisation and Empowerment regulations".

"The environment that prevails dampened investor sentiments thereby limiting
activity on the money market," said the analyst at ZB Holdings.

The analysts said apart from the tobacco selling season, which started in
February, anticipated diamond sales, gold sales, donor inflows and related
exports were the likely sources of funds which would ease the liquidity
problems.

"Their overall impact on reduction of high interest rates is likely to be
limited, as demand for funds across the whole economy continues to outweigh
supply," added ZB analysts.

Interest rates are currently very high, at around 12%, making borrowed money
very expensive.

Local companies borrowing at 12% would not be as competitive as those
getting money almost for free at between 0, 25% and 0, 9%, which is the
prevailing rate internationally.

In a normal situation, many international financial institutions would have
rushed to lend in Zimbabwe, where they get high return but there are many
factors which make it less attractive.

Leonard Makombe


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The curious case of the Zimplats 15% stake

http://www.theindependent.co.zw/

Thursday, 15 April 2010 20:08

YEARS after Zimbabwe Platinum Mines (Zimplats) offered 15% of the company's
total issued share capital to indigenous Zimbabweans, a buyer is still to
snap up the lucrative deal.

First to make its interests public was the National Investment Trust (NIT)
then chaired by banker Mthuli Ncube. But NIT failed to raise the money for
the transaction.

And naturally another consortium expressed its interest. In 2003, Needgate
Mining, a company represented by businessmen Macdonald Chapfika and Paul
Chimbodza, became a preferred partner for the Zimplats shares.

The months that followed saw Zimplats and Needgate running around trying to
raise US$31 million on both the local and regional markets.

By June of the same year, Needgate had signed a 90-day exclusivity deal with
Zimplats. Under the arrangement, the indigenous firm had three months to
come up with the funds or lose the stake. What the group was proposing was
to do what its predecessor, NIT, had failed to do in three years.
But in the 90 days, Needgate also brought in other participants in the deal
reportedly to make the empowerment outfit "more broad based".

Graname Investments, Jelly Mine, Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation
(ZMDC) and Ngezi Community Trust came into partnership with Chapfika and
Chimbodza to form Grassroots Investments.

Some notable characters in Grassroots Investments were the then Cotton
Company of Zimbabwe chief executive officer Sylvester Nguni, who is now a
minister of state in Vice-President Joice Mujuru's office.
While it seemed like the deal would be smooth sailing for Needgate and its
newly found partners, another consortium -- Barbican Bank -- offered to buy
the same stake towards the end of August 2003.

The man behind Barbican was none other than former NIT chairman Ncube, who
had spent almost three years chasing the same stake. His emergence on the
scene tightened the race.

After failing to get 15% of Zimplats' issued share capital while at NIT,
Ncube had gone on to form a commercial bank, Barbican Bank.  This made him a
threat to Needgate and its partners.

Strangely this did not stop Zimplats from signing an agreement with
Needgate. The agreement prompted Zimplats to announce the transaction to
other shareholders on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).

The announcement spelt out the structure of the transaction and covered the
pros and cons, how many shares would be sold and how much would be paid.
Among other notable features of the deal was a 15% discount for Zimplats
shares offered to Needgate and its partners on the day of the transaction.

But something happened that Needgate had not anticipated the following year.
A cabinet reshuffle in 2004 saw then Mines minister Edward Chindori-Chininga
being dropped from cabinet and Amos Midzi coming in at a time when the deal
was as good as done.

As the new minister, Midzi naturally needed an appraisal of the empowerment
deal.

All seemed to be going well for Needgate by the end of 2003 and the first
quarter of 2004.
After a few months with Midzi in office a new consortium -- Nkululeko
Rusununguko Mining Company (NRMC) -- emerged on the scene.

Unlike Ncube's Barbican bid, NRMC's entrance in the race effectively pushed
Needgate out of the game. Midzi as Mines minister gave NRMC government's
full blessings.

In a country where liberation credential and names invoking such memories
are strongly considered, Nkululeko Rusununguko (Independence in English)
Mining Company did not inspire silence.

Before long, NRMC's front man Surrender Ncube had been unmasked as a former
advisor to Chindori-Chininga before resigning from the ministry to form the
empowerment company.

Although speculation was rife that NRMC had big political fishes behind it,
the company did not raise the funding for the stake. As the years passed,
talk of the Zimplats stake ceased. Then in 2007 NIT said tit was still
pursuing the stake.

With Needgate's announcement last week that it has renewed its bid for
Zimplats' equity, many others will be coming to lay bare their interest.

But whoever wins the stake would have to raise quite a princely sum now.

This is not the first empowerment deal that has taken forever.

Instead of paying US$31 million in 2003, Zimplats share price has surged
significantly since then. If history were to repeat itself, then the same
old boys will be back in town and lining up at the empowerment feeding
trough especially now when government is pursuing an empowerment policy.

A preferred empowerment partner -- Manyame Consortium -- allegedly failed to
raise cash for a 30% stake in Metallon Gold Zimbabwe, the country largest
gold producer.

Manyame Consortium comprised businessmen John Mkushi, Albert Nhau and Ncube.

To this day, no one knows where the wheels came off for Needgate.

Chris Muronzi


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Muckraker: ‘Toddler tyrant’ Malema gets his fingers burnt

http://www.theindependent.co.zw/

Thursday, 15 April 2010 19:22

SOUTH African television viewers were treated to a feast last week as
powerful figures on the political scene engaged in mortal combat.
There was the less-than-edifying set-to between AWB secretary-general André
Visagie and PAC-aligned commentator Lebohang Pheko where Visagie, goaded by
Pheko’s barbs, lost it altogether and threw his toys out of the cot. Or
rather he threw his microphone across the studio floor.

“I am not finished with you,” he blustered menacingly at Pheko as he marched
off — and then marched back again. It seemed he had difficulty finding his
way out.

Host Chris Maroleng added no value to this brawl by telling Visagie when
there was an attempt to separate the combatants: “Don’t touch me on my
studio”. Many viewers would have been intrigued to know where his “studio”
was!

This was a live debate which Visagie, if he had something more than the
brain of a gnat, would have used to project the AWB as more than just a gang
of racist bullies. There may have been in the Afrikaner community a small
residue of sympathy for the AWB given the circumstances surrounding the
demise of their leader.

But whatever sympathy remained will have been dissipated by Visagie’s
maladroit threats and bluster on TV live.

Then there was the even more entertaining scrap between Julius Malema and
BBC correspondent Jonah Fisher. Fisher committed the unpardonable sin of
pointing out to the “toddler tyrant”, as the Sunday Times likes to call him,
that people who live in Sandton shouldn’t throw stones.

Wee Julius was ensconced at Luthuli House holding a press conference on the
success of his “state visit” to Zimbabwe. He was having a go at the MDC for
holding press conferences in the comfort of leafy Sandton when Fisher
interrupted to point out that Malema actually lives in Sandton.

This heresy sent the boy leader into a paroxysm of anger as he spat vitriol
at the BBC reporter. “Bastard” and “agent” were just two of the more
reportable outbursts. Did he mean estate agent perhaps?

