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ANC to army: Back off!

FinGaz

Rangarirai Mberi News Editor

SOUTH Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) has urged Zimbabwe's
security forces to respect the outcome of polls next week, even as the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) refused to condemn the utterances of
defence chiefs that threaten the credibility of the elections.

And President Robert Mugabe's decision on Monday to invoke presidential
powers to amend electoral laws, so that police can be allowed into polling
stations, will also be seen as a fresh assault on agreements reached in
talks mediated by South Africa.
Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander Constantine Chiwenga, Police Commissioner
General Augustine Chihuri and Paradzayi Zimondi, the head of Zimbabwe
Prisons Services, have said they will not accept any result except one in
which President Mugabe is the winner.
They said they would never salute either of the two main opposition
challengers, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai
or former finance minister Simba Makoni, saying they were "British stooges"
and "puppets".
Zimondi's statement was the most theatric. He said he would lock himself
away at his farm and take up arms to defend his land, which he believes will
be threatened under a new government.
These threats have caused alarm in the region, which had hoped for free and
fair elections in Zimbabwe, where the continuing political crisis has
centred on disputed election results since 2000.
It is against this background that the ANC has urged the defence chiefs to
respect the outcome of elections at the end of this month.
"The ANC urges all institutions of state in Zimbabwe, and in particular the
security forces, to remain non-partisan and to respect the outcome of the
elections," the ANC said in a statement.
The opposition has deplored the leading role of the military in Zimbabwe's
elections. Former and serving military personnel also head key state
institutions.
South Africa has led a regional effort over the past year to get ZANU-PF and
the MDC to agree on political reforms. Although the talks resulted in
constitutional reforms that both parties said were the basis for the holding
of free elections, the opposition says ZANU-PF has reneged on most of the
agreements, leaving the electoral field tilted in its favour.
Last week, South Africa's deputy foreign affairs minister, Aziz Pahad, said
Zimbabwe could not afford yet another disputed election, as this would only
prolong the country's political and economic crisis.
But even as South Africa raised concerns over the threats by the security
forces, ZEC chairman George Chiweshe - himself an ex-army officer - said the
commission would not condemn these utterances because speaking out "would be
going beyond the mandate of ZEC."


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Outrage over last-minute tinkering with election law

FinGaz

Njabulo Ncube Political Editor

CRITICS have reacted with outrage to President Robert Mugabe's last minute
tweaking of electoral laws just days ahead of elections.

The changes allow police officers access into polling booths, from where
they had been banned under laws agreed with the opposition.
The police will help the physically handicapped to cast their votes, under
regulations made by President Mugabe through the Presidential Powers
(Temporary Measures) (Amendment of Electoral Act) (No. 2) Regulations, 2008
on Monday.
Government opponents and critics see the changes as a negation of the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) guidelines and principles for
conducting democratic elections in the region.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), an independent election
monitoring body, says the last minute change to electoral laws severely
undermines the credibility of the polls.
ZESN chairperson Noel Kututwa said the changes were made unilaterally
without consultation and agreement of other parties.
Kututwa said: "The recent announcement that the electoral regulations have
been unilaterally changed to require police officers to be inside polling
stations could undermine public confidence that their vote is their secret.
"Further, voters requiring assistance to cast their ballots should be able
to designate a person of their choice to help them mark their ballot. This
announcement effectively reverses important electoral reforms that were only
gazetted in January 2008 ".
Observers say the decision to have police officers based 100 metres away
from polling stations would have been an important measure to enhance public
confidence in the secrecy of their vote.
Deploying police officers inside polling stations is in contravention of
Article 2.1.1 of the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic
Elections.
Regarding assisted voting, due to illiteracy, physical handicaps or old age,
the principle of "equal opportunity to exercise the right to vote and be
voted for" as enshrined in Article 2.1.6 of the guidelines, requires that a
voter should be free to select a person of their own choice to help them
mark their ballot.
Allowing voters this choice "is not burdensome to the electoral process and
will enhance accountability and public confidence in the process", the
guidelines say.
The opposition has called for an immediate withdrawal of these measures, and
charges that ZANU-PF has already been abusing the law by telling rural
voters the police would assist them put the "X" against President Robert
Mugabe's and other ruling party candidates' names.
Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the Morgan Tsvangirai faction of the MDC, said
his party would today lodge an urgent court application against the change
of rules.
"We have instructed our lawyers to challenge these particular changes, which
permit the police to rig the elections on behalf of ZANU-PF," said Chamisa.
But the Arthur Mutambara faction of the MDC said it saw nothing wrong with
the changes.
"In fact it did not make sense for the police to be 100 metres away," said
spokesman Gabriel Chaibva. "We also don't see anything wrong with police
assisting the physically handicapped to cast their votes. It makes sense
that the police be inside the polling station, not outside, to maintain law
and order."


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Report paints grim picture of health sector

FinGaz

Shame Makoshori Staff Reporter

A NEW report on staffing levels within Zimbabwe's crumbling healthcare
system paints a dire picture of the impact of the brain drain, with vacancy
rates for crucial skills in hospitals as high as 70 percent.

More than 3 500 nurses and 969 doctors had left government health
institutions by September 2007 after the health professionals intensified
their hunt for better opportunities in the region and abroad, a report
prepared by the Nurses Council of Zimbabwe (NCZ) says.
Statistics in the report show there were 3 502 vacancies for nurses and 969
vacant posts for doctors at the end of last year.
The health sector report gives an insight into the devastating impact of the
skills flight from Zimbabwe.
The NCZ document, prepared by the Directorate of Human Resources and
entitled "Programme Performance 2008", shows an escalating crisis that has
not only weighed heavily on service delivery in state health institutions,
but has compromised the quality of health professionals graduating from
training institutions.
"Out of a total of 1 761 doctors on the whole approved establishment, 792
were in post as at September 2007, reflecting a vacancy rate of 46 percent,"
the report says.
However, crucially, most of this existing staff consists of trainees.
"It should be noted, as in most categories, that the figures of those in
post are significantly boosted by the medical cadet. Head of departments and
consultants show high vacancy rates of 74 percent and 73 percent
respectively."
The report says the positions of department heads and consultants are
critical, "as they are also responsible for the training of other doctors.
With such vacancy rates, the quality of the graduating trainee could be
jeopardized."
Environmental Health Services had a relatively high overall vacancy rate of
51 percent. The report said there were no (Environmental Health Technician)
EHT tutors, water safety, sanitation and waste managers, port health
managers and environmental health training officers(100 percent vacancy
rate).
NCZ president Clara Nondo said this week that as a result of the exodus of
qualified and experienced health professionals, training institutions are
under increased strain because they have to increase intakes to cover the
gap.
The council's figures showed a worsening health worker to patient population
ratios, as well as the plummeting quality of service due to the loss of
experienced and qualified health workers.
Out of the required four radiation protection staff required in government,
there were two in September 2007, while out of the required 459
radiographers, there were only 261.
The government required 578 pharmacists, but only 332 posts were filled
during this period, leaving 246 vacancies.
The Public Service required a 35 285 staff complement to operate
efficiently, but as at September 2007, only 26 347 posts were occupied,
leaving about 9 000 staff vacancies.
The low staffing levels are a result of a deepening economic crisis that has
rendered the Zimbabwe dollar worthless, making monthly salaries meaningless
to professionals.
Last year, a parliamentary committee heard that Zimbabwe's road network was
crumbling because there was not a single civil engineer left in government.
An estimated three million Zimbabweans are believed to be working outside
the country, with 37 percent of these in the United Kingdom, 35 percent in
Botswana, five percent in South Africa and 3.4 percent estimated to be in
Canada.
With the country's inflation rate at more than 100 000 percent, the brain
drain is expected to accelerate as the quality of life deteriorates further
in tandem with real incomes.
Researchers said this week the brain drain is also being driven by high
taxation, shortages of basic commodities, shrinking personal freedoms and
rights, pessimistic views about the future and poor economic and political
policies that have destroyed the middle class.


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Secret talks split MDC: Tsvangirai

FinGaz

Staff Reporter

MORGAN Tsvangirai has claimed secret talks between Welshman Ncube and
Emmerson Mnangagwa were at the centre of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) split in 2005.

Tsvangirai made the allegation in an interview with South African radio
station Talk Radio 702 this week.
He claimed to have minutes of meetings between Ncube and members of a
ZANU-PF faction led by Mnangagwa, the governing party's legal secretary, who
is also Rural Housing and Amenities Minister.
A row over participation in the Senate elections in 2006 had widened the
rift, but Tsvangirai said the "majority of our people are not aware" of a
dispute over Ncube's negotiations with the ZANU-PF faction.
"After the elections in March, they began negotiating with a faction of
ZANU-PF, the so-called Tsholotsho group - Mnangagwa, Jonathan Moyo and
Pearson Mbalekwa, etc.
"There is confirmation of this, we have minutes of these meetings. They
began negotiations for a third force. To us, this was a betrayal of the MDC
agenda. When this failed in September, a month later, there was the split,"
Tsvangirai said.
Moyo, ironically, is now a key Tsvangirai ally.
According to Tsvangirai, participating in the Senate elections would have
been to "depart from our strategic position of opposition to piecemeal
constitutional amendments", as the upper house had been provided for by the
17th amendment.
Tsvangirai maintained that support for Simba Makoni by his rivals in the MDC
was a continuation of their "collaboration with ZANU-PF".
"Those same former MDC leaders are now in collaboration with ZANU-PF by
endorsing Makoni," he charged.
Despite his opposition to any accommodation with ZANU-PF, Tsvangirai told
the radio station he would be ready to forge a united government with his
opponents should he win elections next week.
"Even if I were to get 95 percent (of the vote), my role is transitional,
from an undemocratic society to a democratic society.
"My role is transitional. In order to have that soft landing, we will need
all forces to have confidence in the country, there's no way we can
stabilise the country (without doing so).
"As far as I am concerned, I will happily form, a whatever government of
national unity or national government, that will see this country moving
forward," Tsvangirai said.
A recent private poll put Tsvangirai ahead of President Robert Mugabe in the
election, with Simba Makoni coming in a distant third.
But the pollsters said a large proportion of respondents were either
undecided or declined to reveal their preferences.


