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Zim Independent

Mnangagwa, Bredenkamp fall out
Dumisani Muleya/Augustine Mukaro
ZANU PF secretary for administration Emmerson Mnangagwa, accused of buying
votes in his failed bid for the vice-presidency and receiving help from
tycoon John Bredenkamp, actually clashed with the businessman over mineral
deals in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), it has emerged.

This comes amid accusations that Mnangagwa's failed campaign was bankrolled
by the controversial wheeler-dealer. Mnangagwa recently launched a
determined assault on the post, which however went to Joyce Mujuru.

If Mnangagwa had prevailed in the bid to secure the position left vacant by
the late veteran nationalist Simon Muzenda, he would almost certainly have
used it as a springboard in the race to succeed President Robert Mugabe.

However, Mujuru trounced Mnangagwa, hitherto Mugabe's perceived heir
apparent, in the bitterly contested election. Mugabe hinted during the Zanu
PF congress on Saturday that Mujuru could be his successor.

Official sources said Mnangagwa fell out with Bredenkamp three years ago
over cobalt and copper mining concessions in the DRC.

Mnangagwa, as State Security minister in the early 1980s, and Mugabe's first
press secretary Costa Pafitis, now corporate and public affairs director of
Bredenkamp's investment vehicle Breco, negotiated Bredenkamp's return to
Zimbabwe in 1982 after he was declared persona non grata at Independence in
1980 for helping to prop up the Ian Smith regime by sanctions-busting.
Mnangagwa and Bredenkamp became friends as a result until the acrimonious
DRC fallout.

Bredenkamp said in an interview last week he did not give Mnangagwa any
money.

Mnangagwa has also said Bredenkamp did not fund him. He said he only got
gifts at his daughter's wedding held at the tycoon's Borrowdale Brooke Golf
Course on October 2.

Bredenkamp said reports claiming he provided an aircraft for officials
associated with Mnangagwa's camp in Zanu PF to travel to the controversial
Tsholotsho meeting on November 18 were a "complete and utter fabrication".

Mugabe said the meeting, disguised as a prize-giving ceremony, was aimed at
plotting "secrets deals" and "clandestine activities" to frustrate Mujuru's
nomination.

Information minister Jonathan Moyo chartered the aircraft - a twin-engine
propeller-driven Beechcraft Baron - from Central Air Transport Services
(Cats), which has no links with Bredenkamp, for the private Tsholotsho trip,
which cost $9,7 million in taxpayers' money. Carl van der Riet, Cats
managing director, last week confirmed the charter but would not give
details.

Sources said Mnangagwa fell out with Bredenkamp after the Zanu PF politician
assisted another local controversial businessman, Billy Rautenbach, retain
cobalt and copper mining concessions in the DRC in 2001.

Rautenbach, founder of transport giant Wheels of Africa (cargo carriers), is
now said to be Mnangagwa's close associate. Sources said the money, which
according to Zanu PF chairman John Nkomo "exchanged hands" in Tsholotsho,
came from "DRC quarters".

Ridgepoint, had entered a deal with the DRC government to run state-owned
Gecamines' mines in October 1998.

After a strike at the mines in April 1999, the late DRC president Laurent
Kabila kicked out Rautenbach - whose property worth R60 million was seized
in South Africa in 2000 over allegations of fraud, money-laundering and tax
evasion - and got in Bredenkamp's mining firm Tremalt Ltd, 100%-owned by the
Breco Group of companies. Bredenkamp invested US$20 million to revive the
collapsing mines.

Breco has interests in mining, agriculture, leisure, petroleum products
distribution, and real estate. Tremalt formed a joint venture firm with
Gecamines called Kababankola Mining Company.

However, after Kabila's assassination in January 2001, Bredenkamp was also
booted out and Rautenbach brought back. Mnangagwa was said to have played a
key role in this. Sources say Bredenkamp viewed Mnangagwa's actions as
"backstabbing" and broke ties with him.
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Zim Independent

Political turmoil threatens beef herd
Gift Phiri
ZIMBABWE'S commercial beef herd, which until three-and-a-half years ago
earned more than R14 billion annually from exports, is on the verge of
extinction as a result of the country's political turmoil.

The national herd, bred over a period of 110 years for survival in Zimbabwe's
harsh conditions, stood at 1,4 million animals in 2000 when President Robert
Mugabe launched his fast track land reform programme.

"By the middle of this year only 210 000 beef cattle survived," Paul d'Hotman,
Cattle Producers' Association chief executive, said. "At the last count
there were fewer than 125 000 animals, but the number will be lower by now.
The entire national herd is on the road to extinction and the whole gene
pool is being wiped out."

The looming disappearance of one of Zimbabwe's most valuable assets is the
most dramatic illustration yet of the meltdown that is occurring in a
country with one of the world's highest inflation rate and the
fastest-declining economy.

Dirk Odendaal was one of Zimbabwe's top beef farmers until two years ago
when he was given 48 hours to quit his 2 015 hectare farm and homestead with
his herd of 1 200 pedigree cross Brahman-Charolet cattle that he had bred
over 22 years.

"It was impossible to get such a large number of animals off the farm in
that time," he said. "It was heartbreaking."

Odendaal, whose farm, Condor "A", lies 250km south of Harare in Masvingo
province, said that in the first few hours many of his cattle were stolen as
settlers opened gates and broke down fences.

"There was a complete breakdown of law and order and no police backup," he
said. "Thieves were coming from all over." Odendaal, who bought his farm in
1981, said about 300 of his cattle were stolen.
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Zim Independent

Harare-Beijing flights in trouble
Itai Dzamara
CHINA has made available to Air Zimbabwe two short-range aircraft each with
a carrying capacity of 60 passengers despite earlier promises that the
much-trumpeted deal would see the airline getting a long haul plane.

Air Zimbabwe is unable to secure funds for the purchase of the two
Chinese-made MA60 planes and hopes that the recently launched flight between
Harare and Beijing would raise revenues have suffered a major blow.

The Zimbabwe Independent has established that the flight between Harare and
Beijing was already facing serious viability problems due to low passenger
bookings. The long haul Boeing 767 plying the route is averaging less than
50 passengers after the inaugural flight two weeks ago.

A physical count of the passengers that were on the plane when it returned
to Harare International Airport on Wednesday morning showed about 35
passengers had travelled from Beijing.

The same trend characterises flights from Harare to Beijing. Most of the
passengers have been Chinese tourists travelling in groups of an average 15
people.

Air Zimbabwe acting managing director Oscar Madombwe confirmed the
availability of the two short-range planes in China. "The two MA60 planes
are ready and we are still trying to secure money to pay for them. We will
get another plane of the same model if we pay for the two," he said.

"Government will be assisting with funds to purchase the planes and we hope
to raise part of the money from the Beijing flight."

The two M60s were shown to government and Air Zimbabwe representatives three
weeks ago during the launch of the Beijing flight.

Air Zimbabwe, which had 15 planes at Independence, now has three that are
operational with two Boeing 767s plying the Beijing and London routes.

Transport and Communications minister Chris Mushowe said during a visit by a
Chinese delegation that Air Zimbabwe would be getting another long haul
plane from the Asian country.

China has meanwhile placed orders for the latest Airbus planes from the
European Airbus consortium for overseas routes.
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Zim Independent

'Zanu PF abusing civil servants'
Augustine Mukaro
THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has condemned the use of civil
servants for party business at the just-ended Zanu PF congress.

In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday MDC spokesman Paul
Themba Nyathi said the engagement of civil servants and diplomats in party
business has exposed Zanu PF as a primitive party that cannot separate
between partisan and national issues.

"The majority of civil servants do not support Zanu PF," Nyathi said. "For
Zanu PF to force-march the civil servants to its congress is appalling.
There is need for Zanu PF to realise that the civil service is a national
institution which has to be distinguished from the party."

Nyathi said the distinction would only be realised if a party that is
conscious of the separation of roles is elected into power.

Business in several ministries, parastatals and local authorities last week
ground to a standstill as key people were said to be attending the congress.

At the congress, high-ranking officials from almost all ministries could be
seen sporting Zanu PF regalia.

"Diplomats do not represent Zanu PF and to drag them to a party congress is
a serious abuse," Nyathi said.

A total of 32 Zimbabwean ambassadors stationed throughout the world attended
last week's congress. During their stay the diplomats were booked into the
Sheraton Hotel.
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Zim Independent

Moyo losing Tsholotsho
Dumisani Muleya/Loughty Dube
BELEAGUERED Information minister Jonathan Moyo is facing yet another blow to
his faltering career at a time when he is battling for his political life.

Having failed to secure election to the central committee of the ruling Zanu
PF last week, Moyo is now likely to be barred under new rules from
contesting the forthcoming primary elections to select candidates to
represent the ruling party in the March general election.

Zanu PF has dispatched to provinces new regulations, first mooted in
October, which prohibit members with less than five years' participation in
party structures from standing during primaries.

Moyo was on Saturday booted off the central committee for convening the
controversial Tsholotsho meeting on November 18, which President Robert
Mugabe described as "illegal", to discuss leadership changes.

Although Moyo had reportedly beaten Bulawayo governor Cain Mathema in the
nominations count, Mugabe and the Zanu PF presidium vetted out his name.
Mathema was brought in and he is likely to be the Zanu PF candidate for
Tsholotsho. Mathema said yesterday he had "no comment" on the matter.

Official sources say Moyo will almost certainly be left out of the politburo
when new appointments are made anytime now. He could also be dropped from
cabinet.

Moyo's catalogue of problems, apart from what Mugabe called "clandestine
activities", now include clashes with senior party officials, abusing
taxpayers' funds to organise music galas and promote the PaxAfro band,
chartering a plane for a private trip using public money, and allegedly
grabbing Net*One lines to distribute in his rural home.

He is also under pressure to account for an avalanche of "donations", mostly
in rural Tsholotsho. His attacks on Matabeleland North governor Obert Mpofu
and remarks that accusations about the Tsholotsho meeting were "ugly lies"
and "pure fiction" have landed him in further trouble.

Zanu PF's deputy national commissar Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said yesterday his
party had sent out the new benchmarks for the primaries.

"We adopted recommendations of the central committee and the guidelines we
have sent to the provinces. They stipulate that party members contesting
primary elections should have been in the structures for five years or
more," Ndlovu said. "That politburo decision was accepted by everyone."

Zanu PF chairman John Nkomo, who is part of the presidium, yesterday said:
"The regulations are part and parcel of our vetting processes and they apply
as and when the situation arises".

Moyo, who has declared his interest in standing in Tsholotsho, only joined
Zanu PF in 2000 after the rejection of a government-sponsored draft
constitution. Before that he was a fierce critic of Mugabe and his
government.

In 1999 Moyo accused Mugabe of having a tendency of "shooting himself in the
foot" and as a result had actually become a "national problem". Moyo
attended the 1999 Zanu PF congress as an "observer" and slammed the ruling
party afterwards for discussing irrelevant issues.

But a few months later he became Zanu PF "campaign manager" ahead of the
2000 parliamentary election after a stint as spokesman for the
Constitutional Commission.
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Zim Independent

Billion-dollar scam at Zisco
Vincent Kahiya
ZIMBABWE'S ailing iron and steel manufacturer, Ziscosteel, could have been
fleeced of billion of dollars through underhand deals by senior managers who
allegedly underpriced exports in exchange for kickbacks.

Ziscosteel has over the years failed to operate at full capacity due to
breakdowns at its blast furnaces and undercapitalisation. The sorry state of
the parastatal has however been exacerbated by corrupt tendencies in the
export of steel which has been sold at below the market price to South
African companies.

There are also allegations that molten steel is being deliberately spilled
so that it can be sold as scrap metal. The "spillage", known as "pool iron",
is exported to South Africa for prices well below the cost of production.

