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Zimbabwe at 27: The harvest of silence

African Path

April 19, 2007 09:55 PMBy Wallace

ALEXANDER Kanengoni's Echoing Silences is probably the most engaging and
brutally frank account of Zimbabwe's guerrilla war narrated

Published 10 years ago, it unravels the war's ugly underbelly: regular
torture and killing orgies sanctioned by kangaroo courts, raging male sexual
predators targeting junior female combatants, indiscipline and betrayal
among fighters.the list is endless.

What strikes me about the book though is none of this. It is Kanengoni's
spot on diagnosis of one of independent Zimbabwe's terminal ailments:

Twenty seven years into independence and the wheels of state have come off,
it seems to me that the 'culture of silence' among many
Zimbabweans-especially those who absolutely should have spoken- is a key
factor to the crisis. I'll come back to this later.

In the last chapter of his book, Kanengoni captures a fictional rally
addressed by Herbert Chitepo and Jason Moyo, a rally where "fundamental
policy changes to the struggle" are supposed to be announced. Although
located in the theatre of struggle, the issues raised there describe a
post-independent Zimbabwe.

He writes: ".the Chairman (Chitepo) talked angrily of a series of monumental
historical betrayals and he said he and a few others were the living
examples of such betrays; and Jason Moyo wondered how politics, the wealth
and the economy of the entire country was slowly becoming synonymous with
the names of less than a dozen people and he asked how in such circumstances
the struggle could not be said to have lost its way".

The atmosphere tenses up, and fiery-eyed Chitepo continues: "It's shocking
to see the reluctance that we have to tell even the smallest truth. Ours
shall soon become a nation of liars. We lie to our wives. We lie to our
husbands. We lie at work. We lie in Parliament. We lie in Cabinet. We lie to
each other. And what it worst is that we have begun to believe our lies.
What I fear most is that we will not leave anything to our children except
lies and silence" (my emphasis).

The speech is briefly interrupted by Dr Samuel Parirenyatwa who breaks down
weeping, and Leopold Takawira leans on to comfort him. Chitepo continues,
like one possessed: "It all began in silence. We deliberately kept silent
about some truths, no matter how small, because some of us felt that we
would compromise our power.then the silence spilled into the everyday lives
of our people and translated itself into fear which they believe is the only
protection that they have against imaginary enemies whom we have taught them
to see standing behind their shoulders. They are no longer able to say what
they want. Neither are they able to say what they think because they have
become a nation of silent performers, miming their monotonous roles before
an empty theatre.We owe the people an explanation." (my emphasis).

Of course, this fine speech is fictional. But its engagement with the tragic
duo of lies and silence is breathtakingly real. Anybody who has followed
Zimbabwean politics will confirm this. Since independence, Zimbabwe's
nationalist leadership has actively discouraged debate, within and outside
Zanu PF. Silence tops the list of recommended behaviours, and when it's
broken, it better be to express acceptable, rather than unacceptable

The unwritten, though enforceable rules are framed in binaries of good and
evil, treachery and loyalty. To question the official line is to betray the
struggle and sell out to the enemy, a transgression punishable by complete
ostracism or the "people's" wrath-violence. To speak without expressing
complete loyalty to the party leadership is to succumb to the deadly sin of
pride, another punishable atrocity. Political life is a matter of the
straight and the narrow. President Mugabe prefers the term "gwara
remusangano" (the party's immovable, non-negotiable position) to enforce the
spiral of silence.

As a result, those within the party and state leadership who have chosen to
speak-since independence-have either parroted ad nauseum, or dared express
their minds and faced instant political gallows. Many within and outside the
party and state have opted for the safer option, silence or parroting.
Examples abound of grown men and women within Zanu PF and the state who,
because they've parroted all their post-colonial lives, have grown hoarse
and clownish.

Mugabe's current cabinet, for example, largely comprises a legion of
lifelong praise singers who are way beyond their sell-by dates. Take the
example of Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi's contributions during a
recent interview with SW Radio. Throughout the interview, he offered poorly
framed but charged denials to straight questions, including police torture
of opposition activists, whose pictures were beamed across the world.

If Mohadi's contribution is a classic example of official gobbledegook, his
cabinet tenure is assured for life. For this is exactly what the system
rewards. It therefore makes perfect sense that Agriculture Minister Joseph
Made repeatedly survived a disastrous misreading of the nation's food
security situation, presumably after a fleeting, helicopter-inspired
delirium! You invest in either silence or drivel, and your mistakes, no
matter how costly, will be overlooked.

It is the system's ability to rehabilitate "fallen" members that strikes me
most. Take Dzikamai Mavhaire's famous "Mugabe must go" statement which made
world headlines in 1997. Predictably, the system moved swiftly to clip his
wings, and for half a decade confined him to his extremely modest roots in
Masvingo. I would hazard to suggest that when he uttered the 'unthinkable'
declaration in Parliament, he was expressing an opinion shared by many
within the party hierarchy.

But none of them was available to side with the proverbial intrepid mouse
that dares tie the bell around the cat's neck. Like the prodigal son,
Mavhaire must have come to a sobering conclusion that his future would
better guaranteed by a return to the fold. He was forgiven, rehabilitated
and ushered back via the Senate route. You need to listen to his (very rare)
public utterances these days and you'll be rest assured he will never,
never, never repeat muromo wa 1997 (sounds familiar?).

The system's other forgiven son, Calistus Ndlovu, was recently dispatched to
the People's Republic of China to take up the ambassador's post. This after
close to two decades of isolation, contrition and endless supplication
following his fall during the Willowgate Scandal. Like some deity, the
system may take its time to respond to its fallen ones, but will certainly
readmit them to the fold, in the fullness of time. Of course the condition
remains: tread the straight and narrow, shut up or sing praises.

Which takes me back to Kanengoni. The award-winning Echoing Silences is the
work of a fine storyteller who captures both the intricacies of the war and,
to a lesser extent, the political nightmare of the postcolony. Given that he
fought in the war for six years, Kanengoni's account is probably one of the
most credible around.

The year 1997, in which a highly critical book on the liberation struggle
was published and a highly regarded lawmaker openly called for the President
to go, should be viewed as a watershed in the history of both the ruling
party and the state. The effects of Esap were biting, poverty was rising,
war veterans went on rampage to demand their share for liberating the
country, and the year ended with the brutal crash of the Zim dollar.
Kanengoni therefore represented emerging nodes of social and political
critique within the system. However, like the rest of the "fallen" comrades,
his turn for 'rehabilitation' did come.

Writing in the now-defunct Mirror nine years after publishing Echoing
Silences, the arguably new-look Kanengoni ironically recaptured the silence
in the system, but this time as part of a massive tribute to the President's
'humility' after a 3-hour meeting with him. He wrote: ".What I found most
overwhelming, almost intimidating about the President's official residence
was the absolute silence, occasionally broken by the sound of a chirping
bird and murmuring sprinklers watering the flowers."(Mirror, 23/07/2006,
emphasis mine). If this silence of the President's residence was symbolic,
then the shockingly real silence followed during the meeting.

From the story's account, it seems a group of cherry-picked journalists from
the Mirror and the state media must have silently and patiently sat through
a 3-hour presidential rambling session. Here's what the President, according
to the story, spoke to journalists about in 2006 and amidst a political and
economic crisis in the country: "[He spoke] about how the public address
system failed in Banjul forcing the Iranian President to abandon his
unfinished speech.[he also spoke]about the predicament of a love-strung
young man called Seretse Khama abdicating from the Bamangwato chieftainship
because he had fallen in love with a white English girl called Ruth
Williams.about how he was shocked at the 1996 New Zealand Commonwealth
conference to hear former Nigerian military strongmen, Sani Abacha, had
executed writer Ken Saro Wiwa". The President went on about how he had
supported Italy during last year's World Cup and how his son Chatunga had
supported France.the list goes on. Only a line in the story says Mugabe also
spoke about "the suffering of the people and the effort government was doing
(sic) to change the situation."

In many societies, this encounter between the president and journalists
would have made controversial and speculative front page news. It happened
fairly recently in France when President Chiraq gave conflicting statements
to journalists about his country's policy on Iran's nuclear programme.
However, in the Zimbabwean case, this encounter was enough to attract
glowing praises for the President. This is how the spiral of silence (or
parroting) operates.

The long-term success of the system is predicated on the continued silence,
parrotry and self-effacement of the lower ranks of the political hierarchy.
This is achieved through multiple methods, including both coercion and
coaxing. When Didymus Mutasa declares to the media and public that he has
absolutely no ambitions to become President, he is merely conforming to the
rules of the system. It therefore also makes perfect sense for President
Mugabe to declare, as he did last year that: "Those who dream themselves
ruling this country should never believe it's true. Dreams are dreams and
they should end in the homes." Those who attempt to move dreams from their
safe locales are dealt with in a way which will deter possible future
transgressors. You need to look at Edgar Tekere, Morgan Tsvangirai, among
others. Those who hinted at the possibility of 'availing' themselves for the
presidency should circumstances arise, like Edson Zvobgo or Emmerson
Mnangagwa, also received their fair share of punishment, followed by
appropriate rehabilitation.

When Vice President Msika declared in the Sunday Mail last year that,
regardless of his age, he would remain in office until a proper crop of
young patriots was ready for the mantle, he was capturing the tenets of the
system. The same applies to the late Vice President Simon Muzenda's bold
declaration in 2000 that, in the event that Zanu PF failed to get an
'appropriate' candidate for a constituency, it would successfully field a
baboon. In the system's scheme of things, human beings and their distant
relatives still roaming the wild are the same, as long as both remain
faithful to the party's gwara.

For many years, both the public and private media in Zimbabwe raised false
hopes of a possible intra-party transition and reform in Zanu PF. They
failed to appreciate the extent to which the terminal cancer of silence had
eaten into the party and state's moral fabric. The media created potential
reformers out of "technocrats" such as Simba Makoni, "feared" politicians
such as Emmerson Mnangagwa, or "kingmakers" out of Solomon Mujuru. It is
instructive that, apart from Mnangagwa in a rare interview with the
Financial Gazette, none of the media-christened reformers ever expressed any
political ambition. The unopposed endorsement of President Mugabe last week
as the Zanu PF presidential candidate for 2008 was a significant
illustration of the system of silence at work.

My argument primarily concerns the system of silence as it manifests itself
within the ruling party and the state. I have deliberately left out civil
society including the opposition for purposes of time and scope. Given that
Zanu PF has been at the helm of Zimbabwe for 27 years, it is a tragedy that
the party's leadership has created a wall of silence which, in a big way,
accounts for the country's current multifaceted crisis. As we turn 27, is it
not time Zanu PF headed Chitepo's fictional but relevant pointer: "We owe
the people an explanation"?.

