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Expel Dabengwa: Zanu PF

Zim Independent

Loughty Dube

SENIOR Zanu PF officials on Monday called for a probe, and possible
expulsion from the party, of politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa (pictured) on
allegations that he harboured presidential ambitions and that he had links
to Simba Makoni who is challenging President Mugabe in next month’s
elections.

Party sources said Dabengwa, who was absent from the poorly-attended
politburo meeting hastily arranged on Monday, was "skinned alive" by
colleagues mainly from the faction aligned to Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Calls to expel Dabengwa come amid reports that the former Zipra
commander was being pushed by former Zanla and Zipra cadres to contest the
presidential election to fulfill what they termed an "unwritten clause" of
the 1987 Unity Accord between Zanu PF and PF-Zapu.

According to the unwritten agreement, senior Zanu PF officials said
Mugabe’s successor should come from the former PF-Zapu.

"Dabengwa wanted to fulfill the unwritten agreement and had the
backing of both former Zanla and Zipra members," one of the sources said.
"It is former Zanla forces this time around who were pushing hard for
Dabengwa to challenge Mugabe."

Apart from Dabengwa’s presidential ambitions, the Mnangagwa camp wants
the former Home Affairs minister expelled for questioning how Mnangagwa
allegedly manipulated the politburo to convene an extraordinary congress in
December to endorse and confirm Mugabe as the party’s presidential
candidate.

A source who attended the meeting said the anger against Dabengwa also
stemmed from an article published in the Zimbabwe Independent two weeks that
he wanted to run in the presidential race. Dabengwa’s opponents also alleged
that the veteran politician, by not showing interest in running for House of
Assembly and senatorial posts, he had "something up his sleeve".

The sources however said the calls were generally ignored by the
presidium which was more interested in discussing the Makoni issue and
outstanding primary elections.

The politburo source said the attack on Dabengwa was an act of
mischief as he had not made any statement regarding his presidential
ambitions or support for Makoni.

This comes amid reports of other Zanu PF politburo members in
Matabeleland, among them Vice-President Joseph Msika and chairman John
Nkomo, not attending party meetings in the province because they are backing
Makoni.

Sources in the party this week alleged that the politburo members were
also not involved in the recent Zanu PF primary elections to select
candidates for the House of Assembly, senate and council elections.

The sources said Msika last weekend was expected in Bulawayo to drum
up support for the candidates, but he did not pitch up.

Msika, Nkomo and Dabengwa, the sources said, have not attended Zanu PF
functions in the province since the party’s extraordinary congress in
December when the former PF Zapu leaders were irked by war veterans leader
Jabulani Sibanda’s attempt to address the indaba.

"In the past, Dabengwa, Nkomo and Msika have visited Matabeleland
North and Bulawayo every weekend to address party meetings, but since the
congress last year they have been nowhere near party activities in the
provinces," one of the sources said.

Dabengwa, Msika and Nkomo do not recognise Sibanda as a party member
after his expulsion in December 2004 for being part to the infamous
Tsholotsho Declaration. The plan was meant to end the political career of
Msika and Nkomo, and also to block the ascendancy of Vice-President Joice
Mujuru into the presidium.

The sources said Information and Publicity minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu
was the only senior party leader who has been holding meetings and
addressing party structures since the beginning of the year. Ndlovu is a
member of the politburo and is eyeing the Mpopoma House of Assembly seat.

Repeated efforts to get a comment from Msika, Nkomo and Dabengwa were
fruitless yesterday.


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Makoni, Mutambara forge alliance

Zim Independent

Constantine Chimakure

INDEPENDENT presidential candidate Simba Makoni and the MDC formation
led by Arthur Mutambara yesterday reportedly forged an alliance that will
see the former finance minister filing his nomination papers today with the
backing of the faction.

The alliance was agreed amid reports that Zanu PF politburo member
Dumiso Dabengwa had given up his presidential ambitions to back Makoni.

Dabengwa was until earlier this week reportedly seeking nominations
from the country’s 10 provinces to challenge President Robert Mugabe, Makoni
and MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai in the March 29 harmonised polls.

The sources said Makoni and Mutambara representatives met yesterday
and agreed that the expelled Zanu PF politburo member will stand as their
presidential candidate and that the MDC would field House of Assembly,
senate and council election candidates.

"The deal is that Makoni will be the presidential candidate, while the
Mutambara faction will field candidates for other elections," one of the
sources said. "During the two sides’ election campaigns, Mutambara will urge
voters to elect Makoni and the group will appeal to the electorate to back
the MDC candidates."

The sources said the Makoni group met the Mutambara faction on
Wednesday to deliberate on the alliance where a common position was
reportedly agreed.

Yesterday, the two groups met again in the capital and Makoni’s side
reportedly asked the Mutambara faction to issue out a statement that they
were backing the former Sadc executive secretary.

"At the meeting (yesterday) there was a conflict on the emblem to be
used in the elections. There was a strong feeling that the Mutambara faction’s
symbol was almost similar to that of the Tsvangirai camp and that this could
work against the alliance in the elections," another source said.

However, the source said the two groups would use different symbols
despite their alliance.

Launching his manifesto in the capital on Wednesday, Makoni said he
was aware of only three presidential candidates.

"I am aware of three presidential candidates, President Mugabe, Mr
Tsvangirai and Simba Makoni," the ex-Finance minister said. "I am not
challenging President Mugabe, but I am offering myself to be the president
instead of President Mugabe."

Efforts to get a comment from MDC spokesperson Gabriel Chaibva failed
yesterday as he was not reachable on his mobile phone.

However, the party at the weekend said it was prepared to work with
"progressive opposition groups" to oust Mugabe from power.

The other faction of the MDC led by Tsvangirai has refused to form a
coalition with Makoni saying he was "old wine in a new bottle".

Nelson Chamisa, the faction’s spokesperson, said: "The problem with
Makoni is that we do not know what he stands for. Zanu PF cannot swallow the
MDC. It doesn’t make sense to be part of a Zanu PF faction. What happens to
the MDC if Makoni wakes up tomorrow and says he is going back to Zanu PF?"

Meanwhile, Makoni on Wednesday did not reveal the bigwigs in Zanu PF
supporting his presidential bid, amid reports that they would not come out
in the open, but campaign for him behind the scenes.

The sources said the heavyweights would not campaign for Mugabe, but
for Makoni as they felt there was need for leadership renewal in the
country.

"Mugabe is aware that within the party, especially in the politburo,
there are members who will de-campaign him and that is why he appealed to
the people during the congress in December not to sacrifice the party," a
senior Zanu PF official said.


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Inflation tops 66 000%

Zim Independent

Bernard Mpofu

ZIMBABWE’S year-on-year inflation for December surged by 39 741,5
percentage points to reach a new high of 66 212,3% as the economy continues
to crumble.

The new figure, released by the Central Statistical Office (CSO) this
week, means that prices increased over 660 times between December 2006 and
December 2007.

This is the highest price increase that Zimbabweans have experienced
since the crisis started in 2000.

The year-on-year inflation rate for November was 26 470,8%. The
release of the December figures means that Zimbabwe’s inflation numbers are
two months behind.

Under normal circumstances the CSO was supposed to be releasing the
January figures this week.

Although the figures were announced yesterday, the press release is
dated January 30.

The CSO said the month-on-month inflation rate for December was 240,1%
increasing 108,7 percentage points on the November figure of 131,4%.

"This means that prices as measured by the all-items CPI increased by
an average of 240,1% between November and December," the CSO said.

The year-on-year inflation rate for food and non-alcoholic beverages
was at 79 412,0% while non-food was at 58 492,9%.

"The month-on-month food and non-alcoholic beverages inflation stood
at 309% in December. The month-on-month non-food inflation stood at 199%,
gaining 50,4% points on the November 2007 rate of 148,6%.

The consumer price index for December was $441 490 130,8 compared to
$129 862 060,8 recorded in November.

Last month the International Monetary Fund said Zimbabwe’s inflation
for December was around 125 000%. The IMF said the figure had increased to
150 000% in January.

An economic analyst said it was worrying that the CSO was still
delaying publication of the figures.

Economic consultant, John Robertson, said: "Delaying these figures
benefits government in two ways. First, it saves government from
embarrassment and secondly, it eases them from the Public Service Commission
salary adjustment pressures."


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MDC to launch election manifesto

Zim Independent

Constantine Chimakure

THE Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC formation has come up with its 2008
harmonised elections manifesto in which it promises to restructure the
functions of the central bank and the Finance ministry.

The policy programme will be unveiled at the launch of its campaign in
Mutare on February 23.

The MDC said its government would face a daunting task as it would
inherit not only a collapsed economy, failing infrastructure and a massive
humanitarian crisis, but also a civil service that would be highly
politicised and decimated by the loss of both skills and experience.

"The MDC will, therefore, initiate a six-month (economic)
stabilisation programme immediately upon taking over the reins of
government. This will take the form of re-establishing the correct economic
and administrative relationship between the Ministry of Finance and the
Reserve bank," reads the policy document. "New leadership in the form of a
new Minister of Finance and governor of the Reserve Bank will be appointed,
and a technical assistance team of experienced international specialists
brought in to assist both the ministry and the bank with the programme."

Nelson Chamisa, the MDC spokesperson, yesterday confirmed that the
party now had the presidential, legislative and council elections manifesto
plus a detailed policy programme.

"We have finalised the manifesto and the policy programme document,"
Chamisa said. "The manifesto outlines in short what our party will deliver
to the people of Zimbabwe once elected, while the policy programme document
reveals how our policies will be implemented."

The Kuwadzana lawmaker said the manifesto and the policy programme
document were now with the printers and would be unveiled when Tsvangirai
launched the MDC election campaign next Saturday.

A copy of the policy programme leaked to the Zimbabwe Independent this
week revealed that the MDC had come up with various policies to address the
country’s political crisis that have left over 70% of the people wallowing
in poverty.

The programme covers governance, the economy, social issues and the
state of the country’s infrastructure and how to rehabilitate it.

The MDC said there would be a complete restructuring of the government
that will see the reduction of ministries to 15.

In addition, the structuring of the government would be streamlined to
ensure that state expenditure is justified and managed effectively.

The party proposed to form a National Social and Economic Council to
ensure that the MDC government consults stakeholders.

"The goal of the stabilisation programme will be to bring inflation
down to treble-digit very quickly and to double-digit figures as soon as
possible and to restore confidence in interest-rate and exchange-rate
policy," reads the policy document. "Both will be anchored on market
principles and unified. The present system of multiple interest and exchange
rates will be eliminated immediately."

On land and agrarian reform, the MDC said it had always recognised the
need for land reform, but rejects the manner in which the Zanu PF government
has pursued land redistribution since 2000.

It said the government’s land reform had compounded rather than
resolve the land issue and at the same time destroyed the core of the
national economy and its food system.

"When the MDC forms the next government in Zimbabwe, it will accept
neither the status quo that existed prior to 2000 nor the position it will
inherit after eight years of mayhem and destruction by a criminal elite,"
the policy document reads.

"The MDC is fully committed to righting the historical imbalance in
land distribution. An MDC government will bring the land crisis to closure
through a democratic and participatory process that achieves equitable,
transparent, just, lawful and economically efficient distribution and use of
land, both for agricultural and other purposes."

The party said it would establish a Land Commission under an Act of
Parliament to oversee the land reform process. The commission’s first task
would be to conduct a physical and legal audit of land occupation and
ownership in the country.

"On the basis of the outcome of this audit, the commission will
determine the status and future of all existing settlement, the status of
those holding title, and a method of regularising the situation without
further dislocating farm output or disturbing those in productive occupation
of farm land," the MDC said.

The party also outlined its policies on health, education, labour and
social security.

Meanwhile, independent presidential candidate Simba Makoni on
Wednesday unveiled his manifesto in the capital and pledged that once
elected he would embark on national reengagement and dialogue for economic,
social and political revival.

