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SA giant muscles into FML

Zim Independent

Dumisani Muleya
SOUTH African insurance giant Sanlam has muscled its way into leading local
life assurance company, First Mutual Ltd, which has diverse interests in the
financial and property sectors, it emerged late yesterday.

Market sources said Sanlam, South Africa's second-largest life assurer, has
been buying its way into First Mutual, whose major shareholders were Capital
Alliance and Trust Holdings, since September 23.

This move is seen as part of vigorous efforts by South Africa - the largest
economy in Africa - to expand its economic influence in Zimbabwe and the
continent.

Zimbabwe is South Africa's largest trading partner. South Africa has
interests largely in mining, manufacturing and agriculture in the country.
South African-owned mining houses control local platinum and gold
production.

Zimplats, owned by Implats, and Metallon Gold, owned by South African tycoon
Mzi Khumalo, as well as Anglo Platinum, which is developing Unki platinum
project, are some of the large South African conglomerates operating in
Zimbabwe. Old Mutual is another.

Natural resource giant Anglo American, as well as Mmakau and Shaft Sinkers
South Africa, which recently took over Eureka Gold mine, reopened on Monday,
are also prominent players.

South African banking groups Absa and Standard Bank control Jewel Bank and
Stanbic respectively.

South African firms are also expanding into Mozambique, Ghana, Nigeria,
Uganda, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, among other places.

Records show that South Africa's economy is 24 times bigger than all the
Sadc economies combined. Its economic engine, Gauteng province, is eight
times bigger than regional economies.

Durban, the capital of KwaZulu/Natal province, has an economy almost the
same size as that of Zimbabwe, making the latter slightly above 2% of the
South African economy.

Sources said Sanlam - listed on the JSE Securities Exchange and Namibian
Stock Exchange - has been leveraging its way into First Mutual using local
stockbroking firm, New Africa Securities, via New Africa Nominees. Sanlam,
established in 1918, on December 31 2004 had a R350 billion asset base.

Documents show a trail of transactions indicating that New Africa bought New
Africa Nominees large volumes of shares between September 23 and Wednesday
this week.

First Mutual group CEO Douglas Hoto said he was not aware Sanlam had bought
into his company.

"I'm not aware a South African investor has bought into our company," he
said. "I only know of 581 million shares traded for about $105 billion at an
average share price of $180."

It was not possible to get a comment from either New Africa or Sanlam last
night.

Documents show New Africa bought First Mutual shares amounting to 892
million at a cost of more than $177 billion, giving New Africa Nominees a
25% stake. The ZSE's threshold for a takeover is 31%. The shares went for a
weighted average price of $198,54.

"New Africa Securities bought 892 019 349 shares for $177 103 841 150. It
first bought 350 000 shares on September 23 for $35 million and then went
all the way until Wednesday," a source said.

"The smallest number of shares bought was 101 000 for $9 999 000 on October
4 and the largest was 590 517 186 shares for $118 103 437 200 on October
21."


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Tsvangirai losing grip as row deepens

Zim Independent

SIGNS that embattled opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader
Morgan Tsvangirai is rapidly losing control of his fractious party grew
yesterday after senior officials warned they would not attend his "illegal"
meeting tomorrow.

In the clearest sign yet that the MDC is headed for a break-up, the faction
led by secretary-general Welshman Ncube said it will boycott a national
executive council meeting called by their leader on Monday.

The Ncube camp said Tsvangirai "does not have unilateral powers to convene
such a meeting" and that the outcome of such a meeting in breach of the
party constitution would be "fraudulent and illegitimate".

"In yet another move to usurp and violate the constitution of the party,
Tsvangirai has called a meeting of the national council for this Saturday
(tomorrow)," MDC deputy secretary-general Gift Chimanikire said.

"He does not have the powers to unilaterally convene such a meeting. Having
spent the past three weeks attempting hard to bribe and coerce members of
the council, Tsvangirai now hopes to 'persuade' the council to reverse its
decision on the senate election."

However, Tsvangirai's spokesman William Bango said last night the MDC leader
had not been "officially informed" about the boycott.

"Tsvangirai has not received any communication to that effect and expects
everybody to attend the meeting unless they are held up by emergency
domestic issues or such other matters," Bango said.

The MDC national executive council voted on October 12 by 33 to 31 for
participation in the November 26 poll, but Tsvangirai overruled it and then
launched a nationwide crusade against the election.

This triggered the power struggle currently unfolding in the party which has
seen a series of accusations and counter-accusations between the Tsvangirai
and Ncube camps.

At a rally last weekend in Harare Tsvangirai lashed out at the Ncube group,
suggesting they were collaborating with Zanu PF on the senate project and
insisted he as the leader was entitled to take the decision he did. Those at
the rally sang anti-Ncube group songs and threatened its members.

There have been cases of violence and intimidation between members of the
two camps. Chimanikire accused Tsvangirai of orchestrating the campaign of
intimidation.

Tsvangirai's attacks on colleagues at the Harare rally came after the MDC's
so-called top six leaders met on Thursday last week, under the mediation of
Professor Brian Raftopoulos, to find a solution to the crisis. A further
meeting on Monday failed to break the impasse.

After the Raftopoulos initiative collapsed in confusion, Tsvangirai decided
to call for tomorrow's meeting. The MDC leader said he would present a
report on the "state of the party, the current preparations for congress and
the way forward". He would also "give the council an overview of the
campaign for a new constitution adopted in concert with the MDC's civil
society partners".

If tomorrow's meeting flops, Tsvangirai, despite his ability to summon large
crowds at rallies, would have suffered another major setback.

Two weeks ago, he failed to raise a quorum for a national executive
committee meeting. He also failed to stop candidates from registering for
the senate poll.

Tsvangiari also appears to have failed to suspend senior party members and
MP Job Sikhala over his now withdrawn claims that the party had received
foreign funding. Sikhala said Tsvangirai has no power to take such action
against him.

Chimanikire accused Tsvangirai of repeatedly being in "flagrant breach of
the constitution" and warned "these are the actions of a dictator-in-the
making". - Staff Writer.


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No losers in Zanu PF

Zim Independent

Ray Matikinye
IF there is one undisputed trait President Robert Mugabe can be credited
with despite the commonplace failure around him, it is deft political
manoeuvring to manipulate his lieutenants by bringing back some shine to
their waning political fortunes.

No one doubted Mugabe's resolve to reward losing candidates in pre-poll
campaigns when he said there would be no losers among the party faithful.

Ordinary Zimbabweans merely second-guessed whose image among those of his
party's old guard Mugabe would want to spit and polish. The major interest
the senate election has aroused is in the quality of candidates that the
ruling Zanu PF has come up with - more for their history of failure than
success.

With a sleight of hand, Mugabe is trying to revive the political fortunes of
stay-the-course politicians such as Dumiso Dabengwa, Sithembiso Nyoni,
Vivian Mwashita, Callistus Ndlovu, and Forbes Magadu and attempt to freshen
the maverick Dzikamayi Mavhaire.

Mavhaire is famed for the rebellious remark: "The president must go." The
remark earned him a two-year suspension until Zanu PF's structural
reorganisation and support in Masvingo started sliding.

Included in the coterie of political have-beens needing freshening, Magadu,
Nyoni, Ndlovu and Mwashita stand out.

In 1995, Mwashita broke a record as the first ever politician in
post-independent Zimbabwe to lose a parliamentary seat to a former
comrade-in-arms in Harare's Sunningdale constituency.

She lost the seat to Margaret Dongo, who had unearthed irrefutable evidence
of voters' roll manipulation and official gerrymandering. The court ruling
exposed Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede's 15 -year claim that Zimbabwe's
electoral system was foolproof.

Not only that. Dongo achieved the feat of putting up a vigorous election
campaign to overcome a candidate with a 98% permanent disability claim from
the liberation war.

Mwashita joined the long queue of high profile government officials who
looted the War Victims Compensation Fund but got off with a slight rap on
the knuckles.

Magadu, who presided over the running of Chitungwiza Town Council, left a
legacy of burst pipes and infrastructural decline in Zimbabwe's third
largest urban settlement.

His tenure at the Zimbabwe Omnibus Company left most commuters with
lingering memories of how an efficient public transport service plumbed to
such depths of unreliability in such a short time span.

His enthusiasm to curry favours for himself from ruling party heavyweights
and build a political profile led Magadu to dish out buses for political
rallies without guarantees that the Zanu PF party would pay the bills.

Mugabe is also keen to put the lustre back on Callistus Ndlovu's political
fortunes that took a nosedive following the 1988 Willowgate vehicle scandal,
just as much as he is trying to help serial loser Sithembiso Nyoni find a
foothold on Zimbabwe's political rollercoaster.

If Nyoni loses, she will have beaten the losing record set by veteran
politician Enos Nkala who was never able to win an election despite his long
history in nationalist politics.

Voters in some senatorial constituencies on November 26 will for the first
time participate in a poll that has failed to excite regional and
international interest except for the wrangling currently wreaking havoc in
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The electorate will be participating in an election shorn of properly
delimited constituencies and carrying an enormous price tag.

It remains to be seen whether international organisations such as the UN,
AU, NAM, Sadc and Comesa alongside countries such as Benin, Burkina Faso,
and Gambia share government's zeal to even bother themselves with observing
the election under a shambolic voters' roll following Operation
Murambatsvina.

Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said the involvement of
foreign observers would "further enhance the existing transparency of the
electoral process thereby enriching Zimbabwe's democratic experience".

But how a poll of no national significance and with arbitrary constituencies
that sidestepped the Delimitation Commission can "enhance transparency" and
"enrich" the nation's democratic experience, as Mumbengegwi says, is yet to
be seen.

Mugabe recently exhorted his party supporters to vote decisively in the
forthcoming senatorial election to relegate the fractured MDC to the
political dustbin.

He is keen to convince party supporters to help him revive waning fortunes
among such politicians as Stanley Sakupwanya (Makoni-Nyanga), Oria
Kabayanjiri (Mudzi-Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe), Phone Madiro (Hurungwe-Kariba),
Samuel Mumbengegwi (Chiredzi-Mwenezi), Tsitsi Muzenda (Gweru-Shurungwi) and
Richard Hove (Mberengwa-Zvishavane) through elections that have failed to
excite national interest except in so far as the event has exposed a crisis
of leadership in the MDC.


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Hunger ravages Masvingo

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro
AN emaciated 11-year-old boy wearily puts down a sack half full of wild
fruits (hacha in Shona) and groans audibly as he painfully bends down to
take a rest on his long journey back home after a fruit-gathering exercise.

Forcing a dry grin from parched lips, the boy prides himself for having
scored a feat that will save his family from hunger for the day.

"We have been collecting and eating these wild-fruits because of food
shortages," Tinaye Mabhande said. "We don't have much to eat and as a result
we supplement our diet with these fruits."

Mabhande and other villagers have been gathering wild berries in parts of
Gutu district in rural Masvingo where, according to folklore, people believe
a season in which the fruit is in abundance is a harbinger of a bad
agricultural season.

The situation in Masvingo is no different from other parts of the country
that have been hit by food shortages over the past four years. At least two
million people are said by aid agencies to be at risk of starvation.
Government is struggling to import maize from South Africa to bridge the
grain deficit.

"We wake up before dawn so that we can get to the muhacha trees ahead of
others. We have been collecting these fruits for the past three weeks now,"
another boy said.

Witnessing several villagers trudging home carrying bags from a nearby
forest is a miserable spectacle. "My mother is already preparing the meal,"
the boy says, lifting his bag and moving towards some shade where six other
family members are already resting.

His mother had emptied the contents of one of her bags into a wooden
pounding bowl before mixing it with water to make some fruit paste for the
family's meal for the day. "Life is difficult here," Mabhande's
forlorn-looking mother says.

"We last had a meal of sadza three days ago. There is just no grain.
Government has not given us food assistance for the past two months because
there is no fuel. Even if you go to the Grain Marketing Board you can't get
the maize to buy."

She said if it were not for the timely intervention of food aid agencies and
the donors who introduced feeding schemes at schools there would have been
mass starvation amongst children.

"Things have been worsened by the delay of the rains," she said. "If the
situation remains like this for another two weeks, we are in serious
trouble. It won't be surprising to see people dying of hunger."

The woman said she was not optimistic about the rainy season that was
forecast to have started two weeks ago by the Meteorological Services
Department. She bemoaned the unavailability of inputs for the current
season.

"We are planting a very small portion of the land because we cannot afford
seed or fertiliser," she said.

"Land preparations pose problems for us because hiring tillage units costs
$250 000 per hectare, which we cannot afford. Officials tell us there is a
serious shortage of fuel."