Ziscosteel deputy chairman Jonathan Kadzura on Wednesday confirmed that
investigations into unethical activities at Ziscosteel were being carried
out but could not give further details.

"We appreciate your concerns but internal investigations have already
started," said Kadzura. "We have NECI who started work this week and until
they have finished their investigations it will be sub judice to comment
further."

The probe, sources said, might also include the role of senior managers of
the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe, entrusted with marketing
minerals and mineral products.

The Zimbabwe Independent can reveal that until last month, Ziscosteel was
manufacturing steel lengths for export to Macsteel of South Africa. The
20-foot lengths of nine-inch steel were being exported for US$180 ($1 116
000 at the auction rate) a tonne instead of the market price of $400 ($2 480
000) a tonne. Steel prices have been firming in the last three months.

Sources said the steel was being sold at way below production cost. The
Independent this week heard that senior managers in the marketing department
were turning away prospective steel merchants who wanted supply contracts
with Ziscosteel. There are also allegations that the managers have been
showered with gifts from "South African friends" benefiting from the
under-invoiced steel.

Ziscosteel's acting general manager Alois Gowo last month ordered a revision
of the price of steel to US$400.

Chris Lacy, a trader at Macsteel International yesterday said the price
increase was "crazy".

"We have been buying steel from Zisco for five years," said Lacy. "Noone
would sell it at that price. The latest increase is exorbitant. It's not in
line with international market price levels. Even if it covers C and F (cost
and freight), it's still too high."

Sources said the other leakage was in the disposal of pool iron.

Ziscosteel has a contract with another South African company, Reclamation
Ltd, whose job is to recover metal spills and export it to South African
foundries. A tonne of pool iron was being sold at R250 ($237 500) - which is
less than the cost of iron ore, limestone and coke used to produce it.

Reclamation was then selling the "scrap" iron to South Africa's steel giant
Iscor, Vereeniging, at R1 000 ($950 000) a tonne.

Reclamation chairman Dave Kassel yesterday confirmed through his personal
assistant that they had been buying iron from Zisco.

"He (Kassel) confirms that Reclamation has been buying steel from Zisco from
time to time," the personal assistant said. The company said it has been
dealing with Zisco for the past 14 years and has been buying steel at market
prices.

But insiders this week said thousands of tonnes of scrap metal had been
exported to South Africa and the spillage figures were shocking.

"Accidental spills occur from time to time and the worse run a steel plant
is, the more spills there might be," sources at Zisco said.

"Nevertheless, no matter how badly run the plant is, when hundreds of

truckloads of pool iron have crossed Beitbridge the supply dries up and what
do they do? Pour perfectly good metal on the ground on purpose," the source
said.

Attempts by government to turn around the fortunes at Zisco have in the last
five years failed due to a number of problems, which include poor
capitalisation, shortage of raw materials, and poor management practices.
Former managing director Gabriel Masango is currently on forced leave.
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Zim Independent

Made's bungling riles Mugabe
Itai Dzamara
AGRICULTURE minister Joseph Made's handling of the food stocks issue has
reportedly angered President Robert Mugabe and the minister faces the axe in
an expected cabinet reshuffle.

Government sources said Mugabe expressed dissatisfaction at assurances given
by Made that there would be enough maize from this year's harvest during
Tuesday's cabinet meeting.

Mugabe has been insisting since early this year that the country would not
need humanitarian assistance because it had reaped a bumper harvest.

Government projections, which originated from Made's office, said the
country would have 2,4 million tonnes of maize from this year's harvest.

The country requires 1,8 million tonnes of maize for annual consumption and
another 500 000 tonnes for strategic reserves.

"Mugabe was clearly unhappy and said the issue of food stocks was causing a
lot of humiliation on his part," a government source said. "Made was asked
to explain the situation and reports that there were maize imports coming in
from South Africa."

Made on Wednesday admitted there were maize deliveries coming from South
Africa.

"There are deliveries coming. But like we have been saying all along, we
placed the orders last year. I can't give the figures (quantity) now," he
said.

"The issue of food stocks has been discussed in cabinet meetings because it
is a vital aspect. I can't comment on reports that I might be fired," Made
said.

The Zimbabwe Independent has established that about 5 000 tonnes of maize
were delivered to the Grain Marketing Board recently. Another order of 300
000 tonnes has been secured and awaits delivery.

Reports of government's purchase of maize from outside the country to bridge
the gap between this year's harvest and consumption requirement were
confirmed by the parliamentary portfolio committee on Lands, Agriculture,
Water Development, Rural Resources and Resettlement.

The committee in a report compiled after a countrywide survey said the
country would only realise 571 000 tonnes of maize from local produce and
imports by year-end.

According to the findings of the committee, government, which by October was
still denying that it was importing maize, had in fact ordered 200 000
tonnes of the maize through South Africa.

Made misled the nation in 2002 about the food situation after he insisted
there would be enough grain based on his aerial assessment.

Serious grain deficits later gripped the country, which had to make late
appeals for humanitarian assistance.
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Zim Independent

Acting mayor absolves Chombo of blame
Augustine Mukaro
HARARE acting mayor Sekesai Makwavarara and the James Kurasha committee have
absolved Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo of any wrong-doing in
his interference with the running of council affairs as well as harassing
councillors through unilateral suspensions and dismissals.

Chombo's meddling in council forced 18 Movement for Democratic Change
councillors to resign en masse citing excessive interference by the minister
ursuping powers in the Urban Councils Act.

The other 19 councillors had been dismissed from council.

The Kurasha committee recommended the firing of former mayor Elias Mudzuri
from the council earlier this year.

A transcript of the Kurasha committee's deliberations shows that Chombo's
motive in suspending and subsequently dismissing the mayor was to solve
political problems. But the committee did not want the minister to be
accused of political motives in his actions.

The committee said the removal of Mudzuri was critical for the improvement
of Harare because his stay would have destabilised the lo-cal authority.

"I don't want the minister to be accused of political intentions because in
this case, we are establishing that there are clear administrative factors
that led the minister to the suspension," the chairman said.

In her submission Makwavarara also exonerated Chombo of subverting council
authority. Instead she accused Mudzuri of running down the city.

"I use to think kuti (that) va Chombo ndivo vari kundoita (was) mess(ing)
around in the council," Makwavarara said. "It is not him. Because now I am
in the hot chair on my own. Now, I am seeing everything. The man who is
messing around in Harare is Mudzuri himself."

She said: "I also used to say that kuti ndofunga (I think) va Chombo is
interfering too much in council business as well but iye zvino ndakuona kuti
kwete handizvo (now I can see that, No, it's not it)."

Makwavarara said Mudzuri was carrying out council duties without consulting
other councillors so that in all cases his decisions would carry the day.

"A lot of things zvaiitika ndezvekuti izvo (that were happening), the man
could just sideline you and you won't know what will happen," she said.

"The information we have is that he would invite his right hand men Nhari
and Munengami to the mansion during the weekends. Myself and Dr Mushonga
were excluded. So he could caucus with the two members. By the time we got
together for our executive committee meeting, he would call the four of us
in his office and say this is what we have to do. Any attempts to oppose his
word would be quashed by the other members who would have agreed to his
proposals.

"So it became very difficult for us to operate this council," she said.

Makwavarara alleges that Mudzuri used to violate council procedures to suit
his own needs.

"I understand even in procurement, the chair would be told what to do," she
said.

The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) this week said Town House
fortunes took a nosedive from the time when the now dismissed mayor Mudzuri
was suspended and subsequently dismissed.

CHRA is taking government to court to force it to hold mayoral elections.

It said Makwavarara had completely dropped the stakeholders' consultation
system resulting in council coming up with absurd rate increases.

 Meanwhile, Chombo yesterday announced a commission to run the City of
Harare.

The commission is chaired by acting mayor Sekesai Makwavarara and includes
politician Tendai Savanhu and prominent architect Michael Mahachi. Other
commissioners are Noel Muzuva, Terrence Hussein and Professor Kurasha.
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Zim Independent

Media represssion earns embattled Moyo kudos
Dumisani Muleya
EMBATTLED Information minister Jonathan Moyo got some good news during the
just-ended Zanu PF congress when his department was hailed for abusing the
state media to defend Zanu PF.

The Zanu PF central committee report says Moyo's department did a good job
by turning the public media into Zanu PF megaphones.

Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH), which controls all television and
radio stations, is singled out in the report for praise, alongside the party's
newspaper, The Voice.

"It was gratifying that in the last five years, The Voice, together with the
public media and the ZBH have held their own against the local and foreign
opposition media and pirate radio stations like Capitol Radio, Voice of
America's Studio 7 and Britain's SW Radio Africa," the report says.

"This combined effort helped to slow down the merchants of regime change

from spreading the hate speech and regime change agenda on Zimbabwe's soil."

The Voice and the Southern Times, which is a joint venture between the
government-owned Zimpapers and New Era of Namibia, are praised for spreading
party-political propaganda.

It said the Southern Times "must be seen as (a reflection of) cooperation
between Zanu PF and (Namibia's) Swapo".

The report further says: "The Voice has been able to publicise the party's
successes widely, especially in 2004.the papers seem to be carving a niche
in readership".

Moyo is also praised for introducing repressive media laws such as the
Broadcasting Services Act and the Access to Information & Protection of
Privacy Act, under which three newspapers have been closed and dozens of
independent journalists arrested and subjected to malicious prosecution.

In a section, Information & Publicity: The Department and the Press War,
Moyo's department is commended for "exposing (imperialist) machinations and
bringing them to the attention of the party members and the public in
general".

"The blatant lies that the imperialists were peddling were causing a lot of
damage to the party and the country and had to be countered through the
dissemination of factual information," the report says.
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Zim Independent

NGO Forum report irks Zimbabwe government
Gift Phiri
ZIMBABWE last week rushed to respond to a damning report by non-governmental
organisations (NGOs) tabled at the just-ended 36th ordinary session of the
African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) in Dakar, Senegal.

The report highlighted political repression and rising human rights abuses
in the country.

The permanent secretary in the Justice Ministry, David Mangota, hurriedly
moved to contest the explosive report prepared by the Zimbabwe Human Rights
NGO Forum in a desperate bid to ward off pressure from the ACHPR executive
council during a debate on the document that was classified as Item 7 on the
agenda.

The report, presented by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights director Arnold
Tsunga, chronicled the flurry of repressive legislation recently enacted by
the Zimbabwe government, the relentless persecution of human rights
defenders, use of organised violence and torture by government and undue
interference with the judiciary and the legal profession.

Mangota rubbished the allegations accusing NGOs of "peddling false
information". Commenting on the repressive Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa), Mangota said: "Most of the challenged
provisions have been found to be constitutional and only one or two
provisions have been struck off as unconstitutional." He declined to comment
on the closure of the Daily News and its sister paper, the Daily News on
Sunday saying "the issue is sub judice as it is a communication before the
commission".

Regional media watchdog, Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) had
sought the indictment of the Zimbabwe government over the closure of the two
papers. Mangota then tried to justify the closure of the Tribune saying "the
paper was in violation of the Act under which it was registered.

"The fact that the paper's majority shareholder is a sitting member of
parliament and a member of the ruling party Zanu PF shows that the
legislation is applied equally without bias," he said.

Mangota tried to defend the draconian Public Order and Security Act (Posa)

saying the law was inspired by Australian and British public order
legislation, an assertion that has been dismissed by the two governments.

"These are countries we are continually referred to by NGOs and the
opposition in Zimbabwe to be epitomes of democracy," Mangota said.
"Government worked with the (parliamentary legal) committee to ensure that
the Bill was consistent with the Zimbabwe constitution. Thereafter the
committee issued a report that all the provisions of the Bill were
consistent with our constitution and in particular the Bill of Rights in the
constitution."

Mangota denied that the judiciary had been severely compromised. Tsunga had
alleged that legislation had been passed to supersede the jurisdiction of
the courts to grant bail in certain political cases and where individuals
were accused of economic sabotage.

