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

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FinGaz

      4 banks in liquidity crunch

      By a Special Correspondent
      5/7/03 2:02:05 AM (GMT +2)

      AT least four banks are reportedly facing a liquidity crunch that
could trigger financial tremors similar to those touched off at the end of
the 1990s when Zimbabwe was hit by its first banking sector shock which
threatened to wipe out a number of financial institutions.

      Impeccable sources at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) yesterday
said that while most banking institutions had reported high average
liquidity in the six months to December 31 2002, Beverly Building Society,
First Merchant Bank, the Zimbabwe Development Bank Finance and Trustfin were
potentially headed for the shifting sands.
      According to the well-placed sources, who cannot be named, the
liquidity squeeze faced by the institutions has seen the RBZ significantly
increasing its funding to the banking sector, which does not seem to be
about to call time on growth since the phenomenal growth that began in the
1990s.
      They revealed that the central bank pumped in $21. 6 billion to
accommodate troubled banks during the six months to December 31 2002,
reflecting a worrying development over the health of the financial
institutions in question.
      Even though the institutions that were thrown a lifeline by the
central bank were not necessarily at the very deep end but moving towards
it, the level of support, the sources said, indicated severe liquidity and
solvency problems in the interbank market.
      They said that this would be revealed in an RBZ internal confidential
report completed in March this year and whose tone suggests stress for the
institutions. The central bank's Macroprudential Surveillance Report, which
is traditionally not released to the public, provides a general assessment
of the impact that the macro-economic environment has on the performance of
the banking sector.
      The central bank uses the report for monitoring developments as it
provides early warning signals to any potential banking problems, which
could cause financial instability.
      The sources said that banking authorities' stress testing for a system
wise liquidity crunch when they were collating information for the report
revealed that Beverly Building Society, First Merchant Bank (FMB), Zimbabwe
Development Bank Finance (ZDBF) and Trustfin - had a high probability of
facing liquidity problems.
      The four institutions' adjusted liquidity ratios were pegged at 7.3
percent, 4.8 percent, 4.8 percent and 2.4 percent respectively, during the
time the examinations were carried out.
      The adjusted liquidity ratio reflects a situation whereby those assets
that are likely to become illiquid in a system wise crisis such as deposits
at other banks and liquid assets guaranteed by the government are removed
from liquid assets.
      Among other issues, the central bank also looked at Capital Adequacy
and Asset Quality. Stress testing of the banking sector for adequate
provisions indicated that Agribank, Metropolitan, Genesis and the Leasing
Company of Zimbabwe (LCZ) were undercapitalised. This was after assuming
that no collateral was available.
      Collateral value is ignored in the calculation of required provisions
because collateral is a secondary source of capital which may not
materialise in a crisis situation.
      In its report, the sources said, the RBZ also sounded a warning for
Metropolitan Bank, Time Bank, Genesis Investments and CFX which had reported
high adversely classified loans to total loans ratios of 46 percent, 79.9
percent, 63.1 percent and 58.4 percent respectively. The sources said the
central bank makes it clear in its report that this is a red flag that
should not be ignored.
      "In fact there is a statement in the report which says that 'this
indicates worrying levels of credit risk at these perennially struggling
banks, which calls for close monitoring'," the sources said.
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FinGaz

      Info Dept owes ZBC $400mln for adverts

      By Godfrey Marawanyika Senior Staff Reporter
      5/7/03 2:03:42 AM (GMT +2)

      THE Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) is understood to be owed
over $400 million by the Department of Information and Publicity in the
Office of the President and Cabinet in advertising revenue, the Financial
Gazette established this week.

      Insiders at the state broadcaster said the money owing to the
corporation accrued over a period of about two months when the corporation's
parent ministry ran a series of advertisements on television and radio that
were mainly meant to drum up support for the land reform programme.
      The bills accrued over adverts that were flighted between November and
December last year, under the banner of "Chave Chimurenga", as government
stepped up the acquisition of commercial farms for purposes of resettling
landless black Zimbabweans.
      The sources said that ZBC finance officer Victor Musundi and his
senior, Lawrence Chataza, in April sent invoices to the Department of
Information indicating that the department owed the corporation some $412
719 542.
      During the national budget the department, which is headed by Jonathan
Moyo, was allocated $13 billion.
      ZBC chief executive Munyaradzi Hwengere did not reply to questions
sent to him at the time of going to press.
      The department is not the only one that has failed to meet its
obligations. Since the end of the presidential election in March 2002, the
ruling ZANU PF has so far failed to pay $275 million owed to several
companies, including one of the country's leading advertising agencies which
handled the party's ambitious media campaign in the run-up to last year's
presidential elections.
      One of the worst affected companies is Lintas Advertising Agency, a
key player in the massive radio, television and newspaper campaigns, as it
is owed $209 million which it has been failing to recover.
      Some of the companies that are owed money include Textile Printers
that is owned by ZANU PF chief whip and Mberengwa West Member of Parliament
Joram Gumbo.
      Other firms include Millennium Advertising and Corporate Marketing.
      No comment could be obtained from Moyo, as he was said to be in a
meeting but his secretary referred this paper's inquiries to George
Charamba, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry who was said to be
unavailable.
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FinGaz

      Teachers declare strike

      Staff Reporter
      5/7/03 2:06:08 AM (GMT +2)

      The 55 000-member Zimbabwe Teachers' Association (Zimta) yesterday
declared an indefinite strike after the government failed to accept demands
by the teachers for an immediate salary review, teacher representatives
said.

