The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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Toronto Star

May 30, 2005. 01:00 AM

World must end Mugabe mayhem
Tyranny and corruption in Zimbabwe needs to be stopped so that
ordinary people can go about rebuilding their shattered lives in peace, says
Robert I. Rotberg

Dictatorial despotism spirals Zimbabwe ever downward. Zimbabweans
struggle to survive, some even starving. U. S. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice rightly labels Zimbabwe an outpost of tyranny, along with
North Korea and Iran.

Prime Minister Tony Blair, and other heads of the European Union,
concur. It is past time that the globe's major leaders, working in concert
with democratic Africa, do something more than talk.

Like Pol Pot in yesterday's Cambodia, President Robert Gabriel Mugabe
of Zimbabwe is determined to run his country into the ground.

The U.N. World Food Program and local observers report that fully half
of Zimbabwe's 11 million people are now seriously hungry. Because Mugabe has
plundered all of Zimbabwe's assets, there are hardly any supplies of the
corn on which everyone subsists. Nor is there any cooking oil, sugar, flour,
or milk, except on the black market.

Getting to and from work is impossible because of shortages of diesel
for buses, much less petrol for private cars and trucks. Long queues stretch
for hundreds of metres behind bus stops or gas stations.

As indications of Zimbabwe's plight, inflation has this month soared
to 350 per cent per year and the country's currency, once on par with the U.
S. dollar, and only a few months ago trading at Z$6,000 to $1.00 U.S. , now
trades at 25,000 Zimbabwe dollars to $1.00 U.S. The government lacks funds
to print new currency, so paper dollars crumble.

According to a recent study, the income purchasing power of average
Zimbabweans has regressed to 1953 levels.

About 80 per cent of all Zimbabwean adults are unemployed. Nearly 3
million have fled to neighbouring South Africa, Mozambique, and Botswana,
desperate for work and food.

Seven years ago, Zimbabwe was one of Africa's richest countries, with
an economy well balanced between the export of agricultural crops (maize,
tobacco, sugar, and cotton) and the export of gold, ferrochrome, platinum,
and copper. It manufactured local consumption, boasted excellent school
systems, a good university, well-managed hospitals, and a responsive
bureaucracy.

It drew upon the largest pool of university graduates, per capita, in
Africa.

All that is long gone, entirely thanks to Mugabe's cruelty and greed.

Angered by opposition to his illegal and budget-draining dispatch of
14,000 Zimbabwean troops into the Congo in 1998, and subsequently infuriated
by the loss of a constitutional referendum and near defeat for his ruling
Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party in
parliamentary elections, Mugabe mercilessly attacked his new African
opponents and their supposed white allies.

Mugabe ordered thuggish, so-called war veterans to invade and
commandeer the country's 4,000 white farms, ostensibly to take back land
stolen from Africans years before.

But, instead of giving that restored land to landless smallholders,
nearly all of the 4,000 farms - the backbone of Zimbabwe's agricultural
prosperity - were delivered to Mugabe's political cronies, his second wife,
and other family members.

This land grab might have served to right an historic injustice.
Instead, it drove Zimbabwe headlong into penury and hunger. It also threw
400,000 African labourers out of work, crippled the banking sector, caused
food scarcities, and sent Mugabe rushing to Libya and China for help.

What little that remained, Mugabe and his close associates stole. This
month Mugabe's wife is completing a monstrous mansion, her third, in Harare,
and other regime fat cats are spending lavishly on land and houses.

Much of Mugabe's own wealth is stashed in the British Virgin Islands
and the Isle of Man. He also owns large properties in Britain.

No one dares cross Mugabe. His Central Intelligence Organization,
army, and police remain loyal. They, too, feed at the trough of public
corruption while other Zimbabweans cannot find food.

Indeed, until this month Mugabe even denied that there were food
shortages. He has finally agreed to import food, if funds can be borrowed,
and not very graciously to accept food donations from the United Nations.

Mugabe's continued rule is based on intimidation and fraud. Having
rigged the 2000 parliamentary election, he shamelessly inflated poll counts
to give himself a strong victory in the 2002 presidential vote over Morgan
Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change.

Earlier this year, he greatly distorted the results of another
parliamentary contest. Many local and foreign observers cried foul, and
President George Bush and Blair denounced Mugabe's theft.

Ottawa, Washington, London, and Brussels need to act boldly.

Together they should persuade South Africa, the power in southern
Africa, to chastise Mugabe publicly and to enact the kinds of smart
sanctions that might force Zimbabwe's military and political elite to push
Mugabe to retire.

President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa has claimed for five years that
quiet diplomacy would work, and merely wrings his hands. But Mugabe
continues to wreak havoc on his people.

Europe and the U. S. have frozen bank accounts and denied visas to
Mugabe and his ilk. South Africa and the African Union could do likewise,
easily ending Mugabe's ability to leave Zimbabwe and spend his stolen
millions.

They could refuse air, road, and rail passage to the country's top 100
miscreants, many of whom shop in Johannesburg while compelling their poorer
countrymen to do without. They could deny that same group access to medical
treatment in South Africa, refuse them transit facilities, and generally
label Mugabe and his associates, especially his generals, pariahs.

The object of this pressure should be new national elections, run by
the United Nations and observed by outsiders.

If such sanctions on the elite produce too little change, South Africa
could always slow rail traffic into Zimbabwe, a tactic used against Prime
Minister Ian Smith in Rhodesia.

Or South Africa could stop electric power flowing to Zimbabwe off the
grid that Pretoria controls. Unthinkable, too, South Africa could easily rid
Zimbabwe of Mugabe by force. There would be minimal opposition, and no need
to occupy a country that Tsvangirai legitimately should run.

However it is done, tyranny in Zimbabwe needs to be ended so that
ordinary Zimbabweans can go about rebuilding their shattered lives in peace.

Dictators who abuse their people mercilessly, not only in the Middle
East, deserve to be pushed out.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Robert I. Rotberg is the director of the Kennedy School of
Government's Program on Intrastate Conflict and Conflict Resolution at
Harvard University, and president of the World Peace Foundation. He is the
author of several books on southern Africa.
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Mail and Guardian

Mugabe's war against the poor

Michael Hartnack | Harare

30 May 2005 08:12

Zimbabwean church representatives on Sunday denounced the
week-long crackdown against street traders and shack dwellers, while police
continued arrests and demolition work.

In the capital's crowded southern townships, residents were
reportedly putting boulders across roads to hinder access. But no fresh
incidents of stone throwing were reported after residents last week fought
running battles with security forces, who pulled down slums and made
thousands of people homeless in the midwinter cold.

In a statement, the National Pastors Conference, representing
over 100 Christian ministers, demanded President Robert Mugabe's government
"engage in a war against poverty and not against the poor".

They accused the authorities of "displaying lack of compassion
in the face of human suffering and misery", with police squads singing "the
destroyers have arrived" as they blitzed urban settlements that allegedly
lacked planning permission.

The Roman Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights, the Human Rights Trust of Southern Africa and
university lecturers joined the condemnation.

Opposition lawmaker Trudi Stevenson said police had moved into
other sections of the Hatcliffe township in her northern Harare
constituency, where 500 families have already been made homeless despite
having lease agreements issued in 2002 by Housing Minister Ignatius Chombo.
Residents are not resisting but are attempting to salvage building
materials, furniture and belongings, fearing bulldozers would move in.

"They [the police] go in with this massive force of 3 000, and
if you are only 300 or 500 people or so, without weapons, and they are
armed, you cannot resist," she said.

"In the closer knit high density areas people are resisting, but
police have now been deployed there."

The National Pastors Conference accused the government of
"randomly destroying sources of livelihood for the urban poor" who were
encouraged to begin street trading by the economic liberalisation policy
Mugabe adopted in 1991.

"Are we now to believe that these people were misled by the same
sitting government that has now mercilessly turned against them?" asked the
pastors.

Current 80% unemployment among Zimbabwe's 11,6-million people,
shortages of all basic commodities and rampant hyper-inflation are
dehumanising and compromising human dignity, they said.

"We need informed policy action, not police action, in order to
make life bearable for the poor."

The privately owned Sunday Standard reported that the southern
Glen View township "resembled a graveyard" after weeklong battles between
armed police and street traders, roadside kiosk and workshop owners, and
shack dwellers whose homes and businesses were torched or bulldozed.

The national council of the opposition Moverment for Democratic
Change met at the weekend and "resolved to defend the rights of the people".

A formal statement and announcement of court action is expected
on Monday.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has accused Mugabe (81) of
aiming to break the spirit of Zimbabweans ahead of imminent economic
collapse, and drive the urban poor back into the rural areas where they can
be controlled by denial of access to food.

Over the weekend, the price of maize meal, the staple of
Zimbabweans' diet, was increased by 51% and bread prices by 29%.

Nationwide food riots in 1998 claimed seven lives after Mugabe
deployed troops, backed by tanks and helicopters.

The government mouthpiece, The Sunday Mail, defended the action.

"The fact that the president has thrown his weight behind the
clean-up must mean it is a well thought out programme," the newspaper said
in an editorial.

World Food Programme Director James Morris is scheduled to
arrive this week for talks with Mugabe on the humanitarian crisis, but was
warned there must be "no political conditionality".

The country urgently needs to import 1,2-million metric tonnes
of maize to avert the threat of famine to four million people. - Sapa-AP

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Cape Times

Zimbabwe set to ban private land
May 30, 2005

By Basildon Peta

Zanu-PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira has announced that his ruling
party would soon amend the constitution to abolish all private ownership
rights to land and nationalise all productive farmland.

Meanwhile, the government's crackdown in urban areas continues to draw
criticism from church leaders, who accuse the government of waging an
unnecessary war against the poor.

Shamuyarira said the constitutional amendment to Zimbabwe's land
tenure system, declaring all productive farmland as state land would end
"ceaseless litigation" by white farmers, many of whom have gone to the
courts to get their property back.

Some of the white farmers have, in fact, been winning their cases,
further frustrating the government's attempts to take their land.
Shamuyarira's announcement was published in the state-owned Sunday
Mail yesterday.

On Friday, the internet site ZimOnline published an interview with an
unnamed cabinet minister, who said that a constitutional amendment to
nationalise all land in Zimbabwe was on its way.

The unnamed minister told ZimOnline that the planned measure,
initiated by President Robert Mugabe, would virtually liquidate the rights
of private landowners.

But the minister was also quoted as saying the proposal had sparked a
bitter rift within the cabinet with several senior members saying it would
have serious negative economic and political implications for the embattled
country.

It seems Shamuyarira's announcement means the measure would now sail
through, as he is Mugabe's close lieutenant in the party and the official
biographer of the 81-year-old president.

The constitutional amendment's primary aim would be to deal with the
white farmers "once and for all", sources contacted yesterday said.

He said of the 6 320 farms targeted for acquisition since the eviction
of their white owners in the past few years, only 1 126 had been cleared of
the "seemingly ceaseless litigation from the former farmers with the
majority still being contested in courts".

"Through the amendments, we are going to push for when parliament
resumes sitting in June, all land will become state land with farmers
leasing it on a 99-year lease basis.

