The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
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Zim Independent

CFX caught red-handed
Vincent Kahiya
IN a curious turn of events at the troubled CFX Financial Services (CFX),
its merchant bank and private banking departments have been caught serving
cherry-picked customers in transactions deemed illegal by the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.

Ironically, the bank, by its own admission, has been participating on the
foreign currency auction system run the by the Reserve Bank.

CFX Bank, CFX Merchant Bank and CFX Asset Management were put under
curatorship in December after a huge hole was discovered on the group's
books. The financial group was then shut down but behind closed doors, the
bank has been trading normally, albeit illegally. The effect of a
curatorship is that all deposits made with CFX and all assets invested with
the bank and asset management company are frozen.

The RBZ yesterday moved in quickly to stop the illegal operations by the
bank after the Independent made enquiries on correspondence sent to clients
by CFX.

"It is an illegal operation which must be stopped forthwith," said RBZ
governor, Gideon Gono. "I have deployed my team from the inspectorate there
to bring them to book."

Bank staff have been sending out email messages to selected clients asking
them to come and do business.

"Our International Banking Department is fully operational and has had some
success on auction bids. Clients wishing to progress international
transactions should contact." one such email dated March 9 reads.

An officer at CFX yesterday confirmed that the bank was operating. "You can
come in through the back and we can talk," he said.

It is however surprising that the illegal transactions have been taking
place under the nose of the curator, Fungai Kuipa, who is supposed to be the
central bank's representative at the closed institution. Insider sources
said the bank's staff were "getting instructions from too many people" on
what to do. "Sometimes we wonder who is really in charge here," said a
middle man-ager at CFX Bank. All transactions have to be authorised by the
curator.

CFX came about as a result of a merger between the old CFX group and Century
Holdings Ltd (CHL) in June last year in a short-lived sweet-sour deal.

The two parties are now bracing themselves for a major legal battle over
what to do next after the closure of the bank.

Sources close to the proceedings this week said the RBZ was willing to offer
liquidity support to the troubled institution so that it reopens for
business. But former CFX directors were not willing to take up the offer, as
they want to break up the merger. They claim that they were victims of a
disingenuous partner who failed to reveal material information during
negotiations.

Documents obtained this week indicate that the directors want at least $270
billion from CHL as compensation for damages suffered as a result of the
alleged impropriety by the latter.

The directors, in a letter dated January 31, state that CHL directors had
concealed a deficit of $115 billion on their books prior to the merger and
went on to declare a profit of $9 billion, thus pushing the deficit to $124
billion.

"This was done deliberately and fraudulently," the directors contend.

The company said in the letter that it was entitled to sue for damages as
CHL was in breach of warranties agreed at the conclusion of the merger last
year.

"In the event that there is dispute which goes to arbitration, our client
reserves its right to cancel the agreement and claim damages," they said.

"Our client's damages will include the $124 billion of missing assets and in
addition the losses which have been suffered since June 2004 which would not
have been incurred but for the fraudulent concealment."

The old CFX would also seek compensation for loss of business to its CFX
Merchant Bank as a result of problems at CFX.

".CFX was at the time of the agreement a profitable bank with a good
reputation. Our clients estimate that it will take at least two years to
re-establish that image and this probably means a loss of at least two years'
earnings amounting to $150 billion," the directors said.
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Zim Independent

UNDP clashes with donors over NGO funds
Staff Writer
A CLASH is looming between donors and the United Nations Development
Programme over humanitarian funds which government accuses local NGOs of
mishandling.

This week the government said NGOs were failing to account for US$88 million
donated under the Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP), a humanitarian effort
co-ordinated by the UNDP.

The government has since written to local NGOs giving them until today to
account for the funds or risk prosecution and deregistration.

The Zimbabwe Independent however heard yesterday that the funds in question
were not part of the CAP but monies mobilised by the NGOs for their own
projects. Donors with offices in Harare yesterday chided the UNDP office for
getting involved in the issue, saying the funds were not part of its
humanitarian appeal.

It has also emerged that some of the NGOs which government accuses of
abusing donor funds are not involved humanitarian issues. One such NGO is
Human Rights Trust of Southern Africa.

A meeting has been scheduled for today between donors, NGOs and the UNDP to
sort out the problems.

We can reveal that in 2003 government sent an appeal to the UNDP for

assistance to avert a humanitarian crisis caused by poor harvests. The UNDP
is said to have failed to convince donors to support that effort as
differences between Mugabe's government and the West sharpened.

Donors at the time voiced concern over the implementation of the land reform
and the democratic deficit in the country.

Donors who were willing to help however decided to channel funds directly to
NGOs and not through the UNDP office. NGOs with running projects signed
programme agreements with donors, some running up to 2007.

UN sources yesterday said in January 2004 government approached the UNDP
requesting renewal of the June 2003 CAP and to ask for more support.

Government in July made a follow-up on its request to have the appeal
renewed. The then resident representative Victor Angelo informed government
that the donor community would only avail aid through NGOs already operating
in the country. He allegedly submitted a list of NGOs that were going to
benefit, giving a breakdown of the money they would receive.

Government now alleges the money could have been used to sponsor political
activities instead of the intended humanitarian causes.

Acting UNDP resident representative Benard Mokam last night said current
government efforts should not send the wrong signal to donors.

"It is unfortunate that we are now in this situation where donors feels that
they are being probed," said Mokam. "If the government is looking for
information to enable it to do an assessment and see how it can complement,
then there is no problem. If it is going to be used to scrutnise and control
then it is sending the wrong signal," said Mokam.

The donors this week said it was "most irregular" for the UNDP to claim that
they could not account for funds under the CAP.

"This is most irregular because the NGOs, who were our co-operating
partners, accounted for the money to us, not to the UNDP. We had no deal
with the UNDP. The fact that we informed them of what we were doing with
NGOs does not make them owners of the process," the donors said.

The government is expected to send its appeal for humanitarian assistance to
the UNDP next month. This, diplomats in Harare said, was likely to get a
lukewarm reception from donors because of the current controversy. The
government, NGOs allege, would like to use the spat to stop President Mugabe's
signing of the NGO Act which was passed in December.

The Act, among other issues, makes it illegal for NGOs involved in issues of
governance and voter education to receive foreign funding. It also empowers
government to peruse the accounts of NGOs and monitor their sources of
finance.
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Zim Independent

More headaches for ZABG
Shakeman Mugari
CRUCIAL corporate governance issues could have been lynched in the haste to
cobble the Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group (ZABG) out of the ashes of three
collapsed banks.

Even after its opening last month, serious flaws that characterised its
formation are still haunting ZABG.

The registrar of companies recently wrote to ZABG complaining about the bank's
offer document, which he said was in contravention of the Companies Act.

In the letter written to ZABG chief executive, Stephen Gwasira two weeks
ago, the registrar said the move to issue a prospectus was unprocedural. He
said no effort was made to inform his office as per standing rule of the
decision to change the ownership structure through a share offer to
creditors, depositors and former workers of the closed banks.

The letter, seen by the Zimbabwe Independent, also points out that it was
improper for ZABG to alter the structure of Royal, Barbican and Trust banks
without prior notification to the companies registrar. An official at the
registrar's office confirmed the letter but said he needed clearance from
the Ministry of Justice to make a comment. He was still to get clearance by
the time of going to press yesterday.

The bank's woes have been worsened by the fact that it was not formed under
the Troubled Financial Institution (Resolution) Act, which ironically was
promulgated for that purpose. The Act was fast tracked through parliament
and there was strong lobbying for the president to sign it in time for ZABG's
formation. ZABG says it has its legal basis in common law.

There were also serious defects in the selection of directors and senior
employees. Some top managers and directors recruited by the Reserve Bank for
ZABG posts were part of the collapsed banks.

This contravenes good corporate governance regulations which say individuals
involved in collapsed banks should not hold a managerial post or
directorship in any bank.

There are allegations that even before commencing full operations, ZABG has
already splashed millions of dollars in loan to one of the directors.

The offer document released last month shows that one of the directors,
Douglas Mamvura, was recently given a $634 million loan. This despite the
fact that the bank is still to set on a firm footing. There are still
outstanding court cases that might have a material impact on the bank.

Conflict of interest is also rampant at board level.

For instance, Lindsay Hugh Cook, a founder partner of Atherstone & Cook
legal practitioners, was elected to the ZABG board despite having been
deeply involved in the promulgation of Troubled Financial Institution
(Resolution) Act.

Cook has also on several occasions stepped in as legal advisor for the bank
despite being a director.

Mamvura is the owner of Corporate Momentum, which provides marketing
consultancy to ZABG but sits on the board of the bank. Richard Makoni,
another board member, runs Lorimak, a company which has a human resources
contract with ZABG.

Luckmore Chitima, who is head of information technology of the bank, is head
of an IT consultancy firm which is still managing ZABG's IT integration.

The head of human resources, Phipps Mabika, was a partner at Lorimak, the
company that provided human resources consultancy for ZABG.

Good corporate governance prohibits directors from providing services and
goods to the companies on whose boards they sit.

It is the same problem that sank CFX Financial Services, where top official
used their companies to provide service to the bank.

There are also flaws in the management, where people who were involved in
the financial crises have been appointed to key positions.

The managing director of ZABG's Asset Management and Stockbroking, Never
Mhlanga, was chief operating officer of National Discount House (NDH), which
nearly collapsed due a liquidity crunch.

He was eventually forced to leave after depositors expressed concern over
his management style. NDH has since been taken over by depositors and
creditor after it failed to pay their maturities.

Managing director (retail banking) Dominic Magwada, was the head of the team
that failed to save Trust Bank from collapse. He was managing director of
Trust Bank, during the stormy 2004.

Gwasira denied that there was anything irregular about the appointments. He
said everything was done according to the law.

On directors that provided consultancy services to ZABG, Gwasira said
everything was above board. "Any consultancy work undertaken by any director
is declared to the board as required in terms of good corporate governance,"
Gwasira said.

"Mr Cook is not acting legal advisor to ZABG. He acted on behalf of ZABG in
respect of the two urgent applications before the High Court by virtue of
the urgency of the matters as he was seized of the matters at hand by virtue
of his position on the board," said Gwasira.
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Zim Independent

We blundered - AG's office
Godfrey Marawanayika
THE Attorney-General (AG)'s office has admitted that it blundered in
consenting to the reduction of the mercenaries' sentences last week.

Last Wednesday a High Court judge reduced the sentences of the 62 jailed men
after an appeal by their lawyer. The men were expected to be released and
deported. This has now been put on ice.

In papers filed with the Supreme Court appealing against the High Court
ruling, the AG's office conceded that its officers blundered.

"The High Court should not have tampered with the magistrate's prison terms
involving foreigners," reads the application for leave to appeal.

"It would seem that the Attorney-General's representative at the (High
Court) appeal hearing made an erroneous concession that indeed a portion of
the prison term could be suspended in relation to foreigners. That was a
misdirection," reads an affidavit signed by Morgan Nemadire.

The state is now averring that the early release which the 62 men had been

given was only meant for locals. The men perceived to be mercenaries were
arrested last year after their plane landed in Harare supposedly to pick up
weapon to be used in a coup in Equatorial Guinea. They were however
convicted of contravening the Immigration Act and sentenced to 12 months in
jail.

The two pilots were sentenced to 16 months behind bars whilst Simon Mann,
the architect of the plot, was sentenced to seven years in prison. His
sentence was later reduced to four years.

In their appeal, the 62 men each had four months of thier sentence suspended
for a period of five years on condition that they did not commit any other
offence involving contravention of the Immigration Act.

Counsel for the AG's office, F Chimbaru, said the concession by the state
lawyer at the High Court appeal was "erroneously made". She said a foreigner
could not get a suspended sentence on condition of good behaviour.

Zimbabwe's Prisons Act regulations allow for inmates who are well behaved to
get their sentences remitted to two thirds, which entitles the 62 men who
were imprisoned last September to be released after five months and 10 days
on account of good behaviour.

In seeking leave of application, she said that it was submitted that the
"court misdirected itself when it suspended part of the sentence on
condition of future good conduct".

The application by the AG's office resulted in one of the South
African-based lawyers who was assisting with the handling of the case, Alwyn
Griebenouw, waiting in vain for the men in Beitbrdidge.
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Zim Independent

Zesn wants 6 500 poll observers accredited
Godfrey Marawanyika
THE Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) has applied for the
accreditation of 6 500 election observers for the March 31 poll.

Zesn director, Rindai Chipfunde, said although her oganisation had also
applied for the registration of monitors, it was not sure of the number of
polling stations.

"We are also concerned that we do not know the number of polling stations
and where they will be located. Also we do not have the map for the
delimitation boundaries. Even voters do not know where the boundaries start
and finish," Chipfunde said.

"We applied for 6 500 observers to be accredited and we are still waiting
for

government's response."

Speculation has been rife that there would be 9 000 polling stations in the
country. New polling rules stipulate that voting should be conducted in one
day, which means there must be more polling stations.

The scarcity of polling stations in Harare and Bulawayo in the presidential
election in 2002 resulted in thousands of people failing to cast their votes
despite an extension of the voting period.

During the presidential election in 2002 Zesn had trained about 12 000
monitors and only 400 were accredited. There were about 4 600 polling
stations throughout the country.

Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa yesterday said government was still in
the process of accrediting people and organisations to observe the election.

"That is an on going process, but by the time we get to election we will
know how many people have been accredited. We are working on that," he said.

He said he didn't know how many polling stations there would be as officials
were still working the modalities of location and convenience for voters.

So far the government has invited observers from Southern African
Development Community countries, the African Union and political parties
from Namibia and Tanzania and some European countries.
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Zim Independent

Farmers' claims rise to $116 trillion
Augustine Mukaro
DISPLACED commercial farmers' claims against government should balloon to
$116 trillion after they factor in improvements on farms and damages
incurred during the chaotic land reform programme.

Justice for Agriculture (Jag), a splinter group from the Commercial Farmers
Union, is seeking compensation for over 2 000 farmers evicted from their
farms almost five years ago.

Jag said so far over 2 000 evicted farmers had finished the evaluation of
the losses they suffered when they were forced off their farms.

"Submitted evaluations show that each farmer lost an average US$2 million
when he was evicted," Jag chairman John Worswick said, adding his
compensation claim after losing his highly mechanised 700-hectare farm was
US$3 million.

"About 4 000 commercial farmers lost 5 800 properties which translates to
US$11,6 billion (about $116 trillion)," he said.

Worswick said the claims could rise due to delays in paying compensation.

Worswick said the Zimbabwe Independent figure of $39 trillion published last
week was a gross understatement.

He said the farmers would be taking their case to the international court.

The farmers said despite government's public posturing that it would
compensate evicted farmers for improvements on acquired properties, a mere
200 white farmers had been partially compensated.

"A total 700 farmers were invited to the Agriculture ministry to discuss
compensation proposals," one farmer said. "To show that government is not
serious with the compensation issue, the offers were all verbal. Only 200
farmers who had no alternative sources of income accepted the partial
compensation which constituted between 5-10% of their claims."

Farmers said figures for compensation were calculated through evaluation of
improvements on the property, lost income, damaged or vandalised equipment,
relocation expenses and the trauma which the farmer and his workers went
through when they were invaded.

More than a dozen white commercial farmers lost their lives when they tried
to resist war veterans and Zanu PF militia takeovers of their properties.

Critics of the land reforms blame the policy for Zimbabwe's compromised food
security situation, arguing that the majority of the "new farmers" lack
experience and rely on government handouts to farm.

Of about 4 500 large-scale commercial white farmers operating in Zimbabwe
five years ago, there are about 500 now, who own 3% of the country's land.
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Zim Independent

Harare commission shelves budget ahead of polls
Augustine Mukaro
THE commission running the affairs of Harare city council has shelved
presentation of the 2005 budget fearing that astronomical increases in rates
and service charges could derail Zanu PF's chances in the month-end
election.

The Sekesai Makwavarara- chaired commission this week indefinitely postponed
the budget, a move residents' representatives described as a political
masterstroke to tilt the vote in favour of the ruling Zanu PF.

"The budget was ready for presentation over a month ago but the commission
has postponed it a record five times," residents' representatives said.

"We are convinced that this is for election purposes. Government realises
that implementing the sharp increases proposed in the budget could cost Zanu
PF heavily in the March 31 election."

The commission is seeking approval for a $1,4 trillion budget it crafted
without consulting Harare stakeholders.

If the budget is adopted, council rates will shoot by between 300 and 600%
in direct contrast to Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono's directive that
local authorities and parastatals should not raise charges by more than 70%.

The commission did not give reasons for the postponement of the budget.

City treasury officials this week said the postponement had thrown the
council's already outstretched finances into disarray.

"Harare is collecting around $30 billion against an expenditure of $45
billion," officials said. "Any further delays in effecting this year's
budget will ground council operations."

Harare has been struggling to pay its workers over the past six months. It
has been declared bankrupt on three occasions over the same period.
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Zim Independent

Opposition in to expose electoral flaws
Ray Matikinye
SOME contestants in the general election at the end of this month say they
decided to take part despite obvious electoral flaws not because they want
to legitimise the election but to expose Zanu PF's penchant for fraud and
its inability to run a free and fair election.

Independent candidate for Harare Central, Margaret Dongo, said nowhere in
the world is there a perfect voters' roll, but what she and other government
opponents were doing was to challenge an entrenched system in which the
ruling party monopolises power using fraudulent means.

"The opposition has participated in elections in many parts of Africa such
as Ghana, Kenya, Zambia and others in conditions that favoured the ruling
party but they have confronted and overcome administrative hurdles mounted
in their way and triumphed. It is possible to do the same here," Dongo said.

Dongo said her participation stemmed from a desire to redeem a system that
shortchanges the electorate into a new era of representative politics.

David Coltart, the opposition MDC legislator for Bulawayo South, said his
party's participation would not legitimise the election but expose Zanu PF's
dismal failure to adhere and fulfill conditions set out in the Sadc protocol
on the conduct of free and fair elections.

"There is hardly one single condition set out in the protocol that Zanu PF
has fulfilled. But we had to choose between giving Zanu PF an election on a
silver platter and taking part to expose its inability to conduct fair polls
and its ineptness in effecting electoral reforms," he said.

He said precedents in several African countries were for opposition parties
to take part in elections, even when the odds are weighted against them. The
MDC, he added, did not want to let down its constituents who overwhelmingly
demanded that they take part in the election.

Meanwhile, the National Constitutional Assembly's (NCA) political parties
liaison committee has expelled five constituent parties from the committee
for participating in what it calls "bogus elections currently being held
under an undemocratic constitution".

Wurayayi Zembe, chairman of the liaison committee, said the MDC, Zanu
(Ndonga), National Alliance for Good Governance, Zimbabwe African People's
Union-Federal Party and Multiracial Open Party - Christian Democrats, had
been expelled from the committee.

In a statement this week, Zembe said the five parties were guilty of
abandoning agreed common positions, resolutions and policies of strategic
action of the NCA in its struggle for a new democratic constitution in
Zimbabwe.
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Zim Independent

All roads lead to Tsholotsho
Loughty Dube
AS the battle to win Tsholotsho intensifies, the ruling Zanu PF presidium is
this weekend or early next week expected to descend on the constituency
after the party resolved that the seat should be won by Zanu PF at all
costs.

The Zanu PF presidium of President Mugabe, national chairman John Nkomo and
Vice Presidents Joseph Msika and Joyce Mujuru, is expected to address a
rally in Dinyane, the venue of the alleged "coup" that sought to oust the
party's old guard from power.

In an interesting development, the opposition MDC secretary-general,
Welshman Ncube and national treasurer, Fletcher Dulini Ncube among others,
are today also expected to throng the remote constituency that has stirred
political interest countrywide.

Zanu PF national commissar, Elliot Manyika, was evasive when asked about
Mugabe's trip to Tsholotsho and said the president's travel arrangements
cannot be publicised for security reasons.

"The presidium is already campaigning countrywide, drumming up support for
party candidates. On whether the president will travel to Tsholotsho I
cannot tell you since his movements involve security issues," Manyika said.

However, it stands to be seen whether Tsholotsho will remain the same after
the two most popular parties in the country swoop on the constituency.

Sources in Tsholotsho also said the independent candidate in the polls,
Jonathan Moyo, has pencilled in a rally for Tsholotsho business centre
tomorrow.

The MDC is fighting to retain the seat it won in the landmark 2000 election.
It is represented by current MP Mtoliki Sibanda.

Zanu PF sources told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that the
Matabeleland North provincial co-ordinating committee made recommendations
to the Zanu PF national commissariat that the party's presidium should hold
a rally in Tsholotsho to garner votes for the party's candidate, Musa
Mathema.

"Recommendations were sent early this week to the commissariat and a
decision was made on Wednesday. We are awaiting approval for the presidium
to travel to Tsholotsho for the campaign rally and hopefully the party's
entire presidium will attend," said the source.

The sources said the ruling party had decided that the seat that appeared
lost to former Information minister, Moyo, must be fought for and won at all
costs.

Last weekend, Manyika addressed the re-constituted Tsholotsho district
co-ordinating committee, chaired by Sivumile Dube and said Zanu PF would not
rest until the Tsholotsho seat had been secured.

Manyika implored traditional leaders in the area to mobilise villagers to
vote for Zanu PF.

There is concern in the party that a number of traditional leaders,
including chiefs, are still aligned to Moyo.
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Zim Independent

'Voters' roll a shambles'
Ray Matikinye
CLOSE to half the Zimbabwean population of 11,6 million has registered to
vote in election at the end of the month but opposition members complain
that the voters' roll is still a shambles.

The opposition disputes the voter figures that determine the number of
constituencies, accusing Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede of gerrymandering
to tilt the result in the ruling party's favour.

"The entire system is defective because there is still duplication of names.
Its defectiveness has been compounded by a deliberately discriminatory
policy that makes it difficult for people in urban areas to register unlike
those in rural areas," David Coltart of the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) said.

The Central Statistical Office puts Zimbabwe's population officially at 11
631 657, broken down as 3,55 million and 2,39 million people of voting age
in rural and urban areas respectively. The rural population comprises 65% of
the total, according to the 2002 national census.

The official number of 5,66 million registered voters for this month's poll
outstrips those who registered in the last election by more than 668 000,
representing 100,41% of registered voters in the landmark election of 2000.
In those polls, the governing Zanu PF lost heavily in Matabeleland and most
urban areas with the opposition winning nearly half of the 120 parliamentary
seats.

Out of an eligible 5 955 877 people above the age of 18 years, nearly 298
000 did not bother to register and claim their vote for the March 31 polls.

Coltart accused Mudede of manipulating the voters' roll to influence the
Delimitation Commission to reduce constituencies in provinces where Zanu PF
has less support.

He cited the inclusion of more than 13 000 voters in Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe
constituency and understating those in Bulawayo South notwithstanding the
phenomenal growth in population sizes in the working-class suburbs of
Umganwini and Nketa.

A constituency each was cleaved from Bulawayo, Harare and Matabeleland South
provinces where the opposition MDC drew most of its support in the last
election, while rural Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West and Manicaland
which form the bulwark of the ruling party support, save for Chipinge South,
gained a constituency each.

Figures released by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network this week reveal
that although Harare registered 33 000 more voters for this year's election
than in 2000, the number of constituencies decreased from 19 to 18 while
Mashonaland Central whose figures shot up by more than 71 000 voters did not
gain an additional constituency.

"It defies logic and runs contrary to government documented statistics that
a third of the population would drift from urban to rural areas when it is
evident the opposite is true," he said

Manicaland on the other hand registered a marginal increase of 10 366
registered voters but the province gained one more constituency in sharp
contrast to Mashonaland East which gained 93 898 more voters -- a twofold
increase compared to the average constituency average - gained a single
constituency too.

The average for each of the 120 constituencies is 48 000 voters for this
year while in 2000 the average per constituency was 42 000.

Mashonaland Central also has the highest average voter per constituency at
49 000 in comparison to Masvingo's average of 32 000. However, there are
more than 79 000 additional voters registered for this month's poll in
Masvingo than did five years ago.

An analysis of the registered voter figures reveals that additional
constituencies were created in provinces where the rural vote tipped the
2000 plebiscite in favour of President Robert Mugabe's party.

Provinces such as Mashonaland Central where Zanu PF is assured of emphatic
victories have been left untouched despite recording steep increases in the
number of registered voters.

Independent candidate for Harare Central, Margaret Dongo, lambasted the

government for maintaining a shambled voters' roll despite a High Court
judgement in 1995 instructing the state to ensure that the roll be
rectified.

Dongo won a case in the court against Vivian Mwashita to reclaim the
Sunningdale seat she had "lost" to her compatriot.

"Government is reluctant to rectify the anomalies inherent in the voters'
roll, most probably so that they can manipulate it. As opposition we should
sit down and compel government to put in place an authentic voters' roll
even if it means expropriating resources from other sector ministries," she
said.
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Zim Independent

MDC says army, police abet Zanu PF violence
Ray Matikinye
THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has accused soldiers and members of
the Zimbabwe Republic Police of conniving with Zanu PF thugs to intimidate
and harass its supporters, election agents and candidates in the run-up to
national polls at the end of the month.

MDC spokesman, Paul Themba Nyathi, said there was a small group of members
of the ZNA who are prepared to sacrifice their professionalism to support
Zanu PF.

"The small group of rotten eggs continues to spoil the name of the nation's
professional army and we urge those members of the force who value the
integrity of their profession to encourage their colleagues to stop their
activities," he said.

Nyathi said in a statement this week that the ruling party had intensified
violence against MDC activists. The reported incidents of violence fly in
the face of assertions by police commissioner, Augustine Chihuri, of calm
and peace in the period preceding the election.

Commissioner Chihuri said on Tuesday police had arrested 67 Zanu PF
activists and 42 MDC supporters for minor cases of inter-party violence,
disproving claims by the opposition that police were selective in applying
the law by targeting opposition supporters only.

Chronicling incidents of violence against his party members, Nyathi said
early this month, a Zanu PF chairman and secretary in Epworth assigned five
party youths to identify MDC activists in the area as targets for attack. A
war veteran, Cde Muchavonga, led 12 youths and an equal number of armed
soldiers to attack MDC activists in the area.

The gang allegedly ransacked Lameck Calisto, Najina Takadza and Mari
Kurichapa's homesteads and looted $8 million worth of property.