      The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), which boasts of a
membership of 13 000 teachers, immediately rallied, saying it would support
Zimta.
      Marathon meetings between the Zimta and Public Service Commission
(PSC) officials yesterday failed to break an impasse between the government
and the teachers over the issue, which has been outstanding since January.
      "The demands by the teachers have not been met. As a result all
personnel in the education fraternity have decided to withdraw their labour
with effect from today," said the Zimta secretary-general, Dennis Sinyolo.
      The government awarded an 80 percent salary increment to the teachers
in January but did not implement recommendations of a job evaluation
exercise that involved job profiling, grading and compensation of all
teachers.
      This has since not been done. The move would have meant the upgrading
of the teaching profession in the civil service and enhancing their
remuneration.
      "We will support the Zimta strike, but we'll remain in the
 background," said the PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe.
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FinGaz

      Chiefs demand long-awaited service vehicles

      Staff Reporter
      5/7/03 2:07:47 AM (GMT +2)

      TRADITIONAL chiefs who helped President Robert Mugabe to secure
victory in the controversial election last year are demanding that he should
buy them service vehicles and increase their monthly gratuities, the
Financial Gazette established yesterday.

      There are 266 traditional chiefs in the country who are each receiving
monthly pay-outs of $50 000. Mugabe promised to give the chiefs vehicles
when he addressed them at their annual meeting in January.
      Jonathan Mangwende, President of the Chiefs Council confirmed there
was growing agitation among the chiefs who were worried by the delayed
delivery of the promised vehicles.
      He said that he did not even have an idea when the vehicles would
arrive, as the government had not invited tenders for the supply of the
vehicles.
      "The promised vehicles are not yet there but I understand that the
government is still working on the modalities of acquiring them," Mangwende
said.
      A modest brand new vehicle now costs between $35 million and $40
million on the market.
      This means the total cost of the entire fleet for the 266 chiefs could
amount to more than $9 billion. There is no provision for that in the
current national budget.
      Mangwende said that the vehicles were now long overdue, as the chiefs
needed them urgently.
      Mangwende said that most chiefs were demanding that the government
should hike their monthly allowances because of the inflationary environment
in the country.
      "We need an increase of up to $80 000. The allowance is never
sufficient and we will continue to ask for periodic reviews till we die," he
said.
      Traditional chiefs had their allowances increased up to $50 000 from
$18 000 last year, while that of their headmen doubled to $20 000 in January
this year.
      Mugabe last year electrified and built boreholes at chiefs' homesteads
in a move that was calculated at winning their hearts in the face of stiff
opposition from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change president
Morgan Tsvangirai.
      A provision of $4.5 million was allocated to each province in the 2003
budget for use by the chiefs in their official activities.
      Ignatious Chombo, Minister of Local Government and his deputy Chief
Fortune Charumbira were both unavailable for comment as there were said to
be out of the office and their mobiles were continuously out of reach.
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FinGaz

      Zim crisis threatens G8 backing for NEPAD

      Staff Reporter
      5/7/03 2:10:17 AM (GMT +2)

      ATTEMPTS by African leaders to bring the ruling ZANU PF and opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) together are a clear signal of African
leaders' frustrations of the potential damage the Zimbabwe crisis will have
on the continent, diplomatic sources said.