Makoni said he would undertake immediate and urgent tasks to resolve
the food, power and fuel, water and sanitation problems facing the nation.

The former Zanu PF deputy secretary for finance in the politburo said
he would develop a policy framework for economic and social renewal, in the
short, medium and long term.

"I will re-engage key national constituencies, namely youth, women,
workers, students, employers, rural and urban people, with the state in
national development," Makoni said. "I will implement gender policies to
ensure equal rights and opportunities for both men and women."

Makoni said land reform in the country was necessary and if elected,
he would ensure transparent and equitable process of reform.

"I will review the current land tenure systems as a means of
rationalising and refining the land reform and stimulating productivity. I
will also revive agricultural production through programmes to ensure that
agricultural inputs and other resources are available," Makoni said.

He said a new people-driven national constitution will be crafted
after full consultation.

Makoni added that he already had comprehensive policies on
industrialisation, empowerment and employment creation.

Makoni was expelled from Zanu PF on Monday for announcing that he
would contest the presidential election.


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Mawere wins SMM case

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

THE government’s bid to expropriate business mogul Mutumwa Mawere’s
companies registered in the UK failed this week when a London court ruled in
favour of his Africa Resources Ltd.

Justice Evans-Lombe of the Company Court, Chancery Division, on
Wednesday ruled that ARL retain the "right as the ultimate shareholder" of
Shabane Mashaba Mines (SMM) and related companies.

"The judgement implies that the companies are all under my control,"
said Mawere. "No notification was ever issued to me regarding the intentions
of the government of Zimbabwe to unlawfully acquire my assets."

Afras Gwaradzimba, appointed by the government in September 2004 to
assume control and management of Mawere’s assets, admitted before the court
in December the state’s involvement in the acquisition of SMM.

Gwaradzimba told the court that the nationalisation of Mawere’s
business interests was done through AMG Global Nominees (AMG).

The administrator was a witness on behalf of the government in a case
in which Mawere’s company, Africa Resources Limited (ARL) is a claimant
against AMG, a shelf company used by the state to expropriate his assets.
Gwaradzimba said AMG was a nominee of the government and was funded by the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to acquire SMM.

Asked by Mawere’s lawyer, Francis Tregear, before Justice Evans-Lombe
of the Company Court, to confirm that he and AMG were government nominees,
Gwaradzimba initially said he was a nominee of the RBZ, but later admitted
that he was representing the government.

According to a transcript of the court proceedings, Gwaradzimba said:
"That is correct (I am a nominee of the government). But what I have said as
well is correct in that I got it (funds to run SMM Holdings) from the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe."

The battle between AMG and ARL has been in the UK courts for the past
three years.


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Voter registration exercise chaotic

Zim Independent

Orirando Manwere

THE just-ended voters roll inspection and registration exercise have
exposed the government’s shortcomings in the compilation of the newly
introduced ward voters’ rolls, among other critical factors likely to affect
the harmonised elections on March 29.

A survey by the Zimbabwe Independent during the inspection period
revealed that the exercise was marked by logistical problems and lack of
coordination between the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the
Registrar-General’s Office (RG).

Candidates and prospective voters have complained of attempts by RG
officials to deny them their right to inspect the rolls and register to
vote.

Harare North lawmarker Trudy Stevenson and aspiring Harare Ward 7
councillor Brighton Chiwola, both of the MDC (Mutambara formation), were
this week forced to seek a court order to inspect the voters’ roll.

The two wanted to check the names and details of their respective
nominators at two inspection centres in the constituency.

High Court judge Justice Tendai Uchena on Tuesday granted a consent
order to Stevenson and Chiwola.

Despite the granting of the order, Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede,
later addressed a press conference refuting allegations that the applicants
were denied their right to inspect the rolls.

During the Independent’s survey, it emerged that names of people
originally registered within wards and constituencies were missing from the
ward rolls that were reportedly hastily compiled by ZEC from previous
constituency rolls.

A Zanu PF official coordinating the nomination of an aspiring
councillor in Harare’s Ward 17 told the Independent at Beit Hall in
Mabelreign last week that he could not find names of 10 nominators backing
him.

This, the official, who asked for anonymity, said was despite the
nominators having registered and voted in previous elections in the area.

It was only after a ZEC supervisor who was present phoned the
Registrar-General’s Office and ascertained that they were in the national
database that he got help.

The supervisor advised the Zanu PF official to tell the nominators to
re-register at the inspection centre.

After getting the court order to inspect the rolls, legislator
Stevenson said six names of her nominators were not on the ward voters roll
despite having registered in the constituency during the previous
registration exercise.

She had to replace them ahead of the sitting of the nomination court
today since a candidate should have at least 10 nominators in the voters
roll, according to electoral laws.

It emerged that the building of ward-specific voters rolls from the
previous constituency and national voters rolls after delimitation was a
cumbersome process that could have resulted in most people being left out.

"The introduction of the ward voters rolls is causing a lot of
confusion. It was a mammoth task for the RG’s Office to have gone through
the national or constituency voters roll from A to Z and look at addresses
of people one by one and then come up with individual ward rolls for the
whole country," the Zanu PF official said.

Stevenson, Chiwola and MDC (Tsvangirai formation) spokesman Nelson
Chamisa questioned how the RG’s Office came up with the ward voters rolls
before the proclamation of the final delimitation report was made.

The ZEC presented the initial report to President Robert Mugabe on
January 16 before it was tabled before parliament, which was expected to
examine and debate it in terms of the constitution.

This was, however, not done as parliament immediately adjourned to
April 8.

President Mugabe proclaimed the final delimitation report with the
constituency and ward boundaries into law on February 8, a week after the
inspection of the voters roll had started.

"We wonder how the RG’s Office came up with the wards voters rolls for
the whole country before the proclamation of the final delimitation report,"
Chamisa said.

"Everything is being fast-tracked. Parliament was not afforded the
opportunity to input into the report which has remained a secret document
and that is why we have always expressed concerns over issues of legitimacy
in our electoral processes."

There are 1 958 wards nationwide.

The electorate will vote simultaneously for the presidential, House of
Assembly, senatorial and local council candidates within their wards.
Chamisa said there was need to extend the voters roll inspection to enable
people to cast their votes.

The Independent also established that most prospective voters were not
immediately given registration slips at the centres as forms were taken to
the RG’s office where information was to be fed into the national database.
The slips were returned to the centres for collection a week later. It took
two weeks for one to get fully registered and issued with the registration
certificate.

It was not clear when and where prospective voters who registered
during the last days would collect their certificates.

At Haig Park Primary School, prospective voters, including this
reporter, who registered on Tuesday last week, were advised to collect their
registration certificates after two days. Those who returned on Thursday
last week could not collect them until Wednesday and Thursday this week.

"This is very inconveniencing. It’s not easy to get time off from work
to come and register and then be told to come back for collection on another
day," said one man at the inspection centre. "I have been here on three
occasions and I only managed to collect the registration certificate today
(yesterday)."

The ZEC director of public relations Shupikai Mashereni referred
questions on registration and the voters roll to the RG’s Office where
officials could not be reached for comment.

The ZEC says all the necessary logistics are in place for the
elections.

Noel Kututwa, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN)
chairperson, said the inspection was characterised by a low turnout during
the first week. He said this could be attributed to lack of voter education.

The turnout however increased during the last days.

He said ZESN officials had established that most residents were not
aware of the exercise while some centres only started operating on Monday
instead of Friday last week.

Kututwa said the working class did not have time to inspect the voters
rolls and there was need to extend the inspection period by two more weeks.


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Chaos in MDC primaries

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro/ Lucia Makamure

THE Morgan Tsvangirai headed MDC faction has plunged into further
intra-party squabbling with supporters protesting against criteria used in
choosing candidates to represent the party in the forthcoming harmonised
elections.

Reports from a number of constituencies show that members objected to
the handpicking of candidates by senior party leaders.

They also protested against the party’s decision that sitting
lawmakers and members of the standing committee should not be challenged,
saying this amounted to an imposition of candidates.

Highly placed sources from a number of constituencies besieged the
party headquarters, Harvest House, in Harare to protest against the
imposition of candidates.

"The standing committee unilaterally decided that the sitting MPs and
members of the standing committee would not go through primaries for a
ticket to represent the party in the elections," one of the sources said.
"Tsvangirai last week wrote to all provincial chairpersons instructing them
to stop any primary contests against sitting MPs and the 10 members of his
standing committee."

The source said Tsvangirai, however, ordered primaries against Timothy
Mubhawu and Emmanuel Chisvuure in Mabvuku-Tafara and Budiriro constituencies
respectively.

Party spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the primaries for the two
constituencies were held at Harvest House resulting in new candidates being
chosen to represent their formation.

"There are now new candidates for the two constituencies," Chamisa
said.

"Shepard Madamombe won the primaries in Mabvuku while Professor Heneri
Dzinotyiwei will represent the party in Budiriro."

Sources said Mubhawu and Chisvuure were punished for supporting former
chairperson of the national women’s assembly, Lucia Matibenga, when she was
controversially toppled from the post in favour of Theresa Makone late last
year.

"Tsvangirai’s decision to impose candidates prompted a demonstration
at Harvest House early this week, with a number of supporters sleeping at
the party headquarters forcing the leadership to order primaries in the two
constituencies," the sources said.

The primary elections have been characterised by chaos and objections
in most parts of the country which the MDC considers as "safe seats".

Meanwhile, in Chitungwiza, Tsvangirai’s faction candidate for St Mary’s,
Marvelous Khumalo, was arrested and appeared in court on Tuesday for
inciting violence.

Magistrate Patience Ururu granted Khumalo a $250 million bail.

Khumalo is facing charges of inciting violence against St Mary’s
sitting MP Job Sikhala who is from the Arthur Mutambara-led MDC faction.

Khumalo, an employee of Crisis Coalition, was arrested on Sunday with
four other MDC members from both formations of the opposition party,
Brighton Mazhindu, David Chipunza and Simbarashe Makuwaza.

Khumalo is alleged to have led a group of his supporters in carrying
out unsanctioned door-to-door campaigns against Sikhala.

"On February 10 at about 18.00 hours, after an MDC rally at Huruyadzo
Shopping Centre, St Mary’s, accused persons in the company of about 50 still
at large being led by accused number one, Khumalo, an aspiring candidate for
St Mary’s constituency proceeded to house 569, St Mary’s Chitungwiza where
Job Sikhala, the sitting member lives singing anti-Sikhala songs and
conducting unsanctioned door-to-door campaigns," reads the charge sheet.

"When the group arrived at Sikhala’s residence, accused number three
(Chipunza) started assaulting Mercy Makwasha at number 836 with open hands
accusing her of supporting Job Sikhala as she was wearing an MDC T-shirt
written ‘MAN OF THE PEOPLE JOB SIKHALA’."

Sikhala, the complainant in the case, alleged that Khumalo and his
supporters threw stones at his residence and damaged a window.

"During the process, some supporters from MDC anti-senate who were
being led by accused one (Khumalo) started throwing stones into Sikhala’s
residence thereby damaging a window," the charge sheet read.

"The accused skirmished for about an hour and were dispersed by Mike
Chenai, a deputy security officer employed by the Municipality at
Chitungwiza, who fired one warning shot in the air and accused persons
dispersed."

lMeanwhile, members of Criminal Investigation Department yesterday
raided Crisis Coalition offices and reportedly arrested two civic education
officers in connection with the whereabouts of
Khumalo.

Pedzisayi Ruhanya of Crisis Coalition said the police officers picked
up the organisation’s information officer Thabani Moyo and Zinasu gender and
human rights officer Maureen Kademaunga.

"Thabani and Maureen were picked this afternoon and we are worried by
the police naivety to believe that the two are Khumalo’s custodians,"
Ruhanya said.

Ruhanya added that the police had also confiscated a digital still
camera and documents belonging to the two organisations during the raid.

