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Central bank chief to be grilled over currency deals

Zim Online

by Nqobizitha Khumalo Friday 11 January 2008

BULAWAYO – A special parliamentary committee will next week summon Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono to answer to allegations that
the central bank was involved in illicit dealings on the illegal black
market for foreign currency, sources told ZimOnline.

Gono, a close confidante of President Robert Mugabe, is generally regarded
as untouchable. Tasked by Mugabe to revive Zimbabwe’s economy, he has often
accused top government officials of profiting from the crisis and blocking
efforts to resuscitate the comatose economy.

However, members of Parliament’s portfolio committee on budget and finance
told ZimOnline on Thursday that the committee wanted to question Gono over a
number of suspect deals among them the issue of Z$7 trillion released by the
RBZ to an obscure broking firm and later used to buy foreign currency on the
parallel market.

“The issue now is for Gono to also explain the strange happenings at the RBZ
or involving the bank,” said a ruling ZANU PF party legislator who is member
of the committee.

“We have gathered information that the RBZ is the one that is driving the
foreign currency black market and we need answers on that,” said the
legislator, who declined to be named because he did not have permission from
the House committee to speak to the media.

Both Gono and RBZ spokesman Kumbirai Nhongo were not immediately available
for comment on the matter.

But Gono, whose term as RBZ governor ends this year, has in the past
insisted that he has carried out his functions within the law and challenged
his accusers to come forward with evidence of wrongdoing.

The parliamentary committee members, who said Gono will be summoned next
Monday when the House resumes sitting, said they wanted the RBZ chief to
explain how $250 billion was allegedly stolen from a bank truck in Harare
last month.

He will also be quizzed on how $10 billion worth of new currency was found
in the possession of an illegal currency dealer, barely 36 hours after the
money was released into circulation by the central bank.

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change parliamentarian Abednico Bhebhe
who sits on the committee said it wanted Gono to clarify what he said were
issues that had already received wide coverage in the local media or had
been disclosed in court.

“There is a problem when a central bank gives people $7 trillion which is
not even accounted for and expect everybody to keep quiet about it,” Bhebhe
said.

The committee will also ask Gono to divulge names of senior ZANU PF and
government officials he claimed last month were hoarding cash to finance
deals on the black market.

Gono told a ZANU PF congress last December that top party officials were
among cash barons hoarding money and causing cash shortages in the country.
He offered to disclose the names to the parliamentary committee but chairman
David Butau said the committee was not in a hurry to call the RBZ boss to
testify.

Butau was himself later accused of involvement in illegal in foreign
currency deals and has since fled to the United Kingdom.

Allegations against the RBZ are that the bank gave $7 trillion to Flatwater
Investments, a briefcase company that had promised to source tractors for a
government farm programme.

Flatwater claimed to possess US$9 million in an offshore account. However,
it later emerged that the company did not have the said funds but used the
RBZ cash money to purchase foreign currency on the black market.

The central bank was further linked to the black market after foreign
currency dealer Dorothy Mutekede claimed $10 billion found in her possession
had been given to her by former RBZ adviser Jonathan Kadzura as payment for
the greenbacks she had sold him. – ZimOnline


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Mugabe to dissolve Parliament, announce election date

Zim Online

by Patricia Mpofu Friday 11 January 2008

HARARE – President Robert Mugabe is expected to announce the dissolution of
Parliament and proclaim the date for fresh elections when he returns from
his annual leave later this month, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said.

Zimbabwe is set to hold key presidential and parliamentary elections in
March although the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is
pushing for the polls to be postponed.

“It is only the President who knows but I am sure things will be clearer
when the President comes back from his annual leave when he will make
disclosures,” said Chinamasa, in response to queries by ZimOnline when
exactly Parliament would be dissolved and polls held.

Mugabe, in power since 1980 and seeking re-election for another five-year
term, told a December congress of his ruling ZANU PF party that elections
would be held in March without fail.

The MDC, that is in talks with Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF party, wants
elections moved to June to allow democratic reforms and other legal changes
the two parties might agree at the South African brokered talks to have
effect on the ground before voting can take place.

The MDC has hinted it could boycott the polls if they are held in March and
before a new constitution agreed at the talks is implemented.

The talks between the MDC and ZANU PF that are said to have hit deadlock
over the new constitution and the date for elections are backed by the
Southern African Development Community (SADC), eager for a lasting solution
to Zimbabwe’s crisis.

A key objective of the President Thabo Mbeki-facilitated talks is to ensure
next March’s polls are free and fair.

Analysts say truly democratic elections are vital to any plan to end an
acute economic crisis gripping Zimbabwe and seen in hyperinflation, a
rapidly contracting GDP, the fastest for a country not at war according to
the World Bank and shortages of foreign currency, food and fuel.

Under the law, at least 45 days are required between the date of
proclamation and the actual date voting takes place. - ZimOnline


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Council halts anti-malaria spraying programme

Zim Online

by Lizwe Sebatha Friday 11 January 2008

BULAWAYO – The Bulawayo city council has suspended its anti-malaria spraying
programme due to an acute shortage of anti-malaria chemicals, ZimOnline has
learnt.

The city’s health department said in its latest update on efforts to combat
the deadly disease that spraying would resume once it receives supplies of
required chemicals but did not say when this would be.

The disclosure that anti-malaria chemicals have ran out in Bulawayo comes on
the back of warnings last week by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that
the rate of transmission of malaria would be much higher in southern Africa
this year because of incessant rains pounding the region.

Malaria, which is the second biggest killer disease in Zimbabwe after
HIV/AIDS, is transmitted to humans through mosquitoes.

“The section ran out of chemicals required for the anti-malaria spraying
programme and it (the programme) has been suspended,” reads a council report
compiled by the health department director, Zanele Hwalima.

“The section is still awaiting the acquisition of the chemicals for
larviciding and this delay is worrying as we are well into the malaria
season,” adds the report that was made available to ZimOnline on Thursday.

The shortage of anti-malaria spraying chemicals could worsen the plight of
millions of Zimbabweans who are also grappling with severe shortages of
essential medicines in state-run hospitals.

Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe economic recession that has manifested
itself in shortages of almost all basic survival commodities like food,
medicines, fuel and foreign currency.

Critics blame the crisis on repression and wrong policies by President
Robert Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe’s 1980 independence from Britain. He
denies the charge. - ZimOnline


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Millers seek massive maize-meal price increase

Zim Online

by Patricia Mpofu Friday 11 January 2008

HARARE – Zimbabwean millers have written to the government seeking
permission to hike the price of maize-meal by more than 1 537 percent to
improve viability in the industry.

Ground maize or maize-meal is the main staple for more than 90 percent of
Zimbabwe’s 12 million population.

Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe chairman Tafadzwa Musarara said a
price review would enable millers to ensure adequate supplies of maize-meal,
in short supply in many parts of the country that is grappling shortages of
basic commodities after eight years of severe recession.

“Should we get your dispensation (to raise prices), we commit to produce
adequate grain . . . and the requisite output of 15 000 metric tonnes of
maize meal,” said Musarara in a Monday letter to the government’s National
Incomes and Price Commission that reviews prices of most key basic
commodities.

The request to increase the price of maize-meal, Zimbabwe’s staple food,
comes amid reports of severe maize-meal shortages in the second city of
Bulawayo and surrounding areas.

Industry and International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu, under whose portfolio
the commission falls, said the government was looking into the millers’
concerns.

“We are doing something to address their concerns in order to improve
maize-meal supplies especially in southern Zimbabwe. The government will
make the necessary adjustments if necessary,” said Mpofu.

If the miller’s request to hike prices is approved, a 5kg bag of maize-meal
could shoot from the present Z$145 000 to $2 432 71.52, an increase of over
1 500 percent.

The ever-rising prices of goods are only an addition on a long list of
hardships bedevelling Zimbabwe in the grip of an economic meltdown critics
blame on repression and wrong policies by President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe’s 1980 independence from Britain and seeking
another five-year term in elections in March, denies ruining Zimbabwe and
instead blames his country’s problems on sabotage by Western governments he
says are out to topple him. - ZimOnline


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Kibaki re-enacts Mugabe’s electoral shenanigans in Kenya

Zim Online

by Tanonoka Joseph Whande Friday 11 January 2008

GABORONE - I am in total despair but not defeated. I am embarrassed. Kenya
of all countries!

So Mwai Kibaki of Kenya leap-frogged former Namibian president Sam Nujoma
and Thabo Mbeki of South Africa to become Robert Mugabe’s most astute
disciple!

Kenya is one country that I never suspected would sink so low; and all
because of dictatorship. African leaders have embraced dictatorship with
frightening gusto.

Why are the African rank and file always forced to yearn for “the good old
days” when they were under severe, ruthless regimes?

In Zimbabwe, it became clear decades ago that life during Ian Smith’s days
was heaven when compared to what the rogue Robert Mugabe has reigned on the
nation.

Do Kenyans dare yearn for former Daniel arap Moi’s endless rule? Moi
accepted democracy and stepped aside when the forces of democracy, led by
Kibaki, triumphed. What do we make of it now?

But what really did we expect from Kibaki?

He is from the old school of autocrats who led African countries to
‘independence’ or ruled after attaining independence; autocrats like Jomo
Kenyatta himself, Kamuzu Banda of Malawi, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Milton
Obote of Uganda and their ilk who became role models for aspiring dictators
that include Mobutu Sese Seko of the now DR Congo, Samora Machel of
Mozambique and our very own Mugabe.

The violent scenes of Kenyan police and army attacking citizens during
peaceful demonstrations were a mirror image of what has been happening in my
beloved Zimbabwe since ‘independence.’

Instead of protecting the people from all ills, including a wayward
executive, the military and the police in African countries protect
mischievous presidents. They are at the service of dictators and not of the
people.

Kenya dashed the hopes of many Africans. I am a sad man. I spent very little
time in Kenya in the mid 80s and could not help falling in love with the
country and its people.

I have always loved Kenya for its humble, smouldering perseverance to
succeed and for its eagerness to maintain stability.

Opposition politicians, including Kibaki, himself a former vice-president,
spent years bad-mouthing former president Moi’s undemocratic rule. Kenyans
then said enough was enough, voted Moi out and installed Kibaki.

Today, Kibaki, the incumbent Kenyan president who was resuscitated and born
out of a combined and honest effort at democracy by Kenyans, an effort
acknowledged and obeyed by the once reviled Moi himself, has turned the
clock back and reminded the whole of Africa not to trust their own saviours
and political emissaries.

With a sincere belief and trust in their leaders and the democratic path
they had chosen and embraced, Kenyans turned out to show their faith in
democracy as mimed by Kibaki, their president.

Kenyans came out in large numbers to show their faith, as they had once done
when they asked and received a change from Moi to Kibaki, in their police,
army and government.

In the end, Kenyans were left counting bodies not ballots. I look across
Africa and beyond and what I see is not what should be. Africa is better
than other continents. I don’t like what I see on the world’s landscape.


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Zanu PF faction to launch party

Zim Independent

Constantine Chimakure

IN a mould-breaking development, it became evident this week that a
split was looming in Zanu PF with former Finance minister Simba Makoni
likely to square up against President Robert Mugabe in polls scheduled for
March.

Impeccable sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that the splinter
Zanu PF faction to be headed by Makoni was expected to roll out its election
programme next week and reveal the name it would use for the polls.

Former permanent secretary and academic Ibbo Mandaza, war veteran
Alfred Mhanda (Dzinashe Machingura), and retired army major Kudzai Mbudzi
were reportedly coordinating the Makoni project.

Mandaza is understood to be the convenor. Mbudzi was suspended from
the Zanu PF Masvingo provincial executive last month for deriding war
veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda’s involvement in marches to rally support
for Mugabe.

The sources said the Makoni faction was still debating whether or not
to contest the polls under the name Zanu PF or to use Patriotic Front.

"Advertisements in national newspapers will be flighted as from next
week outlining the splinter group’s programme," one of the sources said.
"The Makoni camp wants to recapture the presidency of Zanu PF that was
stolen by Mugabe through manipulation of the party’s formal structures to
endorse him as the candidate at the extraordinary congress last December,"
he said.

The Makoni faction, the sources said, had ruled out an alliance with
the MDC, preferring to continue pursuing Zanu PF’s ideological line under a
new leadership.

"Makoni and some disgruntled senior Zanu PF officials are saying that
they are for the ruling party ideology," another source close to the faction
said. "What they want is someone new to steer the ideology and to them it’s
Makoni."

The faction, the source added, wanted to mobilise Zanu PF provincial
executives to declare Makoni their presidential candidate after they accused
Mugabe of "monopolising and manipulating" party structures to cling onto
power.

"Those pushing for Makoni have decided to operate outside party
structures to become an equivalent of the parallel market and have the
provinces declare Makoni as the real candidate of their Zanu PF," another
source said.

The source said the camp backing Makoni was confident that it would
win the elections and thereafter form an alliance with the opposition and
have a government of national unity.

The sources said it was because of the realisation in Zanu PF that the
faction would pursue its ideology and probably use the same name that
confusion has arisen over how to handle the split.

"There is confusion in Zanu PF and government," a senior ruling party
member said. "The split in the party has extended to the civil service and
the CIO. Some senior CIO operatives have been linked to the Makoni project."

The sources said a major onslaught led by war veterans on the Makoni
camp was expected before the harmonised presidential, legislative and
council elections.

Mugabe roped in war veterans last year to drum up support to secure
the party’s presidential candidacy amid reports that a faction in Zanu PF
headed by retired army general Solomon Mujuru wanted the president to
retire.

Apart from refusing to forge an alliance with the MDC, the sources
said, the Makoni faction also reportedly refused to buy into Tsholotsho
legislator Jonathan Moyo’s project for a grand alliance to confront Zanu PF
at the polls.

The sources said Moyo tried to tag along with the Makoni group to form
an alliance made up of people from Zanu PF, the MDC and civil society, but
was reportedly told to keep his distance.

Moyo’s alliance also wanted Makoni to be president of the united front
ahead of Morgan Tsvangirai on the basis that the former Finance minister has
an appeal across the political divide and was internationally accepted.

