The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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Zim Independent

Chefs circumvent govt's one-man one-farm policy
Blessing Zulu

THE government's opaque approach to land reform has enabled prominent
figures to circumvent its one-man one-farm policy by using their companies
to acquire farms, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.

But new policy guidelines would appear to disallow acquisitions by
businessmen Mutumwa Mawere and Ibbo Mandaza who are accused of multiple-farm
ownership. The two have, however, denied breaching government policy saying
their holding companies bought the farms.

Confidential minutes of the government's land audit committee show how
commercial farmers and individuals with links to the ruling party formed
holding companies to evade the one-man one-farm policy.

"Consequently, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement had
issued a circular in terms of which rural agricultural land ownership by
companies would be disallowed," the minutes from December last year said.

The circular is titled "Land reform policy pronouncements" and dated October
29 last year.

Minister of State Flora Buka's interim audit report mentioned Mandaza and
Mawere as having several farms each. The two have said their farms are
company ventures.

Mandaza is embroiled in an acrimonious land ownership row with close to 95
new settlers and Charles William Hammer-Nel over five farms in the Bubi
District of Matabeleland North. Hammer-Nel has filed papers in the High
Court claiming that he still owns the land in question as Mandaza only
bought one property, Robert Block 19. Mandaza has taken settlers on the
property to court in a bid to evict them. The settlers have filed opposing

In his affidavit, Mandaza claims to have been issued with a certificate of
"no present interest" by the government in November 2000, which rules the
farms out from compulsory acquisition.

Contacted for comment, Mandaza referred all questions to his lawyer,
Johannes Tomana.

Tomana said he was not aware of the circular that disallowed land ownership
by companies.

"I am not aware of that position," said Tomana. He accused politicians in
Matabeleland North of having a hidden agenda and settling "so-called
landless" people on the farms.

The confidential minutes also questioned the conduct of the Ministry of
Agriculture, which issued certificates of no present interest in clear
violation of agreed policies.

"In blatant disregard of established procedures and operational structures,
some prominent persons were seizing farms and even going to the extent of
evicting those resettled by the government," the minutes said.

"Some indigenous farmers, with the apparent connivance of the Ministry of
Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, now owned multiple properties,"
the minutes said.

Mawere refused to comment on whether the farms acquired by FSI Agricom had
been bought with the blessing of the government.

"You can ask that question to those who sold the farms to FSI Agricom,"
Mawere said.

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Zim Independent

Harare's garbage heaps here to stay
Augustine Mukaro

REFUSE collection problems in Harare are set to worsen as new contractors
have failed to secure equipment to start collecting garbage at the beginning
of next month, the Zimbabwe Independent gathered this week.

Documents show that new contractors have mooted plans to sub-contract to
established refuse collection companies.

The established companies had their areas of collection slashed under the
new contracts thereby rendering some of their equipment redundant.
Contractors who lost their areas of operation were given a further 90 days
to continue work while the new players procured equipment. The old players
immediately pulled out completely last month resulting in bins not being
emptied for the past six weeks.

Davexcorp, one of the new contractors, has proposed to offer old contractor
Encore Consolidated over 55% of receipts from council for bins collected on
their behalf.

Davexcorp operations director Cuthbert Jura confirmed that they were trying
to subcontract to other contractors to meet a May 1 deadline.

"We are in the process of shipping our trucks from the United Kingdom," Jura
said. "They could be in the country within the next two months but to comply
with the deadline we have been negotiating with established contractors to
hire their trucks.

"We have made a lot of progress in the discussions and what is left is
agreeing on the figures," he said.

Management at Encore Consolidated, however, said it would not be viable to
for them to be sub-contracted by a contractor.

"Money offered by city council is already below market value and to have it
divided would spell business doom," an official said.

Harare mayor Engineer Elias Mudzuri, who expressed ignorance of these
developments despite the evidence piling up around the city, said the
contract clearly forbids contractors to subcontract.

"There is no way we can accept that they subcontract," Mudzuri said.

"It will be unfortunate if they fail to procure equipment. We are just
waiting for the deadline and if they fail to deliver we will charge them and
cancel the contract," he said.

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Zim Independent

CFU demands written govt undertaking
Augustine Mukaro

THE Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) has asked government for a document
clearly setting out its agenda on land reform before further dialogue can

In a letter addressed to Lands and Agriculture minister Joseph Made, dated
January 31, CFU president Colin Cloete said government should clarify its
position in regard to the Land Acquisition Act and implementation of the
land reform programme on the ground.

Cloete said government had not delisted farms falling under plantations
producing tea, coffee, timber, sugar-cane, citrus fruit and those with
Export Processing Zone status. Agro-industrial properties involved in the
integrated production of poultry, beef and dairy products, and seeds are
still listed.

Cloete said farms belonging to church organisations and foreign nationals,
protected under bilateral investment protection agreements, had also been

"I understand that many farms in the above categories have applied for
de-listing," Cloete said.

"I would request a definitive position, preferably with a time scale so that
property owners may understand and make business decisions about their
future," he said.

Cloete said an amendment to the Land Acquisition Act provides for the
acquisition of land by consent. Landowners can offer land in substitution
for a farm or a farm gazetted for compulsory acquisition. The responsibility
rests with the landowners to present their offers of land to the relevant
provincial land identification committee.

"At our recent meeting, minister, you confirmed your position that the Land
Acquisition forms were of no use to landowners and they have to go through
you personally to seek consideration and determination of their individual

"We have many farmers in such a position, perhaps a thousand or more. I
would request understanding and commitment of how this issue may be
resolved," he said.

Cloete said the one-man one-farm policy which has been widely publicised by
President Mugabe, had been ignored.

"Whilst you are the official acquiring authority for land reform, I believe
that many of your provincial land identification committees have not taken
into consideration this aspect when identifying and recommending land

"The fair and equitable enforcement of this policy will be crucial in
defining the position for many and may well be the catalyst in making excess
equipment available to the new farmers, enable skills transfer as well as
engender and nurture co-existence, thereby increasing production," Cloete

He said the perceived lack of production following the land reform programme
showed that there was greater interest by prospective settlers in acquiring
accommodation than crop production. He said high costs and unavailability of
vital inputs such as equipment, fuel, fertiliser, pesticides, and the
absence of financial assistance to farmers should be addressed urgently.

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Zim Independent

MDC threatens to boycott Sadc team
Dumisani Muleya

THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) yesterday threatened to
boycott the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) taskforce's
fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe if government officials are included in the

The taskforce is expected to visit the country to tackle the current
political and economic crisis.

The team, which comprises South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique, was formed
during the August 2001 Sadc summit in Blantyre, Malawi. It was mandated "to
work with the government of Zimbabwe on the economic and political issues
affecting the country".

MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube said his party would not participate in
the Sadc mission if Harare was involved because the whole thing would be "an
exercise in futility".

"The MDC is disturbed by reports coming from the media and other sources in
the diplomatic community suggesting the Sadc taskforce coming to Zimbabwe
will include as part of the team members of the (Zimbabwe) government,"
Ncube said.

"If these reports are true that would seriously compromise the search for
the truth about what is happening in Zimbabwe and the path towards the
resolution of the problem. As MDC we state that we would reconsider our
decision to cooperate with the taskforce."

Foreign Affairs minister Stan Mudenge has claimed the team would be coming
to Zimbabwe at his behest.

This has engendered fears government would set the agenda for the taskforce
by determining its terms of reference, itinerary, and who to consult.

It has also fuelled growing apprehension that Sadc would buy the official
public relations package aimed at repairing Zimbabwe's battered image and
giving an impression of reform.

