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MDC tackles rift

Zim Independent

Dumisani Muleya/Ray Matikinye
WARRING Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leaders met yesterday in a bid
to narrow the rift, but failed to find a solution beyond a tentative truce.

MDC top six leaders met at a secret location in Harare to work out a
solution to the crisis which has left the party teetering on the brink of a
break-up but in the end only agreed to stop "acrimonious comments on the
dispute".

The top leaders will meet again on Monday to seek common ground and the way
forward.

The party is locked in a vicious power struggle triggered by the dispute
over whether or not to participate in next month's senate election.

University of Zimbabwe's Institute for Development Studies lecturer and
civic activist Professor Brian Raftopoulos chaired the meeting which was
attended by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, his deputy Gibson Sibanda,
chairman Isaac Matongo, secretary-general Welshman Ncube and his deputy Gift
Chimanikire and treasurer Fletcher Dulini Ncube.

After heated exchanges, the MDC leaders emerged with a brief press statement
read out to journalists by Tsvangirai, flanked by Sibanda, who last week
accused his boss of "wilfully violating the party constitution".

Sources said yesterday's meeting turned out to be a battle of wills between
Tsvangirai and Professor Ncube. It was said in the heat of battle,
Tsvangirai accused Ncube and party agriculture secretary Renson Gasela of
working with the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) during their
treason trial that involved dodgy Canadian political consultant Ari
Ben-Menashe.

Ncube and Gasela were also accused in the trial but were cleared earlier
than Tsvangirai.

Source said Tsvangirai accused Ncube of destroying the MDC secretariat. "The
meeting became a contest between Tsvangirai and Professor Ncube," a source
said. "Tsvangirai made a series of serious allegations, about nine of them,
mostly attacking Ncube."

However, sources said Ncube fired back, ridiculing Tsvangirai's claims that
he was a CIO agent during the treason trial and that the secretariat had
collapsed. Both the Tsvangirai and Ncube camps think of each other as CIO
agents.

"Ncube described Tsvangirai's remarks as ridiculous. He said Tsvangirai had
staged a coup against the MDC constitution, resorted to threats and violence
and abandoning the party's found principles," said the souces.

They said Ncube complained about Tsvangirai's alleged "mafia kitchen cabinet
comprising unelected cronies". It was understood Ncube also said he built
the MDC secretariat after taking over from Tsvangirai, initially interim MDC
secretary-general, when there was nothing on the ground.

Tsvangirai told journalists the MDC leaders met, "taking into consideration
the current crisis in the party" and acknowledged its "founding principles"
and recognised its main objective "to confront and replace the (President
Robert) Mugabe dictatorship".

He said MDC leaders also agreed to meet again on Monday; to desist from
acrimonious comments on the dispute, refrain from threats, intimidation and
violence and refer any solution that might come out of the talks to the
national executive council.

The MDC was rocked by intra-party intimidation as the two factions went
head-to-head across the country fighting over the senate poll.

Sources said the outcome of the meeting represented a "major climb down" for
Tsvangirai who had rejected dialogue over the squabbling.

Tsvangirai last week refused to meet his colleagues and snubbed mediation
efforts by South African President Thabo Mbeki. After meeting Sibanda on
Wednesday, Tsvangirai failed to meet his top six. Last Friday he also failed
to attend a meeting with Mbeki in Pretoria. Only Sibanda, Welshman Ncube,
Chimanikire, and Dulini Ncube attended.

However, after suffering major setbacks in his bid to crush what he sees as
a revolt against his leadership - although his rivals say he is the rebel
because he staged a coup against the party constitution - Tsvangirai climbed
down and agreed to meet his colleagues under Raftopoulos' mediation.

After he recently pulled rank and overruled his party's national executive
council three weeks ago on the election dispute, Tsvangirai tried to block
candidates from registering. He also failed to convene a meeting of the
party's national executive committee last Saturday.

This led to the deepening of the crisis and his admission that his party was
facing a "political crisis which needs a political solution". However, only
last week Tsvangirai reportedly told Mbeki in a telephone conversation that
there was no crisis in the MDC but a "storm in a tea cup".


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New forex system hits snag

Zim Independent

Godfrey Marawanyika
THE new Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe exchange rate system has hit serious
operational difficulties before it has even started, with bankers resolving
last week to shelve the plan before implementation.

In his monetary policy statement a last week, central bank governor Gideon
Gono introduced the Tradable Foreign Currency Balances System (TFCBS) to
replace the controlled forex auction with a liberalised scheme in which
market forces determine rates.

But a committee of bank treasury experts last Friday, at a special meeting
to deal with the exchange rate crisis, exposed grey areas in Gono's plan.
They said there simply wasn't enough liquidity on the market to buy foreign
currency at the new high rates.

This week banks were trading in foreign currency at rates of between $60 000
and $103 000 to the United States dollar. Banks that had cut their foreign
currency departments or had phased them out completely, were caught unawares
by the new policy. They were this week either moving personnel to
reconstitute the department or were recruiting new staff.

Bankers and exporters yesterday met to discuss Gono's forex initiative. They
are expected to meet again next week.

The TFCBS was introduced by the central bank last week on the
recommendations of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries and the Zimbabwe
National Chamber of Commerce.

The two industry bodies initially suggested that the central bank introduce
a free auction system instead of having banks determining the rates, but
this was not taken on board as the RBZ said it was no longer an active
player on the market.

The committee of treasury experts on Friday came up with what they termed
"key findings". It warned that liquidity problems would be a major
constraint in the liberalised foreign currency market.

"At present the market has no liquidity hence the interbank market will not
be viable," minutes of the committee read. "No one will offload to the
interbank market. We should shelve introducing interbank trading until
liquidity improves. We assume no major fixed inflows into the country
outside exports/free funds."

As the forex crisis persists, Finance minister Herbert Murerwa is today
expected to travel to South Africa for further negotiations for a loan. But
Murerwa said he was not going anywhere because he was farming.

Friday's meeting was attended by treasury officials from all major banks and
was chaired by Zibusisiwe Nkomo, a head of treasury with a local bank.

The bankers considered three options to kick-start the interbank system and
agreed to a seemingly elaborate plan that involves importers and exporters.

Under the plan, banks would engage holders of foreign currency in tripartite
arrangements to obtain an agreeable rate.

That rate plus banks' spread would then be used to open dialogue with
importers who hold valid RBZ exchange control approvals. On conclusion of a
deal, the information would be passed to the central bank to compute the
weighted average market rate and advise the market accordingly.

"This option may see rates start off high and quite sporadic but will
harness even grey market funds into official channels," the committee said.
"Over time confidence in the determination process will become entrenched
and the market will stabilise with the requisite incentivisation of
exporters being achieved in the process."

Under the new management system, the export retention level was increased
from 50% to 70% for all exporters, while NGOs, embassies, international
organisations, diasporans, Homelink, importers and sellers of free funds
will now sell or buy foreign currency at a market-determined rate.

While exporters will benefit from the adjusted export incentives and the new
exchange rate, principal importers are likely to experience problems of a
higher exchange rate and the imminent foreign currency-denominated import
duty, unless they are accorded special dispensation.

Bankers who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent on Monday said the system must
be able to sustain the manufacturing sector as well as keep importers happy.
They however decried the lack of adequate planning prior to the announcement
of the policy.

"If, for example, the rate is $90 000 to the US dollar, an importer will now
require $90 billion to purchase just US$1 million," said a banker. "This can
be good news to the exporter, but at what price will the importer sell his
products on the domestic market? This is imported inflation."

The other two options centred on coming up with a managed exchange rate
system to be determined by bankers or exporters, without the central bank.

This was deemed unworkable.

Bankers and the central bank have yet to announce a final plan to bring the
system into operation.


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UZ suspends student council leaders

Zim Independent

Itai Mushekwe
THE University of Zimbabwe (UZ) has suspended members of the Students
Executive Council (SEC) for allegedly inciting students to reject a UZ
council directive for them to bankroll its hostel refurbishment projects.

According to sources, the UZ wanted each student to sign a form issued by a
senior warden agreeing to pay for the repainting of their hostels and repair
of other facilities.

It is understood that students were asked to pay as much as $150 000 each
from their meagre government allowances.

Non-resident students receive a miserly $1,9 million stipend while resident
students get $1,1 million as grants.

A final year sociology student who requested anonymity said they were being
prejudiced academically as a result of the university's mismanagement.

"It was a kind of desperate ploy to rehabilitate campus facilities which the
authorities have turned a blind eye to for ages, using students as a front,"
he said.

"We were never consulted when these decisions were made," he said.

The SEC wrote a letter to Vice-Chancellor Levi Nyagura to protest the
warden's directive. After failing to receive feedback from Nyagura, the SEC
lobbied students to defy the order to pay for the refurbishments.

Pandemonium broke out at the campus last Wednesday over the directive,
forcing the authorities to call the riot police to quell disturbances.

The riot police, known for its brutality, charged anyone they met, leaving
many students injured, said a source.

Security agents were reportedly called in to ferret out student leaders whom
they reportedly beat up before handing them over to the university
authorities who in turn expelled the SEC president.

Two SEC members are said to be missing. Collen Chibanga and Mfundo Mlilo,
the SEC's vice-president and secretary-general respectively, were issued
with suspension letters by Nyagura.

"In light of the transgressions detailed above (violation of the rules of
conduct and discipline of Ordinance 30) I have found it necessary to suspend
you with immediate effect from the University of Zimbabwe until your case
has been heard by the Students Disciplinary Committee," the letter of
suspension reads.

The UZ has of late been hit by a host of problems.

Students complain of water shortages and pressure on the sewage system due
to excess enrolments, thus posing a serious health menace. There are over 14
000 registered students, who are reportedly overcrowding lecture halls.


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Mediagate arbitration deadline expires

Zim Independent

Dumisani Muleya
THE Commercial Arbitration Centre has not yet appointed a panel to look into
the suspension of the Zimbabwe Mirror Group of newspapers CEO and
editor-in-chief, Ibbo Mandaza, despite the expiry of the two week timeframe.

This came as it emerged the job security and conditions of work for the
journalists and other employees at the Mirror group have been slightly
improved by the state security agents who took over from Mandaza.

Mandaza was suspended from the Mirror group, publishers of the Daily Mirror
and Sunday Mirror, in the aftermath of Mediagate disclosures involving the
takeover of the two private newspapers by the state security apparatus using
public funds. The intelligence service reportedly has an interest in the
Financial Gazette and has now spread its tentacles to other media-related
operations.

Mirror workers last week got a 60% salary increase backdated to July on the
basis of their June salaries. "They were paid last week and this has boosted
morale among the employees," a source said. "There are efforts to
recapitalise the company and ensure it does not collapse due to the current
crisis."

Sources said the Mirror group last week got $10 billion from the central
bank, bringing the money it received from monetary authorities to $30
billion. The company got $10 billion last year and another $10 billion in
July.

State security agents have been financially propping up the Mirror.

