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Mnangagwa to replace Mutasa

Zim Independent

Dumisani Muleya/ Constantine Chimakure

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe wants to replace State Security minister
Didymus Mutasa, with whom he has fallen out over his succession politics and
war veterans' issues, with his Rural Housing minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, it
has been learnt.

The move, sources said, would have a major political bearing on Mugabe's
increasingly acrimonious succession fight and the ongoing power struggle in
the ruling Zanu PF.

Mnangagwa, a former State Security minister from 1980 to 1988 with an
intelligence and military background, and his Zanu PF faction, are battling
retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru's camp over Mugabe's throne.

The two factions have intensified campaigns behind the scenes as the
party's extraordinary congress in December fast approaches. The Mnangagwa
camp wants Mugabe to be endorsed as the party's presidential candidate,
while the Mujuru group is pushing for Mugabe to quit. War veterans led by
Jabulani Sibanda are fighting in Mugabe's corner. They are currently on a
nationwide campaign to secure Mugabe's endorsement, now a difficult lobby
for the president's loyalists.

Sources said Mugabe was mulling the unexpected changes - which might
be accompanied by a mini-cabinet reshuffle in a bid to deal with the current
economic meltdown - before next year's joint presidential and parliamentary
elections. They said Mugabe wants to shake up his inept cabinet to tackle
the worsening economic crisis and fine-tune the party for the elections.

Sources said Mugabe thinks his current cabinet is one of the worst.
Critics say the cabinet, which approved disastrous policies like the recent
price reduction blitz and proposed company seizures, is plainly incompetent.
For a while, the sources said, Mugabe has been wavering on reshuffling the
cabinet because he fears it might destabilise the party and government ahead
of elections.

Mugabe wants to remove Mutasa for allegedly consulting a witchdoctor
on how to become president and bungling over war veterans' issues on farms.

The sources said Mugabe summoned Mutasa to his Zanu PF HQ offices in
Harare on September 19 and grilled him for withdrawing offer letters for
farms from war veterans.

A livid Mugabe, the sources said, told Mutasa to stop forthwith from
revoking the letters. "Mutasa emerged from the meeting with Mugabe looking
exhausted," one of the sources said. "The minister said his job was now on
the line. He said he was now going to concentrate on party instead of
government business."

Mutasa is the Zanu PF secretary for administration.

The sources said Sibanda and his deputy Joseph Chinotimba complained
to Mugabe that Mutasa was frustrating them over land issues by revoking
offer letters for farms.

The ex-combatants were reportedly bitter that after leading farm
invasions beginning in 2000, very few of them had benefited. Ministers, top
party officials and senior civil servants got most prime farms, houses and
equipment.

Mutasa has in the past been left in the political wilderness by Mugabe
before being rehabilitated.

The sources said Mugabe has told close advisors he wants Mnangagwa to
replace Mutasa because he no longer has confidence in the minister.
Mnangagwa is back in favour with Mugabe after a bitter fall-out amid
allegations by the president that his former personal assistant wanted to
stage a palace coup in 2004. The looming appointment of Mnangagwa, who was
Justice minister for 12 years, to the powerful State Security ministry, is
now common cause within his camp.

"I can confirm we have it on good authority the president wants to
appoint him (Mnangagwa) to be the Minister of State Security," a source
said. "We do know that this has been discussed and agreed on but what we do
not know for sure is when the appointment will be made."

While the Mnangagwa camp is delighted by the move as it will give them
a major boost in their campaign for power, the Mujuru faction are against it
on the grounds it is tantamount to rewarding impunity and returning the
country to the dark days when the intelligence service used to operate like
the "Gestapo".

Mnangagwa's critics and rivals accuse him of turning the state
security agency, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), into an
instrument of terror, whose operations were characterised by arbitrary
arrests, abductions, disappearances, detention and torture. They say the
climate of ubiquitous terror which prevailed during the 1980s and 1990s
could return if Mnangagwa bounces back as Security minister.

Mnangagwa's appointment is also being opposed by former PF-Zapu
luminaries, particularly those who were in the military wing, Zipra and the
National Security Organisation, the party's intelligence officers agency,
which was headed by Dumiso Dabengwa.

PF-Zapu leaders, commanders and intelligence were arrested when
Mnangagwa was State Security minister. Although they were later acquitted by
the courts on treason charges, they are known to be very bitter about it.

However, Mnangagwa's camp says this is a self-serving political
argument by Mujuru's faction, driven by their fear of the resurgence of
their main rival. They say Mnangagwa would not run the portfolio as he did
in the past because the situation has changed.


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Mugabe, Gono meet over policy conflicts

Zim Independent

Constantine Chimakure

SHARP policy differences have emerged between President Robert Mugabe
and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono over government's
intended move to seize private companies and stick to price controls.

Since Independence in 1980, Mugabe has always been a disciple of the
command economy while Gono strongly believes in a market economy.

Mugabe and Gono publicly differed on Monday on policies the government
should pursue to extricate Zimbabwe from the current economic crisis.

This was the second time President Mugabe and his chief economic
advisor have clashed within two months over price controls.

The public fallout forced the two into a five-hour meeting on
Wednesday in which a temporary truce is understood to have been reached.

However, sources said, fundamental policy differences still exist
between Mugabe and the central bank boss.

In his mid-year monetary policy on Monday, Gono attacked the
government for trying to take over companies through the Indigenisation and
Empowerment Bill, arguing that the "grab all and run strategy" would be
disastrous to the economy.

Gono warned that company seizures would result in capital flight,
massive disinvestment and further economic recession.

The Bill, which was passed by both houses of parliament and now awaits
presidential assent, seeks to give local business people a 51% stake in
local firms including mines and banks.

Gono implored the government not to take over foreign-owned companies,
especially mines and banks. The RBZ boss said the banking sector, by far the
most black-owned sector, should not be destabilised by a few "well connected
cliques, some of whom are already making the most noise in ostensible
support of this initiative, who would want to amass wealth to themselves in
a starkly greedy but irresponsible manner".

"Of particular concern to us as monetary authorities would be any
attempts to forcibly push the envelope of indigenisation into the delicate
area of banking and finance," Gono said.

The central bank boss said while indigenisation of companies was
noble, legislators and the government should strike a balance between its
objective and the need to attract foreign investment.

Gono called for caution and suggested a gradual approach to
indigenisation based on the capital invested.

He said indigenisation should be done over a period of between one and
15 years.

For companies capitalised to the tune of US$500 million, Gono
suggested that full indigenisation (of over 51% local ownership) should
happen over a maximum period of 15 years.

At least 20% of similar companies must be transferred into black hands
in the first five years and 45% up to 10 years.

Gono said he was against price controls.

"The existing challenges (in the country) have been made worse by the
breathtaking and stressful developments of the last three months that have
left our supermarkets with empty shelves while incapacitating the supply and
delivery chains of basic services while at the same time creating a serious
confidence crisis and mistrust between government and the business
community," Gono said.

He added that the nation found itself "trapped by a proverbial winter
storm" in which the people's fears and hopes were running neck-to-neck
"dangerously propelled by the threat to mutually destroy each other".

In July Gono clashed with Mugabe over the government's price slash
blitz that left shops empty and the economy tottering on the brink of
collapse.

Gono likened the price blitzkrieg to the United States and its allies'
invasion of Iraq without an exit strategy.

While Gono was presenting his policy, Mugabe was telling thousands of
his supporters at Harare International Airport that his government would
stick to price controls and would seize profiteering companies.

Mugabe was speaking soon after arriving back from the United Nations
general assembly in New York.

The ageing president said his government would ruthlessly deal with
firms engaged in profiteering.

"We will have to seize the companies, and the services. whether
transport or any other service being rendered by a company or organisation,"
Mugabe said. "If they don't follow our way, we will takeover the companies.
We are warning you, be straight forward, this is our country together."

Mugabe recently accused the business community of working with the US,
Britain and other Western states to effect regime change in Zimbabwe.

On Tuesday, Gono briefed Western diplomats on his latest monetary
policy.

The diplomats reportedly wanted to know whether or not they should
heed Mugabe or Gono on economic policy matters.

They reportedly also wanted to know whether Zimbabwe would have an
economic policy shift.

Gono repeated to diplomats that there was a link between political
troubles and the economic crisis, a view that angers Mugabe.

"Our economic challenges and policies cannot be read and viewed in
isolation of the political challenges," Gono said.


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Police to arrest more coup suspects

Zim Independent

Lucia Makamure

THE saga of six men accused of plotting a coup to oust President
Robert Mugabe took a new twist this week with revelations that police could
arrest more suspects in the next two weeks.

The Zimbabwe Independent is also reliably informed that investigators
want the accused men already in police custody to implicate two senior
Airforce of Zimbabwe commanders in the coup plot.

Sources at the Attorney-General's Office this week said the state was
following leads into the involvement of the two airforce officers. When the
alleged conspirators were arrested five months ago, the state alleged that
the accused wanted to stage a coup and install Rural Housing minister
Emmerson Mnangagwa as prime minister.

The latest twist came as Justice Tendayi Uchena this week gave the
state two weeks to conclude investigations in the case. The judge said he
would consider a bail application by the six - Albert Mutapo, Nyasha Zivuku,
Oncemore Mudzurahona, Emmanuel Marara, Patson Mupfure and Shingirai
Mutemachani - after police completed their probe.

Superintendent Simon Mundondwa, the police officer commanding Law and
Order Section in Harare, told the court to expect some action on the case in
the next two weeks.

"There are now strong leads and some of the outstanding accused will
be arrested soon," said Mundondwa in an affidavit submitted to the court by
the prosecution.

The sources said police had started interrogating the accused with a
view to linking the senior airmen to the alleged coup

The defence counsel for the six, Charles Warara, told the Zimbabwe
Independent in an interview this week that the case had been heavily
politisied with no incriminating evidence against his clients having been
produced, five months after their arrest.

"My clients have been in custody for more than five months and the
state is still to come up with any evidence to show that they were planning
a coup in the physical sense," said Warara of Warara & Associates.

Warara said no guns or elements of the execution of the said coup had
been brought before the courts to justify the lengthy detention of the
accused.

"Our worry is that the police are taking time to finalise their
investigations," he added.

Warara said the police were yet to furnish them with information on
what came of the investigations on Mnangagwa who was also implicated in the
coup.

"Obviously, if they still want their case to stand there have to be
some insiders in the government who were involved because these guys on
their own without access to the state machinery could not have dreamt of
carrying out a coup," he added.

"The reason why the police are delaying the case on the excuse that
they are still carrying out investigations is because they know that without
extending the plot to the government machinery they cannot justify the
arrest of the six accused," he said

The High Court in June dismissed a bail application by the alleged
coup plotters on the grounds that there was a danger that they might abscond
and that investigations were still in their infancy.

The alleged coup plotters will today be spending their 126th night
behind bars.

The delay in the prosecution is almost similar to that of 23 Movement
for Democratic Change activists accused of terrorist bombings who are yet to
get a trial date, eight months after they were arrested.


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JOC takes over price controls

Zim Independent

Constantine Chimakure

THE Joint Operations Command (JOC) has taken over the duties of the
cabinet taskforce on Price Monitoring and Stabilisation, the Zimbabwe
Independent heard this week.

Impeccable sources said JOC, a national security think-tank made up of
army, police, prisons and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) chiefs,
had assumed the role of the cabinet taskforce in setting prices of goods and
services.

The cabinet taskforce was appointed by government in June to ensure
that prices of goods and services are justified with scientific pricing
models and to stop the diversion of scarce goods from the formal to the
black market. Minister of State for National Security Didymus Mutasa chairs
JOC while Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono is sometimes invited to advise
on economic issues.

The sources said President Robert Mugabe on September 18 summoned
cabinet taskforce chairperson Obert Mpofu and his deputy Elliot Manyika and
grilled them on their operations.

"The taskforce stopped operating the day Mpofu and Manyika were
summoned by Mugabe. JOC is now responsible for price monitoring," one of the
sources said.

Apart from Mpofu and Manyika, the cabinet taskforce also included
Finance minister Samuel Mumbengegwi, Small and Medium Enterprises minister
Sithembiso Nyoni, Minister of State for Policy Implementation Webster Shamu
and Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi.

Others were Minister of State Enterprises and Anti-Monopolies Samuel
Undenge and Minister of State for Indigenisation and Empowerment Munyaradzi
Paul Mangwana.

The sources said JOC was summoning individual companies to negotiate
new prices for goods and services.

Gono, the sources added, was the force behind the JOC move meant to
ensure that firms operate viably while goods and services are made available
at affordable prices.

Efforts to get a comment from Mpofu yesterday were in vain.

The cabinet taskforce was expected to ensure transparent and objective
pricing mechanisms throughout the supply chain by applying scientific
pricing models to all controlled goods and services.

The taskforce was also supposed to ensure that the appropriate
regulations regarding the recently promulgated National Incomes and Pricing
Commission Act were effectively enforced.


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Nust student charged with treason

Zim Independent

Loughty Dube

POLICE have charged a National University of Science and Technology
(Nust) student leader with treason after he allegedly told a public meeting
that if President Robert Mugabe cannot be removed from power through
elections, he will be "removed by the bullet".

Mehluli Dube was arrested in a dramatic swoop at the Zimbabwe Trade
Fair grounds where he was attending a Bulawayo Agenda-organised civil
society meeting to discuss Constitutional Amendment (No 18).

He was picked up by six detectives from the Law and Order Section from
Gwanda who were led by the officer-in-charge of the section whose name could
not be established.

Dube, who was shaken by the incident, was taken to the Bulawayo
central police station where the charges against him were read.

The police allege that Dube told the public meeting in Gwanda that "if
President Mugabe does not want to go he will be removed by the ballot or the
bullet".