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Makoni advert: Heads roll at Zimpapers Bulawayo branch

FinGaz

Charles Rukuni Bureau Chief

BULAWAYO - Heads are rolling at the Bulawayo branch of Zimbabwe Newspapers,
publishers of the Chronicle and Sunday News, over an advertisement by
independent presidential candidate Simba Makoni.

Two production department employees have been suspended and the editor of
the Sunday News, Paul Mambo, was summoned to head office in Harare because
the advertisement quoted a story carried by his paper.
The general manager of the branch, Sithembile Ncube, confirmed the
suspension of two employees but insisted that this had nothing to do with
the advertisement. She said the action was taken because they had not
followed certain procedures.
The advertisement in question was published in the Chronicle of March 13. It
quoted from a story published in the Sunday News of March 9 2008, which was
headlined: "Dr Makoni backers asked to leave ZANU-PF".
The advertisement included an excerpt that said: "The Governor and Resident
Minister for Matabeleland South province, Cde Angeline Masuku, told the
President that the province was facing food shortages because they received
seed and fertilizers late and that their farming activities were affected by
the dry spell that followed.
"She said private transporters were refusing to haul food to remote parts of
the province due to poor roads among other issues."
The advertisement said in big, bold letters: "We have failed" - (President)
Robert Mugabe, at the launch of the ZANU-PF manifesto 2008.
Sources said it was this line, saying "We have failed" - (President) Robert
Mugabe, that led to the suspension of Milidzi Khupe the assistant production
manager and a colleague, Zenzo Ngwenya.
Sources said there was an unwritten rule at Zimpapers that advertisements
from opposition parties must be cleared by the editor before they are
published.
Under the Southern African Development Community Principles and Guidelines
Governing Democratic Elections adopted in August 2004, all political parties
must have equal access to state media. Although Zimpapers is a public
company, the government is the majority shareholder.
Sources said Khupe did not see the advertisement in question before he
knocked off. When Ngwenya arrived, they said, he let the advertisement
through because he thought it had been cleared.
Ngwenya and Khupe are reported to have been suspended on Monday on
instructions from the Zimpapers head office in Harare after management in
Bulawayo had refused to suspend them.
Zimpapers chief executive Justin Mutasa and group human resources manager
Herbert Simemeza were both reported to be out of their offices when The
Financial Gazette phoned to seek confirmation.
Ncube, however, confirmed the suspensions but said this was not because of
the content of the advertisement but "over the procedure of accepting
adverts".
"In every system, there are procedures," she said. "These were not followed
in this case."
The editor of the Sunday News, Paul Mambo, declined to comment, referring
all questions to Mutasa.
Makoni is battling it out with President Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai of the
Movement for Democratic Change and another independent candidate, Langton
Towungana, in elections next week.


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All that glitters is not gold, so Govt officials discovered

FinGaz

Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter

IT was not just refined diesel, but processed gold as well that government
officials were led to believe lay below the Maninga hills in Chinhoyi.

The government faced acute embarrassment last year after its most senior
officials were taken for a ride by n'anga Rotina Mavhunga, by convincing
them she had discovered refined diesel at Maningwa hills.
Now, it turns out, the officials also incredibly believed the hills were
stacked with processed gold.
Mavhunga appeared in court yesterday seeking bail following her
incarceration over her extravagant claims that she had discovered refined
diesel in a hill.
Although this would be absurd to many, she easily duped the government into
giving her a farm, foodstuffs and a $5 billion cash windfall.
Court documents show that in a briefing to Cabinet last year, deputy police
commissioner general Godwin Matanga, who led a "diesel taskforce" to
Chinhoyi, indicated that Mavhunga had also discovered pure gold.
"My team and I were led to various places in Chinhoyi and Guruve where the
spirit medium claimed she had discovered processed gold.
"The gold had already been taken to Maningwa hills with the help of war
veterans to await handover to the head of state of the Republic of Zimbabwe,
Cde RG Mugabe," Matanga told ministers.
In court yesterday, state prosecutor Chris Mtangadura opposed the granting
of bail to Mavhunga.
The spirit medium argued that a Chinhoyi magistrate erred in denying her
bail last month.
She said in its decision to deny her bail, the court relied entirely on
state allegations that she had made strenuous efforts to "evade justice"
when no evidence was presented.
During Mavhunga's bail hearing last month, a police officer testified that
Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede, who allegedly shielded Mavhunga from
arrest, manhandled policeman who were detaining the n'anga.
On her part, Mavhunga claimed she was denied food and water while in
custody.
The state alleges that the spirit medium committed the offences between
April 2006 and July 2007.


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AG's office hit by critical staff shortage

FinGaz

Staff Reporter

THE Attorney General (AG)'s office faces a critical staff shortage and has
100 vacancies for the prosecutors to fill, a report by government's law
office said this week.

The report explains the circumstances surrounding the postponement of a
number of cases that include the murder case involving Jephias Mavangira,
husband to High Court judge, Justice Susan Mavangira.
"As earlier indicated in this report, there is a critical shortage of staff,
which needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
"Right now there are 100 vacancies for law officers and prosecutors in the
office," the report says.
It adds that the deputy AG (Criminal Division), Johannes Tomana, is about to
conclude a tour of all prosecuting stations nationwide to assess the scale
of the crisis and see what improvements can be made to make the justice
delivery system more efficient.
The report also says the AG's office is considering incentives to enable it
to retain staff.
The report also highlights the reason why a number of criminal cases set
down for hearing the High Court between January 28 and February 25 could not
begin.
"In the matter of State vs Jephias Mavangira set for the 14th of January
2008, trial did not commence as the prosecutor who was assigned to deal with
this matter recused himself at the last minute and there was not enough time
to allocate the matter to anothe officer for the trial to commence.
"This matter was postponed sine die. Witnesses were present," the report
says.
In January, The Financial Gazette reported that the complainant in the
matter had lodged the matter with the presidency, accusing Tomana of having
irregularly withdrawn the case.
The report also shows that other criminal cases could not proceed as there
was no fuel to bring accused persons to court or bus companies refusing to
accept travel vouchers given to witnesses.


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Polls to test SADC commitment to democracy

FinGaz

Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
Political tolerance remains a pipe dream, hate language, intimidation the
hallmark of the ZANU-PF campaign
JOAO de Miranda, head of the SADC observer mission to the elections to be
held next weekend, said the polls would be a key test of the region's
commitment to free and fair elections.

And South Africa's deputy foreign affairs minister, Aziz Pahad, says
Zimbabwe could not afford another disputed poll outcome, saying, "I don't
think it's possible for Zimbabweans to sustain the level of political
tensions and economic crisis that they are undergoing at the moment."
According to SADC: "The development of the principles and guidelines
governing democratic elections aims at enhancing the transparency and
credibility of elections and democratic governance as well as ensuring the
acceptance of election results by all contesting parties."
Today, the Financial Gazette gives Zimbabwe's report card on compliance so
far with regional norms on elections.
lSADC requires "full participation of the citizens in the political process,
freedom of association and political tolerance."
Although violence is reportedly down from previous elections, incidents of
political violence continue, with some going to court.
Rights group, ZimRights, has accused the Minister of Policy Implementation,
Webster Shamu, of setting up bases in Chegutu from where youths harass
opposition activists. Shamu has not responded to the accusation.
Zimbabwe also denies citizens living outside the country the right to vote.
The Zimbabwean diaspora is widely estimated at three million. Political
tolerance remains a pipe dream, with hate language and intimidation being
the hallmark of the ZANU-PF campaign. ZANU-PF also denies food aid and farm
equipment to villagers suspected of supporting the opposition. Villagers are
also being forced to attend ZANU-PF rallies countrywide.
lRegular intervals for elections as provided for by the respective national
constitutions
Elections in Zimbabwe have been held regularly, but in the latest case there
was an attempt to postpone the polls to 2010. In a speech marking his 84th
birthday in February, President Robert Mugabe said the plan had been opposed
by, among others, South Africa.
lEqual opportunity for all political parties to access the state media
Although state media is now covering the MDC and independent candidate Simba
Makoni, ZANU-PF continues to receive by far the widest coverage. In its
latest report, the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe reports that in
February, ZANU-PF got a total 202 minutes on news bulletins on the ZBC.
The MDC got only nine minutes, while Makoni had 26 minutes, but much of the
coverage on him was to allow ZANU-PF officials to malign his decision to
stand for President.
And while the ZBC now flights adverts and interviews for all candidates,
radio presenters are being compelled to play, at frequent intervals,
pro-ZANU-PF songs recorded especially for the campaign.
This is in addition to news coverage and ZANU-PF's own campaign jingles.
There has only been token coverage of the opposition at Zimpapers.
lEqual opportunity to exercise the right to vote and be voted for
The opposition has protested against a decision by the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC), to allocate fewer polling stations to urban areas than in
rural areas.
In many urban districts, voters may fail to vote, as there are too few
stations to accommodate all registered voters in the event there was a large
turnout.
The "right to be voted for" also appears lost on ZANU-PF and government
institutions. State media have mounted a relentless campaign to discredit
Makoni, not for his policy positions, but merely for challenging President
Mugabe, even when this is a right guaranteed by the constitution.
lIndependence of the judiciary and impartiality of the electoral
institutions
ZEC is still not as independent as government claims. President Mugabe still
appoints members of the commission.
l Voter education
Independent groups, such as the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, have been
barred from conducting voter education, even though the ZEC's own programme
has been desperately inadequate.
l Acceptance and respect of the election results by political parties
proclaimed to have been free and fair by the competent National Electoral
Authorities in accordance with the law of the land.
The country's defence force chiefs have come out in public to say they would
not accept any other outcome apart from President Mugabe's win.
Defence Forces chief Constantine Chiwenga, police commissioner general
Augustine Chihuri and Paradzayi Zimondi, the head of the prison services,
have issued threats they would not accept a victory by the opposition. Any
other leader apart from President Mugabe was a "sellout", and they would not
salute him, they said. Zimondi has "ordered" his officers to vote for
President Mugabe and ZANU PF.
lNon-discrimination in the voters' registration and existence of updated and
accessible voters roll
The MDC has mounted a failed bid to have ZEC release an electronic copy of
the voters' roll.
The parlous state of the voters' roll is revealed in a separate High Court
application by MDC MP Trudy Stevenson seeking to compel ZEC to provide her
with an electronic copy of the Mount Pleasant voters' roll. The roll throws
up names of the dead.
"I have noticed that Desmond William Lardner-Burke is listed as a
voter.Desmond William Lardner-Burke was minister of Law and Order under Ian
Smith, and I cannot believe that he is still alive and residing in Mount
Pleasant," Stevenson says in her court papers.
lTimeous announcement of the election date
The MDC say it was ambushed by the president's announcement of March 29 as
the election date, when the issue was still under discussion under SADC
initiated talks.
The opposition says that the announcement signaled the collapse of the
talks. In a recent opinion piece in the Australian and South China Post
newspapers, MDC founding legal secretary David Coltart writes:
"The fact that the elections are called for March 29 gives a clue as to the
absurdity of President Mugabe's attempt to legitimise his brutal
dictatorship.