      The sources said the leaders wanted to be seen as capable of reining
in trouble spots on the continent such as Zimbabwe, Burundi, Ivory Coast and
the Democratic Republic of Congo in the hope of courting support from the G8
industrialised nations for the New Partnership for Africa Development
(NEPAD).
      They said President Thabo Mbeki and Olusegun Obasanjo who are part of
leaders spearheading the NEPAD programme were concerned about the potential
damage the crisis in Zimbabwe would have on the continent's attempts to lure
G8 industrialised nations to back NEPAD.
      President Bakili Muluzi also attended this week's talks with President
Robert Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
      The sources said the Zimbabwe meeting was even more crucial before the
G8 nations summit in the French Alpine resort town of Evian from June1-3
this year where the NEPAD programme will come under discussion.
      One of the key elements of NEPAD is peer review, which allows member
African countries to keep an eye on each other's progress towards just,
accountable and open government.
      "It was Mbeki and Obasanjo who undertook to have this visit because
they should give evidence that they are doing something about Zimbabwe," a
Harare based European diplomat told the Financial Gazette.
      "Next month the G8 is meeting in Evian and the question that will be
obviously asked to the architects of the programme is can you handle the
Zimbabwe crisis within the context of NEPAD."
      Under NEPAD, which is modelled on the "Marshall Plan" through which
the United States (US) helped rebuild Europe after World War Two, Africa
needs US$64 billion of investment inflows annually to ensure sustainable
growth.
      The architects of NEPAD, who include Mbeki and Obasanjo have promised
the industrialised nations to break with a past of misrule to court support
for their ambitious African renaissance plan.
      Last year in March African heads of state who gathered in Abuja,
Nigeria gave strong support for a declaration on good political governance,
committing heads of state to uphold plural democracy, respect human rights
and freedom of the press and judiciary and to eradicate corruption.
      But of all trouble spots on the continent, Zimbabwe has remained a
sticking point between the West and African nations dividing the
Commonwealth on racial grounds.
      African leaders have battled to separate the Zimbabwe crisis from
NEPAD but the southern Africa's political and economic crisis has snowballed
since March last year when President Mugabe was controversially re-elected
in a ballot the MDC claims was flawed.
      Members of the G8 grouping who have been critical of Zimbabwe are
Britain, Canada and the US.
      However, diplomats said they were encouraged by the talks between the
African leaders with President Robert Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai this week but said initial indications were that the two could
not meet any time soon.
      They said while Tsvangirai had indicated his willingness to meet
Mugabe without any conditions, they expressed concern about Mugabe's
condition that the MDC leader first recognises him as the legitimate head of
state, saying this could stall any talks.
      Mugabe, talking tough after meeting African leaders said the
opposition party which has launched a legal challenge to his re-election
last year should recognise the 79 former guerilla leaders as Zimbabwe's
president if dialogue is to resume.
      Diplomatic sources privy to the discussions said the MDC had shot down
Obasanjo's proposition that the opposition party accept the existence of the
Electoral Supervisory Commission which the opposition say is not properly
constituted.
      It also emerged this week that some members of the European Union had
put pressure on South Africa to hold talks with ZANU PF and the MDC three
weeks ago to break the political impasse that has gripped the country.
      South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Zhlamini Zuma met government
officials in France and Germany where the Zimbabwean issue was discussed.
      "The South African Foreign Minister was in France and Germany three
weeks ago where concern was raised about what is happening in Zimbabwe," a
senior Western diplomat said.
      "They helped to push for these talks."
      Analysts and political commentators this week said the problems
affecting Zimbabwe were a major issue for the West, which has been critical
of Mugabe's policies.
      The analysts said there was now a realisation especially by regional
leaders that Zimbabwe was a blocking mechanism to attracting foreign
investment to the region.
      Brian Raftopolous, director of the Zimbabwe of Development Studies at
the University of Zimbabwe this week said Muluzi, Mbeki and Obasanjo would
have wanted to see a quick resolution to buttress their claim that Africa
was able to solve its own problems.
      "I think the Zimbabwe question has impacted and will continue to do so
on NEPAD if it is not addressed," Raftopolous said.
      "Zimbabwe is still a major issue for the West and on the part of
African leaders there has to be an indication that there is a movement
forward on the Zimbabwe crisis."
      Analysts also said eventually there would have to be a compromise
between Mugabe and Tsvangirai to pull Zimbabwe out of the woods.
      The analysts however said Mugabe was expecting the MDC to put a lot on
the table while not giving anything himself.
      "He (Mugabe) is expecting the MDC to put a lot on the table while he
himself is not giving anything," Raftopolous added.
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FinGaz

      Chidyausiku out of Paradza case

      Staff Reporter
      5/7/03 2:09:00 AM (GMT +2)

      CHIEF Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku has dropped out of the case in which
High Court judge, Benjamin Paradza, is challenging the constitutionality of
his controversial arrest.