This inspired the Sunday Times to carry a gem of a cartoon by Zapiro in
which a livid Malema, breathing fire and self-importance, is shown standing
on a table saying: “Do you know who I am?”

The reporters occupying the front row reply in unison: “A puffed up
semi-educated corrupt sexist rabble-rousing bully who swears when he can’t
argue and whose chilling presidential ambitions are made scarier by his
Stalinist intolerance of media freedom.”
Well said, guys.

We were surprised by President Mugabe’s refusal to meet US Congressman
Donald Payne who was in the country to assess the progress of the
power-sharing government.
Obviously this was a bad case of pique. The US recently renewed sanctions.
But would this not have been a great opportunity for the president to
talk-up his new-found commitment to democracy and human rights.

A cynic may of course regard this as a mission-impossible. How would he, for
instance, explain raids on art galleries, vexatious charges against Roy
Bennett, hostile and racist remarks emanating from Malema’s visit, the abuse
of business leaders such as those heading Zimplats, the flagrant disregard
of Bippas, the refusal of officials to allow the Parliamentary Portfolio
Committee on Mines and Energy access to the Chiadzwa diamond mines, and the
heel-dragging by the Zimbabwe Media Commission.

We revealed last week that the ZMC says it cannot act because it first needs
a workshop to tell its members what to do!
Now they say they need Tendai Biti to allocate funds for their
deliberations.
Is he aware of this latest obstruction? It is more credible at least than
the bid by a previous publication with a similar name to make  a nuisance of
itself, no doubt at somebody else’s behest.

Will diplomats preparing the ground for the Morgan Tsvangirai-led
“reengagement mission” to Europe later this month please interrogate the
members on their failure to address media freedom. How can there be
democratic transformation without media freedom?
There can be no more excuses. Who needs a whole workshop to license a
newspaper?
We also expect the Human Rights Commission to get cracking. And Reg, please,
no more silly talk of “rumours” of human rights abuses. These things, as you
know perfectly well, really happened. Check the court records.

The Sunday Mail carried a picture last weekend of Saviour Kasukuwere locked
in a fond embrace with Gideon Gono. The caption said “there was no love lost
between them”.
Do the sub-editors understand that expression? Obviously not.
Meanwhile, Ohio State University is misleading its students.
Young Itai Muchena who studies politics there tells Herald readers that
Zambia used to be called Southern Rhodesia and Zimbabwe used to be called
Northern Rhodesia.
Muckraker would like to have a word with his professors, as lecturers are
called in the US.
Still with the state media, we were amused to read Victoria Ruzvidzo’s
contribution to the Business Herald of last Thursday. Commenting on
indigenisation, she says this should be a “win-win deal”.
“It should be a win-win deal between locals and foreign investors,” she
reckons. “Of course win-win does not mean 50-50 in this instance. The 51-49
pincode sounds fair…
“I am one person sold to the idea of ensuring that Zimbabweans should own
the majority of their resources and become millionaires.”
Go girl, go!

We should note the formation of yet another Zanu PF phoney outfit posing as
part of civil society. It is called the Youth Empowerment Taskforce which
seeks to spearhead the interests of youth in the indigenisation and
empowerment process. They will hold a conference at the end of the month in
which they will “eliminate threats” that hinder youths in business.
They expect 7 000 to attend.
Muckraker would love to know how these organisations are dreamt up.
This one appears to have a link to the Zimbabwe Youth Council, another shady
outfit!

The writing was on the wall.
Julius Malema crossed the Rubicon with his ill-timed visit to Zimbabwe over
the Easter break. Now he is paying the price. President Zuma has moved to
discipline the toddler tyrant. The ANC leadership wants him brought into
line for bringing the party’s name into disrepute during his visit.
We knew Malema would burn his fingers sooner or later and we warned his
visit was not in line with Sadc’s mission to create a friendly political
environment in Zimbabwe.
As noted last week, the visit opened old wounds and stoked racial tensions.
There were reports suggesting Zanu PF youths joined ANC youths in converting
Malema’s notorious “Shoot the Boer” song to “Shoot Roy Bennett”.
Buoyed by the heroes’ reception he got from Zanu PF politicians including
President Mugabe, Malema returned home with his tail up.
Praise for the enfant terrible included Saviour Kasukuwere’s description of
him as a “Bull”.
“Bull Malema, bull Malema,” Kasukuwere sang while at Gideon Gono’s Farm in
Norton.
Back in Johannesburg, as reported above, Malema threatened BBC journalist
Jonah Fisher at the ANC headquarters which was followed by more theatrics in
Limpopo province where he threw a chair at a youth delegate at an ANC
gathering.
At this point the tail was promptly cut to size.
The ANC is on course to take action against Malema, said the
party’s spokesperson, Ishmael Minisi.
This was after party leader Jacob Zuma spoke out against indiscipline among
ANC “cadres”, including those who continue to sing the now illegal “shoot
the Boer” struggle song.
Zuma chided Malema on his “regrettable and unacceptable” treatment of the
BBC journalist and the ANC Youth League’s support of Zanu-PF.
Tony Healy, a labour expert in South Africa, says Malema’s ill-mannered
behaviour brought the ANC’s good name into disrepute.
“No right-minded employer would tolerate its reputation being so brazenly
tarnished,” Healy said, while urging the ANC to expel Malema.
Healy said Malema’s language at the media conference was in direct conflict
with two pillars of the constitution — dignity and respect.

Obert Mpofu has been at pains to explain how he built his business “empire”.
The Sunday Mail dutifully ran a story telling us that Mpofu’s source of
wealth was “legitimate” and that he has not in any way abused his office to
acquire it.
He acquired much of the property he owns very recently through a bank loan,
we were told.
We hope he will remain cooperative and allow parliament’s Mines and Energy
portfolio committee to freely institute its own investigations into the
source of his immense wealth.
Parliament has also asked him to allow the committee access to the Chiadzwa
diamond fields to assess activities there. We hope, as part of his campaign
to clear his name, he will allow the MPs to tour Chiadzwa.

Still on Chiadzwa, Tafataona Mahoso thinks journalists should cover up for
the plunder of Chiadzwa by a few because the country is under sanctions. The
Mines and Energy portfolio committee has nothing to do with the goings on at
Chiadzwa, he argues.
“In the context of an economic war, any Zimbabwean patriot would be
surprised to find any parliamentary portfolio committee in any country being
associated with screaming headlines.”
He went on to cite several headlines including: “Parliamentary Portfolio
Committee barred from Chiadzwa” and “Open Conflict over diamonds”, both
published by the Zimbabwe Independent.
“First, the reader cannot tell that these stories are about a nation and
people who have been reeling under illegal sanctions for 10 years, since
neither the committee nor the reporters mention illegal sanctions, nor even
stop to think that tarnishing the image of the Chiadzwa diamonds has become
an important way of enforcing the illegal sanctions while appearing to be
pursuing ‘transparency and accountability’,” Mahoso told us in his regular
column.
So he believes journalists and members of the Mines and Energy portfolio
committee have an obligation to engage in his redundant and partisan
blandishments?
Wake up Mahoso. We all know what tarnished the image of Chiadzwa diamonds.
It is all contained in the Kimberley Process report.
Meanwhile, can someone tell Mahoso that the Mines and Energy portfolio
committee is seeking to reverse the bad image associated with Chiadzwa which
they are currently barred from doing? And isn’t the committee exercising its
right to investigate these matters in line with its constitutional oversight
duties?

