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      MDC councillors flee ceremony

      Staff Reporter
      4/10/03 2:10:30 AM (GMT +2)

      BULAWAYO - Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Bulawayo
councillors on Tuesday fled a ceremony to raise funds for this year's
independence celebrations because of the heavy presence of police outside
the city hall.

      The MDC councillors, who emerged from a full council meeting about 10
minutes before the start of the fundraiser, were overheard by this reporter
expressing concern at the large number of police officers milling outside
the city hall.
      Eight uniformed policemen were posted outside the main entrance of the
building, while others loitered in the vicinity of the city hall, the venue
for the independence celebrations' launch, during which companies donated
money for the 2003 Independence Day Fund.
      "We might get arrested," said Charles Mpofu, the MDC chief whip in the
Bulawayo City Council, as he swiftly moved to his car. "I am going home."
      "I saw them arrest Paul Themba Nyathi yesterday (Monday)," added
Mpofu, who is also the chairman of the city's finance and development
committee. "These people just arrest people. I don't want to give them a
chance to arrest me for nothing."
      MDC spokesman Nyathi was arrested on Monday after attending the court
hearing of the party's vice president, Gibson Sibanda, who has been charged
with contravening the Public Order and Security Act by organising a mass
      The MDC last month organised a mass work stayaway that shut down
industry for two days, and which has been followed by the arrest of several
party officials and supporters.
      Mpofu was followed from the city hall by other MDC councillors, who
headed for a municipal minibus. The councillors cast curious glances at
uniformed police officers stationed around the city hall car park as the
council vehicle sped away.
      Only one councillor, Stars Mathe, remained behind with Executive Mayor
Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube.
      "I initially wanted to go with my colleagues but in the end, I decided
to stay behind. Why should we all go away, we have not committed any crime?"
Mathe told the Financial Gazette.
      She added: "The councillors that you saw going have other pressing
issues to attend to. Yes, we might all be afraid because of what has been
happening, but those that have gone are not cowards at all."
      A Bulawayo police spokesman could not immediately comment on the heavy
presence of police at Tuesday's fundraiser. But municipal sources said the
police suspected that MDC supporters planned to disrupt the government
function, charges opposition party councillors denied.
      "This is our city and there is no one who can disrupt this noble
function," said Ndabeni-Ncube. "Independence Day is a big day for every
Zimbabwean. It should not be politicised."
      About $300 000 was raised in cash and pledges for the Independence Day
celebrations, compared to over $500 000 realised at a similar fundraiser
last year.
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      Wankie Colliery in $5.6 bln loss

      Staff Reporter
      4/10/03 2:11:03 AM (GMT +2)

      GOVERNMENT-controlled coal producer Wankie Colliery Company Limited
(WCC), struck by severe foreign currency shortages, has posted a staggering
$5.6 billion loss for the year ended December 2002.

      The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) listed company publishes its results
today, after seeking a week's extension from the ZSE to make its year-end
financial statements available after the March 31 deadline set by stock
exchange regulations.
      According to ZSE regulations, listed companies must publish their
year-end results within three months of the end of their financial year.
      Wankie, which made a $5.5 billion loss in 2001, posted an earnings per
share loss of 33 cents per share in the year to December 2002, a cent more
than the 32 cents loss recorded in 2001.
      The company is operating at 50 percent of capacity because of
shortages of spare parts and expects to resume full production in June.
      During the year under review, Wankie's coal sales were 13 percent
below the previous year, partly because of the shortage of wagons from the
National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ).
      Under normal circumstances, the NRZ is supposed to supply 150 railway
wagons a day to the coal producer, which however received an average of 66
wagons a day or 44 percent of its normal requirements during its 2002
financial year.
      WCC board chairman Ngoni Kudenga said turnover for the year of $15.87
billion declined by $4.8 billion from 2001 because of a reduction in coal
and coke sales and because of state-imposed price controls.
      He said the price at which WCC was selling coal to its largest
customer, the Zimbabwe Power Company for use at Hwange Power Station (HPS),
was significantly below the cost of production.
      WCC has since June last year been selling coal to HPS at $1 300 per
tonne, however the company did not indicate how much it cost to produce a
tonne of coal. However, coal sales to HPS account for 64 percent of volume
sales achieved but only contributed 38 percent of total turnover.
      "The year 2002 was full of major business challenges characterised by
severe foreign currency shortages, unprecedented high inflation, price
controls, transport constraints and loss of critical skills," Kudenga said
in a commentary accompanying Wankie's results.
      "The company submitted an application for a price increase to the
Ministry of Industry at the beginning of 2003 and is still awaiting a
response. The delays in implementing the price increase will adversely
impact on the company's cash flow."
      However, Wankie has benefited from the payment of amounts owed to it
by the NRZ, while the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company has also paid part of
its debt, leaving a balance of $1.77 billion.
      Kudenga said Wankie had now secured a US$5.3 million loan from the
African Export-Import Bank through the Jewel Bank, which would be used for
essential repairs and for servicing equipment to so that it could resume
producing at normal capacity.
      The coal producer plans to open a new US$88 million underground mine
that will produce low ferrous coal, which is expected to increase the
company's coal output to meet increasing demand.
      Last year, Wankie produced 3 448 600 tonnes of coal, down from 3 751
418 tonnes produced in 2001.
      Kudenga said the company had re-submitted an application to the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to be allowed to retain 100 percent of its export
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      ZRP hit by spate of resignations

      Staff Reporter
      4/10/03 2:12:06 AM (GMT +2)

      THE Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has been hit by a spate of
resignations in the past year because of the erosion of professionalism in
the police force and allegations of favouritism towards war veterans in
promotions, ZRP officers said this week.

