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

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Zim Online

More hurdles for the Daily News
Fri 6 May 2005

      HARARE - The Zimbabwe government's Media and Information Commission
yesterday placed more hurdles for the banned Daily News newspaper, demanding
details of the papers' shareholders and financial statements before it could
consider an application by the paper for a publishing licence.

      In a meeting yesterday that lasted four hours, the MIC even demanded
the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), the publishing company for the
Daily News, to furnish it with details of the target market for the paper
that was Zimbabwe's most popular and largest circulating daily and had been
publishing for five years before its forced closure two years ago.

      But ANZ chief executive officer, Sam Sipepa Nkomo, appeared confident
last night that his company will surmount the obstacles to haul the Daily
News and its sister publication, the Daily News on Sunday, back on the
newsstands.

      "The meeting was good but they have asked us to submit information
about the ANZ shareholders' details, bank statements and financial
statements," Nkomo said, adding, "they also wanted to have information of
the targeted market for the two publications, but we will start working on
submission of those demands as soon as possible."

      Overturning the MIC's decision two years ago to refuse to grant the
Daily News and Daily News on Sunday permission to publish, the Supreme Court
in March this year ordered the state press watchdog to review the decision
by no later than May 14.

      The ANZ submitted an application for a licence to publish its two
titles almost immediately after the court ruling. The meeting yesterday to
discuss the application had been initially scheduled for last Friday but was
postponed by the MIC saying its commissioners were out of town attending the
Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in the city of Bulawayo.

      Heavily armed police forcibly shut down the two papers in September
2003 and seized their equipment after a Supreme Court ruling that they were
operating outside the law because they were not registered with the MIC.

      Under the government's draconian Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Act, newspapers and journalists must register with the MIC.
Reporters can be jailed for up to two years for practising without being
registered while newspapers will be shut down and their equipment seized for
operating without registration.

      Four newspapers including the two ANZ titles were shut down in the
last two years for breaching clauses of the Press Act while more than a
hundred journalists were arrested under the tough law.

      Analysts said with the government comfortable in power after a
controversial but landslide win during the March 31 parliamentary election,
it was most certain to allow the Daily News back more as part of an attempt
to hoodwink the international community that it upholds a free and
independent Press. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

UN agency says unable to immediately feed starving Zimbabweans
Fri 6 May 2005
  HARARE - The World Food Programme (WFP) is unable to immediately supply
hundreds of thousands of tonnes of maize to feed four million starving
Zimbabweans because nothing had been reserved for the country after Harare
said last year it had enough food.

      A paltry 18 000 tonnes of maize - far short of the 1.2 million tonnes
of the staple grain required to avert starvation - was this year allocated
to Zimbabwe from the WFP's unallocated emergency window, a food reserve
facility into which the aid agency taps in to meet additional and emergency
requirements such as is the case with Zimbabwe.

      According to a WFP document entitled, "Protracted Relief and Recovery
Operation - Southern Africa Regional PRRO 10310.0" which was shown to
ZimOnline yesterday, the WFP's emergency food facility holds 100 000 tonnes
of maize. But Zimbabwe must share the reserve food facility with five other
southern Africa countries facing food shortages.

      The document reads in part: "As a contingency, an unallocated
emergency window (UEW) OF 100 000 metric tonnes was built into the regional
programme to allow flexibility in responding to additional needs such as
those from Zimbabwe.

      "Following some indication from Government that they would welcome
continued support for specific targeted interventions, regional director
approved an urgent allocation of 18 498 metric tonnes from the UEW to cover
Zimbabwe requirements.

      "It is not practicable to make further allocations from the UEW at
this time in view of the relatively large volume of food required. This
would leave only a small balance for the other five countries."

      The WFP, which has been at the forefront of fighting hunger in
Zimbabwe for the last five years, can raise more food aid for the country
but such an effort would require approval by the UN organ's board at its
meeting in November this year.

      "Should WFP respond through the PRRO modality, it is expected that the
food costs would be of such magnitude as to require approval by the
Executive Board, probably at its November 2005 SESSION," the document reads.

      President Robert Mugabe told the WFP and other international donors to
take their help elsewhere because Zimbabwe had enough food.

      A food and hunger vulnerability study that was being carried out
jointly by the WFP and the government was called off last year because there
was no need for such a survey after Mugabe and his Agriculture Minister,
Joseph Made, said Zimbabwe was going to reap 2.4 million tonnes of maize
from the 2003/2004 season. The country consumes 1.8 million tonnes of maize
annually.

      But the UN and several food aid organisations warned that Mugabe and
Made's claims of a bumper harvest were exaggerated and said that it would be
difficult to mount a large scale food relief operation at short notice
should the government realise it was wrong about the food situation.

      Mugabe has since last month admitted that Zimbabwe is facing serious
food shortages but he said he was not going to go begging for aid because
his cash-strapped government had enough resources to ensure no one starved.

      The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party last
week called on Mugabe and his government to swallow their pride and appeal
for food aid to stave off hunger. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

War veterans leader threatens transport operators
Fri 6 May 2005
  HARARE - Joseph Chinotimba, a war veteran who led the infamous farm
invasions in Zimbabwe five years ago, yesterday took to the streets again to
protest the arbitrary increase of fares by commuter omnibus operators in
Harare.

      Bolstered by a band of boisterous ruling ZANU PF party youths, accused
by human rights groups of unleashing terror on opposition supporters,
Chinotimba accused transport operators in the city centre of "milking the
people" by charging exorbitant fares which were not gazetted by the
government.

      "You people (commuter operators) are killing the economy. You are
working against the government by charging these fares. ZANU PF (the ruling
party) will not allow you to cheat commuters. This has to stop otherwise we
will be forced to take the law into our own hands," said Chinotimba.

      Chinotimba led the violent farm invasions that took place in 2000 when
veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation war, with tacit approval from
President Robert Mugabe, seized large white-owned commercial farms in what
the 81-year old Zimbabwean leader said was a correction of a historical
injustice.

      The farm seizures disrupted Zimbabwe's vibrant agricultural sector,
plunging the economy into chaos. Since then, Zimbabwe has virtually survived
on food handouts from the international community.

      Earlier this week, transport operators in Harare hiked fares from Z$2
000 a trip to about $5 000 on most urban routes. They said the increase was
due to the high cost of fuel which they have to source on the black market
where a five-litre gallon of fuel is going for between Z$75 000 and $90 000.

      Most garages in Harare ran out of fuel last week as the five-year old
fuel crisis took a turn for the worst. - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

Ramaphosa calls for intervention in Zimbabwe
Fri 6 May 2005
  JOHANNESBURG - A top South African businessman and ruling African National
Congress national executive committee member Cyril Ramaphosa has called for
intervention to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe.

      Addressing an African investment conference in Johannesburg on
Wednesday, Ramaphosa said Zimbabwe's economy which is in its fifth year of
recession, was "under so much stress it needs some kind of intervention."

      He did not explain what the "intervention" would entail.

      "Instability and conflict within one African country has a
destabilising impact on its neighbours and an unsettling effect on potential
investors," said Ramaphosa.

      Zimbabwe's economy has been in free-fall since 1999 when the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) cut balance-of-payments support to Harare
in protest over President Robert Mugabe's appalling human rights record and
seizure of white-owned farms.

      The openly critical remarks by Ramaphosa were a sharp break with South
Africa government's much criticised policy of "quiet diplomacy" towards
Zimbabwe. President Thabo Mbeki and senior ANC leaders have refused to
openly criticise Mugabe's style of governance, preferring to engage the
81-year old Zimbabwean leader behind the scenes.

      But the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party, which
wants a much more robust approach in tackling the Zimbabwe question, accuses
Mbeki of propping up Mugabe.

      Two weeks ago, South Africa's Reserve Bank also warned that a
prolonged economic meltdown in Zimbabwe could have wider economic
implications for the region. - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

National AIDS Council criticises government's response to pandemic
Fri 6 May 2005
  JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwe's National AIDS Council (NAC), set up by the
government to deal with the HIV/AIDS pandemic, has criticised the state's
handling of the disease which is claiming over 2 500 lives every week.

      In a report compiled after the National AIDS Conference held last
year, but released to the media this week, the NAC said the government's
response to the crisis was "woefully inadequate and unco-ordinated".

      The report said only 6 500 people had benefited from the free
anti-retroviral drugs programme, way below the government's target of three
million people by end of year.

      "Government must improve availability and access to Anti-Retroviral
Drugs (ARVs) by availing foreign currency to facilitate local manufacture
and the removal of import duty on raw materials for ARV manufacture," reads
part of the report.

      The report said programmes to fight the disease were seriously
under-funded. It said the government-run anti-retroviral drugs scheme had
only covered 6 500 people with plans to roll out the anti-retrovirals to
more centres facing collapse due to erratic drug supplies.

      Food shortages plus a crumbling public health sector after years of
under-funding and mismanagement have only helped exacerbate the HIV/AIDS
crisis in Zimbabwe.

      But anti-AIDS activists hope for an improvement in funding of
programmes to fight the epidemic after the the Global Fund to Fight AIDS,
Tuberculosis and Malaria, this year reversed a decision to withhold funding
to Zimbabwe. -ZimOnline
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Zim Online

Trade unionist raps MDC's election strategy
Fri 6 May 2005
  BULAWAYO - Trade unionist and former student leader Raymond Majongwe on
Wednesday criticised Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party for placing too much faith in the country's electoral
process to deliver change.

