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Inflation to pile misery on Zimbabwe's poor

Reuters


Wed Nov 2, 2005 3:40 PM GMT

By MacDonald Dzirutwe

HARARE (Reuters) - Prices in Zimbabwe have risen sharply in the past week,
threatening to push inflation higher and compound the misery of the poor
majority battling daily to eke out a living, analysts said.

Zimbabwe is in the throes of a six-year economic crisis marked by chronic
shortages of foreign currency, fuel and food which analysts blame on
mismanagement by President Robert Mugabe's government.

Analysts linked the latest bout of price increases to a slide in the
Zimbabwe dollar, which tumbled 66 percent against the greenback after it was
partially floated by the central bank two weeks ago.

The southern African nation is now a net importer, and prices of basic
commodities increase weekly while wages lag and pensions and savings are
eroded by inflation.

In the past week alone prices of basic commodities and rentals doubled,
while companies passed on their mounting production costs to already
struggling consumers.

Statistics from the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe body show that a low-income
urban family of six needed Z$10 million Zimbabwe last month to cover basic
costs, up from Z$6.9 million in September.

Analysts say the price increases will see workers, who have borne the brunt
of the economic crisis, demanding higher wages, which would trigger another
round of price rises and create an inflation spiral.

"I just woke up on Monday to find that prices have doubled just like that,"
Kenneth Manungo, a clerk at Harare insurance firm who was queuing to buy
bread at a local chain store said.

"I don't know whether our employers know how much we are suffering.
Sometimes you wonder is it not better to stay home, the money is too
little," he told Reuters.

The government has branded inflation its number one enemy.

It stood at an annual 359.8 percent in September and analysts believe it
will end the year above 400 percent -- well beyond central bank forecasts
for it to reach between 280 and 300 percent by December.

PROSPECTS BLEAK

The worsening economic environment threatens central bank measures to put
the once prosperous economy on an elusive recovery path, analysts said.

"The picture is very bleak, for the next coming months the economic
situation will only get worse before it gets better," said leading economist
Eric Bloch.

"I am very pessimistic of any recovery in the short term and this means more
suffering for the majority."

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says Zimbabwe's economy, which has
contracted by a third since 1999, was rapidly reaching a point where it
would never recover to previous levels even if policy action was taken.

Production and exports in the key agriculture sector have continued to
slump, resulting in persistent food shortages since 2001, which critics
blame on the government's seizures of land from white farmers to
redistribute among blacks.

Farmers say the country predict another poor season foir agriculture due to
shortages of inputs like fertiliser, seed and fuel while a senior government
official said on Monday some black farmers had failed to fully utilise the
land.

Bloch said even with enough rains, Zimbabwe would have to import more food
next year as farmers are ill-prepared for the 2005/6 agriculture season.

The government has said it will import 1.8 million tonnes of maize to take
the country through to March 2006.

The drop in agricultural output, coupled with foreign exchange shortages and
inflation have seen industrial output shrink, with most firms operating
below 30 percent capacity and some forced to lay off workers.

Analysts said the government should rein in expenditure, and stop subsiding
loss-making parastatals. The government's domestic debt swelled to Z$13.2
trillion as of October 7, 2005 up from Z$3.3 trillion at the start of the
year.

"As long as we have a high budget deficit, money supply will continue to
increase, which is highly inflationary. We will not win the inflation war,"
Charles Halimana, a research fellow at the Institute of Development Studies
said.

Halimana said the government should engage the international community for
crucial balance of payment support to Harare, which has not received donor
funds since 1999 because of sharp policy differences.


