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

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Zim Standard

Govt raids hotels
By Kumbirai Mafunda

FEARS of a total collapse in Zimbabwe's multi-billion dollar hospitality
sector mounted last week following a countrywide blitz on hoteliers
unleashed by the dreaded surveillance and investigation arm of the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) in a desperate bid to scrounge around for foreign
currency.

As Zimbabwe's five-year old foreign currency problem worsens the central
bank moved on hoteliers carrying out vigorous inspections and spot checks on
hotel books to confirm that hotels forwarded their foreign currency earnings
to the RBZ as required by law.
The crackdown, sources indicated, was precipitated by the drying up of the
central bank's foreign currency coffers.

The central bank, which has mounted similar clampdowns on financial
institutions, accuses hoteliers of sitting on massive amounts of foreign
currency allegedly earned during the March parliamentary elections.

The central bank fears hoteliers could have off-loaded the badly needed hard
currency onto the parallel market for higher returns. The Zimbabwe dollar
has dramatically crashed from Z$12 000: US$1 to Z$28 000: US$1 in the period
after the elections. But on the less attractively managed foreign currency
auction US$1 officially trades at Z$6 200.

The central bank says despite an influx of regional and international
observers that toured the country to observe Harare's sixth parliamentary
election, no sizeable improvement had been recorded in foreign currency
inflows.

Zimbabwe's March elections, which were controversially won by the ruling
Zanu PF party attracted 7 000 international observers and hordes of
journalists.

It is this statistic that has incensed the central bank, which is saddled
with a ballooning import bill ranging from grain, electricity, fuel and
medical drugs.

Officers from the central bank's Financial Sector Inspectorate which falls
under the Exchange Control Division and backed by officers from the Bank Use
Promotion and Suppression of Money Laundering Unit began descending on
hotels and lodges a fortnight ago carrying out spot checks.

"They want to find out whether all observers paid in foreign currency or
not," said one hotelier.

By late Friday, the probe unit was at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge.

"We have just had a visit about 30 minutes ago. They are tracing foreign
guests and how they paid," said an official at the hotel who requested not
to be named.

"Every month they do it but this time they are looking at observers," the
hoteliers said. They are checking the folio at the country's airports and
then follow up where the observers were staying. But this is a low season in
tourism and earnings will only rise in August."

Zimbabwe Council for Tourism (ZCT) President and leading hospitality and
leisure group Zimsun's chief executive, Shingi Munyeza, confirmed the
central bank's raids at member's properties but downplayed them as normal
visits.

Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG) chief executive Chipo Mtasa also confirmed the
inspections.

"They went to individual properties directly on routine inspection," Mtasa
said.

Environment and Tourism Minister Francis Nhema confirmed the checks.

"It is a committee or team that has been going around," Nhema said.

"It is desperation. They are so eager to lay their hands on foreign
currency. The bill for food imports is pressing them to look for money,"
said John Robertson economic consultant at John Robertson Economic
Information Services.

Central bank sources disclosed last week that foreign currency reserves had
reached precarious levels as illustrated by the failure to fix the
five-year-old fuel crisis.

"Foreign currency is drying up at every angle. There is a squeeze," the
sources said.

Zimbabwe is in the throes of a biting foreign currency crisis, which has
seen it accumulating large debts to international moneylenders. The country
currently owes the International Monetary Fund (IMF) US$306 million and is
also indebted to institutions such as the World Bank, the African
Development Bank among other creditors.
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Zim Standard

MDC ready for talks with Zanu PF
By Savious Kwinika

BULAWAYO - The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says it is prepared to
resume stalled talks with the ruling Zanu PF in order to rescue the country
from the current crisis.

Speaking at a public meeting in Bulawayo, Paul Themba- Nyathi, the MDC
spokesperson, said the multi-faceted crisis currently bedeviling Zimbabwe
required a concerted effort by both the MDC and the ruling Zanu PF to bring
back sanity.
Themba-Nyathi said: "As MDC, we remain devoted and determined to engage in
dialogue with anyone who approaches us for engagement. That has always been
our position and it shall remain the same as we strive for the redress of
the problems in the country."

He said the MDC was ready to meet Zanu PF or any other political party for
dialogue aimed at solving the economic and political crisis the country is
going through.

Late last year, President Robert Mugabe shut all doors on talks with the
MDC, saying that the ruling party was no longer prepared to enter into
dialogue with the opposition party, which he accused of championing a
foreign agenda.

The 82-year-old Zimbabwean leader also accused MDC of being a
British-sponsored political party, an allegation the opposition vehemently
denied.

During the meeting the MDC spokesperson accused Zanu PF of being belligerent
and insensitive accusing the ruling party of being the architect of the
suffering being experienced by Zimbabweans.

Presently, Zimbabwe is experiencing a severe shortage of basic commodities
such as maize-meal, sugar, soft drinks and fuel, while electricity supplies
to domestic and industrial users is regularly disrupted.
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Zim Standard

MDC cries foul over Masvingo election
By Godfrey Mutimba

THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has accused the ruling Zanu PF
party in Masvingo of busing villagers from rural areas and registering them
as voters ahead of the city's mayoral election. The date for the election
has not yet been announced.

Shacky Matake, the MDC provincial chairman, said the opposition party had
established that some non-residents of the city were being ferried from
other constituencies to register on the voters' roll as the ruling party
sets up, what he said were efforts to "rig" the elections.
"We have established that the ruling party is ferrying people from the rural
areas so that they win the election, and as far as we are concerned that is
rigging because those people are not supposed to vote in this election
because they do not reside in the city," Matake said.

He said the MDC had discovered several names of the people who were ferried
from the rural areas and will use that as evidence if they decide to dispute
the poll results.

Matake said Zanu PF's rigging came to light after an MDC supporter, who had
gone to inspect the voters' roll met people from his rural areas registering
as voters in Masvingo central. The people do not stay in the city.

Zanu PF Masvingo District Co-coordinating Committee chairperson, Clemence
Makwarimba, professed ignorance over the issue.

"I have no knowledge of that. The allegations are not true and I don't know
where they are coming from," Makwarimba said.

The provincial registrar who only identified herself as Chitsa also denied
the allegations.

"I am not aware of such a thing happening during the registration period.
Phone our Harare office if you want more information,'' she said.

Engineer Alois Chaimiti, the current executive mayor, whose term of office
expires at the end of this month is the MDC candidate. The ruling Zanu PF
party is putting up Partson Muzvidziwa, himself a former mayor of the city.

Chaimiti won the mayoral post in May 2001 replacing Francis Aphiri of Zanu
PF, who had died.

The Zanu PF Masvingo provincial elections directorate last week accepted the
papers of three candidates namely Muzvidziwa, the city's Agricultural Show
president; retired soldier Taguma Mazarire; and Victoria High School
headmaster, Jacob Chademana.
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Zim Standard

Floods fear as dam wall reveals cracks
By Godfrey Mutimba

MASVINGO - Lake Mutirikwi's dam wall faces collapse after developing huge
cracks that pose danger to people living near the lake, The Standard
understands.

Already, all heavy trucks have been prohibited from using the route for fear
the dam wall might collapse.
Reports of the imminent collapse of the dam wall have fuelled fears among
villagers who live near the lake.

A Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) official, who spoke on condition
on anonymity, confirmed that disaster was looming if the cracks are not
attended to in time.

"There is a possibility of a disaster if the wall is not repaired in time
because the cracks that have developed are so huge that certain tonnages are
no longer allowed to pass through the bridge. The continued pressure from
the water is also widening the cracks such that any day the wall can
collapse," said the official.

He added that ZINWA recently opened floodgates when the water level was only
80 percent full in order to relieve pressure on the wall.

The floodgates are only opened when the dam is full and "this usually
happens when there is plenty of rainfall", he said.

However, under the current season, Masvingo province received low rainfall.

But ZINWA catchment area manager, Albert Mare, said the problem would soon
be rectified.

"It is not as major as it is being made out. That rumour has been spreading
because we have stopped big trucks from crossing over the bridge because
there is a crack on the expansion cab.

"We have however tasked the Ministry of Transport to attend to the problem
and right now they are on the ground trying to repair and people should not
fear for their lives. The crack is not that bad. We will to fix the problem
soon," Mare said.

Residents in areas such as Murinye near the lake, who spoke to The Standard,
said they feared for their lives, property and livestock.

"We are living in fear. Some of us have even called for the government to
resettle us somewhere before the impending danger. We are told that the wall
will be repaired yet nothing is being done," said villager Amos Dzingai.

Another villager urged government to act swiftly.

"It will be disastrous if they fail to address the problem now because we
will be affected," he said.

The lake, built in 1961, three years, after Kariba dam, covers about 90
square kilometers in Masvingo province and is the country's largest inland
water body.
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Zim Standard

'Development Cabinet' broke
By Allen Tichaona

MORE than three weeks after the announcement of the new "development
Cabinet", the government looks clueless about where it will get funding for
the new ministries created by President Robert Mugabe.

The President created new four full ministries and one ministry of State in
the middle of the current financial year and no money had been budgeted for
these new ministries.
The new ministries - together with the old ones - will need trillions in the
form of new cars, offices, furniture, support staff and other ministerial
benefits.