      Majongwe was speaking at a meeting organised by a Bulawayo-based
pressure group, Bulawayo Agenda, to review March's controversial election
won by the ruling ZANU PF party.

      "The MDC should be reborn. If people at the top are not going to
accept that they have messed up, then there will be no change. The party
needs vigilantes, people without a conscience to match those in ZANU PF to
bring about change in this country," said Majongwe.

      The former university student leader was highly critical of the MDC's
strategy during the election saying they placed too much trust in the
electoral process to deliver change. ZANU PF won 78 of the 120 contested
seats in a poll which was marred by allegations of massive rigging by the
ruling party.

      Majongwe, who is also the Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe
secretary general, said the opposition party should have realised a long
time ago that ZANU PF would fight to retain power at all costs. What
Zimbabwe needed, he said, was a party which matched ZANU PF's strategies and
explored "other options." He did not clarify what these other options were.

      But MDC national spokesman, Paul Themba Nyathi who was part of the
panelists, maintained that the opposition party would retain its integrity
and faith in the electoral process, however flawed.

      "The MDC will not be led by men and women without a conscience. And
just because ZANU PF has reduced the elections to a game does not take away
the importance of elections," said Nyathi.

      ZANU PF Bulawayo province's acting spokesperson, Effort Nkomo put up a
brave face as he came under a barrage of attacks from the audience that
wanted him to explain among other issues the worsening fuel and food
shortages.

      The Mugabe-appointed Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, which was ran the
March poll failed to dispel charges that it rigged the election in ZANU PF's
favour. - ZimOnline

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Zim Independent

Knives out for Gono
Dumisani Muleya
KNIVES are out for Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono currently under intense
pressure to quit after becoming entangled in the ruling Zanu PF's power
struggles.

Official sources said Gono, who has almost buckled under political and
work-related pressure to leave his job although he has denied the reports,
is exasperated by government's failure to back his monetary policies with
anything other than rhetoric.

Zanu PF hawks opposed to his policies such as currency devaluation and
economic re-engagement with the West, are baying for his blood.

"He has been frustrated by factional politics and economic policies that he
does not influence," a source said. "He has no free hand to do what he
thinks works to ensure economic recovery. He is still looking West, while
President Mugabe is facing East."

The sources say Gono is disappointed by lack of political support for his
initiatives. They said Gono and his team boycotted the just-ended Zimbabwe
International Trade Fair in Bulawayo as the row reached fever pitch last
week.

Gono has been roped into Zanu PF's factional dogfights. He has been linked
to a camp widely seen as led by Rural Housing minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
It is understood he had a stormy meeting with Vice-President Joice Mujuru
last week over monetary policy and closed banks.

Gono, observers say, is isolated after government dumped his recovery
programme after the election. At the height of the election campaign Zanu PF
bigwigs rallied behind Gono's "turnaround" mantra but have since offered no
practical support for his endeavours.

"With shortages all-round and no real evidence of recovery, Zanu PF is
slowly pulling away from Gono," a senior Zanu PF official said. "Those in
the party who have always opposed his thrust and overbearing behaviour have
taken the initiative to start to undercut his ascendancy," the official
said.

Sources said Gono has been anxious to secure reassurance from President
Robert Mugabe on his security of tenure against this fraught background.

It is said Gono is under severe attack from Zanu PF and government
hardliners who accuse him of leaning towards the International Monetary Fund
(IMF) and the World Bank - Western institutions - at a time when the country
is supposedly facing East.

Harare has been given a second six-month grace period by the

IMF to put its house in order.

Mugabe has never hidden his hostility for the IMF, which had been expected
in the country this week to assess the economic situation and discuss
Zimbabwe's debt repayments.

However, Gono, who visited the IMF in Washington last June, has been
desperate to repair damaged relations with the West and access
balance-of-payments funding - seen as crucial to the country's recovery.

These and other actions are viewed by Mugabe as off-mission, although the
two have not clashed openly.

Gono has also been blocked on several occasions by Mugabe's adherents from
devaluing Zimbabwe's battered currency in the face of a widening gap between
the official and the black market exchange rates. Former Finance minister
Simba Makoni was in 2003 ejected from cabinet over devaluation.

"Devaluation is one of the policy issues in which he is frustrated," a
government source said. "Gono would ideally like to consult as widely as
possible but on this issue he has been restricted by government rigidity.

"He wants to relax the exchange rate to close the gap but cabinet has not
given him the go-ahead to do so. He can't devalue on his own because
devaluation is a policy matter."

Despite a clear fundamental disequilibrium - a serious imbalance in the
balance-of-payments which justifies devaluation - Gono has been blocked from
adopting the economically rational policy measure.

He has also been frustrated over the burgeoning budget deficit, subsidies to
farmers, handouts to ex-detainees and a bloated cabinet.

"His monetary policy went up in smoke on March 31," one economist said this
week.
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Zim Independent

South African 'master spy' named
Staff Writer
THE South African Secret Service (SASS) officer being held in Zimbabwe in
connection with the ongoing spy saga has been identified as Aubrey Welken.

Zimbabwean and South African authorities have consistently refused to name
the alleged agent - described by the director of public prosecutions Joseph
Musakwa as a state witness and by the media as a "master spy" - supposedly
for security reasons.

But intelligence sources this week identified the SASS officer in question
as Welken and said he had been on the "Zimbabwe beat" for some time.

SASS is responsible for non-military foreign intelligence. It has
counter-intelligence and internal security branches that gather, correlate,
and analyse foreign intelligence.

Welken was arrested by the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) in

December last year in a sting operation and has been in detention since. His
arrest was said to have led to the detention of five alleged Zimbabwean
spies.

These include Zimbabwe's ambassador-designate to Mozambique Godfrey Dzvairo,
Zanu PF foreign affairs director Itai Marchi, former Metropolitan Bank
company secretary Tendai Edgar Matambanadzo, Zanu PF deputy security chief
Kenny Karidza, and former Zanu PF MP Phillip Chiyangwa, who has now been
released.

Intelligence sources said a senior CIO officer named as Miya Meki - who is
related to former Intelligence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa - was also
arrested at the same time. He has appeared in court in camera facing
separate charges and is out on bail.

The sources said Meki was accused of failing to report to his bosses a
secret meeting he held with a South African undercover agent who botched a
plot to recruit him.

A Switzerland-based Zimbabwean diplomat, Erasmus Moyo, was said to have
escaped arrest by disappearing at Geneva airport last year.

There were allegations that cabinet ministers were involved in the case.
Former State Security minister Nicholas Goche has denied reports linking him
to the case.

Dzvairo, Marchi, Matambanadzo, Karidza, and Chiyangwa were charged with
violating the Official Secrets Act and faced 20 years in jail.

Dzvairo, Zimbabwe's former consul-general to South Africa, was sentenced to
six years, while Matambanadzo and Marchi were jailed for five years each.

Chiyangwa was recently released by the High Court but the state said it has
not dropped the case.

Karidza is still on trial and Welken is the chief witness against him.
However, Karidza is objecting to that and a trial within a trial on the
admissibility of statements he allegedly made to CIO investigators is now
taking place in camera.

Musakwa has said the espionage case could not proceed due to the trial
within a trial. He also claimed last week Welken was not a prisoner but a
key witness.

Although the South African government has been making frantic efforts to
gain access to Welken to secure his release, it is understood Zimbabwe has
been unwilling to cooperate. However, sources say Welken's wife and son flew
to Zimbabwe last Tuesday and managed to see him. -
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Zim Independent

Govt begs commercial farmers to return
Augustine Mukaro
GOVERNMENT has intensified its bid to bring back "specialised" commercial
farmers in an effort to resuscitate the agricultural sector.

The Zimbabwe Independent can reveal that government officials have been
privately approaching white commercial farmers who before their violent
evictions specialised in horticulture, dairy farming, conservancies and seed
maize production.

Government is also understood to be making overtures to bring back wheat,

tobacco and barley farmers.

Two weeks ago the officials approached the former owners of Kondozi farm to
persuade them to return to the giant export-earning horticultural concern.

Former Kondozi Fresh Produce majority shareholder, Edwin Moyo, confirmed
that "emissaries" had approached him regarding Kondozi. "There have been
unofficial approaches from people who said they were from government," said
Moyo.

Sources said Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) which took
over Kondozi last year, wanted Moyo to assist in the export of produce from
the farm.

Arda violently took over Kondozi last year. It has however been unable to
export any produce from the farm because international buyers do not
recognise them. Kondozi used to export horticultural products to Britain,
Holland and other regional countries.

Hundreds of white farmers chased from Zimbabwe have settled in Zambia,
Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, with some going as far as Nigeria, Australia
and New Zealand.

Sources in the agriculture sector confirmed government overtures had been
extended to farmers evicted during the haphazard fast-track land reform.

Specialised groups targeted for reinstatement include dairy farmers,
conservancy owners and horticultural producers.

Sources privy to the negotiations said the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) in
conjunction with the newly established National Land Board, were working to
bring the farmers back.

"We are encouraging farmers willing to come back to co-exist with settlers
as government has put in place systems to correct the current standoff," a
member of the consulting team said.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has already released $150 billion from the
Productive Sector Facility to recapitalise milk production whose supplies
have been erratic since last year.

The Land Board, chaired by former Arda boss Liberty Mhlanga, also comprises
former Zimbabwe Farmers Union second vice-president, Abdul Nyathi, director
of the Department of Natural Resources, Mutsa Chasi, permanent secretary in
the Agriculture ministry, a Mrs Tsvakwi, one Joshua Nyoni and three others
whose names were not available at the time of going to press.