Masvingo province's precarious food situation illustrates how hunger has
begun wreaking havoc among the rural populace.

Reports from other areas, particularly Matabeleland provinces, show that the
situation is no better and fast becoming dire.

This is in stark contrast to President Robert Mugabe's public posturing at
international fora that the country is able to feed itself.

Mugabe recently told reporters in New York that Zimbabwe's hungry villagers
and urban poor could choose to eat potatoes or rice in the absence of the
staple maize.

But back home, Zimbabweans have over the past five years been reeling under
the lingering effects of the chaotic land reform programme as the new farm
owners fail to produce enough food to feed the nation.

Zimbabwe's problems have been compounded by a stinging fuel crisis that has
crippled virtually the whole economy.

Two months ago Mugabe told the international media: "The problem is
Zimbabweans rely too much on maize. But it doesn't mean we haven't other
things to eat. We have heaps of potatoes but people are not potato eaters.
They have rice but they're not attracted to it."

Critics have questioned how many of Zimbabwe's poor can afford potatoes in a
country which has more than 85% of its population living below the poverty
datum line while over 75% of its workforce is jobless and inflation is over
360%.


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Govt to cede land to Chinese

Zim Independent

Godfrey Marawanyika/Augustine Mukaro
GOVERNMENT is next week expected to sign an agricultural agreement with
China that could see vast tracts of land being ceded to the fast-growing
nation.

The deal, envisaged to boost agricultural production, should be signed on
November 8 and will be guaranteed by the Ministry of Finance.

The deal will be in two phases. The first component is a direct
government-to-government agreement while the other has an element of private
sector participation.

Government is expected to enlist private sector participation under the
Zimbabwe Development Company, represented by Zimbabwe Farmers Union
vice-president Edward Raradza.

Government-owned China State Farms Agribusiness Corporation and the ZDC are
set to sign the partnership agreement early next week, aimed at reviving
several derelict former white farms that were taken over by the Agricultural
and Rural Development Authority.

The loss-making quasi-government agricultural arm acquired about 20 estates
during the land reform programme. Among the expropriated estates where joint
ventures are expected to be undertaken are Kondozi Farm, now lying derelict
in the Odzi area of Manicaland, Foyle Estate in the rich Mazowe valley,
Charter Estate in the Beatrice area, Greaslee in the Goromonzi district,
Charleswood Estate, taken from former MDC MP Roy Bennett in Chimanimani,
Bosbury and Essex in Mashonaland West.

Reserve Bank authorities have been advocating the promotion of ventures
between new farmers, former operators as well as new investors to increase
productivity and hasten skills transfer.

Agriculture minister Joseph Made confirmed that there were a number of
initiatives taking place. These initiatives, he said, are on an individual
company basis while others were joint-venture agreements between the two
countries.

"There are various private sector initiatives which will be represented by
Edward Raradza of Farmers World and others," Made said. Farmers World is
mainly engaged in the sale of farm inputs.

"Government projects will be guaranteed by the Ministry of Finance.
Everything is being handled by them."

Yesterday, Raradza confirmed the deal but refused to give further details on
the proposed agreement saying: "Why are you in a rush? Just wait for next
week."

Government's chaotic land reform programme that involved the forcible take
over of white-owned commercial farms to "correct colonial land ownership
imbalances" has been a recipe for disaster. It has reduced Zimbabwe from a
net grain exporter to a net importer in a space of five years.

Agricultural production levels dropped sharply as commercial farmers took
their skills to countries as far flung as Nigeria, Zambia and Mozambique.


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Gono apologises to Mandaza

Zim Independent

Dumisani Muleya
RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono has apologised to suspended
Zimbabwe Mirror Newspapers Group CEO and editor-in-chief Ibbo Mandaza for
engineering the take-over of his papers by the intelligence service.

Sources said Gono, who was key in the state apparatus' leveraged buy-out of
the Mirror papers, told Mandaza at a meeting he was "very sorry" for what
had happened. The meeting took place on September 26.

It is understood Gono said he did not know the deal between the security
department and Mandaza would end up with the founder of the group being
ousted from the company.

"There was a recent meeting - the only one so far since the media story
started - between Gono and Mandaza at the central bank offices over the
issue of the newspaper take-over," a source said. "The two discussed the
issue at length and Gono apologised to Mandaza for leading him into the
current situation at the Mirror."

Sources said Mandaza was exasperated but grudgingly accepted the situation
as a fait accompli.

"Mandaza was very disappointed with Gono but he accepted what has happened
and decided to move on," a source said. "To the best of my knowledge, that
was the only meeting the two have had since the media story broke out. It
appears their relationship will be strained for a long time, if not forever,
over this issue."

Although it was not possible to get a comment from Gono and Mandaza, sources
confirmed the issue.

"It looks like Mandaza was put in a tight spot by Gono who brought the
intelligence service into the deal without realising it and this inevitably
created tension between them," another source said. "In the end Gono had to
apologise to Mandaza. Though he had betrayed his trust in him, the mission
had been accomplished."

The Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) has taken over the Mirror's two
titles, the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror, and the Financial Gazette
through a front ownership structure using public funds.

Gono was also instrumental in the take-over of the Financial Gazette.

The state security agency has influence in other media organisations and is
still trying to expand its interests in a bid to win the battle for hearts
and minds.

Mediagate, as the newspaper take-over saga is now known, has sucked in
President Robert Mugabe and Vice-President Joice Mujuru.

A CIO shelf company, Unique World Investments, and another CIO-linked firm,
Zistanbal Investments, in which Gono is said to have an interest, control
70% of Mirror shareholding. Mandaza had 30% but this has been taken over as
well.

In terms of the new shareholding structure, Unique now has 72% and Zistanbal
28%. The two companies are trying to recapitalise the Mirror group. The
company two weeks ago received $10 billion from the central bank, bringing
the total amount in public funds it has got from the bank to $30 billion.


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Mugabe erred in Paradza case says Sandura

Zim Independent

Conrad Dube
SUPREME Court judge Justice Wilson Sandura, breaking ranks with four other
judges in a high-profile case, says President Robert Mugabe erred when he
delegated his power of selecting members of a tribunal set up last year to
probe High Court judge Benjamin Paradza for alleged misbehaviour.

Justice Sandura opposed four other judges, Chief Justice Godfrey
Chidyausiku, Justice Vernanda Ziyambi, Elizabeth Gwaunza and Luke Malaba,
who found that the three members of the tribunal were selected by the
president as required by Section 87(4) of the constitution.

Paradza had appealed to the Supreme Court to have the tribunal disbanded, as
it was not constituted in compliance with the constitution. He had cited the
three members of the tribunal, Dennis Kamoni Chirwa from Zambia, John Mroso
from Tanzania and Isaac Mtambo from Malawi as first, second and third
respondents respectively.

Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa and President Mugabe were cited as fourth
and fifth respondents respectively.

Justice Sandura said the president should have personally appointed the
three members of the tribunal instead of delegating that task to Chinamasa.

He said the three members of the tribunal were not selected by the president
as required by Section 87(4) of the constitution, but were selected by the
Chief Justices of Zambia, Tanzania and Malawi respectively, who had no power
to do so in terms of the Zimbabwean constitution.

"In the circumstances, bearing in mind the fact that in terms of Section
87(4) of the constitution, the tribunal should consist of not less than
three members, one of whom should be designated by the president as
chairman, the fact that each of the three Chief Justices was requested to
nominate only one of his judges to be a member of the tribunal is clear
beyond doubt that the selections made by the three Chief Justices were
intended by the president to conclusively determine the three members of the
tribunal," Sandura said.

"This was an impermissible delegation of the president's power of selecting
the members of the tribunal," Sandura said.

He said the tribunal was not, therefore, constituted in compliance with the
constitution.

"The selection of the tribunal comprising the first, second and third
respondents was unconstitutional," he said.

Paradza had argued that the tribunal was unconstitutional and that the
person leading evidence before the tribunal was not an independent
practitioner selected by the tribunal itself but a person who Chinamasa
designated to assist the tribunal with the state's position. Paradza argued
that the person acted adversarially and had displayed partisan conduct.

Justice Sandura said the constitution did not provide for the participation
of such an official in the proceedings of the tribunal. The tribunal is
supposed to be a wholly impartial body whose function is set out in s 87(6)
of the constitution.

The role of the person leading evidence before the tribunal is not to assist
the tribunal with the state's position, because the state does not have a
position in such an inquiry, but to assist the tribunal by selecting the
evidence to be placed before the tribunal and by calling witnesses and
examining them, Sandura said.

"An inquiry held in terms of Section 87 of the constitution is not a
criminal offence in which the state alleges that an accused person is guilty
of the offence with which he is charged," he said.

The charges against Paradza arose after he allegedly phoned a Bulawayo High
Court judge asking him to release the passport of his friend and business
partner, Russell Labuschagne.

Labuschagne, who is serving a 15-year jail term for the murder of a
fisherman two years ago, was being held in remand prison awaiting trial. The
authorities had seized his passport and other documents so he could not
abscond.

Paradza was arrested in his chambers in 2003 and charged with attempting to
defeat the course of justice.


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Youth party seeks coalition with UPM

Zim Independent

Ray Matikinye
THE Zimbabwe Youth Alliance (Ziya) is seeking a coalition with the United
People's Movement (UPM), a political party scheduled for launch in December.

Ziya secretary-general, Moses Mutyasira, said his organisation was seeking
an alliance with the UPM to avoid a fragmented challenge to the ruling Zanu
PF.

Former Information minister and independent MP for Tsholotsho, Jonathan
Moyo, fronts the UPM and there is speculation that six suspended Zanu PF
chairmen who attended the Tsholotsho meeting last December covertly support
the party.

"We respect their ideas and have come to realise that a fragmented approach
will not take us out of the political and economic mess created by Zanu PF,"
Mutyasira said.

Ziya is a fringe political organisation that contested elections in Masvingo
South after the death of Eddison Zvobgo and also fielded a number of
candidates in the March election.

"We are still a young political organisation and are convinced that we can
tap into the experiences of those behind the UPM. The current crisis in the
MDC does not inspire confidence in the electorate," said Mutyasira.

On nomination day for senatorial election, Ziya fielded candidates in three
constituencies in Masvingo and Harare.

In Harare, Ziya candidate Mike Duro will contest the Harare-Mbare-Hatfield
constituency while Wilbroad Kanoti will contest Tafara-Mabvuku constituency.
Another Ziya candidate will contest the Gutu North/Gutu South constituency.

Moyo could not be reached for comment on the proposition for a coalition
with Ziya.

Moyo fell out of favour with President Mugabe after convening a meeting in
Tsholotsho to contest the arbitrary nomination of Joice Mujuru to the
position of vice-president. Six Zanu PF provincial chairpersons who attended
the meeting at Dinyane School were immediately suspended from their posts.

Moyo is believed to be the brains behind the UPM.


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Australia to pressure SA over Zim

Zim Independent

Roadwin Chirara/Ray Matikinye
AUSTRALIA says it will continue to ratchet up pressure on countries like
South Africa to "stand up to" President Mugabe in the light of his refusal
to accept assistance for people in need of food and thousands made homeless
by Operation Murambatsvina.

Foreign Affairs minister Alexander Downer told parliament four million
people need food aid, but the government in Zimbabwe has rejected a United
Nations offer of help.

"We will continue to do what we can to pressure the international community
to take further action against Zimbabwe," said Downer.

Downer said Australia would continue "to pressure countries like South
Africa to be more robust in standing up to President Mugabe and to pressure
members of the Security Council to consider referring his regime to the
International Criminal Court".

The Zimbabwean government's programme to clean up slum areas has caused
concern internationally. President Mugabe refused aid from the UN because of
the world body's description of the demolition programme as a humanitarian
crisis, and over calls for the prosecution of those who orchestrated the
campaign.

Meanwhile, the United States is set to publish a new list of Zimbabwean
government officials targeted for sanctions.

The new sanctions list will be made up of two sets. One list will comprise
limited economic sanctions while the second will be made up of a visa ban
targeted at 86 government and ruling party officials most closely associated
with Mugabe's misrule.

The visa ban will for the first time include children of listed officials
applying to study in the United States. This will not however include those
currently studying in the US, nor will it be made public.

US ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell confirmed that a new list would
be published soon.

Speaking at Africa University near Mutare on Wednesday, Dell said: "We are
going to be having new additions to the current list of these government
officials and their children up and until Zimbabwe meets and commits itself
to the restoration of the rule of law, conducts free and fair elections and
places the military under civilian control.