Citing jailed opposition legislator Roy Bennett's case, Tsunga told the
commission that the court's jurisdiction had been usurped by parliament.

However, Mangota answered: "Recently the independence of our judiciary was
celebrated in our country by the opposition and the NGOs following the
acquittal of (Morgan) Tsvangirai, the president of the opposition MDC from
charges of treason. Where challenges to the constitution made by the
opposition or the NGOs are successful, the independence of the judiciary is
not an issue. But when the challenges are unsuccessful, it is claimed that
the judiciary is being manipulated by the executive."

Mangota categorically denied that there was state-sponsored violence in
Zimbabwe. He said the reports were "fictitious", intended to give an
impression that there was an increase in human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

Mangota also defended the NGOs Bill currently before parliament saying it
was aimed at the prohibition of foreign funding for only those NGOs involved
in governance issues.

"The Bill does not prohibit funding of NGOs involved in developmental,
humanitarian and other related activities," he said.

Mangota repeated government's mantra that British prime minister Tony Blair
had been funding the political activities of NGOs and the opposition through
the Westminster Foundation, hence the need to curtail the activities of such
organisations.

Mangota also said there were no deaths caused by starvation in Zimbabwe. He
said that the government had managed to meet the needs of its people.

"Allegations are that the government is distributing food relief for
political mileage and that persons critical of government are not receiving
state assistance," said Mangota. "Considering that the opposition political
party in our country claims to have the majority support, we should by now
have seen high levels of starvation if the allegations were true," he said.

"Government is yet to receive reports of deaths caused by starvation."

Mangota told the commission that the government has a functioning social
security task force whose responsibility includes monitoring the food
supplies in the country.
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Zim Independent

Daily News owners edgy ahead of ruling
Gift Phiri
THE management and owners of Zimbabwe's banned independent daily newspaper,
the Daily News, are edgy ahead of an expected High Court ruling to have its
reporters accredited with the government-appointed Media and Information
Commission (MIC).

Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), the publishers of the Daily News
and its sister weekly, The Daily News On Sunday, filed an application in the
High Court seeking a declaratory order to have the stable's journalists
accredited. Justice Lawrence Kamocha is expected to hand down his ruling
next week after reserving judgement on the matter two weeks ago.

An urgent application lodged in the courts in February was dismissed by
Justice Alfas Chitakunye, who ruled that the matter was not pressing.

The latest application, lodged by ANZ (Pvt) Ltd as a corporate body, news
editor Luke Tamborinyoka, editor Nqobile Nyathi and deputy editor John
Gambanga, cites MIC chairman Tafataona Mahoso as the first respondent and
Information minister Jonathan Moyo as the second respondent.

In their court application, being handled by Pilate Mahlangu of Gill,
Godlonton & Gerrans, the journalists argue that at the time their
accreditation expired on December 31, 2003 the MIC had been declared by the
Administrative Court to be "improperly constituted".

"It was in fact not reconstituted and remains, as far as my colleagues and I
are aware, improperly constituted," reads the affidavit by Nyathi. "There
was therefore no commission before which we could apply to renew our
accreditation."

The court application says notwithstanding this impediment and subsequent to
a Supreme Court ruling that the reporters be accredited, the applicants
prepared and filed through the MIC applications for accreditation on
February 6, 2004. The journalists however did not receive any response from
the MIC. They argue that the MIC did not advise on what action had been
taken in respect of the applications.

"It seems to us clear that the first respondent does not intend to deal with
our applications for accreditation," the journalists said in their court
application.

In their opposing papers filed after the first urgent application, Mahoso
and Moyo, through their lawyer Johannes Tomana of Muzangaza, Mandaza &
Tomana, argued that the journalists were not banished from practising but
their registration would only be accepted on condition that they find
another employer or editors willing to buy their stories on a freelance
basis.
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Zim Independent

Zimbabweans become 'pioneer farmers' in Nigeria

WHITE Zimbabwean farmers fleeing President Robert Mugabe's controversial
land reform programme will this month formally take over farmland allocated
to them in central Nigeria, an official said on Wednesday.

Tajudeen Kareem, spokesperson for the state of Kwara, said that 15
Zimbabweans who visited the region earlier this year and struck property
leasing deals were expected back within the next few weeks.

"We are currently doing a survey of their plots of land. We expect them back
before the end of the year and once we have finished the survey, we will
hand their farmland over to them," Kareem said from Ilorin, the state
capital.

The Kwara State government has allocated 1 000 hectares of farmland to each
of the "pioneer farmers", he said.

The Zimbabweans will carry out "irrigation farming and not conventional
farming. This will allow them to begin their farming anytime they are
ready," he added.

In July, a spokesperson for the farmers, Alan Jack, said that they had each
reached a deal with the government to take separate 25-year leases on
thousand-hectare parcels of fertile land.

"We are very excited about Nigeria and about being granted a pioneer status.
The people are very friendly," he said.

"Nigeria is very good for farming, compared to Zimbabwe where land is
forcefully taken from the whites and given to the blacks. I am a victim of
President Mugabe's policy," he said.

The 15 will farm maize, rice, cassava, dairy cattle, poultry and
vegetables.-AFP.
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Zim Independent

Bennett wastes away in Mutoko Prison
Itai Dzamara
SLIGHTLY darker in complexion, looking tired and clearly having lost weight,
the figure of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) MP for Chimanimani Roy
Bennett is out of place among the other prisoners at Mutoko Prison.

Not only is he the only white man, he still has a bigger frame compared to
the other inmates. The majority of them were jailed for offences such as
dealing in mbanje, gold panning, cattle rustling and rape.

Another common offence in Mutoko and Mudzi districts is brewing the illicit
kachasu.

A small complex with typically dilapidated buildings less than a kilometre
south west of Mutoko growth point is Mutoko Prison, where Bennett is trying
to adjust to harsh living conditions.

This is different territory from Chimanimani where he was involved in daily
battles with the army and Zanu PF supporters who eventually took over his
Charleswood Estate in defiance of eight court orders.

The Zimbabwe Independent visited the prison last week and had a glimpse of
the opposition legislator's new lifestyle in the north-eastern part of the
country.

Bennett talks to the other prisoners and could be seen smiling and even
laughing during a conversation with some fellow inmates. But he is not the
robust figure that the people in Chimanimani had come to know as "Pachedu"
(together as one). He now has a shaven head and dons thick khaki prison garb
like all the other inmates. He is allowed only fortnightly family visits for
ten minutes at a time.

"Bennett can only be seen by his wife and two other guys, who must be his
brothers," a prison warder said upon inquiry. "Part of the conditions is
also that the wife and brothers can only see him once every two weeks. They
cannot bring food. He will only be allowed to take food from them at
Christmas."

Heather Bennett told Sky TV News yesterday that conditions at the prison
were "horrendous".

It is the planting season and Mutoko Prison has plots in the adjacent farm.
The prison mainly grows maize to cater for staff and prisoners' consumption
whilst the surplus is sold.

This season, the workforce includes Bennett as his jail term has a component
of hard labour.

Under the command of peevish prison warders, the prisoners wake up at dawn
to start the day's toil in the fields. Breakfast is a cup of black tea, a
plain slice of bread or alternatively a plate of porridge. Late in the
afternoon, lunch is served. The menu is a few grains of beans swimming in a
brown pool of liquid to accompany a fist-size morsel of sadza. The
alternative is kapenta in saline water.

Either of the two dishes is served for supper before the prisoners retire to
sleep, which in itself is a battle under the cover of dirty blankets
infested with lice.

There are 38 to a cell.

The effects of this diet and quality of hygiene can be seen on the weary
bodies of the prisoners.

A debate in parliament on the issue of stock theft on May 18 started it all
for Bennett. Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa accused Bennett's ancestors
of being "thieves and murderers" to justify government's seizure of his
Charleswood Estate. He said Bennett would never be allowed to set foot on
his property again.

An incensed Bennett charged at Chinamasa and floored him. Anti-Corruption
and Monopolies Minister Didymus Mutasa joinedthe scuffle in support of
Chinamasa but also landed on the floor.

"I kicked him hard," Mutasa later said.

Bennett was found guilty by the special privileges committee. It recommended
that he be sentenced to one-year imprisonment. Zanu PF's majority in
parliament carried the day and the House adopted the recommendation.

Bennett's apologies later in the House were ignored.

He promised to return and complete the journey to freedom together with
others as he headed for Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison where hard-core
criminals are detained.

The journey had not ended for Bennett as he was transferred to the remote
Mutoko Prison in Mashonaland East.

In Chimanimani, jostling for Bennett's seat ahead of next year's election
has intensified among Zanu PF candidates who hope to win by default as
Bennett may be ineligible to contest.
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Zim Independent

Congress offers relief to some
Gift Phiri
TO the more than 9 500 party faithful who attended the ruling Zanu PF
National People's Congress, the event was nothing less than a chance to
revel in the ruling party's extravagance.

The profligate congress wound up in Harare on Sunday amidst a degenerating
economy, food shortages, record poverty and unemployment. Analysts said
long-suffering Zimbabweans, bussed from the country's 10 provinces, took
advantage of the four-day congress to escape the gnawing poverty back home
and at least get a chance to have three square meals a day while it lasted.
Hundreds of delegates were booked into the five-star Harare Sheraton Hotel
where they were served expensive cuisine courtesy of the ruling party. They
chanted ruling party slogans and denounced the MDC with renewed vigour. An
estimated $20 billion was blown during the special assembly.

The congress, held once every five years, had nothing to do with resolving
the country's intensifying political and economic crisis but more about
solving power struggles within Zanu PF.

University of Zimbabwe lecturer and political commentator Heneri Dzinotyiwei
said the congress did not concern ordinary Zimbabweans but was aimed at
silencing discussion on President Mugabe's retirement and quashing a power
struggle over his succession.

"Clearly it did not concern ordinary citizens," Dzinotyiwei said. "The
congress failed to come up with solutions to the country's political and
economic problems. It had more to do with power struggles which obviously
have nothing to do with the problems that ordinary Zimbabweans are facing."

Instead of coming up with solutions to an excruciating five-year economic
downturn, Mugabe chose to expend his energies on purging the party's ranks
of a group of Young Turks challenging the largely octogenarian old guard's
grip on power.

The chief victim of the Young Turks was his Information minister Jonathan
Moyo, a scourge of the free press who, with several others, was axed from
the party's powerful central committee.

Moyo was accused of plotting against Joyce Mujuru, a veteran ally of Mugabe
who was sworn in as Zimbabwe's new vice-president on Monday. The president
seized the opportunity to deliver a calculated rebuff to an increasingly
erratic and unpopular minister whose main role is to vilify the regime's
opponents and wreck Zimbabwe's free media.

National Constitutional Assembly chairman Lovemore Madhuku said besides
positioning a woman to occupy one of the vacant vice-presidential post,
nothing else would change.

"It was just a talk show that was insignificant to the ordinary person,"
Madhuku said. "It was a non-event that endorsed the candidacy of the same
coterie of Zanu PF's old guard. At least if there was a change in
leadership, we would expect a change in direction and policy. Otherwise as
it turned out, the congress was a non-event that should be dismissed with
the contempt it deserves."

Madhuku said the reappointment of Joseph Msika as the other vice-president
and party chairman, John Nkomo, in the four-member presidium, with Mujuru as
the only new addition, warranted these sentiments.
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Zim Independent

Mugabe exhibits his idea of democracy

Dumisani Muleya

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe and his old guard emerged from the ruling Zanu PF's
fourth congress which ended earlier this week on top after a bitter power
struggle which threatened the fabric of the party.

Mugabe and his loyalists used all the instruments of repression at their
disposal to crush rising dissent which followed a bruising contest for power
and prevent seismic leadership changes. This ensured the cabal of veteran
nationalists at the helm of Zanu PF maintained its rigid grip and
unassailable position in the party - at least for now.