The "PR puff" includes the ostensibly stage-managed arrests of "rogue
soldiers" accused of fanning political violence and claims of democratic
reforms, which include promises of legislative amendments and cleaning up
the chaotic land reform programme.

The Crisis in Zimbabwe coalition, which comprises a number of civic groups,
said the taskforce should avoid being hoodwinked by government propaganda.

"We urge South Africa and others in the region to look beyond the ruling
party propaganda," the group said.

"Human rights and good governance are not 'distractions', they are essential
to concerns of all serious Zimbabweans."

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Zim Independent

Govt out to crush MDC leadership - Ncube
Loughty Dube

THE opposition Mo-vement for Democratic Change (MDC) says there is a
strategy by government and the police to disable the party through the
systematic arrest of its leadership ahead of a planned civil disobedience

The claims by the MDC came after the arrest of the party's spokesman, Paul
Themba Nyathi, on Monday on allegations of inciting people to participate in
mass action to topple the government.

Themba Nyathi, who was released yesterday, joined over 500 of his party's
supporters, including its vice-president Gibson Sibanda, who have been
arrested for allegedly taking part in a two-day mass stayaway organised by
the opposition last month.

In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent this week, MDC
secretary-general Welshman Ncube said his party was aware of a strategy by
government and the police to crush the party.

"The arrests of the MDC leadership is nothing new but a perpetuation of Zanu
PF's harassment and intimidation of a legal opposition party with the help
of an unprofessional police force," he said.

Ncube said all MDC members of parliament and the party's national executive
were facing one charge or another in the courts. he said almost all MDC
national executive members, except for two or three, had been arrested once
or twice in the last two years.

"This is Zanu PF's strategy to instill fear in the MDC national executive
and to stop members from co-ordinating the activities of the party," said

"Part of the strategy is to have the MDC leadership spend a lot of money in
legal fees and a lot of time in the courts and in the process hope that this
will stop the members from co-ordinating and strengthening party

MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai, Ncube and MP Renson Gasela are in the
middle of a treason trial in which they are accused of plotting to
"eliminate" Mugabe.

MPs David Coltart, Abednico Bhebhe, Thokozani Khuphe, Roy Bennett, Fletcher
Dulini-Ncube and Job Sikhala are some of the MDC legislators facing a
variety of charges.

None of the MDC leaders has so far been convicted of the crimes they are
alleged to have committed.

The MDC last month issued an ultimatum to President Mugabe to restore the
rule of law and release political prisoners or face mass action, including a
march on his official residence.

Ncube said the government's other strategy was to confiscate passports from
those doing diplomatic work for the party in a bid to conceal what is
happening in the country.

He said this was a clear case of the abuse of the law by the police and the
ruling Zanu PF and said those perpetrating these acts would be forced to
account for their actions in future.

"The police are harassing our members without any shame to please their
political masters. But we say there shall come a time when we will have to
deal with cases of unprofessional police behaviour once Zanu PF is gone,"
Ncube said.

Meanwhile, police on Wednesday defied a High Court order compelling them to
produce Nyathi in court.

High Court judge Maphios Cheda yesterday ordered the police to release
Nyathi after they failed to show cause why he was still detained.

On Wednesday police ignored a ruling by Justice Cheda to bring Nyathi to
court. The Independent understands police officers yesterday morning chased
away a deputy sheriff who had gone to serve them with Wednesday's court
order. When Nyathi's lawyers took the order to Bulawayo central police
station, police whisked Nyathi away to an unknown destination.

Nyathi's lawyer, Nicholas Mathonsi, made another High Court application at
11am yesterday and Justice Cheda ruled that Nyathi should be released after
police failed to produce a new warrant they said they had.

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Zim Independent

Sadc taskforce faces tough credibility test
Dumisani Muleya

AS the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) attempts to come to
grips with the seemingly intractable Zimbabwe crisis, the Sadc Treaty could
provide important guidelines on how to proceed, analysts said this week.

The committee of ministers of the Sadc organ on politics, defence and
security met in Harare last week and agreed to send a standing taskforce to
Zimbabwe to tackle the current political and economic problems. It was due
to arrive this week but ministers postponed the visit to consult among
themselves first.

Countries that comprise the taskforce, which was formed during the Sadc
summit in Malawi in August 2001, include South Africa, Botswana and

While South Africa and Mozambique have ducked the issues to avoid
confrontation with Harare, Botswana has been calling a spade a spade.

When the taskforce was established its mandate was "to work with the
government of Zimbabwe on the economic and political issues affecting

The decision to dispatch the group to the country followed an upsurge in
political violence and repression. Events related to the recent stayaway and
by-elections led to the dramatic rise of largely state-sponsored terror and
ironfisted suppression of dissent.

Analysts say the taskforce could provide useful guidlines to the Zimbabwe
crisis only if it adhered to the principles of the Sadc Treaty.

University of Zimbabwe (UZ) political analyst Brian Raftopoulos said the
Sadc Treaty provides a good framework of operation for the Sadc team.

"The Sadc Treaty provides sufficient guidelines for the taskforce on how to
proceed with its work," Raftopoulos said. "The Harare Commonwealth
Declaration could also be useful in this regard. But we need a clarification
of the taskforce's mandate and its terms of reference."

The Sadc Treaty is a legally binding and all-encompassing framework through
which Sadc countries are expected to coordinate their policies and
strategies for sustainable development.

Like the Harare Declaration, the Sadc Treaty commits member states to
fundamental principles of "human rights, democracy and the rule of law" as
well as "sovereign equality, solidarity, and peace and security".

Sadc member states are expected to demonstrate their commitment to act in
accordance with the principles of the treaty, failure to do which they risk

Sanctions may be imposed against member countries that "persistently fail,
without good reasons, to fulfil obligations assumed under the treaty" or
that "implement policies which undermine the principles and objectives of

Sadc can also impose a ban on deviant club members. Zimbabwe is currently on
suspension from the Commonwealth for blatant vote-rigging during last year's
presidential election.

Sadc measures are determined by the supreme decision-making Sadc summit on a
case-by-case basis, while the Commonwealth sanctions are imposed through
consensus by the club.

Analysts say the Sadc taskforce is unlikely to confront the Zimbabwe crisis
given its revolutionary solidarity syllogism and persistent attempts to
circumvent the local emergency.

"Given the record of Sadc over Zimbabwe, especially in the past three years,
it is unlikely that the taskforce will be effective," Raftopoulos said.
"However, we are hoping they will consult thoroughly and widely."

The taskforce will meet a wide cross-section of Zimbabwean society ranging
from government, civic group to opposition parties.

UZ analyst and lawyer Lovemore Madhuku said the taskforce's visit could be

"It could be effective in the sense that it would maintain concentration on
what is happening on the ground," he said.

"Right now nothing is happening in terms of dealing with the crisis, yet
there is mounting evidence that the situation is getting worse."

Director of the Centre for Policy Studies at Witwatersrand University in
South Africa, Chris Landsberg, said the group would be hamstrung by
confusion surrounding the crisis.

"I have a number of concerns about this taskforce," Landsberg said.

"There is a great deal of confusion over it because it is not even clear who
assigned it to deal with the Zimbabwe crisis.

"(Foreign Affairs minister Stan) Mudenge says it was his initiative but the
Sadc ministers seem to be claiming the same," he said.

As a matter of fact, the taskforce was formed by the summit of heads of
state in Blantyre on August 14 2001 to deal with the local crisis after the
Sadc leaders expressed "concern at the effects of the Zimbabwe economic
situation on the region".