The former Information minister’s plan was reportedly being backed by
prominent Zimbabwean businesspeople in the country and abroad.

"At a recent meeting, Moyo was told to keep away from the Makoni
project because the group was not interested in the broad alliance," another
source said.

Repeated efforts to get comment from Moyo were in vain at the time of
going to press. However, the sources said the MDC camp led by Arthur
Mutambara had recently endorsed Makoni’s candidacy.


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. . . as MDC lines up 300 rallies

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

THE Morgan Tsvangirai-led faction of the MDC will this weekend embark
on a number of rallies dubbed the New Zimbabwe Campaign in a bid to force
government to introduce a new constitution and guarantee free and fair
harmonised elections this year.

Nelson Chamisa, the party’s spokesperson, said the MDC had lined up
300 rallies in the rural areas this month to press, among other things, for
the implementation of "agreements" signed between the MDC and Zanu PF at the
Sadc-mediated talks.

Chamisa said the MDC would push for the reconstitution of the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC) to undertake a transparent and all-inclusive
voter registration and delimitation exercise.

He said the MDC also wants a new constitution before the elections and
that the date of the polls be moved to June from March to allow for the
implementation of comprehensive reforms.

Chamisa said the MDC would push for international observation and
monitoring of the elections at least three months before the polls, plus
equal access to the media. This would push the election to May at the
earliest.

The party would also demand that all Zimbabweans in the diaspora
should vote.

"In the event that a new, credible voters roll cannot be put in place
ahead of the poll, the MDC wants every eligible Zimbabwean to be allowed to
cast their vote upon producing their national identity card as happened in
the 1980 elections," Chamisa said.

He said the MDC is demanding free and fair elections that represent
the legitimate will of the people of Zimbabwe on who should govern them.
"Another contested electoral outcome is not acceptable for the country and
the rallies are the national expression for the people’s demand for a free
and fair poll," he said.

Chamisa said the campaign entails the people’s demand for a united
front of political parties, civic groups, churches, students and workers to
coalesce into a formidable movement to be midwives to a new Zimbabwe and a
new beginning.

"The party is working hard to achieve the unity of all democratic
forces in 2008," he said. "At the national council meeting of December 16
2007, the party resolved to put the people’s aspirations ahead of any
artificial cleavages that may derail the democratic train."

The campaign will also take an international dimension, where every
Zimbabwean based outside the country was expected to take part in the demand
for free and fair polls.

"In this campaign, the party appeals to every Zimbabwean, wherever
they are in the Diaspora, in whatever they do, to find their own little way
of contributing to the sculpturing of a new Zimbabwe by [item ends here...]


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Anglicans revoke Kunonga's licence

Zim Independent

Lucia Makamure

THE Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA), which combines
Anglican Churches from Zambia, Botswana, Malawi and Zimbabwe, has revoked
Bishop Nolbert Kunonga’s clergyman’s licence and those of priests aligned to
him.

The decision was reached by 14 bishops of the CPCA at an extraordinary
Episcopal Synod held on December 20 in Zambia.

The synod was convened to deliberate on Kunonga’s decision to pull out
of the Harare diocese from the CPCA on allegations that some bishops in the
province encouraged homosexuality.

"Dr Kunonga, having severed his allegiance and cast aside his
canonical obedience to be bound by the laws of the province, which includes
the diocese of Harare, has ceased to be a member of the diocese; and is no
longer the bishop of the diocese; and his licence as a clergyman in the
Anglican Communion is automatically revoked," read a statement signed by the
14 bishops.

The bishops said Kunonga was no longer authorised or permitted to have
any authority or control whatsoever over the diocese, nor to represent it in
any way, nor to use the funds and assets of the diocese.

The bishops said priests who are aligned to Kunonga were having their
licences revoked on grounds of misconduct.

"The faction of priests known to support Dr Kunonga in his action, in
whichever diocese(s) they may be, has chosen to step outside the province
and the diocese. Their licences have been revoked as they are no longer
members of the diocese and the province."

The bishops who passed the resolution were the Bishop of Northern
Zambia and Dean of the Province of Central Africa, Rt Rev Albert Chama,
Bishop of Lusaka, Rt David Njovu, Bishop of Eastern Zambia, William
Muchombo, Bishop of Central Zambia, Derek Kamukwamba and Bishop of Luapala,
Robert Mumbi.

The others were Bishop of central Zimbabwe, Ishmael Mukuwanda, Bishop
of Masvingo, Godfrey Tawonezvi, Bishop of Matabeleland, Wilson Sitshebo,
Bishop of Harare Sebastian Bakare, Bishop of Southern Malawi, James
Tengatenga, Bishop of Northern Malawi, Christopher Boyle, Bishop of Upper
Shire, Bernard Malango, Vicar-General Diocese of Lake Malawi.and Bishop of
Botswana, Trevor Mwamba.

It was also agreed at the same meeting that Kunonga’s personal
resignation and withdrawal from the province had been accepted and Bakare
was appointed as interim bishop of the diocese of Harare and that all
priests were obliged to respect him as Kunonga’s successor.

The CPCA wants all the priests in the Harare Diocese to write to
Bakare confirming their allegiance to him.


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Moyo in alliance with MDC to save Tsholotsho

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

FORMER Information minister and independent legislator for Tsholotsho,
Jonathan Moyo, is set to join hands with the opposition MDC to save the seat
unchallenged under the banner of a united front.

The proposed alliance will allow smaller parties to field candidates
in constituencies where they enjoy support to avoid vote splitting.

Sources in the MDC said both factions had assured Moyo that they would
not field candidates in the constituency for legislative elections this year
as long as he was part of a united front.

"Both MDC camps recognise the need to forge alliances with smaller
parties and independent candidates to fight (President Robert) Mugabe’s
government," one of the sources said. "Moyo will not be contested in
Tsholotsho by the factions."

MDC Morgan Tsvangirai’s spokesman Nelson Chamisa said they were
considering an all-encompassing movement to confront a single enemy — Zanu
PF.

"If independent candidates or small parties come to join hands in the
united front, we must respect the space they are fighting from," Chamisa
said in an interview this week. "There would be no reason for people with
the same goal to fight for the same space."

He was, however, quick to mention that the reunification meetings
between the two MDC factions would unpack the finer details of how
candidates would be chosen for the 210 constituencies.

The two MDC formations this week confirmed that they were engaged in
consultations to draw up the agenda and set the date for the formal meeting
to seal the reunification process.

The meeting is expected to finalise the choice of the opposition
presidential candidate and the selection criteria for parliamentary
candidates.

Tendai Biti, secretary-general of the Morgan Tsvangirai formation,
confirmed that they were carrying out informal discussions but refused to
disclose details for fear of jeopardising them.

The Arthur Mutambara-led formation’s secretary-general Welshman Ncube
said the consultations were being held with a view to setting the date for
the meeting and drawing up a list of delegates.

In principle, all the democratic forces in the country — including the
two MDC formations — agree on the one (presidential) candidate philosophy.

Although the Tsvangirai-led MDC has emerged as the stronger of the
two, it has become evident that a united front is the only feasible way
towards dislodging the ruling Zanu PF government.

Previously the talks failed after the formations disagreed on
fundamentals of a code of conduct to be observed in the process of
reunification.

The sources in the opposition said when the idea of a single candidate
was mooted, the proponents of the strategy came up with a "non-aggression
pact", a code of conduct plus rules and regulations that were to be observed
to promote the initiative. However, the conditions met mixed reactions from
the opposition leaders.

Sources said Mutambara wanted the agreement to be made public to all
members of the opposition and other pro-democracy movements as a rallying
point to win the electorate. Tsvangirai on the other hand opted for
mobilisation of stakeholders quietly arguing that making the strategy public
would expose it to Zanu PF infiltration.

Although leaders of both factions of the MDC support the fielding of a
single candidate in the election to face Mugabe, the differences on the
framework could scupper the effort.

Observers said in fielding one candidate the people of Zimbabwe will
have a much better chance of defeating the Zanu PF regime. There are frantic
efforts to strike a common position for the two parties.

The International Crisis Group (ICG) last month said in a report the
MDC would greatly benefit from reconciliation to salvage its domestic and
international image, which has suffered since the October 12 2005 split. The
report says personal friction remains the key obstacle to reunification.

Joining forces had raised stakes and chances for the opposition
parties to mount a formidable challenge to Mugabe and a possibility of
wrestling power from Zanu PF.

But the collapse of attempts to unite the factions would give Mugabe
an added advantage over his rivals and a political windfall in the
elections.

Observers have questioned whether Tsvangirai or Mutambara,
individually or collectively, could defeat Mugabe if the polls go ahead in
March. While it is generally agreed that Mugabe is much weaker now than ever
before given rivalries in his own party and an economy in freefall, it is
also true to say that opposition leaders are even weaker, especially
divided.

Mugabe is under siege on many fronts. The collapsing economy is blamed
on mismanagement by his regime while internal wrangling in Zanu PF has
created serious faultlines. Mugabe is isolated inside his party and
internationally.

However, he has the state machinery on his side. He also has a lot of
resources at his disposal to prop up his rule, the sort of things Tsvangirai
and Mutambara can only dream of.


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Basic commodity prices shoot up

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

THE country has witnessed a massive spate of price increases of all
basic commodities after the festive season, raising prospects of an
implosion of the economy in 2008. And worse is to come with prices likely to
increase ten-fold economists say.

A survey conducted by the Zimbabwe Independent revealed this week that
a new wave of price hikes reminiscent of last June which resulted in
government imposing a price freeze had once again hit the country.

A two-litre bottle of cooking oil that was selling for $8 million
before the festive season now costs $13 million. On Tuesday government said
the gazetted price for the cooking oil was $7 million.

A loaf of bread now costs above $1,5 million, up from $700 000, while
the price of a 2kg chicken has skyrocketed to about $20 million from $6
million.

A kg of beef costs above $15 million, up from $7 million. Two litres
of Mazoe now cost $9,5 million, up from $3,8 million before the holiday.

The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) said most prices being charged
were not justified.

"The rate at which prices are increasing, which are not justified, is
a result of speculation by some business people who want to make quick
money," said the CCZ.

The consumer watchdog said most commodities were being charged at four
or five times their cost buildup, which under the new pricing regulation was
not allowed.

The National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) said the prices
being charged had been approved.

"If anything is being sold in a supermarket, that means we have
approved the price. We believe the prices we are approving are viable and
this should see products continuing to be bought," said NIPC chairman
Godwills Masimirembwa.

Government’s decision to mandate the NIPC to approve prices of basic
commodities has created serious distortions in the market as businesses
battle to stay afloat.

Goods have gone up in price because of shortages caused by the NIPC’s
price restrictions.

The move has also resulted in an avalanche of imported goods whose
prices are being set at parallel market rates.

Surprisingly, government last week extended the lifespan of
regulations governing product and service price reviews, effectively
mandating NIPC to approve such reviews for the next six months.

"The extension of the Statutory Instruments shows that our principals
are conscious of the fact the price distortions still exist in the economy,"
Masimirembwa said.

He said stern action would be taken against businesses that index
prices based on parallel market rates.

Over the past four months retailers have resorted to stocking imports
to fill the void left by local producers who are not manufacturing at the
controlled prices they were forced to charge by government during last year’s
price blitz.

The prices of most imported goods are beyond the reach of many
consumers whose wages are lower than the consumer index.

While the imports might have helped restock shops, their prices show
the futility of government’s decision to control prices in the first place.

For example, while local companies like Victoria Foods are being
forced to sell rice at the gazetted price of $2,5 million for 2 kg, South
African brands like Tastic rice packed by Tiger Consumer sells for $10
million for the same quantity.

While the gazetted price for two litres of cooking oil is $7 million,
imports are being sold for between $13,9m (Sun oil) and $15 million
(Sunflow).

Analysts have said if local manufacturers resume production their
goods might never match foreign products.

Economic consultant John Robertson said as the last stocks of goods
trickle out of factory warehouses onto the market, the country could witness
an inflationary spiral that would make today’s prices seem cheap.

"It could go much higher, 10 times as much for some things in the next
couple of weeks, as goods cease to exist and imports flood the market,"
Robertson said adding that the real victim will be the consumer.

ZB Financial Holdings group economist Best Doroh said local retailers
were being forced to import basic commodities to fill the gap created by low
capacity utilisation in the local industry.

"Consumers require these basic products and if they are not available
from local manufacturers, retailers have to satisfy that need through
imports," said Doroh.


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Judgement in Moyo defamation case next week

Zim Independent

Loughty Dube

THE Bulawayo High Court is next week expected to hand down judgement
in the case in which former Information and Publicity Minister Jonathan Moyo
is demanding $200 billion from Zanu PF national chairman and Speaker of
Parliament John Nkomo for defamation.

Justice Francis Bere was supposed to have passed the judgement last
month, but the court deferred it citing late submission of vital documents
in the case by lawyers representing both Moyo and Nkomo.

Moyo’s lawyer, Job Sibanda of Job Sibanda & Associates confirmed that
Bere was expected to deliver his ruling next week when the legal year of the
High Court opens on Monday.

"The presiding judge in the matter indicated last year that judgement
will be made when the High Court opens for the year and we expect the
judgement to be made anytime next week," Sibanda told the Zimbabwe
Independent this week.

Moyo is suing Nkomo for alleged defamation arising from statements
reportedly made by the Zanu PF national chairperson at a meeting in
Tsholotsho.

When the case opened in last year, Moyo told the High Court that Nkomo
addressed a party meeting in Tsholotsho and told the gathering that he had
plotted to topple President Robert Mugabe from power.

Cabinet ministers who included Francis Nhema, Patrick Chinamasa and
Flora Buka, deputy ministers Abednico Ncube and Andrew Langa and former
minister July Moyo were set to testify in the case, but did not do so when
the case closed.

War veterans leader Joseph Chinotimba was also billed to testify on
behalf of Nkomo.

Moyo was initially suing Nkomo together with politburo member Dumiso
Dabengwa, but later dropped charges against the for Zapu intelligence
supremo.

