October 31 2005 at 11:47AM
Harare - Zimbabwe's main opposition party edged closer to a split on
Monday as crisis talks to resolve differences over taking part in
controversial polls next month ended in a deadlock.
"We had a two-hour meeting to further discuss the crisis in the party
and the president and members of the management committee agreed to
disagree," said Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) deputy
secretary-general Gift Chimanikire.
"The president (Morgan Tsvangirai) refused to accept the national
council resolution to participate in the senate elections in violation of
the party's constitution and placed himself not only above the council but
also above the constitution," he told AFP.
Chimanikire said after Monday's meeting of the opposition party's six
top-ranking officials that there were "no prospects of another meeting" and
those who have registered to contest the polls were going ahead.
He said Tsvangirai "and his cabinet of unelected, self-seeking
individuals" usurped the powers of the national council and sought to
replace officials elected by the party congress.
Chimanikire also accused Tsvangirai and other officials of inciting
"hooligans through lies and misrepresentation" to harass members of a
faction that voted in favour of contesting the senate polls in the southern
Cracks in the opposition widened last week after 26 members defied
Tsvangirai's call to boycott next month's elections to a new upper house of
parliament, which critics say is aimed at tightening the ruling party's
stranglehold on the legislature.
Tsvangirai on Thursday said party officials had resolved "to continue
the dialogue with a view to finding an expeditious resolution of the dispute
in the party".
He said the MDC management committee also called on members to
"immediately refrain from all forms of threats, intimidation and violence
against any official or member of the party related to the dispute over the
As simmering divisions in the MDC became apparent two weeks ago, party
leaders issued contradictory statements over the party's participation in
the senate elections.
Tsvangirai announced a boycott, but hours later party spokesperson
Paul Themba Nyathi said the MDC's supreme decision-making organ had voted to
take part in the elections.
The MDC, which won nearly half of the contested parliamentary seats in
the 2000 elections, decided to contest parliamentary elections earlier this
year despite concerns they would not be fair. - Sapa-AFP
Sent: Tuesday, November 01, 2005 12:38 AM
31 October 2005
The management committee of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) met in
Harare today. The committee called for an MDC national council meeting on
Saturday at which the party President shall present a report on the state of
the party, the current preparations on the Congress process and the way
The President shall give the council an overview of the campaign for a new
Constitution, which the party has adopted in concert with the MDC's civil
The President's position on the Senate election remains unchanged. He
maintains that the MDC must stay out of the polls.
T. W. Bango
Mail and Guardian
31 October 2005 11:31
Zimbabwean authorities are considering moving elephants from the
country's overburdened national parks to Namibia after at least 50
pachyderms starved to death, a state daily reported on Monday.
About 50 elephants died in separate incidents in the famous
Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe's dry southwestern region, prompting senior
government officials to visit the area to investigate the cause of the
"I wanted to ascertain on behalf of the government the main
causes of the deaths of the elephants," deputy minister for environment and
tourism Andrew Langa told The Herald.
The newspaper reported that the animals died "because of
shortage of water and pasture".
"The situation is bad in the game park. Some of the solutions we
are looking at in order to reduce the deaths are to cull and take some of
the elephants to Namibia," Langa told the newspaper.
He said the Cabinet would meet to discuss the plans to relocate
In May the National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority
invited Zimbabwean farmers to buy elephants to decongest areas where
elephant populations are concentrated.
Zimbabwe has about 100 000 elephants against its carrying
capacity of 45 000.
"If trends continue at this rate we are going to have a major
disaster," national parks chief Morris Mutsambiwa warned.
"Vegetation will be destroyed and water will run out in parks.
If we have a major drought we are going to have massive deaths of elephants
and other animals as they run out of food and water," he said. - AFP
31/10/2005 20:51 - (SA)
Harare - Zimbabwe has invited international observers to oversee next
month's controversial election of a new senate, state radio reported on
Foreign minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said observers from the United
Nations, the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) had been invited.
Diplomats accredited to the Southern African country had also been invited
to observe the poll.
"He said the move to invite observers is aimed at enhancing the country's
already open and transparent electoral process," the radio said.