"This will dispense with the ownership litigation process. All the
former farmers can do after these amendments would be to contest the amount
of compensation," Shamuyarira announced.

a.. The Zimbabwe National Pastors Conference, the main grouping of
church leaders, condemned the so called "Operation Restore Order" which has
seen the arrests of nearly 20 000 informal traders and destruction of market
stalls and informal settlements for homeless people.

President Mugabe said the campaign was aimed at restoring the cities
and towns to their "reputation of being clean", but several human rights
groups have said he was on a campaign of retribution against urban
supporters who have persistently rejected his party in elections.

"We call upon this government to engage in a war against poverty and
not against the poor," the multi-denominational church leaders group said.
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New Zimbabwe

Full text of MDC statement on flea market raids

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The following is the full statement issued Sunday by the MDC National
Council

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Last updated: 05/30/2005 12:01:06
"AT A meeting of the National Council of the MDC held in Harare on the 28th
May 2005, it was resolved to condemn in the strongest terms the continuing
destruction of informal sector businesses and homes in urban and peri-urban
areas.
Over half of the economy of Zimbabwe is now conducted in the informal sector
which consists of nearly 3 million individual enterprises and supports the
great majority of the people. With barely 8 per cent of all adult
Zimbabweans in formal sector employment, the wholesale destruction of these
small family businesses is a betrayal of the principles of the liberation
struggle. The use of armed police to carry out this exercise and to
intimidate those affected reveals the true character of this regime.

We are working with the suffering people of Zimbabwe and will continue to
fight for their rights and dignity.

We want the people of Zimbabwe to have jobs, to be free from hunger and to
have the skills and opportunities to realise their dreams and aspirations.
We want for Zimbabwe what Africa's progressive political leaders want for
the continent: plural democracies build on the social democratic principles
of solidarity, social justice, freedom and equality. We are fighting for a
new Zimbabwe, a new beginning for the people of Zimbabwe.

The people whose homes and property have been destroyed are the victims and
yet are now being punished for trying to feed their families and for being
suspected of having voted for the MDC.

A government that destroys properties of people who are trying to make an
honest living is evil. It is people insensitive. Millions of Zimbabweans
have been made poor and jobless by this regime. The people have sought ways
to provide for their families. Not only have flea-markets and tuck shops
been destroyed, the people's belongings have been stolen by the government.

In particular the Party objects to the wholesale destruction of thousands of
homes in urban areas. Many of these were established with the support and
assistance of Zanu PF cadres in their efforts to win support in urban areas
prior to the recent election. These same people now find themselves, in the
middle of winter, without shelter and facing a completely uncertain future.
No provision has been made for alternative accommodation or shelter and
sanitation facilities. Thousands of children are now denied schooling or
health facilities.

The MDC Council resolved to demand that the Zanu PF regime desist
immediately from the continued destruction of informal sector business and
homes and assist those already affected with compensation for the losses
incurred to date and whatever help is needed to reestablish their shelter
needs.

The National Council is calling upon all Zimbabweans to contribute to the
struggle. We call on all Zimbabweans to mobilize against this assault on
their dignity, livelihoods and well-being. Mindful of its responsibilities
to the suffering people of Zimbabwe and in response to the agony expressed
by the victims of this regime's brutality and cruelty, the MDC will employ
appropriate measures to redress this tragedy.

In addition the party will pursue all avenues including mounting a legal
campaign to secure the rights of those who were operating within the law and
to seek compensation for the massive losses involved.

The Party also resolved to continue to press for a Constitutional reform
process that is transparent, inclusive and people driven. The Council
decried the efforts by Zanu PF to press for piecemeal amendments to the
present Constitution that do little to address the present economic and
political crisis."

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Zim Independent

President sees heart specialist

SPECULATION swirled in Harare yesterday that President Robert Mugabe's
health could be failing after he visited a prominent cardiologist at the
Diagnostic Heart Centre in the Avenues.

Well-placed sources said Mugabe, whose health has always been a
closely-guarded secret, was yesterday morning examined through a procedure
called echocardiography by Professor Jonathan Arthur Matenga, a heart
specialist.

Reports resurfaced yesterday that Mugabe's health could be failing,
with callers to the newsroom claiming he was in Mauritius for health
reasons.

This has happened in the past with claims that Mugabe (81) had
collapsed at home and at one time in Malaysia where he returned with a
bandage on his forehead.

However, reports that he was in Mauritius proved untrue after a
Zimbabwe

Independent news team checking on the claims saw Mugabe's motorcade
yesterday morning parked outside the Diagnostic Centre at Number 6 Josiah
Tongogara Avenue.

Mugabe was reportedly there between 8:30am and 10:30am. Sources later
confirmed he had been examined by Matenga through echocardiography, a
diagnostic test for heart ailments.

From the Diagnostic Centre Mugabe headed straight for the Zanu PF
headquarters. He left at 5.20pm.

There have also been reports in the past of Mugabe travelling to a
clinic in Barcelona and other countries such as South Africa seeking medical
attention.

Mugabe's echocardiography test heightened fears his health could be
deteriorating. An echocardiography is a procedure that uses ultrasound waves
to create an image of the heart muscle.

Ultrasound waves that rebound or echo off the heart can show the size,
shape and movement of the heart's valves and chambers as well as the flow of
blood through the heart.

Echocardiography may show such abnormalities as poorly functioning
heart valves or damage to the heart tissue from a past heart attack. It is
used to diagnose certain cardiovascular diseases.

The test can help reveal information such as the size and shape of the
heart, its pumping strength and capacity, and the location and extent of any
damage to its tissues.

It is especially useful for assessing diseases of the heart valves. It
not only allows doctors to evaluate the heart valves, but it can detect
abnormalities in the pattern of blood flow.

Prof Matenga said yesterday that he was not examining Mugabe "but even
if I was examining him I wouldn't talk to you over the phone". - Staff
Writers.
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Zim Independent

Mujuru to replace Mugabe
Dumisani Muleya/ Shakeman Mugari
DETAILS of President Robert Mugabe's retirement plans have emerged amid
revelations he will quit the state presidency in 2008 and the ruling Zanu PF
leadership at the party's 2009 congress.

High-level official sources this week said Mugabe had almost finalised his
plans - still under wraps - to retire as head of state in 2008 and as Zanu
PF leader in 2009 after 28 years in power.

Mugabe's plans will soon be tabled for discussion by his closest courtiers,
as fears mount that this could trigger fresh infighting.

Debate in Zanu PF structures on who should take over from him simmers behind
the scenes despite attempts to curb plotting in the wake of the Tsholotsho
episode.

Sources said the plan, expected to be tabled before the politburo soon,
entails Mugabe quitting together with Vice-President Joseph Msika in 2008.

Vice-President Joice Mujuru will take over from Mugabe, while Zanu PF
chairman and Speaker of Parliament John Nkomo will replace Msika. Zanu PF
secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa will then succeed Mujuru.

Mugabe's scheme hinges on constitutional amendments currently being drafted.
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa is said to be working on the proposals.

Sources said the ruling party wants to amend the constitution so that the
last vice-president to act as president will take over for the remaining
period of the president's term of office in the event of the president being
unable to continue due to incapacitation, ill-health or death.

Zanu PF insiders say political, health and age pressures have come to bear
on Mugabe - as well as peer pressure - and he now wants out. Mugabe (81) is
struggling to contain the current political and economic crises.

His health is also understood to be increasingly failing. Health sources
said Mugabe was yesterday morning examined by Professor Jonathan Matenga, a
cardiologist, at the Diagnostic Heart Centre in Harare. (See story below.)

Although Zanu PF failed to win the two-thirds majority it needed to make
constitutional amendments, it managed to secure the majority through Mugabe's
appointment of 12 non-constituency MPs and eight provincial governors who
are also legislators.

After the amendment, Mujuru, now widely regarded in Zanu PF circles as a
"presidential apprentice", will act as president when Mugabe is away to gain
experience.

Sources said Mujuru already attends all crucial meetings and briefings with
Mugabe to learn the ropes. Insiders say she is now literally going through a
presidential preparatory programme.

The sources say the constitutional amendments would ensure the presidential
and parliamentary elections would be held together in 2010. They would also
state that the president who takes over in 2008 would be elected by a
two-thirds majority in parliament. Mujuru would be voted in as interim
president before the combined elections in 2010.

Mugabe said in Indonesia last month that he would definitely be going when
his current term ends.
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Zim Independent

Death knell for indigenisation tolls
Ray Matikinye
ZIMBABWE'S capital Harare looks pristine and decongested after decades when
it resembled a metropolis about to suffocate under piles of garbage.

Despite its alleys still reeking of urine and the occasional evidence of
human waste in downtown areas, critics say the general cleanliness belies
deep-seated resentment among those whose source of livelihood was sacrificed
to achieve the feat.

Informal traders last week relived scenes reminiscent of the agony and pain
squatters at Mbare Msika endured a few years ago when they were forcibly
moved to Porta Farm on the outskirts of the city.

But this time there was no visiting royalty whom the authorities did not
wish to witness deteriorating living standards in their former colony.
Council officials were responding to a clean-up call of the city environs by
residents agitated by years of neglect.

When Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono presented his monetary review policy
with unexpected forthrightness, no one expected he would propose
construction of additional jails to take in parallel market traders who he
blames for playing havoc with his turnaround programme.

Novelist George Or-well would describe Gono's proposed solution as a law of
the suspect "that strikes away all security for self-reliance and delivers
any good or innocent people who have committed petty offences into prison
without assurances that their case will ever be heard".

A hard long-standing foreign currency crunch has generated crisis-level fuel
and food shortages with government officials appearing clueless on how to
solve the problem.

"We are aware of the iniquitous parallel market rates for foreign currency
and goods in short supply currently prevailing in this market and find it
ludicrous that Zimbabweans are forced by circumstances to trade their toil,
sweat and blood at these ridiculous levels," Gono said.

At the moment, Zimbabwe is failing to cope with a burgeoning prison
population that it can neither feed nor clothe.

And years of economic stagnation and an indigenisation programme that has
empowered Zanu PF apparatchiks have turned most of Zimbabwe's unemployed
into subsistence traders who have cluttered pavements and streets in major
towns with their wares. Experts put Zimbabwe's unemployment rate at 80%.

Gono seems the kind of well-meaning bureaucrat who thinks Zimbabwe's
crisis-laden economy could be remedied if he amended a few by-laws and
abolished a few anomalies.

On the eve of Gono's monetary policy review, police blitzed street vendors
and flea market traders who are part of a growing informal sector spawned by
joblessness, flattening their stalls in search of scarce hard currency.

The tear-jerking demolitions impoverished thousands who make a living on the
streets of the capital.

Men, women and young adults trying to make an honest living were caught up
in the indiscriminate blitz as Gono tried to mop up any hard currency he
could lay his hands on.

Economic experts say from the onset Gono had his priorities upside down. He
tried to be a deus ex machina, trying to solve everyone's problems by
showering money in every direction.

His approach to solving Zimbabwe's decades-old economic problems seems to
appeal to a change of spirit rather than a change of structure without any
definite remedy.

An appeal for a change of heart is the alibi of a bureaucrat who does not
want to endanger the status quo.

But the victims in the capital blame Chinese nationals who have set up shop
in major towns and cities for their plight.

"They want to destroy the competition by taking over flea markets
themselves," complained Cynthia Masuku, who was caught up in a police blitz
at Rezende Street in the capital.

