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Ncube breaks down over Gukurahundi

Zim Standard

            BY our CORRESPONDENT

            PROFESSOR Welshman Ncube, the Secretary-General of the
pro-Senate faction of the MDC, broke down last Saturday while rebutting
allegations that he was on the payroll of the ruling Zanu PF party.

            Asked by a journalist about alleged links with the ruling Zanu
PF, Ncube slumped into his seat at the front table as his voice became
choked with emotion.

            Ncube was at the Gweru Press Club where he and Professor Arthur
Mutambara were invited guests.

            "There have been all sorts of allegations about my association
with Zanu PF by (Morgan) Tsvangirai and other people in his faction," Ncube
said. "It has been said I was given a farm by Zanu PF, that Zanu PF bought
me a Mercedes Benz, and that I am on their payroll. I was never a member of
Zanu PF.

            "How could I ever have been a Zanu PF member when it was the
same party that caused a lot of suffering to my family during Gukurahundi?"
he asked. "My brother was killed just 30 km away from here during that time
when Tsvangirai himself was still a Zanu PF commissar.

            "My grandfather was also killed and for six days the army did
not allow us to bury him," Ncube said. "We were only able to bury him after
we had asked for the intervention of my cousin Sobuza Gula-Ndebele, who used
his influence as he was then with  Military Intelligence.

            "We buried my grandfather right where he had been shot as we
could not lift him because his flesh was falling off as it was in a very
advanced state of decomposition."

            After Ncube broke down, Mutambara asked that questions be
directed to him.

            He dismissed allegations of links to Zanu PF through a reported
marriage to Dr Charles Utete's daughter.

            "I have heard stories about my being married to Utete's
daughter. I know the lady in question because we were together at university
but I never dated her. I am married to Dr Jacqueline Chimhanzi from Hwedza
and we have two kids," Mutambara said.

            Following Ncube's claims that it was part of political strategy
for some politicians to spread rumours about their opponents, Mutambara said
it stemmed from a Zanu PF culture of regarding people with different
opinions as enemies.


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Farmers fume over Gono's remarks

Zim Standard

            BY GODFREY MUTIMBA

            NEW tobacco farmers have attacked Reserve Bank Governor Gideon
Gono saying he is insensitive to their plight.

            Gono told disgruntled farmers at the official opening of the
tobacco selling season on Tuesday that those who were not happy with the
government prices were free to stop tobacco farming and concentrate on other
crops.

             Gono had on Monday announced a 35% delivery bonus on tobacco
sold by 31 July, a 15% bonus on sales made after 31 July and before 31
August 2006.

             Gono also scrapped the 15% tobacco growers' retention scheme.

            The announcement did not go down well with the struggling
farmers who were still trying to come to terms with the low tobacco selling
price.

            Hilda Masango from St Albert's Mission in Centenary said: "What
Gono said is totally unacceptable."

            "How can he say if we are not satisfied with the price we must
stop producing tobacco? It shows that government is not sensitive to our
plight. We face so many challenges in producing tobacco and the meagre price
they announced is far too short to sustain us if we are to continue
 farming," she said.

            Another farmer Romeo Mupuranga from Hurungwe also slated the
central bank governor.

            "We are very angry with what the Governor said on Tuesday. It is
total madness for a high-ranking official to say something that discourages
farmers from producing this essential crop. Government had promised to
support us on the price issue but Gono was on the forefront of rejecting the
proposed $180 000 per kg."

             Other farmers said they were likely to withdraw from tobacco
farming altogether. They cited several problems that range from high
transport costs, shortage of inputs and lack of funds.

            Some said they have resorted to using buses to transport produce
to the market.

            Christine Makanjera, also from Hurungwe, said: "We can no longer
afford to hire vehicles to ferry our produce because they are now charging
between $3 and $5 million for a single bale when we are getting between
US$1, 25 to US$2, 50. So we have resorted to ferry our tobacco on buses to
cut costs. But the problem with buses is you can't transport many bales on a
single trip.''
             Others said they were not getting any profit from tobacco as
inputs costs and labour were ever increasing. In response to questions from
The Standard, Gono maintained that the new farmers should stop growing
tobacco if they were not able to produce quality crops.

             "Where a farmer strongly feels a particular crop is not viable,
it is rational and honourable to refocus and pursue other disciplines of
economic endeavour," Gono said.

             "As a country we cannot successfully build our economy towards
sustained prosperity if among us, there are ambivalent forces which on the
other hand, are calling for bottomless pockets of subsidies and on the
other, preaching and calling for inflation reduction through monetary
austerity and fiscal budget deficit reduction."


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Mahoso demands list of HIFA journalists

Zim Standard

            BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE

            THE government-appointed Media and Information Commission (MIC)
has demanded a full list of journalists accredited to cover the on-going
Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA).

             This has raised suspicion among journalists - who will be
celebrating the World Press Freedom Day this week - that Mahoso wants to
snoop on those who write  for foreign media.

             HIFA spokesperson, Jill Day, confirmed that MIC had requested
the list of both local and foreign journalists covering the international
event.

             "It's true. We gave them the list. This is probably because
they are worried about the number of foreign journalists who are covering
the event. For example, we have 12 journalists from France who cover arts
and culture," she said.

            Day said there were also several Zimbabwean journalists covering
the event. She said 31 "journalists" from The Zimbabwe Mirror stable, 11
from Ziana, 49 from the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) and about 13
from the little known Harare Post are accredited to cover the event.

            MIC chairman Tafataona Mahoso said there was nothing sinister in
demanding the list of journalists covering HIFA. He said any serious
registrar would not sit around and expect people to come to him.

             "It's normal. AIPPA (Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act) requires that all journalists be accredited and that is why we
wanted the list,"  Mahoso said.

             He said MIC would flush out all bogus journalists, who sneak
into the country pretending to be reporters.

            "They sneak in through Nyamapanda and Victoria Falls pretending
to be tourists and start writing stories once in the country," said Mahoso,
a former media lecturer at the Harare Polytechnic.

            Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) secretary general, Foster
Dongozi, said: I have also received inquiries from foreign journalists
trying to confirm if the reports of the alleged witch-hunt are true. There
you are - another case of shooting ourselves in the foot."

             HIFA is one of the few remaining viable events taking place in
Zimbabwe and any attempt to muddy the waters could destroy the well-funded
emerging entertainment industry.

            The MIC has already closed privately owned newspapers such as
The Daily News and its sister paper, The Daily News on Sunday, The Tribune
and The Weekly Times.

             The government blames the current ills befalling Zimbabwe on
negative media reports emanating from the local private Press and the
Western media.

             Meanwhile, local journalists will meet in Harare on Wednesday
to observe the United Nations' World Press Freedom Day. The commemorations,
which are being spearheaded by the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, will start
with journalists marching in the morning through the city centre.

            ZUJ vice president, Njabulo Ncube, said journalists would meet
outside the New Ambassador Hotel on Wednesday morning for the march.


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Murerwa meeting with EU official sparks row

Zim Standard

            BRUSSELS - A senior European Union official sparked controversy
by meeting Zimbabwe's finance minister in Brussels on Wednesday despite EU
sanctions on the African country.

            EU Aid and Development Commissioner Louis Michel met Herbert
Murerwa just three months after the bloc extended for another year a series
of measures against Harare, including an arms embargo and travel ban on its
officials.

            The 25-member bloc accuses Zimbabwean officials of violating
human rights, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.

            Belgium granted Murerwa a visa to attend a meeting of ministers
from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific on Thursday and Friday in
Brussels.

            Some EU diplomats said that although granting the minister a
visa for a conference was allowed under the terms of the EU sanctions,
holding an official meeting with him was not.

            "A number of (EU) member states have said that this is not in
line with the EU policy," a Swedish diplomat told Reuters, adding that they
were concerned that the European Commission was applying a policy different
from that of the EU countries.

            Another EU diplomat also said it was clearly against the EU's
position.

            A spokesperson for Michel, a Belgian, said the meeting did not
signal a change of policy.

             "The EU's position has not changed and will not change until
Zimbabwe changes its policies ... the meeting was aimed at helping Zimbabwe
move in the right direction," he said.

            The EU sanctions were initially triggered in 2002 by Zimbabwe's
land redistribution plan, which confiscated white-owned commercial farms,
and President Robert Mugabe's disputed re-election.

            Since then, EU aid to Zimbabwe has been suspended, except for
health and education projects, to which 70 million euros were allocated last
year, Michel's spokesperson said.

            Mugabe and more than 100 ministers and officials are targeted by
EU visa bans and asset freezes. Plans for an EU-Africa Summit have been
postponed since 2003 because Britain and several other EU countries refused
to attend if Mugabe was invited.