Wallace Chuma used to work as a journalist for the banned Daily News in
Zimbabwe. He can be contacted on

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SA's Kasrils in Harare as push for solution gathers pace

Zim Online

Friday 20 April 2007

By Patricia Mpofu

HARARE - South African intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrills visited Harare
on Wednesday for talks with his Zimbabwean counterpart Didymus Mutasa,
ZimOnline has learnt.

Sources said Kasrills' visit was part of an initiative by South African
President Thabo Mbeki to broker talks between the Zimbabwean government and
opposition groups and find a democratic solution to the country's deepening
economic and political crisis. But ZimOnline was unable to independently
verify this.

"It was a day visit. He (Kasrills) met Mutasa and the top intelligence
officers and left the same day," said a source.

Mutasa said he was unable to take questions on the matter because he was in
a meeting. "I can't talk, I am in a meeting," he said, before switching off
his mobile phone.

An emergency summit of southern African leaders last month appointed Mbeki
to broker talks between Mugabe and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party.

Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders, blamed in the past
for standing by while Zimbabwe's crisis worsened, acted following an
international outcry over a brutal clampdown by Mugabe against the

South African Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Aziz Pahad this week told
the media there was "some movement" on efforts to broker a solution in
Zimbabwe, revealing that Mbeki had written to Mugabe and the leaders of the
MDC soliciting their input on how the process to resolve Zimbabwe's crisis
should proceed.

On Thursday, South African government spokesman, Thembo Maseka called on the
government, opposition and the people of Zimbabwe to take advantage of the
"goodwill" shown by SADC leaders and move speedily towards finding a lasting
solution to their country's political crisis.

"The critical and urgent challenge facing all Zimbabweans is to take the
necessary steps to create an environment that would be conducive for free
and fair elections in 2008," Maseka told journalists after a regular Cabinet

The MDC has said it welcomes South African mediation efforts. Maseka would
not say whether Mugabe had agreed to co-operate.

Zimbabwe, which was once a model African economy, is in the grip of an
unprecedented economic meltdown that is shown in the world's highest
inflation of nearly 2 000 percent, shortages of food, rising unemployment
and poverty.

Western governments and the opposition blame Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe
since independence from Britain in 1980, for ruining the economy through
repression and wrong policies such as his farm seizures that have led to
food shortages mainly due to failure by new black farmers to maintain
production on former white farms.

Poor performance in the mainstay agricultural sector has also had far
reaching consequences as hundreds of thousands have lost jobs while the
manufacturing sector, starved of inputs from the farming sector, is
operating below 30 percent capacity.

Mugabe denies ruining the economy and instead says his country's problems
are because of sanctions and sabotage by Britain and its Western allies
opposed to his land reforms.

* Meanwhile, Moletsi Mbeki, brother to the South African President, has
called on Pretoria to take a more robust approach in its efforts to broker a
solution to Zimbabwe's crisis.

"I think the South African government needs to show a lot more energy in
dissuading Zimbabwe's ruling party ZANU PF from brutalising the opposition
party," he said. "We need to send a message across to ZANU PF that an
opposition in a democratic country has a right to exist and has the right to
participate in activities." ZimOnline

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US rallies behind Zimbabwe opposition

Zim Online

Friday 20 April 2007

By Farisai Gonye

HARARE - The United States (US) has promised to support Zimbabwean
opposition groups, days after Harare cancelled licences for non-governmental
organisations (NGOs) accusing them of working with Washington and its allies
to topple President Robert Mugabe's government.

In a statement issued on Wednesday on the eve of celebrations to mark
Zimbabwe's 27 years of independence, White House deputy press secretary Dana
Perino said Washington would continue backing opposition and civic society
groups pushing for democratic and economic reform in Zimbabwe.

"Zimbabweans understand that a return to freedom and prosperity requires a
new direction. We support their efforts to achieve a new and true
independence, free from tyranny and poverty," the statement read in part.

Perino said despite what he described in the statement as "the increasing
campaign of oppression by the Mugabe regime against the people of Zimbabwe"
the US remained hopeful that pro-democracy forces shall triumph and the
troubled southern African nation would soon join the growing family of
democracies around the world.

The statement comes hard on the heels of a State Department report on human
rights two weeks ago in which Washington revealed that it was working with
some Zimbabwean NGOs and the opposition to influence government policy.

The report infuriated Mugabe's government, which responded by suspending
co-operation between Parliament and the United States Agency for
International Development and on Monday raised the stakes by cancelling all
licences held by NGOs.

Mugabe has repeatedly claimed the US and its allies are seeking regime
change in Zimbabwe and says Western sanctions against Harare were meant to
sabotage the economy and incite popular revolt against his administration.

The US and the European Union deny seeking Mugabe's ouster and say sanctions
against the veteran leader and his top officials were meant to pressure them
to uphold democracy, the rule of law and human rights.

Zimbabwe, which was once a model African economy, is in the grip of an
unprecedented economic meltdown that is shown in the world's highest
inflation of nearly 2 000 percent, shortages of food, rising unemployment
and poverty.

Critics blame Mugabe, who has ruled the country since its 1980 independence
from Britain, for ruining the economy through repression and wrong policies.
He denies the charge. - ZimOnline

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Brave Zim prosecutor detained under foggy circumstances

Zim Online

Friday 20 April 2007

By Prince Nyathi

HARARE - Zimbabwe police on Thursday detained top prosecutor Levison Chikafu
for six hours, but his lawyer said the police were victimising him after he
prosecuted a senior government official and tried to have a senior
intelligence officer arrested for murder.

Chikafu was detained at Mutare Central police station after surrendering
himself on learning the police were looking for him. He was quizzed in the
presence of his lawyer over allegations that he took money from a jailed
murderer and that he granted bail to undeserving suspects.

His lawyer, Chris Ndlovu, said the crimes said to have been committed when
Chikafu was an area prosecutor for the eastern Manicaland province were not
only unfounded but "meant to embarrass and victimise my client."

Chikafu rose to prominence last year after he charged ruling ZANU PF party
stalwart and Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa for attempting to defeat the
course of justice by allegedly attempting to pressure a key witness in a
case against State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa to withdraw.

He took up the case after other prosecutors recused themselves, fearing to
prosecute Chinamasa who as head of the Ministry of Justice was their boss.
Chinamasa was however acquitted by the court.

Chikafu also dominated the news headlines when he courageously pushed the
police to arrest state secret service operative Joseph Mwale for allegedly
murdering two opposition activists seven years ago.

Mwale is accused of petrol-bombing a vehicle carrying two opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party activists, Talent Mabika and
Tichaona Chiminya, in the run-up to the 2000 general election that was
controversially won by ZANU PF.

The MDC activists died as a result of the bombing but Mwale, who is a senior
member of the state's spy Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and
remains employed by the secret agency, has never faced trial for murdering
the opposition activists amid reports senior ZANU PF politicians have
shielded him from justice.

Mwale remains free while Chikafu for all his troubles to have the CIO agent
face justice was late last year quietly transferred from his job and
enrolled as a student at the Zimbabwe Military Academy, a move his
colleagues at the Attorney General's department say was meant to silence the
brave prosecutor.

"First they removed him from Mutare, where he had became a household name
for prosecuting corrupt senior government officials. Why would a prosecutor
need military training? They want to fix him," said a colleague, who
declined to be named for fear of victimisation.

Attorney General Sobuza Gula-Ndbele, who has in the past stood by his
prosecutors, was not immediately available for comment on the matter, while
police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena could also not be reached. - ZimOnline

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Women protesters demand power to the people

Zim Online

Friday 20 April 2007

By Nqobizitha Khumalo

BULAWAYO - At least 100 members of the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
pressure group were arrested on Thursday in the second city of Bulawayo for
demonstrating against frequent power cuts in the city.

The women said they were protesting against frequent power cuts by state
power company, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA).

The protesters said the power outages, which have become frequent in
Zimbabwe, had resulted in severe damage to electrical appliances in homes
around the city.

WOZA spokesperson Jenni Williams said the about 100 women were arrested
after they demonstrated simultaneously at ZESA offices in Nkulumane, Mpopoma
and Pumula working class suburbs.

"The main purpose of the demonstration was to demand power to the people. We
are saying as we go to vote, the government should be able to give us power
by 2008. People are tired of living in darkness but at the same time being
forced to pay high ZESA tariffs," ¯Williams said.

Bulawayo police spokesperson could not be reached for comment but a senior
police officer at the Press and Liason office confirmed that several women
had been arrested during the demonstration.

"There have been some arrests but we are still to receive full details on
the numbers of those that have been arrested," ¯said the police officer, who
refused to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the press.

Under Zimbabwe's tough Public Order and Security Act (POSA), it is illegal
to stage any demonstrations without first seeking permission from the
police. But WOZA, which says it does not recognize POSA, has consistently
defied the law to demonstrate in major cities and towns.

Thursday's protest comes hardly a month after state agents brutally tortured
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) president Morgan Tsvangirai and several
other opposition officials for attempting to stage a prayer meeting in
Highfield working class suburb in Harare.

President Robert Mugabe's jittery government, which is battling an
unprecedented economic crisis that has manifested itself in record inflation
of nearly 2 000 percent, widespread unemployment and poverty, has banned
public marches in urban areas for fear these could easily turn into
anti-government protests. - ZimOnline

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Say Goodbye to Bread, Hello to Air Pie!

Publius Pundit

Good 'ole Mugabe, liberator of the people of Zimbabwe, has decided that
enough is enough. The Western imperialists seeking to overthrow him have
apparently become too powerful for his liking. As the country completely
deteriorates, and the opposition begins to gain momentum, what does he do?
Ban all aid organizations, of course! It only makes sense.

  ZIMBABWE has cancelled the licences of all aid groups, accusing them of
working with the opposition to oust President Robert Mugabe, sparking fears
the ban could cut food supplies to hundreds of thousands of people in the
nation dependent on handouts. Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said
that all non-governmental organisations had been deregistered and would have
to reapply for permits, reports said yesterday.
  Dr Ndlovu said the authorities wanted to identify groups working with
"agents of imperialism" to overthrow Mr Mugabe, who is facing growing
resistance from Zimbabweans impoverished by his 27-year stranglehold on
power, The Times reported.

  "Pro-opposition and Western organisations masquerading as relief agencies
continue to mushroom, and the Government has annulled the registration of
all NGOs in order to screen out agents of imperialism from organisations
working to uplift the wellbeing of the poor," Dr Ndlovu said.

  The news shocked the local NGO community, stoking fears that the ban could
stop desperately needed food aid reaching the country, the newspaper said.
More than 1000 aid groups operate in Zimbabwe.
This is basically committing the entire country to suicide. This year's
harvest brought in absolutely nothing. The only reason people have been
surviving at all is because of Western aid programs that distribute food to
people. That this happened though is not that all surprising. As opposition
to Mugabe's rule mounts, so does his will to crack down on dissent. He has
used food as a political weapon since the day he gained power, especially
noticeable in the 2005 election when food was distributed all over the place
in order to buy votes.
But now the situation has changed; there will be no food at all. If the
Zimbabwean people don't fight now, when will they?