This date gives opposition parties scant time to organise and rally their
forces, a task already made almost impossible due to crackdowns on media
freedom and on public gatherings."
∑ The member state holding elections must establish impartial,
all-inclusive, competent and accountable national electoral bodies staffed
by qualified personnel, as well as competent legal entities including
effective constitutional courts to arbitrate in the event of disputes
arising from the conduct of elections

The contention that former state agents, including ex-army figures, still
occupy key positions in ZEC still remains.

∑ The member state must take all necessary measures and precautions to
prevent the perpetration of fraud, rigging or any other illegal practices
throughout the whole electoral process, in order to maintain peace and
security

At his rally in Highfields, Makoni accused ZANU PF of vote buying after some
civil servants found increased salaries in their accounts without notice.
Observers have also questioned government's monetary donations, some
amounting to $10 billion, farm equipment, civil servant salary hikes, food
donations, and promises of residential stands.

∑ Ensure the availability of adequate logistics and resources for carrying
out democratic elections

According to the latest pre-election update by ZESN, "a number of challenges
were faced during registration and processes. In some provinces, the absence
of adequate material was experienced as people wishing to register were
turned away as stationery was not available at the inspection centers.
In Harare, some people who refereed as voters were not given registration
slips and were asked to collect these from ZEC head office. This greatly
compromised their chances of voting since these people would be unable to
vote without these slips in the event that their names do not appear on the
voters roll on Election Day."
The Financial Gazette has also reported that the ZEC urgently needs $84
trillion to import generators to power polling stations. The ZEC is also
short of ground staff, and has plundered the civil service for staff.

∑ Ensure the transparency and integrity of the entire electoral process by
facilitating the deployment of representatives of political parties and
individual candidates at polling and counting stations and by accrediting
national and/other observers/monitors

The MDC has instructed its lawyers to mount a court challenge demanding that
ZEC give the number of postal voters, where they will come from and where
they will be cast in the face of secrecy on the matter.
Zimbabwe has invited SADC, Africa, parts of the Third World, and one
European country, Russia, to observe the polls.
But government has refused to accredit Western observers, as their countries
had "already pronounced themselves on the election".
This week, Information and Publicity Secretary George Charamba announced his
department and the secret service would screen hundreds of applications by
foreign journalists to cover the elections. Government sees foreign
journalists as undercover observers and secret agents of Western
governments.


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Power cuts deepen economic crisis

FinGaz

Shame Makoshori Staff Reporter

THE Zimbabwean economy is losing trillions of dollars through power outages,
which intensified this week and could reach alarming levels in the next few
months, industry players and commentators said.

The country plunged into a near-national blackout last week, hardly two
months after two nationwide blackouts hit the country in January after
systems disturbances on common electricity grid linking most of southern
African countries.
The systems disturbance had also plunged Zambia and parts of Botswana into
darkness.
However, Zimbabwe's electricity woes have been more pronounced than those of
its neighbours, including South Africa, which recently introduced load
shedding due to increasing power demand spurred by a growing economy.
Industry experts said at least 20 hours of production time was being lost
every week due to power outages since January.
Hardest hit are sectors like mining and agriculture, which have both
suffered immensely from a nine-year economic recession ravaging the country.
The mining industry is still compiling statistics to unravel the loses
incurred by the sector through the intensifying power shortages, said
Chamber of Mines chief executive officer, Joseph Malaba.
However, Malaba said the extent of the losses to the sector were high.
"In general, mines are affected by power cuts like everyone else. But you
will remember that 17 companies have signed an agreement with ZESA to import
power.
"The objective was to minimise disruption in the mines. We have not been
able to quantify the losses at this stage, but it is something that we are
working on now.
"We do not have global figures because mines' operational costs are
different from another," Malaba said.
Independent estimates put the losses in production time in the mining sector
at not less than 40 hours per week per mine. This translates into millions
of United States dollars.
Recent financial results from mining sector companies gave an indication of
the quantum of losses mining companies were picking up as a result of power
supply cuts to operations.
During the nine months to June 2007, Falgold reported that ZESA downtime
totalled 763 hours, an equivalent of production losses of over 700 ounces,
or revenue amounting to US$443 000.
Zimbabwe's mining industry is valued at more than US$20 billion.
A spokesman for a leading retail chain, Denford Mutashu, said the losses
that retailers incurred as a result of the power cuts were huge.
"The effects have been felt more on those products that depend on
refrigeration," he said.
There are fears that the escalating power cuts could significantly militate
against prospects for growth in the beleaguered economy.
Industrialists this week said they were already suffering from a plethora of
other problems such as foreign currency and spares shortages, fuel and
massive brain drain.
Captains of industry said it was difficult to quantify their losses in
monetary terms.
"Our calculations show that companies had been losing four hours of
production per day," said Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce economist,
Tichaona Mudzviti.
"This translates to about 20 hours per week. We assume that production has
gone down and capacity utilisation is at 20 percent in the formal sector.
"But you will find that the economy relies heavily on the informal sector,
the backyard businesses.
"These have also ground to a halt because the frequency of the power cuts
has escalated," Mudzviti said.
In some cases, companies were also failing to run payrolls because of
electricity shortages.
As a result, most were spending huge costs running generators, which gobbled
large amounts of diesel or petrol, also in short supply.
Experts said food-processing industries had also been among the sector's
hardest hit by the power shortages.
In a recent interview, Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president
Callisto Jokonya urged Zimbabwe to boost coal production to mitigate the
power supply crisis.
"What we need to do is make sure that coal production is returned to full
throttle, and with the other small generators we will be ok," Jokonya said.
Zimbabwe requires 1 500 megawatts of electricity daily and has been
importing 35 percent of this requirement from three regional power companies
in South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia.


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'Academic terrorist' lecturer sacked

FinGaz

Shame Makoshori Staff Reporter

PROGRESSIVE Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president and Great Zimbabwe
University history lecturer Takavafira Zhou has been fired after the
institution of higher learning labelled him an "academic terrorist".

The University also said Zhou's teaching and university service were
unsatisfactory.
Zhou, who leads Zimbabwe's most radical workers' union that has on several
occassions led anti-government strikes, has been teaching at Great Zimbabwe
University since 2004.
He has instituted legal action to challenge his dismissal.
Court documents obtained by The Financial Gazette this week indicate that
his four years at the university were stormy. Zhou has clashed with the
Great Zimbabwe University Vice Chancellor Obert Maravanyika on a number of
occasions, including an instance over allegations that he spearheaded a
strike at the university in 2006.
Attached to the court documents is a letter to the university's chairman,
Honour Mkushi, which was copied to President Robert Mugabe in his capacity
as Chancellor, in which Zhou alleged he had been victimised because he
failed a history student, Precious Chitapi.
In a December 2006 dossier alleging corruption within the University's
administration, Chitapi is cited as Maravanyika's "girlfriend", but
documents at hand identify her as a "relative" of the Vice Chancellor.
"University regulations have been changed and applied in retrospect merely
to benefit Precious," Zhou said in a letter dated February 29 2008.
"When she scored 39 percent in June 2007, regulations were changed at the
insistence of the VC (Vice Chancellor) to allow for supplementary
examinations in a semesterised system.
Her mark was raised to 40 percent to allow her to get into the supplementary
range. When she scored 47 percent and 42 percent in two history courses in
November 2007 and an external examiner confirmed that these were clear cases
of failure, the VC extremely got angry," Zhou alleges in the court documents
he has filed to challenge his dismissal, copies of which are in the
possession of this newspaper.
"What is baffling is the unwillingness of Precious to appeal using the
normal university procedure," Zhou says. He cites other cases, such as one
in which lecturers were allegedly victimised after a sociology candidate,
Hwicho Hwicho, who is alleged to be related to the VC, failed.
Zhou alleged the lecturers were obliged to "buy peace" by re-marking
examination scripts.
He alleged the "abuse of power" at Great Zimbabwe University had triggered a
staff exodus. Out of a possible staff complement of nine, the history
department only has four lecturers.
Zhou charged that Maravanyika's personal vendetta against him was rooted "in
his false belief that" Zhou was the brains behind a dossier in 2006 alleging
corruption in the university administration.
The document led to an extensive investigation by the Ministry of Higher and
Tertiary Education into the affairs of the university.
Maravanyika accused Zhou of saying and writing "bad things about President
Mugabe and himself."
"When I reminded him that, while I could talk of President Robert Mugabe in
the History of Zimbabwe since 1890 course, I could not figure out why I
would talk of an unknown figure in history by the name of Prof Maravanyika,
he was very angry," Zhou said.
"The VC called me an academic terrorist," he alleged.
Maravanyika on Tuesday denied the allegations, arguing Zhou was conducting
himself in an "unprofessional" manner to the extent that he fought students
in lectures and did not take arguments lightly.
"He had a scuffle with a student in class and he threatened to fail anybody
who reported the incident," Maravanyika said.
"Precious failed because Zhou suspected that she was reporting to me what
transpired in the history lessons. She is not my girlfriend, we are
†related."
Zhou has engaged Donsa-Nkomo Legal Practice to represent him in his fight to
win his job back.
On March 7 2008, the law firm wrote to Mkushi demanding that the university
reinstates Zhou, arguing his teaching records were excellent.


