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Gono offloads 103 workers

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Constantine Chimakure News Editor
issue date :2005-Nov-24

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has retrenched 103 employees - 20
managerial and 83 non-managerial - in a mega-billion dollar re-alignment
process of the central bank, which started in September.
According to documents in possession of The Daily Mirror, RBZ Governor,
Gideon Gono held a stakeholders' forum on September 23 in the capital on the
re-alignment exercise of the bank and asked staff to indicate whether they
wanted to go on voluntary retrenchment.
Employees who opted to stay were given the opportunity to indicate their
areas of strength and divisions they preferred to work in.
"Under the re-alignment process, a total of 103 staff went on voluntary
retrenchment; 83 non-managerial and 20 managerial and have amicably signed
and received their exit packages," read a document signed by Gono yesterday.
The central bank chief wrote that exit packages for the affected employees
were determined through joint deliberations between management and the
workers' union.
In a letter dated October 17 and addressed to the Ministry of Public
Service, Labour and Social Welfare, the RBZ works council granted approval
to the central bank to retrench the 103 employees.
"Accordingly, the agreed framework was communicated to the Ministry of
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, who duly approved and gave the
green light for the retrenchment on 20 October 2005," Gono wrote.
Preceding this, Gono wrote individual letters on September 22 to over 1 000
employees of the central bank indicating that since his appointment in
December 2003, he had observed "intolerable traits that we must now, and
permanently eradicate through a radical and progressive shift of mindsets."
He accused some staff members of conducting private business during working
hours, a free-rider mentality of indifference, poor time keeping,
discourteous behaviour towards each other and rampant telephone and internet
abuse.
Gono also accused the employees of abusing bank property, unending gossip,
leaking confidential information and engaging in political activities at
work.
"These malpractices are most prevalent among drivers, clerks, secretaries
and some managers and non-managerial staff," the governor wrote.
"Some members of staff believe that since they have been here long enough to
see the institution growing from pre-independence to the post independence
era or through the years, are immune to supervision and immune to
redundancy."
He added that no-one at the central bank was above the need to deliver
inthe areas of inflation reduction; foreign exchange mobilization; financial
sector stability; stable national payment system; local, regional and
international representation; and institutional stability.
Gono then asked every employee to write a three-page document explaining
what he or she were doing, why they failed to perform to expectations and
suggest how to deal with their problems.
"Those tired of working for the bank and for the nation must not hesitate to
indicate in the letter to the governor their wish and desire to be
considered for retrenchment, because nothing short of total commitment to
the bank's mission statement will do in the months ahead beginning 1st
October 2005," the former CBZ chief executive officer added.
In a letter dated October 3 and addressed to staff, Gono said he went
through every letter written by the bank's employees in response to his
September 22 memorandum.
Gono said some employees took the RBZ's re-alignment process "very casually"
and ignored the opportunity to individually market themselves, or simply
abused the platform to write personal letters to the governor by denigrating
the bank's vision, mission and values.
"Others have also demonstrated their apparent sense of indifference by
plagiarising others' letters, word for word, without elevating their own
personal contributions to the realignment process.
"Some, of course, did indicate upfront their desire to take a rest by
leaving the bank, which, as governor, I was obliged to accept, given their
persuasive representations to leave the bank amicably, and in conformity
with the country's labour laws," wrote Gono.


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Cost of ARVs skyrockets

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Health Reporter
issue date :2005-Nov-24

THE cost of locally manufactured (generic) life-prolonging anti-retroviral
drugs (ARVs) has shot up by more than 100 percent from $1,2 million in
September to about $2,5 million with manufacturers saying the increase was
necessitated by the shortage of foreign currency to import raw materials.
Retail Pharmacists Association (RPA) president, Douglas Shonhiwa confirmed
the recent price increases of the first line drug therapy currently used in
Zimbabwe.
The World Health Organisation recommends first line drugs as the initial
therapy for HIV and Aids positive people.
Urban pharmacies are charging generic drugs between $2,1 and $2,5 million,
with Shonhiwa saying the cost adjustments were necessitated by the
increments made by major ARV supplier, Varichem.
The last drug supplies were distributed last week and were exhausted fast
due to high demand, he added.
"ARVs are there in and out, depending on the supplier. When we get these
drugs from the supplier (Varichem), pharmacists put a mark up of 50
percent," said Shonhiwa.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Varichem marketing manager, Christopher
Chitemere attributed the increases to current shortages of foreign currency
to import raw materials needed in manufacturing ARVs.
He said: "As you know, we are facing a big challenge of foreign currency to
procure raw materials needed for manufacturing the drugs."
Chitemere said the shortage had forced them to operate below normal
capacity.
In June, the price of ARVs was $200 000 before shooting up to $400 000 the
following month.
In August the drugs went up to $800 000 and in September, to $1,2 million.
Due to the drug shortages, most people on Anti-retroviral Therapy have
switched from their traditional drugs to other alternatives.
Prominent Aids activist, Tendayi Westerhof said: "There is a huge shortage
of first line drugs such that we have been forced to switch to alternatives
which are very expensive."
Zimbabwe is using Stalanev as the first line drug combination, but most
people living with HIV and Aids have since resorted to using an alternative
drug, Trimune.
Other imported drugs cost an average $6 million for a month-long course.
Zimbabwe Activists for HIV and Aids (ZAHA) coordinator, Sostain Moyo blamed
the government for lack of commitment in caring for people living with HIV
and Aids.
"The theme for this year's World Aids Day (to be commemorated on 1 December)
is 'Stop Aids, Keep the Promise', but government is running away from that
promise (of providing affordable and accessible treatment)," Moyo said.
"They are acting as if the country is not facing foreign currency shortages
which are impacting heavily on production of generic drugs. They are acting
as if all is normal," he added.
The head of the Aids and Tuberculosis Unit in the Ministry of Health and
Child Welfare, Owen Mugurungi, said negotiations between the ministry and
Unicef to assist in procuring ARVs were almost complete.
"We hope that starting this coming month (December), we will start receiving
drugs under Unicef," he said.
According to the health ministry, at least 300 000 people living with HIV
and Aids are in urgent need of ARVs, but cannot access the drugs from public
health institutions due to limited supplies.