      It emerged yesterday that there were serious differences among the
judges over Paradza's case.
      Legal experts had been urging Justice Chidyausiku to recuse himself
from the case after it emerged that he had sanctioned Paradza's arrest, an
issue that caused 10 other High Court judges to protest against their
colleague's arrest.
      Paradza was arrested in February on corruption charges.
      In their petition to Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister
Patrick Chinamasa, the judges said proper procedures had not been followed
before Paradza's arrest and that the action by the police tarnished the
Judge's image and belittled him.
      Paradza, who is on bail, is accused of interfering with the trial of a
friend and business partner, Russel Luschagne, who has since been jailed for
murder.
      The Financial Gazette established yesterday that Justice Chidyausiku
has been left out of the case, which will be heard by a full Supreme Court
bench comprising Justice's Wilson Sandura, Misheck Cheda, Venarda Ziyambi,
Luke Malaba and Elizabeth Gwaunza on Tuesday.
      Efforts to get a comment from Justice Chidyausiku or the Registrar of
the Supreme Court proved fruitless as phones at the Supreme Court went
unanswered yesterday morning and in the afternoon.
      But sources said Justice Chidyausiku had opted out of the case due to
the damning allegations made against him by Paradza.
      "He had become an interested party and the wisest thing to do was to
watch by the sidelines than take an active part. That's what he chose to do,
otherwise no-one was going to respect the determination of the Court if he
had taken part," said a source in the legal fraternity closely linked to the
case.
      After his arrest, Paradza attacked Justice Chidyausiku and High Court
Judge President Paddington Garwe for compromising the independence of the
judiciary by allowing his arrest.
      Conduct "totally unacceptable"
      In a Supreme Court application challenging the constitutionality of
his arrest, Paradza accused Justice Chidyausiku of failing to protect him
and described the Chief Justice's conduct as "totally unacceptable".
      Legal experts also called on Justice Chidyausiku to recuse himself
from the case saying he could not make a ruling in a case in which "ten
judges on his bench have already pronounced a determination".
      Paradza also deplored Justice Chidyausiku's conduct, which he said was
meant to safeguard the Chief Justice's cosy relations with the government.
      "I would have expected them (Justice's Chidyausiku and Garwe) to
protect the integrity of the bench by insisting that there was no need for
my arrest and being placed on remand without correct procedure being
followed," said Paradza.
      "I can only assume that they did not do so for fear that they would
fall out of favour with the executive, as happened in the case of the former
chief justice (Anthony) Gubbay and the other judges of the High Court who
resigned their offices."
      Paradza maintained in his application that his arrest was politically
motivated and that proper channels had not been followed. He argued that
President Robert Mugabe, on the advice of Justice Chidyausiku, should have
first set up a tribunal to ascertain the validity of the allegations leveled
against him.
      It also emerged yesterday that judges were sharply divided between
those who are against Paradza's arrest and those who refused to sign the
petition. Judiciary sources said some senior judges with personal
differences with Paradza masterminded his arrest hence the clandestine
manner in which the arrest was handled.
      "It doesn't matter how the serious the issue might have been. The
simple fact is that a tribunal should have been set up but you see, because
there was more to this issue, some people wanted Paradza to get the worst
humiliation possible.
      "Otherwise where in this world would you find a police officer
arresting a judge in his chambers, minutes before handling an urgent matter?
The whole thing has left a number of judges uneasy about their security
should they also ruffle a few top feathers in future," said the source.
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FinGaz

      Tourism paralysed in Vic Falls, Hwange

      By Godfrey Marawanyika Senior Staff Reporter
      5/7/03 12:16:54 AM (GMT +2)

      TOURISM activities in the country's two major resort areas - Victoria
Falls and Hwange - have suffered a major set-back due to acute fuel
shortages, with service stations reporting that they have had no supplies
for the past three weeks.

      Industry players in the two resort towns said they had managed to
stitch up an arrangement in which they secure fuel from Kasane in Botswana
and Livingstone in Zambia, but maintained this was a temporary reprieve and
one that was benefiting only a few players.

      "We have really suffered because of the fuel shortages. At times we
buy fuel either from Botswana or Zambia but it's not all of us who have
access to foreign currency," said an operator who cannot be named for
professional reasons.

      "Most of the vehicles have spent the past three-and-a-half weeks
queuing for the arrival of the commodity but without any luck."

      The tourism industry has in the past suggested that the government
should rate the sector a priority beneficiary in the allocation of fuel
since it is a key player in the revival of the country's economy and
generates much-needed foreign currency, but that proposal has not yet been
accepted.

      The tourism sector used to be the second highest performer in terms of
its contribution to the country's gross domestic product. It has lost its
lustre over the past three years due to a combination of factors, among them
the poor economic situation prevailing in Zimbabwe and an unstable political
environment that has spurred bad publicity in both the domestic and the
international Press.

      A number of European countries, which form the bulk of Zimbabwe's
tourist traffic, have issued travel alerts warning their citizens against
travelling to Zimbabwe.

      Other tour operators said they have since registered some of their
companies either in Botswana or Zambia to help them easily secure fuel
supplies for their Zimbabwean operations.

      "Some of us have now registered our companies in Zambia or Botswana so
that we can get fuel without having to resort to parallel market dealings,"
said the official.

      "Registering in these countries has not been easy because at times the
government officials there are hostile to Zimbabweans."

      No comment was immediately available from Zimbabwe Council for
Tourism, headed by Zimbabwe Sun Hotels chief executive officer Shingi
Munyeza, and Environment and Tourism Minister Francis Nhema.

      Zimbabwe has of late been getting inconsistent fuel supplies from
Kuwait, South Africa, Botswana and Nigeria. The bulk of its fuel comes from
the Kuwait Independent Group, which is reportedly mulling cutting off
supplies into the country because of a US$70 million debt now outstanding.
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FinGaz

      Mbeki & crew's trick has failed before

      By Farai Mutsaka
      5/7/03 2:06:14 AM (GMT +2)

      AFTER all the hype and excitement that characterised the visit to
Zimbabwe by South African President Thabo Mbeki, Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo
and Bakili Muluzi of Malawi, the three African leaders have left the country
as they found it - in a political stalemate that threatens to drag the
country down the abyss.