Masuku claims she lost $2 million kept in her trunk when police raided the
flea market. "People should just boycott their (Chinese) shops. They are the
source of our problems."

Simbainashe Nyekete, another flea-market operator along Julius Nyerere Way,
said: "This is a new form of colonialism. Soon we will have to fight to
dislodge these Chinese from our midst."

Millions of dollars worth of timber and other furniture-making material went
up in smoke in Glen View suburb when police torched stalls there.

In the vagueness of reasoning that could be likened to curing pimples by
cutting them, Gono's and government's utter lack of compassion for the small
man were apparent.

"We were victims of intentions to punish the poor man. Government knows the
big-time culprits of foreign currency leakages but would rather go for the
powerless," complained 28- year-old Arison Rukweza, who said he was a
qualified machinist who turned to repairing mobile phones and vending when
he failed to get a job.

Sithembiso Nyoni, the informal sector minister, condoned the demolition of
informal traders' stalls saying this had been necessitated by the emergence
of criminal activities in the informal sector.
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Zim Independent

Flea market traders face bleak future
Grace Kombora
STANDING with his arms folded across his chest Lovemore Motsi shakes his
head in disbelief at the closed Union Avenue flea market, hopelessness
written on every line of his face and visibly shaken by what had happened to
him.

Motsi (24) wonders what the future holds for him as his flea market business
had been demolished in the campaign codenamed "Operation Restore Order".

Holding the remaining cellphone charger for sale, he struggles to come to
terms with what happened to him.

"This was my source of livelihood . . . now they are destroying where we
used to sell our goods. Where do they want us to go?" Motsi said after
gathering himself.

Being the only breadwinner in his family, Motsi wonders how his family would
survive with his sole source of livehood gone.

"Mabasa hakuna and tiri kuedza kuzvibatsira saka vanoda kuti tiitei kana
vachipwanya patinotengesera (There are no jobs, so what do they want us to
do if they are destroying our stalls)?" he added.

Motsi said the irony of "Operation Restore Order" was that it would lead to
prostitution and thieving as most people now do not have sources of income
but will find the easiest sources.

"The city will be flooded with prostitutes and thieves because people have
no jobs but need money," he said.

Motsi said it was going to take a long time for him to find another place to
sell his wares and to cope with the situation.

Since his business has been shattered, Motsi continues to come and sit
outside Union Avenue flea market expecting a change of heart from the city
council.

"I expect that something might be done, maybe they might give us somewhere
else to operate. If they want to give these areas to the Chinese they should
have allocated us somewhere else rather than chasing us away like rats," he
said.

Motsi attributed the crackdown to pressure from newly arrived Chinese
businessmen to stop secondhand dealers undercutting their cheap imports.
Leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change Morgan Tsvangirai
was quoted in the press saying the country has been "mortgaged to the
Chinese".

"How can we violently remove Zimbabweans from our flea markets to make

way for the Chinese?" he said. "The majority of Zimbabweans depend on
informal trade to feed, clothe and educate their families."

Under President Robert Mugabe's "Look East" policy, the country has acquired
aircraft and jet fighters from Beijing, rejecting calls to restore links
with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank severed in 1998 over
chronic budget indiscipline.

"How can they try to please foreigners at our expense?" Motsi said.

Motsi condemned the city council and police for not giving notice to the
flea market dealers, which he said showed the insensitivity of the
government.

Cash and many valuable goods are said to have been lost in the process.

Motsi, fuming with anger, blamed the police for dealing with the wrong
people.

"As the operation is aiming at bringing sanity to Harare, touts, pavement
vendors and street kids should have been the victims not us because we
operate under legal buildings," Motsi said.

Motsi blamed the government for condemning flea market operators as foreign
currency dealers.

"Flea market operators are not foreign currency dealers but we aim at
raising money for a living through selling goods," he said.

Flea markets are alleged to be a safe haven for parallel market traders in
foreign currency and fuel.

Presenting his monetary policy review, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor
Gideon Gono warned of measures to curb hoarding of goods.

"Those inclined towards consumptive shopping trips are among the largest
culprits in exerting parallel market pressure, and their operations must be
curbed by every means possible under the new drive to instill discipline in
our markets," Gono said.

Gono said illegal operators were not paying taxes but were big players in
the game of externalising foreign currency bought at whatever price.

Flea market operators are accused of hoarding basic goods and selling them
at exorbitant prices.

Mike Davies, the chairperson of the Combined Harare Residents Association,
said the destruction of flea markets was illegal and showed how heavy-handed
the regime was in dealing with Zimbabweans.

Davies accused the Sekesai Makwavarara-led commission of insensitivity in
dealing with ratepayers.

"The city council should have engaged in a dialogue to show their concern
with citizens because there is no future without dialogue," Davies said.

Davies warned of possible violence.

"This heavy-handedness is a sign of a ruthless regime," he said. "A
legitimate government should act like government not a gang of thugs."

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) condemned the ongoing operation
saying it was illegal and in violation of property rights.

"These acts by the ZRP and municipal police are clearly and manifestly
illegal as they had no lawful order to evict mostly licensed flea market
operators and tuck shop owners," the ZLHR said.

The ZLHR said despite the fact that flea market operators were paying
rentals to the Harare City Council they were evicted.
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Zim Independent

Morris to quiz Mugabe over food aid
Augustine Mukaro
UNITED Nations special envoy on humanitarian assistance James Morris, who is
coming to Zimbabwe next week, is expected to quiz President Robert Mugabe
over his government's failure to submit a consolidated aid appeal in the
face of a deteriorating food crisis.

Morris, who tried on five occasions to persuade Mugabe to change his failed
economic policies and remove bureaucratic obstacles to food output and
distribution, is scheduled to fly into the country on June 1 to assess the
food situation.

Morris, who is also the World Food Programme executive director, is already
in the Southern African region on the same mission. He has so far been to
South Africa and Zambia. He is expected to visit Malawi before coming to
Zimbabwe.

Mugabe last year blocked Morris, who was on a similar trip, from visiting
Zimbabwe, claiming he was busy and that the country was expecting a bumper
harvest of a record 2,4 million tonnes of the staple maize.

It later emerged that government feared Morris would meet with opposition

parties and civil society groups who would give a different account of the
food situation.

Contrary to Mugabe's claims, Zimbabwe has been hit by a massive grain
deficit and recently admitted it needed to import 1,2 million tones of
maize.

Morris at the time said if Zimbabwe produced a bumper harvest that would be
one of the most miraculous recoveries in history. He said it was
inconceivable for a country emerging from a huge deficit to recover and then
produce a record harvest.

UN Southern Africa spokesman Mike Huggins told the Zimbabwe Independent that
Morris hopes to discuss a whole range of humanitarian issues when he comes
to Harare.

"Morris will discuss a whole range of humanitarian assistance and food is
part of it," Huggins said.

Zimbabwe and other countries in the region are affected by the "triple
threat" of food insecurity, weakened capacity for good governance and HIV
and Aids.

Morris will be accompanied by Ann Veneman, newly-appointed executive
director of Unicef on his visit. Veneman will also travel to Swaziland
during her visit. This will be her first field visit since taking up the top
post at Unicef at the beginning of May.

Morris's visit comes at a time when Zimbabwe is in the throes of severe
shortages of food, fuel and other basic commodities. Widespread shortages
have become the order of the day in most urban centres where shops have run
out of basic commodities such as maize meal, bread, sugar, cooking oil and
milk.
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Zim Independent

Harare home-seekers face billion-dollar losses
Augustine Mukaro/Grace Kombora
HOME-SEEKERS in Harare could have been duped of billions of dollars by
unscrupulous agents selling council and state land without authority as
residential stands.

Officials in the Harare city council yesterday said the sale of the
residential stands was illegal and structures that had already been erected
would be demolished.

Those who have already set up illegal structures yesterday said they would
not move even if it meant "a bloody confrontation with government".

"We have been given a three-month deadline to demolish these houses and
leave," Robert Mashanda, a "property owner" at the Joshua Nkomo Township, an
illegal settlement between Kambuzuma and New Marimba Park, said.

"But I can assure you that we are not going anywhere because these are
permanent structures which have cost us a fortune to put up. We are prepared
to defend our properties with our lives.

"Remember this is not the first time government has wanted to evict us. They
tried it (four years ago) and failed. So what makes them think it will work
this time around?"

Jefias Chikono, one of the stand owners who was putting final touches to his
five-roomed house, took a swipe at government accusing it of being
insensitive to people's plight.

"Over 300 000 families live in either backyard structures or have moved to
these peri-urban settlements. Where will they go if these structures are
demolished?" Chikono said.

The stands are not connected to running water or sewer lines. They do not
have paved roads or electricity.

Among those selling the stands is 21st Century Housing Co-operative, run by
Zanu PF-aligned clergyman Obediah Msindo of the Destiny for Afrika Network.
Other housing co-operatives have already sold land in Kambuzuma, Marimba,
Hatfield and Waterfalls. Officials at Town House yesterday said the projects
had not been sanctioned by council.

Chair of the Harare Commission Sekesai Makwavarara last year attended the
official launch of one of the housing schemes. In the run-up to the March
polls she, together with Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo,
attended the launch of the 21st Century Housing Scheme at Bunkers Hill Farm
in Hatfield.

Town House now says the scheme, together with others dotted around the city,
are illegal. They have since given people building houses in these areas
three months to vacate or face forcible eviction.

Yesterday allegedly bogus estate agents selling stands in the undesignated
areas still had adverts in the papers inviting home-seekers to take up plots
at give away prices. The agents said they were given the go-ahead to sell
the stands by Chombo.

One of the companies developing houses at the illegal settlements, Amalish
Investments, said they had legal documents from the Ministry of Local
Government authorising their activities.

"Our houses are legal and we have papers that show that they are genuine,"
an official at Amalish said.

Amalish Investments is selling 300-2 000 square-metre stands at Stoneridge,
Eyre and Joshua Nkomo townships in the southern part of the capital. The
value of the stands ranges from $15 million to $50 million with deposits
varying from $3 million to $10 million and the balance payable over 12
months. The market value of such stands is between $40 million and $200
million.

Many of the housing schemes were initiated by Zanu PF parliamentary
candidates as a way of luring voters.

Names of the housing schemes include Leopold Takawira, Simon Muzenda, Moven
Mahachi, Chenjerai Hunzvi, Sally Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo.

But council officials yesterday warned people not to buy the stands.

"Structures along Airport Road and others that were built without council
approval are illegal so they will be demolished," an official from the city
council's housing department said.

"As the governor (of Harare metropolitan David Karimanzira) said there won't
be any selective application of the law. No illegal structure will be
spared, so people should not purchase any stands for peri-urban settlements
until this exercise is finished because they might fall victims of the
operation."

The destruction of the properties is part of government's blitz codenamed
"Operation Murambatsvina".

The operation has seen the destruction of street stalls and flea markets run
by informal traders and the arrest of foreigners and street people in the
urban areas. Government and local authorities have also said they will
destroy all unplanned backyard shacks in high density areas in the next
three months.
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Zim Independent

Midzi to testify in Moyo suit
Dumisani Muleya/Grace Kombora
MINES minister Amos Midzi will give evidence in the defamation court battle
pitting Speaker of Parliament John Nkomo and Zanu PF politburo member Dumiso
Dabengwa against former Information minister Jonathan Moyo.