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Union threatens strike

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Oswelled Ureke
issue date :2005-Nov-24

THE Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has threatened that its
members would go on strike in January if the Finance Minister Herbert
Murerwa does not cater for an 836 percent salary increment in the 2006
national budget.
Murerwa is expected to announce the national budget on December 1.
PTUZ secretary-general, Raymond Majongwe, said teachers should be paid a
gross monthly salary of $24 million, $5 million transport allowance and $4,5
million for housing.
"By February 2005 most teachers salaries would not last a week. Many hoped
that we would get relief through a cost of living adjustment in July 2005,
but this was not to be", Majongwe said.
He added that presently teachers were earning salaries below the poverty
datum line (PDL) currently pegged at about $12 million.
Majongwe said a study by the union projected that the PDL for January 2006
would be $24 million.
Said Majongwe: "Taking this into account we are therefore, asking for an 836
percent increase in teachers' salaries for 2006. We are urging the Minister
of Finance to consider this when making his 2006 budget allocations".
In his supplementary budget in August, Murerwa deferred the cost of living
adjustment to civil servants until January owing to financial constraints.
Majongwe also added that the government should review salaries quarterly
otherwise teachers would next year withdraw their services indefinitely or
work hours commensurate with their salaries.
He said teachers would disregard their dress code because of lack of finance
while at the same time report for duty only when one has transport money.
According to figures provided by the PTUZ, a graduate teacher earns a gross
monthly salary of about $2 million plus transport and housing allowances of
$560 000 and $300 000 respectively.
The highest earning teacher grosses about $4,5 million plus transport and
housing allowances of $900 000 and $300 000 respectively.
The salaries however, differ marginally depending on the number of years
each teacher served. Efforts to get a comment from the Minister of
Education, Sport and Culture, Aeneas Chigwedere yesterday on the threats
were in vain, but the historian recently said government was working towards
improving teachers' salaries and conditions of service.


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Voting for opposition a futile exercise: Shamu

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Nov-24

ZANU PF spokesperson for elections, Webster Shamu, yesterday said voting for
the opposition in the Senatorial elections scheduled for Saturday was a
futile exercise given that the ruling party already had 19 unopposed seats
in the bag.
In a statement, Shamu - who is also the Minister of State responsible for
Policy Implementation in the Office of the President and Cabinet said:
"Voters go to the polls being fully aware that Zanu PF has already secured
19 Senatorial seats that the party has won unopposed.
It is therefore only logical for all fair minded and patriotic Zimbabweans
to vote for the winning team in the remaining seats." The minister added
that service delivery in councils and constituencies run by the MDC have
deteriorated due to inept leadership.
"Voting for the opposition would be a futile exercise. The experiences we
have had in some councils run by the opposition should be a thing of the
past. Services deteriorated during their tenure of office. Their councillors
and MPs failed to work with the government in implementing development
programmes," Shamu said.
He added that legislators in the upper and lower house would work together
for the good of the nation.
"Therefore in voting for Zanu PF, the people will have demonstrated the
importance of a united party untainted by internal bickerings, squabbles,
power struggles and tribalism," he said in apparent reference to divisions
that have split the MDC into two groups, one in favour of participation and
the other against the polls.
Shamu added that a landslide victory for Zanu PF would consolidate the
implementation of government programmes at both local and national levels.
The MDC fielded 26 candidates after the party was rocked by factionalism a
month ago
over participation in the Senate polls.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai leads a camp opposed to the polls, while
secretary general Welshman Ncube commands a faction running in the election.


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Dell slams 'Nazi' tactics

FinGaz

Nelson Banya News Editor

UNITED States ambassador Christopher Dell has accused the Zimbabwe
government of employing Nazi tactics in trying to deflect criticism of the
savage economic crisis that has gripped the once prosperous southern African
nation since 2000.

In comments that will compound tensions that have reached fever pitch
between the US and Zimbabwean governments following Dell's widely publicised
speech criticising President Robert Mugabe's management of the economy, the
ambassador added that his threatened expulsion would be a "misguided
decision".

Dell revealed that his speech, in which he blamed Zimbabwe's economic
malaise on misrule and official corruption rather than a series of droughts
and economic sanctions as frequently stated by the government, had been
prompted by "scurrilous" attacks on the US government at various fora by
Zimbabwean officials, led by President Mugabe.

President Mugabe's speech at the 60th anniversary summit of the Food and
Agricultural Organisation in Rome last October, in which he likened US
president George Bush and his British ally Tony Blair to second world war
allies Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, was the final straw, Dell said.

"We felt the time had come for us to respond to the issues raised by the
government of Zimbabwe, the most recent being the remarks by the president
in Rome . . . the scurrilous attacks made in Rome on the US president by the
head of state. This forced us, eventually, to respond. That's the first time
I've spoken publicly on the situation here since my arrival just over a year
ago," said Dell just before his departure for consultations with the US
government a fortnight ago.

"Conveniently, the government has accused me of agitating for regime change.
As a matter of fact, not once have I used that phrase.you can do a
lexus/nexus check on that. But it's typical, isn't it? We are, however,
concerned about the constant attempts to internationalise an internal
matter. The government has turned the crisis into a bilateral issue, but
unfortunately, no one is fooled by this.

"It is interesting that the government is using tactics used in Nazi
Germany, where you accuse another of doing exactly what you are doing as a
distraction," Dell said.
Asked what would happen should the government follow through on its threats
to expel him, Dell said such a move would further ostracise Zimbabwe in the
global community.

"That would be another attempt to distract the people from the real causes
of the economic crisis. A misguided decision like that would further isolate
Zimbabwe.