      The officials said although there were no statistics on the
resignations, at least 30 percent of the police officers who joined the
force after 1998 had left, with most of them resigning between 2000 and this
      They said most of the resignations were of poorly paid junior officers
who, together with their colleagues, have been criticised of serving the
interests of the ruling ZANU PF and not the public.
      "Most senior officers, from superintendent upward, have benefited from
the police's association with ZANU PF and they are happy," said a police
officer who spoke on condition of anonymity.
      "Some have received land while others, illiterate as they might be,
have been promoted beyond their wildest imaginations. But the junior staff
are disgruntled," he added.
      ZRP sources said a deliberate policy to favour war veterans and other
ZANU PF supporters in promotions had also forced young officers to use the
force as a "spring board", acquiring professional qualifications before
leaving for the private sector.
      "There seems to have been a deliberate policy not to promote staff who
did not fight in the liberation war. So, either one is a war veteran or has
shown some zealousness in persecuting the MDC to receive favours," said a
Harare-based officer.
      He added: "Because of this policy, you will find that most of those
people who are leaving are from the rank of assistant inspector downwards
because they are the most frustrated. Some don't want to continue doing what
they are being forced to do, so they are leaving. People are tired of being
used as foot soldiers to harass the opposition so that other people can
      Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena admitted that the ZRP had suffered a
significant loss of manpower, but said this was normal in any organisation.
      He told the Financial Gazette: "Yes, like any other organisation we
are losing our manpower but that is normal. We don't lure people to join the
police and when they join, they already know our conditions and they should
not expect anything more than that.
      "The police is an arm of government and we follow government policies
and laws. These people (who are leaving) have failed to appreciate these
policies. In fact, by failing to appreciate government policies, they are in
conflict with the laws they are supposed to enforce and the best option for
them is to leave.
      "Even before independence we had laws such as the Land Husbandry Act
that worked against the majority, but it was the duty of the police to
enforce such laws, unpopular as they were."
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      MDC to decide on mass action in 2 weeks

      Staff Reporter
      4/10/03 2:12:37 AM (GMT +2)

      A MEETING initially scheduled for last weekend to discuss the next
phase of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)'s mass action
will now be held within the next two weeks, according to MDC secretary
general Welshman Ncube.

      He said: "The executive did not meet over the weekend. The next
executive meeting is likely to be held within the next two weeks, hopefully
before Easter. It would be then that the issue would be discussed. It would
be part of the agenda.
      "There is no reason for people to worry about when we will announce
the mass action. The party leadership will make the announcement when they
think they are ready."
      The opposition party gave President Robert Mugabe until 31 March to
meet its demands for a negotiated political settlement or face street
protests that could include marches to his residence and offices.
      The ultimatum followed a two-day job stayaway last month that brought
most of the country's industry to a halt and which has been followed by the
arrest of several MDC officials and supporters.
      Ncube this week said the arrests would not affect the party's ability
to organise another mass action.
      "The arrest of MDC officials has been ongoing for some time. Virtually
every member of the MDC leadership has been arrested so this will not in any
way affect our capacity to confront this regime," he told journalists in
      "The MDC is for the people and is the people so they can arrest
everyone within the leadership, but the people will still protest," he
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      Mayor, Chombo headed for fresh clash

      Staff Reporter
      4/10/03 3:49:57 AM (GMT +2)

      A THREE-member Harare City Council board of inquiry has recommended
that suspended town clerk Nomutsa Chideya be dismissed from his job, a
development insiders this week said could ignite fresh confrontation between
the council and Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo.

      The committee, headed by University of Zimbabwe lecturer Ngoni Moyo,
was tasked with inquiring into the conduct of Chideya, who was suspended
last October allegedly because of gross incompetence.
      According to a report of the committee shown to the Financial Gazette
yesterday, the three-man panel resolved that Chideya should be discharged
because of his misconduct and inability to function effectively in the
office of town clerk.
      The panel said: "In light of Mr Chideya's inability to function
effectively in the office of town clerk, and in the light of Mr Chideya's
misconduct, it is the committee's recommendation that the council proceed
with the discharge of the town clerk, subject to the approval of the Local
Government Board (LGB)."
      But government sources said Chombo, under whose portfolio the LGB
falls, was unlikely to allow the dismissal of Chideya.
      They said Chombo already had the green-light from his government
colleagues to act against Mudzuri, who is a top official of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
      They said Chombo could in the next few weeks invoke powers invested in
him under the Urban Councils Act to punish Mudzuri and probably suspend the
mayor from Town House.
      Chombo, who has publicly alleged that Mudzuri has failed to maintain
and run Harare, could cite inefficiency as the reason to punish the mayor,
the sources said.
      "Plans are already underway to have Mudzuri himself removed from Town
House. In fact, this should be happening in the next few weeks unless there
is a major change of plan," a source told the Financial Gazette.
      Neither Chombo nor his permanent secretary Vincent Hungwe could be
reached for comment on the matter.
      In January, Chombo's ministry ordered the Harare council to reinstate
Chideya and two other suspended senior council employees or face unspecified
action from the government.
      Mudzuri yesterday declined to comment on the recommendations by Moyo's
committee, only saying it was up to the whole council to decide how to
respond to the findings of the inquiry.
      The Harare mayor said he was aware of attempts to dismiss him from his
job and said these had been on the cards since he was elected in 2002.
      "That is not surprising that they (the government) want to get rid of
me. Actually, that has been on the cards for a very long time," Mudzuri
      He added: "But they do not have a valid reason to justify such a
      The Moyo panel accuses Chideya of failing to produce a turnaround
report for the capital city and dismisses the town clerk's claims that he
had in fact informed Mudzuri that the city required external help to prepare
the document.
      The committee also alleges that Chideya had failed to provide a policy
document on how Harare could avert water crises during peak periods as had
been requested by the mayor.
      Chideya could not be reached for comment on the findings of the
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      Urgent application for Nyathi's release filed

      4/10/03 3:52:35 AM (GMT +2)

      BULAWAYO - Nicholas Mathonsi, the lawyer for opposition Movement for
Democratic (MDC) spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi, yesterday said he had filed
an urgent court application to secure his client's release, two days after
he was arrested by police.

      Nyathi was arrested on Monday as he and other party officials waited
for the court hearing of MDC vice president Gibson Sibanda, who has been
charged with contravening the controversial Public Order and Security Act
(POSA) by organising a mass action.
      The charge stems from a job stayaway called by the opposition party
last month.
      Nyathi, who was not brought before the courts as anticipated
yesterday, is also expected to be charged under POSA.
      Mathonsi, a lawyer with Coghlan and Welsh in Bulawayo, told the
Financial Gazette:
      "I have made an urgent application to the High Court for his release
after getting no joy from the police since Monday morning when he (Nyathi)
was first arrested.
      "I am at the High Court as we are talking, but the judge is nowhere to
be found. It is clear now that the police are holding him illegally. He has
spent nearly three days in the police cells."
      He added: "If the judge does not return, we will see what we can do
tomorrow. I have failed to reason with the police."
      - Staff Reporter
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      Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition lobbies for fact-finding mission to
monitor violence

      Staff Reporter
      4/10/03 3:52:05 AM (GMT +2)