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Dealing with past human rights abuses

FinGaz

Wellington Mbofana

IT has been suggested on countless occasions that the reason President
Robert Mugabe and a number of his henchmen will not relinquish power is
because they are afraid of prosecution for genocide arising from
Gukurahundi, crimes against humanity emanating from such campaigns as
Murambatsvina and other gross human rights violations.

I am always fascinated to read or listen to debates on the emotive theme of
prosecution of perpetrators of human rights violations.
I must state from the outset that this article is not meant to critique
recent contributions or statements by some opposition leaders on the subject
but rather to broaden the debate on the emotive question of justice in
transitional societies.
Many commentators share the popular ethical and legalist view of human
rights organisations, which pushes for prosecution and punishment of those
guilty of certain crimes.
It is generally believed that such prosecution and the attendant punishment
will serve as a deterrent to future tyrants and warmongers as well as act as
a repository of collective memory for affected societies.
This position, which has in our time guided the prosecution of war crimes
and crimes against humanity, gained currency from the post World War II
Nuremberg and Tokyo trials where perpetrators of war crimes were subjected
to victors' justice.
While those who stood trial after the Second World War were powerless
individuals representing vanquished regimes that had lost their weapons,
tyrants in our contemporary times manage endemic systems that in most cases
are not uprooted at the time of "democratic" change.
It is very common for the security apparatus to be inherited with little
changes after negotiated or peaceful regime change. This means continued
influence of and allegiance to leaders of the different warring camps by
some pockets of the securocrats.
It is also not uncommon for ousted regimes to command some measure of
political support in the populace.
This means new governments would have to consider whether punishing war
criminals would not provoke an armed backlash or civil unrest at the same
time being mindful that perceived delays of justice would equally attract a
backlash. It's a dilemma!
Chilean activist, Jose Zalaquett, at one time chairperson of the
International Human Rights Internship Programme and member of the
International Commission of Jurists, identifies "balancing ethical
imperatives and political constraints" as the challenge of new democracies
faced with a brutal past of human rights violations.
Faced with such a dilemma, Max Weber suggests, in Politics, as a vocation
that "political leaders should be guided by ethics of responsibility as
opposed to the ethics of conviction".
The former suggests acting guided by the predictable consequences of one's
action and the later acting according to the law regardless of outcome!
While the two are different and may seem diametrically opposed, each
contains traces of the other though in smaller doses.
Some have argued that it is better to suffer longer under tyranny with the
hope of total victory than to make progress through conceding some
compromises. I am convinced such fundamentalist views are not raised by
those at the receiving end of the gross abuses.
Experience from post internecine conflict situations show that even with the
best political settlement, perpetrators of heinous crimes would still wield
political or military power or would still very much be entrenched in the
bureaucracy and other state institutions.
These could not be smoked out and the institutions overhauled overnight
without causing other problems. In any transition compromises are made.
Unfortunately when such decisions are made, the majority of citizens and the
victims are not consulted for they simply would vote with their emotions.
As argued above, in some cases the effects of threatening, let alone
pursuing those wielding power, are catastrophic.
Buoyed by a possible victory in the Zimbabwe 2002 presidential election, an
opposition party Member of Parliament was quoted as having made a populist
announcement that once their candidate secured the ticket to State House,
they would extend Chikurubi Maximum prison to accommodate perpetrators of
crimes against humanity and other gross human rights violations especially
from the top brass of the security forces.
Predictably, the security chiefs responded unequivocally and commonsensical
that that the presidency was a straight jacket and they were gatekeepers to
State House. In other words, they would not let go of power to go and rot in
Chikurubi! That killed the contest. With hindsight, perhaps some form of
accommodation and compromises with the establishment could have helped.
Unbelievably the same drama unfolded in 2008! It remains to be seen whether
the outcome will be different.
The Patriotic Front of the late Dr Joshua Nkomo and President Mugabe made a
lot of compromises at Lancaster. While many are apt to criticise the
nationalists' concessions on the land, the reserved seats, protection of
white minority interests etc, the truth is the leaders were confronted with
the challenge of balancing the ethical imperatives of justice and the
political constraints of dealing with their nemesis who still held enormous
power in the security forces, the bureaucracy and the economy!
South Africa had a similar dilemma and they sensibly chose to compromise
with the apartheid barons and their generals and gave in to what are
popularly known as the "Sunset clauses". They are countless other examples.
The cost of prosecuting some of the tyrants and perpetrators also poses an
ethical dilemma. In the case of Sierra Leone, the UN backed Tribunal/Special
Court was at inception estimated to require about US$4 billion. Similarly
the expenses in the trials of Slobodan Milosevic in The Hague, perpetrators
of the heinous Rwandan Genocide in Arusha, former Iraqi dictator Saddam
Hussein in Iraq etc, runs into billions of dollars.
In our modern and civilised world, even fallen tyrants and perpetrators of
the most dehumanising crimes have rights to a fair trial (presumed innocent
until proven guilty) and humane treatment at everyone's cost!
But the question is: Can't all the billions be used in rebuilding the lives
of those who, like the "bush wives" of Sierra Leone, survived barbarism of
the insurgents; the millions of Rwandese traumatised by the worst genocide
of our time; the millions of Iraqis stripped of their dignity and humanity
by torture and the millions of people in Yugoslavia who are still haunted by
the mere mention of the name of the fallen dictator, Slobo?
Justice as an end in dealing with past human rights abuses may be derived
through different means as perceived from the point of view of the
international community on one side and the victims on the other. To the
international community justice is attained through prosecution and
punishment of offenders while the victims may see justice as reparation and
prevention of recurrence. While in theory the two positions can be "mutually
inclusive" or merged, in practice as mentioned above, they are actually
mutually exclusive.
It remains practicable however, to find ways to disclose the full truth
about the past, remember the fallen, seek compensation for the victims of
the greatest abuses and deter recurrence. Truth and reconciliation
commissions, compensation funds and designation of special development areas
as well as memorials and memorialisation in post conflict areas across the
globe are attempts towards that.
Wellington Mbofana is a Harare-based writer


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Irrigation scheme's future under threat

FinGaz

Shame Makoshori Staff Reporter

THE future of one of Zimbabwe's biggest irrigation projects, Mushandike
Irrigation Scheme, is under threat following the Zimbabwe National Water
Authority's (ZINWA) decision to give water rights to independent
entrepreneurs .

The move seriously compromises the capacity of water storage facilities and
canals and other irrigation infrastructure due to increased demand, The
Financial Gazette heard this week.
Mushandike Irrigation Scheme has been supporting at least 800 farmers
resettled under dry land irrigation for close to three decades.
It was hailed as one of the most successful irrigation schemes in southern
Africa in the 1980s.
But the debilitating effects of the country's escalating economic crisis,
now entering its ninth year, have not spared the project.
Farmers at the scheme had been growing mainly horticultural crops and maize.
But documents indicate that this progress could be overturned by the latest
decision by government.
Documents seen by The Financial Gazette show that serious problems have hit
the scheme and the original beneficiaries of the project "risked hunger due
to the shortage of water in the irrigation scheme because of the unorthodox
act" of 13 more families, who have been imposed by politicians, and have
been granted the authority to use the water despite not having rights to it.
Original proprietors said politicians were "arm- twisting the authority
(ZINWA) to force their cause at the expense of the national agenda".
The dispute that has ensued has now resulted in holders of water rights
seeking recourse at the administrative courts in Masvingo, where they lodged
their papers in August last year. The farmers are seeking to bar the new
settlers who "shocked" them by "taking water outside the irrigation to
irrigate their dry land".
Last month, they took their protest to the Minister of Water Resources and
Infrastructure Development Munacho Mutezo and demanded his intervention to
save Mushandike.
"It is clear that the decision made by ZINWA is ill-advised and a danger to
the sustainability of Mushandike Irrigation Scheme," the letter to Mutezo
dated January 31 2008, reads.
The letter was written by Rodgers Matsikidze, a legal practitioner
representing the Mushandike Irrigation Scheme beneficiaries.
"The decision by ZINWA has seen infrastructure being destroyed, that is
roads, canals, and the surrounding fence. In essence, the irrigation scheme
is on the verge of collapse if such decisions are not reversed.
"Our clients believe that such a decision should have taken into
consideration that there is need to preserve the environment, need to have
the land surveyed and pegged for irrigation purposes, need to assess the
capability of the night water storage dams and canals to cope with the
increased water demand. In a nutshell, viability assessment was not done,"
said Matsikidze.
He said there was no doubt that ZINWA's approach to the issue of water
rights was "chaotic and counter productive".
The lawyers said they had been restraining the affected farmers from
demonstrating against ZINWA to avert violent clashes with the new farmers.


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Women seek to play bigger political role

FinGaz

Charles Rukuni Bureau Chief

BULAWAYO - It has been a silent campaign, largely ignored by the media,
apart from the advertisments that the organisation has published in the
media.