Crisis and Zinasu share offices.


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Why MDC unity talks collapsed

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

THE second attempt to reunify the two factions of the MDC collapsed on
February 3 after the formations failed to agree on the proposed coalition
agreement put together by the top 10 leaders from both sides.

The bone of contention remained the distribution of parliamentary
seats between the two camps.

The opposition MDC split into two formations in October 12 2005,
resulting in the Arthur Mutambara-led formation having its congress in
Bulawayo in February 2006 and the Morgan Tsvangirai formation in Harare in
March 2006.

The Mutambara faction last week released details of the events
culminating in the failure of the transitional coalition agreement.

On February 2, the two MDC formations’ national councils were in the
morning presented with the transitional document that the top 10 leadership
from both parties had agreed upon for consideration.

They were told of endless debates held until the early hours of the
morning, saying they faced the hardest negotiations of their lives.

The document tabled showed a comprehensive reunification process,
which would culminate in a congress shortly after elections dissolving both
parties and making one reunited MDC.

The document also set out the distribution of parliamentary seats
between the two formations while declaring that all sitting MPs would not be
contested.

It also spelt out that the formations would field a single
presidential candidate to be chosen by the Tsvangirai formation.

The new seats allocation gave the Tsvangirai formation approximately
70% in six provinces, 50% in the Bulawayo province and 30% in the three
Matabeleland provinces.

The Mutambara faction expressed concern over the seats allocation, but
agreed to adopt the agreement.

By 12.00hrs midday they had adopted the agreement and were ready to
meet with the other team to sign it.

Instead, they waited for four hours while the Tsvangirai formation
debated.

Eventually the Mutambara formation’s top 10 were called back into
negotiations in which they were informed that the Tsvangirai formation’s
national council had not accepted the transitional coalition agreement so
they needed to go back into negotiation amongst themselves.

From 16.00hrs until 20.30hrs, the Tsvangirai formation was demanding
two more seats in Bulawayo. The Tsvangirai formation was then asked to make
a decision by the next morning, as the Mutambara formation could not yield
to the demands.

On Sunday morning February 3, the Tsvangirai formation brought an
entirely new and different set of demands to the negotiating table. They now
demanded 50% of all the Matabeleland and Bulawayo seats, including those
where the Mutambara faction MPs were already sitting.

The new demands were rejected, prompting the Mutambara formation to
call a press conference to announce that they were going it alone.


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ANZ applies for registration

Zim Independent

Bernard Mpofu

THE Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), publishers of the banned
Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday, yesterday filed an application for
registration with the Media and Information Commission (MIC)’s special
committee chaired by blacklisted lawyer Chinondidyachii Mararike.

The application came a day after the MIC wrote to media houses saying
the ANZ had failed to seek registration despite an invitation extended to it
by the commission.

Mararike confirmed receipt of the application from ANZ lawyers, Gill,
Godlonton and Gerrans legal practitioners.

"Today (yesterday) we have received an application letter from the ANZ
contrary to some media reports that we were dragging our feet in dealing
with its registration," Mararike said.

"We may be cynical, but let me assure you that we are extremely
genuine and this matter will receive the highest level of transparency and
fairness it deserves."

He said the special committee would come up with its determination on
the application within 30 days. The ANZ stopped publishing the Daily News
and the Daily News on Sunday in September 2003 when the government forced it
to shutdown after it refused to register with the MIC in line with the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The High Court has since ruled that the ANZ should apply for
registration and that the MIC should consider it.

The court barred MIC chairman, Tafataona Mahoso, from being part of
the committee to look into the matter saying he was biased.

Meanwhile, Mararike said prospective media players should not hesitate
to seek registration from the commission.

"We take this opportunity to encourage any and all prospective media
players to register with us," Mararike said.

"Seriously speaking, we are a progressive commission committed to
promoting media diversity, in fact, such diversity is a matter of national
importance to us because we are convinced that an informed society is a
society that is capable of making informed decisions."

He said the MIC wanted to open the media space to greater public
participation.

"Our serious commitment to media diversity is one reason why, in the
near future, we shall be hosting workshops and seminars to which all
stakeholders in the media industry will be invited," Mararike said.

"This will be part of our collaborative efforts to share ideas and
stimulate dialogue so we remove any possible suspicion and misconception
about the roles we should be playing."


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Kunonga holed up in Anglican cathedral

Zim Independent

Lucia Makamure

AS the Harare Anglican Church diocese saga continues to unravel, fired
Bishop Nolbert Kunonga has reportedly set up residence at the cathedral in
the capital and locked up the church’s doors to bar acting vicar general
Sebastian Bakare from carrying out his duties.

The move by Kunonga, sources said, was in defiance of High Court
orders stopping him from interfering with Bakare’s activities.

Bakare is also the acting bishop of Harare.

The sources said since Sunday, Kunonga, his wife and a group of over
40 people believed to be members of the national youth service had been
staying at the cathedral.

Kunonga is alleged to have used the militia to block Bakare’s
followers from holding a service at the church on Sunday afternoon.

The youths reportedly assaulted members of the congregation.

Reverend Christopher Tapera, the acting diocesan secretary and Bakare’s
spokesperson, yesterday confirmed the incident to the Zimbabwe Independent
in a telephone interview.

"We were meant to have a church service at 12.30 (hrs) at the
cathedral in line with the judge president’s (Rita Makarau) judgement, but
Kunonga locked up the church," said Tapera.

He said Bakare’s followers then went ahead with their service outside
the church and this did not go well with Kunonga and the youth militia.

"Kunonga sent his thugs to grab a camera from a young man who was
recording the service and this disrupted the service as his parents tried to
protect their son from the thugs," he said. "The thugs ended up assaulting
some of the followers."

Bakare’s spokesman claimed that the disturbances took place in the
presence of the police who did not do anything to stop Kanonga’s thugs from
assaulting members of the congregation.

"We phoned Superintendent (Isaac) Tayengwa who then sent constables
from the Law and Order section, but when they arrived the thugs
disappeared," Tapera said.

Tapera said he was shocked by the behaviour of the police who did not
arrest Kunonga for setting up residence at the cathedral.

"Kunonga has defied all three judgements at hand on the case and I
have personally taken the judgements to the police but they are reluctant to
arrest him," Tapera claimed.

A parishioner at the church who spoke to the Independent said youths
barricaded the main cathedral to stop a service which was supposed to be led
by a priest aligned to Bakare

"Less than 10 people attended Kunonga’s 7 am service yet more than 60
followers turned up for the 1230 (hrs) service which was to be conducted by
a priest from Bakare’s side," the parishioner said.


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Presidential guards chase away Zanu PF protestors

Zim Independent

Bernard Mpofu

MEMBERS of President Robert Mugabe’s Presidential Guard yesterday
allegedly chased away Zanu PF supporters from Zvimba East who had besieged
the party headquarters in Harare to protest the alleged imposition of
Patrick Zhuwao as the candidate for the constituency.

The supporters burst into songs denouncing the party’s elections
directorate soon after Mugabe arrived at the headquarters, prompting the
soldiers into action.

Zhuwao, Mugabe’s nephew, was allegedly imposed by the politburo
following the rejection of Francis Mukwangawira’s candidacy.

"A group of people in Zanu PF regalia were chased away from the party’s
premises moments after the president’s arrival," said one on-looker. "This
must have been the same people that were singing revolutionary songs
denouncing Zhuwao at the party’s offices yesterday (Wednesday)."

Party insiders have confirmed that Mugabe did not address the party
supporters from the constituency who had been coming to the Zanu PF
headquarters since Tuesday.

Moments after the incident, this reporter witnessed more than 20
people clad in party regalia running away from the party headquarters.
Efforts to interview the fleeing supporters were fruitless.

Earlier on Wednesday, party officials from Sally Mugabe district
submitted a petition objecting to the imposition of Zhuwao.

The Zimbabwe Independent is in possession of a letter addressed to the
national commissar and elections directorate chairman, Elliot Manyika.

"We strongly object to the candidature of Patrick Zhuwao as our party
candidate," reads the letter. "Please be assured that we will not give him
support for another term to go and snooze. We strongly feel robbed of our
freedom of choice to choose, as the president indicated that whoever enters
office must enter on merit not totem (sic)".

Manyika accused the supporters of being "used by enemies of the
party".

Mukwangawira was told by Manyika to stand for council elections.

He is the current councillor for Ward 35 in the Mashonaland West
constituency.

Similar protests were held last week over the party’s criteria for
choosing election candidates. Protests were made against senior party
heavyweights in Mashonaland Central. Bindura town mayor, Martin Dinha,
Garikai Msika and a senior Reserve Bank official, Fortune Chasi, were
disqualified from contesting in the House of Assembly primaries.

This year’s elections have seen clashes between veteran politicians
and young turks in Zanu PF. The opposition MDC (Tsvangirai faction) is also
facing intra-party squabbles over the selection of candidates in primary
elections.


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RTGS bleeds banks

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari

THE crisis with the central bank’s Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS)
payment system is costing the banking sector close to $5,2 trillion per day
in interest payments to clients whose transactions would have been delayed.

Bankers said the system, which should ideally be instant (real time),
is now costing financial institutions which are forced to compensate clients
whose payments would have been delayed.

The RTGS system has been experiencing problems for the past three
months. Investigations by businessdigest revealed that the system has been
down an average two days a week.

Just last week the system collapsed on Friday and Saturday. It was
down on Monday this week and a greater part of Wednesday. The cost to banks
has been huge.

On average the whole banking sector pushes transactions worth $162
trillion through the RTGS system everyday.

Each commercial bank pushes between $12 trillion and $14 trillion
worth of RTGS transactions every day.

If the system does not work for one day it means that transactions
worth $162 trillion would not have been processed.

That means the flow of money in the economy would have been affected
because transactions between buyers and sellers would not have been
completed.

The hyperinflation environment means that any delay in payment will
cost companies money. This translates to a cost to the whole economy.

When the system collapses banks are forced to pay the affected clients
at the overnight interest rate of 1 200%.

The problem however is that banks are picking up the costs even though
they are not to blame for the crisis in the system. Banks are merely users
of the system which is owned by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

The system only works when the Tel*One link is operating.

For example, when a CBZ client instructs the bank to transfer money to
Barclays the instruction will be routed through Tel*One’s system which is
used by RTGS.

The instruction from CBZ will be carried by the Tel*One line to South
Africa from where it is relayed to Brussels in Belgium.

From Belgium the instruction will be routed through the same system
back to Barclays for the transaction to be processed.

The problem however arises when the system collapses along the way
because banks will not be able to communicate.

The problem, experts say, lies with the Tel*One’s telecommunications
infrastructure which has virtually collapsed because the parastatal is thin
on both financial resources and skills to deal with problems in the system.

The power outages have not made things any better for the system.

Tel*One is unable to buy fuel to power the generators at its various
bases along the line.

Analysts however said the bigger problem is that the system is too old
to sustain the increased traffic that is coming through the RTGS system.

"The problem will get worse unless the whole system is revamped. The
problem is that Tel*One does not have the money and the RBZ is still
dragging it feet," said a chief executive of a commercial bank.

"There will come a time when whole system will completely collapse.
When that happens there will be chaos in the banking sector and the whole
economy," he said.


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Industry blasts pricing commission

Zim Independent

Kuda Chikwanda

THE Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) has blamed the National
Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) for the recent slump in manufacturing
output.

CZI president, Callisto Jokonya told businessdigest this week that the
manufacturing sector capacity has now dropped to around 10%.

The figure had previously averaged 20% since 2002. Last year capacity
utilisation in the manufacturing sector was around 25%.

Jokonya accused NIPC chairman, Godwills Masimirembwa, of failing to
assist industry to survive in a volatile and harsh economic environment.

"The average is now 10%, not all companies are producing at that
level," Jokonya said.

"Several companies are producing at levels lower than that. To be
honest with you, if we find a company producing at 10%, it is rather
pleasing at the moment."