      After meeting both President Robert Mugabe and opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai, the three African leaders
could not do much more than harp on a familiar song - a tune they have sung
every time they have talked about Zimbabwe, but a tune that the Zimbabwean
political leadership has evidently failed to dance to.
      Before they left for their various destinations, Muluzi, Mbeki and
Obasanjo could only - for the umpteenth time - encourage ZANU PF and the MDC
to go back to the negotiating table.
      But ordinary Zimbabweans expected Mbeki, Obasanjo and Muluzi to fare
better. Despite stressing this point for over a year, dialogue has evidently
failed to take off the ground, and the three African leaders ought to have
known that by now.
      Which is why speculation was rife that the African leaders had come to
work out an exit plan for Mugabe and pave the way for a transitional
government, for that could be the only reasonable thing that might save
Zimbabwe from further ruin.
      Perhaps what should now be made clear to any mediators to the
Zimbabwean crisis, Mbeki and Obasanjo particularly, is that expecting
meaningful dialogue between Mugabe and Tsvangirai could be a far-fetched
dream at the moment.
      What Mbeki and Obasanjo seem to have failed to grasp is that Mugabe
has long ceased to be part of the solution to this country's crisis. He has
become part of the problem that has to be rid of.
      Hence, the starting point to normalising the situation in Zimbabwe
would be a bold and clear declaration by Mugabe that finally he is stepping
down as President of this country. Only after such a move can anyone begin
to facilitate meaningful dialogue between the opposition and the government.
      So, any efforts to find a negotiated settlement to the Zimbabwe crisis
should kick off from that pragmatic start.
      As soon as Mugabe is out of the way, a reasonable and politically
acceptable person within ZANU PF, someone in the mould of Simba Makoni or
John Nkomo, should lead a transitional government that would be tasked with
organising fresh elections.
      The challenge therefore lies in how to find a way to convince Mugabe
that, for posterity's sake, it is time he realises that his continued
presence is not adding any value to the country. To convince him that a new
dispensation with new ideas, with the zeal to cut across political and
racial barriers in working for Zimbabwe and a dispensation that enjoys
international goodwill is the only thing that can save Zimbabwe from
collapse.
      But there is doubt that Obasanjo, Mbeki or Muluzi - riddled by their
own domestic shortcomings - could prevail over Mugabe and convince him that
his is a dying regime that should pass the baton on.
      During their visit, the three African leaders appeared more determined
to have Tsvangirai endorse Mugabe's legitimacy than push for an exit plan
for the President as had been expected of them.
      But, of course, Zimbabweans should know that expecting the trio to
prevail over Mugabe might not be too different from placing one's faith in
the hands of Lucifer and hope that the devil might deliver one to the Pearly
Gates.
      Obasanjo is grappling to legitimise his own re-election that has been
dogged by allegations of irregularities and has been described as fraudulent
by the international community, while Muluzi has tried in vain to force an
unconstitutional third term bid in his country where he barred people from
protesting his manoeuvres. It is common knowledge that Mbeki is a total
failure when it comes to dealing with Zimbabwe. Therefore it is high time
that Zimbabweans sought solutions to their own problems.
      A good number of people within ZANU PF and those in the MDC are aware
that Zimbabwe's biggest obstacle to peace and prosperity is Mugabe.
      What is now needed is to find common ground for the progressive forces
within ZANU PF and those in the MDC on how Mugabe can be convinced to
retire.
      The situation, though, is not being made any easier by hardline
positions taken by both the MDC and ZANU PF.
      Some malcontents within ZANU PF, using pre-emptive methods, have been
doing their best to thwart any talk of a possible Mugabe retirement. These
political upstarts, aware that they might not survive politically in a
post-Mugabe era, have used their control over the public media to attack
anyone, within or outside ZANU PF, linked to any succession talk.
      This, coupled with the pre-condition that Tsvangirai should
acknowledge Mugabe's legitimacy before any dialogue could ensue, have
effectively put a damper on any hopes that Mugabe might be talked into
retirement.
      On the other hand, the MDC has also set conditions that they know
Mugabe will obviously refuse to accept. The opposition should also begin to
shift its stance and silence any talk of retribution after Mugabe has left
office if any headway is to be made.
      While Mugabe's past has been less than holy - what with the unsavoury
events of the 1980s in Matabeleland - the MDC should make assurances that
Mugabe would be left to retire in peace should he leave voluntarily. This
could help in achieving the broader agenda of ridding the country of Mugabe.
      That Mugabe could be worried about his future once he leaves office
gives him little incentive to retire. He might rather pull the country right
down into his grave with him than face prosecution for crimes against
humanity. For that could be the only way he can assure himself of eternal
peace.
      Hence, the MDC is unlikely to achieve much by promising to "deal with
Mugabe and his henchmen once they leave office".
      A more reconciliatory approach might do the trick and rid Zimbabwe of
the major obstacle in success' way.
      The goal, for both the MDC and right-thinking ZANU PF officials,
should be one and that is to pull Zimbabwe out of its current mess. But
before that, the President has to leave and the sooner the better. NOW would
even be perfect.
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Thriving city becomes the capital of chaos and misrule