Midzi will testify alongside two Zanu PF central committee members, Andrew
Langa and Abednico Ncube, and a host of other senior party regional leaders
from Matabeleland North.

Court papers in the Zimbabwe Independent's possession say Midzi, who lost to
opposition Movement for Democratic Change candidate Tapiwa Mashakada in the
March 31 general election, will tell the court that last year he received a
memorandum from Moyo inviting him to attend "a special programme at Dinyane
High School (in Tsholotsho) on November 18 2004".

Moyo is suing Nkomo and Dabengwa for damages arising from alleged defamatory
remarks they made during a meeting held in Tsholotsho in January in the
aftermath of the Dinyane indaba, which President Robert Mugabe said was
designed to oust the party leadership.

It is alleged at the January meeting Nkomo and Dabengwa accused Moyo of
organising the Dinyane meeting to stage a coup against the party leadership.
Moyo denies plotting a coup.

The Dinyane meeting brought together a Zanu PF faction widely seen as being
led by ruling party legal affairs secretary Emmerson Mnangagwa allegedly to
block Vice-President Joice Mujuru's ascendancy.

Mujuru belongs to a rival group led by her husband, former army commander

Solomon Mujuru. Mnangagwa's faction reportedly wanted its candidate to
become vice-president ahead of Mujuru.

The Dinyane meeting claimed a number of political casualties, including
Moyo, six Zanu PF provincial chairmen, and a host of other senior party
officials who were either demoted or punished one way or the other.

Mnangagwa also suffered demotion in the party where he was removed from the
post of secretary for administration to legal affairs secretary. He also
lost his position as speaker of parliament and was given a peripheral
ministry, that of Rural Housing and Social Amenities.

Other witnesses expected to testify against Moyo include former Zanu PF
Matabeleland North provincial chairman Jacob Mudenda, who was one of the six
chairmen suspended for five years after the Dinyane debacle.

Court papers say Mudenda will say he attended the Dinyane meeting and was
the Master of Ceremonies. He will also give a detailed account of what
happened there.

Former Chronicle editor Stephen Ndlovu will also testify. He will say he was
the one who caused a newspaper article on the January meeting to be
published in his former paper on January 13 - which is part of the basis of
Moyo's lawsuit - and say how he obtained his information.

"He will further deny he spoke to the defendants (Nkomo and Dabengwa) with
regards to what transpired at the said meeting prior or during the
publication of the newspaper article," documents say.

Other witnesses are listed in the court documents as Leonard Memeza
Mthombeni, Velaphi Mlingo, Kembo Tshuma, Believe Gaule, Patrick Ngwenya,
Headman Moyo, Josephine Moyo, Cain Mathema, Musa Mathema, Maria Sithole,
Kossam Ndlovu and Madeline Bhebhe.
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Zim Independent

Govt policy to blame for food crisis

A NEW study points to critical policy errors as the main reasons for food
and nutrition insecurity in Zimbabwe, in particular government's fast-track
land redistribution programme.

It is still unclear just how many Zimbabweans will face food shortages this
year, although aid agencies have put the figure at around 5,5 million. A
recent countrywide survey of communities indicated a sharply deteriorating
food security situation, with 82% of districts reporting widespread crop
failure after poor rains in the 2004/05 cropping season.

The study, funded by the UK Department for International Development,
acknowledged the adverse impact of poor weather on the harvest, but argued
that poor policy choices were among the chief reasons why the food crisis
has dragged on since the marketing year of 2002/03.

It noted that as large-scale commercial farms were taken over under the
controversial land redistribution programme in 2000, the area planted has
fallen dramatically - at one point to less than half the area previously
tilled - as did the use of hybrid seed and fertiliser.State control of maize
marketing through the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) worsened the situation.

"The GMB set the buying price of maize but, given rapid inflation, this
price was unattractive, so farmers had little incentive to invest in
intensified production and generate a surplus of maize," the researchers
said.

To illustrate the extent to which policy failures impacted on production,
the study used three Southern African countries with similar weather
patterns and compared actual harvest figures for Zambia and South Africa
between 2000-04 with projected harvests in Zimbabwe over the same period had
fast-track land reform not taken place.The results showed that Zimbabwe
might have had a smaller harvest in 2001, but after that its output would
have been much larger: between 2001 and 2004 the actual harvest was 3,77
megatonnes; in the research model production it reached 6,24 megatonnes.

Had Zimbabwe performed as modelled, the regional harvest deficit in 2002
would have been fully one-third less, considerably reducing the amount of
international food aid needed that year. - Irin.
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Zim Independent

Former farmers set conditions for return
Augustine Mukaro
DISPLACED commercial farmers are demanding a restoration of the rule of law
and removal of price controls as part of their conditions before they can
accept Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono's call for them to return to their
farms.

In his monetary policy statement last week Gono said due to the highly
specialised nature of modern farming there was need to promote ventures
between new farmers and former operators.

"There is great scope in the country promoting and supporting ventures
between new farmers with progressive-minded former operators of horticulture
estates, as well as other new investors, so as to hasten the skills transfer
cycle," Gono said.

Justice for Agriculture (JAG), a splinter group from the Commercial Farmers
Union, this week said farmers want government to first ensure that an
investment-friendly environment prevails before they could consider going
back to their farms.

"Farmers are demanding the return of the rule of law, respect for property
rights, security of tenure, uncontrolled markets and financial incentives as
prerequisites for coming back to the farms," JAG chairman John Worswick
said.

Specialised groups targeted for return to the land include dairy farmers,
conservancy owners, beef cattle farmers, as well as pig and poultry
producers.

Under this arrangement, the new investors or skilled former operators would
be given a special dispensation and guarantees of uninterrupted productive
tenure of between five and 10 years, backed by a resolute fight against any
disruptions on the farms by the relevant arms of government.

JAG said government had intensified its overtures with more than a dozen
farmers being approached.

"Government emissaries have approached a number of farmers in Mashonaland
East and West provinces," Worswick said. "Mash East governor Ray Kaukonde
led the team to some farmers in the province."

There used to be 156 dairy farms in Mashonaland East before the land reform
programme began but only 10 remain.

"In Mash West, government approached farmers around Biri Dam in the Banket
area," he said.

The province used to produce the bulk of the country's wheat and maize.
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Zim Independent

Rural households out of food
Shakeman Mugari
MOST of Zimbabwe's rural households have run out of food, forcing hungry
villagers to buy the little available grain from the black market, a food
security report has revealed.

The Famine Early Warning System Network (Fewsnet), a United Nations agency,
says many rural households have exhausted last year's harvest and people
face starvation without urgent maize imports.

The report warns that the crisis could worsen because other crops that
normally provide alternative sources of food also failed.

"The majority of farming households will harvest nothing and are already
dependent on the market for all their food requirements at a time when
(their) own crop production would normally be their dominant source of
food," the warning says.

Fewsnet says Zimbabwe must urgently import and distribute food to needy
areas before disaster strikes, especially in the rural areas where some
families have not been able to harvest anything.

The report says the situation is unlikely to improve any time soon due to
lack of money to import enough maize to bridge the country's two seasons.

It warns that government, reeling under foreign currency shortages for
power, fuel and medicines, might not be able to import enough grain to see
the country to the next harvest in 10 months.

"Given the current shortages, importing adequate food for the nation in the
current consumption year is going to be an enormous challenge for Zimbabwe,"
warns the report.

The maize imports would also compete for the limited foreign currency with
other essential needs like fuel, electricity, medicine and education, it
says.

"At the same time, the need for food imports has to compete with other
national priorities such as fuel, electricity, medicines and education, all
of which require foreign currency."

Zimbabwe's foreign currency situation has been deteriorating steadily since
1999, with a deficit of over US$600 million last year, making government's
bid to import 1,2 million of maize an onerous task.

Government needs to raise US$818 million to import maize but indications on
the foreign currency auctions are that it would be difficult to raise such
large amounts. Credit facilities which would normally bridge the gap have
been cut because of government's failure to pay debts on time.

On top of foreign currency shortages, Fewsnet says even if food were
available, most people would not afford it because it is sold at exorbitant
prices on the black market. It also noted that escalating food prices on the
official market are likely to worsen the food security situation in urban
areas.

Food prices have gallopped with other basic commodities going up by more
than 60% in the last four weeks. Rising inflation is also likely to cause a
surge in the prices of basic commodities.

Meanwhile, South Africa has raised the price of maize. Zimbabwe imports most
of its maize from South Africa. Experts say the surge in maize prices was
due to increased demand from Zimbabwe which urgently needs 1,2 mil-lion
tonnes to get to the next harvest. Preliminary estimates indicate that
Zimbabwe might now need US$1 billion to import maize, up from US$818 million
initially indicated.

Bully Botman, chairman of Grain South Africa, said maize prices had gone up
by about R50 per tonne over the past few weeks. He said the price of white
maize had gone up from around R530 to between R580 and R600 a tonne. He said
yellow maize was slightly more expensive at between R630-R645, up from
around R600.

Commodity brokers say the increase was due to an overwhelming demand from
Zimbabwe. However, Botman said the price increase was due to speculation.

"They are anticipating higher prices due to growing demand, that's why it's
going up," he said.

Although government blames the food crisis on the drought, analysts say
things would not be this bad were it not for the chaotic land reform.

After realising the magnitude of the food crisis, President Mugabe last
month bowed to international pressure and agreed that the UN could come and
assess the situation.
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Zim Independent

IMF predicts 1,6% decline
Godfrey Marawanyika
THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted a minus 1,6% decline in
Zimbabwe's economic performance this year against the central bank's
optimistic forecast of positive growth.

The IMF has also predicted zero growth next year.

Last week Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono revised gross domestic product
forecasts for the year from an initial 3-5% in the fourth quarter to 2-2,5%.

In his monetary policy review statement last week, Gono attributed the
revision to the decline in agricultural output, which had been projected to
spur overall economic recovery.

He said the drought in the region would limit economic growth.

"Reflecting the dominance of agriculture in the country's productive
systems, the unfolding drought is expected to limit the forecast GDP growth
to an average real rate of 2-2,5%, down from the previous forecast of 3-5%,"
Gono said.

"There are distinct correlations between droughts in Zimbabwe, the overall
adverse performance of the economy and inflation, which ought to guide
turnaround policy priorities to promote food security and overall reduction
of inflation," said Gono.

However, a bank economist disputed the findings of the IMF and the RBZ as
optimistic.

"These are both optimistic figures. I would put the decline at between
5-10%. Things are not well in the country," said the economist.

"There is no movement on the exchange rate, employers will simply close
shop. In fact, they are building up a criminal market, which they are trying
to kill."

As of the end of last year, Zimbabwe's current account deficit was minus
US$463,7 million and the capital account stood at minus US$211,5 million.

In 2003, the current account recorded minus US$511,9 million while the
capital account recorded minus US$220,9 million.

The current account takes into account the country's exports and imports,
while the capital account takes into account issues such as foreign direct
investment, portfolio investment, and long and short-term capital.

By the end of 2003, the current account recorded minus US$511,9 million
while the capital account recorded minus US$220,9 million.

Last week Gono appealed for understanding by multi-lateral lenders as to why
the country was failing to settle debts on time.

He said Zimbabwean embassies across the world should launch investment
promotion campaigns to complement turnaround programmes being implemented at
home.