\The congress came against a background of searing trials and tribulations.
The long-running political and economic crisis presented serious challenges.
The problems included high inflation, poverty, unemployment, shortages of
fuel, foreign currency, and electricity, macro-economic instability and food
shortages.
Zimbabwe's social and economic conditions has continued to deteriorate. In
particular, the chaotic land reform programme has largely contributed to a
sharp reduction in agricultural output.

There were also concerns about governance, the rule of law and human rights,
and lack of clarity about property rights. These issues have severely
damaged investor-confidence, promoted capital flight and mass emigration.
Social services delivery systems face collapse and the HIV/Aids pandemic
remains largely unchecked and on the march.

Zanu PF and its leadership found themselves confronted with a sea of
troubles - compounded by a heightened power struggle and deep factionalism -
and this emergency ultimately presented a clear and present danger to them.
For that reason - if no other - Zanu PF needed to tackle the crisis
vigorously. But the scramble for power dominated congress proceedings. It
became the volatile issue that needed to be stabilised to contain the
dangerous state of flux the party was locked in.

Mugabe's hitherto heir apparent Emmerson Mnangagwa and his spin-doctor
Jonathan Moyo, who led the vanquished group which reportedly tried to stage
a palace coup against the party leadership, were knocked down in the
concentrated backlash that followed.
The Mnangagwa faction was accused by Mugabe and others of holding an
"illegal" and "clandestine" meeting which was disguised as a prize-giving
ceremony at Dingane Secondary School in Tsholotsho, Matabeleland North
province, on November 18 to plot a new command structure for Zanu PF.

Although Moyo claimed it was a "mere speech and prize-giving ceremony",
Mugabe said the function attended by a number of Mnangagwa's supporters was
a subversive political gathering.
While Mnangagwa did not attend the event due to an emergency politburo
meeting on the same day, he was supposed to be the guest of honour and thus
culpable. After quizzing the culprits in court martial-style hearings in
Bulawayo on November 26, Mugabe then launched purges in his party.

The first casualties of the crackdown included six provincial chairmen and
war veterans' leader Jabulani Sibanda, who were suspended for six months and
four years respectively.
Moyo was however the biggest loser at congress. He was dropped from the
central committee by Mugabe and now faces dismissal from the politburo and
cabinet. Moyo, who tried to defend himself through vitriolic
counter-attacks, is currently battling for political survival.
But the defeat of the Mnangagwa faction and its containment afterwards came
at a huge cost to democratic development both within and outside Zanu PF.

The ruling party probably came out of congress in relatively better shape,
cohesion and strength ahead of next year's general election. But the danger
is that unity enforced by threats and suppression of alternative voices is
too fragile to stand the test of time.

There is also the risk of creating a groundswell of discontent and internal
opposition, which will bubble under the surface until it finally explodes.
The Zanu PF "rebels" were overbearingly hushed-up and they appear down at
the moment. But they may not be out as yet. The conspiracy of silence in the
aftermath of the onslaught could become a hotbed for heightened future
instability.
While it appears the fierce counter-offensive by Mugabe and his old guard
left the Young Turks incapacitated and immobilised, it did not address the
need for a renewed party leadership. The repackaged Zanu PF hierarchy of
Mugabe, Joseph Msika, Joyce Mujuru and John Nkomo is almost certainly old
wine in new bottles.
Mujuru - whom Mugabe hinted could now be his anointed successor - is seen by
some analysts as a "pawn in a dangerous political game" because she is
supposed to have come in just to prevent Mnangagwa's ascendancy.
"She has earned her place in the past, but in this case she is coming
through as a pawn in a deadly political game," said analyst Eldred
Masunungure.
"It's going to be very difficult for Mujuru's name to be seen outside this
political saga. The impression is that she was imposed and a lot of people
were purged to pave the way for her."
Appointments to the central committee clearly show Mugabe wanted to
ring-fence himself with deadwood - some of them reactionaries - and that is
not helpful in ensuring leadership renewal and continuity in Zanu PF.

Although the old guard managed to shirk the compelling demand for
consequential leadership changes, in the end it only postponed rather than
resolved the problem. The real succession fight might still be on the cards
after all.
The quality and calibre of leadership in the Mnangagwa grouping was
questionable, to say the least. The faction's top candidates include the
Zanu PF Women's League chairperson Thenjiwe Lesabe, expected to be
co-vice-president with Mnangagwa himself, and legal affairs secretary
Patrick Chinamasa. Moyo was earmarked to be secretary for administration.
This line-up of political hawks - with threadbare democratic credentials -
hardly fits the description of the leadership of good temperament which Zanu
PF and Zimbabwe desperately need now.

The simmering situation after congress is further compounded by intensified
ethnic tensions which may be fuelled by the new Zanu PF structure. There
appears to be tribal restlessness stemming from the election of the recycled
Zanu PF leadership.

The most common claim has been that the Karanga and Manyika people have been
totally "left out" of the Zanu PF presidium and thus marginalised.

There have also been charges that Zezurus have grabbed all the top positions
and consolidated their hegemony in local politics. Mugabe, Msika and Mujuru
are being conveniently classified as Zezuru in this tribal model to suit
designed positions. Ethnic contradictions among Shona and Ndebele groups,
themselves a hodgepodge of different tribes brought together by history and
circumstances, are also being stirred in this debate.
But the growth of politics based on narrow concerns, especially regionalism
and ethnicity - which promote a take-no-prisoners activism - can be very
damaging to a nation.
In a bid to reassert his political supremacy in Zanu PF, Mugabe also
significantly undermined emerging democratic discourse and pulsating
politics in his party.

He strengthened his repressive hand and growing conviction in negative
democratic centralism, which in essence is authoritarianism.
On balance, Zanu PF's closed and controlled politics were further tightened,
a move which could precipitate an accelerated decline and widen the mounting
democratic deficit.
Thus the outcome of the critical congress simply proved - as much to Zanu PF
itself as to others as well - that democratic practice only existed more as
an illusion than a reality in the ruling party. This reinforces the view
that Zanu PF and Zimbabwe are only democratic in form but authoritarian in
substance.

But Mugabe seems to think that narrowing down the democratic space in his
party and elsewhere in the name of firm control is evidence of "democracy at
work" as he claimed at congress.
Although no party leadership anywhere in the world would allow "secret
dealings" and "clandestine activities", as Mugabe openly characterised the
Tsholotsho meeting, the impact of his actions on national politics is likely
to extend far beyond what could be imagined while the Zanu PF political soap
opera runs its course.
As seen in the past, the squashing of debate and criticism within Zanu PF
suppressed multiparty democracy and severely undermined the credibility and
effectiveness of parliament as a democratic, representative institution.
It had an immensely negative impact on the political, economic and social
factors, which had helped to promote - and also hold back - a national
democratic agenda. This has had dire consequences for governance and
national development - which is why Zimbabwe is today identified with
political repression and economic failure.

If Mugabe is allowed, without rhyme or reason, to impose his will on Zanu
PF, as happened during congress, it becomes exceedingly difficult for his
own party, let alone ordinary citizens, to insist on fair political
competition, hold government accountable, ensure elected officials are
responsive to their interests and demands, foster a culture of transparency
and consultation, and allow popular participation in decision-making
processes.
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Zim Independent

Comment

Gentlemen, let the lady speak

THE "I STAND here renewed, invigorated, rejuvenated, born again," declared
President Robert Mugabe at the close of his party's Fourth National People's
Congress on Sunday.

"I feel proud to lead a party of people who know what they want; people with
a past, a revolutionary past; people who know how to defend their country,
their sovereignty."
One could not miss the jarring sense of incongruity in the president's
remarks considering the intrigues and scheming that preceded the five days
of rubber-stamping of candidates.

But the deceit has gone on for so long in Zanu PF it has become a way of
life. Joyce Mujuru was imposed on the party as a candidate to fulfil the
so-called quota system suddenly recalled when a candidate was needed to
block the ambitions of a powerful plotter.

That in itself limited the scope of debate and choice. She was chosen to
fill the vacancy created by the death of Simon Muzenda who stood as a pillar
for President Mugabe along with Joseph Msika. Together with party chairman
John Nkomo the four constitute the party's Soviet-era presidium.

We don't wish to take away anything from Mujuru or Msika. What we don't
understand is why the appointment of a female Zanu PF vice-president should
be turned into an occasion of national celebration when there are no
demonstrable benefits accruing to the nation.
Apart from an anachronistic tribal balancing act, what is "revolutionary"
about having two vice-presidents? If anything, it demonstrates that Zanu PF
has been unable to restructure itself in any useful way since 1987.

President Mugabe himself has not given the presidium the dignity that it
should have. At the height of the farm occupations in 2001 Vice-President
Msika ordered that war veterans who had invaded a farm in Mazowe be evicted.
He was acting president at the time.

When Mugabe returned he reversed that decision because it did not suit his
revolutionary demagoguery. Msika must have felt thoroughly humiliated but
didn't have anything to say.
At the beginning of this year when the Zanu PF Young Turks decided to take
over Kondozi Estate near Odzi in Manicaland, Msika once again tried to
intervene. He was bluntly told by Information minister Jonathan Moyo that
there would be "no going back on Kondozi". He lost again. His claim that he
had reached a compromise with President Mugabe on the future of the farm
sounded unconvincing.

A few years ago when Mujuru was Information minister, she took a swipe at
then Vice-President Joshua Nkomo for backing Econet boss Strive Masiyiwa's
bid for the first cellular phone licence. She said Nkomo had lost his mind
because of old age.

Nothing happened to her. Not that anything should have. She did apologise.
What we are asking is what changes can Mujuru's appointment ring in either
for the nation or the status of women? What is the point of having an acting
president if his or her decisions can be challenged at will by war veterans
and other lawless groups and Mugabe sides with them? What independent
decisions can Mujuru make that would be any different from what Mugabe
chooses to do?
We ask these questions because they go to the heart of the matter. How does
singing Mujuru's praises ameliorate the dictatorship that Zimbabwe has
become since the inauguration of the executive presidency in 1987?

There was a huge irony in Mugabe saying he was "proud to lead a people who
know what they want". Those who know what they want must kowtow to Mugabe
and remain silent. Those who dared raise objections in Tsholotsho against
his chosen lady are licking their wounds. What happened to the open debate
we were promised?
In Matabeleland South Zanu PF chair John Nkomo was told to go and teach the
people the proper gwara and their nominations were reversed overnight.
Sikhanyiso Ndlovu and Dumiso Dabengwa are in the central committee courtesy
of presidential fiat. And so is Cain Mathema.
The long and short of it is that the presidency has remained immutable.
Mugabe rules as he pleases although he wants to give the impression of
collective responsibility. We therefore wonder what difference Amai Mujuru
will make to the operations of the presidency and why there is so much fuss
about her being the "first female vice-president in southern Africa" and the
first woman to act as Minister of Defence.

We are raising these issues so that we move beyond the creeping suspicion
that Mujuru was elevated to the vice-presidency to block the Emmerson
Mnangagwa train. That would likely assure Mugabe that there is no threat to
his office in the foreseeable future.

He has every reason to feel "born again" and "rejuvenated" after surrounding
himself with paper tigers and ensuring his post is unassailable.
But does the lady herself have a mind of her own to rise beyond the rung
where she has been suddenly placed? Besides being a liberation-war combatant
and now a mother figure, what are her views on the future of this country?
Does anybody know? Does she know?

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Zim Independent

Eric Bloch Column

Government may re-fuel inflation

PROGRESS in reducing inflation over the last 10 months has been spectacular,
and is very greatly attributable to the actions of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
governor Gideon Gono. From the moment that he took office on December 1
2003, one of his key economic targets was to curb the rampant hyperinflation
and, as rapidly as possible - which he estimated to be three years - to
bring the year-on-year rate of inflation down to single-digit levels.