The cases were reported to the police who arrested the attackers but later
released them under pressure from the Zanu PF leadership in Epworth.

Chihuri told a press briefing that 40 incidents of politically related
crimes ranging from breaching the Electoral Act, Public Order and Security
Act, malicious injury to property and common assault had occurred since
February. The MDC accounted for 23 of these incidents while Zanu PF
accounted for the remainder.

The MDC says in Chiredzi a senior army officer, Col Killian Gwanetsa, who is
on a campaign trail for Zanu PF in Chiredzi South using an army vehicle,
last Friday instructed war veterans Elson Muko and Flaxman Mpapa to pull
down campaign posters for the MDC candidate, Emmaculate Makondo, at Old
Boli.

Gwanetsa is also reported to be leading the intimidation and harassment of
MDC supporters in the constituency and has already been to Chikombedzi,
Malipati and Old Boli.

Nyathi said the MDC candidate for Mudzi West, Shorai Tsungu, was arrested on
March 5 and detained at Nyamapanda border police post after attending a
meeting called by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to discuss polling
station locations in the constituency. He was arrested for allegedly being
responsible for graffiti painted on roads in the area.

In Murehwa, four MDC youths, Archibald Mudzingwa, Lovemore and Tapfumaneyi
Munyoro together with Martin Chipango, were picked up by the police from
their respective homes and were detained at Murehwa police station. The
quartet was detained on accusation of distributing MDC campaign fliers.

A group of Zanu PF supporters invaded the venue of an MDC rally in Bindura,
and attacked MDC supporters, injuring several of them. Initially the police
dispersed the mob but as soon as Gift Chimanikire, the MDC deputy
secretary-general concluded his speech, the mob went on the rampage,
assaulting everyone who was suspected to have attended the MDC rally.
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Zim Independent

Zimra attempts to come out clean

OF late, there have been numerous letters complaining of alleged poor
service by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) at border posts and acts
of impropriety by tax officers. Last week the Zimbabwe Independent (ZI) sent
questions to Zimra seeking clarification on various issues raised by our
readers and received the following responses from the taxman.

ZI: There has been a deluge of letters alleging that there is rampant
corruption at ports of entry, especially Beitbridge and Nyamapanda. How do
you gauge the gravity of the problem and what is Zimra doing to minimise
incidents of corruption?

Zimra: Zimra is and has always been committed to wiping out the scourge of
corruption from its operations. Zimra tackles the issue of corruption
internally and externally. The following steps have been undertaken to deal
with this issue at our border posts:

lPost clearance audits are conducted on a regular basis in respect of all
goods imported into the country. This has yielded very positive results.
While someone might think they have escaped the net at the actual border,
the audit eventually catches up with the perpetrator(s) and goods are often
seized and sold at public auctions with the perpetrator(s) brought to book.

lIncreased border patrols have been taking place at most border posts
whereby Zimra, alongside security agents, conduct foot and vehicle patrols
to curtail smuggling and other corrupt practices.

lThe whistleblower initiative has yielded excellent results in that anyone
supplying information on illegal activities realises a ten percent (10%)
reward from the monies recovered as a result of the tip-off. Information
received is kept in the strictest of confidence and the identity of the
whistleblower is not disclosed to protect that person. In 2004 alone, over
$337 million was paid out to informants and $3,4 billion was recovered on
behalf of the fiscus.

lThe recent change in the registration and supervisory regulations of
clearing agents is also designed to combat corruption. Bona fide clearing
agents must go through a thorough vetting process before being accredited
and registered. This should see a significant decrease in the amount of
bogus agents who contribute to the confusion and corrupt practices at some
of our stations.

lZimra practises "zero tolerance" for corruption and as such any cases that
are unearthed and brought to our attention are swiftly and effectively dealt
with. Our code of conduct leaves no room for staff members caught on the
wrong side of the law. Disciplinary measures are taken within the law and
dismissals occur and the offending staff member is turned over to the
authorities for the law to take its course.

ZI: You have always stated that you have met your revenue targets as set by
the government. How much has the fiscus been prejudiced of through
corruption? Please give a figure and state whether it is based on any
comprehensive study.

Zimra: While we accept that there evidently has been some prejudice to the
state in terms of revenue collected arising from corruption and tax
avoidance, this is not unique to Zimbabwe. It is difficult to give an exact
figure, because of the nature of the practice of corruption. Suffice to say
that the loss is not material due to the frequent recoveries achieved.

ZI: There is a serious problem of touts at Beitbridge and sometimes one
cannot differentiate between them and Zimra staff. Why has Zimra failed to
deal with the problem?

Zimra: We acknowledge the presence of touts in Beitbridge. It is hoped that
some of the measures referred to above, vis-Ó-vis clearing agents, will help
curtail some of this activity, in particular the stringent registration
requirements for clearing agents. Zimra staff can be identified by their
Zimra uniform and identity cards. Clients should always ask for the Zimra
identity card to be displayed and are encouraged not to conduct business
with a person who does not possess one.

ZI: There are also allegations that corruption is rampant among Zimra staff
who have told the Commissioner-General Gershem Pasi that they engage in the
unsavoury practice because of poor remuneration. Has this communication been
sent to the Commissioner-General and what is being done about it? Is it true
that Zimra staff are poorly remunerated compared to other civil servants?

Zimra: The Commissioner-General has not received any communication of this
nature. Zimra has since inception, been committed to improving the general
conditions of service of its employees.

Issues of remuneration of staff are dealt with bi-annually in the form of
collective bargaining negotiations held between management and worker
representatives. Zimra values its staff highly and considers the
remuneration to be competitive within prevailing market rates. Zimra also
has to balance the interests of the tax-paying public, the fiscus and its
employees.

ZI: We have also heard that senior Zimra officials acquired Zimra vehicles
at book value in a scheme that excluded junior and middle management staff.
Could you please comment on this?

Zimra: Zimra has a vehicle policy in place that benefits all employees.
Those Zimra managers who acquired vehicles did so transparently and through
an approved loan scheme.

ZI: There are also allegations that senior staff members have been given
housing loans in a scheme which also excluded junior staff. Please comment.

Zimra: Zimra has a housing loan policy in place that benefits all staff
members across the board. The level of benefits depends on the grade of each
staff member, the availability of funds and that staff member's ability to
repay the loan. This is in line with industry practice.

ZI: Are Zimra accounts audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General. If so
could we have access to the reports?

Zimra: Zimra's accounts are audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General.
The audited accounts are confidential in line with world-wide practice.

ZI: Zimra has introduced a new withholding tax regime which has been roundly
criticised by "experts" who believe that it is not implementable. Could you
please explain what this tax scheme entails and why Zimra thinks that it is
necessary.

Zimra: I question your reference to "experts" who believe that this system
is not implementable. There are numerous tax heads which are subject to
"withholding tax". It is not clear which particular tax head is viewed as
being "not implementable". The reality is that a "withholding tax" regime is
a very effective system that allows taxpayers to be far more compliant than
they have been in the past as far as paying their taxes is concerned. This
policy is effective immediately.

Our ability to meet or exceed challenging revenue targets lies partly in
improving tax collection efficiencies and closing current loopholes in the
system.

This is one such move which we believe will yield positive results as far as
revenue collection and transparent administration of the tax system is
concerned.

ZI: We hear there is a new tax system to be implemented soon. What does it
entail and how does it enhance revenue collection?

Zimra: I take it that you are referring to the revised method of corporate
entities remission of taxes. Previously businesses were required to pay
their taxes in arrears, that is taxes incurred in 2003 would only be due in
2004 etc.

In his budget statement, the acting Minister of Finance and Economic
Development Herbert Murerwa changed this method of paying tax such that
businesses would be required to start paying their taxes in the current
year. The changeover has however been staggered over two years so that
companies are not saddled with a cashflow crisis. Please refer to page 45 of
the Minister's 2005 National Budget statement for clarification.

This is in keeping with global trends and is generally accepted as a more
efficient way of doing business.

ZI: There are allegations that resettled farmers are not paying tax, as
Zimra does not have a scheme to collect the revenue. Is it true that new
farmers are not paying tax? If so what is the estimated prejudice to the
fiscus? If they are paying tax, how much has been collected from them?

Zimra: Farmers have always been taxed much like any other business entity.
They contribute tax under the various tax heads, including VAT, PAYE and
Income Tax. In line with the government's agrarian reform project, however,
studies are currently taking place which look at the taxation of new farmers
and how they can contribute more positively to the fiscus.

ZI: There have also been allegations that companies owned by Zanu PF and
others belonging to Zanu PF officials are not paying tax. Is this true?
Please comment.

Zimra: All registered companies are required to pay tax irrespective of
political affiliation. Any company found on the wrong side of the law is
liable to pay the requisite tax plus penalties and fines. Tax crimes are
prosecutable. We urge anyone with information on known tax avoiders or
defaulters, to come forward. We will gladly take up the matter without fear
or favour.

ZI: The Commissioner-General has been accused of abusing Zimra vehicles.
Could you please comment?

Zimra: Zimra has a stated motor vehicle policy which clearly outlines how
authority vehicles are to be used. In line with good corporate governance
and under the guidance of a highly competent board of directors, there has
been no breach of said policy by the commissioner-general. These allegations
are mischievous, unfounded and grossly untrue.
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Zim Independent

Zanu PF, MDC step up campaign rallies
Gift Phiri
AS soon as she was in the stadium, Merjury Banda reached into her bag,
pulled out a T-shirt with the open-palm symbol of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) and slipped it over her head.

"I am afraid," she said. "If the Zanu PF people catch me wearing this, I am
in trouble. We are not free."

On Friday night, gangs of ruling party youths had been covering the
townships around Mbare, telling people that if they went to the stadium next
to Stodart Hall in the morning, there would be war.Saturday saw MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai holding one of his biggest rallies for his party's
campaign for the parliamentary election on March 31 and, outside the poor
suburb, vehicles queued for 800 metres at a roadblock as police searched
them painstakingly and demanded drivers' identity cards.

For those in the crowd of at least 12 000 people in the stadium, reaching it
had been an act of bravery. When Tsvangirai appeared, the exultant roar of
"chinja!" (change) that greeted him was an outpouring of desire for an end
to the dread, hunger and poverty, all blamed on President Mugabe's
government.

The stadium was covered with MDC flags emblazoned with the party slogan, "A
new Zimbabwe, a new beginning."Tsvangirai spoke of the restoration of the
rule of law, followed by "a new constitution to re-establish the dignity of
parliament, the judiciary and clearly respect the separation of powers".There
were no extravagant promises, but warnings of violence, especially from
Mugabe's militias after the election. Almost all those present had walked
from the surrounding townships.

The same day about five kilometres away, dozens of government trucks
dragooned perhaps 8 000 people to Mugabe's rally at Kwayedza High School in
Highfield. It was a quasi-military operation in which the party and security
force personnel controlling it exuded menace.

The Zanu PF campaign was punctuated by racist rhetoric, flags, posters and
menacing men with automatic weapons. By the time President Mugabe arrived at
the Kwayedza High School, the ruling Zanu PF party's slick campaign machine
had produced a crowd of about 8 000 at the dilapidated school where Mugabe
donated 10 computers.

"Pasi nechamatama," (Down with the chubby-cheeked one)," they chanted in a
derogatory reference to Tsvangirai.

The night before, the suburb was awash with the Zanu PF advance team.
Government lorries constantly disgorged people, many of them in new white
Zanu PF campaign T-shirts.

Nearly every home, shop and school within Highfield was deserted. School
children cheered when the 20-vehicle motorcade arrived. But soon afterwards,
the holiday atmosphere evaporated. The area was suddenly swamped by
soldiers, secret police, and aides who scurried around Mugabe as he made a
perfunctory tour, wearing a Zanu PF baseball cap.

"In the last three years, Zanu PF has died," a veteran Zimbabwean journalist
accompanying this reporter said.

"They have nothing but force left."The contrast with Mbare was glaring. The
atmosphere at the opposition's rally was happy and relaxed, the crowd's
responses spontaneous.When Mugabe speaks, it is to promise free seed and
fertiliser, as much seized white-owned land as anyone wants and higher
wages. He delivers bizarre denunciations of British plots to overthrow him
and hurls clumsy abuse against Tsvangirai, calling him "Tsvangison", the
"black man who masquerades as a white".

At the weekend Mugabe was at it again, threatening to punish gay groups and
saying Britain was angry with him for his stance against
homosexuality.British Prime Minister Tony Blair should "expose" his cabinet
as full of gays before criticising Zimbabwe, Mugabe said at a rally in one
of the rural districts where he donated computers.With only 20 days before
the election on March 31 and the state media pumping out his simple campaign
message for months, Mugabe has not stopped repeating it anyway.

The country's parlous economy is the result of the "state of war" with
Britain, which is using Tsvangirai to take land belonging to black people
away from them, he says. "Whatever Blair tries to do, we will not back off,"
he has declared.

The call he has been making lately for peaceful elections gets an airing,
two sentences of it in English, for the apparent benefit of the two white
reporters present.

"We don't condone violence, but I am not saying that you should fold your
arms if you are provoked. You must stand your ground. But please, you should
not go assaulting people anywhere."