Dube was questioned and released following the intervention of
Dzikamai Machingura of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) who
represented him in the matter.

Police said they would proceed with the matter by way of summons in
the coming two weeks. ZLHR director, Arnold Tsunga, who was also among the
delegates at the conference when Dube was picked up, said the charges being
levelled against Dube were serious.

"Treason is a serious offence," said Tsunga. "Although he was released
I could see that he was traumatised. Police have said they will proceed in
the matter through summons."

Bulawayo police spokesman, Mandlenkosi Moyo, could not immediately
comment on Dube's arrest as he was said to be out of the office.

Treason in Zimbabwe carries a death sentence or life in prison.

Seasoned politicians who have faced treason charges in the past few
years include the late opposition leader Ndabaningi Sithole, Movement for
Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai, and former PF-Zapu leader and
nationalist Joshua Nkomo.

Dube also joins PF-Zapu leaders Dumiso Dabengwa and former
Zipramilitary supremo Lookout Masuku in the list of those charged with
treason by President Mugabe's government.


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Zanu PF, MDC agree to scrap executive mayor posts

Zim Independent

ZANU PF and the MDC have agreed to scrap the post of executive mayor
in towns and cities in the ongoing Sadc-initiated talks, the Zimbabwe
Independent heard this week.

Sources privy to the talks said the parties agreed to revert to the
old system of ceremonial mayors.

Zimbabwean cities used to be run by ceremonial mayors elected from
councillors until 1996 when the government amended the Urban Councils Act.
The town clerks then used to enjoy sweeping powers.

The sources said the negotiating parties agreed that local authorities
used to function better when they were being run by town clerks employed by
the local authorities on a professional basis.

Observers however said the MDC was duped by Zanu PF, which wanted to
win back urban councils where it has performed dismally in past elections.
Once they revert to ceremonial mayors, governors appointed by the president
would take over control of local authorities, weakening the opposition's
hold in cities. Most cities were controlled by MDC councils before
government interfered, suspending and firing most of the mayors.

The harassment was believed to be part of a plan orchestrated by the
ruling party to usurp control of the urban centres, which have been the MDC's
stronghold.

The MDC seized control of Harare, Bulawayo, Victoria Falls, Gweru,
Masvingo, Gwanda and Kariba in municipal elections after 2000.

Zanu PF then created the posts of governors for Harare and Bulawayo in
a bid to neutralise the powers of executive mayors.

In Harare, elected executive mayor Elias Mudzuri was dismissed on
allegations of incompetence and mismanagement. He was replaced by a
political turncoat Sekesai Makwavarara.

In Mutare, the same allegations were levelled against another elected
mayor, Misheck Kagurabadza, who was replaced by a government-appointed
commission. In Chitungwiza Misheck Shoko faced the same fate.

In Bulawayo, Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo has tried on
several occasions to oust executive mayor Japhet Ndabeni Ncube, who is often
at loggerheads with Bulawayo Metropolitan governor, Cain Mathema. - Staff
Writer.


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Gono's new farming facility inflationary

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

RESERVE Bank governor Gideon Gono's commodity pricing will not benefit
the country in any way as long as government continues to dole out money
without auditing its use on the ground, the Zimbabwe Independent heard this
week.

Gono this week unveiled the Basic Commodities Supply-Side Intervention
Facility (Bacossi) to promote a speedy return to normalcy in the supply of
essentials. The facility, which will be administered in the same manner as
the Agricultural Sector Productivity Enhancement Facility (Aspef), will see
the RBZ subsidising the production of virtually all basic commodities in the
country. The intervention will force government to print money, a move that
will fuel inflation.

"Our strongest conviction is that Zimbabwe's inflation and related
economic difficulties can be effectively resolved through the active revival
of the supply side of the economy, even if it means we subsidise for a while
that supply chain in order to jump-start the recovery process," Gono said in
his monetary policy statement on Monday.

He said under Bacossi, primary, secondary and tertiary producers and
suppliers would have access to concessional, production-targets-linked
financial support for working capital requirements.

"The facility is a 270-day or nine months window, reviewable and
renewable, through 90-day instruments," he said.

"This window is meant to give the targeted producers a three-by-three
month window within which they can restore their production facility
utilisation to levels before June 1 2007 or better, at affordable but
sustainable prices."

Observers said by introducing the new facility, Gono had reverted to
quasi-fiscal interventions, reneging on his earlier statement to stop
unbudgeted expenditures.

Gono justified his position by blaming government's knee-jack policies
for causing unintended consequences.

"These are the unintended consequences of some of our behaviours as
Zimbabweans," he said. "They end up imposing a recovery burden, or tax on
the whole economy and taxpayers through quasi-fiscal interventions."

He, however, pointed to the risk that cheap goods could lead to
unsustainable pressure on consumption patterns, installed production
facilities, and hoarding for resale in neighbouring countries because
Zimbabwean goods would suddenly become too cheap.

A similar facility, Aspef,
has been subjected to serious manipulation and has failed to
jump-start production in the agricultural sector, with the RBZ losing
trillions of dollars in unrecovered loans.

Since the launch of Aspef loan facility two years ago, the RBZ has
doled out in excess of $9 trillion in different sectors of agriculture but
has managed to recover only $1,5 trillion.

Over $5,5 trillion of the distributed funds is not likely to be
recovered since the beneficiaries have since been evicted from their
properties and no longer have the means to produce.


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Zanu PF, MDC resume talks

Zim Independent

Dumisani Muleya/Constantine Chimakure

THE ruling Zanu PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) have resumed talks locally and in South Africa to resolve the current
crisis after they agreed recently to pass Constitutional Amendment (No 18)
Bill which seeks to introduce controversial political reforms.

Sources close to the negotiations said the parties held several
meetings between themselves and also under the mediation of South Africans
last week at different venues in Harare and other parts of the country. They
said the meetings were held in government offices, parliament, and places
such as Kariba and Nyanga.

"There were many meetings held last week at different places, in
Harare, at Parliament Building, Munhumutapa Building, Chaminuka Building, in
Kariba, Nyanga, Masvingo and other places," one source said.

"Meetings have been held all over. I can't give you the details of the
discussions but issues on the agenda. There has been heated debate on
sanctions, for instance, which is a double-edged sword for the MDC and other
issues."

The sources said yesterday Zanu PF and the MDC negotiators, who
include Patrick Chinamasa, Nicholas Goche, Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti,
were in Pretoria for further negotiations. Efforts to get comment from them
were unsuccessful as their cellphones were unreachable.

A strict confidentiality clause has been signed by the parties to
ensure no information leaks out about the negotiations. However, the media
has been getting details about the talks. The Zimbabwe Independent has been
able to get accurate details of the talks to the extent that parties in the
dialogue have been complaining.

The Independent has been confronted by the negotiators with complaints
and pleas not to reveal more details of the talks. Pretoria has taken the
issue to another level by going to the extent of making enquiries at its
embassy in Harare in a desperate bid to detect and plug the leakages, but
the effort has largely failed because all parties involved talk to the
Independent. South Africa made its enquires on the issue on the basis of
false information given to mediators by one of the MDC negotiators - who is
desperately scrambling to gag the press - on who was leaking stories to the
Independent.

After dealing with several electoral issues, which Zanu PF says were
very urgent, the parties were now engaging each other on outstanding agenda
items under "Track II" in the dialogue. Track I was the amendment of the
constitution to facilitate the delimitation of constituencies.

Track II is focusing on the constitution, security legislation, media
laws and the political climate, dealing with a range of issues such as the
militarisation of state institutions, the role of chiefs and sanctions.

The sources say the two parties have "substantially agreed" on a new
draft constitution guaranteed by South African president Thabo Mbeki who was
appointed by Sadc to facilitate the talks.

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade said on Monday he would come to
Harare in two weeks time to recommend multilateral mediation by African
heads of state to try to solve the current crisis.

Wade said he wanted to discuss with President Robert Mugabe how
African leaders, including himself and Mbeki, could mediate between Zanu PF
and the MDC.

Mbeki recently said he believed there should be no other initiatives,
except the Sadc one, on the Zimbabwe crisis. Wade said Mbeki should not be
the only one dealing with the issue.

The negotiations are expected to end by October 30.

The MDC expects to get a new constitution, amendment of the Electoral
Act, Public Order and Security Act, Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act, Local Government Act, and Traditional Leaders Act among others.

After getting support for the constitutional amendment, Zanu PF
expects to get backing on the scrapping of sanctions and the blocking of
foreign radio stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe. However, the MDC has no
power to get the sanctions lifted and radio stations blocked.

This has become a big sticking point, the sources say. They said
sanctions featured prominently during last week's meetings.

The two parties are said to meet sometimes for five hours a day in a
bid to beat their self-imposed deadline.

Although MDC officials said they had consulted top local lawyers who
include former Law Society president Sternford Moyo, Selby Hwacha, Harrison
Nkomo and Nokuthula Moyo on drafting a new constitution, the attorneys said
this week they had not been involved. They said they were neither consulted
nor aware of the existence of a new draft constitution.

However, their names have been bandied about at MDC meetings over the
issue, probably without their knowledge, the sources said.

The sources said Mbeki promised MDC leaders that he would guarantee
the new draft constitution, which has "substantially been agreed on" between
the two parties, although some issues are still subject to negotiation.

The sources said if the final draft is ultimately adopted by the two
negotiating parties by October 30, it would then be taken to their leaders
and structures in November and to parliament by December. After that the
draft would be kept ready for introduction after the elections in March.

This is Zanu PF's position, which the MDC might agree to because the
ruling party has taken a decision it will not accept a new constitution
before the elections. President Robert Mugabe has stated that he does not
want a new constitution.

This position was restated and agreed at his party's politburo meeting
on September 5. The sources said Zanu PF wants the coming polls to be held
under the current Lancaster House constitution as modified by Amendment No
18 and to have a new one introduced at an agreed date after the elections.

MDC leaders have been saying that there would be a new constitution
before the elections without clarifying whether or not it would come into
effect ahead of the polls.


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No new voter registration: Chinamasa

Zim Independent

Orirando Manwere

JUSTICE minister Patrick Chinamasa says there would be no
re-registration of voters to create ward specific voters rolls for next year's
harmonised elections as those already registered would simply be moved into
new wards and constituencies.

This flies in the face of expectations by the opposition MDC, that
voters would be registered to create a new and transparent voters roll
before the election in March next year. The MDC wants the voters roll
revamped to flash out "ghost voters" whom it claims are used by Zanu PF for
electoral rigging purposes.

Responding to questions by MDC legislator Nelson Chamisa on how the
proposed ward-specific rolls would be created and the timeframe for
delimitation, Chinamasa said already registered voters would be put under
wards and constituencies to be determined during the delimitation exercise.

He said delimitation, which will now be done by the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC), was expected to be completed by December after a mop-up
mobile voter registration exercise in 939 areas not fully covered in an
earlier exercise in June to August.

Only 109 999 people countrywide were registered as voters during that
exercise.

Said Chinamasa: "There will be no re-registration of voters to create
ward-specific voters rolls. As you may know, when you are registered you are
registered to a particular group which is the physical unit area and when
they do the delimitation, whether of wards or constituencies, it is a mere
exercise of moving a whole block or part of the block in order to create a
constituency.

"So you are registered into a block and you either move into a
constituency, the total block, quarter block or half block of the
constituency."

On delimitation, Chinamasa said, the exercise would be carried out
soon after President Mugabe assented to the recently passed Constitutional
Amendment Bill (No 18).

Chinamasa had earlier told parliament: "The point to note is that we
are introducing with this change a ward voters roll, a ward-specific voters
roll. In other words, a voter can only vote in the ward in which he or she
is resident and registered to vote."

Stakeholders last week said the proposed system would prejudice many
voters, as the delimitation exercise was yet to start.

They had said this would require an extended re-registration exercise
supported by a massive awareness campaign to enlighten the electorate on the
new wards and constituencies.

The ZEC is expected to come up with 90 new parliamentary
constituencies, 10 senatorial constituencies and new boundaries for urban
and rural council wards following the passing of the Bill.

Under the Bill, parliamentary constituencies will be increased from
the current 150 to 210 while the Senate's directly elected members go up
from 50 to 60 with six senators per province.

ZEC last month announced the extension of the voter registration
exercise for three weeks to cover specific areas where there were logistical
problems during the June 18-August 17 mobile voter registration period.

However, it has not yet set the dates, amid concerns from prospective
voters who were left out or have moved that they might be prejudiced of
their right to vote.

In a written response to questions by the Zimbabwe Independent this
week, ZEC deputy chief elections officer Ultoile Silaigwana said a mop-up
registration exercise would be carried out and the dates and places to be
covered would be announced in due course.

"The voters roll will definitely be ready by election time because an
inspection of the voters roll will be conducted in due course. This
programme will also cater for those who want to transfer and those who want
to register as voters," he said.

Various political party officials, observers and prospective voters
said the mop-up exercise should be nationwide as the previous exercise was
not very effective due to logistical problems comprising transport and
communication, especially in rural areas.

In his response to a question by MDC chief whip Innocent Gonese on the
outcome of the recent mobile voter registration exercise, Chinamasa said 109
999 voters were registered nationwide compared to 120 283 in 2004.

He attributed this year's lower figure to the fact that this year's
exercise was held barely three years after the previous one, which was held
after five years.

"The second explanation for the difference is that the 2004 exercise
was done over a period two weeks longer than was the period this year. This
(year's) mobile voter registration blitz turned out, in effect to be an
exercise in the registration of births and issuance of national identity
cards."


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Fraud rocks Premier Bank

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has issued Premier Finance Group
(PFG) with a corrective order following revelations that its senior
executives could have siphoned billions from the bank and benefited in their
individual capacities when the company acquired a majority stake in CFX
Financial Services earlier this year.