The new ministries are Public and Interactive Affairs, Information and
Publicity, Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Rural Housing
and Social Amenities, and Economic Development.

Analysts have questioned the rationale of appointing 31 ministers and 12
deputy ministers and the creation of a ministry such as the Public and
Interactive Affairs when the country's Budget was overstretched.

The government needs over $5 trillion to import food and it is paying
billions of dollars in subsidies for locally produced maize after it
announced it was going to buy maize at over $2 million a tonne but selling
it at $600 000 a tonne to millers.

Chen Chimutengwende the new Minister for Public and Interactive Affairs said
t his ministry was getting its money from the president's Office.

"We are under the President's Office and that is were we are getting our
funding from but for further details contact the Ministry of Finance," said
Chimutengwende.

David Chapfika, deputy Minister of Finance reasoned that the government
should be given time before one starts asking the source of the funds.

"I think you should give it more time and see where the money is going to
come from and then start asking," Chapfika said.

He also added that one should also look at the objectives for the creation
of the new ministries, whether it was beneficial or detrimental to the
country.

John Robertson, an independent economic consultant, said the government was
going to be forced to print moremoney.

"They are going to be forced to print money because of the costs of
importing food and they are also deeply in overdraft," Robertson said.

But Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa told Standard Business that some money
would be found from the Budget without elaborating.

"The funds will be found, we will rationalise the Budget," Murerwa said.

When challenged further by Standard Business, Murerwa asked this reporter to
call him later. When this paper tried to contact him again he was
unreachable.

Robertson ruled out the possibility of government borrowing because it has
wiped out savings over the past four years due to the negative interests
rates.

Moreover, the government's coffers with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe are
reportedly dry. Its domestic debt has also shot up to $8 trillion as of last
month and it looks to balloon further.

The government in the 2005 National Budget had said expenditures would total
$27,5 trillion against revenues of $23 trillion. The budget deficit was
anticipated to be 5% of the Gross Domestic Product but analysts said this
actually worsen to 15% of the GDP.
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Zim Standard

Tobacco sales disappointing
By Theodisa Mbengano

A PALTRY 4,3 million kgs of tobacco has been sold at the country's three
auction floors so far this year as growers hold on to their crop in
anticipation of a review in prices.

This year's crop is 11% down from the crop that had passed through the
auction floors at the same time last year. Subsequently the crop, formerly
Zimbabwe's prime export crop, has only raked in a paltry US$4,9 million, a
47% decline from US$9,4 million earned in the same period in 2004.
The rate of wastage was 3% higher this year and the amount of rejected bales
was also higher either as a result of the bales being oversize, overweight,
underweight, too wet or too dry among other things.

The sharp decline in the sales can be attributed to the unwillingness by
growers to release their golden leaf anticipating a rise in the prices which
they are saying is "peanuts" as compared to the cost they incur to produce
the crop.

Growers say it cost them over ZW$20 000 to produce a kilogramme of tobacco
but the US dollar prices at $6,200 would give them returns of about $11 000
only.

As had been the norm at the beginning of the season, farmers would reject
prices and withhold their crop in the first few days and then out of
desperation give in to the given price, but this is different now as farmers
are refusing to be taken for granted. Sales statistics from the Tobacco
Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) showed that tobacco deliveries were
still unstable as late as Wednesday last week.

Kumbirai Mufanebadza, the marketing manager of TIMB, said sales had been
increasing over the past two weeks but they had again slowed down after the
Worker's Day holiday.

"Over the past two weeks volumes have been increasing but now they are
slightly low, maybe it's the holiday [workers day] and we hope the situation
will improve.," said Mufanebadza.

Most farmers still expressed optimism as they hope that things will be
resolved in the ongoing discussions between the farmers and the government
over the price issue.

The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmer's Union (ZCFU) President Davison Mugabe a
tobacco farmer in Banket said he was holding on to his crop as he was
awaiting the outcome of the ongoing negotiations.

He also said viability of farmers was a worrying issue ,which should not be
overlooked if the production of the golden leaf was to be sustained.

"Zimbabwe still need tobacco and we still want to grow the crop but if the
situation does not change farmers will feel threatened and might think of
diverting their attention to other crops." Mugabe said.

Zimbabwe this year is expecting an output of around 85 million kg's, a sharp
decline from the country's peak of 236 million kg's in 2000 which brought in
over US$400 million in foreign currency.
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Zim Standard

Tribune set to bounce back
By Foster Dongozi

THE Tribune newspaper, which was closed last year by the Media and
Information Commission (MIC), is set to bounce back next month following the
expiry of its one-year ban.

The newspaper was banned last June for one year after it failed to inform
the MIC about the change in ownership from Ukubambana Kubatana Investments
which sold its shares to veteran journalist, Kindness Paradza and
management.
The newspaper was also punished for not informing the MIC that it had merged
its two titles, The Tribune and The Business Tribune.

In addition to The Tribune, the MIC has closed The Daily News, The Daily
News on Sunday and The Weekly Times, throwing hundreds of employees on the
streets.

However, the closure of The Tribune was attributed in some circles to
political bickering in Zanu PF as The Tribune sided with Vice President
Joseph Msika and Zanu PF National Chairman John Nkomo against the then
junior minister of Information and Publicity, Jonathan Moyo over Kondozi
Farm and the issue of multiple farm ownership.

But MIC chairman, Tafataona Mahoso, told The Standard on Thursday that the
expiry of the ban would not mean automatic re-registration for the embattled
Zanu PF member and former Makonde Member of Parliament.

"You can't have automatic registrations because there would have been some
changes between the time that they stopped publishing to the time that they
would want to resume publishing.

"We will contact them because they still have to document their current
status."

After buying The Tribune and calling for amendments to the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act, (AIPPA), in his maiden speech in
Parliament, Paradza faced an onslaught from many directions.

Sources said after buying The Tribune from Mutumwa Mawere, he was regarded
with suspicion in Zanu PF circles.

His membership in the ruling party was suddenly brought under scrutiny and
the final nail was when he was barred from contesting against President
Robert Mugabe's nephew, Leo Mugabe in Makonde Constituency despite being the
incumbent MP.

He has also been perceived as an ally of Emmerson Mnangagwa, one of the
ruling party chefs who were believed to be in with a chance to succeed
President Mugabe when he steps down.

Paradza confirmed in an interview that he was working round the clock to
ensure that his newspaper hits the streets in June.

"I have already been to the MIC to discuss with Mahoso if there are any
outstanding issues before we can re-open. We are supposed to have another
meeting on 15 May."

He said he was aware that his clashes with Professor Moyo had resulted in
the closure of The Tribune.

"When we published a story perceived by Moyo to side with Chairman Nkomo and
Vice President Msika, he approached and told me that he had always assumed
that I would stand by him in his fight against the two senior members of the
party before he vowed that I would pay for it."

Paradza said the one-year closure of The Tribune had brought suffering to
scores of his former employees.

"Some of them are still roaming the streets, while I have had to employ
others at my farm," Paradza said.

But the majority of the journalists were absorbed by other media
organisations.

He called on the MIC to be cognisant of the fact that the closure of media
organisations had destructive effects and could weaken the confidence of
prospective investors in the media.

"I have not heard of the MIC holding seminars on media development. The
highlights of their activities have been to meet and close down newspapers."

But Mahoso said the MIC had not been able to conduct such activities because
of sustained efforts to destroy AIPPA.

"The Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe, Associated Newspapers
of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists to some extent have been
fighting to destroy AIPPA and they have failed. We have been defending the
Act instead of implementing it and that has cost us a lot of money," said
Mahoso, who trained scores of the journalists who have been thrown on the
streets by the commission he now he heads.

The second vice president of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, Njabulo
Ncube, said he hoped the MIC would allow The Tribune to resume publishing.

"A lot of our members have lost jobs as a result of the continued closures
of newspapers. We hope the MIC will grant The Tribune a licence to resume
operations so that our members can be re-employed. The media industry is
shrinking and we hope the case of The Tribune will offer some hope to young
aspiring journalists," said Ncube.
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Zim Standard

Bulawayo acts on looming water crisis
By Savious Kwinika

BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe's second largest city, Bulawayo, has started
rehabilitating its old and neglected boreholes sunk during the ravaging
1992/3 drought in anticipation of another serious water crisis, The Standard
has established.

The local authority has started installing new bush pumps and engines to the
boreholes, drilled more than 10 years ago, in a bid to ensure that the city
does not run out of water. New boreholes are also being drilled.
According to the latest Bulawayo Council minutes, only 153 562 247 cubic
metres of water, which represent an operational percentage of 42.35 percent,
had remained as of 31 March 2005.

Acting director of engineering for Bulawayo, Job Ndebele, said the water was
only enough to last 18 months. He said the local council was taking
precautionary measures in the event that there is a drought next season.

A total of 4 193 324 cubic metres of water were used in the month of March
at an average rate of 144 597 cubic metres a day. Presently, Bulawayo has a
population estimated at slightly above two million residents.

"Should we have a serious drought then we will use these boreholes to
supplement the city's dwindling surface water supplies. They will just be on
standby," Ndebele said.

According to council minutes consultants have been invited to carry out
surveys to locate ground water within the city as a source of emergency
supplies.