"On the international front, we made a good start towards normalising our
relations with the international community, especially our financing
partners of yesteryear, the IMF, World Bank, African Development Bank and
Afreximbank," he said.

"Where we did not do as well as we would have wanted is with our bilateral
creditors and those within the Paris Club of lenders. We pledge to look
after our outstanding debts as soon as it is practical to do so. I wish to
thank all our international creditors individually and collectively for
their understanding of our situation and support. We will not let them
down."

Since 1999, Zimbabwe has been experiencing massive capital flight because of
the hostile operating environment which was made worse by the shortage of
foreign currency which has resulted in the country failing to pay its
overdue accounts.

In February, the IMF, which Harare owes US$301 million, gave it a six-month
reprieve from suspension for failing to settle debts.

"We also remain committed to the full payment of all our debts to
international creditors, which repayment programme is already underway, and
is expected to be stepped up as the foreign exchange situation improves,"
Gono said.
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Zim Independent

Letter

Why spare the Chinese?

I WITNESSED with disgust the manner in which the police handled people at
flea markets and confisticated their wares from Monday to Friday last week,
coincidentally at the same time when our "economic revival" plan was being
presented by Gideon Gono, the Reserve Bank governor.

We are not sure if all the wares were returned to their rightful owners.

My heart bled and continues to bleed seeing commuters from Chitungwiza, for
example, being dropped off at the ABC Auction premises to walk for the
remainder of the journey into town because police won't allow commuter
omnibuses into the city centre.

What hurts most is that our political establishment has spared the Chinese
and allowed them to continue with their businesses.

Remember their shops also look like flea markets - if not worse. And worse
still, their products are not durable.

If I could ask: are these Chinese just selling to Zimbabwe and not
repatriating anything back home? Assuming they are, is it in Zim dollars, US
dollar or yuan?

Do we then have to go for plastic surgery or even change our names to be
acceptable?

Please do not turn us, enterprising people, into thieves and prostitutes by
denying us a decent livelihood.

This is just too much, we love being who we are!

Sekuru Venyu Mese,

Harare.
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Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

The madhouse

THOSE who have had the opportunity to read the Bible should be familiar with
the story of Jesus telling the Jews to destroy the temple and he would
rebuild it in three days. With his Messianic hands, he would build a better
and more prosperous city.

There is an age-old theory that one must destroy in order to build. That is
why in order to build new structures in the CBD, old ones have to be pulled
down. The same is true of human character. It is important sometimes to
destroy the old person in order to live a new life.

I am not sure whether the same principle is applicable with an economy.

This unfortunately appears to be the guiding policy of government. The
destruction the economy has been subjected to over the past five years bears
witness to this notion. There is a destructive hand on the loose in this
country.

It is being unleashed to destroy so that government can rebuild. That is why
we always hear our rulers talking of rebuilding the national herd,
rebuilding infrastructure on the farms, reviving the ailing manufacturing
sector, resuscitating the health sector, re-equipping Air Zimbabwe and Zupco
etc.

In all this frenzy of rebuilding, resuscitating, reforming and reviving,
government has tried to position itself as the saviour of the country. But
who is the killer here? Who is the destroyer?

I recall at the inception of the land reform programme when Justice minister
Patrick Chinamasa said something like you cannot make an omelette without
breaking eggs. Government in the name of land reform did break eggs but
where is the omelette? When government decided to embark on the chaotic land
reform programme, it killed grain production, it killed irrigation, it
decimated the dairy sector, and it butchered beef cattle and cut a swathe
through horticulture. Breaking eggs to do what Patrick?

Today government and its apostle, Gideon Gono, have been dishing out funds
to rehabilitate the agricultural sector. Gono is getting applause for his
largesse. He is our saviour.

Joseph Chinotimba last week talked of "our God-given governor". That's good
alliteration Joseph. (Don't bite your tongue though. Take it slowly.)

Last week Gono even proposed bringing back the "former operators" of
horticultural concerns to offer technical expertise. He could not call them
former white farmers because it is not politically correct. Government will
now seek glory for realising the importance of experienced hands in
agriculture. We will however not forget that government kicked out years of
experience on the farms and replaced them with corruption.

When Chinamasa spoke of the land revolution, I am sure he did not mean
stripping tractors, looting irrigation equipment, trashing farmhouses (look
at what they did to the late Enos Chikowore's farmhouse), cutting trees and
slaughtering game for the pot. What has been built out of this?

The destructive hand of government in schools, colleges and universities is
manifest. We do not need to discuss government's record in health and social
services.

That poisoned mindset is driving the current blitz against informal traders
in the CBD. I have no problem with attempts to spruce up the CBD and
ensuring no laundry is done on First Street. I however have a problem with
government criminalising institutions it helped to create. The reason why
there is a flourishing informal sector, albeit laced with criminal elements,
is because government has failed to develop and expand the formal sector.

Will government close companies, parastatals and some of its departments
simply because they are sabotaging the economy? Gono told us clearly where
corruption and graft are centred. Zimra, the police, parastatals and the
Department of Immigration.

I do not expect to see a blitz of equal force at these institutions because
our government has not been known to deal decisively with real issues. The
men and women running our government are crazy with blitzes that are
unfortunately aimed at the wrong targets. The real criminals manning high
offices have escaped the net.

Gono promised us that he would deal with those who abused the public sector
funds, those who diverted agro-loans to buy vehicles and other goodies and
those politicians who have been encouraging their supporters not to repay
loans. We don't expect anything spectacular. Remember the VIP housing
scheme, the DDF boreholes scam and the embarrassing looting of the War
Victims Compensation Fund? Are the perpetrators of these social crimes not
occupying top offices in government and parastatals? These are the real
criminals who have been shielded from arrest by political patronage.

I still want to refer to the adage of breaking eggs to make omelettes. If
ever Zimbabwe needs to destroy in order to build, the first structure that
must to be brought down is the coterie of blind leaders currently running
the asylum of patronage.

Frankly speaking, what damage to the city were the flower vendors at Africa
Unity Square causing? Did their flowers not look extremely beautiful whether
passing along Jason Moyo Avenue or from La Fontaine Restaurant at Meikles?

Who is the criminal here? The flower vendors or Sekesai Makwavarara and

company, who have for weeks failed to repair the damaged fresh water pipes
along Harare Street? What can they build in Harare after all this
destruction? More chaos I suppose.

We are now in a madhouse and the inmates are in charge!
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Zim Independent

Gono's turnaround turns nasty

Dumisani Muleya

RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono, currently President Robert
Mugabe's point man on the economy, last week presented his monetary policy
review statement that is unlikely to put brakes on a slide that is taking
the whole country down the path of poverty.

Gono's review was widely expected to provide relief to a restless population
battered by the long-running political and economic crisis.

The country anxiously awaited the policy - a macroeconomic concept of
managing money supply (monetary aggregates or stock) and velocity in the
economy - hoping Gono would provide a panacea, especially in view of his
recent achievements in stabilising inflation.

The anxiety was heightened by the fact that Zimbabwe's sea of troubles,
which had temporarily subsided last year, courtesy of Gono's policy
interventions, had come back in full flood after March's disputed general
election.

Gono faced an unenviable task. Macroeconomic fundamentals, interest,
exchange, and inflation rates, were badly skewed and needed realignment.

Interests rates, the main instrument of monetary policy, were too high for
debt-ridden businesses to borrow, but at the same time in negative
territory, defeating efforts to combat inflation.

The exchange rate was also misaligned as the ailing Zimbabwe dollar was
overvalued by over 300%. Devaluation, which does not work unless it is
accompanied by a package of other economic measures, was inevitable due to
the huge gap in the balance-of-payments position.

Monetarists, Chicago School economists as they are also known, say if a
currency is overvalued it prices goods out of markets, which is damaging to
exporters, and widens the trade deficit. It can also be inflationary, just
like an undervalued currency.

Gono also had to deal with inflation, which despite falling from a record
peak of 622,8% in January last year to 123% in March, had surged to 129,1%
last month.

Irrepressible inflationary pressures were bubbling under the surface due to
increased money supply and a wave of wage hikes unmatched by production
before the last election.

Money supply grew 222,6% last year and continues to grow at an alarming
rate, showing a high velocity of fiat money. The monetarist doctrine says
money supply expansion in excess of real economic growth debases the value
of the currency and fuels exchange rate instability.

There were also shortages of foreign currency, food, fuel, electricity and
basic commodities. Captains of industry had warned that more companies faced
closure and poverty was worsening against a background of rising
unemployment.

The fiscal policy, through which government influences the economy via the
budget, especially taxation and resource allocations, was in disarray. There
can be no monetary policy to talk about if there is a collapse of fiscal
policy.

The budget deficit that reached an unprecedented 25% of gross domestic
product (GDP) in 2003, was too high. Zimbabwe's economy, one of the fastest
shrinking in the world, contracted by a cumulative 30% of real GDP in the
past five years.

Gono was thus expected to adopt bold measures - not shock therapy - to put
the economy on a sound footing.

Gono increased secured interest rates to 160%, from 95% and unsecured
lending rates from 105% to 170% per annum. Concessionary lending rates for
exporters were set at 5%, from 50%, and for agriculture at 20% per annum.

GDP growth was revised from a maximum of 5% to 2,5% but the question is how
does an economy grow when all its major sectors are declining?

There were incentives for gold, tobacco and cotton. In a serious indictment
of the failed the land reform exercise, Gono proposed "command agriculture"
and appealed for a return of evicted "specialist" white farmers to revive a
sector wrecked by a chaotic land redistribution programme.

In another move, Gono devalued the local currency by a negligible 45%, from
US$1: $6 200 to US$1: $9 000, saying he would not legitimise "ridiculous
exchange rates" ruling the "iniquitous parallel market".

Observers described Gono's politically-determined exchange rate as
ineffectual insofar as it has no relationship with the prevailing market
situation.

Although Gono was well intentioned and actually did his best under terrible
conditions, his measures were in the final analysis piecemeal and woefully
inadequate to make a significant difference to the state of the economy.

Admittedly, Gono is operating within severe political constraints. But
people assume that when Gono came in he understood those realities and knew
how he would negotiate his way on critical issues.

In the late 1980s in the US, Paul Volcker was succeeded by the current
Federal Reserve governor Alan Greenspan, a leading monetarist. Greenspan's
firm handling of monetary policy in the run up to the 1991 presidential
election amid an economic recession, was widely criticised from the American
right as being excessively tight, but he stood his ground, costing George H
W Bush (Senior) re-election.

When Bill Clinton came into office he reappointed Greenspan, and kept him as
a core member of his economic team. Greenspan while he remained
fundamentally monetarist in orientation, argued that doctrinaire application
of theory was insufficiently flexible for central banks to meet emerging
situations, especially those like the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

But in Zimbabwe Gono cannot stand up to Mugabe and his incompetent regime
which appears dangerously out of touch with the practicalities of modern
economics. This is why he often comes up with half measures, especially on
devaluation.

Out of desperation, Gono last
week instigated a crackdown on black market dealers and hotels, claiming
they were hoarding foreign currency. By mid-week at least 10 000 people had
been arrested in a vicious drive to crush the black market economy, a
symptom of a deep-seated economic malaise.