      A DELEGATION from the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a grouping of
civil society organisations, is today expected to submit a report to the
Commonwealth secretariat urging a fact-finding mission to monitor violence
in the run up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in

      The CHOGM meeting, scheduled for Abuja at the end of the year, is
expected to discuss Zimbabwe's suspension from the Commonwealth, which was
extended until December when it expired in March.
      Crisis in Zimbabwe representatives said the delegation, comprising
three senior officials of the coalition, had travelled to London this week
to present the report to the Commonwealth secretariat and lobby for a
fact-finding mission.
      The report says repression has continued in Zimbabwe since the
disputed presidential election last year and urges the 54-member grouping to
remain focused on the country's "multi-layered crisis".
      "The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group and the secretary-general's
office should mount a thorough fact-finding mission into Zimbabwe with a
mandate to broadly consult all key stakeholders from political parties,
faith-based organisations, civil society and business," the report says.
      "This fact-finding mission could receive both oral and written
evidence on a wide range of issues constituting the multi-layered crisis in
Zimbabwe," the report added.
      The report urges that between now and December, the Commonwealth
should closely monitor the situation and give authorities in Harare a
deadline within which to stop state-sponsored violence, disband youth
militia, repeal repressive legislation, depoliticise food distribution and
restore the rule of law.
      Harare however denies the involvement of state security agents in
political violence as well as the distribution of food aid along political
lines. The government has been accused of denying food to supporters of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
      The Commonwealth suspended Zimbabwe from its councils last year,
citing gross human rights violations by the government and the disputed
presidential poll, which the club of former British colonies and independent
observers say was not free and fair.
      Crisis in Zimbabwe said before CHOGM, the Commonwealth had to make
Harare adhere to important international declarations on democracy.
      The organisation said the government had continued its onslaught
against democracy, sustaining violence through state security agents,
emasculating the judiciary and failing to arrest policies that had resulted
in close to eight million people requiring food aid.
      The civic body also criticised the government's economic policies and
its price control regime, which has contributed to shortages of basic
commodities such as maize meal, bread, sugar, cooking oil, soap and sanitary
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      Justice must prevail for political violence victims

      4/10/03 1:37:05 AM (GMT +2)

      SCORES of Zimbabweans have been attacked in the past two weeks for
holding different political views and the smoke and mirrors show the
government has staged in response could ultimately rob them of justice,
sending the wrong signals to foreign investors yet again.

      Under pressure to rein in state security agents accused of a violent
campaign of retribution against members of the public, the government has
trotted out a group of "army deserters" with convenient links to an alleged
underground military wing of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change

      In scenes reminiscent of the aftermath of the abduction and murder of
Bulawayo war veterans' leader Cain Nkala, about 23 of these so-called
deserters were paraded before the media this week to confess to terrorist
acts allegedly scheduled by the opposition to coincide with last month's

      The deserters were supposedly nabbed during an army investigation into
post-by-election violence that victims have blamed primarily on soldiers out
to punish voters for the ruling ZANU PF's defeat in the Highfield and
Kuwadzana polls at the end of last month.

      The MDC has of course denied the army's allegations.

      Indeed, coming as it does at a time when the government is cracking
down on and is attempting to discredit the MDC ahead of its planned mass
action, it is hard not to be sceptical about the turn the army's
investigation has taken.

      The guilt or innocence of those accused of horrific acts of terror
against the public is up to the courts to decide. But it is unfortunate that
given the seriousness of the allegations against it, the government has
allowed the army to investigate itself, undermining the findings of any

      The army has comfortably absolved itself of all wrongdoing by heaping
the blame on "deserters" who, in a development that can only benefit the
ruling party, are said to have conspired with the MDC to brutalise its own

      Whether the real perpetrators of these crimes will be among those
punished is not certain and their victims could join the thousands of
Zimbabweans who have fallen prey to political violence in the past three
years and whose tormentors have walked away scot-free.

      Independent surveys indicate that in the first two months of this year
alone, two of these victims have paid with their lives, while six have been
tortured, 54 assaulted and 23 forced to flee their homes.

      Many of those affected have named members of the Zimbabwe National
Army, the police and Central Intelligence Organisation as their brutalisers,
most of who have not been held accountable for their actions.

      The state's casual attitude towards alleged human rights abuses by its
security agents has played an important role in the sharp decline of foreign
investment in Zimbabwe. It is tragic that the government refuses to
acknowledge this fact.

      No sane investor will put his or her money in a country whose citizens
cannot be assured of protection from violence and who in fact have much to
fear from the very agencies that are supposed to protect them.

      Although the government would prefer to believe otherwise, this
certainly holds true even for the African countries whose solidarity with
ZANU PF has not unlocked investment from their firms, partly because of the
erosion of the rule of law.

      The government's failure to rid state security agencies of those
elements guilty of brutalising sections of the population has only worsened
the situation, forcing Zimbabweans and investors alike to conclude that acts
of terror are being perpetrated with the full knowledge and backing of the

      Indeed, when the moment of reckoning eventually comes, the nation will
not entertain pleas of ignorance from those in charge of the agents of

      It is only a matter of time before those responsible are held to

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       . . . And now to the notebook......Aggressive interrogation

      4/10/03 1:34:57 AM (GMT +2)

      Prime minister of Zimbabwe Jonathan Moyo, who goes under the guise of
the Minister of Information, was at it again in the latest edition of the
Sunday Mail.

      Mukanya liked Moyo's response to allegations that Zimbabwe's police
were illegally torturing suspects, not least because the comments are
probably the closest yet since Moyo sold his soul to Uncle Bob that he has
come to telling the truth.

      "In (a) country like Zimbabwe, where torture is not culture,
aggressive interrogation can easily be mistaken for or deliberately taken as
torture," he told the Sunday Mail.

      A quite revealing admission, especially if one takes into account the
fact that the so-called "aggressive interrogation" involves, as the Standard
's Brian Latham would put it, "wiring suspects to the national power grid,
whipping them with barbed wire and clobbering them with rifle butts".

      And if you had the stamina to last the whole test of endurance that
was the Moyo interview you will have noticed how he tried to downplay ZANU
PF's embarrassing loss to the MDC in the Kuwadzana and Highfield

      Moyo told Munyaradzi Huni that the battle to reclaim the urban vote
for ZANU PF would be in the next general election, in 2005.

      That is true, assuming one is overly optimistic enough to believe that
at the rate at which the country is falling apart owing to mismanagement by
President Robert Mugabe and company, there will still be anything to vote
for by 2005.