A preliminary RBZ report to be released within the next three weeks
will reveal how PFG former chief executive, Exodus Makumbe and chief
operating officer, Cassius Gambinga, could have helped themselves to the
company's commissions and engaged in non-permissible activities that
threatened the welfare of the whole group.

PFG is the parent company of Premier Bank.

The report will also give details of events that led to the
unceremonious exit of Makumbe last month.

Although the official statement from Premier Bank's holding company,
Premier Finance Group, was that Makumbe had resigned to pursue the bank's
regional expansion programme, businessdigest can reveal that he was actually
pushed out by the board over allegations of fraud and serious corporate
governance issues.

The central bank also raised serious concerns about his continued
leadership after irregularities were uncovered by the investigating team and
KPMG auditors. KPMG was hired by the RBZ to help with forensic audits at the
bank.

Makumbe tendered his resignation eight days after he was put on forced
leave by the board.

Sources close to the issue said Makumbe was sent on forced leave
together with Gambinga on August 21.

Makumbe tendered his resignation to the board on August 29. Gambinga
is still on forced leave but his fate will be clear when the final RBZ
report is officially released.

businessdigest understands that Premier's problems started in July
when the bank experienced liquidity problems. Although the liquidity crunch
was a market-wide problem Premier was the least prepared because of its
size.

Their problems were worsened by the fact that the bank had loaned
heavily to cotton merchants who at that time were failing to service their
debts because of the short market. Premier was short $70 billion and
battling to settle its depositors.

A visit by the RBZ's surveillance department on July 2 unearthed the
full scope of the crisis at the bank.

The investigating team found that while the market deficit had
triggered Premier's problems, the bank had other inherent irregularities
that had combined to worsen the situation.

The probe team discovered that PFG had heavily borrowed from Premier
Bank.

It discovered that the hole in the bank was actually less than what
the holding company, PFG, had borrowed from the bank.

The central bank has since 2004 discouraged inter-company borrowings
in the financial sector.

There were also insider loans which had been given to executives in
their individual capacities and conduit companies related to them.

Inter-company borrowing and insider loans led to the collapse of Royal
Bank and Trust Bank three years ago.

The probe also discovered that Premier had understated statutory
reserve requirements and that its financial position was not stable at that
time. The report, the sources said, will also reveal how senior executives
were involved in front-running when PFG was in the market buying CFX shares.

It is alleged that senior executives got money from the holding
company, bought CFX shares at low prices, held on to them before selling
them back to the company at huge margins. PFG currently owns 26% of CFX.

businessdigest understands that about 8% of that shareholding was
bought by Premier from its executives who had acquired the shares with the
inside information that sometime later the company would need the CFX
shares.

The executives also bought Econet and Old Mutual shares with money
borrowed from the group. They also bought houses and other properties.

"These issues are so serious that some people will be arrested," said
a source close to the probe.

Makumbe referred all questions to the PFG's current management.
Contacted for comment Makumbe said: "You may recall that sometime last month
the chairman of Premier Finance Group Ltd issued a notice in which the
market was informed of my resignation from the group to pursue regional and
international opportunities that benefit the business. Subsequent to my
departure, the managing director of Premier Bank was appointed acting chief
executive officer, and his elevation, albeit in an acting capacity, was
widely covered by the media."

"I therefore, find myself in a very difficult position to comment on
issues pertaining to PFG or any of its subsidiaries
given that we have a qualified and competent team running the group,
which should be in a position to give you, on record, any information that
you may require without trespassing beyond the ethics of the banking
profession.

"I kindly refer you to seek official comment from either management at
PFG or the board chairman in the interest of fairness, objectivity and
balance, bearing in mind that banking, by its very nature, is sensitive. I
hope that you will understand my position."

The report which was compiled with the help of KPMG Auditing firm will
also touch on the competence of the officers that are in charge of Premier
bank at the moment. RBZ governor, Gideon Gono, could not be reached for
comment yesterday but he made some reference to the irregularities in his
monetary policy presentation on Monday.

"As stated earlier, we note with concern the re-emergence and increase
in incestuous relationship between certain banking institutions, their
holding companies and other related parties that are reminiscent of what we
saw in the pre-2003 era," Gono said.

He said some "unscrupulous executives continue to use convoluted group
structures as conduits for abuse of depositors' funds and engagement in
non-permissible activities such as the purchase of stocks on the equity
market".


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How trouble at Premier Bank unfolded

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari

JUST after the morning tea break on Monday July 2 six officials from
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) arrived at Premier Finance Group (PFG)'s
offices at Sam Levy office park.

They told management they were making a routine check on the financial
sector following reports that some banks were experiencing liquidity
problems.

PFG's subsidiary, Premier Bank, was having problems covering its
positions because of the money market deficit. The gap in the bank's books
was estimated to be around $70 billion.

The RBZ team was supposed to be at PFG's offices for no more that a
few hours for what might otherwise have been a routine check.

Yesterday afternoon the central bank team was still camped at the
company. They say investigations are continuing and a report will be ready
within the next three weeks.

What made Premier Bank's problems worse was that apart from the normal
market shortage the bank had other serious problems.

Unlike commercial banks which could borrow from the central bank when
the market is short Premier had to go through a second party by virtue of
being a merchant bank. Merchant banks cannot by banking law access funds
from the central bank as the lender of last resort.

They have to go through a commercial bank. Because at that time the
whole market was short even Premier's commercial bankers were not in a
position to help them cover their positions.

Premier's problems were however bigger than a mere gap in its books.
The probe team found that the major reason Premier could not cover its
position was because of huge insider and inter-company loans which had not
been repaid.

PFG, its parent company, had borrowed about $90 billion from it and
had not yet repaid the bank. Some executives had also helped themselves to
billions of dollars in loans. The probe team left the bank that afternoon
but promised to come back later for further checks. They however did not
come back until after the Heroes Holiday.

On August 15 about 25 officers from the central bank came back to PFG's
offices.

They were accompanied by officers from KPMG Financial Auditors. They
met PFG and Premier Bank management in the board room. There they read the
riot act.

They said they were not happy with the management's cooperation during
their initial fact finding visit in July.

They said they suspected that there were serious irregularities in the
bank and that they wanted a full investigation.

That meeting took about 30 minutes and by mid-morning investigation
teams had been deployed in the whole bank. There were RBZ officials in
auditing, accounts, treasury, risk management and the IT department.

The next day, the team did not return but the bank's legal advisor,
Nick Nyamusa, got a call from the central bank at around 9:30am requesting
all managers to report to the RBZ at 10:50am.

Twelve managers attended the meeting which however did not start until
12 pm. The chief executive, Exodus Makombe and chief operating officer
Cassius Gambinga did not attend the meeting because they were on vacation.

The head of the RBZ team, Gift Chirozva, told the managers that there
were looking at allegations that the bank had understated its statutory
reserve requirement and engaged in inter-company borrowings.

The financial condition of the bank and allegations that some
executives were involved in share-front running were also part of RBZ's
probe. There was also the issue of missing commission which the probe team
believed had been siphoned from the bank by some senior executives.

After his offer for people to volunteer information found no takers,
Chirozva handed each manager an envelope. They were told to put their mobile
phones in the envelopes.

The central bank then started interviewing each person separately. It
took nine hours for the interviews which finished at 9pm. On that day the
RBZ was not so hospitable. The managers were not served lunch.

"People talked. They implicated each other during the interviews," a
member of the RBZ probe team said. "It was clear that there was more rot in
the bank that we had initially anticipated. Some of the findings are so
serious that when the investigations eventually conclude we are going to ask
for assistance from the police," he said.

On Friday August 17 Makumbe also went for the RBZ interviews together
with a few other managers who were not at work the previous day.

The RBZ then scheduled a meeting with the bank's non-executive
directors. The meeting was supposed to be held on August 20 at 2pm. The
directors decided that they would have a meeting with senior managers before
going to the RBZ.

Gambinga and Makumbe did not turn up for that meeting despite having
promised to do so. Only Raymond Chigogwana, who at that time was the
managing director of Premier Bank, attended the meeting.

Chigogwana is now the acting chief executive of the group. Makumbe is
understood to have told the board over the phone that he had left the
country because he was afraid of being arrested. It is not clear which
country he had gone to.

The RBZ must have told the directors something serious because
immediately after the meeting the board sent Makumbe and Gambinga on forced
leave. Makumbe who had founded the institution first as a Discount House in
2004 tendered his resignation on August 29.

Makumbe over the past two weeks refused to shed light on events
leading to his unceremonious departure. He also refused to respond to some
of the allegations that are being levelled against him. He has referred all
questions to the PFG's management who have also refused to comment on the
issue.

The central bank is expected to conclude its investigation into the
crisis at Premier within the next three weeks. Sources who have seen the
preliminary report told businessdigest that it makes serious allegations
against Makumbe and Gambinga.

The report details how the bank lost about $161 billion through
fraudulent activities. Apart from
the issue of statutory reserve computation, the missing commission and
the bank's weak financial position the report also raised alarm over the
events surrounding PFG's acquisition of a 26% stake in CFX Holdings. PFG
first acquired 12% CFX in 2006 when the commercial bank did its right issue.
PFG
got the shares for just over $1 billion.

Sometime in February, the senior staff of PFG decided to increase
their stake in CFX to about 26%. The plan was to eventually push through a
hostile takeover and reverse listing. The RBZ preliminary report alleges
that around the same time Makumbe, Gambinga and other senior executives had
borrowed money from the bank to buy the CFX shares. These shares were later
sold to PFG at huge profits.


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Mangwana secretly eyes Hippo Valley, CSC

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari

THE Minister of State for Indigenisation and Empowerment, Paul
Mangwana, is angling for Hippo Valley Estates Ltd once the Indigenisation
and Empowerment Bill which has passed through parliament becomes law.

The controversial Bill sailed through the Senate on Tuesday and is now
awaiting President Robert Mugabe's assent to become law.

The law will force foreign-owned companies to sell 51% stake to local
people. Businessdigest can however reveal that while Mangwana has been
vigorously pushing the Bill, he has been secretly making contingent plans to
become one of the first beneficiaries of the law.

Mangwana is understood to have been pushing to take over Zimbabwe
Stock Exchange-listed Hippo Valley since May this year through a consortium
made up of people mostly from Masvingo.

This could explain why Mangwana has been so eager to fast-track the
Bill through parliament.

Sources at Hippo Valley said Mangwana recently approached senior
central bank officials to help him find ways to put his plan into action.
Mangwana has also approached a local commercial bank to assist with funds
and advisory services to set up the consortium.

"He has been pushing this project since May this year. He is now only
waiting for the Bill to become law and make the official move," said a
source close to the issue.

"Mangwana's reasoning has been that Hippo Valley is too big and should
either be reduced in size or at least give a stake to locals."

Hippo Valley's core business is growing and milling of sugar cane.

Mangwana is also understood to have made plans to acquire Cold Storage
Company-Masvingo using the same consortium.

"Mangwana said he was aware that government will soon sell part of its
stake in CSC. He said the plan was to sell some of CSC's abattoirs.

"He wanted advice on how best his consortium could benefit from such
developments ," the source said.

Mangwana denied that he was making plans to take over Hippo Valley.
"Your sources are mad. You have been publishing a lot of rubbish of late.
You can publish that story at your own peril. If you want to make me rich go
ahead," said Mangwana to businessdigest when contacted for comment on
Wednesday.

"I said your sources are mad. It's rubbish!"

News of Mangwana's manoeuvres came as other ministers and senior
government officials are understood to have started positioning themselves
to take over companies in key sectors of the economy.

The banking sector is already under siege from ministers who have
already put in their bids to buy majority stakes in foreign-owned banks like
Stanbic, Standard Chartered and MBCA as soon as the empowerment Bill becomes
law.

Other senior government officials are angling for stakes in the mining
sector.

"It's going to be a looting spree like the land reform," another
source said. "As we speak guys have already distributed some foreign-owned
mines amongst themselves."

The pending scramble for foreign banks could have prompted central
bank governor Gideon Gono's scathing comments in his monetary policy this
week.

Gono said those who were interested in the banking sector should apply
to the central bank for licences to start their own banks. ".I urge those
who are advocating for what seems to be unguided interference with the
ownership structures in this industry to consult widely and take heed of the
advice of experts in this sector before rushing to push through what could
end up being viewed as counter-productive legislation likely to yield worse
unintended consequences than what we saw with the recent price controls,"
Gono said.

"Some of the careless and mostly uninformed comments we have been
hearing of late from certain quarters risk destabilising an otherwise stable
industry which has successfully indigenised since the early 90s and has gone
through a major shake-up since 2004."

Gono's comments could have been targeted at Mangwana who last week
said foreign companies including banks that were not happy with the law can
leave the country.

"If Standard Chartered Bank feels they cannot continue (operations in
Zimbabwe) they can simply go and CBZ can take over. Metropolitan Bank can
take over, and FBC can do the same," said Mangwana. "The 51% is only a
minimum; we even want 90%. "When you are carrying out a revolution you do
not do it in half steps. Zimbabwe cannot be half independent."


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Gono doles out trillions in QFAs

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, Gideon Gono, this week went on
an unprecedented spending spree doling out billions of dollars to almost
every sector of the economy as he resumed his quasi-fiscal activities.

Presenting his monetary policy on Monday, Gono seemed to have a cheque
for almost every one.

The list of beneficiaries included communal farmers, women and youth,
local government authorities and the troubled Zimbabwe National Water
Authority (Zinwa).

In the end the monetary policy sounded more like the national budget
where each government department gets a fund allocation.

Tobacco, cotton, maize and soya bean farmers also got a fair share of
the largesse.

Gono gave $14,25 trillion to Zinwa and local authorities.

He said Zinwa would use its allocation for water reticulation and
while local authorities would use their share for "explicit income
generation projects".