            Zimbabwe is mired in a deepening economic crisis, with shortages
of foreign exchange, fuel and food, the world's highest inflation rate at
over 900% and 70% unemployment. Critics say the land seizures have cut
Zimbabwe's commercial agriculture by 40%. White farmers said last week they
had been invited to apply for land, a move that could mark a shift by the
government, which had vowed not to return seized farms. - Reuters


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Mutambara speaks for exiled Zimbabweans

Zim Standard

            BY OUR STAFF

            GWERU - Professor Arthur Mutambara, the president of the
pro-Senate faction of the Movement for Democratic Change says the government
should allow Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to participate in elections if it
hopes to harness precious foreign currency that they earn.

            He said this last weekend at the Gweru Press Club where he was a
guest speaker.  "Right now the economy is being sustained by 20% of foreign
currency from the Diaspora that enters the country through legal and
extra-legal means," Mutambara said.

            " As the MDC government, we will develop networks of Zimbabweans
that have pride in being Zimbabweans and are happy to invest in their
country. We also need to benefit from the expertise that Zimbabweans in the
Diaspora have to offer," he said.

            Despite having an estimated three million Zimbabweans earning
convertible currencies such as the British Pound, the US and Canadian
Dollars, the Botswana Pula and South African Rand, the country is struggling
to provide basics such as food, medical drugs, fuel and electricity.


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Tekere steps into Muzenda book row

Zim Standard

            BY WALTER MARWIZI

            VETERAN politician Edgar Tekere has stepped into the row over
the biography of the late Vice President Simon Muzenda, charging that the
piece of literary work is a distortion of Zimbabwe's liberation history.

            After reading a story about Patrick Kombayi's lawsuit against
the author, publisher and Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, Tekere rushed to get
a copy of the controversial book and was quick to call The Standard.

            "It's a reckless, extravagant, magnificat for Cde Muzenda by an
academic.  I am very happy that Kombayi took note of it and went to court,"
Tekere said.

            Simon Vengayi Muzenda & The Struggle For and Liberation of
Zimbabwe was penned by Professor Ngwabi Bhebe and published by Mambo Press
in Gweru almost two years ago.

            The book is a glowing account of Muzenda, which seeks to
convince the reader that the national hero was an astute organiser and a
shrewd politician committed to the total emancipation of his people.

            It also portrays Muzenda as a peacemaker who was not afraid to
cross swords with his colleagues in order to stop Zanu PF leaders from
killing each other during the dark moments of the liberation struggle.

            Though touted by a reviewer as an authentic and comprehensive
biography of Muzenda, the book has stirred controversy.
            Kombayi, a Gweru businessman, who felt offended by the book, has
taken his case in the courts where he won a $112 billion default judgement
against Mnangagwa, although Mnangagwa won a reprieve.

            As Kombayi battles to overturn the reprieve granted to the
minister by the High Court, Tekere says he is equally offended and would
support the businessman all the way in the courts.

            "In the book, there is lots of mention of Tekere. I don't like
it at all, it is not the truth. Bhebe never came to me to ask me. Never
asked Kombayi about his role either. That is why it is a reckless piece of
work," Tekere said.

            Tekere then went down memory lane, explaining in detail how he
was solely in charge of the party and military affairs of Zanu PF when other
leaders such as President Mugabe and Josiah Tongogara were away in Malta
around 1978. It was the same time that the late Henry Hamadziripi is said to
have led a revolt against the party leadership.

            Tekere said Bhebe had bended backwards to praise Muzenda and in
the process offended many people.

            "He writes about Muzenda sympathising with people who had
plotted a coup. It was myself. Bhebe wants to please Muzenda and I am glad
that he is being punished with this lawsuit," said the Mutare-based
politician.

             "The process of arrest, it wasn't (Emmerson) Mnangagwa. I
started it.  Mnangagwa (then Chief of Security) only got a report when they
came back.  That is when he started the process of prosecution."

            While the author said it was Muzenda who stopped the execution
of the Hamadziripi group,  "demonstrating his immense humanity" at a time
when close comrades like Tekere were pushing for their elimination, the
former Zanu PF secretary general said:  "Mugabe presided over the court. We
all agreed we were going to execute them at home because we did not want to
shed blood in a foreign country. That is when I stood up and said: 'comrades
remember I was number one to be executed but we can't continue killing each
other, shedding blood'."

            Tekere said his colleagues understood his message and the
plotters were then thrown in the infamous pits where they were held captive
in Mozambique. Tekere said Hamadziripi and company were only released after
they bargained with the British government to secure the release of their
colleagues from Ian Smith's prisons. These included Maurice Nyagumbo and
Moven Mahachi.

            "I am really agitated. Bhebe is an academic and should know
better. Falsification of history is bad. Our children should learn proper
history."

            Tekere said he was willing to go to court and testify in favour
of Kombayi.

            Bhebe on Friday said he welcomed any other further works that
would advance the history of the liberation struggle. He said he had not
talked to Tekere and that other historians were free to make a follow up on
the sources he didn't cover.

             "That is how history is advanced. As a historian you can't
cover all sources. Younger historians are free to fill in the gap. But it
would not be correct to say I went all out to falsify history, that's a
strong statement to make or rather an accusation. I have nowhere where I
castigated anyone. I am sure if I had produced what they said (politicians)
about each other, they would not be working with each other in government
today. Vaigwa zvevanhu ava."


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Police probe minister over maize scam

Zim Standard

            By Nqobani Ndlovu

            BULAWAYO - Andrew Langa, the Deputy Minister of Environment and
Tourism and MP Insiza is being investigated by police and the Grain
Marketing Board (GMB) for allegedly diverting maize meant for drought prone
Matabeleland South region to Zvishavane and Mberengwa.

            The Standard was told that Langa sources maize from the Gwanda
GMB, which delivers it to the parastatal's Insiza depot on the pretext that
it is destined for his constituency.

            The deputy minister, it is alleged, then takes the maize to
Vokola where it is milled before being delivered to the black market in
Mberengwa and Zvishavane.

            The accusations come at a time when some parts of Matabeleland
South have suffered  a devastating drought that has left close to 500 000
people in urgent need of food aid.

            Some families are said to be surviving on amacimbi and pounded
roots of mtopi, an indigenous tree.

            The food situation in the region has been worsened by the
failure of community leaders and villagers to secure maize from the GMB in
Gwanda.

            "Langa is under police investigation for diverting maize to the
black market. The maize is for Matabeleland South," said one of the sources.

            Matabeleland South police spokesperson, Inspector Johnson Nyoni,
said: "I do not have that report with me. It is better you contact GMB
officials..." Langa dismissed the allegations as flimsy and baseless.

            "Whoever is alleging that has different agendas altogether and I
warn them to concentrate on their core business."


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Bleak May Day for Zim workers

Zim Standard

            BY OUR STAFF

            MAY Day commemorations will be held tomorrow across the globe
but there is nothing to suggest that long-suffering Zimbabwean workers will
have any reason to celebrate.

             With the poverty datum line for a family of six above $35
million, life has become unbearable for many who earn less than $10 million
a month.  Many workers interviewed by The Standard said there was nothing to
celebrate as they are struggling to survive.

             "I do not know anything about Workers' Day. My kids are always
hungry and very soon schools will be opening and everything is too
expensive,' said Linda Kandodo of Budiriro.

            But worker representative organisations appear determined to
commemorate the day despite the hardships.

             Both the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and the
Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) have lined up workers' meetings
in all major towns where the plight of workers will come under the
spotlight.

             The ZCTU will commemorate Workers' Day in 20 centres across the
country with Harare hosting the main event. However, the labour union was by
Friday afternoon battling to secure a venue in Mutare.

             Lovemore Matombo, the President of the ZCTU, said his
organisation was taking up the matter with the courts in order to secure a
venue they booked and paid for last year.

            The government appointed commission running the city was
blocking the union from holding its meeting in Sakubva stadium on the basis
that it had failed to produce a police clearance on time.

              The Vice President of the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Union,
Joseph Chinotimba, said commemorations will be held at Rufaro Stadium. He
said workers should come in large numbers.


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Cash-strapped hospitals give notice to the dead use of mortuaries

Zim Standard

            BY OUR STAFF

            ZIMBABWE'S major hospitals are taking drastic measures aimed at
reducing overcrowding in their mortuaries.

            These range from restrictions to the use of the mortuaries to
paupers' burials on a two-week basis.

            So bad is the situation at Parirenyatwa, a national referral
institution, that visitors walking along the corridors of wards close to the
mortuary are greeted by bad odours emanating from the mortuary  fridges
where bodies often remain unclaimed for long  periods.

            While the hospital's mortuary has a carrying capacity of 54
bodies, the facility nowadays days takes in as many as 130 bodies at any
given time.

            Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals' chief executive officer, Thomas
Zigora, admitted that things had become so bad that the once well-equipped
medical institution was battling to remain afloat in a harsh economic
environment.

            Zigora said plans to construct a new mortuary to cater for the
increasing deaths, attributed to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, had failed to
materialise due to financial constraints. He said this left the institution
with no option but to restrict the use of their mortuary.