"In any case, it would be mildly disruptive to me personally if I have to
leave Zimbabwe. Expelling this ambassador of the United States will not
solve anything. It is unfortunate that they have decided to smear the
messenger as a means of avoiding the message."
Turning to the contentious issue of sanctions, Dell conceded that while the
sanctions were targeted at "officials helping to undermine democracy" they
had the effect of bringing a sanctions curse on the country as a whole. He
gave the example of US software giant Microsoft, which had refused to supply
a Zimbabwean firm, citing sanctions.

"There are such instances, but we are only too happy to clear the
misconceptions when they arise," Dell said. He added that more damage
wascaused by the government's policies, especially regarding the exchange
rate and foreign currency regime, which had cost a lot of Zimbabwean firms
overseas markets.

When it was put to him that international financiers, such as the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) - in which the US wields immense
influence - were precluded from approving packages for Zimbabwe, the
ambassador said the sanctions worked to block aid "notionally speaking"
because the Fund had set rules of engagement which the Harare authorities
had failed to adhere to, anyway.

Dell also repeated his criticism of the land reform programme, saying the US
government had advanced a total of US$300 million in food assistance since
2002 as a result of an improperly executed land redistribution programme.

"Our problem with land reforms here is the manner in which they are being
carried out. New injustices have been created in trying to solve an
injustice. A massive land grab has been conducted to the disadvantage of the
black African population. A million farm workers have been left stranded,"
Dell said.

He, however, said he remained optimistic that relations between the US and
Zimbabwe could improve. He said he had seen relations between his government
and Angola, where he served as ambassador during that country's transition
before being reassigned to Zimbabwe, improving significantly.

"We do not want to see Zimbabwe fail, we want it to succeed. We do have
beliefs and opinions on what should be done, but I hope we can engage in a
real discussion . . . we have a lot to offer, but if the government doesn't
require our input, we respect that choice, our opinions on that issue should
not be taken as an agenda for regime change and these ad hominem attacks do
not help anybody.

"Zimbabwe has fantastic people with skills and the infrastructure is good,
but the rate of decline in recent years is scary."


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Siwela calls on Mugabe to heed call for federation

FinGaz

Bulawayo Bureau Chief

ZAPU-Federal Party leader Paul Siwela has called on President Robert Mugabe
not to brush aside calls for a separate state from Matabeleland because
people from the region genuinely feel that his government is not serving
them.

Siwela, whose party advocates a federal system of government which would
make each region autonomous, said the voting patterns in the country have
clearly indicated that the people of Matabeleland have never voted for
President Mugabe, so he should listen to their concerns instead of brushing
them off.

President Mugabe said at the weekend Zimbabwe would never be partitioned
into different entities and those dreaming of dividing the country should
forget about it.

He was responding to reports that Movement for Democratic Change
vice-president Gibson Sibanda had called for a separate Ndebele state.
Sibanda has denied ever making such a statement.
Siwela said it was immaterial whether Sibanda had made the statement or not.
He said what was important was that President Mugabe should investigate
whether such feelings existed or not.
He said President Mugabe should talk to the genuine leaders of Matabeleland
and not his cronies in ZANU PF.

"The leaders of Matabeleland are definitely not in ZANU PF. Those in ZANU PF
have been disowned by the people. He should not continue to talk to his
'poodles' in ZANU PF because they will tell him what he wants to hear and
not what the people feel," Siwela said.

He said people from Matabeleland felt that President Mugabe was ignoring
them and their needs because people from the region were not being given key
posts in government such as heads of parastatals, ministers of key
portfolios like foreign affairs or intelligence, and key ambassadorial posts
like in the United Kingdom or United States.


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Sipepa Nkomo fired

FinGaz

Zhean Gwaze Staff Reporter

ASSOCIATED Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), the publishers of the dormant Daily
News and Daily News on Sunday, fired its chief executive Sam Sipepa Nkomo.

Speculation was rife this week in the market that Nkomo had been fired for
his involvement in politics at a time when the publishing group was fighting
to bring its two titles back on the streets. Nkomo, ANZ chief executive
officer since 2002, is the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
candidate for the Tsholotsho-Hwange-Lupane constituencies in Saturday's
senate elections.

However, ANZ board chairman Professor Norman Nyazema, who announced Nkomo's
exit, insisted he had resigned.
"The board of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, publishers of the Daily
News and Daily News on Sunday, accept with regret the immediate resignation
of its chief executive officer, Mr Samuel Sipepa Nkomo.

"Mr Nkomo has made tremendous contributions to ANZ, including during this
current difficult period when we can't publish our titles because of AIPPA.
On behalf of my colleagues on the board, I want to thank him heartily for
his service to the company and wish him well going into the future," Nyazema
said.

But sources close to the developments alleged that Nkomo's exit was "not
amicable, as the ANZ board members had felt that it would not be proper for
one to be the chief executive of an independent paper and at the same time
be a senator for the opposition party." The sources said it was felt that as
CEO of the ANZ Nkomo had made "a lot of strategic errors that the company
has paid for heavily", an apparent reference to the company's failure to
register as required by the country's widely condemned media laws.

Under Nkomo, the ANZ refused to register with the Media and Information
Commission (MIC) pending the outcome of its challenge in the Supreme Court
of the constitutionality of some provisions of the draconian Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the law that created the MIC and
requires journalists and media houses to register with the commission.
The publishing group has fought its case in the courts since the closures in
2003 and an application is currently before the Administrative Court
challenging the MIC's decision to shut down its two titles after the Supreme
Court ruled that they were operating "outside the law" by refusing to
register with the MIC.

Nyazema, however, maintained yesterday that it was Nkomo who had tendered in
his resignation.
"I have respect for Nkomo. He has realised that he cannot be in a publishing
house which is independent if he wants to pursue a political career. There
is no question of us firing him because we are sensitive to a person's
sensibilities," Nyazema said.

Nkomo, brother to Speaker of Parliament and ZANU PF national chairman John
Nkomo, will battle it out with Josephine Moyo of ZANU PF in Saturday's
Senatorial elections.