High Court judge Bharat Patel recently recommended a labour dispute panel,
chaired by a retired judge, should be set to up to determine the "propriety"
of Mandaza's suspension from the group by disputed Mirror chair Jonathan
Kadzura and his deputy John Marangwanda.

Kadzura and Marangwanda said recently Mandaza's suspension followed an Ernst
& Young forensic audit report into the Mirror finances, but did not specify
the nature of the report's findings.

Two other Mirror directors Ambassador Buzwani Mothobi and Amy Tsanga said
the report was a product of a fraudulent board meeting by Kadzura and his
colleagues.

Patel said in a ruling on October 13 that the panel "shall convene and
commence the task herein set out within two weeks of the date of this
order". The two weeks elapsed yesterday.

However, the parties involved said the panel had not yet been appointed. "It
hasn't been appointed and we are still waiting to find out when it will be
established," a source close to the case said. "We will continue waiting to
see the latest developments on the issue."

Mandaza also confirmed the panel had not yet been appointed, saying he did
not know when it would be constituted and start meeting. "It hasn't been
appointed. I don't know when it will be appointed but it's not there at the
moment," he said.

Besides a retired judge, the panel to hear Mandaza's case is expected to
include a member from the Institute of Directors of Zimbabwe and the
Chartered Institute of Secretaries or the Institute of Chartered Accountants
of Zimbabwe.


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Soldiers assault MDC supporters in Harare

Zim Independent

Grace Kombora
MEMBERS of the national army have allegedly started a terror campaign,
beating up Harare residents ahead of the senatorial election scheduled for
November 26.

Fifteen Budiriro residents were some of the victims of violence against
civilians after soldiers went around beating up people in the suburb last
Saturday. Most of the assaults occurred in Budiriro 4.

Those beaten have signed affidavits to back up their complaints. The
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights will represent the victims.

One of the victims identified the soldiers who beat him up as Moyo, Ngoshi,
Kadye and Happy and the identification was corroborated by other victims.
All 15 victims swore under oath that they were beaten up by soldiers.

Police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena told the Zimbabwe
Independent that he was unaware of the case of violence against civilians.
"Did those people report their cases to the police? If they did not, then we
don't know anything about it," Bvudzijena said.

Reasons for the beatings are said to be political.

One of the victims said he was woken up by a knock at the door at 10pm on
October 15. "When I opened the door I was greeted with clenched fists .
booted foot," he said in his affidavit. He said he was threatened with death
"if I continue supporting MDC. My life is at risk."

Another victim said when he reported the case to the police, he was chased
away.

A third victim said he was approached by a soldier at Mhizha beerhall who
"asked me why I was wearing an MDC T-shirt" before he started beating him.

Meanwhile five field officers working with the Mass Public Opinion Institute
were on Wednesday assaulted by a group of war veterans while conducting a
research on democracy and had their vehicle impounded.

Officen Nyaungwe, Claris Madhuku, Sozwaphi Masunungure, Isiah Makamure and
Wilson Shonhiwa were conducting a research for Africa Barometer at
Ushewokunze Housing Co-operative along Beatrice road.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said the five were confronted,
abducted and detained by self-styled war veterans who accused them of
"acting against national interests" before beating them up in full view of
the community.

"They were presented to a local community of over 100 people, where upon
being accused of acting against national interests, the group of war
veterans who did not identify themselves began to beat them up in full view
of the community using booted feet, clenched fists, open palms, sticks, logs
and bottles," the ZLHR said.

A soldier in military uniform was part of the group which beat up the five
researchers. "A soldier from the Zimbabwe National Army dressed in full
military uniform arrived at the scene and immediately joined in the
beatings," the ZLHR said.

The soldier and war veterans asked for identification cards from the
research group. When they suspected that Claris Madhuku was related to
Lovemore Madhuku, the chairperson of the National Constitutional Assembly,
they beat him up.

"This incensed the assailants resulting in more severe beatings on Claris
Madhuku advising him that he was now being beaten 'for the sins of his
brother'," the lawyers said.

Three of researchers were admitted at the Avenues Clinic for treatment
before they were discharged. Two were hospitalised and detained overnight as
they had sustained severe injuries.

The ZLHR has petitioned the police commissioner, Augustine Chihuri, Home
Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi and Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa to
intervene.

They requested a fair, impartial and independent inquiry into the beatings
and other attacks on human right defenders to bring the perpetrators to
justice.


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Land preps worst since independence

Zim Independent

Itai Mushekwe
LAND preparations for the forthcoming season are at their worst since
independence owing to a massive deficit of essential farming inputs.

The shortage of inputs has further thrown prospects of a significant harvest
next year into jeopardy in the face of biting food shortages.

According to a report on the state of farming preparedness for the coming
season prepared by the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) after a meeting with
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe earlier this month, the country has a paltry 30
000 tonnes of seed from local producers.

Under normal circumstances Zimbabwe requires 100 000 tonnes of maize seed to
meet demand for commercial, resettled and communal farmers.

The CFU also cited the acute shortage of chemicals and fertiliser.

"The agro-chemical situation is very serious, with stocks being low
throughout the country. Suppliers are not holding any product. The lead-time
to obtain supplies, however, is shorter than with fertilisers, as road and
air transport are used," says the report.

The Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company (ZFC) and Windmill, two of the country's
major fertiliser producers, have revealed that no more than 50 000 tonnes of
essential compound D and ammonium nitrate would be available this year. At
least 300 000 tonnes of each of the fertilisers is required annually, giving
a puncturing shortfall of 250 000 tonnes.

Farmer organisations say land preparations have been crippled by fuel
shortages to power tractors. There is no practical evidence on the ground to
support the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim)'s claims that it has
made special allocations of fuel to farmers.

Noczim public relations manager, Zvikomborero Sibanda, said yesterday: "From
January to September 2005, we have disbursed almost 20 million litres of
diesel for use by farmers throughout the country. Petrol is allocated to
farmers mostly for administrative purposes only but because of limited
supplies this product has not been distributed to farmers."

She admitted that the fuel disbursements fell far short of requirements and
were a drop in the ocean.

"Given the challenges the country is facing in the supply of fuel,
allocations being made to farmers, and all fuel users, are below their
normal requirements," she said.

Agricultural lobby group Justice for Agriculture (JAG) chairman, John
Worswick, said there was no farming season to talk about.

"We are worried with what we are witnessing on the ground out there.
Zimbabwe is facing an agricultural disaster," he said. "There is going to be
an enormous down trend in agricultural production across the board due to
lack of inputs and agricultural will by farmers."

Worswick said the state of land preparedness was so pathetic that it
presaged worsening agricultural prospects.

It is estimated a minuscule 5% of commercial land has been tilled, raising
fears of prolonged food shortages, as the bulk of Zimbabwe's arable land is
lying idle.

The forthcoming farming season looks bleak owing to numerous factors ranging
from waning confidence by farmers to continue farming, as there is no
security of tenure on the land following the nationalisation of land.

Government last month enacted Constitutional Amendment (No 17) which has
turned land into state property and abolished land ownership rights.


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US$22m needed before Ekusileni Hospital reopens

Zim Independent

Roadwin Chirara
EKUSILENI Hospital in Bulawayo requires about US$22 million before it can
reopen its doors to the public in January next year.

Ekusileni briefly opened its doors to the public in 2004 before it was
closed after it was discovered that the equipment was obsolete.

Executive director of Ekusileni Hospital, Daud Dube, said the hospital
required recapitalisation before it could resume operations in January.

"We have set January next year as the likely date for reopening but as you
know we have not been operating and the hospital now requires US$22
million," Dube said.

He said the hospital board would meet and decide how to go about raising the
required money.

"The chairperson of the hospital is in a better position to comment on that.
All I can say is we have a board meeting coming up, that is when we are
going to decide how we will raise the required finds," said Dube.

Dube said they were working towards purchasing the required equipment before
the hospital can reopen.

"We have dealt with the issues of the equipment and other matters regarding
differences within the board over fees to be charged. There really is
nothing to talk about as there were no so-called problems," said Dube.

He said the hospital had renewed its technical partnership with the United
States-based medical school - Harvard Medical International.

"We have renewed our agreement with Harvard and they are happy with what we
are doing. We signed the new agreement last week," Dube said.

Harvard, as part of the technical agreement, agreed to facilitate the
setting up of a public medical school at the hospital.

Ekusileni chairperson, Rosemary Mazula, refused to comment on how the
hospital would raise money.

"We have a board meeting this week. Only after that will I be in a position
to comment," Mazula said.

The upmarket hospital was built in honour of the late Vice-President Joshua
Nkomo, with funding from the National Social Security Authority. It was
completed at a total cost of $2 billion in 2003.

On completion, the medical centre was expected to provide facilities for a
medical school, specialising in physiotherapy and pathology.

President Robert Mugabe has taken over as the patron of the hospital after
the death of Nkomo who was the hospital's founding chairman.


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'Judges work under tough conditions'

Zim Independent

Ray Matikinye
LAWYERS say judges in Zimbabwe are working under very difficult conditions
and trying hard to remain very objective in their judgements.

The comments follow remarks by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku last week
that the judiciary had not been compromised by simply being mainly black or
by receiving land from government.

Justice Chidyausiku praised the role of the judiciary saying judges were not
compromised in their rulings by reason of having received properties under
the controversial land distribution programme.

"The judges are severely compromised although a few of them try to maintain
an appearance of independence under very difficult circumstances," said
award-winning human rights lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa.

Mtetwa said there was no question that the superior courts were more
compromised than the lower courts.

Chidyausiku blamed lawyers representing dispossessed white commercial
farmers for performing poorly in their arguments.

"It is just a blame game," said Mtetwa. "If a client has a good case on
human rights there is no reason why those rights cannot be upheld on the
basis of bad representation," Mtetwa said.

She said there had been rare cases when presiding judges had told lawyers or
their clients that although they had good cases, their lawyers were failing
to make the best of their case.

Mtetwa said cases that had gone through the Constitutional Court had shown
that there was political bias even when arguments had been presented by
internationally recognised lawyers.

Human rights lawyer, Nokuthula Moyo of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights, also expressed reservations about the Chief Justice's comments.

She said the issue was never about the colour of skin but about being
beholden to a benefactor.

"That has been the biggest complaint among lawyers. In principle judges who
have received farms from government should not have presided over such
matters because they were interested parties. This tended to compromise
independent and fair judgement," Moyo said.

Several white judges were forced to quit the Bench over the past five years
of government's accelerated land reform as they were accused of bias in
favour of white commercial farmers.

"The integrity of a judge is not determined by the colour of their skin but
by the content and character of the judge," Chidyausiku said in a speech
during a passout parade for ZRP officers.

Mtetwa and Moyo agree. But said the accusations levelled against the
judiciary had never been on the basis of colour.

According to the IBA, the intimidation and undermining of the judiciary by
the government, including making of remarks demeaning of judges, had the
effect of cowing judges.

Government officials made intimidating remarks against the judiciary and
there were threats of violence by Zanu PF supporters that forced a good
number of judges to leave, the report says.

This had contributed to the disrespect for the law and loss of confidence in
the justice system.