There was no immediate comment from the Zimbabwe National Water Authority
(ZINWA) on the latest water levels in Bulawayo's water reservoirs.
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Zim Standard

Getting a passport is a nightmare'
By Bertha Shoko

FOR Tichaona Mukundu of Glen View 7 in Harare, the heartbreak came on 2
April, the day the final results of the 2005 parliamentary elections were
announced.

He says his hopes of a better Zimbabwe under a new government, sensitive to
the plight of the people, were dashed when Zanu PF, accused of running down
the country's economy, was retained in power.
The unemployed university graduate has, for the past two weeks been queuing
at the Passport Office at Makombe Complex in Harare in a bid to obtain a
passport so that he too can join the great exodus of Zimbabweans into the
diaspora.

But his efforts, so far, have been in vain. But he is not about to give up,
he vows.

With chapped lips, a clear sign of hunger, Mukundu waits patiently in the
line with more than 50 people in front of him, and many more behind him in a
seemingly endless queue

"Getting a passport in Zimbabwe is a nightmare. I have never seen anything
as difficult as this in all my life but I have no choice, I will soldier
on," says Mukundu wearily as he looks anxiously at those ahead of him to see
whether there has been any movement in the meandering queue.

He wondered whether other countries with greater population numbers than
Zimbabwe also have to contend with such passport queues.

"I must leave this country because as youths there is no future for us here.

"Our economy is in shambles. It has been ruined by those who continue to
cling to power at our expense when it is so obvious they have failed."

Mukundu believes he has to seek "greener pastures" abroad, away from
Zimbabwe's long fuel queues, the transport blues, erratic electricity power
cuts, water supply interruptions as well as shortages of basic commodities.

Many people who spoke to The Standard at Makombe Complex last week echoed
Mukundu's sentiments saying the worsening economic situation was forcing
them to seek passports so that they can try their luck abroad.

While some people leave the country in search of jobs others cross into
neighbouring countries to buy wares to resell backhome.

Other reasons cited for the passport rush in the wake of the 31 March
Parliamentary elections range from visiting relatives in the United Kingdom
to studying abroad.

Unemployment stands at 80 percent because the economy has continued to
shrink. Those that are employed are failing to make ends meet because prices
of basic commodities continue to skyrocket, while salaries remain stagnant.

Last year, more than 500 teachers, nurses and doctors were reportedly
leaving the country every month in search of better paying-jobs, mostly to
destinations such as the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and the
United States of America.

Officials at the Registrar-General's office last week said the demand for
passports was "overwhelming".

"We turn away hordes of people on a daily basis, we can not cope anymore,"
said one official.

The Harare office is only issuing 200 application forms a day, although more
than 500 people visit the office daily.

A notice at the inquiries section informs visitors that, "The department has
as from 3 April 2005 been issuing out 200 application forms per day with
appointment dates for submissions. This practice will continue in order to
avoid members of the public converging in masses outside the passport
office".

This creates its own frustrations. Interest Muchena from Budiriro in Harare
said: "We came here very early in the morning and we spent the whole day
here because the service is slow.

"If you want a passport through the normal channel you need to give yourself
at least two weeks to complete the exercise. Your first hurdle is to get a
form, and then get a number for submission then wait for the service. It is
cumbersome."

Another passport seeker, Martha Muza, from Harare's Sunningdale suburb said
the outcome of the elections had dashed hopes of a better Zimbabwe.

"You think I want a passport to display in my house? Things are bad that is
why I have been in this queue since morning. I must get that passport and
leave," said an angry Muza, who had a baby strapped to her back.

Muza attributed the current problems bedeviling the country to mismanagement
of the economy.

"President Robert Mugabe is making us flee our homes and leave our children
behind. There is really nothing I can do about it. I have to leave the
country otherwise she (referring to the baby on her back) will never see the
door of a school when the time comes," Muza said.

The huge demand for passports, without a corresponding increase in manpower
at the passport offices, has also resulted in increasing incidents of
corruption.

Sources alleged some officials at Makombe Building were demanding as much as
$600 000 to enable them to "fast-track" a person's application form.

As a result, instead of waiting in long queues to submit application forms
and then wait for at least six months to get a passport, many people have
resorted to circumventing the process.

Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede could not be reached for a comment last
week. He is however on record as saying the long queues were caused by
impatient applicants from outside Harare, who wrongly assume that they
should come to Harare for their travel documents.

The registrar-general has provincial offices which provide the same
services, said Mudede.
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Zim Standard

'Unbundling' hoax from Town House

THE proposal by the Commission running Harare that it intends to unbundle
its current structure into strategic business units in a development
expected to improve efficiency and service delivery must qualify for the
biggest hoax of the new millennium.

This is a gimmick intended to provide justification for the extension of the
term of the commission - never mind the fact that the law says they cannot
continue beyond this week.
There a very few examples in this country where unbundling has produced the
intended results. Unbundling may mean a lot of different things to different
people. However, under the current environment, it is likely to mean people
providing for themselves under the pretence of streamlining service
provision.

There are several examples that inform this scepticism. The Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa), National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ),
the Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (PTC), and now the national
airline says it, too, is determined to go that route.

At another level, in the late 1980s early 1990s, the government did away
with the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) and the Senate. Today they
are presented as representing new thinking. Really? One way of looking at it
is that this is an admission of failure.

The Kadoma meeting that came up with the proposal for unbundling was nothing
but an attempt to justify an extravagant waste of ratepayers resources,
while the commissioners laid the groundwork for their reappointment on the
basis that they need to accomplish projects they have embarked on. For some,
sitting on the commission means attractive packages and that in the end is
what really matters in this country.

Anyone who believes that the commission has the capacity and desire to
provide quality service to the ratepayers other than the commissioners
themselves is very naÔve. The whole lot at Town House has no desire or
intention whatsoever of doing anything more than lining their own pockets.

There is not a single effort or project that those at Town House can point
to as a success, unless of course increases in rates without corresponding
improvement in service delivery is considered one of them.

The proposal is nothing but an attempt to divert attention from the
monumental collapse in services and the failures that the city has been
subjected to. Each time an idea as fanciful as this one is floated there is
a cover up with the intention of diverting national attention in order to
concentrate focus on some Utopia.

The absence of a united grouping of sharp civil society organisations has
allowed those entrusted with leadership to abuse office and run rings around
the citizens of this country.

Any attempt by local authorities aimed at improving services must understand
how and why since 1980 there has been a gradual decline in the ability and
capacity of local authorities to improve service delivery.

There are instances of Mutare, Masvingo and Bulawayo, among others, where
attempts to maintain or improve service delivery have been thwarted by a
panic-stricken government, whose total contribution has been interference
and paralysis of operations of local authorities.

In fact, so rampant has been the interference such that in the case of
Harare, the elected council was unable to meet and consult with the people
who elected them, because the government invoked all kinds of laws in order
to prevent any meetings from taking place.

And yet the person who has spearheaded this campaign to deny democracy from
functioning at local authority level had the gall to suggest that local
authorities should always communicate with residents over problems affecting
them. It is inconceivable that people can have so short memories.

Non-communication, he dared to suggest, would result in burgeoning
discontent and anger directed at the council as had been the case over the
recent water shortages. And he was applauded.

The problem with this country is that for all the intelligence of its
so-called leaders, they are incapable of learning from past mistakes. The
day when we can confront problems and seek solutions as Zimbabweans and not
members of a particular political organisation is the day we will begin to
serve the greater interests of the citizens of this country.

But it is time that civil society woke up and asserted its role in demanding
performance from those claiming to lead or represent them. For far too long
Zimbabweans have allowed or watched the progressive decline in service
nationwide as if they are unaffected, yet it is their right to demand
results and value for money performance from their rulers, leaders and local
authorities.

To be able to articulate these demands has nothing to do with the
opposition. It is merely an assertion of rights to be entitled to a better
life and improved services. This is what Zimbabweans are entitled to and
deserve.
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Zim Standard

Zim women: what emancipation?
sundayfocus with Janah Ncube

ZIMBABWE turned 25 on 18 April 2005. Personally, I did not celebrate our
Independence Day. I am ashamed that my disenchantment and despondency led me
not to even take a moment of silence out of that day, in memory of those who
did so much for Zimbabwe's independence.

I certainly regret that deeply, for every Zimbabwean should remember the
thousands of women and men who were maimed and scarred for life and the
thousands that paid with their lives, the dearest price for an ideal they
had never tasted; an ideal they never got to witness. For Zimbabwe to exist,
many fearlessly, ferociously and relentlessly fought colonial and racial
forces that kept black people subservient, extremely dominated, persecuted,
discriminated against and very poor.
White supremacy was conquered and self-determination was realised. This day
brought about high hopes not just for Zimbabweans but also for all black
people all over the world. Having dreams of success, dignity, respect and
wealth ceased to be a luxury but became a right and a motivation for black
people. The ability and right to aspirations about self-maximisation, based
on the fact that finally, black people in this new country could have their
interests prioritised was unleashed.

The boundaries set by racial and colonial subjugation were eroded; the
access to wealth denied to black people both literally and metaphorically
was suddenly theirs. All Zimbabweans, white and black, old and young must,
always remember those who died for the liberation of this country. Their
lives, their blood, their broken limbs and scars must forever be hailed as
trophies and badges of honour, treasured by each of us.