The elections for the upper house of parliament scheduled for this weekend
have caused serious divisions in the MDC, which have left party president
Morgan Tsvangirai heading an anti-senate faction against the
pro-participation faction led by the party's vice president, Gibson Sibanda
and secretary general Welshman Ncube.
A trenchant critic of President Robert Mugabe and his government, The Daily
News was labelled an enemy of the state particularly by former Information
and Publicity Minister Jonathan Moyo, who crafted AIPPA.
Efforts to get a comment from Nkomo, who is on the campaign trail, were
fruitless as he was not reachable and a secretary at the publishing group
said he would not be reachable for the next two weeks.


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Asbestos industry:10 000 jobs on the line

FinGaz

Ruramai Mutizwa Staff Reporter

ENVIRONMENTAL regulations proscribing the importation of asbestos products
into South Africa, announced recently by the authorities in Pretoria, have
raised the spectre of massive job losses, causing panic in the local
industry.

The regulations, gazetted on November 4, seek to ban the importation of
asbestos products into South Africa, except for purposes of scientific
study.

"No person may import asbestos or asbestos containing materials to the
Republic, or export asbestos or asbestos containing materials from the
Republic, unless the purpose of such import or export is solely for use in
analysis or research which is not intended to develop a new use for asbestos
or asbestos containing material," the regulations read.

However, the regulations do not bar asbestos entering South Africa in
transit.Concerned parties have up to 60 days to make submissions to the
South African authorities on the proposed regulations, which should come
into force early next year.
The Zimbabwe National Chrysotile Taskforce (ZNCTF) has expressed concern
over the new asbestos regulations saying they not only fear significant job
losses in both Zimbabwe and South Africa but also losses in foreign currency
inflows for local companies involved in the asbestos industry.
NCTF chairman and industry and international trade permanent secretary
Christian Katsande outlined the anticipated impact on the local industry and
the anticipated constraints it will further impose on the already sickly
Zimbabwean economy.

"The move by the South African government would adversely impact on the
local industry which employs several thousands of people and relies on the
foreign currency earnings from the exports to the region, including South
Africa." Katsande pointed out.

An estimated 10 000 Zimbabweans are employed in the chrysotile mines and
downstream industries. Chrysotile used in the production of fibre cement
sheets, irrigation and water reticulation pipes, break pads and
gaskets-contributes more than US$60 million annually to the national fiscus
through exports.

Katsande further added, "the taskforce is working closely with government in
order to engage their counterparts on the new legislation with a view to
take into account the Zimbabwean position."
The proposed regulations would prohibit any importation, use or contact with
materials containing asbestos. Any mixture, product, component or material
to which asbestos has been added in a concentration of one percent or more
by weight or area would be proscribed.

ZNCTF said it was concerned by the lack of distinction between the harmful
amphibole types that South African companies used to mine, from the
chrysotile mined in Zimbabwe, which has scientifically been shownto pose no
health hazard if used responsibly.

"Our major concern as the taskforce is that the South Africans, in their new
regulations do not make a clear distinction between the amphibole types and
chrysotile. This is our main worry and we hope they will give us an
opportunity to submit our position and make the necessary amendments."
Katsande said.

Amphibole types, blue and brown in colour, have been proved to cause
respiratory related diseases resulting in the worldwide ban. The experience
in mining the amphibole type have influenced the implementation of these
regulations in South Africa.


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Tsholotsho ghost haunts ZANU PF

FinGaz

Nelson Banya News Editor

THE ghost of the infamous Tsholotsho indaba continues to stalk the ruling
ZANU PF, with revelations that embittered party stalwarts in Masvingo, who
were culled following the tryst, are actively promoting independent
candidates in the province ahead of this weekend's senate elections.

Suspended ZANU PF provincial chairman Daniel Shumba and Josaya Hungwe, the
former provincial governor dropped by President Robert Mugabe as part of a
nationwide purge of what the inner circle in the ruling party considers a
dissident network that gathered in Tsholotsho last November to hatch a plan
that would block Joice Mujuru's ascendancy to the vice presidency, have been
accused of backing independent candidates Last Chiondengwa and Anthony
Kundishora in the Saturday poll.

A total of five independent candidates are in the race for senate seats.

Chiondengwa is pitted against ZANU PF's Samuel Mumbengegwi in the
Chivi-Mwenezi constituency, while Kundishora will contest against ZANU PF's
Dzikamai Mavhaire and Hilda Sibanda, who is standing on a disputed MDC
ticket, in Masvingo.
Ruling party sources told The Financial Gazette this week that there were
fears, "at the highest levels" that the independent candidates were testing
the waters ahead of the launch of Jonathan Moyo's United People's Movement
(UPM), which is expected to attract disgruntled ruling party officials.
Kundishora's posters, which are emblazoned with the slogan: "Solid as a
rock" have raised suspicion and consternation within the ruling party. The
rock is the UPM's official symbol.
Indeed, this week alone, both President Mugabe and Vice President Joseph
Msika, who addressed rallies in the province, warned party members against
supporting the independents.

Msika threatened Shumba with expulsion at a rally in Gutu at the weekend.
"The Tsholotsho meeting was dirty and unconstitutional and that is why we
suspended the chairmen but if they continue doing so we will expel them from
the party," Msika said, adding that party officials were aware of "some
people in the party who were clandestinely paying money and sponsoring
independent candidates and providing them with vehicles."

Officials close to developments revealed this week that President Mugabe and
Vice President Msika were briefed, prior to the campaign rallies, that
Shumba and Hungwe were actively supporting independent candidates. The
sources said the provincial leadership had alleged that Shumba laid out
vehicles for the independents' campaign.

"The party leadership here is in a quandary, because there is a real threat
of defeat at the hands of the independents. Remember Mumbengegwi could not
win the party primaries for the parliamentary elections in March and his
nemesis, Hungwe, who masterminded his defeat back then, still holds sway in
Chivi. Even his allies do not seem to have confidence in his ability to win
there, even with the anticipated low turnout.