      Or that we will have survived the starvation threatening more than
seven million Zimbabweans, all because of the mad land policies of this

      Mugabe does not like uneducated MPs

      Talking about the by-elections, the joke doing the rounds in town is
that Uncle Bob may actually never have cast his vote for the former Harare
city security guard who is known for his queer love for thatch grass hats.

      Most observers say given Mugabe's pathological disdain for those who
are not as well-read as he is, even if such individuals could be better
leaders than him, it is unlikely that Uncle Bob could ever have chosen a
semi-literate buffoon as his representative in Parliament.

      Even if that idiot was put up by his ZANU PF party as its candidate in
the election.

      Did you tell it to Uncle Bob, Charles?

      Did comrade Doc-tor Charles Utete, the former chief secretary to the
President and Cabinet tell his boss Uncle Bob that the reason he was
stepping down from his job was because he was tired and old?

      Talking to the Herald about his resignation from the government, Utete
said: "I need to rest a bit. This place is challenging and one does not want
to go on until one does not have energy or strength."

      Mukanya will bet his neck Utete would never dare utter such a
statement to Uncle Bob, although this is exactly the kind of advice the
79-year old young man needs more than life itself.

      And another thing, Comrade Utete, how about helping Vice President
Simon Muzenda pen his letter of resignation to Uncle Bob?

      As you may be aware, old Mzee has been trying to resign since last
year but on every occasion, Uncle Bob has rejected his request that he be
allowed to step down.

      Mukanya suspects old Mzee's mistake is that he is telling Uncle Bob
that he wants to leave his job because he is feeling tired and old,
something that obviously would never go down well with Uncle Bob because it
describes him more than anybody else in government, Muzenda included.

      A pleasant surprise

      Mukanya was pleasantly surprised to read in the Sunday Mail that
sometime last month, Bridget Tirivangani and Justice Mutore were caught
selling bread at a price above that legislated by the government.

      The two suspects could not believe it when one Josephine Mazvimba of
the police's special constabulary would not accept a bribe from them and
they were arrested instead.

      What a surprise that there are still people associated with the
Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) who would not readily accept a bribe!

      Of course, we are assuming here that this story is not one of those
propaganda pieces the patriotic Sunday Mail generously dishes out every week
in a bid to convince us we are not living in hell but in heaven.

      Placed near the Mazvimba story was another one telling of how a
policeman at Nkulumane station in Bulawayo was jailed for 10 months for
stealing a wrist watch worth $2 000 from a suspect.

      Now if you ask me, that is more like our patriotic ZRP, led by that
ZANU PF zealot of a commissioner, Augustine Chihuri.
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      Stockfeed producers slash output by half

      Staff Reporter
      4/10/03 1:22:47 AM (GMT +2)

      LIVESTOCK feed producers are meeting less than half of demand for
their products after scaling down production because of the impact of severe
input shortages and state-imposed price controls, industry executives said
this week.

      Dave Hayden, manager of one of the country's leading stockfeed
producers, Agrifoods, said companies had been affected by the shortage of
major inputs such as wheat, maize and cotton.

      Agricultural output has fallen in the past three years because of the
impact of drought and a controversial government land reform programme that
is estimated to have cut farming output by at least 50 percent.

      Stockfeed producers said price controls on their products had also
contributed to a decline in production.

      "Our raw materials are by-products of maize milling, wheat and cotton
and currently, the by-products are not readily available on the market,"
Hayden told the Financial Gazette.

      He said Agrifoods was meeting less than 50 percent of farmers' demand
for stockfeed.

      Output of beef stockfeed, for instance, has declined from 1 500 tonnes
to 250 tonnes a week, forcing Agrifoods to import raw materials in a bid to
boost production.

      The Agrifoods manager said the company had resorted to buying foreign
currency from the parallel market because of severe hard cash shortages on
the official forex market.

      Parallel market rates are more than twice those prevailing in the
banking sector, which Hayden said could trigger a rise in stockfeed prices.

      At the moment, a 50 kilogramme bag of poultry and pig feed costs as
much as $15 000 while beef feed costs $5 500 and horse meal $10 000.

      Livestock producers said the shortage of stockfeed had contributed to
a decline in output, already low because of the instability in the
agricultural sector and the impact of a drought that is affecting southern

      They said the shortages had contributed to milk shortages, while
production of pork products had declined as the number of slaughtered pigs
fell from the normal 250 000 a year to 95 000 in 2002.

      Farmers said some livestock producers had been forced to slaughter
their animals because they could not feed them.

      Poultry Producers Association chairman Joe Whaley told the Financial
Gazette that apart from stockfeed shortages, producers had also been hard
hit by price controls, which forced them to sell at a loss because they
could not recoup input and production costs.

      He said poultry producers were being forced to import about 90 percent
of their inputs to remain in business, but could not factor the resulting
increase in operating costs into their prices.

      Poultry producers' inputs include maize, vaccines and gas for

      "All inputs have to be imported and we have to source the hard cash
from the parallel market, but we are forced to sell our products at
controlled prices, which is resulting in the business not being viable,"
Whaley said.

      As a result, poultry output has fallen by 60 percent in the last few
months, leading to a drop in the export of day-old chicks and frozen
chickens to Mozambique, Botswana, Malawi, Uganda, Ivory Coast and the
Democratic Republic of the Congo.

      Meanwhile, Veterinary Services Department director Stuart Hargreaves
said a new government unit established to boost livestock production would
be adversely affected by the stockfeed shortages.

      "The thrust of the new department is to increase production, but it is
now very difficult to do so owing to the scarcity of stockfeeds and the high
costs of vaccines, which are also in short supply,"he said.
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      The irrepressible Archbishop Pius Ncube

      4/10/03 1:06:50 AM (GMT +2)

      WHY is Pius Ncube such a controversial figure, reviled by the
government and its propaganda machinery?

      In 2000, the family of late Vice President Joshua Nkomo, baptised into
the Catholic church late in his life, asked Ncube to officiate at his
memorial mass in his capacity as the archbishop of Bulawayo.

      President Robert Mugabe flatly refused to attend if Ncube was to
officiate. Someone more acceptable to Mugabe than Archbishop Ncube had to be
found at the last minute.

      He has been the target of vicious innuendo by the state media. The
Bulawayo Chronicle once alleged that there was "a surprising increase in
homosexual pornography in Khami prison" after the archbishop visited the
inmates there.