Landsberg said like South African authorities, Sadc continued to battle to
stress social justice dimensions of the Zimbabwe crisis - land
dispossession, repossession and distribution - and avoid the political
situation, which is the epicentre of the national predicament.

"I am also extremely concerned by Sadc's inability to deal with the Zimbabwe
political situation boldly. There is not enough straight talk on that,"
Landsberg said.

"All they are trying to do is to divert attention from the real issue - the
political problems. Although the economy and land are also important, it is
clear Zimba-bwe's crisis mainly stems from politics."

While the chair of last week's ministerial meeting, Mozambican Foreign
minister Leonardo Simao, resisted Mudenge's blandishments to whitewash the
crisis, Sadc ministers appeared willing to purchase Harare's public
relations puff package wholesale.

The ministers accepted the propaganda that the fast-track land resettlement
had been completed, that government was talking with displaced white farmers
to resolve the land conflict, that the Citizenship Act had been amended to
accommodate immigrants from the region, and that the Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act was being amended.

As a result their communiqué claimed that "those opposed to Zimbabwe have
tried to shift the agenda from the core issue of land by selective diversion
of atten-tion on governance and human rights".

President Robert Mugabe has in the past argued that democracy, human rights,
accountability and good governance are "peripheral issues" in the current
crisis. Sadc has been parroting this.

But analysts say government is only prepared to amend the press law to
safeguard it from a Supreme Court constitutional challenge by journalists
and dismemberment by the courts.

They say Harare is also willing to amend the Citizenship Act because it has
already served its purpose of disenfranchising voters of foreign descent
during last year's presidential poll.

The dialogue with farmers, analysts point out, was designed to give the
impression to outsiders that there are internal efforts to resolve the

However, Sadc seems determined to whitewash or sanitise Zimbabwe's problems
through plugging solidarity.

Analysts say Sadc would not easily abandon its posture because of the way it

Sadc, formerly known as the Southern African Development Coordination
Conference, has its roots in the former Frontline States whose common
purpose was to fight colonialism and apartheid South Africa.

It has always been rooted in a revolutionary solidarity ethos and not
specifically issues of democracy, good governance, and human rights, which
were only formally adopted in 1992 when Sadc changed its name.

South Africa's acting Democratic Alliance leader Joe Seremane said it was
unlikely the Sadc team would be forthright in its approach to local

"One cannot help but conclude that the quick visit to Harare at the
invitation of Mudenge is more of a PR exercise than a genuine attempt to
establish the truth about human rights abuses," he said.

Seremane said the group should include independent experts on human rights,
constitutional law as well as agriculture.

"The members of the task group should be provided with a copy of the
Commonwealth report on Zimbabwe," he said. DA leader Tony Leon last week
said after meeting Commonwealth secretary-general Don McKinnon in London
that the report painted a grim picture of the situation in Zimbabwe.

But whatever the Sadc taskforce says, the Zimbabwe crisis has reached a
stage where it is no longer possible to whitewash it, let alone ignore.
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Zim Independent


Commonwealth report a timely reality check

THE report of Commonwealth secretary-general Don McKinnon on Zimbabwe,
published in this newspaper today, is a severe indictment of what is now
widely regarded as a rogue regime and provides a powerful rebuttal of claims
made by the leaders of Nigeria and South Africa that there has been a change
for the better in this country.

In fact, it points out, things have got worse. It is little wonder that
President Thabo Mbeki was reluctant to see the report released. It still
officially remains under wraps.

The report says Zimbabwe has undergone a significant deterioration in all
aspects of its life. The harassment of opposition and civil society leaders
continues unabated; the press and judiciary continue to be harassed;
legislation prejudicial to freedom of expression and association remains on
the statute book; and land acquisition is chaotic.

"Reports have continued of a widespread and systematic campaign of violence
and intimidation by agents of the state and supporters of Zanu PF against
leading members and activists of the MDC," the report says. "While there
have also been cases of violence and intimidation by MDC activists and
supporters against Zanu PF, these are not believed to be either systematic
or widespread."

McKinnon asked to come to Zimbabwe to speak to President Mugabe about the
Commonwealth's concerns raised at the Marlborough House troika meeting in
March 2002. These included electoral issues andgovernance. But the
authoritiesin Harare remained obdura-te, refusing to meet the
secre-tary-general, and then complained that they had not been consulted.
Even the intervention of President Sam Nujoma failed to move them, it is

"All efforts by the secretary-general, direct and indirect, to engage in
dialogue with President Mugabe have been rebuffed," the report says.

The report refers to selective enforcement of the law and pressure on
judges, especially those thought to be unsympathetic to government. No
independent electoral commission has been set up since the 2002 poll
des-pite recommendations from the Commonwealth to do so, it says.

There has been no positive response on the Commonwealth's call for national
dialogue, electoral reform and sustainable land reform, it points out.

On land, the report is clear in its support for a transparent, equitable and
sustainable redistribution programme. But it endorses the findings of the
UNDP that fast track is "chaotic" and "the cause of much political, economic
and social instability".

The report notes the disproportionate number of the best farms being
allocated to leading members of the ruling elite and blames land seizures
for the famine gripping the country.

The contents of the report have been presented to and agreed with the
majority of Commonwealth leaders. There is no disputing the facts on the
ground. But a number of regional states have allowed themselves to be
confused by the issues at stake.

As the Crisis in Zimbabwe coalition, which met officials of the Commonwealth
Secretariat in London yesterday, points out, the government has managed to
generate a highly politicised debate around the land question. But this
debate it says "obfuscates legitimate concerns surrounding violence and
human rights abuses, and distracts attention of the international community,
and Southern Africa in particular, from the poor governance record of Zanu

Human rights and good governance are not distractions, Crisis in Zimbabwe
argues. They are essential to the concerns of all Zimbabweans.

That the governments of Za-mbia, Angola, Namibia and Malawi persist with
their solidarity politics in the face of evidence of growing constitutional
violations, human rights abuses and food shortages, should serve as a
warning bell to those who would continue to indulge them. G8 leaders meeting
in Evian, France, in June should be in no doubt as to Nepad's failure to
fulfil its appointed role as a governance watchdog.

While we are hoping to see some recognition of the extent of the crisis by
the Sadc taskforce due to come here shortly, we note the Zimbabwe government
's attempts to police the taskforce's investigation and provide its
conclusions. Going on precedent, Sadc ministers will probably allow
themselves to be hijacked in this way.

The Commonwealth's re-port nevertheless represents a useful statement of
Zimbabwe's condition in the opening months of the year. The original version
was harsher in its criticism, we understand, but has been toned down to firm
up the diplomatic consensus around it.

Whatever the case, it has certainly deprived President Mugabe's allies of
any moral high ground they may have attempted to assume and effectively
silenced them. Far from dividing the Commonwealth it appears - for now at
least - to have afforded a consensus: Zimbabwe is beyond the pale. And -
despite Sadc's efforts to indulge the tyrant in its midst - international
support for his regime is rapidly shrinking.
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Zim Independent

Eric Bloch Column

Zimbabwe Ltd - Rest in Peace

IT is with deep regret and a sense of overwhelming loss that the death of
the Zimbabwean economy is announced. After a prolonged illness characterised
by great hardships and distress, the economy has lost its bravely fought war
against its debilitating ailments and to all intents and purposes is
deceased, deeply missed and not forgotten, living on only in memory.