Others invited included "liberation movements" sympathetic to the government
of President Robert Mugabe, such as the United States-based December 12
Movement, the radio said.
Thirty-one seats for a new 66-seat Senate are to be contested by Mugabe's
ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) and the
main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Rift in MDC over senate polls
The ruling party has already won 19 seats because there were no opposition
candidates in those constituencies. The MDC has been divided over the senate
issue after leader Morgan Tsvangirai ordered a poll boycott.
Tsvangirai does not recognise the MDC candidates who have registered to
stand in the election.
The MDC has lost three elections in the past five years to Mugabe's party.
The party claims victory was stolen from it through violence, intimidation
and electoral fraud, but the government denies this.
Ten senate seats will go to chiefs, and six more will be appointed by
Analysts say the poll is likely to be marred by record levels of voter
Ordinary Zimbabweans are struggling to make ends meet amid inflation of
close to 360%, as well as spiralling levels of poverty and unemployment. -
October 31, 2005, 13:45
Zimbabwe's official Herald newspaper says prices of goods on supermarket
shelves in Zimbabwe are going up by as much as 100% per week. Inflation in
Zimbabwe is currently running at nearly 360% and is one of the highest rates
in the world.
The government-owned newspaper says supermarkets are flouting price controls
on staple goods set by the authorities. For example, a 10kg packet of
maize-meal now costs up to 150 000 Zimbabwe dollars (about R16.50) - nearly
10 times the official price of 16 000 Zimbabwe dollars or around (R1.80).
Mail and Guardian
31 October 2005 01:22
Three hundred Somali and Ethiopian nationals who entered
Zimbabwe as refugees over the past two months have slipped out of holding
centres and disappeared, the state-controlled Herald reported on Monday.
"When we made a check on them [at the holding centres], they
were nowhere to be found," Chief Immigration Officer Elasto Mugwadi told the
"We are worried about this trend and feel Zimbabwe is being used
as a transit point for irregular migration into other countries," he said.
Mugwadi said some foreigners, including Nigerians, were entering
Zimbabwe illegally to lead "luxurious lives".
"We have received reports of marriages of convenience in the
case of most Nigerian immigrants and the general flooding of foreigners not
employed in [the] formal system but leading luxurious lives," he added.
Zimbabwe's weakening local currency makes it an attractive
destination for those with access to hard currency that can be sold on the
Mugwadi said the illegal immigrants were often involved in
"We have discovered that some of these nationals use forged
travel documents before they find their way into prostitution, human
trafficking, drug peddling or illegal dealings in foreign currency," he told
At least 200 refugees fleeing the restive Great Lakes region of
Central Africa were last month reported to have entered Zimbabwe since July
through the country's porous eastern and northern borders with Mozambique
Earlier this year a controversial police urban clean-up campaign
that swept through poor suburbs of Zimbabwe's cities netted dozens of
foreigners, including some from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo
and Nigeria. - Sapa-DPA
October 30 2005 at 03:15AM
Zimbabwe is fast sliding back into the Dark Ages with municipalities,
hamstrung by a prolonged fuel shortage, now using donkey- and ox-drawn carts
for refuse collection.
This follows the introduction of ox-drawn ambulances early last year
with the help of the United Nations Children's Fund to offset shortages of
The National Railways of Zimbabwe said it might have to re-introduce
Sydney Chiwara, the chief executive officer of the northeastern town
of Shamva, was quoted in various Zimbabwean media reports as saying that the
persistent fuel shortages had left his municipality with no option but to
introduce donkeys and oxen in the refuse collection business.
The municipality's refuse collection trucks and tractors had been
parked without fuel for months.
Other municipalities were expected to follow.
Chiwara said carts pulled by oxen and donkeys were the only available
means left to avoid a health disaster caused from the mounds of rubbish
piling up in his town.
"The donkey and ox-drawn carts have come in handy.
"We do not have any other choice," he said.
Ordinary residents of Shamva are not happy with the latest
refuse-collection method, however.
They complained on state television that the new transport system had
its own shortcomings, such as the dung strewn all over the suburb.
Zimbabwe's debilitating fuel shortages have resulted in garbage being
uncollected for weeks in urban suburbs, a problem that health experts warn
might cause an epidemic, particularly as the rainy season is about to begin.