            Zigora said: "In order to ensure that we always have space for
patients dying in the hospital, it has been resolved that with immediate
effect, bodies not collected after three days will be sent to funeral
parlours where relatives will be expected to collect these bodies at their
own expense.

            "Until such time as the situation improves, we regret to advise
that the Parirenyatwa Mortuary will only be reserved for hospital deaths."

            Due to high burial costs, many low-income families prefer to let
the bodies of their relatives stay in mortuaries until such a time that they
are accorded pauper's burials by the State.

            Mortuary attendants say some bodies remain unclaimed for very
long periods and end up being disposed of at the hospital's expense.

            "Our mortuary has a capacity to hold only 54 bodies but of late
has had as many as 130 bodies," Zigora said.

            "The hospital's mortuary equipment is old and cannot cope with
these numbers. The heavy load places a strain on the compressors. This has
led to bad odours permeating the hospital corridors nearest to the
 mortuary," he said.

            At Harare Central Hospital, bodies are sent for a pauper's
burial after only two weeks. In the past bodies could be kept in the
mortuary for up to  three months.

            A private company has been contracted to carry out the paupers'
burials.

            "If you have a relative who dies these days, be warned to act
quickly because he or she may end up in a pauper's grave in just two weeks,"
said a mortuary attendant at the health institution.


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VOP wins award

Zim Standard

            BY OUR STAFF

            RADIO Voice of the People, the local radio and production house
whose directors are being persecuted by the State, has been awarded the 2006
One Media Special Award for Community Media.  The award will be presented in
London on 8 June.

            Radio VOP, as it is commonly known, is privately owned by
Zimbabweans and has since 2000 been battling to obtain a commercial licence
to broadcast locally on FM.

            A bomb destroyed its Milton Park offices in 2002 while police
and officials of the Central Intelligence Organisation raided new VOP
offices in Beverly Court in December - in search of transmission equipment,
which they could not find.  They ended up by arresting three employees who
were only released four days later, after the directors had presented
themselves to police.

            On Thursday, Harare Magistrate Rebecca Takavadii remanded the
VOP directors out of custody to 14 June.    The directors are being accused
of broadcasting from Zimbabwe without licence, a charge they deny.


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Tobacco crisis deepens

Zim Standard

            BY NDAMU SANDU

            TOBACCO growers' representatives sought audience with
Agriculture Permanent Secretary Simon Pazvakavambwa on Wednesday to
intervene on the tobacco price.

            Standardbusiness can reveal that the growers' representatives
raised their concern over the package put in place by the central bank,
which they said was far below their expectations.

            "We met Pazvakavambwa and briefed him on our concerns. We hope
to meet RBZ Governor Gideon Gono and present our position," a source, who
was among those who attended the meeting, said Thursday.

            Tobacco farmers contend that the support framework announced by
RBZ is inadequate to meet costs incurred growing the golden leaf, once
Zimbabwe's major foreign currency earner. Central bank governor Gideon on
Monday announced the tobacco support framework, which he said "rewards
quality and ensures grower viability while at the same time encouraging
early delivery of the green leaf tobacco to the auction floors".

            Gono said on Monday: "With effect from 25 April 2006, tobacco
growers who sell leaf tobacco at the auction floors by 31 July 2006, will be
entitled to a 35% delivery and early delivery bonus. This support framework
will be based on the actual value of tobacco sold on the auction floors."

            The RBZ Governor said the cut-off of 31 July 2006 takes into
account unanticipated logistical challenges experienced by growers during
the preparation of this year's crop for marketing.

            He said sales made after the cut-off date and before 31 August
2006 "shall attract a reduced delivery bonus of 15%". After that date a
delivery bonus shall not apply, Gono said.

            He said under the new framework tobacco growers would be paid
for all tobacco sold at the auction floors at the prevailing interbank rate.

            "As a result the 15% Tobacco Growers Retention is discontinued,"
Gono said. But farmers say the support price is inadequate.

            Tobacco growers want an adjustment on the exchange rate to one
US dollar for $180 000 and that the retention scheme either raised or
maintained.

            "We were pushing for the increase in the retention scheme from
15% to about 20% but RBZ has scrapped it totally and this will affect the
growers," said a tobacco growers' representative.

            On Monday growers' representatives warned of disaster in the
coming season citing a mismatch between costs of farming and returns from
sales.


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Govt's promises and lies

Zim Standard

            By Ndamu Sandu

            THE government has again lived up to its reputation of promising
Zimbabweans "heaven on earth".

            The National Economic Development Priority Programme (NEDPP),
formulated through the Zimbabwe National Security Council (ZNSC), is the
latest such pie-in-the-sky.

            Government says the model is a response to critical economic
challenges besetting the economy.

            According to Rugare Gumbo, Economic Development Minister, NEDPP
revolves around its specific objectives designed to reduce inflation,
stabilisation of the currency, ensuring food security, increasing output and
productivity and generation of foreign exchange. NEDPP promises Zimbabweans
a better economy within the next six to nine months.

            Gumbo says the success of NEDPP would be guaranteed by the
inclusion of all stakeholders - government and the private sector.

            To ensure the success of the model, Gumbo said, various
taskforces had been formulated to implement programmes and strategies. The
taskforces formed focus on agriculture co-ordination, input supply and food
security; domestic and international resources mobilisation; human skills
identification, deployment and retention; 'Look East' promotion and
implementation of programmes; import substitution and value addition;
foreign exchange mobilisation and utilisation; and SMEs promotion and
distressed companies rehabilitation.

            Enter central bank chief Gideon Gono: "within 90 days we would
have been able to raise US$2.5 billion in cash or in the form of
investments", he says.

            And Didymus Mutasa would not be left alone saying his State for
National Security, Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement ministry will ensure
that 99-year leases are brought to finality. Mutasa blamed disruptions on
the farms to people "who do not have government at heart".

            A look at recent farm invasions shows that top government and
ruling party officials - and not landless peasants - have been on been
leading the spate on invasions. Horticultural concerns Interfresh and
Ariston bear testimony to this!.

            Analysts warned last week that government had on numerous
occasions raised the hopes of the populace only to fail them at the eleventh
hour. They say the previous five models touted as the stimulus to the growth
of the economy since 1980 had failed because government had not committed
itself fully to the prescriptions.

            Zimbabwe launched the Transitional National Development Plan
(1986-90) which accorded priority to poverty reduction. This meant that
government spending was geared towards increased social sector expenditure,
expansion of rural infrastructure and redressing social and economic
inequality including land reform.

            In early 1990s, government succumbed to pressure from the
Bretton Woods based World Bank to adopt structural adjustment programme,
Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) that undertook to reform
public enterprises and the civil service. It promised to reduce central
government deficit from 10% of GDP to 5% by the fiscal year 1994-95.

            As the socio-economic situation deteriorated, government dumped
ESAP for Zimbabwe Programme for Economic and Social Transformation
(ZIMPREST) touted as a home-grown programme in February 1998. ZIMPREST
promised: a fall in inflation from over 20% at the start of the programme to
single digit level by the year 2000 and continuous growth in exports (at
least 9% per annum in US$ terms). ZIMPREST could not live to celebrate its
fourth anniversary and was replaced by the Millennium Economic Recovery
Programme in August 2001.

            A short-term 18 months economic programme, MERP was premised on
the need to restore economic vibrancy and address the underlying
macroeconomic fundamentals. But it was rendered ineffective largely due to
the withdrawal of international donor support in February 2003. Government
launched another one-year stabilisation programme National Economic Recovery
Programme (NERP). Economic commentators said the ghost of the past would
haunt the implementation of NEDPP.

            "The previous models claimed to have got support from government
but nothing materialised," said John Robertson, a Harare-based economic
consultant.


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No going back on banks: Gono

Zim Standard

            BY OUR STAFF

            RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono sang from
the same hymn last week insisting that financial institutions that fail to
meet the US dollar-linked minimum capital requirements have to shape up or
ship out.

            Under the new dispensation commercial banks are required to have
US$10 million, merchant banks, finance houses and building societies (US$7.5
million), discount houses (US$5 million) and asset managers (US$1 million)
as minimum capital by 30 September 2006.

            In a circular to banking sector CEOs, Gono said: "Compliance
with these parameters as set out and pre-announced will, thus, not be
negotiable, and players in the banking industry are called upon to take
heed."

            Gono warned that any depreciation in the ZW$/US$ exchange rate
by 30 September 2006, would mean that banking institutions would be required
to make up for the differential by 31 December 2006.

            He said institutions without realistic chances of meeting the
current capital requirements have "to seriously consider identifying
strategic partners with adequate resources as well as mergers and
acquisitions".

            "Founder shareholders, especially individuals, should be
prepared to dilute their shareholdings and allow new shareholders to come in
if they don't have the requisite resources," Gono said.