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Mugabe to go after polls

Zim Independent

PRESIDENT Mugabe has managed to defuse the tension over succession in
his party by promising to step down after next year's combined presidential
and parliamentary elections.

Party sources this week said Mugabe, fearing a major revolt by the two
factions in his ruling Zanu PF party, which are both opposed to his
continued stay in power, offered to leave office early but not before he
contests the presidential poll next year.

This could explain a forthcoming constitutional amendment (No 18)
enabling parliament to act as an electoral college in the event of the death
or incapacity of an incumbent. It would thereby spare Zanu PF a presidential
poll and allow Mugabe to preside over the installation of a successor of his
own choice. The projected increase in the number of MPs and senators is
designed to facilitate this process, observers said this week.

The sources said Mugabe's recent attacks on party members harbouring
political ambitions was designed to ensure that no one emerged as an
outright successor.

That positioned him as the only party candidate ready to take on the
opposition MDC in the presidential election.

"It basically enables Mugabe to anoint his successor," one observer
said this week. "He actually wants to go, but only in a manner of his

Mugabe has since last year repeated the refrain that there is no
vacancy for the presidency. He accused senior party officials of seeking
help from witchdoctors in order to land the presidency.

During his birthday interview in February, Mugabe took a dig at the
faction which supports Vice-President Joice Mujuru accusing it of using
Edgar Tekere's book to discredit his liberation war credentials in order to
bolster its position.

The sources in the party said since the endorsement of his candidacy
by the Central Committee last month, Mugabe had dropped his attacks on
ambitious party officials and was rallying everyone behind him to win the

Mugabe had indicated two months ago that he could dissolve parliament
and call for an early election.

This, sources said, was gamesmanship which however backfired as it
heightened tension among MPs.

The sources said Mugabe's gambit was to silence the restive party
leaders through the 18th amendment. The amendment as agreed by cabinet this
week will allow Mugabe to take charge of the process to select a successor.

The amendment will change the current arrangement in which an election
should be held within 90 days of the president leaving office before the end
of his term. Under the proposed amendment, the role of choosing a new
president in between elections will now fall to parliament which will sit as
an electoral college.

Analysts however interpret Mugabe's bid as an attempt to guarantee
himself a further purchase on power to secure immunity from prosecution for
alleged human rights violations.

The party sources said Mugabe was keen to use the 18th amendment as
the route of preference from office. The plan is for him to take on MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai in next year's presidential election, defeat him
and then leave office after the Zanu PF congress in 2009. He will however
remain party leader so that he continues to have leverage in the running of
the party and government.

His successor will be chosen by parliament and not the electorate to
ensure that Zanu PF maintains its stranglehold on power. This is a process
Mugabe will supervise.

There has been bickering in the party since its December Goromonzi
conference after delegates failed to endorse President Mugabe's plan to
extend his rule to 2010. He wanted to achieve this by amending the
constitution so that the presidential and parliamentary polls were held
concurrently in 2010.

There was open disagreement in the party, forcing Mugabe to abandon
the 2010 agenda and instead hold the elections in 2008.

The counterproposal was still not enough to mollify party officials
who wanted to see the back of Mugabe sooner. The 18th amendment was the
compromise plan which appears to have silenced the faction which supports
the candidacy of Mujuru and the other which backs Emmerson Mnangagwa. -
Staff Writer.

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Gold mines close shop

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari

ALL gold mines this week stopped processing gold due to an acute
shortage of foreign currency needed to import cyanide, a key chemical in
bullion production.

Miners said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had failed to pay them gold
delivered since October last year.

Almost all major mines have closed their production mills because they
have run out of foreign currency to import essential chemicals. By Wednesday
Isabella Mine, Muriel Mine, Forbes & Thompson and the Canadian-owned Blanket
Mine had shut down their plants while underground mining had also been
reduced by more than half.

Metallon Gold Zimbabwe, the producer of half of Zimbabwe's gold, had
by yesterday shut down its plants due to lack of cyanide. Metallon owns five
mines, namely Arcturus Mine in Goromonzi, Mazoe Mine in Mazowe, Shamva Mine,
How Mine in Bulawayo and Redwing mine in Mutare.

Group chief executive Collen Gura confirmed that all the five mines
under Metallon had stopped processing gold.

"I can confirm that our five mines have stopped processing gold due to
lack of foreign currency to import cyanide. We have not been paid by the
Reserve Bank," said Gura.

Metallon, which employs 5 000 workers, has also sent its contract
workers home due to the crisis.

"It's not a protest sign but there is nothing we can do because we
just don't have the foreign currency required to get the key chemicals. Our
suppliers are saying they need cash," Gura said.

In his Independence Day address on Wednesday President Mugabe lashed
out at the rampant smuggling of precious metals such as gold which, he
claimed, was resulting in forex losses.

Gold mines are supposed to receive 67% of their gold sales in foreign
currency while the remainder is paid in Zimbabwe dollars at a price of $16
000 a gramme. However, since October they have not received either the
foreign or local currency component for gold delivered to the central bank.
The regulations state that miners are supposed to be paid half their monies
within four days and the remainder within 21 days of gold deliveries.

It is estimated that gold mines are owed US$15 million by the central
bank. The crisis is already reflecting in total gold production figures.

Latest figures show that Fidelity Printers and Refiners received less
than 700kg of gold in March. It is estimated that deliveries for April could
be as low as 500kg.

Gold miners say their efforts to engage the central bank have not been
fruitful. Urgent sectoral meetings have been held and SOSs sent to the
central bank and government but no action has been taken.

At one such meeting on April 11, mining companies told the Ministry of
Mines and Mining Development that they could not continue operating under
the current situation.

The Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines told the ministry that some of them were
already sinking in debt.

"The gold sector over the past few months has been surviving on
available stocks and borrowings, which for some companies is in excess of $1
billion a month," said minutes of the meeting.

The chamber said some of its members were surviving on "lines of
credit and leveraging on existing relations with fellow mines and

"Existing stocks have run out, suppliers are now insisting on cash
upfront before goods are delivered, even some banks are no longer willing to
continue to offer loans to gold producers who are not servicing their
debts." Gold mines want the support price of gold to be reviewed to about
$450 000 per gramme. Central bank governor Gideon Gono could not be reached
for comment but is expected to make an announcement on the issue in an
interim monetary policy statement scheduled for the end of this month.

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Govt NGO threats 'unlawful'

Zim Independent

Lucia Makamure

GOVERNMENT threats to revoke licences of non-governmental
organisations (NGOs) operating in Zimbabwe are unconstitutional and illegal,
says the umbrella body of NGOs in the country, the National Association of
Non-Governmental Organisations (Nango).

Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu reportedly told a Zanu PF
meeting in Bulawayo at the weekend that government was going to deregister
all NGOs to ferret out those pushing a regime change agenda in Zimbabwe.

Nango said the move was in violation of Section 10 of the Private
Voluntary Organisations Act, which allows a ministerial appointed board to
cancel registrations only after "statutory procedures have been fulfilled".

This means the registrar has to write to each organisation to notify
it of the intention to cancel its registration. This will allow the NGO a
reasonable opportunity to make representations. The cancellation of its
registration takes effect by publication in the Government Gazette.

Nango said they had not received any official communication from the
responsible ministry, the Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social

"Clearly the statement pertaining to the possible deregistration of
NGOs in Zimbabwe is unfortunate, baseless and incongruent with the
prevailing realities in Zimbabwe," Nango said in an interview yesterday. "If
anything the government of Zimbabwe should be announcing plans to ensure a
positive and enabling operating environment for NGOs to strengthen ongoing
efforts by NGOs to mitigate the prevailing crisis in Zimbabwe," said Fambai
Ngirande, the advocacy and communications manager for Nango.

"We are amazed at how a government minister could possibly announce to
citizens in one of the hardest-hit drought areas in Zimbabwe that the
government would consider cutting off the lifeline that has been supporting
them in the absence of a coherent programme by government to meet the food
and social security needs of an obviously disadvantaged region," he said.

"We have not received any official communication from the responsible
ministry so we will not be distracted by utterances made by the minister
from the important work of meeting the social, economic and political
development needs of the people of Zimbabwe."

Meanwhile, the regional office of the International Federation of Red
Cross and Red Crescent societies whose regional delegation for Southern
Africa was based in the country, is relocating to South Africa.

Officials at the organisation's office said the relocation to South
Africa was a matter still under discussion.

The information officer of the organisation, Tapuwa Gomo, confirmed
that there are plans to relocate the office but nothing has been finalised.

"This is something which is still being talked about at the moment. We
are waiting for official communication from the head office in Geneva," said

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'Termination with Suny a move to gag Parly committees'

Zim Independent

Lucia Makamure

THE recent move by government to terminate its relationship with the
State University of New York (Suny) is designed to silence parliamentary
portfolio committees which are becoming too critical of government policies,
analysts say.

The move was first disclosed in the Zimbabwe Independent last week.

The analysts said the decision would affect the operations of
parliamentary portfolio committees as they were receiving much of their
technical support from Suny, an NGO linked to USAid.

"This is government's way of silencing committees which were becoming
too critical of its policies," one analyst said.

Eldred Masunungure, a political analyst from the University of
Zimbabwe, said government wants to silence the portfolio committees as a
result of their robust approach to various topics in parliament.

"Their robust approach to various topics certainly generated a lot of
suspicion within the executive," said Masunungure.

He added: "These committees were doing a good job by providing checks
and balances on the government and the executive was obviously not happy
with that."

Another analyst said: "Ministers and other government officials were
becoming uncomfortable with being made to account for funds and the
administration of their ministries before a parliamentary committee
comprising members of the ruling party and opposition."

Parliamentary committees are designated according to government
portfolios to examine the expenditure, administration and policy
implementation by state departments.

Most of the work of parliament is carried out by portfolio committees.

Innocent Gonese, MDC MP for Mutare Central and opposition Chief Whip,
said the move was going to weaken portfolio committees.

"This is going to take us backward as Suny was playing a pivotal role
in supporting portfolio committees," said Gonese.

He pointed out that with Suny out of the picture, government would not
be able to provide the technical expertise the NGO was providing to the work
of the House.

"Suny used to organise and fund training workshops for chairpersons of
portfolio committees, something government will not be able to do
considering the poor state of the economy. This is going to weaken the
reform process," Gonese said.

The termination of the relationship with Suny follows hard on the
heels of the release by the US State Department of a report titled
Supporting Human Rights and Democracy released on April 5.

According to the report, the parliamentary programme implemented by
Suny was intended to strengthen committees, promote debate by the opposition
and reform-minded ruling party legislators, and increase transparency.

In the report the US government said its support of parliamentary
committees in Zimbabwe was providing a greater check on the executive branch
of Robert Mugabe's government, a claim government linked to the so-called
"regime change agenda".

Parliamentary committees have managed to ruffle the feathers of
government officials by making them account for use of funds and
administration in their various ministries.