This call was met with loud guffaws from the crowd of tough-looking,
well-dressed men sitting near the podium. The presence in the front row of
Elliot Manyika, the Zanu PF secretary for commissariat, sends a chilling
message. He is dressed in the stiff, new uniform of the national service,
the brutal militia whose members are conducting the final phase of
voter-orientation before the election.

The new vernacular songs just taught to the crowd contradict Mugabe's
appeal.

"Zanu is lethal, Zanu bites," goes one; another, "Tsvangirai, you will get a
beating from the comrades."

The programme, repeated almost identically in each election campaign since
independence in 1980, has the effect of conferring a sense of invincibility
on Mugabe, and undermines any hope that Zimbabweans will be able to rise
above the violence and repression inflicted by him.

The MDC cannot match the resources of Zanu PF, which has no qualms about
plundering the state coffers, as well as using almost every branch of the
civil service and security forces to ensure its continued rule. A rally that
Tsvangirai was to have held two weeks ago in the western city of Bulawayo
had to be abandoned when ruling party youths took over the stadium the night
before and police refused to remove them.
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Zim Independent

Zvakwana gears up underground protests

THEY are best known for the audacity of their campaigns: protest messages
stamped on condom packets, banknotes and pithy postcards to President Robert
Mugabe - but who they are is less apparent.

An underground group of anti-government activists, Zvakwana-Sokwanele -
"Enough!" in Zimbabwe's two main languages, Shona and Ndebele - does not
operate out of offices with a nameplate on the door. Its only regular
presence is a website in cyberspace, or the graffiti-splashed billboards and
road signs exhorting people - in the words of Bob Marley - to "Get up, stand
up".

Zvakwana-Sokwanele, formed after Mugabe's raw-knuckle 2002 presidential
election victory, says its aim is to "achieve democracy" through
non-violence. The government, on the other hand, has dismissed the group as
a "Western front" bent on destabilising the country.

The authorities were particularly incensed when "mischievous political
slogans" appeared on banknotes at the beginning of the year. The government
said defacing the currency was a crime, and the culprits would face "the
full wrath of the law".

Zvakwana-Sokwanele contends that the strict laws governing public assembly
and free speech mean that it must use unorthodox methods to get its
pro-democracy message across.

Its new campaign is a protest aimed squarely at what the group regards as an
already stolen legislative poll, due to be held on March 31. The activists
are urging voters to spoil their ballots by choosing "none of the above",
rather than selecting any of the contesting candidates.

"By spoiling your ballot you will not legitimise an illegitimate election.
This is an active way of saying the electoral process is cockeyed," the
group announced on its website.

Leonard Tsunga, chairman of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said
Zvakwana-Sokwanele's campaign was a militant response to the alleged lack of
free speech. He stressed the atmosphere in Zimbabwe was so charged it
prevented genuine debate and the opposition's access to the public.

"It is criminal to criticise the government in Zimbabwe - calling for action
against government is a 'capital offence', bordering on treason. In that
atmosphere, the only alternative is to opt for underground campaigns," said
Tsunga.

A member of Zvakwana-Sokwanele told Irin that, with anti-government papers
closed and their journalists hounded, spray cans and graffiti were the only
effective way left to register public protest.

"Our action brigades are in every little town and city, armed with sprays to
put up our messages wherever the public can see them. We are giving the
public a voice and regular updates on the national crisis," she said.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena described the protest group as an illegal
organisation bent on inciting the public against the government.

"They are as illegal as their activities. The police are still looking for
the people behind the organisation. They have to account for all the
offences they have committed in the last three years - defacing walls and
banknotes is a criminal offence." - Irin.
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Zim Independent

Zim woes good news

TOURISTS keen to see Africa's famed Victoria Falls but deterred by tales of
political violence and economic collapse in Zimbabwe are switching to the
Zambian side, where new hotels are cashing in on the influx.Holidaymakers
contribute roughly 4% of Zambia's economy, and officials, tour guides and
visitors all say that bad news from Zimbabwe, once a popular holiday
destination, is fuelling foreign interest.

"Why would you go to Zimbabwe when you could go to other places that are
more democratically run," said Ken Reynolds, a tourist from Sydney,
Australia.

"We've heard bad things about Zimbabwe. We have friends there."

Reynolds, his wife and a friend are on a tour that has taken them to Namibia
and Botswana and will end in South Africa.

It will avoid Zimbabwe, due to hold elections at the end of March.

In February, Zambia's Tourism minister Patrick Kalfungwa told a conference
that Zimbabwe's crisis was a key factor in pushing the number of tourists to
over 610 000 in 2004 from 160 000 four years earlier.

By 2010, Zambia intends to be catering for a million tourists a year.

That would be a huge boon for this poor country of 10 million as tourism is
a labour-intensive sector which creates jobs and brings in badly needed hard
currency.

Landlocked Zambia had a gross national income per capita of just US$340 in
2002, according to the latest World Bank data.

Decades of neglect have left much of its infrastructure in tatters but
sunshine and wildlife are big draws.

For many tourists the main appeal is the Victoria Falls, or Mosi-oa-Tunya,
loosely translated as "the smoke that thunders".

Here the mighty Zambezi river plunges almost twice the height of Niagara
into a canyon 108 metres deep and 1,7 kilometres wide on the Zambia-Zimbabwe
border.

In the past, most tourists saw the falls from the Zimbabwean town of
Victoria Falls.

While many backpacker lodges and hotels remain, tour operators say prices
have risen as inflation grips the country and the cost puts people off.

The major shift came around 2002, when several large new hotels began to
open in the nearby Zambian town of Livingstone, named after the "discoverer"
of the falls - Scottish missionary David Livingstone.

In 2000 President Robert Mugabe's government began a chaotic and sometimes
violent programme of seizing Zimbabwe's white-owned farmland, attracting
widespread western condemnation. - Nampa-Reuters.
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Zim Independent

Mbeki tries to defend tainted poll
Dumisani Muleya

DEBATE is raging at home and abroad on whether or not Zimbabwe's forthcoming
general election will be free and fair. South African President Thabo Mbeki
fuelled the debate last week after he said he had no reason to think anyone
would prevent a free and fair poll. Mbeki's deputy Jacob Zuma also agreed,
saying he did not understand what the noise was all about over the Zimbabwe
election because when Iraq held its poll in January there was a lot of
violence, but no such debate.
Political analysts say Mbeki's statements were calculated to whitewash the
result of the election, likely to be won by the ruling Zanu PF, courtesy of
a skewed playing field.
University of Zimbabwe (UZ) law lecturer and civic activist Lovemore Madhuku
said Mbeki's statements smacked of an intention to airbrush a tainted
result.

"It's clear Mbeki wants to endorse the election result which he knows will
be in favour of Zanu PF. He is trying to secure legitimacy for (President
Robert) Mugabe's rule," he said. "That is why he was anxious to bring the
MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) back to the electoral process after it
threatened to boycott the election. Now that the MDC will contest he wants
to use that to say the election was legitimate." After sounding concerned
about Zimbabwe's crisis in a recent interview with the Financial Times,
Mbeki stirred controversy last week after he suggested Zimbabwe's March 31
poll would be free and fair.

"I have no reason to think that anybody in Zimbabwe will militate in a way
so that the elections will not be free and fair," Mbeki said.
While complaints mounted that Zimbabwe was not complying with Southern
African Development Community (Sadc) electoral guidelines, Mbeki said it
was. "I don't know what has happened in Zimbabwe that is in violation of the
Sadc protocol, because as I know things like the independent electoral
commission, things like access to the public media, things like the absence
of violence and intimidation, those matters have been addressed," he said.
Mbeki's statement followed similar remarks by South African Foreign Affairs
minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who recently said Zimbabwe was doing enough
to ensure a free and fair election.
Dlamini-Zuma, who in 2003 vowed Pretoria would never criticise Harare as
long as the ruling ANC was in power, met United States Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice last week on Friday in Washington - the first meeting by
the two black women foreign ministers - for talks on bilateral issues.
Zimbabwe featured prominently in their talks.

The meeting came hard on the heels of US President George Bush's renewal of
sanctions against Mugabe and his associates. In a move that showed the US
was increasingly getting agitated about Mugabe's regime, Bush said Zimbabwe
had become an "unusual and extraordinary threat" to the world's only
superpower.
Rice in January described Zimbabwe as an "outpost of tyranny" together with
North Korea, Iran, Belarus, Burma and Cuba.
The US and its allies and South Africa and its friends mostly in the region
seem positioned worlds apart on the Zimbabwe issue.
Commenting on Mbeki's remarks, UZ associate professor Brian Raftopoulos
said: "I think Mbeki jumped the gun and shot himself in the foot. He has
done his reputation enormous damage because the situation in Zimbabwe has
not changed at all."

MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi said last week on Friday Mbeki's utterances
were "prejudicial to a free and fair election and the interests of the
people of Zimbabwe". He said Mbeki was misinformed. "We continue to have our
meetings and rallies disrupted by Zanu PF supporters and a partisan police
force, intimidation, selective application of the law, a chaotic voters'
roll and limited media coverage," he said. "We still have restrictive
legislation, biased electoral authorities and abuse of other parties and
their supporters on state television. All these issues do not augur well for
a free and fair election. Therefore the statement by President Mbeki was
very unfortunate."
Arnold Tsunga, the director of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, was
quoted as saying Mbeki's comments "disregard the suffering of ordinary
Zimbabweans in the face of a dictatorship". Analysts say Zimbabwe's
electoral reforms which officials claim comply with the Sadc guidelines are
woefully inadequate to be consequential to the electoral outcome.
The principles say Sadc member states should allow full participation of the
citizens in the political process, freedom of association, political
tolerance, regular elections, equal access by political parties to the state
media, equal opportunity to exercise the right to vote and be voted for, and
voter education.

They also urge impartiality of electoral institutions and independence of
the judiciary, as well as the need to accept the election results.
Sadc member states are also required to establish "impartial, all-inclusive,
competent, and accountable national electoral bodies staffed by qualified
personnel".

Countries also have to respect freedoms of movement, assembly and expression
and "take all necessary measures and precautions to prevent the perpetration
of fraud, rigging, or any other illegal practices throughout the whole
electoral process". Mbeki says Zimbabwe has set up an independent electoral
commission, opened up the public media and dealt with violence and
intimidation. While this is true, it is also equally true to say the
electoral commission is staffed by pro-government sympathisers. Its chairman
was appointed by Mugabe, who is battling for political survival, and has
close ties with Zanu PF.
The state media has only been opened up in a limited way - certainly they
are not giving equal access to different parties. Media controls and the
closure of newspapers remain, while voters' education is a state monopoly.
Election observers are restricted.

While violence has declined, intimidation remains. Harassment is still
undeniably widespread. So far at least 10 opposition candidates have been
arrested during campaigns or for putting up posters. In brief, the measures
Mbeki refers to don't address fundamental issues.
The new electoral commission, vulnerable to the whims and caprices of the
party in power, is also almost entirely irrelevant because it came after all
key preparations for elections had been done.
The poll will be run by the old and partisan bodies such the Electoral
Supervisory Commission, whose chief elections officer is a retired army
brigadier. The body also has several former army officers.
The old Register-General's office, which complied the deeply flawed voters'
roll with tens of thousands of dead and ghost voters, is still in charge,
together with other discredited bodies like the Delimitation Commission and
Election Directorate. Although there is now an electoral court, its judges
were appointed by a chief justice who is seen by many as a government ally.
The other so-called reforms include reducing the number of voting days to
one; introduction of translucent ballot boxes and counting of votes at
polling stations.

While these are important, they do not address the root cause of the
problem - which is the chaotic voters' register and a hostile political
climate. In the end, it is clear nothing has changed. The election will as a
result almost certainly be a gigantic sham -- and this will definitely not
take the country anywhere. It will mostly be back to square one after that!
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Zim Independent

Harare's hospitals microcosm of decay
By Bill Saidi
IN 1960, I was treated at Harare Hospital for an ugly gash on the head, the
result of a stone thrown at me as I fled from what used to be called a house
of ill-repute.

I was a reporter and reporters can venture in such places for only one
reason: a good story. Obviously, if I were a regular client I would not have
been chased away by stone-throwing thugs, unless I had not paid for the
services. In my case, it was just a good story I was after.

But my treatment at Harare Hospital, still new and staffed by the most
beautiful nurses in the country, was so thorough I sincerely believed both
the doctor and the nurses were being very personal. I went back to Harare
Hospital a few months later, this time to be treated for lacerations on my
face, the result of a fall after an assault. I will not go into details, but
I was not, I swear, coming from a house of ill-repute this time.

The treatment this time was even more royal than before.

After Independence, I was injured in a very serious motorcar accident on the
way from Chihota communal lands. I was ferried to Harare Hospital, but after
a few hours there without being attended to, I demanded to be transferred to
Parirenyatwa Hospital. The atmosphere of inattention was palpable at Harare,
with nurses and orderlies treating you as if you were a thorough nuisance to
their routine, which seemed to consist of gossiping.

Things were better at Parirenyatwa, but not as good as in 1980 when it was
called Andrew Fleming. But back in 1949, I was treated at the Salisbury
African native hospital, now Harare Hospital.

I had almost lost my right arm in a stupid bicycle accident at Mai Musodzi
Hall in Harare township.

A Good Samaritan, persuaded by my aunt to take on the mission of mercy for
no reward, carried me on his bicycle all the way to the hospital, a very
long distance, made even tougher by the heavy load of a wailing, whining kid
with a broken arm.