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Britain urges SA to pressurise Zi

The Citizen, SA

m
LONDON - Nations in southern Africa have a "key role" to play in
bringing about political change in Zimbabwe, British Foreign Secretary Jack
Straw said Tuesday.
Fielding questions in parliament, Straw acknowledged that for South
Africa and other countries in the region to put pressure on Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe's regime was "hard going".
But he added: "While sanctions imposed by the European Union and the
US are necessary, it is southern African nations which have a key role to
play in pressuring the government of Zimbabwe for change."
Mugabe stands accused of sweeping human rights violations and economic
incompetence that has condemned the majority of Zimbabweans to poverty.
"I just hope that southern African leaders do understand the urgency
of the situation, not only for the people of Zimbabwe but also for their own
societies which are literally suffering high levels of unemployment, of
asylum seekers and, yes, of the infection of Aids-HIV," Straw said.
Dealing with Zimbabwe is likely to be one of the issues raised at the
Commonwealth summit to be held in Malta later this month. - Sapa-AFP.
02/11/2005 17:54:27


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Zim evicted 'sneaking back'

News24

02/11/2005 12:05 - (SA)

Harare - Groups of Zimbabweans whose homes were destroyed during a
controversial urban clean-up campaign in a poor suburb of Harare are
sneaking back to the rubble to rebuild their shacks, the state-run Herald
reported on Wednesday.

Residents of the Ngungunyana Housing Co-operative in Budiriro lost their
homes when President Robert Mugabe's government ordered the demolition of
shacks and buildings made without planning permission under a countrywide
sweep codenamed Operation Restore Order.

Reporters from the Herald recently visited the site, with the paper on
Wednesday reporting that "people who had returned were sifting through the
rubble, collecting broken bricks and timber to reconstruct their shacks".

It said a new informal settlement was being constructed next to the old one,
despite government orders that no new houses are to be built without
approval.

Annan dismayed at Zimbabwe government

"Young men were busy tending the (goats) while others were constructing
wooden cabins where houses once stood," the Herald said.

The report comes just a day after United Nations Secretary-General Kofi
Annan said he was "dismayed" that the Zimbabwe government had refused the
world body's offers of assistance for the evictees, believed to number at
least 700 000.

Annan's spokesperson said there was "no clear evidence that subsequent
government efforts have significantly benefited these groups".

Last June, authorities launched an ambitious housing programme they said
would see hundreds of thousands of new houses constructed in the next three
years. But the high cost of building materials and fuel shortages are said
to be massively hampering construction efforts.

A government minister said those building new shacks without approval would
not be allowed to get away with it.

"Such people will face the wrath of the law," said Harare metropolitan
resident minister David Karimanzira. - Sapa-dpa


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Zimbabwe migrant: Constantine Mkinya

BBC

The BBC News website has been speaking to Zimbabweans who have left the country in recent years about their reasons and the risks they took.

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.


Constantine and his two children
Life in the US became easier for Constantine when he realised that his children were settling in so well
Constantine Kureva Mkinya, 44, explained how Zimbabwe's secret police caused him and his two small children to make America their home.

I came to the US in April 2003 after consistent and persistent harassment from Zimbabwe's secret police, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), after I refused to accept a position as a High Court Judge.

I had had a successful private law firm in the capital city, Harare however after going through a dreadful divorce in 2002 I was forced to reconsider my priorities.

I had been given custody of my two young children and felt that the long and unpredictable working hours required of me were no longer viable.

My then very close friend David Mangota had just been promoted to permanent secretary in the Ministry of Legal Affairs and encouraged me to go for a High Court Judge position. The obligatory commitments were very child friendly.

The recruitment process moved along positively - my CV and personal circumstances had all been vetted and rendered clean by the CIO.

Controversy and corruption

In late 2002 David called asking me to come round to his office to finalise all the details of my eminent appointment.

That was when I realised that the position was mired in controversy and corruption.

I was told in no uncertain terms that I could not exercise any professional independence as a Judge.

And if I took the appropriate action expected of me, by the government, I would duly be rewarded beyond my imagination.

Naturally, I turned down the offer.

I did not want to practise corruption for a living.

I said that because of my ethics and conscience I would not let someone walk scot-free. Nor would I lock someone up if they were innocent.

I was informed that my views were in conflict with those of the government and very embarrassing for the president so the position was no longer available.

Threat

That afternoon the state controlled media reported that I had lied to the nation and there was no truth in the claims that I had been appointed as a High Court Judge.