Zinwa and local authorities will also benefit from a US$5,25 million
revolving fund. Gono said 3 000 boreholes will be drilled in the next three
years with assistance of a $200 billion fund.

That money will come from the central bank. Those who show that they
are interested in "solving" the country's fuel crisis by planting jatropha
trees will benefit from a $200 billion fund.

So far, $3,9 trillion has been distributed under the Agricultural
Sector Productivity Enhancement facility (Aspef), Gono said.

But there was more in the offing for farmers. Gono announced that the
interest rate for the Aspef funds will be reduced from 50% to 25%. Maize
farmers while with effect from the coming season be
paid in foreign currency for their produce.

Gono said maize farmers will get US$200 per tonne, half of which will
be paid in foreign currency.

"In the event import parity prices warrant higher payments, any
further top-up, over and above the US$200 per tonne will be payable in local
currency," said Gono.

"The Reserve Bank has programmed itself to setting aside a total of
US$180 million for payment to our maize farmers for the 2007/2008 harvest,
up to a maximum intake of 1,8 million tonnes of
commercial maize and 50 000 tonnes of seed maize beginning next
season."

Wheat, barely and soya bean farmers will get US$250 per tonne. Maize
farmers who have already delivered to the Grain Marketing Board will get
bonuses of $5,8 million per tonne.

That money will not come from the budget but the central bank. The
central bank will also pay premium rates for maize that is in bags. Dairy
processors will also get funds from the central bank.

In industry, manufacturing and retailing companies will access Bacossi
fund from the central bank at concessionary rates of 25%. This fund will
also benefit small shop owners in the rural areas.

This, Gono said, would improve production. There will also be a US$5
million for the packaging industry.

Mining companies will also access the funds at the same rate in
addition to the increased gold support prices. Backdated August 1, the gold
support price was increased from $3 million per gram to $3,5 million per
gram.

The support price was be increased to $4 million per gram with effect
from September 1 before being pushed to $5 million with effect from October
1. Gono also had a $1 trillion cheque for the women and youth programmes. He
said the funds will attract a concessionary interest rate of 25% and will be
coordinated through the offices of provincial governors and relevant
ministries.

Gono defended the quasi-fiscal activities saying without balance of
payment support, it was impossible to implement liberal policies.

"How do we implement liberal policies when at every turn, there are
local and international economic agents whose sole role has now been
prescribed as that of undermining anything and every attempt we make towards
stabilising our economy as part of the political games," said Gono.

Analysts said it was difficult to understand where Gono would get the
money to give to all these sectors. They said the only alternative will be
to print money, a move that will further push inflation.

"It is clear that money will be printed to satisfy all these needs,
what is not clear is where Gono will get the foreign currency to pay the
farmers as he promised," said economic commentator, John Robertson.

The effects of excessive money printing are already apparent.

Gono said money supply (M3) had increased to 17 073,1% in July from 1
638,4% in January reflecting government's over reliance on the central bank
to print money to fund its operations.

"With money supply growth and inflation closely correlated one can be
safely say the July inflation rate was above 14 500% which blends well with
the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) figure of 13 000% at the time," said
Genesis bank chief economist Brains Muchemwa. .

Gono also technically devalued the local currency to 270 000 by
allowing the sale of foreign currency proceeds "at the going exchange rate"
of $30 000 to the US dollar and investing in the Reserve Bank's at a once
off overnight rate of 800%. This, analyst said, will neither increase
foreign currency inflows nor encourage people to use the official market.
The Zimbabwean dollar is trading at $560 000 on the parallel market.

Exporters may retain 65% in foreign currency accounts earning interest
of 12 per year in hard currency with balance or all of the proceeds being
liquidated at $270 000 to the US dollar within 30 days.

Other highlights of the Monetary Policy Statement included:

* Secured lending rates increased to 800% from 650%;

* Unsecured lending were raised to 850% from 700%;

* New currency to be introduced;

* Local currency devalued to $270 000 from $30 000;

* Three banks issued with corrective measures;

* Farmers to be paid in foreign currency;

* Daily cash withdrawals for individuals raised to $20 million from
$10 million; Companies withdrawals increased to $40 million from $20
million;

* Tobacco Foreign Currency Retention allowance to growers increased to
25% from 20%;

* Cumulative export shipments amounted to USS$1,059 billion between
January and August from US$985,4 million during the same period last year;

* Shipments of the general agricultural sector (excluding tobacco and
horticulture) US$149 million from US$133,3 million during the same period;

* Tobacco shipments US$155 million between January and August;

* Mineral shipment excluding gold rose to US$550,9 million between
January and August from US$467 million;

* Total declared CD3 forms between January and August amounted to
US$42,6 million.


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Noble intentions, questionable prescriptions

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

BEFORE he presented the 2007 mid-term monetary policy on Monday,
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, Gideon Gono, warned that "people should
not expect miracles" from his prescription to the ailing economy.

Indeed, there were no miracles in the policy to pull Zimbabwe out of
the nine-year economic recession caused mainly by bad policies. Although
Gono's intentions were noble, his prescriptions are highly inflationary such
that if Zimbabwe was a private company it would suffer historical losses
with the institution becoming a burden on its shareholders as all major
profit centres have not been performing over the past five years.

Gono reinstated his quasi-fiscal activities (QFAs) which he in January
said he was winding up, hence the formation of Fiscorp to mop up such
activities. But on Monday he announced his return to QFAs on a much larger
scale through support to manufacturers, boosting agricultural commodity
prices, gold prices and funding of agricultural production. The inflationary
impact of the measures, as has been demonstrated in the past, are obvious.

The latest addition to the broadened QFAs is the Basic Commodities
Supply-Side Intervention Facility which is expected to promote a speedy
return to normalcy in the supply of basic commodities. The facility is
expected to run for nine months.

"As the central bank, our strongest conviction is that Zimbabwe's
inflation and related economic difficulties can be effectively resolved
through the active revival of the supply side of the economy, even if it
means we subsidise for a while that supply chain in order to jump-start the
recovery process," said Gono.

Ironically, in January he said he was doing away with quasi-fiscal
activities which he said caused price distortions.

"These are the unitended consequencies of some of our behaviours as
Zimbabweans. They end up imposing a recovery burden or tax on the whole
economy and taxpayers through quasi-fiscal interventions," he added.

He also promised farmers and gold producers a back pay which analyts
said was confirmation the money printing machine will not rest in the
short-term.

The 2008 local government, parliamentary and presidential elections
related expenditures are also going to trigger a further inflation spiral,
as more money will be printed during the exercise.

"We call upon all politicians and political parties of all persuasions
to always put the interest of Zimbabwe first in their pronouncements and
activities," warned Gono.

"Like any event on the calender, the elections will come and go, but
the Zimbabwean economy will remain but either in a better or worse situation
as a result of the elections depending on whether the protagonists will take
in their hearts and minds the principle of putting Zimbabwe first," Gono
said.

Most of the money that Gono said he would disburse would be printed
without any corresponding production of goods and services, at a time when
money supply was 17 073,1% for July.

With inflation at 6 952,8% for August, the local currency has become a
joke to many Zimbabweans. Streets are littered with discarded bearer's
cheques which nobody seems to be bothered to pick up, reflecting how the
currency has lost value.

The monetary policy, which was presented in about two and half hours,
was all rhetoric coloured with well-selected vocabulary only good to the ear
but bound to hit a political brickwall as demontrated by the reckless
mannner in which the Indeginisation and Empowerment Bill was fast-tracked
through parliament in total disregard of concerns raised by stakeholders.

Not that the architects do not know their arithmetic, but rather that
the proposed measures will not succeed under the present political
conditions where government officials have been accused of corruption, and
generally lack the vision to extricate the economy from the woods.

"Our situation in Zimbabwe is not only about our economic policies,
monetary or otherwise, but also about our politics which is a factor outside
the parameters of the central bank governors," said Gono.

Gono also expressed fears on the possible negative impact of politics
on economic development when he warned politicians not to disrupt production
in the run up to the 2008 elections by making irrational statements.

While Gono was decrying the effects of the price crackdown launched in
July, President Robert Mugabe was telling people at the airport that
government would not hesitate to take over companies which were refusing to
produce.

"We will take over profiteering businesses if they do not stick to set
pricing levels," Mugabe said.

As politics continues to get in the way of economic logic, Mugabe
continues his verbal assault on the West, particularly Britain and America,
which he blames for the sanctions imposed on the country.

The sanctions, imposed by Western powers after widespread dispute over
the 2002 presidential polls, are mainly targeted at Mugabe and members of
his inner circle but have also affected the rest of the economy.

Shops and supermarkets are witnessing scenes reminiscent of the
cartoon series Wacky Races as shoppers run to grab products which are in
short supply but readly available on the parallel market.

The price madness that prompted the government to introduce controls
three months ago has reared its ugly head again as products slowly return to
supermarket shelves.

Tills, cash machines and wallets struggle to accommodate the huge
bills now needed to purchase basic commodities.


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Amendment good for the nation

Zim Independent

By Professor Jonathan Moyo

NOW that the dust has settled on the rather desperate propaganda by
Zanu PF and the two MDC factions that the 18th constitutional amendment is a
negotiated breakthrough within the Sadc-mandated mediation in Zimbabwe, the
one burning issue that most Zimbabweans still want clarified is whether on
its own the amendment has any national significance beyond offering
President Robert Mugabe a Machiavellian opportunity to smuggle his ambition
to rule for life.

Although this has been ignored or misunderstood, the 18th amendment
contains an important but unintended national significance along with its
intended personal purpose of seeking to bolster Mugabe's grip on power. The
unintended national importance is that, by reducing the presidential term
from six to five years to synchronise it with that of parliament and local
government councils with effect from March 2008, the amendment effectively
calls for an early and much needed general election to resolve the
Zimbabwean crisis.

In a constitutional democracy, which Zimbabwe is struggling to become,
the only way citizens can respond to a biting national crisis is through a
general election. The fact that the 18th amendment allows for an early
general election which was otherwise due in 2010 explains why it was
strategically wise for the opposition to vote with Zanu PF in support of the
amendment notwithstanding the apparent limits of its intended objectives.

Claims by some opposition elements that the 18th amendment is a
confidence-building measure are a pipedream based on a hopeless leap in the
dark. The same goes for expectations that Zanu PF will agree to a new
constitution before the 2008 election.

Any ruling party that agrees to opposition demands for a new
constitution ahead of a general election exposes itself to assured electoral
defeat. Zanu PF learnt this after the failed referendum on the draft
constitution in 2000. Therefore the best that can be achieved with the
prodding of the Sadc mediation are amendments to a range of laws that
impinge on electoral politics.

Otherwise the good news is already with us and it is that, because of
the adoption of the 18th constitutional amendment, battered Zimbabweans now
have a real opportunity through a massive early general election next March
to resolve the widening and deepening meltdown in the country by booting out
Mugabe and his henchmen who have become incurably clueless in the face of
crippling problems facing the country.

Of course Mugabe hopes to win that early election but his hope is
based on his fatal presumption that the splintered opposition, which now
includes significant elements from Zanu PF, will remain divided. Yet the
writing is now on the wall that Mugabe's electoral chances in March 2008 are
between slim and none, whatever the state of the opposition which is anyhow
set for a dramatic transformation.

The powerful message from angry masses and the dispossessed middle and
upper classes is that if the early 2008 general election should be rigged,
it would be against Mugabe whose continued stay in office has become
irretrievably catastrophic for Zimbabwe.

There is nobody, especially within Zanu PF, who genuinely and
seriously believes that Mugabe should seek reelection let alone that he
should be reelected after his 27 years of controversial rule whose final
days have turned Zimbabwe into a living hell.

Mugabe's dwindling loyalists, who are trying to turn his personality
cult into a principle and an ideology above the national interest, actually
understand that Mugabe is now a damaging liability to the nation despite
their public pretences to the contrary. That is why a major intended
objective of the 18th amendment is the dissolution of parliament in which
Zanu PF has a secure and commanding two-thirds majority along with the
dissolution of rural and urban councils, the majority of which are
controlled by the ruling party.

This astonishing dissolution will be done to ensure that every ward
and constituency in the country will have an aspiring Zanu PF councillor, a
would-be Zanu PF member of the House of Assembly and a Zanu PF Senate
hopeful who will campaign for themselves as they will for Mugabe as a
necessary matter of self-interest against the national interest.

Clearly Mugabe is desperate for support. In the past, it used to be
the aspiring Zanu PF council and parliamentary candidates who could not do
without Mugabe's support in their election campaigns. Now it's him.

There is no single case in the history of civilised nations where a
ruling party with a two-thirds majority in the legislature has dissolved
that legislature only for the purpose of ensuring that its unpopular
president does not seek reelection to face humiliation alone.

The dissolution of the Zanu PF two-thirds majority in parliament is
therefore unprecedented but telling. That is why the affected Zanu PF
parliamentarians are not amused even a bit. And that is also why there is so
much turmoil in the increasingly divided Zanu PF ranks less than six months
before the general election.

Ironically, Mugabe's securocrats and bureaucrats have not understood
that the dissolution of parliament in which the ruling party has a
two-thirds majority is certain to boomerang as it can only benefit the
opposition which now has an early opportunity to close ranks and take full
advantage of the economic hardships in the country to at least eliminate
that majority and even to win it all.

A wiser strategy for Zanu PF would have been to keep the current
two-thirds majority in parliament as political insurance in the event of a
likely defeat in the presidential election and to use that majority to
impeach the opposition winner. With the economy in the doldrums and with
Mugabe and his wayward ministers unable to do anything about that besides
making idle threats of company takeovers, Zanu PF is now inside the jaws of
defeat waiting to be crushed.

The evidence that Mugabe is nervous to the bones about this is not
only shown by the impending irrational dissolution of parliament in which
Zanu PF has a two-thirds majority but also by Mugabe's convening of a
special congress of the ruling party in December when he does not have to.