My arm was put in plaster, which lasted until my final examinations for
Standard Three at what is now Chitsere School.

Salisbury hospital was of course heavily segregated then. I was treated in
the native section which, inevitably, had inferior facilities and equipment
to the white section.

In 1980, I entered Andrew Fleming hospital with a broken leg, having been
knocked down by a vehicle driven by a Central Intelligence Organisation
agent.

I spent six wonderful weeks in the hospital, with people who really cared
about their work, most of them black too. I renewed old friendships and met
new friends. Andrew Fleming hospital was then relatively new and most of the
facilities would have matched any of those at the white section of the old
Salisbury hospital.

Recently, I have read of both hospitals facing crises. I was not surprised.
How could these huge hospitals fare any better than any other big or small
health facility in the land?

In fact, how could these two great and historic places of healing escape the
wave of neglect that has swept across the country for the last 25 years?
Roads, schools, hospitals, clinics, prisons, government offices,
municipalities, post offices, police stations, big and small businesses,
markets - mini or super: they have all felt the enormous pinch of an
economic decline which seems destined to last until God or Reserve Bank
governor Gideon Gono waves the magic wand to end it all.

Harare and Parirenyatwa hospitals are but a microcosm of the decline. Yes,
there are patches of success here and there, but these are so few and far
between only the regular Pollyannas could swear that things are not as bad
as they seem.

For many ordinary, average Zimbabweans, things are so bad there is no way
they could get worse. The pessimists insist they will get worse if the
present crowd remains in power.

I have been to Harare and Parirenyatwa hospitals a number of times since
1980, often to observe at first-hand a friend or a relative dying of
complications brought on by HIV/Aids. These were not pretty sights and I
came away each time wondering if this was not the beginning of the end of
the world.

But the hospitals' decline struck me as almost inexorable, as incurable as
the deadly scourge which has attached itself to the body of the nation, like
a voracious leech, sucking out its blood.

Every year since Independence, the Health ministry budget has increased, but
the health delivery system has declined just as rapidly.

The truth is that even the Education ministry's share of the budget has
increased, but the standards in our schools, the quality of the teachers and
the facilities in general have continued to decline - and the cost for most
parents has shot through the roof.

One Finance minister once described our economy as being in crisis. It is
still in crisis, as we approach a parliamentary election that ought to give
the voters an opportunity to signify their dissatisfaction with the
disastrous performance of the government.

The government, even without the dubious and quite often sassy talent for
spin-doctoring of Jonathan Moyo, sticks to its old litany: if things are
bad, British premier Tony Blair is to blame. Vote against Blair by voting
for Zanu PF - and things will improve. What nonsense.

Colonialism stripped the people of their dignity everywhere in Africa after
the "Scramble for Africa".

After the bloody struggles against colonialism and the victory of the
people, their dignity was restored. Unfortunately, in most African
countries, this restoration was almost transient, a flitting moment of glory
soon smothered in the greed and corruption of the leaders.

Zimbabwe has fared no better. Today, a Zimbabwean who insists his dignity is
as solid as it was in 1980 would be indulging in the worst form of
self-delusion.

Our dignity was restored in full in 1980, but when people began to fear
their own government, their own army and their police force - worse than
they feared the same forces during colonialism - they felt diminished in
stature, stripped of some of their dignity.

Many Africans feel the same sense of deprivation. Not one of them would
proclaim that colonialism was better and should return.

But most would do everything in their power to remove the cause of their
humiliation in the land of their birth. In a few countries, their
frustration has boiled over into violence.

In others, they have used the ballot to remove the cause of their
frustration.

In these countries, a sense of achievement has been observed, as people
started walking tall again, their dignity restored, albeit for that
glorious, delicious moment of conquest.

*Bill Saidi is editor of the closed Daily News on Sunday.
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Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

The Moyo story

I HEAR there was heated debate last week among scribes at their waterhole at
the Quill Club. The crux of the discourse was the coverage Jonathan Moyo has
been receiving in the media, including the Zimbabwe Independent.

I also received angry phone calls this week from journos who believe
passionately that covering Moyo, who without doubt was a bane of the media,
is a great injustice to the profession.

The journalists were inflamed by the Q&A we had with Moyo last week.

Why should we not write about Moyo? "Because he is an enemy of press
freedom. He closed down the Daily News and had reporters arrested on
spurious charges. You are simply inflating the man's ego," a former Daily
News staffer shouted into the phone on Tuesday.

The scribe reminded me of my arrest last year on charges of defaming
President Mugabe and that I had spent the weekend as a state guest at Harare
Central police station. I do not need to be reminded of that experience at
all because it left indelible scars on my person.

Moyo had a hand in my arrest. He had a hand in the closure of the Daily
News, the Daily News on Sunday and the Tribune. His purges at Zimpapers and
the then Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation resulted in scores of good
journalists losing their jobs. The Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (Aippa) was an extension of his personality as an enemy of
freedom and the press.

He might have led the charge in terrorising newspapers but he was not alone
in the crusade. The Media and Information Commission fronted by Tafataona
Mahoso, the police and our judicial system also put their boots in on the
screaming media.

Then there were the Zanu PF crocodiles who voted for the enactment of Aippa.
Should we also be advocating a blackout of these institutions because they
conspired with Moyo?

Because of the catalogue of his heinous deeds and assault on basic freedoms,
Moyo should not receive media coverage, self-assuring proponents of media
freedom believe. But no, I beg to differ here. As a newspaper, we cannot
take a conscious decision to shut out any individual from the media because
he is an affront to our beliefs and aspirations.

We have been writing the Moyo story not because we support his actions or
his views. The fact that he has turned his back against Zanu PF does not
mean that he has metamorphosed into a saint. There is no Damascan experience
here.

We still associate him with his infamy, but his insight into a number of
issues, including media law, is useful to have.

He might have been kicked out of Zanu PF but he is still unrepentant
especially when it comes to media law and those who what to vote for him
should take heed.

Moyo still believes Aippa is a very good law which should be kept on our
statute books. Moyo would never have stood at a rally to tell his flock in
Tsholotsho "without qualms Aippa is a good law". The interview smoked him
out.

As media practitioners, it is our duty to record history whether we like the
newsmaker or not. That is why Western journalists fell over each other in a
search for an interview with demagogues like Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini
and Josef Stalin. Who today would not like to interview Osama Bin Laden or
Saddam Hussein or Chavez in Venezuela?

In the early years of our Independence, was Ian Smith, the epitome of white
oppression, shut out of the news? He continued to give interviews in which
we learnt of his refusal to accept black rule. That information is important
for posterity.

Whether we want to accept it or not, the Moyo saga stands out as one of the
most momentous incidents in Zimbabwe's short political history.

Moyo will fizzle out of the media when he is no longer news just as what
happened to former Zanu PF secretary-general Edgar Tekere.

He was a big story when he was kicked out of the party. The story only
lasted as long as it was relevant to the political discourse of the day.

Also, if as media practitioners, we are for media freedom and plurality, it
is fundamental that we walk the talk. Moyo abused the media by ensuring that
opponents and enemies were denied coverage. That was an egregious act which
we should not emulate. Politics of vengeance is the life-blood of
out-of-sorts politicians and not media practitioners.

As media practitioners, should we not be talking about what media we want?
Should we not be working towards the unbundling of terrible media laws? Do
we have a common understanding of what constitutes media freedom?

Our salvation will not come from shutting out enemies of our freedoms.
Apologies to those who differ with this view.
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Zim Independent

Comment

áPolice must stick to the law

ZIMBABWEANS must thank police spokesman, assistant commissioner Wayne
Bvudzijena for telling us what we already know. In an unusually candid
response to claims by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change last
week that they were being prevented from holding meetings, Bvudzijena said
this was not the case. It was not the duty of the police to stop a party
from holding a meeting, he said. According to the Public Order and Security
Act promulgated in January 2002, Section 24 requires persons or parties
planning to hold a gathering to notify the police of this. There is nothing
sinister in this requirement.

Bvudzijena last week stressed the same point when he said: "The police are
only notified but they do not stop any meeting or rallies. There are
instances where some rallies clash and the police indicate alternative
dates. They never force people to cancel meetings or rallies."
It is vitally important to have this clarification as we move towards a
crucial election that will determine whether Zimbabwe rejoins the community
of democratic states or remains an international outcast. Bvudzijena made
these comments after the MDC was allegedly forced to abandon a regional
campaign strategic meeting for its MPs in Matabeleland. Officers from the
law and order section allegedly stormed the venue and said they wanted to
sit through the deliberations. What we ask is whether it is the duty of the
police to attend the private meetings of political parties once they have
been notified about them? What business of theirs is it?
If this was an isolated incident we would dismiss it as the act of
overzealous individuals. Unfortunately that is not the case.
There are numerous incidents of opposition party officials being arrested
and detained for allegedly holding illegal meetings.

Last month Makokoba MP Thokozani Khuphe and other MDC officials were
arrested for holding unauthorised meetings. Lovemore Madhuku and his NCA
supporters have been arrested and detained on several occasions under Posa
although no charges have stuck. The same can be said of Women of Zimbabwe
Arise.
We are detailing these incidents not because we want to make a case for the
opposition. These acts of harassment are simply incompatible with a
democracy. Moreover, the Public Order and Security Act requires one to
merely notify the police of a planned meeting, and never to ask for
permission.

Declaring any meeting of which the police have not been informed illegal
suggests that one needs express permission and that the police are the
issuing authority of such a permit. This is a gross misinterpretation of
Posa and against the spirit of the legislative authority.
It is the duty of senior police officers to correctly interpret the law to
their juniors if the force is to escape the stricture of partisan
application of the law. This is moreso when there are claims that the ruling
party does not always have to notify the police of its meetings.

We have in fact seen Zanu PF supporters staging "spontaneous" demonstrations
in the city centre here in Harare and the police dutifully providing loyal
escort. At one time the demonstrators went on to smash the doors to the MDC's
offices at Harvest House while the police stood guard. These have never been
declared illegal.
We would be the last to encourage anyone to break a law - even a bad law.
Our only plea is that if the law is inconvenient for the ruling party, it is
equally inconvenient for the opposition. The police must remain neutral and
make the law bad for everyone.

Those coming into the country to observe the parliamentary election on March
31 will quickly pick on cases of partial enforcement of the law in their
reports. This also applies to the way the police deal with cases of
lawlessness in general and politically-motivated violence in particular.
It is one thing for President Robert Mugabe to appeal for zero-tolerance for
political violence and quite another for the police to ensure this is so. An
impression should not be created that Mugabe is playing to the gallery to
please foreigners while on the ground it is hell on earth for those
challenging his party in a legitimate electoral contest.

Zimbabwe cannot afford another five years of international isolation and
internal recrimination just because the police cannot be trusted to balance
issues of security and of freedom of association and assembly.
The police should not arrogate unto themselves the power to issue permits
that they do not have at law just to please Zanu PF.

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Zim Independent

Eric Bloch Column

The mirage of economic turnaround

THE government and its propagandists are vigorously enthusing that Zimbabwe's
economy is undergoing a very pronounced turnaround. They claim that the
massive economic decline that prevailed with ever-greater intensity over the
last seven years has been halted, and that it is being progressively
reversed. They proclaim loudly that the economy is now firmly entrenched
upon a path of recovery and that economic wellbeing is now assured.

If only that were so, but tragically it is just self-induced illusion and
delusion. The harsh facts are diametrically opposite to the contentions that
the economy is fast overcoming its many ills, and that economic utopia lies
ahead.
The president, his cabinet, the ministerial minions and the state-controlled
media found their recurrent heralding of economic upturn primarily upon the
magnitude of the reduction in the consumer price index-based year-on-year
inflation rate. Admittedly, that reduction has been very impressive, with
the rate shrinking from its all-time high of 622,8 % in January 2004 to
133,6 % in January 2005. However, on the one hand, the latest rate is still
untenably high and the trigger of intensifying poverty, hardship and misery
for millions of Zimbabweans.

On the other hand, it is almost inevitable that the rate of inflation will
rise significantly in the months ahead, notwithstanding the vigorous efforts
of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to contain inflation. The virtual
certainty that inflation will once again be rising is based upon diverse
circumstances, the first of which is the intensifying dependency upon food
imports. Only a few months ago Agriculture minister Joseph Made, strongly
supported by his Public Service colleague, trumpeted that Zimbabwe was on
the threshold of near record volumes of food production.

They foreshadowed harvests of such magnitude that Zimbabwe would resume its
role of southern African granary, exporting maize to neighbouring
territories. They advised the United Nations Development Programme that
Zimbabwe would not be in need of food aid in 2005, other than possibly for
Zimbabwe's Aids orphans.
They were hallucinating in the extreme! Having displaced the thousands of
farmers who had the skills and resources and replaced them with those
lacking in resources and, in many instances, experience, there was no
realistic prospect of achieving the bountiful harvests that they
anticipated.

The prospects of those harvests were further shattered by the failure of the
government to provide the new farmers with promised inputs. To cap it all,
drought then reared its ugly head.
The result is that Zimbabwe will have to import at least one million tonnes
of maize in 2005, and the transportation and other import costs must
undoubtedly increase the price of food payable by the consumer (although
until the month-end parliamentary elections having come and gone, the
government will use the Grain Marketing Board to subsidise food).