Jokonya said Masimirembwa was only approving price increases after
products had already disappeared from the market.

"No one will produce at a loss. It is wrong to label businesses which
are not producing as being unpatriotic. When production stops, NIPC tells
everyone that it is giving industry price increases. I want to find out why
NIPC is the habit of doing this," Jokonya said.

Jokonya said NIPC was being used as a political tool and antagonising
business.

Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) president, Marah
Hativagone, said the NIPC was slow in the making decisions on prices.

"They are always too slow. They are now just beginning to understand
issues. What we said last year is what they are beginning to implement this
year," said Hativagone.

"But still that remains a problem because time does not stand still
and things change everyday."

Hativagone said NIPC had failed to understand that it was supposed to
research into the causes of escalating prices and find lasting solutions
instead of seeking to control prices. Masimirembwa however dismissed the
accusations saying the CZI and the ZNCC had a political agenda.

"It does look like these two umbrella organisations have a political
agenda and are always making false accusations against the NIPC," he said.

Masimirembwa said NIPC was vetting applications for price increases
and approving them within seven days.

"We are doing the best we can to approve prices within seven days. In
cases of basic commodities, there is not a single outstanding application
apart from fertiliser," he said.

Masimirembwa said NIPC would no longer work with the ZNCC and the CZI.
He said the two organisations were slowing down the price applications.

"We have since discovered that these two umbrella bodies slow down
things. We are making much more progress working directly with manufacturers
and companies than working with them through the ZNCC and the CZI,"
Masimirembwa said.

NIPC has come under fire from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe for
overstepping its mandate.

The central bank recommended that the NIPC should control the prices
of three basic commodities — maize meal, bread and flour — and monitor the
prices of 16 other products. The CZI and the ZNCC estimate that 80% of all
products in shops and supermarkets are imported goods as local manufacturers
are yet to recover from last year’s price blitz.


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NMB to receive US$2,5 million loan

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari

NMB Bank will next week receive a US$2,5 million loan from an offshore
financial institution to cover the hole created by a series of fraudulent
activities that rocked the bank last year.

The money will be used to pay exporters and individual foreign
currency account holders who lost their money between 2006 and 2007.

NMB lost about US$6,2 million to a syndicate of officials in the
treasury department who siphoned foreign currency from the bank’s accounts
for onward sale on the parallel market.

Businessdigest can reveal that the loan is being facilitated by ABC
Bank. Although the identity of the source of funds is still unknown, a
source said it is a South African financial institution.

The loan documents have been prepared and the parties have agreed to
the terms, the source said this week.

"Probably by the end of next week the deal will be completed," said a
senior official in NMB.

The central bank’s External Loans Coordinating Committee is understood
to have approved the loan deal two weeks ago. The committee is responsible
for assessing and approving external loans for companies in Zimbabwe.

NMB has two options it can use to repay the loan. The bank can go back
to its shareholders to raise additional capital through a rights issue to
repay the loan.

The other alternative will be to convert the debt into equity to give
the lender a shareholding.

For this option to work, NMB will have to seek shareholder approval to
issue new shares. This would mean that NMB will have a foreign shareholder.
An external audit found that the money was siphoned from NMB Bank through
210 fraudulent transactions.

Businessdigest understands that no arrests have been made since the
scandal was unearthed in April last year.

The RBZ team of investigators submitted its findings to the police
together with the names of the directors of companies that are at the centre
of the fraud in May last year.

The RBZ has also submitted statements from NMB’s management to the
police. In their statement officials from NMB denied any involvement saying
the transactions were approved in error.

A forensic auditing firm completed its comprehensive investigation
into the fraud in November last year.
The audit shows that the beneficiary companies held accounts with
Kingdom, Barclays, Stanchart, Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group, MBCA, Premier
Bank, CBZ, ZB and Stanbic Bank. A few clients from Cabs, the biggest
building society in the country, also benefited. The money was transferred
into an offshore company called Cardinal Finance (Pvt) which holds an
account with AKB Bank of Switzerland.

A conduit company, Haus (Pvt), would then transfer to Zimbabwean
companies in exchange for Zimbabwean dollars. NMB is still pushing for the
central bank to reverse its decision to cancel their foreign currency
licence following the fraud.

NMB believe that it would be unfair to cancel their dealership licence
when new evidence shows that other banks were used in the transactions.

NMB Bank wants the RBZ to carry out thorough investigations into the
whole foreign currency system in order to establish how the other banks were
involved.


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Mines suspend long-term projects

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

MOST mining companies have stopped their long-term projects because
they are still unclear about the fate of the Mines and Minerals Amendment
Bill which proposes drastic changes to the ownership structure in the mining
sector.

The Bill, which proposes to allow government to take over 51%
shareholding in foreign owned mines could not be finalised because
parliament had to adjourn in preparation for the March 29 elections.

Parliament will be dissolved on March 28. This means that there will
be no progress on the Bill until a new parliament comes in on April 8.

Under parliamentary regulations and procedures, the Bill which was
tabled in parliament in December falls away and can only be passed to the
next parliament if the new government supports the idea.

If the new government supports idea, the Bill will have to be
re-introduced to parliament. Any changes to the Bill will go through the
drafting committee.

The Bill will also have to go through the senate.

Analysts said this further heightens the uncertainty in the mining
sector which is already facing foreign currency shortages and power outages.

This means that foreign investors would have to wait until around May
to make an informed decision about investing in Zimbabwe’s mining sector.

The few companies that were expanding have also stopped long-term
projects until they are clear about the fate of the bill.

Chamber of Mines president, Jack Murehwa, said even though the Bill
was not passed, its mere presence will continue to affect the mining sector.
He said mines were unable to plan unless they are clear about the fate of
the Bill.

"For as long as the revision of mining laws is not completed,
investment will most likely stay away from Zimbabwe," Murehwa said.

"Investors want to know the rules of the game before they risk their
money. Investors are just like you and me. Would you invest a large sum of
money in an environment where you do not know the rules of the game?"

"Of note was the added section on empowerment and the approach adopted
on this section plus the fact that there seems to be no conclusion to the
revision project which has been going on now for up to five years," Murehwa
said.

The first section of the Bill revises the mining laws that have been
in existence for the past 30 years.

"This attempt is commendable and while there are sections that we feel
could have been approached differently, in general this section has been
well done," Murehwa said.

The second section deals with the indeginisation of the mining
industry.

"It is our view that the authors and sponsors of this section are not
concerned about the views of both internal and foreign investors. We can
confirm, however, that the contents of that section will certainly leave
potential investors uninterested in Zimbabwe."

"Certainly, if our suggestions were to be considered and adopted, we
believe this would go a long way in building confidence in investors in the
country and potential investors from outside the country," Murehwa said.


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Manufacturing companies reduce operations

Zim Independent

Jesilyn Dendere

MAJOR manufacturing companies are scaling down operations due to
shortages of foreign currency, raw materials and persistent power cuts.

Businesses are also struggling to remain viable because of the rising
cost of production.

The situation has also been worsened by government’s new policies to
control prices of basic commodities.

Manufacturers of basic commodities interviewed by businessdigest this
week said they were still operating below 50% despite claims by the central
bank that most companies had raised their capacity utilisation to about 60%
after receiving funds under the Basic Commodity Supply Side Intervention
(Bacossi) facility.

Companies that received the Bacossi funds said they only managed to
increase capacity utilisation from levels below 30% to around 50%.

Officials at Dairibord said retailers who want bulk supplies of milk
will have to book in advance.

Its milk brands, Chimombe and Fresh Milk, are not available in the
shops.

Delta Beverages said the shortage of sugar had impacted heavily on the
production of soft drinks, though the company said it was working with the
main suppliers of the commodity.

"The sparkling beverages business is a major user of bottler grade
sugar. While the general shortage of sugar impacts adversely on our ability
to produce the full range of our brands we are doing our best to cope with
these supply challenges," said George Mutendadzamera, Delta’s general
manager for corporate affairs.

"The suppliers of sugar continue to do their best to minimise
disruption to our production and we work closely with them all the time," he
said.

Last year, Delta Beverages disposed of their Mr Juicy brand which was
launched in 2004 due to serious supply problems of by-products like oranges.

The company sold Mr Juicy and Premium Plus Mahewu in order to
concentrate on beer and carbonated drinks.

Barely a month after the Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono hailed the
Bacossi funds as having gone a long way in restoring productivity for
beneficiary manufacturers and retailers, StarAfrica Corporation the main
supplier of sugar and one of the beneficiaries of the funds, is failing to
meet demand of sugar supplies.

"As a result, most companies were operating at capacity levels of
below 30% before the introduction of the Basic Commodity Supply Side
Intervention Facility on October 1 2007. Most beneficiaries under Bacossi
increased capacity utilisation from well below 30% to 50%," said Gono last
month.

A survey by businessdigest revealed that most retail outlets had no
sugar. The little that they manufacture finds its way into the thriving
black market.

A salesperson at Zimbabwe Sugar Sales, a company that distributes
sugar said the shortages were caused by problems at the sugar milling
estate.

He said the only available sugar was being given to a few major
retailers.

"We are not selling sugar to individuals or those with small shops but
we are supplying the little that is there to large retailers and wholesalers
who we are asking to collect their own sugar from Chiredzi."

An official at Hippo Valley Estates said the sugar industry was facing
the same problems as other key sectors of the economy.

"With the current shortage of basically everything, electricity,
money, water, one should not be surprised by short supply of any commodity."

National Foods Limited (Natfoods) which was one of the first
beneficiaries of the Bacossi funds has also scaled down its operations due
to lack of raw material and power outages.

Natffods manufactures mealie-meal, cooking oil and flour. Consumers
have been forced to import flour and cooking oil from South Africa.

"We don’t have enough raw materials, that is our major constraint here
at National Foods," said Chekenyere, spokesperson for National Foods.

"Another constrain that has been of major concern is the intermittent
power supplies, the disruption in power supply has been costly. We are
running a loss every time there is a power cut. For example if the mill is
running and power stops we can lose the product or it can be affected. We
lose money due to such stoppages."

He said the company has been battling to get raw materials from the
Grain Marketing Board which is their sole supplier.

Unilever South East Africa have been scaling down operations due lack
of raw materials and shortage of foreign currency that is needed to purchase
raw materials. The company has to import fats which are crucial in the
manufacturing of soap.

Unilever also needs foreign currency for import packing material and
spare parts.

Unilever has been struggling to manufacture some of its products,
which include OMO washing powder, surface cleaner and soap.

Their margarine brand, Stock, has virtually disappeared from the
market.

Rama, another margarine brand from Unilever, is also in short supply.

"It has been long since we stopped manufacturing detergents and we
have no idea when they will be back because we are currently facing massive
raw material shortages and the lack of foreign currency has not made it any
better," said an official in the company’s sales department.

The official said the company now only manufactures per order.

Bata has also been affected by lack of capital and raw materials.
There is a serious shortage of leather in the country.

Bata’s branch along George Silundika and another one in Highlands have
been temporarily closed.

"They are two branches that had closed due to low levels of supply
after the price blitz. These were however just temporary closures, we will
be reopening soon," said an official from Bata.


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Asset management firms to merge

Zim Independent

Jesilyn Dendere

A NUMBER of asset management companies are likely to merge within the
next few months as they battle to survive in a sector that is already
crowded.

There are currently 17 asset management companies. Sources say almost
half of them are already in financial problems and could face collapse if
they do not merge.

In his monetary policy presentation last month central bank governor,
Gideon Gono, said the asset management sector was overtraded and some firms
were no longer concentrating on their core business.

"We implore institutions in the sub-sector to take up this advice or
risk losing their asset management licenses on the back of inadmissible
dealings," Gono said in his monetary statement.

"An analysis of the sub-sector’s income statements shows that there is
resurgence in the tendency by some institutions to rely heavily on income
from non-core business," Gono said.