            Zimbabwe has 14 commercial banks, five merchant banks, three
finance houses, six discount houses and four building societies currently
operating. Economic analysts say a small economy such as the one Zimbabwe,
is already over-banked.

            Independent economic consultant, John Robertson, said: "It doesn't
make sense to have more banks when we have an economy smaller than
Birmingham and Manchester. We cannot have more banks in a shrinking
economy."

            An International Monetary Fund team last year said the
Zimbabwean economy could accommodate seven banks.


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Traditional leaders are the real sell-outs

Zim Standard

      Comment

            THE guilty, it is said, are always afraid. The government this
month proved it had something to hide when it blocked a United Nations Food
and Agriculture Organisation team from conducting a joint crop assessment
exercise throughout the country.

            While the government raised the argument that it was a sovereign
State and would therefore not countenance multi-lateral organisations
undertaking crop assessment surveys, what really frightened the government
was confirmation of the extent of the food shortages despite a good rainfall
season and the government's claims of a bumper harvest.

            The truth is that the failure of its much heralded land reform
programme would have been unmasked. Whenever the government finds itself in
a corner it throws tantrums in the hope that such theatrics will shut up its
critics. But that will not stop the food deficits and that is why it is
spending scarce foreign currency on food imports.

            What the response to the FAO proposal confirms is that Zimbabwe
is being run by a desperate cabal - a clique intent on clinging to power by
any means necessary.

            What we don't need amidst this are traditional leaders trying to
mislead the nation.

            In an apparent response intended to buttress the government's
rebuff of the UN agency, the Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs declared that "most
parts of the country produced better yields than in previous seasons owing
to good rains."

            The statement was as vague as it was shallow on statistical
breakdown of district/provincial yields to shore up the claim of "good
harvests".

            Traditional leaders were reviled by the generality of the people
before independence because of their willingness to be used against their
own subjects by settler administrations.

            Their action last week proved once again that they had mortgaged
their fate to that of the government because of the perks they are being
feted with at the expense of roads and health facilities stocked with drugs
for use by rural people.

            It is not difficult to understand why some of them were despised
intensely by people they are supposed to represent. They continue to
demonstrate that they are the State's instruments of oppression, driven by
selfish interests.

            Also objectionable and shameful are attempts to mislead the
international community. The government has suggested that it is prepared to
let commercial farmers back onto the land - an embarrassing admission of the
folly of its "agrarian revolution". But this was a gesture - along with the
National Economic Development Priority Programme - designed to impress the
Spring meeting in Washington of the Board of Governors of the IMF and World
Bank.

            If there are serious intentions to bring back the commercial
farmers onto the land the government should be announcing the beneficiaries
and their farms so that they can start preparations to occupy the farms in
order to ready themselves for land preparations by July/August. The
government won't act because it is afraid and has no clue. So it pretends.

            But before the commercial farmers can be allocated farms an
inventory of their area of specialisation would have to be carried out. It
is no use allocating a tobacco farmer land that is suitable for ranching.
That will not turn around the fortunes of the country in the next 90-180
days.

            The removal of speculative farmers that were given land by the
government is a contentious issue because the government has no will to act
and evict them given its paranoia over the opposition's prospects of
exploiting such a situation.

            But some commercial farmers have short memories. They have
learnt nothing from Nick Swanepoel's futile efforts at engaging the
government over land redistribution.


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Reaping the sour fruits of violence

Zim Standard

            sunday opinion by Webster M Zambara

            AS Zimbabwe's situation continues to deteriorate on all fronts,
there has been a sharp increase in the number of organised violence against
innocent civilians, mostly in the form of common assault and assault causing
grievous bodily harm.

            This issue is of grave concern. Last month the media reported on
Harare Municipal police brutality. More recently, there were allegations
that soldiers descended heavily on revellers in Gweru, while teachers at
Rambanepasi High School in Hwedza ran amok, assaulting 300 pupils.

            Two incidents highlighted Harare municipal police brutality.
They beat up a motorist changing a flat tyre, and went on to assault a
street vendor leaving him for dead. Of interest was the acknowledgement that
during "Operation Murambatsvina" some of the rowdy policemen harassed women
engaged in the catering business in the Kopje area.

            Of even greater interest for me was the following observation in
The Herald: "The bottom line is that these youthful looking municipal
policemen need re-orientation. They are too aggressive for peaceful
situations."

            On reading this I held my breath. The editorial comment only
fell inches short of telling the truth, that they are Green Bombers!

            Everyone knows it. How many times have the civil society and
members of the opposition been at the mercy of these youths?

            Here is a case of reaping the sour fruits of violence. Martin
Luther King Jr. said it: violence begets violence, period! Our youths have
been trained, at the Border Gezi camps, to be violent and they are simply
doing what they know best. Unfortunately, Zimbabweans are just too tolerant,
so the youths cannot exercise what they were prepared to do  - inflicting
pain. There are no elections, so there is no one to terrorise. They end up
pounding innocent people because naturally they need to practise what they
know best.

            Whenever we are walking on the streets of Harare they are like
hyenas salivating at a herd of sickly buffaloes in a land ravaged by
persistent droughts. We are in serious trouble.

            This led me to conclude that the person who wrote it was either
not serious at all or is part of the system, or both. Whether in public or
not, human rights violations should be condemned in the extreme sense of the
word. The hottest part of hell should be reserved for those who condone
violence against innocent and defenceless civilians.

            The other incident on soldiers beating up revellers in Gweru is
rather shameful, but there could be more to it than has been reported. It
was reported that the reason given was that the patrons were liars. How
could people afford to drink beer if the people are facing real economic
hardships, the soldiers reasoned.

            Two arguments can be developed here. On one hand, it can be
argued that these were over-zealous members of the army who got angry on
behalf of President Robert Mugabe and the government. As their reasoning
shows, anyone who says the situation has deteriorated and yet can afford to
drink into the night is a liar who should be dealt with. But then beating
patrons is in itself unlawful.

            This leads to the second argument. The officers may actually
have been saying instead of organising yourselves into meaningful resistance
to our suffering you spend time drinking, how then will change come?

            Or worse still, the officers became too jealousy that their
salaries are paltry, and if they can no longer afford the luxury of beer,
then no one else should.

            These officers are lucky in that Zimbabweans have not yet
galvanised their courage and shed off the cloud of extreme fear engulfing
them. These are extreme provocations that should be avoided. If the more
than 500 000 residents of Gweru get organised and stand up against police
brutality, will our police officers in Gweru withstand the heat? Do not take
people for granted. Even Ian Smith thought his jacket would continue to rule
this country!

            Then we have the case of teachers at Rambanepasi Secondary
School in Hwedza. As a retired teacher myself, I just could not imagine
professionals removing their ties and jackets so that their "children" would
rue why they were born. One would think these gentlemen were possessed by a
blood thirsty demon, to even fracture a pupil's arm.

            But there is more to it that meets the eye. Violence is a
symptom of underlying unresolved conflicts. Two days before Independence
Day, I submitted in this paper that we are a stressed people. In fact, we
are angry because of extreme poverty.

             In conclusion, it is very unfortunate to notice this sharp
increase in cases of violence against innocent civilians. But more
unfortunate is for the Harare Municipal police to think they can beat up the
three million residents of Harare. One day the people will say NO!


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The role of the opposition

Zim Standard

            sundayopinion by Msekiwa Makwanya

            WHEN things go wrong in a country it is necessary and natural
that there should be opposition to what is going wrong otherwise citizens
will be guilty of complicity in their difficulties.

            The remit of the opposition is therefore to offer alternative
views or generate fresh ideas. As citizens look up to the government to
deliver they also look up to the opposition to check how government is
performing.

            Unfortunately the media has not focussed much on the actual
message by the opposition apart from that President Robert Mugabe must go,
their in-fighting and splits. If the media does not adequately cover the
message of the opposition they are failing our country.

            Propaganda has its limit and it is not helpful in
nation-building. The difficulty that we have in Zimbabwe today is the binary
view that, either you are with us or against us, even if the issues that are
being raised are clear. The city of Harare has endured Sekesai Makwavarara's
inefficiency but she has been allowed to go on.

            What people find thoroughly annoying about the government are
not genuine mistakes which we all make as human beings but rather, failure
to deal decisively with incompetence and corruption.

            Maybe we can say as well, either you are for inefficiency and
corruption or against it. There is an assumption that inefficiency and
corruption are only in government. No! I have experienced disgusting
inefficiency of a lawyer who took my money and failed to provide the
service, only to refund me after two years. I have a relative who
experienced obvious misdiagnosis by a private doctor after paying a fortune
for consultation, only to get a correct diagnosis at a government hospital
for a lesser fee. We have some people who have been allocated cheaper diesel
and other farming inputs only to sell these subsidised inputs on the black
market.