During the trial, Nkomo denied the allegations by Moyo and instead
accused the Tsholotsho independent legislator of taking him to court to
embarrass him.

Testifying in the court, Moyo said statements uttered by Nkomo caused
him much pain before his unceremonious exit from government.

Zanu PF politburo, provincial committee and central committee minutes
were produced in court with Moyo and Nkomo’s lawyers taking turns in using
the documents to cement their cases.


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Mabvuku water crisis exposes Zinwa's failure

Zim Independent

Victoria Muringayi

DADIRAI Kanengoni wakes up daily at 4:30am, straps her six-month old
baby on her back and walks for about a quarter of a kilometre to join
hundreds of other women fetching water from unprotected wells in the
sprawling high density suburb of Mabvuku, Harare.

Kanengoni stays in an area in the suburb commonly known as Kugarika
Kushinga Housing Cooperative near the country’s largest cement manufacturing
company, Circle Cement. The area has gone for more than 10 months without
tap water thanks to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa)’s
operational deficiencies and incompetence.

Water cuts in some parts of Mabvuku and Tafara have become a way of
life since Zinwa took over the supply of potable water in the capital and is
affecting close to 50 000 residents.

The problem has forced residents to resort to fetching water from
unprotected wells, exposing the people to waterborne diseases such as
diarrhoea and cholera. The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare recently
said at least 10 people from Mabvuku and Tafara had died from diarrhoea last
month. The deaths were attributed to water cuts.

"My day starts at 4.30am. I go to a nearby well to fill my jars with
water and start my napkin laundry, before preparing to go to work,"
Kanengoni said. "The water crisis in Mabvuku is unbearable. We don’t
understand what Zinwa is doing to improve the situation."

She said Zinwa and the government must do something to end the
problem.

Last week, Health minister, David Parirenyatwa, came face to face with
the water crisis when he visited the two suburbs to "assess" the diarrhoea
outbreak and water situation in the townships.

Parirenyatwa revealed that there were 400 diarrhoea cases reported in
Mabvuku and Tafara and called on Zinwa and the Harare City Council to
normalise the supply of portable water.

The council has since pledged to sink 14 boreholes in the two suburbs
to ease the water shortages. But residents say nothing has happened since
the high-profile ministerial visit last week.

Despite the inability by Zinwa to supply water, especially to the
people of Kugarika Kushinga Housing Cooperative, the residents continue to
receive monthly bills from the authority.

"Why are we being compelled to pay for a service we last got 10 months
ago?" asked Ivy Chinavamwe. "This is robbery. We should pay for water we are
using. Zinwa has let residents down and I suggest that the council takes
water supplies in Harare."

According to Chinavamwe, Zinwa officials last month told residents
that the outbreak of diarrhoea was a result of using water from unprotected
wells close to blocked sewerage pipes.

"While the Zinwa explanation is sound, where do they think we will get
water for domestic use if they are not supplying it? We go to the same
contaminated wells," she said.

A Zinwa spokesperson told the Zimbabwe Independent that water supplies
in both Mabvuku and Tafara was expected to "greatly" improve in the coming
weeks.

"We have also since commenced repairing the sewer system in Mabvuku
and water has started running from the taps although there are exceptional
cases where some parts of Mabvuku and Tafara have no water," said the
spokesperson.

Zinwa took over bulk water management from council in December 2006
and it has not been able to alleviate the water crisis in the capital.

Residents of Mabvuku and Harare have been facing water problems since
1998, but the situation worsened when Zinwa took over.

The Minister of Water Resources and Infrastructural Development
Munacho Mutezo this week said water cuts in some areas in the capital were a
result of the shortage of water treatment chemicals needed due to heavy
rains experienced in the country since December.

MDC Local Government spokesperson Trudy Stevenson said Mutezo should
resign because Zinwa had failed the nation by failing to provide safe water
to most areas in Harare.

"Not only are residents succumbing to water-borne diseases, but even
the clinics have been unable to assist the sick because of the water
crisis," Stevenson said.

"Hatcliffe Clinic reported this week that they have not had water for
over a week, and although they had been sent a bowser, they could not fill
it at the nearby borehole because the City of Harare had no diesel to put in
the tractor to tow the bowser."

Stevenson added that it was fortunate that the city’s director of
Health, Stanley Mungofa, realised the seriousness of the situation when he
was alerted, and organised some plastic containers of water for Hatcliffe
Clinic.


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Magistrates return to work

Zim Independent

Lucia Makamure

MAGISTRATES and prosecutors this week returned to work after three
months on strike pressing for better salaries and working conditions, but
the judicial delivery system remained paralysed as court support staff
continued with the industrial action.

The judicial officers were last week awarded a 3 000% salary hike by
the government with effect from this month, but salaries for court clerks
and interpreters were not reviewed.

A magistrate based outside Harare told the Zimbabwe Independent this
week that the judicial officers went back to work on Monday after signing
papers committing themselves to their jobs.

"Our colleagues in Harare were coerced to sign papers agreeing to go
back to work. But what the government failed to realise was that the courts
cannot operate without the support staff," said the magistrate who asked for
anonymity.

After the recent salary increments, a chief law officer now earns a
basic salary of $661 million plus $78 million and $88 million in transport
and housing allowances respectively.

A junior magistrate now earns a basic salary of $441 million plus $78
million and $88 million in transport and housing allowances respectively.

A magistrate in Bulawayo said the crisis at the courts could only be
resolved if the government awarded a salary increase to the support staff.

"We have returned to work, but the courts cannot operate as long as
the clerks and interpreters are still on strike," the magistrate said.

On Monday, the Justice ministry secretary David Mangota urged all the
striking magistrates, prosecutors and support staff to return to work.

The state media quoted Mangota confirming that government had awarded
judicial officers substantial pay increases with effect from this month.

"The issue which had caused officers and some employees of the
Ministry to go on strike is accordingly, a non-issue now," Mangota told the
Herald.

However, Mangota at that time dismissed media reports at the weekend
that magistrates and prosecutors were awarded a 600% salary increase, saying
the figures released were not authentic.

Mangota also said government had decided to pay the judicial officers
half of their salaries mid-month and the remainder towards the end of the
month.

Judicial officers and their support staff downed their tools in
October in protest against low pay thereby paralysing the judicial system as
several court cases had to be postponed.


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New levy for cross-border traders

Zim Independent

Lucia Makamure/Jesilyn Dendere

THE government has introduced a levy to be paid by cross-border
traders for importing commercial goods.

According to the latest Government Gazette, the tax was introduced
through an amendment to the Income Tax Act and is effective from January 1.

"Whenever a cross-border trader imports any commercial goods into
Zimbabwe, he or she shall pay an officer of the department of the Zimbabwe
Revenue Authority (Zimra) concerned a presumptive tax of such percentage of
the value for duty purposes of the commercial goods concerned as is fixed
from time to time in the Charging Act," reads the amendment.

Presumptive tax is tax based on notional or estimated business income.

According to the amendment, an informal cross-border trader was
described as a person who imports commercial goods into the country with the
intention of carrying on any trade in those goods without a tax clearance
certificate or proof of registration as a taxpayer in terms of the Income
Tax Act.

Cross-border traders can only be exempted from paying the levy if they
produce to Zimra a tax clearance certificate to the effect that they have
furnished a return under Section 37 or proof that they are registered
taxpayers in terms of the Income Tax Act.

Cross-border traders will be issued with tax clearance certificates
after paying the levy.

"Where an informal cross-border trader has paid any amount of
presumptive tax the officer concerned shall furnish the informal
cross-border trader with the appropriate tax clearance certificate," the
amendment reads.

Where no payment of presumptive tax is made Zimra shall treat the
commercial goods in question as if they were goods in respect of which no
due entry has been made in terms of the Customs and Excise Act.


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Media council to engage minister

Zim Independent

Bernard Mpofu/Orirando Manwere

THE chairperson of the Media Council of Zimbabwe (MCZ), Muchadeyi
Masunda, this week said he will soon engage Information and Publicity
minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu to persuade him to appreciate the need for a
voluntary media council to represent the interests of the journalism
profession and publishing industry in the country.

This comes in the wake of the proposed establishment of a statutory
Media Council through the passing of the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Amendment Bill last month.

The amendment was adopted under the ongoing Sadc-initiated talks
between the ruling Zanu PF and opposition MDC. The Bill now awaits
presidential assent.

The proposed setting up of the state Media Council has, however, been
slammed by journalists who last year formed the MCZ — a voluntary media
council — with the assistance of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, the
Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe Chapter, the Zimbabwe National
Editors Forum, and the Media Monitoring Project.

In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent, Masunda said it was not
necessary to have two media councils in Zimbabwe as this would cause
confusion among consumers of media products, which the councils sought to
serve.

Masunda, a senior lawyer, said while two councils could co-exist, it
was up to stakeholders in the media fraternity to decide which one would
best serve their interests.

"This voluntary council which I chair is a product of you the
journalists. It was set up after wide consultations and we were simply
approached to take up positions. It is not ideal to have parallel councils
in a democracy," Masunda said. "Ultimately, I hope consumers will be able to
appreciate our role, especially through the complaints desk which should
expeditiously arbitrate on complaints between those aggrieved and the media
houses."

He said MCZ was of the belief that redress could always be reached
without resorting to litigation.

"The council also has plans to train and equip journalists with
knowledge and tools on various subjects, including ethical issues, to enable
them to abide by their own rules. Through these programmes we feel the rest
will fall into place and there will be no need for prescribed punitive
penalties," Masunda said.

He said journalists throughout the world were for self-regulation of
the media as they were opposed to the use of law to punish "criminal
defamation" and publication of erroneous information.

These matters, Masunda said, could be adequately remedied by the use
of civil law of defamation.

Masunda said he would soon meet Ndlovu and "take him through the
rationale behind the voluntary council".

In a separate interview, Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) president
Mathew Takaona said the history of media regulation in countries like
Tanzania showed that self-regulatory councils are more effective than
statutory ones.

"History has it that statutory bodies fall away in the process, they
are politically manipulated and therefore people look at them as political
organs rather than professional bodies policing the media industry," said
Takaona.

He said voluntary media councils operate on the basis of peer review
mechanism and were credible.

Takaona said ZUJ and other stakeholders in the media were not
consulted on the Aippa amendments and had since submitted a letter of
complaint to the negotiating team of Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube (MDC),
and Nicholas Goche and Patrick Chinamasa (Zanu PF).

MDC-Mutambara formation secretary-general Ncube said the amendments to
the media law reflected his party’s willingness to promote media freedom.

"The fact that a compromise was reached with a party that held the
position of maintaining the status quo clearly shows how determined we are
in liberalising the media," said Ncube. "We moved them (Zanu PF) to a
position where they had to consider our views."

Biti, the secretary-general for the Morgan Tsvangirai faction, said
while his party supported a self-regulatory council, an ideal statutory
council would operate under the same lines as that of other professional
bodies in the country.

"Our ideal position is to have a voluntary media conduct and ethics
council," said Biti. "However, it does not mean that a council ceases to be
self-regulatory when it is born out of an Act of Parliament. The Law Society
of Zimbabwe is an example of a reputable voluntary professional council
brought about by an Act of Parliament."

In an earlier press statement issued on the media law amendments,
Masunda said any system of regulation established under the widely
discredited Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa)
would be tainted by the way the law has been applied in the past.

"There is no need at all for the state to intervene in this area. Like
other professionals, media practitioners should be left to regulate
themselves by enforcing a code of ethical conduct," he said.

The recent amendments to Aippa will see the Media and Information
Commission renamed the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC).

The chairperson and members of the new commission would be appointed
by the president from nominees made by a parliamentary committee. ZMC will
then appoint members of the statutory MC.


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Zesa begins Namibia power exports

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

POWER cuts worsened throughout the country this week after the
Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) started exporting power to
Namibia at a time when Mozambican power utilities Hidroelectrica de Cahora
Bassa (HCB) and Electrica de Mocambique suspended supplies to Zimbabwe over
a ballooning debt.

Zesa started exporting 40 megawatts of power to Namibia on January 3
under the Nampower contract, a development that created a major power
deficit for local consumers.

Zesa spokesman Fullard Gwasira confirmed the export saying it was a
contractual obligation on the part of Zesa.

"Nampower met its part of the obligation by availing the loan
facility, but like all loans, the conditions stipulated that the debt be
amortised by power exports," he said.

"The impact of the exports is minimal but by the end of the project,
it will leave Zesa with a refurbished plant and better performing units with
a greater electricity generation potential."

Zesa again confirmed that Mozambique has suspended power supplies to
Zimbabwe.

"The switching off of power is a credit management option which was
available for HCB and they have exercised it," Gwasira said.

Despite Zesa claims that it had reduced its debt, HCB said the
outstanding debt has ballooned to US$26 million resulting in the suspension
of power supplies.

Zesa last week said it had reduced its debt by US$7million, bringing
the amount paid to the power utilities to US$35 million within one and half
a months and it was negotiating for an increase in power exports.

Zesa chief engineer Ben Rafemoyo said they were negotiating with
suppliers to increase up to 300 megawatts from the 75 megawatts power
currently coming from Mozambique.

The development has plunged more than 70% of the country, mostly
cities, into darkness. The areas hit worst by the blackouts this week
included Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Masvingo, Chitungwiza, Kadoma, Chipinge,
Chegutu, Chiredzi and Marondera.

Load shedding has been restricted to residential areas but has now
spread to the city centres and industries.


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Parastatals fail to account for RBZ funds

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

MOST parastatals and local authorities have failed to account for the
billions of dollars they have received from the Reserve bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ) since 2005.

The central bank has been auditing the parastatals and local
authorities for the past three months to check on how they used the money
they received under the Parastatals, Local Authorities Reorientation
Programme (Plarp).

The audits were meant to cover the period from January 1, 2005 to
October 31, 2007.

RBZ sources this week told businessdigest that more than 90% of
parastatals have failed to account for the money they received from the
central bank. Since 2005 the central bank has been distributing money to
parastatals and local authorities for recapitalisation and operations.