Last year the Minister of Industry and International Trade Obert Mpofu
was grilled and made to reveal embarrassing information on corruption at

Other ministries that have come under scrutiny by parliamentary
committees include the Ministry of Agriculture for failure to plan ahead
before each planting season which has resulted in food shortages.

Meanwhile US Ambassador Christopher Dell issued a statement on Tuesday
saying the termination was "unfortunate and regrettable".

"The programme had been funded and undertaken by the State University
of New York at the request of the Zimbabwean government," he said.

Dell said if the US objectives were regime change it would not have
spelt them out in a document widely available to the public.

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'Provoke police, they'll beat you'll beat you'

Zim Independent

OUR senior reporter SHAKEMAN MUGARI on Tuesday this week
"door-stepped" State Security minister Didymus Mutasa at his Chaminuka
Building offices to ask him about the abduction and beating up of civilians
by the police and suspected intelligence operatives. This is their

Mugari: Why are police beating up people?

Mutasa: Police don't just beat up innocent people randomly. The people
are being beaten for provoking the police. You should know that police are
human beings too and they will respond accordingly. Even you will respond
like that it you were provoked.

Mugari: No minister, I would not be violent if provoked. I will let
the law take its course.

Mutasa: Ah, then we are not on the same wavelength.

Mugari: But is that the way police or any law-enforcement agents are
supposed to behave - responding violently to provocation?

Mutasa: Yes, that is the right thing to do. If anyone provokes them
they should not complain when they are beaten. Indeed, that is how we will
respond to the provocation especially when we have the machinery to deal
with such provocation. In Latin there is a saying which means that no one
provokes me (and goes) unpunished. So if they are beaten, then so be it.

Mugari: The leader of the opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai, and his party
members were thoroughly beaten for trying to attend a prayer meeting under
the "Save Zimbabwe Campaign". Was that an act of provocation too?

Mutasa: Yes, what Zimbabwe were they trying to save? We are the ones
who renamed this country Zimbabwe. We fought for (the liberation of) this
country and I don't believe we need anyone to save it from anything. It has
already been saved.

Mugari: But minister you still have not answered my question. Is a
prayer meeting an act of provocation?

Mutasa: Young man, it is all to do with the agenda. As long as it is a
regime change agenda we will deal with it, especially when we have the

Mugari: By machinery you mean the police, the army and CIO?

Mutasa: Yes, I mean everything that can be used to deal with this
regime-change agenda which they are planning. All those people that you
mention (CIO, police and army) are part of the security personnel that we
have. They are there to preserve law and order.

Mugari: Does preserving order also include beating up innocent
commuters at bus termini like the police did a week ago at Fourth Street?

Mutasa: I don't know that people were beaten at Fourth Street. But if
they were indeed beaten then I would assume that the police were responding
to provocation. I think it was a genuine response to a genuine threat to
public security. I am happy with the work they did.

Mugari: Minister, you were not there when it happened. I was there and
I can tell you that there was no provocation. People were waiting for
transport to go home after work when the police pounced.

Mutasa: If you were there, were you beaten, do you have any scars?

Mugari: No, minister, the fact that I was not beaten does not mean
that people were not beaten. I am merely saying I witnessed it happen.

Mutasa: So you see, police don't just beat up people. You were not
beaten because you did not provoke them and you were not loitering
aimlessly. Those who were beaten had obviously provoked the police. Police
are not mad. I believe they are doing a very good job in that regard. It is
you journalists from the independent media who are trying to damage the
reputation of this country. Every week your paper demonises the government
giving a negative impression about this country.

Mugari: So you mean the correct picture is the one portrayed in the
state media which everyday says everything is fine when the country is

Mutasa: I mean everyone who is a journalist. I am saying all
journalists must be truthful and patriotic.

Mugari: Minister, who is really beating up people in this country? For
example the government is denying that it had a hand in the beating up of
MDC MP Nelson Chamisa at the airport recently. What do your investigations

Mutasa: You should be asking Chamisa because he is the one who was
beaten. I wasn't there when he was beaten, so only him can pinpoint the

Mugari: I am asking you as the Minister of State Security. Obviously
one of your roles is to ensure that the country's airports are safe not only
for the visitors coming in but also for the citizens leaving the country?

Mutasa: I am telling you that I don't know who beat up Chamisa. If
Chamisa himself cannot tell who beat him up, how am I supposed to know? All
I know is that police are still investigating the issue. Now, if you could
finish. I was on my way to my other office.

Mugari: The opposition is demanding that the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) and the Public Order and Security Act
(Posa) be struck off. They also want a new constitution. Will the government
start working towards that before the elections?

Mutasa: No, we are not working on that. We don't need a new
constitution or any amendment of both Aippa and Posa.

Mugari: So you are saying the laws will remain intact despite pressure
from the opposition, civic organisations and the region?

Mutasa: We (government) don't see any reason why we should do that. I
for one love those laws and don't see any reason why they should be removed.
In fact I wish they would remain there forever.

Mugari: Just one more thing before you go sir. Why are you allowing
people to continue invading farms?

Mutasa: Isn't that part of your imagination? Which farms are still
being invaded?

Mugari: Some people have moved on to Watermount (a peri-urban farm
outside Harare) saying they had an offer letter from your office.

Mutasa: The Watermount case is different. I have told them that they
have to give me enough proof the farm belongs to them. I want evidence in
the form of title deeds. As long as they don't show me their title deeds the
farm remains state land and shall be allocated to any deserving person.

Mugari: But there is a court order and title deeds which have been
given to you.

Mutasa: Where are the title deeds? I have not seen them. And that
court order which they mention was given in 2005. Why wasn't it effected
since then? You should remember that anyone can write these documents. I
have dealt with crooks for so many years to be fooled by such petty tricks.

Mugari: Even then minister, these are actions coming four years after
President Robert Mugabe declared in 2003 that the land reform is over.

Mutasa: Yes, but that does not stop deserving people from getting
land. It's a process that will continue for as long as there are people we
feel genuinely require land.

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Detention of vagrants riles rights activists

Zim Independent

Orirando Manwere

THE recently reported death of seven imprisoned vagrants in Bulawayo
has sparked grave concerns among human rights activists who want government
to respect the law in treating the less fortunate.

The vagrants were among 40 people detained at Mlondolozi prison where
they are still languishing pending their mental examination.

More than 60 vagrants - mostly males of different ages and race - were
rounded up and detained by police during the Easter holidays last year in
Bulawayo under the Vagrancy Act.

After spending Easter in police custody, there was drama at the
Tredgold Magistrates' Courts in the city a week later when an unusual crop
of suspects - vagrants, clad in tattered garments with unkempt hair and
carrying their filthy worldly possessions - filled the docks to answer
charges of contravening the Vagrancy Act.

Almost none of them could understand why they were arrested when they
appeared before presiding magistrate Richard Ramaboea who, together with
prosecutors Bhekimpilo Sibanda and Agnes Muzondo, had a hectic time
assessing them by asking simple questions about their identities, age and
origin, among other things.

After the assessment, more than 20 were released and immediately went
back to their traditional street corners, while those who were considered to
be mentally unstable were sent to Mlondolozi prison for psychological
examination by prison doctors in accordance with the Mental Health Act.

Ramaboea recommended expeditious examination of the vagrants to enable
them to be relocated to and undergo rehabilitation at prescribed
institutions in terms of the Vagrancy Act as they should not be mixed with
hard core criminals in prison cells.

However, 12 months later it has emerged that the vagrants are still
languishing at Mlondolozi and Bulawayo Central Remand Prison where seven
have since died between November last year and February this year.

According to court and prison officials privy to the case, their
mental examination has been delayed due to lack of stationery at the courts
to process their warrants of committal to designated institutions.

The deaths have ignited debate and calls for government to find a
solution to the crisis instead of punishing the poor.

National chairperson of ZimRights - a local human rights watchdog -
Kucaca Phulu said in an interview last week that the deaths of the vagrants
and the continued incarceration of others was a gross violation of their

"If it's true that this is what has happened, then that is unlawful,"
said Phulu. "It's deplorable and that should not be condoned.

"Our organisations should have done more in terms of making follow-ups
after they were rounded up and taken to prison. If there is a problem of
stationery, we should be able to assist. We are definitely going to put
pressure on the authorities to ascertain why they are still there," he said.

"We have to distinguish between vagrants and homeless people who are
living in shacks because of lack of housing in urban centres. There are also
people with mental illnesses and for all these government has an obligation
to safeguard their lives in terms of the law," said Phulu.

He said the Vagrancy Act was a colonial piece of legislation which was
meant to deal with homeless black people. "At that time, there were not so
many homeless people in urban centres like there are today due to increasing
poverty. The institutions to cater for such people were there but now they
are obviously not enough to cater for the increased numbers and this
presents problems," he said.

The Vagrancy Act was enacted on October 21 1960 to curb vagrancy in
urban centres.

Chapter 10:25 of the Act defines a vagrant as any person who has no
"settled or fixed abode, means of support, or one who wanders from place to
place or maintains himself by begging or in some other dishonest or
disreputable manner".

The Act empowers a police officer to arrest without a warrant any
person whom he reasonably suspects to be a vagrant and shall take such a
person before a magistrate within 48 hours of his arrest.

The Act further stipulates that if a magistrate ascertains that one is
a vagrant as defined in the Act, he may order that such a person be placed
in a centre for rehabilitation.

According to Section Seven of the Act, the minister responsible may,
after consultation with the minister responsible for finance, provide
centres to be known as re-establishment centres where such persons may be
detained and maintained and afforded the occupation, instruction and
training requisite to fit them for entry into or return to regular

Inmates are entitled to receive allowances in respect of any work they
perform while in detention.

Court officials who spoke on conditions of anonymity for professional
reasons said the rounding up of the vagrants and their subsequent lengthy
detention in prisons was clearly against the provisions of the law.

"I am reliably informed that the vagrants were rounded up on
instructions from high offices and there was no consultation made with the
Attorney-General's office to look at the existing loopholes," said a court

"This is a clear human rights violation," he said. "These vagrants
have spent a year in prison when dangerous criminals are granted bail and
are going scot-free. It appears the authorities have completely forgotten
about them."

In an interview over the vagrants' continued incarceration in October
last year, Social Welfare minister Nicholas Goche acknowledged that the
rounding up of the vagrants was not well coordinated, adding that his
ministry would engage that of Home Affairs to find a solution.

"The rounding up of vagrants has not been coordinated properly," he
said at the time. "Normally the Department of Social Welfare would have a
programme of rounding up street kids and other vagrants and before we do
that we should look at our institutions like Ruwa and all others across the
country," he said.

However, six months later, the vagrants remain in prison.

Goche could not be reached for comment on the deaths of the seven and
the continued detention of the other vagrants.