Information from the National Association of Dairy Farmers (NADF) shows that
since the inception of the land reform programme almost half of milk
producers have been forced to close shop, drastically reducing milk on the
market.

"In July 2000, about 315 large-scale milk producers were registered with
NADF. The number currently stands at around 160 producers," NADF said. The
same year, approximately 3 000 small-scale producers were registered with
only 600 now actively producing milk at any one time. The dairy development
programme has announced the launch of another 10 smallholder projects in
Matabeleland and Midlands.

Sources said government was also targeting conservancy and horticultural
producers because the collapse of the two sectors negatively affected forex
inflows to the country.

Conservancies had become very popular with tourists and hunters thereby
bringing in the much-needed forex while fresh produce and flowers sold on
the European markets eased the demand for hard currency in the country.

Zimbabwe Conservation Taskforce chairman John Rodrigues said prior to the
fast-track land reform programme there were 88 conservancy farmers while
currently an estimated 12 remain operational.

l Meanwhile, government has launched a fresh wave of evictions on resettled
farmers as the chaos that characterised the land reform continues.

This week violence erupted at Gensey Farm in Goromonzi, Mashonaland East,
when resettled farmers attacked the deputy sheriff and his team when they
tried to evict them. The eviction was to make room for Kennedy Mangenje, a
senior Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe official who was allocated the farm under
the A2 model.

The eviction would displace more than 40 families who have been occupying
the farm since the 2002. The settlers ran amok beating up the deputy
sheriff, stoning his two lorries and forcing his team to flee.

Eyewitnesses said he was assaulted in the presence of officers from
Goromonzi police station. Mangenje's team also had their vehicles damaged
during the attack by the irate settlers.

Contacted for comment, Mangenje said the situation had turned political.

"Senior politicians are involved but the farm is mine," said Mangenje. It is
understood that Finance minister Hebert Murerwa once intervened on the side
of the settlers when the trouble started late last year. A senior Zanu PF
lady in the provincial structure has a plot on the farm.
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Zim Independent

Huge wheat shortfall forecast
Augustine Mukaro
ANOTHER serious wheat shortfall is looming this year as the area prepared
for the winter wheat crop over the past four years continues to shrink.

In the current season, only an estimated 45% of between 65 000 and 85 000
hectares that are normally put under irrigated winter wheat is likely to be
planted due to a shortage of seed, fertilisers and low levels of water for
irrigation.

Information to hand shows that the remaining white commercial farmers across
the country are likely to plant around 15 000 hectares while the other 25
000 hectares will be taken up by newly-resettled farmers.

Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) crops section spokesman George Hutchison said
farmers would be forced to further reduce winter wheat hectarage this year
because of the shortage of water for irrigation.

"Over and above the unavailability of inputs, there is very little water to
irrigate the crop this year," Hutchison said, adding that "most farm dams
have no water to irrigate the wheat."

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) past president Thomas Nherera
however said an estimated 50 000 hectares would be put under winter crop.

"Though farmers are showing the zeal to plant over 80 000 hectares this
season, water availability is the limiting factor," Nherera said.

"Current dam levels cannot support more than 50 000 hectares."

Zimbabwe has an annual wheat consumption of 400 000 tonnes excluding 80 000
tonnes of hard wheat required to blend with the local product. Gristing
wheat has always been imported.

Agricultural experts said wheat production this year was projected to slump
to an all-time low because of lack of funds to finance the crop.

Agribank, government's agricultural ventures financing arm, was this week
issuing farmers with vouchers to purchase seed, fertiliser and chemicals,
amid revelations that government is still sourcing funds.

Experts said irrigation facilities had been vandalised over the past four
years of the chaotic land reform programme.

Under optimum conditions with the use of irrigation facilities, a maximum of
six tonnes of wheat are produced per hectare.

It is estimated CFU members have irrigation equipment covering only 18 000
hectares, down from the 85 000 hectares that could be irrigated before the
inception of the land reform programme.
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Zim Independent

Zanu PF struggles to pick Masvingo mayoral runner
Ray Matikinye
TWO candidates have emerged as front-runners in the race to represent Zanu
PF in the Masvingo mayoral election next month, after a third withdrew from
the race on Tuesday.

Jacob Chademana, the losing candidate in the last mayoral election four
years ago, withdrew from the race in which the ruling Zanu PF has been
battling to come up with a credible candidate.

Over the past few weeks Zanu PF had attempted to scout for candidates among
several businessmen without success in Zimbabwe's oldest town.

Chademana lost to sitting mayor, Alois Chaimiti who has been re-nominated by
the opposition as their candidate for the poll.

Masvingo Agricultural Show Society chairman and former ceremonial mayor,
Partson Muzvidziwa, alongside little-known retired soldier Tatuma Mazarire,
are the two remaining Zanu PF candidates in the race.

Muzvidziwa, a pioneer councillor at Independence in 1980, was elbowed out of
office to make way for the late Francis Aphiri at the height of political
divisions that rocked Masvingo province in the early 90s.

Alphiri won politburo endorsement for mayoral candidate and became the first
executive mayor although he had been ranked 10 in the list of candidates
submitted to the politburo by the ousted Dzikamayi Mavhaire-led provincial
party executive.

Muzvidziwa and Mazarire's names were this week submitted to the politburo
for vetting.

To avoid the re-emergence of political divisions, the ruling party dispensed
with holding the traditional pre-poll primaries to choose the candidate and
opted for consensus.

Masvingo province has been for years riddled with serious intra-party
divisions pitting two distinct factions against each other.

Acting Zanu PF provincial party chairman and MP for Mwenezi, Isaiah

Shumba, said the party feared that holding primaries would resuscitate
intra-party divisions in the province.

Originally seven aspirants, including Alois Chidoda, a former diplomat,
Mazarire, and civil servants Tagwirei Mukumba and Joseph Murapa, had thrown
their hats into the ring as aspirants to the mayoral post.

The list was whittled down to three after an election directorate meeting in

the town last weekend.

Among the unsuccessful aspirants, Chidoda has made three previous attempts
to take the mayoral seat in Masvingo since he left the diplomatic service.
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Zim Independent

RBZ swoops on Interfresh
Shakeman Mugari/Chris Goko
RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) officials this week raided Interfresh
Holdings Ltd amid allegations that the horticultural firm had failed to
account for thousands of dollars in foreign currency, the Zimbabwe
Independent was told.

The irregularities, market sources say, involving cash receipts, have since
claimed the scalp of company chief executive Evan Christophides, who leaves
the ZSE-listed horticultural company today. It was not immediately clear
whether Christophides was pushed or whether he jumped.

Lishon Chipango, the Interfresh chairman, confirmed Christophides'
departure, but denied the externalisation charge, saying the RBZ officials
were conducting a routine check on the company's foreign currency
compliance.

"Evan (Christophides) has tendered his resignation and that is all I can
confirm," he said yesterday. Chipango would not give details about
Christophides' sudden exit, saying the former Interfresh boss had opted to
"pursue other interests".

However, Chipango said Christophides would stay on for six months to see out
his notice period.

"I am aware that they are here (RBZ investigators). They have visited the
company, but it's a routine check," Chipango said.

Sources say the RBZ investigation team had been scouring through the company's
books for the past two weeks.

"RBZ officials came here (Interfresh) last week after there were allegations
of foreign currency irregularities," a company source said this week.

The swoop, sources said, was part of an enforcement-drive by the RBZ to
extract as much forex as possible in the wake of biting shortages critically
affecting essential imports such as fuel and electricity.

They said the attacks - on industry and other exporting parties - would be
sustained, as Zimbabwe hopes to extract every dollar possible for imports.

The central bank has for the past month been pursuing every outstanding
foreign currency remittance issue in a desperate bid to squeeze forex to buy
fuel, food and other imports.

Interfresh is heavily involved in citrus production and marketing to the
local and international markets. It also produces flowers for the European
market.

It has however borne the brunt of land-reform problems, losing some of its
productive land to settlers in the Mazowe area where it has its main citrus
plantations.

Apart from Christophides' departure, the company has also undergone several
board and management changes since a consortium linked to former Kingdom
Financial Holdings Ltd (KFHL) executives took over the group.

At some point, KFHL's immediate past chief executive Lyscias Sibanda headed
the Interfresh board as the consortium sought to galvanise its commanding
stake and interests.

Sibanda has since relinquished his post to Chipango, but is still a
non-executive director.
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Zim Independent

CHRA opposes extension of commissioners' term
Augustine Mukaro
PLANS by the commissioners running the City of Harare to set up business
units in the capital are set to hit a brickwall as the commission's mandate
ends on June 9.

The commission, led by political turn-coat Sekesai Makwavarara, was
appointed last December and should by law leave office after six months.

The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA), the umbrella body for
residents associations in the capital, said the commission has no mandate to
unbundle current city structures into so-called autonomous strategic
business units.

CHRA chairman Mike Davies said the commission should instead be preparing
for elections so that elected councillors could take the city forward.

"The commission should set dates for election," Davies said adding that,
"the term for the commission is coming to an end on June 9 and there is no
way the minister could extend its term. We have a precedent in the Supreme
Court that a commission should be appointed for a single term.

"If (Local government minister Ignatius) Chombo extends the commission's
term, we will go to court as well as call for a full-scale rates boycott,"
he said.

He said turnaround plans should involve ratepayers.