However, observes say the crackdown - which has political overtones - is
pointless and bound to fail because the shortages, especially of foreign
currency and basic commodities, are market conditions stemming out of a
disequilibrium between demand and supply.

Instead of arresting black market merchants who are creatures of economic
collapse, Gono should be arresting inflation and the broad economic
freefall.

To further advertise his exasperation, Gono, who spoke in an emotional and
aggressive tone, proposed building more jails to lock up underworld dealers.

Blaming "indiscipline in the economy", foreigners, and parallel market
dealers for failure to meet policy targets is unhelpful. Excuses bordering
on threats and xenophobia cannot achieve economic recovery.

What Gono needs to understand is rent-seeking behaviour is an indication of
the breakdown of political and economic structures. He also needs to
understand that there can be no sustainable economic recovery without
fundamental political reforms or a negotiated political settlement to the
current crisis.

This is where the crux of the matter lies. Everything else, strictly
speaking, is secondary.

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Zim Independent

Swedish press law/Aippa poles apart
By Sizwe Thuthuka
LAST year, the Embassy of Sweden in Harare organised a tour for local
journalists to visit media regulatory agencies, journalist unions and
prominent media houses in that country. The tour was a culmination of
incessant government propaganda that sought to present the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) as a lesser evil than the
Swedish Freedom of the Press Act.

In a statement, Kristina Svensson, Ambassador of Sweden to Zimbabwe, told
the journalists that she wanted to promote a better understanding of Swedish
media laws and the freedom of expression culture in her country.

The tour was open to journalists from both the private and government media.
Journalists from Zimpapers and Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings opted out
under unclear circumstances, even when their bosses, under the banner of the
Zimbabwe Association of Editors, resolved to take part. Take part they did,
but they chose to remain silent after the tour.

Private media journalists who took part in the tour gave testimonials that
contradicted the perception given by pro-Aippa supporters such as Media and
Information Commission (MIC) chairperson Tafataona Mahoso. The journalists
wrote about voluntary media regulation and zero-tolerance for government
interference in the operation of the media.

This came under criticism from those defending harsh regulations on the
media in Zimbabwe. For example, Tendai Chari writing in the Sunday Mirror in
his column "Media analysis" chose an example of the arrest of a journalist
in the 80s to buttress his claims that even in the West journalists are
arrested and have to operate within the confines "of the law".

The writing on the wall can sometimes be deceptive. In a lengthy article in
2002, Mahoso conveniently cited clauses in the Swedish Freedom of the Press
Act that limit the right of the media to publish state secrets and other
classified information. Despite his brilliant attempt, he conveniently
ignored to mention that a competent court of law, not an extra-judiciary
body (or quasi-judiciary bodies) such as the MIC, handles such cases. Even
then, the right to freedom of expression takes precedence over other
interests in such matters.

Swedes protect their media from any form of censorship and punish anyone
found guilty of attempting to censor information. They subsidise private
media and have used the concept of the ombudsman to ensure journalists -
local and foreign - have unfettered access to information. A voluntary press
council ensures that complaints by members of the public on media conduct
are resolved amicably thereby minimising costs that would have otherwise
been expended had the case been handled through normal court processes.

The 1766 Swedish Freedom of the Press Act is premised on preventing any
public authority from censoring news and information. Aippa is premised on a
different set of principles altogether. Clearly, one of them is to curb
perceived negative reporting about Zimbabwe by sections of the media, if it
is really true that its provisions were based on the recommendations of a
survey by the government-appointed Media Ethics Committee.

There is nothing objectionable to this when it is done within the confines
of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, which is the supreme law of the land. The
Supreme Court has confirmed that some restrictions and penalties in Aippa
are acceptable, but on all occasions, these decisions have not been
unanimous.

Of concern is the continuing rhetoric that is churned out by the new office
bearers in the Ministry of Information and Publicity, aided by their
eloquent permanent secretary George Charamba. Despite the fact that there is
limited and anecdotal evidence linking practice under Aippa to practice
under laws in the West, they continue invoking statutes elsewhere -
Portugal, Switzerland, Britain and the United States - as either similar or
worse than Aippa.

If Aippa were bad, none of the "noisy" private newspapers would be
operational, they argue.

We are short of Western examples on the latter - which is the reason the
debate is reduced to "clauses" and "provisions" in these Western statutes,
at the expense of concrete examples on the ground, a challenge which media
professionals and civic media organisations have not taken up.

The wording in the statutes may be similar, but their implementation in
Zimbabwe has failed to convince even the most indoctrinated that the actions
of the MIC are necessary for the promotion of the free flow of information
in the public interest.

One imagines the apprehension that afflicts the new Information minister and
his deputy when journalists and civic media organisations talk about the
repeal of broadcasting laws and Aippa. It means they have a reduced mandate
if they choose to do away with the institutions created by these laws.

However, information ministries have a life beyond repressive legislation,
as examples elsewhere indicate. Some countries have enshrined provisions
that uphold freedom of expression and the media, but have done away with
full ministries of information. Countries closer to home such as Mozambique
and South Africa are good examples.

Simply put, the free flow of information in the public interest does not
need political interference.

However, given the current dispensation, journalists and civic media
organisations should demand that the practice in Sweden and other countries
given as examples now and again be practised in Zimbabwe. This means that
journalists can initiate parallel engagement with a view to having the laws
repealed and also have the anomalies that occurred due to their enactment
revisited immediately.

*Sizwe Thuthuka is an independent media commentator based in Harare.
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Zim Independent

Which god does Gideon Gono serve?
By Peter Thompson
WHAT is it about our leaders that they feel that they must make constant
reference to the Bible when trying to implement new policies or strategies?

Did we not have Finance minister Herbert Murerwa a few years ago making
reference to Jeremiah 29:11 and God's plans for Zimbabwe? These plans have
obviously failed, unless God is of course still working them out.

The Jews spent many years in exile before God answered their prayers and His
answers were not those that they expected. In addition, the Jews were
expected to turn from their evil ways to enable God to respond. God will not
respond while we as sinners do not acknowledge our sinfulness.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono's references to
scripture last week cannot go unchallenged as it seems that our leaders
constantly quote scripture in the hope (forlorn I fear) that God will
somehow bless the statement and plans.

Even a cursory reading of the Bible will indicate that God may or may not
bless His people but in the event that He does, there are usually a set of
preconditions for such blessing. These preconditions would include a respect
for justice, an abhorrence of evil, a turning to God in humility and the
seeking of God's forgiveness for sins. None of these have our leaders done
and therefore in my humble opinion God is not obliged to bless this nation.

Gono compared Zimbabwe to the Israelites fleeing Egypt but wanting to return
to Egypt. This begs the question as to his perception of his role in this.
Does he see himself as a Moses and if so which god is he responding to? Is
it God in heaven or an earthly god? I fear the latter.

Is Gono aware that even when Moses led the people out of Egypt that they
still spent 40 years wandering around the desert because the people failed
to obey God. This is why they constantly looked back at Egypt and until we
as a nation and our leaders in particular acknowledge that we have failed,
that we have missed the mark, we will continue to wander in the desert.

The Promised Land will, I fear, remain a dream of what might have been. The
jewel is rapidly losing its lustre if it has not already been irredeemably
pawned.

Towards the end of Gono's statement he makes specific reference to a
scripture, although he does not quote the reference, because it does not
exist. In none of my Bibles could I find the scripture "God helps those who
help themselves". This is not in the Bible and I would be pleased if he can
show us the reference!

Gono also makes reference to the special case of Zimbabwe as an excuse to
avoid devaluation. He refers to the fact that Zimbabwe is import-dependent
and therefore devaluation will not be a cure for all.

My knowledge of economic theory is limited but this does not prevent me from
making comparisons with other countries and how they have dealt with
economic crises. I would respectfully suggest that the RBZ and government
look at the experience of New Zealand, which in the mid-80s underwent a
structural adjustment programme that has turned that country around.

With all due respect to the Kiwis, Zimbabwe with its mineral, agricultural,
manufacturing and proximity to markets has far greater potential than New
Zealand. New Zealand is/was also an import-dependent country and primarily
an agricultural country yet they managed to avoid the problems that we are
going through. The difference being that they were prepared to adopt sound
economic and political policies.

The New Zealanders realised that they needed to compete in a world which
does not owe them a living. They were prepared to consider the good of all
the people before the financial and political security of just a few.

Gono also stresses the need for this strategy and the resolution of the
problems to be handled by Zimbabweans and that we should not rely on outside
help.

In the business world consultants and/or advisors are brought in to guide,
lead, train, assist and improve the business. This is an accepted business
practice and I would hazard a guess that there are all manner of highly
respected organisations in the world that are more than willing to provide
this assistance to Zimbabwe.

It is however nave of us to expect that this assistance will be provided
without preconditions. Changes need to be made for the advice to be
implemented successfully.

What Gono does not readily acknowledge is that all of the problems we now
face are a result of mismanagement, greed and insatiable demand for power
and control by a few individuals. If this country were a corporate entity I
would hope that the shareholders and other stakeholders would have fired the
board and management by now! If Zimbabwe were a bank then a curator would
have been appointed some time ago.

This brings me to my next comment that the policies and requirements to be
implemented place an unnecessary burden on business. I agree that there is
need for sound corporate governance and fiscal prudence but this must come
from the top down. It cannot be a bottom-up approach.

In other words, Gono is demanding fiscal prudence from corporates who are
penalised and or criminalised by Zimra, NECI etc for the slightest
irregularity but the same standards are not required for parastatals and
more noticeably the government. Do as I say not as I do? A simplified
structure of less controls would, all things being equal, achieve a much
better response.

*Peter Thompson writes from Harare.
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Zim Independent

Africans simply can't eat rhetoric
By Tony Namate
MAY 25 to me is that day of the year when we have to contend with the
"visions" of visionless African leaders as they wallow in their
hollow-sounding Pan-Africanist rhetoric about solidarity, unity,
sovereignty, ubuntu, uhuru - ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

Any excuse to make you think they care for you, you ungrateful African.

Bad news: few African leaders practise what they preach. They get more
corrupt, more entrenched and more undemocratic with each passing year.

Some notable exceptions, though, include Joacquim Chissano, Nelson Mandela
and Ketumile Masire. The jury is still out on Malawi's Bingu wa Mutarika,
Zambia's Levy Mwanawasa, Festus Mogae of Botswana and Ghanaian John Kuffour.

African corruption is unique because there are no checks and balances in
place, only cheques and bank balances. Corruption, the currency of the
corridors of power, is the black hole of African governments. Nepotism,
patronage and cronyism - forms of corruption that would make Don Corleone
blush in embarrassment - are openly encouraged, even in countries where
corruption ministries have been created!

In 1980 the International Monetary Fund (IMF)'s Edwin Blumenthal resigned
from Zaire's central bank after he complained of "sordid and pernicious
corruption (so serious that) there is no chance, I repeat no chance, that
Zaire's numerous creditors will ever recover their loans".

South Africa's corruption scaled dizzy heights when Mandela left office. It
has become so endemic that a 4x4 or Merc off-roader is now referred to as a
yengeni, while the African National Congress inner circle is sometimes
called the Xhosa Nostra. I wonder what they will call a zuma or a shaik?