But the Women's Trust's "Women Can Do it" campaign could have a serious
bearing on who controls the next government if women candidates pull
through.
The campaign for next week's harmonised elections has focussed on the three
presidential aspirants who are all male, but the Women's Trust has not been
dissuaded by this. It still believes women can do it.
The trust, for example, argues that if all women candidates make it, they
would have a 50 percent representation in the House of Assembly. They would
constitute almost a third of the senate and 38 percent of local government
seats.
Parliament has been given more teeth under Constitutional Amendment Number
18, which means that women could have more say in government if they make
it.
"At 52 percent of the population, the power of numbers is on our side," the
trust says in its campaign, which is promoting women candidates without
looking at their political affiliation.
"With so many women already nominated and standing as candidates, the goal
post is in sight. We need to cross that finishing line with resounding
impact."
At first glance, the numbers are not impressive. Of the 1 958 candidates
contesting council seats, only 740 are women.
The situation seems worse in the House of Assembly where only 118 women out
of 710 candidates are contesting 210 seats. The senate battle looks much
healthier. There are 61 women candidates out of 196 contesting 60 seats.
But the trust seems quite happy.
"The two main objectives of our campaign were first to get more women to
stand as candidates and secondly to get people to vote for women
†candidates," Women's Trust campaign manager Lydia Mavengere said.
It achieved the first goal because there was a 49 percent increase in the
number of female candidates contesting parliamentary seats. Only 58 women
contested House of Assembly seats in 2005. A total of 919 women are
contesting the elections next week.
The trust will only know the impact of its campaign on the second goal when
the results are out.
But some observers say, the women's vote should not be ignored because it
cuts across political lines and could upset some party heavyweights if women
take heed of the campaign.
"It is in your interest to make sure that the woman standing as a candidate
in your constituency is elected," the campaign says.
Indeed women can do it, if they use their numbers.


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Domestic debt on upward flight

FinGaz

Dumisani Ndlela Business Editor

DOMESTIC debt has maintained its upward trajectory, hitting $1.6 quadrillion
during the first week of March as inflationary pressures continued to soar,
militating against any little prospects of an economic recovery in the
country.

The government's domestic debt stock was last week reported by this
newspaper to have touched $1.4 quadrillion at the end of February, from $60
trillion during the first week of February.
The debt had stood at $21 trillion at the start of the year.
Of the current government debt stock, $13 trillion is already outstanding, a
sign that the government's default risk is intensifying on the domestic
market.
Treasury bills (TBs), the most common debt instrument by the government,
account for $233 trillion of the current debt stock, with an interest charge
of $692 trillion.
The government has entirely depended on domestic sources to finance its
ever-increasing budget deficits, resulting in increased money printing.
Bilateral and multilateral financial institutions terminated balance of
payments support to the country over alleged human rights violations by
President Robert Mugabe's government, accused of rigging the 2002
presidential election to retain power.
The latest figure appears to suggest the enlargement of the government's
appetite for funds as the ruling party battles to retain power on the March
29, 2008 elections.
The government is facing increasing expenditure pressures emanating mainly
from escalating inflation, which recently touched 100 580.2 percent
year-on-year for December 2007, a world record for a country not at war.
The inflation rate is projected to have touched fresh records in the months
of January and February.
The pressure on expenditure appears to have also been stoked by a hugely
expensive election scheduled for the end of this month, which has forced the
government to scramble for cash to placate a restive electorate and civil
service.
President Robert Mugabe announced at one of his campaign rallies that he had
signed a fresh salary schedule for civil servants to stem a work boycott by
teachers and other civil servants.
The effect of this fresh unbudgeted measure would be to bloat the government's
salary bill and push expenditure way higher that forecasts made in the 2008
national budget, which has greatly suffered from escalating costs of goods
and services rising beyond projections.
The Financial Gazette reported last week that the electoral machinery was
gobbling huge sums of money ahead of harmonised elections scheduled for
March 29, 2008.
Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi allocated $209 trillion for the 2008
elections, saying this would fund personnel costs, vehicle procurement and
other election related costs.
However, indications are that the election could now cost in excess of $1
quadrillion to be implemented.
Assuming there is a run-off, as widely projected by political analysts in
the event that non of the four presidential candidates secures a 51 percent
majority, more expenditure would be required to oil the election machinery.
Political scientist, Jonathan Moyo, has indicated that the election would be
extremely expensive, stretching state resources "to the limit".
"This election is going to be very, very expensive," Moyo told journalists
at a press club in Harare. "If you look at the government budget, you will
realise that we are going to have an election we cannot afford."
Zimbabwe is holding its first harmonised elections, combining presidential,
legislative, senatorial and local government elections.


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Liquidity chases quadrillion dollar mark

FinGaz

Staff Reporter

Huge capital injections into the money market could push liquidity to the
quadrillion-dollar mark, further exacerbating inflationary pressure in the
economy, commentators said.

Dealers and analysts said the money market remained a recipient of huge cash
injections during the week on the back of intensifying government spending
spurred in part by a looming election and inflationary pressure.
"Chances of (the) money market surplus position breaching the unimaginable
$1 quad-trillion mark have been drawn closer during the week, ignited by
enormous volumes of cash flowing into the market," an analyst with Kingdom
Stockbrokers said in a note to investors.
The Financial Gazette reported last week that domestic debt had burst
through the quadrillion-dollar mark to reach an all-time high of $1.4
quadrillion on February 29, after touching a high of $60 trillion at the
beginning of the month.
The government is facing increasing expenditure pressures emanating mainly
from escalating inflation, which recently touched 100 580.2 percent
year-on-year for December 2007, a world record for a country not at war.
The inflation rate is projected to have touched fresh records in the months
of January and February.
In notes to investors, the KSB analysts said the hugely excessive liquidity
conditions on the money market were being spurred by a number of factors,
among them the following:
l On-going credits towards various productive sectors of the economy;
l Expenditure to cater for the administration of the on-coming harmonised
elections;
l Civil servant salaries that have recently been heftily increased;
l Non-sweeping of excess funds on financial institutions' trading positions
into the 7-day NNCD by the RBZ;
l Low Treasury bill support by financial institutions and other investors
due to its low return;
l Government payments for gold whose support price was recently increased by
700% to Z$700 million;
l Other Government expenditures such as concessionary advances to ZINWA and
ZESA, among others;
l Hyperinflationary pressures that are making Government expenditure
astronomical.
"As a result of the above-stated factors, the money market surplus
conditions have continued to trade above the half a quadrillion (dollar)
mark," the analyst said.
Current money market positions are averaging $500 trillion, with daily
market positions often skyrocketing to over $700 trillion in excess cash.
In response to the heightened liquidity levels in the market, investment
rates have been remained stuck in a quagmire, with the 7-14 day investments
attracting rates below 50 percent while the 30-90 day rates stayed put at
below 250 percent.
The Treasury bill rate has been unchanged at 340 percent.


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Squabbles erupt at SPB

FinGaz

Shame Makoshori Staff Reporter

BOARDROOM squabbles have erupted at the State Procurement Board (SPB) where
executive chairman Charles Kuwaza and human resources, finance and
administration director Cosmas Neshamba, have locked horns over allegations
of fuel theft, misuse of state property and incompetence.

In one of the incidents, Neshamba's actions are alleged to have cost the SPB
$8,5 billion in penalty fees after he failed to remit Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE)
to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA).
The dispute led to the suspension of Neshamba from the SPB on February 6
this year after he wrote to Kuwaza, angrily stating: "You are in the
twilights of your career and I still have a working life to protect. I have
been accommodative enough and I will not sign anymore for opaque
transactions starting this Thursday."
Last month Kuwaza suspended Neshamba, citing theft and incompetence.
"On December 13 2007, you drew 1 250 litres (of diesel) into an unknown
vehicle," Kuwaza wrote to Neshamba on February 26. This was followed by
another withdrawal of 300 litres on December 31 2007 using vehicle AAG 0087.
"The vehicle tank capacity could not possibly account for this fuel.
"You are suspected to have withdrawn fuel on a number of occasions without
requisite authority (and) you are therefore charged with theft, or failure
to take reasonable care of or to account for, or making improper or
unauthorised use of fuel," the letter to Neshamba alleges.
"You failed to remit staff PAYE to ZIMRA from May 2007. You have not offered
any explanation for your failure to meet this statutory obligation.
"You did, in fact, ignore the executive chairman's questions. In the event,
ZIMRA charged $8,5 billion as penalty as a result of your failure to do your
work.
"You are therefore charged with incompetent performance, or failure to obey
lawful instructions or standing orders from the board."
Neshamba is alleged to have refused to sign a performance contract and be
appraised by the executive chairman in 2006 and 2007.
The documents say Neshamba had failed to "consistently" present financial
statements, a key result area for his portfolio.
It adds that in violation of treasury instructions, Neshamba had failed to
hold finance meetings.
He had also failed to prepare estimates of revenue for 2008, and two months
into the year, the estimates had not been produced.
The SPB chairman alleged that in 2005, Neshamba had used a vehicle
registration number AAG0087.
He was involved in an accident at his home but failed to produce evidence to
the chairman that he was entitled to use the car, or report the accident to
the police, or claim insurance.
The vehicle has not been repaired, the documents show.
"You have failed to properly account for the vehicle usage, including
submission of the vehicle logbooks for the greater part of the period. You
are thus charged with theft of, or unauthorised use of, SPB property."
The SPB has instructed Neshamba not to leave Zimbabwe without notifying
Kuwaza.
But Neshamba has hit back, alleging Kuwaza was much more corrupt.
He said Kuwaza was desperate to secure a job with ZIMRA and wanted to
impress them.
"There is rumour anywhere that you are trying to secure a job with ZIMRA and
you would not qualify if you were found not to have been paying taxes,"
Neshamba wrote to Kuwaza in a letter dated March 6.
"I wonder why you are claiming not to have been aware that we were not
paying taxes. You advised me in 2005 when you still liked me to drive
vehicle AAG9987. Please note that your wife and children also do not have
authority to drive although they do so.
"You personally do not report your accidents. For argument's sake, you had
an accident with a CMED vehicle in 2005 that was not reported. (sic) The
vehicle was a write-off after the accident."
He denied stealing fuel, alleging it was Kuwaza who had instead stolen SPB
fuel.
"It is usually advisable to ask if you do not understand a transaction. You
are the one I suspect to have stolen this very diesel from the service
station," Neshamba alleged.
"I saw you at the service station filling four 20-litre containers that were
on the back seat of vehicle AAG 0086. You panicked to the extent of driving
away without signing for consumption.
"Where were you taking the fuel? You drew 120 litres of diesel on that
particular day (into) your vehicle (yet) when completely empty (it) takes a
maximum of 57 litres," Neshamba wrote.
He continued: "You wanted your domestic workers to be paid in cash. There
was no cash in the banks (and) for some reason you were not cooperating.
"I only got the message form you after Christmas when you instructed me to
write a cheque.
"Now you are asking for a 1 900 percent increase as back dated pay to
October 2007 on the wages that you deliberately delayed. I will not pay
that, it's a fraudulent claim."