"Zimbabweans are tired of grand plans imposed on them," Davis said. "We want
an elected council that will engage us on its turnaround plan. The
commission is an illegal entity running council on political patronage so as
residents we cannot support them."

Fired mayor Engineer Elias Mudzuri, the architect of the turnaround plan
which the commission hijacked, said the unbundling plans faced doom because
the commission had no mandate from the residents.
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Politics plunge Zesa into darkness
Vincent Kahiya
AT the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa)'s Harare Power Station
there are three shifts of workers manning the plant which was built to
ensure the capital is not affected by power failure at the country's main
generation plants. There are also people working round the clock at smaller
thermal stations at Munyati in the Midlands and in Bulawayo.
The three small coal-powered plants have the potential to produce 375
megawatts (MW) of power. That is almost 20% of the country's electricity
requirements.
But the three power stations are not producing any energy of significance.
In fact, they have become monuments whose tall steaming chimneys are
reminders of a distant past when infrastructure was kept in functioning
order. The power stations have become shells which are a huge cost to the
parastatal and ultimately to the taxpayer.
Zimbabwe today is faced with a power crisis. Zesa has in the past three
weeks been forced to effect load-shedding because of a power deficit. The
company last week said its generators at Kariba and Hwange were down,
resulting in the loss of 250 Megawatts and 220 MW respectively. The
generators will be out for the next six weeks during which period the power
utility is expected to find foreign currency to purchase replacement parts
and ship them to Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe has a peak power demand of 2 100 MW while local generation stands
at 1 200 MW, giving a supply imbalance of 900 MW which is imported. Zesa's
total installed capacity is about 2 000 MW.
Other than the small power stations, the country also has two larger power
stations; a hydro-electrical plant in Kariba (666 MW) and a thermal
generator in Hwange (920 MW). The country's power stations have the
potential to produce more than 1 900 MW which is adequate at the current
depressed consumption. But the plants are not functioning at full capacity
and the country has to import to make up for the deficit.
Zesa has been forced to import 250 MW of power from Hydro Cahorra Bassa
(HCB) of Mozambique, 150 MW from Eskom of South Africa and 150 MW from Snel
in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
But in 2007, Eskom is expected to terminate electricity exports to the
region because the anticipated economic boom in that country should result
in increased demand.
Zesa has said it will need to set up new plants or expand existing ones in
anticipation of that gap. The country will need at an extra 1 200 MW to cope
with the demand.
The need for new infrastructure can be lessened if Zesa can optimise the use
of existing facilities. The country, analysts say, will find it difficult to
source funding for new projects when it is failing to repair and maintain
existing plants.
There have been plans to expand Kariba power station so that it produces an
extra 300 MW. Zesa entered an ill-fated deal with Malaysia's YTL in the hope
of expanding generation at Hwange by an extra 333 MW but nothing came of it.
There has been talk about developing two new projects at Batoka HEP plant
along the Zambezi River and the Gokwe North thermal power station next to
the vast Sengwa coalfields. The Batoka project, with a potential of 800 MW,
was expected to go on stream in 2010 but that will not happen now. Plans to
develop the 1 400 MW Gokwe North plant, in which Zesa was in partnership
with Rio Tinto and government, has also been deferred.
The project, analysts say, is enmeshed in controversy as government is
reluctant to see the private sector constructing and running such a
strategic resource.
"The power station should have been built 10 years ago," said economist John
Robertson.
"For Gokwe, Rio owns coal deposits at Sengwe. If it is given the go-ahead,
it will finance the cost of the power station," he said. "Government fears
that Rio will enjoy the profits and externalise them. If Rio were to
externalise the profits it would be less than we are externalising every
month paying Eskom, HCB and Snel," he said.
Investors shied away from the two projects because of the uncertainty in the
country wrought by the land invasions and President Robert Mugabe's quarrel
with the West. The failure of the two huge capital projects to get off the
ground typifies the state of industry in Zimbabwe. There is no new
investment of note coming into the country.
The attempt to sell part of Hwange Power Station to Malaysia's YTL, as part
of an earlier "Look East" - or rather South-South - policy was a disaster.
It scared away other potential investors in the country's power sector. This
was the first major show of the government's lack of foresight in developing
the country's power sources.
As analysts forecast five years ago, demand for electricity would outstrip
supply unless new plants were commissioned. Power stations require huge
capital outlay to construct and vast sums of foreign currency to maintain.
Last week Zesa said it required US$2 billion to put its house in order. That
is a huge sum which will not be coming to Zimbabwe soon as long as there is
no balance of payments support. Pledges from Zimbabwe's friends in the East
have come in few and far between.
The power sector, like all major facets of the economy, has been hit by the
suspension of financial assistance from international organisations such as
the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund because of concerns over
the erosion of the rule of law and property rights, as well as the
government's fiscal policy. Zesa is a victim of the country's bad politics.
Considering the strategic position electricity occupies in industry and
commerce, the energy deficit that has been exacerbated by the shortage of
petrol and diesel is a major threat to economic regeneration.
Piecemeal measures that have been proffered by the parastatals and
government have not made an impact. Zesa proposed that local exporters pay
for electricity in hard cash, a short-term measure that only increased
overhead costs for an already struggling export sector.
With limited resources to hand, the parastatal has been left to use its own
limited resources or wait for handouts from the fiscus resulting in
inadequate upgrades and network maintenance. The results are manifest in the
broken-down plant and equipment.
Also, the company is unable to raise its tariffs to meet rising operating
costs, ostensibly because the government is keen to protect consumers from
further price increases and the rising cost of living.
But Zimbabwe's energy sector is not suffering simply because the country is
broke. The parastatal has been riddled with controversy since its
unbundling. It has gone on a huge rural electrification drive without
developing new power sources. It has sought deals with the Chinese, the
Malaysians and Iranians with very little to show for it.
Zesa has become a political playing field where prudent business decisions
have been superseded by political posturing. No energy minister in the last
15 years has been able to solve the country's energy crisis. It is bound to
get worse and bring the economy down with it.

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Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

Call the A Team

"IF you've got a problem and no one else can help, and if you can find them,
maybe you can hire...the A Team." This was the theme statement for Stephen J
Cannell's action drama, the A Team.

In the early 1980s as gullible youths we were hooked to this action-packed
film. We all admired the leadership and planning of Col John "Hannibal"
Smith, the brawn and strength of Sgt Bosco Albert "BA" Baracus, the
smoothness of Lt Templeton "Faceman" and the comic relief provided by Capt
HM "Howling Mad" Murdock.

They were hired to carry out all sorts of tasks. They never lost or failed.
They would emerge out of burning houses unscathed, run through flying
bullets and survive helicopter crashes. (Remember Mad Murdock's flying
skills!)

They were portrayed as invincible beings with almost messianic powers. As we
were growing up, groups of youngsters would organise themselves into
caricatures of the 'A Team' and availed themselves to those in distress. It
created reverence and invincibility in certain individuals and made many
look up to the 'A Teams' for salvation and protection.

It created a class of subservient and emasculated youngsters who depended on
muscular Mr Ts for assistance. The Mr T hairstyle was at one time a craze
among youths. Then the chains and shirts with sleeves severed off. It was
crazy.

But then, this was just fiction which Jonathan Moyo made sure our children
would never get the opportunity to watch. It is dangerous for youngsters to
worship fictitious characters from movies and the small screen. It is also
equally dangerous for adults to feel so hopeless that they have to elevate
another mortal to the position of a saviour.

I refer here to the fixation with Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono as the
one-man 'A Team' that is the panacea to all our problems. Gono has since his
appointment 20 months ago preached economic turnaround and revival. All
those responsible for the death of various sectors of the economy expect
Gono to come in and breathe life into their entities.

This week, the commission running the city of Harare was "blessed" by the
intervention of Gono who has offered a lifeline to revive the city which is
decaying by the day.

Gono has asked the commission to draw up a plan before the city can receive
funding from the central bank. Good luck, as long as the city is led by the
likes of Sekesai Makwavarara. We have seen many turnaround programmes coming
out of Town House including the one drawn up in Kadoma at the weekend.

I would like to ask how many strategic plans town clerk Nomutsa Chideya has
seen during his eventful stay at Town House and which ones have worked. Gono
is calling for another one, perhaps because he sees no plan in place.

But funding alone will not be enough to revive the city. For a city that
collects money from ratepayers for refuse collection but fails to collect
bins, there is little hope that the RBZ purse would change this brazen
attitude. Yes, the city needs new funding but its arrogant administrators
are the biggest impediments to any revival. Gono has advised the city
fathers and mothers to enter a partnership with the private sector in the
envisaged programme.

But is the private sector not constituted by Hararians whose bins are not
collected, who do not have water for as long as a week and who receive
shocking bills every month? Are these not the same people who chose an MDC
mayor because they had seen the city degenerate under Zanu PF mayors and
commissioners? They must now work with a Zanu PF commission because the 'A
Team' is on its way. Give me a break.

Can Gono change the psyche of the current unelected administrators so that
they understand the importance of co-operation with ratepayers?

As things stand there is nothing strategic about business entering
partnerships with unelected commissioners serving the government instead of
ratepayers. The Gono plan should not be designed to force this marriage
because it will not work.

We have seen what has happened to sectors that have received funding from
the central bank. Nothing much has changed. Remember the billions poured
into farming last year. The RBZ-initiated Vision 160 designed to produce 160
million kg of tobacco a year has not worked because farmers are poorly
equipped to grow the crop. Parastatals which have been a burden to the
fiscus will remain so as long as they are run like the ineffectual central
government.