"We will not stop until they feel the pinch for what they have done. How can
you have 20% of the population determine the future of the whole country and
its economy being entirely in their hands, including multiple farms?" Dell
said.

"We recently had a minister's wife crying at the embassy after having been
denied a visa to travel to the United States for her son's graduation in
Texas and this we will continue to do," he said.

The US ambassador blamed the government for the country's economic crisis
which he attributed to gross mismanagement and corrupt rule.

"Mr Mugabe and his officials who have presided over the collapse bear the
blame," said Dell.

He described claims by government that laws such as the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) and the Public Order and
Security Act (Posa) were enacted for the benefit of the Zimbabwean populace
as "rhetorical garbage".

"Government's claims that it enacted laws such Posa and Aippa at the request
of its people is rhetorical garbage. These are repressive laws that have a
negative bearing on society," Dell said.

Manicaland resident minister and governor, Tineyi Chigudu, who was present
at the function, criticised Dell's comments on Aippa.

"Unlike some, I am not one to call laws of other countries names such as
garbage," Chigudu said.

"All I got from the ambassador's speech was a call for the people of
Zimbabwe to revolt against the Zanu PF government."


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US envoy blames govt for economic crisis

Zim Independent

Roadwin Chirara
IN what are undoubtedly the most forthright remarks made by a foreign
diplomat based in Harare, United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher
Dell has said the current economic crisis has taken Zimbabwe back over 50
years in terms of the average person's standard of living.

Dell blamed the "gross mismanagement" and "corrupt rule" of President Robert
Mugabe's government for ruining the country's hitherto vibrant economy.

Citing research by the Centre for Global Development in Washington, Dell
said Zimbabwe had drifted backwards 52 years in terms of people's purchasing
power and quality of life.

"It is estimated that Zimbabwe's economic crisis has set the country back
more than half a century. The paper calculated that the purchasing power of
the average Zimbabwean in 2005 had fallen back to the same level as in 1953
when the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was established," Dell said in
a stinging address on Wednesday at Africa University in Mutare.

"That's an astonishing reversal of 52 years of progress in only a half dozen
years."

Dell's comments were his first public remarks about Zimbabwe's crisis since
his arrival in Harare over a year ago.

Dell said Zimbabwe now has the fastest shrinking economy in the world. "I
know of no other example in the world of any economy that, in times of
peace, has contracted so precipitously in the course of six years," he said.

Dell said the country's real gross domestic product had shrunk by 30% in
five years, while manufacturing fell by 51%.

"No issue today is more important to the future of Zimbabwe nor has the
potential to harm the region than the growing collapse of the Zimbabwean
economy," Dell said.

"Not too long ago, Zimbabwe had a vibrant and diversified economy. It was a
land of great hope and optimism in Africa."

However, Dell said Zimbabwe had gone "half a century backwards".

"GDP fell by almost 30% between 1997 and 2003, and the trend has continued
through 2005. Inflation is at least mid-triple digits and clearly on the
rise," he said.

"If government continues to print money to meet its obligations, it could
well drive inflation into quadruple digits by year's end. Manufacturing has
shrunk 51% since 1997 and exports have fallen by half. Almost every major
economic indicator has declined significantly. The investment and operating
environment is dismal."

Dell said foreign direct invest-ment had "evaporated from US$444 million in
1998 to US$9 million in 2004".

"Agricultural production - the mainstay of the economy - has collapsed under
violent implementation of a necessary but badly thought through land
reform," he said.

"The human cost of Zimbabwe's economic crisis has been extraordinarily high.
At least half the country faces food shortages. The country's human
development indicators, once the envy of sub-Saharan Africa, have sunk to
the lowest (levels) in the world," he said.

"The flood of economic bad news has been continuous. Most recently, the
World Economic Forum said Zimbabwe was the least competitive economy out of
117 economies studied."

Dell said although Mugabe's government blames drought and targeted Western
sanctions for the economic crisis, "this explanation does not hold up well
under scrutiny.

"The answer to this is quite simple, as well as quite shocking: Neither
drought nor sanctions are at the root of Zimbabwe's economic decline," he
said. "The Zimbabwe government's own gross mismanagement of the economy and
its corrupt rule have brought on the crisis."


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Zim faces grilling over violations

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro
ZIMBABWE is likely to be grilled at the African Commission meeting in Gambia
next month over a damning human rights report compiled by civic
organisations chronicling "rampant rights violations" over the past five
years.

Civic groups will present a shadow report that reflects their own views
against government's official submission.

The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights requires governments to
submit reports to the African Commission every two years.

Zimbabwe presented a human rights report to the commission in 1996 and
decided to do so again nine years later. Civic groups see the belated
submission as a desperate attempt to defuse mounting pressure and possible
isolation.

The government's own report glosses over critical issues which have plunged
the country into the current economic crisis.

It skirts virtually all the negative incidents that the country experienced
including the violence that accompanied the land invasions and all three
elections held over the past five years.

The report is silent on the widely condemned Operation Murambatsvina that
left an estimated 700 000 people homeless. Government mentions in passing
the subsequent Operation Garikai without giving any background as to why it
needed to undertake the nationwide housing construction programme.

The shadow report by civil society exposes the state's unwillingness to
uphold its primary responsibility to promote, protect and uphold human
rights.

It highlights numerous challenges Zimbabwe has faced since the last report
to the Commission in 1996, including a serious economic recession and
political and social polarisation.

"Between 1997 and 2000 the increased poverty and political polarisation was
reflected in food riots in 1998, during which ordinary Zimbabweans
demonstrated against the rising price of bread," the shadow report says.

"When the demonstrations became violent the state security forces used force
to disperse the demonstrators leading to loss of life," the report by civic
organisations says.

The report highlights, with examples, the involvement of state security
agents in many of the violent episodes that marred political activity after
the formation of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and the
launch of the now banned Daily News.

"The ruling party was involved in the violence and the state failed in its
obligation to prosecute members of the ruling party for acts of violence,"
the shadow report said.

It also exposes government failure to protect people during the land
invasions.

"These invasions, illegal under Zimbabwean and international law, were often
violent in nature including assaults, rapes and murders and led to
confrontation between the invaders, farmers and farm workers."

In 1999 war veterans and peasants invaded white-owned farms with tacit state
approval. These occupations intensified after government lost a
constitutional referendum in 2000 which included a clause to expropriate
white commercial farmers without paying compensation.

The report indicts government for failing to prevent the invasions, and says
numerous speeches by government and ruling party officials incited farm
invasions as a form of land redistribution.

Government, the report adds, failed to provide remedies to the victims of
violence associated with farm invasions, and has not prosecuted ruling party
supporters accused of violence during the process.

The report says polls since the parliamentary election of 2000 have been
marked by widespread violence blamed mainly on ruling party supporters.

"Approximately 300 people have died as a result of political and
land-invasion related violence. Rapes, assaults, kidnappings and torture
have occurred throughout the period," the report says.

It says perpetrators of these crimes have been identified mainly as state
agents including army, police and intelligence operatives as well as ruling
party militias.

The report also highlights how government adopted restrictive legislation to
thwart opposition voices and barred any gatherings perceived to be
anti-government. The laws were ruthlessly enforced through security forces.

Between 2000 and 2002 the government enacted the Broadcasting Services Act,
the Public Order and Security Act, and the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act. Collectively, these Acts seriously restricted the
rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

"One daily newspaper that did not comply with the registration requirement
because it was challenging the constitutionality of the requirement was
forced to close down. The ANZ and its assets were seized by the state.

Other newspapers have also been closed down for failing to meet the
requirements of Aippa.

"Criticism of the state president was criminalised, as was the publication
of falsehoods, having a chilling effect on the exercise of the freedom of
expression. The police were granted wide powers to prohibit public meetings
and demonstrations," the report says.


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Govt sets-up 7th land audit committee

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro
A SEVENTH land audit committee has been established to come up with a list
of new farmers eligible to sign 99-year-leases as government searches for a
lasting solution to the chaotic land reform programme.

Officials involved in the audit, led by State Security, Lands, Land Reform
and Resettlement minister in the President's Office, Didymus Mutasa, said
only A2 farmers that have the potential and are already productive would get
the 99-year leases.

A copy of the 99-year lease agreement in the hands of the Zimbabwe
Independent indicates that A2 farmers will now be charged rentals for land
they lease from government.

New land beneficiaries will have to go through a rigorous vetting exercise
and be required to produce a convincing five-year development plan and a
production plan for a similar period before being allowed to lease state
land.

The new requirements could see a number of non-performing chancers falling
by the wayside.

President Robert Mugabe recently railed against "cellphone farmers" whom he
accused of turning formerly productive white commercial farms into "weekend
braai resorts". He vowed to repossess such land and give it to those
committed to farming although there have never been any publicised cases of
forfeiture.

Government has been agonising over land wrested from white commercial
farmers that has been lying idle. Some of the beneficiaries acquired large
tracts of land as status symbols which they have not been able to put to
production, resulting in current food shortages.

Last week, government repossessed a 3 000-hectare farm from Makonde MP, Leo
Mugabe, alleging it was grossly underutilised.

In addition to paying rent, farmers will be required to pay all levies, fees
and charges as may be determined by the local authority.

"An annual rental shall be payable on or before the 1st January of each and
every year during the currency of this lease. The rental may be reviewed and
increased annually by the lessor by such reasonable amount as the lessor may
determine," the document says.

The lease document requires the new farmer to submit a five-year development
plan and another five-year production plan to the relevant planning
authority for approval before the signing of the lease.

"The development plan should include provision of access roads suitably
sited, constructed and protected against erosion as approved by the
principal director responsible for Lands and Rural Resettlement," the
document says.

The lease bars people from subletting the farms to other operators without
the approval of government.

"The lessee shall not cede, assign, hypothecate or otherwise alienate or
sublet in whole or in part, or donate of his lease or any of his rights, or
enter into partnership without the consent of the lessor in writing," the
document says.


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ZTA hijacks Miss Zim

Zim Independent

Itai Mushekwe
THIS is the darkest hour in the beauty pageant industry. The customary
spectacle of celebrating national beauty through Miss Zimbabwe is over
courtesy of what many view as an ambush by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority
(ZTA) which has turned the national beauty pageant into a tourism catwalk
now known as Miss Zimbabwe Tourism.

The cosmetic surgery becomes the first of its kind in the history of Miss
Zimbabwe which has seen it inheriting a surname, in what is largely viewed
as a marriage of convenience between the Miss Zimbabwe Trust and the ZTA.
Both parties appear to have set out to gain mileage from each other.

In the face of dwindling tourism activity, the ZTA hijacked the pageant to
market Zimbabwe's tourism while in return the Trust will secure financial
support from the tourism authority.

Speaking at the launch of the new pageant brand last week, Miss Zimbabwe
Trust patron, Kiki Divaris, expressed gratitude to the ZTA for deciding to
come aboard. "I want to thank you for approaching us. It's a dream come true
for us," she said while categorically setting the record straight that the
ZTA had come knocking at their door.

ZTA chief executive officer, Karikoga Kaseke, dismissed suggestions that his
organisation had muscled into Miss Zimbabwe: "We've not taken over Miss
Zimbabwe. What we have done is to ask Miss Zimbabwe Trust to have one Miss
Zimbabwe pageant," he said making reference to the harmonisation of Miss
Zimbabwe and Miss Zimbabwe Tourism respectively.

Kaseke also called for the media's support and an end to "damaging
reportage" to enable the new-look pageant to be a success story. "We are
kindly asking for a new chapter and call for a ceasefire," he said. "We need
your total support. We're not requesting for a cover-up, although pageants
have their own controversies. Give Miss Zimbabwe Tourism a chance."

Miss Zimbabwe has been haunted by a plethora of ills although it

has scored some notable successes. Last month it was enticed into entering
its first princess, Edwick Madyopa, for the Miss International Beauty
contest by US-based beauty scout, Ashley Shumba, which turned out to be a
transvestite pageant.

In 2003, the then national beauty, Linda Van Beek, was forced to relinquish
her crown after she had reportedly fallen pregnant. Van Beek was at a loss
for words

during the April 23 handover ceremony.

However for consolation former Miss Zimbabwe, Britta Masalethulini, scooped
the inaugural Miss Malaika beauty pageant.

Going for gold was Angeline Musasiwa, the finest beauty queen Zimbabwe has
ever produced who came fourth at the Miss World pageant finals in 1994.

Reigning Miss Zimbabwe, Oslie Muringai, becomes the last Miss Zimbabwe crown
bearer before its change yesterday.