In a statement on the vagrants, the director of the Human Rights Trust
of Southern Africa Sindiso Moyo said the situation was a matter "of grave

"If the reports that vagrants are being arbitrarily detained in
prisons in Zimbabwe are correct, this is a violation of Zimbabwean law and
international human rights law," said Moyo.

"At international law, and according to the standards set by the World
Health Organisation, where a person is arrested for causing public disorder
and this is suspected to be linked to his/her mental health, he/she should
be taken to a 'place of safety' for medical examination as soon as possible
and should not be detained in police custody unless absolutely necessary and
if so, for the shortest possible time," he said.

"Considering the state of our remand prisons and the lack of medical
personnel, equipment and drugs in these prisons, a remand prison cannot be
considered a place of safety," said Moyo.

"Further, generally where one is arrested for being suspected of being
mentally ill or on reasonable suspicion of having committed a criminal
offence because of his or her mental condition, he should be taken to a
place of safety for medical examination."

He said vagrants, while arrested under the authority of the Vagrants
Act, are not charged with a criminal offence and are instead detained for
purposes of rehabilitation.

Under the Mental Health Act, magistrates are under an obligation to
order the removal of accused persons to an institution for the care of the
mentally ill if they hold that the detainee is mentally ill.

Moyo said this decision could only be made after the magistrate has
received a certificate to this effect from at least one doctor.

He said government must, in accordance with both Zimbabwean and
international human rights law, take immediate steps to improve the
situation in all places of detention in the country and ensure that the
administration of justice operates properly and that all set procedures are

"This obligation includes ensuing that all detainees suspected of
being mentally ill should be expeditiously examined by a doctor and
transferred to institutions where necessary. Further, the government should,
if it wishes to detain vagrants, provide the necessary re-establishment
centres for this purpose and cannot continue to detain vagrants in prisons,"
said Moyo.

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Mugabe plans to dilute MDC strongholds

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's latest survival plan is to dilute opposition
strength by expanding the National Assembly from 150 to 210 seats to ensure
that the ruling party wins a two-thirds majority in next year's joint
presidential and parliamentary elections.

Highly placed sources said Zanu PF is planning to increase the number
of peri-urban constituencies throughout the country in a bid to dilute the
MDC's dominance in urban areas. To achieve this, urban constituencies will
be merged with rural ones, mainly farms acquired by the state and allocated
to Zanu PF supporters.

Zanu PF used the same ploy in Harare South during the last election in
which its candidate Hubert Nyanhongo narrowly beat the opposition candidate.

There are plans to create new constituencies in Harare South, Manyame,
Harare East, Borrowdale/Domboshava and Goromonzi-Tafara.

There are also likely to be at least three constituencies encroaching
into Harare from Mazowe and Seke.

Sources said peri-urban constituencies would be formed in virtually
all towns and cities to complement rural constituencies.

There are also plans to split rural constituencies where Zanu PF has
always enjoyed overwhelming support. These include Murehwa North and South,
Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe, Mudzi and Mashonaand Central which cover large
geographical areas.

In Masvingo, the sources said, there was already talk of re-creating
Gutu East and Gutu-Bikita constituencies which are currently two

The sources said the objective behind increasing the number of rural
constituencies was to increase the number of senators to 84 from 66 with
effect from next year.

Senators will be elected on the basis of proportional representation,
meaning that if Zanu PF manages to secure a large majority in the Lower
House it will have a proportional number of senators in the Upper House.
This resolves in Zanu PF's favour the potential problem of having the
National Assembly and the Senate controlled by rival parties.

Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo this week said there would
be major changes in boundaries for Harare and Bulawayo to incorporate farms
that were acquired for urban expansion.

Provincial leaders who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent said the
delimitation commission had already been given the mandate to create 60
extra constituencies due to be announced before September when Mugabe is
expected to kick-start his presidential campaign.

Mashonaland Central provincial chairman Chen Chimutengwende said the
commission would soon communicate the new structures from the provinces.

"The delimitation commission is coming up with the framework and maps
which the provinces will use," Chimutengwende said.

Zanu PF political commissar Elliot Manyika said Justice minister
Patrick Chinamasa was in charge of the constituencies project.

Opposition MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the plan to increase the
number of constituencies was a clear rigging process by Zanu PF.

"It is a rigging plan because there is no justification for such a
move," Chamisa said. "The current parliamentarians are not fitting in the
parliament building. If all members attend parliament, like during a budget
presentation, extra chairs have to be brought in for members to fit."

Economists have said the move will stoke inflation as parliamentary
costs soar.

Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) raised concerns over the time
factor and voter education, which might disenfranchise a significant number
of people when they go to wrong constituencies.

"In 2005 when constituency boundaries were changed in the run-up to
parliamentary elections at least 10% of the registered voters failed to cast
their votes when they went to wrong constituencies," Zesn director, Rindai
Chipfunde, said.

"The changes that are being proposed for next elections are going to
cause serious confusion and have the potential of disenfranchising a
significant number of voters."

Chipfunde said if the changes were to be effected properly, a new
voters roll should be available at least three months in advance and should
be followed by intensive voter education.

"We are worried about the available time to make the changes
effective. If there was commitment from all the stakeholders, it would be
best to move the elections to the latter part of next year so that these
fundamental changes become effective. If we rush them, then the same
predictable result will be achieved."

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Govt allows WFP, FAO to assess food

Zim Independent

Itai Mushekwe

GOVERNMENT has all but swallowed its pride on the food situation in
the country by allowing the Word Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and
Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to undertake a joint crop and food security
assessment mission (CFSAM) in the country, the Zimbabwe Independent can

The CFSAM is expected to shed light on the size of the national crop
harvest and food deficit gaps to ascertain import requirements. President
Robert Mugabe's government has in the past denied international food
organisations permission to make an independent assessment of the country's
food situation following its failed land reform programme.

WFP public affairs officer for Southern Africa, Mike Huggins,
confirmed to the Independent this week from Johannesburg that government had
requested that WFP and FAO be involved in the food assessment exercise.

Agriculture minister Rugare Gumbo has already declared 2007 a drought
year. Gumbo could not comment on the issue yesterday saying: "Ndiri
mumeeting" ("I'm in a meeting").

But he was reported last weekend as saying the food situation was bad:
"It is bad. It is really really bad," he said at Mataga growth point in
Mberengwa district.

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MDC in poll jigsaw puzzle

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change's reunification and
prospects of a single candidate in next year's presidential election look
bleak as the two factions are still bickering over a code of conduct.

The two camps agree in principle on a single candidate but differ on
the mechanics of coming up with one leader to stand against Zanu PF's Robert

Highly-placed sources in the MDC said when the idea of a single
candidate was mooted, proponents of the strategy came up with a draft
"non-aggression pact", a code of conduct plus rules and regulations to be
observed by the two factions. This included the fundamental rule that the
two groups should not campaign against each other.

The proposals got different reactions from the main opposition
leaders - Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara.

Sources say Mutambara wanted the arrangement disclosed to all members
of the opposition and other pro-democracy movements as a rallying point.
Tsvangirai on the other hand said making the strategy public would expose it
to Zanu PF infiltration.

"Although both MDC faction leaders fully support the fielding of one
candidate to face Mugabe to consolidate all votes, differences on the
framework could scupper their efforts," the sources said.

"In fielding one candidate the people of Zimbabwe will have a much
better chance of defeating the Zanu PF regime, so there are frantic efforts
to strike a common ground."

The Zimbabwe Independent has also learnt that the MDC wants the
one-candidate principle to extend to constituencies to avoid splitting the

"The parties still have to agree on candidates to field in urban
constituencies held by the opposition," a source said.

"The parties must agree on which candidate to field in Harare North
which is held by Trudy Stevenson of the Mutambara faction or in Makokoba
which is held by Thokozani Khupe of the Tsvangirai faction." The Tsvangirai
faction has most of its sitting MPs based in Harare while those in the
Mutambara camp are based in Matabeleland.

It is widely felt within the Tsvangirai faction that "safe"
Mutambara-faction seats such as Harare North and Bulawayo South can be taken
from their incumbents so there is no real need to do business with them.

"It is the same sort of thinking that saw Margaret Dongo evicted in
2000," the source said. "Tsvangirai's people don't believe in

The sources said the two factions still had to agree on modalities to
select candidates for rural constituencies where the party has struggled to
win seats since its formation eight years ago.

They said the selection of candidates was important in coordinating
campaigns for the combined elections. All aspirants for parliamentary seats
will have to campaign for the single candidate if they hope to win against
Zanu PF, they said. Joining forces could improve the chances for the MDC to
mount a credible challenge to Zanu PF's 27-year rule.

Observers said a divided opposition was a boon for Mugabe.

They said there was little chance of either Tsvangirai or Mutambara
individually beating Mugabe if the poll went ahead in March next year. While
it was agreed that Mugabe was at his weakest now given internal rivalries
and an economy in free-fall, it is also true that opposition leaders are far
weaker than him in a number of respects.

Mugabe is under siege on many fronts. The collapsing economy is blamed
on mismanagement by his regime while internal wrangling in Zanu PF has
created serious fault lines in the party. Mugabe is isolated inside his
party and internationally.

However, he has the state machinery on his side. He also has a lot of
resources at his disposal to prop up his rule, the sort of things Tsvangirai
and Mutambara can only dream of.

Tsvangirai is battling to re-establish himself as the leading
opposition politician after the split of his party in 2005. While he has in
a way managed to reclaim that mantle, the reality on the ground is that
without a united opposition behind him, his prospects have diminished
compared to 2002 when he was the ultimate opposition leader.

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Five more join sanctions list

Zim Independent

Loughty Dube

THE European Union (EU) has added five new names of deputy ministers
to the list of people banned from travelling to and doing business in

The five names were added on Wednesday by ambassadors of the EU member
states meeting in Brussels as Zimbabwe celebrated Independence Day.

The new Zanu PF officials on the list are Walter Mzembi, Water
Resources and Infrastructural Development deputy minister, Tracey Mutinhiri,
deputy minister of Indigenisation and Empowerment, and Titus Maluluke,
deputy Minister of Education Sport and Culture.

The two others are Lazarus Dokora, deputy Minister of Higher and
Tertiary Education and Aguy Georgias, deputy Minister of Economic

A statement released by ambassadors of the EU member states meeting in
Brussels on Wednesday expressed "strong concern at the rapidly deteriorating
human rights, political and economic situation in Zimbabwe".

"The council condemns in particular the acts of violent repression
against the opposition and calls on all parties to refrain from violence,"
said the EU ambassadors' statement.

The five deputy ministers join 124 top Zimbabwean officials, including
President Mugabe, who are forbidden to enter the EU.

The targeted smart sanctions also entail the freezing of assets of
those on the list in the 27-nation bloc.

The EU statement further said the new names were added "in response to
the acts of violence and abuses of human rights" and following Mugabe's
reshuffle of his cabinet.

Last month the EU added maverick Masvingo politician, Dzikamai
Mavhaire's name to the growing sanctions list after he was re-admitted to
the ruling Zanu PF fold.