I feel strongly about our liberation struggle. I am aware of the high cost,
which our elders paid and yet, I still did not celebrate. A quarter of a
century later, after five post-colonial governments led by black
proliferators of the liberation struggle, why is it that freedom is still an
ideal for me and has remained only in my imagination? Why does freedom sound
like a big and abstruse word and its concepts seem like an unattainable
utopia?

Why should I, a young black woman, who did not grow up under the Ian Smith
regime but under the Mugabe regime still search relentlessly for freedom?
Indeed, so much was sacrificed for me, my generation, future generations and
certainly life today is way better off than it was in the days of my
mother's growing up but I do not identify the notions of freedom in what I
am told about my freedoms, rights and in the opportunities open to me.

Freedom is about being independent, autonomous and having the right and
capacity to exercise choice. It means not being subjected to external
restraints, not controlled or bound, having full rights and full access. On
a day-to-day basis it is about being able to go where I want when I want,
speak my mind, do what I want, make rules about my own life, not being under
the control of anyone and above all it means no one owns me or has rights
over me, which I have not willingly given.

So while the black men of Zimbabwe won the ability to determine the paths
and destinations of their lives, the women did not. While the men of
Zimbabwe embarked on self-maximisation and pursued self interests the women
were allowed minor accesses, our parameters were widened a little bit more
but the controls remained, the freedoms denied. While the black men's chains
were broken, the woman's were replaced by a leash, so she could move but
only so far. Sure, she could grow in her aspirations but only to a specific
extent. Indeed she could choose but only if the men that own her approved.

The reason why black people rejected out rightly the Bishop Abel Muzorewa
government was its lack of autonomy, its pseudo-independence and the fact
that the black leadership were a mere cosmetic facade of the Smith regime.
On the surface it looked black, whilst in actual fact it was the white,
colonial Smith regime in charge.

Smith thought that merely having a black person being called prime minister
would pacify the quest for freedom. History bears testimony to how wrong he
was. Real freedom is not skin deep and real freedom is blind to gender. The
freedoms gained in 1980 certainly saw the "Muzorewarisation" of the women of
this country. We are free at the behest of men be they our fathers,
brothers, uncles, husbands, neighbours, bosses or political leaders.

The phallocentrism that our institutions and systems are founded on has spun
a web of severe and seemingly perpetual subservience, exploitation,
persecution, discrimination and powerlessness that has continually left
women in this country poor no matter what station they find themselves in.

Indeed the skilfully played politics of accommodation has created
perceptions of some inclusion; some gains and progress as we have seen laws
being changed to declare women as adults who now have responsibility over
themselves. We have seen laws that make it illegal to pay women less than
men or even to penalise women in the workforce of the country for bearing
children .

With every election since 1980, there have been a handful of women 'allowed'
into Parliament and even into cabinet but the strings of patronage and the
chains of patriarchy hamper them and render their impact lukewarm. These
changes are just tinkering with the edges, which has been granted after much
fighting, threatening and negotiations and have not yet delivered true
freedom for women.

The Zimbabwe we live in is very much like the Rhodesia we abandoned. It is
still a place where power, wealth and dignity are unevenly and
illegitimately distributed. In the Rhodesian era, the distribution was
pronounced first in racial tones then in gender tones. In Zimbabwe they are
more pronounced first in gender tones then in class tones - the very evils
our liberation struggle was avowed to abolish. Racism forced black people to
prove to white people that they were fully human with equal intellect and
capability and the current gender discrimination has placed the same demands
on women. Why is it women are still negotiating their legitimacy in
Zimbabwe?

As a black Zimbabwean woman I am not free to talk about the horrors done to
me and many other girl children by the men who should protect us, our
fathers, our brothers, our relatives. When they molest us and rape us
somehow society has a way of blaming the way we sit, dress or for being
alone in a room, at home with a man whom you should be most safe with. I am
not free to say what I think about the man who has run down a country he
suffered much torture and incarceration for, who has led a political party
and system responsible for the systematic rape and torture suffered by
hundreds of women just in the last five years alone.

No, I am not free to speak. As a woman I am not free from male ownership.
Unless my father is paid some money by another male, my family and society
will reject me if I chose to get married without this bride price paid for
me. After he has paid for me, I should, of course, endure it if he beats me
up, rapes me, molests our daughters. Who do I turn to, my father?

The man who has amassed wealth from this very man? If I chose to live with a
man without him paying for me, should I make the mistake of dying, the poor
guy still has to pay for my corpse before my family agrees to attend my
funeral. Even in death, I am still good for money. No, I am not free.

If I walk from one place to another in the evening in streets of Harare I am
afraid. I am afraid that my gender communicates to the thief that I am weak
so he can attack me. It communicates to any male that I am available for sex
with him by force with or without a monetary exchange, it communicates to
the police that I am soliciting sex for money so they must arrest me. No, I
am not free!
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Zim Standard

Stench of politics in Bulawayo sports
sundayopinion with Marko Phiri

"THESE guys are anarchists," a dreadlocked young man complained. One would
have easily imagined the young man was talking about some celluloid bad guys
with no regard for all things within the limits of the law.

But no, he was talking about horse-mounted police who fought running battles
with soccer fans in Bulawayo on Independence Day.
The Silver Jubilee celebrations became, ironically, reminiscent of white
cop-black man street wars during the march to the very independence that was
being celebrated 25 years later. The truck mounted with a power-hose as seen
in archive footage of apartheid South Africa was also called in to control
crowd trouble, reportedly before the ball was even kicked in the
Highlanders-Motor Action clash during which the Bulawayo giants lost to the
team that has been dubbed the Chelsea of Zimbabwe.

As soccer fans who had thronged Barbourfields Stadium - for the free match
rather than the Silver Jubilee celebrations some confessed - scurried for
cover with the police on horseback in hot pursuit, they wondered if it was
just cops responding to a rowdy Bulawayo crowd demanding to enter the
already packed stadium or it was based more on heckling the city's resident
minister.

But then "ridiculing" the President is illegal under the Public Order and
Security Act, thus the people could expect punishment for also booing the
resident minister. On the Independence carnival, sport met politics and it
became ugly. One was reminded of the entire furore that is always raised by
the regime spokespersons that sport and politics are mutually exclusive: in
Bulawayo on Independence Day, the relationship became very literal.

While the ruling party has in the past attempted to make a distinction that
Independence Day is not a political event, its very behaviour has failed to
divorce this day from being a Zanu PF affair. This has been done through its
constant jingles and media spin that it brought independence and democracy
to the people, thus Zimbabweans seemingly owe it perpetual gratitude. If 18
April were separated from all the politicking, it is not an exaggeration the
people here would take that day seriously, and they would not attend a
soccer match based on the match being free of charge, but a true outing
where the end of white rule is genuinely celebrated.

More than two hundred years later, 4 July is cherished by all Americans and
no one reminds them which party George Washington belonged to! But back to
the Bulawayo Silver Jubilee.

The heavy handed police interventionist policy in a soccer match only
succeeds in getting the people talking about the voting trends in this city.
This is the city where the residents have shown an indefatigable loyalty to
the opposition MDC, and one could understand the soccer fans speculation
that the police were acting more on the voting trends of the people here
than the alleged rowdy behaviour of the so-called hooligans.

That the MDC mayor and the resident minister spoke on this occasion means it
was going to be difficult for the crowd to ignore the politics and
concentrate on the day as would be reasoned by the ruling party. Naturally
the people showed their allegiance to an official they elected, and the
brickbats the other speaker got were just as expected.

The apparently peeved force, despite the criticism being raised by virtually
everybody with an eye on political developments here since the emergence of
a powerful political opposition, has demanded proof in that regard from
Lovemore Madhuku and threatened him with arrest if he failed to furnish them
with evidence to that effect. Imagine then how many people across the
country would fill the already bursting prisons for accusing the police
force of acting on orders from the executive to quell any inkling of
political dissent.

The soccer fans who raced against horses - and not because their team lost -
would be veritable candidates for many nights behind bars judging by the
venom they had for these civil servants.

But the people here have come to understand the workings of the force. You
are better off taking the punches lying down than trying to stand up and
fight. But having somebody then calling cops anarchists paints a picture on
the extremes of unacceptable behaviour from the police - an institution
tasked with keeping the peace and protecting people's rights and liberties.
So what happens then when you get keepers of the peace violating it?

While crowd trouble cannot be condoned, it is the response therein of the
law enforcement agents that becomes the focus, not why they were called in
to start with. But the fact that running battles occurred even before the
match started, smacks of a force that was waiting for something to happen.
These chaps always have a reason to beat people up.

For Bulawayo residents, fortunately or unfortunately, everything is not as
black and white as some would have them believe. They are part of that
constituency the President has among other things called "habitually fickle"
whose vote the ruling party has long lost to the MDC. And these are the same
people who were being exhorted in the run-up to the parliamentary poll not
to repeat the mistake they made in 2000. And the mistake? Voting for the
MDC! This is the city where loyalty to the local football giants seemingly
translates to political activism with the supporters raising the ire of the
ruling party. And many had predicted the professionalism of the force was
meant to last as long as the polls, after that, it was back to business as
usual.
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Zim Standard

Truth can destroy friendships

FRIENDSHIPS can be shattered or lost over minor misunderstandings or
utterances of the truth.