Nomusa Chideya, Harare's town clerk, told a parliamentary portfolio
committee that the Zimbabwean capital city had been forced to purchase fuel
on the black market after failing to get allocations from the government.
But even the black market has run out of fuel as importers cannot get
foreign currency to meet the demand for imports.
The government's plan to sell fuel in foreign currency has not worked
as government departments, municipalities and the majority of ordinary
citizens simply don't have foreign currency.
When President Robert Mugabe took over as leader of Zimbabwe in 1980,
some of the hospitals that are now using ox-drawn ambulances had small
aircraft that they used as ambulances. - Foreign Service
By Tichaona Sibanda
31 October 2005
Unruly Zanu (PF) supporters on Monday stormed the offices of the
Chitungwiza Town Council and barred the Mayor, Misheck Shoko from entering
Fearing for his life, the Mayor was driven to a safe location.
Busloads of ruling party supporters were ferried from as far as Harare to
come and demonstrate against the MDC led council.
The MDC MP for Chitungwiza Fidelis Mhashu said the disruptive and
unruly crowd, led by local businessman Christopher Chigumba terrorised
council employees and ransacked offices. All this was done in clear view of
police details who were present.
'You see how the law applies in Zimbabwe. If it's Zanu (PF) they get
permission for demonstrations but when it comes to the opposition, it's a
completely different story altogether', said Mhashu.
Last week, Mayor Shoko told Newsreel from Victoria Falls that a
demonstration had been planned to oust him from office. The losing Zanu (PF)
MP for Zengeza Christopher Chigumba is alleged to be behind it. The
demonstration, according to Mhashu, had the blessing of Local Government
minister Ignatius Chombo who has been trying get rid of Shoko for the better
part of this year.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Tererai Karimakwenda
31 October 2005
Zimbabwean professionals have been fleeing to greener pastures for
years now and as the economic deterioration has continued, students are
already making plans to leave the country. A new survey has revealed that
more than 56% of Zimbabwean final year college and university students are
likely to emigrate within the first six months of completing their studies.
The survey was carried out by the Southern Africa Migration Project,
an independent migration study organisation. It targeted students at
university, technical, commercial and teachers colleges. Seventy per cent of
the students interviewed said they would most likely leave the country
within two years of completing their courses. Only 6% said they did not know
whether they would leave.
The survey also revealed that over a quarter of the students would
have applied or will be in the process of applying for a work permit in
another country even before they finish their courses. As the economic
decline is showing no signs of letting up and the government seems to have
no practical solutions, the students also anticipate a long spell in the
Despite all the negatives associated with Zimbabwe these days, 60% of
the students said they were proud to be citizens of the country, and
seventy-eight per-cent believe they have an obligation to contribute to
national development through sharing their skills and talents. However, they
remain unconvinced by the government's assurance that the economy will
recover any time soon.
Countries in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) are the
leading destination for Zimbabweans with 36% of the immigrants heading
there. Twenty-nine per cent of the Zimbabweans prefer Europe, 29% North
America while a paltry 1% may go to the rest of Africa. The report also
indicated that the country would face an even more serious problem of brain
drain as the economic situation worsens.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Tererai Karimakwenda
31 October 2005
Last week vice president Musika added to his voice to that of reserve
bank chairman Gideon Gono in warning officials who are taking commercial
farms illegally to stop. Musika said that white commercial farmers should
stay and be allowed to produce for the country, and Gono said those defying
these orders were criminals who were destroying the country and should be
prosecuted. But despite this, CIO agents and ministers have taken farms
around the country in the last week.
Last Sunday the deputy minister for information Bright Matonga is
reported to have taken over one of the largest citrus farms in the country.
Matonga forced out Tom Beattie, the white owner of Lions Vlei farm near
Chegutu, about 60km south-west of Harare. Hundreds of farm workers were also
evicted and many have no place to go. The estate was implementing a ZD$7
billion fruit export project with assistance from the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe. According to the Zim online news site, Matonga already owns
Mupandaguta farm in Banket district north of Harare. Matonga told Beattie no
letter of acquisition was necessary since the farm was "state land", then
came and broke the security locks on the gate and started removing the
furniture with help from the police.