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Women unleash film power

Zim Independent

Itai Mushekwe
IF there's an industry that has failed to subjugate women, it is the film
sector in arts and entertainment. Women are now commanding an authoritative
role in film, thus moving away from the industry's stereotype which paints
them as script mimics and not as equal competitive script writers and film
directors.

For the fourth year running women through the International Images Film
Festival for Women (IIFFW) which starts today have proved just that. The
prestigious film fiesta aims at encouraging women's participation.

IIFFW is organised by the Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe (WFOZ). This year's
catchy theme is "Women of Passion". The festival runs to November 12.

IIFFW director, Tsitsi Dangarembga, told Independent Xtra that all is set
for today's official launch and that she's positive the festival will live
up to expectations and move a step ahead in empowering women.

"Our workshops and panel discussions encourage us to reflect more seriously
on the conditions that women live in," she said. "We passionately hope that
women will find the week empowering so that their mind sets are changed as a
result of ideas they carry which prevent them from reaching their full
potential. For men, we equally and passionately hope that by the end of the
week, they reconsider their positions on some of the notions that prevail in
society that contribute to the subjugation of women."

Over 20 participants who include those from the embassies from Spain, Japan,
Poland, Norway and Iran are set to present their entrant films, which cover
a spectrum of issues ranging from trials faced in life to the races in a bid
in finding true love.

Of interest among the entrants to the festival are Sweden's twin entries,
which are The arm-wrestler from Solitude and Four Women. The former is a
documentary directed by Lisa Munthe and Helen Ahisson, while the later is a
feature directed by Baker Karim. The arm-wrestler from Solitude fits in
properly with IIFFW as it focuses on a tiny village in the far north of
Sweden called Ensamheten (solitude). Among the villagers is a 23-year-old
female arm-wrestler, Heidi Anderssson, a four-time world champion. The
spirit of togetherness in the small community of sixteen inhabitants teaches
Heidi that "alone I'm strong, I can go far; together we are stronger and go
further", as she sets out to take on the world.


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Gono in Catch-22 over ZABG

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari
RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono could have got himself
entangled in the dispute between troubled Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group
(ZABG) and collapsed banks after he allegedly secretly blocked an
independent commission of inquiry meant to solve the financial sector crisis
that hit the banking sector last year.

The commission had been proposed by bankers at the height of the crisis in
the financial sector last year.

Gono is now battling to extricate himself from the ongoing battle between
the state bank and two collapsed banks - Trust and Royal - which were taken
over by ZABG. Gono was the chief architect of the takeover.

However, the Supreme Court ruled last month that the takeover was unlawful,
"null and void and of no force or effect", throwing the state bank into a
quandary. The ruling meant that without Trust and Royal's assets, ZABG would
be insolvent and unable to operate.

The court said the central bank must adjudicate on the problems between the
state bank and the collapsed banks. The RBZ has however been evasive on the
issue, fearing that an impartial decision would lead to the collapse of
ZABG.

Sources say Gono is now in a Catch-22 situation in which he might be forced
to make a decision that is likely to see the closure of his brainchild,
ZABG. They say he is too entangled in the issue to be an impartial
adjudicator in the dispute.

The sources, however, said Gono had got himself entangled in the crisis
because he secretly blocked an independent commission of inquiry into the
financial sector. The governor had initially agreed to "look into the issue"
but later changed his mind.

"We had suggested the inquiry and Gono had agreed but he later changed,"
said a source that attended the meeting where the commission proposal was
discussed.

The bankers had suggested that the commission should be set up by
parliament. According to the initial proposal, the commission was supposed
to include members of parliament, bankers, depositors and the RBZ itself. It
was also supposed to include the auditors, accounting organisations and law
firms.

"At one of the meetings that I attended Gono had actually agreed to look
into it but he later went on with his abrupt bank closures," the source
said. Some of the bankers who were vocal on the matter were actually
grilled, said the source.

Parliament later again suggested a commission but Gono allegedly said he did
not think it was necessary. "A commission of inquiry would have done a
better job but Gono had other ideas," the source said.

Experts say that a commission would have done an impartial job without
compromising the central bank. Its absence has put the central bank's
credibility under spotlight, making it difficult for the RBZ to be an
impartial adjudicator in the dispute.


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Zimbabwe's external debt up by 11%

Zim Independent

Godfrey Marawanyika
ZIMBABWE'S external debt increased from US$3,857 million to US$4,270 million
by the end of December last year, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has
said in its annual report.

During the year under review, the debt to government dominated the medium to
long-term debt stock.

As a proportion of the total external debt, government borrowings accounted
for 77%.

"Zimbabwe's total external debt disbursed and outstanding (including
arrears) is estimated to have increased from US$3,857 million in 2003 to
US$4,270 million by end December 2004, representing an increase of 11%," RBZ
said.

"Although the inflows were not much in 2004 (only US$22,6 million from
China), the increase relative to previous years mainly reflects the
weakening of the United States dollar against all major currencies in which
the country's debt is denominated."

The RBZ said the medium to long term external debt has continued to dominate
the external debt stock, accounting for 97% of the total.

"This category of debt increased from US$3,688 million to US$4,136 million
by end of December 2004," the RBZ said.

"Short term debt, which is largely trade finance related; that is, exports
credits, suppliers credits of up to one year and standby credits sourced by
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe from international capital markets accounted
for 3,0% of the debt stock as at end of December 2004. This reflects a
decline of 0,5% from US$169 million in 2003 to US$134 million by the end of
the year."

In 2004, facilities sourced by the central bank for the procurement of fuel
and grain amounted to US$73 million.

Most of the 2004 debt was contracted mainly to finance the economic reform
programme which was launched in 1991. The 2004 external debt includes the
US$305 million debt which Zimbabwe previously owed to the International
Monetary Fund (IMF).

Zimbabwe has now repaid the Bretton Woods institute US$135 million,
promising that by next year the debt would have been settled.

Apart from financing the reform programme, government external debt
borrowings have been for the purposes of financing ongoing developmental
projects such as health facilities, rural road networks and transport.

Various parastatal bodies collectively accounted for 18% of the total medium
term debt by the end of last year.

In absolute terms, parastatal debt stock stood at US$765 million, an
increase of around 7% over 2003. The increases resulted from the
disbursements of Chinese loans to Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority and
the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority.

"The external borrowings of parastatal have largely been used to finance the
infrastructure requirements with regard to the provision of electricity
(Zesa), rail transport (NRZ) and telecommunications (Tel*One and Net*One,"
the report said.

"The private sector continued to borrow for the purposes of importing
replacement machinery, capital equipment, pre- and post-shipment trade
finance and for various expansion and new projects. Private sector external
debt declined from US$191 million to US$125 million."

Of the country's total debt, 48% is owed to multilateral creditors, while
bilateral and commercial creditors are owed 47% and five percent
respectively.


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Vendors sell forex openly, like fruit

Zim Independent

Conrad Dube
"ZIMDOLLAR for sale, $13 500 per South African rand, Zimdollar $13 500."
"Bananas for sale, $5 000 each."

Sounds like fiction?

No, these are two vendors going about their business at a fuel service
station about two kilometers away from Beitbridge Border Post.

Fruit vendors carry a variety of fruits in plastic bags while currency
traders carry satchels stashed with the local dollar and South African rand,
Botswana pula and all the other major world currencies.

Currency exchanges hands in full view of the public. Police and Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe sniffers are conspicuous by their absence.

The Zimbabwe dollar is being traded like bananas and mangos by parallel
market dealers around the country.

The dealers also mill around Harare's cross-border terminus, RoadPort.

In Gweru, they have taken over the intercity bus terminus, Kudzanayi, in the
centre of the city.

The local dollar has taken a serious battering against major currencies.

Some banks last week quoted the local currency at about $95 000 to the US
unit before the central bank intervened to suspend further downfall.

It traded at between $58 000 and $70 000 to the US dollar at the interbank
market.

Kingdom, Jewel and Barclays banks quoted the dollar at $58 200 to the US
unit.

The rand was selling at $8 655 and $8 796 at Barclays and Kingdom
respectively. The pound fetched between $102 000 and $105 000 per unit.

The rates will be slightly higher for foreign currency account holders.

A dealer at Kingdom said the rate was expected to rise to about $90 000
"soon" as pressure remained on banks to raise their offers.

She said there was no mechanism used to price the rate but "it depends on
the market".

The interbank rates are, however, lower than those offered by parallel
market dealers.

The greenback is fetching $86 000, the rand $14 000 while the pound is
fetching as much as $140 000 on the black market.


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Pressing on

Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

By Iden Wetherell
MY thanks to acting editor Joram Nyathi for inviting me to occupy his space
this week. I thought I would take the opportunity to brief you on an
important initiative relating to press freedom.

In February I attended the conference of the Commonwealth Press Union in
Sydney. This is a meeting held every two years when editors and publishers
from the 54 Commonwealth countries consult together on current issues.

Although Zimbabwe is no longer a "Club" member, the "Fiji precedent" applies
in terms of which our civil society and press organisations continue to
retain links with the world body on the grounds that once democracy is
restored we will rejoin, just as South Africa and Fiji did.

The editors met first in Manly, a Sydney ocean-side resort, before joining
the publishers (who included Trevor Ncube) in the city centre for the main
conference. Foreign minister Alexander Downer, who chaired the Commonwealth
foreign ministers group during Australia's tenure as Commonwealth chair in
2002-2003, opened the conference.

He made generous reference to the role of the Zimbabwe Independent and my
presence at the meeting in his speech and described his "substantial
confrontation" with the Zimbabwe government as a test for Commonwealth
values. Would the organisation be just a loose federation of ex-colonies or
would it be a force for good in the world by upholding its principles, he
asked?

President Mugabe's exit from the group was "the right thing to do if you
can't adhere to the core values", Downer said, pointing to the importance of
the 1991 Harare Declaration in establishing respect for democratic rules.

The Mugabe regime's harassment of journalists was well-documented, Downer
said, and where the media was restricted in reporting public debate it was
unable to fulfil its role in society. That placed the opposition at a
disadvantage, he reminded his audience just ahead of the March election.

The parliamentary poll provided an opportunity for Zimbabwe to break back
into the world of democracy and make up for the aberrations of the past,
Downer said.

We know that didn't happen. Zimbabwe is today more isolated than it has ever
been. But I felt Australians, now part of a multi-cultural society and
increasingly part of the Asian matrix around them, were responsive to our
dilemma and keen to play a role in finding solutions to our problems, just
as Malcolm Fraser did in Lusaka in 1979.

The press had a tendency to challenge governments, Downer said in his
address to the CPU. This was a good thing, he declared. "This is what the
Fourth Estate should be doing."

Perhaps with that in mind, the Editors' Forum passed a resolution,
subsequently adopted by the conference as a whole, challenging Commonwealth
governments to drop criminal defamation, an egregious anachronism, from
their statute books.

The resolution deplored the continued recourse to criminal defamation laws
by Commonwealth governments and their use to inhibit press freedom. It
welcomed the action of members such as Ghana and Sri Lanka which had
repealed the law and called on others to repeal all criminal defamation
measures as incompatible with modern democratic practice.

In particular the conference called on the UK to scrap its antiquated
criminal libel law - the model for other measures around the Commonwealth
which were used to suppress nationalist voices in the past and continue to
be used today by some nations as justification for draconian acts against
the press.

The Independent was not alone in having to defend itself in 2004 from the
depredations of a hostile state. Many newspapers around the Commonwealth
have found themselves having to fork out large sums to protect their right
to promote public accountability.

The wheels of power move slowly in these matters but this week the
Commonwealth Press Union heard from the Lord Chancellor that he is prepared
to consult the CPU on repealing the UK's Criminal Defamation Act and related
legislation.

So that is one important outcome of our deliberations in Sydney. We don't
expect a stampede in the same direction by other governments! The UK's
legislation was in any case largely moribund. But we do hope that a body of
opinion can be built, making it clear that governments that hide behind such
self-serving and punitive measures place themselves on the wrong side in a
Commonwealth increasingly attached to the values spelt out in Harare in
1991.