Failure to make determinations in certain cases appeared to the public to be
an avoidance of unpopular decisions, it said.

Chidyausiku said he had always trashed such reports which he alleged were
written by locals in connivance with international representatives smuggled
into the courts by night.


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Mnangagwa grilled over UPM links

Zim Independent

Dumisani Muleya
EMMERSON Mnangagwa has been summoned by a senior cabinet minister acting on
behalf of President Robert Mugabe to grill him over his reported links to
the United People's Movement (UPM).

Official sources said Mnangagwa, who is Rural Housing minister and the
ruling Zanu PF's legal affairs secretary, was initially summoned in August
and again early this month on the basis of reports to Mugabe about the UPM.

The UPM is said to be an emerging political movement linked to Mnangagwa and
former Information minister Jonathan Moyo, as well as senior Zanu PF and
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) members.

"Mnangagwa was summoned a by senior cabinet minister acting on behalf of the
president over the UPM issue. The first meeting was in August and the second
one earlier this month," a source said.

"There is a great deal of panic in official circles about the UPM which
seems to be a reincarnation of the Tsholotsho faction. State resources have
been deployed to monitor the activities of the UPM and those said to be
linked to it," said the source.

Mnangagwa could not discuss the issue yesterday, referring the Zimbabwe
Independent to those said to have summoned him. "Speak to the person who was
said to have met me," he said.

About three weeks ago Mnangagwa denied involvement in the UPM.

"I have never heard about UPM. It is stupid to suggest that I would be its
president when I am not even aware that there is such a political party," he
said. "Nobody has ever approached me to join such a party and I will not be
part of it."

Reports of Mnangagwa's questioning came as four officials of the MDC in
provincial structures resigned in protest against the party's infighting,
amid claims that they had been recruited by the UPM.

Sources last night named those who resigned from the MDC as SM Mandaza,
organising secretary for Mashonaland East province and Mutoko North
candidate during the March general election, G Rice, S Chiota and a B Mfuka,
organising secretary for MDC's Mashonaland Central province and a
parliamentary election candidate in the March poll.

The MDC members cited the party's internal strife and its failure to deal
with government over the widely condemned Operation Murambatsvina as reasons
for their resignations.

In a letter dated October 17 to MDC chairman Isaac Matongo, Mandaza cited
"endless squabbles, personality clashes and infighting" in the party as his
reasons for resignation.

"It is with a heavy heart that I'm writing this letter to inform you that I
have decided to resign from the MDC with immediate effect," Mandaza said.

"The MDC has not grown to the kind of a political party it sought to be at
the beginning and is now disintegrating under the weight of endless
squabbles, personality clashes, and all kinds of infighting taking place at
Harvest House."

A few months ago, a senior Zanu PF central committee member and ex-MP
Pearson Mbalekwa quit the ruling party over Murambatsvina, which involved
the demolition of shanties and informal businesses.

Mnangagwa's summoning revived memories of the post-Tsholotsho backlash
against Mnangagwa and his group. The saga led to the downfall of ministers
like Jonathan Moyo and July Moyo. There were also other high-profile
political casualties of the turbulent power struggle.


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Sikhala says funding claims a hoax

Zim Independent

Ray Matikinye
OPPOSITION MDC MP for St Mary's, Job Sikhala, says he was pulling a red
herring on gullible journalists when he claimed his party had received
funding from Nigeria and Ghana.

Sikhala, who was reacting to media reports that police in Harare had
launched investigations to establish the truth of claims that the MDC
received funds from abroad in contravention of the Political Parties
(Finance) Act, said police had better concentrate on other pertinent and
more serious matters of crime.

"That was a political statement to achieve an objective. That objective has
been achieved because warring factions in the MDC are working to resolve
their differences as a result of that statement," Sikhala said.

The outspoken Sikhala is a founding member of the MDC, having cut his
political teeth in student activism at the University of Zimbabwe.

"There are numerous cases which have remained unsolved that include cases
arising from the 2000 general election and the 2002 presidential election in
which the police can put more effort into solving than waste time and
resources investigating this issue," Sikhala said.

Sikhala told the Herald on Monday that the intra-party wrangles in the MDC
over participation in the senatorial election stemmed from control of US$500
000 from Ghana and Nigeria and an earlier US$2 million from Taiwan. All
three countries have since issued statements denying ever giving money to
the opposition in Zimbabwe.

The state media lurched on Sikhala's statement on Monday, giving it
prominence as proof that the opposition was foreign-funded in flagrant
violation of the law.

But Sikhala scoffed at suggestions by police that he would assist them in
their investigations.

"Zanu PF has received funding from Libya and there has not been any
investigation of any sort. It received funds from the ANC of South Africa
that were subject to debate in parliament but was never investigated. Why
should the MDC be probed?" Sikhala asked.

He said the police would be going on a wild goose chase if they pursued the
matter because no such thing ever happened.

"It was a test of the gullibility of journalists in the state media,"
Sikhala said. "Why would I, of all the people, run to the Herald with a
'scoop' when the paper has been demonising the MDC at every turn?"

He said it would be ridiculous for anyone to believe that his party would
commit a crime and then run to report it to the state media, given the
vilification the MDC had been subjected to since its formation six years
ago.

As a political statement, Sikhala claimed, his remarks had given urgency to
the factions in his party to work towards a solution.

There were signs the two factions in the party were climbing down from their
entrenched positions by yesterday to begin work to patch up relations.


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Failure becomes Gono's only option

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari

RESERVE Bank governor Gideon Gono's monetary policy statement last week
provided the first concession yet that he is losing the war against
unrelenting inflation and economic decline despite claims to the contrary.

Despite putting on a brave face claiming "failure is not an option" Gono's
latest policy statement all but admits that his turnaround strategies have
failed to extricate the economy from crisis. He also conceded in his
statement that the economic fundamentals had deteriorated since his July
presentation, with rising inflation, mounting debt and a plunge in exports
proceeds.

Analysts say even the new measures that he announced will fail due to lack
of political will and a comprehensive policy. He tried though to follow the
recommendations of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which has become
increasingly critical of his performance.

In his monetary policy Gono revised his inflation targets and changed other
crucial policies that he has strongly defended in the past. He admitted that
the economy was sinking even though he said he was not prepared to give up.
Analysts said it was apparent from his statements that he had no solution
and that the haemorrhage would continue unless there was a major paradigm
shift and political will from the state.

The major highlights of the statement include a hike in interest rates and
the abolition of foreign currency auction floors - one of his first
initiatives to improve foreign currency inflows.

Other changes include the introduction of a new currency next year - a move
that analysts say would not make the situation any better. Gono acknowledged
losing the battle against inflation - described as "enemy number one"
although government's policy failures are evidently the major problem - by
revising his forecast for December to a range of 280%-300%. His previous
forecast had been between 50% and 80%. He said this range was likely to be
achieved by end of 2006. The revision comes against a massive surge in
year-on-year inflation for September to 359%, up from 265% in August.
Blaming drought, fuel price increases and foreign currency shortages, Gono
said the upward trend in inflation was expected to slow down in the last
quarter of the year.

Gono has been climbing down from his optimistic inflation forecasts since he
was appointed, revising the targets four times since 2004.

Annual inflation ended last year at 132,7% against a revised target of 150%.
In October last year Gono changed the target for this year to between
30-50%. In January this year he changed the forecast again to between 20-35%
before revising them again in May to 50-80%. He now says single digit
inflation will not be achieved until 2007.

Analysts say the revision of inflation figures shows that he might have
grossly underestimated the magnitude of the crisis. The IMF recently
predicted that inflation would top 400% by December. It warned that things
would get
worse before they get better. The fund said the economy would
shrink by 7% after a 4% decline last year. It said the budget deficit would
widen to 14% on the back of food shortages and incontinent state
expenditure.

In another admission of policy failure, the governor abolished the foreign
currency auction floors in favour of a floating market-driven system - the
Tradable Foreign Currency Balance System.

"Against the background of incisive inputs from stakeholders, as well as the
growing need for allowance of the interplay of market forces in promoting
allocative efficiencies in the foreign exchange market, it has become
necessary that, with immediate effect, a new foreign exchange management
system be introduced," Gono said.

Banks would deal directly in foreign currency, a role that the Reserve Bank
has appropriated to itself through the auction market. This however failed
to solved the forex crisis.

Exporters will be allowed to retain 70% of their foreign currency earnings
and sell the remaining 30% on the official auction exchange rate to be
announced. Gono also increased interest rates to rein in inflation. Secured
lending rates were increased to 415%, from 405% while unsecured rates would
be increased to 430%, up from 415%.

Experts note that these measures are unlikely to work because economic
fundamentals are still skewed. They say Gono is failing because he has
turned a blind eye to the crucial political issues that have continued to
render his measures useless. For instance his fight against inflation hinges
on the government cutting its expenditure by reducing the cabinet and
stopping its populist policies like paying gratuities to war collaborators.

Credit to government grew by 1 037,7%, a statistic that clearly shows the
state has no interest in taming its spendthrift ways.

Mugabe is using state funds to reward his loyalists whom he believes will
guarantee a smooth retirement. For example, the senatorial election set for
next month and which will gobble billions of dollars, is part of Mugabe's
policy of clientelism that he uses to reward his hangers on.

Government will also spend billions on gratuities to the war collaborators,
a move that is seen as part of Zanu PF's vote-buying plan ahead of the
senate election.

Economic consultant Peter Robinson said Gono was failing because he has no
control over the government's reckless policies.

"He has no say in the politics of this country which is affecting the
economy. No matter how good his monetary policies, they will not work
because they are operating in a wrong political environment," Robinson said.

"Gono's greatest mistake is to ignore these realities. He won't go anywhere
with his policies if the politics are bad."

While Gono insisted that land invasions must stop, government seems unmoved
by these calls. Their lack of decisive action is however linked to the
upcoming election. Although they know that invasions will do further damage
to the collapsed agriculture sector, government will not stop them as the
perpetrators are willing tools in the political scheme of things.

"There is no political will to deal with such crucial issues like protection
of private property," said Robinson.

Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president Luxon Zembe said although
some of the measures might be helpful it was highly unlikely that we would
see a sudden change of economic fortunes because the key sectors have
collapsed.

"The input shortages coupled with the recent land invasions mean that the
agricultural sector will not recover anytime soon. That also means foreign
currency shortages will continue to haunt us," Zembe said.


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Revisit founding principles or perish

Zim Independent

By Phillip Pasirayi
TAKURA Zhangazha wrote an incisive piece entitled, "MDC: looking beyond
leadership crisis", (The Standard, October 21).

In his analysis of the political developments in the MDC, Zhangazha argues
that the differences on whether the party must, or must not, participate in
the senate elections are symptomatic of a serious departure by the
leadership from the party's founding principles and what he calls the
creeping in of "political elitism" that feeds on patron-client networks.

Zhangazha argues: "Elitism has the tendency to emerge in a period where a
party or an organisation becomes too comfortable with itself, and negates
the principles upon which it was founded.