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Wheat stocks dry up

FinGaz

Staff Reporter

THE country will have to cough out US$120 million to import about 300,000
tonnes of wheat needed to take it to the next harvest around November, a
senior National Bakers Association (NBA) official revealed this week.

David Govere, the NBA official and Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe
(EMCOZ) senior vice-president said the country has run out of wheat,
resulting in serious bread shortages hitting the market.
"At a consumption rate of about 40 000 tonnes of wheat per month Zimbabwe
needs just over 300 000 tonnes of wheat to the next harvest, which will cost
about $120 million United States dollars while simultaneously pursuing an
aggressive wheat farming programme that will see the country producing the
500 000 tonnes required annually.
"Without this strategy the bread shortage problem will persist," said
Govere.
Players in the milling and baking industries started alerting authorities
round about mid December 2007 that based on the current consumption of 7500
tonnes of wheat per week or 30 000 tonnes per month the wheat stocks would
last up to March.
Meanwhile the year's wheat planting season starts in May and the harvest
only comes in mid November, but will require drying and transportation to
result in flour being delivered to the bakeries in the first week of
December.
This is a pattern known every year.
"All industry players suggested that it was necessary to start building
imports to cover the seven months from April to October. Much to the
surprise of all industry players government decided to allocate the currency
available to import flour directly under the BACOSSI (Basic Commodities
Supply Side Intervention Facility) arrangement to one baker," said Govere.
Whereas National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) has reached an
agreement with bakers to wholesale bread at about $7 million per loaf,
traders taking advantage of the shortage are selling the same bread at
between $15 and $25 million dollars with no end in sight for this upward
spiral.
"What we need is to increase bread production by earmarking around 15
million United States dollars every month for the wheat account, then we
will be able to import around 40 000 tonnes of wheat monthly, which will see
all pricing madness disappear and this time we need to channel all the
available funds to GMB (Grain Marketing Board) so that they play their
national role of equitable distribution.
"Another distortion that must be removed is the PSIF or BACOSSI type
initiative because it creates two categories, that is, those that accessed
the cheap funds and those that did not.
"By restoring GMB's role, we will not only have leveled the playing field
but used an institution fully accountable to the authorities in terms of the
national distribution system.
"NIPC efforts have been hampered by the skewed distribution and the uneven
playfield amongst industry players but there is an opportunity to bring all
the players together and use the bread industry as an example for business
sanity," said the EMCOZ senior vice president.

Govt trims winter crop target
Kumbirai Mafunda
Senior Business Reporter

ZIMBABWE has targeted 70 000 hectares for wheat production in a desperate
bid to end chronic bread shortages.
Agriculture Minister Rugare Gumbo told The Financial Gazette this week that
the government would plant 70 000 hectares of wheat, which will be put under
irrigation, during the winter planting season.
"We are targeting to put 70 000 hectares of wheat this season," said Gumbo.
The new target is a reduction from last year's ambitious target of 76 000
hectares. The country failed to meet the crop target and ended up planting
45 000 hectares, almost half the targeted hectarage, because of a myriad of
problems among them frequent power cuts, poor planning and inputs shortages.
Because of the reduced hectarage, Zimbabwe only harvested 144 000 metric
tonnes of wheat, its tiniest crop harvest since independence. This output
was against projections of 400 000 metric tonnes required to meet the
country's annual domestic consumption.
Critics this week warned that the targeted plant hectarage remained
unattainable owing to the same problems dogging farming operations in the
country.
The critics warned that erratic electricity supplies would once again
significantly slash the crop hectarage and reduce the wheat harvest,
lurching the country further into a crisis that could force it to resort to
imports.
Zimbabwe is grappling with frequent power outages caused by a lack of
investment to expand local power generation and foreign currency shortages
to import electricity.
The country has suffered severe bread shortages since the collapse of
commercial agricultural production in 2000.
The land grab exercise has backfired as consumers are now importing bread
from neighbouring Botswana, South Africa and Zambia.
Ill-informed price controls imposed last June by the government have
worsened the bread shortages.
An attempt to import 36 000 tonnes of wheat to augment dwindling supplies
hit a snag after Mozambican authorities impounded the wheat consignment
after the government failed to pay for the wheat stocks.

Millers' associations close ranks
Staff Reporter

THE Millers Association of Zimbabwe (MAZ) would be disbanded this month with
its membership migrating to the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe
(GMAZ), The Financial Gazette can reveal.
MAZ mainly comprise the country's largest milling companies namely National
Foods Limited (Natfoods), a subsidiary of Innscor Africa Limited, Blue
Ribbon Industries (BRI) and Victoria Foods, owned by agro-industrial giant
CFI Limited.
GMAZ has a membership numbering up to 200, largely drawn from the small to
medium-size millers.
Sources revealed this week that high-level talks between GMAZ and MAZ
executives were nearing conclusion in what would see large and small millers
speak with one voice.
The industry had previously been split into two categories after small-scale
millers protested at what then appeared to be preferential treatment MAZ was
giving to the big three, Natfoods, BRI and Victoria, leading to the
formation of GMAZ.
"The disbandment of MAZ will strengthen the effectiveness of GMAZ, which
will become an all-encompassing voice of the milling industry.
We see this development further improving our lobby initiatives by ensuring
that for once the industry speaks with one voice," said an industry source.
"While government had absolutely no problem with the current arrangement, we
felt on our own that we were giving the Ministry of Industry and
International Trade and the National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC),
among others, too much on their lap when we can make their work much
†easier," added the source.
The sources said the existence of two lobby groups in the milling industry
was overloading the NIPC and government, which had to sift through rims of
documentation from GMAZ and MAZ when it could do with one position paper.
Contacted this week for comment MAZ chairman Mike Manga said: "I can confirm
that development. We want to achieve unity of purpose in pursuing industry
issues. Discussions are in progress."
MAZ and GMAZ are expected to upraise officials at the Industry Ministry of
the development next week.
Sources said GMAZ, whose chairman Tafadzwa Musarara was said to be out of
the country on business, was almost through with consultations among its
members with Bulawayo having endorsed the absorption of MAZ members.
"The leadership of GMAZ has been to Bulawayo to consult members in the
southern region and has done the same thing with Harare. While that process
is still underway, they haven't come across anything that could militate
against the incorporation of MAZ members into GMAZ," added a source.
The merger is taking place at a time when government has intensified its
crackdown against the milling industry, which it is accusing of violating
price controls.
Last week Manga, who doubles up as the group chief executive officer of BRI
was arrested for increasing the price of flour without the NIPC's authority.
Manga's arrest, the second arrest after a similar incident in February 2007,
followed hard on the heels of the arrest of Natfoods managing director
Jeremy Brooke on similar charges the previous week.
Brooke and Manga are currently on bail.
Millers are currently grappling with severe shortages of grain, particularly
wheat and maize, a situation that has been compounded by government's
reluctance to offer them viable prices.
To beat the price controls and save their operations from collapse, millers
have been asking buyers to pay separate invoices for the controlled grain
and transport charges.
In October last year, government de-registered more than 100 trading
licences citing alleged violations of trading rules i.e. hoarding, side
marketing and overpricing of maize meal. The millers were later
re-registering.


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Partisan police force a threat to free elections

FinGaz

Mavis Makuni

The headline, "Tsvangirai faction turns to police for assistance" in the
March 17 issue of the state daily, The Herald, caught my eye because it gave
the impression that there was something unusual about such an occurrence.