"Similar fears have been expressed over Masvingo - which includes three
constituencies - Masvingo Central, which is in opposition hands, Masvingo
North, where Stan Mudenge - a Hungwe ally, has asserted himself and Masvingo
South, where Walter Mzembi might deliver support to Mavhaire. But even
there, there is the Charumbira factor, which could work against Mavhaire.
Old alliances are proving hard to bury here," the source said.
In pointed remarks, Msika also warned traditional chiefs - who have actively
supported ZANU PF in the past - against meddling in politics over the
weekend. Sources said the comments were targeted at Fortune Charumbira.

The latest developments could seal the fate of Shumba's TeleAccess project,
which has been stalled since it was licenced following no small degree of
controversy in 2003.
There have been indications recently that the government was moving to
revoke the terrestrial telephony licence.


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Politics likely to spoil Murerwa's budget

FinGaz

Charles Rukuni Byo Bureau Chief

BULAWAYO - Zimbabweans are now used to unfulfilled promises. But they are
still waiting for the 2006 national budget due to be unveiled next week with
keen interest.

No one will be expecting any miracles. But the pep talk will be necessary to
keep them going.
Though hailed as the year of investment, 2005 has been one of the worst
years for most Zimbabweans.

Inflation, which was down to 123 percent at one time, is now over 400
percent and could still go up.
Fuel that was readily available during the first quarter is nowhere to be
found. When available it costs up to five times the official price.

The local currency which was trading at just over $5 000 to the greenback is
now trading at over $60 000 on the official market. To make things worse,
there is now an acute food shortage.
An economic bulletin on political risk and macroeconomic prospects in
Southern Africa has even suggested that Zimbabwe is defying the law of
gravity.

"It is difficult to comprehend how the economy has not totally collapsed by
now," the bulletin says. "Every conventional measure of economic performance
is dire, and has been for several years, and living standards have regressed
to levels not seen since independence in 1980."
The bulletin says despite seven years of successive negative growth, the
business environment continues to deteriorate and there are no signs that
the government intends to carry out reforms needed to win international
backing.

It says the situation is so bad that it is now increasingly getting
difficult to actually pinpoint what exactly constitutes the Zimbabwean
economy.

Zimbabwe's leaders have demonstrated that they have little regard for the
international community with President Robert Mugabe using every opportunity
he gets at international platforms to bash British Prime Minister Tony Blair
and United States President George W. Bush and urging Zimbabweans to look
East.

Though the "Look East" policy is said to be paying off, there is nothing to
show for it to the ordinary Zimbabwean whose average wage is now less than a
quarter of the poverty datum line.
Political commentator John Makumbe said the Look East policy was not going
to pay off because all the East was interested in was in selling goods to
Zimbabwe and getting essential raw materials.
Zimbabwe was not likely to get any balance of payments support which was
critical for the country to build up its foreign currency reserves and thus
solve its three major problems, the shortages of foreign currency, fuel and
food.

Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president Luxon Zembe said Finance
Minister Herbert Murerwa was likely to come up with a good budget but this
was likely to be derailed by politics.
"Politicians have let us down because some of them are benefiting from the
present crisis. Look at the cars they are driving. They are likely to resist
any change for the better and look at anybody who wants to change things as
someone who wants to disadvantage them," Zembe said.
The business sector is looking forward to a budget that will complement
central bank governor Gideon Gono's monetary policy and remove market
distortions such as price controls. They are also looking forward to a
fiscal policy that will cut government expenditure and promote real
investment.

Consumers on the other hand hope for an increase in the tax-free threshold
from the current $1.5 million. The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions wanted
the threshold pushed up to $9.6 million, which was the poverty datum line at
the time but this has since short up to nearly $12 million.
Bulawayo business consultant, Eric Bloch, suggested that the threshold be
set at a minimum of $6 million though $8 million would be more just.
Consumers will also be looking forward to a reduction of value added tax
which was recently raised to 17.5 percent. But because of its appetite for
spending without alternative sources of revenue apart from taxing the
dwindling tax base, Murerwa would be hard pressed.


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The election that never was

FinGaz

Rangarirai Mberi Senior Reporter

APART from the oddball characters that ZTV has been carting onto television
screens every night, there is little to suggest that Zimbabwe is only two
days away from an election.

For those on the campaign trail, this senatorial election has proved to be a
hard sell to an electorate that has been dragged to the polls at least six
times in the past nine years - including the 2000 constitutional referendum.
It was always going to be difficult to sell this pointless election to an
increasingly turned off electorate, the majority of which wonders what on
earth a senate is anyhow. So candidates have often found themselves having
first to explain to bemused voters what a senate is, before going into the
usual "vote for me" drivel.
There are no new campaign issues to excite poll-weary voters; ZANU PF is off
defending this glorious country from those stubborn Brits as usual, a
faction of the opposition MDC is "defending its political space", while
Morgan Tsvangirai is selling a boycott and batting for "democratic
resistance" instead.
The state daily, The Herald, has tried to whip up public interest for this
yawn of an election, this week splashing the pictures of ZANU PF's top three
honchos, the President and his two deputies. They were star attractions of a
vibrant campaign for this crucial poll, it was said. Hardly.
With virtually no real opposition to fight this time, even the President's
legendary fire-in-the-belly speeches sound more like the self-encouraging
huff and puff of a shadow boxer.
It's even worse on the MDC side, where the only attraction is watching whole
grown ups - some even with authentic university degrees - childishly calling
each other names.
Even the usually excitable observer troops are bored stiff. The SADC
observer lot only got in Monday, raising none of the interest they did the
last time they came to watch poor Zimbabweans being dragged to yet another
election in March.
It is even worse for journalists. There is very little "action", if any. In
fact, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) had to cut its accreditation
fees early this week. More or less like those salesmen outside Indian
stores, shouting themselves hoarse at uninterested passers-by, "mite-ngo
yadzikiswa (prices lowered!)".
Perhaps things will turn in 2008, when ZANU PF will probably have a new
candidate. Until then, the only memory of this boring election is of a
candidate for freak-show party ZIYA, who wants to rename the Midlands
"Pakati" and Matabeleland "Nyama".