Mourning Zimbabweans should gather at the economy's funeral in their
millions to show their respect and to comfort each other for the devastating
loss sustained by all. However, the authorities regret to advise that buses
will not be departing from the usual pick up points, none being available as
they are all parked idly in never-ending petrol and diesel queues and will
inevitably be remaining there long after the end of the economy's funeral
for, with its demise, the near total non-availability of fuel must become

The authorities further deeply regret that no food will be served at the
funeral for, although tradition and culture dictate the provision of food to
the mourners, none is available. Every endeavour to obtain adequate supplies
of maize meal, bread, beef and poultry has been fruitless, for the lack
thereof nation-wide is of a magnitude so great that nothing the authorities
can do can make the needed supplies available to sustain the mourners.

However, despite transport and food not being provided due to the
constrained, self-made circumstances confronting the authorities, it is
taken for granted that almost all Zimbabweans will wish to pay homage to the
economy that had been progressively gaining strength and substance until
late 1997 when it suffered a disastrous relapse triggered by ill-advised
prescriptions of new economic medications given by the authorities in
disregard for contrary advice from a wide array of specialists, and
persisted with notwithstanding pronounced contra-indications and without
consideration for the intensifying frailty of the patient.

Zimbabweans will wish to seek the comfort that can be gained by collective
mourning which accentuates the unified sense of loss. In doing so, they will
be able to hear the many deserved eulogies that will be delivered. Many they
will be, for it is fitting that those who have been the principal
contributors to the annihilation of that which could not only have grown
from strength to strength, but which could also have enjoyed great longevity
and the source of continuing support and sustenance to its millions of
dependants, should show at least nominal remorse by eulogising that which
they helped to destroy.

The first eulogy will be delivered by the executive chairman of the Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa), for it was Zesa that unilaterally
decided that the economy's life support systems should be disconnected. Its
justification for so doing was that it had no way of keeping those systems
functional unless it extracted the blood from its patient's arteries and
veins to such an extent that not a drop would remain. With that
justification it claimed that it could not survive if it did not receive all
the patient's blood, and that its survival need was greater than that of its
patient. In fairness, it must be acknowledged that before withdrawing the
life support systems, Zesa warned the patient that it would do so, unless
the patient was willing to place Zesa's survival as being of greater import
than its own, and that therefore it would willingly yield its blood.

On March 23, after several weeks of making dire threats and warnings to
sever vital limbs of the economy (being those engaged in life-sustaining
exports), Zesa advised the economy that unless those limbs gave forth their
very lifeblood by 3pm on March 31, they would be amputated. Then, suddenly,
there was "a stay of execution", but it was shortlived, with the threatened
amputation being re-scheduled for April 4. The protestations of the limbs
that they would wither and die if they had to apply their foreign exchange
earnings (which was their lifeblood upon which their nourishment and
wellbeing relied) to meeting the demands of Zesa were ignored. Not only did
Zesa want their blood, but it wanted all of it, for it was not prepared to
accept transfusions at a rate of 55 corpuscles for each "capillary", but
that a rate of exchange of 1 350 corpuscles be applied. That this would
yield Zesa nearly 25 times greater supplies than forthcoming from previous
transfusions was irrelevant, as was the fact that transfusions at such a
rate meant certain emaciation of the limbs and of the body to which they
were attached.

One such limb was mining which, at current exchange rates, earns more than
$78 billion per year for the benefit of the economy. Another was
manufacturing industry and yet another was agriculture, each earning
similarly great amounts. But if mining, industry and agriculture must give
to Zesa that which Zesa demands, they cannot survive, and if they do not
survive, the economy as a whole (including Zesa itself) must die. It is not
surprising therefore that mines and industries have said to Zesa: "Do not
worry about switching off our life-support systems, for if you do so we will
suffer a slow, lingering, painful death. We will switch them off ourselves
if your unrealistic, unreasonable and unsustainable demands remain
dogmatically in place, for then at least our death will be speedy and
painless, although it will bring about that of the economy as a whole."

The second eulogy will be delivered by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture
and Rural Resettlement, for even before Zesa sought in recent weeks to
hasten the collapse - to the point of death - of agriculture, amongst
others, the minister had brought agriculture close to death's door. He
vigorously pursued a programme, with the fanaticism of an addict, to remodel
agriculture. He removed good, healthy organs, and replaced them with others
devoid of functional strength and incapable of bodily support. The
transplants were, in the main, catatonic, rendering most of agriculture
moribund and unproductive, which repercussed negatively upon the health of
the economy which relied heavily upon its agricultural limb to keep it
up-standing and strong.

His right to deliver the second eulogy is reinforced by his recent
catastrophic prescriptions to medicate against Zimbabwean nourishment
deficiency. In an awareness that would even be in the ambit of the blind, he
recognised that some of the worsening debilitation of those dependant upon
the economy is a pronounced insufficiency of maize and wheat. To remedy
that, he has raised the prices payable to producers of these essential
health commodities from $28 000 per tonne of maize to $130 000, and from $70
000 per tonne of wheat to $150 000. But in doing so he failed to recognise
that although the new prices are significantly more realistic than the
previous prices, the higher price for maize is too late to incentivise
increased planting in the current season, and will be too little for the
next season. In theory, the improved price may encourage some communal
farmers to sell their maize production, instead of keeping it for own
consumption, but most will not as they will be sceptical (in view of past
experiences with the Grain Marketing Board) as to whether or when they will
receive payment.

Even worse is that because of the political need to appear to be caring for
the oppressed consumer, the minister has left the sale prices payable to the
Grain Marketing Board completely unchanged at $9 600 per tonne for maize and
$29 500 per tonne for wheat. As it is already in a most constrained
financial circumstance, the Grain Marketing Board will be unable to survive
gross losses, before overheads and financing costs of $120 400 per tonne of
maize, and $120 500 per tonne for wheat. It will have to borrow heavily, and
those borrowings will have to be supported by the government and the Reserve
Bank, neither of which will be able to do so without printing of money and
massively increased money supply.

Others who will give eulogies will include the Minister of Justice, the
Minister of Home Affairs, and the officers commanding the police and armed
forces, for their failure to enforce law and order, and their contributions
to the breakdown in law and order, have caused such disruption to the normal
bodily functions of the economy as to hasten its death.

The final eulogy will be by one who will not praise the deceased economy,
who will not speak well of it, but who being used to politicising funerals
will instead address the causes of the economy's demise, attributing them
all to Tony Blair, aided and abetted by Jack Straw. But he will surely
express the heartfelt wish that the economy having died, it rest in peace
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Zim Independent


Shifting sands around Munhumutapa Building

WE note the MDC statement last weekend suggesting that Sadc communiqués are
being drafted at Munhumutapa Building by the usual suspects. This is
something we have assumed for some time. The claim for instance that last
week's meeting of Sadc ministers "took note that those opposed to Zimbabwe
have shifted the agenda from the core issues of land by selective diversion
of attention to governance and human rights" bears a suspicious resemblance
to the opening lines of an interview Munyaradzi Huni conducted with Jonathan
Moyo last Sunday.

Huni, who appears to be embedded with Moyo somewhere in the desert around
Samora Machel Ave, asked: "Minister, there is this new shift by the UK from
the land question to the issues of human rights and good governance. What do
you think the UK wants to achieve by this shift?"

This gave Moyo the opening he needed to rant about the British making "false
claims" that the problem in Zimbabwe was "torture, rape and murder" - which
of course is exactly what it is.

The charge that the British and others have "shifted" attention from land to
human rights and governance issues could only be made by somebody who has
been living on another planet for the last three years. Just about every
statement made since 2000 by the UK, the US and EU has referred to
governance, human rights and the rule of law. The Abuja Agreement of
September 2001 refers to all these things. Why is Moyo pretending there has
been a "shift" when the record speaks for itself?