            Inefficiency in government departments cannot be excused; it
clearly requires managerial leadership and strategic direction but there is
need to know what is also happening in the private sector. It is the case
that the government should solve these problems, but this is a matter of
co-operation partnership with all stakeholders. It is the people who lose
out when there is no co-operation and partnership. The government has taken
a step in the right direction by allowing the white commercial farmers to
return and help the country in food production.

            Mugabe has also asked Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to return home
and play their part  but the way he said it was not particularly reassuring.
If he is serious the Zimbabwean government should establish a framework for
people to return just as the government has put in place a mechanism for the
farmers to return.

            In fact, other governments and firms are recruiting from
Zimbabwe and they put in place relocation packages, which might include
accommodation, transport and other perks for highly skilled workers. The
return of those in the Diaspora is a global trend, but to recruit for key
sectors, the government has to plan in partnership with the private sector.

            The government can offer land for building houses at
concessionary rates for the highly skilled workers while the private sector
can build the houses on loan. There are other initiatives that are possible
and the government can make sure that people with good public relations man
its embassies in other countries.

            They have to start offering some basic services, like the
efficient renewal of passports without charging unnecessarily exorbitant
fees. There are other services that can help to build trust and the
embassies have to be creative about it. It is all about customer care.
Zimbabwe's image problem requires that Zimbabweans start working on positive
image building.

            However, efficiency is the best public relations for any country
or company. No country or company can do well if it does not provide an
opportunity for feedback from its customers and stakeholders. The sort of
language that we hear from some very senior government officials at times is
not good for the country's image.

            However, efficiency is the best public relations for any country
or company. No country and company can do well if it does not provide an
opportunity for feed back from its customers and stakeholders. The sort of
language that we hear from some very senior government officials at times is
not good for the country's image.


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Uniformed forces and popular protests

Zim Standard

            sunday view by Marko Phiri

            ONE of the worst vices to emerge from local politics as defined
by the ruling party are the overt demands the authorities make on the
uniformed forces.

            While it is true that the army and police cannot pursue
industrial action to push for whatever reforms, the path the ruling party
has steered over the years has taken away any vestiges of the
professionalism the army ever claimed since the coming of independence.

            A few months ago, a colleague in the army reported he and his
uniformed brothers were accused of plotting a mutiny when they showed one of
their immediate superiors their payslips and asked him "off the record" to
budget for them.

            The idea was for the senior officer to see that the wages they
were getting were a mockery considering the country's parlous economy. The
officer did not find the inference amusing. Now the army, as we are told,
should be loyal to whichever sitting government, the threat of being court
martialled was enough to keep the young men in their rightful place: abject
poverty alongside the majority here.

            But in recent days there have been reports of the uniformed
forces being put on high alert as the woes continue stalking millions in the
country. Without appealing to anything that would have spooks knocking at my
door, it has to be asked what would convince a hungry soldier to take up
arms against a hungry and unarmed man.

            It will be agreed that despotism manifests itself through the
illegitimation of popular protests which from the Sandinista regime to other
Latin American "democracies" which brought the world's attention to
liberation theology in the 1970s, the army has been used to browbeat hungry
masses.

            History, however, still records soldiers who refused to take
orders to mow protestors and instead turned their barrels toward State
house. The common thread with all oligarchies is that they derived power
from the uniformed forces, but there came a time when the soldiers came
marching towards the power mongers, and suddenly turned the tide. It marked
the coming of popular democracy.

            What it means therefore is what those countries had all along
was unpopular democracy! These are the countries who claim to have opened
political space but still enacted laws which forbade political rallies and
censored opposing voices from the public media.

            Africa offers many such case histories, but perhaps what makes
Zimbabwe a unique or curious case is that the soldiers in whom the regime
has vested its shelf life on are the kind who manifest their political
loyalties without any sense of shame. They are men who claim to have fought
a common enemy with the oligarchs, therefore that loyalty has to be as long
as they live, never mind their brief in a kosher democracy would be loyalty
to the people.

            The clouding of loyalties to State and political ideology has
meant the top boys are those who will tell with unbridled passion the same
story about the racist white man. But curiously, those charged with being on
the ready to cudgel popular protests are the type who wears boots which are
desperately crying out for recycling. Not only that, they still have to push
and shove for scarce commodities with the same people they are expected to
suppress.

            These are the men who know the sufferings of the people, and who
interestingly became victims of circumstances when they found themselves
homeless after landlords irked by "Operation Restore Order" felt they had to
hit back and duly kicked them out of their lodgings. These are the same men
expected to defend the status quo.

            For those who direct the uniformed forces from their safe havens
know they enjoy the best of everything based on patronage from the regime.
But questions have to be asked about the seriousness of the authorities amid
reports of the uniformed forces being put on high alert.

            Army prison cells would no doubt overflow, as privates are court
martialled for not acting on the orders to quell street protests. But
besides this being a matter of conscientious objection, would a hungry
soldier be eager to beat up an equally hungry neighbour or landlord merely
on the orders of the powers that be? Where would he derive his strength?

            The tragedy of local politics is that outside the legitimation
of occupying the seat of power through a popular vote, loyalty to the regime
has for years now become a matter of rule by fear. Rule and allegiance
becomes a matter of black-white, either-or dichotomies, you are either with
us or against us, in the fashion of George W Bush's war on terror which
these same have however condemned as illegitimate!

            Sadly that allegiance as it extends to the uniformed forces now
already known to be beyond all traces of professionalism as seen by their
undisguised loyalty to their erstwhile comrades-in-arms in the bush, has
meant the privates are expected to be automatons, or worst still victims of
voodoo incantations. They merely do the bidding of the voodoo priest without
any resistance.

            Never mind that this is happening within political space already
claimed to be a democracy. Since independence came to Africa, stories have
been told about poorly paid soldiers going on the rampage looting food,
televisions, fridges and other mod cons, while others have been known to
protest for not being given decent uniforms.

            What then makes this country a special case where starving
uniformed forces would be convinced to club to death sweet toothed nostalgic
grandmothers dreaming of the good old days when they could have tea with
plentiful sugar anytime they felt like it?

            The militarisation of pu-blic bodies itself points to a regime
far removed from the realities people have to live with. If these
nationalists could take Ian Smith head on and today gloat about their
determination to bring black majority rule, what would not endow the
latter-day freedom fighter with like valour?

            The answer considering the circumstances becomes the vesting of
power in institutions meant to protect the very people now being subjugated
by threats of deaths.

            Before the country took the plunge, soldiers were a respected
and feared lot, and these were the days when young men left home to guard
the Beira Corridor. Some never came back, but those who did became local
heroes and nobody dared cross them.

            Today, beating up a soldier at a beer drink is met with "why
not?" And all this because the same regime that seeks their protection has
turned them into paupers!


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Zim Standard Letters



      Catalogue of Harare Commission's failures Harare has failed century
            THE Commission running Harare has failed to address the
continuing decline not only of service delivery but also of urban life in
general. It is the Combined Harare Residents' Association's conviction that
misplaced priorities, lack of strategic direction and piecemeal solutions
are at the core of Harare's decay.

            It remains hazy as to which Strategic Turnaround Plan is being
enforced or whether it's a hybrid of various plans that have been proposed
for the city.

            The by-laws governing the City of Harare are substantially
colonial and archaic. There is a need to repeal irrelevant by-laws, and
up-date others.

            Commissions are stopgap measures and should be reviewed so as to
protect residents from overly ambitious politicians or political appointees.
This is not about replacing one commission with another but having municipal
elections timeously.

            While the decay of Harare is evident for all to see, below are
some of the facts on the ground to buttress this point. This also comes with
an open invitation to the Parliamentary Committee on Local Government to
tour some of the areas of Harare.

            Refuse at public places like schools, business centres, market
places, along roads, at street corners, in the industrial and in the Central
Business District is piling up. More than 150 families live in plastic
shacks along the Mukuvisi River in Glen Norah C where they drinking
contaminated water.

            Ardbennie Road from Mbare Musika is an eyesore. Raw sewage flows
from 7th, 8th and other roads that join it. Children walk and play bare feet
in the sewage.  At Mbare National shopping complex, the public toilet
outside is blocked and raw sewage flows. Inside the complex there are
butcheries that operate adjacent to blocked toilets.

            It has been brought to the attention of CHRA that the situation
in Harare is certainly a time bomb waiting to explode.

            In Rujeko Street, adjacent to Rujeko Poly-Clinic in
Dzivarasekwa, raw sewage flows from the backyard of house Numbers 165-1, 2
and 3 with reckless abandon.  Residents have placed stepping-stones in order
to walk past the flowing streams of sewage.

            Vendors sell their vegetables anywhere, despite the stinking
environment.

            Piles of refuse have continued to grow outside all schools, at
main shopping centres, at the post office, at the community hall, along
major roads and at intersections in residential areas in Kambuzuma.

            Water was cut in Jo'burg Lines. Refuse continues to pile behind
Blocks 3, 4, 7, 14 at Matapi Flats.