A Freedonian national travelled north, across the Zee River. He was in an
animated discussion that threatened to erupt into an ugly scene. It was
after observing numerous vehicles.
"I am surprised by your capacity to imitate others. You are the second
country in the region to use similar registration numbers to ours," said the
Freedonian national in an admonishing tone.

Masauso Mulenga, the friend from the country to the north was getting
exasperated. For far too long they had been the target of such arrogant
taunts from their southern neighbour, which long reckoned itself as the
rising star of the region. But that was only until others stars started
rising up and every one of its citizens were in a hurry to escape from it.
Many said it had become like one huge open prison.

Mulenga tried the calm approach: "Those registration numbers have been in
use here since independence. We are upset that you have just helped to make
it easier for carjackers to steal cars from here and drive them across or
vice-versa. You are exporting problems into the region.

"But that is not the only thing you are exporting. your people, your
agricultural producers, your bankers, your teachers and medical staff and
yes; soon you could be exporting your millionaire household staff."

The Freedonian was adamant:"Our registration was launched by our Vice
President and it was on satellite television. That is how you got the idea
and that is why you are arguing they form the basis for regional
registration when we move to a common market for the region.

"We will need to set up a committee to recommend a commission which will
identify a committee to implement." Mulenga was no longer listening at this
windbag!

It was amazing how one misunderstanding or truth can suddenly change how we
see and relate to others. Although Mulenga and the Freedonian had known each
other much longer, for the first time he realised how little he knew about
his friend. Behind the veneer of friendship is always a vicious side, ready
to explode if someone ignites the fuse.

Neighbours of Freedonia had welcomed its independence. Then they admired,
nay became envious of, its resourcefulness and how it was becoming the
darling of the world, apparently at their expense. Freedonians became
conceited. Somehow in the past few years these roles appear to have been
reversed.

Even though Freedonia's loss was its neighbours' gain, it frustrated them
how something which had so much to offer could turn out this badly, so much
so that everyone able to flee was on his or her way out. The country seemed
to be exporting more of its people than its other products and resources.

Naturally its neighbours were concerned about what was happening in
Freedonia because over the past, their destinies seemed to be interwoven.
They benefited from its rapid development in decades soon after attaining
self rule, because all roads led to Freedonia and all international flights
turned it onto a regional hub; it was the gateway to this part of the
continent.

"Do you think we are happy when we see your nationals coming to sleep on our
pavements in order to purchase a few goods to go and sell back home; and do
you think we rejoice when you render most of your workers jobless; and do
you think we applaud when your nationals spend most of their time queuing
for goods and services that no one is certain they will get? What
continental and regional pride is there when all you see is potential
squandered? Are your leaders happy to lead a country where they will be the
only inhabitants left?

"Anyway, what are you doing here if you still believe what you have is
paradise? Are you not fleeing the mess you have allowed the Promised Land to
become.?"

The Freedonian looked at his "friend". It was as if he had gained his sight
for the first time. He was transfixed for a time. Then he got into his car
and drove off. The truth can shatter friendships.
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Journal - April 2005

I have been silent since we got home from our long break in RSA.

It was with a certain reluctance that we set off for home as can be
imagined. We had spent a useful and generally relaxed time at the coast. Our
first return to the reality of Zimbabwe was the ordeal of the border
crossing at Beit Bridge but in that too we were lucky as it was
comparatively quiet and we were through in half an hour! Apart from the
inevitable touts (who in fact were helpful for a price!) it was free of any
hassles.

So were in good time to arrive at the Lion and Elephant in time for a cold
beer or two before dinner. Alas, even by the rather pedestrian culinary
standards of that establishment, the food was a bit of a mission. The roast
beef of the day would have served well to resole my boots; the Yorkshire
Pudding you could bounce off the floor and the potatoes might have served
better as glazing for a window or two. The pudding ( they always serve
boarding school pud. - roly-poly, bananas and custard, that night apple
crumble) was so stodgy as to be best used for pasting on a bill board! After
dinner I went and paid our bill and had the pleasure of parting with over
300K Zim dollars. I was a bit short of actual cash as I only had 850K on me
and we still needed to buy fuel and the odd grocery in Harare, so I had
hoped to pay by card. Alas, cards are no longer accepted at the L and E† I
was told, probably because by the time the hotel recovers its money the
stuff is only worth half what it was the day you made the transaction. Such
is life in the country with the highest inflation in the world. (I read
somewhere that in Yugoslavia before things finally went completely bonkers,
one negotiated the price of a meal before actually sitting down to eat, so
perhaps there was some logic in not taking a credit card!)

We left early the next morning at about six, deciding to forgo breakfast!
We reserved that pleasure for the Wimpy in Masvingo where we arrived at
about nine. Here we had a bacon and egg sandwich, with a cup of Ricory
instant coffee. The bread was marginally better than the Yorkshire pudding
of the evening before.

By now we had come through three road-blocks. At the first I very nearly
achieved national hero status by missing† running down a policeman by a
whisker. There was no warning sign announcing their presence. All I saw a
was a huge lorry stopped on the road. I slowed down to pass as he was
occupying quite a bit of road. Only with feet to spare did a policeman turn
his attention from the lorry and move into the road. He had no 'dayglow"
vest and against the dark tar and the olive green of the mopani in the
background was not a conspicuous figure. I stopped with the front of the car
a foot or two beyond where he stood.

I suppose the man was a little alarmed by the near contact and he approached
with some aggression and asked me what I thought I was doing. I answered
truthfully that he was hard to see and I had no idea it was a road block.
"You are lying", he said rather nastily. It is not something I like being
told and I responded vigorously to the insult and on that note drove off.
Subsequent encounters were all innocuous and the policemen polite and even
friendly. We must have gone through twelve before getting to Harare, the
reason, ironically for these irritations, apparently was that the following
day was Independence Day marking twenty five years of so called freedom.

Next morning in Harare we bought a small basket of groceries (bread, veg.,
and a few other perishables) and parted with most of the remains of our $850
000 searched for diesel with out any success and made for home where we
arrived at about lunchtime. D was there to meet us and M had the house all
spick and span.

This is the reality of Zimbabwe. Multiple little dramas and aggravations and
the civilised† pleasure and tranquillity of one's home.

Since being back we have discovered it was not all quite so well ordered as
at first appeared. D with a driver we had employed while we were had clocked
up a staggering 2500 kilometers by using the old landy as a pirate taxi.
Said driver was an ex Intaf. Corporal driver from Rushinga (once part of
Darwin) and he and D slipped swiftly into the skiving habits of their past.
When confronted with the speedometer readings the response is of course to
look blank and stand to attention. Temporary driver has not been seen and D
sent off to repent. I told him Satan akakubata pamuswe wako saka endai
monatsofunga nesve murarioro wako. Satan has grabbed you by your tale so go
and think what is your punishment." He announced a day or two later that he
had indeed 'tadza'd" and I told him it was time he went home to his wife so
she could straighten him out. So he has done that and I envy him not! She is
a formidable lady and very stout. That she will give him a sound boxing
around the ears I have no doubt what ever.

Otherwise things were in pretty good shape except that the seedlings in the
shade house were more than over due for transplanting. So we have had a busy
time getting the garden back in shape. This is important, as the price of
vegetables is astronomical and the product not much to look at. At our
favourite Green Grocers (Eskbank to those of you who know the Mazowe Road) I
asked for carrots the other day and the woman who who serves behind rthe
counter and has been there for years said to me "Hongu as anenge makoroti
akarimwa namaNewfama: Yes but they look as if they were grown by the new
farmers!"

I have been talking to all my friends and acquaintances and slipping in the
odd question about the elections. The remarks all include stories of
threats, direct and indirect, and about how the votes seemed to bear no
relationship to the numbers who turned out. There were also some hilarious
little stories. The best concerns our neighbour Mrs. C. She is a ardent
party supporter and a devoted sycophant of our sitting MP, the Minister of
Local Government. On the day of the election she met him near the polling
station and asked for some money to buy bread and cool drinks for the
faithful. He gave her $40 000. Witness to this was the "chair person" of the
Womens' League a formidable harridan, notorious for her capacity for liquor
and course behaviour. She approached Mrs. C (they are arch enemies) and
suggested they split the money. This was greeted with a cold refusal and
Mrs. C made preparations to depart. The upshot was that her rival attacked
her and the two very overweight matrons proceeded to do battle. In short
they had a most unseemly scuffle, during which Mrs. C's wig was dislodged.

This event has left a bigger impression on those who were lucky enough to
watch the match than all other election highlights.

On† a more sober note I have to report that almost coinciding with the
elections has been a rapid and dramatic turn for the worse in the whole
fabric of the country. Harare is in dire straights with water and power cuts
lasting for 48 hours and more even in the upmarket suburbs. In the townships
it is worse with shortages and sewage systems collapsing. Maize meal is in
such short supply as to be almost not available and other basics like sugar
and cooking oil are once more off the store shelves. The COL has started to
climb steeply again and fuel is unavailable. I am down to a 2/3tank in the
petrol landy and a 1/3 tank in the diesel and no hope of any coming in as
there seems to be no forex† available. The black market price of a US dollar
is somewhere near the 18000 mark and the pound and the pound and the Euro
over 30K/1. The rand is about 3500 to 4000/1!!!