The black empowerment crusade is now in full swing. Temba Mliswa has set the
ball rolling.
He reportedly confronted a white entrepreneur threatening to take over
majority shares from his automobile parts distribution company in line with
the new black empowerment laws.
Thankfully the police intervened and reminded Mliswa that he was not above
the law.
He was reportedly detained for 24 hours at Harare Central Police Station and
later released.
Mliswa allegedly sent the company’s operations director Paul Westwood an SMS
threatening that he would expose “the skeletons in his cupboard” if he did
not comply with his directive.
According to news reports, part of the SMS read: “Listen Paul, I was very
patient with you. I have given you an option (to) which you are not willing
to respond.
“I am giving you 24 hours to respond to our offer. I have got skeletons in
your cupboard and I wouldn’t want to expose them.”

Is this not daylight extortion
and abuse of political clout? Mliswa told us not so long ago that he is
closely related to Didymus Mutasa.
The Herald last year also told us that among other people Mliswa networks
with powerful individuals such as Air force of Zimbabwe Commander Perence
Shiri and Prisons chief Retired Major-General Paradzai Zimondi.
We hope he is not abusing the political clout rubbed off on him through
hob-nobbing with these powerful figures.
Is this not what Gideon Gono warned against? He said recently he fears only
senior Zanu PF officials may benefit from the black empowerment regulations.
We hope Kasukuwere sees all this.
Speaking last week during a tour of his Donnington Farm by Malema, Gono said
people should “be on the lookout for those who would want to be greedy;
those who would use connections to get into factories. Let’s guard against
vices that might draw us back. The process cannot benefit the same people
who have benefited over the years.”

An alert reader has drawn Muckraker’s attention to the following case.
A 66-year-old man in the English Midlands has pleaded guilty to having sex
with a horse and a donkey.
Joseph Squires appeared at Leicester Crown Court charged with buggery of a
donkey between February 2 and February 5, 1999, and buggery of a horse
between March 15 and 18, 2004.
He also faced charges of damaging property — relating to the two animals on
the same dates.
Squires, whose address was previously given as Overpark Avenue, Leicester,
was due to stand trial but pleaded guilty to all four counts at Leicester
Crown Court.
Defence counsel Amar Mehta told the court Squires had no previous
convictions and was of previous good character.
Requesting that Squires be released on bail, he said: “The defendant does
not have a stable address.”
Given his scope for damage we would hope not!


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Eric Bloch: Kasukuwere must ‘get real’

http://www.theindependent.co.zw/

Thursday, 15 April 2010 19:18

IT has become fashionable for ministers in the Zimbabwean government to
castigate the mining industry in general, and foreign-owned mines in
particular, for allegedly denuding Zimbabwe of its mineral resources, and
giving nothing back in return.

Although only briefly so, the Minister of Finance Tendai Biti did so when
presenting his 2010 Budget, and recurrently and more vociferously, so too
has the Minister of Mines and Mining Development Obert Mpofu.  Several
others in the Zimbabwean political hierarchy have frequently done likewise.

Joining their ranks of lambasting the mining sector is the Minister of
Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment, Saviour Kasukuwere (has anyone else
been so inappropriately vested with his first name?).  As with his
colleagues, he berated the miners, contending that they are parasitically
expropriating Zimbabwe’s wealth. In one of his innumerable speeches seeking
to justify the unjustifiable, disastrous manner that it is intended to
achieve indigenisation and economic empowerment, he speciously contended
that foreign investors (and those from Australia, in particular) are coining
immense fortunes from their Zimbabwean operations, whilst giving naught back
to Zimbabwe.

The realities are that, on the one hand, Zimbabwe has minimal prospects of
realising the overwhelming potential of its very considerable and diverse
mineral resources without significant foreign investor participation and, on
the other hand, the mining sector is the source of considerable benefits to
Zimbabwe, albeit that those benefits would increase exponentially if there
was extensive investment, development and growth of mining operations.

Zimbabwe cannot go it alone, because it does not have the very considerable
capital that is a prerequisite of viable, large-scale mining. Government
certainly does not have the resources.  On its own admission, it is
bankrupt!  It cannot fund the maintenance, rehabilitation and refurbishment
of existing infrastructure, let alone enhance that infrastructure.

Energy generation, telecommunications, transport facilities, water supply,
roads, hospitals and schools are all grievously deficient.  And government
cannot even fund realistic and fair salaries for civil servants.  So its
prospects of funding mining development are non-existent.

Similarly, the private sector does not have the necessary funding (with very
rare exception, mainly being those enriched indirectly from their past
politically-associated activities).  Almost all in the private sector are
pronouncedly under-capitalised, unable to fund their existing operations.
Such capital as they had was eroded by operational losses sustained during
Zimbabwe’s calamitous 2008 economic circumstances, including world-record
shattering hyperinflation.  Such capital as survived the economic tsunami
was further eroded by the 2009 Zimbabwean currency demonetisation.

Compounding the parlous inadequacy of capital availability in Zimbabwe is
the straitened circumstances of the country’s money market.  Banks, pension
funds, insurance companies and other financial institutions have rarely had
such limited access to funds as presently is the case. International lines
of credit are minimal and, when forthcoming, of very short duration, for
Zimbabwe has one of the world’s lowest credit ratings — a direct result of
its appalling political environment and policies, its decimated economy and
its contemptuous disregard for its Bilateral Investment Promotion and
Protection Agreements (Bippas).
In addition, the limited currency in circulation results in a paucity of
deposits to banks, further constraining their lending ability.  The harsh
fact, therefore, is that Zimbabwe does not have the necessary investment
resources to achieve any substantive realisation of the enormous potential
of mining the country’s great wealth in gold, platinum, diamonds, nickel,
lithium, methane gas and much else.
It is also fallacious to contend, as the ministers recurrently do, that the
foreign investors are “milking” Zimbabwe, and “creaming it” at Zimbabwe’s
expense without commensurate quid pro quo.  The realty is that although some
realise considerable profits (justly and fairly so, in view of their capital
and other inputs on which they are entitled to an equitable return), they
give Zimbabwe a very fair share, in diverse ways.  Amongst others, these
include:

lProvision of millions of dollars of capital to fund exploration and
prospecting, development and equipping of the mines, and the considerable
associated infrastructures, including workshops, offices and housing. They
also fund operational working capital, especially so during the often
extended periods from “start-up” to income generation;

lCreation of continuing employment for many thousands of Zimbabwean workers
who provide for the needs of their families and other dependants;

lPayment of prescribed royalties to government on all minerals produced.
(Up to now these royalties have been at rates realistically aligned to those
prevailing in other countries, but recently government has foolishly and
counterproductively been contemplating highly unrealistic increases in
royalty rates);
lSimilarly, payment to government of income tax, although at a marginally
concessionary rate, on profits, together with withholding taxes on
dividends, management and other fees, and other indirect taxes;
lSubstantial sourcing of goods and services from within the downstream
economy;

lIndirect enhancement of the state’s fiscal inflows by way of taxes upon the
sector’s employees’ earnings, and the indirect taxes (such as Vat) on much
of the spending of employees’ remuneration, and similarly from the enhanced
operations within the downstream economy fuelled by the mining operations;

lConsiderable community support in rural areas, with many mines funding the
development or operations of schools and clinics, construction or
maintenance of roads, provision of housing, and the like;
lEffecting technology transfer to Zimbabwe, including providing managerial
and operational skills which, as Zimbabwe’s brain drain intensified
progressively over the last decade, became scarcer, and imparting those
skills to Zimbabweans.