Most African leaders amass wealth not as a privilege, but a birthright.
Theirs is "egonomics", the economics of enriching oneself. In an article
entitled Dictators and Debt, Joseph Hanlon wrote: "One-fifth of all
developing country debt consists of loans given to prop up compliant
dictators . . . Even when they committed gross human rights violations, were
notoriously corrupt and blatantly transferred money to Swiss banks, the flow
of loans continued." And state coffers are used to repay these loans.

It's business as usual in Africa.

Hanlon thinks that "by forcing repayment of these loans, we say that it is
acceptable to lend to corrupt and oppressive dictators".

Swaziland has the highest rate of HIV and Aids in the world, yet its rotund
and randy monarch keeps adding young girls every year to his harem as if his
life depended on it. And the lustful ingonyama isn't stopping any time soon.
Already, two of his "wives" have deserted him. This is not my idea of female
empowerment.

Democracy is anathema to most African leaders: they brought you democracy,
yet they won't allow you to vote for a leader of your choice!

Unfortunately, some African church leaders are also a disappointment. They
amass obscene wealth by milking their gullible followers, then turn around
to say the people's rewards await them in heaven! Men of the cloth have
become thieves, adulterers, liars, political opportunists and sexual
perverts.

African leadership has become synonymous with an appalling propensity for
lavish lifestyles and unparalleled lust for power, characterised by
mile-long motorcades, armies of goons and never-ending summits. The word
kleptocracy was coined for Zaire's Mobutu Sese Seko, kuku ngbendu wa za
banga (the cock that leaves no hen unruffled), one of the world's richest
men whose "personal" fortune was once estimated at more than US$10 billion,
with palaces in Europe and Zaire. He once awarded himself an Oscar for
development and his portrait hung in every nook and cranny and was printed
on textiles.

African leaders only remember their people in speeches delivered at world
fora. Most of them have what local historian Tafataona Mahoso calls "the
neurosis of Narcissus . . . a certain psychological and political character
. . . a 'gamesman' with very few permanent convictions, principles or
commitments".

The African dictator prefers to get treated in foreign hospitals than build
some in his own country.

Says Mahoso: "The political narcissist is therefore not concerned about
taking on and completing real tasks or projects which benefit the people."

He never does any wrong, but "likes to insist on rules and the rule of law
to help himself win the game of life, but the rules must never apply to
himself in such a way as to make possible his defeat or to keep him from
maintaining his illusions of 'visibility' and 'momentum'".

"Rules and the rule of law are good only when applied against others."

Africa is a continent riddled with genocide, slavery, wars, coups and
tribalism, and even though it has vast mineral wealth and human resources,
our leaders make sure that no ordinary person prospers. Media freedom is
curtailed, as they fear empowered citizens, preferring to "keep them in the
dark and feed them on manure". And they look after their own kind.

Ethiopian fugitive, Mengistu Haile Mariam, is currently on an indefinite
state-sponsored, uninterrupted tour of Zimbabwe; Milton Obote has seen
successive governments come and go in Zambia; war criminal Charles Taylor is
on 24-hour "protection" in Nigeria; and diminutive Jean Bertrand Aristide is
president without a country in South Africa.

Meanwhile, privileged Ian Smith badmouths a leader who never had the same
privileges under his UDI regime. Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein must
be "cursing" themselves for not having been leaders in Africa.

The African dictator sees himself as the nearest thing to God: anointed, not
appointed. He has a false sense of omnipotence and indispensability. As if
to buttress this folly, church leaders and other sycophants go into raptures
over his greatness, grovelling before him, feverishly praying for his long
life - giving them titles like "son of god", "teacher", "ngwazi", "supreme
guide" and "father".

The culture of criticising the leadership never really took root in Africa,
since the culture of subservience is well-entrenched. Criticising African
leaders is disrespectful. They thrive on fear, not respect. Leaders
routinely use troops, police, militias and soldiers to terrorise citizens
who criticise or challenge them.

That cannibal, Emperor Bokassa, had schoolchildren killed for refusing to
put on his uniforms. I understand he ate some of them afterwards. The
psychopath, Idi Amin Dada, literally took matters into his own hands, while
apartheid thug John Vorster had schoolchildren shot dead in June 1976 for
refusing to learn Afrikaans.

Jerry Rawlings once beat up one of his ministers, and Kenneth Kaunda once
told a journalist: "You're stupid! Sit down" just for asking a question.
Kamuzu Banda simply locked up his critics and threw away the key.

A Nigerian president once called one of his ministers an idiot, while a
southern African leader (can't recall his name) said he had degrees in
violence, and has already proved it on more than one occasion. Kenya's first
lady recently invaded the newsroom of The Nation newspaper, confiscating
journalists' equipment and slapping a photographer.

Although Robert Mugabe uplifted Zimbabwe's educational standards soon after
assuming power, the honeymoon didn't last. We are now reeling in cesspools
of unprecedented political and economic chaos.

Now, we're looking for salvation in China. Things are that bad, huh?

We heap praises on a foreign country for being "the factory of the world",
proud to be trading with it (buying cheap goods and warplanes using scarce
American dollars), and feeling proud to host the hordes of Nigerian and
Asian "brothers" who take advantage of our deteriorating political situation
to sell us imitation goods. Let's admit it, we are proud of being the
dumping ground of China and laughingstock of the world!

Proud to be Zimbabwean? Sigmund Freud must be turning in his grave.

Instead of "Looking East" shouldn't we "Look Inside" our own country by
inviting multinationals to build factories and invest in our overqualified,
underutilised labour and intellectual resources? Sadly, all those 1980s
educational gains are fast being wiped out by Aids.

*Tony Namate is the Zimbabwe Independent and Standard cartoonist.
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Zim Independent

Comment

Will the Minister of Energy please stand up

OVER the past 10 days police have raided street vendors' stalls and flea
markets across Harare. They have razed entire open air markets and arrested
thousands of people while commodities worth millions of dollars have been
forfeited to the state or destroyed.

Thousands of informal traders have lost their only sources of livelihood.

There are threats to demolish thousands of backyard shacks which house more
than a quarter of Harare's population. There were running battles in the
townships this week as police ransacked and destroyed tuckshops and
vegetable stalls.

As part of the blitz at least 1 000 commuter omnibuses were impounded for
various reasons. Meanwhile, workers have been getting to work as late as
mid-day due to an acute shortage of transport. Getting back home after work
sometimes takes up to midnight.

Then there is a crippling fuel shortage which government is pretending to be
managing. On Wednesday Energy and Power Development permanent secretary
Justin Mupamhanga said: "We are managing the situation."

There is no evidence of that on the ground. On the contrary, there were long
queues of vehicles at many service stations although there was no evidence
of fuel deliveries. Mupamhanga talked deceptively of logistical problems.

The US$18,5 million which the Reserve Bank said it had availed for fuel
procurement this week is enough to cover just a month's supply at depressed
consumption.

In this chaos where is the Energy minister? Could he please rise so that we
can all see him? Retired Lt General Mike Nyambuya, appointed to this
portfolio two months ago, has been unforgivably quiet as fuel shortages
threaten to bring the country to a standstill. He must emerge from his farm
in Manicaland and tell the nation the truth about the fuel situation.

We know the problem is lack of foreign currency but the situation must be
managed. The little fuel trickling into the country has to be managed so
that the bulk of it does not end up on the black market where it is
available at $40 000 a litre. Competent leaders usually emerge in times of
crisis while useless ones are cocooned in inept silence.

The crisis in the fuel sector calls for long-term planning to manage with
the little foreign currency inflows we currently have. Tinkering with the
procurement apparatus, including dishing out of licences and the setting up
of the Petroleum Marketers Association of Zimbabwe, have not resulted in
improved deliveries.

This has been exacerbated by a huge subsidy which is meant to keep the price
of the commodity down. This has resulted in government's deadman's grip in
the procurement, marketing and distribution of fuel.

Considering the strategic importance of fuel, control is important but it
can be self-defeating if management is left to incompetent individuals and
arms of government. In times of plenty, government has not been able to
build reserves. In lean times distribution is not managed and truckloads are
being offloaded onto the black market.

Zimbabwe currently has the cheapest fuel in the region but that is not
anything to cheer about as long as the commodity is not available. Central
bank governor Gideon Gono in his monetary policy statement last week said
local manufacturers should be competitive because of the subsidised fuel. As
things stand, he could not be further from the truth because manufacturers
are buying fuel on the black market to stay open for business.

A country that is supposed to be in recovery mode is running on empty.
Workers who are supposed to have their shoulders to the wheel can't get to
work on time because there is no fuel. Distribution of goods and services
has been compromised. There is no diesel for winter cropping. Mines and the
manufacturing sector which rely on huge amounts of diesel for production
have scaled down operations.

This is an embarrassing situation for President Mugabe who preached recovery
and prosperity with gusto before the March general election. Can he still
sing the same refrain today? The economy is not showing any signs of
recovery, as you promised in your address to the nation last December, Mr
President.

There can't be economic revival when there is no proper energy plan and when
knee-jerk measures are put in motion to traumatise workers who have no
transport to take them home after a torrid day at work. There are no plans
for alternative accommodation for the hundreds whose backyard shacks
government wants to destroy.

The shacks are constant reminders of government's failure to provide decent
accommodation for the poor. Removing the shacks and breaking down stalls may
bring order in the cities but it will only heighten discontent among urban
dwellers. Government is playing a dangerous game in the towns and cities
where Zanu PF has failed to win support in four crucial polls over the past
five years.

There is an element of wickedness in the way government has carried out this
blitz. There is a plan here to punish those who voted for the opposition in
the past election. But what will this achieve apart from a disaffected
populace?
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Zim Independent

Eric Bloch Column

Govt responsible for most shortages

TO an ever-increasing extent, all sectors of Zimbabwean society are
experiencing pronounced shortages, or total non-availability of a greater
number of products, commodities or services. The resultant losses for
commerce and industry, agriculture and mining are immense, while the
discomforts for the populace are intensifying.

Whensoever the complaints provoked by those shortages become vociferous, the
government unhesitatingly seeks to deny any culpability for the creation of
scarcities. Instead, as has been its wont for many years, whensoever it
fears being the recipient of criticism and blame, it attributes the causes
of the complaint to others.

Thus, when there are shortages of sugar, cooking oil, maize meal and other
staple foodstuffs, the government unhesitatingly accuses the sugar refiners,
oil producers and millers of deliberately withholding supplies from the
market. Allegedly, the motivation for so doing is to fuel the development of
black market demand for the commodities, for no purpose other than to
achieve higher prices and, thereby, increased profits.

In like manner, when there are scarcities of petrol and diesel, the
government has frequently accused the independent fuel importers of
diverting foreign currency allocated to them to externalisation of funds
unlawfully, or of hoarding imported supplies so as to create shortages in
order to alienate support of any of the populace for the ruling party, or
for other machiavellian purposes against the national interest.

And the government has no qualms at blaming the monumental scarcity of
foreign exchange, which in turn occasions massive shortages of innumerable
imported products, upon the private sector in general, and upon the
operators in commerce, industry and tourism in particular.

Inevitably some are guilty of withholding much-needed foreign exchange by
unlawfully externalising that critical resource, either resorting to
transfer-pricing on exports or imports, or by smuggling foreign exchange
across borders, or by hiding that foreign exchange in their safes,
cupboards, mattresses or elsewhere.