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MDC's problem is lack of ideology

Zim Independent

Dumisani Muleya

THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)'s self-destructive power
struggle deepened this week after a meeting of the party's "top six" leaders
failed to mend fences on Monday.
After an initial meeting last Thursday to resolve the crisis, MDC leaders
met again on Monday but emerged without a solution. They seem to have
actually moved further apart after the meeting, chaired by Professor Brian
Raftopoulos.
The internal war in the MDC erupted last month after a dispute over the
forthcoming senate election, scheduled for November 26.
The party's national council voted 33 to 31 for participation in the
election. However, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled rank and overruled
the council, arguing entering elections under hostile conditions "breeds
illegitimate outcomes".
Professor Welshman Ncube, MDC secretary-general, argued that the party had
to fight the election because its supreme decision-making body had voted so.
In any case, the Ncube group said, boycotting elections is not a serious
policy option for a party struggling for more democratic space.
This triggered a battle of wills between the Tsvangirai and Ncube camps.
When it became clear the party had put itself in a quandary, party leaders
agreed to meet in a bid to find common ground. However, their statements
after Monday's meeting suggest they have moved poles apart.
At face value, the crisis appears ethnic in character because Tsvangirai
leads a Shona-dominated faction while Ncube heads a largely Ndebele camp.
There have also been overtones of tribalism in media stories that seek to
ignore the policy issues.
The crisis in the MDC is due mainly to its failure to balance competing
interests. It is also about leadership and policy problems.
The MDC's obvious lack of ideological cohesion is another major flaw. Modern
politics are about a fight of ideas. A party's ideology is vital in shaping
and defining it.
A cursory look at the MDC's short history reveals that it emerged from the
trade union and civic movements in 1999. It was an eclectic mix of trade
unions, civic organisations, business associations, pressure groups,
professionals, farmers and students. It was in essence a creature of
President Robert Mugabe's leadership failures.
The MDC was therefore driven by popular disenchantment with the
establishment while its constituent parts had either little or nothing in
common.
Conditions for a party like the MDC to emerge were cultivated by the botched
International Monetary Fund-backed economic reforms which started in 1991
after government's failed dirigiste experiment between 1980 and 1990.
When the situation deteriorated dramatically after 1997, it became only a
matter of time before a broad-based opposition movement emerged. The MDC
surfaced as a catch-all party because of the deteriorating socio-economic
conditions.
After winning almost half the contested parliamentary seats in the general
election in 2000 (57 out of 120), the MDC failed to evolve into a cohesive
unit. Its policies were also vague, especially on the controversial land
redistribution.
The party also failed to recruit some of Zimbabwe's best minds, and this
explains its intellectual deficit, its policy inadequacies and its
leadership limitations. It therefore remained an ideologically weak protest
movement.
It is clear the current fight over the senate is not an issue of substance
but an eruption of bottled-up problems suppressed over the past six years.
The implosion was always bound to come. It does not matter whether or not
the MDC contests the senate election, but this relatively trivial issue has
been allowed to assume a national character because of leadership
weaknesses.
This is why neither of the rival camps is able to sell its position. The
argument over the senate election is unwinnable because both sides'
arguments have almost equal merit and as a result it should not have been a
general debate but a strategic issue.
Tsvangirai is right that there is no point in contesting elections whose
outcomes are predetermined, but few are convinced about the strategic
utility of election boycotts. There is no point in having a party that
exists merely to boycott elections in as much as there is no sense in
squandering resources fighting Zanu PF over an inconsequential institution.
The MDC has lost the bigger picture in the heat of the battle. Zanu PF set
the booby trap for the opposition through its senate project and the MDC is
right where the ruling party wanted it.
But instead of providing leadership, Tsvangirai has seized the opportunity
to consolidate his faltering grip on the party by staging a coup against his
own constitution. That's where he simply got it wrong. Perhaps that was the
most important decision he had to make so far and he failed the test.
By overthrowing the constitution, Tsvangirai set a dangerous precedent. He
could be right in his argument but the risk of allowing him to act
autocratically for opportunistic reasons threatens the founding principles
of the MDC.
Tsvangirai - who can summon large crowds at the hustings - says after the
boycott, the MDC will confront the regime. But only a few months ago he said
he would not tackle government head-on by taking people to the streets
because they will be gunned down by the army. Only recently he renounced
mass action as an option.
He is also on record saying the MDC would not focus on constitutional reform
before it gets into power because it would be unhelpful to pursue "academic"
issues when "people are starving". Tsvangirai has also been refusing to work
with civil society organisations, claiming they had no constituency.
But he has now changed the tune for opportunistic reasons and this is where
the MDC has a problem. It has no consistent programme of action.
Tsvangirai cannot rise to the challenge to rescue his party from its
political cul de sac.
Leadership is a process of making policy and administrative decisions,
particularly under difficult conditions. It is the leader's responsibility
to hold his party together - to act as a referee and ensure disputes do not
impair or destroy the organisation.
But instead of being umpire, Tsvangirai has reduced himself to a faction
leader. If he had stayed neutral and mediated successfully in the crisis,
his political credit rating would have gone up dramatically. Leading a
faction and engaging in a dogfight with his principal colleagues has damaged
his credibility.
Tsvangirai's failure to knock heads together has left him facing what social
scientists call a "run on the political bank". Hirelings following him know
that resorting to martial law tactics to resolve an issue in a "movement for
democratic change" is wrong but they want the spoils they can get out of
him, personally or institutionally.
If the MDC splits, it will be a tremendous waste of the effort it put into
the struggle for change over the past six years. It will also be a great
betrayal of the millions who sacrificed - some their lives - for it. But now
unless something dramatic happens at its council meeting tomorrow the party
seems headed for a break-up. That's the last thing the country needs as the
Mugabe-regime daily advertises its policy failures.


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Senate a high-sounding nothing

Zim Independent

By Bornwell Chakaodza
THE other day, a colleague was explaining to me how he had not come across a
single Zimbabwean who had evinced any interest to vote for the contested
seats of the senate election scheduled for November 26.

My own conversations with friends and family members both in Harare and in
rural Guruve where I hail from, have led me to feel that many Zimbabweans
neither understand what this animal called the senate is all about, nor will
they waste their time and energy voting for the remaining contested
constituencies come election day.

For my own part, it was very heartening to be reassured once again that the
electorate is a very discerning and questioning one which knows a useless
thing when it sees it. Zimbabweans are fully aware that the senate which is
almost akin to the House of Lords in Britain is a futile and idle exercise,
a mere talk shop for the failed Zanu PF old guard which will not bring any
benefit whatsoever to them. At least in Britain, members of the House of
Lords are not failed politicians by any yardstick you care to think of.

Whether some candidates have filed their nomination papers on MDC tickets or
as independents is neither here nor there. The point is that they are
contesting the seats to promote their personal interests. And in the
unlikely event that they are elected by the few who will bother to vote,
they will nevertheless remain impotent.

One elderly man from Mufakose high-density suburb asked me: "This senate
which is being paraded before us every day in the media, what is it? Will it
put food on my table or a roof over my head?"

When I responded by saying that the senate as the upper house will be
charged with the responsibility of reviewing legislation and scrutinising
bills emanating from the lower house, the House of Assembly, the elderly man
retorted: "What is that? Does it mean that the people we voted into
parliament last March are now impotent? If that is the case, let us do away
with this damn thing called parliament!"

Clearly, going by what the Mufakose man said and the people I have been
talking to over the past two months, it does indeed appear that the
Zimbabwean electorate is an anxious one, worried much more about their
living conditions than obsession with trivialities and irrelevant netas such
as the costly senate which will serve as the primary source of individual
enrichment of pseudo-politicians and nothing more. In an economy like ours
that is in a critical condition, accumulation is often dependent on a system
of patronage and state resources and favours. The struggle for spoils in the
form of senate seats must be understood in this context.

Zanu PF, as the mover of this useless project, is thus completely out of
touch with reality. Of course, from the deluded and brainwashed and lowly
placed Zanu PF supporters, there will be song and dance but this does not
take away the fact that for the vast majority of Zimbabweans, the senate
elections are a non-event. The behaviour of such Zanu PF supporters need not
surprise anyone. For the only time when the lowly-placed in society become
"politically active" is at the time of voting and during rent-a-crowd
meetings of the party where they perform the functions of hands-clapping and
ululating to accompany every speech by the president of the party and his
lieutenants. Apparently, the deluded supporters think that these mystical
gatherings will bring about the disappearance of starvation only for reality
to dawn on them when after the speeches they trek back to their homes to
face the continuing misery and poverty alone and out of the sight of the
so-called chefs.

In other words, we can safely talk about two societies in Zimbabwe. One for
the ordinary masses, and the other for the political elites. The former
struggles for existence daily and in their deluded state makes it possible
for the latter to earn a senate salary and a new vehicle. The
re-introduction of the senate after it was wisely abolished 18 years ago in
the wake of the establishment of the all-powerful executive presidency has
nothing to do with any lofty ideals such as the further scrutiny of bills
from the lower house but rather with individual self-interest in a situation
in which opportunities for personal accumulation are closely tied to
membership of the ruling party.

Little wonder that since 1980, positions of leadership in Zanu PF and its
government have been dominated, to a considerable extent, by the same people
or their close confidants. Let us therefore be spared all this verbiage
about review of legislation by the senate or its delaying tactics on the
passing of bills. Amendments or no amendments, inputs or no inputs from the
senate, the lower house will pass the bills anyway. This is the bottom line,
which to me reads very well and that is why for the vast majority of
Zimbabweans, the re-introduction of the senate is particularly painful.

Essentially, the whole senate thing boils down to plundering the little
resources we have. That is also the reason why Morgan Tsvangirai - with
whatever shortcomings you ascribe to him - is the man who has come to
represent the conscience of Zimbabwe on this particular issue of the senate.

In fact, almost every Zimbabwean is asking why the senate is suddenly
necessary after an 18-year absence. Personal interests that include
providing "jobs for the boys" who will be needed for a smooth presidential
succession in the same way the senate closed ranks with the lower house in
1987 when the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No 7) 1987 ushered in the
executive presidency which with its centralisation of power in one man,
provides answers why the senate has been revived.

Therein lies the context within which the re-introduction of the senate must
be understood and sub-sequently condemned. When it comes to things like the
re-establishment of the senate for example, the more important point is
conceptual. It lies in the argument that events and happenings should not be
seen as isolated, accidental or superficial occurrences but as grounded in a
deeper political and social process.

Zimbabwe is in dire straits. Ordinarily, why should anyone want to

come up with a senate project that by any stretch of imagination does not
make sense at all? The question is being asked: How on earth can anybody do
this? The senate is not going to have any powers of setting aside any bill
or legislation even it is against right and reason or repugnant to the
Constitution or anything. The bill can only be delayed but it will
eventually pass. So why have the senate given such a scenario anyway?

In any event, given the semi-literate nature of many of would-be senators,
their partisan stances and lack of understanding of the seriousness of the
current crisis and challenges, I guarantee you that you will never see a
worse circus like this in your lifetime.

For this and many other reasons, I will not, for the first time since 1980,
be voting in an election. Even if there was going to be competition in my
constituency, I was not going to waste my time and effort. No useful purpose
would be served by taking part in this charade. I am cocksure that the vast
majority of Zimbabweans share this position and viewpoint.

* Bornwell Chakaodza is a former editor of the Herald and Standard
newspapers.


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MDC infighting was bound to take place

Zim Independent

By Jonathan Moyo
IN my view, there are two background variables that arise from the MDC
episode of infighting.

The first has to do with the specific matter at issue: to participate or not
to participate in the forthcoming senate election and how this issue has
been handled by the MDC leadership. The second has to do with whether the
first issue about participating or not participating in the senate election
is a substantive one to warrant the sort of leadership dispute that we have
seen erupting within the MDC.

Starting with the second question first, it seems to me that the question of
whether to participate or not is clearly not a substantive one. I get the
impression that this question is a trigger point of fundamental differences
within or among the MDC leadership that have been simmering and were allowed
to remain unresolved for a long time.

Not that I know what these differences are, but that it is quite clear there
is something much bigger and more serious that has not been right and the
question of participating or not participating in the senate election has
turned out to be a convenient opportunity to light up the fires that are now
burning within the MDC.

Paranthetically, while I believe there are some substantive differences
within the MDC leadership that we have not yet heard about, it seems to me
self-evident that the MDC has been infiltrated by state security and this
really saddens me because state security should not be allowed to become
ruling party security.

Yet the truth in our country is that state security agents are running Zanu
PF such that Zanu PF is Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and CIO is
Zanu PF. Naturally, in such a scenario, it stands to reason that the CIO
will defend and prop up Zanu PF by infiltrating opposition ranks so as to
cause confusion within them in the hope that the resultant confusion will
weaken if not kill the opposition.

Otherwise, there are strong objective considerations and grounds to support
either participating or not participating and it is a pity that the MDC has
allowed a rather straightforward matter to rock its foundations. I will
return to the participating question in a moment.

What is happening suggests that for any political party to survive for a
long time, it is necessary for that party to have something ideologically or
morally more important than just seizing political power.

A political party by definition must stand for and represent something,
first and foremost. Any political party that comes into existence merely
because it is against the incumbent party or its leader is always at risk of
disintegration.