The answer is obvious: with the land acquisition programme ostensibly over,
the authorities have no excuse for on-going violence. So they are pretending
it's not happening, or that it's the fault of the MDC. Now they have
invented an army of deserters who were hidden in their midst for the past
three weeks!

We are used to this dissembling. But what do Sadc ministers think they are
doing swallowing Department of Information statements whole without the
slightest effort to conceal the authorship?

The MDC statement last Saturday also raised questions about the provenance
of Olusegun Obasanjo's letter to John Howard. Muckraker understands that
when it first appeared in the Herald, Nigerian High Commission officials
couldn't believe it was authentic because it was so different from Obasanjo'
s usual style. Furthermore, none of them had been consulted about the letter
's contents.

However, enquiries to Abuja confirmed that it had in fact been issued by the
Office of the Nigerian president, even if it didn't originate there!

This only serves to underline the importance of Nigerian, South African and
Sadc mediators finding their own voice. By repeating what they are told by
Zimbabwean ministers they are undermining the credibility of their mediation
efforts and contributing to an already pervasive impression that they are no
different from Zanu PF.

And Sadc needs reminding of this salient point from the MDC statement when
it next tries to rope in the EU: "The crisis in Zimbabwe is not between the
EU and the government of Zimbabwe, it is between the people of Zimbabwe who
desire freedom and Mugabe's illegitimate regime that wears dictatorship as
if it was a badge of honour."

We were pleased however to read last Sunday a report by the Sunday Mail's
embedded political editor setting out government's response to a letter from
the CFU. This will help clarify things enormously for visiting Sadc

The CFU had pointed out that with the proclaimed end of fast track there was
no need for a continuation of Section 5 listings, Section 8 notices and
aggressive evictions. It said commercial farmers were still being forced off
their land under duress by lawless elements with total disregard for the
legal process and potential damage to agriculture.

Pleas to the police for assistance had fallen on deaf years.

"This causes our members to severely criticise our decision to participate
in a dialogue with authorities that, by their inaction, appear to condone
this lawlessness," the CFU said. It referred to the selective application of
the law.

The letter was written to Joseph Made. But his role seems to have been
usurped by Jonathan Moyo, who replied that it was totally unacceptable for
the CFU to talk about the rule of law.

"We have heard reports that they were part of the brains behind the violence
and thuggery mischievously presented as mass action," Moyo claimed.

As nobody else has heard such reports, his interviewer should have asked him
where they were manufactured. Was it in his office? But what appears to have
stung Moyo most was the CFU's point that the claim he and Made made in their
memorandum of understanding that "11 million hectares of land now stands
acquired (and) will not revert to any previous status" fails to acknowledge
that "finality in the acquisition process can only be reached in the
Administrative Court and that a great deal of litigation remains

In other words Moyo and Made were seeking to preempt legal outcomes. As the
CFU pointed out, it could not be a party to a statement which appears to
have the intention of denying farmers their constitutional right to appeal
to the court. Furthermore, government's apparent intention to render every
farmer a tenant on state land should be exposed, the CFU said.

"If it is government's intention to implement this retrogressive policy,
that should be made widely known to all affected parties," it said.

Moyo spluttered on about "British-sponsored lawless elements" jeopardising
crop production. They would be dealt with by "the full wrath of the law", he
said, apparently mixing up force and wrath. The CFU had been "overtaken by
events on the ground", he declared.

Moyo's vituperation suggests the CFU have scored a significant hit. Firstly,
it is inconsistent to talk, as the minister does, about government adhering
to the rule of law and then suggesting in the same breath that the legal
process had been overtaken by events on the ground.

The CFU's point about nationalisation is also significant. Here is a scheme
ostensibly designed to hand land to the people which in fact hands it to the
state. Yet the government is shy for obvious reasons about admitting this
aspect of its programme. Finally, Moyo is mad with the CFU because it has
made it impossible for him to claim to Sadc ministers that there is a
dialogue over land. This was a keystone in Mbeki and Obasanjo's diplomacy to
take the heat off Harare. And now it's been blown out of the water because
of ministerial insincerity. Another Zanu PF own goal!

Meanwhile, as fighting centred on the Ministry of Information this week, the
world keenly awaited the capture of the country's garrulous, bombastic, and
entirely delusional Minister of Information. We are talking of course about
Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf who couldn't keep his mouth shut, boasting of how
the Americans would be "buried in Baghdad" while his regime was being buried
just a few blocks away! Only he refused to believe it.

Zimbabweans will be following with interest the round-up of Ba'athist party
bosses and in particular the more voluble spokesmen of the regime who have
remained loyal to a bloodthirsty tyrant while the country crumbles around
them. It's only a matter of time now.

A number of Nigerian money-scam letters have arrived in Muckraker's e-mail
box recently. One is from somebody claiming to be Tutuma Welemoh, "the son
of Mr Welemoh Nguta who was assassinated on the 15th of September 2002 by
sponsored assassins by the government of my country, Zimbabwe, because of
his vehement opposition and criticism of the land reform in my country".

Shortly before his assassination, we are told, Welemoh Nguta had plans to
establish a mini-fertiliser company but the dream was thwarted by his death.

"My mother and I made our way out of the country when it became obvious that
Mugabe was hell bent on extinguishing my family," the writer claims. "We are
however seeking  asylum in the Netherlands where my father deposited our
life savings of US$6,5 million with a security company.

"Being the only son of my family, I am under pressure by my mother to seek a
partner who will assist us to get these funds released from the security

This looks to us like a load of fertiliser, none of it "mini". But what is
interesting is the way these Nigerian criminals note a country's
difficulties and then use them to spin their yarn. It used to be the Congo
and Sierra Leone. Now it is Zimbabwe. What does that tell us?

The Sunday Mirror had some interesting "facts" on its front page this week.
In a story claiming Zimbabweans in the British forces were taking
"battlefront" positions in Iraq, it said: "Around 1939 the British set up
the then Royal Rhodesian Airforce and used it for training purposes.Up to
1965 the Rhodesian army was only an extension of the British Royal Army".

Has anybody except the author of this nonsense heard of something called the
British Royal Army? And would he care to check his other "facts" quoted
above? Perhaps his editor, who was until recently an airforce officer, might
be able to advise.

Thabo Mbeki's brother Moeletsi, who once served with the Herald, has in
recent years become a stern critic of South Africa's policy on Zimbabwe. And
his experience in this country has evidently alerted him to future dangers
south of the Limpopo.

He recently warned of the hazards of black empowerment policies that empower
only a well-connected elite. He told the Sunday Times last weekend that all
major empowerment transactions in recent years have involved the transfer of
marginal assets to politically-connected individuals. The main problem with
this approach, he believes, is that it does not encourage entrepreneurship
but promotes a class of business people who live off pre-existing
enterprises that they did not help create.

"What we need are entrepreneurs," Mbeki said, "people who start new
businesses, take risks and create new jobs. Under black economic
empowerment, people take no risks. It encourages people to live off the fat
of the land."

Except in our case, we would add, the land no longer has any fat. The
locusts have consumed it.

In this connection we liked the picture in the Herald last week of
Mashonaland West governor Peter Chanetsa showing a group of visiting Sadc
ministers a soyabean crop belonging to a resettled farmer. Is this the same
Peter Chanetsa cited in the Buka Report as owning four farms - and his wife
another? And did he explain to the visiting party how chefs like him did so
well from the A2 scheme?

We also liked the bit in the photo caption about Kembo Mohadi being "partly
obscured by Cde Chanetsa".