The few securocrats and bureaucrats behind Mugabe's doomed reelection
campaign are going around claiming that a Zanu PF special congress in
December can only have one agenda item which is to confirm and endorse
Mugabe as the ruling party's presidential candidate in the general election
next March. But that is mumbo jumbo.

In the first place, it is not true that in terms of the Zanu PF
constitution a special congress is called only for a single issue. The true
position is that a special Zanu PF congress is called to deal with those
special issues, whether few or many, that are unique to the circumstances
necessitating it. There is no requirement that there must be only one issue.

In the second place, in terms of the Zanu PF constitution, the
confirmation and endorsement of the party's president and first secretary as
the candidate in a presidential election does not require a special
congress. In fact, the annual people's conference of Zanu PF is required to
declare, without debate, the party's president and first secretary as its
presidential candidate. That is what happened in 2001 ahead of the 2002
presidential election.

Because it is the highest organ of the party, a congress, whether
special or ordinary, can raise from the floor any issue including who should
be the Zanu PF president and first secretary. As things stand, the
securocrats and bureaucrats who have fooled a nervous Mugabe into calling a
special congress have actually set him up for a real challenge to his failed
leadership.

Unless he seizes the initiative and acts now to allow for a successor,
the possibility of a palace coup against Mugabe at the special congress in
December has become real.

This explains why Mugabe suddenly expects the Mnangagwa faction, the
so-called Tsholotsho group, to support his reelection bid against the Mujuru
faction. Yet the fact is that he is now deeply mistrusted within both
factions. In 2004 he abused the Mnangagwa faction and in 2007 he is abusing
the Mujuru faction.

Whereas it is true that in politics there are only permanent interests
and no permanent friends or permanent enemies, it is nevertheless clear that
there is no permanent interest in Mugabe's 2008 reelection bid. The only
obvious permanent interest is that the time for Mugabe to go peacefully has
come and he needs to be told this without fear or favour.

So if there is one sure thing that Zimbabwe does not need today, it is
Mugabe's presidency. Enough is enough. Thanks to the adoption of the 18th
constitutional amendment, Zimbabweans have a wonderful early opportunity to
show Mugabe the exit door at the polls through a united, patriotic people's
front of nationalist progressives from across the political divide as the
only real solution to the Zimbabwean crisis.


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Opportunities out of Zim crisis

Zim Independent

By Trevor Ncube

WHILE the Zimbabwean crisis is widening and deepening in every
respect, the continued focus on its description instead of solutions is
disheartening. Also depressing is the fact that the main protagonists have
dug themselves into entrenched positions from which they can't get out.

The current crisis precipitated by President Robert Mugabe's
controversial land seizures in 2000 has seen the government embarking on
destructive policies ostensibly to punish Western governments and their
perceived sympathisers in the country. Zimbabwe is on its knees largely due
to self-inflicted wounds and yet Mugabe and his ruling party won't change
course. However, Zanu PF's ability to remain in power has not been matched
by its ability to resolve the crisis it has inflicted on Zimbabweans.

In an attempt to deal with President Mugabe's misrule, the West has
opted for a policy of containment and isolation aimed at delivering regime
change. In the main, this strategy has focused on sanctions and denouncing
Mugabe at every given opportunity. This has clearly failed to achieve the
desired goal of regime change over the past seven years.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), paralysed by the suffocating
political playing field, has since abandoned its strategy of mass action and
decided to engage in negotiations with its enemy. This appears for the
moment to be the only tool for self-preservation for the divided and weak
MDC. Confrontation as a strategy to dislodge Zanu PF simply has not worked,
largely because of repressive legislation and a politically immature
leadership.

Apart from South Africa's patient quiet diplomacy, all that has been
tried so far to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis has not worked and the country
continues to hurtle towards social destitution and anarchy. The enormity of
the crisis and the human suffering evident everywhere in Zimbabwe calls for
a fresh and urgent impetus in resolving the crisis. As the situation
threatens to get out of hand, there is need for all Zimbabweans, the British
and Americans to realise that it is time to change strategy.

Indeed it is time for Zanu PF to realise that it needs the help of the
MDC, all patriotic Zimbabweans and the international community to untangle
itself from the mess that it has created. For the sake of long suffering
Zimbabweans, Western governments led by the UK and the US must acknowledge
the failure of their strategies so far and change course. A stubborn refusal
to admit failure by Zanu PF, the MDC and the West will prolong the crisis
and risk anarchy.

South Africa's policy of engagement or quiet diplomacy promises to
deliver results. Is this not the strategy all those genuinely seeking an end
to this crisis pinned their hopes on? While not fully supportive of
President Mbeki's strategy, I have long maintained that when we look back we
might find that his policy of choosing to have influence on Zimbabwe by
remaining engaged was the best option for dealing with President Mugabe.

It is time for those concerned about the deteriorating situation in
Zimbabwe to take a leaf from the Chinese whose language depicts the word
crisis with two characters: one denoting danger and the other representing
opportunity.

Much as the situation in Zimbabwe is replete with dangers arising from
the political and economic meltdown, the same meltdown creates opportunities
for change. Sadly,while the dangers have become common cause, the
opportunities have remained unexamined.

The following opportunities to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis are now
in the air and one of them is most likely if not certain to carry the day in
the next six or nine months depending on the actions of those keen to bring
the rot to an urgent end.

1. First opportunity

It is common cause that since the beginning of the year, President
Mugabe has made it clear that he will seek re-election after his current
term expires in March 2008 when he will be 84 years old. Indeed, he has thus
far been mobilising various Zanu PF affiliated groups, especially the youth,
women and liberation war veterans, to support his controversial candidacy.

But how is Mugabe's determination to seek reelection an opportunity
for change? It seems to me this is also a ploy by him to find what his
supporters have defined as a "dignified exit" - short hand for an exit that
would guarantee him immunity after his departure. An election could end up
as a disaster for him should he be defeated and left without immunity.

So far, those opposed to Mugabe have responded by merely condemning
him as being power hungry and determined to remain in office for life.
However, it is not enough to merely make this observation without also
critically examining the reasons behind his determination.

After 27 years of misrule, 10 of them under an extended Rhodesian
state of emergency that institutionalised brutality and unaccountability in
Zimbabwe's governance between 1980 and 1990, Mugabe has accumulated too many
human rights skeletons in his political cupboard. This relates in the main
but not only to those skeletons arising from four tragedies that have stood
out over the years, namely Gukurahundi, violent land seizures between 2000
and 2005, murder and disappearance of opposition and civic society activists
and Operation Murambatsvina in 2005.

There is no doubt that these Zimbabwean tragedies, among others, have
left Mugabe vulnerable and liable to prosecution on allegations of crimes
against humanity. As such, it should be obvious that a driving force in his
determination to remain in office for life is his fear of losing immunity.
His fear has been made even more real by the experiences of former Liberian
leader Charles Taylor and former Zambian president Frederick Chiluba, both
facing various prosecutions related to alleged abuses while in office.

Without condoning his abuses, I believe Mugabe's immunity fears
provide us an opportunity to structure and facilitate his exit in a creative
way that would minimise resistance from him and his supporters in the
security forces.

One possibility in this regard would be to persuade Mugabe to drop his
reelection bid and to accept a guarantee of immunity. Informing this
proposal is the fact that, except for extremists on the fringes of the
opposition and civil society, very few Zimbabweans are interested in taking
vengeance against Mugabe. He is our founding president and many would be
happy to forgive him in exchange for political and economic freedom. And
unless Mugabe is prepared to play the role of a reformer himself, there is
no purpose served by his standing in elections next year.

2. Second opportunity

I see a second opportunity coming in less than three months at the
Zanu PF special congress in December. After facing sustained opposition from
the ruling party faction led by Retired General Solomon Mujuru, Mugabe has
over the last few months been renewing his relationship with his former
National Security minister and now Rural Housing minister Emmerson
Mnangagwa, who leads a competing faction.

Although he was humiliated and sidelined ahead of the last Zanu PF
congress in 2004 after losing the party's vice-presidency to Joice Mujuru,
Mnangagwa has been slowly reemerging as a power base, this time by lending
his faction's support to Mugabe's reelection bid.

On his part, Mugabe has been encouraging Mnangagwa by once again
making indications that he is his chosen successor. An obvious reason for
this is the presumption that, because he was security minister during the
Gukurahundi massacres, Mnangagwa has similar prosecution fears and would
thus protect Mugabe as a matter of self-interest.

Growing talk in the Mnangagwa camp, and also from intelligence sources
in Zimbabwe, is that Mugabe has called for a special congress of his party
in December, which was not due until 2009, to publicly use it to anoint
Mnangagwa as his successor.

What remains unclear is whether Mugabe would allow Mnangagwa to take
over the party leadership in December and move on to be the Zanu PF
presidential candidate should elections be held in 2008 or whether Mugabe
would still insist on running for reelection with a promise that Mnangagwa
would take over a year or two later should Mugabe win.

However, what is clear is that Mnangagwa's camp prefers the former,
not least because it does not trust Mugabe to give up power after the
elections should he win.

The fact that the Mnangagwa camp does not trust Mugabe, who
unceremoniously ditched it in 2004 in favour of Joice Mujuru, means that
Mugabe will go to the special congress in December without assured political
support.

This creates an opportunity for change through a "soft surprise" at
the special congress as happened in December 2006 when delegates
"surprisingly" rejected Mugabe's bid to postpone presidential elections to
2010.

What this means is that at the December special congress, Mugabe will
be manifestly opposed by the Mujuru faction and latently by the Mnangagwa
faction. Such a political climate could pave way for a dark horse to emerge
as a compromise candidate. It is hard to say who that candidate could be at
the moment although Simba Makoni's name keeps coming up. Alternatively, the
same political scenario engendered by opposition from the Mujuru and
Mnangagwa camps could cause Mugabe to accept the first opportunity described
above.

But the possibility of a "soft surprise" development at the special
Zanu PF congress would obviously need to be socially-engineered taking
advantage of clear and present political dynamics ahead of the congress.
Progressive forces in and outside Zimbabwe could play a pivotal role to
encourage if not to engineer that development by working with strategic Zanu
PF elements. That would be far better than simply mourning about the
deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe and denouncing Mugabe for wanting to
remain in office for life.

3. Third opportunity

In addition to the possibility of a "soft surprise" at the special
Zanu PF congress, there is a third opportunity that would be in the form of
a "hard surprise" through a palace coup led by the Mujuru camp.

In recent months, the Mujuru camp has been making it clear that they
want Mugabe out. Earlier this year when the Zanu PF central committee was
reported to have endorsed Mugabe's reelection bid, the Mujuru camp started
openly calling for a special congress to settle the leadership question in
the ruling party.

The fact that Mugabe has now called for that special congress can be
seen as a victory for the Mujuru camp. Already, the Mujuru camp is very busy
on the ground openly organising the 10 Zanu PF provinces and asking them to
identify individuals they think could be presidential candidates to replace
Mugabe.

It seems that the plan is to use the special congress in December to
achieve two objectives: first to challenge and even humiliate Mugabe by
making it clear that he is not the sole Zanu PF presidential candidate as
several provinces would come up with competing names, and, second to force a
nomination by secret or even open ballot which the Mujuru camp believes
would be won by either Joice Mujuru or Makoni.

Strategists in Mujuru's camp believe that, should it become clear that
such a nomination election is imminent, Mugabe would not want to be part of
it as the writing would then be on the wall about his assured defeat.

The above three opportunities are all available to the ruling party
and thus dependent on what happens within it. Yet the Zimbabwean crisis is
national in scope and options to its resolution are not limited to
developments within the ruling party.

It should stand to reason that Zanu PF's continued failure thus far to
resolve the crisis creates an opportunity for the opposition. Unfortunately,
the Zimbabwean opposition has not been able to exploit that opportunity due
to a range of structural and leadership weaknesses that are now well known
and do not need to be repeated, save to point out that as currently
constituted, the opposition does not have a chance to move Zimbabwe forward.
In fact, now more than ever before, I am convinced that an MDC government
would be a complete disaster for Zimbabwe.

What is notable is that the three opportunities that are available
within Zanu PF are potent material for a new progressive opposition with
nationalist and democratic roots. Rather than standing by and watching
events unfold in Zanu PF, progressive forces in Zimbabwe have an historic
opportunity to forge a Third Way that would bring together elements from the
ruling party, the two formations of the MDC, other opposition groups, civic
society organisations, churches, labour unions, student movements and the
business community to form a broad-based party to dislodge Zanu PF. The
fallout between MDC and its civil society supporters over the 18th
Constitutional Amendment has added impetus to the prospects of a Third Way.

Mugabe, and indeed Zanu PF, continue to define the opposition as the
MDC. A major if not the only reason why Mugabe is determined to stand for
reelection against all odds is that he believes he cannot lose to the MDC.
He has not factored the possibility of facing a united front of progressive
forces against which he and Zanu PF cannot win.

Based on the unfolding developments in Zimbabwe, a united front could
emerge overnight and take off like an unstoppable wave.

The major barriers to the actualisation of a united front so far:

* Identifying a unifying candidate with the leadership gravitas and
mass appeal across the political divide;

* Continued support for factions of the MDC by sections of the
international community that appear to be committed to particular individual
leaders; and,

* Sweeping, indiscriminate and counterproductive application of
sanctions against Zanu PF politburo and central committee members as well as
parliamentarians. I will return to this issue in more detail later.

There is another opportunity which depends on President Mugabe's
willingness to take charge of the transitional process and manage it to
ensure that there is no anarchy post his rule. This would require him
putting the national interest ahead of everything else and managing the
succession issue so as to allow a capable and visionary person to serve
Zimbabwe soon after he steps down.