Inflation peaked at an all-time high of 622,8% in January 2004 and has been
in constant decline ever since. Within six months it had fallen to 362, 9%,
a decrease of over 40%, and by October 2004 the inflation rate had fallen to
209%. Within a relatively short period of time it had reduced to
approximately one-third of the horrendous record height attained in January
and the governor, Acting Finance and Economic Development minister Herbert
Murerwa and the International Monetary Fund all foreshadow a rate of between
160% and 180% by year-end.

Gono's favourite phrase is that "there is no gain without pain", and it's
undeniable that the war on inflation, and the victories in that war to date,
have occasioned some considerable pain. In particular, a key weapon in the
war was containment of the depreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar in order that
landed costs of imports not escalate unduly.

However, despite the importance of that objective, it had a major negative
factor in that it rapidly eroded export viability for the agricultural,
mining and manufacturing sectors, as well as the viability of many tourism
enterprises. The governor sought to compensate the exporters by provision of
various incentives and of loan funding at concessional rates. Regrettably,
however, those compensations did not suffice as the loss of access to even
lower cost offshore loan facilities and the magnitude of inflation, albeit
declining, outweighed the benefits extended by the governor.

Although the immense prejudice suffered by exporters cannot credibly be
gainsaid, it does not minimise the import of the lowering of inflation
achieved to date. The fall in inflation has not alleviated the widespread
poverty that afflicts so very many Zimbabweans, for prices continue to rise
for as long as there is inflation, but that fall in inflation has contained,
to some extent, the intensification of that poverty.
The expectation of the governor is that in 2005 inflation will fall to a
maximum of 50% and in the following year to below 10%. That expectation has
been substantially reiterated by Murerwa in his recent 2005 budget
statement. It is to be hoped that those expectations
are well-founded and will materialise.
However, the prospects are not very high due to two factors.

The first of those factors is merely technical. The rate of inflation is
determined by calculation of the percentage of movement in the Consumer
Price Index (CPI) between a prior date - for example, a year previous - and
the current date. As the CPI had soared upwards to a draconian extent in
2003, the 2004 indices were measured against a very high base, resultant in
the decline being significant in extent.

However, as the months of 2005 go by, the measure will be against indices
from which movement will be considerably lesser than in the prior year and
therefore the extent of decrease in inflation will be far less.

But what is of greater importance is that the very great extent to which
inflation may, in fact, rise once again as a result of governmental acts of
commission and of omission. First and foremost is government's gross
inability to contain the excesses of its parastatals and to restructure
those parastatals as viable, commercial entities.
The parastatals have recurrently proved themselves as incapable of
containing their operational costs, and equally or even more incapable of
addressing their cash flow requirements in any manner other than by repeated
increases in charges. In particular the increases in charges do not even
achieve the intended objective of enhanced revenues. As charges increase, so
the demand for the goods or services of the parastatals diminishes. The
parastatals are repeatedly oblivious to "the law of diminishing returns",
whereby the greater the prices or the rates of charges, the lesser the
demand and, therefore, the lesser the revenue inflows.

It becomes ever more apparent that most parastatals will not even consider
whether their viability could not be attained by recourse to achieving
efficiencies instead of afflicting the consumer further. First and foremost
of such parastatals are Zimpost and Tel*One.
While the year-on-year inflation to October 2004 was 209%, the inflation in
communication costs was a gargantuan 2 999,6%. In other words, inflation of
communication costs was more than 14 times overall inflation!

Zimpost has already increased its charges three times in 2004, and then has
imposed increases of more than 50% with effect from December 1 2004. It now
costs the equivalent of about 20 loaves of bread to send one Christmas card
to the United Kingdom.

As for Tel*One, it too endlessly increases its charges. If, instead, it
would ensure effective operations of its networks, the consumer would be
able to make many more calls, thereby giving Tel*One its needed revenues. In
practice, it can take recurrent dialling for over four hours to be able to
connect to a telephone subscriber elsewhere in Zimbabwe than in the home
town or city of the originator of the call, and as many hours to transmit a
fax.

But it is not only the communication parastatals that resort to extortion of
exorbitant charges. The same holds good for power utility Zesa, with
domestic electricity charges having risen by 347% in the year to October
2004, while charges to commercial consumers have risen to an even greater
degree. Yet another major increase is scheduled for next month, based upon a
spurious justification of rationalisation to regional average rates.

And, in like manner, the government's transportation parastatals - National
Railways of Zimbabwe, Air Zimbabwe and Zupco - continuously increase their
charges, almost in direct correlation to declining operational efficiency
and decreasing customer care.
Inconceivably, it is now cheaper to transport coal by road than it is to
transport it by rail. The only difference between the business and economy
classes on Air Zimbabwe's domestic flights are greater legroom, a glass of
fruit juice and a massively greater airfare. Both classes are blessed with
very attentive and capable cabin staff, but Air Zimbabwe's head office has
little, if any, concern for the passenger other than to extract ever more in
fares.

However, government's fuelling of inflation is not limited to parastatal
mismanagement. It continues to borrow heavily in the domestic market, with a
further $4,5 trillion of borrowings budgeted for 2005. Those borrowings are
sourced mainly from prescribed assets of pension funds, insurers and like
institutions, and from the private sector, "crowding out" commerce and
industry and other economic sectors, and thereby fuelling inflation
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Zim Independent

Muckraker

Of dunderheads and political prostitutes

TSO what happened to Carlton Majuru on Monday? Muckraker left home late
hoping, as Carlton always advises, that when I got to work late I would
claim I was listening to Live 60. So I waited. And waited. There was
nothing, no apology, not even a remark.

Luckily I wasn't fired. But the delay in getting to work allowed Muckraker
to listen to the next programme on SFM when listeners were asked to send
congratulatory messages to newly appointed second vice-president Joyce
Mujuru. People were also asked to say what they expected from "the first
female vice-president in southern Africa".
A lady phoned to say she was happy with Mujuru's appointment but begged that
in future the search for female candidates should go beyond those who
participated in the liberation struggle. Not everyone could have left the
country to fight. Others were not yet born. In short, she said merit should
come before mosquito bites.

Two gentlemen complained that there was no democracy in Zanu PF because
people had been told to specifically choose a woman. That automatically
defeated the whole purpose of "choosing". Then came a bombshell at around
8.30am. The gentleman said he was not impressed by Mujuru's elevation
because "she is a dunderhead". "No, no," interjected the presenter. "I said
let's send congratulatory messages and say what you expect from her."

The guy on the other end of the telephone line was relentless. "No, I don't
expect anything from a dunderhead who only spent three days in a pit latrine
in Mozambique and is now vice-president."
He was quickly cut off. How long is ZBH going to continue ring-fencing
Mujuru and shielding her from public scrutiny, we wonder?

President Mugabe's crackers are exploding hard and fast among the party
membership. He said there was no room for "political prostitutes" in the
party. This referred to "those whose hearts and souls" could be bought with
money.
It wasn't clear though who the political prostitute was - the one being
bought or the one doing the buying.

"Those with the mind that can be bought, hearts that can be sold are
political prostitutes and this party has no room for political prostitutes,"
Mugabe told the closing session of his party's congress. Unfortunately he
didn't have the courage to name and shame. He also didn't say if political
prostitution only involves money. Could that also have been an oblique
reference to Her Worship in Harare?

The story on the front page of the Sunday Mail was titled "No room for
political prostitutes: President". On the turn to page 3 the heading had
changed to "No room for political turncoats". The story doesn't say who used
that word or whether "prostitute" and "turncoat" mean the same thing.

South African reggae musician Lucky Dube must be ruing his visit to Zimbabwe
last week. According to the Herald, Lucky arrived at the venue of the show
around 1.30am courtesy of our tourist-friendly immigration officials. He
said at the border they were moved "from point to point" resulting in the
delay. "An officer at the border asked me why my passport had a stamp into
London and no stamp for coming out of London," complained Dube.

"Imagine being sent back to South Africa because your passport has 80 pages
when the officer expects 100 and South African officials saying it's the
right passport. That's what our life is all about and you will accept that
we were born to suffer," Dube told the crowd before breaking into his Born
to Suffer classic. Few will deny that Zimbabwe has the misfortune of always
shooting itself in the foot. And they want to talk of tourism recovery amid
such xenophobia!

Nathaniel Manheru has come out in full support of Information minister
Jonathan Moyo who was heavily censured by the party for the so-called
Tsholotsho Declaration. Manheru says Moyo and his colleagues may have "erred
but they are hardly enemies".

But how do you defend someone you describe as "subversive" - whatever that
refers to? He said while the old guard in the party represents "wisdom", not
"all of them are patriotic, innovative, current, competent and of a
democratic temperament".

We would have benefited from him explaining what constitutes "patriotism"
and how it is measured in a man. And what democratic temperament does
Manheru find in a man who dedicates all of four years to devising schemes to
make the work of journalists a nightmare? Local journalists for that matter.

It is certainly mean-spirited to kick a man when he is down. But Moyo should
be the last to expect sympathy from the hundreds of former ZBC employees and
their families whom he wanted to starve to death. What about Daily News
employees? And the Tribune and Daily News on Sunday? And Manheru calls this
"democratic temperament".

What is good for the goose should be good for the gander. In Zanu PF they
always say tamba wakachenjera! But Moyo appears to have thought he had
become bigger than the institution itself. We will withhold our
commiseration on this one.

We are indebted to the Daily Mirror for the following revelation: Former
Energy minister Enos Chikowore told delegates at the just-ended Fourth
National People's Congress that resettled farmers were failing to live up to
expectations as the country was continuously facing food shortages.

Presenting his report on land reform, Chikowore said: "I am calling for
attitudinal change within our newly resettled farmers. Under the regime of
Ian Smith (and) up to 1999, 4 000 white farmers farmed for the nation
producing enough food for the nation and having more left over for export.
Today, after the land reform programme, there are over 12 000 farmers under
the A-2 scheme, but they are failing to do what their predecessors did."

Could somebody tell Chikowore that there was no Tony Blair during the period
he is talking about. Our country has been hit by a blight called Blair, we
are told, and patriotic new farmers are heavily afflicted by the plague and
so can't deliver.
In his report on land reform, Chikowore did not have kind words for those
who have failed to return surplus land after they were told to do so by the
party. He said "top members of the party" had "ignored even calls by the
presidency to surrender the extra farms".

In a report in the Saturday Herald, Chikowore said: "The issue of multiple
farm ownership does not only reveal indiscipline and dishonesty in the
perpetrator's mind, it also reveals dangerous disloyalty and lack of faith
in the principles that have guided our mighty revolutionary party this far.
There are termites within our party, they are not people."

But why does the party suffer such people in its ranks if it were built on
pillars of honesty and integrity, we wonder? You can't have "top members of
the party" who have no names.
Chikowore's report was also important in one other respect - it should put
an end to the myth of the 300 000 resettled new farmers. Only 12 888 people
have been settled under the A2 model and 126 843 under A1.

The Herald noted: "The projected 300 000 families due for resettlement was
thus not fully achieved."
That would be the understatement of the year were it not an outright lie.
Less than half the projected figure can't be described as "not fully
achieved". And why were government newspapers putting out false figures for
resettlement long after audits by Charles Utete and John Nkomo had
established the correct figures?

A family having a pre-Christmas extravaganza in Mabvuku had a rude shock
this week, reported the Herald on Monday. While they were feasting and
making the best of a bad economy, jealous neighbours would have none of it.
They telephoned our vigilant police for a "peace order". They claimed there
was an exchange of gunfire in the neighbourhood. The police quickly fetched
up on their shores, clambered over the durawall armed to the teeth, as the
saying goes.
They were relieved to find that the dangerous gunfire were simple
firecrackers. Instead of leaving the revellers to continue, the police chose
to issue an impromptu injunction. Nobody in future would be allowed to
explode firecrackers without police clearance. For once the Herald also
wondered aloud under what law this decree was being issued. Still, be on the
lookout for police officers trying to impose a unilateral state of emergency
ahead of the festive season.