Zimbabwe police
Constantine's children were very frightened of the police

I then approached the independent Daily News newspaper to clear my name. But this made things worse because my story made a lot of sense.

I started receiving threatening telephone calls and it was obvious that I was being followed. My phone calls were being monitored. The country's secret police broke into my office, ransacking it.

My children became very aware of a frightening police presence.

I was very lucky in that one of the guys looking for me from the CIO was very helpful. He gave me titbits on how they were looking for me and so I changed the patterns that I had become well-known for and stayed one step ahead.

Over the years I had helped several police, Army officers and a few people that worked in the CIO with legal problems. Word had got around that I was decent to deal with and this one gentleman kindly returned the goodwill.

With help from friends, I took an overnight bus to South Africa with my children late one Friday night in March 2003.

From there we flew to Dallas in the US.

Different

A human rights initiative helped me apply for asylum and the system worked like clockwork. Because I was going through the court process I couldn't work during my first year but the US government's Housing Crisis Center provided for us.

Map showing Dallas and Arizona in the US
Constantine now lives in Phoenix

It has been difficult and very humbling.

In Zimbabwe I had more money than I knew what to do with.

It was difficult coming to terms with having to get someone to sign a voucher so that I could have a new pair of socks. It made me crazy and I almost lost my mind.

I applied for more than 600 legal jobs but did not get one. Not even as a paralegal secretary.

Things changed when I realised that my children were settling in so well.

I took my kids to the police station near us one day. I wanted their fear of the police to disappear and for them to be comfortable calling them for help if need be.

It was a very good public relations affair - I explained to the officers about where we had come from and what had happened and why the children were so frightened. They took us round the station.

Constantine's two children
Constantine's children are not frightened of police anymore

It showed my kids that things were different now.

After having to work on any job that I could lay my hands on I am now a case manager looking after mentally ill people and in six months time they have said I can transfer to the legal side.

We currently live in Phoenix, Arizona and soon I begin studying part-time to convert my law degree.

I am one of the lucky ones and I am now on my way!

There's nothing compared to being back at home but for now it is the last place I could think of being.

I'm very happy with my life here in America.


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Just when you think it can't get worse



Martin Williamson

November 2, 2005

Suspicions that links between Zimbabwe Cricket and the Mugabe government are
closer than anyone in officialdom cares to admit have hardly been helped by
recent events.

Last week, Cricinfo reported on a meeting held in Harare at which a number
of influential stakeholders discussed a motion of no confidence in the ZC
board. Despite much bluster and an oh-so-friendly story in the
government-controlled Herald newspaper rubbishing our coverage, the key is
that nobody has actually denied that the meeting took place. And behind the
scenes, pro-board elements in the regions were mobilised to denounce their
own local chairman and efforts have been strenuous to oust those at the
heart of the unrest.

One of the main issues which has angered players and administrators alike is
the growing concern with the finances. The accounts at the AGM were rushed
through - the board denies this version of events, although Cricinfo has
spoken to several present. Those attending did not include the press, who
were barred as they arrived. The official reason was the board feared they
would cause trouble. If that meant asking tough questions, then it was
probably right.

The board itself is struggling to even hold a committee meeting as it is
unable to get a quorum. There are even suggestions that the AGM itself was
unconstitutional for the same reason, and embarrassingly, and announcement
of new national selectors had to be retracted, again for the same reason.

Back to the finances. Reports are doing the rounds that the board is hard
up. It lost money last year because of the aborted Australian tour and then
when England cut their one-day series from five to four matches (that was
down to the government's aborted attempt to ban foreign journalists from
entering the country). There are also strong rumours that other internal
matters warrant a closer look. One journalist, whose probing clearly hit a
nerve, suddenly found himself contacted and threatened by the notorious
Ministry of Information. The official there warned that attacks against the
board would be seen as attacks against Robert Mugabe, ZC's patron.