The story was about an incident that is reported to have taken place at a
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) rally in the Kwekwe-Redcliff
constituency at which party leader Morgan Tsvangirai was speaking. The
Herald reported that the rally was abandoned when the crowd of 2 000 people
objected to the introduction by Tsvangirai of Tapera Sengwene as the
constituency candidate in the March 29 elections instead of Aaron Chinhare.
Police are reported to have escorted Tsvangirai from the rally .
My purpose in this piece is not to debate the events that occurred at the
rally as reported by the state daily but to focus on the role of the police
force as a national institution that is supposed to guarantee the safety and
protection of all Zimbabwean citizens The police are supposed to execute
their duties ethically and professionally regardless of the political
affiliation of the people involved. The intro of the state daily's story,
which reads: "The Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC faction, which has in the past
described the Zimbabwe Republic Police as partisan and unprofessional, is
turning to the force for assistance following incidents of violence during
its rallies", implies that because the MDC had criticised the police force
in the past, it should not have expected assistance.
This is wrong. Stakeholders in this country who pay taxes have every right
to criticize the police and other public servants when they are not
fulfilling their mandates as expected. When the press and other stakeholders
express concern about the conduct of the police force, they do so in the
hope that the shortcomings identified in such criticisms are addressed for
the benefit of all. As a journalist who writes about various issues, I
certainly do not expect the expression of my views to be held against me if
I have to deal with an institution I have written about before.
The same should apply to opposition political parties. They should not be
"fixed" for commenting on the conduct of government officials and
institutions. Neither should those in public service be so insecure and
sensitive to criticism as to bear grudges and feel the need to resort to
retributive action. It is well known that the spotlight lingers on public
figures and officials and those who choose politics as a career should
accept this. The public is entitled to take them to task for their actions
and decisions.
The issue of police professionalism is particularly critical during a period
such this one when national elections are only a week away. The role of the
police should be to guarantee peace and security so that every citizen who
wishes to cast his or her ballot for candidates of his or her choice can do
so without any apprehension. Unfortunately the police have not always
conducted themselves ethically and professionally in dealing with political
issues and situations.
It was a sad spectacle indeed that this month of March in which Zimbabweans
are supposed to go to the polls to express their will about how they want to
be governed also marked the first anniversary of one of the most heinous
politically motivated acts perpetrated by the police. I refer here to the
battering of opposition politicians and activists on March 11 last year.
Zimbabweans were reminded of the handiwork of law enforcement and other
state security agents when those gruesome pictures of Morgan Tsvangirai, the
leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and other victims were
published in press advertisements inserted by various groups.
The gallery of pictures of victims of state-sponsored violence included the
swollen faces of Tsvangirai and Nelson Chamisa and the bandaged and blood -
soaked head of a victim whose face was not shown. There were also pictures
of the two women victims, Sekai Holland and Grace Kwinjeh with broken bodies
and limbs to prove that police brutality knows no bounds. To cap it all, the
advertisements reminded everyone of the unnecessary death of Gift Tandare
during that onslaught.
It is incidents like these that give the police a bad name and raise serious
questions about their professionalism. As far as next week's elections are
concerned, the impartiality of the police force has been put into further
doubt by the statement of Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri who
has announced that he will only accept the victory of President Robert
Mugabe in the polls. Chihuri and the Commander of the Defence Forces,
General Constantine Chiwenga and the Commissionerx of Zimbabwe Prison
Services Retired General Paradzayi Zimondi have vowed that they will not
salute Makoni and Tsvangirai if they win the presidential election.
What this actually means is that these three top security chiefs are not
prepared to accept the expression of the will of the people of Zimbabwe. The
people have the right to elect a president of their choice next week. It can
be any of the three main candidates, namely President Mugabe, Simba Makoni
and Morgan Tsvangirai. The role of the army and other service arms is to
accept the choice of the people. Elections are not about their preferences
but the expression of the will of the people of Zimbabwe.
There would be no point in holding elections if the will of the electorate
is to be subordinated to the wishes of service chiefs. The disturbing
question that begs an answer only a week before the crucial elections is
what will they do to ensure that the polls produce an outcome to coincide
with their stated preferences regardless of the way the electorate may vote?


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Elections are about change: Readers react

FinGaz

Ken Mufuka

Last week's article: Elections Are about Change, attracted powerful
rejoinders from our readers. They demanded that the subject be debated
further. Emails selected are only representative.

B. Chibga is a ZANU-PF stalwart who suggested that in my article, which
appeared to him to have been sympathetic to Simba Makoni, I could have
compromised my integrity, or that I was detached from reality. His main
point is that: "We might be rural and backward, but to tell us that someone
who rebels against our party decision remains a member of the same party is
stretching things a bit. To even assume that he will have a clean sweep of
Matabeleland and Manicaland in the elections left me wondering whether you
actually know what you are talking about, or you just read some books
somewhere in America."
That prognosis was based on the following observations by my researchers.
They concluded that the $50 000 gratuity payments to war veterans marked the
watershed that separated Mukuru from the electorate of Zimbabwe.
After that date, our researchers assert, Mukuru's grip on power was
sustained, not by the legitimate organs of authority but by the support he
derived from the war veterans. These veterans buttressed this authority
through beatings, killings, threatening, land invasions and the deaths of
hundreds of blacks and 11 whites caught in the maelstrom. I agree with that
assessment.
Professor Jonathan Moyo uses 2006 as the crucial year in which Mukuru was
left sitting on a "shell party" whose soul had departed.
Coupled with voodoo economics and inflation at 100 000 percent all sensible
men in ZANU-PF began to realise that their gains could be negated if
Mukuru's tenure was prolonged. Dumiso Dabengwa does not put a date on this
but says that conversations were carried on in South Africa. All those
involved were in agreement that Mukuru must go, for the sake of the party
and country.
They feared a "Chiluba." A Chiluba refers to the Zambian situation where
Kenneth Kaunda overstayed in power and was overthrown in an election by a
naÔve and ignoramus newcomer, who gave away the copper mines to the
imperialists for free.
Makoni's position, in our opinion, would have been enhanced if the ZANU-PF
chiefs had openly declared their interest in change rather than cower behind
some bushes in mortal fear of Mukuru.
Our prediction was that at best, Makoni would master about one quarter of
the electorate, thus making him the real challenger to Morgan Tsvangirai.
There are only two choices in our opinion, Tsvangirai and Makoni. The centre
of gravity in Zimbabwe is in the Harare and Mashona provinces. Nominally,
Tsvangirai does well in Harare. Nobody can govern Zimbabwe unless they
capture the majority of the three Mashona provinces. That is where the
population density is. Mukuru's success depends on whether the voters in the
Mashona provinces finally come into their own.

Mukuru has been tried and tested. A continuation of a culture of fear
through the war veterans combined with voodoo economics has failed to
resuscitate the economy.
We accept the premise that the British and the Americans have closed all
international monetary lending avenues. No change of government, no economic
rescue package. It is as simple as that.
Takesure Zhowa asks: "Tell me, given that Simba is an independent candidate,
if he wins what will be his composition of his government?"
This will apply to Brother Tsvangirai as well. A corrosive ZANLA culture has
permeated the whole populace. Brother Zhowa, in the event of a change of
government all those shameless politicians who are now cursing Tsvangirai
and Makoni will declare themsleves New ZANU-PF or shadow MDC. "Taisapota
takawhanda. Vana vaidyei dai takabuda pachena." (We supported you behind
doors. Our children had to eat.) Even Brother Chinotimba will probably be
the first to "join the people."
This is sad but true.
S. Biri says: "For a very long time I have been following up on your
articles and wish to commend you for your unwavering support for a better
Zimbabwe."
Another brother asked: "Ken, what is your take on Tsvangirai?" Tsvangirai is
as decent a man as one will ever come across in Zimbabwe today, and it is
hoped that he will rise to the occasion when the call for leadership comes.
His trade unionist credentials make him a consensus builder. Trade Unions
have a tradition of consultations.
Mukuru has called Tsvangirai a "tea boy" and of course a puppet of the
Anglo-Americans. It does not matter how many tea cups he has served, as long
as he has served them with honesty and vision. Tsvangirai understands the
basic premise that a lawless and extralegal atmosphere cannot be the basis
of a prosperous Zimbabwe. Those with doctorates don't understand the
simplest fundamentals. That he will need a think tank does not in any way
subtract anything from his leadership. US President Ronald Reagan was a
better leader than President Jimmy Carter precisley because the former
confessed his ignorance while the later poked his nose into everything.
Tsvangirai's problems stem from the ZANLA syndrome, people who see and use
positions as a means of acquiring privileges and a secure place in the food
chain, "kudya" (to eat). They therefore worship the leader and utterly spoil
him, behaving like his wives (Margaret Dongo's words) failing to tell the
truth to power, and elevating leaders into demi-gods.

Ken Mufuka is a professor at Lander University (USA). He can be reached at:
kenmufuka@yahoo.com.


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Robbing the future

FinGaz

Comment

THE unprecedented expansion in domestic debt levels this year, caused mainly
by intensifying government borrowing, is indeed a very worrying development.

As reported by The Financial Gazette last week, the stock of domestic debt
held by government increased from $60 trillion on February 1, 2008 to $1.4
quadrillion by February 29, 2008.
The debt level stood at $21 trillion on January 1, 2008.
This week, new statistics reveal that domestic debt has soared to a new
record high of $1.6 quadrillion in the first week of March.
This is very unsettling for obvious reasons.
The debt burden has the effect of slowing down the economy.
Now, considering that Zimbabwe's economy has been in the doldrums for nine
successive years, the effect of this huge debt level is too ghastly to
contemplate.
Firstly, the debt is coming at a very huge cost. As reported again elsewhere
in this issue, interest on treasury bill instruments, the most common debt
instrument for the government, amounts to $692 trillion, against a principal
TB borrowing of $233 trillion.
Essentially, a large part of government revenue is going towards servicing
the debt, and this significantly limits the capacity for public spending on
critical areas like health, education and other social services, including
even infrastructure projects like road construction.
This partly explains why the country's public health delivery system has
collapsed while its education system has deteriorated significantly to the
extent that it has turned out to be a huge bother even to those employed to
teach in the country's class rooms.
Our roads are also in a state of disrepair, with hundreds of lives being
lost every year due to accidents caused by potholes on the major highways.
The cost of vehicle maintenance has also increased markedly as a result of
the poor state of the country's road infrastructure.
Secondly, if the government finances its budget by borrowing excessively
from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, it propels money printing or money
creation, which stokes money supply growth.
Money supply is the generation of new money, in other words, an additional
stock to money already in circulation.
Large-scale money printing propels high inflation, which is the equivalent
of a drastic loss of the purchasing power of money.
Inflation touched a high of 100 580.2 percent year-on-year for December
2007, a world record for a country not at war.
The inflation rate is projected to have reached fresh records in the months
of January and February.
The central bank has previously warned that money supply growth levels were
currently too high for the size of our economy.
Thirdly, and certainly the most worrying aspect to a leadership concerned
with the future of the country's young and future generations, is what it is
bequeathing to the next generation in terms of the debt burden and its
effect on their welfare.
The current accumulation of excessive debt might entail high servicing costs
in future, will effectively come in the form of punitive taxation levels to
future generations.
Considering that Zimbabweans are already among the world's most heavily
taxed citizens, it boggles the mind to think of what this will entail.
Fourthly, excessive domestic debt levels inevitably affect the country's
credit rating and the cost of any future offshore borrowings.
The country's credit rating is already too bad, and offshore credit lines,
including commercial ones, have been cut off because of a worsening economic
crisis.
Apparently, there are already signs debt servicing has already become an
issue on the domestic market.
Of the current government debt stock, $13 trillion is already outstanding, a
sign that the government's default risk is increasing with the accumulation
of more debt.
Multilateral financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund and
the World Bank have also ceased offering balance of payments support to the
Zimbabwe government.
Apparently, this is the primary reason why government has intensified its
recourse to domestic sources of financing and in the process taking no due
regard of the consequences of such increased domestic debt levels.
The government has entirely depended on domestic sources to finance its
ever-increasing budget deficits, resulting in more money printing.
Yet the pressure is increasing.
Fuel is in short supply, as are maize meal, the country's staple food, most
of the basic commodities such as sugar and cooking oil, as well as foreign
currency. These shortages have spawned informal markets for everything,
including fuel and foreign currency.
It is imperative that government adopts a sound debt management policy to
curtail the continued expansion of domestic debt and turn around the country's
economy.
The major problem is that government is spending more than it earns in
revenue, forcing it to meet this through excessive borrowing.
But for the sake of future generations, it should start living within its
means.