The initial arrangement was that the local authorities and parastatals
would submit audited accounts to the central bank on six month intervals. It
has however emerged that most authorities and parastatals have failed to
meet this condition forcing the central bank to use its own auditing teams
to carry out the audits.

"While other can at least physically point out what they did with the
money, most can’t even show how they used the money," said a RBZ source. "It
would seem that that most parastatals used the money for other things that
were not in the official agreement when they got the loans from the RBZ."

No official comment could be obtained from the central bank at the
time of going to press.

Sources however said no parastatal "came clean" during the audit which
started in October last year.

A decision on what to do will be made soon, the source said.

"The governor is most likely to present the bank’s findings (on the
parastatals) in the next monetary policy. From the findings major
restructuring at management level could be on the way for some parastatals,"
said an RBZ official who was involved in the auditing process.

Businessdigest also understands that most parastatals were not
cooperating with the RBZ auditors.

The central bank is also currently auditing line ministries which have
also received money under the quasi-fiscal operations.

The Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono last year said companies that
fail to account for the previous allocations will not get more funds from
the bank.

The RBZ has been criticised for fuelling inflation by printing money
in order to fund quasi-fiscal operations.

Gono has however defended the quasi-fiscal activities saying without
balance of payment support, it was impossible to implement liberal policies.

Presenting his last monetary policy Gono said: "How do we implement
liberal policies when at every turn there are local and international
economic agents whose sole role has now been prescribed as that of
undermining anything and every attempt we make towards stabilising our
economy as part of political games?"

The list of beneficiaries who received money from the Reserve Bank
last year included communal farmers, women and youth, local government
authorities. At that time analysts criticised the decision to give out money
without proper accounting systems.

Zinwa and local authorities benefited from a US$5,25 million revolving
fund. The Agricultural Sector Productivity Enhancement Facility has so far
benefited from $3,9 trillion.

Tobacco, cotton, maize and Soya bean farmers also got a fair share of
Gono’s generosity. Parastatals such as ZBC, NRZ and Zesa have also benefited
from RBZ loans but their operations have not improved.


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No solution in sight to cash crisis

Zim Independent

Jesilyn Dendere

JOSPHAT Chiripanyanga has been queuing for almost two hours at his
bank and the hopes of getting any cash are slowly diminishing. Chiripanyanga
a doctor by profession says he has no choice but to hang on until he gets
some cash to pay his suppliers.

"I am not leaving this queue until the bank manager tells us that
there is no cash," said Chiripanyanga who says he has been struggling to get
cash for four days.

While others are struggling to get cash the security guard at the
entrance of the bank is busy making money by charging a small fee for
desperate people who want to jump the queue.

Today he is in a mean mood so people have been told to queue three
metres away from the entrance.

"For the past three weeks people have been crowding this door, today I
want order," said the guard as he shoves off some clients who were pushing
towards the entrance after they suspected that some one had jumped the
queue.

Chiripanyanga runs Mabvuku Medical Centre, a surgery in Mabvuku. For
him, going to the bank in search of cash has become a daily routine.
Although sometimes he is lucky there are times when he goes back to work
empty handed.

His suppliers have told him that they no longer accept cheques or RTGS
as payment.

"I do this everyday, I come to the bank everyday. This is taking the
time that I’m supposed to use attending to my patients," Chiripanyanga said.

"I have been doing this since November when the cash crisis started
and it hasn’t been easy for me to run my business in such an environment."

He says the mere $100 million that he gets from the bank is not enough
to cater for the daily needs of his surgery.

"My suppliers deliver drugs on a daily basis, we order drugs,
equipment and my staff also need money at the end of the month and there are
bills that need to be paid. All these have to be squeezed into the $100
million and that is impossible."

Chiripanyanga is not alone in the search for cash. Brian Kahungwa, a
father of five, has been in the queue for the past four hours.

"Next week is going to be a nightmare for most parents like me because
I will need cash to pay fees for my four children at school," said Kahungwa.

Kahungwa said even after the reduction of school uniform prices, the
money he is getting from the bank is still not enough. A set of a primary
school uniform is selling for $47 million yet he is getting $50 million from
the bank.

"How many times do I have to go the bank before schools open in order
to make sure that every child has everything? For the youngest in Grade One,
I need $98 million for the jersey, $49 million for the dress and $14 million
for a pair of socks. Then there is the raincoat which is selling for $35
million and a pair of school shoes now going for $18 million on the black
market.

Under normal circumstances Kahungwa could have used his ATM card,
cheque or RTGS transfers but this is not possible because he is buying most
of the goods from the informal market where they are cheaper. Even if he
finds the uniforms on the formal market he cannot use a cheque because most
shops accept cash only.

"How many Indian shops have swipe machines?" asks Kahungwa. Indeed
very few shops in the downtown area accept cheques as a form of payment.

The saddest part of Kahungwa’s story is that his problems look set to
continue because the cash crisis does not seem to be coming to an end. In
fact economic analysts are warning that the situation could worsen when
civil servants get their increased salaries in a week’s time.

Analysts this week said the ongoing cash shortages will remain a
permanent feature as long as inflation continues to gallop.

With inflation at over 14 000%, the value of the dollar has been
deteriorating forcing people to move around with large amounts of cash to
purchase basic goods.

Three weeks after the Reserve Bank governor, Gideon Gono, introduced a
new set of bearer notes — $250 000, $500 000 and $750 000 — some people are
yet to get their December salaries.

"The government has underestimated the real inflation and the worth of
the dollar, at the moment it is worth only a fraction of what they think it
is," said a senior finance lecturer at the National University Science of
Technology.

Economist, John Robertson, said the cash shortages could be related to
the fact that the value of notes is so small such that you need more of them
to buy anything.

He said the cash crisis could also be attributed to the government’s
belief that the amount in circulation is more than enough.

"People need more money than they (government) can print," Robertson
said.

David Mupamhadzi, an economic analyst with the Zimbabwe Allied Banking
Group, said the problem of cash shortages lies in the loss of the purchasing
power of the dollar.

"The fundamental issue is the hyperinflationary environment in which
the economy is operating, this has led to the value of the dollar losing its
purchasing power," Mupamhadzi said.

Mupamhadzi said cash shortages were reflective of informalisation,
parallel market deals and the loss in popularity in conventional methods of
paying for goods and services since most goods are now found on the informal
market.

"Cash requirements on a daily basis are now high and they continue to
rise thus people continue to spend hours in bank queues looking for cash,"
said Mupamhadzi.

Economic analysts have said it requires more money to buy one
commodity hence the need for more money to be released onto the market.

"The dollar per commodity has fallen far beyond reasonable levels,"
said an economic analyst with a commercial bank in Harare who says the cash
shortages are not a new thing.

"The money in circulation is far too little for cash transactions that
are taking place in the economy."

The $50 million that is being offered to individuals is not enough to
cover food, transport, rent, and other expenses, thus there is little cash
supporting the underlined transactions.

"The short-term measure in addressing the cash shortages could be the
central bank printing more notes of higher denominations for the convenience
of consumers while long term measures require the nation to address the
issue of inflation without playing the blame game because people are wasting
production hours in bank queues," Mupamhadzi said.


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AirZim can't charge fares in forex: RBZ

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has rejected Air Zimbabwe’s appeal
to charge fares for regional and international routes in foreign currency.

The Reserve Bank rejected the proposal last month saying if approved
all parastatals whose operations were currently depressed would request for
the same privilege.

Senior officials at the national airline told businessdigest on
Wednesday that Reserve Bank governor, Gideon Gono, had told Air Zimbabwe
that it was not possible for them to be allowed to charge in foreign
currency.

He is also understood to have told the management at the airline that
there was no guarantee that they would perform well even if they charged in
foreign currency.

"The feeling was that there was more to Airzim’s problems than foreign
currency shortage," said a senior official with the AirZim who was part of
the negotiating team that met the central bank last month.

"The RBZ said approving the proposal would open the floodgates for
other parastatals to seek a similar dispensation," airline officials said

"The RBZ felt that since most Zimbabweans earn in local currency
charging them in foreign currency was as good as encouraging them to use the
parallel market," the official said. Air Zimbabwe did not respond to
questions sent to them by yesterday. RBZ said charging in foreign currency
would disturb the equilibrium which prevailed between foreigners and locals
who are also required to pay departure fees in foreign currency.

"Air Zimbabwe’s passengers had been increasing significantly over the
years and charging in foreign currency will trim down the catchment area
which still needs to be expanded to achieve the airline’s turnaround goals,"
the official said.

Last August the national airline submitted proposals to RBZ to be
allowed to charge in foreign currency.

The airline said it was facing an acute shortage of foreign currency
to buy spare parts and service external debts running up to US$20 million.

In their proposal Air Zim said about 80% of its operations per month
required foreign currency but they were accessing a quarter of requirements.

Giving oral evidence before the parliamentary portfolio Committee on
Transport and Communications in November last year, Air Zimbabwe board
chairman, Mike Bimha, said the move, if approved, would help address
problems facing the airline.

"We cannot continue to ask the RBZ to give us foreign currency. Most
passengers travelling to Dubai have foreign currency yet they pay in local
currency," said Bimha.

The proposal received backing from the Zimbabwe National Chamber of
Commerce (ZNCC) and Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) leaders.

ZNCC president, Marah Hativagone at the time said: "We have been
talking about this issue for a long time now. They (Air Zimbabwe) buy fuel
and spare parts in foreign currency and they should be allowed to charge
fares in foreign currency for them to be viable. As it stands now, Air
Zimbabwe is just subsidising us."

She dismissed assertions from some sections that Zimbabweans do not
have foreign currency.

"Right now foreign currency is awash in Zimbabwe but it is being
suppressed. We pay in foreign currency when using other airlines, but we are
starving our own airline. If people can pay other airlines in foreign
currency, why can’t they pay Air Zimbabwe?" she said.

CZI president, Callisto Jokonya, also supported the idea saying: "I do
not have an objection to that proposal as long as it will enable them to be
viable. Anybody in Zimbabwe must be allowed to charge in foreign currency.
We import raw materials in foreign currency and that is the best that can be
done. Why should Air Zimbabwe be stopped?"


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Tsvangirai risks political irrelevancy

Zim Independent

Constantine Chimakure

THE MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai risks becoming irrelevant by
boycotting this year’s harmonised polls if government refuses to introduce a
transitional constitution and move the election date from March to June,
political analysts warned this week.

The analysts also warned that the MDC would face another split as some
of its members would break ranks to seek their political fortunes elsewhere.

Eldred Masunungure, a political scientist at the University of
Zimbabwe, said the MDC should at all times contest elections despite the
prevailing political environment as the costs of boycotting were heavier
than the benefits of running in the polls.

"Boycotting elections is a political statement," Masunungure said.
"Given the situation in our country, I am of the view that boycotting the
polls will not work. You make a threat to boycott elections hoping that your
opponents will buy into your demands, but that cannot happen with Zanu PF."

Masunungure said Zanu PF would go ahead with the polls in March with
or without the participation of Tsvangirai’s faction.

"There won’t be a shortage of contenders against Zanu PF. I see the
Arthur Mutambara camp participating and I also see some members of
Tsvangirai’s faction breaking ranks and proceed to participate," the
political scientist said. "The boycott is likely to lead to further
fragmentation of the MDC. It has heavy costs and I hope the MDC will weigh
the costs of boycotting against the benefits."

He said the MDC would be irrelevant if it is not represented in
parliament.

Another commentator, Michael Mhike, said boycotting polls would not be
of benefit to the Tsvangirai camp.

"Political parties are formed to contest elections. The MDC should
desist from threatening to boycott polls and put in motion its campaign,"
Mhike said.

"We have seen some opposition parties in Africa boycotting polls and
becoming irrelevant. In Senegal last year, a number of major opposition
parties boycotted the parliamentary election, but where are they today?"

In June last year, 12 major opposition parties in Senegal boycotted
the country’s parliamentary polls citing the failure by President Abdoulaye
Wade to change the electoral process, revise the voters’ roll and create an
independent structure to replace the electoral commission whose officials
were appointed by the head of state.

They also argued that the 150 contested constituencies were
delimitated to the advantage of Wade’s Democratic Party and demanded that
they be redrawn.

But 15 other opposition parties contested the polls in which Wade’s
party won 131 seats including all 90 determined by majority voting.

The parties that boycotted the elections included the former ruling
Socialist Party and the Rewmi party of Idrissa Seck, who was placed second
in the presidential election in February of the same year.

The Senegal opposition parties’ demands were more or less similar to
those being made by the MDC.

Tsvangirai’s faction last week said it would not participate in the
historic elections if Zanu PF refuses to capitulate to its demands, saying
taking part in the polls would be tantamount to the party becoming a danger
to itself while giving the nation a false hope.

The MDC said Zanu PF was backtracking on "agreements" reached in
Sadc-initiated talks aimed at ending the country’s political and economic
crisis that has resulted in over 80% of Zimbabweans wallowing in poverty.

"In spite of the mess we are forced to live with today, Zanu PF has
begun to backtrack on some of these agreed points and is going it alone,"
Tsvangirai observed.

"The main sticking points are a transitional constitution and an
election date. We settled on the transitional constitution following
assurances that the agreement would be implemented before the next
election."

Tsvangirai charged that Zanu PF was now against the spirit and content
of that agreement and was insisting that the constitution could only be
implemented after the polls.

Constitutional lawyer and chairperson of the National Constitutional
Assembly Lovemore Madhuku said the MDC should not mislead the nation that
they were now for a "new" constitution.

He questioned why the MDC (both factions) supported and endorsed
Constitutional Amendment No 18 last September if they had been pushing for a
new constitution.

"What transitional constitution are they talking about? They (MDC) are
insisting on the introduction of a document they signed in Pretoria in a
hotel and that is not known by the people of Zimbabwe," Madhuku said. "That
is not a constitution. There is need for a real people-driven constitution
crafted through a constitutional process leading to a referendum."

Madhuku added that the MDC was now pushing for a constitution only
after civil society had questioned its support for constitutional amendments
and cosmetic amendments to the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act, the Broadcasting Services Act, the Electoral Act and the Public
Order and Security Act.