The players are also deeply unhappy - or those that remain are. Since
August, three of the most experienced members of the side - Heath Streak,
Craig Wishart and Stuart Carlisle - have quit, the last two citing political
events inside cricket as being at the heart of their decisions. The rest,
including Tatenda Taibu, the captain, are refusing to sign new contracts and
are protesting against the dismissal of Phil Simmons as coach. His
replacement, Kevin Curran, is seen by some as being too closely allied to
the board for their liking and they want Simmons back.

The new player contracts are remarkable for the paltry sums on offer. They
are tied to performance in matches - which would be fine assuming Zimbabwe
actually had any games before next May - and are not index linked. In a land
where inflation is nearing 500%, that is fairly crucial.

On the field, defeat has followed defeat, and despite bullish talk, the last
month has been an all-time low for Zimbabwe. They lost three matches against
Kenya - while these were sold to Kenya as games against Zimbabwe A, so
humiliated were the selectors by an innings defeat in a little over four
sessions in the first three-dayer, that for games two and three they fielded
a virtual 1st XI. They still lost. The Under-23 side in South Africa and the
President's XI in India, again near-as-dammit a full side, have suffered a
string of defeats.

Back to the vote 12 days ago. In April and May, Peter Chingoka, the ZC
chairman and also a key figure in the African Cricket Association, was
instrumental in helping to negotiate the removal of the discredited regime
of Sharad Ghai in Kenya. Along with Percy Sonn, Chingoka guided Kenyan
cricket into elections which ended the Ghai era, a role for which he was
rightly praised.

In 2002, Ghai, faced with rebellion by stakeholders, had created three new
(and as Cricinfo revealed, bogus) provinces whose votes enabled him to stay
in control despite having less than 10% of the stakeholders and almost no
players behind his board. Three years later, faced with a similar level of
unrest, and rumours that stakeholders inside Zimbabwe were considering a
no-confidence vote, Zimbabwe Cricket has responded by creating five new -
and, so those on ground claim, dubious - provinces whose votes will,
coincidently, enable the current regime to survive. A good idea. One can
only wonder where it came from.

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo

Cricinfo


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Zimbabwean Legal Crusader Dies

VOA

By Peta Thornycroft
Harare
02 November 2005

A Zimbabwean judge who defied pressure to deliver judgments that favor the
government and the ruling ZANU-PF party in an important case, has died.
Sandra Mangwira is being praised for her integrity during the highly
publicized case.

Judge Sandra Mangwira died in Scotland during the weekend after years of
battling cancer. She continued that battle during her final case, one of the
most controversial trials in Zimbabwe's legal history.

In that case, six members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
including a Zimbabwe parliament member, were charged with killing a Zanu-PF
loyalist in November 2001. The ruling party loyalist had been accused of
kidnapping and killing a leading opposition politician.

Judge Mangwira returned from the United Kingdom while undergoing
chemotherapy treatment determined to ensure she, and no one else, brought
the case to conclusion. During several key moments in the marathon trial,
Judge Mangwira collapsed and had to be revived to continue proceedings.

In August 2004, Judge Mungwira found the state's 14 witnesses, all
policemen, had lied to the court. She also found false confessions by the
accused were made under torture in police custody. All six defendants were
acquitted.

Her Harare High Court staff placed on record that they were harassed by
secret security agents, and defense lawyers also placed on record they had
received threats to their own and their family's safety.

The trial was sensitive to President Robert Mugabe's administration because,
according to Judge Mungwira's verdict, the people responsible for the
murder, were part of a secretive third force.

Several of Zimbabwe's top lawyers have paid tribute to her, including Arnold
Tsunga director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. He said she showed
courage in her judgment in her last case. He added it is a pity she did not
live long enough for her objectivity to make a bigger impact on society.

Attorney Beatrice Mtetwa, who has won several international awards for
courage, said Judge Mungwira had set an example of what courts should be,
independent and answerable only to the law.

Zimbabwe has about 20 high court judges and official records show that most
of them have been given white-owned farms since their appointments.

Judge Mungwira, was not one of them.

She was 49 when she died. Following the case last year, she went to Scotland
to join her husband and seek further cancer treatment.