The above are but some of the many ways in which the mines, and particularly
the foreign investors, are compensating and rewarding Zimbabwe for the
extraction of mineral resources.  There is, therefore, no foundation to the
government contentions of foreign mining investors exploiting Zimbabwe, to
its prejudice.

The reverse is incontrovertibly the case, but for so long as government
persists in its vilification of foreign investment in general, and into the
mining sector in particular, as perpetuated yet again by minister Kasukuwere
last week, government is further undermining recovery, and extending the
poverty and suffering of the majority of the population.  The minister, and
his colleagues, must “get real” as a matter of urgency!


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‘Electoral reforms only half the battle’

http://www.theindependent.co.zw/

Thursday, 15 April 2010 19:16

PROPOSED electoral reforms, agreed on by parties to the global political
agreement (GPA), only cover half the distance to democratic, free and fair
elections as some are unlikely to be enforced.
Parties to the GPA agreed to reform election administration, proposing
sweeping legal changes as well as setting up a new body to look into
allegations of violence as they strive to make elections more credible.
Under the reforms there will be special courts at the magistrates’ level to
try cases of politically motivated violence committed before, during and
after elections.

Negotiators representing Zanu PF and the two MDC formations proposed that a
law be provided to ban candidates convicted of politically motivated
violence from participating in elections.
The three political parties, in an attempt to eliminate rigging, agreed to
other proposals touching on counting of ballots, invitation of observers,
delimitation of constituencies and preparation, access and use of the voters’
roll.

These reforms cover areas identified as major loopholes in the country’s
electoral system which may be manipulated and have led to claims of rigging
and disputed elections, especially after 2000.
On paper the new measures appear like the right medicine for the country’s
ailing electoral system but analysts are sceptical.

Zimbabwe Election Support Network director, Rindai Chipfunde-Vava, said the
reforms would work only if they were to be applied to all political parties.

“One would hope that penalties are applied to those found guilty as is the
case in some countries where political parties are penalised through the
political parties financing laws and forfeit some of their funding,” said
Chipfunde-Vava. “However, this works when the commission running the
election is independent and in the case of Zimbabwe we have a mixed model.”

Analysts said focusing on the administrative side of elections would not
lead to free and fair elections as some of these reforms have either been
tried or are dormant within the current electoral laws.
Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust (Zimcet) acting programmes manager Charles
Sithole said banning candidates as proposed may not be practical “as some of
the perpetrators of violence are high-profile politicians who may not be
touched”.

Stakes are very high in an election and no political party would accept
having their candidate banned and as such, Sithole said, other measures
ensuring free and fair elections should be brought in.
He suggested adhering to the Southern African Development Committee (Sadc)
Principles and Guidelines on elections as the starting point.

Sadc guidelines include full participation of citizens in an election,
political tolerance, freedom of association, equal opportunity for all
political parties to access the public media, independence of the judiciary
and impartiality of the electoral institutions, and acceptance of outcomes.

Analysts agreed that there must be a mix of legal and administrative reforms
on the one hand and the creation of an enabling environment facilitating the
holding of free and fair elections on the other.
University of Zimbabwe (UZ) political science professor and lecturer John
Makumbe said meaningful electoral reforms should start by making the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) a full time body.
“ZEC should have a full-time secretariat which is consistently informing the
electorate on the complaints they are receiving, what is happening to the
local authorities and which constituencies have lost representation as well
as who represents which constituency,” said Makumbe. “As it is now, ZEC is
largely a part-time body and only comes alive during an election.”

Makumbe said it is only after the electoral commission becomes more active,
even when there are no elections, that an enabling environment for free and
fair elections is guaranteed.

Chipfunde-Vava said ZEC should have its own funds and not rely on the
Finance minister who is also a participant in the elections. This eliminates
the executive interference in the affairs of the electoral commission.
Another UZ political science professor and lecturer, Eldred Masunungure,
said the reforms should not concentrate on the administrative side since it
was also necessary to create an environment conducive to free and fair
elections.

“The environment must be free of violence, intimidation and fear and there
should be favourable exchange of information and an array of freedoms and
rights which are ingredients to free and fair elections,” said Masunungure.

These freedoms and rights, he said, would include freedom of association and
right to information.
Masunungure said it made no sense to have the best laws governing the
running of elections in an environment which is not conducive to democratic,
free and fair elections, especially after the violence and intimidation
experienced in 2008.

“This is where the Organ on National Healing should be playing a decisive
and critical role and do its job effectively,” said Masunungure. “So far, it
appears to me that the organ (on national healing) is rather delinquent and
has not acquitted itself. This culture of fear seems to me to be embedded
within the people.”

Makumbe suggested that changes to the Electoral Act should do away with the
provision that only civil servants should administer elections.

“There should be a mix of civil servants and the civic society,” Makumbe
said. “This has been done in other countries and it is possible. Those
involved in the administration of elections should swear to an oath of
honesty and be prosecuted if they violate it.”
Makumbe said delimitation of constituencies must be done based on the number
of registered voters in a constituency.

“There should be a demographic equality in all constituencies because if we
have gross inequality, for example having 11 000 registered voters in
Sunningdale and 42 000 registered voters in Muzarabani, then it would be
easier to rig in the latter where the turnout is likely to be low,” said
Makumbe.
It has been alleged that there are times when delimitations are done in a
way that strengthens one political party and at the same time dilutes the
support of others.

Makumbe said the civic society’s role should not be limited to voter
education, but should address other critical issues on elections –– an area
they have not been allowed to venture into in the past.
Civic society, Makumbe added,

should highlight the likely pitfalls and areas of exclusion and why it is
so, thus enabling the voters to make an informed choice which is a pillar of
democratic elections.
Sithole said civic society should take advantage of the prevailing
environment and play a more active role to educate the electorate.

Leonard Makombe


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Independence ideals in limbo 30 years on

http://www.theindependent.co.zw/

Thursday, 15 April 2010 19:14

AT a time when we are all conscious that this year we celebrate the 30th
anniversary of our country's national Independence it is true to say that
Zanu PF and its attendant affiliates no longer have the political or
ideological mandate to fulfil the aspirations, hopes and beliefs of the
liberation struggle.

Simultaneously one can also argue that the MDCs and their affiliates are
increasingly showing signs that they may not be cognisant of the historical
task at hand.