The commercial Farmers Union reports that the evictions now seem to be
taking place on productive commercial farms that have crops ready to be
harvested. A CFU official told us the evictions are no longer in Manicaland
alone but are spread countrywide. They are not as violent as they had been
in Manicaland over the last month, but they have been aggressive, immediate
and done in the presence of police officials.
The tragedy is that thousands of farm workers are also losing their
livelihood without warning. Many were born on these farmers and others are
even second generation. They therefore have nowhere else to go with their
families. Furthermore, there is no system in place to protect them since the
courts can no longer entertain cases where farmers are challenging
evictions. Challenges were nullified by the Constitutional amendment #17.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Media Institute of Southern Africa (Windhoek)
October 31, 2005
Posted to the web October 31, 2005
The State has dropped charges against 40 Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe
journalists accused of practicing journalism without accreditation under the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
Eight of the journalists were expected to appear in court on October 12,
2005, to answer charges of contravening Section 83 (1) Chapter 10:27 of the
AIPPA, which deals with practicing journalism without being accredited by
the government-appointed Media and Information Commission (MIC).
ANZ chief executive Samuel Sipepa Nkomo confirmed that the State had
withdrawn charges against the journalists.
ANZ are publishers of the banned "Daily News" and "Daily News on Sunday".
The withdrawal of charges follows the acquittal of "Daily News" journalist
Kelvin Jakachira, who had been facing similar charges.
Jakachira was acquitted on August 31 by Harare magistrate Prisca Chigumba
after she ruled that he had not only applied for accreditation, but had also
complied with the application procedures in terms of the AIPPA.
He had been accused of practicing without accreditation between January and
The offence carries a two year prison term or a fine of Z$400,000 or both a
fine and imprisonment.
Last week the International Organisation for Migration launched a "Safe Journey" campaign in Zimbabwe, with help from some of the country's best-known musicians, to make would-be migrants aware of the dangers involved.
Lecturer Arnold Moyo (not his real name), 31, explained why he currently lives and works illegally in neighbouring Botswana.
I left Zimbabwe in January of this year because I could not get a job.
The year before I had completed a MBA degree at the National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo but still could not find employment.
The reason why I opted to come to Botswana is because they do not require that Zimbabweans have a visa. It is also nearer to Bulawayo - Zimbabwe's second city where I am from.
My journey was easy. I took a bus, public transport, to Francistown in Botswana.
The authorities at the Plumtree border post were fine. They stamped my passport, allowing me to stay for 90 days.
Of course I am now over that.
Within only two weeks I had found a job lecturing at a college here in Francistown.
Generally I cannot complain. I am now earning around 2,000 pula a month through lecturing and various extra part-time jobs.
Sometimes I provide consultancy services for companies. There are also many people studying via distance learning courses here and so I tutor a lot of them.
Viewing the current situation in Zimbabwe, I don't want to go back. But if things changed then I would.
Home is best. It is better to be at home with your relatives and friends.
I am married and we have one son. He is 10-years-old.
I miss them. Especially certain times, like today which is pay day. I wish I was able to take them out and make them happy.
Instead all I can do is send them money, and they really depend on that money now.
I travel home when I can but it is difficult because my days are over now - I am here illegally.
Hitch and bribe
I hitchhike when I return as public transport is too risky.
Thankfully because the policemen are broke I am able to take advantage of the situation and bribe my way. To get through roadblocks I pay 20 pula.
The Botswana border is all right as the guys at the gate are not that tight. It is very easy to bribe your way through. However once I am on the Zimbabwean side I have to jump the fence.
But there are certain areas where no-one checks and so with colleagues we climb over the fence together. We do not go alone.
I stay about a week and then come back the same way.
It is very different here and I would rather be home.
But generally when you look at it, some things are better. One is able to actually plan, to sit down and budget for even up to three months at a time. Prices don't go up.
Being a foreigner in a foreign land though, it worries me. At any time I could be forced to leave. I am always worried about that situation.
I share a room with four others, all Zimbabweans. They are not professionals and take whatever work they can get.
Unfortunately they, like a lot of other Zimbabweans, are subjected to harassment by Botswana citizens.