Harare's citizens at the mercy of food and fuel shortages and brutal police

Andrew Meldrum in Harare
Thursday May 8, 2003
The Guardian

In Harare these days you never know where you are going to end up when you
take a taxi. A dozen passengers crammed into a taxi van recently complained
angrily among themselves about Zimbabwe's high inflation, critical fuel
shortages and the police who shoved them when they were stopped at
roadblocks.
When one man tried to defend the police, a woman retorted: "The police are
just Mugabe's dogs." The rest of the passengers cheered. When the taxi
stopped, the man jumped out and ran to some nearby police officers. He
identified himself as an off-duty policeman and ordered them to arrest the
passengers. They were jailed overnight and charged for insulting police, a
crime under the Public Order and Security Act.

For many months horror stories have been emerging from Zimbabwe about the
suffering inflicted by President Robert Mugabe. Newspapers have been filled
with accounts of political corruption, rapes and beatings. But behind these
stories lie the daily hardships felt by the capital's 1.7 million people.

What was once a thriving city has descended into a place of empty
supermarkets, petrol queues and blackouts.

In the past week the longstanding fuel shortages have taken a turn for the
worse. Hundreds of vehicles spend entire days and nights in fuel queues in
Harare. "We used to laugh at Zambians because of all the shortages they had.
Now they are laughing at us because it is much worse here," said a salesman.
"We never thought it would get this bad."

A few months ago Mr Mugabe's motorcade of more than 20 vehicles, including
two trucks full of armed soldiers, passed a fuel queue on Samora Machel
Avenue in downtown Harare. The president was met by jeers and hoots of
derision. Some people threw empty cans. The soldiers later returned and beat
up many of those in the queue. A law has also been passed declaring it
illegal to make derogatory comments or gestures to the presidential
motorcade.

Harare's new mayor, Elias Mudzuri, tried to improve city services; garbage
collections were organised and crews sent out to fill potholes. But Mr
Mudzuri, elected by nearly 80% of Harare's voters, belongs to the opposition
party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Last week the Mugabe
government sacked him, accusing him of incompetence and corruption. Mr
Mudzuri has been barred from his office and has gone into hiding after
receiving threats.

At first glance, the supermarket in central Harare appears well-stocked and
busy. But on closer inspection, rows and rows of toilet paper are displayed.
"That is where there should be salt and that is where there should be sugar,
but those items are out of stock so they put up toilet paper," said Idah
Mandaza.

"And mealie meal [maize meal, Zimbabwe's staple food] and cooking oil and
soap, they have all been replaced with toilet paper. But we can't eat loo
paper. Either basic things are not available or I can't afford them. I never
thought it would come to this."

For Mrs Mandaza, Zimbabwe's inflation of 228% and 12% decline in GDP are not
dry economic statistics. They are the harsh facts of life that she, her
family and everyone in Zimbabwe grapple with daily.

Mrs Mandaza, 53, is proud of her job as the assistant production manager in
a Harare factory. But by the time she pays for travel to and from work and
her rent for a small two-roomed house, more than half of her salary is gone.
"I'm lucky, I have two sons and they both have jobs. But I still must be
very careful when I shop. I support my mother and my sister, plus I help my
brothers in the rural areas. There is just not enough money," she said.

Zimbabwe's once thriving middle-class is struggling to get by, but the poor
are desperate. Growing numbers are begging and rummaging through rubbish
bins. The disparity in wealth has widened after two years of economic
crisis.

"In 40 years working as a doctor, I have never seen so many cases of
malnutrition, particularly among children," said a general practitioner. "It
used to be that I would only see signs of kwashiorkor [a form of
malnutrition caused by inadequate protein intake] in children from the rural
areas. Now I see it in city children."

The United Nations estimates that nearly 1 million urban Zimbabweans do not
have enough food. In total, more than 7 million of the country's 12 million
people are threatened with starvation, according to the government. Just a
few years ago Zimbabwe was extolled as the breadbasket of Africa for all the
surplus food it exported.

An unruly commotion erupts in the supermarket as people rush to the bakery
section where bread is put on the shelves. After a few minutes of shoving
and grabbing, the bread is gone. One woman was knocked down in the scuffle.

There used to be a similar rush when milk and other fresh dairy products
were delivered. But for two weeks there have not been any milk deliveries. A
dairy farm that supplied 40% of Harare's milk has been overrun by Mr
Mugabe's supporters, according to local newspaper reports.