In the short term it means terrible hardship and people are dying literally
like flies. We witness this in our own little world especially as our
neighbour K is a nurse and well known in the area, so people flock to her
when they are sick. Most of then have AIDS† and of course with poor diet,
the cold weather coming on and flue and TB ever lurking it is taking a huge
toll.

The "good" news is that if the final and long awaited collapse is at hand,
then it means that once the regime can no longer sustain itself, the country
can begin to rebuild. But it is still a bit too soon to say that it this is
about to happen. We have had too many false starts over the last four years;
and somehow they may just bail themselves out again for a while. China is a
wild card and they may just hold out a life line? After all we bought five
new jet fighters from them just a few weeks ago! (And if anything is an
indication of a regime in a state of terminal self-delusion it is this
purchase!)

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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Chinotimba causes a stir, beats up touts

Misheck Musakwa
issue date :2005-May-09

SELF-PROCLAIMED commander in chief of the 2000 farm occupations, Joseph
Chinotimba, caused a stir in Harare's City centre last week after he led a
group of municipal workers to assault touts he accused of beating up a
council police officer.
Chinotimba, the council's chief security officer, confirmed the incident and
said they had already arrested three suspects involved in the assault of
their colleague.
The incident occurred at the corner of Kwame Nkrumah and Park Street after
the suspected touts ganged up to free their colleague who had been arrested
by the council police officer for washing a commuter omnibus in an
undesignated place.
Chinotimba arrived at the scene with a group of about 10 council policemen
armed with baton sticks and beat up the suspected touts.
"Chinos (Chinotimba) arrived here in a pick up, while a lorry with the
officers was following behind. The officers disembarked from the lorry in a
flash and started assaulting the touts whom he said he "wanted to fix"' for
assaulting a municipal police officer," a vendor who witnessed the incident
told The Daily Mirror.
Chinotimba defended his actions saying the touts were assaulting municipal
police officers who were arresting illegal street vendors.
"They are attacking our officers who are arresting illegal vendors, and on
Wednesday (last week) another officer was beaten up by these guys. Besides
that, they stole a pair of handcuffs from him and we are not going to rest
until we recover them.
"We are also going to remove all commuter omnibus operators from that area
(Corner Kwame Kruma-Park Street)," said Chinotimba.
He said the suspects had been arrested in order to assist them with
investigations.
Police spokesperson, Wayne Bvudzijena said it was illegal for anyone to beat
up any suspect, adding the municipal police were only empowered to arrest
people who violate city by-laws.
Bvudzijena said: "We have always said it before that no one is allowed to
assault suspects and we urge people to bring them forward and press charges.
Those you allege were assaulted in that incident should report to the
police."
The City of Harare has been fighting running battles with street vendors who
have been descended in the capital's streets due to the biting economic
conditions that has seen unemployment rising to over 70 percent.
Chinotimba is not new to controversy.

In 2000 Chinotimba was arrested for attempted murder of a neighbour he was
alleged to have shot because she was an opposition political supporter.
The Harare magistrates court acquitted him on the attempted charge, but
found him guilty of contravening the Firearms Act and fined him.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

NGOs bill shrouded in mystery

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-May-09

THE fate of the NGOs Bill, designed to regulate the operations of civic
groups in the country, remains shrouded in mystery five months after it was
passed by Parliament on December 9 last year. Constitutional law expert,
Lovemore Madhuku said it was likely that President Robert Mugabe had
rejected the Bill or was waiting for an opportune time to publish it in the
Government Gazette so that in becomes law.
†"The president has up to 21 days (in terms of the constitution) to assent
to a Bill after it has been presented to him and can't do that after 21
days. In this case we do not know when it was presented to him, but it had
to be before Parliament was dissolved on March 31," Madhuku said.
The lawyer added that even if the President had assented to the Bill, it
would only become law if it had been published in the Government Gazette.
He said: "If he has signed the Bill, he has the right to determine when to
gazette it so that it becomes an Act of Parliament. He can publish at a time
he so wishes."
"There is, however, no time frame for him to publish it and he can do so at
a time he feels like. It is perfectly acceptable under the current
constitution," Madhuku said adding that there was no Bill in the history of
the country that had gone this long before it becomes a law.
Director of National Association of Non Governmental Organisations (Nango),
Jonah Mudehwe also echoed the same sentiments, but added their focus was now
on the way forward on the Bill and whether there it was going to be
re-drafted or debated again in its present form.
"Normally a Bill has to be signed after 21 days and we are now looking
forward to what is going to happen to it and whether its going to be
re-drafted or debated in its present form," he said.
Mudehwe added that they were also looking at ways of engaging the new
Minister of Labour, Public Service and Social Welfare, Nicholas Goche on the
issue.
Most NGOs oppose the Bill, which among other things, seeks to ban foreign
funding of civic organisations and set up a council to regulate NGO
operations.
The Bill was widely seen to be draconian and meant to narrow the country's
democratic space.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Wheat seed gutted by fire

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-May-09

A FIRE broke out yesterday at the National Foods Limited Aspindale branch
destroying millions of dollars worth of wheat seed. An official at the
company's security office said: "The fire started at a wheat-seed stark.
†The starks have to be maintained at a certain temperature. In this case the
temperature may have exceeded the limit and ignited the fire," the officer
said.
The officer said members of the fire brigade were still battling to
extinguish the fire by late yesterday afternoon adding that the value of the
wheat seed was still to be established.
"The value of the seed destroyed is yet to be ascertained because they are
still battling to put out the fire and removing the seed that has not been
affected," the officer added. -Mirror Reporter
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Critical milk shortage hits Harare

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-May-09

HARARE has been hit by a critical shortage of milk, amid revelations that
Dairibord Zimbabwe Limited (DZL) was failing to meet demand because of the
reduction of supplies from its traditional sources. A survey carried out by
The Daily Mirror showed that Fresh Milk had indeed disappeared from shop
fridges in most leading retail outlets. The situation has forced customers
to resort to "powdered" milk as a supplement.
Angry consumers said the shortages were artificial and urged the government
to intervene.
Efforts to get a comment from DZL officials proved fruitless at the time of
going to press yesterday. Mirror Reporter
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Harare agree to increase prices of refuse collection

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-May-09

THE commission running the affairs of the capital has agreed to increase the
prices of refuse collection following requests by the companies contracted
to do the job. The private operators wrote to the commission in January
requesting that the price be reviewed upwards from the current $768 set in
May last year.
According to council minutes of a meeting held on April 11 by the
procurement board, the contractors proposed a new price of $1 459, but the
city fathers agreed to increase it to $1 200.
"The current bin price of $768 had been negotiated in May 2004. After
discussion with the refuse contractors the bin price was pegged at $1 200,"
part of the minutes read.
The new increases are effective January 1 2005. The price is subject to
review after six months.
Harare has been failing to timeously collect refuse due to the lack of
capacity and dedication of players, resulting in rubbish being left on the
streets for months posing a health hazard.
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News24

Zimbabweans get Marburg warning
08/05/2005 20:43† - (SA)

Harare - Zimbabwe is warning its citizens against travelling to Angola
following the outbreak of the Ebola-like Marburg virus which has claimed 280
lives, the health minister said on Sunday.

"People should not fear but I am discouraging people from travelling to
Angola... at this point in time," said health and child welfare minister
David Parirenyatwa on state-run Newsnet TV.

"We are aware that the countries around Angola have taken alert measures. We
in Zimbabwe are on very high alert to make sure anybody who comes in,
especially through the airports...we screen them, we thoroughly screen them
for that virus," he said.

Zimbabwe has not recorded any case of the deadly virus that has left 280
dead in Angola since it was first detected in October, with most of the
fatalities in the northern Uige province of Angola.

The Marburg virus, whose exact origin is unknown and for which there is no
cure, spreads through contact with bodily fluids such as blood, excrement,
vomit, saliva, sweat and tears, but can be contained with relatively simple
hygenic precautions, according to experts.

The outbreak in Angola has overtaken an earlier outbreak in the Democratic
Republic of Congo as the largest ever recorded of the virus, first detected
in 1967 when West German laboratory workers in the town of Marburg were
infected by monkeys from Uganda.
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From The Sunday Times (SA), 8 May

UN chief headed for Zimbabwe

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is expected to meet Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe in Harare at the end of the month over the country's
political and economic crisis. Senior government officials in Zimbabwe said
Annan had been in touch with Mugabe and plans were afoot for a meeting in
the next three weeks. They said Annan had indicated to Mugabe that he wanted
to discuss the prevailing food shortages and other humanitarian problems.
"If current arrangements go according to plan, they should have a meeting at
month end," a government official said. He said that if Annan was not able
to visit, an envoy would come in his stead. UN agencies have stopped
distributing food aid to the country due to political problems. Zimbabwe
admits it will need to import 1.2 million tons of maize to make up for a 600
000 ton shortfall this year.
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Peoples Daily

††††† Feature: Zimbabwe in fuel crisis

††††† The past week has seen tablets of "no fuel" at most petrol filling
stations in Zimbabwean capital Harare, and there was virtually no petrol at
service stations outside the capital.

††††† Zimbabwe is now facing a serious fuel crisis due to shortage of
foreign currency and low prices of petrol.