MDC leaders have been accused of "globetrotting" and "unashamedly seeking
help from former European colonisers".

And who is making the accusation? President Mugabe. The same Mugabe who
before he was banned from travelling to Europe spent a lot of time there,
staying in the best hotels while his wife shopped at the best stores.

No visit to Europe or North America was complete without a stopover in
London. So what we have now looks suspiciously like sour grapes - the
recriminations of a leader who would like nothing better than to "globetrot"
as he once did, "seeking help from European colonisers".
Does he think we have forgotten the 1 million Tiny Rowland gave to Zanu PF?
Please, can we have just a little less hypocrisy when he addresses the party's
faithful. Just because they're asleep doesn't mean we are. Meanwhile, tact
doesn't appear to be Mugabe's strong suit. "Don't be deceived by that body.
She is a young woman," he said, referring to Joyce Mujuru, in his closing
comments at the just-ended party congress. Time for some charm school
lessons?

Exactly how many members does the December 12 Movement have and who paid for
Cde Coltrane Chimurenga and "Sista" Viola Plummer's attendance at the Zanu
PF congress? Muckraker's inquiries in New York suggest you can count the
number of members on one hand.
"Be suspicious of any organisation with a date in its title," was the
response of one genuine African American activist. "Sista" Viola looked like
a vacant lot in the Sunday Mail picture. Can't she be asked to smile or at
least look as if she knows what she's doing here?

And who is Harpal Brar of the Zimbabwe Solidarity Movement? Has anybody
heard of this movement or its leader before last weekend?
Commenting on the "negative publicity" the country has been getting abroad,
he said he expected to be assaulted soon after arriving at the airport. He
evidently didn't come via Remembrance Drive! How can these foreign delegates
be so nave as to conclude that it was a people-centred congress simply
because the government explained its "policy approaches and remedial action"?
Doesn't a government usually have to do something apart from saying what it
intends to do?

Muckraker was shocked to see organisations like Zimsec - the breathtakingly
incompetent schools examinations council -putting adverts in the Sunday Mail
congratulating the president on the occasion of the Fourth National People's
Congress. Zimsec's chairman Professor Phineas Makhurane and the "entire
staff" said they cherished the "gains" made in the educational sector over
the past 24 years. This presumably includes Zimsec's record of managing
examinations!

Other public companies seeking to advertise their admiration for the ruling
party were the GMB, Noczim, Zupco and Air Zimbabwe.
"Thanking you for upholding the nation's dreams" was Air Zimbabwe's fawning
message. That includes, we assume, the dream of a profitable national
airline with 15 planes in 1980 reduced by mismanagement and political
interference to three planes and huge losses today.

Air Zimbabwe's story is symptomatic of the Zanu PF government's disastrous
record of presiding over inept and corrupt parastatals. Only this week it
was discovered that staff had managed to prejudice the airline of $10
billion between January and October through a discounted tickets scheme.

"Air Zimbabwe should stop being a gravy train for criminally minded and
inept individuals in its ranks," the Herald commented.
Air Zimbabwe produced a lot of hot air in January denouncing a Zimbabwe
Independent story on President Mugabe's travels which implied, the airline
said, that it was subject to political control. That was untrue its MD
insisted shortly before his unexplained departure.

So we should ask: is the launch of the new route to Beijing an entirely
commercial venture? Is it sustainable in terms of passengers and freight
income? What sort of study was undertaken to establish the profitability of
a twice-weekly flight to Singapore and Beijing?

"We wish you all the best as you continue guiding our beautiful country to
greater heights," AirZim said in its ingratiating message of congratulation
to Zanu PF last week. Pass the sick bag please. We feel a little turbulence
coming on.

Speaking of which, we see Zanu PF's old friend David Martin is back on the
editorial pages of the Herald. He doesn't appear to understand why there are
so many Zimbabweans living in South Africa. All he can say is that they are
very well educated thanks to President Mugabe.
Nice to find a silver lining isn't it, David? Muckraker's advice: stick to
the Vumba stories.
Here's a piece David didn't write about. An MP goes to a hospital to visit a
constituent who had reportedly been badly beaten while in police custody.
The MP was arrested and charged under the Miscellaneous Offences Act for
"defying a police order" to leave the hospital premises.
The MP was Job Sikhala and the party member Tonderai Machiridza who died of
his injuries.
Chitungwiza magistrate Shelton Jura last week acquitted Sikhala, agreeing
that the state witnesses, who included two policewomen, gave contradictory
evidence. Furthermore there was no legal obligation for the accused to take
orders from the police, he ruled.

In remarks that have application to the Mabvuku case referred to earlier,
Magistrate Jura said the law does not require the police to go out and make
orders.

"I do not think members of the public should flee without questioning the
authority. There was no legal obligation for (the accused) to take orders
from the police."

Will those concerned with the erosion of the rule of law in Zimbabwe please
note: the MP visiting his constituent was arrested and charged. Those
responsible for the reported assault on the constituent which led to his
hospitalisation and subsequent death have yet to appear in court. The Herald
did not explain how Machiridza came to be "late".

As we all know, Jonathan Moyo is given to hyperbole. Often outrageous,
sometimes funny, it seems to be meeting the same fate as exaggeration does
everywhere: the law of diminishing returns.
Politburo members are no longer impressed, we are told. Ambassadors,
however, may be more gullible.
Moyo told a group of them, in town for the congress, that the "national
media failed us in 2000. We don't want them to fail us again this time."

While the opposition had raised the matter of the Sadc electoral guidelines
which require access for all parties to the public media, Moyo said "we are
not paying much attention to it."
Media laws had to be put in place because at election time "hordes of
foreign journalists invaded the country and reported as they wished".
In 2000 "at least 500 foreign journalists were in the country with some
broadcasting back to their countries falsehoods about Zimbabwe at will".
Moyo said it was unfortunate that there had been "unbelievable vilification"
of Aippa which, he claimed, was unanimously adopted in parliament by both
Zanu PF and the MDC.
With Aippa, it will not be possible for "any mischievous person to use the
media for regime change", Moyo assured the diplomats.
He has of course recently experienced the limits of regime change himself.

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Zim Independent

Meat exports under threat
Conrad Dube
ZIMBABWEAN meat exports could be reduced next year as the Veterinary
Technical Services Department (VTSD), which inspects processing facilities
for food of animal origin, has been incapacitated by lack of funding. The
department is responsible for the inspection of packaging and processing
plants countrywide.

The department audits health compliance of beef, poultry and pork abattoirs
and canning factories where meat products for the domestic market and
exports are made.

The director of the department, Dr Unesu Ushewokunze-Obatolu, said they had
requested $77 billion under the current fiscal vote but only got an
allocation of $28 billion.

"We have to respond to international standard requirements, as articulated
in the World Trade Organisation, World Health Organisation and World
Organisation for Animal Health protocols to which we are signatory,"
Ushewokunze-Obatolu said.

"If we do not meet these requirements, countries we hope to export to will
reject our products because every consignment must show that processing and
packaging plants are regularly inspected," she added.

Ushewokunze-Obatolu said the department was not only expected to inspect
export processing facilities of beef, pork and poultry products, but
crocodile, fish and ostrich plants too.

The department is required to also inspect these facilities before it
registers new entrants or re-registers old operators.

Staff are expected to travel extensively and make on-the-spot checks on
processing facilities countrywide.

This is however not going to be possible due to the limited resources
allocated to the department. The department needs vehicles to adequately
carry out its duties but no provision was made for the purchase of vehicles.

"Our travel allocation of $600 million is not supported by the fuel bill.

Treasury did not release funds towards the acquisition of vehicles,"
Ushewokunze-Obatolu said.

He expressed concern that the Finance ministry had seemingly used current
prices of petroleum products to calculate VTSD allocations yet there had
been serious fluctuations in the price of fuel products.

"If fuel prices increase, we could find ourselves unable to do inspections
because the ministry used current prices to calculate allocations to the
department," she argued.

Lack of funds could severely hit the country's beef exports, which have been
on a slide in recent years along with declines in the national herd.

The country's commercial head has plunged by 82% since four years ago from a
peak of 1,4 million to 250 000.

Zimbabwe used to earn as much as $2 billion from its 9 100-tonne beef quota
to the EU before the out-break of foot and mouth disease in 2001.

The VTSD's training programmes have also been hit by reduced allocations at
a time when experienced people are leaving the country in droves.

"VTSD is the research department in animal health of the Agriculture and
Rural Development ministry and we are expected to carry out public health
research. But if we are not well skilled, we cannot deliver,"
Ushewokunze-Obatolu said.
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Zim Independent

Govt in climbdown over ZCTU
Godfrey Marawanyika
IN a major climbdown, government has invited the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU) to the tripartite negotiating forum (TNF) in a bid to revive
crucial round-table talks.

Businessdigest learnt this week that the first TNF meeting involving the
ZCTU, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), the Employers
Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) and Labour officials has been scheduled
for Wednesday.

Observers said the TNF talks would likely include government's ally, the
Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) led by Joseph Chinotimba.

Labour minister Paul Mangwana this week confirmed the revival of the TNF,
saying the ZCTU had rejoined the talks.

He, however, stressed that ZFTU would be part of the proceedings "because
they now represent 40% of the private sector".

"I am glad that the ZCTU has also agreed to come for the meeting. There is
now a spirit of dialogue, which is good for the country," Mangwana said on
Tuesday.

"At the meeting, we want to look at the prices, incomes and stabilisation
protocol (PISP), given what has been achieved by the monetary policy. At the
same time, we will be discussing the Kadoma declaration," he added.

The Kadoma declaration states that to achieve meaningful economic growth all
three social partners - forming the core group of the vital economic-debate
forum - have to promote "industrial harmony and good governance".

TNF talks collapsed on April 23 last year after the government unilaterally
increased fuel prices without consulting the labour representative body. The
ZCTU pulled out of the talks accusing government of negotiating in bad
faith.

Government had earlier this year threatened to proceed with the TNF
deliberations without ZCTU's input, but the meetings failed to take off.

On the PISP dialogue, stakeholders seek to agree on the production of goods
so as to safeguard viability and at the same time ensure availability of
commodities.

ZCTU acting secretary-general Colin Gwiyo confirmed having received
invitations for the meeting and said they would attend.
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Zim Independent

Made's capital projects doomed
Conrad Dube
AMBITIOUS capital projects by the government, under Joseph Made's
Agriculture and Rural Development ministry, are set to be aborted due to
lack of funding, parliament's portfolio committee on Lands, Agriculture,
Rural Resources, Water Development and Resettlement heard this week.

The projects, to be carried out under various parastatals and departments,
had seen Made apply for close to $11 trillion under the 2005 national
budget, but the key ministry secured only $1 trillion.

Samuel Muvuti, chief executive of the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) and one of
the hardest hit parastatals, told the parliamentary committee that of the
$1,4 trillion chase, about 90% was to go towards covering grain subsidies -
an area in which the bulk trading firm has a monopoly.

The small and big grain subsidy figure would translate into $1,2 trillion
while the difference would be spent on other capital projects including a
nationwide oil making venture, he said.

"We expected to start an oil extraction project and we had applied for $2,5
billion for the project. We also wanted to establish bakeries, flour making,
rice packaging, stockfeeds manufacturing projects and refurbish silos,"
Muvuti said on Tuesday.

Already, the grain monopoly has announced plans to procure as much as half a
million tonnes of maize from South Africa to augment Zimbabwe's low grain
reserves, but it remains to be seen how Muvuti and his chairman Enock
Kamushinda would make up for the funding deficit.