"Incomes and investments under management are not enough to sustain
operations."

Gono said asset management companies were not making profits from
their core businesses hence the need to consolidate.

Some asset management firms that spoke to businessdigest said it was
becoming increasingly difficult to operate under the current economic
conditions.

"Some of the asset managers have as little as a total of $5 trillion
for their funds under management and it’s difficult to explain how they are
surviving on the management fees generated by such funds," said one
investment analyst with a local asset management company. "Asset managers
are only supposed to survive by growing their own book and management fees
from funds under management, no margin trading and no front running."

According to one investment analyst, most asset management companies
are operating on very thin profit margins and which force them to resort on
non-core business for survival.


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A deeper look at the banking crisis in Zim

Zim Independent

By Tonderai Nyazika

THE issue of the Zimbabwe Independent of January 25 had at least four
articles dedicated to the so-called "banking crisis". The next issue of
February 1 carried follow-up articles on the problem the banking sector was
facing.

Readers of the newspaper must have thought that a banking Armageddon
was coming, for the articles spared no financial institution.

There was a deliberate attempt to paint a gloomy picture of the
banking sector.

There is no doubt in the minds of financial sector players that the
details which were published in these issues of the Independent were leaked
from the central bank. Bankers are convinced that the Independent would not
have been able to get these details without assistance from someone at the
central bank.

It is pertinent to appropriately locate where the danger to the
banking sector lies in the face of the "partnership" between the central
bank and the Zimbabwe Independent in relation to this matter.

It is common cause that the banking industry’s survival depends on the
confidence of the customer. The assurance the depositor will be able to get
their money on demand is what gives them confidence.

That is why many bank notes, including our own useless bearer cheques,
have the inscription, "I promise to pay the bearer on demand" on their face.

As such any central bank that undermines that confidence will be
committing suicide upon the very sector whose sanctity it should protect.

It is unprecedented desperation for a whole national bank to call
reporters to see its vaults just to prove that there is cash in those
vaults.

Geoff Nyarota once observed that the greatest problem with Zimbabweans
is not their docility but rather their short memory. The cash problem that
affected this economy started way back in late October 2007. At that time
the monetary authorities in their wisdom or lack of it decided against a
pragmatic course of action.

The Herald on November 21, 2007 ran with the headline: "Cash shortage,
Gono speaks". In the story the paper reported that the governor had told
business leaders and journalists that the central bank had adopted a "wait
and see attitude with regards to the cash shortages". This was despite the
fact that queues had become the order of the day at the time.

Later, the governor made a statement in which he threatened to change
the currency and blamed cash barons for the cash shortages. The media
revealed at the time that there was only $2 trillion of the $67 trillion
which the central bank had released into the market that could be accounted
for.

By unwittingly making this revelation, the central bank exonerated the
banks because quick-witted Zimbabweans did their arithmetic and concluded
that even if the so-called cash barons were not hoarding it, it would still
not have been enough.

Sunrise Two was introduced in December but we all know that it did not
solve the problem.

On January 19, 2008 it was reported by the Herald that "at least $13
trillion was yesterday released into the market as the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe stepped up efforts to ease cash shortages".

This was soon after the introduction of the higher denomination bearer
cheques.

Three days later, on January 21, the governor reported through the
Herald that the RBZ was stuck with trillions of dollars which banks were not
collecting. He invited reporters and captains of industry to demonstrate to
them that the culprits were the banks.

On January 25, the Independent had a "scoop", detailing the
misdemeanors bankers were engaging in to the detriment of the public. There
was a field day on the banks, detailing the crisis each was facing and
attributing the liquidity crunch to the "unlawful speculative investments".

In simple terms, banks operate by taking deposits from natural and
juristic persons as well as advance loans to the same. Advances made by
banks in the form of loans are made from these deposits. These sit on a bank’s
balance sheet as liabilities and assets.

This system works well on the basis of confidence. However, as an
instrument of managing inflation, central banks can reduce the amount of
money in circulation through the use of reserve assets, commonly known as
statutory reserves.

At that time the cash crisis started the statutory reserves
constituted 50% of all deposit types whether demand or savings. For the
simple man in the streets this means that if they deposited one dollar in a
bank, 50 cents is taken by the central bank. This means that assuming a
customer demanded their dollar, the bank would only be able to pay 50c. This
is where confidence comes in.

Each customer, because of confidence, does not have to come and demand
their money at the same time since the bank would definitely have a
liquidity problem.

However, it definitely gets more complex than that since banks have to
lend to the productive sector. Out of the remaining 50c a bank has to lend
to the productive sectors of the economy. Assuming such an advance
constitutes 25c of the remaining 50c and that the loan is for 12 months, it
theoretically means that that 25c is tied for a whole year and will not be
available to a customer.

That will leave the bank with 25c to do business and also meet the
customer’s cash demands. It is also from this 25c that banks have to buy
security which they should lodge with the central bank to obtain cash. Such
security is in the form of treasury bills.

In reality the situation is more complex than this but what I have
described here is the basic framework. The liquidity problems were not only
caused by market distortions but also steep statutory reserves which took
away 50% of depositor’s funds.

It is for this reason that the central bank in an unprecedented
fashion released a first quarter monetary policy statement, which was made
very quietly without the usual pomp and fanfare, in which he reduced the
statutory reserves to around 40%.

After this explanation, readers have probably seen that the articles
on the banking sector in the Independent were shallow and demonstrated a
lack of appreciation of how the banking sector works. Whilst banks indeed
had a liquidity problem, the explanations given were no doubt a red herring
by the monetary authorities to shift blame on the cash crisis to banks.

A bank’s balance sheet is fairly standard and the line items may be
summarised with descriptions such as securities and investments. This
balance sheet is supposed to be displayed in banking halls, which makes it
public information.

Securities are fungible and negotiable instruments that represent
financial value. These can be bonds, treasury bills, banker’s acceptances,
debentures and equity instruments, to name just a few.

When balance sheets are published, accounting standards require
disclosure which is sufficient to show the true and fair view of the
position of an institution. A number of instruments can be grouped under the
line item securities and investments.

For a reporter to allege that banks were engaging in unscrupulous
activities such as putting "depositors’ funds in securities and money market
instruments" is either a very na´ve assertion or a deliberate act to mislead
the public.

It is possible that some banks may have bought shares, but to claim
that securities are akin to equities shows a lack of understanding of
financial jargon.

In any case, it is banks that are dealers in the money market anyway.

The news reports also portrayed the seeking of accommodation as a very
dangerous situation. One of the key functions of the central bank, apart
from being a banker to banking institutions is to be the lender of last
resort. This is the fundamental role of a central bank.

There is therefore nothing sinister about Zimbabwean banks getting
overnight accommodation from their central bank.

The banking sector operates as a web with each bank depending on
other. As such, a problem with one institution can affect several others.
This is what is referred to as systemic risk or contagion effect.

Furthermore, banks owe each other money. In that light, to report that
Kingdom Bank owes CBZ $10 trillion without seeking how much CBZ owes Kingdom
Bank is irresponsible to the extent that it portrays imprudence on the part
of Kingdom. The fact is that banks owe each other on a daily basis in the
ordinary course of business.

There was anger in the banking sector owing not only to the dangerous
behaviour of the officials at the central bank for undermining the
confidence in the sector, but also the complicity of the Independent.

The paper should have known better to distinguish information from
propaganda.

The banking sector is very complex. Writing stories on it requires
journalists to seek a good level of understanding so that they appropriately
inform the public. Anything short of that will mislead the public. This
means it takes more than using dossiers from the RBZ’s information
department.

Doing so will give rise to the publication of misleading information
which can kill the banking sector. A wholesale collapse of the banking
sector spells doom for a fragile economy like ours. It will also affect
everyone including newspaper publishing companies.

*Tonderai Nyazika is a pseudonym for a Zimbabwean banker who wrote
this article in response to a series of stories published by this paper
three weeks ago.


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Zanu PF breaks own rules

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

THE just-ended Zanu PF primaries have exposed the ruling party’s
tendency of breaking its own ground rules, with provinces coming up with
their own selection criteria to stop senior politicians from being
challenged.

The unsanctioned decisions have resulted in a number of disputed
primary elections, forcing the party leadership to order reruns to correct
the anomalies.

In some cases Zanu PF primaries have been characterised by violence
after supporters failed to agree on the procedures of choosing candidates.

This, in some cases, resulted in the abandonment of the polls.

The disputes left Zanu PF with no option but to extend primary
elections by another week to allow for the finalisation of candidates’
selection in several constituencies.

The objections and complaints, which were registered with the party’s
national election directorate, forced President Robert Mugabe to delay the
nomination court by another week from February 8.

In all the objections, Zanu PF heavyweights were implicated in either
vote rigging or imposition of candidates without going through the
primaries, forcing party supporters to besiege the party headquarters in
Harare demanding a reversal.

A number of provinces complained that senior politicians abused the
technicality of five years in provincial leadership requirement to avoid
potential challenges from parliamentary and council hopefuls.

They also objected to the last minute declaration of constituencies as
reserved for women candidates, a development viewed as an attempt by the top
leadership to block young turks who wanted to represent the ruling party.

These developments prompted a number of local structures to write to
the party’s national election directorate denouncing the imposition of
candidates.

Zanu PF insiders said the chaos that characterised the primaries
throughout the country exposed policy contradictions and the double
standards by some party heavyweights to protect themselves.

"The primaries’ confusion reflected policy and implementation
contradictions," a source said.

"It exposed that the leadership surrounding Mugabe deliberately misled
him to protect themselves, so that by the time correct information gets to
him, the decision making process would have lapsed. That is why the party
often makes wrong decisions."

The source said political heavyweights were manipulating the system to
impose their own candidates even if they are not the electorate’s choice.

"The sad part is that there is no system to hold these people to
account, except ordering a rerun of the elections," she said.

A classic example was in Mashonaland Central where the provincial
leadership declared that no politburo members would be challenged in their
constituencies.

The declaration gave ministers Eliot Manyika, Chen Chimutengwende,
Nicholas Goche and Saviour Kasukuwere automatic tickets as Zanu PF
candidates.

Although the decision prompted protests with party supporters
complaining that there wasn’t such a provision in the guidelines, it failed
to sway the provincial leadership.

Supporters in Mashonaland West and Masvingo provinces have accused
provincial leadership of "ambush politics" in which some constituencies were
declared as reserved for women just before the primary elections.

Supporters from Mashonaland Central last week demonstrated at the
ruling party headquarters and denounced the imposition of candidates and
alleged declaration of candidates as uncontested when the directorate was
preparing for primaries.

The supporters cited outgoing Makonde MP Leo Mugabe’s case when he
sought to be senator for Mhangura but was shocked when he was told that the
constituency had been reserved for a woman on the day of the primary
election.

His immediate response was to file an appeal. The directorate reversed
the decision, allowing Mugabe to stand as the senatorial candidate in
Makonde.

In Masvingo, the provincial executive tried to impose themselves and
their lieutenants as candidates in constituencies of their choice with the
chairman Alex Mudavanhu going further to declare that he should not be
challenged.

Chaos in the province was only averted after the intervention of
retired army general Vitalis Zvinavashe who nullified the declaration.

Zvinavashe is understood to have told the provincial leadership that
if the highest office is being contested then no one should become a
candidate without going through primaries. Mudavanhu and a number of his
provincial executive were defeated in the primaries.

In Gutu South Dr Paul Chimedza, the former president of the Hospital
Doctors Association who had reportedly bankrolled a multi-billion dollar bid
for political office, suffered a major setback when he was informed that he
could not contest in primary elections because the constituency was reserved
for a woman.

The provincial election directorate’s decision, which had declared
long-serving and controversial politician, Shuvai Mahofa, candidate without
challenge, was however reversed by the election directorate.