Morgan Tsvangirai gravely erred in allowing this sort of elitism to creep
in, where a system of patronage about who participates in parliament or not
becomes the order of the day. Or alternatively, where the "top six" begin to
behave as though they were a Zanu PF presidium and in the process battle for
control of as elite an organ as the National Council as if that is what the
party was formed for.

There can be no analysis that surpasses the one the writer shares with us in
trying to understand why over the years the MDC and its leadership have
behaved in the manner they did. If the opposition party was still as
consultative and as inclusive as it was from the onset, there was not going
to be any problems such as the petty differences that its leadership shows
at the moment.

Although I have argued in previous instalments that differences and the
essence of democratic discourse, especially in a big political party like
the MDC are necessary, the way the MDC leadership is behaving is amateurish
and to the best of my understanding, retrogressive.

The behaviour of the MDC so-called "Top Six" is no different from the way
the Zanu PF politburo behaves. But the problem can be traced back to the MDC
president who has forgotten the reason why the party was formed and has
himself become too bureaucratic and elitist in his approaches and
strategies.

The MDC is a civil society initiative, formed by the leadership of the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the National Constitutional Assembly and
the Zimbabwe National Students Union in consultation with the people of
Zimbabwe.

Prior to its formation, teams were dispatched to the provinces, including
areas such as Binga, Lupane, Tsholotsho, Mudzi, Nyazura, Chimanimani and
Rutenga to consult with the people of Zimbabwe to speak on the Zimbabwe they
want.

The template that was used in the consultation exercise had three questions:
What is the current economic and political situation in Zimbabwe? What are
the remedies to the situation? And how should the situation be resolved?

The process culminated in the production of a voluminous document - the "raw
data", that was used by the delegates at the All Working Peoples National
Convention held under the theme "An Agenda for Action" in February 1999. It
is this convention which gave birth to a political movement that we call the
MDC today.

It is this history that we can use to explain why things have turned out the
way they have in the main opposition party. The point that Zhangazha raises
about political elitism in the MDC which is fashioned out in a manner
reminiscent of Zanu PF politics is responsible for the cracks that are
emerging in the opposition party.

Some of the most vocal members of the MDC who are creating confusion may
need to be lectured on how the party was formed as some of them had been
active in opposition politics and flirted with parties like the ruling Zanu
PF, the Zimbabwe Unity Movement and the Zimbabwe Union of Democrats (ZUD)
where they failed to make an impact.

The late Learnmore Jongwe was sent to the University of Zimbabwe by
Tsvangirai to talk to some of his lecturers in the Law School and other
academics to come and join the party. Needles to say some of these former
lecturers were used by the Zanu PF regime to silence and punish vocal
student leaders who were opposed to the government.

The argument was that there was need to have a blend of activists and
academics in the new party that was dominated by the ZCTU, Zinasu and the
NCA.

Various emissaries were sent to talk to other bodies and constituent groups
that had not been part of the initial processes that led to the formation of
the MDC. Taking a cursory look at the MDC politics today, they resemble a
completely divided movement, with the divisions taking tribal, regional and
ideological lines.

We have heard talk about the existence of a faction of academics in the
MDC - a faction said to be dovish in its approach to political challenges.
It has been said that this group favours the courts and dialogue as opposed
to street protests to resolve political disputes.

It has been claimed that Welshman Ncube, Innocent Gonese, Paul Themba
Nyathi, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga and David Coltart are the most
notable members of this faction. On the other hand, there exists another
faction led by activists that include Tsvangirai, Nelson Chamisa, Lucia
Matibenga and Isaac Matongo.

Whilst factions are inevitable in a political party as big as the MDC, it is
safe to claim that the ruling party has a hand in the factions emerging in
the MDC. It is inadequate to talk of a group calling itself academics even
though some of its members have just a two-year college diploma.

What is evident is that some MDC leaders have played squarely into the hands
of Zanu PF intelligence functionaries by trying to be legalistic or academic
as opposed to being revolutionary in their conduct. This is the reading that
we get from the differences that ensued as a result of the impending senate
election.

The MDC leader has left it too late to deal with these problems - some being
of his own creation. There are reports of other people having been
catapulted to top positions in the party through the help of Tsvangirai. In
previous elections there have been reports of candidates being imposed by
Tsvangirai and Matongo on the electorate.

After the death of Jongwe, there were efforts to bar Chamisa from standing
as a candidate in Kuwadzana because the seat had been reserved for Murisi
Zvizwai, himself a late-comer in the MDC politics but a close confidant of
the MDC leader. Had it not been for a front page story in The Daily News
that pre-empted Tsvangirai's move, Chamisa would not be the legislator for
Kuwadzana today.

Because of the persistence of patron-clientilism in the rank and file of the
MDC, some current MPs have bought their way into parliament through sending
birthday presents either to Tsvangirai or his wife Susan. Is not surprising
that some of the people who are claiming that Tsvangirai is undemocratic are
the very people who were handpicked by the same man and now hold influential
positions in the party even without the approval of the party membership at
the grassroots.

In all this process, some genuine founding fathers of the MDC have suffered
because they either have no money to buy presents for their president or
have no posh cars to drive the leader to meetings. Many people have suffered
in this patronage system that the MDC leader has perpetuated.

When all the dust has settled, it is imperative that Tsvangirai reflects on
the reason why the MDC was founded and why some of the founding fathers are
now taking a back stage in the party. Names that immediately come to mind
include one Mudhara Makuyana, known for his loyalty to the party since its
inception but who was elbowed out of the race in Mbare during the March
parliamentary polls because Gift Chimanikire, the deputy secretary-general
who had lost in Mazowe in previous elections now wanted an easy ride.

The same happened in Mabvuku where many young and vibrant party activists
were barred from contesting on behalf of the MDC because Timothy Mubhawu,
who was at that time the chairman for Manicaland was in the race. The youths
were warned against fighting Mubhawu because he had the blessing of
Tsvangirai and both come from Buhera.

Unless the MDC reflects on its past mistakes and reverts to being a
revolutionary party founded on the basis of entrenching social welfarism,
then its future as an alternative party to Zanu PF is doomed.

* Phillip Pasirayi is a human rights activist and can be contacted on
p.pasirayi@lancaster.ac.uk.


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We need a senate like a hole in the head

Zim Independent

By Bill Saidi
VOTING is a very personal business. Would you buy a used car from Richard
Hove or Forbes Magadu?

You re hungry, thirsty, jobless and ill and yet these heartless politicians
are asking you to get out of bed very early in the morning and trudge to the
polling station to vote for them.

If you are in Hove's constituency, you are fine. After all, he was elected
unopposed.

But if your candidate is Magadu, then you have to look at your options
carefully. This man boasted, on ZTV, that only he could improve the lives of
the people of Chitungwiza.

But your memory of his tenure as chairman of the town council is filled with
the stench of rotting garbage and refuse-strewn streets. He claims credit
for the Town Centre and the highway to Harare, but for you he is linked to
the unsavoury era when Chitungwiza was a hotbed of corruption and graft.

So, if you know what is good for you, you will grit your teeth, gird your
loins and search for that money you hid under the mattress for the bus fare
to the polling station.

You must prevent Magadu from returning to look after your garbage - and
anything else in the suburb.

To most people, we need the senate the way a perfectly normal person needs a
hole in the head.

But Zimbabwe has been providing the world with marvellous theatre since
Independence. William Shakespeare would have loved this country. There would
be scintillating material for another Macbeth, complete with plots and
bloodshed, another Julius Caesar, Othello and even Much Ado About Nothing.

For the moment, Zimbabwe has provided enough material for a film featuring
an assassination at the United Nations, starring Nicole Kidman, among other
Hollywood heavyweights. The centrepiece is a fictitious President Robert
Mugabe, of course.

A play written by a gay, Jewish South African, has a psychiatrist
interviewing President Mugabe, a man whose homophobia is known throughout
the world.

In years to come, another play might be written on the amazing, zany
flip-flops of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) before two elections
in 2005 for the national assembly and the senate, both won by Zanu PF.

The play would naturally feature Morgan Tsvangirai, whose rise to the role
of Mugabe's most formidable challenger for power is the stuff of which
dreams are made. A supporting role will be accorded to Welshman Ncube, to
whom Shakespeare might assign the role of another Brutus.

If Zanu PF had any faith in its TV network, it would have abandoned the
senate election after the screening of a damning vox pop which showed how
little most ordinary people knew of the senate, let alone why they were
being asked to vote for it. One person wondered why, if the senate had been
abolished as a relic of the Smith regime, it was being revived in 2005.

So far, nobody, including the president, has explained satisfactorily why we
need the senate. The prevailing suspicion is that Mugabe, who likes to look
after old friends, wants the senate as the burial ground for his old
cronies.

Otherwise why else would we have failed politicians like Dumiso Dabengwa,
Richard Hove, Sabina Thembani, Vivian Mwashita and others getting on the
payroll of the taxpayer?

For most people, the senators will do more dozing than debating. For one
thing, they are mostly old and for another they don't originate anything but
wait for laws to be passed on from the house of assembly.

In truth, the senate will not have the clout of the United States senate,
for instance, which has enormous authority in Congress. The lower house of
representatives has more members, but with only 100 members the senate is
more feared by presidents.

Moreover, this senate may not be even as powerful as the House of Lords in
the United Kingdom, although that institution is a sort of burial ground for
old politicians, including the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, now Lady
Thatcher.

The senate was created with the promulgation of Constitutional Amendment
Number 17, characterised by many as an example of how much contempt Mugabe
and his party have for the people of Zimbabwe. This amendment also
"concluded" the land reform programme, barring any challenges in court for
any action taken by the government. Some say this is the coward's way, but
others say only a bully would do this sort of thing.

In creating the senate, Mugabe wants to ensure that his political handiwork
remains intact for a long time to come. If, one day, the house of assembly
is weighted in favour of the opposition, a Zanu PF-dominated senate could
make its work pretty difficult.

The mess created by the senate is unlikely to leave the MDC unscathed. Its
split over a boycott of the poll is likely to leave permanent scars.
Allegations of the cause being over money are shameful.

Tsvangirai has learnt valuable political lessons since joining the fray in
1999 and Welshman Ncube, his alleged rival for power, does not have an edge
in that department.

But South African President Thabo Mbeki's alleged role in ensuring Ncube
wins the day, albeit temporarily, is not going to augur well for any future
relationship between his ruling ANC and the MDC. Tsvangirai may not be ready
to lie down and give up the fight, as another former trade
unionist-turned-politician, Cyril Ramaphosa, did to allow Mbeki free rein in
the ANC.

Moreover, Mbeki may rue his all-out support for Mugabe. Hugo Chavez, an ally
of Mugabe in their anti-imperialist stance, has said in a recent interview
that he did not support everything that Mugabe stood for. He did not
elaborate, but it is suspected that when he saw Mugabe's performance at the
Food and Agriculture Organisation's 60th anniversary conference in Rome, he
was alarmed.

Others, in Zimbabwe and elsewhere, were equally alarmed. Yes, Mugabe has
engaged in sensational histrionics in the past, but in Rome he seemed to go
overboard.