A major structural weakness of the MDC has been that it is has generally
benefited from, if not driven by, protest politics. While such politics may
have strategic utility at some opportune moment, the fact is that protest is
ephemeral and comes and goes depending on the dynamics of particular times
and particular developments. Protest is not an ideology, it is inherently
opportunistic and short-lived.

Political parties that have been able to take strategic advantage of protest
politics are those that are well grounded in ideological and policy terms.
Of course, some political parties (like Narc in Kenya) have been able to
opportunistically take advantage of protest politics and votes to unseat an
incumbent party (Kanu) but in such a scenario the day after the victory
brings with it the real ideological and policy divisions as things begin to
fall apart.

This is what has been happening in Kenya in recent years where Narc's lack
of a common ideological and policy grounding is taking its toll. Of course,
we can say this is not really too bad given that Narc at least managed to
unseat Kanu and this alone was momentous in the political history of Kenya
as it opened up new politics beyond Kanu's one party state machine that has
been truly dismantled.

With respect to the MDC, it was important for its survival to have won the
critical election in 2000. Evidence around shows that a political opposition
party - without a coherent or common ideological platform but riding on
protest votes - which fails to win a critical election runs a very high risk
of falling apart after that election.

The 2000 elections were critical for the MDC to win and if the MDC had won
those elections, indications are that it would have subsequently found
itself facing serious internal conflicts as a governing party. Therefore,
infighting within the MDC was bound to take place ever since the party was
formed in 1999 as the ideological question facing it, arising from not
having a shared ideology, was not whether such a fight would happen but
when.

The proposition that the root cause of the infighting is because of a lack
of a common ideology shared by the MDC leadership is demonstrated by the
fact that the infighting is very personalised and when it is not, the issues
at stake are procedural and not substantive. Neither of the feuding sides
has put forward an ideological argument beyond the voting saga and the
provisions of the constitution and this alone shows that participating or
not participating are not fundamental issues at all.

Let's face it, in politics the only political party that can survive without
an ideology is most likely the one in power which abuses its incumbency by
making state institutions and state resources extensions of its party for
reasons of patronage.

That is what is keeping Zanu PF together, because Zanu PF is now a dead duck
on the shelf, only breathing from the evils of state security and the abuse
of state funds. Otherwise, like the MDC, Zanu PF does not have a coherent
ideology shared by its members and is no longer capable of coming up with
one. In conclusion, let me return to the specific issue.

The MDC would have been well-advised to participate. Yes, we all know that
the MDC opposed the senate; yes we all know that this senate is intended
only for five years as a stop-gap measure to satisfy Zanu PF's patronage
needs in order to manage Robert Mugabe's succession.

These negatives are known and most of them if not all of them also apply to
the lower house which is full of Mugabe's appointees. But Zanu PF is not
confident of winning the senate elections if the MDC participates. A number
of Zanu PF's senatorial candidates are simply unelectable and it is
strategic to expose Zanu PF by participating and defeating its geriatrics
who have no chance in heaven to win a poll even if it is not free and fair.

Zanu PF's gamble, and why it has created all this confusion, is that in the
end the MDC will not participate or that only a few MDC candidates will
participate so as to have its candidates walk into the senate without facing
any competition.

This is what Zanu PF wanted. They wanted their candidates to win it all at
the nomination court. Remember, all Zanu PF wants is to have its geriatrics
become senators so as to collect state funds, etc. This will be used as
campaigning ground for the presidential election that Zanu PF is currently
afraid of. Imagine Sithembiso Nyoni or Dumiso Dabengwa, they clearly are
spending sleepless nights praying that the MDC should not participate
because they know they cannot win any election.

Why let them get away with it by not participating? Also, Zanu PF wants to
dilute the MDC constituencies by having senators who will use state
resources to "show" that MDC MPs (and this will include me as an independent
MP) are not doing anything for the people.

Zanu PF wants its senators to take over constituencies that are currently
held by the opposition. Therefore, if the MDC does not participate, you will
see that it will become impossible or even harder to work in their
constituencies. Zanu PF senators will have the impact of the Zanu PF
metropolitan governors who have messed up things in Harare and Bulawayo
where residents had clearly elected MDC councils.

So from purely a strategic point of view, the MDC should have seriously
considered participation only for the purposes of containing Zanu PF. In
politics, you fight every battle and use the battle as experience. Electoral
boycotts are by definition old-fashioned and thoughtless, they never serve
any useful purpose at all.

While on this, you might ask why the United People's Movement (UPM) is not
participating. Well it's simply because it is in its formation and is
currently building its structures which it will use in future elections.
Otherwise, UPM would have participated just to expose Zanu PF and throw
spanners into its evil schemes.

As things stand now, I believe the MDC has needlessly put itself between a
rock and a hard place. The conflict has created deep wounds among the
leaders and some of the wounds cannot be healed. But worse, the conflict has
confused and divided the party's membership at home and abroad.

It would require serious statesmanship to bridge the gaps and heal the
wounds. I sincerely hope the MDC leadership can use this episode as an
opportunity to rise above personality clashes, mere procedures and related
technicalities and deal with fundamental ideological and policy issues in
the interest of their members.

Crises of this kind are known to produce miracles. As for Zanu PF media
mouthpieces, the glee that has been displayed through dense propaganda
articles and useless in-house columns is childish. These mouthpieces have
been falling hard on each other believing that they have finally cornered
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Far from it. In the first place, Tsvangirai's position actually resonates
with popular opinion on the ground. That is clear. People are now tired of
elections whose outcome leaves them worse off. Obviously, Tsvangirai has not
handled the issues at stake properly or wisely but he certainly has an
emotionally - not intellectually - powerful position.

Also, Tsvangirai's view that his party has no resources to participate is
not a trivial point. Zanu PF is using state funds which the MDC does not
have to expand patronage to its deadwood retrieved from the political
wasteland. Some traditional supporters of the MDC seem to have become
extremely tired and they appear to have taken a prior position against the
senate election to which they are not even sending observers.

What is ironic though is that what the Zanu PF media mouthpieces are
accusing Tsvangirai of doing is exactly what the ruling party leader Robert
Mugabe does all the time in his party. The Tsholotsho saga is a recent case
in point. Mugabe actually does not want the organs of his party to vote as
required by the Zanu PF constitution. He simply has no time for that
constitution.

In Zanu PF, the command is Mugabe's word. Because the Zanu PF media
mouthpieces have made puerile noises - like baboons that laugh at each
other's foreheads - it is necessary for neutral observers to use the MDC
episode to look at how Mugabe runs Zanu PF.

If the truth were to be said without prejudice, in political terms, the MDC
has shown exemplary courage in debating the issue of the senate in the way
it has although the debate has been clumsy. For the neutrals, it's been very
refreshing and path breaking though. It is very possible that, in the final
analysis, a lot of good will come out of this. The real loser will be Zanu
PF which is so foolish as not to realise that it has been exposed big time
by the MDC situation.

* Professor Moyo is the MP for Tsholotsho and former Information minister


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Bring back experienced farmers

Zim Independent

By John Robertson
IN his recent monetary policy statement, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor
Gideon Gono urged the nation and the government to ensure that the coming
agricultural season becomes a success to prevent a repeat of the serious
consequences of this year's food deficits.

The governor, his government colleagues and the nation would do well to
study Bruce Gemmill's article in the Zimbabwe Independent of October 7.

In his article, Gemmill makes many important points very clearly. Among
these are the simple facts that small-scale farming should never have been
expected to feed our growing urban population and the uncertainties involved
in farming call for the delivery of vastly more capital, knowledge and
commitment than small-scale producers are prepared, or able, to supply.

Now we learn from the long-range weather forecasters that we might have very
poor rains in the next few seasons. Bad seasons are usually devastating to
small operators, but experienced farmers have always been more able to take
this kind of season in their stride.

Considering the food security issues and also the foreign earnings we used
to bring in from export commodities, one fact now stands out: we urgently
need to get experienced people back onto the land.

Zimbabwe is a drought-prone tropical country that has a fragile ecology and
is subject to a wide selection of tropical diseases, pests and other
hazards. When the risks from financial, marketing and distribution
uncertainties are added, the reasons become clear why more than usually
talented people are needed in the industry.

Gono's generous allocation of funding to the producers of various crops
highlights another belief, which is that money can make up for the lack of
other essentials, or every problem can be solved if enough money is thrown
at it. Hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayers' money have been offered
in the form of productivity enhancement facilities and hundreds of billions
more to fund tobacco, wheat, maize, sorghum and livestock producers.

The former large-scale farmers used their land as collateral and sourced
their funds from banks, not from taxpayers. Being market-driven and highly
responsive to performance, the system itself rewarded the successful. But
the same system expelled those who were less successful, so even the best
farmers had to commit themselves to a great deal of hard work to ensure
success and to repay outstanding loans.

By comparison, the resettlement farmers of today in Zimbabwe suffer from
major disadvantages. By taking the land out of the market and allocating it
for nothing to resettlement farmers, government has made its collateral
value fall to nothing.

So the land is not "bankable". Its holders also have no security of tenure.
Land that has been given for nothing can also be taken away for nothing.

So the new farmers have neither the means nor the incentive to invest in the
land's longer-term productivity. These farmers have been rendered almost
powerless to preserve the value of the land given to them. This will ensure
that good land will soon be incapable of production beyond subsistence
levels.

Even proponents of land redistribution concede that these basic flaws in the
government's policies will lead to massive land degradation and that if no
steps are taken to remedy the flaws, the land will become progressively less
productive.

Without a realistic chance of developing either their own potential, or that
of their land, hopes will soon die away that the new farmers will continue
striving for success.

But in contrast to the commercial system, that will not mean that they will
lose their land. Provided that non-performing holders remain politically
acceptable, the land is likely to remain under their control indefinitely.

This is because we now have a patronage system under which poor farmers
cannot be displaced by better farmers. This is the very antithesis of
empowerment. The idea has impoverished many countries in the past and it is
in the process of impoverishing Zimbabwe now.

The system chosen sets the limits to what the farmers can achieve, not the
race of the farmer. East German farmers performed not nearly as well as West
German farmers before reunification. Today, South Korean farmers easily
outperform North Korean farmers. The respective level of prosperity in these
cases was, and is, a function of the operational system used. In Zimbabwe we
have deliberately dismantled the system that works.

Commercial farmers are good because the system stretches them. With constant
pressure on them to meet financial obligations, they have to invest
carefully in their own skills and in physical schemes that improve their
prospects of delivering good crops.

Their object was always to leave as little to chance as possible because
they might otherwise lose everything. Now they have lost everything anyway.
But the real loser is Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe's commercial farming industry should have been viewed as an
industry as well as a carefully balanced and easily damaged system. Our
current predicament and our increasingly frightening prospects are living
proof of both the fragility and the importance of the sector.

Zimbabwe's population was able to increase dramatically in the past because
of the success of this industry. And because of its growth, the same
population came to depend upon agriculture's continued success many years
ago. We have responded in exactly the wrong way to the country's
world-record-breaking population growth during the past century.

Government's policies appear to be based on an assumption that highly
productive farming practices are instinctive, but that it can make up for
bad luck with the weather or other natural hazards by offering an endless
stream of subsidies.

Sadly, the simple truth is that we cannot afford them. Bring back property
rights and large-scale commercial farming and we won't need them.

* John Robertson is a Harare-based economic consultant.