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New controversy rocks MDC

News24

02/11/2005 20:49 - (SA)

Harare - A new controversy rocked Zimbabwe's embattled opposition movement
on Wednesday as an outspoken MP defied an order suspending him from party
activities.

Job Sikhala, a member of parliament for the St Mary's district in Harare,
said Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai had no
authority to suspend him.

Sikhala was ordered suspended after he alleged that the opposition received
$2.5m in donations from the governments of Nigeria, Ghana and Taiwan in
breach of regulations prohibiting political parties from receiving foreign
funding.

November polls

He claimed that internal disputes over the use of the money worsened a split
in the party over whether to participate in November 26 elections to choose
members for the newly created senate, which would be the upper house of
Harare's parliament.

He later withdrew the claims, saying his allegations were a hoax meant to
loosen the stalemate in the opposition over participation in the November
poll.

William Bango of the MDC said the opposition leader suspended the lawmaker
until the organisation's national council considers the claims and decides
on any disciplinary action.

But, Sikhala dismissed the suspension on Wednesday.

Tsvangirai 'has no powers to suspend members'

He said: "The MDC constitution doesn't give Mr Tsvangirai powers to suspend
party members unilaterally."

Sikhala, one of the opposition's powerful young leaders popular in Harare,
had accused Tsvangirai of being dictatorial.

Opposition leaders were scheduled to meet on Saturday to try to heal the
widening rift over participation in the November poll.

Tsvangirai ordered a boycott of the election, saying it would be flawed, but
a narrow majority of the opposition's national council last month voted in
favour of contesting.

President Robert Mugabe's government recently pushed through a
constitutional amendment to create the senate. The opposition had opposed
the amendment, and critics said it would be stuffed with Mugabe cronies.

New 66-seat senate

In defiance of Tsvangirai, opposition rebels had fielded 26 candidates for
the 50 elected seats in the new 66-seat senate.

The revolt by Tsvangirai's colleagues against the poll was seen as the
biggest challenge to his leadership since the former labour leader founded
the opposition in 1999 as the first main challenge to longtime ruler,
President Robert Mugabe.

The opposition had lost three national elections since 2000, amid
allegations of intimidation and vote rigging.

It won just 41 of the 120 elected seats in parliamentary polls in March.

Tsvangirai said the senate election would not be conducted fairly and
opposition participation would give credibility to a fraudulent poll.


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Magazine in plan to rescue thirsty wildlife

Cape Argus

November 2, 2005

Getaway magazine has responded to a report published this week in
Independent Newspapers about the plight of wildlife in Zimbabwe's Hwange
National Park and has launched a rescue plan to supply fuel to the park's
borehole pumps and for anti-poaching.

Getaway's associate editor Don Pinnock said Caltex South Africa,
Mitsibishi Fuso and Flame Lily Holidays would source fuel for the park and a
vehicle to assist in the deepening crisis.

Independent Newspapers reported that most of the park's borehole pumps
were not working because the Zimbabwe government had no foreign currency to
import spares. Hwange National Park's animals depend on water pumped from
underground to more than five dozen pans around the vast wilderness.


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Harare exodus is a cause for concern - Pahad

IOL

November 02 2005 at 07:22AM

Cape Town - The movement of people from Zimbabwe to neighbouring
African countries is a matter of concern in the region, South Africa's
deputy foreign minister, Aziz Pahad, said on Wednesday.

"Of course, there is a genuine concern about the movement of people in
the region. There's clearly a mass exodus of people from Zimbabwe moving
into neighbouring countries," he told a media briefing at parliament.

"I wouldn't know where the estimates come from, but there is an
estimate that we have close to two million undocumented Zimbabweans in South
Africa. I'm not sure where the figures come from, but this is the figure
that's doing the rounds all the time."

Pahad said President Thabo Mbeki and government would "still be seized
with our actions" to help the Zimbabweans create the climate for them to
deal with the serious economic, political, and human security situations.

However, as Mbeki had stated, "there is nothing we can impose upon the
Zimbabwean people".