††††† On Friday afternoon it was said that there was fuel at a petrol
filling station at Fourth Street, where cars were immediately seen queuing
for this precious liquid, which has increasingly become scarce.

††††† In a few minutes, a fuel delivery tanker arrived. It off-loaded about
20,000 liters of fuel and vehicles began to assemble in a single line and
the police were soon called in to calm the possibly explosive environment.

††††† Two hours later, the service station management announced that the
fuel has run out and grumbling drivers began to disperse.

††††† Was it true that 20,000 liters of fuel have been sold already?

††††† There comes the answer of some drivers. The fuel was still available,
but would be sold to dealers who will in turn sell it on the thriving "black
market" at inflated prices, although selling fuel on the black market and
demanding bribes from desperate motorists is a criminal offense in Zimbabwe.

††††† The government price for petrol and diesel is currently 3,600
Zimbabwean dollars (about 58 US cents at the official rate) a liter.

††††† In South Africa, the forecourt price of both petrol and diesel is
around 5 rand (84 US cents) a liter, which can be translated into 5,000
Zimbabwean dollars at the official rate and more than 15,000 Zimbabwean
dollars a liter at the parallel market rate. The wholesale price of petrol
in South Africa is 4.61 rand, or 4,610 Zimbabwean dollars at the official
rate.

††††† The fuel service station manager told Xinhua that after factoring in
transport costs, fuel could be landed in Zimbabwe at around 5,000 Zimbabwean
dollars if foreign exchange secured at the official rate was used.

††††† "The government is therefore paying almost 1,500 Zimbabwean dollars
(about 24 US cents) to subsidize every liter of fuel sold at service
stations," the manager said.

††††† He added that Zimbabwe normally consumes two million liters of fuel
daily. So skewed is the pricing structure in the country that a liter of
fuel is cheaper than a bottle of mineral water which stands at 9,000
Zimbabwean dollars (about 1.45 US dollars at the official rate).

††††† The manager said the price of fuel should be reviewed immediately.

††††† "What the depressed price has done is to make our margins small and
forecourt business unviable," he said.

††††† "Between October and March, there was about 4 million US dollars a
week for fuel imports which was distributed between National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe (NOCZ) and the Petroleum Marketers Association of Zimbabwe (PMAZ),"
he said.

††††† Now there was no foreign currency to import fuel and there was no
petrol in reserve at the NOCZ's holding tanks so that the situation was
degenerating fast.

††††† It is said that because of the country's poor credit rating, Zimbabwe
has in the last five years failed to secure lasting lines of credit to pay
for fuel imports. Currently, the country is doing "spot purchases" from
ships anchored off the Mozambican coast.

††††† Zimbabwe's fuel is grossly under-priced and the government has been
paying billions of Zimbabwean dollars weekly in subsidies in a bid to
suppress price increases of the commodity. A rise in the price of fuel is
considered inflationary and could negate the government's economic
turnaround efforts.

††††† It is also heard that the centralized procurement of fuel through the
PMAZ and the strict surveillance of import license holders meant that
individuals could not organize their own foreign exchange and bring in fuel.

††††† The manager said "in the past one could go onto the parallel market,
buy foreign exchange and then import fuel."

††††† "That explains why last year fuel was available but at different
prices. That is no longer possible. If importers were given the go-ahead to
import as individuals, fuel would become readily available again," he added.

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The Scotsman

Chinese help Mugabe to bug media in Zimbabwe

TREVOR GRUNDY

IN A move to control the flow of information in and out of Zimbabwe, Robert
Mugabe's beleaguered government has acquired sophisticated phone-tapping,
radio jamming and internet-monitoring equipment from communist hardliners in
China.

Sophisticated Chinese bugging equipment is being installed clandestinely in
homes, offices, restaurants and even lavatories. Chinese technicians handed
it over to the Central Intelligence Organisation earlier this year in an
effort to block the circulation of what Mugabe calls "hostile propaganda".

First to suffer is a popular UK-based shortwave radio station that sends out
anti-Mugabe stories to Zimbabwe seven days a week. The independent radio
station, SW Radio Africa, has been experiencing jamming problems all this
year from transmitters installed in the Zimbabwean Midlands.

The station's founder, Gerry Jackson, flies to Nairobi, Kenya, next week to
pick up the International Press Institute's Free Media Pioneer Award for
courageous journalism.

"Mugabe will do anything to stop the truth being heard in Zimbabwe," she
says.

Hi-tech bugging includes updated versions of pirated Israeli-made equipment
which enters Zimbabwe through Cuba. It's a copy of the sophisticated
equipment Mossad uses to spy on Palestinians.

Wilf Mbanga, who edits the new weekly paper, the Zimbabwean, said: "The plan
is to tap all landlines belonging to anyone of importance or prominence in
Zimbabwe."

After this year's general election Mugabe told party hardliners that he had
turned again to the East.

On Independence Day (April 18), to cheers from party loyalists, he said: "We
are returning to the days when our greatest friends were the Chinese. We
look again to the East, where the sun rises, and no longer to the West,
where it sets."
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The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
Monday April 25th - May 1st 2005
Weekly Media Update 2005-15

CONTENTS

1. GENERAL COMMENT
2. ECONOMIC DECLINE
3. INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS

1. General Comment

WHILE the democratic world commemorated World Press Freedom Day on May 3rd,
there was very little cause for celebration in Zimbabwe.
Repressive media and security laws such as the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and Public Order and Security Act (POSA)
are still on Zimbabwe's statute books and have continued to be selectively
used against media practitioners, particularly journalists working for the
private media.

Since their enactment, dozens of journalists from the private media have
been charged under the two draconian laws although not a single prosecution
has been successful.
Private media houses have also borne the brunt of these undemocratic laws.
For instance, four privately owned newspapers have been closed under AIPPA
in the last 19 months as part of the authorities' systematic campaign to
silence all sources of information critical of their policies and actions.
Scores of journalists working for the affected media houses have
consequently been deprived of their jobs following the closures.

The broadcasting environment remains equally restrictive. Despite the
invalidation of the ZBH's broadcasting monopoly by the Supreme Court in
2000, the government-controlled broadcaster still enjoys a de-facto monopoly
of the airwaves.
This is because almost five years after the Supreme Court ruling no other
private broadcasters have been licenced as the restrictive clauses of the
Broadcasting Services Act (BSA) have made it difficult for the majority of
Zimbabweans to establish their own commercial and community radio stations.
In fact, this was fully exposed when The Herald (29/4) and The Sunday Mirror
(1/5) reported that only one out of the five organisations that had applied
for broadcasting licences had been short listed by the government appointed
Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) to attend a public enquiry as
stipulated under the BSA.

The Herald quoted BAZ acting chairman Pikirayi Deketeke saying the
unsuccessful applicants had failed to meet the requirements of the law
without elaborating save to say that the authority would write to the
applicants explaining the "reasons why their applications were turned down".

It is such restrictive media environment that has seen the Committee to
Protect Journalists (CPJ) name Zimbabwe as one of the "World's Worst Places
to Be as a Journalist", The Standard (1/5).
The government-controlled media ignored the CPJ report.

2. Economic decline

THE country's deepening economic crisis continued to dominate the media,
which carried 145 stories on the matter. Of these, 71 appeared in the
government-controlled Press, 43 in the private papers, 29 on ZBH (Power FM,
ZTV and Radio Zimbabwe) and the remaining four on Studio 7.
The stories included the continued collapse of local industries, the
worsening shortages of fuel, power and foreign currency and the crumbling of
service delivery in the main cities, particularly Harare.
As has become the norm, it was only the private media that viewed the
shortages as symptomatic of the country's shrinking economy. The government
media largely evaded such discussions. They either reported on the economic
problems in isolation or simply glossed over the issues with authorities'
promises to rectify the economic slide.

For example, none of ZBH's nine reports on the crippling fuel shortages
fully discussed the reasons behind the shortages or gave a holistic picture
of its effects countrywide. Rather, it restricted coverage on the matter to
the situation in Matabeleland South and Harare and tried to blame the
shortages on fuel dealers who were allegedly holding on to the commodity in
anticipation of a price hike.
The broadcaster's reluctance to openly discuss the matter was reflected by
its failure to access comments from officials and economists on the issue as
shown by the voice distribution on ZTV and Power FM.

†Fig 1 Voice distribution on Power FM and ZTV

MEDIA No. Of stories Ordinary people Police Alternative Government
Business
ZTV 5 8 2 0 0 0
Power FM 2 2 0 0 0 0

All ordinary voices were quoted complaining of the fuel crisis and calling
on government to resolve the matter.

As if to respond to their calls, The Sunday Mail (1/5) reported Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono saying the fuel crisis "will be
fixed" in the "next one and a half to two weeks". However, the paper failed
to challenge Gono to fully explain on how he intended to tame the fuel
shortage and turn "around our beloved economy".
Such mere regurgitation of official pronouncements and passive presentation
of government's commitment to resolving the country's economic crisis was
also apparent in stories such as: Zim committed to NEPAD, the Chronicle
(27/4); Zim committed to COMESA, SADC trade protocols, the Sunday News (1/5)
and Zim expects 1.2m tonnes of maize: Muvhuti, The Herald (28/4).