            Piles of garbage are heaped opposite Mwamuka Service Station and
raw sewage continues to flow from seventh, sixth, eighth and ninth streets.
Reports to Mbare district office have yielded no results.

            Burst sewer pipe just outside the Evangelical Kutenda Church
have gone for six months without being repaired. Heaps of garbage continue
to pile along Westwood Road, 10th Road, 3rd Street, outside Warren Park
Clinic, outside Magamba Hall, at the shopping centre, just outside Warren
Park Police Station, at the bus termini and at all major business centres.

            Because of the above, Harare is a time bomb for cholera and
dysentery outbreaks.

            There has been no significant or qualitative improvement in the
conditions of the city's roads. The failure of the City to maintain roads
increases not only damage to motor vehicles and risk to life but also opens
the City to lawsuits by aggrieved motorists seeking compensation. Recently,
the life of a child was lost in Waterfalls as the driver swerved off the
road in an attempt to avoid a pothole.

            Many intersections are now black spots due to overgrown and
uncut grass. The risks to motorists and pedestrians are too ghastly to
contemplate.

            The quality of Harare water has been condemned on a number of
occasions though there has been denial from some quarters. Many areas have
gone for weeks without water. Priority must take effect to ensure that
residents have safe water supplies instead of unprotected wells or rivers.
Mabvuku and Tafara are clear cases in point.

            The situation leaves a lot to be desired especially after
"Operation Murambatsvina".

            Not only has it become expensive to access medical care, service
at municipal clinics has gone down and no drugs are obtainable from such
institutions.

            The Association also notes that input from other sectors is
vital and only then can a holistic approach be implemented in addressing the
challenges to local government.

            Substantive or meaningful participation by the residents is
vital and not the mere rubber stamping of legislation to safeguard
short-term political gains. Local government is the cradle for good national
governance and should be accorded its status in the national constitution.

            As for Harare, Commissions are not a panacea to efficient and
effective service delivery but municipal elections and a clear strategic
direction that has buy-in from both state and non-state actors.

             A broader policy and operational framework based on inclusivity
and accountability should be established to ensure that the residents derive
greater benefit from their city and have value for their hard-earned and
fast "losing value" cash.

            It is our belief that such levels of commitment to patriotism
shall be met with equal political will and adequate resources in the hope of
having, not piecemeal solutions, but comprehensive local government reforms
that will go beyond political faces.

            Farai Barnabas Mangodza
            CHRA Chief Executive Officer

      -----------------

      Is Makwavarara and co blind to the collapsing Harare infrastructure?
            WHILE the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority is busy trying to promote
tourism in this country, they could do well to persuade big-spending Sekesai
Makwavarara to do something about the image of the capital city, when she
can find time between thinking up where to spend what on herself.

            The one thing that tourists driving in from the airport
encounter before the junction of Joshua Nkomo Way and St Patrick's Road is
the smell of overflowing sewage from the stream that courses its way through
the Falcon Golf club. As if that is not enough, when they reach the
perimeter fence to 1 Commando barracks in Cranborne they meet the same
stench.

            I seem to have seen Makwavarara at Harare International Airport
on Sunday, so she must have encountered what I am writing about on her way
to and from the airport and therefore can relate to my concerns.

            I am amazed at the number of times city officials pass by such
things or burst water pipes and they do not alert their counterparts in the
Department of Works or Amenities.

            For example a drive along Harare Drive between Sunridge and
Mabelreign, southwards just before the former Mabelreign Drive-in Cinema one
encounters the stench that must be following the stream that flows under
Harare Drive in the area I mentioned. The stench has been there for months.

            I do not believe that even if residents are tired of reporting
and seeing no action being taken, that not a single official from the
Commission running Harare has passed through this route.

            The same applies to Prince Edward Road just before Kensington
Shopping centre. Treated water has been gushing (yes, that is exactly what
is happening) along the road after a burst water pipe but there has been not
action to repair the damaged pipe. It must be hundreds of thousands of
litres that are being lost. Yet many city officials drive along this route
on their way to and from Rowan Martin.

            We obviously have the wrong people in charge of the city. The
opposition does nothing about this and sadly no one will take notice of the
concerns this letter raises even if the officials at both Town House and
Rowan Martin read it.

            If we are serious about empowering women to run Harare then
Margaret Dongo, I am sure, would have done a good job at the helm of the
capital city.

            She can certainly order the men off their butts and get the job
done and she can also stand her ground and what's more uses her medulla
oblongata for the greater good of Harare and its residents.

            Tirivanhu Mhofu
            Emerald Hill
            Harare

-----------
      Employers should get real and appreciate workers' predicament
            AS we near International Workers' Day 1 May, we must pray for
workers whose employers are failing to recognise the realities facing their
employees.

            The majority of the workers are getting wages that are far from
being realistic. Workers' unions should come up with new and better
strategies in order to rescue these workers from abject poverty.

            There are workers who are getting $6,5 million or less making
basic things such as food and services such as health and education
inaccessible to the majority of workers. What workers will afford is to
watch themselves and their dependants dying of hunger, ignorance and
diseases. What else can they afford if their salaries are far below the
Poverty Datum Line?

            Imagine a worker getting $1 532 197 in the form of transport
allowance a month, when the worker uses more than four times that amount on
transport. In fact, this allowance is only enough for one week.

            I doubt if the employers will understand it if the worker only
reports for work for one week in a month. The cost of travelling to and from
work is now much higher and employers need to review their allowances.

            Employees are also getting $1 881 000 in housing allowance a
month when the lowest rent for one room is $1 million. Most of the workers
are family people who need at least three rooms. How can they afford three
rooms on an allowance that is  below $2 million?

            These employers act as if they live on a different planet where
they do not see everyday problems and hardships experienced by most
Zimbabweans.

             While we listen and smile, inside we are hurting from the
poverty we are subjected to. But one day we will explode.

            Sylvanos Mutsindikwa
            Chikonohono
            Chinhoyi

---------
      Mutambara should be wary of Zanu PF's propaganda tactics
            THE problem with MDC at the moment is not that its leaders are
opposed to land redistribution or that the party will surrender the country
back to the former colonial master as soon as it assumes power. These are
fictitious stories peddled by the Zanu PF government to justify its
ill-conceived policies and to de-legitimise the MDC.

            By attacking the US, Britain and the European Union, Professor
Arthur Mutambara must be careful not to play to the gallery.

            Because of the humanitarian crisis that confronts us as a nation
we need friends, not only in Africa but even beyond.

            Zimbabweans do not eat the empty rhetoric of Pan-Africanism and
will not accept proposals to de-link with most of the industrialised world
which currently is doing so much to ameliorate their humanitarian concerns
such as the provision of Anti-Retroviral drugs, food and medicaments.

            In Morgan Tsvangirai, Professor Welshman Ncube or any other MDC
leader, I see a nationalistic and sincere leadership of the opposition that
is only being vilified and denigrated daily by a hostile, partisan and
apartheid media, a media that is hell-bent on portraying the opposition as a
bunch of puppets.

            In fact, it is part of unwritten government policy and the
editorial policy at all public media outlets to attack the leadership of the
MDC and always portray it in negative light. The call for sanctions that
Mutambara and Paul Themba- Nyathi want to disassociate themselves from does
not make the MDC a puppet party.

            The sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe are a legitimate tool in
international law that can at any time be invoked to deal with errant
members of the international community such as the government of President
Robert Mugabe. Sanctions are one of the arsenals at the disposal of the
international community, invoked to force compliance or effect behaviour
change.

            The sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe are smart sanctions which are
meant to hurt a certain group of people -  in this case the ruling elite and
in the case of Zimbabwe the reprisal includes a travel ban on members of the
Zanu PF inner circle and freezing their assets abroad. It is unfortunate
that these sanctions are now affecting the masses that are obviously not the
targets. The fact that the sanctions are affecting the public does not in
any way make Zanu PF reformed or create the need for those sanctions to be
removed.

            It is wrong for members of the pro-Senate faction to continue
appearing in the news and mislead the nation that the call for sanctions was
Tsvangirai's and that the MDC never had it as their policy. The call for
targeted sanctions is a legitimate one because the Zanu PF government has
continuously stolen the ballot and committed serious atrocities such as the
Gukurahundi massacres, perpetrated on a defenceless citizenry whose sin was
to have voted for the late veteran nationalist Joshua Nkomo.

            Mutambara must not work on the assumption that the people of
Zimbabwe regard the MDC as a puppet of the whites and a bunch of
neo-colonials. The fact that something has been continuously said and
repeated by our perverted radio and television does not sanitise it.

            Mutambara must realise that the same media is the one that has
started portraying him as a violent person who led violent demonstrations at
the University of Zimbabwe and that he is "American" because of his US
permanent residence status. The media in Zimbabwe, especially radio plays a
fundamental role in shaping political opinion.