"Their document will not bring free and fair elections because it is
not a people-driven constitution," Madhuku said. "They (MDC) are still
operating under an illusion that if they and the government adopt their
document, it will become a constitution that will be accepted by
Zimbabweans."

Opposition Zanu (Ndonga) said it was up to President Robert Mugabe’s
government, not the MDC, to set the date for the harmonised elections.

Its secretary for information and publicity, Reketayi Semwayo, told
the Herald on Saturday that: "I have said to my colleagues that the
government of the day is the one which sets the election date, let’s push
our demands but the election date is set by the government, otherwise we
cause confusion."

The MDC argued that the pace at which the transitional constitution
was to be implemented determines the election date.

The party said the constitution already agreed to was essential in
setting up requisite infrastructure for a sound electoral management system,
codes for good governance and a human rights regimen between now and the
election date.

These, the MDC argued, were key factors necessary to spur confidence,
redirect the people towards a national solution, regenerate hope and to
"rally the nation to unite in handling our sensitive national crisis".


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Victory is certain

Zim Independent

By Kudzai Mbudzi

I LEFT this country in 1977 at a very tender age when I was still
doing Form 4 at the then Chibi Secondary School. I fought throughout the
armed struggle as a Zanla Detachment political commissar and instructor.

On January 27 1980, I was in the entourage of President Robert Mugabe
on a plane from Maputo to Salisbury to join in Rhodesia’s first democratic
elections which ushered in political independence to our people.

I and many of my colleagues were prepared to sacrifice our lives for
two main objectives.

Firstly, political independence as a panacea to self-fulfillment, and
ultimately the much-sought-after freedom from underdevelopment and hunger,
and the right to choose one’s own leaders in a free and fair democratic
election process.

To me democracy then could be likened to a classroom exercise in the
election of school prefects. This same view of a simple and unguided
classroom democracy was to be amplified, much to the satisfaction of my
callow mind, almost 30 years later, when in Polokwane, South Africa, about 5
000 mostly rural folks replicated my previous shaky imaginations of the
basic tenets of a democratic process in the choice of their leaders.

When I left this country I had completed only Form 3, but 10 years
later, had acquired four prestigious university qualifications, most of
which were achieved with meritorious performance of clear distinctions,
implying my humble flexibility to quickly adapt to the challenges in my new
operating environment.

It is this tradition of clear wisdom which made me a disciple of a
deliberate process of adaptation that I saluted in the Polokwane debacle —
or was it a revolution to many of us? At least this open exercise of freedom
was a wonder to witness at Polokwane.

The primary objective of any revolutionary fight and the underlying
factor of our fight against foreign domination was economic empowerment of
all Zimbabweans regardless of race, creed, colour, sex or age. The general
meaning of empowerment is clear to many of us, as it is supposed and
therefore presumed to be the gateway to success — away from a downtrodden
life of misery and poverty.

I have little differences with George Charamba on the definition of a
fully empowered person as he is daily reminded of his own state and his
meagre civil servant’s salary, lying side by side with the riches of many of
his own principals, as he administers the proceedings of their deliberations
as dictated by his job description.

It is the definition and our exercise of the first objective and
freedom of the revolutionary struggle that I find Charamba’s assertions and
accusations unutterably foreign to my nature of living. Charamba refers to
me as a "mere Major Mbudzi", implying a very insignificant element in the
whole unfolding political process under review.

Charamba forgets that I directly fought for the positive construction
of the Zimbabwe we today want. I have therefore a stake in the democratic
process of this country in a more defined role of an activist and a
shareholder.

I therefore do not define myself simply as a passive subject and
therefore a supporter of some predetermined development and change process.
I am not prepared to mortgage my own fate and that of all the future
generations to some third parties.

And when I do this, it will always be with full and constant reference
to what we agreed upon while in Mozambique, Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania as
Zanla and Zipra forces to which Charamba might not have been a part.

As he is not an ex-combatant he should stop poking his nose into the
basic tenets of freedom and liberation which we agreed upon more than 30 to
40 years ago while in the bush. I openly challenge him to a public debate on
this, even on television.

But Charamba, the same zeal and passion you are showing in being a
master of ideological correctness should also have been elicited in your
sacrifice and the fight for the same objective during the armed struggle
and, deducing from your stature, you seem to have been of the correct
physical build then to have been a fierce freedom fighter.

So stop trying to be the "Lenin" of the Zimbabwean revolution through
the abuse of your official position and the public media.

Charamba must also be ethical.

Firstly, his position as a senior civil servant prohibits him from
openly bragging about his political orientation as he is required to be
apolitical. He must be reminded that he is not a permanent secretary to the
revolution, but to cabinet, which tomorrow might change to include me.

Secondly, if Charamba is a loyal Zanu PF cadre within the civil
service, he must be cognisant of the fact that the party is always supreme
to government. He must and should uphold the orientation of subservience to
personalities such as Simba Makoni as a member of the politburo and Major
Mbudzi as a member of Zanu PF’s provincial executive.

Indeed the lack of wisdom, clarity and direction in your articles
under the pseudonym Nathaniel Manheru smack of the same poverty and
lamentable lack of wisdom, clarity and orientation in the brains behind the
articles.

As I read your article in the Herald on Saturday (January 5), I simply
but could only conclude that if a fool climbs a tree, stop all the rescue
operations and wait until it is dark, he will simply willingly disembark
when his hands start losing grip. No wonder the public media institutions
are over-managed and under-led. Our democracy can never develop when our
important public institutions for self-proclamation are being controlled by
people like Charamba.

A dangerously degenerated level of this view might even lead to a
perception that only you in top public positions that support the
perpetuation of the current system and status quo for obvious reasons always
entertain a belief that you hold the title deeds of liberation and freedom
of the people, and yet you are simply and ordinarily beneficiaries of a
system collectively fought for and therefore contrived.

There is then a danger that some of you, Charamba, might move around
with democracy zipped in your own pockets, only to produce it when it best
suits you, but quickly zip it back when your interests and those of your own
principals are threatened.

Is it a lie Charamba that you personally arranged the hiring of the
plane used in the Tsholotsho debacle? So why all of a sudden have you become
the self-proclaimed treasure of our democratic rights and freedoms against
dissenting voices and therefore rebels?

If you look at Cuba, one probably wonders whether those comrades are
still on the same arrangement to go to "Mecca", or they better be advised to
abandon the Mosaic plans and go back to the biblical "suppressive" Egypt.
Cuba became liberated in 1959, but up to now its people are yet to cross the
Rubicon and taste the goodness of independence in an open global villagised
economy.

Indeed systems like the previous communist Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia,
Romania and so on were supposed to be barometers for independence and
freedom but, alas, ended up with very sad episodes of celebrated break-ups.
But look at China and its Hu Jintao — it’s all fire and energy, an epitome
of development.

So what is the lesson my brother, Charamba? It is clear then that we
need to continually adapt ourselves to the changes taking place in the
global political market place (with Polokwane as part of this global market
place) and thrive to continually adjust our thinking and behaviours through
the eyes of this global political market place.

It is painful Charamba, with all that I have experienced in this
meanderous revolutionary walk, to enter a pub and hear some of these young
guys remarking: "Mukoma, kana zviri izvo zvamakagwira izvi dzokerai nenyika
munoisungira kwamakaisunungura. (If this is the freedom you fought for, the
country is better off under colonial rule.)"

As an ex-combatant, I firmly believe, and correctly so, that there
shall come a time when we shall assume full ownership of the political
processes in Zimbabwe, and to some of us final victory is certain.

But what do I perceive as final victory, Charamba, lest you catch me
once more by the wrong foot?

* Victory means success of all the individual family units in
Zimbabwe.

* Victory means more happiness and satisfying lives of all
Zimbabweans.

* Victory means freedom from hunger and impoverishment.

* Victory means people will not flock into neighbouring countries
wearing haggard and mournful faces foraging for food and basic subsistence
and being stigmatised to the extent of totally losing their own individual
characters through mistreatment and menial jobs they are forced to perform.

* Victory means that our innocent and pregnant women, some with babies
on their backs, are no longer swept away by the flooded Limpopo in a
desperate bid to look for subsistence in South Africa.

* Victory means those in the diaspora will be free to visit and spend
all Christmas and New Year holidays with us, pay last respects to our dead
before saying goodbye to all their loved ones and heading back for their
different international assignments.

* Victory means that the arrogant and dehumanising terms " shefu" and
"fugitive" are replaced by comrades, friends and dear Zimbabweans.

* Victory means affordability and ability to adequately provide for
our daily dietary requirements.

* Victory means highly affordable tariffs, low prices and low cost of
living for all.

* Victory means inner comfort and a sense of security in every
Zimbabwean worker in the adequacy of the monthly wage to pay for one’s basic
dietary requirements, transportation and shelter and, and afford an
opportunity for savings to meet school fees and related expenses.

* Victory means no shortages of our own monies on call, deposited in
our own banks; it means abundance of fuel at a cost of $5,00 per litre; it
means sunset will perpetually be replaced by some form of lighting; that we
as an evolving human species shall be restored back to our rightful evolved
era, from our present epoch of hunting and gathering and endless darkness.

* Victory means a modest but highly affordable education for all our
children where primary education is once more accorded a basic right for
every Zimbabwean child.

* Victory means modest but highly productive manufacturing, mining,
tourist and agricultural sectors of Zimbabwe, and for some of us, the
struggle continues until final victory. And indeed, final victory, is
certain whatever it takes to fully achieve it.

* Victory means that we transform Zimbabwe into a real African beacon,
an epitome of development.

People and tactics might change, but the revolutionary objective, zeal
and passion of liberating the motherland will never change or become
acceptable in any other different form or definition.

* Retired Major Kudzai Mbudzi is a war veteran, former senior Zimbabwe
National Army officer, and is currently serving a prohibition order as the
Zanu PF provincial secretary for information and publicity (Masvingo).


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What’s the MDC doing?

Zim Independent

Comment

If the date for the harmonised presidential, parliamentary and local
government elections is not changed, which looks likely, we can safely say
we are left with just two months before that crucial event takes place. Yet
given the dithering and prevarication in opposition ranks, one gets the
impression that it is the Americans who are voting in March and Zimbabweans
in November.

We must quickly admit that we don’t have intimate details of what is
going on behind the scenes at the inter-party talks between the ruling Zanu
PF party and the MDC. We believe the voting public is equally searching for
signals. But faced with the myriad problems besetting the country, most of
us are more preoccupied with our daily struggles than what the outcome of
the Pretoria talks is going to be.

President Robert Mugabe has already said there will be no new
constitution before the March elections. He is likely to have his way given
the endorsement he received from his party at the December extraordinary
congress. On the other hand, the MDC now insists a so-called "transitional
constitution" and a delayed election have become the sticking points at the
talks. The question on many people’s minds is whether a transitional
constitution is the same as a new constitution, which has already been
rejected by the ruling party. There is also confusion among ordinary people
whether a break-up of the current talks in South Africa is the same thing as
a boycott of the elections themselves.

It is not for us to dictate to the MDC when it should start
campaigning. It might turn out that it is a tactical decision. To the extent
that its supporters know this, it is fine. Only in the past elections we
have not seen the benefits of this apparent indecision.

There are genuine concerns in the MDC leadership that
politically-motivated violence against its supporters has not abated. There
is still no visibility of its members on national television, yet we don’t
know what they have been promised at the talks. And time is clearly running
out for the opposition given that Zanu PF has already started campaigning.
We can be sure there will be fireworks as soon as President Robert Mugabe
returns from his annual leave. Is that perhaps the time when the MDC will
clarify to its supporters what is going on?

It was MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai in his Christmas message who
stated that the talks with Zanu PF were getting deadlocked on the two key
issues: a new constitution before elections and postponement of the
elections. He said Zanu PF was backtracking on "agreements" reached in
Pretoria. The implication here is that all other points have been resolved
to the MDC’s satisfaction.

Still there are questions to be answered here. We know Zanu PF is
reluctant to hold an election under a new constitution which will reduce its
grip on state resources and allow the opposition equal coverage in the
public media. What is not clear is at what stage the MDC felt a new
constitution was the most critical issue in the elections so soon after
voting with Zanu PF in parliament on September 20 in favour of
Constitutional Amendment 18?

It sounds nave to claim that they supported the amendment because
they had been promised a new constitution before the elections. What would
be the point of an amendment that is followed by a new constitution?

Needless to say this doesn’t inspire confidence in the party’s
decision-making process. It was this same amendment which brought us an
expanded senate when the MDC split in 2005 allegedly over a smaller one.

But our concern over the Zanu PF/MDC talks now goes deeper than that.
The reason the MDC wants the elections postponed, we are told, is because
they want the "transitional constitution" to take root. In other words this
is not about a referendum to give the people of Zimbabwe a chance to craft
their constitution. It is all about swapping horses at State House.

How can a make-or-break document (what Tsvangirai calls agreements)
about the future of Zimbabwe be drawn up in secrecy and we are expected to
merely endorse it? Have the talks in South Africa been turned into another
Lancaster House conference in which the people of Zimbabwe had no role?

There is a creeping sense in which it appears the MDC is beginning to
behave much like Zanu PF in its belief that people don’t matter so long as
they keep claiming to represent them. Despite the grave leadership
weaknesses, the MDC seems to have made itself the final arbiter between the
people and Zanu PF and only itself can confer or withhold legitimacy by
deciding to vote or boycott elections.

This is dangerous arrogance and the MDC needs to be warned not to
overstretch its luck by taking people’s support too much for granted.
Needless to say the mass exodus of Zimbabweans to the diaspora is as much a
response to Zanu PF’s disastrous rule as it is disillusionment with the MDC’s
increasing resemblance to Zanu PF — it has no clue about ending the
political crisis. Time is running out and there is need for decisiveness in
the MDC.


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The real lessons from Kenya

Zim Independent

Candid Comment

By Joram Nyathi

A LOT has been said about the Kenyan election debacle. Lessons have
been drawn locally on both sides of the political divide. Unfortunately most
of these lessons are no more than self-serving wishes. In my view, the real
lesson is the danger of obsession with change for its own sake, and in that
quest, embracing every claimant to power as the Messiah. Zimbabweans are
guilty of this propensity.