Often they will work for almost a month. Then just before they are due to be paid someone arrives to check their work permit papers. As they don't have the right papers they then get deported.
This is not fair and it is really a problem. Motswanas are taking advantage.
They are the ones that hire these people, without papers, and then they are the ones that get away without paying for their services when the Zimbabweans are caught and deported.
I think that the people who hire the illegals should pay the fine when and if their workers are deported.
Human rights organisations should address this, and
so raise the eyebrows of the Botswana government.
www.chinaview.cn 2005-10-31 23:08:06
JOHANNESBURG, Oct. 31 (Xinhuanet) -- Southern Africa will be
unable to realize its economic integration plans by 2012 if they fail to
uplift current pace of implementation, a senior South African official
warned on Monday.
The country's Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad said he did not
believe the Southern African Development Community (SADC) program of
economic integration could become a reality "if we continue at the pace we
are doing now."
He made the remarks at a meeting of the South Africa-Mozambique
Joint Permanent Commission for Cooperation in Pretoria, urging the 14-nation
organization to find ways to function better, according to the SAPA news
"For Africa to meet its challenges, we need to strengthen our
institutions," he said.
Pahad's bleak comment echoed previous suspicions if the SADC
countries, some still among the world's poorest nations, can work
successfully towards their common goals, such as the abolition of tariffs
and nontariff barriers by 2008 for free trade within the region.
The timetable for integration also called for the establishment of
an SADC-wide customs union by 2010 and a common market by 2015,and
eventually the adoption of a single currency and central bank by 2016.
Some local economists have already said the feasibility of the
timetable was doubtful, given the distance that some SADC economies would
have to travel to meet the convergence requirements.
They argued that regional integration, such as what happened in
Europe, required member states to achieve convergence targets on inflation,
interest rates, budget deficits, national debt and exchange rates.
But that is absolutely not the picture in southern Africa, they
said, especially when South Africa still contributes 70 percent of the GDP
of the SADC while the inflation rate in Zimbabwe was as high as 380 percent
last year, according to an article on the South African business weekly
Pahad said on Monday that SADC programs were "taking too long to
operationalize," especially in light of a recent United Nations report
painting a bleak picture of the continent.
"Our continent as a whole begins to get poorer than any other
continent, and the conditions of our people today is worse than ten years
ago," he said.
It was critical that the SADC, the New Partnership for Africa's
Development, an initiative endorsed by African leaders for an overall
revitalization of the continent, and the African Union be successful given
current food shortages and growing refugee numbers in Africa, Pahad said.
The SADC countries include Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic
of the Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia,
South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Enditem
Mail and Guardian
Godwin Gandu | Harare
31 October 2005 07:59
Infighting over the Senate elections in Zimbabwe's opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) could scupper President Thabo Mbeki's
plans to broker multi-party talks with the ruling Zanu-PF. At a meeting at
the Union Buildings last week, which MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai refused
to attend, Mbeki impressed on the MDC top brass that a fragmented party
would weaken his political leverage over President Robert Mugabe, who is
desperate to resuscitate his ailing economy.
The extent of Mugabe's concern was revealed in a confidential
report on September 30, in which state security agencies warned that
worsening economic hardships were fast eroding the patience of
long-suffering Zimbabweans. "We must not fool ourselves by believing that
the situation on the ground is normal, because we risk being caught
unawares. People have grown impatient with the government," the report read
Mbeki's rationale, people privy to the Pretoria talks told the
Mail & Guardian, was that Zanu-PF would be less inclined to see the
relevance of engaging "an opposition in turmoil" as part of "conditions to
normalise the situation in Zimbabwe".
Mbeki, flanked by his top aides Frank Chikane and Mojanku Gumbi,
made two telephone calls last Thursday to Tsvangirai in Harare, addressing
him as "Mr President" throughout the conversation. But he could not sway the
opposition leader, who snubbed South Africa's mediation initiative.
Those close to Tsvangirai say he was irked that protocol was not
respected: their invitation to Pretoria was relayed to MDC secretary general
Welshman Ncube, his arch nemesis in the party.