An historical task is to fulfil, not with finality, but with national
legitimacy, the aspirations, beliefs and complete agenda of the liberation
struggle.

These are not intended to be populist statements as though one were
addressing a commonplace political rally.  Indeed some amongst us may find
the aforementioned statements to be partisan. This would be due to the fact
that many of us, even 30 years after our country shook off the yokes of both
imperialism and minority dominance, are yet again unable to comprehend the
necessity of being honest about the intentions of those that first lit the
embers of our country's journey toward meaningful freedom and liberty.

In its painful and necessary experience the liberation struggle, like many
others across the globe, was indeed revolutionary in its intentions.  It was
never to be ascribed a "has been" or "we fought therefore we are always
right" role.  Neither did it intend that those born just before its
completion or in its immediate aftermath ("born frees") were to be prisoners
of history simply because either they were too young to have fought in it or
because they have forgotten that they are its beneficiaries.  The liberation
struggle and the ceremony to celebrate our Independence, whatever its flaws,
are definitive national events. They are both beyond dispute in their
national importance both in recognition of the past, the present and for the
purposes of posterity.

And in saying this, the intention is to make it apparent that the liberation
struggle did have its own particular leaders.  These leaders, be they in
Zanu PF, PF Zapu and even Frolizi, were given a historical task to free the
country not for the purposes of ceremony and identity, but also for the
purposes of building a new society based on the principles of democratic
majority rule and social economic justice. These principles of democratic
majority rule and social economic justice had the intention of addressing
what were and still are historical wrongs in the complex polity that became
Zimbabwe.  In taking up the leadership mantle upon Independence, the first
majority government, led by Zanu PF, had the mandate to immediately begin to
deliver on the principles that had motivated the liberation struggle.  It
would be subjective to even seek to argue that they tried to do so.  If they
did, we may never know the full extent of their success because some of us
at that time were unable to even utter a single slogan due to our age.

What we can safely argue, given the now heinous events in 1980s
Matabeleland, the strangling of freedom of expression and association since
then, is that Zanu PF, with each passing year in power, lost its mandate to
fulfil the aspirations and beliefs of the liberation struggle.  It failed to
create a better, democratic society.  It decided to retain confidence in the
old, and shunned new ideas, ostensibly for the sake of stability, and
because history's judgment is always harsh, we reserve the right to
criticise with the benefit of hindsight. Today it stands as a party that
wants to bask in the glory of 1980 as though the country has stood still in
that particular moment.  And that would be to be dishonest to our country.

But this is not to excuse the MDC either.  If Zanu PF has lost the mandate
of the people to continue to fulfil the aspirations of the liberation
struggle, then the MDC formations in their current political dispositions
either as political parties or as members of the inclusive government, are
showing signs of not even intending to pursue the revolutionary path long
abandoned by Zanu PF, but still espoused by the values of the liberation
struggle.  The easy manner in which many amongst us, myself included, have
taken like ducks to water with the now globalised democratisation and
development agenda has shown a dearth in our abilities to comprehend the
fullness of the Zimbabwean political and economic experience.

The MDC factions, particularly in the last two years, have presented their
political agenda as though it were a direct contradiction to the values of
the liberation struggle. This may have been because Zanu PF had all along
hogged the limelight on the same. What is clear is that, as it was in the
beginning before various other political forces began to determine the MDC's
democratic societal transformation agenda, the latter's mandate had been to
fulfil the aspirations of the liberation struggle because Zanu PF had
patently failed to do so.

In their current ideological framework the MDC, regardless of their working
class background, are increasing more populist than they are grounded in the
aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe as according to the liberation
struggle and organic struggles thereafter.

These aspirations may indeed be now varied and much more technologically
advanced as well as affected by the passage of time, but they remain valid.
It is not as though people in Zimbabwe do not accept the importance of
remembering our national Independence.  The problem resides in the fact that
the political alternative has been reluctant to remember and pursue that
revolutionary path with organised purpose and persuasive belief.  It has
instead chosen the easier path, where history is easily dismissible because
of part fear of out-rightly telling Zanu PF it no longer has the mandate to
fulfil the long held aspirations of the struggle for independence in
Zimbabwe.  And that that particular mandate now resides with the MDC.

But perhaps the fears are many.  The liberation struggle has been
increasingly viewed as though it were a Zanu PF project, a mistaken view if
I may add, but one that many have mistakenly come to believe to be true. And
sadly the MDC itself can no longer easily claim that it still has the
mandate to fulfil the aspirations of the liberation struggle after Zanu PF's
failures. It has become a part prisoner of its multiple allies and their
interests while at the same time making the political miscalculation of
over-relying on the popularity of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and the
support of civil society organisations in order to further the struggle
agenda.  This is not to say the MDC has no ideologies as has been argued by
many pundits.  On the contrary, it has many ideologies and ideas for change.
It remains the most popular alternative, regardless of its ambiguities.  But
this may now be inadequate. As has been argued elsewhere, and as was the
instance with Zanu PF in 1980, "popular legitimacy does not always equate to
popular or real reform".

On the week beginning April 18 2010, it must cross our minds, as
Zimbabweans, that whereas we fought to liberate the country as variegated as
our interests were, the binding thread was that we got it. In acquiring it,
mistakes were made.  They will continue to be made.  But the principles were
clear: the pursuit of a democratic, socially and economically just society
to become a beacon to all. And where Zanu PF failed, we expected the MDC to
succeed. Were they  to fail, we expect that others, whoever they are, will
again, as in the spirit of our forefathers, take up the mantle. But in this
instance, it will be with the people in mind and heart.
=Takura Zhangazha is a political analyst based in Harare.

By Takura Zhangazha
 


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Candid Comment: Fighting one of our own tyrants

http://www.theindependent.co.zw/

Thursday, 15 April 2010 20:26

IF there is one myth that must be resisted, and resisted with all the
contempt it deserves in 21st century African politics, it is the desperate
and unwelcome myth that a liberation movement, however much loathed, can
unashamedly claim to have an inherent and unqualified monopoly over the
governance of a country and that any dissenting voice, no matter how
genuinely disillusioned, is a political charade whose only intention is to
perpetuate a colonial past.

It is a calculated and arrogant way of pursuing politics and any leader who
uses it as a justification for clinging to power at that moment turns
him/herself into a tyrant.

At the very least, it is an insulting myth. Insulting because it presupposes
that the people of Zimbabwe are so naive they needed Tony Blair, Gordon
Brown, Gorge W Bush, Barack Obama and the wider international community to
tell them that the government of Robert Mugabe can no longer provide the
very basics of life. Yet any other responsible government, anywhere in the
world, would ungrudgingly consider it to be fundamental to good governance
to provide food, health, education and personal security.

We did not need Tony Blair to tell us that scores of innocent, vulnerable
fellow citizens were tortured and killed simply and only in order to secure
allegiance to Zanu PF. The people of Zimbabwe do not recall Blair standing
by as his security officers mercilessly pounced on opponents. Nor do they
recall Brown looting our country of its resources and stashing them away in
huge individual offshore accounts.