South Africans look worse. Reading the South African media about
President Thabo Mbeki’s alleged autocratic rule in the few weeks before
Polokwane made me feel like we in Zimbabwe were ruled by angels. So intense
was the hatred for Mbeki that his rival Jacob Zuma was assured of the ANC
presidency despite his soiled name. It was as if the name Zuma represented a
cure for Aids, crime and racial inequality in SA.

It is perplexing. Here is a man who answers to every act of
misdemeanor from rape to influence-peddling to outright corruption and tax
evasion being elevated to the pedestal of a saint who is being victimised by
a cruel sitting president whom he has challenged for office! In any
civilised society, the accusation of corruption, let alone rape, should make
any decent person recuse himself from the presidential race. Zuma would have
magnified his own stature. He doesn’t need to be convicted.

Things were never going to be easy for Mbeki from the start: matching
Nelson Mandela’s affability, dealing with a recalcitrant ruler such as
President Robert Mugabe who is universally reviled by those he has hurt, and
given growing anti-intellectual sentiment in politics in Zimbabwe and SA.
But in Zuma we have a man who can stand up when later accused of rape,
violence (leth’ umshini wami), corruption, racketeering, fraud and
philandering and say with a straight face: "When I campaigned I didn’t hide
who I am."

In the face of all this grunge you have influential organisations such
as Cosatu threatening the judiciary with a "bloodbath" if Zuma is brought to
court.

The biggest lesson from the Kenyan post-election violence is the
danger of electing into power democratic charlatans without institutional
fireguards to ensure such people can be removed later without bloodletting;
and our fascination with the politics of tribe and other irrational
considerations which blind us to people’s motives for getting into politics.
It is the danger of choosing leaders for where they come from ahead of
enduring values necessary in nation-building.

Anyone who opposes a hated sitting president automatically becomes a
democrat. Mwai Kibaki was feted as a democrat for defeating Daniel arap Moi
without anyone examining his democratic credentials. The election was judged
free and fair. In five years the guy has shown his true colours and those
who elected him are shocked by his "transformation" from what he never was
to a corrupt dictator and tribalist. To me there was no betrayal of the
people but an exposure of bad choice.

The irony is that Western democracies which are quick to point to us
torch bearers of democracy subject their would-be leaders to a very rigorous
vetting before they are elected. I am fascinated by the ongoing campaign by
the Democrats in the United States. This is not a country in any serious
political crisis like we are, yet its leader must pass through the crucible
of public scrutiny and explain fully what his policies are, what he wants to
do and how. It is not enough to chronicle the current leader’s failures. Any
imbecile can do that. Talking democracy and human rights is cheap — the test
is on delivery.

Unfortunately in desperation for change, any change, we are shy if not
afraid to confront our future leaders with hard questions about who they are
and their shortcomings. Yet it is the political leader ultimately who gives
the nation its international character.

The other lesson from Kenya is not the threat of violence if elections
are rigged. Forcing people to vote in a certain way on the threat of
violence amounts to democracy by fear. It does not represent the free will
of the people. It is the need to select for leadership people of integrity.
We need leaders who are able to accept loss and victory in an election with
dignity and know when to quit.

Kenya’s Raila Odinga might have a cause to complain, but to me there
is no point in voting for a leader of hooligans, who, after a disputed
electoral result, rampage in the streets, burning, raping and murdering
people in church. There was nothing among the poor Kikuyu in the slums of
Kibera and Mathare to show that they had unfairly benefited from Mwai Kibaki’s
rule ahead of other tribes. Nor is there evidence that those being targeted
for attack voted for him. Yet we read that boys and girls as young as six
years are being raped for voting for Kibaki or for simply being Kikuyu.

In any case, if the Kikuyu are being targeted as an ethnic group
because Kibaki is Kikuyu, then by inverse rule Odinga forfeits the claim of
a "people’s president" if only his Luo clanspeople and a few others voted
for him.

The trouble with wanton violence is that it never affects the criminal
leader himself. Does anybody for once nurse the illusion that Charles Taylor
or Joseph Kony will ever fully pay for atrocities they have committed
against their people in Liberia and Uganda? Or that Odinga is justified in
causing the deaths
of over 600 Kenyans because he wants to go to State House?

Broadly, the Kenyans are paying for what has become the bane of
African politics — short-term and opportunistic considerations in the
selection of national leaders. Lack of long-term vision in the beginning
comes to haunt us in the end.


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Mushohwe’s degree has not helped him

Zim Independent

MuckRaker

THERE has been much commentary on the news networks of Kenya’s fall
from grace. Here was a prosperous and stable African country which in the
space of a few days has descended into violence and chaos.

The ostensible reason is that President Mwai Kibaki "stole" the
presidential poll. With over 40 ethnic groups jockeying for position,
political rivalry quickly became tribal war.

Much of the blame has been apportioned to Kibaki himself who was a tad
fast off the mark in having himself sworn in when the outcome was still in
doubt.

The Telegraph’s David Blair, who used to report from Harare, commented
that "with blinkered and selfish obduracy, many African leaders will not
relinquish power for any price. Kibaki has now joined the Robert Mugabe
Club — namely the dismal circle of African leaders who are utterly convinced
of their own indispensability."

Indeed, but there is another point largely unexamined here. The outfit
that got Kenya — and Kibaki — into this mess was the country’s electoral
commission. Some of its own members have slammed its failure to do a good
job and, in particular, its perceived pro-Kibaki partisanship.

The Kenya lesson for us all is that all parties have to agree before
the election on the integrity of those conducting it. Then there can be
nocomplaint when the government wins.

We don’t seem to have learnt that. Look through the list of the
current ZEC officials and you will see the imprint of the state at all
levels.

By the way, what happened to Brigadier Douglas Nyikayaramba who, we
were told in 2002 had taken leave of absence from the army during the
election but turned up in uniform for subsequent events?

Blair concluded his piece on Kenya with an interesting observation.
The rise of an urban and articulate middle class, he said, was "slowly
reducing the grip of tribalism on politics".

"Whether the president is any good at his job might actually matter in
future elections."

Unless of course the middle class is driven out by failed policies.

Do you recall not so long ago that any reference to South Africa on
ZBC had to be preceded by the word "apartheid"? Now this formulaic dogma is
applied to sanctions so no state-media hack can write about sanctions
without first using the word "illegal" — even when there is nothing remotely
illegal about them!

All this does is illustrate a paucity of descriptive powers by the
state’s apologists while at the same time underlining the extent of official
prescription that so evidently takes place on a daily basis. We suspect that
where columnists forget to follow the "correct" procedure, the word
"illegal" is popped into the copy for them!

We now have a newcomer in the list of mandatory marvels. The word
"incessant" now appears in any reference to the rains currently battering
the country.

They do indeed seem "incessant". But our worry is that "incessant"
will soon become an excuse for failure.

It must be obvious to everybody by now that the mother of all
agricultural seasons will fail to deliver the much-touted bounty. And that’s
because there has been insufficient investment in inputs, particularly
fertiliser.

So the "incessant" rains could soon become the official excuse for
poor planning. Let’s wait and see.

Zimbabweans should vote overwhelmingly for President Mugabe in the
March poll to "protect their sovereignty from Western imperialists",
Emmerson Mnangagwa is quoted in the Sunday News as saying.

He was addressing supporters in Lower Gweru. He said Zimbabwe was safe
under Mugabe’s leadership.

Does that mean safe from inflation and economic ruin?

Mnangagwa doesn’t suggest his leader has a solution to the country’s
deepening woes. He doesn’t pretend Mugabe has any policies that might rescue
the nation from its plight. Instead he says Mugabe will protect us from
"Western imperialists".

That was the best he could do. What reward can he expect for this
pathetic bootlicking we wonder? And how much respect will he garner praising
a leader who has unleashed an economic holocaust?

The worst aspect of all this is that Mnangagwa knows better. He is not
stupid like some of his colleagues. As a businessman he knows that
investment from "Western imperialists" is vital for recovery. But he can’t
say so. Nor can he point to a better future.

"Whites should not interfere in our country," he says. We wonder if
that includes all those shady white businessmen his party used to cultivate!

Now all they can talk about is "Western imperialists".

Is this what Zanu PF has been reduced to? Vacant leaders and vacant
minds?

Zesa CEO Engineer Ben Rafemoyo has a number of explanations for the
parastatal’s steady collapse as a power provider.

Most of the distribution infrastructure should have been overhauled in
the mid-1990s, he told Business Herald. But this was not possible because of
lack of funding.

More specifically, Zimbabwe in 1990 "fell out" with the IMF and World
Bank which had promised funding. (We thought it was more like 1998.)

Then there were the water-logged cables, power lines damaged by
falling trees and vandalism.

He wasn’t asked what steps he had taken to step up security at
sub-stations. Then there is the fuel problem which he wasn’t asked about.
Zesa crews can no longer respond to distress calls because they have no
fuel.

But Engineer Rafemoyo did have some good news. "We are no longer
load-shedding consumers for more than 12 hours," he volunteered. Let’s
remember that.

But let’s not entertain the story about distribution infrastructure
exceeding its lifespan. Many countries with equally ancient systems keep
them running by constant maintenance. Can the same be said of Zesa?

All too often parastatal managers complain about the age of their
equipment saying everything needs to be replaced. Have they tried looking
after what they’ve got?

Transport minister Chris Mushohwe had an interesting explanation for
why British Airways pulled out of Zimbabwe last year.

"I personally think that while it may be true that they were not
having the best facilities (in Harare), I strongly suspect that the British
government had a hand in the pulling out . . ." he said.

Just because the Zimbabwe government, and in particular Mushohwe’s
ministry, interferes in the affairs of Air Zimbabwe, doesn’t mean other
governments do the same thing.

Most successful airlines around the world today are able to succeed
precisely because they make strategic decisions for themselves.

Air Zimbabwe on the other hand has been forced into a number of
unprofitable routes, particularly in the Far East, for political reasons.
Now, we learn from Mushohwe, "plans are underway" to fly to Brussels, Moscow
and Tehran.

How many Belgians are there wanting to visit Zimbabwe? And how many
Zimbabweans want to go to Moscow and Tehran? Market surveys are underway, we
are told. You can be sure they don’t extend beyond Mushohwe’s desk.

On why Zambian Airways pulled out, Mushohwe was reported as saying the
airline was "small and insignificant".

Let’s remind ourselves that Air Zimbabwe had 18 planes at Independence
in 1980. Now it has six! That UZ Masters degree is evidently not helping the
minister with his maths.

Muckraker would like to thank the Swiss ambassador for his Christmas
greetings card. It was posted in Harare on December 7, according to the
Zimpost stamp, and reached the offices of the Independent on January 9. Is
this a record?

Zimpost was among those state agencies advertising their slavish
loyalty to the regime on Unity Day last month. "Reaching everyone
everywhere" was their slogan. That should have read "Reaching everyone
everywhere – eventually".

There has been a good response to Muckraker’s "Mother of all potholes"
contest with a number of nominations for the one on Prince Edward St
opposite Alex Sports Club. A steady flow of water from this crater was
staunched on New Year’s Day. But the hole was not filled in. Instead a sign
has been placed there saying "On Duty".

We are not sure who is "On Duty". But it is certainly not the City of
Harare or Zinwa.


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Practical solutions to cash crisis

Zim Independent

By Eric Bloch

THE monumental scarcity of cash within the formal economy that
prevailed in November and December was not the first to be experienced by
Zimbabweans. However, it was certainly the most pronounced.

Despite the levels at which the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe restricted
cash withdrawals being relatively minimal, even before the cash crunch
commenced, the availability of bank notes was at times so limited that banks
could not even service requested cash withdrawals at such levels. Instead,
they had to ration the issues of currency as severely as Zinwa has
restricted water supplies in many Harare suburbs, for they simply could not
issue that currency which they did not have.

Although RBZ had hoped to resolve the crisis before Christmas, that
did not occur, but within the week after New Year it finally abated, with
the previously gargantuan queues of people desperate to access their money
shortening.

This was achieved, albeit belatedly by enhanced supply by RBZ of
currency into the economy, by the very impressive, vigorous efforts of the
commercial banks to meet the anxious needs of their customers, keeping the
banking halls open until late each day, and throughout a weekend, and by
diminished post-festive demand of cash by the manufacturing sector that is
in recess.

However, as the issue of new $250 000, $500 000 and $750 000 bearer
cheques, and the remonetisation of the $200 000 bearer cheques increased
currency availability, improved also by heavy deposits by holders of the
then to be demonetised currency, and alleviated the crisis, care must be
taken that complacency not set in. If it does, future cash crises are not
merely probabilities, but will be certainties, and probably with
ever-increasing frequency and intensity.

RBZ attributed the massive shortages of currency to the accumulation
and hoarding of money by those dubbed cash barons, and it is
incontrovertible that this was occurring, to some considerable extent, and
was a major factor in the development of the money scarcities.

The cash barons comprised, in the main, those engaged in the unlawful
purchase of foreign currencies, either in order to externalise assets, or to
fund imports, and others intensively engaged in cross-border trading
operations. Other cash barons were retailers who found that they could
realise substantial extra profits by not banking their sales receipts, but
instead accumulating the cash to sell it, at a premium, to those in
desperate need.

But, without minimising the impacts of the activities of the cash
barons, there were other, markedly greater causes of the cash shortages.
First and foremost was the rampantly spiralling hyperinflation that
afflicted Zimbabwe throughout 2007.

By December, 2007 the consumer required 20 to 30 times as much money
to buy exactly the same goods, in exactly the same quantity, as he or she
needed to have only one year earlier. Thus, if on a visit to a supermarket a
year ago, the customer needed to $2 million in cash, by December, 2007 at
least $40 million, and up to $60 million, was necessary to buy no more than
had been purchased for $2 million only 12 months previously.

Extrapolate that increased currency need by several million purchasing
consumers, and the total cash needed by that buying population exceeds all
currency in circulation! Admittedly, some customers pay for their purchases
by cheques, or with credit cards, but the masses of the low-income earners
and those who reside in rural areas, cannot access or afford banking
facilities.