Mahofa had to go into primaries against Henrieta Rushwaya and Jane
Muzangwa. Again how Rushwaya got the ticket to contest in Gutu South after
she lost another primary in Gutu East leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

In Mutare a serious clash erupted between Gender minister Oppah
Muchinguri and Irene Zindi following the declaration of Sherlington Dumbura
as the Zanu PF candidate for Mutare South.

The decision was nullified following Zindi’s complaint accusing
Muchinugri of misrepresenting facts and presenting Dumbura as a woman
candidate to the party leadership.

Zindi confirmed that the decision had been reversed, but was surprised
by the call for any other candidates interested in the constituency to
submit their CVs for consideration to contest in primaries.

"I asked the national commissar whether there was a provision for new
candidates to submit their CVs since the process was closed last month,"
Zindi said.

"I also asked him whether those CVs would be submitted for vetting
considering the fact that the closing day for primaries was Wednesday," she
said.

Manyika said the issue would be finalised by the provincial
leadership.

Observers, however, said even before Zindi’s complaint, the idea that
after the delimitation process the provincial leadership should meet on
January 3 to parcel out constituencies and declare themselves as unopposed
candidates was unprocedural.

The meeting had agreed that ministers Mike Nyambuya and Oppah
Muchinguri, and Mandi Chimene and Zindi would go in unopposed.

In Bulawayo province, clashes forced the postponement of primary
elections after rival factions clashed in protest over unfair selection
criteria.

Members aligned to war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda protested
against a move by a rival faction led by the Zanu PF old guard to bar them
from contesting in the primaries. The provincial party leadership was
accused of imposing candidates and delaying announcing the list of
contestants until shortly before the nomination court sits.

In Matabeleland North, Industry and Trade minister Obert Mpofu
allegedly barred an aspiring candidate, Retired Major Mark Mzulu Mbayiwa,
from contesting primaries, claiming that his papers were submitted
unprocedurally.

Mbayiwa has lodged a complaint with the party’s national directorate.

In Matabeleland South, another aspiring candidate for Insiza, Charlton
Siziba, has filed a High Court application seeking an interim order to
nullify the result of the primary poll.

In the court papers Siziba wants the High Court to interdict the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission from holding the nomination court for Insiza
until the finalisation of his court case.


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The real deal

Zim Independent

Comment

THE real deal is here for Simba Makoni — who recently broke ranks with
the ruling Zanu PF — and the cacophony of dissenting voices against the
Mugabe administration.

All oppositional forces will today parade candidates to fight the Zanu
PF system which has been in charge of this country for almost three decades.

It is embarrassing that after more than five years of planning the
opposition forces to present their papers in nomination courts today are
still fragmented and at times displaying traits of disorganisation and
indecision. They have not seen the benefits of combining forces to tackle
the Zanu PF machine.

There has been immense excitement around Makoni’s challenge to Mugabe.
There is belief among many that the former Finance minister can put up a
real challenge to Mugabe. But there is still faith in the opposition MDC
despite its leadership frailties. As we reported two weeks ago, there was a
real chance of former Zipra commander Dumiso Dabengwa throwing his hat into
the ring and also challenging for the top position. This would have meant
three opposition leaders lining up to contest against Mugabe yet there is
only one strong opposition political party — Tsvangirai’s MDC — in the
contest for the house of assembly and senatorial seats, which could work
well in favour of Mugabe.

At the close of the nomination court today, the strength and
seriousness of the Makoni project will be put into perspective. The nation
awaits the calibre of men and women to line up behind him because he will
need them to campaign for him in the election. He has the backing of the
Arthur Mutambara faction of the MDC but that is support concentrated in the
southern part of the country.

Makoni, at the launch of his party manifesto on Wednesday, appealed to
those who lost in the Zanu PF primary elections and those who won to join
him in his new crusade. That is to say that he expects defections from Zanu
PF. But there is a danger here that he might only attract those who lost in
the primaries. It will be a tragedy if Makoni becomes leader of Zanu PF
rejects. His strength and appeal will be based on his ability to attract
high level politicians from the ruling party and the MDC.

Makoni cannot bank on the support of the Mutambara faction of the MDC
alone. He needs his own people. The way the alliance between Mutambara and
the MDC has been fashioned could pose a problem for voters. They are being
asked to vote for the Mutambara faction candidates in the House of Assembly,
senatorial and council elections but vote for Makoni for president. Is it
necessary to subject the voters who believe in the same cause to multiple
symbols on election day? By the way, there is also the Tsvangirai faction to
contend with. His party shares the same name with the Mutambara faction and
their symbols are not very different.

There is a problem here of not only splitting the opposition vote but
further confusing the electorate in an election bound to be characterised by
organisational chaos. Elections are all about symbols and brands. For the
purpose of our elections here, the opposition will feature three symbols of
the two MDC factions and Makoni’s. Too many of them perhaps.

The challenge that faces the opposition in this election is to justify
to the electorate that this fractiousness is necessary and the most suitable
plan to win the general and presidential elections. The danger is for the
opposition to start to campaign against each other. It is possible
considering statements which have been uttered to date by the Tsvangirai
faction against Makoni.

We also reported last week that interlocutors in the unity talks
between the two MDC factions felt that their relations had become
irreparable. But all oppositional forces have to find common ground in this
election. It is not just about the opposition articulating Mugabe’s failures
in almost all spheres of governance. The electorate already knows this.
Leaders in the opposition have to show that they are better organised than
Zanu PF.

The last minute rush by the opposition to forge alliances is a sure
sign of organisational inadequacies and lack of tact in dealing with a sly
customer in the form of President Mugabe. It must be noted that Mugabe still
commands a large number of followers and is still in control of key
government institutions and machinery that he has employed in the past to
win elections. This is what Tsvangirai, Makoni and Mutambara are up against
and not each other.


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Is God Zanu PF or MDC?

Zim Independent

Candid Comment

WHAT is happening in the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe is not only
disturbing but should also be very embarrassing to true believers. What
started off as a minor tiff between head of the Harare diocese former Bishop
Nolbert Kunonga and the province of Central Africa ostensibly over
homosexuality has mutated and ramified way out of control, threatening to
tear asunder the church and shake to the core people’s faith in the
Christian religion.

The struggle for power pitting newly re-ordained retired Bishop
Sebastian Bakare and Kunonga gives the church a bad name. It doesn’t really
matter who is right or who is wrong. The public violence and the uncouth
verbal exchanges in the media are far from edifying spiritually. Are these
fights in the service of God and the spiritual needs of the flock or is it
all now about earthly power and dominion? For we now have the shameful
spectacle of the proverbial wise man arguing with a fool. The difference is
the same.

Sadder than that, it is unfortunate for the bishops that their dirty
fight for the control of the church reflects the polarised political climate
in the country. While Bakare has not taken an obvious political position,
Kunonga has made no secret of his alignment to Zanu PF. But if we are
genuine that Zimbabwe’s present political and economic crises are due to a
huge democratic deficit, I can’t find a valid reason why Kunonga should not
enjoy his democratic right to support Zanu PF. Didn’t Jesus Christ say as
much, that we should love our enemies, for even Gentiles love their friends?

It all goes to show how badly everything in Zimbabwe has been poisoned
by our brand of politics where things are never what they are but are seen
for where they emanate from. For all the noise about democracy, tolerance
and love for one another, Zimbabweans still fall far short of the bar.
Democracy is a concept to which we pay only lip-service. There is just too
much intolerance; no one wants to compromise even if the outcome means
mutual self-destruction.

We have seen this brinksmanship in the negotiations between Zanu PF
and the MDC. We have seen the same repeated in the negations between the two
MDC formations. In our daily lives now the nation drinks from the same
poisoned chalice. The nation’s suffering is perpetuated to serve the
inflated egos of party leaders because everyone wants a winner-takes-all
outcome.

I often wonder when sanity and maturity will return in our lifetime. I
have come to expert dirty tricks in politics, knowing that man will always
be greedy, selfish, immoral and self-aggrandising, but I expect church
leaders to fare much better, to provide a good example to us who are frail
of spirit and quick of temper. I find it difficult now to see how the church
can preach tolerance among politicians and their followers as we enter this
critical stage in the election process when it can’t measure up to our
minimum expectations.

Last year a number of religious organisations came up with a national
vision document, the Zimbabwe We Want. It proposed local initiatives on how
to resolve the current crisis and alleviate people’s suffering. That project
was spearheaded by Trevor Manhanga. He was known to have shared a cup of tea
with President Robert Mugabe at State House. That was enough to besmirch
that document before Zimbabweans of good will could debate it. Nothing
constructive has replaced it to give the nation direction even as we fumble
blindly for solutions.

The Zimbabwe We Want document suffered the same unlamented fate as the
draft constitution which was rejected in a referendum in February 2000 —
both victims of self-serving propaganda, deliberate misinformation and
misconception. It was only much later that there were feeble, grudging
admissions that that draft constitution was far better than anything which
has so far been presented to the public. The reason it was rejected was
because Zanu PF spearheaded the project.

The church had remained so far the only place less contaminated by
this hate politics, hate propaganda although it has been lambasted by
government for the occasional pastoral letter condemning state-sponsored
violence. It was the only place some of us looked to for sobriety in
debating the national crisis, knowing that churches normally don’t select
followers along party lines. Little did I suspect that their leaders were
equally as susceptible to the corrupting influence of the devil as are
seekers of political glory.

In the despicable opera playing out in the Anglican Church in Harare,
initially it took the form of a standoff between supporters of Kunonga and
Bakare. This soon degenerated into court battles which Kunonga has lost but
chooses to ignore. The latest episode involved physical assaults on
worshippers by people said to be aligned to Kunonga. Then there was
destruction of property in Glen Norah last week by people aligned to Bakare.

All this takes away from the church the moral authority to speak with
sincerity on issues of violence between rival political parties. It is a
sure recipe for disaster, a descent into real lawlessness. They must hang
their heads in shame. We’re fed up.


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ZEC should be tough on hate language

Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

By Vincent Kahiya

THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission on Wednesday called us to a meeting
to discuss the conduct of the media in the elections set for next month.

The import of the meeting was to discuss the amendment to the
Electoral Act which inserted a whole new section dealing with how the media
should conduct itself during the election period.

The amendment, which went generally unnoticed by journalists, contains
useful guidelines, a lot of which we have embraced as stated in this column
last week.

We however did not wholly agree with the commission’s interpretation
of a clause in the Amendment Act which reads: "During an election period
broadcasters and print publishers shall ensure … their media do not promote
political parties and candidates that encourage violence and hatred against
any class of persons in Zimbabwe…"

The commission reads the clause to mean that the media should not
report hateful and inflammatory statements uttered by politicians as this
could lead to political violence.

During the meeting, the commission sought to buttress this by bringing
in the case of the Rwandese genocide in which the media, and in particular
radio broadcasting, was instrumental in instigating and sustaining ethnic
conflict.

As we stated last week, it is not the role of the media to
deliberately excise information uttered by political protagonists because
the information could result in political violence.

Instead, our role is to report as accurately as is possible and to
provide information about those seeking public office. This includes
candidates’ views, past performance, their decorum and so on.

If a candidate’s views are always couched in foul and inflammatory
language, then voters have a right to know this. For us to deliberately
ignore this is a great travesty because it only serves the politician whose
dark side will never be known and denies the voter an opportunity to make
choice premised on accurate information.

The relevance of the reference to Rwanda in attempting to focus the
media away from hate language by our politicians is questionable if not
dubious.

Media researcher Richard Carver, in a paper on the role of the media
in the Rwandese genocide and elections, wrote: "The first point to note is
that RTLM was not an ordinary radio station reporting the extreme views of
others. It was an instrument of Hutu extremists who planned and instigated
the mass killings of Tutsi. Hence it is not directly relevant to the issue
of campaign reporting, where extreme statements may be made and then relayed
through the news media."