Proclaiming that GMB was losing money through contracting private transport
operators to ferry grain countrywide, although he did not quantify the
losses, the grain boss also said they intended buying a number of 30-tonne
trucks to bolster their fleet and save money.

In that regard, Muvuti's institution had applied for $8,5 billion for the
trucks, but "nothing was allocated for these projects".

Also affected is Made's former employer the Agricultural and Rural
Development Authority (Arda), which had requested $1,2 trillion, but was
given only $14,3 billion - enough to cover only two projects.

Joseph Zirobwa, an official with Arda, told the committee that about 10 of
their projects, mainly the on-going Chirundu irrigation scheme, 9 000
hectare land preparations at Chisumbanje and Middle Sabi holdings of 3 000
hectares would be affected.

"We were allocated only $14,3 billion, $8 billion for the Nuanetsi project
and the difference for the mechanisation project, which include tillage
projects," Zirobwa said, emphasising the $8 billion Nuanetsi allocation was
only enough to cover the outstanding tab of on-site contractors at the vast
south-eastern Zimbabwe agrarian holding.

A Chinese company, picked on Harare's preference to work with Far East
countries, is the main contractor.

Other outstanding Nuanetsi obligations, Zirobwa said, amounted to $20
billion.

On the mechanisation project, which government hoped to strengthen another
stuttering and under-funded parastatal the District Development Fund's
efforts, Arda had applied for $292 billion, but only received $6,3 billion
from the Treasury.

The ministry's Agricultural Engineering department has also been hit by
insufficient funding, the committee was told.

It received $62 billion against a bid of about $236 billion, which officials
in the department punned, saying, "it would not be possible to reclaim the
country's spot in agricultural production if engineering is not well funded".

Observers said acting Finance minister Herbert Murerwa's total agriculture
vote exposed or undermined government's assumption and claim that
agriculture would rebound, and grow by 28% in the coming year.

"Agriculture, which contributes about 16% to total gross domestic product

(GDP) and is the backbone of the economy, is expected to recover in 2005
after registering a relatively marginal decline of 3,3% in 2004.

"The sector is projected to grow by 28% in 2005," Murerwa thundered in his
November 25 budget presentation.
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Zim Independent

ZTA courts investors
Godfrey Marawanyika
CRISIS and foreign cash-hit Zimbabwe is sharpening its tourist attraction
initiatives, as the state-run Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has unveiled
an incentive-linked tourist development zone (TDZ) programme, drawn on the
lines of the export processing zones (EPZ) concept, officials told
businessdigest this week.

Simba Mandinyenya, the tourism promotion agency's director of research and
development, said the TDZ concept was developed not only to attract
investment in potential high-growth areas through specified incentives, but
to contain negative publicity as well.

"We have suffered because of the negative publicity from the traditional
markets, especially in Europe and other traditional source markets,"
Mandinyenya said, declining comment on suggestions that the plan would be
officially launched next year.

Refreshing the authority's pronouncements that it had established marketing
offices in China, France, South Africa and in the convenient future in
Japan, he said the TDZ was aimed at providing a number of incentives for
tourism investors to take up holdings in designated tourism zones.

"The major objective is to promote tourism development and ultimately
economic development in areas with high potential, but which (areas) have
remained for one reason or another underdeveloped," the TDZ implementation
document says.

Having assessed the tourism potential of certain areas or regions in the
country, mainly the Lowveld basin, the ZTA singled out
Beitbridge-Shashe-Limpopo area, the Gonarezhou-Chiredzi environs and Great
Zimbabwe-Lake Mutirikwi region, as some of those potential TDZ areas.

There is also a feeling within government and ZTA that the TDZ concept bodes
well with the transfrontier arrangement involving Zimbabwe, Mozambique and
SA - such that preparatory development of the internal industry would only
strengthen the country's capacity when tourism claws back to life after six
years of recession.

The TDZ concept is another idea, independent of Tourism minister Francis
Nhema's highly-secretive tourism development masterplan.

Under the newer TDZ plan, taxable income for investing operators in any
designated area is rated at zero percent for the first five years, 15% for
the next term and 20% thereafter.

After 15 years of operation, normal corporate tax rates will apply. Current
corporate tax is 30%.

Zimbabwe, economically drained by its political fallout with Britain, the
United States and greater Western bloc, has over the past few years tried to
reach out to the East and the inception of tourism offices in mainly Far
East countries confirms that policy shift.

This has seen desperate Harare courting China and Malaysia, among other
Asian economic powerhouses, in bids to increase traffic between the two
regions.

While it has won conditional approval, as demonstrated by Beijing's approved
destination status, Zimbabwe has been crowing about arrivals from these
Eastern countries.

A look at the ZTA's latest tourist arrival figures shows that a total of 1
271 904 visitors came to Zimbabwe between January and September,
representing a 29% decrease when compared to the corresponding period last
year.

In the period under review, the country received 254 842 visitors from
mainly traditional source markets, with the highest number of people coming
from the US at 37 054.

China, the new emerging market, contributed 10% of the visitors. On a
comparative basis for the nine months of 2004, the highest increase was from
China - at 392% - from 4 960 in 2003, but it can also be noted that there
was a marked flow of reciprocal government and official delegations. The
Carribeans also added to the with nearly 3 000 visitors.

Worried about possibilities of more stringent politically inspired travel
requirements such as visas for visitors from mainly traditional western
markets, the ZTA is also lobbying for a review of such a situation.
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Zim Independent

Budget devoid of 'political will'
Conrad Dube
LACK of political commitment in the 2005 national budget presented before
parliament last month will make it difficult for the budget to achieve its
intended objectives, economists told a post-budget discussion this week.

Moses Chundu, an economist with CFX Financial Services, said acting Finance
minister Herbert Murerwa should have made bold statements and reference to
relations between Harare and the international community, led by the World
Bank and group associates.

"The absence of political statements will make it difficult for the budget
to attain its objectives, given that the resuscitation of the economy is
largely dependent on relations with international financiers," Chundu said.

"How will it address issues of investor confidence if it is silent on
relations with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank?"

On the proposed policy to levy new farmers, Chundu said the level of
resistance to tax in the past shows that "we have a long way to go before we
can implement such a policy".

Of concern to economists, Chundu said, was the limited revenue sources upon
which the budget derives its earnings.

He argued that the budget was aimed at deriving most of its earnings from
unsustainable individual taxes.

"The bulk of revenue is from individual tax and this is not sustainable
considering that corporate tax contributed only 10% to total revenue,"
Chundu noted.

The CFX economist further argued that overall savings alluded to by Murerwa
were actually funds earmarked for pending projects which had not been
implemented.

"There are no savings, some of the funds had been budgeted for civil
servants' salaries which were however not awarded during the year while some
of the funds were for pending projects such as Tokwe-Mukorsi dam
construction," he said.

In his budget presentation, Murerwa said savings had remained low and are
estimated to be about 1,7% of GDP this year.

On the 30% corporate tax rate, Chundu said that the rate was "too harsh" and
encouraged tax evasion.

He said it was still 10% higher than industry's recommendations of 20%.

University of Zimbabwe economist Clever Mumbengegwi said although it
appeared there is now greater co-ordination between the fiscal and monetary
policy unlike in the past, the budget concentrated itself on three major
targets - inflation reduction, achieving growth in real gross domestic
product and the achievement of social protection.

Mumbengegwi said the budget was not an ambitious outline since it was
presented after the monetary policy early this year, followed by the
mid-term policy review and then the 2005 to 2006 Macro-Economic Policy
Framework.

On inflation, Mumbengegwi said there is a lack of accurate GDP figures from
the government's Central Statistical Office (CSO).

"We do not have accurate figures from the CSO and therefore figures
currently released are inconsistent with the actual rate and will affect
2005 projections," Mumbengegwi said.
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Zim Independent

Manufacturing in steady decline
By Admire Mavolwane
TO a large degree the monetary policy, introduced and implemented by the
central bank has so far been successful in taming the inflation scourge and
stabilising the official exchange rate.

On the other hand, fiscal policies, especially those dealing with the real
sector, which "should" normally be the domain of the Minister of Finance
appear to be non-existent or ineffective.

The 2005 budget is silent on government's position or any proposals to
arrest the slow death and resuscitate the manufacturing sector. It is the
obligation of the authorities to provide an enabling environment for the
real sectors of the economy.

According to the recent CZI Manufacturing Sector Survey, economic policies
pertaining to the sector have tended to be less coherent and at best
remained prominently stop-gap and ad hoc, hence the increasing vulnerability
of the sector.

Based on the Central Statistical Office (CSO) figures, volumes of
manufactured output peaked at 108% in 1996 and have trended downward ever
since, with accelerated decline being recorded in 2000.

In 2003, output declined by 11,8% whilst 2004 should witness a further
negative growth rate of 8,5%, according to the Minister of Finance. Fortunes
are expected to improve in 2005 with output forecast to decline by only 5%.
No timetable was set as to when the nation could expect industrial output to
revert back to positive real growth.

The downturn in manufacturing could in part be ascribed to the slump in
agriculture, which has occurred since 2000 and the production constraints
brought about by shortages of foreign currency.

The other reason could be the lack of investment. Most companies, listed
that is, have suspended capital expenditure, with only the likes of Delta,
Cairns, CFI, M&R having embarked on expansionary programmes, otherwise the
bulk of the capex has been confined to repairs and maintenance.

Public investment, especially infrastructural development has been put on
hold, with a mere $5 trillion earmarked for capital spend, out of the $27
trillion forecast expenditure in 2005. The end result is that the existing
and increasingly aged capital stock has come under severe pressure, hence
the decline in output.

A number of entities have also failed to weather the storm of high interest
rates and the collapse in aggregate demand, and have "exited" the industry.

The problems affecting manufacturing, whilst as acute as those affecting the
financial and mining sectors, appear not to have received the same attention
as those of the latter. This could explain the authorities' apparent lack of
concern.

However, corporate results from listed companies in this sector provide a
window through which the challenges faced by the industry could be glimpsed.
Recent financials from PowerSpeed, Gulliver and PGI, which we review this
week, bore witness to the decline in the fortunes of the sector.

Starting with PowerSpeed, sales for the 12 months to September 30 grew by a
below inflation rate of 312% to $56,8 billion, whilst operating profits
increased at a better rate of $324% to $15,5 billion.

Operating margins, although under severe pressure, were more or less
maintained at last year's levels improving by a percentage point to 27%.

Financing costs increased considerably from $178 million to $2,3 billion.
This was as a result of an upsurge in borrowings. As at September 30, the
debt stood at $5 billion, of which $1,6 billion attracted concessionary
rates, whilst the balance is in the form of BAs.

Attributable earnings of $9,3 billion were realised, up 272% on the prior
year.

For Gulliver, with full year volumes declining by almost 30%, turnover grew
by 232% to $23,3 billion, a far cry when compared with average inflation
rate from October 2003 to September 30 this year of 384%. To compound it
all, the company had to make a hard decision to pull out of some export
markets which were rendered unviable after the appreciation of the local
currency unit in January. The exports foregone in this period were worth
US$500 000.

Profitability was negatively impacted by a massive deterioration in margins,
with a 10 percentage point decline at gross profit level from 44% to 35%.

At operating profit level, where expenses growth, at 342%, was ahead of
revenues, margins came off from 23% to 7%. Consequently, operating profit
growth was a disappointing 7% to $1,743 billion.

Out of these profits, $1,708 billion was remitted to the banks to fulfill
interest

commitments. Thus profits from operations, before non-recurring items, of
only $35 million were realised. The disposal of 50% of residential suburbs
saw the company booking in a profit of $840 million, which resulted in the
group achieving a bottom-line of $967 million, reflecting a year-on-year
gain of 6%.

The six months to September 30 results from PGI were dire to say the least.
Turnover increased by a paltry 92% to $127, 7 billion, reflecting the
negative impact of the static exchange rate and "fire sales" in other
divisions as the group tried to grapple with the then ballooning interest
burden.