The supermarket no longer puts its rare deliveries of maize meal or other
scarce items on sale in the store. After some mini-riots in which shelves
were knocked down, the scarce goods are sold at the back of the store where
deliveries are made. People queue there for hours.

Zimbabwe's once respected police are now widely feared for arbitrary
arrests, beatings and torture. In the past two months 10 high-profile
Zimbabweans, including three members of parliament and one lawyer, have
accused police of torturing them with electric shocks. Medical examinations
have confirmed injuries consistent with their harrowing accounts. Most were
released without charges.

Last month more than 250 opposition supporters were forced to go into
hospital after men dressed in army uniforms raided their homes and beat
them.

But not everyone is gloomy and depressed. "The worse things get, the sooner
we will have a change," said one motorist queueing for fuel. "The more angry
people get, the sooner they will press Mugabe to go."

He pointed to the visit to Harare on Monday of South Africa's president
Thabo Mbeki and his Nigerian equivalent Olusegun Obasanjo. "Do you think
they came to congratulate Mugabe on doing such a good job? No, they came to
tell Mugabe he must go. The pressure is mounting and change is in the air. I
can feel it."
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Guardian writer threatened with Zimbabwe deportation

Colin Blackstock
Thursday May 8, 2003
The Guardian

Immigration officials in Zimbabwe last night demanded to interview Andrew
Meldrum, the Guardian's correspondent in Harare, in what his lawyers suspect
was an attempt to deport him. He was not at home when they called.
Five officials visited Meldrum's house at about 8pm. They refused to tell
his lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, why they wished to talk to him.

Ms Mtetwa said from her experience it appeared that the immigration
officials intended to deport Meldrum. "They said they wanted to interview
him and I offered to take him to them in the morning but they declined," she
said. "When they come in the night they want to lock you up and they take
you away when no one can see it being done."

The Zimbabwean authorities have been attempting to imprison and deport
Meldrum for over a year. Last July the high court in Harare rejected a move
by the government of President Robert Mugabe to have him deported.

In the same month a magistrates court acquitted Meldrum of charges brought
under a draconian new press law which threatened to punish journalists
writing "falsehoods". In a ruling that may have had some bearing on last
night's events, Zimbabwe's supreme court yesterday struck down key sections
of the law under which Meldrum had been prosecuted.

Ms Mtetwa said she would write to immigration officials to ask why they want
to interview Meldrum, and whether he is facing any charges.

Meldrum is one of the last international journalists reporting from inside
Zimbabwe. He holds permanent resident status, having covered the country for
the Guardian for 22 years.

Immigration officials appeared at Meldrum's house just after he had filed a
report on the hardships of Harare's residents, which is published on page 4.
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Seeking an African solution

The tactics of Zimbabwe's opposition movement have alienated much of the
continent. But a softening of its approach may change things

Liz McGregor
Thursday May 8, 2003
The Guardian

There are two schools of thought on how to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe.
The first demands regime change - either by force, Iraq-style, or by
international pressure, as economic sanctions. Robert Mugabe must go by
whatever means necessary. The second school believes that the solution must
come from within. Zimbabwe's warring parties need to be persuaded to sit
down together and work out how best to save their country. Focus on
individuals is not helpful; compromise on both sides is of the essence.
Roughly, the first school of thought is situated in the mainly white,
developed world while the second is advocated by African leaders and the
developing world.

So far, neither school has been able to show much success - with Zimbabwe
sliding ever-deeper into economic and political chaos - except for one small
breakthrough this week for the African school. After a meeting with Africa's
political heavyweights, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Thabo Mbeki of
South Africa, Mugabe agreed for the first time to begin a dialogue with the
Movement for Democratic Change. The African leaders also formally met Morgan
Tsvangirai, leader of the MDC, where they hit their first stumbling block.
Mugabe's precondition for talks with the MDC was that it first recognise him
as Zimbabwe's legitimate leader and drop its legal challenge to last year's
election results. Tsvangirai refused.

From the African perspective, Mugabe now holds the moral high ground and
Tsvangirai is being obstructionist. The argument is that Zanu-PF's
intimidation tactics were obvious before the vote began. The MDC should have
withdrawn from the election at that point, rather than cry foul once it
lost. Morgan Tsvangirai gave his word to the Organisation of African Unity
that he would respect the outcome of the election, whichever way it went.
His failure to do so and his subsequent denunciation of the OAU for
"supporting dictators" infuriated African leaders.

Given the difficulties in conducting elections in Africa that all sides
regard as free and fair, the African Union, successor to the OAU, has
adopted a pragmatic approach. Mugabe is recognised by the UN and African
leaders as having won the election. That makes his position legitimate.
After all, if every contested election result were overthrown, Obasanjo
himself would be in a difficult position, given the objections against his
recent win in the Nigerian elections.