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unning out of scapegoats for failure

Zim Independent

Comment

R

UNITED States ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell's razor-sharp
observations on the economy at Africa University on Wednesday are
irrefutable. He gave the strongest rebuttal to date by a foreign envoy of
government's claims that Zimbabwe's economic decline is a result of drought
and sanctions.
President Robert Mugabe has claimed the economy is plagued by unpredictable
weather patterns and Western financial and travel sanctions imposed against
himself and his officials over misrule.
Apologists of the regime have also been hawking this argument in the state
media and on the Internet. While it is true that Zimbabwe's current problems
have been caused by both internal and external factors, it's clear that
drought and sanctions are the least of these.
The root causes of the current crisis are Mugabe's populist posturing and
lawless behaviour by his supporters that scare off investment. This has been
exacerbated by skewed global economic trends, especially unfair trade
practices and Western agricultural subsidies which undermine third world
economies that are largely dependent on agriculture.
There is also the issue of natural resources control and value addition to
goods which tend to weaken poor nations' bargaining power. Developing
countries lose a lot by exporting unfinished products. These are issues of
substance affecting the Zimbabwean economy, just like other developing
economies. But, as Ambassador Dell so cogently pointed out, the peculiarity
of Zimbabwe is gross misrule and economic mismanagement verging on sabotage,
not the terms of international trade.
To claim that drought and sanctions - imposed in reaction to repression and
economic vandalism - are solely responsible for Zimbabwe's economic crisis
is manifestly dishonest.
Dell said these excuses "do not hold up under scrutiny" and backed his
argument with empirical evidence.
"On the face of it, it seems possible that drought could account for
Zimbabwe's precipitous fall in output, especially since so much of the
economy is based on rain-fed agriculture and the region faces a regular
cycle of varying rainfall. This explanation, however, does not hold up under
scrutiny," he said.
Dell quoted the Washington-based Cato Institute's paper written by economist
Craig Richardson on the collapse of Zimbabwe's economy, details of which
were published in the Zimbabwe Independent of October 21. Richardson has
studied the correlation between rainfall patterns and GDP since 1985 based
on data from Zimbabwe's Meteorological Service.
The research found that the drought of 2000/2001 was less severe than 12
other recent low rainfall periods.
"He found that the historically close correlation of GDP with rainfall
cycles no longer holds after 1999. Since 1999, when rainfall has recovered,
the Zimbabwean economy nevertheless has continued to decline," Dell said.
"The Centre for Global Development carries the rainfall analysis one step
further. It notes that rainfall patterns are regional, yet Zimbabwe's
decline in maize production over the past five years has been dramatically
greater than Zambia's or Malawi's. In fact, Zambia's maize production
actually increased after 2002."
Against this background, Dell said, drought could not adequately account for
Zimbabwe's agricultural ruin.
"I don't pretend to be an agronomist, but I do know that Zimbabwe has
experienced cycles of drought since time immemorial. Its agricultural sector
adapted to conditions and built impressive irrigation systems and dense
networks of dams," he said.
The "drought defence" simply didn't account for Zimbabwe's economic
collapse, Dell said.
He said the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, the cornerstone of
the US policy toward Zimbabwe, makes democratic reforms the main condition
for aid.
Without such reforms, he said, the US, together with the European Union and
others, would maintain financial and travel sanctions.
"The argument that these narrowly targeted sanctions have hurt the larger
economy could only be true if the whole economy is in the hands of 86
government officials on the sanctions list," Dell said.
"The answer to this is quite simple, as well as quite shocking: Neither
drought nor sanctions are at the root of Zimbabwe's economic decline. The
Zimbabwe government's own gross mismanagement of the economy and its corrupt
rule have brought about the crisis."
This is something we already know and have said so repeatedly in this paper.
But it was refreshing to have the envoy of the world's largest economy speak
out on the dishonesty Zimbabweans are fed every day by their politicians and
state media.
Let's put these excuses of drought and sanctions to rest. Government must
not shirk responsibility for the consequences of its policy failures. Mugabe
and his cronies -- the real saboteurs of the economy - must fix it or do the
honourable thing - admit they have no solutions and quit!


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The stimulus of toll manufacturing

Zim Independent

Eric Bloch Column

ááááá WHEN Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono presented his
third quarter monetary policy statement on October 20, he used the occasion
as an opportunity to urge Zimbabwe's industrialists to embark upon toll
manufacturing.
ááááá He said: "As monetary authorities, we are aware that most
manufacturing firms are operating well below their normal capacity
utilisation levels due to input shortages and the current severe contraction
of aggregate demand.
ááááá "In order to forestall job losses, as well as promote foreign exchange
generation, we call upon relevant authorities in government to consider
giving dispensation to manufacturers who are able to toll manufacture for
regional customers to do so on the basis that such customers would supply
raw materials, take the output and pay a toll manufacturing fee in hard
currency."
ááááá Toll manufacturing is far from being a new methodology of transacting
business.
ááááá More than 150 years ago, a significant characteristic of the
industrial revolution was the provision of wool to manufacturers of woven
products and garments on the basis that the wool was not sold to them, but
was supplied to the manufacturers to produce woolen cloth and garments to
the specification of the wool suppliers, and for and on their behalf. In
consideration for that production, the manufacturers would be paid
manufacturing fees which would fund the wages and other operating costs
payable by them, and yield them a profit.
ááááá In the 20th century, these practices became increasingly pronounced,
and especially so within the clothing industry where they became known as
cut, make and trim.
ááááá At the present time, the concepts of toll manufacturing have very
great potential benefits for much of Zimbabwean industry, inclusive of the
manufacturers of clothing and textiles, furniture, engineering products,
pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs and much else.
ááááá Almost all of industry has been very severely affected by the minimal
availability of foreign currency required for the importation of raw
materials and other manufacturing inputs, including consumables, spares and
packaging.
ááááá In consequence, a very great number of industries that were operating
multiple shifts had no alternative but to reduce operations to single
shifts. Others had to reduce production hours from eight or nine per day to
six, and yet others cut back their operations to only two or three days a
week.
ááááá But the ramifications of the massively decreased production were
far-reaching. With production often at levels of less than 30% of capacity,
operating losses were inevitable. Few, if any, overheads could be reduced in
tandem with the reductions in production, for most of such costs are fixed
in nature. Rentals, salaries, insurances and the like do not diminish
because of contractions in production volumes.
ááááá In contra distinction, some costs increase. In particular, the losses
sustained eroded the capital base of the enterprises, already radically
impacted upon by the ravages of inflation, which necessitated greater
application of capital to fund stocks and debtors. As a result, there was
increased recourse to borrowings, with consequential increases in finance
costs.
ááááá Not only have the manufacturing enterprises suffered horrendously, but
their negative, and usually appalling, circumstances have had unavoidable,
very major, downstream economic repercussions. The services of contract
labour have been terminated, other labourers have been retrenched, domestic
purchasing power has been increasingly constricted, there has been lesser
spending to downstream suppliers of goods and services, and revenue flows to
a ravenous fiscus have markedly diminished.
ááááá However, toll manufacturing for export customers can dramatically
reverse many of these ills. A few manufacturers have already established
positive toll manufacturing arrangements, but they are the exceptions,
rather than the rule. Most have, as yet, been oblivious of the
opportunities.
ááááá Undoubtedly that was the motivation for Gono's reference to toll
manufacturing. As stated by him, the fundamentals of a toll manufacturing
arrangement are that the customer provides certain agreed manufacturing
inputs, the manufacturer undertaking to apply those inputs to production of
mutually agreed goods. Instead of selling product, the manufacturer receives
a toll-manufacturing fee which is calculated to cover any inputs supplied by
the manufacturer, all costs of production, an attributable proportion of
overheads and a fair profit.
ááááá The direct advantages to the manufacturer are that he does not have to
find foreign currency to pay for imported inputs, and does not sustain the
financing costs attendant to those inputs. At the same time, he is enabled
to have increased productivity, restoring prospects of price stability and
of profitability.
ááááá The economy as a whole benefits with the continuance (and possible
growth) of employment, the downstream economic flows, and the reduced
pressures upon the foreign exchange resources.
ááááá There are also benefits to the customer. First of all is the greater
assurance of continuity of supply and, secondly, the customer can usually
command a more favourable price than otherwise.
ááááá Moreover, if the source of the inputs supplied by the customer is the
same country as the ultimate destination of the manufactured products, the
customer only sustains liability to Customs duties, other import taxes, and
value-added tax on the value added to the supplied inputs, instead of upon
the total value of the manufactured products.
ááááá The RBZ has only one reservation insofar as toll manufacturing
contracts are concerned, and that is they should not be structured so as to
circumvent exchange control regulations with especial reference to "transfer
pricing".
ááááá The RBZ does require compliance with its normal export regulations,
insofar as they are relevant, including requisite CD1 export authorisation,
based upon the toll manufacturing fee volume, and the timeous acquittal
thereof. And 30% of that fee must be sold to the RBZ at the official
exchange rates, while the other 70% remains available to the manufacturer in
terms of the normal 45-day retention protocols.
ááááá But at least the manufacturer is mandatorily disposing of 30% of the
toll-manufacturing fee only, and not 30% of gross product value, because, to
all intents and purposes, the toll-manufacturing fee equates to a normal
selling price for goods of like nature, quality and quantity, net of the
value of the customer-supplied inputs.
ááááá It is little wonder, therefore, that Gono sought to promote toll
manufacturing, and the private sector should respond positively in its own
best interests.


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Some scribes as useful as snow in Alaska

Zim Independent

Muckraker

CONGRATULATIONS to the Financial Gazette for exposing what it calls
pervasive corruption at the Ministry of Higher Education and Technology.
An internal audit, published by the paper, reveals billions of dollars in
taxpayers' funds were misappropriated through rampant abuse of vehicles and
fuel allocations.
Ministry officials without going to tender procured vehicles worth more than
$3,3 billion from local car dealers. With such intentional over-riding of
procurement regulations by top management, the audit said, kickbacks could
not be ruled out.
"This is fraud and corruption," it said.
The permanent secretary in the ministry, Washington Mbizvo, had eight
vehicles allocated to him which included a Pajero, Mazda Eagle, Defender,
and Peugeot 607, while the minister, Stan Mudenge, had three vehicles
allocated to him, a Prado, Mazda 2500, and Mazda Eagle.
"The allocation and distribution of vehicles can only be described as
corrupt," the audit said. "It is not fair, not reasonable, and not honest."
It recommended the immediate recovery from Mbizvo of vehicles that are being
used by non-civil servants such as Mrs M Mbizvo.
Ministry officials were unable to account for 32 vehicles belonging to the
ministry.
Some were reported to be parked at the homes of senior ministry officials
while others could have been taken to their farms, the report said.
There are 28 other vehicles not accounted for in the ministry register.
"Ministry vehicles not located at the ministry are feared to have been
stolen, stripped or misused, not only by greedy and dishonest civil
servants, but also by non-civil servants who have no right to use government
vehicles at all," the audit said.
Corruption is so rife in our society that this shocking report warranted
only Page 4 treatment. But it is emblematic of how Zanu PF fat cats live off
the carcass of the country they have destroyed. Stan Mudenge during his
reign as Foreign minister was full of bombast and hot air over a largely
imagined conspiracy by the West to undermine Zimbabwe. Now he heads a
ministry that is rotten to the core and which has been accused of finding
scholarships in the US and UK for progeny of the nomenklatura. It must be
evident to all, including blind journalists, judges and policemen, where the
sickness lies in our country.
The permanent secretary in the ministry, who is also the accounting officer,
meanwhile needs eight vehicles to get around. His wife needs one as well.
All this at a time when the country is desperate for funds to import maize
and fuel.
Nothing could be more emblematic of Zanu PF's parasitic rule than this
disclosure. And nothing says more about our headlong descent into Haitian
captivity than the fact that nobody will think any of this as unusual.

Meanwhile, the US government will soon introduce measures to refuse student
visas to the offspring of chefs. It is a shame that the sins of the fathers
are being visited upon their children. But reflect upon this reality: Pride
Chigwedere is an outstanding product of Harvard University. His work in the
field of HIV/Aids prevention is widely recognised. But he is the son of a
minister who is busy battering away at the foundations of Zimbabwean
education; a minister who is driving out qualified teachers, making the work
of private schools impossible, and ensuring that the standard of education
generally is reduced to the lowest common denominator.
In a word he is a disaster. Yet his son benefits from an American education.
Indeed many Zanu PF chefs in the forefront of the Third Chimurenga have
taken steps to ensure their kids do not endure the third-rate education
their populist policies have spawned. Is it not time their children were
brought home to live in the paradise their parents have built for us?

There has been much comment in the op/ed columns on the internecine fighting
going on in the MDC. This is understandable. But it has enabled a number of
hostile commentators to say, "told you so" - as if they had an answer to our
national problems! While they are free to call Morgan Tsvangirai all sorts
of names, these sniping cowards are not allowed to say a single word about
the author of the country's headlong descent into penury. So nobody takes
them seriously.
Caesar Zvayi, Munyaradzi Huni etc should understand that if they want their
views on Tsvangirai taken seriously, we need to hear them expose the figure
at the core of the nation's rot with the same energy. But needless to say
these brave commentators can't say a single word about Robert Mugabe's trail
of destruction!
"Tsvangirai a dictator," declares the Herald without any sense of irony. It's
pathetic. Journalists who can only attack the opposition are as useful as
snow in Alaska. How will they be remembered when their careers are weighed
in the balance?