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140 tonnes wheat lost to early rains

FinGaz

Audrey Chitsika Staff Reporter

AN estimated 140 tonnes of unharvested wheat has been lost due to the early
rains which fell across the country over the past fortnight, further
compounding the shortage of the vital grain in the country.

Zimbabwe, which requires about 420 000 metric tonnes of wheat annually, has
seen production plummet since the onset of controversial land reforms in
2000. A further decline has been projected for the current season, raising
the spectre of worse flour shortages.

The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) said the wheat was destroyed in
the fields since most farmers had not harvested their crop due to lack of
fuel and finance to pay harvesters.
"The farmers do not have the money to pay for the harvesters and this led to
their crop that was still in the fields being destroyed by rain," ZCFU said.
The wheat farmers are facing challenges in the form of a protracted fuel
shortage, while the Grain Marketing Board - the sole purchaser of the
grain - has failed to pay the farmers on time, affecting their cash flows.

The ZCFU said talks between the government and farmers' unions, which could
possibly pave way for millers to purchase directly from the producers, are
still underway. The farmers have also been lobbying for a review of the
wheat producer price from the current $6.9 million per tonne.
"Ministry officials have contacted the union about the possibility of
reviewing the wheat price and discussed the non-payment of wheat by the GMB.
They requested our wheat production models, which we gladly handed over,
hoping this will speed up the process.
"One of the discussion points taking place is whether to allow millers to
purchase directly from the producers," the ZCFU said.

The central bank has put in place a Wheat Delivery Incentive Scheme to spur
wheat deliveries in recognition of the high costs incurred by the farmers in
growing wheat during the 2005 season.
Under this scheme, which will run until December 31 2005, farmers will be
paid a $3 million bonus for each tonne of wheat delivered, over and above
the current producer price of $6.9 million paid by GMB.


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We still own Zupco: Zimre

FinGaz

Nelson Banya News Editor

THE Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco), which this week reported a
surprise $117 billion profit, paid a $25 billion dividend to the state and
availed a $1.5 billion largesse to ZANU PF, remains at the centre of an
ownership dispute between the government, which claims 100 percent control,
and Zimre Holdings.

Following Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo's revelation that Zupco
had "severed its marriage with Zimre Holdings" a senior ZHL official told
The Financial Gazette this week that the company owed 49 percent of Zupco
and nothing had changed.
"We still own our 49 percent and that position hasn't changed," the ZHL
official said.
Asked if ZHL had received any dividend arising from its interest in Zupco,
the official expressed surprise, saying the company's knowledge of the
passenger transport firm's performance did not extend beyond weekend state
media reports.
"We are still in negotiations over the valuation of our investment. Even if
that is zero, we still need that valuation done because there has to be a
paper trail. We need something to show our shareholders. There has to be
something because when we went in, some evaluation had to be done. In any
case, which serious investor would just "opt out" of an investment . . .
just walk away?
"We have engaged them and it is not true to say we have opted out of the
business just like that," the official said.
In a statement posted with results for the year to December 2004, ZHL
chairman Ben Khumalo reported that the group was considering divesting from
Zupco and the Zimbabwe Development Bank, in which ZHL held 17.27 percent. It
is understood that valuation of ZHL's investment has stalled the disposal of
its stake.
Government, on the other hand, has claimed total control of Zupco and gone
on to significantly recapitalise the operation after years of decline. A
recent spate of bus purchases, which were also mired in controversy, has
seen Zupco, with the active assistance of government, acquiring almost 300
buses to bring current fleet levels to over 400.
Although news of Zupco's phenomenal results took the market by surprise,
they are in no small measure due to the government's intervention. Apart
from regularly injecting funds for the purchase of coaches and taking over
the company's debts, state intervention in the metro routes gave Zupco an
edge over competition, which has been barred from the inner city routes.
More than any other public transport operator, Zupco has had fewer problems
associated with the chronic fuel shortage.
Only last month, government introduced a Zupco debt assumption Bill to give
the state the authority to take over the bus company's loan arising from a
loan agreement entered into with Metropolitan Bank in 2002. Metropolitan
Bank played a key role in the purchase of 48 luxury coaches from Scania
South Africa, payment for which proved to be a long drawn and controversial
affair.


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What cheek!

FinGaz

Comment

IT has often been said that when a system crumbles, the least
anyone remembers are the rights of the common people even though it is the
attitude towards these people that should be the criterion used to judge how
moral or immoral a policy is.

And so it has come to pass in Harare where the common ruck of
folk living in Budiriro, Mbare, Glen View, Mabvuku and Tafara - which among
others have been reduced to sewage farms - are sitting on a powder keg.

Things have fallen apart in the capital city which, to all
intents and purposes, is now a temple on burst sewers. Healthwise Harare is,
for want of a better expression, like a grenade whose safety pin has been
removed. The city is simply sailing a little too close to the wind.

What with rivers of raw sewage spilling from antiquated drainage
and sewerage facilities, biting shortages of piped water and mountains of
uncollected refuse! Residents have had to swat at disease-carrying flies
that buzz around them and their meals. Already, people are reportedly
dropping like flies from diseases such as dysentery and cholera, an issue
over which the city fathers wanted the veil drawn. The city has indeed been
plunged into unprecedented crisis mainly due to ZANU PF's brutal lust for
control, lack of forward planning and upside-down priorities which saw the
commissioners recently going on a multi-billion junket to Russia instead of
using the money to buy close to 30 000 litres of fuel for refuse collection.