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FinGaz Letters



Vote Makoni for real change

EDITOR - As we approach the elections, Zimbabweans need to do some serious
introspection and ask themselves what kind of Zimbabwe they want to see
after March 29. Do we want to maintain the status quo or do we want to see a
change for the better in our standard of living?
The emergence of Simba Makoni as a presidential candidate has added a new
dimension to this question. This is because for the first time, real change
is manifestly possible with his election victory. No doubt, he has got the
thumbs up from all Zimbabweans itching for real economic, social and
political change.
The reason why this is likely requires that we look at the capabilities of
the other candidates. Obviously, voting for President Robert Mugabe means a
continuation of the current suffering and maintenance of the dictatorial
style of governance. It is of no use and a sheer waste of time discussing
real change being possible under President Mugabe.
On the other hand, Morgan Tsvangirai's candidature this time around exudes
no hope for real change. Since 2000, the man has been facing a decline in
the number of votes for his party. This state of affairs will not change for
him.
Secondly, his support base is only in the urban areas of Harare, Mutare,
Masvingo, Kwekwe and Kadoma. This is too thin a support base to win a
presidential election.
Thirdly, he has made no effort to campaign in the rural areas of Mashonaland
and in particular, Mashonaland Central, East and West, which are the largest
and most populous provinces in the country. In fact, he commands no support
in the rural areas of Mashonaland.
Finally, he has made no overtures to ZANU-PF supporters or opinion leaders
to capture the vote of this group of disillusioned voters.
On that analysis alone, the Makoni factor becomes ever so enticing. Here is
a candidate who arguably has the largest electoral support of all urbanites
in the country. Powered by an alliance with Aurthur Mutambara, he adds on
the Matabeleland MDC support base rural and urban. In fact, the
Makoni-Mutambara combination is a match made in heaven.
With the discontent in ZANU-PF, he takes a huge chunk of the ZANU-PF support
base both in the urban and rural areas, particularly in the vital
Mashonaland provinces. You then have a recipe for electoral victory coming
the way of Makoni and real change coming the way of long suffering
Zimbabweans. Even a run-off is a distinct impossibility.
Zimbabweans reading this have to soak this into their hearts and ask
themselves what it is that they want. Voting for Tsvangirai only means
registering a protest vote against the regime. It does not translate to
electoral victory. It simply maintains the status quo and hands victory back
to President Mugabe because Tsvangirai will not win the election rigged or
not rigged. On the other hand, a vote for Makoni guarantees victory and real
change.
There are no questions about his capability to lead, govern and gain
confidence and trust from the security organs of the State. Regionally and
internationally, he is well respected.
So, if we want real change, what do we as Zimbabweans do on March 29? We all
go to the polling stations and vote for Simba Makoni. In order to help him
form a government, we vote for Mutamabara-aligned MDC candidates since they
are in alliance. Where there are individuals appearing as independents
aligning themselves to Makoni, we vote for them too. The ZANU-PF side of
things where there are the so-called moderates, will take care of it self.
If we do this, we can all wake up after the results have been announced, to
a new era of decent living and democratic governance, to a return of true
dignity in our homes, regionally and internationally.
To vote for Tsvangirai means a continuation of our suffering because he will
do what he did in 2002 after the presidential election - nothing. He will
live in perpetual opposition while the stock of Zimbabweans continues to
suffer.
So, vote for Makoni for real change.

Realist
Harare
-------------
†State media has failed us

EDITOR - The announcement by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) that
they are ready to give fair airplay to all political parties in the
forthcoming harmonised elections is an insult.
The Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) notes with great concern the
polarisation of the media in the country. Opening up the airwaves just 22
days before the election day could never undo the harmful effects of
pervasive state propaganda in favour of the ruling party over a sustained
period dating back to the year 2000 when draconian pieces of legislation,
which are not friendly to the media, were crafted.
ZBH wants to fool the world to portray a false image that they are adhering
to the SADC principles and guidelines for the conduct of democratic
elections. The SADC principles and guidelines stipulate that there should be
equal access to the state media for all parties.
The coverage of political news in the state media remains skewed in favour
of ZANU-PF. The party has always been campaigning through the state media
and it is grossly unfair to give the opposition very little time to access
the electronic media.
The Broadcasting Services Act only states that it will provide equal
opportunity rather than equal access to the state media, Article 2: 2.1.5.
The state media has failed the citizens of Zimbabwe, and has cast the
imposing image of an inescapable barrier to the development of a culture of
openness, freely available and accessible information, stimulating
non-partisan debate led by impartial facilitators, which is essential to the
production of an educated, enlightened, critical and responsible voting
public.
We, however, feel sorry for the rural folk who have no other media
alternative and have been susceptible to manipulation from the overdoses of
propaganda being churned out for a number of years.
What is surprising now is the vast media coverage in the state media
President Mugabe and ZANU-PF are being accorded. Instead of marketing
himself to the people, President Mugabe has been attacking his opponents
using hate language.
We condemn the abuse of state resources by the ruling party and warn that
the day of reckoning is at hand. We appeal to SADC, AU and the UN to
urgently look into and take note of the pre-election developments in the
country.
The elections should be put in the world spotlight and it should not come as
a surprise when consequences of a rigged poll manifest themselves.
To President Mugabe, we say: "Beware of the ides of March".

Blessing Vava
Information and Publicity Secretary
ZINASU
---------
†Urgent appeal to all Zim election observers

Dear Observer,

YOU have been invited to Zimbabwe to observe and report on our elections.
You have to understand the importance of this mission.
The people of Zimbabwe are in a desperate struggle for survival. Over three
million people have fled our country in an effort to try to provide for the
loved ones they have left behind.
The majority of the people that are left behind are subjected to
unbelievable conditions. We have the highest rate of inflation in the world
at over 100 000 percent and our economy is in a free fall.
Most of our children have not had any teachers at their schools for the
second half of last year and all of the first term this year. Huge numbers
of these teachers have left the country, the few that are left are on
strike.
Our unemployment rate is well over 80 percent. Our health system has totally
collapsed, people are being sent home to die. Medicines and drugs are in
short supply and the small amount available is only affordable by the rich
elite.
Over four million people urgently need food aid. Most people are unable to
afford basic foods as the prices soar on a daily basis. Our life expectancy
has plummeted to the lowest in the world. The average man can only expect to
live till 37 and the average woman will die by the time she reaches 34.
Our people are subjected to a brutal army and police force instructed to
crush all opposition politicians with indiscriminate arrests, torture and
beatings.
The government has trained a youth brigade that specialises in theft, rape
and murder. Our leaders and their cronies do not care about the people, they
only care about how much wealth they can muster out of a stricken nation.
They are all like vultures feeding on a carcass.
Some African leaders and their people see President Robert Mugabe as a hero
and applaud him for what he has done over the past 28 years. They must
surely be unaware of what he has done and is doing to his people.
He is a man who openly brags about his "degrees" in violence. He has had his
political opponents arrested, beaten up and tortured.
On behalf of the people of Zimbabwe, we ask you to please understand that
you are not here to play some kind of a game. Your job is a vital and
important part for the future of the people of this country.
The authorities will try to hoodwink, bribe or manipulate you into reporting
all is well and above board. You will need to look past these so-called
officials and get in amongst the people on the ground.
It will not take long to come up with the truth. The people of Zimbabwe
cannot survive another five years of this brutal government.
Honesty and integrity is all we ask for. Please, please help us!

D Zulu
--------------
†Civic society leaders disappointing

EDITOR - I feel that we are being let down by our civic society leaders. Why
I say so is in reference to Lovemore Madhuku's article on March 8 with
regard to Simba Makoni's entry into the race for State House.
Personally, I see nothing wrong with Makoni's challenge to Morgan Tsvangirai
and President Mugabe. We as the electorate have the ultimate power to decide
who must lead us and not Madhuku.
I fail to find the relevance of the NCA if its leader does not want to form
his own political party or openly join Tsvangirai. Who told him we should
love Tsvangirai if we are not for President Mugabe?
The problem with Madhuku is that he seems to have been caught in this
dangerous trait of cultic worship. Cult leaders like President Mugabe and
Tsvangirai ward off any challenge even from those who might wish to express
different opinions.
How can Madhuku account for Tsvangirai's direct actions of defying his own
executive in October 2005, which led to the split of the MDC? Here
Tsvangirai only took advantage of his "popularity" with the bulk of his cult
worshippers and vetoed the majority decision.
Anyway, we aren't going to be swayed by Madhuku's irresponsible article in
your balanced newspaper.

Geofreey Masvino

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