This could necessitate a constitutional amendment to allow him to move
to a ceremonial role and appoint a prime minister to run the government.
This would also give him protection from prosecution for human rights
abuses. And this could be accommodated within the dialogue taking place
between Zanu PF and the MDC.

To ensure the best available skills are in place to help with the
daunting task of turning around the economy and building a new society, the
prime minister does not have to be an active member of any party and he
should have access to skills outside the two main political parties to serve
in his government. The names that immediately come to mind are Strive
Masiyiwa, Gideon Gono, Nkosana Moyo and Makoni.

Western sanctions unwise

The Zimbabwean government has maintained that the targeted sanctions
imposed by some Western countries after Mugabe's disputed victory in the
2002 elections are illegal because they do not have the authority of the
United Nations.

While it is true that the sanctions in question are not approved by
the UN, that alone does not mean they are illegal. The countries which have
imposed them have done so in accordance with their relevant laws. Besides,
there is no international law, statute, convention or practice that has been
violated by the sanctions.

Therefore the illegality or legality of the sanctions is in fact a
non-issue.

The real question is whether these sanctions are wise or whether they
are achieving any meaningful objective. My own view is that the sanctions
are not wise and that they have not achieved any meaningful objective given
the Zimbabwean crisis.

I believe they are not wise mainly because they have led to the
diminishing of the capacity of the countries implementing them to influence
events in Zimbabwe towards the much needed resolution of the crisis.

Western countries that have imposed declared or undeclared sanctions
on Zimbabwe have done so less to deal with the deteriorating situation in
the country and more to appease political constituencies at home who want
some demonstrable action being taken against Mugabe.

Virtually all of the countries that have imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe
have since 2002 experienced a dramatic erosion of their diplomatic influence
in and on Zimbabwe. Within Zimbabwe, diplomats of these countries have lost
access to senior ruling party and government officials who have responded by
boycotting diplomatic contact.

Outside Zimbabwe, those countries are seen as having vested interests
and therefore not impartial when it comes to understanding and resolving the
Zimbabwean crisis. At worst, many on the African continent see the sanctions
as a racist response to land reform in Zimbabwe.

This demonstrates that the sanctions are not wise and have been
counterproductive.

Despite denials by the countries that have imposed them, these
sanctions have in fact affected people beyond those they claim to target.
For example, the United States Zimbabwe Democracy and Recovery Act (Zidera)
specifically bars American representatives to the World Bank, the IMF,
Africa Development Bank and other multilateral institutions from supporting
any loan, grant or concession to Zimbabwe. This has exacerbated Zimbabwe's
sovereign risk status and negatively affected a range of bilateral lending
to Zimbabwe including from the private sector. Zimbabwe has gone without
balance of payments support for years. The consequences are felt by ordinary
people across the economy.

As a result, Mugabe and the ruling party routinely present the
sanctions as the root cause of the country's biting economic meltdown when
in fact the ruling party's policies are largely to blame for the current
economic implosion. The opposition and civic society groups in Zimbabwe have
found this propaganda very difficult if not impossible to rebut.

Outside Zimbabwe, bodies such as Sadc and the African Union have found
it extremely difficult to publicly criticise Mugabe and the policies of his
Zanu PF government precisely because of the fear of being seen as either
supporting the Western sanctions that are undeniably affecting ordinary
people or being seen as puppets of the West. These sanctions have failed to
take advantage of reform opportunities such as those described above,
including exploiting the growing internal divisions in the ruling party. On
the contrary, the effect of these sanctions has been to draw progressive
Zanu PF politicians and officials closer to Mugabe and away from reform
politics.

An impression has been created that the only desirable options for the
West revolve around taking tough action against Mugabe and his cronies
through targeted sanctions, including preventing Mugabe from attending
global summits such as the EU-Africa summit planned for Portugal in
December.

This strategy so far appears to be about isolating Mugabe and his
regime from the international community.

But as the experiences of Libya, North Korea and Iran are showing,
isolationist policies have limited if any success. Ultimately, the best way
of dealing with rogue regimes is by confronting them through diplomatic
engagement. I must emphasise that there is a world of difference
between engagement and support.

I therefore believe that the best that the West can do now is to
re-engage the Zimbabwean government. While the content of the diplomatic
engagement I am proposing would obviously vary from country to country, a
leaf can be taken from the much maligned quiet diplomacy pursued by South
Africa.

I don't think there is any discerning observer who can argue that
South Africa uncritically supports the policies of Mugabe and his Zanu PF
government - far from it.

In 1979 when Britain under Margaret Thatcher abandoned its aloofness
and decided to become engaged with the frontline states, the liberation
movements and the Rhodesian government, the result was the Lancaster House
agreement. The current Zimbabwean crisis calls for a similar spirit of
engagement and the five opportunities described above could be a strategic
starting point.

Failure to influence events towards the achievement of one of the
above options means that we are then resigned to fate. I have two recurring
nightmares in this regard, namely a spontaneous uprising by long suffering
Zimbabweans or anarchy that would follow the untimely death of President
Mugabe while in office.

The first nightmare relates to the fact that the situation in Zimbabwe
right now is fertile for a revolution except for the absence of a leadership
to direct people's anger towards something positive.

Life is unbearable in Zimbabwe and I have no doubt that the
groundswell of anger could easily burst into open revolt for the smallest of
reasons. This is undesirable and could result in unimaginable consequences
for Zimbabwe. The danger with this is that once it starts, a spontaneous
uprising would be difficult to contain and there is no knowing what the
underpaid and disgruntled police and military men would do in such
circumstances.

The second nightmare relates to Mugabe's health and age. In the
absence of a managed transition, I have nightmares about the impact of
Mugabe's sudden death in office without a clear successor in place. While
this might sound alarmist, it is a real possibility because Mugabe is not
exactly a spring chicken and intelligence sources indicate that he is not
well.

The two factions in Zanu PF would go for each other hammer and tongs
following Mugabe's sudden death, with a high possibility of a shooting war.

This is so because the factionalism in Zanu PF has reproduced itself
in the police, the army and the national intelligence. In fact these two
dangers emphasise the urgency for bold and courageous political leadership
internally and from the international community to help bring about a
peaceful transition.

Conclusion

Zimbabwe is indeed now pregnant with opportunities for change. For
some of these opportunities to be realised politicians in Zimbabwe and the
West need to reexamine their entrenched positions. There is need to
recognise that leadership is about courage, boldness and taking calculated
risks to achieve a breakthrough.

Instead of megaphone diplomacy and a fixation with President Mugabe,
the international community should seek to work with Zanu PF moderates and
all progressive forces in Zimbabwe to influence change that is rooted in the
historical ideals of Zimbabwe's liberation struggle.

* Trevor Ncube is chairman of the Zimbabwe Independent and Standard.


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Does Gono still carry govt's brief?

Zim Independent

Comment

AS if to register disapproval of central bank governor Gideon Gono's
criticism of government's indigenisation policy in the Mid-Term Monetary
policy statement on Monday, Senate the following day ratified the
Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill without amendments.

Gono in his statement cautioned that there was need for a fine balance
"between the objectives of indigenisation and the need to attract foreign
investment".

He also revealed that there were senior government officials who
wanted to attract wealth to themselves in stark contrast to the spirit of
the legislation. He also said he wanted to see government moving quickly to
finalise mining legislation to remove the cloud of uncertainty which has
militated against investment in the sector.

As Gono implored government to tread cautiously on the Indigenisation
Bill, President Mugabe had a completely different view on the issue. In
typical sabre-rattling, Mugabe waved his fist at big business and threatened
to chase away foreign-owned companies that did not dance to government's
discordant tune. The senate appeared to listen to Mugabe and passed the
legislation.

For a long time in his eventful tenure as governor, Gono has
positioned himself as government's handyman in fixing the economy. He has
said he represents the interests of his "principals" in the economic
turnaround exercise. This week he struck a different chord. He said he was
an advisor and his principals "were at liberty, without offence or
obligation, to accept in full or in part, or differ wholly or in part with
such advice."

We have consistently said Gono's policies - no matter how prudent -
are bound to fail as long as there are no concomitant changes to the
politics. Of late, Gono has displayed a different outlook from that of his
principals in charting the turnaround plan. Despite his attempts to paper
over the cracks, the differences are now too obvious to miss.

Gono believes in a free market economy in which foreign direct
investment and protection of property rights are key. His chief principal
President Mugabe does not share this notion and has made no secret of it.
President Mugabe is a good student of control politics. He believes that the
role of government is to superintend over all aspects of life,
notwithstanding the state's incompetence in most areas of administration.

The differences of opinion between the two were evident in July when
Gono openly voiced his displeasure at government's price controls which he
likened to the US invasion of Iraq. He has tried to downplay these
differences by stating that the rebuke was "merely to urge" government to
exercise restraint in its dealings with business.

In his monetary statement this week, however, Gono refers to "pricing
madness", a phrase which can be attributed to the high prices which were
charged by industry prior to the July edict. It could also refer to
government's reaction to the high prices and rightly so. Gono on Monday
suggested that the way to go was the revival of the Social Contract through
the Tripartite Negotiating Forum. He set up a fund to help industry restore
production to pre-June 18 levels. This is a loud statement to Mugabe to say
"look at how you have killed this economy".

The dissonance between Mugabe's threatening airport speech and Gono's
mollifying pronouncements at the Conference Centre on Monday can only raise
one key question of whether Gono still carries the brief of President Mugabe's
government in the arduous task of mending this economy. Gono has said he
should not be printing money to subsidise industrialists and farmers but is
being forced to do so because of politics.

He says he would prefer to be cocooned in his office than stick out
his neck on key policy issues the way he did this week. He is more visible
because there are people in government who are sleeping on the job.

Gono this week basked in the limelight where he gathered business
people to applaud his interventions and at the same time rapped the knuckles
of truant government ministers. This was a show of strength which advertised
a message to the nation that he is a better alternative to the Zanu PF
masters of chaos. Through QFAs he has come up with a parallel budget which
could be larger than Finance minister Samuel Mumbengegwi's supplementary
estimates announced last month. He is running his own sideshow.

As his intermittent interventions continue to fail, he appears to be
developing an independence which could make him a threat rather than an ally
of the strong and famous in the Zanu PF government. Perhaps his statement
this week was mere bluff and he will come out in full support of price
controls and the Indigenisation Bill!


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Comfortable with the crisis

Zim Independent

Candid Comment

By Dumisani Muleya

LAST week's shock street protests in Burma (also known as Myanmar)'s
largest city, Rangoon, led by Buddhist monks, drew up to 100 000 people and
signalled mounting resistance to the paranoid dictator, General Than Shwe's
military rule. The demonstrations were reminiscent of last year's mass
action against Nepalese King Gyanendra's absolute rule.

However, the protests, triggered by fuel price increases in Burma,
were ruthlessly crushed by security forces who raided monasteries, imposed
curfews and killed at least 10 people.

The Naypyidaw military junta created a pervasive climate of terror in
the country to quell the protests. Its marauding shock-troops stormed houses
and apartments in the dead of night to intimidate, arrest, beat up and
detain protesters as Shwe - "the Bulldog" - viciously hung tough.

This forced the United Nations to dispatch its envoy Ibrahim Gambari
to meet Shwe and the opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, in Naypyidaw,
Burma's new jungle capital, in a bid to halt the bloody military crackdown.

Burma and Nepal are extremely repressive societies, but their people
are still able to stand up and confront their regimes head-on in an attempt
to end their military and monarchical tyrannies to bring democracy.

However, as Zimbabweans, wallowing in horrific political and economic
conditions, and mostly living in the dark because of acute power outages,
without water, basic essential goods, and being brutalised for dissent, we
are not able to mount even a token challenge in the streets to demonstrate
our disgruntlement with President Robert Mugabe's regime.

The best we can do is shout from a distance and condemn the government
from the comfort (or is it discomfort?) of our homes, offices and bars.

Most people, except a few bold pressure groups largely led by women
and student activists, are only vocal in the bars and in the media. Their
daily moans and groans over beer and such other social hobbies are awfully
loud, but on the ground they always choose to do nothing about their misery.

Opposition leaders are also very vocal when addressing rallies and
conferences, but shirk responsibility when it comes to active resistance.

In terms of narrating and describing their crisis, Zimbabweans are
very articulate, but in proffering viable solutions, they are usually
incoherent or simply unconvincing.

Our pooled energies are often consumed in pointless arguments - not
about political parties' policies and programmes as it should be - but
personalities and other idle pursuits. Public debates that used to be quite
enlightening are now mostly abusive and about digging in to entrenched
positions or pursuing partisan agendas. They are no longer informative at
all. Even the media and intellectuals have fallen into this trap. The whole
thing has almost become a way of life for us to a point of being somewhat
exasperating or comical, depending on one's reaction.

Our approach to politics and political debate as a nation is wrong;
wrong and misguided. It's generally anachronistic. That's why some people,
including professors and political scientists, in this day and age, still
argue with straight faces in public that certain politicians cannot become
presidents simply because of their ethnicity or lower education status.
This, if truth be told, is a primitive instinct.

The biggest question confronting us now is: what is to be done to
rescue ourselves from this misery? Unless we are able to practically
demonstrate our discontent with this regime, outsiders could be justified in
thinking that we are generally content with Mugabe's rule. After all, they
say, people get the government they deserve.

Why are Zimbabweans unwilling or unable to face up to this despotic
regime which they created? They either run away to other countries, duck and
dive or suffer in silence. Is it because we are docile, cowardly, peaceful,
or none of the above?

Is it because of our acquiescent political culture, lack of political
and civic mobilisation or is it a legacy of de facto one party state
politics?

Outsiders are currently watching with dismay as we whine and grumble,
but do nothing in the end. Crucial elections are coming next year, just see
what happens. Mugabe is likely to win again until he is tired of ruling.
With the MDC at sixes and sevens and inadvertently helping Zanu PF in its
self-preservation project, what can we honestly expect?