It also manifested itself in the government media's coverage of the just
ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF). Although the official Press
carried 29 stories on the matter, in addition to two ZITF supplements
carried by The Herald and Chronicle (26/4), these were public relations
pieces that acquiescently portrayed the Zimbabwean economy as finally
overcoming its problems.
Despite the government-controlled papers' depiction of the ZITF as having
been a "success", they provided little evidence to support this. Rather,
these papers, as exemplified by the Sunday News and Sunday Mail (1/5),
merely quoted Trade Minister Obert Mpofu saying the Fair was successful
because "many companies from the Far East" had come to exhibit. However, he
did not say how many companies from Asia constituted the 604 companies (562
foreign and 42 local) that exhibited at ZITF.

Similarly, The Herald (30/4) and Sunday News used Mozambican President
Armando Guebuza's official speech at the Fair stressing the need to "foster
and nurture" co-operation between Zimbabwe and Mozambique on economic and
bilateral issues as vindication that the country's economy was poised for
recovery despite hostile machinations by Britain and its Western allies.

ZBH's 47 stories on the Fair were tailor made in the same fashion. The
reports presented the annual trade showcase as a success and a reflection of
the country's purported economic growth. Throughout the week, the
government-controlled broadcaster emphasised on how enquiries and deals were
made during the event without elaborating on the actual worth of the
business deals.

In a bid to downplay the absence of big companies at the Fair, ZTV (27/4,
8pm) seemed to celebrate the presence of small-to-medium scale enterprises
and resettled farmers saying this demonstrated that they were committed to
the country's economic turnaround programme.
However, except for five public relations stories published by the Mirror
stable on ZITF, the rest of the private media viewed the matter differently
in the seven reports they carried on the topic. Five of these were in the
private Press while the remaining two were on Studio 7.
The private media stance on ZITF was epitomised by The Standard (1/5)
comment, Shrinking ZITF mirrors economic collapse.
It noted that the trade fair was poorly attended as it recorded the least
number of exhibitors since 2003. The paper largely attributed this to
Zimbabwe's poor international image and the current foreign currency crunch.
It observed that larger companies were forced to stay away because they
would have been unable to fulfil orders made at the Fair due to lack of
foreign currency to import critical raw materials.

To buttress its point, The Standard observed that "as of last week" the
foreign currency auction floor was only able to avail US$11 million "against
a demand for 6 436 rejected bids for US$125 million". Therefore, added the
paper, it was "unfair" for government to officially invite Guebuza "to
preside over an event that is either predominantly empty or overly populated
by quasi-flea market operators".
The rest of the private media's 43 reports on the economy largely
highlighted the extent to which the economic situation had deteriorated.
This was summed up in the Zimbabwe Independent comment, What legacy will Bob
bequeath?

The paper accused government and Gono of peddling "the lie that the economy
has turned the corner" while things were falling apart in the country. It
cited shortages of basic commodities such as fuel, power and water in Harare
as well as the collapse of sewerage systems in Harare and Chitungwiza.
To further highlight Zimbabwe's economic woes, The Financial Gazette (28/4)
reported that government had angered the International Monetary Fund - which
the central bank is trying to engage for the crucial balance of payments
support - by attempting to block the Fund's scheduled visit next week.
The paper quoted "impeccable sources" saying government's plans to delay the
Fund's routine consultation on the pretext that it was "not yet ready to
meet the IMF delegation" because the recent split of the Finance and
Economic Development Ministry into two portfolios could "negatively
influence the IMF board's decision on Zimbabwe".

Meanwhile, the Independent and The Daily Mirror (28/4) predicted more power
cuts as a result of a breakdown in the power unit at Hwange Power Station
that supplies the country with over 220 megawatts. The Mirror quoted ZESA
Holdings corporate Affairs manager Obert Nyatanga as saying the power
utility required at least US$7 million ($45 billion) per month to arrest
problems that led to the breakdown.
Studio 7 also highlighted similar economic woes in its four stories, which
were all critical of the country's economic performance.
However, the private radio station's sourcing was thin as it heavily relied
on alternative comments at the expense of official sources as compared to
the private papers, which were diversely sourced.

See Fig 2 and 3 below.
Fig 2. Voice distribution in the private Press

Voice Total
Government 12
Alternative 11
Business 15
Professional 5
Ordinary people 8
Editorial comments 4
Local authorities 8
MDC 1
Unnamed 7

Fig 3. Voice distribution on Studio 7

Voice Total
Government 0
Alternative 4
MDC 1
Reader 1

Although the government media also touched on some of the issues raised by
the private media, they hardly went beyond official statements.
For example, while the Chronicle (28/4) reported ZESA as acknowledging that
it required over US$2 billion between this year and 2010 to avert a power
crisis, the paper did not ask, as did the Mirror of the same day, why the
power utility had not made efforts long ago "to develop its own local power
supply that would generate electricity for all domestic needs without having
to rely on another foreign country".

3. International relations and Human rights

THE re-election of Zimbabwe to the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC)
provided ZBH with the opportunity to further defend the country's poor human
rights record.
The government-controlled broadcaster carried three reports on the matter.
All the reports celebrated this latest development and used it to reinforce
official claims that allegations of human rights violations in the country
were baseless and only emanated from Western countries that were against
Zimbabwe's land reforms.

It was hardly surprising therefore that the broadcaster ignored incidents of
continued human rights violations which appeared on Studio 7.
The private station carried 10 stories on human rights issues. Of these, six
stories were on fresh incidents of rights violations, including the murder
of an MDC activist while three were on the US and civic organisations'
condemnation of Zimbabwe's re-election to the UNHRC. The remainder was on
government's efforts to have the African Commission on Human and People's
Rights postpone hearing a case in which human rights activist Gabriel Shumba
is suing the Zimbabwean authorities over his alleged torture by the police.
The victims of the rights abuses ranged from MDC supporters, civic society
to members of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) while the
perpetrators were either state security agents or ZANU PF activists.

The trend was similar in the print media.
Out of the 11 reports on rights violations published by the Press, nine were
in the private papers while only two were in the government-controlled
Press.
The two government papers' stories, which appeared in The Herald and Manica
Post (29/4), stemmed from an incident in which MDC supporters allegedly beat
up ZANU PF supporters in Chipinge South in protest against the disputed
March election results. The papers cited the police attributing the outbreak
of the violence to an alleged report by the private radio station, Studio 7,
which claimed that the election process that resulted in ZANU PF candidate
for the constituency Enock Porisingazi winning had been fraught with
irregularities.

These papers, however, ignored 11 cases of rights abuses, which included
four incidents of politically motivated harassment and violence and one case
of murder that were recorded in nine reports carried by the private Press.
Like on Studio 7, the police could not readily confirm some of the cases
reported by the private papers. For example, while The Standard quoted MDC
spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi claiming that suspected ZANU PF activists had
allegedly murdered the party's chairman for Ward 6 in Karoi, Ebrahim Moffat,
the same paper quoted police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka saying he could not
confirm the murder since he was attending ZIFT. Other efforts to contact
another police spokesman, Wayne Bvudzijena, were "unsuccessful", said the
paper.
Notably, Bvudzijena and other police officers that Studio 7 reportedly
contacted over the murder case were non-committal.

But while the government Press turned a blind eye to these rights abuses,
especially the clampdown on ZCTU leaders by State security agents ahead of
the May Day celebrations, it diverted public attention from the matter by
devoting six stories to accusing the labour body of deserting workers and
engaging in politics.
And in a bid to gloss over the isolation of Zimbabwe mainly over its poor
human rights record and bad governance, the government-controlled Press
carried 25 stories that sought to superficially depict the country as
enjoying cordial relations with the rest of the world. Visits by Mozambican
President Guebuza and the South African National Defence Forces chief,
General Sphiwe Nyanda were conveniently used to spruce up Zimbabwe's
tattered international image. So was the UN's invitation to Zimbabwe to send
its army officers to participate in a military observer mission in Southern
Sudan.

ZTV and Power FM also carried 12 reports that conveniently used supportive
statements by Guebuza and outgoing South African ambassador Jeremiah Ndou to
give the impression that Zimbabwe has the support of the international
community.
But the government media was mum on plans by the US to widen its targeted
sanctions against the Zimbabwean leadership in the aftermath of another
disputed poll as reported by The Daily Mirror (27/4) and Sunday Mirror
(1/5).
The official media also largely downplayed the criticism levelled against
government by the US, Canada and Australia over its re-election to the UN
body as compared to the Zimbabwe Independent. Neither did it tell its
audiences, as did the Independent, that UN secretary-general Kofi Annan
would abolish the "controversial body" later this year anyway.

Rather, The Saturday Herald buried all these concerns in glowing comments by
Zimbabwe's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York,
Boniface Chidyausiku, who described the re-election as "a triumph for
Zimbabwean democracy".
Ends//

† The MEDIA UPDATE was produced and circulated by the Media Monitoring
Project Zimbabwe, 15 Duthie Avenue, Alexandra Park, Harare, Tel/fax: 263 4
703702, E-mail: monitors@mmpz.org.zw <mailto:monitors@mmpz.org.zw>

Feel free to write to MMPZ. We may not able to respond to everything but we
will look at each message.† For previous MMPZ reports, and more information
about the Project, please visit our website at http://www.mmpz.org.zw
<http://www.mmpz.org.zw/>

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