The Herald told us last week that Dairibord had been fined $1,5 million for
repackaging 500ml of milk in 300ml "satchels".

Was this for taking to school? In mitigation, it was pointed out that
government was a shareholder in DZL. Significantly, once government's price
controls over milk were enforced with this ruling, milk very quickly
disappeared from supermarket shelves.

Another victory for the party!

It's time once again to consider the candidates for the annual Stella
Awards. The Stellas are named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck who spilled
coffee on herself and successfully sued McDonald's. That case inspired the
Stella Awards for the most frivolous successful lawsuits in the United

The following are this year's candidates:

Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas, was awarded US$780 000 by a jury of her
peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running
inside a furniture store. The owners of the store were understandably
surprised at the verdict, considering the misbehaving little toddler was
Robertson's son.

19-year-old Carl Truman of Los Angeles won US$74 000 and medical expenses
when his neighbour ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Truman apparently
didn't notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying
to steal his neighbour's hub caps.

Terrence Dickson of Bristol, Pennsylvania, was leaving a house he had just
finished robbing by way of the garage. He was not able to get the garage
door to go up since the automatic door opener was malfunctioning. He couldn'
t re-enter the house because the door connecting the house and garage locked
when he pulled it shut. The family was on vacation and Dickson found himself
locked in the garage for eight days. He subsisted on a case of Pepsi he
found and a large bag of dry dog food. He sued the homeowner's insurance
claiming the situation caused him undue mental anguish. The jury agreed to
the tune of US$500 000.

Jerry Williams of Little Rock, Arkansas, was awarded US$14 500 and medical
expenses after being bitten on the buttocks by his next door neighbour's
beagle. The beagle was on a chain in its owner's fenced yard. The award was
less than he sought because the jury felt the dog might have been just a
little provoked at the time by Williams who was shooting it repeatedly with
a pellet gun.

A Philadelphia restaurant was ordered to pay Amber Carson of Lancaster,
Pennsylvania, US$113 500 after she slipped on a soft drink and broke her
coccyx (tailbone). The beverage was on the floor because Carson had thrown
it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument.

Kara Walton of Claymont, Delaware, successfully sued the owner of a night
club in a neighbouring city when she fell from the bathroom window to the
floor and knocked out her two front teeth. This occurred while Walton was
trying to sneak through the window in the ladies room to avoid paying the
US$3,50 cover charge. She was awarded $12 000 and dental expenses.

This year's favourite could easily be Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City,
Oklahoma. Grazinski purchased a brand new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On
his first trip home, having driven onto the freeway, he set the cruise
control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver's seat to go into the back and
make himself a cup of coffee.

Not surprisingly, the RV left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Grazinski
sued Winnebago for not advising him in the owner's manual that he couldn't
actually do this. The jury awarded him US$1 750 000 plus a new motor home.
The company actually changed their manuals on the basis of this suit, just
in case there were any other complete morons buying their recreation
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Zim Independent

PAZ not a legal entity - Court
Shakeman Mugari

THE Supreme Court has ruled that the Privatisation Agency of Zimbabwe (PAZ)
is not a "legal entity", a move that has raised eyebrows and cast doubt on
the much publicised government privatisation programme.

The ruling was made last Thursday, in a case between the PAZ and Ukubambana
Kubatana Investments (UKI).

The PAZ had appealed against an earlier High Court decision to the Supreme

Supreme Court Judge Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza ruled that PAZ was not a
"legal entity" which could either be sued or sue.

She ruled in favour of the PAZ's argument, which sought to establish that
UKI had sued the wrong entity.

The agency's argument that it was "merely a unit of the Office of the
President and Cabinet" also prevailed.

Analysts said the judgement meant that UKI could clash with the Office of
the President and Cabinet.

Industrial observers are now expecting a looming showdown between UKI owner
Mutumwa Mawere, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, and
possibly the Office of the President and Cabinet.

The PAZ has been purporting to be an autonomous organisation since its
formation in September 1999, until the recent court battle against UKI.

There are now doubts on whether the government will complete its
privatisation programme on time.

Cash-strapped Zesa, which has for years been on the agency's priority list
for privatisation, is still operating as a state entity.

The National Railways of Zimbabwe, which is currently in crisis, is also on
the priority list despite indications that the government intends to move
out of the rail company.

In April 2001 PAZ indicated that it was still waiting for the
Inter-Ministerial Committee and Cabinet to give assent to the privatisation
of NRZ, Zesa and Agribank.

It is understood that PAZ has not started work on the privatisation of
Finhold. Government is also still holding on to its 39,84% stake in Wankie
Colliery Company.

The Cold Storage Company is yet to be privatised despite its evident need
for an urgent recapitalisation.

In 2001 the then Minister of Finance Dr Simba Makoni had set the target for
privatisation at $40 billion but the agency only managed to raise $10

As the dust settles, on the case speculation is rife that UKI might be
planning to persuade the government to sell its stake in the demerged Astra
companies at a premium.

Although Mawere, the major shareholder of UKI, refused to comment on such a
possibility, industrial analysts have concurred that it was the only way

"UKI could do well to talk to government to sell the 67,7% at a new rate,
otherwise if the State disposes the shares at the 2001price it would be an
insult to the taxpayers," said a broker with a local equities firm.

Mawere said: "If the Supreme Court has ruled that the PAZ is not a legal
entity, we can only wait and find out who they are."

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Zim Independent

Lethal duet pose threat to insurance industry
Conrad Dube

THE sectoral devaluation, which took effect on February 19 and the spiraling
inflation have formed a lethal duet that could claim its first major
industrial casualty - the insurance and reinsurance industry - by
undermining underwriting capacity and diminishing policyholders' purchasing

The distortions caused by high inflation have constrained the industry's
ability to add value to investors' capital.

The situation has been compounded by the requirement for insurance companies
to invest a large portion of their money in prescribed assets, which limits
their discretion on how to grow value for shareholders.

The current hardships have impacted negatively on the insurance industry,
which needs consumer confidence if it is to continue growing.

The erosion of the disposable income has led to resistance among
policyholders to premium escalations to counter replacement costs.

Many clients could fall in the "under insurance" category as on the one hand
devaluation pushes premiums up on all items with foreign components while on
the other inflation erodes real disposable income, curtailing the ability to
take out policies.

"This has unfortunately resulted in a lot of underinsurance, which means
policyholders are unable in many cases to secure full value for their
properties in the event of a mishap," said an insurance consultant.

It being one of the biggest sources of investment capital in Zimbabwe,
players in the insurance industry have said the situation could lead to a
major dwindling of the insurance business.

The insurance council whose representative members are insurance and
reinsurance companies has held discussions centred on how to create more
underwriting capacity, which had been affected by the recently fixed rate of

The new exchange rate affected the replacement values of all imported items
brought in for insurance cover such that companies had to revise upwards
their underwriting capacities to accommodate the high values created by the
new rate.

However, the insurance council said the underwriting capacity created so far
was inadequate and "efforts are underway to resolve this situation".

Importing companies could be staring demise in the face in light of the
sectoral devaluation.

Some importing companies have raised concern at the continuous increase in
premiums as it brings extra costs to budgets in a bid to raise premiums to
be in tandem with replacement value.

The council's public relations executive who is also the managing director
for Southern African Reinsurance Company (Sare) Chris Gomwe said in an
interview that the cost of replacing insured items would continue to rise in
an inflationary environment.

He said replacement values had to be reviewed more often and premiums would
continue to rise.