"We can only help them to help themselves," he said. - Sapa


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Standard Chartered Bank bails out Mugabe



By Lance Guma
02 November 2005

One of the country's most respected banks, Standard Chartered, has
been accused of propping up Robert Mugabe's regime with an estimated US$80
million 'offshore line of credit'. On Tuesday the United Kingdom based Times
newspaper reported that the bank has secured offshore lines of credit for
Zimbabwean industries that are crucial to the regimes survival. While the
bank is technically entitled to make money via lending to its customers, the
paper argues that the bank is helping 'to keep afloat a government regarded
as one of the worst in Africa'.

The Times article also says the 'Standard Chartered Zimbabwe branch is
continuing to borrow abroad, on behalf of local clients, and providing them
with precious foreign currency.' Bank officials in London disputed this
interpretation and instead said they provided short-term loans to merchants
outside Zimbabwe who are doing business in the country. The paper however
rubbished this distinction insisting they was little practical difference as
the whole arrangement had the same result of propping up Mugabe's chances of
survival.

It's a moral dilemma most companies in the country have had to decide
on. Sadly in most cases their priorities are always profit driven and
Standard Chartered it seems, is not an exception.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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Millions of Fish Die in Shamva



The Herald (Harare)

November 2, 2005
Posted to the web November 2, 2005

Harare

MILLIONS of fish died after suspected poachers in Shamva reportedly
destroyed outlet valves of a dam resulting in it losing all the water and
drying up on Monday.

Yesterday several tonnes of fish were recovered while some fish still alive
could be seen trapped in the muddy waters struggling for life.

At least 25 suspected poachers believed to have had a hand in destroying the
valves were arrested.

The dam dried up for the first time since its commissioning almost 20 years
ago.

Some of the arrested were elderly women and men who were found scrambling
for fish from the muddy water and had sacks full of the fish. The fish was
impounded and they were asked to pay a fine of $150 000 each.

According to Parks and Wildlife Management Authority officials at Ewanrigg
Botanical Garden, farmers who use the water for irrigation were asked to
stop opening water valves as the water was no longer sufficient to sustain
the fish population following successive droughts over the past few years.

"Despite our calls we received a telephone call yesterday morning that the
dam had dried up and we found other suspected poachers we had arrested
before among those who were picking the dying fish," a parks official said.

The authority's spokesperson Retired Major Edward Mbewe said game rangers
were assigned to conduct regular night patrols to protect the dam after
discovering mismanagement of the water.

"It is apparent that the poachers who were determined to dry up the dam and
easily catch the fish were responsible for the destruction of valves to
allow water to spill out quickly," Rtd Maj Mbewe said.

"This is a big loss to the Shamva communities as the type of red breams that
was in abundance in the dam is a rare species that we had tried hard to
protect. They had also immensely benefited from the fish as those that were
licensed were allowed to fish at designated points, " he said.

He said efforts were currently being made to save the few remaining fish in
a pond within the dam's confines.

"We will today cast some nets to rescue the remaining fish and place them in
Mbizi Dam, which is nearby."

He added that the authority has stepped up efforts to protect the fishing
industry which is now under threat from poachers.

Last month, tonnes of fish were recovered at Lake Chivero and Kariba and
seven poachers were arrested.


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Two Die During Healing Crusade



The Herald (Harare)

November 2, 2005
Posted to the web November 2, 2005

Harare

TWO people died during a healing crusade at the Zimbabwe Assemblies of God
Africa (Zao-ga) church at the National Sports Stadium last Saturday.

The deceased are Knowledge Chikwaka (38) of Arcturus Mine and Kenias
Dzumbunu (33) of Overspill, Epworth.

Police spokesman Inspector Andrew Phiri yesterday confirmed the deaths and
said they occurred at around 8pm.

"We confirm that we received a report of sudden deaths which occurred at the
National Sports Stadium during a Zaoga church service on October 29 at
around 2000 hours," he said.

He said the two men were terminally ill. They were brought by their
relatives to the stadium so that they would be healed.