Most African leaders seem to support Mugabe. They have their own reasons:
they have performed no better than he has. Some are even more brutal towards
their people than he is.

But the decision to go ahead with the senate election may be his final
undoing. People are bitter with his policies for stripping them of their
dignity.

The tsunami will not be easily forgotten as an act of savagery against
ordinary people whose only sin was that they wanted to make a decent living
in a country whose economic managers had bankrupted it.

The final straw must be the temerity with which people are being asked to go
and vote for a useless institution, an institution which adds nothing to
their struggle to better their lives or to give them the power to challenge
the government to do "the right thing" by them, honouring its promises to
them at Independence.

Tsvangirai's call for a boycott may not be the trigger. The people's own
anger may eventually be the catalyst for a real stayaway.

* Bill Saidi is editor of the banned Daily News on Sunday.


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Public must hold judiciary accountable

Zim Independent
Comment

IN an address to a police passing out parade last week Chief Justice Godfrey
Chidyausiku raised a number of contentious issues regarding the role of the
judiciary. He appeared anxious to defend the independence of the judiciary
at a time when many in the legal profession and civil society have expressed
concern about its apparent reluctance to uphold constitutional rights.

Chidyausiku's speech will have done little to allay those concerns as he
took the opportunity to attack fellow lawyers and organisations such as the
International Bar Association. He claimed that the land reform programme had
triggered an exodus from the bench. The majority of these judges were white,
he pointed out.

"The indications are that they left because they were unable to come to
terms with the redistribution of land on a more equitable basis."

What indications was he referring to? His predecessor, Chief Justice Anthony
Gubbay, was threatened by Zanu PF thugs at his chambers. The government made
no attempt to defend him and indeed encouraged him to go. Other judges may
well have felt that their ability to rule in favour of individual applicants
or against the government was compromised by both the hostility of ministers
and the attitude of the president spelt out over the Standard affair in
1999.

A court-ordered police inquiry into the abduction and torture of two
journalists with that paper has yet to be completed. Numerous court orders
to prevent arbitrary interference by state officials in land reform have
been ignored with impunity. So was a court order instructing the immigration
department not to deport Guardian correspondent Andrew Meldrum.

Nobody is alleging that the judiciary is no longer independent because it is
black, as Chidyausiku fatuously claims. Let us not forget that Chief Justice
Enoch Dumbutshena headed a robustly independent bench of black, white and
coloured judges in the 1990s. Critics believe the present bench is not
independent because it has demonstrably failed to uphold rights contained in
the Bill of Rights of the constitution. The government has trampled on those
rights with impunity. The closure of the Daily News is a case in point.

The recent record of judges conceding that violence and selective food
distribution were evident in some constituencies in the March poll but that
these were insufficient grounds for invalidating outcomes in those
constituencies has reinforced the perception that justice is difficult to
obtain in the current court system. Delays in handing down judgements in
electoral matters have reinforced that view. Never has the axiom "Justice
delayed is justice denied" been more apt.

The Chief Justice claimed that "a predominantly black judiciary is likely to
share the same perception of the challenges facing Zimbabwe with the
majority of the population that happens to be black".

This is an extraordinary statement. Does he mean all Zimbabweans think alike
about land reform? Was that the verdict of the 2000 referendum? Does
Chidyausiku seriously think all Zimbabweans endorse the state's damaging
record? And should judges anyway make decisions on the basis of majoritarian
claims? The whole point of constitutional provisions is that they should be
impervious to populist impulses.
Does Chidyausiku not understand that?

His statement that "the issue of whether or not land should be distributed
is a political issue. It is not a legal issue." may be taken by some to
suggest an abdication of responsibility.

While governments are empowered to legislate on land redistribution, judges
are expected to ensure legislation does not abridge rights set out in the
constitution.

Chidyausiku says he does not accept criticisms that judges and other law
officers should not accept land under the land reform programme. Judges and
police officers, like all Zimbabweans, are legitimate beneficiaries, he
argues.

He is apparently unable to see that a judge who has accepted a land offer
from a minister, who is able to withdraw that offer whenever he likes, has
his ability to rule against that minister or his government severely
compromised.

Chidyausiku concluded his address by saying that he would like to reaffirm
the commitment of the judiciary to serve all Zimbabweans without fear or
favour. That is precisely what many in the legal community, both at home and
abroad, suggest the judiciary appears unable to do. Do land grants not
constitute a favour?

We welcome Chidyausiku's invitation to criticise his judgements. His speech
last week certainly suggests he is keen to engage in contestation. His
statement, for instance, that the ZRP has become "the model that has become
the envy of many, both in the region and abroad", ignores its record of
arbitrary detention, alleged torture of government opponents including MPs
and lawyers while in custody, and its recent lawless role in the destruction
of people's homes.

Chidyausiku is of course entitled to his opinions. But the public
at the same time has a right to expect the judiciary to be fearless in
defence of its rights. Where it has failed in that regard, or where it
appears to be doing the state's bidding, the public needs to hold it
accountable.


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Gono: saying it as it is!

Zim Independent
Eric Bloch Column

OF the innumerable causes of the monumental destruction of the Zimbabwean
economy, and of the consequential widespread hardships, poverty and misery,
one of the most pronounced has been the almost never-ending inability of the
authorities in general, and of the government in particular, to recognise
realities.

And, when recognition of any realities becomes unavoidable, the invariable
strategy has been to deny culpability, and to attribute responsibility and
blame to others, no matter how devoid of credibility that attribution may
be.

It was, therefore, like a breath of fresh air when the governor of the
Reserve Bank, Dr Gideon Gono, in his 2005 third quarter monetary policy
statement, demonstrated a very considerable awareness of the ills that
confront Zimbabwe.

At this stage, I am very aware that my foremost critic, who falsely alleges
that I am Gono's apologist, will cynically contend that I am again pursuing
that task. Bearing in mind how often I have also differed with Gono - both
publicly and privately - puts the lie to that unfounded contention, although
Gono is big enough to welcome reasoned contrary viewpoints. But I do not
deny that I was most impressed with Gono's very frank and outspoken
summation of much that afflicts Zimbabwe, and his very evident determination
to do whatsoever he is able to transform the economy.

In presenting his statement, Gono noted that it came "at a time when
Zimbabweans from all walks of life, especially workers in both urban and
rural areas, pensioners, the unemployed and our rural folk are grappling to
make ends meet due to escalating costs on a daily basis".

He noted further that the statement also came "at a time when employers are
also having to make the difficult choices between staying in business or
getting out, exporting or not exporting, to retrench or not to retrench,
among other challengers", and at a time "when our farmers are faced with the
dilemma as to which crop to plant, where to get their inputs from, at what
price and what to expect at the end of the season. New and small enterprises
are facing up to the choice of whether or not to borrow to stay afloat,
miners are facing viability and expansion challenges.

"Hospitals are in need of drugs, commuters, transporters and motorists are
looking for fuel daily, while all households, industrial commercial concerns
look to Zesa to assure them of uninterrupted supply of electricity. Our
creditors of yesteryear want their money now, while new suppliers demand
cash upfront for new supplies. Government services need support, especially
in the area of foreign currency, while the monthly take-home salaries of
civil servants across the board, now represents pocket money for children
going to school."

Whilst not all embracive of the massive distress that is the Zimbabwean
economy today, and of the immense suffering of so many, those introductory
remarks were certainly a recounting of many of the very sad and tragic
characteristics of Zimbabwe. And Gono then demonstrated his determination
that Zimbabwe should not give up, but should vigorously pursue change, no
matter how difficult achieving that change may be.

He posed six questions. The first three were:

* Is the situation correctable?

* Is there any reason to wake up in the morning and hope for a better day?
and

* Do Zimbabweans have what it takes to wean themselves out of these
challenges?

To these questions, he responded with a very categoric "Yes".

In contrast, his other three questions were:

* Are we dead and buried yet?

* Is giving up on the fight an option for any Zimbabwean in the trenches of
farming, mining, tourism, industry, banking, commerce civil service,
teaching, nursing or any other trench? And

* Is getting at each other's throats the answer?"

To each of these questions he gave an equally categoric and absolute "No".

After this dynamic commencement to his monetary policy statement, Gono
unhesitatingly quantified many of the economic ills. He did not mince his
words, including a very critical recognition that after a substantive
lowering in money supply growth in 2004, it has been on an upward trend in
2005, with consequential inflationary repercussions. In particular, he was
clearly concerned that credit to government grew in 2005 by 1 037,7%, and to
public enterprises by 660,6% in contrast to private sector credit growth
being 99,9%.

He addressed the very disconcerting and unforeseen upsurge in inflation. The
year-on-year inflation rate had fallen from an all-time high of 623,8% in
January 2004 to 123,7% in March, only to surge upwards thereafter to 359,8%
in September.

Hopefully he will prove right in his projection that annual inflation is
"expected to reach levels of 280 to 300% by December, and of between 50 and
80% by December, 2006".

Undoubtedly, he will strive very intensively to achieve these projections,
but there is very little prospect thereof, unless he can bring government on
side. If it does not pursue policies which are aligned with, and
complementary to, the monetary polices, then no matter what else, Gono's
predictions cannot materialise.

In particular, government has to spend less, and that which it spends, it
must do so constructively and productively. It must genuinely contain
corruption, without fear or favour; it must stop talking about agricultural
recovery, but must make it happen; it must strive to restore Zimbabwe's
international image (a pre-requisite to tourism industry recovery, trade and
investment, development and humanitarian aid, and much more). It must
acknowledge problems timeously, and address them positively instead of
merely seeking to deflect blame.

However, even if government does miraculously transform itself, much of such
transformation will only address the inflation crisis well into 2006 and
2007. By now, it is almost too late to save much of the 2005/6 agricultural
season.

With only sufficient lands prepared, seed-beds established, and plantings
for a tobacco crop of 55 to 60 million kg. It is too late to achieve
government's far-fetched projection of 100 to 120 million kg. With
inadequate, and non-inflation indexed, pre-planting prices, and non-timeous
availability of many inputs, there is no possibility of achieving targeted
maize yields, and in 2006 Zimbabwe will again be reduced to desperate
recourse to food importation.

With many new farmers finding it more profitable to sell their
preferentially-allocated fuel, how will they till their fields, spread their
fertiliser (if it becomes available in time) and spray their insecticides
(also subject to availability), let alone harvest any crops?

Hopefully, Gono's projections will materialise, but it seems more probable
that annual inflation in December will exceed 500%, and in December 2006
will be above 250%, but near-single digit inflation is attainable in the
second-half of 2007, if monetary and fiscal policies are synchronised and
cohesive, and cognisant of economic needs, instead of political objectives.

Gono had the courage, in his statement, to identify much that government
must do. This included a call for requisite agricultural prices, for
effective land tenure, and a halt to land invasions, disturbances and
property destruction.

He also called for "unreserved assurance to the international investor
community of utmost security of their assets", inclusive of "stringent laws
that protect private property".

In that context he made "a passionate call to government to have a rethink
on the policy stance on Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection
Agreements (BIPPAs)", and for an effective fight against corruption.