We have repeatedly heard, especially from the MDC and its supporters,
the now rather stale arguments about repression, patronage and electoral
rigging. Is this the main reason why Mugabe is still in power? Are we not
collectively responsible for that by acts of commission, omission or both?

At least the monks in Burma are trying under more difficult
conditions, but what are we doing?


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Gono's crisis babies

Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

By Vincent Kahiya

ZIMBABWEANS have learnt to derive comic relief from the crisis
besetting this nation. Idle but lively banter around a dinner table on
Monday brought out this nugget from a senior PR practitioner who had
listened thoughtfully to the perils of trying to obtain a birth certificate
from the RG's office.

The graying publicist suggested that the best form of contraception
these days is the horror of trying to register the birth of a newly-born
child.

There was raucous laughter around the table as the men contemplated
the impact of Tobaiwa Mudede's queues on the nation's reproductive health.

Try to tell this to central bank governor Gideon Gono whose crisis
children are increasing as queues get longer in Zimbabwe.

From the long food queues, a new crisis baby arrived safely this week
amid pomp and ceremony. The baby, christened Bacossi, was feted by business
and commentators on Monday as a great product of the governor's exertions.

Bacossi is third in a crisis-riven family where siblings, Aspef and
Plarp, are already proving difficult to look after because of their constant
demands for financial resources which the family can scarcely afford.

The conception and birth of the third child - done with so much ease -
is no surprise for a country that has not struggled to produce chaos and
celebrate it as success.

Baby Bacossi is a facet of this chaos hewn from the loins of our
governor (apologies to George). The Italian accent to the name has nothing
to do with the child's full name: Basic Commodities Supply-Side
Intervention.

This is a grand project through which the governor expects to
re-finance business so that there is food and other basket goods in the
shops.

There are stunning similarities between Bacossi and siblings
Agricultural Productivity Enhancement Facility, better known as Aspef and
the Parastatals and Local Authorities Re-orientation Programme, shortened to
Plarp.

As Bacossi was introduced to his brothers this week, he found that
like them, he was conceived in the backroom of quasi-fiscal activities.

He was also told that the two poor brothers are fed on a soporific
diet of worthless paper spewed from a printing press hence their
insatiability.

They were born to be agents of positive change in the economy but they
have become harbingers of economic collapse, inflation and, more
importantly, corruption.

One feels sorry for the children because their creator Gono this week
said under normal circumstances, it would be unnecessary to have these kids
around. So why have them?

In his monetary policy statement on Monday, Gono said "no central bank
governor likes government overspending . subsidised credit or any form of
generalised subsidies to the economy except those targeted to cushion the
vulnerable poor. We do not like them either."

He said his extraordinary "interventions are never meant to be
permanent features of our economic lives" but believes that they are
necessary. Considering the extent of the crisis, Bacossi could be having a
young brother soon!

This knight in shining armour strategy of running the economy has
produced undisputed failure.

It was the government which killed agriculture through inept policies
and an assault on property rights.

The same government has for three years been posturing as the saviour
of agriculture by dishing out cheap loans under Aspef.

Despite $3,9 trillion having been disbursed to new farmers, Zimbabwe
is still far from food self-sufficiency.

In fact the Manica Post reported two weeks ago that the country needs
US$900 million this year to import food.

The story is no different in local authorities and parastatals which
despite assistance have failed to provide basic amenities and services such
as electricity and water.

Municipalities and state enterprises are in this state because of
direct unprofessional interference from government which believes it can run
everything - from a blair toilet at a growth point to sophisticated mining
ventures.

The government has to learn to issue birth certificates first!

Bacossi has now come into being because government deliberately
suffocated industry through price controls imposed three months ago.

Gono, to great applause this week, has come up with a facility to
restore companies' viabilities to pre-June 18 levels.

In other words, Gono is telling government that price controls savaged
the economy so much that a special purpose vehicle is now required to
restore it to the levels when there was no policy. It is the policy stupid!

Sometimes I feel that the governor enjoys this crisis baby-making
process. He missed dabbling in QFAs and with it the pleasure of making
babies. By the way, what happened to Fiscorp?

But QFAs have now been restored. Daddy vaBacossi is fortunate that he
does not need to queue for hours to have the birth registered at Market
Square because his children are temporary beings.


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Who needs Western sanctions with Mangwana in charge?

Zim Independent

MuckRaker

RESERVE Bank governor Gideon Gono has urged caution in the fevered
minds of those seeking to get rich overnight through indigenisation. He said
there were greedy individuals who are well-connected and want to amass
wealth in the banking sector in an "irresponsible manner".

He said while indigenisation was a noble idea "our well-considered
advice to legislators and government in general is that a fine balance
should be struck between the objectives of indigenisation and the need to
attract foreign investment".

This was a sharp rebuke to the misguided rhetorical exuberance of
people like Indigenisation minister Paul Mangwana who only last week was
telling companies which were not happy with government policies to leave
Zimbabwe. With ministers like this, do we really need foreign sanctions,
declared or otherwise?

In the same vein, Gono also complained that legislation about local
shareholding in companies involved in mining was taking too long, in the
process causing a lot of anxiety and uncertainty in the sector.

"It is an unforgivable sin that as Zimbabweans we are running short of
foreign exchange yet our economy has a vast potential to amass mountains of
it through investment attraction and exporting," said Gono.

Unfortunately such exhortation runs at cross purposes with the
rantings of the likes of Mangwana who appear to think foreign currency can
be earned by simply chasing away companies which express inconvenient truths
about government's haphazard policies.

Finally on Gono, a quotable quote from your governor. He said some
turnaround policies were sabotaged by "our planners, decision-makers and
implementers" of those policies. "Often our good intentions and programmes
are bungled at the implementation stage, by resorting to excessive emotions
and selfishness where soberness, brains, experience and expertise is best
needed and for that we must shoulder part of the blame for our current state
of affairs."

Well said. But at that same time his principal was telling villagers
and war veterans at Harare international Airport that government would take
over firms accused of "profiteering". It's indeed a tough balancing act for
business.

By the way there is a whole Minister for Policy Implementation, Cde
Gono. What does Webster Shamu spend his time doing?

So Vice-President Joseph Msika believes he is indispensable? Last week
he told a function hosted by Mimosa Mining Company that he would not quit
politics until he dropped dead.

"I will soldier on until the day I am buried in my grave," Msika told
what must have been a bemused audience. "I will never renege on the duties
and tasks that the people of Zimbabwe have mandated me to do and as long as
they continues to support me, I will be there."

We found this strange given that Msika hasn't stood in any national
election since the signing Unity Accord between PF-Zapu and Zanu PF in 1987.
Which people gave him this life-long mandate, we wonder? What virtues is he
teaching the youth by telling them that dying in office is a positive thing?

Meanwhile, war veterans are in denial about President Mugabe's
advanced age. Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association leader
Jabulani Sibanda told war veterans in Chinhoyi last week that there were
people being influenced to believe that President Mugabe was now too old to
rule.

"In Mugabe we are not looking for a runner because we already have
Samukeliso Moyo and Tendai Chimusasa. We are also not looking for a
footballer because we have them already," said Sibanda.

"What we need is the revolutionary spirit in him to lead us," he said.
Sibanda said the special congress set for the end of the year was a mere
formality to endorse Mugabe to represent the party in next year's
presidential election.

Is Sibanda aware that Chimusasa has since retired from the track? It
is true that we do not need the president to don shorts, a vest and sneakers
neither do we want him to be an obstacle on the race track.

We can only draw two conclusions from this: that Mugabe must be a very
bad teacher if his admirers have not mastered his art after all these years,
or that he is dealing with very slow learners who still want an octogenarian
to provide them with leadership.

President Mugabe clearly has not forgiven white rulers of Rhodesia for
the years he spent in jail despite claims about the policy of national
reconciliation.

In his address at the United Nations General Assembly last week,
President complained bitterly about the 11 "precious years of my life in the
jail of a white man whose freedom and wellbeing I have assured and protected
from the first day of Zimbabwe's Independence".

He said Ian Smith was responsible for the death of 50 000 Zimbabweans
yet he was a free man.

"I meet his victims every day, yet he walks free. He farms freely. He
has a farm of over 500 hectares. He talks freely, associates freely under a
black government," he said.

Smith might be free but we doubt that at his advanced age he still
does any farming which Mugabe is talking about. In any case, there is
information that Smith has been living in South Africa for at least five
years for health reasons because health delivery has all but collapsed in
this country.

And why does Mugabe think it is only Ian Smith who should speak and
walk freely but not the rest of Zimbabweans whom he claims to have
liberated? That is hypocrisy of the worst type. Or is it true, as reported
in this paper last week, that the president is often misinformed by those
around him?

Talking about free movement, Munyaradzi Huni, who was part of press
corps accompanying Mugabe, reported about a demonstration in support of
President Mugabe by the December 12 Movement in New York. As expected, the
delusional Sister Viola Plummer led the crowd which called for regime change
in Washington, not in Harare.

Huni said the demonstrators were strutting outside the United Nations
headquarters "to the amazement of UN police officers who were watching from
a distance".

We have no doubt that it was Huni himself who was amazed that police
could watch demonstrators from a distance instead of bashing their skulls as
happens so often back home.

Let the gorgon called Sister Viola come and try to demonstrate against
Mugabe in Zimbabwe and she will have a good tale to narrate back in America
about her hero.

While Sister Viola can freely demonstrate against President Bush and
carry the Zimbabwean flag on the streets of New York, such a crime is
unimaginable in Zimbabwe.

Still in New York, there was a bizarre story in the Herald in which
Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu complained that CNN and the BBC had
committed an offence by not broadcasting in full President Mugabe's address
at the UN.

"The so-called champions of press freedom, CNN and BBC, cut the live
broadcast when the president was hitting hard, full throttle, with a volley
of intellectual punches left, right and centre," gushed Ndlovu in a
statement.

He said "billions of viewers" had been deprived of the president's
speech which had sent President Bush scampering for cover.

"Bush was given full coverage to demonise our president and our nation
but our president was not given equal time to defend himself and his
country," fumed Ndlovu.

Wasn't it the duty of ZBC to give Mugabe full coverage? Why should CNN
and BBC waste their resources on Mugabe when they are barred from operating
in Zimbabwe?

Oh! The bumbling fellows at Pockets Hill. The other day throughout the
evening bulletin they kept on talking about an ACP-AU meeting to take place
in Portugal in December, blissfully unaware of the difference. So mundane,
yet so taxing for Judith Makwanya.

An unexpected and sudden decision by the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change to join Zanu PF in passing Constitutional Amendment (18)
Bill seems to have thrown civic society organisations into disarray.

They have been clamouring for a say in the ongoing talks between Zanu
PF and the MDC, and have approached the facilitator, South African president
Thabo Mbeki, for a space at the negotiating table. Each time they have found
the doors bolted from within.

The side agreement between the two main political parties on the
amendment must have hit them like a bolt from the blue. Some of their
leaders have been inconsolable ever since, accusing their erstwhile allies
in the trenches against President Mugabe of "betrayal" and "selling out" on
the "sacrosanct" demand for a new constitution.

While Muckraker appreciates the NGO sector's concerns about
compromising on a matter of principle, we must confess to sensing more
self-interest than an attempt to resolve the debilitating national crisis
which has made most of their members fabulously rich while the poor they
claim to speak for are getting poorer by the day.

They have also compromised their otherwise noble advocacy role by
aligning themselves with the MDC. What role do they play once Zanu PF loses
power and the MDC is voted in if they cannot separate themselves from its
policies?

In any case it was always na´ve of them to imagine a political crisis
such as Zimbabwe faces could be resolved without compromise and
accommodation, unless they have the means to militarily get Zanu PF out of
power.

Why does Tafataona Mahoso think that we were supposed to have
presidential elections in 2010?

In his column in The Voice this week, Mahoso claimed the solidarity
which Zimbabwe received from recent Sadc summits in Dar es Salaam and Lusaka
"helped to convince the opposition Movement for Democratic Change to accept
Constitutional Amendment 18 and to bring presidential elections forward from
2010 to 2008".

Is adding six to 2002 such a difficult mathematical task for the Zanu
PF dinosaur or does he assume we are all dead dumb?

The truth is that it was President Mugabe who wanted to extend his
term of office by two years to 2010 without having to face an angry
electorate. The proposition was rejected by his own party in Goromonzi. It's
all in the public domain.


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Government bent on economic destruction

Zim Independent

By Eric Bloch

THE extent to which the Zimbabwean government is bent on the absolute
destruction of the country's economy and thereby the total annihilation of
the Zimbabwean population, knows no boundary. For 10 years, without any let
or reason, it has embarked on one economically cataclysmic measure after
another. In most instances it has done so in complete disregard of the
authoritative warnings given as to the dire consequences of those measures.

Without fail it has cavalierly dismissed and disregarded those
warnings. So pronouncedly has it ignored or rejected all good-faith
expressed concerns and cautions as to the dire consequences of its actions,
actual and intended, and as contemptuously been insensitive to the
never-ending catastrophes created by it, that one must inevitably believe
that the utter ruination of the economy is its determined objective.

Government's first major endeavour at economic annihilation was 10
years ago, when it succumbed to the demands and pressures of the war
veterans for compensation for services rendered during the liberation
struggle.

Whether or not they were deserving of compensation is irrelevant, the
harsh fact is that Zimbabwe could not afford the compensation payments. This
was especially so as the amount required was severely inflated by the
numbers of the claimants being massively swollen by thousands who had never
been engaged in that struggle.

Numerous pretenders were included as recipients of the compensation
packages, including many who, when Independence was attained had not even
been conceived!