            If Mutambara is lucky to appear in the news in Zimbabwe, he is
going to be portrayed continuously as an American stooge and a violent
former student leader. Should we then believe this because it has been
beamed by ZBH when we know that it is no more than just propaganda?

            Zimbabweans must not expect miracles to happen even with the
entry into politics of one of Zimbabwe's most gifted academics because of
the inherently iniquitous system that is protected by an "unconstitutional"
document - the Zimbabwe constitution.

            There is need to mount pressure on the government to agree to
constitutional reform so that any future contestation for political office,
including the one that both Tsvangirai and Mutambara are eyeing is carried
out in a manner that gives fairness to all players. Without a new
constitution and a complete overhaul of the media laws that give an unfair
advantage to Zanu PF over other political contestants, the opposition will
not make any meaningful impact in Zimbabwe at the moment.

            Phillip Pasirayi
            Lancaster
            United Kingdom

---------
      NEDPP shames govt's critics
            I would like to register my appreciation of government's efforts
in trying to turn around the country's economy.

            The recent launch of the National Economic Development Priority
Programme (NEDPP) has shamed those who have been saying that the government
has run out of ideas to turn around the economy.

            The fact that captains of industry were consulted in drafting
the programme and were also present at its launch is a clear demonstration
that all the stakeholders realise that now is the time to act to save the
economy.

            The realisation that the solution to the country's economic
decline can only come from Zimbabweans is an important development because
all along some within us have been folding their arms thinking somebody from
Mars was going to come down and solve the problems for us.

            If implemented NEDPP could be the missing link in efforts to
jump-start our economy. Zimbabweans are sick and tired of witnessing
brilliant ideas contained in various programmes going to waste because of
poor or non- implementation. Every Zimbabwean should therefore play his/her
part in ensuring that NEDPP is a success.

            Those within the MDC should come out in full support of NEDPP if
they have the nation's interests at heart.

            However, I doubt whether they will ever do that because for
them, the continued economic decline works to their advantage.

            That is why, at a time others are busy brainstorming on how best
to turn around the economy Morgan Tsvangirai and his colleagues are busy
trying to mobilise the people to engage in the so-called "peaceful
democratic resistance" to achieve what?

            Albert Muchena
            Highfield
            Harare

-------
Shumba's double speak

I write to comment on your story about Daniel Shumba and his United People's
Party, which was published last Sunday, 23 April.

The man is full of doublespeak. He talks of eradication of poverty but just
come to his company, TeleAccess, and see how he has impoverished his
workers.

Workers have not been paid salaries for more than three months and in any
case the salaries have fallen way below the Poverty Datum Line. Shumba is
just full of hot air and nothing else.

If a fellow can fail to make just a single phone ring how can he be
entrusted to run a whole country? We, his impoverished workers, know that
the only way he is getting this positive publicity is because he must have
some reporters at his beck and call.

Disgruntled TeleAccess worker
Harare

-----------------

Chamisa disappoints

I find organising demonstrations at the expense of development a shameful
thing for Nelson Chamisa, the MP for Kuwadzana.

We had high hopes that he would make a difference by bringing to the
constituency development by which we could judge his contributions to
improving the lives of people in Kuwadzana.

Chamisa promised to complete the library that Zanu PF could not complete and
continues to lie idle, with some section of the building almost collapsing.
While Chamisa has a house in Kuwadzana he stays in Avondale and seems to be
doing well for himself since becoming spokesperson for our party - the
anti-Senate MDC.

The failure to live up to election promises makes Chamisa a liability in
Kuwadzana.

Simon Makumbe
Kuwadzana
Harare

------------------

Zanu PF medicine

IT is most interesting that for Sekesai Makwavarara,  the honey moon is over
and  she is now getting a taste of Zanu PF medicine.

As a sympathetic long-suffering resident, I just hope she had not cut ties
with her kith and kin in Mabvuku -what goes up comes down, my dear lady!

Suffering resident
Harare

--------
      Apartheid rears its ugly head in education system
            THE recent increases in university fees have led to many
students from poor families dropping off. This leaves only those students
who come from rich families with an unfair advantage over those of us from
poor families even though we have brilliant passes at "A" level.

            Imagine someone who comes from Hurungwe after successfully
completing his/her "A" levels being forced to join a low-paying job despite
all their intelligence only because his/her parents have a combined salary
of $13 million and can't afford the $35 million fee for each semester while
someone from a rich background with his/her two points proceeds to
university simply because he has the money to afford the fees.

            Consider this future scenario where policy makers are rich but
have limited intelligence, while the poor but of high intelligence work
under them. Can that be fair? Are we not reversing the gains of independence
where education was supposed to be for everyone and affordable? Is this not
another form of educational apartheid?

            Where are the education ministers who are supposed to address
the issue of fees? The poor will get poorer while the rich get richer. What
effectively this means is that university education is no longer for
children from poor backgrounds - exactly something that the colonial
administration sought to maintain.

             Now it is being perpetuated by our own liberators.

            Arthur Zwane
            Gunhill
            Chinhoyi

---------
      No bad blood between Tsvangirai, Mutambara
            THE MDC shall continue to hold rallies in Harare with or without
Morgan Tsvangirai's permission.

            Utterances by such people as Morgan Femai, Paul Madzore and
Paurina Mpariwa that the MDC will not be allowed to hold rallies in Harare
are just hogwash from people whose political survival depends on
bootlicking.

            The MDC is a people-driven  party whose programmes  are
determined by the people not individuals, There is no bad blood between
Professor Arthur Mutambara and Tsvangirai as some of the misguided elements
may want the general public to believe.
            We differed with Tsvangirai on the way the struggle should be
fought but we still have one common enemy. The goals set out at a national
working people's convention are now achievable since we now have two groups
fighting one enemy from two different fronts. The fight for democratic
change is still on.

            Kurauone Chihwayi
            Harare

---------
      Rains offer temporary relief to Bulawayo
            THE Bulawayo City Council needs to be commended for having
convened a non-denominational time for thanksgiving for the recent rains
which gave us a reprieve from looming tragedy.

            At the gathering, held on Saturday early this month at the Large
City Hall, Pastor D Masuku led us in prayer on the "city's water situation",
a segment of the programme.

            Keeping strictly to the letter, text and spirit of his mandate
he had to exclude some information, which I respectfully feel ought to be
divulged. It is listed below as follows:

            It was indeed by the grace of God that the tropical cum
Equatorial rainfall belt moved southwards and unusually settled over
Zimbabwe for almost four months.

            This Equatorial rainfall pattern continues and perennially
concentrates in the Equatorial belt throughout any given year.

            It is precisely because of this nature of rainfall perpetuity
that we in Matabeleland and Bulawayo in particular are compulsively want to
capitalise on the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone catchment flow which
inevitably finds its way into the Zambezi River.

            It, therefore further follows that water in the Zambezi River
becomes the ceaseless source upon which we can consequently place a
guaranteed water lifeline.

            Our need for recourse to this Zambezi source is accentuated by
the unabated influx of people from the eastern provinces of Zimbabwe. This
incessant influx is the one major factor which has been the direct cause of
a dramatic population increase in Matabeleland. Consequently this further
strains the already scarce water resources here.

            Arnold C Payne
            Bulawayo

-------
      Age catches up with Mugabe
            I DON'T know whether other readers have noticed what I have seen
and heard at President Robert Mugabe's rallies of late.

            Not only is Mugabe a dictator or despot, he is also a
commendable comedian, who chooses the most unusual places to tease his
political opponents - the MDC party and its leadership.

            At the recent burial of Winston Changara, he could not resist
the temptation to have a go at the opposition again. Denouncing the MDC's
slogan, "Chinja Maitiro", Mugabe said: "Unonzwa vanhu kuti chinja, chinja.
Ndopauchachinja kuita chura here?"

            It has become typical of him to lambast the MDC at the burial of
national heroes. Shouldn't his address be an appraisal of the dead hero,
his/her war credentials and the good things he accomplished which made
her/him eligible for such status?

            His speeches of denunciation should rightly belong at political
rallies. I recall listening to one of Mugabe's speeches last year as he
referred to Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC saying: "Mukomana atakakura naye
tichidya matumbu akamonwa." I am not sure what the relevance of this was.

            It would be unfair for me to end this letter without saying
something that Mugabe is good at.

            I believe in making every experience educational, although
Mugabe does not know where and when to make his jokes, he proved that he is
a man who stands by his word.

            He does not like change, something that is different from what
is happening in the MDC. Mugabe does all sorts of things to keep himself
looking like a youngster, doing away with the physical change in him, but he
should consult Michael Jackson, who I am certain will share with him a
testimony that will make Mugabe realise that God was not insane when he
created man the way he is.