Much of Gono's statement encompassed many of the views and presentations of
diverse elements of the private sector, and much of it could not have been
welcomed by government, being strongly at odds (even if diplomatically
worded) with many of government's actions and inactions.

Inevitably, some of the private sector will voice criticisms of Gono and his
statement, especially those who were filled with preconceptions before even
hearing the statement. But it has been very noticeable, over the last week,
how many businessmen who were ready "to throw in the towel" prior to the
statement, now perceive a glimmer of hope, albeit that the struggle ahead
will still be long and arduous.


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Gono, who are you speaking for?

Zim Independent
Muckraker

WE liked Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono's comments on the latest spate of
farm invasions. He said this was the work of unruly elements and that as a
matter of policy, government would not "condone violence, farm or factory
invasions".

He told diplomats in the aftermath of his monetary policy review that
government was being unfairly criticised for invasions "initiated by
misinformed elements in society".

He thereupon implored the diplomats to carry the true story of Zimbabwe to
their countries so as to attract investment.

"You should have the courage and conviction to tell people back home that
it's not all doom and gloom in Zimbabwe," Gono said. "In every cloud there
is a silver lining and I believe your excellencies are also seeing that
silver lining in Zimbabwe."

It's silver that even Gono himself, let alone a foreigner, would find hard
to use to purchase a positive verdict on the state of the economy. Question
one: is Gono telling us government has no power to enforce order on the
farms? Then there would be no better evidence of lawlessness. Question two:
are these elements an invisible third force? Are they not part of Zanu PF's
drive to chase all whites out of the country? Question three: on whose
behalf is Gono speaking? Those who make such policy decisions have been
conspicuous by their loud silence - which everyone must take for positive
sanction.

As if to prove the same, Mashonaland East governor Ray Kaukonde was on
Monday shown on Newsnet touring a piggery project. The owner of the project
complained bitterly that he didn't have enough space. He needed to breed up
to 10 000 pigs because he would produce his own stockfeed.

Kaukonde immediately ordered that a farm be found for him. The man was told
to visit Marondera offices and that his offer letter for a farm should be
ready by Friday (today). What version of the law is that we wonder?

Meanwhile, the prospective farm owner shouldn't find it hard to get one.
Information deputy minister Bright Matonga was quoted in the Herald on
Tuesday telling white farmers to be ready to move any time. He said white
commercial farmers still on the land "should not refuse to be vacated" on
the grounds that they had applied to the Lands ministry and were waiting
advice. White farmers were "itching for a fight", Matonga claimed. These
were "the same people who are bringing negative publicity to the country",
he fatuously declared, forgetting his little bout of negative publicity not
so long ago.

At least what is no longer in doubt is that this a race issue. It's in black
and white, thanks to Matonga's facile explanation. But will Gono be happy
with the deputy minister's "clarification" of his remarks? When Matonga
declares "there is no clash whatsoever between the Reserve Bank governor and
President Mugabe", you know there must be something to the story!

There have been numerous allegations of something thoroughly rotten with
Zimbabwe's prisons and detention cells. Beatings, torture, starvation and
various other forms of human rights violations against inmates. The proof
was there for all to see in the Herald last week.

Criminals of all descriptions were left to their own devices in the Masvingo
police holding cells. In the event, two army officers arrested for armed
robbery were let loose upon the hapless inmates the whole night.

Some of the victims reportedly sustained grievous bodily injuries from the
beatings during which they were ordered to shout their names and the nature
of their crimes.

Several questions arise from this: where were the police officers during
this mayhem? Why were the rogue soldiers allowed to go into the holding
cells in their military gear which they used to intimidate fellow inmates?

Is it the custom that arrested soldiers go into holding cells wearing their
black boots when lesser mortals are almost stripped naked? We hope the
authorities will get to the bottom of this Zimbabwean Abu Ghraib without too
much hypocrisy about what the Americans and the British are doing in Iraq
and Afghanistan.

In this regard, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku's comments last week are
most pertinent: "The treatment of offenders must .be consistent with their
dignity and rights."

Was anybody converted to Zanu PF by the Herald's clumsy attempt at a hatchet
job on Morgan Tsvangirai last Saturday? It began: "Morgan Tsvangirai should
be made accountable for the crimes he has committed, analysts have said."

It then proceeded to show how all the charges brought against him by the
state have either been thrown out or resulted in an acquittal.

So in other words there were no "crimes", just the baseless charges brought
by the Herald and its political masters. And there were no analysts either.
The article was headed "People vs Morgan Tsvangirai". It turned out to be
the Herald vs Tsvangirai.

It tells us all we need to know about the Herald's professionalism and
reporting of legal issues that it can describe a man found not guilty by the
courts as guilty. Indeed, it even found him guilty on charges that were
thrown out by the courts before judgement.

For instance, charges brought under the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act were
referred to the Supreme Court where the relevant sections were struck down
as unconstitutional. But the Herald reporter began his next sentence: "As if
that was not enough."

We have had enough of this partisan and unprofessional journalism. If
somebody is found not guilty by the courts, or the charges fall away before
plea or on appeal to a superior court, that person is innocent and should be
regarded as such. That is a fundamental rule in journalism and the Herald is
wilfully ignoring it. Which makes their court reports suspect!

And can you imagine the Herald convicting Tsvangirai for treason in the
Dickens & Madson case when it turned out that Ari Ben-Menashe was working
for the CIO!

So who are these "analysts" who have been telling the Herald that Tsvangirai
was accountable for his "crimes"? Not a single one was cited.

The only person quoted in the story was Bright Matonga who recently told the
Herald that he had seen Tsvangirai arriving at Harvest House in his 4X4 when
he was supposed to be walking into the city. It turned out Matonga had
imagined it.

We were interested to see that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, a
supposedly independent body set up under the Sadc Mauritius protocol on
electoral conduct, has appointed a "National Logistics Committee" to
"mobilise resources" for the forthcoming senate election.

We can be confident of the "independence" of this committee because it
contains such independent-minded members as George Charamba, Tobaiwa Mudede
and Augustine Chihuri!

And there we were thinking there had been some sort of electoral reform
following Mauritius. At least, that's what the government kept telling
everybody.

Charamba was in the Herald on Monday commenting on the internal affairs of
the MDC. The party was being used as a "pawn" by the British, he
unoriginally commented. This same political commentator will be
participating in the supervision of the electoral process!

Leaders in West Africa were also using the MDC as a pawn, Charamba said,
following claims that Ghana and Nigeria were funding the MDC.

But weren't we told Africa fully supports President Mugabe? Hasn't that
always been the case?

And if Zanu PF wants to make an issue out of this, they need to disclose any
funding they have received from Cuba or China.

It was funny to hear Hugo Chavez backtracking on the BBC on Monday morning
over relations with Britain and Zimbabwe. Venezuela didn't share all
Mugabe's views, he diplomatically pointed out, and he had no intention, he
said, of making an enemy of Tony Blair when British investors played such an
important role in his country's economy.

It would be useful, by the way, if ZTV editors could do a more effective job
when editing footage of President Mugabe speaking at events such as the FAO
meeting in Rome. The camera was allowed to capture people sleeping, chatting
among themselves and looking generally bored during the president's
long-winded address. And they showed the same material over and over again.

While Mugabe understandably wanted to get in a few punches when dealing with
the US and UK, he doesn't appear to understand the need to be restrained and
sensible for maximum impact. By comparing Bush and Blair to Hitler and
Mussolini - in Italy of all places - he appeared to lose the plot and
remained lost as he allowed his emotions to get the better of him.

What started off as a bravura display rapidly deteriorated into a bitter and
belligerent rant that lost many of his erstwhile sympathisers present. The
impression given was of yesterday's man making one last bid for the world's
attention and not quite making it apart from some adverse fallout on the
news wires.

Meanwhile, we were surprised to see how gullible Indonesian journalists
visiting this country could be manipulated by the Ministry of Information
into making statements that can best be described as nave.

Minister Tichanona Jokonya was quoted as telling them that they should tell
the "real Zimbabwean story and not the Tony Blair story". They should focus
on the development achieved by Zimbabwe since Independence, he instructed.

This, we hope, will include the dramatic fall in living standards under Zanu
PF.

Extolling the achievement of Operations Murambatsvina and Garikai, Jokonya
said: "There were a number of problems we were facing and Murambatsvina has
managed to remove shacks and undesirable dwellings."

Let's see how the Indonesian journalists report this travesty of
development. The Western media was biased, one of the journalists helpfully
said. The Indonesian ambassador, who was part of this exchange, should be
asked who the journalists met during their stay and who organised their
programme.

Last week we included a few comments on Ambassador Christopher Dell's record
as ambassador to Angola. This followed his arrest in the Botanic Gardens.
The Herald had suggested he tried to "gatecrash" the ceasefire talks between
the Angolan government and Unita rebels.

"The Angolans wanted to avoid interference in what they termed an Angolan
solution to the conflict," the Herald quoted a diplomatic source as saying.

In fact, we have subsequently learnt, Dell was one of the international
signatories of the initial peace accord of April 2002 between the two
parties to the Angola conflict. He subsequently spearheaded relief efforts
in the country.

By the way, is it safe to walk in the Botanical Gardens again yet?

We noted last week that Dell's arrest occurred during the Travel Expo.

Subsequently we heard from a Malaysian visitor to the Travel Expo that he
was without water in his room at the Sheraton during his stay in Harare.
Another good advert for the Sunshine City!

Muckraker was delighted to see our erstwhile reporter Forward Maisokwadzo
smiling from the pages of The Zimbabwean last week. He was one of the
founding members of the Exiled Journalists Network set up to assist
journalists who have fled to Britain to escape persecution. It has 158
members from countries such as Zimbabwe, Iran, Kosovo and Serbia. Sandra
Nyaira, Simba Chabarika, Phil Gurupira and Henry Makiwa were also present.

ZUJ president Matthew Takaona attended the launch en route home from
Scotland, we are told.

We wish them all the best. Does this mean Forward has completed his Reuters
course which he went over there to do five years ago before disappearing
into the undergrowth? Perhaps he could tell us. And what was Matthew doing
in Scotland? Learning Scotch?

We missed Manheru in the Herald last Saturday but felt his stand-in did an
equally good job!

What will they call the new currency to be introduced next year? Can we
suggest the Bob. Because we know it will soon be absolutely worthless!


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Eureka Mine to reopen Monday

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari
IN a rare case of good news to come out of Zimbabwe's struggling economy,
two South African companies will on Monday reopen Eureka Mine, which has
been shut down for the past five years.

The reopening of the mine is probably this year's first real addition to
Zimbabwe's foreign investment portfolio which has been waning for the past
five years due to serious political and economic problems.

There has been very little foreign direct investment in Zimbabwe because of
political uncertainty.

The South African companies, Mmkau Mining and Shaft Sinkers South Africa,
bought the mine from Placerdome Pvt Ltd, an Australian company that pulled
out in 2000. Placerdome disinvested from the mine after realising that
deposits were too small to justify further investment.