The consequences of government surrendering to the demands, threats
and near-blackmail of the compensation claimants included an immediate
collapse in the value of the Zimbabwean dollar, it losing almost 75% of its
value in a matter of hours.

That currency devaluation immediately fueled inflation because
Zimbabwe is a very import-dependant country. The devaluation drove the
landed costs of the imports upwards.

Although the economic prejudice was immense, it did not suffice to
destruct the entirety of the economy. Government strategists cast their eyes
about the economy, and recognised that agriculture was the foundation and
mainstay of that economy. Determined on economic destruction, whilst seeing
opportunities for major political gains, the government embarked upon an
ill-conceived, ill-managed, foolhardy and apocalyptic programme of land
reform.

It is indisputable that land reform was necessary and overdue, but not
in a manner that almost completely destroyed agriculture, and thereby also
the economy and the Zimbabwean people.

Government displaced the agriculturally skilled and productive and
failed even to replace them with others with like attributes.

Instead, most of the lands of the dispossessed farmers were allocated
to those in high political favour, to relatives and friends of those in
power, and most lacked either the skills, or the resources, or the will, to
use the lands with levels of productivity commensurate to those previously
attained.

Zimbabwe's economic foundation was rapidly severely shaken and
cracked, but government dogmatically ignored that it, and its actions, were
the cause thereof. Instead, it fabricated allegations that Britain had
reneged on its Lancaster House undertakings, and so promulgated the
allegations that the majority of the population, and much of Africa, soon
unreservedly believed them.

Concurrently, it blamed adverse climatic conditions to excess,
mismanaged the sourcing and timeous availability of essential agricultural
inputs, and to all intents and purposes facilitated the vandalisation and
destruction of much of agriculture's infrastructure. Moreover, it failed to
honour Bilateral Investment Protection Agreements, thereby destroying
Zimbabwe's international repute and creditworthiness.

As the economy's decline intensified, government continuously assured
the ongoing economic collapse by profligate spending far beyond its means,
thereby fuelling inflation and compounding the accelerating economic
collapse.

It reinforced those destructive actions by forcing the central bank to
engage in quasi-fiscal activities, by turning a blind eye to world-eclipsing
levels of corruption, by steadfast rejection of recovery-directed advices of
the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, African Development Fund
(ADB), and many others. Instead, it adopted an intensive confrontation
campaign against them, and against all of Europe, much of the Commonwealth,
USA, and others. It flaunted a "Look East" policy which yielded little, and
it forfeited the support of the well-disposed international community which
could have enabled restoration of economic wellbeing.

Unable to admit to its absolute culpability, it then invented the myth
of "illegal international sanctions". To such extent as sanctions exist
there is nothing illegal about them, for there is no law which bars
sanctions, and no law which compels trade, investment or the rendition of
aid. For a period of time the populace of Zimbabwe believed the sanctions
fable, but increasingly it is recognising that government is the underlying
cause of Zimbabwe's economic ills.

Therefore, to placate the aggrieved, oppressed, suffering people of
Zimbabwe, whilst concurrently furthering their unadmitted intent of total
economic destruction, and simultaneously fulfilling their political
objectives, Zimbabwe's government is now pursuing a policy of indigenisation
and economic empowerment.

It is legislating that not less than a 51% controlling interest of all
businesses operating for gain must be owned by indigenous Zimbabweans. As
with the ill-fated, disastrous land reform programme, so too a programme to
achieve substantial indigenous economic empowerment.

But that is not attainable by expropriating from the rich to
redistribute to the poor, thereby temporarily making the poor rich, and
making the rich poor. Instead, the programmes should be targeted at a dual
facilitation of economic growth and development of indigenous participation
therein.

Instead, government has driven a near-final nail in the coffin of both
foreign direct investment and of domestic investment. None are prepared to
invest when they are threatened with investment insecurity, and to the
vulnerability of being subject to third party control, and even more so if
there is not even assurance of just and fair compensation, or of respect for
investment protection agreements.

There is grave demoralisation of the existing owners of businesses,
both foreign and domestic, exacerbated by numerous confrontational and
racist comments by the Zimbabwean political hierarchy, repercussing very
negatively upon business operations. Furthermore, government's timing is
exceptionally inept, with a majority of existing business enterprises
teetering on the precipice of collapse as a result of the hare-brained and
thoughtless price controls of the last three months, the non-availability of
exports, the non-availability of foreign exchange, the collapsing
infrastructure of Zesa, Zinwa, NRZ and other parastatals, and much else.


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Zim Independent Letters

Circus travels to entertain New Yorkers
By Baba vaDanai

WELCOME once again to the Zimbabwean circus featuring His Excellency
whose UN New York Summit speech yielded nothing as usual, apart from
boosting his ego against the Blairs and the Bushes. By the way, his
vitriolic tentacles have spread to Gordon Brown.

As Zimbabweans grapple with the daily challenges of life, many thought
President Mugabe would grab the chance to express to the world the crisis
that we are in, as well as rally international assistance. But no! He always
has other plans in his mind.

Through isolation and alienation from the realities facing the common
man in the street, he instead chose to once again spit venom at the
Westerners, so reactionary that many were left wondering whether Zimbabwe
would ever benefit from fora of such magnitude by throwing tantrums each
time, rather than articulate our problems to the outside world.

That Zimbabwe needs the world and not otherwise is beyond doubt.
People are moving around hungry, they cannot find food in shops, let alone
afford other basics with their meagre earnings.

A trained high school teacher is earning $120 000 a day which is not
even enough for a return trip to town from the nearest suburb. With
examinations around the corner, pupils find schools with no teachers each
day. No one up there seems to bother as their children are not affected.

We really need help pronto, and that is reality. We do not feed on
sovereignty. We need food on our tables, good health and education above
lots of other things we have lost along the way.

The very day our President jetted in from his "successful" trip, RBZ
governor Gideon Gono was presenting his monetary policy. It was interesting
to note that the concoction propounded by Gono pulls in the opposite
direction to that dished earlier by His Exellency at the airport as he
addressed those "Hararians" who were there to welcome him.

I feel pity indeed for Gono. He has brilliant ideas for a sound
turn-around strategy in the midst of our challenges. Yet the political
landscape cannot allow his panacea.

* Baba vaDanai writes from Waterfalls, Harare.

---------
Forced to become drunkards

RESERVE Bank governor, Gideon Gono, recently alluded to the view that
Zimbabweans may have become a nation of drunkards.

Naturally there is at least a bi-dimensional aspect to this perhaps
truthful contention.

Never mind the local presently controlled price of various forms of
liquor, Gono may have suppressed or overlooked why and where his assertion
may actually be true, as those affected may at sometime soberly reveal.

There are those that may sometimes engage in liquor to temporality
escape from persecutory evil and deprivation.

Repeated history has shown that where persecution, victimisation,
asset theft, torture, human rights violations, subjugation, imposed grand
suffering, deprivation and poverty, and where other abuses persist, victims
sometimes resort to survival escapism to further and later deal with the
realities of being consequential of imposed wickedness.

Despair may at sometime overcome normally sane and sober persons who
have had their aspirations, futures, assets and their lifetime endeavours
stolen or destroyed by malicious Zanu PF rendered opposition eliminators, or
by their fellow racist plundering louts and thieves such as seen in the now
polarised army and police forces.

Since Gono and his "brothers" have now at last been formally
black-listed as Zanu PF enabling and beneficial beings by the civilised
world, it appears that he has now come out of his once purported "sanity
facilitating closet" and now more than ever vigorously condones the evil and
retrogressive conduct of his masters.

There are many of those in power circles who feast and enjoy the
fruits of their criminal evils as enabled by being state-protected crooks
and looters.

Naturally, this is a pre-conspired component of Zanu PF's sometimes
openly declared anti-indigenous ethnic cleansing and looting missions that
Didymus Mutasa will have severe difficulty in denying.

To be considered is that the ever-extremely desirous wealthy crooks
enabled by Zanu PF shamelessly banquet, booze, spend and celebrate from
wealth and assets stolen from their purported but vulnerable enemies and
from
their sponsors as fronted or articulated by the many corrupt,
compliant or from their incompetent United Nations cohorts, and/or their
mystified but envious South African ANC collaborators.

Zanu PF comrades have no fear of being found drunk in charge of a
road-transporter, killing a child with a vehicle whilst inebriated (such as
a certain protected police spokesperson recently did), or writing off
several fancy state supplied imported luxury vehicles whilst being uncharged
for being truly substance abuse intoxicated.

The good news is that Zanu PF comrades are known to have a continuous
deficit regarding proper rational intelligence and values as measured by
proven civilised values that actually have made the substantial outside
progressive world really work and prosper.

That many of them seem to be further handicapped by often being
overcome and further mentally deranged by substance abuses will make it much
easier to see them off to oblivion and due prosecution sooner rather than
later.

Globally and locally, it has not gone unnoticed that certain Zanu PF
comrade chefs (including Gono) have inexplicable and shameless wealth.

The time will soon come when full disclosure and accountability will
be required.

Tutisani,

Highlands, Harare.

-------------
We don't need half measures

THE recent Monetary Policy statement by the RBZ governor, Gideon Gono
refers. Perusing through the statement, I could not help but think that Gono
is merely describing a new set of measures designed to bolster our misery.

What struck me as odd was his blatant and yet ironical diatribe, that
because we are "living in extraordinary times", therefore "extraordinary
measures are needed".

What a load of drivel! Gono, the game is not about survival, it is
about getting the economic fundamentals right!

For how long shall we continue to live through these tepid, half-baked
"measures?"

We do not want "measures", we need a comprehensive economic plan, one
that is realistic and attainable. You cannot continue disguising knee-jerk
measures and call them policies.

Indeed, these are extraordinary times Gono. May I suggest that you
take off all the zeros in our currency and while you at it, license the
"mini central banks".

At least they are putting their money where their mouths are (no pun
intended).

It has become abundantly clear that these monetary statements are just
a cheap ruse to pacify an increasingly restive populace.

Joseph Mhlanga,

Dublin, Ireland.

-------------
It is no longer a 'white' problem

I HAVE followed Zimbabwe's political history since you were Rhodesia
when your government was headed by (white) PM, Ian Smith.

I would not presume to judge the relative merits and faults of
President Robert Mugabe's government and that of Smith.

As a matter of curiosity, would you dare to undertake an objective
comparison between Rhodesia, then, and Zimbabwe, now? What were the personal
risks a journalist and editors were exposed to then, by printing the truth
compared to the risks run by journalists today?

How, in God's name, can Mugabe justify the absence of infant formulae
on the market shelves?

Is it "racist" for a white journalist to call government questioning
the chaotic conditions prevailing in Zimbabwe today? Were black children
starving in white ruled Rhodesia?

How can President Mugabe justify his refusal to release thousands of
metric tonnes of maize-meal, milled in the United States from the surpluses
of harvests, and donated to Zimbabwe, through the good offices of the United
Nations? That is the staple food of the people of Zimbabwe.

Now, Mr Mugabe sir, it is no longer an excuse that whites are the
causative factor of your problems.

Richard Buchanan,

rbuchanan@neb.rr.com

-----------
Please help, we are suffering

WE are appealing to you the authorities that in our opinion as
commuters it is better to have passenger transport than not to have. It has
been difficult for us to commute to and from our workplaces especially
during these days of the blitz on kombi operators.

Most of the time we hear the kombi industry workers confessing that
they are not accessing the cheap fuel and if that is the case, we think it
is not fair to expect them to charge the gazzetted fares since the transport
business operation should be self-sustaining.

When we do not have adequate passenger transport we the commuters
suffer and risk losing our jobs and income. Please enable us to go to and
from our workplaces because there are not many alternatives for some of us
in this economy.

Some of the commuters are students and should arrive at schools on
time to avoid missing classes.

Sometimes they are delayed to the extent of missing classes such that
they end up with no value for their fees. Again on the way home some of the
students are failing to get home on time such that it is difficult to get
assignments done.

Previously it was just the power cuts that affected the ability of the
students to do assignments but now the problem is being compounded by
transport problems that make them spend hours in queues. By the time
students get home they are tired from the waiting.

The other problem is that when the kombis are few on the road, the law
of supply and demand operates such that you find some private motorists
taking advantage of our plight by charging fares that are above what the
kombis are currently charging us.

So please we ask the responsible minister to try and keep as many
kombis as possible on the road so that the law of supply and demand will
keep the fares within sustainable levels. We think it is better to have the
kombis charging the current fares than not to have them at all.

Desperate commuter,

By email.

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Pushing us the Burma way

ZESA is slowly pushing us to go the Burma way.

I would like through your paper to ask the Zesa public relations
department what it does.

We are tired of all these power outages that we are not being properly
informed about.

In Chitungwiza, especially the Seke area, electricity is cut off at
04:30am only to be reconnected at midnight when we are all asleep.

This has been going on for about three weeks now so I would like to
ask whether this is load-shedding or something else.

People are really frustrated. One of these fine days Burma-like
protests will break out.

John Chipanga,

Chitungwiza.

-------------
Let's have Gono for president!
WHAT an extraordinary man we have in the Reserve Bank governor!

Did you hear or read his latest speech on the delayed mid-term
monetory policy?

Zimbabwe can hardly afford not to have Gideon Gono for president.

With him at the helm, we will not just have a one-party state, but a
one-man show! Just think of all the precious taxpayers' money that will be
saved. We won't need any minister of finance anymore, nor ministers of
agriculture, mines, commerce or industry.

We probably won't need a cabinet at all, as he obviously can run the
whole country single-handedly.

No more apologies will be required for his quasi-fiscal policies, as
they will automatically become the real thing - plain fiscal policies.

Gono can most likely do without a senate, and will probably scrap
parliament too, thus saving even more money as instead of the one hundred or
so rubber stamps that are presently in use he will only need one - himself.

An extraordinary man indeed!

Man-date, Bulawayo.

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