            G C Machete
            Glen View
            Harare


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'Independence Day' in Zimbabwe

Washington Times

April 30, 2006

When the Fourth of July rolls around and you gather with family and friends
to celebrate Independence Day, take a moment to think of those of us from
Zimbabwe. Our Independence Day, which took place recently (April 18), was no
cause for celebration.
    Like you, we have heroes. Thousands fought and died for our freedom.
Like you, we threw off colonial rule -- first by the Portuguese, then the
Ndebele and, finally, the British. Even then, our country was not ruled by
native sons but by white settlers. It was not until a protracted resistance
ended in 1980 that, finally, we achieved independence.
    Alas, it proved a mixed blessing. We wanted social justice and
democracy. Instead, we've suffered thousands of deaths, often by horrific
and brutal methods. Today, we wonder if the sacrifice was worth it.
    We won our freedom from Britain in 1965, thanks to the Unilateral
Declaration of Independence. A brutal guerrilla war lasted until 1980, when
a negotiated settlement brought us a constitution, a parliament and a ruler,
Robert Mugabe, who quickly won international praise for his efforts at
reconciliation.
    It was not until 1998, when Morgan Tsvangirai launched the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), that the country took a turn for the worse. Mr.
Mugabe, threatened by the popularity of the new movement, surprised even his
supporters with his crude response.
    First, he took over the army and police force and converted them to arms
of his ruling ZANU-PF party. Then, he began to use the country's treasury
for his own gain and to reward relatives and friends with positions of
power. Before long, he was publicly threatening anyone who dared organize
against his rule. Today, Zimbabweans live in fear of his security forces. He
accuses the opposition of working with the U.S. and Britain to destabilize
the country and overthrow him.
    Thousands languish in prison, accused of plotting to kill Mr. Mugabe.
Others are simply murdered or flee as refugees. Migration and high death
rates disrupt communities at unprecedented rates. This disintegration causes
the disappearance of the very family values and identity Zimbabweans fought
for.
    Mr. Mugabe also has sacrificed the economy to maintain power. Inflation
now tops 900 percent and continues to climb. Once known as the breadbasket
of Africa, Zimbabwe now faces mounting deaths from starvation. Rather than
admit the problem and attempt to solve it, government ministers claim nobody
has died of starvation in Zimbabwe and that what problems do exist stem from
shortages of drugs, sabotage from opposition parties, the United States and
Britain and drought.
    Meanwhile, Mugabe cronies plunder not only drugs but any commodities
they can turn into quick cash. They control the sale of staple food,
fertilizer and agricultural seeds. They buy whole loads from the
manufacturers ahead of retailers and sell these goods on black markets. What
is distressing, however, is the example they set for ordinary people to join
the plunder, thereby creating a nation of plunderers with no consideration
of social justice.
    Says the "Index of Economic Freedom," the nation-by-nation guidebook to
economic policy published annually by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall
Street Journal: "Heavy regulation, price controls, expropriation of land and
businesses, government spending equal to a quarter of GDP, inflationary
monetary policy and government-sanctioned violence have discouraged foreign
investment and hindered economic production. Unemployment is estimated to be
80 percent, and most economic activity has been forced into the informal
sector."
    At the outset of independence, Zimbabwe had some of the best hospitals
in southern Africa. The government spoke of providing health services to all
citizens by 2000. Six years beyond that goal, corpses overwhelm mortuaries,
coffin production ranks among the fastest-growing businesses, and Mr.
Mugabe's lieutenants divert vital donated HIV-AIDS drugs for personal use
and benefit.
    Mr. Mugabe has shown his true colors. His deputies' continued plunder
with impunity and the West's increased demand for accountability has forced
him to scramble for new friends. His choices are Libya, Iran, Venezuela,
Cuba and China -- all diehard dictatorial regimes.
    China offered investments in mines, military, manufacturing industries
and service industries. The Zimbabwe-China relationship rescued the country
from imminent collapse. In his desperation, Mr. Mugabe seems to have avoided
asking what China wants in return.
    As we mark another independence day, we would love to have a country
that respects its own citizens and the rule of law. We would settle for a
country where people live without fear of murder, forcible expulsion, rape
or torture. Sad to say, even that seems beyond hope.

    DENFORD MADENYIKA
    A recent graduate of North Carolina State and an intern at the Heritage
Foundation's Center for International Trade and Economics (heritage.org).


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Inflation to top 1000%, says financial group



      April 30, 2006

      By Andnetwork .com

      By month-end, Zimbabwe's year-to-year inflation rate will have topped
1000 percent, according to calculations by the regionally represented Imara
financial services group.

      Fungai Tarirah, chief investment officer of Harare-based Imara Asset
Management Zimbabwe, says inflation benchmarking by some of the country's
larger companies actually puts the rate as high as 1600 percent.

      He adds: "A month-on-month increase of only 16.6 percent will get us
to 1000 percent inflation, though if we maintain the month-on-month average
of 22 percent seen so far in 2006, the year-on-year reading will reach
1051.0 percent.

      "In-house inflation computations from some companies canvassed by our
research unit range from 1100 percent to 1600 percent, depending on the
import content of the goods and services under review."

      The effectiveness of management's response to the hyper-inflation
challenge has become the critical factor when measuring corporate value and
performance.

      Tarirah notes: "The maxim 'cash is king' tells only part of the story.
Cash generated by business must hastily find its way into raw materials,
fuel, spares, capital expenditure or some other tangible asset before it
loses value.

      "The value of a Zimbabwean dollar is halving every 29 days, if
official inflation is to be believed. Only debtor balances that attract at
least 23 percent a month in interest are of any use. Even then, the rate
that has to be frequently adjusted to try to keep pace with inflation."

      As inflation accelerates, other activities slow down. Tarirah
explains: "Cash and near-cash assets deliver sub-inflationary returns in the
medium to long term, forcing business to seek alternatives.

      "Increasingly, companies are reluctant to sell their product, opting
to hold on to stock or hoard finished goods, selling only what they need to
meet monthly obligations.

      "As all participants along the value chain strive literally to pass
the buck, management's ability to avoid ungainly cash positions remains a
key factor when selecting stocks."

      As hyper-inflation continues to erode the value of the local currency,
safety is sought in real assets by businesses and investors alike.

      Exports provide no escape. Tarirah comments: "Numerous exporters have
been increasing local market volumes at the expense of exports, largely
because of the foreign currency remittance regime."

      The exchange rate has stagnated at Z$100 000 to the US dollar for some
time, yet the cost of US dollars rose 108 percent on the parallel market in
the first quarter of the year alone. At the same time, the effective rate on
export proceeds rose only 17 percent, squeezing export profitability.

      Tarirah says: "Inputs that go into export manufacturing are
denominated in Zimbabwe dollars and have to be paid for, something the
foreign currency merry-go-round cannot manage.

      "It thus makes more sense to sell on the local market where pricing is
not constrained and companies can factor in the cost of inputs. This
undoubtedly aggravates the country's deteriorating foreign currency
situation."

      Source : I-Net Bridge


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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary - 29th April 2006



Lots of past supporters returned to the Vigil.  They were senior members of
the MDC in the UK who had broken away from the party in support of the
pro-Senate faction in Zimbabwe.  They took the opportunity of the Vigil
publicly to distance themselves from the splinter group and express full
support for the Vigil's mission to campaign for free and fair elections.
Silence Chihuri, former MDC UK Treasurer, spoke on behalf of the group,
which included Givemore Chindawi, former MDC UK Deputy Organising Secretary.
Silence said it had become clear that the splinter group was a doomed
project and would only serve to strengthen Zanu-PF.

We are now sure that winter is over: we saw our first bagpiper of the year.
Not only saw him but captured him and his playing prompted Vigil dancers to
do a Zimbabwean version of the Scottish reel.  McGabe, as he was dubbed, was
so enthusiastic that he took a kilt out of his bag and put it on.  Our
ladies were surprised to find that what is said about men wearing kilts is
true. The dancing was so exuberant that it drew lots of people passing by
from a rally in nearby Trafalgar Square, "Rock against Racism".  Thanks to
Patric Gore who generously bought soft drinks for the thirsty Vigil dancers
and we were also delighted to have a large group from Leicester again after
their unfortunate breakdown on the motorway last time they tried to come.

We are pleased to let you know that this week's Vigil photos have been
downloaded onto a web page, check:
http://uk.msnusers.com/ZimbabweVigil/shoebox.msnw  to view them.  For
security reasons we haven't posted pictures to the web in the past but we
have consulted widely and people are in favour of it.  If anyone pictured is
unhappy, please contact us: zimbabwevigil@yahoo.co.uk and we will remove the
relevant photo immediately.

FOR THE RECORD: 75 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY: Zimbabwe Forum, Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog pub, 28
John Adam Street, London WC2 (cross the Strand from the Zimbabwe Embassy, go
down a passageway to John Adam Street, turn right and you will see the pub).
Monday, 1st May - no forum.  Monday, 8th May, 7.30 pm - The speaker is Tor
Hugne-Olsen of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum.

Vigil co-ordinators

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk

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