Therefore, it must be realistically assumed that at least a half, if
not more, of the total currency that was in circulation was, at any time, in
people’s wallets, purses, handbags, pockets, or homes, solely in order to
fund ordinary consumer needs. The total cash in issue was, according to RBZ,
about $67 trillion, and therefore at least $34 trillion, and probably very
much more, was in the hands of consumers, for wholly legitimate purposes, at
any time.

A further key factor is that, at the present time, the most virile
facet of the Zimbabwean economy is the informal sector. With unemployment
being endemic, the majority of the population has little or no alternative
but to resort to informal sector activities, ranging from vending at bus
termini, at people’s markets, and elsewhere, to provision of diverse
services, cottage industry operations such as production of clothing, and to
numerous forms of unlawful activities such as gold-panning and other
criminal actions.

A key characteristic of informal sector operations is the preservation
of a low profile, beyond the gaze of taxation, licensing and other
authorities. One way of doing so is by not operating banking accounts,
processing all transactions in cash, and accumulating cash receipts to fund
outgoings. Hence, there were undoubtedly many trillions of dollars held by
informal sector operators.

The magnitude of the monies held by the general public, for no
untoward reasons, and by informal sector operators, will undoubtedly have
considerably exceeded the undeniably considerable sums held by the cash
barons.

This was convincingly demonstrated by the horde of anxious and
desperate ordinary men and women, almost panic-stricken, queuing for days
and nights outside banks and building societies, fearfully striving to
convert their $200 000 notes before they became valueless.

Others, in a similar state of stress, fearing intensified poverty due
to the impending demonetisation of their few bank-notes, rapidly spent their
monies on goods which normally they would not have purchased, or would only
have done so progressively over the days, weeks and months ahead.

The tragedy is that all these causes of the cash crisis of late 2007
will recur, within a few months, unless the underlying causes are rapidly
and constructively addressed. Doing so requires that:

lWithout delay and without recourse to its endless misconceived,
erroneous assumptions as to the causes of Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation, but
with unequivocal recognition of the real causes, government must forcefully
address those causes.

lThis requires drastically reducing its expenditures, very
substantially moving exchange rates so as to stimulate export operations and
concomitant foreign exchange generation, so as to curtail the
inflationary-stimulating parallel foreign currency markets, enhancing
infrastructural service delivery so as to restore productivity to industry,
agriculture, mining and other economic operations, as well as many other
constructive inflation-containment measures as have been frequently
identified to government, and as frequently ignored.

lAs rapidly, government needs to terminate the operations of the
National Incomes and Prices Commission, which operations are the greatest
cause of the gargantuan commodity scarcities in the formal economy and,
therefore, of much of the growth of informal sector operations, and of black
market-driven inflation. As long as commodity supply cannot match, or
exceed, supply, prices will inevitably escalate, and especially so in the
unofficial markets. Instead of counterproductive price controls, a
government-led unity of state, business and labour needs to bring into
being, voluntarily, a very long overdue, positive, workable, social
contract.


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New media law reforms cosmetic

Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

Iden Wetherell

THE Mauritius protocol on electoral norms, agreed by Sadc leaders in
2004, appears to be bearing a variety of fruits. Sadly, none of them are
proving palatable.

The first attempt by the government to bring Zimbabwe’s electoral
system into line with the region was the establishment in 2005 of the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. This unprepossessing body was supposed to
take responsibility for running elections. But it ended up sharing power
with a Registrar-General who presided over an opaque voters’ roll and a
battalion of military officers who situated themselves throughout the
electoral process.

Critically, it was the government that decided who should observe
elections, not the ZEC.

When this flawed system proved inadequate in terms of the Sadc
guidelines, further "reforms" emerged from the South African-mediated
inter-party talks. The Public Order and Security Act was amended to provide
wider public space to the opposition and civil society while the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) was changed to remove the
impression of Orwellian manipulation.

The state press has been quick to suggest journalists should
"celebrate" this move in so far as it removes some of the more abusive
features of the original legislation and provides for a regulatory media
commission together with an ethics-focused media council clearly designed to
over-shadow the self-regulating Media Council of Zimbabwe (MCZ) now
operating in the independent sector.

But as the MCZ’s chairman, Muchadeyi Masunda, points out, any system
of regulation established under the widely discredited Aippa will be tainted
by the way in which this legislation has been applied in the past

This leads to a related point. No amount of institutional reform will
work where there is an absence of political will. Journalists were not
consulted when the two parties drew up the Aippa amendments. And judging by
previous appointments to the outgoing Media and Information Commission, the
proposed Zimbabwe Media Commission will contain individuals who have made no
secret of their hostility to a free media. Journalists at all levels must
resist any attempt to apply a cosmetic make-over to the state’s oppressive
edifice of media control. This is the same state that was responsible for
the abduction and torture of two Standard journalists in 1999 and then
refused to cooperate with a court-ordered investigation.

It is the same state that closed down the Daily News, the Daily News
On Sunday, the Tribune, and the Weekly Times. It is the same state that
deported foreign correspondents on spurious grounds in recent years and
continues to abuse the public media for partisan purposes.

Newspapers and broadcast media are crudely manipulated by state
officials and provide daily examples of unprofessional behaviour including
the propagation of invective and deceit. None of this is acceptable in a
democratic environment and certainly not in the run-up to an election where
voters have to make informed choices.

The government must immediately scrap its plans for a media council
and instead allow its journalists to join the existing council which is open
to all media.

It should admit to the country any bona fide journalist to cover the
elections and stop interfering in the administration and output of the
public media. Above all, the "public" media should act as a genuine public
media and cultivate diversity and professional standards which are woefully
lacking at present.

Nobody takes the government-run media seriously which must be a
disadvantage to government itself. Academic institutions have also failed to
establish the requisite standards for media training by buying into the
state’s clumsy attempts at doctrinal conformity. Journalists in this day and
age cannot be expected to echo the government’s facile mantras about
patriotism and sovereignty when its record is one of persistent failure.

The amended version of Aippa, while a marginal improvement on the
original Act, does not meet the requirements of democratic reform. State
regulation has been a failure wherever it has been applied. And the complete
absence of consultation in drawing up the amendments suggests a culture of
prescription into which the opposition has been co-opted.

Zimbabwe continues to fail any compliance test with the Mauritius
terms. It does not permit a free media to flourish and it does not encourage
media diversity — note the complete absence of radio stations other than
ZBC.

We do not need amendments to bad laws or a state which prescribes how
the press should conduct itself. What we need is a responsible and robust
press that can fulfil its watchdog role and assist the public in making an
informed choice at the polls.


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Zim Independent Letters

We wait for Zim to deliver

IT is with utter shock and disappointment that I am witnessing the
events unfolding in Kenya. I am a Zimbabwean based in Uganda where I have
many Kenyan friends and thus have had a closer look into what is taking
place in that country.

Weeks ahead of the elections violence started to flare up between
rival camps. At the time I assumed that this was the usual African politics
at play yet again. What has transpired since the elections last year has
confirmed those assumptions and proved that African politics is the same,
wherever you are.

Kenya had become one of the continent’s leading lights, a country with
a robust and growing economy, enjoying social and political stability and
taking on a more prominent role in the East African Community.

All of Kenya’s progress and good work is at risk of being undone,
after the country was plunged into chaos and anarchy following allegations
of electoral fraud.

What is most saddening is that the violence in Kenya has been on
tribal grounds. One would have thought that such petty hatred and atrocities
would have been confined to the past, but alas, events akin to Rwanda in
2004 have come back to haunt us.

This leads me to consider that perhaps all those negative commentaries
made on Africa could be in a way accurate. In Africa we still vote on tribal
lines, placing greater emphasis on where a person is from and if they’re one
of our own. In Africa people are still victimised, beaten and killed for
their political affiliations. And we still have allegations of vote rigging
and abuse of the electoral process in almost all ballots that take place on
the continent.

Even in South Africa, a country that has previously been hailed as
being a cut above the rest on the continent, we have a president trying to
cling onto power in his party and a campaign within the ANC which was laced
with tribal undertones.

In three months time another African hot spot, Zimbabwe is set to go
to the polls. What the entire African continent needs now, after the Kenyan
debacle is a well run, free and fair election. One with no violence or
political unrest, to restore some of our lost dignity.

We wait for Zimbabwe to deliver.

Zvichapera Riini,

Uganda.

------------------
It's Mugabe, not Gono

SOME time in December, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono
made what I would call a startling statement to the nation. He said he knew
who the cash barons are.

Now, instead of baying for his blood Gono needs help, and needs it
fast. His voice sounds very lonely and forlorn. Politicians are working
against Gono and are benefiting hugely out of that.

What I have noticed is that President Robert Mugabe is the problem. He
has never condemned corruption since he got into office 28 years ago. He has
never dismissed non-performing cabinet ministers. This is the main reason
why the economy is in the doldrums.

Recently Mugabe put his foot in his mouth and made the silliest of
statements when he said that Zimbabwe will never collapse (economically, one
presumes). Well how can Zimbabwe collapse when the country is lying on its
belly? Mugabe has taken us for granted for far too long. Is he not ashamed?
Has he got a conscience? God will punish him for making us suffer this much.
The economy has crumbled right in his face.

Foreign currency dealings on the so-called black market started way
back in 1982 and Mugabe was and still is well aware of those involved. There
are big fish in Bulawayo who teamed up with an Asian businessmen to
establish what became known as the World Bank. Mugabe knew about it yet he
did not act. Mugabe acts swiftly, mercilessly and decisively when it comes
to Zanu PF affairs.

Zimbabweans have kept him in power for 28 years and he has
reciprocated their trust (and some of their faith) in him by keeping them
starving by all cruel means. I am one of those who has trusted him for 28
years.

The whole economy now belongs to the black market. For the 28 years
that he has been in office, President Mugabe has never made a key economic
policy statement.

In the area of economics the president is poorly endowed, if at all he
is endowed. He is so poor that he fails to dismiss known thieves in his
cabinet and in the party as long as they support him. The nation has no
foreign currency, no fuel, no basic consumables. The man is out of touch.

May I inform Mugabe that what is killing us are transport costs.
Please help us in this area, Mr President. Come up with your own economic
policies. Are you scared that your lack of economic grasp will be exposed?

Lastly the opposition should not come out and say that there are no
cash barons because most definitely they are there by the thousand and are
destroying the economy. Gono should now expose them and shame the president.
The opposition tends to be too negative in their approach to national
issues.

Rosa,

Lupane.

-------------
Have pity on Gono

ONE must have pity on RBZ governor Gideon Gono. He really does not
have a clue about the job he is so stoically trying to do. And to add to his
woes his hands are tied behind his back by equally clueless Zanu PF
stalwarts (sometimes very fortunately for the rest of us).

Here is a man who allows the economy to be held to ransom by cash
barons who can do so for as little as US$4 900, or about a quarter of the
price of a second hand bakkie.

We must take our hats off to the efficient police who managed to
apprehend the evil woman who so greedily ties up a whopping $10 billion in
the money Gono is trying so hard to print. The fact that she would hold it
for less than a couple of hours as she trades it on to another unscrupulous
person trying to eek out a living by trading in the black market is
completely lost on Gono, the police and the magistrate. (One must of course
ask how the police could so efficiently apprehend this hapless woman and in
the same breath not be able to find out who she got the $10 billion from or
who she gave the US dollars to — we all know they can torture any confession
out of anyone.)

More seriously is the misconception Gono has of the value of the money
he is entrusted to print, issue and oversee. He says that there was a
whacking $67 trillion in circulation but only a few trillion was getting
back to the banks, so the rest must be in the hands of hoarders. This
amounts to a mere $6 million per resident or $12 million per adult.

As the banking sector has been totally thrown into disarray by Gono’s
policies almost everyone deals in cash, so of course there is not enough in
circulation to go around.

Even 10 times his $67 trillion would not help much. The Reserve Bank
even "restricts" individuals to draw four times the amount at $50 million.
He probably pegged the $67 trillion when he re-issued the currency and it
was worth some US$135 billion then. It is now worth about US$20 million.
Hardly enough to provide cash for some companies let alone a country.

Gono needs to either resign with his head held in shame or stop
devoting all his attention to his vindictive blame game, get his calculator
out and start running the financial affairs of the country properly.

Gava,

Harare.

----------------
I'm going to the black market

UNTIL this week, I was one of those people who thought it was bad to
keep cash outside the banking sector.

After checking my bank statement I found out that for all the millions
I had invested in the bank, I only got $30 000 interest and then a $6 000
deduction as withholding tax. So do you think I will be naive enough to keep
on banking? Not anymore. If it’s called an economic crime or whatever, then
I’m going to be the first criminal.

I don’t mind being forced to withdraw a paltry $50 million a day but
$24 000 for having my funds locked forever? No!

I’d rather pay Roadport and the black market a visit.

Lloyd Choto,

Harare.

--------------
Technology could have helped

RATHER than focusing on cash barons, Zimbabwe could have averted cash
shortages had the country moved with technology. Having an economy that
relies entirely on cash for transactions is unthinkable in the modern world
considering the advancement in technology.

Activities like manufacturing, mining, farming can benefit from sound
financial institutions and sound financial systems.

The problem is lack of direction and will-power to move the country
forward for the benefit of its citizens and residents. There has been a
tendency for people in leadership to exhibit selfishness and self-serving
traits.

The cash crisis could have been averted had Zimbabwe been fairly
computerised with almost everyone having access to technology like
telephones, mobile phones, Internet and e-mail to say the least.
Computerisation of the economy is vital if the country needs to benefit from
the evolution of technology.

If the financial system is fairly developed and the country
computerised, it will be easy to take advantage of plastic money and other
innovative ways of effecting settlement rather than relying on cash.

It is unfortunate that Zimbabwe has lagged behind in computerisation.
Unequal distribution of wealth has not helped either as it means only a few
people can move with technology. Some areas are better developed than
others, a situation that makes it difficult for policy implementation.
Some politicians are selfish and are not interested in bringing development
to their constituents but to their homes.