      He has been accused of close ties to the Movement for Democratic
Change, even of plotting with others to overthrow the government.

      It has been alleged that he favours Ndebeles over others, and that
large numbers of people in his diocese are leaving the church for that

      "They regularly fabricate stories about me, it has even been written
that I raped somebody. I am under surveillance, my phone is tapped," said

      "My 87- year old mother has been interviewed by state agents, as well
as young men studying for the priesthood, to make me feel afraid," he

      Not wanting St Luke's in Lupane, a hospital under his diocese's
jurisdiction, to fall into the same state of dysfunction as most state
institutions, he refused to hand it over to government for use as a
provincial referral hospital.

      Because of this, he was accused of "preventing development".

      Sitting opposite him at the diocesan head office at the St Marks
Cathedral complex in the city centre of Bulawayo, it was hard to reconcile
the mild mannered man before me with the ogre portrayed by the state media.
He speaks in mild, low tones, and seems quiet and reserved.

      Early on a Saturday morning, he is already looking pressured from the
commitments before him that day. A wedding is scheduled for 08:00, and other
duties await him in the afternoon. A queue of people seeking help is already
forming outside. He had returned late the night before from a trip to the
hospital in Lupane.

      Within a few minutes of talking to him, it was evident why his
utterances would be so worrisome to an embattled regime. It became clear why
he is such an object of vilification by a state media that has discarded any
pretensions of reflecting diverse views in favour of being an all out
propaganda tool of the besieged government of Mugabe.

      Ncube may be soft spoken, but the way he shoots his opinions straight
from the hip is explosive.

      He holds an extremely low opinion of President Mugabe and his
government, and I was startled by the vehemence with which he expresses that
low regard. He needed little prompting to give an impassioned catalogue of
all the things he felt it was doing that were against the interests of the
people of Zimbabwe.

      It quickly became apparent why a government that is still coming to
terms with its alienation from a large segment of the population would be so
worried about a man like Pius Ncube.

      It is no secret that Matabeleland has felt "marginalised" from the
rest of the country since independence. Government massacres there in the
early 1980s have been officially glossed over and downplayed, leaving
festering hurts and resentments. The government's failure to address the
arid region's water problems, despite years of promises, deeply rankle

      All these sentiments were expressed in the embarrassing results of the
constitutional referendum and general election of 2000, and in last year's
presidential election, which showed that Mugabe and his government have
little support in that part of the country.

      Despite the much-vaunted Unity Accord of 1987 between Nkomo's ZAPU and
Mugabe's ZANU, to form today's ZANU PF, it did little to address the many
grievances of Matabeleland. What it did to Mugabe, however, was to lull him
into a false sense of security about his support in that region as its most
prominent leaders were silenced by co-option into his government. The
election results of 2000 were therefore a shock to him.

      It was in the months leading up to those elections that Archbishop
Ncube first came to international prominence. He was a leader from
Matabeleland who went against the grain of the "everything is just fine"
message of the co-opted political leaders. Being an archbishop of a powerful
church, he had a ready platform from which to spread his message far and
wide to a disgruntled, receptive audience.

      It was not easy for Mugabe's government to dismiss it as the
politicking of a foe, the way they could with opposition leaders. Ncube
could not simply be silenced by appointment to some government position with
political power and generous perks, as had happened with many others.
Clearly, he was an inconvenient spanner in the works of Mugabe and his
regime, publicly and noisily pointing out how the emperor had no clothes in
an unprecedented way.

      Said the archbishop: "The constitutional referendum and general
elections were the turning points. Mugabe blamed me for ZANU PF's poor
results in Matabeleland. He felt threatened by the loss of his power base,
and pretended to be uplifting Zimbabwe using land reform.

      "Everybody, including the church, is in favour of land reform, but
where have you heard of productive land being expropriated overnight?"

      Ncube spoke out strongly against the violence accompanying the land
seizures in 2000, which many critics said were being sponsored by the
government. Several people were killed, with many more tortured, raped,
dispossessed and displaced under the guise of land reform.

      "There was a deliberate attempt to polarise people in order to control
them, the old tactic of divide and rule," he charges.

      The President did not react kindly to this kind of outspoken criticism
from someone wielding obvious influence among the people, particularly as
his was waning. Mugabe threatened: "We do not want to create trouble with
men of God, but I think archbishop Ncube has gone too far.

      "If he continues with his political stance we will challenge him as a

      The archbishop spends up to a third of his time visiting the
approximately 40 parishes of his diocese, and is deeply aggrieved by the
suffering he sees, which he blames on the government.

      Ncube says of the President: "I have nothing against him personally. I
don't dislike him. He is a gifted, intelligent man who once ran this country
very well. I credit him as one of the liberators and founders of the
country, but he is now the cause of a lot of suffering.

      "There are awful shortages, the prices of everything are sky high,
people can't live. All this is related to his method of grabbing land out of
his love for power."

      Banging his hand on his desk for emphasis, Ncube added: "The suffering
of the economy rests squarely on Mugabe's head. It is typical of politicians
to mess up and blame others for their faults. Mugabe is to blame. He is the
enemy of the people."

      I winced at his frankness, amazed that he did not ask that any part of
his strong statements be off the record. I found myself being relieved on
Ncube's behalf that President Mugabe recently declared that he does not read
"the rubbish Press" and therefore will not be further infuriated by the
archbishop's latest no holds-barred criticisms of him.

      At a public lecture in South Africa last year, he said: "We face an
absolutely desperate situation in Zimbabwe and our government is lying to
the world about it. (It) continues to engage in lies, propaganda, the
twisting of facts, half-truths, downright untruths and gross misinformation
because they are fascists."

      This is very strong stuff, and it is not difficult to see why Mugabe
may consider Ncube one of the most dangerous loose cannons in Zimbabwe!

      With an understated anger, Ncube went on: "Matebeleland is known to be
drought prone. Cattle have perished here and many people will not reap a
thing because of lack of water. There is no government relief to speak of.

      "On the contrary, the government is putting all sorts of obstacles in
the way of private efforts to relieve the suffering. You have to go through
all sorts of red tape to import food, and a lot of it is denied entry or
confiscated at the border."

      He says what little government food relief there has been has often
been directed at only those few districts that have voted for ruling party
candidates, adding: "This government has no feelings for the people."