Yet Leslie Gwindi, a beneficiary of ZANU PF's deeply rooted
political patronage system, who speaks on behalf of the deadwood at Town
House, thinks that this is inconsequential if his remarks as reported over
the weekend are anything to go by. According to Gwindi, who is hardly free
of political strings and partisan obligations, the hard-pressed ratepayers,
frustrated by the ineptitude of the city fathers should continue to turn
their pockets inside-out for services the municipality is failing to
provide. Talk of asking financially stretched and ever short-changed
residents to continue pouring their hard-earned cash into a black hole!

"It is a legal obligation that we continue collecting money for
refuse collection and when everything normalises, we can resume collecting
refuse. We will disconnect anybody with an outstanding bill so people should
just pay up their bills," said the excitable Gwindi, who is so pleased and
overwhelmed by the job which ZANU PF, under its expansive jobs-for-the-boys
policy, made sure he got at the city council that he behaves more like a
town tart that has married the mayor.
What a nerve! And what an irony? Isn't it also a legal
requirement that Council should provide these services for which its
residents are paying through the nose? Why should residents pay for
something that is non-existent? Gwindi, who we doubt fully appreciates the
gravity of the crisis in Harare, has really put his foot in it this time
with his read-my-lips but nauseating utterances. This is one of the most
irresponsible statements ever made by a public officer. Coming against a
backcloth of the disastrous state of the service delivery system and the
understandable chorus of angry voices over the depressing situation, Gwindi's
remarks are morally repulsive, insensitive and a disgrace to the so-called
commissioners running the affairs of the city of Harare, who are in fact a
deadweight on the municipality.

Indeed, can anyone ever imagine any kind of worse arrogance,
profound contempt and disdain for the residents? Could there be more telling
evidence that the government-imposed commissioners at the City of Harare are
driven by bloated self-interests?
Insulting though they might be, Gwindi's remarks are as
mysterious to us as a blocked toilet is to a plumber. They have a familiar
ring that has always betrayed ZANU PF's arrogance and contempt for the
people. Zimbabwe is too familiar with ruling party rhetoricians who - with
the enthusiasm of a newly-enrolled boy scout demonstrating his knot-tying
skills to his indulgent parents - are desperate to show that they are
"amadoda sibili" (men with spine).

But instead of demonstrating that they are spark plugs, making
gaffes has become as normal a mode of progression for them as it is natural
for a crab to walk sideways.
Haven't we heard similar contemptuous statements from the likes
of; Aeneas Chigwedere, who is currently hammering the last nail into the
coffin of what was once quality education in a country which acknowledges
that its future depends on the scholastic development of its children;
Joseph Made who has been so economic with the truth as regards the state of
the country's food security situation that he can be labelled a liar without
fear of libel; the pictorial politician, Didymus Mutasa who believes that
there is poor decision-making in government because ordinary people are not
advising the country's know-all ministers and of course the deposed Minister
of Industry and International Trade, Samuel Mumbengegwi who, clearly
incapable of being serious, claimed last year that Zimbabwe was doing just
"fine" in isolation. The list is as long as the original snake.


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AirZim can stuff their fares

FinGaz

EDITOR - Air Zimbabwe can stuff their new airfares. No normal person would
be crazy enough to pay more than 1 000 for travelling on their non-reliable
chicken-bus planes without food. At least not me.

Chido
United Kingdom


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For how long will Zim duck scrutiny?

FinGaz

Mavis Makuni Own Correspondent

Some leaders in Africa have become adept at cultivating what can best be
described as "Jekyll and Hyde" profiles in that they seek to portray
themselves as being radical and progressive on the international scene while
they preside over repressive regimes at home.

There are many examples of leaders who ignore the simple adage that charity
begins at home and resort to this hypocritical strategy of radicalism abroad
and tyranny at home.
What should be done to ensure that such leaders are held to account for
their total record should perhaps form part of the agenda of the meeting of
the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) to be held in
Banjul, the Gambian capital, this week.
The meeting, which the government pulled out of hosting at the last minute,
after initially agreeing that Zimbabwe would be the venue, takes place
against a backdrop of continuing reports of human rights abuses in a number
of countries.
Trouble sports include Sudan, where killings and human rights abuses
continue in the Western Darfur region, Northern Uganda where the Lords
Resistance Army has wreaked havoc for many years and Liberia, which elected
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, as its new president at the beginning of this month
after many years of civil war.
Jonhson-Sirleaf's administration will be responsible for ensuring that those
responsible for human rights abuses during the civil war are brought to
book. Johnson-Sirleaf, a staunch human rights advocate, has insisted that
one of the requirements those aspiring for posts in her government must meet
is protecting and having regard for human rights..
Zimbabwe is expected to be taken to task over its human rights record. The
government is reported to have submitted a report to the commission which
glosses over most issues for which it has been criticised both at home and
internationally.
The most recent is its controversial Operation Murambatsvina which has been
condemned both at home and internationally and on which United Nations
Special Envoy, Anna Tibaijuka wrote a scathing report. The government's
report is in sharp contrast to one submitted by civic organizations, which
tells it like it is.
Zimbabwe has clashed with the ACHPR and another United Nations agency, the
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, in the past for failing to
fulfill its obligations. When an executive summary of a report prepared by
ACHPR was due to be tabled in July last year, then Foreign Minister Stan
Mudege said Zimbabwe had not been given an opportunity to respond.
The report, which condemned the government's human rights record, was
compiled by an ACHPR delegation headed by Jainaba Johm of Gambia. The
delegation undertook a fact finding mission to Zimbabwe in 2000.
The reason given for Zimbabwe not having had enough time to respond was that
the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, to which the
documents were inadvertently sent, had not re-directed them to the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs.
The scene was replayed in October last year, when once again Zimbabwe
claimed not to have had prior sight of a report ahead of a meeting of the
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa.
The UNECA report was on Zimbabwe's governance record and was one of 28
commissioned by the agency to evaluate 'progress towards good governance in
Africa.'
The explanations given by the government for not responding to the report
were less than convincing particulary because the Southern Africa Political
and Economic Series Trust, which had compiled the report, insisted it had
been delivered to the appropriate ministry on time. Against this background
it will be interesting to see how Zimbabwe will finally respond to the many
controversial issues likely to be raised at the ACHPR meeting.