"According to their (the deceased's) relatives, they had brought the two so
that they would be cured of their illnesses since there was a healing
session," said Insp Phiri. It is understood that Chikwaka had been suffering
from a kidney ailment while Dzumbunu had been ill for sometime. Insp Phiri
said the two died before being attended to and a report was made to the
police.

The bodies were taken to a hospital mortuary and police are still
investigating the case.


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Land-grabbing 'picnic farmers' blamed for Zimbabwe's food crisis

From The Star (SA), 2 November

By Angus Shaw

Harare - A government minister has conceded that the seizure of thousands of
white-owned farms has contributed to plummeting food production in Zimbabwe.
In a rare admission of failure, Deputy Agriculture Minister Sylvester Nguni
yesterday said some farms were given to people who did not have the faintest
idea about farming. They wanted land only for its prestige value, according
to the government mouthpiece, The Herald. About 5 000 white-owned farms have
been seized in the often-violent redistribution campaign launched in 2000.
President Robert Mugabe defends the programme as correcting imbalances in
land ownership rooted in the colonial era. He blames the country's food
shortages on years of drought. Statistics from the state Meteorological
Office show erratic rainfall in some areas, but no severe average rainfall
deficit since 2000. Critics of the redistribution programme say much of the
prime land has gone to government cronies. Nguni said it was time to face
the truth. "We have a few people who are really committed to production
while many others are doing nothing on the farms," he was quoted as saying
at a meeting of the Zimbabwe Farmers' Union in Bulawayo. "The problem is
that we gave land to people lacking the passion for farming, and this is why
production has been declining every year."

Zimbabwe is facing its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain
in 1980, with soaring inflation and acute shortages of fuel and essential
imports. The country has been forced to import three-quarters of its food
needs this year. Farmers have insufficient seed, fertiliser and other
inputs. Irrigation systems have collapsed because of lack of spare parts,
power and fuel. The government has instituted a series of land audits, but
Nguni said they were being conducted by officials with no knowledge of
agriculture. "The same officers who bungled land allocations are the ones we
send to do the audits," Nguni said. Zimbabwe's Central Bank chief, Gideon
Gono, last week hit out at new farmers who kept farmland purely for its own
sake. "We are not blind to the fact that it was not land for the sake of
having it and merely looking at it that mattered to our liberators. "It was
not about having vast pieces of land and using them as braai spots and
weekend picnic venues," Gono said.


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Made speaks on agric production

[Read this with previous item...Ed.]

From The Herald, 2 October

Herald Reporter

The decline in the country's agricultural production has been caused by a
combination of drought and illegal sanctions imposed by Britain and her
allies, the Minister of Agriculture Dr Joseph Made has said. The minister
was responding to concerns by some farmers attending the just-ended Zimbabwe
Farmers Union congress in Bulawayo that production, which was expected to be
buoyed by the successful implementation of the land reform programme, had
significantly been low. Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Cde Silvester Nguni
who also attended the congress, said the problems facing the Government and
industry was that of not telling the truth and yet it was on that basis the
way forward was formulated. Dr Made took a swipe at industry for not moving
inputs to farmers on time saying that had an effect of contributing to low
yields. "Traditionally, communal farmers used to produce 75 to 80 percent of
maize and almost 100 percent of cotton but that is no longer possible
because of the drought," said Dr Made. "They stood tall-to-tall with the
former white commercial farmers before the advent of drought but they have
now been incapacitated by these challenges." The minister criticised former
white commercial farmers for reportedly vandalising property on the farms
after the acquisition of their farms by Government. "These former white
commercial farmers are now misleading the international community that the
land reform programme was a failure when they are the culprits. Only 15 to
35 percent of their land was producing, leaving the rest of their land idle
but our new farmers have the capacity to do well once they are fully
supported." The minister said Cde Nguni had been tasked to find ways of
mobilising resources for agricultural institutions like the Agricultural and
Rural Development Authority (ARDA). "The Deputy Minister should come up with
recommendations on how best to assist these institutions so that farmers can
get the best out of it," he said.

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