He added: "In its early months, up until the beginning of the genocide
in April 1994, it broadcast a form of subtle and entertaining anti-Tutsi
propaganda. But once the genocide started, the character of RTLM’s
broadcasts changed. Then it began giving details of those who were to be
hunted down and killed — right down to individual descriptions and car
number plates."

The media in Zimbabwe have not plumbed these depths of depravity but
an important way of pre-empting this is to report accurately offending
utterances by politicians and to publish reactions condemning such
statements.

There have been a number of these like President Mugabe bragging about
his "degrees in violence" or the widely quoted statement: "Our party must
continue to strike fear in the heart of the white man, our real enemy . . ."

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was also quoted warning Mugabe:
"If you don’t want to go peacefully, we will remove you violently."

If two politicians were to make similar statements during this
election period, the commission is saying that we should exercise restraint
and look the other way. Our advice to the commission is that it has an
important role to curb hate speech at source and not at the outlet.

For example, does the commission consider this statement by war
veteran leader Joseph Chinotimba offensive or commonplace political power
play: "From today to the nomination date we will
have finished with them. Traitors should know that Zanu PF has a
history of dealing harshly with their kind."

We are looking forward to bold statements by the commission condemning
hate language by politicians and we have made a commitment to provide space
to publicise such statements.

We have also invited the commission to point out instances where this
paper has used hate language likely to cause violence and other untoward
outcomes. This we do in the hope that the commission will treat all media
objectively and fearlessly.

The challenge for the commission is to judge between free speech — the
hallmark of democracy — and hate speech. When it’s convenient to
politicians, there is a very thin line between the two.


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What is a ‘friendly’ state?

Zim Independent

MuckRaker

INFORMATION minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu has ruled that only journalists
from "friendly" countries will be admitted to cover the election.

That raises the obvious question: friendly to whom? Are countries like
China, Russia, Cuba, and Angola friendly to the people of Zimbabwe or to its
leaders?

Many of the countries described as friendly are only defined as such
because they don’t ask awkward questions about electoral cheating or
misgovernance. In fact they turn a blind eye to political coercion and
electoral manipulation.

In South Africa’s case, in the 2002 presidential poll ministers
arrived from Pretoria to give observers directions on what to find and what
to ignore. Asked about the shortage of polling stations in the capital at
the end of voting, observer mission head Sam Motsuenyane said he was sure it
was "an administrative oversight".

Reporters present fell about laughing.

Ndlovu made his remarks on friendly media at the Bulawayo Press Club
where challenging questions are rarely asked. We have never understood what
explains this supine response to ministerial declarations. But it could be
something in the water.

Ndlovu, it would seem, is on a mission to discredit the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission. How else do we explain his usurping their role? In
terms of the Sadc guidelines it is the function of the commission to manage
the election including accrediting observers and foreign media. By
announcing that only those media palatable to the regime will be admitted,
Ndlovu is making the ZEC look weak and pliable.

Amazing isn’t it that the government doesn’t grasp the damage to the
credibility of the electoral process of statements of this sort!

That credibility will have been further undermined by claims made in a
court application by Jonathan Moyo and Margaret Dongo last week. Their
lawyer Chris Mhike argued the nomination date was proclaimed before the
publication of the final report on the boundaries and names of
constituencies which had the effect of reducing the nomination preparation
period of would-be candidates.

Mhike said the constitution required the proclamation of a nomination
date 14 days but less than 21 after the publication of the final
delimitation report. He said judging by press reports the postponement was
prompted by practical concerns of the major political players without regard
to the law.

"My clients argue," Mhike said, "that the primary focus should be on
compliance with the law as the law is designed to protect the interests of
citizens and parties other than the major political players."

The president, it was argued, had fixed the sitting date for the
nomination court and the date of the general election on the basis of a
preliminary report by the delimitation commission.

Moyo argued in his affidavit that the failure to distribute the report
for the benefit of the electorate and aspiring candidates was a serious
breach of the law and a subversion of the democratic process.

Indeed, he said, "the failure is the clearest neutral evidence that
despite the first respondent (Mugabe)’s proclamation fixing the date of the
sitting of the nomination court and fixing the date of the general election,
the relevant authorities are in fact not yet ready to hold the general
election and to ensure its freeness and fairness purely from an
administrative and logistical point of view".

Now we can all understand why the Herald, in reporting the extension
of the nomination process, slipped in a paragraph saying Moyo and Dongo’s
court application had "fallen away".

Not only was this a usurpation of the court’s role, it explains why
Mugabe was so quick to move the dates. Moyo and Dongo’s court application
exposed a shocking disregard for electoral due process that speaks volumes
for the arbitrary conduct of our electoral system. But where was the ZEC in
all this? Should they not have spotted the glaring error and advised the
president accordingly?

The MDC, which should be pointing out this sort of transgression, has
said nothing.

Another recent event has proved emblematic of our political and media
lethargy. Simon Mann, accused of leading a mercenary gang to overthrow the
government of Equatorial Guinea, was charged with violations of the Aviation
and Immigration Acts, served his term and was then secretly abducted and
incarcerated in Equatorial Guinea, arguably the most savage regime on the
continent.

When Mann’s sentence was complete he was detained in Zimbabwe,
contrary to every notion of natural justice, on an extradition warrant from
the government of Equatorial Guinea.

Nobody in Zimbabwe’s self-satisfied civil society said anything.

Very simply they didn’t want to be identified with a mercenary leader
and thought it prudent to keep quiet.

This reflects the immaturity of our civic and paralegal watchdogs. The
whole point about democracy is that you speak out on behalf of those you don’t
like, not just those you do. You apply firm principles to all who are
victims of a regime that has repeatedly used abduction as a weapon against
its critics.

Mann paid the penalty for his clumsy escapade. But nothing can excuse
the odious arrangement that saw two brutal regimes conspiring to keep a man
in jail long after his sentence had expired. Mann is now languishing in the
notorious Black Beach prison.

Outfits like Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights need to speak out for
all victims of the regime, not just the politically correct.

Which brings us to the case of Attorney-General Sobusa Gula-Ndebele.
Whatever you may think of Gula-Ndebele, it is both iniquitous and damaging
to Zimbabwe’s reputation that the country’s chief law officer should be
charged in the first place on what many will see as concocted allegations.
This is political vengeance, the public will conclude, not the rule of law.

Without wishing to anticipate the current hearing, it is important
that civil society condemns the harassment of judicial officers by a
predatory state. It should at the same time express a view on courts which
deny commercial farmers their constitutional rights because government has
declared its arbitrary land seizures to be a matter of "settled policy".
When are we going to grow up as a society?

Something to be framed and hung in the office: a caption accompanying
a picture in the Business Herald this week saying congestion at border posts
will "soon be a thing of the past" following installation of an advanced
customs clearance system by Zimra. This will remove the need for paperwork,
we are told.

But we all know from experience that as soon as the Herald announces
some problem becoming "a thing of the past", it comes back to haunt us! So
cut out the picture and place it prominently somewhere to remind you next
time you face maddening congestion at Beitbridge.

Equally delusional, Minister of Energy Mike Nyambuya told the press
that government had made available $2 trillion for the rehabilitation of
Hwange thermal power station under ongoing efforts to "ensure
self-sustenance of power generation and supply".

"By September this year Zimbabwe would enjoy stable power generation
and supply following a cocktail of measures being taken by government," he
was quoted as saying.

So come September, as the last lights go out across the land, we must
approach Nyambuya and ask him how he likes his cocktails: Shaken or stirred?

This is not the time for demonstrations and marches," Police
Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri has declared.

Right now what our people need is peace and tranquility and not
aimless demonstrations, marches or processions…"

Did he say this when Zanu PF conducted its so-called Million Man demo
in the centre of Harare in November? No, he bit his tongue on that occasion.
And does his declaration that "violence will never be tolerated in Zimbabwe"
extend to opposition leaders who were savagely beaten at a police station
last March? What has happened to the perpetrators of that violence,
and to those responsible for abducting and beating Law Society
president Beatrice Mtetwa and her colleagues?

Chihuri urged the public to draw lessons from other trouble spots. He
is quite right to do so. Violence has erupted in Kenya because the public
saw the electoral process as flawed. They saw the country’s electoral
commission as beholden to the incumbent. They saw the forces of law and
order as suborned and appeals to the judiciary as pointless. We must indeed
learn lessons from Kenya.

Simba Makoni’s decision to challenge President Mugabe in the
harmonised elections next month seems to have touched a nerve with Nathaniel
Manheru big time, given his apoplectic rambling in the Saturday Herald. He
made an effort to discredit Makoni’s candidature because he was a nonentity
who has never achieved anything on his own except as Mugabe’s "appointee".
That makes him unfit for the presidency, we were told.

Secondly, he can’t fight Joice Mujuru because he is a son-in-law of
sorts; he can’t challenge Morgan Tsvangirai because his wife comes from the
same neighbourhood in Buhera.

No one could miss his thinly disguised racial slurs in reference to
Ibbo Mandaza.

Cool down Manheru. We appreciate your invidious position. The future
is very uncertain, and the Ides of March loom. Beware!


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We’ll have to make a plan

Zim Independent

By Eric Bloch

ZIMBABWEANS are renowned for their pronounced resilience to adversity. Years
and years of intense hardships, fuelled by the never-ending, appalling
mismanagement of the economy by government, and exacerbated by the magnitude
of governmental disregard for the fundamental principles of democracy, law
and order, human rights, and collaborative international relations have bred
this resilence.

So determined were Zimbabweans not to succumb to the pressures and hardships
to which they were being subjected, that they vigorously and ingeniously
sought ways and means to minimise their economic and allied ills and
afflictions.

The Zimbabwean coat-of-arms bears the inscription "Unity, Freedom, Work,",
but Zimbabweans found that the only widespread unity was that of mutual
misery and suffering, that they craved freedom from poverty and its
associated torments, and that they had to work endlessly to assure survival.

But this did not dissuade them from continued determination to overcome
their heart-rending burdens, to such an extent that, to all intents and
purposes, the national motto that should have been borne by the coat-of-arms
became "We’ll make a plan".

For year after year, with the only major exceptions being those Zimbabweans
who sought opportunities in neighbouring states, and further afield,
Zimbabweans strove to use initiative and effort to minimise their hardships,
to survive, and to await better times.

But as conditions progressively worsened, with government not only doing
naught to bring about positive change, and only falsely blaming others, and
dogmatically adhering to proven disastrous policies, the resolve of
Zimbabweans eventually began to weaken. Despondency has become more and more
pronounced, with ever greater numbers becoming resolutely convinced that
there is no longer any prospect of a positive upturn. and that life in
Zimbabwe can only worsen exponentially. More and more are fleeing the
country, whilst those remaining become increasingly certain that there is no
future, other than one of boundless misery. The "We’ll make a plan"
philosophy is fast disappearing.

It has therefore been interesting to note some recent developments in
Zimbabwe’s economically powerful neighbour, South Africa.

Until recently, South Africa not only had the largest economy in the region,
but also extreme economic stability, with minimal inflation and a highly
effective infrastructure.

Suddenly, some crevasses in that economy have begun to surface, albeit to an
insignificant extent as compared to the cataclysmic Zimbabwean economic
circumstance.

Inflation has begun to rise, although the extent therefore is unimportant
when compared to Zimbabwe, but nevertheless sufficiently to evoke concern
amongst the populace.

And the infrastructure is showing intensifying stress and lack of capacity
to meet the economy’s needs.

Less than three weeks ago, energy delivery become so inadequate and erratic
that gold mines were forced to discontinue operations.

Pronounced daily loadshedding was introduced nationwide, and traffic
movements became so chaotic — with the non-operation of thousands of traffic
lights, causing thousands of cars to back-up at intersections — that almost
all South Africans were severely affected.

In contrast to the Zimbabwean "we’ll make a plan" philosophy of so many
years, the initial reaction of South Africans appears to have been of
stunned horror and dismay, accompanied by despair.