      Ncube continued: "People feel the government doesn't care about them.
Money is poured everywhere else except Matebeleland. In terms of health,
education and infrastructure, Matebeleland lags behind the rest of the

      "Nothing has been done about the long-talked about Zambezi water
project, yet it is a priority; you can't have development without water.
There are no other sources of water here, and many people in the
southern-most parts of the region have not even ploughed this season for
lack of it."

      Does he subscribe to the theory of deliberate tribal marginalisation
of Matebeleland?.

      "Sometimes it is a tribal issue," he replied, "while other times there
is an element of let's fix them for voting for the opposition. All
investment is in Harare, sidelining Bulawayo. Government has been belittling
Matebeleland since independence."

      What is the background of this fearless cleric who has become such a
thorn in the flesh of the political establishment?

      "I was born in 1946 at Mtshabezi in the Gwanda area, where my mother's
people come from. I began school in 1954 at Bongani, west of Bulawayo. At
the age of 14, I transferred to St. Patrick's school in Bulawayo."

      "I was deeply impressed by the selfless, people-centred example of the
Catholic priests, who travelled long distances by bicycle to minister to
people," Ncube recalled.

      He did his secondary school at a seminary in Gweru then underwent
training with the Jesuits, the Society of Jesus, at Chishawasha seminary on
the outskirts of Harare from 1967 to 1973. He was ordained in 1973 and
worked at various Catholic church outposts in Matebeleland.

      From 1980 to 1983, he studied for a Master's degree in theology in
Rome. He then went back to Chishawasha to teach for a year before serving as
parish priest at the St. Patrick's of his primary schooling. He served as
vicar general of St. Mary's cathedral in Bulawayo from 1990 to 1997, serving
as the deputy to the then Swiss bishop.

      The bishop nominated Ncube to succeed him, which the latter initially
had misgivings about.

      " I am a grassroots person, not an executive," he said.

      I had no trouble believing that. He is down to earth, with none of the
self-important airs of some people who occupy positions of power and
responsibility. I felt immediately at ease with him.

      As is the custom, the names of three nominees including his were sent
to the Vatican in Rome, and he was selected. He was prevailed upon to accept
and took up his appointment as archbishop of the diocese of Bulawayo in
January 1998.

      "I invited President Mugabe to my ordination. He gave a beautiful
speech in which he talked about how government and the church can complement
each other," recalled the archbishop.

      Ncube got up to remove a copper clock in the shape of Zimbabwe from
the wall to show me. It was inscribed "with compliments of the President of
Zimbabwe, R. G. Mugabe", a gift from the President on the occasion of the
archbishop's investiture. Obviously the honeymoon was very short-lived.

      The archbishop would like to meet the President to break the impasse
between them, and it has been said that Mugabe is also keen on meeting
Ncube. I find it hard to imagine such a meeting now, in light of the
archbishop's ever-sharpening criticism of the President. Ncube himself
believes that despite Mugabe's apparently expressed willingness for a
meeting, he is avoiding it. He says efforts by archbishop Chakaipa of Harare
and John Nkomo when he was minister of home affairs to arrange such a
meeting came to naught.

      "My fellow bishops also wanted to arrange a group meeting with the
President, but nothing came of it. He says he wants to see me, but works
against it" said Ncube.

      He repeatedly lamented the great suffering of the people he sees in
his travels in Matabeleland.

      Why don't politicians from the region, who have the ear of the
President and are not suspected of ulterior motives, communicate this
suffering to Mugabe? I asked.

      "They are paid to pretend things are fine," Ncube replies without
hesitation. Has he tried to beseech these politicians to lobby the President
on behalf of the region? He makes gestures of exasperation indicating that
he expects little from them.

      When I ask him to name politicians from Matabeleland who are close to
the President, he concedes: "at least John Nkomo (ZANU-PF national chairman
and Minister of Special Affairs) will listen, he has a bit of decency."

      He has no respect for Jonathan Moyo, Mugabe's minister of information
under whom newspapers like the Chronicle have sunk to their "lowest and

      "Jonathan Moyo doesn't like the truth, and he is a reflection of the
President's own character," said the irrepressible Ncube. "These ministers
are afraid of telling the President the truth and losing their positions.
They merely dance to his tune."

      Has he always been this outspoken, or is this a fairly recent
development in his life? Ncube was outraged and deeply affected by the
atrocities he saw being committed by the army's Fifth Brigade in the early
1980s, "but as a priest you have to let your superiors speak for you".

      Now that he is the archbishop, "there is no one to stop me" he
defiantly declares, leaning back in his chair and grinning.

      He admits that in the early days of his speaking out there was much
discomfort about it in the church. "I was urged to tone down my criticism of
the government and just pray about the many problems I saw people
experiencing, but I just could not keep quiet. I will not be silent at a
time of crisis," he said.

      Despite being thankful for the support he says he now gets, he admits
that there is still widespread fear for his safety. He confesses to being
under personal stress and has been urged by some well wishers to leave the
country, but he resolutely refuses to consider this. "That's what they want,
they would have won by silencing me," he says of the authorities.

      The Catholic hierarchy in general have been accused of coddling the
President by being quiet in the face of the many ills that are blamed on the
government, such as state-sponsored violence and alleged rigging of
elections. Ncube himself has pointed out that the church had a much higher
profile during the Fifth Brigade atrocities, and played an important role in
helping to embarrass the government in to ending them. It has not been so
vocal in the past few years.

      Is this partly because Mugabe is at least a nominal Catholic?

      "No, I don't think so," Ncube replied. "That should actually be all
the more reason to tell him off, because he is embarrassing the church." He
believes the church's subdued role is due to a wish for change without
rocking the boat too much. " The government has taken a stance that you are
either for us or against us. The church is aware that unlike before, it has
no qualms about persecuting even ministers of religion now, and no one wants
to get hurt."

      Many new independent churches cite the Catholic church as a staid
establishment that exemplifies much of what has made religion lose its
appeal for a lot of people. Is the church losing a lot of ground to the new
churches? Ncube says many people still seek solace in the church, especially
among the young. He is worried about the large numbers of young people who
leave Matebeleland seeking opportunities in Botswana and South Africa,
having given up on finding employment at home.

      "Many, both young men and women, have to resort to selling their
bodies there to try to survive, worsening the AIDS crisis," he said.

      He does concede the pull of the many mushrooming Pentecostal churches.
"They have studied the psychology of the young, and attract them with lively
music, emotional preaching and by affirming them," he admitted . If they
have some good innovations, why does the conservative Catholic church not
borrow some pages from their book?