Leaders in key sectors of our economy, especially parastatals, have been
strait-jacketed by government so that they can never function independently
and effectively. It is the same with the city of Harare. There is no chance
in heaven for the new plan Gono is calling on Town House to produce if Local
Government minister Ignatious Chombo continues to control commissioners like
puppets on a chain.

Chombo and his ministry are not the 'A Team'. I can only believe his claim
that he intervened to save the city if he can produce positives which have
come out of this interference.

If no one else can help, and if you can find him, maybe you can
hire...Gideon. But can he lift trash cans and go down a sewer? Mr T could.
So much for watching too much fiction.
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Zim Independent

Comment

Farming calls for dedication and planning

GOVERNMENT this week announced what Agriculture minister Joseph Made
described as a "very good" producer price for maize, from $750 000 per tonne
to a whopping $2 248 024 (about 300%) with effect from April 1. The
objective is to increase the hectarage planted to maize and, hopefully,
deliveries to the GMB.
While it is commendable that government has decided to give these early
incentives to farmers to raise production, there is still evidence of poor
planning. The difference between a purchase price of over $2 million and a
selling price by the GMB to millers of $600 000 is likely to impact
negatively on government's books.
There is also something curious about a producer price increase of nearly
300% at a time when inflation is reportedly on the decline and close to
120%. What is the market supposed to make of a government urging restraint
in wage negotiations and then itself splurging out on farmers whose level of
return has been suspect at the best of times? Are workers expected to ask
for less than their worth simply to meet Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono's
inflation targets?
But that is only by the way. The real problem is on land itself. Since the
redistribution process began in 2000, government has poured in billions of
dollars without a commensurate return in both loan repayments and
productivity. President Mugabe said as much when he recently complained that
productive land was being reduced to "weekend braai resorts".
Newly-appointed Mashonaland East governor and resident minister Ray Kaukonde
last week pledged to tour his province to see what had become of once
productive farms that now could no longer meet the nation's requirements. He
said some resettled farmers used government loans to buy themselves luxury
vehicles and build mansions.
Herein lies the biggest problem with our new farmers, and government is
playing right into the hands of greedy sharks out to make a quick buck. Some
of the people who got huge tracts of land not only lack the skills and
interest in farming, they also have no culture of long-term investment and
sacrifice. While the white farmers who were removed from the land had spent
painstaking years borrowing and investing in infrastructure, from dams to
irrigation equipment, the new guys want everything on a silver platter
so they can become instant millionaires.
Government appears to have fallen into the trap that "if you don't give us
huge producer prices we are not going to produce and the nation will starve
and the people turn against you". The blackmail is working well every year.
On the other hand government itself is keen to prove critics of its land
redistribution wrong by showing that there might yet be a silver lining to
this particularly dark cloud. It is forced to feed all the farmers' whims in
the hope that somehow production may magically rise if it gives them more
money.
Tragically, what we now have is a government that has become a victim of its
own populist policies and the nation is held to ransom by a breed of men and
women using a freely acquired national resource to extort wealth from hungry
citizens. Made should learn to leave his office and investigate what is
happening on the land and call the bluff of these lazy land usurpers. At the
moment he doesn't appear to be up to the task and doesn't care.
The solution doesn't lie with a wholesale return of displaced white farmers,
but getting on the land people with skills and an interest in working for
long-term gains. Food self-sufficiency will not come from resettling huge
numbers of people, but having on the land people who are dedicated and
prepared to invest their own resources. The culture of free handouts is
dangerous. The more government gives, the more the vultures on the land
demand for doing virtually nothing while the nation is turned into an
international basket case.
There is no doubting that with sufficient inputs - fuel, fertiliser, maize
seed, draught power and irrigation infrastructure - mobilised on time and
the right calibre of people on the land of whatever hue, Zimbabwe can regain
its place as the bread basket of the region in a shorter period than we are
likely to take moving in this haphazard, greed-driven fashion.
So what are we saying? The solution to our food security problem doesn't lie
in Made announcing "good" prices. There is need for timeous
resource-provision, but also hands-on supervision and monitoring of what is
going on on the farms and how the resources allocated to increase production
are used. What is the state of land preparation as we speak and what are the
output projections for the money being doled out to farmers?
This week farmers were still complaining that they could not get seed and
fuel for their winter wheat. Is Made really up to the task? Pledging high
prices cannot of itself produce maize. We need skills, resources and, above
all, dedication and diligent planning. Government simply has to accept this
painful reality and get the nation moving forward.

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Zim Independent

Eric Bloch Column

Command economy is not the answer
AFTER an immensely prolonged period of extolling and enthusing the alleged
tremendous success of Zimbabwe's land reform programme, the government has
finally begun to acknowledge that the agricultural sector is in a state of
great distress.
For many decades that sector was the foundation and mainstay of the economy.
It employed more workers than any other economic sector. It was the
principal source of foreign currency which, for a heavily import-dependent
country, is its lifeblood.
That foreign currency was earned from the export of very considerable
quantities of high quality tobacco, of the world's foremost cotton, of maize
and other grains to neighbouring territories, of sugar, citrus and much
other produce. It generated vast amounts of expenditure into the downstream
economy, distributive, financial and services sectors.
But all that was in years gone past. Progressively, as the government
pursued its programme of land acquisition, redistribution and resettlement,
and especially so as it intensified its pursuit of that programme from 2000
onwards, agricultural productivity declined more and more. Much of the
previously very extensive agricultural infrastructure was destroyed.
While some new settlers had genuine desires to work the lands acquired, to
achieve economic empowerment through agricultural production, and to play a
meaningful role in the advancement of the Zimbabwean economy, greater
numbers either sought to "get rich quick" by demolishing the improvements
that former commercial farmers had effected, at very great cost, or were
without either skills or, in the alternative, resources necessary for
productive land usage.
Those desirous of rapid enrichment dismantled fencing, power lines, pumps,
sheds, irrigation systems and much else and sold them in complete disregard
for the negative consequences to the future usage of the lands they had
occupied.
And those lacking the skills or resources required looked to the farmers
they had displaced, and to the government, to enable them to prepare the
lands, plant, cultivate and harvest crops. But most of the displaced farmers
had been deprived of the means to assist the new settlers.
Moreover, having been robbed of lands which they had lawfully acquired, it
was unrealistic in the extreme to expect their support. They had been
deprived of their source of livelihood and dispossessed of not only lands
they had legitimately obtained, but also of the improvements they had
effected to those lands, and of their machinery, equipment, irrigation
systems, stores and crops.
The justification of the state for these actions was the allegation that the
lands had been stolen from the indigenous population of yesteryear. This was
almost wholly devoid of substance and credibility for, when the colonial era
commenced, the indigenous population was of a size that most of the lands
which are now Zimbabwe were uncultivated, unutilised, and unoccupied. In
such circumstances, to expect evicted, poverty-stricken former farmers to
aid the new occupants of their lands was unrealistic in the extreme.
But, year after year, the government would not admit the failure of the
programme and in particular, the responsible minister and public servants
for agriculture, and the cabinet, dared not acknowledge that the programme,
which they had so loudly acclaimed, was a disaster. Instead, each year
excuses were imaginatively created to explain away the failure to produce
the bountiful crops that had been foreshadowed, but which had not
materialised.
So great were the annual expectations that in 2004 the government
grandiosely informed the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the
World Food Programme (WFP) that Zimbabwe no longer needed food aid, save for
Aids orphans, as it was wholly food sufficient. Projected crops were
heralded of at least 1,8 million tonnes of maize, and 600 000 tonnes of
other grains, being volumes not produced in any of the previous four years.
Equally far-fetched projections were ascribed to other crops, including a
forecast of a tobacco crop of at least 160 million kg (albeit early a third
less than the record 2000 crop of 237 million kg.) By early 2005 the
government admitted, with some embarrassment, that the crop would, for
various specious reasons, be between 120 million kg and 135 million kg. And,
furthermore, at least 60% of the crop is low "filler" quality.
In like manner, Zimbabwe is faced with chronic shortages of milk and other
dairy products, necessitating the imports by Dairibord. Many other
agricultural scarcities exist, including beef.
However, being a past master at denying responsibility and blame, and
attributing fault to causes beyond its control, the government has had no
hesitation at ascribing the disasters of the latest agricultural season to
drought. A low quality tobacco crop of half the originally projected size, a
maize crop of about one-third only of the nation's need and of prior
assurances, and similarly great differentials between other crop forecasts
and actual outturn, are now attributed by the government to drought.
It cannot be denied that drought has had some significant effects, but not
to the extent that the government pretends, for substantial crops could have
been produced under irrigation if a sufficiency of seeds had been planted,
irrigated, fertilised, properly tended and brought to a harvestable state.
However, seeds that are not planted cannot grow, importation of fertilisers
after crops are fully grown and the like cannot yield crops.
The government should stop prevaricating and acknowledge facts. It should
vigorously pursue the very commendable and down-to-earth statements of Vice
President Joseph Msika that the government needs white and black commercial
farmers, working side-by-side, cooperating, and although not specifically
stated by him, that must be in an environment of security, justice, equity
and mutual respect.
That would be the first and decisive step towards restoring agriculture to
its former glory. But doing so must be timeously followed by compensating
for destroyed infrastructure and misappropriated equipment, and by equally
timeous enablement of importation of essential inputs as required for the
2005/2006 agricultural season.
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Zim Independent

Muckraker

Waiting for Blair's anti-Mugabe poll results

MUCKRAKER is eagerly awaiting the results of the Anti-Mugabe election in
Britain which should be available today. Obviously a victory for Tony Blair
will be a huge blow for our leader who has staked his reputation on
defeating the British premier. Many people in the UK, including Michael
Howard, hadn't realised that the Leader of the Opposition was based in
Harare!
Unfortunately, owing to certain logistical difficulties, Mugabe couldn't
travel to Britain to campaign himself but his megaphones such as George
Shire were happy to do this for him.
If Mugabe is defeated we trust that Shire and all those funny little Zanu PF
fronts in the UK like Davira Mhere will pack up and return home. We would
hate to think of them bowing to the dictates of the British electorate and
having to live under a third term of Blair and his cronies amidst all that
First World comfort. Obviously the patriotic thing for them to do is return
home and live under an endless-term Mugabe even if it does mean going
without fuel, power, food etc!