The mine in Magunje already has a staff complement of 40 people which it
plans to increase to 300 in the next 18 months. The mine has an estimated 15
years worth of gold deposits.

Sharlemagne Chimbangu, a Zimbabwean who is one of the directors and
shareholder in Mmkau Mining, confirmed that the mine would open next week,
adding that a function had been organised to mark the event.

"We are going to reopen the mine on Monday but work has already started,"
said Chimbangu.

This is a major development for Mashonaland West whose businesses have been
devastated by the chaotic land reform. Most commercial farmers that
supported Mashonaland West were driven off their properties by government's
land reform.

"We hope to create about 300 jobs in the next 18 months to benefit the local
community," Chimbangu said.

Mining is the only sector that managed to achieve positive growth in the
past two years. While other key sectors are expected to decline this year,
mining is expected to grow by 7%.

It contributes 4% to the country's gross domestic product (GDP) and 4,5% of
employment. The sector contributes 16% of the country's foreign currency
earnings.

Government figures show that only 25% of the deposits are in active
production. Further investment has however been stalled by lack of clear
policy and bloated cost structures of mining in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe is one of the most expensive countries to do mining in. Its skewed
mining laws, especially on empowerment, have scared away potential
investors.

More than 10 mines have closed shop over the past decade due to increased
costs, low-grade deposits and perennial foreign currency shortages.

More than four mines have shut down in Mashonaland West alone including,
Venice (gold), Mhangura (copper) and Cam & Motor Mine (gold).

Falcon Gold's Dalny Mine near Kadoma is partially open but is also
threatening to cease operations. Other mines that have closed include Buchwa
(iron) and Kamativi (tin).


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Zim, Zambia seek US$2b for Batoka power project

Zim Independent

Godfrey Marawanyika
ZIMBABWE and Zambia will have to raise at least US$2 billion to finance the
construction of the Batoka hydro-electric power plant on their common border
along the Zambezi River, businessdiest can reveal.

The project, on the cards for over a decade, is expected to start before the
second quarter of next year, funds permitting.

Zimbabwe is particularly keen to have the Batoka project running as soon as
possible, given the envisaged power deficit in the region in two years'
time.

Sources this week said Zimbabwe has to fork out at least US$1 billion to
finance construction of the new power plant.

Energy ministry officials privy to the Batoka project said obtaining finance
would not be easy given the political risk associated with dealing with
Zimbabwe. They said it was going to be difficult to get grants from the
European Union, which could force government to turn to the Far East.

They said the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe was also expected
to play a critical role in raising funds for the project.

Batoka Gorge is located along the Zambezi River, upstream of Kariba Dam.
Preliminary meetings have been held between representatives of the two
governments.

The project is meant to assist the two countries to increase their
power-generating capacity ahead of critical power shortages expected to hit
the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) in 2007.

Energy minister, Mike Nyambuya, could not be reached for comment this week,
but his permanent secretary, Justin Mupamhanga, confirmed that there was
progress on the Batoka project.

He said Zimbabwe and Zambia were working on budgets but refused to shed
light on the actual costs.

Zimbabwe faces a severe foreign currency shortage and is expected to earn
only US$1,8 billion this year. But much of that is expected to go towards
fuel, drugs and power imports in addition to food.

"All I can say is that the governments of Zimbabwe and Zambia are working on
that project," Mupamhanga said.

"Our government and that of Zambia are very keen to have the Batoka project
start. But there are a lot of issues which have to be drawn up by the
technical committees." Mupamhanga said there were already "working estimates
which have been brought up but I cannot say anything on that one (US$2
billion cost)".

No comment could be obtained from the Zambian embassy as the staffer
handling the Batoka project was said to be on sick leave and expected in the
office next week.


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Dollar to fall 50% before stabilising

Zim Independent

Godfrey Marawanyika
THE Zimbabwean dollar is initially expected to lose half its official value
on the new interbank market before stabilising.

Analysts say this is likely to improve foreign currency inflows slightly but
also see a surge in inflation.

Reserve Bank governor, Gideon Gono, last week reintroduced the interbank
trading system to determine the exchange rate for the local dollar, but
exporters will still have to remit 30% of their earnings at a rate to be
determined by the bank.

Under the floating rate system which replaces the auction system, the
Tradable Foreign Currency System, all exporters will retain 70% of their
export proceeds in foreign currency, and sell the remaining 30% at a rate
determined by the RBZ from time to time.

A day after the announcement, treasury heads from commercial banks met the
central bank to outline the modalities of floating but did not reach an
agreement.

Last Friday, the Zimbabwean dollar was trading at between $55 000 and $60
000 to the greenback on the interbank market. By Monday it had weakened to
$95 000:US$1 in line with the black market.

Dealers said the black market would continue since official avenues would
not meet the higher appetite for imports.

CZI vice-president, Calisto Jokonya, said as industry they fully supported
the floating of the exchange rate.

"We as CZI are fully behind this measure (floating)," Jokonya said. "It's
something we have been advocating for sometime now," he said.

"As CZI, our expectation is that industry will respond positively to these
new measures and move away from the black market and deal with banks."

Commenting on the expected time lag from manufacturers, Jokonya said the
response from exporters would significantly vary.

"The time lag response will obviously vary from manufacturers whose products
have a longer cycle and those with a shorter span."

He said since this was the peak period for exports, there might be an
immediate response, but conceded that exporters with a longer manufacturing
span might take time to respond.

Analysts said with the local unit expected to weaken sharply as it seeks a
market rate, inflation would head north before eventually subsiding in the
first quarter of next year.

Gono said inflation, which reached 359,8% in the year to September, would
ease to between 280-300% by year-end. Although the bank's forecast is higher
than the initial 50 and 80% target, analysts say it is still conservative.

Economist Eric Bloch said: "I believe we will see a fall in inflation in
December this year. But this is expected to creep up again in January next
year because of increases in things like school fees and rate hikes from
local authorities. But there will be a steady decline as of February
onwards."

Bloch said there had been a positive response from exporters but said most
importers had already made their bookings for year-end.

"There was a very positive response. It's unfortunate that South Africa and
other customers had already made their orders for year-end," he said.

"There is going to be a time lag, but late February we should see a positive
response."

Exporters have been calling on government to create a conducive environment
for foreign investment and attract balance of payment support crucial in
stabilising the local currency and easing inflationary pressures.

Zimbabwe has been without donor support since 1999 after foreign lenders,
led by the International Monetary Fund, withheld cash over policy
differences such as the seizure of white-owned farms to resettle blacks.


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Gono's inflation, BOP targets unattainable, - economists

Zim Independent

Eric Chiriga
CONTRARY to claims by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's (RBZ) governor, Gideon
Gono, that the country's balance of payments (BOP) is going to improve and
that inflation will be below 300% at the end of the year, local economists
say the targets are unattainable.

In his monetary policy for the third quarter of 2005 announced last week,
Gono predicted an improvement in the BOP from a deficit of US$302,8 million
to US$266,1 million.

"Based on foreign exchange supply and demand conditions, the overall balance
of payments position is projected to improve from a deficit of US$302,8
million in 2004 to a lesser deficit of US$266,1 million in 2005," Gono said.

He said the capital account was projected to improve from a deficit of
US$244 million last year to a surplus of US295,7 million.

He said the inflation rate was now expected to be within a range of
280-300%.

"The upward trend of inflation is expected to slow down during the last
quarter of the year, with annual inflation expected to reach levels of
280-300% by December," Gono said.

Gono was forced to revise the annual inflation for 2005 from an initial
target of 50-80%.

Economic analyst, John Robertson, said chances of the country's BOP
improving in the near future were very slim considering that the country was
failing to raise enough foreign currency.

He said that even if the country successfully borrows significant amounts of
foreign currency, the funds will not be accounted for as capital inflows,
but used to settle the huge debts that the government has incurred.

Robertson said the governor's inflation target of between 280-300% was too
ambitious.

"Inflation rate will be at least 500% by the end of the year," Robertson
said.

Witness Chinyama, Kingdom Financial Holdings (Kingdom) group econ


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Home ownership now a mirage

Zim Independent

Eric Chiriga
CENTRAL African Building Society (Cabs) has hiked its mortgage interest
rates, making the hope of owning a house a pipe-dream for many.

The increase means that the cost of borrowing mortgage loans has become
unaffordable for desperate home-seekers.

Property analysts say the increase in mortgage lending rates is further
dampening home-seekers' hopes of buying houses through mortgages.

Cabs increased mortgage lending rates for industrial and commercial
properties from 130 to 220%, from 70 to 100% for new developments in the
low-density areas and from 100 to 150% for existing residential dwellings.

Mortgage rates for developments in the high-density areas were increased
from 35 to 50% while rates for business secured by housing were increased
from 130 to 220%.

Managing director, Kevin Terry, said the latest rates were with immediate
effect for new loans but will be applicable on existing loans from November
1. Cabs does not give mortgage loans to people earning monthly salaries of
less than $7 million. With a monthly salary of $7 million, a person
qualifies for a $20 million mortgage loan.

While houses now cost an average of $10 billion in the low-density, and $1,5
billion in the high-density suburbs, mortgage lenders are giving loans of
only $20 million at an interest rate of more than 60% per annum for someone
who earns a salary of $5 million per month.

In the building society's financial results for the year ended June 30,
Leonard Tsumba, the chairman, said a total of $267 billion in mortgage loans
were advanced during the year, an increase of 589% from the previous year's
figure of $39 billion. He said that of the funds granted, $167 billion was
advanced on the security of residential properties while $100 billion was
secured by commercial banks and industrial properties.

Tsumba said that contrary to claims by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor
Gideon Gono that funds released from statutory reserves had been abused,
they were facing problems with affordability and availability of serviced
stands with title deeds.

Gono had reduced statutory reserves of deposits not supporting mortgages to
30 from 35% in a bid to make more funds available for mortgage lending, but
he later changed tack, accusing the mortgage lenders of putting the funds on
the money market instead of housing projects.


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MDC: straw that broke the camel's back

Zim Independent

DURING the fateful MDC national council meeting on October 12 over whether
to participate or not in the senate, I made just two points which bear
reiterating because they crystallise the crisis my party is in, and
emphasise why I intend remaining in the MDC:

* The outcome of that meeting was indeed a matter of life and death to the
party, but not because of the senate - which was and is relatively
unimportant. What is important is that this party must remain intact to
continue the struggle against the Mugabe regime - and we must not allow the
senate issue to destroy what many of us have given six years of our life to
build, many suffering unspeakable violence and trauma, some even dying for
the MDC.

* I was absolutely disgusted by the report from Mashonaland East that there
was manipulation, vote-buying and intimidation behind the scenes, to the
extent that they were not in a position to make a conclusive report on the
wishes of their province. If that was what the MDC had come to, I proposed
that we should either fold up as a party or I would certainly leave.

I am convinced that the entire senate issue was a very clever plot by Zanu
PF to destroy the MDC by putting us into an impossible no-win situation.