Mavhaire once called on President Mugabe to go and was suspended from
the ruling party but was reinstated late last year.

He was elevated to the party's supreme decision-making body, the
politburo, to replace military man and former Masvingo supremo the late
Josiah Tungamirai.

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RBZ surrenders exchange rate decisions

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has with immediate effect stopped
making decisions on the foreign exchange rate policy, busienessdigest can

This means that central bank governor Gideon Gono is unlikely to make
any announcement on the exchange rate because the responsibility has been
transferred back to the Minister of Finance in accordance with provisions of
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act (Chapter 22:15).

Gono told businessdigest this week that he was keeping the promise he
made in the January monetary policy statement to concentrate on the core
business of the central bank.

"We are no longer dealing with that (foreign exchange policy), we will
only be there to implement the policy as it clearly states in Section 47 of
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act. You must be aware the law says this is a
responsibility of the Minister of Finance," Gono said.

In his last monetary policy statement Gono said the central bank will
from now on stick to its core business of controlling inflation, defending
the value of the local currency and maintaining stability in the financial

Section 47 of the Act states: "The exchange rate policy of Zimbabwe
shall be formulated by the Minister in consultation with the (Reserve Bank)
board, and in doing so the Minister shall ensure that the exchange rate
policy is consistent with the objective of the monetary policy of Zimbabwe."

It says the RBZ shall be responsible for implementing the exchange
rate policy. "The Bank may, for the purpose of maintaining the value of the
Zimbabwe dollar and for such other purposes as it considers necessary or
expedient, buy, sell, and hold gold and foreign exchange assets," says the

The decision will disappoint exporters and other stakeholders who were
expecting Gono to devalue or at least float the dollar when he announces his
interim monetary policy measures at the end of this month.

Businessdigest is however aware that Gono will make an announcement on
the gold price and tobacco in his interim policy.

Gold mines face collapse because of the low support prices and late
payments by the RBZ.

A decision on the gold price is urgent because most mines have scaled
down operations due to viability problems.

Gono will also have to break the impasse that has dragged on for the
past four weeks with farmers withholding their tobacco from auction floors
because of disagreements over the price. Tobacco auction floors open next

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Bakers doubt NECF will bring solution

Zim Independent

Shame Makoshori

EFFORTS by government to resolve the nine-month stand-off over bread
prices by appointing the National Economic Consultative Forum (NECF) to
design a price model looks set to hit a brick wall with bakers saying they
are doubtful that the process will work.

The scepticism comes as it also emerged that government has directed
NECF to design pricing models for all basic commodities and essential inputs
in the agriculture sector.

Bakers this week said the team of researchers led by NECF executive
secretary, Nicholas Kitikiti, was displaying "complete ignorance" about the
operations of the bread industry.

They said the NECF was adamant that small bakers were not justified to
charge the same prices of bread as larger players because they incurred
lower input costs.

"These are clear signs that they don't know how the industry
operates," said a manager of a bakery visited by the team last week. "I don't
believe they will come up with a fair assessment. The model is likely to be
flawed." The team is expected to complete the model by the end of this

The NECF has been instructed to work on pricing models for milk,
bread, fertiliser and other controlled products. Kitikiti could not be
reached for a comment but sources at his office said he has been told by
government to complete the models before the end of this month.

"They want to find a solution to the pricing problems because
different companies producing similar products were presenting different
cost build ups," an official at NECF said.

"Preliminary findings from the team have indicated serious distortions
and profiteering," he said.

Experts in the baking industry however said the problem between
government and bakers had nothing to do with the lack of a pricing model but
the daily increase in input costs which have rendered planning and pricing
difficult. Government has ignored pleas by bakers to remove price controls
to save the last few surviving bakers in Zimbabwe.

Businessdigest understands there is now a rift among bakers over the
decision to come up with a uniform pricing model for the industry. A group
of bakers led by Lobels is in favour of a uniform model while other bakeries
are accusing government of trying to buy time while they continue to sink.

"We have produced countless models over the past nine-months but
government has not moved an inch to review the price," said one baker who is
against the idea of a uniform pricing model. "What is it that the team will
discover that we haven't told the government."

The dispute over bread prices has already claimed two casualities.

Superbake last month shutdown half its bakeries throwing more than 1
500 workers onto the streets.

Marondera-based Proton Bakers temporarily stopped operations last week
citing serious viability problems.

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Domestic debt up 413% in March

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

ZIMBABWE'S domestic debt has soared to over $1 trillion, increasing by
413% inside one month.

The unprecedented rise in government debt levels was sparked by huge
interest payments, according to figures obtained from the Reserve Bank this

Interest payments accounted for 70,3% of total debt or a hefty $903

The figures indicated that government debt had surged to $1,283
trillion on March 30, from $290 billion at the start of the month. The debt
had opened the year at $175,6 billion.

The interest payments were for treasury bills, most of which were
issued to the market at rates of between 450% and 500% last year.

But the new debt levels means that with an estimated population of 13
million, every citizen owes $98 723 to the local banks and financial

Four in every five Zimbabweans is living below the international
poverty benchmark of US$1 per day.

Economist, Brains Muchemwa said government's propensity to rely on
borrowed funds is worrying.

"It's evident that the solvency of government is already seriously
compromised with the current interest rates, and technically government
finances will not be better with even a 1% rise in interest rates," Muchemwa

The increasing government debt stock raised fresh fears of renewed
turbulence in the crisis-sapped economy, battling with high inflation
currently topping 2 200,2% for March.

"The surge in domestic debt was because of high interests on the
market which were in line with the inflation rate," economist Anthony
Hawkins said.

The principal treasury bill debt amounted to $330 billion, or 25,7% of
government debt.

Analysts said the debt stock was likely to rise further on increased
borrowing by government to finance the import of wheat, maize, debt
repayments, buying fuel and salary hikes for civil servants which are
scheduled for July.

The situation is likely to worsen with revelations this week that most
ministries have exhausted their budget allocations for the year.

This means that government is likely to return to parliament for
additional funds through a supplementary budget which sources said was
likely to be announced in June.

Independent economic consultant, John Robertson, said the major effect
of rising government debt would be an escalation of the inflationary rate
due to increased recourse to the domestic market for funding.

While government projects inflation to end the year at between 350%
and 400%, independent forecasts put the inflation rate at over 6 000% by
year-end. The International Monetary Funds said inflation was likely to end
the year at 5 000%, a revision from the 4 000% it had predicted in the last

Robertson said the huge appetite for cash was also likely to spur
increased money printing, pushing money supply growth to new high levels and
again exacerbating the inflationary environment.

This would be worsened by the fact that Zimbabwe has no access to
international capital and therefore government would rely exclusively on the
domestic market for debt.

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Zinwa takeover an ill-advised move

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

GOVERNMENT'S attempt to emasculate local authorities, especially those
under opposition councillors, through the take-over of water and sewerage
reticulation - a major source of revenue - by the Zimbabwe National Water
Authority (Zinwa) is ill-advised as stakeholders have continued to reject
the plan.

Submissions by stakeholders including the Local Government
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee, civic groups and government arms show
that Zinwa is not able to provide the services.

Observers have said Zinwa should only temporarily step in to help
local authorities in areas that have been declared disaster areas as
provided for by the Zinwa Act.

Senate last week said allowing Zinwa to proceed to take over the water
and sanitation utilities in all urban areas would have serious ramifications
for the operations of local authorities and provision of services to
rate-payers. As Harare and other urban areas had not been declared disaster
areas, there was no need to take over water and sewerage services in those
urban areas.

Cabinet last year issued a directive that Zinwa should take over the
entirety of water and sewerage services in all cities and towns. Harare
became the first city to be affected, a move which sparked an outcry from

Stakeholders' concerns mainly centred on Zinwa's capacity to provide
clean water without disruptions at a time when it was failing to manage bulk
water supplies. They also viewed the take over as an illegal move
contravening the Urban Councils Act, which gives services management to
local authorities.

Government auditors such as the Comptroller and Auditor-General
advised against the takeover but cabinet remained adamant.

Senators last week became the latest group to call for the reversal of
the cabinet directive after realising that the water crisis in the cities
was mainly due to unavailability of resources, especially foreign currency
required to import chemicals.

After going through the submissions, Senate observed that cabinet had
not been properly advised when it made the directive that Zinwa should take
over the entirety of water and sewerage services.

"Although Zinwa reiterates that it has the capacity to take over the
entirety of water and sewerage services in the country's urban areas, local
authorities and the public feel that Zinwa is not able to undertake this
task," Senator Charles Tawengwa said.

"In view of the evidence gathered, the committee recommends that the
cabinet reconsider the directive as the takeover of the services from the
City of Harare has proved that Zinwa has no capacity," he said.

Senate said it was essential for cabinet to go back to the drawing
board and make the takeover of the services in Harare a case study before
Zinwa went on to take over these services in other urban areas.

It recommended that government should provide financial resources,
local and foreign, to the local authorities so that they can fulfill their

The Zimbabwe Local Government Association (Zilga) informed the
committee that the takeover would have a devastating effect on local
authorities' financial, legal, technical, operational and developmental

"The historical basis for the establishment of urban authorities was
to provide and control sewerage services as Sanitation Boards," the Zilga
submission says. "The general development of urban councils has over the
years been built around these services."

Zilga said the principle and success of decentralisation hinged on the
extent to which central government allowed local authorities to exercise
their power accorded to them by the Urban Councils Act.

"The local government system is vested in council - the
administration, control and management of a local area. This entailed that
decisions affecting a particular local government area were made locally and
the residents had the power to determine how they were governed," Zilga

"The existing legal and administrative frameworks were well
established and clear. The system where Zinwa provided bulk raw water and
local authorities purified and distributed had been working successfully and
there was no need to change."

The Urban Councils Act empowers councils to run separate water
accounts, where tariffs were charged accordingly, therefore compelled local
authorities to use funds generated to develop and meet the requirements of
the same area.

"However, a Water Fund was established in the Zinwa Act, Zinwa could
generate, hold and freely use funds not necessarily in the areas where they
had been generated," Zilga said.

Zilga said water and sanitation utilities were the major source of
revenue for councils. The takeover of the revenue stream would redefine the
existence of local authorities and how they finance their activities.

The revenue realised from these utilities had been critical in
financing sub-economic activities and community services provided by
councils such as health services, recreational facilities and social

"Water and sewerage services infrastructure contributed 60% of urban
assets. Application of international standards used in drawing up local
authorities' balance sheets and budgets would therefore become difficult if
Zinwa takes over these assets. Removing these assets makes council
liabilities exceed assets thereby making local authorities insolvent," Zilga

Other stakeholders which made submissions included Combined Harare
Residents Association (CHRA) and Bulawayo Residents Association (Bura),
which both raised concerns over the appropriation of assets without
consultation or consent.

Residents wondered if the Zinwa Act nullified the Urban Councils Act
in their right to own and administer water resources.