As if to underscore the urgency of Pretoria's efforts to keep
government to government talks on track, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor
Gideon Gono told the diplomatic corps in Harare last week: "We are
negotiating stages. When we are ready, soon, the two countries, the two
governors and finance ministers will make an announcement [regarding a loan
from SA]. The negotiations are taking place outside the realm of the press
because that's how we should conduct our bilateral relations."
Gono confided that the fuel crisis, hurting business, government
and consumers alike, was exacerbated by the depletion of foreign reserves
spent on part payment of its debt to the International Monetary Fund to
avert expulsion from the lending agency.
In his most recent monetary policy statement, the governor
scrapped the currency auction in favour of allowing market forces to dictate
the rate of the Zimbabwean dollar, currently trading at around Z$60 000 to
the greenback. It is anticipated that prices of basic commodities, transport
and fuel, which have skyrocketed, will further increase in the weeks ahead.
Economic commentator Dr Eric Bloch believes that a South African
loan "could help solve the current crisis", that it would take time to
stabilise markets and that Gono's measures are a "positive step towards
Loan conditionality remained a sticking point, said Bloch, but
he insisted that "prescribing conditions that have to do with economic and
political stability" could not be frowned upon as already depressed
Zimbabweans approach yet another grim festive season.
Mugabe has baulked at political conditionality in the past but
his courting of, among others, China, Iran and Libya has not yielded the
desired financial assistance. More compelling would be the distress signals
raised by his security agents, who fear a violent ouster of the 81-year-old
Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)
October 30, 2005
Posted to the web October 31, 2005
THE controversy surrounding John Singh's little known Miss Tourism World has
forced the Zimbabwean government to cancel the event which was scheduled for
February next year, Standardplus can reveal.
The scandal-ridden pageant ended in disarray in February after its director,
Singh, failed to pay contestants and a company that had helped to promote
The government, suffering from a battered international image splashed out
US$2 million to buy the worthless licence to host the pageant which it hoped
would lure back tourists.
The benefits of hosting the pageant are still to be realised. Although
government has not made an announcement over the development, Standardplus
can reveal that the decision was made after it emerged that the country had
not gained anything from the first pageant.
An authoritative source in government said: "There was a heated exchange of
words at a meeting of government officials in which the wisdom of splashing
money in initiatives that do not benefit the country was questioned.
"We gave this man, Singh, US$2 million and he failed to pay contestants.
He did not even give our girl, Oslie Muringai, all that was due to her. In
fact, he only set aside US$100 000 for prizes and we don't know where the
rest of the money vanished to.
"We did everything for him, right from paying for transport and other
expenses and in return US$100 000 was all he could give back! Thanks to The
Standard we established that this man had a lot of controversy around him
and that added weight to the views of some of us who saw him as a swindler."
Singh fled Zimbabwe for London where he is based after Original Black
Entertainment Television (OBTV) took him to court for failing to pay them
for their role in promoting the Miss Tourism World pageant.
OBTV was supposed to receive 10 percent of the US$2million paid to Singh.
Despite a writ of arrest that was issued by the High Court in March, Singh
has been shuttling between London and Harare allegedly in a bid to convince
the government to continue the relationship.
In May Standardplus broke the story that Singh's organisation was a subject
of urgent circulars to all national directors and agents worldwide,
disassociating themselves from his organisation.
On 25 September 2003, Miss World limited, a reputable organisation that runs
Miss World, circulated letters to all licence holderswarning them of Singh.
Part of the letter read: "Mr John Singh does not represent or is no way
connected to Miss World. If you have had any dealings with Mr Singh in the
past, or know of anyone who has, we should be very grateful if you would let
Contacted for comment Karikoga Kaseke, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief
executive officer, confirmed that Miss Tourism World had been shelved.
"Yes, I can confirm that government has arrived at that decision. The reason
being that we wanted to prepare our contestants to be adequately conversant
with aspects of our country before hosting such an event."
Kaseke would neither confirm nor deny that Singh's conduct was the reason
for dropping the pageant.
"I cannot comment on that. I do not have anything to say on that issue. What
I have told you is what I know."
Apart from paying for the licence, the government also forked out billions
of dollars for accommodation, food and travel fares around the country, as
the contestants toured holiday resorts.