Perhaps the most thoughtful comments to date are those from liberation-war
commander Wilf Mhanda who was quoted as follows in the Sunday Argus last
weekend:
"The MDC leadership totally underestimated Mugabe. They believed the
struggle for democracy would be hard, but they never understood he was
prepared to destroy everything - them, the economy, institutions,
infrastructure, the whole country and everything in it to survive. The MDC
thought they could win by being right, by appealing to the majority, and
they got that support, but that was never enough. Mugabe controls the
security forces, the courts, the media, the intelligence services, the
assets and he has perfected the system of patronage manipulating each and
every person in positions of power.
"Mugabe was impossible to defeat in elections because he controls every
aspect of them too. The task was too big for the decent MDC and the party
neglected making inroads in the lower ranks of the army who are just as poor
as everyone else."
Doesn't that say it all? Nobody thought Mugabe was prepared to destroy
everything to win this struggle. And that is precisely what has happened.
The economy has been dealt a death blow and agriculture sabotaged. The
forces of law and order have been suborned and the media infiltrated, gagged
or shut down.
But have those eager contestants around him thought for one minute about how
they are going to rebuild this country from the ashes of his pernicious
rule? Does the elevated lady have a clue? Do any of them? Or do they think
there is still milk left in this cow for them to take?
Meanwhile, the rollcall of Zanu PF's chivalry on the current field of battle
reads like a joke book. Bright Matonga, Tafataona Mahoso, Aeneas Chigwedere
(and his mudzimu), Joseph Chinotimba, Sekesai Makwavarara, Vivian Mwashita,
and Joseph Made. These are the nation's hope for the future!

The Department of Immigration says it is "worried" about foreigners who
enter the country under the guise of asylum seekers but later disappear to
unknown destinations.
Chief Immigration Officer Elasto Mugwadi was quoted in the Herald as saying:
"We are worried about this trend and feel Zimbabwe is being used as a
transit point for irregular migration into other countries."
When did he wake up to this fact? Last weekend?
Nigerians were engaging in marriages of convenience, he revealed, and there
was a "general flooding" into the country of foreigners "who were not
employed in the formal system but led luxurious lives".
Surely not?
Mugwadi said that over the past two months the country had accepted up to
300 foreigners who claimed they were from Somalia or Ethiopia. They were
placed in various holding camps for refugees.
"When we made a check on them, they were nowhere to be found," he said.
He seemed genuinely surprised!
Mugwadi said his department had also "discovered" that an increasing number
of Zimbabweans were entering other countries "in droves" without proper
documentation.
"The challenge," he said, "is that the government loses the professionals it
trained with the country's resources to the benefit of those who never
sacrificed anything."
It seems to have never occurred to Mugwadi that creating a law-based and
conducive environment for investment and growth was one way to discourage
outward migration.
This of course is in contrast to bundling inconvenient journalists onto
planes in violation of court orders and expelling them to South Africa. They
then write stories revealing the true state of affairs in repressive and
lawless Zimbabwe, thus discouraging investment, tourism and employment. This
in turn leads to further outward migration.
But we doubt whether Mugwadi has "discovered" that connection yet!
The immigration boss said his department was working closely with the
International Organisation for Migration (IOM) which, we are told by the
Herald, is governed by the principle that humane and orderly migration
benefit both migrants and society. One of its officials, Nicola Simmons, was
quoted extensively in the Herald's story on illegal migration.
She should be asked how being kidnapped, having a hood placed over your
head, and being held all day prior to your illegal deportation at an unknown
place fits in with the IOM's mission.
Should Ms Simmons be in bed with these people?

Readers of this column have been amused by the thought that our new national
currency, to be introduced next year, according to Gideon Gono, should be
called the Bob. This is in preference to the Giddy, which is how we all
feel!
Needless to say, the new unit will be introduced without any improvement in
macro-economic fundamentals or decline in inflation. Those proposing lopping
off a few zeroes, as Brazil and Argentina did, and indeed as France did with
the New Franc in 1960, fail to appreciate that without a package of measures
properly implemented the new currency will be still-born. We know from
experience that Gideon has no prospect of getting the looters and spenders
to change their ways.
That is why we feel the Bob would be more appropriate. Many Zimbabweans
still recall 10 bob being half a pound. When the dollar was introduced in
1970 its value was set at 10 bob in the old currency. In other words there
were two dollars to the old pound. The one-dollar note and the 10-bob note
remained interchangeable for a long time as was the five pound and 10 dollar
notes.
In 1981 62 Zim cents would buy one US dollar. $2,28 would buy 1 kg of
cheese. Twenty-five cents would buy a loaf of bread. Fillet steak was $2,80
a kg. A 750ml bottle of paraffin cost 41 cents. A leg of lamb was expensive
at $3 a kg. A 15kg pocket of potatoes cost $3,70.
A pair of shorts for your kid starting school was $2,40. A girl's dress was
$7,70. A pair of shoes $10.
So you can see what the architects of our economic policy have "achieved"
over a 25-year period. That is why they need to be remembered. A picture of
Zimbabwe in ruins on the one side, and the president waving his fists in the
air on the reverse would be appropriate. The logo "It's all Blair's fault"
comes to mind.
The Bob. The successor to a currency that was worth 40 cents more than the
American dollar in 1981. You will need more than one hundred thousand of
them today to buy the same US dollar.


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Many sleep in the open

Zim Independent

SINCE Operation Murambatsvina and its completion, thousands of those
affected are still sleeping in the open and have not yet managed to build or
have access to decent lodgings. Only a few are managing to pay rentals.

We are very bitter about the way lodger matters are being currently handled.
We have been reduced to destitution at the hands of greedy landlords who
have devised modes of ripping us off.

Property owners are charging as much as $1 million per room. According to
our research, we found that one room in Highfield costs a minimum of $800
000 to $1,5 million and in Mabvuku $1 million to $1,5 million.

This is being done against the average salaries of $2 million to $3 million.
There is a take-it-or-leave-it scenario that leaves lodgers with no
alternative means of accommodation.

Even though the government has been trying hard to provide stands, the
proceedings are being affected by the failure to provide necessary
documentation needed in order for developers to start work.

Developers and housing schemes are waiting for ages before the certificates
of developing are processed. Because of the need to own houses, people end
up violating the building procedures.

We kindly urge the Ministry of Local Government and all responsible persons
to make sure that they act in the spirit of promoting the building of houses
and that they speed up all matters and tackle bottlenecks affecting the
development of housing in Zimbabwe.

In order to ease the housing problems, we urge the authorities concerned to
allow beneficiaries of peri-urban residential stands to be allowed to start
residing at their stands while in the process of building.

Zimbabwe Tenants &

Lodgers Association,

Harare.


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Stop this corruption

Zim Independent

THIS letter is an appeal to those who have the power to put a stop to the
rampant corruption that is strangling our economy.

I have been trying for some time to get a copy of my late father's death
certificate (John Martin Ronne). After many visits, letters and telephone
calls to Makombe Building, I was advised that as a white person I would not
get the required document and that I would be better advised to send a black
person.

I tried repeatedly to contact Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede, both in
writing and by phone, but I have had no reply to my letters and was never
able to speak to him, as he was either away for the day, out or busy.

In desperation, I decided to do as I had been advised and sent someone. My
messenger went with the required documents to prove my right to a copy of
the death certificate plus the receipt showing payment. The messenger
returned with the information that the document would be ready in two
weeks - this was July of this year.

He went back two weeks later to collect the death certificate and was told
that the "book" the information was in was lost.

I tried a number of times to get the document. My secretary, knowing the
trouble I was having, said she knew a person who could help me.

A man called Wilbert came to see me and said he could help as he had a
friend that worked in the office concerned. He took my receipt and the paper
containing the information about the entry.

Weeks later, Wilbert contacted me by phone saying that he had obtained the
document and that he required a payment of $6 million. I said he was mad and
refused to pay the amount.

In September I thought I would try again. I sent my messenger back to
Makombe with the required proof of who I was and $10 000 to pay for search
fees. The difference this time was that I had acquired from the national
archives the date of death which seemed to be the problem before.

The messenger returned without the $10 000 and no receipt, but with two
cellphone numbers of a person called Leonard who works at the birth and
death registration office. The name is probably false but the numbers get
hold of a person who knows the set-up.

My messenger said that Leonard required $3 million for the document as he
had incurred costs, and that I should call him. I called one of the numbers
and the person who answered the phone said he was Leonard.

I asked why he required $3 million as I had paid the required amount. He
said he thought there was a mistake and that he would call me back the next
day. When he called back he asked if I could meet him in town but I told him
to come to my office. He said he did not wish to meet my messenger so he
would not come to the office.

I asked my associate, Matthew Ngwenya, to meet him for me. Ngwenya arranged
the meeting for after work on October 21. I gave him $500 000 to pay if
Leonard insisted.

When Ngwenya went to the meeting place there were two people there. After
much deliberation they accepted the $500 000 on condition that Ngwenya speak
to me about paying the rest. He was given the document, which contained
spelling errors - and is therefore probably invalid!

I do not wish to encourage corruption, but in this situation what does one
do? If you do not pay the document becomes lost.

I sincerely hope there are still some honourable people left working in
government departments who would like to put an end to this sort of
behaviour that gives government departments a bad reputation. The scale of
corruption that exists in Zimbabwe amounts to economic sabotage. We must try
and stop it.

Estelle H Ronne,

Harare.


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Water now, not senate!

Zim Independent

ZIMBABWE has always had at its disposal the wherewithal to have constructed,
completed and commissioned the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project a long
time ago. It is tragic, though, that the perpetual pursuit of wrong, absurd,
upside-down, inside-out and back-to-front priorities by our so-called
powers-that-be consigns us to a cul-de-sac from which we are, thus far,
unable to extricate ourselves.

For 25 years a massive financial outlay continues to be made in the
perennial procurement of aeroplanes and helicopters to satiate a syndrome to
globetrot and to placate a phobia of imaginary foes from far and near. This
has been only one of the numerous wanton ways our money has been wasted.

The senate is a concoction by a people bereft of objective rule and obsessed
with the ruin of a people in Matabeleland. The expense attributable to the
whole senate gamut is far in excess of the cost of bringing Zambezi water to
us! One is non-essential while the other is essential.

Droughts are going to intensify, lengthen and become more and more frequent,
say the experts. Amelioration of the effects of drought is, however,
possible through the use of the Zambezi water resource at our disposal.

Arnold Payne,

Bulawayo.


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MDC faction putting itself above people's interests

Zim Independent

FROM latest media reports it would seem that the struggle within the
leadership of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is not going to be
resolved.

The fundamental issues facing the MDC are about leadership and the strategy
needed to remove dictatorship from power.

The process by which the MDC's national council reached its decision to
participate in the senate election demonstrates, yet again, the
ineffectiveness of the MDC leadership as presently constituted.

If there is a single so-called leader within the ranks of the MDC who
believes for one moment that continuing with the farce of electoral politics
will in any way address the real issues facing this nation then they are
either Zanu PF infiltrators, self-serving parasites wishing to live off a
life in politics or are so politically na´ve as to be useless to the
struggle.

The only half-hearted argument I have heard in favour of participating is to
defend "political space". That some genuinely well-meaning persons can hide
behind this absurdly na´ve argument is doubly frustrating.

Have those "leaders" who want to participate in these elections learned
nothing from the experiences of the past five years? If they have not, then
they should either resign or be removed from office.

Following the inevitable passage of the constitutional amendment by our
"rubber-stamp" parliament in which the word "honourable" has lost any
semblance of meaning, the task of the MDC leadership was to explain to the
people why participation in the elections for this senate would be
fundamentally wrong and counterproductive.

At the same time they had to offer the people, especially those in areas of
strong electoral support, an alternative programme of action to combat this
evil regime.

Let those who claim that Morgan Tsvangirai has "placed himself above both
the council and the constitution of the MDC" be reminded that they in turn
are putting themselves above the interests of the people - people who have
no jobs, people who are hungry, people who are homeless, people who have no
hope, people who are dying, people who have been looking to the MDC for
leadership and direction.

Let the opposition regroup and rededicate itself to the fundamental task of
removing this regime and introducing a new constitution. But let them this
time learn from the mistakes of the past and let them abandon the political
charades of Zimbabwean parliamentary politics in favour of the politics of
mass action.

I have often referred in the past to the lessons that can be learnt from the
courage and leadership provided by the likes of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin
Luther King. There is another lesson from history that is perhaps of
relevance to the present situation within the MDC: the removal of Neville
Chamberlain as British prime minister because of his na´ve and ineffective
attempts to oppose a regime whose ruthlessness he could not comprehend.

Would Hitler have been defeated if Winston Churchill had not raised the flag
of defiance and committed the British people to effective opposition to a
dictator?

Let a people-driven leadership begin by organising a boycott of the senate
elections. Let it demonstrate its capacity to mobilise the masses.

RES Cook,

Harare

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