CHRA said since the takeover, Harare had lost a monthly revenue base
as well as vehicles and other assets.

"Residents could not lodge complaints or objections to tariffs that
were too high as provided by the Urban Councils Act, as Zinwa had no
framework for consultation and redress," CHRA said.

Bura said they did not accept the proposed takeover.

"Zinwa had failed in its core business of supplying bulk raw water to
Bulawayo's supply sources," Bura said. "Construction of Gwai/Shangani dam
that was scheduled for completion by the end of 2007, had not started and
the authority had failed to rehabilitate the 77 boreholes at Nyamandlovu
aquifer. Therefore, there is no guarantee that Zinwa would succeed in the
provision of water and sewerage services to the city."

Zimbabwe Urban Workers Council Union said the workers were not
consulted in the Zinwa takeover, which was in contravention of the Labour

The Auditor General was the first institution to point out that Zinwa
had no capacity to carry out the mandate since it was failing to provide
undisrupted water supply and water of the right quality to its customers in
small towns and growth points because of lack of an operational plan,
failure to maintain plant, equipment and standby facilities, and poor record

"My audit revealed that Zinwa was failing to provide undisrupted water
supply and water of the right quality to its customers in small towns,
growth points and institutional customers such as Prison Service, Zimbabwe
Republic Police and the Defence Forces," Mildred Chisi, the Auditor-General
wrote in the audit.

She said Zinwa did not have a section that was responsible for
co-coordinating the strategic and operational planning process. The planning
section in Zinwa was instead responsible for preparing the catchment's
outline plans. The section was made up of engineers, technicians and
economists meant to carry out infrastructural planning and developments
within the authority.

"The strategic, tactical and operational planning in Zinwa was left
without a co-coordinator and hence was being done haphazardly. I discovered
that Zinwa did not have a business plan and that it was not the
responsibility of the planning section to formulate one," she said.

Chisi said as at January 2004, Zinwa had not made any meaningful
strides towards the harmonisation of its operations as evidenced by the fact
that individual catchment areas were operating independently.

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The madness of King Bob

Zim Independent

By Delight Magora

ONCE upon a crime, in a country not far far away and not outside our
borders either, there lived a king. The king had been a participant in the
great fight that his kingdom had dutifully fought against a group of
light-skinned invaders from a faraway western nation. The king had been
considered a well-grounded kind of fella with some pretensions towards the
western type of education and an uncanny ability to get out of tight spots
and to get others in such spots.

His skills were quite useful to the struggle. The only problem was for
these skills to remain relevant, struggle had to prevail. If struggle as a
concept was not there, it had to be created to keep his majesty occupied. He
was later to go to the extent of meddling in foreign wars just to keep his
warriors' fighting skills sharpened.

All was well and good in the Kingdom of Stones until the king's
delusions of grandeur started kicking in. First there was that tragic
incident with the Matabeles. Of course Two Boy (the king's wartime
colleague) being in charge of such security issues was sent to take care of
that. He quite naturally arranged to have the heads of those demented souls
bashed back into place.

The atrocities went on exceptionally well and managed to silence the
rather militant individuals from the place of slaughter (Bulawayo). And
butchered they were. But not long afterwards Two Boy had had enough. So he
went and started his own political party whose name when coupled by the last
name on his birth certificate sounded like a car having problems starting.

He ranted and raved for a while but soon gave up and went back to join
the king. Two Boy was later to be kicked out of the king's close circle of
friends after he published a scathing book about the king's actions and went
on to claim that the book was about his experiences. But then again that is
another story entirely.

There were quite a number of people who were foolish enough to stand
against the king for his kingdom. There was the Reverend, the Bishop, James
the farmer, Josh the railway workers trade unionist, Chekudashurwa, the tea
boy and trade unionist, AGO, the professor from outer space as well as
Professor Jonathan Chimusoro Goebbels, the professor of chameleon politics.

But no matter what you threw at him, the king took it in his stride.
They all overlooked one thing - the king was a teacher and he schooled them

Now Chekudashurwa did prove to be quite a bit of a thorn in the royal
backside. This is one idiot that simply refused to go away. You see
Chekudashurwa chakadashurwa (my apologies to those that do not understand
Shona but I believe there is no equivalent to this word in any language and
I will not dilute it by using watered down alternatives like thrashed).
Anyway chakadashurwa chaizvo-izvo but Chekudashurwa remained adamant in his
senseless persuit of power.

Now Chekudashurwa went on to a neigbouring chief, Chief Mbaggy the
pipe smoker. Chekudashurwa went on to claim that he was not angry at the
king over the Kudashurwa issue and that he actually thought king needed what
he called psychiatric help.

Now it might be important for Chekudashurwa to know that the king is
far from mad. In fact, he is just about the only person we readily concur to
be sane in our entire nation without asking for any further proof in
addition to what we already know. And this is what we know.

Power is a sweet thing. I remember back in the day when the Women's
League was singing "Tamirira one-party state". This was under the leadership
of the very same king that we are referring to here.

What would make Chekudashurwa even imagine that anything has changed
in the disposition of the king? Who in their correct frame of mind would
want to leave such a well-paying job? Everyone would like to have this kind
of job that can build you a mansion somewhere in the "dale-dales" when your
actual pay is not enough to even get you a stand in any high-density suburb
of good old Harare.

A lie by any other name still remains just as false. It is
Chekudashurwa who is completely out there. In a kingdom like the land of
stones it is an unpardonable fantasy to imagine that there could be another
leader while there is still breath in the current king.

It is a pruritus or rather a looseness of a half-baked human brain
that would allow one to delude themselves into believing that the king can
actually relinquish power to another human being, particularly a being that
never partook of the second struggle to be named after Murenga.

Methinks that Murenga would definitely object to the way his name has
been basely abused by the so-called third Chimurenga. I don't think that the
way his generation's noble goals were prostituted and sacrificed on the
altar of self-serving greed would much appeal to him. But since time
immemorial the most evil deeds have been done under the guise of furthering
a seemingly noble cause.

What is even more amazing is the audacity of some to even consider
praying for the passing away of the king. Being such Zvimbwasungata as these
imbeciles are, they actually think this is about them and their kith and kin
as people of the kingdom. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a
most presumptuous absurdity indeed to imagine that this is about the people
or the kingdom.

Look, if the truth be told, it's never about the people or the good of
the kingdom. After all who are the people and what is the kingdom if it is
not there to further the interests of his royal highness, the head of the
non-public based republic?

It is not these purported "people" that gave birth to the glorious
kingdom that is the republic. It was the king and his comrades that
liberated the kingdom from the tyrannous hands of foreign oppressors.

They replaced these with local oppressors of course since they have to
indigenise. So it is only logical that they burn the kingdom to embers if
they so wish. It is their self-given right and unless Chekudashurwa can
claim the same he will remain achidashurwa.

Forget about the west and their stupid rules. What king can allow a
king from another kingdom to stampede into his kingdom and start laying down
rules? Nothing could be more absurd.

If people are going to be oppressed, let it be by their own king.
Their very own selected oppressor whose ordained right it is to tyranise
over his own people. Not some foreigner who does not have the slightest idea
what it means to the people to be oppressed.

When you have been subjected to oppression at the hands of a foreigner
and you harness and refine the skills, you can be infinitely more capable of
unleashing a superior form of oppression and suppression that is almost
imperceptible to any but those who feel it the most.

Even when it gets to be blatantly obvious that people are being
oppressed, you can still tell people to shove off and go hang because it's
none of their concern how you brutalise your own kind. Most of them listen
of course and those that do not want to listen cannot do any thing about it.

The catch is that it is the people who are being oppressed that can
actually get away with doing something about their oppressor. But if you put
enough fear in their path, most of them will be intimidated enough to
recline into a shell of fear.

So the king went about his normal business throwing threats and
insults here and there and multiplying torture and strife everywhere. And
they all lived happily never after.

* All characters and events in this folklore are entirely fictional.
Any resemblance to any persons living dead or about to die is purely

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Made guilty of dereliction of duty

Zim Independent

By Justice George Smith

WHEN Joseph Made was appointed Minister of Agriculture he was required
to take the oath of office. In terms of that oath, he vowed that he would
uphold the laws of Zimbabwe. As Minister of Agriculture he was responsible
for the administration of a number of Acts which are applicable to the
agriculture sector. One of those Acts is the Grain Marketing Act.

The Act establishes a parastatal called the Grain Marketing Board
(GMB) which has very important functions and duties. It has to ensure the
orderly marketing of controlled products (which include maize and wheat), to
buy and sell controlled products, to provide storage and handling facilities
and to maintain stocks necessary for the needs of the country.

The Act establishes a board which controls the GMB. The board consists
of six to nine members appointed by the minister after consultation with the
president. They must be persons with ability and experience in agriculture,
business or administration or otherwise suitable to be a member of the

The board is an essential part of the GMB and plays a very important
role. It operates like the board of directors of a public or private
company. Its existence is essential in order to ensure that the rules of
good governance are observed. The board does not have executive functions.
It deals with matters of policy.

The Act provides that the board shall appoint a suitable person to be
general manager and vests in the general manager the management of the
operations, undertakings and property of the GMB. The general manager is
therefore a central cog in the GMB. He is answerable to the board and the
board is answerable for the actions of the general manager.

For the past two years and more, despite the express provisions of the
Act, there has been no board for the GMB. The minister has failed to do what
the Act requires him to do. He has not appointed any members to the board.

Furthermore, there has been no substantive general manager. There has
only been an acting appointment. As there is no board, there is no authority
to appoint a general manager or to supervise him.

Recently it was reported that an employee of the GMB had been injured
while he was working on the farm of the acting general manager. A tree he
was cutting fell and broke his leg and the employee had to be taken to
hospital. The then permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture
rightly decided that the acting general manager had abused his office and
suspended him.

Made interfered saying the permanent secretary had no authority to
suspend the acting general manager, only the board could do so. As there was
no board, the acting general manager was reinstated shortly thereafter. The
permanent secretary was then transferred to the President's Office, where he
can do no harm as he has no functions or duties, although he continues to
receive his pay and other perks.

Because there is no board at the GMB, there is no entity to which the
acting general manager is answerable or which supervises and monitors his
daily activities. He does as he pleases. If any employee considers that the
acting general manager is abusing his office, there is no board member or
other person to whom he or she can complain.

It would be very surprising if the acting general manager has only
once forced one GMB employee to work on his farm and that was the occasion
when the accident happened. There is no board, so there is no one who can
conduct an inquiry into whether or not the acting general manager has used
other GMB employees or GMB vehicles on his farm.

As there is no board for the GMB, it means that it was the minister
who decided that the GMB should buy maize from farmers for $54 000 a tonne
and then sell it to the millers for $600 a tonne. Reserve Bank governor
Gideon Gono pointed out the absurdity of that policy and the openings for

Rugare Gumbo, present Minister of Agriculture, after pondering the
matter for several months, realised that Gono's criticism was very accurate
and has remedied the position.