      " As a large, old institution, the church changes very slowly," Ncube
responded frankly. He went on: "We must also ask about motive. Are we after
mere numbers and the glorification of the ministers or the glorification of

      He quipped: "Some of the happy clappers make a fast impression, but it
also often dies very fast. Religion must be based on something more solid
than popularity."

      He feels the new churches are focused the well to do youth, with the
poor youth being sidelined. He also disagrees with what he feels is the
fundamentalism of the Pentecostal churches. It is not just the politicians
who will have daggers drawn for the opinionated, outspoken archbishop!

      Several times, Ncube mentions the horrors allegedly committed by the
government "green bomber" youth brigades. He catalouged the rape that many
female recruits undergo in their training camps and the violence the youth
engage in on behalf of the ruling party. "Young people should be properly
educated, not mis-educated like the green bombers are," he said with

      "Not all problems can be blamed on government," he added, in response
to my question about the cause of the general breakdown in morality in what
has always been described as a deeply conservative society. "Traditional and
Christian values are gone now, there are no taboos any more. Everyone now
aims for a glorious house, a big posh car, and a cell phone acquired by any

      "Everyone wants to be marveled at. Some pastors are stinking rich from
starting churches, while their people are starving. The love for power and
status are very strong in Zimbabwe," he charged.

      "Let's learn to respect human values and to see the dignity of every
human being. Let us move towards spiritual values, the love of God, and away
from undue attachment to the three things the devil used to tempt Jesus:
pleasure, power and property," appealed Ncube. He attributed AIDS, political
violence and corruption on society's over-emphasis on these materialistic

      Never straying far from the issue of political governance, he said:
"It is very hard to heal society with a government that will lie, cheat and
shed blood to achieve its aims. They are imparting evil values to the youth
through the green bombers. You cannot have healing when there is so much
tension and depression among the people."

      He believes the state-sponsored violence is bound to stop "because it
is now eating its own children. Even the perpetrators of violence on behalf
of the government are beginning to suffer from the many and increasing ills
of the society. They are misled and brain-washed, and act as robots for
Robert Mugabe. He is a brainy manipulator who uses less intelligent people
for his own ends."

      Does he support the MDC? "As a clergyman, I am neutral, but I can not
vote for ZANU-PF when I think of the violence, starvation and general
suffering of Zimbabweans it is responsible for. ( MDC leader Morgan)
Tsvangirai may not be too effective in networking and strategising, but I
can not vote for a murderous regime like that of Mugabe."

      He blames Zimbabwe's impasse on the "over-glorification of Mugabe." He
pointed out that Zambians and Malawians told leaders who had outlived their
usefulness to go, "but the people of Zimbabwe have been unable to take a
united stance against Mugabe. We are to blame for spoiling him. We should
tell him you have done enough harm, you must go now," said the fiery bishop.

      In one corner you have the arrogant, fearsome and wicked bully Goliath
with all his stupid oppressive laws, his many brutal warriors armed to the
teeth, his lying newspapers, and his opportunistic yes-men and hangers on.
They ridicule the small, lone David in the other corner, but in their
panicky actions show themselves to be terrified of his simple weapon of
truth. Everybody knows how the story eventually ends.

      You can be sure that despite all the intimidation he faces, archbishop
Ncube will continue to have a lot to say.
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      Highfield: the past, the present and the future

      4/10/03 1:12:57 AM (GMT +2)

      NOW that the euphoria caused by the results of last month's Highfield
and Kuwadzana by-elections is dying down, it's time to take a sober look at
what the outcome means for the political terrain in Zimbabwe.

      Such an analysis is made more crucial by the upcoming April 18
celebrations, during which Zimbabwe will mark 23 years of independence from

      For the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the results
have demonstrated that the party is still much bigger than individuals.

      The results sent a warning to those MDC leaders who have allowed power
to make them big-headed and give them the illusion that they are

      The warning is quite clear: the people will show any leader the exit
sign if they forget whose interests they are there to serve.

      Munyaradzi Gwisai is a living example.

      People in the Highfield constituency do not brook any nonsense, even
ZANU PF supporters and their leaders know that very well.

      The township of Highfield has always been an icon of the liberation
politics of Zimbabwe.

      It was the citadel of African nationalist politics, the birthplace of
resistance against the Ian Smith regime.

      It is no surprise that even now, Highfield constituency is regarded as
the pulse of Zimbabwe, a barometer of the country's political activity and
balance of power. Highfield has always shown the way ahead.

      I don't think I would be wrong in saying that the political mood in
Highfield at any given time indicates to a large extent where the political
power in the country lies.

      It is important to note that ZANU, now ZANU PF, was formed on August 8
1963 in Enos Nkala's house in Highfield.

      Nkala must be reflecting on last week's election result with some
rancour, wondering how ZANU PF could be so embarrassed in its birthplace.

      Senior ZANU PF officials such as the late Joshua Nkomo, Josiah
Chinamano, Eddison Zvobgo, Nelson Mawema, Leopold Takawira and Morton
Malianga, among others, at one time owned or rented houses in Highfield
during the struggle for liberation.

      In fact, most of Zimbabwe's seasoned politicians lived in Highfield
during the struggle and it is here that they were engaged in plotting and
fighting for the end of Rhodesian repression.

      President Robert Mugabe, apart from owning a house in the
constituency, was among the first members of Parliament for the suburb and
is today still registered as a voter in Highfield.

      Twenty-three years down the line, Joseph Chinotimba, a self-styled
farm invader with obscure credentials, is a losing parliamentary candidate
for the ruling party. That is how far things have deteriorated.

      When Mugabe came back from Mozambique in 1979, he was met by thousands
of people in Highfield's Zimbabwe Grounds, in what was arguably the biggest
political gathering he has addressed during his career.

      My father, who attended the rally, told me that people were squashed
up against each other and hundreds fainted as they jostled to get a glimpse
of Mugabe, the liberator.

      People travelled from other towns overnight to come to Zimbabwe
Grounds, while others walked from nearby townships.

      People wanted to catch a glimpse of this revered son of Zimbabwe and
of Africa, who had fought and brought freedom, democracy and justice.

      Such was the determination and the positive spirit in which people
welcomed their liberators back home. 1980 became "The Year of the People's

      But 23 years down the line, Highfield has become a political no-go
area for Mugabe and his party. This has become especially apparent in the
past three years.

      It's sad. It's like Nelson Mandela and the ANC being rejected in
Soweto, that's how significant the development is.