Nor was it Bush who hired the North Koreans to train the notorious fifth
brigade with a view to killing, torturing, raping and humiliating men, women
and even children. It was not Obama who bulldozed the only form of shelter
many Zimbabweans had and left hundreds of thousands homeless. Indeed, since
many cannot afford a television set, many in Zimbabwe will die not knowing
what Blair, Brown, Bush and Obama even look like.

The truth of the matter is that it has become increasingly questionable
whether there is much difference, if any at all, between the political
system of Ian Smith which Zanu PF managed to "liberate" us from, and its
replacement.

The terrible circumstances under which the people of Zimbabwe have been made
to live are all part of the sad proof that life under a liberation movement
is not necessarily better than life under colonialism.
Indeed, in Namibia, Swapo - a former guerrilla movement that led the country
to Independence in 1990 - has been at the centre of gross human rights
violations and in typical fashion has managed to downplay its extent. For
Zanu PF, like Swapo, violence has become the automatic and standard response
to dissent.

In South Africa, the ANC is unlikely to lose support any time soon mainly
because it is viewed by millions of South Africans as the party that brought
liberation to that country - and correctly so.

The liberation movement syndrome is as much alive there as it is within Zanu
PF for they have now become their own supporters. The difference between the
ANC and Zanu PF, however, is that while the former has enjoyed legitimacy
since 1994 derived from free, fair and credible elections, the latter has
constantly and consistently stolen the ballot and stolen it at monumental
cost for the people of Zimbabwe.

When ANC members depart from accepted standards they are swiftly and openly
rebuked. Indeed when Julius Malema attempted to be a little Mugabe,
President Jacob Zuma effectively cautioned him: Not in South Africa, my boy!
He described Malema's behaviour as "unacceptable", "totally out of order",
"against ANC culture" and deserving of "consequences".

A single party - be it one with liberation roots or not - is more than
welcome to rule for millions of years provided it has the genuine consent of
the masses to do so. That is the basic idea behind democracy. Zanu PF does
not, cannot and will never again have this sort of consent from the people
of Zimbabwe.

To borrow the lyrics of international music icon Akon, what contemporary
Zimbabweans are fighting for is, "a free, uplifting world". Clearly, that
world is not achievable under a Zanu PF government.

Having a single group of people hold an entire nation to ransom is not the
way of today's world. It is unwelcome because it results in a political
landscape that does not offer citizens real and credible means to express
themselves as the sovereigns of a constitutional, parliamentary democracy.

The only thing that distinguishes the traditional war of liberation from the
current struggle is that while we fought against Smith and his alien allies
yesterday, today we are fighting against one of our very own. It is a fight,
however, that we seek to conclude through democratic means. Never shall we
resort to the use of force in order to attain our freedom. Force, violence,
intimidation, abduction and foul play are all tactics of the enemy. To
resort to violence in this struggle would be to demean our freedom.

Let us continue fighting the good fight in the best way we can: peaceful
demonstrations, gatherings, petitions and the myriad of other democratic
mechanisms.

A liberation movement is not one that liberates its people and then, with
fiendish pleasure, proceeds to oppress those very people for three decades
and counting.

It is one that genuinely seeks to free the people from the vice of
repression - whether that is repression by Smith or Mugabe. Accordingly, it
can no longer be open to Zanu PF to regard itself as a liberation movement.
If anything, Zanu PF is an oppressive movement that the people of Zimbabwe
must now be liberated from.

=Psychology Maziwisa is the interim president of the Union for Sustainable
Democracy.

Psychology Maziwisa


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Comment: Expediency muddles empowerment debate

http://www.theindependent.co.zw/

Thursday, 15 April 2010 20:25

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's statements on the indigenisation and empowerment
regulations after touring tobacco auction floors on Wednesday have shown
that debate on the proposals is likely to be lost in political
grandstanding.

Cabinet agreed on Tuesday to suspend the regulations to give room for wider
consultation arousing excitement on the market with the benchmark industrial
index gaining 1,9%, the biggest gain in three weeks on the back of the news.

Even the diplomatic community saw sense in the suspension of the regulations
that forced foreign companies capitalised above US$500 000 to cede a 51%
stake, to allow for wider consultation.
German Ambassador to Zimbabwe Albrecht Conze said the suspension would allow
for "unexcited discussion about the best methods for constructive
empowerment which creates new wealth for Zimbabweans instead of destroying
existing assets".

In the midst of this excitement and sanity, Mugabe "clarified" the issue,
saying the empowerment laws were there to stay and the changes would only be
to improve them and not change the substance.
Who was Mugabe talking to? Was this an address to the farmers or is it the
government's position on the issue?

Mugabe's address to the tobacco farmers was not significantly different from
what was said about the suspension of the regulations as agreed by cabinet
on Tuesday. What Mugabe did was rather to play to the gallery, choosing to
further complicate the debate by failing to explain what he meant by "there
will not be any nullification of the regulations, but they have to be
improved. this will not necessarily be an issue of changing their
 substance."

It is contradictory to say the regulations have been shelved to allow
further consultations and at the same time emphasise that nothing would be
done to change the substance.

Then why should there be consultations? Is it another way of just
legitimising a policy that is meant to benefit a few by hoodwinking
Zimbabweans and investors into debate where nothing would be changed?
Any policy cycle, if it is to address a problem, should be open to changes
even in substance, what scholars call incrementalism, not this cast-in-stone
approach.

Two issues have stood out since the announcement of the new empowerment
regulations: the process and the substance. Many across the political divide
have argued that if the implementation of the indigenisation regulations was
to take a haphazard manner, reminiscent of the land reform, then it would
damage the economy more than it would benefit a few fat cats with
connections to the ruling elite.

While Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment minister, Saviour
Kasukuwere is adamant that this is the right time for such a policy, the
simple question is where is the money to buy the stakes?
If a company is capitalised to the tune of US$500 000, anyone taking 51% has
to fork out US$255 000, and if this is a policy aimed at benefiting
Zimbabweans, how many would be able to raise so much in an economy that is
characterised by a debilitating liquidity crunch?

Besides the process, questions have also been raised on the substance,
especially the unhelpful one-size-fits-all approach. There are varying
dynamics underlying business operations and to say every company should cede
51% without looking at the specific nature is a recipe for disaster.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono in October 2007 - when the
Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill was still before parliament - suggested
a gradual approach to profiling indigenisation depending on the capital
intensity and technology complexity. This could be an appropriate starting
point.

The substance of the indigenisation regulations, as Mugabe said, is cast in
stone, but the question is: What processes informed this?

Another question is why are these regulations targeted at a specific group
of people who are considered not indigenous, raising suspicion that this
could be another case of reverse racism. When critics of the current
indigenisation regulations call for broad-based consultations, they are
aware that the regulations, a product of an inner circle within the ruling
elite, may be well meaning on paper but benefit only a few.

A broad-based consultation would empower the intended beneficiaries as they
will be aware of what is at stake and at the same time give an ear to the
investors who are likely to be affected by this radical policy change.

Top down policy formulation and implementation have never worked for the
intended beneficiaries and in the absence of clear information, it is only
the elite who will benefit this time around.