If we don't contest, we give up our strongholds to Zanu PF without any fight
whatsoever, which our Ndebele members absolutely refuse to do for strong
historical reasons, especially Gukurahundi - and I believe we should respect
those members.

But if we do contest, we go against the very strong wishes of many members
and supporters outside Matabeleland. So the regional dimension is very
cleverly hidden beneath the overt senate issue - and used as a knife to
drive further regional and ethnic divisions within our party.

We fell right into the trap of trying to allow our members and supporters to
make a democratic decision - see where it has landed us! This lack of strong
leadership is an indictment against the very man who is now insisting the
party should respect him as its leader.

Secondly and more importantly, I believe that this struggle is not about the
senate at all. It really won't make much difference, in my view, whether we
participate or we don't.

The taxpayers' money will still be squandered - but on Zanu PF rather than
the MDC. Food, shelter, jobs, health and education will not be provided to
the people, whether we participate or we don't. I am willing to take a bet
with anyone who says that by this time next year, there will be an
improvement in people's lives if the MDC does not participate in the senate.

For people to become so hysterical as to denounce the MDC because it puts up
candidates in an election, at whatever level, is to miss the point entirely.
The MDC was born to contest power, and that contest can and will take
various forms - elections, strikes, demonstrations, passive resistance and
so on.

Every single form of contest is valid - and none is mutually exclusive. Let
us see people on the streets protesting, and I can guarantee you every
single MDC MP, mayor and councillor will join those people. But meanwhile,
let them struggle in their own space, on the many platforms they are given
locally and internationally.

As for jumping on the infamous gravy train, parliamentarians' salaries are
barely above the poverty datum line, being currently around $12 million per
month - to keep their families, pay for their own administrative costs,
constituents' funerals, school fees, medicines and projects. MPs are
supposed to supply the resources for whatever their constituents might
need -- a tall order indeed!

On the contentious issue of MPs' vehicles, it must be noted that MPs have to
pay for their vehicles. They are not provided free and do not come out of
taxpayers' money, unlike ministers' vehicles. MPs have to take out vehicle
loans, unless they have adequate funds - and they have to repay those loans.

The only advantage - and I agree it is a major one - is that they are
entitled to a duty-free vehicle if they can find the foreign currency to buy
one! Even then, they have to pay quite substantial local charges, and cannot
re-sell that vehicle for five years.

The real gravy train carries the NGOs and "civil society" organisations,
where a CEO earns up to 10 times or more than what an MP earns, and where
huge 4x4s and other perks are the norm. But they and others with forex
accounts are the ones shouting loudest about the gravy train in this debate!

What has been problematic has been the way in which the senate debate was
handled, and to me this was the final straw which broke the camel's back.

Trudy Stevenson,

MDC MP,

Harare North.


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Senate an elaborate farce

Zim Independent

SOME of my perceptions concerning the forthcoming senatorial election may at
least be topical, coming as they do from an ordinary Zimbabwean voter and
taxpayer.

The whole political impetus of the current regime has been towards greater
control of just about everything. As no clarifications have been received as
to why Zanu PF should now want to resuscitate a senate that it abolished
years ago, one can only assume that with it further overbearing control is
intended and planned.

Has there been wide-ranging discussion and national debate over the issue?
At this juncture can we afford a second legislative chamber?

Has there been a truly independent and transparent senatorial delimitation
commission which everyone can trust? Have our electoral processes, over the
last five years, been unquestionably free and fair? Have the courts
responded quickly, objectively and effectively to electoral challenges?

The answer to all the above questions is a resounding negative!

Therefore it is my view that this senatorial process has been, is and will
be essentially flawed and corrupt; that Zanu PF is promoting it for its own
political and economic rather than national advantages; that the process is
likely to be skewed in its favour in every way; that the resultant electoral
process will be un-transparent - no matter how peaceful the voting process
may seem on the day of the election; and that there will be no satisfactory
legal appeal possible or effective should one be so inclined to initiate
such.

Go and pull the wool over someone else's eyes! I will not be voting for any
candidate in the senatorial election.

If the MDC participates, Zanu PF will only be too delighted to sucker them
once again. Perhaps it already has: "divide and rule" is one of the oldest
tricks in the book. And who in the end foots the bill for this elaborate and
expensive farce - the ordinary voter and taxpayer.

Senex Sapiens,

Harare.


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And this is our president?

Zim Independent

"I HAVE a soul, I have a heart, I have a conscience and I dare not allow
anything that is untoward to happen to my people.

"We stand by principle, by honesty, by virtue. That's my teaching, the
Jesuits taught me to die for principle and I stand by that . . . I am
Catholic to the end with my principles which I hold as sacred. I serve my
people."

Zimbabwe had enough funds to buy food for drought relief but if charity came
its way it would receive it, President Robert Mugabe said. "But we are able
to buy food from South Africa this year to save our people."

The above are extracts from Mugabe's speech at the Food and Agriculture
Organisation conference in Rome last week.

And this is our president? May God help Zimbabwe.

PNR Silversides,

Harare.


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There's no need for arms

Zim Independent

I AM a Zimbabwean who reads daily what comes out of our fatherland. Not good
reading, I must say. Every day, we read information that is heart-rending,
the suffering of the poor and the heartlessness that is our government.

But in all this, we hope for a brighter future. We have a choice to pray to
the living God who is our final refuge. He knows what is going on. He wants
to know if we have the character to withstand the worst that evil can throw
at us. And we have done just that.

The poor have been brave to endure this level of viciousness. They suffer
the most, and I pray to God that they live to see a better day.

Your writings are good to read. I used to read them in the Daily News, which
was banned, and now I see you continue to write. This is good and boosts the
morale of those back home who need to be strengthened, not by guns and
force, but by words of encouragement.

President Robert Mugabe will meet his Waterloo, his nemesis, sooner than we
think. The time is coming shortly when we shall thank those who have been
brave in all the 20 odd years of a vicious regime.

Nothing defeats evil more than good. The people of Zimbabwe must continue to
do good, continue to look and act docile and meet all brute force with the
courage they have shown so far.

It is hard for me to say, being far away from their troubles. But I know the
chains of injustice will soon be broken. God loves those who turn the other
cheek. Zimbabweans are excelling in this regard, and even though they seem
hopeless, this will win them the day soon.

We Zimbabweans have been fortunate in having leaders in the opposition who
abhor violence and have been brave in the face of violence and abuse. May
they continue to give moral courage to Zimbabweans, both inside and outside
the country. They must bury differences as soon as possible because they are
riding high in terms of their political integrity.

There are few countries where you find people speak with such understanding
of problems that bedevil our world. When we read what you say, from afar, we
are shown how well disciplined the people of the country have become, in a
world where standards are falling.

You who manage to communicate to us your thoughts are a rare breed.
Therefore keep using the high level of discussions, the use of polite
language and being exemplary in word and deed.

Keep attacking the evil in the country in the press and on the Internet as
you have done and the enemy, who is brutish and beastly in his way, rough,
cruel and aggressive in his language and actions, will fall.

We do not need force of arms; Jericho fell without a sword being thrown
anywhere.

Juliet Chadzingwa,

UK.


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They charge but don't deliver

Zim Independent
Editor's Memo

Vincent Kahiya
TODAY is October 28 in the year of our Lord 2005. A long, long time ago,
either at the end of July or the beginning of August, I submitted a
chequebook application form at the Avondale branch of Bank No 3. I literally
forgot about the application soon after. Things don't move that fast anymore
in this country.

About the end August or early September I recalled that once upon a time I
had made an application for a chequebook which I still hadn't received.
Although our offices are at the other end of Kwame Nkrumah Avenue near
Rotten Row, I opted to walk across town to Bank No 3's Kurima House branch
near Fourth Street.

There are many reasons for walking these days. First, it is a form of
self-mortification as one looks at what has become of the fabled Sunshine
City.

The other two reasons for walking are in fact more serious than the first.

One is that there isn't much fuel for one to drive around town, what George
Charamba would call a joyride. Second, Lady Makwavarara and fellow
commissioners have hired thugs who make it their hobby to persecute and
torment rather than serve Harare motorists and ratepayers who pay their
hefty sinecures.

You leave your vehicle unattended, they clamp and tow it away within seconds
and you must cough up anything up to $2,5 million to get it back. It's a
classic case of parking at the owner's risk. But more on Sekesai Makwavarara
later.

At Kurima House a nice lady at the counter advised me to go and check at
their Pearl House branch in First Street. I quickly retraced my steps and in
no time I was there. A dour-faced lady at the relevant counter made a
cursory check among rows of apparently uncollected chequebooks. She told me
the chequebook had been "posted".

Unfortunately I didn't ask "posted to where"? I have held the account for
over 10 years and I always get my monthly statements posted to the office.

As you might have already guessed, dear reader, since that posting around
August, I still do not have the said chequebook. It used to take about a
week to process such an application. The sad consolation is that once one
draws the cheque for groceries, there aren't many more transactions to be
done these days. You go to the ATM.

I know Sister Bongi will be furious with me for exposing her bank. But I
would be more than pleased if she made a follow-up and brought the
chequebook to our offices.

The reason I am writing this is because there are many people who are less
fortunate and more desperate for better service than I am but have no means
of venting their frustrations with the sickening level of service in this
country.

Which leads me back to Town House where commission chair Sekesai Makwavarara
wants to pass herself off for a Harare socialite rather than a council
employee there to serve ratepayers.

This week she was in the news, hobnobbing with the high and mighty,
including Vice-President Joice Mujuru, in leafy Gunhill. Yet her job demands
that she be closer to the less privileged and the voiceless in Mabvuku and
Mbare.

When, dear reader, did you last see a refuse removal truck in your area?
When did you last receive uninterrupted water supply for a full day?

In most high-density suburbs raw sewage can be seen flowing freely through
the yard, or children can be observed playing in the streets ankle-deep in
sewage. Burst sewers go for weeks unattended until the system exhausts
itself and dries up.

Mountains of refuse have gone uncollected for months. We are not in this
case talking about the mountain range called Murambatsvina whose outcrops
can be observed in all high-density residential areas since May. I am
referring here to litter that ordinarily should be picked up once or twice a
week. That has not happened since volcanic Murambatsvina erupted.

Before Lady Semesai found favour in Gina's eye, we were all made to believe
Elias Mudzuri and his MDC councillors were the problem.

Spontaneous demonstrations were sneakily organised at Town House. Now we
have no Mudzuri, no water, and no demonstrations but all the refuse!

The argument often deployed for the advancement of women in society is that
because of their maternal instincts, they are compassionate and more
sensitive to the plight of fellow creatures. Anyone who visits most
high-density areas in Zimbabwe's major towns, or Tsiga Grounds and Ground No
5 in Mbare's Joburg Lines, should quickly be disabused of that fallacy.

I can bet that when the Lady Mayor recently stood up for Herald and ZTV
cameras at Mbare Musika as part of the clean-up, she didn't even have the
courage to turn her head and look at those helpless and voiceless women
displaced by Operation Murambatsvina, living in squalor near the market.

Yet for this shoddy service they charge an arm and a leg. It's a culture
that permeates from the party.

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