Those pundits who thought they detected a certain reformist shift under the
new regime at the Information ministry will have noted deputy Minister
Bright Matonga reverting to totalitarian type.
He was reported by the Sunday Mail as speaking "at length" at a press
reception in Bulawayo about the need for cooperation between his ministry
and the media. He said in conclusion that "press freedom ends where national
interests begin".
Please don't tell us that the Bulawayo press corps let him get away with
that facile statement. Obviously we can't have a self-interested politician
defining what constitutes the national interest! Every dirty little secret -
and some big ones - have been swept under that particular carpet over the
years.
What would have happened to all those Willowgate vehicles if the press had
not been around to decide that the national interest lay in disclosure? And
what has happened to the missing millions from the War Victims Compensation
Fund? While they remain safely tucked in the pockets of those highly-placed
individuals still walking around with 80% disabilities, at least the nation
knows what the national interest Zanu PF-style looks like!
Then there is the recurrent spending on military hardware at a time when the
nation faces unprecedented demands upon the fiscus for food relief,
hospitals refurbishment, and crop irrigation. Where does the national
interest lie there? Certainly not with the Ministry of Defence!
Can we afford to have people like Not-So-Bright Matonga defining where the
national interest lies?

The Herald on Monday reported that Mahoso's opposite number in Zambia,
Justice Kabaz Chanda, had declared Zimbabwe was not a pariah state but "a
good example of democracy in Africa".
Chanda said democracy was a "relative concept" because there was no
universal model to measure it against. "It is difficult for any African
leader to fashion his own model of democracy as he will be pilloried by the
West like what is happening to President Robert Mugabe who has done nothing
wrong apart from angering British prime minister Tony Blair and United
States president George W Bush," Chanda reportedly told a conference in
Zambia to commemorate World Press Freedom day.
We would have wanted to accuse the judge of a dangerous relativism until we
realised the article was written by Ceasar Zvayi.
Apart from the heading claiming that "Zim is a good example of democracy",
Chanda doesn't say that in the story. We suspect that was Zvayi's own
interpretation. Nowhere does the judge say Zimbabwe is not a pariah state in
the story. Again we suspect it was Zvayi's helpful intervention, perhaps to
justify his trip to Zambia.
He would have been hard-pressed to find Zimbabwe's friends and what they
have done in material terms to improve the lives of Zimbabweans. And why
should Mugabe use us as guinea pigs in his experiment to "fashion his own
model of democracy"?

That model of democracy found further endorsement in Zimbabwe's re-election
to the United Nations Commission for Human Rights last week. The country's
permanent representative to the UN Boniface Chidyausiku hailed this as a
triumph for "Zimbabwean democracy".
Quite the contrary, remarked a cynical observer, "they say you set a thief
to catch a thief". We couldn't agree more.
Incidentally, the reporter let it be known that perhaps Zimbabwe's
re-election was not entirely due to lack of blemishes on the human rights
front, but rather a flawed process. Those countries opposed to Zimbabwe's
re-election couldn't do so "in the absence of an open voting system", he
blurted out. Sounds like another rigged election!
Meanwhile, Caesar Zvayi has every right to act as a mouthpiece of a
discredited regime if he wants to but he should stop telling silly stories
that even he knows are not true.
For the third time now he has told us that Ian Smith wept as the Union Jack
was lowered at the Independence ceremony at Rufaro Stadium on April 17/18
1980.
Why should Smith weep for a flag he had discarded 12 years earlier in 1968
to be replaced by a green and white concoction? This is at face value an
unimportant point. But our question is: what else is Zvayi prepared to
mislead Herald readers about?

Still with Smiths, but hopefully of a less inflexible variety, Muckraker
would like to extend a welcome to Tim Smith of the US embassy's Public
Affairs section. He replaces Gerry Keener who had to return to the US for
health reasons. Our best wishes go with her.
Tim Smith has now been reminded that Zimbabwe's toxic political climate can
be dangerous to your health by a sulphurous emission from Tafataona Mahoso
writing in the Sunday Mail last weekend.
If the truth be told Smith had gullibly asked for this outpouring by
visiting Mahoso at the offices of the Media and Information Commission and
inviting him to participate in a teleconference on the occasion of World
Press Freedom Day which took place on Tuesday.
We don't of course for one minute believe Mahoso's claim that Smith, during
his visit to the MIC offices, "agreed that the negative stories being used
by the Western media to stigmatise and criminalise Zimbabwe are at best
blatantly biased and at worst based on pure fabrications". That sounds like
an impure fabrication.
But by visiting Mahoso in the first place Smith gave a hostage to fortune
and provided a platform for the unhinged tirade that followed.
Journalists participating in Tuesday's event did not ask the US Public
Affairs section to lean over backwards to provide airtime to their
persecutors, and while it is true that left to himself Mahoso would do much
to discredit the regime he serves by his frothing fulminations, it should
not be the function of the US embassy to engage too closely the enemies of
press freedom!
Mahoso, in his weekly column, which by the way desperately needs an editor,
asked whether those journalists and media organisations selected to
participate in the teleconference were any "different and separate from
those responsible for the biased and fabricated stories we have already
noted?"
And he wanted to know if any of those participating had received funding or
sponsorship from US government sources such as USAid. "What is the
facilitator's relationship with the illegal Studio 7," he asked.
The VoA's Studio 7 is not of course illegal. Mahoso, as head of a
quasi-judicial body, should know that but then again he has in the past
leapt to similar self-serving conclusions. The regime, under the former
Minister of Information, tended to brand as "illegal" anything to which it
took exception.
Studio 7, SW Africa Radio, and other stations operate in terms of the law as
defined by their host countries. They are a response to a Supreme Court
ruling which struck down ZBC's monopoly of the airwaves and opened up
broadcasting to other applicants. When the regime ignored that ruling to
ensure the only voice heard across the country was President Mugabe's, a
number of hopeful broadcasters were obliged to transmit from outside the
country until they were able to return home to exercise their right to
freedom of expression.

Zimbabwe's ambassador to South Africa Simon Moyo appears to live in cloud
cuckooland. He reportedly said the elections were "over and done with" and
all Zimbabweans should rally behind government's "economic revival policy".
The elections might surely be over but they are not done with as yet. The
nation is still weighed down by the hopelessness of that election result.
Not even a jubilant Zanu PF has any clue about how to proceed from here on
or galvanise support for its "Look East" policy.
SK also thinks all that is needed to revive the economy is to deploy
hundreds of so-called "trade attachés" across the globe and wait for
tourists to flock into the country. For a start, very few people swallow the
deception that we need to go to China to earn American dollars or British
pounds. The Chinese themselves are going straight to those countries.
Secondly, the Chinese are coming to Zimbabwe at a huge cost to local
industry because of their sub-standard products.
Companies and factories are closing down and workers being laid off because
the Chinese have been allowed to dump their products on the local market.
That doesn't sound like an economic revival policy. If Moyo were keeping
abreast of what's happening on the continent he would know about the revolts
against Chinese products in Senegal and how the South Africans are fighting
the Chinese invasion. Zambia is still mourning the loss of 50 workers killed
at a Chinese explosives plant in the Copperbelt region last
week.
For a party whose slogan is "Zimbabwe will never be a colony again", why
does Zanu PF imagine that the Chinese are so charitable? It's colonisation
by whatever name Moyo and his colleagues want to call it. Except that it is
colonisation by invitation, itself a first and bizarre case of industrial
suicide.

Unlike our election where voices are silenced by agents of the incumbent
party, they do things rather differently in the UK. There, you can always
rely on some prankster or opportunist to get in on
the act.
Tory candidate Ed Matts, fighting to win back Labour's most marginal seat in
Dorset South, was not so long ago involved in a local campaign to have a
Malawian family saved from deportation. He was photographed, the Guardian
reports, standing alongside Tory bigwig Ann Widdecombe holding a placard
saying "Let them stay".
He apparently changed his views about immigrants and doctored the placard to
read "Controlled immigration" and "Not chaos and inhumanity".
This sleight of hand was quickly drawn to the attention of Michael Howard
who, to his credit, immediately phoned the Malawian family involved to
apologise. Howard is himself the son of immigrants from Romania.
More entertaining was the manifesto of the Official Monster Raving Loony
Party which has been fielding candidates in British elections since the
1960s.
It pledged to reduce class sizes by making the pupils sit closer to one
another and issuing them with smaller desks!
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Zim Independent

Govt coffers dry
Godfrey Marawanyika
GOVERNMENT has exhausted all its deposits with the Reserve Bank after
placing $332 billion with the central bank in December last year, official
figures reveal.