The post-election rise in food prices will be a major catalyst of rising
inflation. Moreover, the foreign currency required for food imports will
markedly reduce the availability of the forex necessary for other critically
required imports. As a result of inadequate foreign currency resources,
exacerbated by reduced inflows from other agricultural exports due to the
forecasts of tobacco production as spurious as the food forecasts, most
industries will not access the foreign currency needed to fund their
imported manufacturing inputs. Already most factories are using minimal
levels of their production capacities, and those levels are likely to
decline further. Many manufacturers are achieving production of only 20 to
30 % of capacity due partially to the non-availability of inputs, and
partially to discontinuance or reduction in exports, attributable to loss of
export viability and price competitiveness as a result of almost static
exchange rates.

Those rates have been manipulated into non-responsiveness to inflation, to
the grievous prejudice of exporters and export earnings. In consequence,
fixed overheads of manufacturers have to be apportioned over the diminished
production volumes, thereby increasing unit costs and consequently forcing
prices upwards.
The decrease in industrial production and of foreign currency for imports of
finished products will also intensify the shortages of many products already
existing. The excess of demand over supply will once again stimulate black
market activity, with concomitant price increases further fuelling
inflation.

Yet another stimulus of rising inflation is looming, being the continuing
upward movement in world oil prices. Those prices have risen from about
US$29 a barrel only a year or so ago to over US$52 at the present time.

As if all those ills do not suffice, the government is once again engaged
upon a spending binge evidencing that its declarations of fiscal discipline
were hollow. For a few months the government harkened to the calls for
contained expenditure and minimisation of the fiscal deficit, in order to
assist the drive to bring down inflation.
However, with elections looming, the government has discarded all endeavours
to curb its profligacy. Suddenly it is funding fleets of costly new motor
vehicles for chiefs, distributing pensions of $1,3 million per month to each
of 10 000 "ex-political detainees", representing a fiscal outflow of more
than $15,6 billion per annum, increments for the Public Service in excess of
inflation, nationwide donations of (admittedly necessary) computers to
schools and much else.
Clearly the government is prepared to devastate the economy in order to
cultivate voter support, but in so doing it is creating yet another trigger
for escalating inflation. Although the government is trying to make mileage
out of an alleged increase in the numbers in formal employment, its own
statistics demonstrate that almost 80%t of Zimbabwe's labour force is
unemployed. According to the government, more than four-fifths of those
desirous of formal employment are unemployed. How can that be indicative of
an economic upturn?

And the situation is likely to worsen as more and more industries are faced
with no alternatives other than to lay off contract labour and retrench much
of their permanent work forces, for they are faced with diminishing domestic
consumer demand for their products and can no longer compete in export
markets as a result of their rising production costs not being compensated
for by exchange rate movements. Further indicators of the economic
stagnation include the minimal extent of investment taking place. Foreign
investors are deterred from investing in Zimbabwe by the straitened state of
the economy, the excessively regulatory economic environment and the
non-conducive investment environment created by recurrent threats of forced
disinvestments in favour of indigenous elements, and by disregard for
bilateral investment protection agreements entered into between Zimbabwe and
other governments.
The negative economic indicators also include the very adverse international
credit ratings "enjoyed" by Zimbabwe.
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Zim Independent

Muckraker

Mugabe is no Mother Teresa

IF President Robert Mugabe's claims that chiefs and other traditional
leaders in Tsholotsho have disowned Professor Jonathan Moyo are true, then
he has scored a double. He would be the first to be rejected at home and
away by the party that gave him infamy.

Last week the president told mourners at the burial of Witness Mangwende at
the Heroes Acre that chiefs in Tsholotsho said they didn't know Moyo until
the party leadership introduced him in the district. In other words he is a
mafikizolo. Meanwhile the president excoriated mafikizolos with "vaulting
ambitions" who, once appointed into positions of authority, quickly forget
where that power derives. "Forgetting that the power they wield is derived
from the party and government, they feel and behave bigger than the party
and government, even challenging its power and authority," said Mugabe.
"These are the mafikizolos, instant men whose entry into politics is against
no background."

Of course Mugabe was completely wrong on the last point. Moyo made his name
in the media as a fierce government critic before he was lured with a few
pieces of silver and promises of unfathomable luxury into joining the ruling
party and becoming Mugabe's very own right hand man. Unless Mugabe's
definition of "background" is so straitjacketed that it only covers those
who went to war in Mozambique. That would leave a lot of the younger
politicians in Zanu PF without a background or totemless.

Further proof of Moyo's precipitous slide into obscurity came from Bulawayo
metropolitan governor Cain Mathema. He was quoted in the media as saying
Moyo was putting up his campaign posters "under cover of darkness" and was
failing to organise any meetings in the district. How the might have fallen!
This is the same Moyo who only a few months back could summon ministers and
governors to a gathering in Tsholotsho at short notice and even commandeer a
private plane to take him there at a government's expense. But March 31
beckons. He is down but might not be out yet going by other reports from the
same district. The man is reportedly working 24 hours a day to shame those
who survive on the capricious politics of patronage from which he has just
been weaned.

G oing out along with Moyo is former Chronicle editor, Stephen Ndlovu, whom
Lovemore Mataire of The Voice accuses of being used to fuel divisions in
Zanu PF and to attack senior party officials. "What happened to Ndlovu,"
wrote Mataire in his Candid Brief column, "was a bitter lesson for all those
journalists who are in the habit of being used as eulogists by individual
politicians for self-serving gains." Unfortunately there are too many in the
state-controlled media who need that warning if there is going to be a
semblance of professionalism after the damage caused by Moyo.

We always thought it was government business to provide the best resources
to schools? Apparently President Mugabe doesn't think so. He wants to be
personally thanked for donating computers to schools countrywide. When he
donated computers in Highfield last week, President Mugabe repeated that
this wasn't a government initiative. "It is a personal initiative that I
embarked on and I have been assisted by several well-wishers like Reserve
Bank governor Gideon Gono," said Mugabe as if he expected to be given a
Nobel prize for philanthropy.

No, Mr President. Whatever the motivation, you are only doing what your
government should have been doing for the past 25 years. There is no aura of
Mother Teresa in these donations.
The president also showed why the country has been regressing since
independence by failing to understand what change means. He said he was
being told to change yet he didn't have anything to change. "I am a black
Zimbabwean and I can't change that. I will never be a white man. Neither do
I even dream of becoming one."
These snide remarks were aimed at the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change. The point is not about altering one's skin pigmentation. The wise
say it is advisable to change a strategy that has failed to deliver for 25
years. That change might be both mentally and in terms of leadership.
Finding scapegoats is an excuse for refusing to admit failure. Moreover,
noone has ever envisaged a white Mugabe. We have seen what a black one can
do.

We note that Munyaradzi Huni has abandoned his Constituency Watch column in
the Sunday Mail. Lowani Ndlovu once asked Huni whether he would be able to
cover all the constituencies, and if not, which ones he would cover and the
criteria he would use to select these? Those questions were never answered.
Instead, now there is the less ambitious but more manageable, Election
Watch. Whether the latest project will be more informed than the unwieldy
earlier one remains to be seen. But this week's contribution was less than
auspicious.

It started well by debunking the myth that translucent ballot boxes will
enable people to know who you voted for, a myth Muckraker hears Zanu PF has
been spreading to scare away opposition supporters in rural areas.
The column then quickly degenerated into myth-making of its own. Huni said
despite signs that there won't be enough rains this season, NGOs were going
out in the rural areas blaming the "agrarian reforms" for the drought.
The truth is that drought per se would only have a limited impact if
irrigation equipment that white commercial farmers had put up on the farms
had been left intact. It's not news that Zimbabwe is a drought-prone
country. That is why there were huge investments in dams and other
irrigation infrastructure.

Point number 2 is that Agriculture minister Joseph Made has been lying that
the country produced 2,4 million tonnes of maize last season. That would
have been enough to feed the nation without going around with a begging
bowl. Instead, organisations such as Care International were told to leave
us alone because we have enough food to go around. Point number 3 concerns
what President Robert Mugabe has characterised as the new breed of cellphone
farmers who have turned once productive farms into "weekend braai resorts".
That is a result of lack of planning and falsely assuming that every black
person wants a farm -- by virtue of being black. It's a myth. Being mwana
wevhu has nothing to do with farming.

Well-tried Cde Caesar Zvayi, but better luck next time. On Monday he gave us
a summary of developments in Zimbabwe's parliament since Independence in
1980. One of these was the abolition of the bicameral parliamentary system,
which President Mugabe now wants to reintroduce to accommodate his comrades
who lost in the party's primaries.

Another major change that Zvayi points out but disingenuously refuses to
comment on was the abolition of the 20 seats reserved for whites in the
Lancaster House constitution. Although the removal of this privilege for
whites meant that the 20 seats reverted to the common roll, in effect Zanu
PF made sure it usurped this unfair advantage for itself. Not only was
Mugabe made executive president in 1987, his party effectively has 30 MPs
before a single vote is cast.
Mugabe appoints governors and the 12 non-constituency MPs at his discretion.
It is semantics to say ten seats are reserved for chiefs who are appointed
by the Chiefs Council. What original idea can one expect from Chief Jonathan
Mangwende? One doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to tell where their
loyalty lies. In other words, while Zanu PF resented white privilege, it saw
no anomaly in seizing the same for itself. Which is why it has been argued
that we can never have a fair election in Zimbabwe no matter how much
government tries some window dressing gimmick about adhering to the Sadc
guidelines on democratic elections. Why does a party that claims to have
fought for democracy require this criminal advantage over competitors?

We enjoyed the panel discussion on Monday on Newsnet between Supa
Mandiwanzira and Ibbo Mandaza on the one hand and MDC's economics secretary
Tendai Biti on the other. Most notable was the fact that Supa is now
peddling the same Zanu PF propaganda that Tony Blair wants to topple Mugabe's
government. He insisted on the MDC coming clean on that, as if every enemy
of Mugabe was Zimbabwe's enemy. He was quickly disabused. The MDC was not
working with Tony Blair, Biti said. On the statement Blair made to his
parliament last year, Biti said he had only read about it in the Herald and
in any case he wouldn't know if Blair had been sober or not when he made the
claim. But Supa had something up his sleeve. He said most of the MDC's
financiers had been implicated in corruption and had been forced to flee the
country. He didn't say who these were.
But Muckraker remembers that one of the people who donated $75 million at
the Zanu PF congress in Masvingo, Nicholas Vingirayi, made an indecent exit
when government started arresting those suspected of corruption. That
donation was announced by the president himself. So who is consorting with
the wrong type, Supa?

When the two panellists made wild allegations about the MDC's economic
policies, Biti curtly told them to read the party's Restart programme. And
it was evident none of them had read it. What a crowd! The most shocking
allegation was that despite winning overwhelmingly in all urban
constituencies, the MDC had done nothing to improve service delivery. We
wonder what planet Supa has been living on. It is one thing to be a party
activist and quite another to be a panellist in a programme that seeks to
inform viewers.
Is Supa the only person who doesn't know what happened to Harare's first
popularly-elected executive mayor? Why was he hounded out of office? Was he
convicted of any crime by a competent court of law or was he the victim of
Zanu PF political chicanery? Is Supa the only one who doesn't know that MDC
councillors were stopped from carrying out their mandate by Local Government
minister Ignatious Chombo?

It is the same minister who suspended them when they would not carry out his
party's destructive policies. They were not allowed under Posa to meet with
ratepayers to discuss council business and could not make decisions on
finance and human resources without Chombo thrusting his dirty fingers. Then
a supposedly enlightened journalist like Supa asks what the MDC has achieved
in the past five years. It's an insult to our intelligence. Instead Supa
should be asking what Chombo's commission chaired by the deserter from
Mabvuku has done to improve service delivery. All we read about in the
Herald on Tuesday was that it had once again, for the fifth time, deferred
indefinitely the announcement of the 2005 council budget. Does Supa need
better proof of inefficiency?

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Zim Independent

AirZim seeks partnership with SAA
Godfrey Marawanyika
AIR Zimbabwe plans to approach South African Airways and other airlines to
negotiate partnership deals that could result in major technical assistance
to the national carrier.

Air Zimbabwe last year failed to seal a similar partnership deal with an
Israeli-based aviation firm.

It was not possible to ascertain the other airlines which have been targeted
by Air Zimbabwe. Aviation officials said the proposed deals would see the
majority shareholder in the national carrier - the government - having its
stake significantly diluted.

Air Zimbabwe is in the process of unbundling to exploit its strengths either
by forming a strategic alliance or through skills transfer or sharing with
SAA.

The overtures to SAA, which are still to be officially communicated, will
also include possibilities of sharing facilities and codes.

Reached for comment, chief executive officer of Air Zimbabwe Tendai Mahachi
played his cards close to the chest, confirming however that there were
plans underway.

"We are still putting our house in order. There are various problems which
still have to be addressed. Are you basing your information on the fact that
the chief executive of South African Airlines was here and met with some
people?" Mahachi asked.

He said he did not personally meet the SAA boss.

"There is nothing concrete as yet on that or anything. Maybe by June we
would have finalised our plans. Once we have finalised everything we will
invite you and everyone else."