      I can imagine the late Professor Masipula Sithole, a visionary when it
came to analysing Zimbabwe's political landscape - may his soul rest in
peace - asking me: "Masamvu, do you see what I see?"

      It remains to be seen whether ZANU PF itself is confronted with the
same vision as the rest of the nation.
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Careers in East Africa

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We have been networking in Zimbabwe through JAG in an attempt to identify farmers/farm managers/general managers who might be interested in working in Kenya with such firms. We believe the expertise and experience exists and we know that there are a number of Zimbabwean's who may be out of Africa and are interested in working in Kenya.
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      Workers set to benefit from new AIDS project

      By Zhean Gwaze
      4/10/03 2:09:55 AM (GMT +2)

      The Zimbabwe AIDS Policy and Advocacy (ZAPA) project will be launched
in Harare tomorrow and will assist local companies to finance anti-AIDS
strategies that have been hit by the country's economic crisis.

      ZAPA, which is a United States Agency for International
Development-funded initiative was formed in January and is run by local
HIV/AIDS experts, will oversee a programme that will fund Zimbabwean
stakeholders involved in the fight against the pandemic.
      The programme's senior policy specialist, Alex Zinanga, said ZAPA
would have a four-year component focused on companies in the country's
public and private sectors, in a bid to strengthen workplace anti-HIV/AIDS
      33 percent infected
      HIV/AIDS experts say of the 33 percent of Zimbabweans that are
infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, most are in the productive
age group, making it necessary for companies to urgently implement policies
to combat the pandemic.
      "An advocacy policy programme that involves the private and public
sector will be launched soon and will run for four years to strengthen
strategies that will fight the epidemic," Zinanga told the Financial
      Funds available
      He said companies interested in running anti-HIV/AIDS programmes for
their workers would be invited to apply for funds from ZAPA and submit
proposals detailing the kind of workplace initiatives they wanted to
      The funds disbursed will depend on the number of workers employed at a
particular company, he said.
      "We decided to fund companies because of the fact that some companies
are facing economic hardships and cannot implement such policies at their
workplaces," Zinanga added.
      Economic crisis
      Zimbabwean firms have been hit hard by the country's worst economic
crisis in 23 years, dramatised by high inflation, severe foreign currency
shortages, declining consumer purchasing power, company closures and rising
      Inflation, which reached 220.9 percent in the year to February, is
expected to top 500 percent before the end of 2003, while the hard cash
crisis has led to serious fuel and raw material shortages.
      Effects of inflation
      Meanwhile, declining consumer purchasing power has contributed to a
fall in domestic demand for goods and government-imposed price controls have
forced many companies to cut back on production.
      Faced with these problems, HIV/AIDS experts said most businesses had
been forced to prioritise strategies that would ensure their immediate
survival, and anti-HIV/AIDS programmes were sidelined.
      AIDS worsens crisis
      But they pointed out that while companies were busy implementing
fire-fighting measures to deal with Zimbabwe's economic meltdown, the AIDS
pandemic was taking a serious toll on their workers, in fact worsening the
impact of the crisis.
      The experts said left to deal with their health problems alone, the
productivity of workers living with HIV was affected as they were forced to
frequently take time off work because of opportunistic infections or their
work suffered because of the emotional toll of the disease.
      The impact of the workers' personal crises ultimately impacted on the
companies' bottom line, the experts added.
      Productive age dying
      "Many people who die from the pandemic are in their prime age of
productivity. As a result, the company loses on experienced labour,"
University of Zimbabwe lecturer Marvelous Mhloyi said.
      "Fellow workmates lose morale because of their companions' deaths and
the company also spends time and expenses on funerals and insurance.
Productivity is reduced on both ends and company executives should consider
this and come up with relevant strategies."
      Experts this week conceded that the private sector was showing some
appreciation of the importance of dealing with HIV/AIDS.
      Survey undertaken
      The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) has undertaken a survey
to gauge the impact of the pandemic on local business, the first of its kind
in Zimbabwe.
      CZI labour economist Marshal Padenga said the survey would, for the
first time, provide statistics indicating the prevalence of HIV in the
      Peer education
      Several companies are providing counseling services and medical aid to
those infected and are participating in peer education programmes to
increase awareness among workers in an attempt to prevent further infection.
      The amended labour legislation, the Labour Relations Amendment Act
2002, also has provisions that will enable HIV-positive workers to take
extensive time off work while receiving pay.
      But experts pointed out that business' response to the pandemic was
not coordinated, adversely affecting its impact.
      Farai Mpofu of the Zimbabwe Business Council on AIDS, formed last year
to coordinate business' response to HIV/AIDS, told the Financial Gazette:
"It's apparent that the response of business to HIV is not coordinated nor
is it monitored.
      "It currently depends on the generosity and willingness of the firm to
support employees infected with HIV."
      Response reactive rather than proactive
      Zinanga added: "Business should be proactive to the disease rather
than being reactive because the epidemic is affecting their enterprises as
the country continues to lose daily the productive age group."
      HIV/AIDS experts say companies should not react to cases presented by
individual workers but come up with comprehensive measures that attempt to
prevent HIV infection and minimise the impact of the disease on those
already infected and on their own operations.
      They say firms should introduce workplace programmes that attempt to
prevent HIV infection, including workshops and peer education for workers.
      Anti-retrovirals recommended
      Urging workers to be tested would also minimise the impact of the
disease by ensuring that employees take better care of themselves and even
try to secure anti-retrovirals to inhibit the replication of the virus.
      Experts have also urged firms to establish workplace clinics that
would provide counselling and manage opportunistic infections and provide
drugs to minimise the impact on productivity.
      Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general Wellington
Chibhebhe said companies should also consider medical allowances for
HIV-positive workers, especially those in the low-income bracket.
      He said: "Workers are the creators and machine of the world and
business should make an effort to help them. We believe government must come
up with medical allowances, especially for the lowly paid, and it should be
tax free."
      Costly measures
      Analysts said the failure to take proactive measures now would be
costly for local companies, affecting output, profit margins and the cost of
      According to Zimbabwean researchers, the failure to initiate
comprehensive HIV/AIDS policy could result in the cost of labour to
companies rising by four to eight percent by 2010 to more than US$200 per
worker annually because of lost work time and benefits.
      Adopt defence
      Zinanga said: "Anyone who invests in business should assess the
environment and that includes focusing on what HIV/AIDS is bound to do to
their business and adopting defensive measures."
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