Figures show that the biggest deposit made by government was on July 30,
when it gave the central bank $568 billion.

The deposits declined to $160 billion in November before the last payment of
$332 billion in December. By April 22, the government's overdraft with the
central bank had declined to $100,8 billion from a peak of $1, 2 trillion at
the beginning of the month.

The latest figures are in sharp contrast to last year's savings which at one
stage saw government's account in credit, winning it praise from central
bank governor Gideon Gono. However, this time around the central bank has
raised concerns over government's borrowings, which it says are highly
inflationary.

According to RBZ figures, as of April 22 government domestic debt was $8
trillion, a rise of almost 200% from $2,8 trillion at the end of 2004.

The debt shot up from $2 trillion to $6 trillion in March before reaching
the current $8 trillion at the end of April.

Under RBZ guidelines, lending to government is limited to 20% of the
previous year's collected revenue. This however excludes government
securities purchased on the secondary market for monetary policy purposes.
Based on 2004 revenue estimates, this translates to a statutory limit of
$1,3 trillion for this year.

Analysts have warned that high levels of government borrowing will stoke

up inflationary pressures. This also crowds out borrowing by the private
sector, which is supposed to be the engine for economic growth.

Deputy Finance minister David Chapfika on Wednesday said there was nothing
wrong with government borrowing to finance productive sector activities.

"If we are borrowing for consumptive purposes then it becomes inflationary,
but when the money is used to finance operations then there is no problem,"
he said.

"In real terms government can borrow to finance industry, for example, or
anything productive," said Chapfika.

A senior bank economist this week said failure by government to deposit in
its account could have been caused by the recent elections.

"Election costs are generally high. Government does not make its expenditure
figures public so we can only speculate about elections and grain imports,"
the economist said.

As reported elsewhere in this newspaper, the WFP has put Zimbabwe's total
food needs at US$423 983 468 for April-September.

The central bank is also set to announce a post-election monetary policy
which will also take into account the country's food assistance needs and an
expanded cabinet.
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Zim Independent

No business for ZABG
Shakeman Mugari
THE Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group (ZABG) is in a precarious financial
position as it has failed to pick up enough business to keep it going.
Information to hand shows that the bank three weeks ago suspended all
lending due to insufficient deposits.

Sources say top management at the bank decided to suspend lending because of
a serious mismatch between what was being loaned and deposits. Under normal
circumstances there should be a match between what the bank lends and what
it receives in deposits.

The bank now plans to retrench employees in light of the prevailing
financial crisis. Sources say the job cuts are part of a highly confidential
report, which indicates that ZABG would have to retrench to stay afloat.

The report, sources say, is likely to see the bank laying off more than 60
employees. But they say the number could increase because the financial
constraints inherited from the two collapsed banks continue to haunt the
bank.

ZABG is an amalgam of Trust and Royal which crumbled due to a liquidity
crunch last year.

Currently there are more than 500 workers on the ZABG payroll but top
management says this is draining limited resources.

Insiders yesterday said the bank's electronic banking division had only one
corporate client on its books. Other divisions such as retail banking,
wholesale banking and stockbroking were battling for shrinking business in
the financial sector.

"The bank has been unable to pick up sufficient deposits," said a senior
manager at ZABG.

"The bank has failed to make the impact that was anticipated at inception."

Apart from a thin deposit base, the bank is poorly capitalised, as it will
not be receiving funds from the fiscus.

At one time central bank governor Gideon Gono said the bank would be
capitalised to the tune of $2 trillion, making it the country's largest
bank. However, he later backtracked after the central bank failed to raise
the funds. He denied ever making such a claim.

It has since turned out the $2 trillion mentioned by Gono was simply
deposits from the failed banks (constituting ZABG) that were converted into
equity.

Sources said senior managers had now been told by the Reserve Bank to
generate more business to raise their own working capital.

Chief executive Stephen Gwasira could not be reached for a comment as he was
said to be out of his office attending a meeting.
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Zim Independent

New grain producer prices, for who?
By Admire Mavolwane
WE have in the past lamented the non-availability of essential information
and delayed responses to events that should have been known to all and
sundry in good time.

It is almost a month since the opening of the tobacco season yet we have no
announcement as to the authorities' intention to prop up prices and restore
viability. The cotton buying season will be upon us very soon and
international lint prices are not looking good.

As we have highlighted in previous columns, we are not opposed to subsidies
as long as they can be quantified and are meant to temporarily protect
farmers from adverse movement in commodity prices. It wouldn't be a bad idea
if an independent research board was set up to monitor international prices
and advise the farmers. This would enable farmers to plan in advance and
possibly switch to crops with a better outlook. The era of doing things
blindly is surely past us.

Tuesday's Herald ran a headline announcing the producer price for maize and
a subsidy that seems to go against the new gospel that parastatals should be
run profitably. The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) will now be paying roughly
$2,2 million for every tonne of maize, up from $750 000 in the prior season.
The price has been increased by an incredible 300% - presumably an admission
that the CPI inflation is understated.

Ironically, the selling price to millers will remain pegged at $600 000 per
tonne which does not make commercial sense given that even at last year's
producer price the parastatal was incurring negative margins. However, while
in more normal times one would have expected the total subsidy to worsen,
given the size of the crop likely to be bought by the GMB, the whole issue
is reduced to an almost academic exercise.

What baffles many is the manner in which the subsidy, now amounting to $1,6
million, is applied and the resultant impact on the budget deficit. One
would have expected the subsidy to be applied at the farm gate in the form
of cheaper inputs, the rationale being that farmers would be encouraged to
grow the crop through the availability of favourably priced inputs.

Also the producer price should at least be announced before the onset of the
planting season. Besides being more sensible, it would allow the farmers
plan in advance in terms of hectarage and yields.

The argument that hiking a producer price in April just before the
commencement of harvesting will encourage deliveries does not, in our humble
view, hold water. Had the price been announced in October or September,
farmers would have compared the returns on tobacco, cotton, sunflowers,
groundnuts and maize and made a decision as to which crop would give better
returns.

In addition, it would enable the fiscal authorities to take into
consideration the relevant subsidies when preparing the budget and hence
come up with correct estimates of the budget outcome that would enhance
credibility.

As an illustration, a number of new measures and incentives have been
introduced since the 2005 budget was announced. At the time of presentation,
a budget deficit of 5% of gross domestic product (GDP) was forecast.

Yet since then the central bank governor has announced that over the next
two years the Reserve Bank proposes to raise $10 trillion as "seed funds"
for the parastatals and local authorities reorientation programme (PLARP),
of which one can assume that at least a budget-busting $5 trillion is likely
to be spent this year.

Increases in civil service remuneration are forecast to account for $8,3
trillion; additional tax concessions amount to $5 trillion, while
quasi-fiscal payments to gold, tobacco growers, the capitalisation of ZABG,
the Energy, Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank and the outstanding
advances to the productive sector at the beginning of the year together
amount to a further $5 trillion.

So, before even adding in the grain subsidies, we are looking at an
increased expenditure of $23-25 trillion. This is some $6 trillion more than
the increase in expenditure of $19 trillion given in the budget estimates
indicating that even without taking into account another year of falling
real GDP the deficit will be at least 10% of estimated GDP and will in all
likelihood be considerably higher.

Now, adding the new subsidies and possibly the increase in government
expenditure necessitated by the expanded cabinet, which has an additional
six ministries, the deficit will probably shoot up towards double that
figure.

This is hardly a development which is likely to help us in our search for
foreign partners to help promote our proposed recovery.

As alluded to earlier, lack of information as to how much the GMB is likely
to purchase from farmers means that one would not be able to quantify how
much the subsidy would work out to at the end of the day. What we have
misgivings about is that the price differentials present an arbitrage
opportunity.

One hopes that there are mechanisms in place to stop some innovative
entrepreneurs from accessing maize from GMB under the guise of being a
miller and repackaging it before immediately delivering back to GMB at a
profit.

On another note, it is interesting to see that the new price almost equates
to the import parity price of grade B maize of US$120 per tonne using the
exchange rate of $18 733, which is in line with the more sober parallel
market rates. Now that question that begs to be answered is: why and how
would a state institution use the unofficial rate to set its producer
prices?
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Zim Independent

Exchange rate mismatch could hurt gold targets
Ndamu Sandu
ZIMBABWE is likely to miss its annual gold production targets because of low
output in the first quarter and an unfavourable exchange rate.

Figures released by the Chamber of Mines last week show that gold production
in the first quarter declined 17,6% to 4 200 kg from 5100 kg in the previous
year.

The decline in the quarterly output has put a damper on the annual output of
35 000 kg envisaged by the chamber at the beginning of the year.

The chamber attributed the decline to rising production costs and foreign
currency shortages.

Economist John Robertson said the decline in gold production might be an
indication that more people are selling the metal privately as the parallel
market is giving a better rate compared to the official rate.

Currently the US dollar is trading at $20 000 on the parallel market
compared to $6 000 on the official auction market.

Robertson said because of this discrepancy, there was a possibility that
more gold was finding its way into the parallel rate.

"Maybe Zimbabwe is producing a lot of gold but the RBZ is not getting it
because of the exchange rate which is way behind the rate offered on the
parallel market," Robertson said.

Zimbabwe's total gold production last year reached 21 300 kg, pushing
foreign currency earnings to $273,8 million from $152,3 million the previous
year.