Such is the despondency that, apparently, a new prayer is now widely in use
in South Africa: "Our Father who is in Eskom, powerless be thy name. Thy
kingdom badly run, thy power undone, in Jo’burg as it is in Kwazulu-Natal.
Give us this day our half-baked bread, and forgive the trespassers who shoot
us dead. Lead me not into a dark nation, but deliver me from load shedding.
For thine have no kingdom, no power and no electricity. Amen."

Of course, one could substitute Zesa for Eskom, and Harare and Bulawayo for
Jo’burg and Kwazulu-Natal.

However, although the South African populace are distraught to such an
extent that they are not yet disposed "to make a plan", and that country’s
government and Eskom appear to be as lethargic about addressing the problems
as has been the constant characteristic of the Zimbabwean government and
Zesa insofar as Zimbabwe’s prolonged energy problems are concerned,
nevertheless it was inspiring to note the immediate, very positive and
constructive reaction of the city of Johannesburg.

That could well be an example which Zimbabwean authorities, and the
Zimbabwean people, should seek to emulate and, for the sake of the country’s
economy and Zimbabwean morale, it merits summation in this column, in order
to prompt like local, albeit necessarily different, actions.

In other words, Zimbabweans need to revert to a dynamic philosophy of
achieving survival by "making a plan".

Within 10 days of the commencement of horrendous levels of load shedding in
South Africa, the city of Johannesburg developed and announced extensive
plans to alleviate electricity blackouts.

These include an immediate installation of 200 000 geyser "ripple controls",
which will enable the switching off of geysers by remote action from a
central point, and as rapidly as possible thereafter a further 500 000 are
to be installed.

This action, without direct cost to consumers, will save 150MW during load
shedding. In due course, similar devices are to be installed on
air-conditioning units in business premises.

The city also intends, within six months, to supply 300 000 households with
energy-efficient light bulbs, thereby saving 45MW, and to reinstate a
decommissioned diesel and gas turbine, which will add 120MW to the grid.

In addition, within a year, the City intends to install solar power for
traffic lights and public lighting, saving up to 100MW, and will intensify
and accelerate its programme for installation of domestic solar
water-heaters.

These are but a few of many measures which are planned by the city of
Johannesburg, and there are already indications that other South African
cities, and even Eskom, are being motivated to follow suit.

Moreover, many householders appear to be withdrawing from their negative
acceptance of energy crises, and are also beginning to make plans to
diminish the hardships of recurrent, extended, load shedding.

Zimbabweans used to address the innumerable, mainly governmental-created
crises, with similar initiative and innovativeness, but having been
economically whipped and
beaten for so long, appear to have lost the drive to do so.

That drive must be restored, if there is ever to be a real economic
recovery. This restoration will only happen when government — be it the
present or a future one — sets aside its self-interest and misguided
ideologies, to further the interests of the people it is supposed to serve.


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Zim Independent Letters

New constitution first before Makoni

WATCHING from far the political drama in Zimbabwe which faces imminent
elections, I thought I should add my voice to the multitudes of voices of
others.

It is apparent that Zimbabwe needs a new democratic constitution made
through a people-driven process, first before holding any meaningful
elections. It is also equally true that President Robert Mugabe will not
allow that process to happen as he has always been the major stumbling block
towards any calls for change towards democracy in Zimbabwe.

It is also very true that without a proper and democratic constitution
any Zimbabwean who is given the presidency whether from the opposition or
from the ruling party will be like Mugabe, if not worse.

Progressive Zimbabweans represented by groupings like the National
Constitutional Assembly have remained steadfast in pressing for a democratic
constitution in the face of all odds. Notable progress may have been made in
their endeavours, but the fact remains that Zimbabwe is yet to get a new
constitution and Mugabe continues to use the Zanu PF dominated parliament to
amend the constitution to suit his selfish motives.

On the political side the opposition MDC has participated many a times
in elections but failed to achieve a level playing field partly because of
the defective constitution and the lack of democratic institutions.

It is also true that the MDC is at its weakest point with two splinter
groups trying to field separate candidates for they cannot agree on any
issues of national significance. It is therefore foolproof that if the two
weak formations of the MDC go to the elections in their current form and
under the current tainted constitution, they will not only betray the masses
by losing dismally but by legitimising the perpetuation of the tyrannical
Mugabe to continue to hold fort.

Now with the advent of Simba Makoni as a breakaway from Zanu PF,
people need to look closely at how Zimbabwe may move forward. It’s true that
Makoni is Zanu PF at heart and has been in the chief decision making body of
the party for a long time. It is true that Makoni was in the same Zanu PF
that has presided over the current economic and humanitarian crisis in
Zimbabwe. It is true that by association Makoni has been part of a regime
that has denied Zimbabwean a long deserved democratic constitution.

Nevertheless, Makoni has his own illustrious history and has presented
himself as courageous person whom Zimbabweans and others elsewhere may place
their trust in. He has done what most Zimbabweans will not dare do —
challenging a monster at its own door-step. Given that Makoni may present to
Zimbabweans as a compromise and as a leader who can appeal to many people in
different ways in both the opposition and the ruling party, Zimbabweans
ought to try to come together and rally behind him.

What Zimbabwe needs is to get out of the current crisis through having
a proper constitution and democratic elections that are done under the
provisions of a democratic constitution. It is prudent for all forces, the
MDC included, to rally behind Makoni and clearly make it apparent to him
that Zimbabwe needs a new constitution and democratic institutions first.

Maxwell Saungweme,

maxwellsaungweme@hotmail.com

-----------------
It's the future that matters
THE first week of Simba Makoni, the former finance minister’s
availability for election as Zimbabwe’s next president has generated a very
healthy debate among Zimbabweans.

Zanu PF has also made some significant contributions to the debate
through its actions and the debate is still raging but some consensus is
emerging around Makoni as the only candidate with substance. The only
criticism seems to centre on where he is coming from rather on where he is
going.

Looking at people’s past can be a very dangerous practice. I do not
know where people like Giles Mutsekwa come from but I know that he could
have been in the Rhodesian Army but Tsvangirai has no problems with such a
past. Even NCA’s Lovemore Madhuku has a criminal past, but people have no
problems with embracing such. Zimbabwe needs a leader who embraces everyone
and Makoni is already showing leadership in tolerance and inclusion.

The genuine remaining anxiety regarding the Makoni project however is
around clarity on his platform and other people associated with him. This
could be a matter of strategy and time.

makwanya@yahoo.com

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

* BEFORE I endorse the candidature of Simba Makoni, I would like him
to answer the following questions:

Is he still a member of Zanu PF or not, and does he still subscribe to
Zanu PF ideology?

What is his political platform?

What is his position on land reform, will he welcome back white
commercial farmers?

Is he a beneficiary of the Zanu PF land reform, and can he state
categorically that he does not own more than one farm?

What is his position on land reform in general?

How does he plan to turnaround the economy, and how will he deal with
the endemic corruption in the country, and in particular, how does he plan
to deal with those who have benefited from corruption and economic crimes?

How does he plan to reconcile the country, and in particular, does he
beleive in truth and reconciliation?

Can he share with the Zimbabwean people his views about Gukurahundi
and Murambatsvina? Will he try to address past injustices and will he bring
to book those reponsible?

Does he have a programme for attracting back professional Zimbabweans
in the diaspora?

I will not vote for Simba until I have answers to the these
fundamental questions.

Farai Douglas Mtshaka,

Belgium.

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

* TOWARDS the 2002 presidential elections, Vitalis Zvinavashe made a
startling statement that he would not support a person with no liberation
war credentials.

Reading Makoni’s history, I did not see where mention is made of him
having fought in the war of liberation. Probably that was the time in the UK
studying, perhaps through sponsorship sourced by Zanu?

There is nothing wrong at all for Makoni or anyone else to run for
presidency even if they did not participate in the war of liberation at all,
but Makoni may only need to beware of the people who are trying to push him
to the throne.

Zimbabweans still await a satisfactory explanation from Zvinavashe.

Benjamin Chitate,

New Zealand.

----------
Makoni is courageous

I SAW Simba Makoni last Friday and I was stunned. This man, who has
challenged the feared Robert Mugabe did not have a bodyguard or even another
person in his car.

He was driving around all by himself and walking around as if he were
just another citizen and not the man who has just set the country ablaze.
When I saw that, any doubts I had regarding just how courageous he is
evaporated. He appeared to have no fear at all.

Of course, there are those who have aligned themselves and fear that
if Makoni is elected then they will have no chance to jump onto the gravy
train and steal the nation blind, but to an objective observer, this was
just confirmation of the inherent courage of this man.

Come March 29, I cannot wait.

Denford,

By e-mail.

------------
Joe Thomas cannot help tourism

THE notoriously ill-concieved and sickening idea of using public funds
to bribe celebrities into Zimbabwe is an act of desperation which must end
with this last very expensive visit by Joe Thomas.

Zimbabwe desperately needs foreign currency. Paying people to come
here and enjoy themselves is a very silly and childish idea. To win tourists
you need to make sure they know there is peace in the country, rule of law,
that they won’t be targeted, that they will spend less for more value, that
they can be sure to have water to drink, there is electricity, fuel or
reliable transportation systems. These are the things tourists are concerned
about not who else has visited the place before. Of course recommendation
works but if Joe should really be honest what does he make of the hungry and
sullen faces, the potholes, the erratic water and electricity supplies?

The money could have been better used cleaning up the messy city and
bridging the potholes for other tourists who might want to spend money here
and not get paid for their visits. This whole ambassador programme is a weak
and insufficient attempt to re-market a country that has created for itself
a reputation of violence.

Courage Shumba,

United Kingdom.

---------------
21st February Movement a waste of resources

THE 21st February Movement has earmarked $3 trillion to celebrate
President Robert Mugabe’s birthday.

I pity the Beitbridge folk, it’s their turn to witness Zanu PF
hospitality at its best. As always, the "aged" youths in Zanu PF are behind
this sham. Absolom Sikhosana will get his 15 minutes of fame to preach his
dim understanding of patriotism to the poor youths of Zimbabwe.

Teachers, farmers and business people are expected to "donate" in cash
and kind to make this worthwhile cause a resounding success. Mind you all of
these have not been spared the economic turmoil.

Spending such a colossal amount of money on a birthday bash is insane,
considering the extent of economic decay and excessive poverty faced by the
majority of Zimbabweans. That money would go some way in easing the shortage
of drugs in hospitals, books in schools, chemicals for water purification,
the list is endless.

How a birthday party can mould the youth into becoming responsible
citizens is beyond me. That Mugabe has failed Zimbabwe is not in doubt. To
urge the youth to emulate a failure raises a lot of questions about the
calibre of the youth leadership in Zanu PF.

I certainly hope this year is the last we hear of this
Communist-insipired way of idolising Mugabe.

Joseph Mhlanga,

Dublin, Ireland

---------------
Tsvangirai should work with Makoni
I THINK Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe are the same.
The two have traits of dictatorship running in their veins. To me theirs is
just a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

The solution to the Zimbabwean crisis will not come from those who
claim to have suffered the most under an oppressive government.

This is the tired argument that Mugabe has been using to justify his
claim to power. When Tsvangirai says Simba Makoni did not suffer any teargas
attack he is singing the same hymn sung by the Mugabe regime.

Mugabe cronies claim that they suffered imprisonment and torture under
white rule and therefore deserve to (mis)rule this country forever.

If Tsvangirai has the people at heart he should be willing to join
with other progressive forces in order to bring change as a united.
Elections are not just about participating; they are about bringing change
through collective effort. It is of no benefit for opposition forces to be
attacking each another.

Everyone should come to a realisation that team work is more effective
than selfish lone battles. If it is true that many Zanu PF members are
behind Simba Makoni then Tsvangirai should not miss the opportunity to pull
together with the majority. Being a hero is great, but team work rewards are
greater.

Thuthukile Mkhize,

Harare.

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