However, more often than not, the devastating shortages are directly the
result of the government's acts of commission or omission. One of the
recurrent actions of the government which is a major catalyst of shortages
is its endeavours to prevent rising prices.

Although it is extremely commendable that the government wishes to contain
inflation, its methodologies of doing so are counterproductive. When it
applies price controls with heavy-handed, ill-considered legislation, or it
applies intensive, authoritarian pressures upon producers, wholesalers and
retailers, it does so because of a genuine, but usually ill-informed, belief
that price increases are driven only by the avarice of the producers and
marketers.

Usually that is not the case, for the producers and marketers know full-well
that if they overprice their goods, competitors will under-cut their prices
in order to capture the sales.

Stimulation of competition is the most effective way of minimising price
increases, but the government has repeatedly evidenced an inability to
accept such a concept, for it is so greatly imbued with a conviction of
omnipotence that it believes that dictatorship methodologies are the only
effective economic tools. It is ardently convinced that regulation is more
effective than motivation, that conviction being substantially founded upon
total distrust of any other than those as constitute the government.

In an environment where inflation is intense producers are faced with no
alternatives other than to increase prices so as to compensate for ongoing
cost escalations, or to discontinue production. With the sole motivation of
remaining economically viable, and thereby to avoid insolvency or
liquidation, those engaged in the production and in the marketing of goods,
must move prices upwards, at least commensurately with inflation.

Moreover, they are often adversely impacted upon not only by inflation, but
also by soaring unit cost as a result of unavoidable decreases in production
volumes, due to erratic availability of foreign exchange to fund imported
manufacturing inputs, or due to shrinking market demand. Fixed costs, such
as rents, salaries, finance and the like have to be recovered from much
reduced production and sale volumes, thereby sharply increasing costs per
unit, and therefore necessitating price increases.

When the government prevents those necessary price increases, through
regulatory measures or other pressures, the producers have to hold back
their goods until they are permitted the increases, failing which they face
unsustainable losses, and hence shortages develop. And obtaining the
government's consent to price increases is always untenably delayed, for on
such issues the government only works at one of three speeds: slow, very
slow and stop, and very often then consents to prices lower than have been
sought and as are necessary.

If the government would abandon its dogmatic philosophies of controls and
price regulation, and would allow prices to be driven by market forces and
competition, many shortages would disappear. That would also counter black
market trading, which is usually at prices very much higher than those which
the government refuses to consent to, or is tardy in giving requisite
consent.

The fuel scarcities are partially occasioned by inadequate availability of
foreign currency but, to a much greater extent, brought about by the
government's obdurate resistance to greatly required price increases. Not
only has the international price of crude oil risen by 80-100% over the last
12 months but, in addition, exchange rate movements have significantly
increased the transportation costs of bringing fuel to Zimbabwe, and the
fuel distributors' operating costs have risen very markedly as a result of
inflation.

These factors are ignored by the government, for its awareness that
increases in fuel prices inevitably force increases in prices of almost all
goods and services and its desperation to contain inflation override other
economic needs, and results in the government refusing fuel prices
escalation to necessary levels, as a result of which the fuel importers and
distributors cannot afford to import and distribute fuel, save if
substantial losses are incurred.

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Zim Independent

Muckraker

Barbarians hit Africa Unity Square

IN the many accounts of the current police blitz against vendors, one detail
has been lost. The flower-sellers in Harare's Africa Unity Square were last
Saturday targeted for particularly brutal treatment.

Their flowers were mutilated and their preparation boards demolished. This
was all part of "Operation Restore Order".

There have been flower vendors in the square for over 50 years. They have
featured on the covers of countless travel brochures. They added colour and
life to the capital.

There is admittedly much crime and grime that needs to be addressed in the
inner city. But the flower sellers in Africa Unity Square were not part of
the problem. The authorities should learn to distinguish the good from the
bad - the socially useful from the purely criminal.

By its heavy-handed crackdown the state has made many enemies where they
didn't previously exist. Is Harare being punished for refusing to entertain
President Mugabe's electoral pretensions? It certainly looks like it. But
what a lesson in how not to win friends and influence people!

Only a few months ago at Witness Mangwende's funeral, Mugabe was expressing
exasperation with the citizens of the capital asking them what Zanu PF had
done to warrant their conversion to President Blair.

He seemed to have forgotten his spiteful remarks about "totemless" people.
Will he now expect us to also forget the current heartless and brutal
assault on residents trying to make an honest living?

Small and Medium Enterprises Development minister Sithembiso Nyoni says the
destruction of flea markets around Harare is designed to clean out criminal
activities in the informal sector.

This comes from an unelected MP with no public mandate. Has it occurred to
her that the burgeoning informal sector is a reflection of government's
failure to nourish and sustain a viable formal sector?

We gather that this intellectually-challenged minister will soon be the
occupant of a Senate seat - indeed that a whole constitutional amendment
will be passed to enable individuals like Nyoni, whom Mugabe assured the
electorate as recently as March would not be made ministers, to remain
aboard his gravy train.

Anyway, amidst the current crackdown, we did enjoy the Herald's heading last
Friday: "Over five thousand more people arrested".

Isn't that a fitting testimony to the police state Zanu PF has built,
cheered on by its malevolent press? It was 9 725 by Tuesday.

As usual, state media told us police would "leave no stone unturned" to
restore Harare's long-vanished "sunshine city status".

Many flea markets have been shut down and illegal vendors arrested, with
police spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka saying "those affected might not be
happy . but we (police) have a constitutional obligation to maintain law and
order in any part of this country".

Zimbabweans must be relieved at this sudden realisation by the police that
they have a duty to maintain law and order.

When did this epiphany occur? Surely we are not being told that it was only
this week that the police knew street vending was illegal. And when was it
finally officially acknowledged that there was a breakdown of law and order
that now has to be "restored"?

"We will continue monitoring all the movements until there is order and
sanity in the streets," a police spokesman was quoted as saying. Referring
to homeless people detained, he said these were the same people who made the
streets unsafe.

"These are the very same people who commit crimes and we will deal with them
in accordance with the law. They must go where they belong. No one in
Zimbabwe comes from nowhere. Everybody belongs somewhere."

Do we detect a Verwoerdian echo here? That the inhabitants of Zimbabwe's
cities don't really belong here and should be returned to their "homelands"!

The weird Chinondidyachii Mararike is back at the Herald. He hasn't changed
or improved. This week his fevered mind dwelt inordinately on the virtues of
Aippa and Posa. And what were those virtues, one might wonder? That there is
no country that does not regulate its media, was Mararike's facile response.
Alternatively, he said, anything opposed by the West must be good for
Africans.

"The louder and more virulent the opposition, the more beneficial to
Africans is the thing they oppose," he said. A case in point was the West's
opposition to President Mugabe and the land reform, Mararike said, from
which he made an equally bizarre deduction: "Surely there must be something
good for Zimbabwe in Aippa and Posa to make Western governments and the
independent media want them repealed ..."

Is that the best he can do?

Mararike's first article claiming the West was "bitter over the success of
our land reform programme" appeared on the same day the Herald reported the
state was importing 150 000 tonnes of maize because the country can no
longer feed itself. This time the usual suspect was drought.

Mararike didn't tell us where he was writing from. The last time we looked
it was the UK. We hope he has now relocated to Zimbabwe because we would
hate to think this was another Zanu PF firebrand enjoying all the comforts
of Britain while declining to live under Zanu PF's "successes"! But looking
at what has since become of Bright Matonga, we would say it sometimes pays
to do these hatchet jobs for the party.

The Herald, meanwhile, seems to think that handing out 99-year leases to new
farmers will "put to rest speculation by detractors that the land reform
programme would one day be reversed".

The Herald can dream. Does it really think 99-year leases cannot be
reversed? That the award or revocation of a lease will not be at the
discretion of the Lands minister?

That is why we have always argued it is inappropriate for judges to accept
land leases when they are subject to ministerial indulgence.

Zanu PF supporters should not delude themselves that they are safe with
their ill-gotten gains. Ask Zanu PF's Communist allies in eastern Europe
what happened to their assurances!

Muckraker was appalled to read in the Daily Mirror last week that there were
only 49 people aboard Air Zimbabwe's inaugural flight to Dubai last week and
one solitary passenger on the return leg.

Is this the turnaround the airline promised?

The Zimbabwe Independent recently tried to confirm the dates of other AirZim
inaugural flights but was told that information could not be given out. Most
airline officials did not return our phone calls.

What other airline in the world advertises its schedules in the press and
then refuses to say what days it will be flying until the last minute?

Still with the Mirror, Muckraker was impressed by a weighty article on
Monday headed "What is Monetary Policy?" written by Mugove Hamadziripi. We
assume he is also the author of an article posted on
www.answers.com/topic/monetary-policy and
www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/monetary-policy. Apart from a little
tinkering here and there the two articles are identical.

Munyaradzi Huni must be congratulated on the number of conspiracy stories he
manages to churn out weekly in the Sunday Mail. It is not an idle mind that
gets to the bottom of these intricate, if somewhat fanciful, stories about
plots against Zimbabwe.

The latest, coming ahead of WFP boss James Morris's visit to Harare, is
about allegedly contaminated corn soya blend that has been fed to
Zimbabweans. The symptoms apparently are reduced intelligence, impaired
memory, weakness, and the paralysis of wrists.

Muckraker's advice to Munyaradzi: Lay off the corn soya for a while until
the symptoms go.

On the subject of Morris's visit we liked the statement by George Charamba
that President Mugabe had made it clear to Kofi Annan that Zimbabwe welcomed
UN assistance "but without political conditions".

So Morris won't be able to ask for assurances that food aid will be handled
with transparency and in a non-partisan way? That he will just hand it over
and tell the Zimbabwean authorities they can make what use of it they like?

Zimbabwe may have an unaccountable government but we are sure the UN has to
account to its primary donors for the way it distributes aid!

Finally, the Independent came under fire last week from the CZ columnist in
the Financial Gazette who took exception to us providing space for Jonathan
Moyo to express his views.

This followed an interview two weeks ago in which Moyo described his exit
from government and castigated his former employers as "primitive". We
should not be giving him the "oxygen of publicity" or "a shoulder to weep
on", the Fingaz columnist admonished this paper, ascribing all sorts of
improper motives to us - including tribalism!

It's amazing isn't it how quickly our supposedly progressive press becomes
the national censor of views expressed by individuals to whom it takes
political exception?

Unlike CZ or anybody else at the Fingaz, the author of the interview in
question and his editor and news editor were imprisoned - albeit
temporarily - on the orders of Minister Moyo. So they probably appreciate
better than most just how vindictive the man's record in office was. But is
he therefore to be banned from expressing his highly revealing views on the
nature of the regime he served? Is that what journalism is about - revenge?

Judgement should be confined to the opinion columns. There is a very simple
professional test here: Does what Moyo has to say constitute news? If so, it
deserves to be published. Here is a distinguished academic who has
specialised in electoral politics, a notable literary turncoat, an
overweeningly powerful and abrasive minister whose word was for four
turbulent years the nation's command, and now a prominent member of
parliament who thwarted the president's will in a key seat and has
reinvented himself as a leading critic of the regime.

It would be difficult to find a more controversial and newsworthy subject.
And the Fingaz can't understand why we may want to interview him!

C'mon guys. It makes a change from Gideon Gono's turnarounds.
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