Comparisons can be drawn with Russia when it opened up its economy in the
1990s. Those who were well informed would move around collecting empowerment
vouchers in exchange for drinks and other goods.
Only a few Russians - mostly former apparatchiks - benefited from the
opening of the economy. Zimbabwe should draw lessons from the disastrous
distortions that followed.
 


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Editor's Memo:Much ado about nothing

http://www.theindependent.co.zw/

Thursday, 15 April 2010 19:26

SOUTH African President Jacob Zuma's facilitation team is back in the
country to make a final push to resolve outstanding talks issues.
Negotiators have declared a deadlock on several agenda items in their final
report.

Zuma and his facilitators must be lauded for their commitment and drive, but
their indefatigable efforts will remain woefully insufficient unless backed
by a clear negotiating strategy and diplomatic fibre.

A close examination of the final report on talks shows that most of the
so-called outstanding issues are peripheral and politically insignificant.
Some of them are either of mainly symbolic value or administrative matters.
Most of the real issues - including electoral reforms - have been addressed
but there is a serious problem of implementation. The few residual issues
parties are fighting over simply need the attention of President Robert
Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Take for instance the issue of provincial governors. Negotiators have agreed
on a formula of sharing the 10 posts of governors but the only squabble
remaining is who between Zanu PF and MDC-T takes five or four plus a
minister of state. Why can't Mugabe and Tsvangirai, if they are leaders of
substance, resolve this?

Another example: the dispute over the swearing-in of Roy Bennett. The two
MDC groups agree there is no legal basis for Mugabe to refuse to allow
Bennett to take office. Zanu PF says he can't because he is facing serious
charges. But the MDC-M has come up with a compromise for him to be deployed
to another ministry. MDC-T has agreed, but Zanu PF says it would "consult"
over the matter. Again this needs Mugabe and Tsvangirai to sort out. There
is no need to bring in Zuma, let alone the whole of Sadc.

Sadc must not tolerate Mugabe's intransigence. Tsvangirai and his party must
also be dynamic. They must not always run to Sadc screaming. They should
resist Mugabe's obduracy internally. Resistance, not endless negotiations,
is essential for change where fundamental issues are at stake.

The talks report says there has been no agreement on the appointments of
Attorney-General Johannes Tomana and Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono.

Following extensive discussions on the above issues, negotiators noted the
differing legal interpretations by MDC-T and Zanu PF on the provisions of
Article IX of the Memorandum of Understanding executed on July 21 2008, and
the provisions of Article XX of the Global Political Agreement of September
15 2008. Given the gap between the legal arguments, it was agreed
"negotiations should be done on the basis of bold political considerations".

Negotiators failed to find common ground on these appointments and hence
they requested Zuma and the principals "to be seized of the matter and seek
ways and means of resolving the issue".

There is a problem here. To begin with it was wrong to focus on Tomana and
Gono as individuals. Tsvangirai has said before it is not about individuals
but institutions. This is my point. Negotiators should have right from the
start focused on institutional reform (zeroing in on the Attorney- General's
Office and Reserve Bank in this case) and that would have made their job
much easier.

As part of the broad reform agenda, it is more important to have
institutional reforms than to purge individuals while structural issues are
not addressed. Finance minister Tendai Biti came up with a law to reform the
central bank. That was more important than just removing an individual,
while leaving the bank unreformed. Gono is not really the issue,

but the institutional arrangement and corporate culture of the RBZ.
There has been a suggestion in MDC-T circles of having a separate and
independent National Prosecution Authority which is not run by the
Attorney-General. The AG will then focus on his role as government's chief
legal advisor outside prosecution matters. This is more sensible than
shouting hysterically that Tomana must go. Granted, Tomana might be Mugabe's
political hack, but that's beside the point. The issue is he must not be
allowed to use a public institution for partisan political agendas if he
remains in office.

The same applies to the George Charamba issue. It should not be about
Charamba per se, but his ministry. Deputy Information minister Jameson Timba
should know this.

Then there is the issue of ministerial mandates and review. Mugabe must
stick to the original mandates. If he doesn't, the MDC groups must tell him
that his illegal revision of the agreement will not be respected. They can
raise that issue in cabinet and everywhere they meet Mugabe until he
understands his unlawful actions are not going to be accepted. If it means
raising the issue every week in cabinet, let it be so. Sanctions are no
longer an issue.

On the co-chairing of Home Affairs, the MDC-T's suggestion of splitting the
ministry is good, but the party should blame itself for failing to appoint
an effective minister who would seize the initiative and impose his
authority. The other remaining issues like transport arrangements for
Tsvangirai, communication between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, regularisation of
Tsvangirai's staff, parallel government, national heroes and compensation of
commercial farmers for their seized land can be easily dealt with
internally.

The real issue must be political and institutional reforms which capture and
deal with all sorts of problems the MDC groups are particularly raising.
Parties must focus on constitutional and electoral reforms - the route
towards the final showdown and the endgame. Zuma's facilitators must
encourage the parties to look at the broader picture, not to behave like
dogs fighting over a dry bone.

 


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New constitution first, then polls: Tsvangirai

http://www.zimonline.co.za/

by Clara Smith Friday 16 April 2010

MAGUNJE - Zimbabwe will hold new elections only after a new constitution is
in place, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has said, appearing to contradict
an earlier announcement by President Robert Mugabe that polls could go ahead
with or without a new governance charter.

Under a 2008 political agreement that brought together the two former foes
in a power-sharing government, Zimbabwe should hold new elections after
penning a new constitution to ensure the vote is free and fair.

Addressing Zimbabwe's senior editors last month, Mugabe said elections would
be held once the country's troubled constitutional reforms have been
completed - regardless of whether the reforms produce a new charter or flop.

But Tsvangirai this week told villagers in rural Magunje district, about
250km north-west of Harare, that elections will have to be preceded by a new
constitution.

"There will be no elections without a new constitution," said Tsvangirai,
who has in the past blamed Zimbabwe's skewed constitution and electoral laws
for tipping the scales in previous votes in favour of Mugabe.

"There is no way we are going to accept elections under the current
constitution. What this means is that no one in this country knows when
elections will be held," said Tsvangirai, who toured Magunje on Wednesday to
assess food requirements after a flopped farming season.

But with Mugabe and Tsvangirai contradicting each other on most major
political issues as they tussle for control of a coalition government they
both unwillingly entered, it is hard to say who between the two men will
ultimately win the toss on when elections will be held.

However under the present Constitution Mugabe has powers to call a new vote
which he could still invoke in the event constitutional reforms flop.

Analysts see the constitutional reform process being concluded not earlier
than 2012 as Mugabe's ZANU PF party and the MDC of Tsvangirai haggle over
what form the proposed new constitution should take.

Zimbabwe requires a new constitution to level the political field and act as
bulwark against political violence that has marked the country's elections
since the 1999 emergency of the MDC as potent electoral threat to ZANU PF.

Meanwhile the villagers took Tsvangirai to task over failure by the
coalition government to deliver on promises to improve services such as
health, education and food security.