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Apathy, not ZANU PF the winner come Saturday

FinGaz

Bornwell Chakaodza

THE predictions from almost everyone except the rent-a-crowd supporters of
the ruling party are that the Senate elections due to take place in two days'
time will witness the lowest voter turnout ever recorded in this country
since the mass enthusiasm of the independence elections in 1980.

The voter apathy and malaise is also feeding on the would-be election
observers. All the signs indicate that there will be no local or foreign
observers worth talking about in this so-called election. The Senate
election rhetoric that is being peddled on a daily basis in the government
media continues to sound increasingly strident and irrelevant to the
pressing need to cure Zimbabwe of its political and economic crisis.
Faced with headaches of all sorts, Zimbabweans are much more concerned about
their personal survival than promoting other people's personal interests
through such a wasteful and costly exercise. The people of this country are
fully aware that all this talk about the Senate consolidating 'our democracy'
is absolute nonsense.
The Senate is nothing more than a body that will serve as the primary source
of individual enrichment of old ZANU PF politicians at the expense of all of
us. So why waste time and effort going to vote for someone else to enjoy the
spoils with no sense of the current realities of life of the vast majority
of Zimbabweans?
In a situation of physical deprivation and economic hardships, the last
thing that anyone would want to do is to vote for a project which would not
bring about any positive changes in one's living conditions. Far from
strengthening the democratic process, the point is that to evoke
incomprehensible duty from a people saddled with poverty, hunger and
enormous suffering is tantamount to making democracy itself stand on its
head.
The essence of democracy is not just 'winning' at any cost. It is also
knowing whether the winning provides an answer to the nation's crisis. This
Senate project does not. This is the point, which should be viewed with the
utmost concern. And that is why on polling day the Zimbabwean electorate
will be responding with absolute clarity: by simply staying away from the
polling booths.
Zimbabweans have known ZANU PF long enough not to swallow all that rhetoric
about democracy. Indeed, the Senate elections are a welcome reassurance that
the Zimbabwean public, at least for the present, quite clearly knows what it
does not want.
ZANU PF is completely out of touch with reality. Over the last five years or
so, it has become painfully obvious and evident to most of us that the story
of Zimbabwe reads like a tale of what happens when a political party that
spearheaded the liberation struggle rejects and vilifies every principle for
which the liberation struggle originally stood and it chooses to do this in
the name of that struggle. Every utterance is infected with the need to
cling to power at any cost and this infectious need blinds ZANU PF to the
harsh reality that surrounds it.
Otherwise how does one explain this obsession with trivialities and with
irrelevant matters such as the Senate project, ignoring the real and
important issues such as the imperative to craft sound policies and have a
clear vision to complement the work of Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono and
his team?
How does one explain the harassment and hounding of the
democratically-elected mayor of Chitungwiza when the situation in Harare
under the leadership of that semi-literate and unelected political turncoat
Sekesai Makwavarara is much worse? Is this not a betrayal of the values and
principles of the independence struggle that emphasised freedom to choose,
rule of law, free press and free, fair and democratic elections? What a
parable of a revolution betrayed!
Rant as they might against the authentic MDC leaders, British Prime Minister
Tony Blair and US President George W. Bush, ZANU PF leaders such as the
President himself and Ignatius Chombo have themselves become the betrayers
of the basic democratic tenets of the liberation struggle. Perhaps when an
economic crisis becomes acute and you have no plan and strategy to solve it,
you go for scapegoats.
But the point to emphasise here is that problems and challenges are nothing
new to humankind. It is when you are totally clueless about how to find
solutions to those challenges that you really become the problem yourself. I
think this is the real truth that stands before us, tall and proud as a
mountain! The real epidemic in the case of Chitungwiza is Chombo and his
principals.
It is easy to blame somebody else. In Zimbabwe's case, the source of its
problems and difficulties is the self-inflicted failure of the economy. What
we are witnessing in Chitungwiza and elsewhere is in large measure a symptom
of what has basically gone wrong with the political system in this country.
Chitungwiza mayor Misheck Shoko and his officials cannot obviously escape
some blame but to say that they are solely the cause of the Chitungwiza woes
is to push looseness of language to unacceptable limits. It is pure
scapegoating.
Things have generally decayed in Zimbabwe and it is crucial for the ruling
ZANU PF party to pause and take stock of where they are taking this country.
To conclude, I think it is important for ZANU PF to come to terms with the
fact that Zimbabweans are not going to cast their votes in the Senate
election. Why should they? What will the aftermath of the election mean?
Nothing. What next?
The ruling party must learn to listen and listen to learn. ZANU PF must stop
feeling that it and it alone has to drive things in this country. The
consequences to date as a result of this kind of thinking are as clear as
they come.
What is much more important at this stage is for ZANU PF to build bridges
between it and the opposition MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai and among all
Zimbabweans regardless of race, colour or creed. Partisan posturing is
hindering progressive ideas and obscuring the real issues.
The way forward is clearly to beak down the partisan barriers and create a
spirit of common concerns with the aim of seeking a cure to an economy that
is spiralling lower and lower.
The quality of democratic life is revealed not in the existence of certain
institutions but in the way these institutions are used. The Senate is not
and will not change the face of Zimbabwean politics one iota.
In fact, our so-called democratic institutions have ceased to play any
significant part in the dynamic processes of changing the Zimbabwean
society. That is why it is important for both the ruling ZANU PF party and
the real opposition MDC and Zimbabwean men and women of goodwill to come
together and work out the rules of the political game in the interest of
this once-upon-a-time prosperous nation.
That will be the hope for the vast mass of the Zimbabwean people.
lBornwell Chakaodza is the former editor of The Standard

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