Falcon Gold, the second largest gold producer after Metallon, announced a
fortnight ago that it was stopping gold production because it was no longer
profitable.

Industry officials said the decline in yellow metal output over the past
four years had been caused by power shortages, lack of spare parts, high
production costs and an uncertain future caused by President Mugabe's
announcement that locals should be given a 50% stake in all foreign-owned
firms.

In January the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe increased the Zimbabwe dollar gold
support price from $92 000 to $130 000 per gramme.

Producers are required to sell some of the metal to the central bank.

But producers say the support price requires frequent review as it is easily
overtaken by high inflation which in March stood at 124%.
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Zim Independent

Gono's targets prove elusive
Shakeman Mugari
RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono is battling to keep his
monetary policy on target at a time when government is spending money on
maize imports and an enlarged cabinet.

A combination of skewed economic fundamentals and the ongoing political
crisis have forced Gono to make major changes to his initial policies.

According to bankers he spoke to two weeks ago, he wants to raise interest
rates, revise inflation targets and slash the foreign currency earnings
forecast to bring it closer to the reality he has been dodging since his
appointment in 2003. Sources say he also wants to panelbeat his roadmap to
fit an economy that has been battered by drought and fuel shortages.

Zimbabwe needs to raise US$818 million to avert looming hunger which
government blames on drought. Grain imports will be financed by diverting $5
trillion initially earmarked for infrastructural development. The urgent
need for grain money requires Gono to revise his US$3 billion foreign
currency earnings target that he set last year.

Experts say he will have to draw up a new roadmap after his initial plans
were thrown into disarray by the drought and economic problems that are
refusing to go away despite official claims.

Economist David Mupamhadzi said the governor would have to change the whole
picture because his initial vision was based on the assumption that there
would be no drought. He said all projections would have to be changed to
factor in the impact of the drought which he said was devastating.

"The central bank and government would have to change all the assumptions
they had used to calculate growth rate, GDP prospects and inflation
 targets," Mupamhadzi said.

"Initial targets were based on the assumption that everything would be
normal but now things have changed."

Gono is also expected to devalue the Zimbabwe dollar to narrow the widening
gap between the galloping parallel and the official auction rates. Sources
say Gono is likely to devalue the dollar from the current $6 200/US$1 to
around $9 000/US$1 to save the exporting sector and entice the forex holders
to channel their money into the official market.

There was information last week that Gono had wanted to slash the dollar
value to $12 000/US$1 had it not been for a cabinet directive to peg it at
$9 000.

Experts however say the devaluation might be too little too late to stop the
black market which has seen the Zimbabwe dollar trading at a high of $17 500
against the greenback and around $35 000 to the pound. Despite his
commitment to revive the export sector, the reality on the ground shows that
there has been very little business to justify his US$3 billion projection
he said the country would earn this year. Exporters are reeling from an
over-valued local currency.

Fuel shortages and power cuts that have hit the country will also impact
negatively on the manufacturing sector that Gono had said would form part of
the measures to revive the economy. Capacity utilisation in the key industry
is likely to slump due to energy and fuel shortages. Currently the sector is
operating at around 40% with other companies having shut down completely.

Zimbabwe is failing to raise US$34 million required to import fuel per
month. It has also been battling to raise the US$17 million required for a
month's supply of power imports.

Analysts say the governor's biggest challenge is to put a stopper on
government's expenditure that will be compounded by an enlarged cabinet.
They say this will further strain the treasury whose books are already full
of holes.

Runaway spending has seen government accumulating massive debts over the
past five years. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe says government's domestic
debt jumped to $7,9 trillion on April 15 from $2,3 trillion as of February
18. In January 2004, domestic debt stood at $576 billion. This is despite
Gono's claims that government has been spending within its means.
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Zim Independent

Beer shortage looms
Staff Writer
A SHORTAGE of beer is looming as supplies of the strategic raw material in
lager brewing, malt, could run out in two months.

Foreign currency constraints on importing additional supplies have worsened
the situation.

Zimbabwe produced only 20 000 tonnes of barley last year which is only a
quarter of the country's annual demand. Malt is a by-product of barley.

Prices have also been going up, rising from $420 000 per tonne in August

2003, to $9,5 million per tonne in October 2004. Last month prices were
raised to $11,6 million per tonne.

The new crop which will be planted next month will only be harvested in
October, meaning the country could be without supplies between June and
September.

Regionally, Zimbabwe and South Africa are the only producers of malt.
Zimbabwe used to supply 50% of its product to seven countries throughout the
region.

Mozambique, Botswana, Zambia, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo
and Malawi and Zambia once relied completely on Delta for their malt
requirements.

Delta Corporation Ltd's Kwekwe maltings plant general manager Lukas Rungano
referred questions to the company's group corporate affairs manager, George
Mutendadzamera who said the company had enough supplies of barley malt.

"Barley malt will not run out in June as we have enough supplies to cater
for the needs of our market," he said. "The exact figure of last year's
tonnage is in excess of the figure you quote (20 000t). We will not have a
shortfall."

Delta is the country's largest beverages company and is the holding company
for a broad range of interests serving the mass consumer market.

These include lager and sorghum beer brewing, the bottling of carbonated and
non-carbonated soft drinks, supermarket and furniture retailing, tourism and
various agro-industrial operations.
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Zim Independent

Zim pays a 'fortune' for abysmal telecoms

FROM Alaska to Zimbabwe consumers agree on two points, they demand a
low-cost, high-quality service or commodity.

Any company that delivers those twin needs grows in direct proportion to
product availability and marketing. It's that simple.

It is clear that the telecommunications industry in Zimbabwe is failing on
both counts.

Zimbabweans pay one of the highest rates in the world in order to
communicate and by all accounts the quality of service is abysmal.

The Minister of Finance, Dr Herbert Murerwa is on record as saying: "The

development of public infrastructure such as roads, dams and
telecommunications facilities will be a key factor in government's efforts
to increase investment to turn around the country's economic fortunes."

In recent years there has been substantial improvement in access to telecoms
facilities and unprecedented growth in the telecoms network but size, in
this instance, does not automatically equal quality or speed of delivery.

A flourishing black market trade exists in both landline and cell- phone
commodities.

Consumers ask why it takes months for them to receive a landline? Why
cellphone signals are erratic? Why they are charged for poor quality
connectivity resulting in several calls having to be made to get one's point
across clearly? The answer to all these questions may quite literally lie in
a one word solution "wireless".

In a recent survey 98% of high profile respondents did not know what
wireless telecommunications were. Fixed wireless access is the use of
wireless technology to replace copper to connect subscribers to the
telephone network plus radio frequency spectrum, the basis of radio
frequency transmission and modulation as well as the use of antennas and
radio networks.

The concept was developed by the United States Army in order to communicate
with remote areas in case landlines were down or unstable.

Usage of wireless telecommunications has been around for over 20 years with
businesses inheriting the technology over the past five years.

Like most significant innovations the development of wireless options was a
collaborative effort from contributing experts.

US-based companies recruited wireless voice, data, and video experts, each
with specific knowledge of wireless telecoms technologies and business
practices. This team, together with input from thousands of other online
contributors gathered, added, and edited what are now the latest wireless,
telecom, and data network terms and acronyms in use today.

Wireless options continue to create a revolution in the telecommunications
industry with developed countries wasting no time in developing the
potential.

TeleAccess Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd marketing and sales general manager, Simon
Ramsey said that Africa has been called the slumbering giant and that it was
easy to see that picture in the mind's eye.

He added: "But if the giant had a viable phone in his hand and at his feet,
the vast untapped mineral and other notable resources that this continent is
so blessed with, would he continue to slumber?" - ProComm Public Relations
(Pvt) Ltd.
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Zim Independent

NatFoods at 5% capacity
Ndamu Sandu
ZIMBABWE Stock Exchange-listed National Foods Holdings Ltd chairman Todd
Moyo says the company's two mills in Harare and Bulawayo have been operating
at 5% capacity in the financial year ending 2004.

In a review of the 2004 financial year, Moyo attributed the decline in
capacity utilisation to a small allocation of maize by the Grain Marketing
Board (GMB).

Moyo said procurement of imported raw materials like animal proteins,
minerals and vitamins would remain a challenge in 2005 "given that there is
still a government ban on exports of stockfeeds".

"It therefore means that the supply cycle is incomplete since there is no
in-house generation of foreign currency."

The company's three maize mills in Mutare, Gweru and Masvingo remained
closed in the financial year.

Zimbabwe is facing a shortage of maize, as the harvest from the just-ended
season is not enough to meet the requirements.

In the year ended December 2004 Natfoods achieved inflation adjusted annual
turnover of $959,5 billion with a profit after tax of $28,43 billion.

Investment in stocks was down 22% and liabilities to creditors increased to
$60 billion from $24,9 billion in the previous year.

Debtors increased to $124,2 billion from $58,8 billion in the year
comparable, attributed to advance payments to secure raw material supplies.

Zimbabwe needs 2,3 million tonnes of maize per year with 1,8 million for
consumption while the remainder is for strategic grain reserves.

Zimbabwe has been having a deficit in maize harvests since 2000 when
government embarked on the chaotic land reform programme.

A parliamentary portfolio committee on agriculture last year revealed that
the country had harvested 398 000 tonnes of maize in the 2003/4 season
contrary to government's claims that the country had harvested a bumper 2,4
million tonnes.

Analysts warned that unless government imports maize, a number of millers
would go under this year, throwing a number of employees onto the streets.
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