Tsvangirai's strength - his ability to mobilise western support -
significantly weakens his position on his home continent. It has enabled
Mugabe to paint the international campaign against him as a bid by Britain
to protect the white farmers whose land he seized, many of whom hold British
passports. He has branded the MDC as a foreign body manipulated by Britain,
and the MDC has played into his hands by cultivating white constituencies
abroad while publicly criticising African leaders.

"The MDC should have read that Britain and Australia's concern about
Zimbabwe was perceived as being concern for British expatriates," says Dr
Eddy Maloka, head of the Africa Institute in Pretoria. "They have mismanaged
the situation and alienated themselves from the continent."

Contrary to Mugabe's propaganda, however, the MDC has a solid popular base
in Zimbabwe. It was born out of the urban protests against the IMF-imposed
economic structural adjustment programme in the 1990s and consolidated into
a formidable opposition movement to fight the 2000 referendum on
constitutional change. The changes would have increased the power of the
presidency and allowed Mugabe another two terms in office. To woo the rural
vote, Mugabe added a clause to his draft constitution promising to
redistribute land held by white farmers. Whites made up 1% of the population
but owned two-thirds of the country's arable land. As he had been making
this promise for years, he was not believed and rural voters abstained. Only
a quarter of the electorate - largely city dwellers - voted and the
government lost the referendum, its first electoral defeat since 1980. The
MDC had proved to be a serious threat and the government response was
repression.

Determined to mobilise the rural vote for the 2002 presidential campaign,
Mugabe finally made good on his promised land reform, albeit in a chaotic
and destructive fashion, and 95% of the farms held by whites were seized. It
was to Britain that the MDC appealed for help, with its leaders touring
European countries to marshal support. Britain - and the British media -
responded with an onslaught on Zimbabwe.

This appeal to the former colonial master appeared to African leaders to be
a humiliating regression to the past. Africa had demonstrated its
willingness to sort out its own problems - witness the recent peace
settlements in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Burundi, both
negotiated by African leaders.

Southern African analysts believe that, for the process to move forward,
there needs to be an end to the grandstanding and confrontational politics -
and a shift to dialogue and compromise. Now that Mugabe has indicated that
he is prepared to stop trying to obliterate the MDC and instead formally
recognise its legitimacy by agreeing to talks, it only needs Tsvangirai to
do the same. His meeting with Obasanjo and Mbeki is a step in that
direction.

"The MDC should focus on the stabilisation of the economy in the short
term," says Maloka. "In the medium term, Mugabe will retire. The MDC needs
to focus on influencing the transitional process and positioning the party
to secure the future."

Liz McGregor is a freelance writer on Africa based in Johannesburg

liz.mcgregor@guardian.co.uk
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jang.com.pk (Pakistan)


Grant Flower backs brother's protest

WORCESTER, England: Zimbabwe batsman Grant Flower spoke out Wednesday in
support of his brother Andy's controversial World Cup protest.

During Zimbabwe's opening match in February, against Namibia in Harare, Andy
Flower and Henry Olonga wore black armbands and issued a statement mourning
the 'death of democracy' in Zimbabwe under President Robert Mugabe.

And Grant Flower said the only reason he had not joined the duo was because
he was worried about lessening the impact of the duo's protest. "I agreed
with what they did," Grant Flower said on Wednesday. "To be honest I wanted
to join them.

"But I thought it would be a better and a bigger statement if it was just
the two of them, one white person and one black person.

"I think what they did was a good thing," added Grant ahead of Zimbabwe's
tour match with Worcestershire starting here at New Road on Friday
(tomorrow). "It wasn't a matter of colour, it was a question of right and
wrong," explained Flower who added he had spoken to, but not yet seen, his
brother.

Andy Flower retired from international cricket after the World Cup and is
now playing for English county Essex, while Olonga is also in England,
playing for a club side having narrowly escaped arrest by the Zimbabwe
security services in South Africa.

The Flowers' parents are also living in England, as are Andy's wife and
children.

Grant admitted it was odd no longer having Andy, a cornerstone of the team
since Zimbabwe's admission to Test cricket in 1992, in the side but denied
feeling lonely. "It's different, but I wouldn't say I feel isolated," the
top-order bat and left-arm spinner insisted. "Zimbabwe is still a great
place to live in even though we're having tough times."

And he maintained that his relationship with his brother had in no way been
damaged by any fall-out from Andy's protest. "We get on very well. We are
very competitive, but we helped with each other's games."

Flower is the only player in the current squad with a Test hundred to his
name and at, 32, is one of Zimbabwe's elder statesmen with 3,359 Test runs
at 30.26 from 63 matches.

But his brother, who averaged over fifty in Tests, was Zimbabwe's one player
of true world class and Grant said it was important the rest of the team
adjusted quickly to life without him. "We probably over-relied on him. We'd
always thought he'd do it. Now it's up to the other guys to step up to the
plate."
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