The chief executive officer of SAA is Khaya Ngqula.

Ngqula could not be reached for comment at the time of going to press.

According to the SAA profile, it was formed in February 1 1934 when the
Union of South Africa bought both assets and liabilities of a private
airline, Union Airways, which was later absorbed into a new airline called
South African Airways.

In 1999, SAA, then a division of Transnet Ltd, entered a privatisation phase
which led to the name of South African Airway (Pty) Ltd.

Currently, SAA performs maintenance for more than 40 airlines, including
British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Air France and Lufthansa.

South African Airways has 62 aircraft while Air Zimbabwe has got two 767 and
two 737 planes.

Another 737 is still undergoing maintenance and is expected to take to the
skies again "soon".
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Zim Independent

Tel*One goes mining, farming
Ndamu Sandu
ZIMBABWE'S sole landline provider, Tel*One, is mulling plans to venture into
mining and horticulture to finance its US$68 million deal with Chinese
telecommunications firm Huawei Technologies.

The ambitious deal envisages a rollout of Tel*One's five-year development
plan that will culminate in the issuing out of 1,4 million lines.

The first phase of the rollout project, valued at US$28,9 million and yet to
start, is already behind schedule as it was originally scheduled to be
completed by the end of the month.

Tel*One will pay Huawei US$4,3 million, which is a 15% deposit for the
expansion equipment.

Tel*One managing director Wellington Makamure said the venture into mining
and horticulture would help the company raise foreign currency to finance
the deal.

"The mining and horticulture ventures will be financed in local currency and
proceeds from these projects will be used to fund the rollout programme,"
Makamure said.

He said Tel*One had raised $8 billion and the company would go through the
auction floors to raise forex needed for the transaction.

"We have so far raised $8 billion and we have got assurances from the
Reserve Bank that forex will be availed to us," Makamure said.

"We cannot just wait for the RBZ to give us all the money. We have to make
our own plans, which has made us think of venturing into mining and
horticulture."

Makamure could not reveal where they had secured the mining concessions or
where they would undertake their horticultural production.

He said payment for the project should have been made last year but he
remained optimistic that Tel*One will pay Huawei by the end of the month.

He said Huawei would supply the equipment in proportion to the money paid.

The first phase to open up 80 000 lines and install 50 base stations
countrywide for use with cordless phones will be implemented in nine months.

Makamure said the second phase would result in 230 000 lines and 102 base
stations being set up.

On the speculation that Huawei was gunning for equity in Tel*One, Makamure
said the idea of partnerships was a preserve of the majority shareholder -
the government of Zimbabwe.

Tel*One's relationship with Huawei dates back to 2000 when the
telecommunication concern changed its Harare switch from analogue to
digital.

Established in 1988, Huawei Technologies is one of the fastest-growing
telecommunications equipment manufacturers in China.

Its revenue for 2004 was US$5,6 billion, up 113% from 2003. Overseas sales
in the same period firmed 120% to US$2,3 billion.

The Chinese telecommunications manufacturer will also work with Net*One on
its expansion programme.

The expansion programmes by Net*One and Tel*One are part of measures
introduced by the Transport and Communication ministry to improve the
operations of parastatals that fall under it.

Transport and Communications minister Christopher Mushohwe has been on
record saying heads will roll in parastatals that fail to restructure their
operations.

Other parastatals that fall under the ministry include the National Railways
of Zimbabwe, Air Zimbabwe, the Central Mechanical Engineering Department,
Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe, the Road Motor Services and the
Vehicle Inspection Department.

Recently Vice-President Joyce Mujuru met parastatal heads and stressed the
need to meet set targets.
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Zim Independent

Proposed African monetary union a tall order

SOUTHERN Africa faces an uphill battle to achieve a proposed monetary union
similar to the EU as it battles to emerge from conflict and widespread
poverty, regional bankers said on Wednesday.

South African Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni last month announced that
the 13-member Southern African Development Community was targeting a single
currency by 2016.

Mboweni said after a meeting with his southern African counterparts that
targets would be set for inflation, budget deficits and foreign exchange
reserves, with penalties for countries that did not meet those goals.

But given the region's recent history of conflict and vastly divergent
economies, this would be no mean feat.

"We have to accept that for some countries it will be harder to achieve the
targets," Tom Alweendo, governor of the Bank of Namibia, said on the
sidelines of an African banking conference.

"Countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola have just
emerged from civil wars and are still reconstructing while Zimbabwe is
experiencing an economic collapse."

Alweendo said although a programme of action had already been agreed on, the
2016 target could be missed. Similar sentiments were echoed by Richard
Wilde, chairman of the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe, who said while the move
would be a "logical step" in line with world trends, the process would be
"delicate".

"The downside of the whole thing is the dominance of South Africa in
development terms because many smaller economies will be concerned about the
survival of their industries when they compete with much larger companies in
that country," he said.

It is envisaged that all Sadc countries will aim for single-digit inflation
rates by 2008, with an upper limit of 8% for 2012 and 5% by 2015.

Inflation rates within the bloc vary widely at present, with the annual
increase in South Africa's headline consumer price index at 3% in January
compared with about 134% in its smaller neighbour Zimbabwe which goes to its
parliamentary poll on March 31. - Reuter.
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Zim Independent

Tobacco Vision 160 suffers set-back
Ndamu Sandu/Godfrey Marawanyika
ZIMBABWE'S ambitious drive to produce 160 million kg of tobacco is in doubt
as only 85 million kg will be available when the selling season opens next
month, businessdigest can reveal.

The tobacco selling season opens on April 5.

The policy to boost tobacco production was launched last year under the
banner of Vision 160. The drive was envisaged to raise tobacco output to 160
million kg this year from a paltry 64 million kg last year.

Vision 160 was launched by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in conjunction

with tobacco growers to boost tobacco production in the country.

Zimbabwe Tobacco Association (ZTA) chief executive officer Rodney Ambrose
said funding for the programme came late.

He said to achieve high production in the 2005/6 season, there was need to
pump money into the industry early.

Ambrose said for the country to produce a higher yield, there was need to
rehabilitate the irrigation infrastructure.

At its peak, 40 000 hectares of tobacco was under irrigation and in the past
season it was a paltry 7 500 hectares.

Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board general manager Stanley Mutepfa,
speaking at the national exporters' conference last year, said there was
need for the provision of $85 billion for the rehabilitation of irrigation
equipment.

Mutepfa said over $20 million was needed to put one hectare under crop.

Ambrose said putting the crop under irrigation would improve production as
well as the quality of the crop.

One of the country's largest foreign currency earners, tobacco production
has been in a free-fall since the beginning of the chaotic land reform
programme in 2000.

From a peak of 237 million kg in 1999, Zimbabwe produced a paltry 64 million
kg last year.

Analysts said the new farmers did not have the financial resources to boost
tobacco production. It is estimated that it costs over $20 million to plant
a hectare.

In 2003, the golden leaf earned the country US$120 million, making it one of
the country's biggest single foreign currency earners, accounting for about
40% of hard currency inflows.

Zimbabwe sold 237 million kg worth US$400 million in 2000 before the
government seized white-owned commercial farms for distribution to landless
blacks.

Last year, tobacco sales brought in only US$190 million. Zimbabwe has
grappled with an acute foreign currency crisis since the International
Monetary Fund cut financial aid in 1999 and tobacco earnings began
plummeting a year later.

Statistics from the ZTA show that at its peak, 85 000 hectares were under
tobacco compared to 55 000 in the 2004/5 season.

A total of 76 000 hectares were under crop in large-scale commercial farms
with a productivity rate of 2 500 kg per hectare while 9 000 hectares were
under crop in small-scale commercial farms.

Ambrose said in the 2004/5 season, 25 000 ha was under crop in commercial
farms and 30 000 ha in small-scale farms.
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Zim Independent

Gono's efforts not good enough - DCZ
Roadwin Chirara
THE Discount Company of Zimbabwe (DCZ) has accused Reserve Bank governor
Gideon Gono of failing to effectively deal with the country's economic
challenges.

In its monthly economic update, DCZ said the recent rise in inflation by
0,9% was not consistent with the central bank's efforts to curb inflation to
levels of 20- 30% by December.

The annual inflation rate figure rose to 133,6% from 132,7% in December last
year.

"It definitely does not send a good message to the nation about the governor's
ability to conquer this inflation scourge, which has been dubbed enemy
number one," said the company.

DCZ said the development was likely to confirm reservations that the
International Monetary Fund executive board has on the country's proposed
recovery programme.

"This corroborates the IMF executive board's reservations about the
sufficiency of the current economic policy arsenal designed to fight
inflation and turn the economy around," said DCZ.

The IMF board is reported to have called for the immediate withdrawal of
Zimbabwe from the institution for lack of co-operation on its obligations to
the fund.

DCZ said Gono's fight against inflation was unlikely to succeed as factors
such as effective liquidity management, availability of foreign currency and
the outcome of the current agricultural season all remained uncertain.

The financial services company said the persistence of negative real
interest rates was fuelling speculation on the local market which was in
turn impacting on the prices of assets.

"Real interest rates remain negative, thereby giving rise to speculative
activities as exemplified by the advent of the foreign currency parallel
market boom, stock market bull-run and a rise in property prices, all of
which cause asset price inflation," said DCZ.

The company said the current shortage of foreign currency in the market
where US$11 million was made available for the month of February against
demand of US$93 million, was likely to be worsened by the need for food
imports due to the uncertain 2004/5 rainy season.

"The resultant inevitable food imports should put a further strain on the
already precarious foreign currency situation," said DCZ.

It said the recently introduced exporters incentives by the central bank
where exporters would be allowed to hold on to 70% of their foreign currency
earnings for 90 days was also impacting negatively on the funds available on
the RBZ's foreign currency auction.

The company said the current situation, which has been revised from the
previous 30-day retention period, was increasing the number of rejected bids
on the auction and pushing the black market rates to the current levels of
$12 000/US$1.

DCZ said investors were not in agreement with Gono's inflation forecast in
his fourth quarter review, with most of them reluctant to invest for periods
of more than six months.

The company said the situation had been worsened by reservations of the IMF
on the country's recovery strategy.

The company said the situation was evident in the money market where

offers for 91-day treasury bills have declined with bids of $20 billion
being received for paper valued at $200 billion on offer.

"Attempts to issue six months paper flopped on February 18 and 21 as no bids
were received. In the $200 billion, 365-day TB tender on February 14, no
bids were received," said the monthly update.

The discount company said the central bank's efforts to contain positive
real interest rates between 10-20% had been dealt a major blow as yields for
90-day NCD's were currently hovering at a negative 65%, indicating a
negative real interest rate of 56%.

It said the situation was seeing investors turning to the equity, foreign
currency and property markets.

"There has been tremendous excitement in the stock market since January this
year with the industrial and mining indices breaking record territories,"
said DCZ.

The situation in the equity market has seen the industrial index rising by
117,56% in January, compared to 17,15% recorded during the same period last
year.
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Zim Independent

Hippo still in talks over acquired property
Roadwin Chirara
HIPPO Valley Sugar Estates is still negotiating with government over the
proposed compulsory acquisition of its properties.

The estates, situated in the Lowveld, are part of diversified conglomerate,
Anglo-American Corporation (Amzim) and were placed under compulsory
acquisition by the government as part of the ongoing land redistribution
exercise.

Amzim group chief executive officer, James Maposa, said the company had
approached the government over the proposed expropriation of the sugar
estates.

He said the negotiations were mainly aimed at securing the de-listing of the
property from its current position where it has been issued with a Section 5
notice of acquisition by the Ministry of Lands.

"Hippo Valley Estates remain listed under a Section 5 Preliminary Notice of
Acquisition order. Representations are ongoing with the relevant authorities
to secure the de-listing of the estates," said Maposa.

He however said the company had increased its sugar production levels to
meet increased demand both locally and abroad.

He said the proposed increase in the European Union sugar quota would also
be met with the recent installation of a 300 000-tonne sugar production
plant at the estates.

"The company has installed machinery with a production capacity of 300 000
tonnes of sugar, sufficient to meet all its market requirements into the
foreseeable future," said Maposa.

He said the company had invested heavily in the estates with the
construction of the 20-megawatt turbo alternator for generation of power for
its production needs.

Maposa said the project had also managed to generate excess which was sold
to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority.

He said the power generation unit's capacity had increased to 30 million
units of power, which will also be sold to the local power utility.

"The company has sufficient capacity to generate 30 million units of power

for sale to Zesa annually," said Maposa.

Hippo Valley Estates joins a growing list of local companies such as
Mashonaland Holdings, Ariston Holdings and Interfresh that have appealed
against the proposed compulsory acquisition of their properties by
government.
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Zim Independent

Dispute resolution: RBZ on right course
Dr Alex T Magaisa
THE recent decision by the Reserve Bank Zimbabwe (RBZ) and the Law Society
of Zimbabwe (LSZ) to suspend legal proceedings in the dispute over
money-laundering legislation is a welcome development and hopefully the
beginning of a more positive approach both in the law-making process and
dispute resolution. At the beginning of the year, the LSZ sued the RBZ among
other parties, challenging the constitutionality of certain provisions of
the Bank Use Promotion and Suppression of Money Laundering Act (2004). These
provisions required lawyers, among other designated persons, to perform
reporting requirements that would effectively make them investigators and
prosecutors against their own clients. In a previous article in this column,
I argued that important as it is to comply with international standards in
efforts to curtail money laundering, legislation to that effect must not
affect fundamental rights and should not negatively interfere with the
professional relationship between lawyers and clients.