High replacement values would eventually cause underwriting capacity
problems and might leave some items not adequately covered to the detriment
of clients. The continuous rise of inflation would require all sums insured
to be reviewed periodically in order to avoid underinsurance.

Gomwe said: "The condition of average is activated in cases where there is
underinsurance and therefore the public is encouraged to ensure that
adequate review of sums insured is undertaken. As long as sums insured are
reviewed regularly the insurance industry is assured of charging
commensurate premiums on accurate replacement values and can be assured of
remaining afloat."

The condition of average applies where there is a partial loss.

If there were no reviews the condition of average would be activated in the
form of a proportion being paid of the actual value.

Analysts said that insurance and reinsurance companies would need to
increase the size of their balance sheets to mitigate against the spiraling

"Hyperinflation causes the value of items or properties insured to increase
at a faster rate than balance sheets forcing insurance and reinsurance
companies to find ways to maintain balance sheets congruent with replacement
value," said an analyst with MBCA.

The analyst said companies might consider going the NicozDiamond way of
merging businesses as a way of consolidating balance sheets.

NicozDiamond said last year the future of the company would be driven by its
ability to service a wider cross section of individual and corporate clients
on the back of its larger balance sheet capacity.

NicozDiamond explained that balance sheet size continued to be a critical
factor in determining how much business each company could underwrite.

"With policy holders adjusting their values in line with inflation, the
capacity of the market as a whole has come under pressure but the merged
NicozDiamond would be a stronger and well-capitalised company offering
security to both clients and brokers," the company said.

Other options available to insurers include recapitalisation through a
rights issue, taking a cue from ZimRe.

In the circular to shareholders on restructuring and renounceable rights
offer last year, ZimRe directors recommended that significant
re-capitalisation of the group be undertaken to restore underwriting
capacity and counter the effects of devaluation and hyperinflation.

From the $4 billion issue of 260 806 954 shares to existing shareholders,
ZimRe allocated $2,2 billion towards increasing reinsurance underwriting

Insurance companies could also join the regional bandwagon to increase
foreign earnings base and hedge against the Zimbabwe dollar.

The Sare managing director revealed that although there had been an upsurge
of claims owing to the increase in crime classes such as armed robbery and
house breaking, the rate of exchange could not affect Sare but "strategies
have been put in place to counter such effects".

The Zimbabwean insurance sector continues to be constrained by a challenging
economic environment, high incidence of business failures and the increase
in fraudulent claims and high levels of underinsurance.

While factors may point to doomsday, the insurance industry in general has
benefited from the economic downturn.

The trend is towards more insurance business if recently published insurance
companies results are anything to go by.

NicozDiamond released top end earnings of 118 cents per share in the year to
December while Sare weighed in with above market expectation earnings per
share of 151,55 cents for the same period.

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Zim Independent

Budget deficit spirals close to $38 000m
Ngoni Chanakira

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) says the budget deficit, including
grants, for the period up to December 2002, amounted to $37 690,9 million.
Without giving more details, the bank says this was financed from domestic
borrowing and the sale of assets.

The RBZ said during this period customs revenue performed way below
expectations realising $27 170,3 million.

It says cumulative fiscal revenue for the year 2002, on the other hand,
amounted to $304 170 million.

The revelations come at a time when government is extremely in the red and
has to borrow excessively from the market.

Zimbabwe's domestic debt, which stood at $205 billion in December 2001, rose
dramatically to $346 billion by the end of December 2002.

Bankers said with 96% ($331 billion) of the debt being Treasury Bills,
interest costs would continue to pose a significant fiscal challenge.

The domestic debt is expected to rise further this year, fuelled by the need
to fund grain imports and financial support for the new farmers under the
current agrarian reforms.

In its report for the period ended December 2002 released this week, the RBZ
said all major revenue heads, with the exception of customs duties,
performed above target, with income and profit tax contributing $159 261,1
million; sales tax, $72 447,1 million; customs duties, $27 170,3 million;
and excise duties, $18 763,2 million.

The bank said total expenditure for the year under review amounted to $342
528,5 million.

Of this amount, $313 595,2 million or 91,6% was absorbed by recurrent

The RBZ said current expenditures were mainly in the form of salaries and
wages, which gobbled up $123 929,9 million.

This went mainly to the civil service, armed forces, chiefs, as well as
members of the medical fraternity who received major and regular increments
from government.

The RBZ said some of the current expenditures went to transfer payments
which amounted to $55 206,2 million, and interest on debt, $40 701,3

Capital expenditure, at $23 789,8 million, was only 7% of total expenditure.

"The revenue and expenditure developments resulted in a budget deficit,
including grants, of $37 690,9 million," the RBZ said.

"This was financed from domestic borrowing and sale of assets."

Bankers said Zimbabwe's continued isolation from the international community
was cause for concern.

They said the lack of longer-term clarity on monetary and fiscal policy
provided significant risks in terms of strategy and planning for most

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Zim Independent


Our brave, uniformed men and women at work on populace

UNTIL two weeks ago I had merely heard about what "soldiers" are doing to
people in the urban areas. A roadblock on Chancellor Avenue/Borrowdale Road,
right by the National Archives in Harare, gave me the opportunity to witness
the stuff our brave men and women in uniform are made of as they act to
safeguard the sovereignty of our beautiful country.

A commuter omnibus was stopped at the roadblock and people asked to
disembark and show their IDs. Military police seemed to be in charge of this
roadblock. Those who could not produce their IDs were asked to lie down,
facing up and a "roadblock attendant" then walked on their faces. Others
were asked to roll around in the dirt.

Now, call me stupid, but I do not for one minute believe that any authority
in its right frame of mind treats innocent civilians and citizens in this
manner. The last time I checked, even criminals had the right to have the
dignity of their person protected. Commissioner Augustine Chihuri has kindly
printed these rights and they are now pinned up on the walls of every police
station in the country.

The authorities have now come out and said that the violence was the work of
rogue elements in the armed forces, bought by the MDC.

Perhaps. But the incident that I witnessed was at an official roadblock, a
few metres away from President Robert Mugabe's residence and on the doorstep
of one of the country's most elite fighting units, the Presidential Guard.
The men at this roadblock wore military/police uniforms. Now, if they were
rogue elements, why didn't someone come out from the barracks and arrest
them, or tell them to stop humiliating the country's citizens?

The government surely recognises that it is engaged in the battle for the
hearts and minds of the urban voter. The battle for hearts and minds cannot
be won by humiliating citizens.

Denford Magora,


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Zim Independent


Accountability Commission sets record straight

FOLLOWING the appearance in the press of reports on the work of the
Accountability Commission that are by turns complimentary and
uncomplimentary we would like to set the record straight.

We are an independently funded NGO dedicated to ending the culture of
impunity prevailing in Zimbabwe.

Far from serving any narrow sector of the community, we have received
complaints from a broad spectrum of victims and would like to thank the
people of Zimbabwe for their excellent response to our request for

Whilst the sad reality is that within Zimbabwe human rights abusers tend to
go unpunished, international mechanisms do exist to make sure that
individuals guilty of human rights abuses as defined by the Geneva
Conventions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Treaty of
Rome can be brought to justice.

That the evidence of crimes we are gathering will become eligible for use in
international courts of law has recently been verified by the International
Bar Association (Iba), the world's largest association of lawyers.

The Iba called for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to start work now
to bring Robert Mugabe to justice, and explained that "although Zimbabwe has
not yet ratified the ICC Statute, an investigation of Mr Mugabe's alleged
crimes by the ICC can still occur while awaiting the return of democracy and
the rule of law in Zimbabwe.