A villager, Tatenda Madukutuku, told the Prime Minister that they were "fed
up" with the government forever bickering while doing little to improve the
lives of ordinary people. - ZimOnline


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Mugabe out to show he is still in charge: Analysts

http://www.zimonline.co.za/

by Tafadzwa Mutasa Friday 16 April 2010

HARARE - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has vowed to press on with plans
to force foreign-owned firms to cede majority stake to locals after Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's office said the process had been suspended, in
a move analysts said is meant to undermine the premier and show the veteran
leader still has a firm grip on the African nation.

Tsvangirai's spokesman James Maridadi said on Tuesday Cabinet had resolved
to suspend empowerment regulations giving foreign and white-owned companies
a 45-day deadline to present their plans on how they intend to transfer 51
percent to blacks within the next five years.

But 86-year-old Mugabe -- Zimbabwe's sole ruler since independence until he
was forced into a power-sharing deal with Tsvangirai -- said on Wednesday
the process had not been suspended but that a special cabinet committee had
been tasked to improve the regulations.

The contradicting comments have left investors confused and is a sign of the
turf wars being fought between Mugabe's ZANU-PF and Tsvangirai's Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) in the fragile unity government.

"Obviously we are seeing the voice of reason being trampled upon and the
usual intransigence coming to the fore. The same negative forces whose
policies have trumped this economy in the past are once again determined to
destroy whatever is left of this economy," John Robertson, a consultant
economist said.

The MDC has repeatedly accused the octogenarian leader of seeking to
undermine Tsvangirai. The two bitter rivals are already locked in a dispute
over power sharing, with South African President Jacob Zuma mediating to try
to find a breakthrough.

The MDC, which advocates for investor friendly policies is fighting to water
down the empowerment rules, which analysts say would discourage foreign
investment and damage efforts to rebuild an economy that shrank by more than
40 percent during a crisis-ridden decade before rebounding in 2009.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti said yesterday that donors had only released
$2.3 million out of an $800 million vote of credit allocated in the 2010
budget, a sign that donors are unhappy with the government's policies.

A ZANU-PF dominated parliament passed an indigenisation and economic
empowerment bill in 2007, which was signed into law by Mugabe in March 2008,
on the eve of a general election he lost to the MDC and well before the
formation of the power-sharing administration last year.

The government says Zimbabwe needs at least $10 billion to rebuild the
economy, but foreign donors and investors are waiting for reforms and signs
that Mugabe is ready genuinely to share power.

"What I read from all these contradicting statements is Mugabe saying he is
in charge and that only his word carries the day," John Makumbe, political
science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe said.

"You need to understand the background of Mugabe's utterances. He was
speaking to new farmers at the tobacco auction floors and did you expect him
to accept that he was forced to backtrack on the indigenisation
 regulations," said Makumbe.

Large foreign companies with businesses in Zimbabwe include Anglo Platinum
and Impala Platinum Holdings, and Rio Tinto in the mining sector and
Standard Chartered Plc, Barclays Bank Plc and South Africa's Standard Bank.

Critics say Mugabe is pressing ahead with the empowerment drive to lay the
foundation for his party's future election campaign and to reward loyalists
especially in the military and security establishment for continuing to back
his rule. - ZimOnline.


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WHO says Zim measles outbreak spreading

http://www.zimonline.co.za/

by Own Correspondent Friday 16 April 2010

HARARE - The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Zimbabwe government
have said a measles outbreak first announced last September has now spread
to 48 districts in the country, in a country where the public health system
remains fragile after years of economic recession and political turmoil.

According to the joint report by the WHO and Zimbabwe's Health Ministry
released on Wednesday, so far more than 200 people have died with most of
the cases among members of religious groups that shunned conventional
medical treatment.

"The number of districts with suspected measles outbreaks has risen by 9 to
48 districts," the report said, adding; "3 285 suspected cases and 200
deaths, of which 192 were community deaths were reported since the start of
the outbreak in September 2009," the report said.

United Nations agencies and the Zimbabwe government in March appealed for
more than US$8 million to combat the measles outbreak they said had "reached
crisis proportion" and was spinning out of control.

Zimbabwe's health system was once one of the best in Africa but collapsed as
a severe recession over the past decade meant the government was unable to
build new hospitals or maintain existing ones, while poor salaries drove the
best trained doctors and nurses abroad where pay and working conditions are
better.

The measles outbreak comes barely 12 months after a cholera epidemic -
described by the WHO as the worst in Africa in more than 15 years - claimed
close to 5 000 lives as bankruptcy local authorities failed to supply clean
drinking water to residents or provide garbage collection services.

The cholera epidemic was only brought under control after international aid
agencies moved in with water treatment chemicals as well as medicines and
health support staff to treat the disease.

Zimbabwe's power-sharing government between President Robert Mugabe and
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has promised to rebuild the economy and
restore basic services such as water supplies, health and education.

But the administration has found it hard to undertake any meaningful
reconstruction work after failing to get financial support from rich Western
nations that insist they want to see more political reforms before they can
loosen the purse strings. - ZimOnline.


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UK investors buy into Zimbabwe

http://www.guardian.co.uk/
 

. Ex-Morgan Stanley chairman behind 25% stake in NMBZ
. Investment will help stabilise bank group's balance sheet

 
Harare residents read newspaper while they wait in a bank queue

The investment group African Century, co-founded by Jonathan Chenevix-Trench, believes agriculture and mining firms in Zimbabwe need more support. Photograph: Howard Burditt/Reuters

A London-based investment group co-founded by the former chairman of Morgan Stanley International and an old Etonian whose great, great-grandfather invented shorthand, today snapped up a 25% stake in one of Zimbabwe's largest financial services companies, NMBZ Holdings.

African Century was founded two years ago to invest in sub-Saharan Africa by Jonathan Chenevix-Trench - who spent over 20 years with Morgan Stanley- and Henry Pitman, former boss of the support services group Tribe and a man whose surname is known to anyone who has learned shorthand.

It spent $4.9m (£3.16m) on the stake in NMBZ, which is listed in London and Harare, and now has two seats on the company's board.

Chenevix-Trench said he will now accompany the bank's chief executive on a tour of potential sources of funding to get the bank lending to businesses within Zimbabwe.

After years of rampant inflation and food shortages, the country last year abandoned its own currency in favour of the US dollar, a move which has helped stabilise the economy, which Chenevix-Trench reckons is "slowly but surely recovering". The issue now is how Zimbabwe will grow.

"If Zimbabwe is going to recover you have got to have the agricultural and mining industries to get going again and they desperately need credit," Chenevix-Trench said. "It is a very compelling economic case but also a very compelling philanthropic case."

African Century has already invested in poultry and aquaculture ventures in Mozambique, Uganda and Zambia and also has a small portfolio of assets within Zimbabwe.

African Century's investment in NMBZ, which owns NMB Bank, will help stabilise its balance sheet as it looks to fulfil the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's requirement that commercial banks should have at least $12.5m in capital. African Century also has an option to buy a further $2.2m worth of shares in the bank.

James Mushore, chief executive of NMBZ Holdings said "we are delighted to have secured an international equity partner of the stature and experience of African Century, and we look forward to working with them".

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