In this article, I argue that it is vital for the RBZ as a public regulator
and policy-maker to engage in comprehensive consultative processes with key
stakeholders before promoting key policies and laws. I also argue that the
RBZ ought to avoid litigation as much as possible and it is vital to pursue
amicable settlements with affected stakeholders so as to concentrate on its
core business.

One of the critical tenets of the law-making process is that it should be
done transparently and ideally those that make laws should engage in
consultation with the relevant stakeholders. However, very often laws are
made by the executive arm of government and introduced to the public as an
expression of their "will", having passed through parliament.

In most African countries parliament has been an ineffective law-making
agent since it simply rubber-stamps laws that have been crafted by the
executive. The existence of parliament only serves to fulfil a role of
legitimising the will and purpose of the executive since the ruling party
often commands a majority and can easily ensure that legislation sails
through without much difficulty.

In the absence of debate, scrutiny and the necessary amendments by
parliament, legislators often betray the will of the people who elected them
into office. The end-product is not an expression of the people's will but
simply a voice of the executive.

In a situation where parliament is so ineffective, it is unsurprising that a
law such as the Bank Use Promotion and Suppression of Money Laundering Act
sailed swiftly through without much protest regarding its inadequacies or
its threats to the rights and values of citizens and key stakeholders.

The law seeks to comply with calls by international bodies such as the
Financial Action Task Force to establish minimum standards for the
prohibition of money-laundering. These laws have however been created and
defined not with the local Zimbabwean context in mind but to meet the
interests of mainly Western countries.

The law is simply adopted without critical assessment as to whether it meets
the needs and interests of concerned stakeholders within the Zimbabwean
context. The LSZ therefore made a legitimate challenge against this
uncritical adoption of these laws and it is useful that by agreeing to
settle out of court all parties recognise the legitimacy of the challenge
and also the need to have laws to curb money-laundering.

It is right therefore that the parties have now agreed to return to the
drawing

board to review the legislation with a view to coming up with a framework
that helps to fight money-laundering but also protecting the interests of
concerned stakeholders.

A critical lesson from this is that before laws are passed there must be
broad consultation among stakeholders. This is particularly the case where
laws have an impact on the economic landscape and human rights.

The market is a sensitive arena and the introduction of laws without
consulting key players might have negative effects on business. There is
nothing wrong with engaging in a consultative process to gather the views,
ideas and concerns of key stakeholders.

The process is likely to produce laws which stakeholders expect or at least
have had a reasonable opportunity to participate in their making and might
therefore reduce the level of unnecessary opposition and disputes which
eventually spill into the courts of law. Such laws are likely to reflect the
interests and needs of the local community.

In light of the cases currently before the courts, the RBZ is probably
involved in more litigation than it has ever faced in a long time. There are
many reasons for this upsurge in litigation. It seems to me that one of the
reasons is that the laws under which it has been acting were rushed through
parliament and consequently have loopholes and do not reflect the input of
concerned stakeholders. Consequently, stakeholders dispute the basis upon
which certain actions are being undertaken. It may also be that the RBZ
itself is failing to work within the framework of its own laws.

In my view, an institution such as the RBZ should not be involved in too
much litigation. It not only reflects badly on its own and the country's
image, but on the business environment as well.

Major international rating agencies do not look at such litigation
favourably and consequently the competitiveness of business players may be
affected. It does not reflect well on the country's chief financial
regulator and monetary policy-maker.

In addition, it will leave precedents that might in future make the work of
the RBZ very difficult. The central bank of any nation is an important and
revered institution which commands respect. In most countries it is highly
unusual to sue the central bank and the central banks themselves endeavour
to conduct themselves in ways that do not expose them to litigation.

There are also various mechanisms to resolve disputes which can be used.
However, when the central bank begins to face numerous legal proceedings
from all angles, it not only reflects a lack of confidence by stakeholders
but also demonstrates that there is something wrong about the way it is
handling things.

In my view, the RBZ should take a self-critical look at its operations and
the way it has gone about handling this crisis. If there are any loopholes
they can be sorted and as it has begun to do in respect of money-laundering
laws, there can be reviews to ensure that the laws are properly drafted and
reflect the needs of the stakeholders. Acting arbitrarily and aggressively
will only lead to disgruntlement and litigation will ultimately cause more
delays in its work and attempts to resolve the crisis will face obstacles.
In addition, the attention and resources of the RBZ are diverted to deal
with litigation and image-cleansing instead of focussing on key policy and
supervisory duties that it is by law obliged to perform.

If the agreements to suspend litigation involving Time Bank and LSZ are
correct, then the RBZ is beginning to adopt the right steps. It does not
need to be involved in too much litigation and must try to cultivate a
respectable image. It has to demonstrate a willingness to do so by engaging
stakeholders in policy and legislative making processes. And it must ensure
that it abides by its own laws otherwise it will continue to face protests
that will further damage its standing and the reputation of the economic
system.

In conclusion, a few lessons can be learnt from this scenario. Firstly, the
law-making process should be broad-based and inclusive of key stakeholders
to enable the proper representation of views and interests. This is
particularly important in areas that affect economic policy and fundamental
rights of citizens.

Secondly, public authorities should acknowledge their mistakes when they are
challenged in order to clear the way for a review of legislation and
policies to reflect the interests of the affected stakeholders.

Thirdly, public authorities should endeavour to abide by the demands of the
law to avoid unnecessary litigation.

The fourth lesson is that litigation is not in the interests of public
authorities such as the RBZ whose respectability must be maintained at all
times.

Finally, it will have been learnt that there are other better ways of
resolving the current disputes without necessarily being dragged to the
courts of law by disgruntled parties. In pursuing out-of-court settlements,
the RBZ has begun to take the right steps and one hopes that the many cases
of legal action and related threats can be dealt with in similar fashion so
that the real business of economic development can begin in earnest.

*Dr Alex T Magaisa is the Baker & Mckenzielecturer in corporate law at The
University of Nottingham. Contact at alex.magaisa@nottingham.ac.uk
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Zim Independent

Letters

Complaints against Zesa genuine

NUMEROUS articles on Zesa which appeared in the press in recent weeks have
been some eye-openers. But the most interesting of them was the one written
by Obert Nyatanga, general manager of corporate affairs for the power
utility.

Like one Mwanawevhu, who wrote the article "Zesa in a state of paralysis" in
a Daily Mirror issue published sometime in February, I am a Zesa employee
and would like to qualify that aspect.

Many people are given to believing that those writing to the press are
junior unschooled employees who are frustrated because of their failure to
rise up the corporate ladder.

I am a holder of a BSc electrical engineering degree from the University of
Zimbabwe, having passed Advanced levels with 3 Bs and am a registered
chartered engineer. So, in the field of electrical engineering, I am as
qualified as they come.

Now, to the subject matter. Everything that employees are complaining about
through the press is as true as saying the Victoria Falls lies on the
Zambezi River.

There is no denying that because it is a fact that can be proved, and only a

fool can try to argue otherwise.

This is the sort of predicament that Nyatanga finds himself in; trying to
defend the indefensible. All he does, like a poor goat in a fight, is to
expose his rear for all to see.

He is one of those few enjoying and benefiting from the confusion reigning
supreme at Zesa.

All you need to do in order to confirm his confusion is read the Chronicle
of February 14 in which he launches a tirade against Reserve Bank governor
Dr Gideon Gono.

His beef with the central bank boss is that Zesa has been denied permission
to raise tariffs to a cost-recovery level while the central bank argues that
such an increase would frustrate the country's economic turnaround strategy.

It is true that the obtaining tariff regime is sub-economic just as it is
equally true that raising the tariffs will provoke a chain
price-increase-reaction that will be hard to contain.

Instead of sanctioning tariff increases, the central bank has said it will
give the utility $1,7 trillion. Economic decisions in Zimbabwe, like
everywhere else in Africa, are not driven by economic fundamentals alone.
They are informed to a very large measure by the prevailing political
situation. Wish Nyatanga knew! Who else but him ought to know this better?

Attacking Gono is as suicidal as taking poison hoping one's neighbour will

die instead.

Had he been working for a private sector organisation, Nyatanga would have
been shown the exit in a huff with all the contempt he deserves following
that attack on the RBZ governor.

Fortunately for him, and unfortunately for Zimbabwe and its economy,
parastatals do not punish one for mediocrity hence their chronic paralysis
as Mwanawevhu points out.

A few weeks ago Nyatanga granted a Herald scribe an interview. Half the
questions he did not have answers to because he lacked the technical
knowledge.

But to all intents and purposes, the questions could well have been answered
so eloquently by a third-year apprentice.

All Nyatanga was supposed to do was ask someone with knowledge to provide
the answers that would in turn be passed on to the press. That is how it is
supposed to be. This idea of wanting to hog the limelight reflects
narrow-mindedness. Now how more wrong does he want to get before you can say
"it's enough"?

I personally do not mind if the three musketeers - Obert Nyatanga, Dr Sydney
Gata, the executive chairman and corporate secretary Timothy Sain, keep
bungling quietly like they have always done.

I take great exception if one of them tries to go public to defend the
indefensible like what Nyatanga has done. Remember that if you live in a
glass house you should desist from throwing stones, lest the inevitable
happens.

Zesa is currently faced with a monumental human resources crisis following
the indiscriminate engagement of loss control officers mostly from Chipinge.

This is one crisis that will cause a strike at Zesa and the writing is on
the wall. Most of the them are illiterate and were placed in Grade B3 meant
for junior clerks who hold at least 5 "O" level passes.

Finances at Zesa are a shambles. Tel*One are owed close to $300 million in
unpaid telephone bills for Marondera and Mutoko offices and these have since
been disconnected.

They are owed a further $1,7 billion in unpaid postage charges. Now how does
the executive chairman expect the company to collect oustanding money when
customers are not receiving their bills?

I call upon the authorities to set up another commission of enquiry like
they did in the 80's and re-fire Gata.

For the record, Gata was fired for incompetence and corruption following the
Justice Smith Commission of enquiry into the operations of Zesa.

How he managed to come back through the back door is a mystery. Please save
us from evil!

Another Engineer,

Harare.
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Zim Independent

Letters

ZOU's present to Mugabe a joke of the year

THE recent conferment of a doctorate in agriculture on President Mugabe by
the Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) must be the joke of the year.

Truly, there was a time when President Mugabe deserved such an award,
especially in the early 1980s when his government successfully put in place
programmes which transformed the previously underutilised peasant sector
into one of the most productive sectors of agriculture.

These were the years when Zimbabwe became the breadbasket of the region and
the continent and everybody, including international organisations like the
UN, acknowledged this by bestowing on him numerous prizes for his
contribution to sustainable development and the fight against hunger and
starvation.

However, at the moment, whatever reasons are given, Zimbabwe's agriculture
has ceased to be productive. For the past two to three years the country has
been importing grain from countries like South Africa and India to support
its hungry population.

Ironically, even President Mugabe himself in his acceptance speech
acknowledged that there were too many unproductive farmers and the country
has become a basket case.

To quote him verbatim: "Most of the new farmers given land by the government
under its resettlement programme were 'telephone farmers', those for whom
the farms are weekend braai resorts and the country needed to ensure that it
has sufficient food stocks and to regain its lost position as the
breadbasket of the region."

How then does President Mugabe deserve a doctorate in agriculture? He has
given land to the people but success in agriculture is not just measured
through the amount of farms distributed. It is measured against
productivity.

In my view, this was either madness or mischief on the part of both ZOU
Council chairman Tafataona Mahoso, the institution's Vice-Chancellor
Primrose Kurasha and all those involved in organising this event.

If I did not know Mahoso better, I would have thought the doctorate was a
birthday present meant to embarrass the president on his 81st birthday: an
event meant to parade the emperor in his naked state.

John Chakona,

South Africa.
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Zim Independent

No joy for Bennett
Eric Chiriga
HIGH Court Judge Justice Bharat Patel yesterday dismissed with costs
Chimanimani MP, Roy Bennett's application for early release from prison.

"The application fails on all the three grounds proffered by the applicant
as warranting his early release from imprisonment," Justice Patel said.

He also ruled that Bennett's prison term would not automatically end when
the current parliament, which convicted him, dissolves on March 30.

He said Bennett may be granted but was not entitled as a right to one-third
remission of his sentence under section 109 of the Prisons Act.

Bennett had applied to the court seeking an order directing his release from
prison forthwith or within 12 hours of the granting of the order.

Alternatively, Bennett sought an order for his release on March 30, 2005
being the date of dissolution of the present parliament.

Justice Patel said Bennett's term of imprisonment was not curtailed or
affected by Section 63(8) of the constitution which deals with dissolution
of parliament.

He added that the provisions of section 32 of the Privileges, Immunities and
Powers of Parliament Act do not govern Bennett's term of imprisonment and as
such it will not automatically terminate upon the dissolution of parliament
on March 30, 2005.

Bennett is presently incarcerated at Mutoko Prison following the imposition
of a one-year sentence by parliament last October.

He was charged with contempt of parliament after he assaulted fellow
legislator Patrick Chinamasa.
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