An operating loss of $11,5 billion was recorded compared with a $25,2
billion profit in 2003. Of the three divisions, Trading posted a profit of
$9,9 billion, problem child, ZimBoard contributed negatively to the tune of
$14,2 billion, out of sales worth $11, 6 billion, whilst the Glass division
achieved $14,2 billion in sales and an operating loss of $1,9 billion.

At group level the company paid an interest bill amounting to $33,3 billion
and consequently made an attributable loss of $46,8 billion.

The fact that the trading division posted a profit, whilst the other two
manufacturing units floundered serves to underline our concerns. The thrust
in our view should be on the development of policies that foster the growth
of manufacturing and exporters, rather than pumping all available resources
into the inadequately structured agricultural sector, which is increasingly
becoming a black hole.
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Zim Independent

Letters

Let's get out of this victim mode

WE Zimbabweans are the biggest moaners I know.

"There's no food," "There's no work," "I don't have money," "There are no
medicines at the pharmacy," "There is no doctor at the clinic," "Everything
is too expensive," "There's no fuel," "I can't afford school fees," "There's
no transport," "Harare is a mess," "MDC is doing nothing," "ZBC is boring,"
"Our MP does nothing for us" - and on and on and on.

You name it, we moan about it! Moaning is our national pastime. We love to
be victims and complain about everything. It gives us something to say
without wasting too much brainpower and everyone agrees with us - which
means we must be right! This reinforces our behaviour and we repeat it with
increased vigour and decreased self-criticism.

Our minds take on the victim mode and soon it becomes a permanent state of
mind. We become victims. Everything is someone else's fault and someone had
better do something about it!

But we know they won't, because they haven't done so in all these years, so
why should they suddenly start now? And everyone agrees with us, it's
contagious and here we are - a nation of victims.

I argue that we need to get right out of the victim mode if we really want
Zimbabwe to improve. We need to become the victors - the winners! And in
order to become the victors, we have to get out of our negative, passive
mode and move into the positive, active mode.

We have to shake off the moaning and whining and do something about it!

Nothing makes people feel more powerless and depressed than preventing them
from doing anything about their problem - and nothing empowers people more
than allowing them to do something about their problem.

We may not be able to tackle the big problem right now, but we can surely do
something to shake off the apathy, even if it's only switching off the TV or
the radio!

We can refuse to be brainwashed and refuse to allow our family and friends
to be brainwashed by that simple small action. There are so many more.

I will quote at some length what Martin Luther King said about trying in his
final address the day before he was assassinated: "I guess one of the great
agonies of life is that we are constantly trying to finish that which is
unfinishable..

"Life is a continual story of shattered dreams.

"And each of you in some way is building some kind of temple. The struggle
is always there. It gets discouraging sometimes. It gets very disenchanting
sometimes. Some of us are trying to build a temple of peace. We speak out
against war, we protest, but it seems that your head is going against a
concrete wall. It seems to mean nothing. And so often as you set out to
build the temple of peace you are left lonesome; you are left discouraged;
you are left bewildered.

"Well, that is the story of life. And the thing that makes me happy is that
I can hear a voice crying through the vista of time, saying: 'It may not
come today or it may not come tomorrow, but it is well that it is within
thine heart. It's well that you are trying.' You may not see it. The dream
may not be fulfilled, but it's just good that you have a desire to bring it
into reality. It's well that it is in thine heart.

"I'd like someone to mention that day (of my funeral) that Martin Luther
King, Jr tried to give his life serving others.

"I'd like for somebody to say that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr tried to
love somebody."

We are not all as strong as Martin Luther King, but he got his strength from

his faith and his action to lead Negro victims to take action and become
victors. We can surely take some small action to make us ordinary
Zimbabweans victors instead of victims.

Trudy Stevenson,

Harare.
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Zim Independent

Letters

See through this ruse

ONCE again the budget reflects the fiction that government's share of the
gross domestic product is 30% and not the 70% I think it is.

Isn't it about time that the minister was honest with voters and
consolidated all the loss-making parastatals and farms into government
figures?

After all, these losses will one day have to be paid for by the taxpayer.
But more importantly, Treasury was able to repay US$115 million to the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) despite the fact that the balance of
payments deficit increased to US$523 million and there was low foreign
direct investment and external support.

Quite clearly, there is external interference in the economy which is
propping up the Mugabe regime to the detriment of its people and the free
world.

I hope that the IMF and like bodies will be able to see through the creative
accounting and deception and continue to treat Zimbabwe as a pariah state
until the day democracy is restored.

Jim Waters,

England.
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Zim Independent

Letters

War vets on the prowl, be warned

I HAVE written to inform the nation that the National Service Training has
invaded the University of Zimbabwe's Faculty of Education.

The war veterans have moved from their bases to the UZ because there is free
food and accommodation.

They also know that the teachers in the faculty have no choice but to join
for fear of victimisation since they are very easy to trace when they go
back to their schools.

Worried Rebel,

Harare.
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Zim Independent

Letters

Zimpost pricing self out

ZIMPOST should not keep us out of touch by delinking us from tomorrow
through postal costs which are now astronomical.

The postman is now a rare sight in the high density residential areas.

Zimpost should not price itself out of the market! Even when stamps were
costing a mere $500 many people had trouble sending their mail.

Now that the stamps are costing between $4 000 and $7 000, even more people
will be unable to afford them on a regular basis.

Those in the rural areas are now obviously excluded. They normally have
problems in raising money even for a box of matches or the grinding mill.
What more for a postage stamp which is now perceived as a luxury?

Even Zimpost's sister company, the People's Own Savings Bank, is now
excluding the poor through their $10 000 minimum deposit.

Society cannot be effectively run on the basis of exclusion.

Milton Njuzu Mandaza,

Bulawayo.
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Zim Independent

Letters

British media failed us

WELL after all the huffing and puffing, a bunch of British journalists were
allowed in to Zimbabwe to cover the cricket tour.

As we see from their various reports, that's not all they have been doing.
We hear of the great risks they have been taking to interview Zimbabweans
and of how careful they were to protect the identities of those interviewed
(well at least the British learned from Tianenmen Square). But quite
frankly, I'm disappointed.

The reporting remains superficial, predictable and plays into the
stereotypes that must bring joy to Zanu PF hearts. Who do we have but rich
white ex-farmers lolling at a poolside drinking ice-cold beer delivered by
smiling black servants and at the other end of the scale, 15-year-old black
maidens forced into prostitution. And that appears to be it.

What about the people in the middle - black, brown, white? For these are the
ones targeted by the regime.

Zanu PF can live with the rich and can afford to ignore the poor but it's
those wretches in the middle who are the nuisance and therefore the targets.

The ones in the middle are the "lucky ones" who go to work everyday, usually
for other people, but who resent paying chunks of their salary every month
to sustain an illegitimate regime; they are the ones who wander the
supermarket in a daze trying to figure out how to make it to the next salary
cheque; the ones who lie awake at night worried sick about their children's
future, their aged parents or orphaned nieces and nephews; who know their
car is not really roadworthy but can't afford to get it fixed this month and
as for their own bodies, who has got time to be sick?

Perhaps the British public don't want to be made too uncomfortable or too
depressed. It's okay to write about the rich because we all aspire to that
and it's okay to write about the really poor because we can patronise them
and give thanks that it's not us, but the ones in the middle could be "us"
and, well it really is too depressing and wouldn't sell newspapers after
all.

Yes, I'm cynical. Thanks for your efforts chaps and for keeping the city
centre hotels in business, but none of you should be here at all.

If the world could boycott South Africa during the apartheid days, why do
you find it so difficult to boycott this ruthless regime?

One in the middle,

Harare.
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Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

The termites

WHEN former World Food Programme spokesperson Luis Clemens wrote in Focus
magazine three months ago that "everything Joseph Made touches turns to
dross", it was perceived in some quarters to be a bit over the top.

There were several senior ruling-party officials who called us to record
their displeasure at Clemens' conclusions when we reproduced the article in
our op-ed pages in September.

However, there are many more who cringe every time Made opens his mouth to
tell us the latest achievements in his Agriculture portfolio. It's not only
his loudest critic, MDC's shadow Agriculture minister Renson Gasela, who
thinks that Made has a dirty sock permanently stuck in his mouth.

Made now even surprises some of his own kind.

There was a demonstration of that last weekend when he addressed the

Zanu PF Congress in response to issues raised by politburo member Enos
Chikowore. Television cameras captured Vice-President Joseph Msika shaking
his head loose in disapproval as Made responded.

Chikowore wanted to know why there was no delivery on loans promised to
farmers. He also wanted to know the role of Arda and the DDF in the agrarian
reform. On the financing of agriculture, Made said interest rates on loans
from Agribank had been hiked from 15% to 30% and then to 70%. He said the
interest rate was headed for the 120% mark.

This was not sanctioned by the party, neither did cabinet deliberate on it.
Msika's intervention was instructive and illustrative of the absence of
collective responsibility in government.

"We agreed that Agribank would charge 15% when we first talked about the
issue and the last time we talked about it we agreed that the interest rate
was to go up to 20%," said Msika to an embarrassed Made.

"Where the 70% and 120% came from, we do not know. We said if the ministry
felt the rates were too low, they should consult cabinet. But now they are
saying it's 70%. That is the problem with people we work with."

He said government would subsidise the farmers on the interest rates, hence
no hikes would be tolerated.

The problem with people working with Msika and his boss President Mugabe is
that they act outside policy. Their actions ultimately militate against
policy and goals are not achieved. That is the reason why government's
agricultural policies have largely failed. It's not Blair and Bush who hike
the rates unilaterally, it's Joseph Made and he needs no instruction in the
art of blundering.

Interestingly though, was Msika aware of this before Made opened his mouth?
I doubt it. And there are many other things which he has probably not been
told. Is he aware that his government is importing maize while at the same
time boasting that there was a bumper grain harvest last season? Is he aware
there are chefs who diverted maize seed to the black market? Is he aware
that despite the blundering, Made is still on the Zanu PF central committee?
Could someone please tell the VP who is responsible for the presidency's
supervision of ministers.

The other person who did not know seemingly obvious facts was Chikowore. I
say this because he asked the question which smoked out Made's policy
blunder. As secretary for Lands and Resettlement in Zanu PF, Chikowore had
to use the platform of the Zanu PF congress to be educated on the role of
Agribank, Arda and DDF in the land reform exercise. Frankly speaking, what
do Zanu PF bosses discuss in their politburo meetings?

Almost on a weekly basis I see the presidential motorcade drive into party
headquarters at nine in the morning and leave sometimes up to 12 hours
later. There are also weekly cabinet meetings where Mugabe meets his
lieutenants. Despite all this seemingly lengthy planning, Made can still
hike rates without cabinet or presidential approval and Chikowore needs
tutoring on Arda, Agribank and DDF's contribution to the agrarian reform.
What a crowd!

It would appear that there is a new phenomenon in Zanu PF's policy
formulation. It is no longer the old adage of the right hand not knowing
what the left is doing, but three hands, all not knowing what the others are
doing.

Perhaps Chikowore knew the answers but was just making the most of the
platform provided to him!

He also revealed without naming the culprits that there was looting of farm
equipment by some high-ranking officials. He was also free with his
descriptive powers in denouncing chefs who grabbed more than one farm.

"The issue of multiple-farm ownership does not only reveal indiscipline and
dishonesty in the perpetrator's mind," said Chikowore. "It also reveals
dangerous disloyalty and lack of faith in the principles that have guided
our mighty revolutionary party this far. There are termites within our
party, they are not people."

Did I read in the press recently that police had laid siege to farms
occupied by Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo and former
Mashonaland West governor Peter Chanetsa because the two were multiple-farm
owners? Termites eating away at the national fabric?

If the party is now staffed with termites, we can only speculate who the
Queen is!
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