Until such a time when distribution of wealth is spread to the
majority it will be difficult to come up with solutions that can help
improve people’s standards of living. Plastic money, like debit cards, visa
cards, and online banking are convenient ways of doing business rather than
using cash. However, these ways are possible when everyone has access to
modern technology.

Manndingo,

mankanj@yahoo.co.uk

----------------
Who's heroes are they?

ZANU PF has lost the legitimacy to declare national heroes in Zimabwe.

In their infinite wisdom, Zanu PF bootlickers only see heroes in
people who participated in the liberation struggle, albeit, from Zanla
forces. Small wonder why there is an increasing cresendo of discontent,
particularly from Matabeleland. It has become apparent, of late, that there
is always an excuse for delays in conferring hero status on people from this
region. But then again, with the likes of Didymus Mutasa involved, the
credibilty of the process is inevitably tarnished.

What criteria, if any, is used to declare a national hero? My
perception is that Zanu PF has politicised the system and in that process,
deserving reciepients have been sidelined, thus turning the noble exercise
into some laughable but sad charade.

An immediate solution to this sticking point would be to constitute an
impartial and independent body of esteemed citizens who will set the
parameters for the qualification of hero status.

Heroes should not be limited to war veterans alone. Pre-and
post-Independence service to the nation should also be considered. The late
Jairos Jiri springs to mind. Burial at the Heroes Acre has become a platform
for Mugabe to deride and redicule real and perceived enemies. In any case,
who wants to hear about "illegal sanctions", endless invisible "victories"
over Britain and "economic turnarounds" at a burial ceremony? Certainly not
me!

Joseph Mhlanga,

Dublin, Ireland.

---------------
Let's show political maturity

I AM a Zimbabwean based in South Africa and would like to know how the
RBZ can afford to purchase so many vehicles during Sunrise I and do this
again for Sunrise II.

I am a Zanu PF supporter but I think this is going too far. I will not
defect from the party because I believe within the party there are several
candidates who think like I do. I believe it’s time we moved from a
communist approach to a more capitalist manner in the interest of economic
growth.

Simba Makoni is a young visionary who I believe given the chance in
the party can unite these so-called factions in Zanu PF.

General Solomon Mujuru is a respectable character due to the fact that
he believes in public debate. Public debate within our party is good. If
Emmerson Mnangagwa wants to campaign for the top post, I see no reason why
he should keep quiet. Let the members of the party speak. Why can’t we
simply show an element of political maturity?

Zanu PF member,

bigboyjago@yahoo.com

----------------
It's Zesa's fault

THESE floods, I do not blame God but Zesa. The massive power cuts
experienced all over Zimbabwe have seen massive deforestation across the
whole country and naturally, when the rains came, there was very little to
absorb them in the form of vegetation.

Zesa is the cause of the flooding since they have forced even
townsfolk to go over to the rural areas, cut down trees and bring them into
town, denuding vast stretches of land across the board. As for the joke that
carrying firewood is now forbidden, just take a drive down any one of our
roads and laugh your heart out.

Witnessed on Tuesday along Masvingo road a blue lorry chuggin’ along
at 20 kilometres an hour and packed higher than its own height with
firewood!

Zesa, we thank you! No matter how many people you suspend to hoodwink
the public, the truth is that anything the government touches turns to dust,
be it cash, food, prices, companies, the economy, water and even the
collection of rubbish.

Tired,

By e-mail.

-------------
The power is in our hands

I JUST completed a degree in finance at a local university. I had a
conversation with friends recently which in a way left me feeling quite
foolish.

In essence, I was trying to convince them that Zimbabwe needs people
like us to rebuild it and I was against the idea of people leaving for the
Diaspora and neighbouring countries to do self-denigrating jobs.

What reason is there to for one to stay in Zimbabwe other than the
fact that it is where one was born? Even if I do get a job, or better still
create my own enterprise, there are still frequent power cuts, cash
shortages, and for those living in Bulawayo the once-a-week or even a
fortnight supply of water to make one’s life more miserable. I know there
are many others who share the same sentiments as they: that all hope is
lost.

I felt even more foolish as I told them about the up-coming elections
and how they could contribute to changing the country to the Zimbabwe they
want through voting for their preferred leadership. To them the election has
already been lost three months prior to it being held. "So, what’s the
point?" they argued.

First of all, I am a Zimbabwean and to me, patriotism means loving one’s
country regardless of its economic and political state. Just because I do
not agree with the policy makers does not mean I should be passive and
render myself useless. I still can contribute meaningfully towards
development either through my input or criticism.

Secondly, I believe that every individual should understand his or her
self-worth, from the richest to the poorest. Let no one be forced to believe
that they do not count. It is by the little votes of the masses that change
can be brought about.

Voting is not about winning but about being heard. I will vote in
March and my candidate might lose but I will be glad because everyone will
know that, at least, whomever I voted for has one supporter in me.

Lastly, I would like to say to our leaders that power is in the
people. Their duty is to represent the people and give maximum results. I
believe that through focus, actions and achievement, one can attain power
without having to taint their conscience.

The power is in our hands and there is no good deed which is
insignificant in the quest for change.

Likhwa M Moyo,

Bulawayo.


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Zimbabwe's March Elections in a Crunch

OhMyNews

Institutional framework does not promote free and fair elections

Masimba Biriwasha

Published 2008-01-11 10:27 (KST)

Zimbabwe has held consistent, periodic elections since attaining
independence from white minority rule in 1980. But all these elections have
been held in an atmosphere of acrimony, violence and bloodletting between
supporters of rival parties.

President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front
(ZANU-PF) political party has been in power for the past 27 years, a period
in which all state institutions have been designed to favor the status quo.

As the country prepares to go to another poll scheduled to be held in March
the ghost of electoral divisiveness is rearing its ugly head above a nation
that critically needs to map a way out of a debilitating seven year economic
crisis that has both exiled and impoverished millions of its citizens.

Zimbabwe’s main opposition political party Movement Democratic Change (MDC)
is threatening to boycott presidential and parliamentary elections due to
perceived institutional and legal irregularities governing the process.

There had been hope that South African-brokered negotiations between the
ruling party ZANU-PF and the MDC would level the political playing field.

But President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF government appears to be intent
on making cosmetic changes to the electoral regime thereby prompting boycott
threats by the opposition.

According to MDC, the legal, institutional and administrative framework for
elections is currently structured to favour the incumbent.

“The MDC wants a new constitution before the next election and the date of
the election that allows implementation of comprehensive reforms and
tangible deliverables,” said MDC spokesman, Nelson Chamisa.

Though Zimbabwe is signatory to Southern African Development Community
(SADC) Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, analysts
have accused the government of dragging its feet to institute the requisite
reforms for free and fair elections.

"The clock is ticking, and we are moving towards the March elections without
reforms agreed, let alone implemented," said Mark Malloch-Brown, British
Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. “We are rapidly
passing the point of no return in terms of what would allow free and fair
elections at that time."

The opposition has also charged that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(ZEC), which oversees the conduct of the elections in the country, is an
appendage of the ruling party and lacks transparency.

“Through the MDC, the people of Zimbabwe are demanding that the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission be reconstituted to undertake a transparent and
all-inclusive voter registration and delimitation exercise,” said Chamisa.

In the past, the ZEC has been accused of gerrymandering constituencies in
favor of the ruling party.

MDC says that they will not recognize the ZEC delimitation of constituency
boundaries for the March elections because the process is seriously flawed.

“Of the 210 constituencies, 143 are now rural constituencies, (Zanu PF
strongholds) while only 67 are urban or peri-urban (MDC strongholds).
Zanu-PF already has an advantage of more than two-thirds majority before
people even go to vote. This is insane, it's a discredited exercise not
worth noting,' said an MDC representative.

However, the Zimbabwe government rejects allegations that it is planning a
massive fraud of the elections, and will not concede to demands by the
oppositions to change the electoral laws.

"Going into politics is not child's play. We do not have to concede to their
demands," Minister of Anti-Corruption Didymus Mutasa told the BBC.

Meanwhile, there are reports that Zimbabwean citizens are stockpiling food
in fear of possible election violence, especially in the urban areas which
are strongholds of the opposition.


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Zimbabwe economic crisis cripples mission station

United Methodist News Service

Jan. 10, 2008

NOTE: Photographs available at http://umns.umc.org.

By Kami Rice*

MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS)--The sewage system is overloaded, buildings are
decaying, electricity is unreliable, and economic turmoil in Zimbabwe make
operating two schools, a hospital, a children's home and church nearly
impossible.

Yet Old Mutare Mission, a ministry of The United Methodist Church for 110
years, is determined to continue its ministry to the people of Zimbabwe, its
leaders say.

"Our sewage system is so overloaded that ZINWA (Zimbabwe National Water
Authority) is now giving a fine to the mission every quarter," said the Rev.
Solomon Mudonhi, mission chairman. "We are trying to do what we can, but
it's challenging in the current economic situation."

Located down the road from United Methodist-related Africa University, the
mission is supported primarily by student fees from its 1,000-student
primary school and 1,050-student high school. However, the school fees are
now set by the Zimbabwe government, so the mission is no longer able to
charge realistic amounts to satisfy its budget.

The schools operate farms that provide milk, eggs, vegetables and pork, but
other commodities are scarce and expensive. The school has broken ground for
homes for additional teachers, but the buildings can't progress because the
school can't get cement.

Electricity is also undependable, making it difficult for boarding students
to study at night. Five former students donated a generator to help, but
it's difficult to get fuel to power it.

Although the schools are run by The United Methodist Church, all of the
teachers are civil servants paid by the government. Salaries have not kept
pace with prices. For example, the government housing allowance is Z$800,000
per month, but a decent accommodation in Mutare costs Z$20 million each
month--more than a teacher's annual salary.

Teachers and staff members are basically donating their services and must
supplement their salaries. One teacher makes cakes to sell during the staff
tea time. Other teachers are resigning and moving to places like South
Africa where the pay is better and the economy is more stable.

In spite of the difficulties, school staff members are friendly and kind to
visitors. School children smile and play. "Zimbabweans are very prayerful,"
said Mudonhi. "They are Christians so it appears they get their perseverance
from God. If this had happened somewhere else, there would have been riots
and war."

Low-cost hospital fees

While the needs for health services are great, many people served by the Old
Mutare Hospital are either unemployed or low-paid farm workers.

"We are not able to charge fees that are high and help offset our expenses,"
said Mudonhi. "Some patients aren't able to pay at all, but the hospital
won't deny them treatment."

The number of patients treated in the 70-bed hospital's four sections-a
dental clinic, outpatient and inpatient treatment, a maternity ward and a
voluntary counseling and testing unit--continues to grow, so the hospital
needs more nurses and personnel. It now has one doctor and 12 nurses, 25
nurse aids and 10 support staff.

In order to attract more nurses, the hospital needs to build more housing,
which it's unable to afford now. Nurses have joined teachers in seeking
higher salaries outside Zimbabwe.

Mudonhi expressed appreciation for United Methodist Volunteers in Mission
teams. A team from South Carolina pooled their money to help paint hospital
walls and purchase new mattresses, and a South Carolina congregation is
supporting a water project.

"We are struggling, but we are making it through, and we are surviving,"
said Mudonhi. "We are dealing with necessities only." He pointed to the
cracks in his office wall and explained that fixing them is now a luxury.
Then he asked, "So where are we heading to? People are bleeding inside, but
outside it appears things are going on well."

Asked if he has hope, Mudonhi bounced a soccer ball on the cement floor and
said, "This is what gives me hope. Once we touch the ground, we will bounce
back. I don't know how, though."

Mission needs

Mudonhi said the mission needs help with the following projects:

* General Mission--Infrastructure and building expansion and repairs, sewage
system improvements, laptop computer; * Hartzell Central Primary
School--Computers, woodworking tools, scholarships for children of local
farm workers unable to pay school fees; * Hartzell High School--Math and
science teachers are needed, along with housing for teachers; * Fairfield
Children's Home--A vocational training center to provide training for
"graduates" of the home who don't qualify for college; * Old Mutare
Hospital--Accommodations for additional staff, revitalization of the
existing hospital, an ambulance and an outreach vehicle, office equipment,
hospital equipment, medical supplies.

Contact Mudonhi by e-mail at mudonhis@africau.ac.zw.

*Rice is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Linda Green, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or
newsdesk@umcom.org.


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Vermeulen pleads not guilty to arson



Cricinfo staff

January 10, 2008

Mark Vermeulen, the former Zimbabwe Test cricketer, admitted torching
Zimbabwe Cricket headquarters but pleaded not guilty to arson on the grounds
he was suffering from psychiatric problems at the time.

At the start of his trial, Vermeulen entered a not guilty plea to charges of
arson at the ZC offices at the Harare Sports Club in October 2006 and a
similar attack which gutted the national training academy the next day.

Vladimir Rajkovic, a private psychiatrist in Harare, said Vermeulen, 29, was
not disputing he had carried out the attacks but said his client had
suffered from partial complex epilepsy and impulsive behaviour disorder
after he was hit and injured by a cricket ball during a match in Australia.

"The illness causes loss of impulse control and compromises anger
management," the doctor said. "Mark needs lifelong medication to prevent any
stressor causing an epileptic discharge because of that injury."

Rajkovic said the cricketer had shown "significant improvement" since he
started treating him six months ago. "When I first met him he was this
young, spoilt, cocky and somewhat arrogant young man so full of himself," he
said. "What struck me first was his nonchalant approach to the whole case.
From the little golden boy, he has suddenly realised, after he started
taking his medication, that life can be tough.

"We now have here a humble young man, not a sports star. As his body
matures, his body will mend the injury."

Munyaradzi Madombiro, a government psychiatrist, said: "The damage that has
been caused causes this behaviour." He added that the condition could only
be controlled by medication and could not be cured.

The 29-year-old batsman, who played the last of his eight Test matches in
2004, faces two counts of arson and if convicted he faces 25 years in prison
with hard labour. Magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe adjourned the trial to
January 30.

Cricinfo

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