"At that point, under the ICC Statute, a new democratically-based government
could immediately accept the exercise of jurisdiction by the ICC with
respect to the alleged crimes committed earlier by Mr Mugabe."

We see the IBA's call as a most encouraging development and we plan to
present evidence to the ICC's prosecutor.

Another important part of our work is gathering evidence on individual cases
to present to the UN High Commission for Human Rights Special Rapporteurs in
Geneva and we are also working towards using the UN 1503 complaints
procedure by drawing attention to patterns of systematic abuse and the
country situation as a whole.

The cases of Rwanda and Yugoslavia offer precedents for the setting up of
International Criminal Tribunals under the auspices of the UN and the
International Civilian Mission in Haiti and the Special Court for Sierra
Leone are examples of bodies set up in conjunction with the UN to deal with
the particular circumstances of individual countries.

David Banks,

The Accountability



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Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

No excuses
Iden Wetherell

THIS week we carry on our Letters page (Page 7) a statement by David Banks
of the Accountability Commission in London explaining the role of his
organisation in bringing to justice key officials of the regime who have
been responsible for human rights abuses.

While offenders may temporarily escape justice in Zimbabwe, Banks says
international mechanisms exist to ensure individuals guilty of human rights
abuses as defined by the Geneva Conventions, the UN Universal Declaration of
Human Rights and the Treaty of Rome can be brought to justice.

Although Zimbabwe has not ratified the statute setting up the International
Criminal Court, he points out, the ICC can still begin investigations into
abuses by Zimbabwe's leadership pending a restoration of democracy and the
rule of law. This is a view backed by the International Bar Association.

At the same time the MDC has begun to compile a detailed list of human
rights violators. The aim is to counter the culture of impunity that
President Mugabe and his followers have established since 2000 - some would
argue much earlier. Supporters of the ruling party are reminded that there
will be no state protection for them against the crimes they have committed,
and are currently committing, in the name of Zanu PF.

"It is not enough to say that you are obeying orders while committing crimes
against the people of Zimbabwe," a recent advertisement reminds militiamen
and others. "You will be entirely responsible for the consequences of
obeying unlawful orders."

While rulers such as Mengistu Haile Mariam, Milton Obote, Ferdinand Marcos,
Mobutu Sese Seko and Didier Ratsiraka were able to seek safe exits from
power, their followers were abandoned to face the wheels of justice, the
advertisement points out.

This comes in the wake of a US State Department report which draws attention
to the cases of MDC activists murdered by suspected Zanu PF supporters which
have not been brought to court. Security forces were also responsible for
extra-judicial killings, the report says, "and in numerous other cases army
and police units participated in or provided transportation and other
logistical support to perpetrators of political violence and knowingly
permitted their activities".

These individuals have not been brought to justice and appear to act with no
sense that they are likely one day to stand trial. That sense of impunity is
undoubtedly communicated to them by their superiors. It is therefore
ludicrous that Sadc ministers should accept assurances that the rule of law
has been restored. Many of those responsible for the worst cases of
abduction, killing, and torture since 2000 remain untouched by the law.

The current campaign to "name and shame" those responsible for human rights
abuses is one that most Zimbabweans will endorse. It is a form of popular
empowerment in the face of repression. This newspaper has repeatedly spoken
out against the culture of impunity and first used the term "militia" to
describe Zanu PF's marauding gangs.

Newspapers should be compiling lists of cases that have not come to court
and asking those in authority why. Our list includes, in addition to
shocking examples such as those of Tichaona Chiminya and Talent Mabika, the
court-ordered investigation into the abduction and torture by the army of
two journalists from the Standard.

What have the police done in that case which foreshadowed the abductions and
killings of 2000/2?

But in tandem with the campaign against impunity must go exposure of the
steady erosion of the judiciary. The State Department report refers to the
undermining of the independence of the judiciary by manipulation of the
composition of the courts. We should add to the record the way in which the
magistracy has been clumsily pressured in recent weeks to ensure lengthy
detention of opposition members and to deny them their right to bail.

When asked last week about the detention of Gibson Sibanda, Mozambique
Foreign minister Leonardo Simao said he didn't have sufficiently detailed
information to comment.

This is an abdication of responsibility. He should have been briefed by High
Commission staff here. Sadc ministers should make it a matter of elementary
procedure to have political prisoners released so they can join political
teams submitting evidence to them.

Harold Wilson in October 1965 had Joshua Nkomo and Ndabaningi Sithole
brought to him at Government House from Gonakudzingwa and Wha Wha. Ian Smith
released Robert Mugabe and other detainees in 1974 to facilitate talks on a
political settlement. Their release was made a sine qua non of negotiations
by all concerned including the Frontline States.

That Sadc ministers are content to mediate while political leaders are
incarcerated for exercising their constitutional rights is testimony to
their ineffectiveness.

Meanwhile, as the pressure builds on the regime, the scenes in Baghdad
should be instructive. No party is cast in stone to survive for an
eternity - neither Hitler's 1000-year Reich (which lasted 12 years) nor
Saddam's 24-year Ba'athist regime. And when the day of reckoning comes, as
those arraigned in Nuremburg quickly discovered to their cost, it will be
insufficient to say: "I was only acting under orders."

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10 April, 2003
Well-wishers foil police attempt to defy High Court ruling and take Paul Themba Nyathi to Khami Prison

Paul Themba Nyathi, the MDC’s Secretary for Information and Publicity, was today released without charge on the orders of High Court Judge Justice Mafiosi Cheda after the state failed to show any case as to why he should remain in custody.

However, before his release late in the afternoon, Detective Inspector Madira and Detective Inspector Musuna had attempted to defy the court order by clandestinely and secretly, behind Mr. Nyathi’s lawyer’s back, take Mr. Nyathi for formal remand before a magistrate court so that he could be remanded in custody at Khami Prison. This attempt was foiled only because well-wishers who saw Mr. Nyathi being shepherded around the corridors of the Tredgold Magistrate’s Court building telephoned Mr. Mathonsi, Mr. Nyathi’s lawyer and advised him that his client was at the Magistrate’s court at Tredgold building. Mr. Mathonsi rushed to Tredgold building and displayed the High Court order, and only then was Mr. Nyathi returned from the cells into which he had been placed pending transfer to Khami Prison. Confronted with the court order, inspectors Madira and Musuna pretended not to have been aware of the High Court order, when infact Madira was at the High Court when the order was issued and had undertaken to Mr. Mathonsi that Mr. Nyathi was to be released pursuant to that order.

The MDC condemns unreservedly this continuing abuse of police powers of arrest by officers Madira and Musuna, whose names, it will be remembered, appear on the MDC list of abusive police officers who torture innocent people in police custody.

We once again deplore and condemn the unprofessional conduct of the ZRP in acting as Zanu PF militia and arresting people without reasonable suspicion, contrary to the constitution of Zimbabwe as exemplified by the arrest and detention of Mr. Nyathi for four days in complete contravention of the law, which not only requires that arrest should be effected where there is reasonable suspicion of the commitment of an offence, but also that any person so arrested shall be brought before a court no later than 48 hours from the time of the arrest. In the arrest of Mr. Nyathi, not only was there no reasonable suspicion, but there was also a failure to bring him to court with the stipulated 48 hours. For the entire 4 days, Madira and Musuna remained clueless as to what factual foundation there was to charge Mr. Nyathi. They could not even formulate a coherent charge against him, and resorted to crude attempts to force him to answer questions in the hope that in the process he might tell them something, which they could use as a factual foundation to formulate some charges against him.

Professor Welshman Ncube
MDC Secretary General

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