Because the acting general manager is not the substantive holder of
the post, he is very vulnerable. If he does not do what the minister wants,
he will find himself demoted and a more pliant person appointed to act as
general manager. As there is no board it is obvious that the minister has
taken the decisions that should have been made by the board.

That means that they are all unlawful, but of course no one challenges
them. If Made wanted to use any GMB vehicle or employee on his farm he
merely had to tell the acting general manager and he would get what he

There have been reports that the minister has also used Arex and other
parastatal tractors for his farming purposes. Some years ago an Arex tractor
was written off after an accident which happened when the driver was
returning to the minister's farm after attending a beer drink in Marondera.

The new Minister of Agriculture, Gumbo, must, if he has any respect
for the rule of law, appoint a board for the GMB and the board must conduct
an inquiry into the activities at the GMB over the last three years,
especially the use of GMB employees, tractors and other equipment on farms
belonging to chefs.

Made, by allowing the GMB to operate unlawfully without a board for
years, was guilty of gross dereliction of duty and showed blatant contempt
for the rule of law and the sanctity of the oath he took to uphold the laws
of Zimbabwe.

Despite that, he remains a minister and obviously will have access to
tractors and other equipment for use on his farm and those of his friends.

However, he now does not have the responsibility to administer any Act
of parliament. Obviously, the president has appreciated Made's limitations.
Maybe he is now busy flying over the country to see how much maize and wheat
is not going to be reaped.

* Retired Justice George Smith writes from Harare

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State repression set to intensify

Zim Independent

By Phillip Pasirayi

GRAVE human rights abuses that are happening at the instigation of the
state and Zanu PF functionaries characterised by torture of opposition
politicians and civic rights activists will increase as the presidential and
parliamentary elections due to be held in March 2008 approach.

The brutal and savage attack of opposition leaders on March 11 at a
Save Zimbabwe Campaign-organised prayer session was more telling of the
events to come ahead of the next election. The Zanu PF regime is using
terror tactics reminiscent of those employed by the apartheid regime in
South Africa to crush the opposition.

In the last few weeks, opposition politicians and journalists were
abducted while a number of freedom activists have been arrested on trumped
up charges of masterminding petrol-bombing of police stations. Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa, who is lucky to be
alive, was savagely attacked at the Harare International Airport while on an
official trip to Brussels.

The conspiracy theories that have been peddled by Zanu PF against the
MDC are aimed at portraying it as a terrorist organisation whose leadership
must be crushed. This explains why Chamisa was attacked using iron bars and
why Last Maengahama, an MDC official, was abducted, beaten and dumped in

Part of the conspiracy is to liken MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to the
late Jonas Savimbi of Angola and make claims that the MDC is a creation of
the United Kingdom and the United States.

President Robert Mugabe is set to use a blend of tactics to win the
presidency in March next year. Instead of shouldering blame for the economic
meltdown, Mugabe and his mandarins are going to overplay the "illegal
sanctions" card and blame the MDC for having called for the sanctions.

Apart from the sanctions, the Zanu PF government, having already
declared 2007 a drought year, will make sure it uses food as a political
weapon to punish those that do not support it and only distribute food to
its supporters. The Zanu PF party card is going to be used to determine
those who qualify for food handouts.

It is also important to make the observation that if Zanu PF wins the
election, it is not on the basis of popularity but on what the late
Professor Masipula Sithole called "the margin of terror". The margin of
terror refers to state-sponsored violence characterised by abductions,
disappearances, assassinations and torture of opposition politicians. In
past elections, violence has worked in favour of Zanu PF even when it was
clear that the people wanted a change of government.

The elections in 2008 are likely to be bloodier compared to 2002 as
the youth militia and war veterans who have already been conscripted into
the Zimbabwe National Army as a reserve force and the Chipangano thugs are
going to be deployed to deal with the MDC.

The demand by civic and faith-based groups that the 2008 election must
be conducted under a new democratic constitution must not be the only demand
to make elections free and fair. There must be specific demands on the state
which are aimed at democratising and making freer the environment within
which elections are conducted in Zimbabwe.

Part of the demands includes disbanding the paramilitary groups who
abuse the people and prosecution of public officials who are funding these
groups to abduct, beat and dump MDC officials.

There is also need to repeal colonial-type legislation that stifles
peoples' freedoms and re-orient security agencies such as the police, the
army and the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) so that they serve
national rather than partisan, interests.

The officials who are responsible for abusing citizens' rights and
abusing public office must be named and shamed. It is the responsibility of
the State to promulgate laws and to put in place administrative, judicial
and quasi-judicial bodies that protect the citizens' rights, including
suffrage rights. In our country, it is criminal to campaign, vote or be a
member of the opposition.

An independent judiciary plays a vital role in providing protection
against violations of human rights. In Zimbabwe, the judiciary is an
appendage of the executive, making it difficult for those whose rights are
violated to get justice through the courts. A classical example is the MDC
election petitions for 2000 which have since been left to gather dust on the
shelves at the High Court.

The events of the past few weeks have also indicated that there is
need for pro-democracy groups in Zimbabwe to set up what may be termed as
rapid response teams of lawyers, journalists and physicians who will react
swiftly to the abductions and torture of activists. The MDC and civic groups
must put in place viable security measures in face of continued attacks from
CIO operatives.

At the height of farm invasions, human rights violations of a bigger
magnitude were perpetrated by individuals and groups such as the war
veterans that are aligned to Zanu PF. These violations took place with

Instead of being punished, the youth militia or police are promoted
for beating or torturing MDC supporters. The Zanu PF thugs who killed Petros
Jeka in Masvingo, David Stevens in Macheke, and Patrick Nabanyama and the
CIOs who murdered Tsvangirai's campaign agents, Talent Mabika and Tichaona
Chiminya, in the run-up to the 2000 parliamentary elections are still free.

* Phillip Pasirayi is a human rights researcher.

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Talks face old fate

Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

By Vincent Kahiya

AS I mentioned in this column last week, a negotiated settlement in
Zimbabwe between President Mugabe's Zanu PF and the opposition faces many
pitfalls caused by Mugabe's intransigence and the MDC's lack of tact.

To be really cynical about the whole talks issue, one is bound to feel
that the process is already in trouble and headed for the same fate that
befell proposed dialogue five years ago.

Zanu PF's newspaper, The Voice in a leader article this week, spelt
out the party's position over talks. "What Talks?" its headline story
questioned, tongue in cheek. The paper quoted party spokesman Nathan
Shamuyarira as dismissing MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai's assertions last
week that he was ready for talks.

"We cannot have talks with them if they go behind our backs," said
Shamuyarira. "If they want serious talks with us, they must come as true
Zimbabweans and not appear as puppets of the West."

Shamuyarira also said the MDC should denounce targeted Western
sanctions on Zimbabwe for "Tsvangirai to have serious talks with President

Mugabe in his Independence speech on Wednesday did not attack the
talks but instead went for the MDC to press home the point that the party is
a Western construct bent on regime change and not national development.

Sentiments in Mugabe's speech and Shamuyarira's comments are not new
because this has always been the position of Zanu PF. In this new context of
Sadc mediation, Mugabe has cunningly avoided attacking the South African
initiative to mediate in talks for a negotiated settlement.

That way he tries to demonstrate commitment to dialogue, albeit
putting pressure on the opposition to back out of the process by using
threats and denunciation. In all this the opportunity for dialogue is still

President Mugabe's attacks could just be little war dances to
intimidate his opponents. More seriously though, Zanu PF is laying on the
table its pre-conditions for talks. This is Mugabe already taking charge of
the process to ensure that the other parties in negotiations will have to
follow his lead or react to his antics.

Mugabe wants the MDC to denounce sanctions. The issue of sanctions
will play big in any future engagement with the MDC. Mugabe will now
brandish Sadc's resolution from last month's summit in Dar es Salaam, where
the regional bloc is said to have called for the lifting of sanctions
against Zimbabwe. He will use this to rally against the MDC which is accused
of instigating targeted sanctions.

Zanu PF also wants the MDC to shed the puppet mask the opposition
leaders have been accused of donning since the formation of the party.
President Mugabe wants Tsvangirai to recognise him as the legitimate leader
of Zimbabwe. This is almost akin to saying that if Tsvangirai wants talks,
he should come grovelling - tail between his legs - and begging for the
emperor's attention.

This will be a major climb-down by the opposition leader who until
today feels cheated after losing the 2002 presidential election to Mugabe by
a narrow margin, hence the issue of Mugabe's legitimacy. President Mugabe is
keen to ensure that the MDC is forced to abandon its tough stance and show a
soft underbelly to Mugabe's archers. That way the party would go into any
negotiated position hopelessly weak and with it, the predictable result of

Tsvangirai and Mutambara grovelling? No politician wants that uncanny
distinction hence the two would like to cut the picture of tough-as-nails

But then to achieve this successfully they need to counter a Zanu PF
position that portrays the party as puppets of the west. This should be a
strong counter-attack, effective enough to take dialogue forward. There has
not been evidence of any counter-offensive yet from the opposition to move

There are senior members in the opposition who believe that the MDC
should work towards cleansing themselves of the puppetry curse. Mutambara
two years ago entered the political scene promising to do just that. He said
he was putting the British and the Americans on notice to ensure that the
two countries did not speak on behalf of the opposition.

Success in this area has been imperceptible. Meanwhile Mugabe has
already started campaigning for next year's election and the refrain at his
rallies always contains the word puppets.

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Killing the golden goose

Zim Independent


ELSEWHERE in this edition we run the story of the depressing situation
in the gold mining sector where the majority of large-scale producers have
been forced to close shop due to failure by the central bank to pay them for
gold delivered.

The dispute over pricing of gold has been going on for more than six
months and the situation has deteriorated to levels where producers can no
longer keep their mines open. The gold producers are supposed to receive
67,5% of payments for gold delivered in foreign currency while the rest
should be in local currency at the official exchange rate. The central bank
is three months in arrears as payment is supposed to be 50% within four days
of delivery and the other portion in 21 days. The central bank has not been
able to pay the producers because there is no foreign currency.

It is not only the issue of late payment that has rocked producers but
the price is also not right. One producer this week said a plate of sadza
and vegetables was now more expensive than an ounce of gold at the fixed
price of $16 000. This is how the industry has been trivialised!

The crisis taking root in the gold sector is also mirrored in the
tobacco sector where farmers have withheld delivery of the crop to the
auction floors in protest at low prices wrought by an unrealistic exchange
rate. Sections of the business community and politicians in January
celebrated when central bank governor Gideon Gono announced that there would
be no devaluation of the local currency. The celebrations have now become
hollow in light of the crisis in the two sectors which are major foreign
currency generators. The tragedy of tobacco and gold producers is that they
produce commodities for predetermined customers who happen to be Fidelity
Printers in the case of gold and local floors for tobacco. Any trade outside
these markets is illegal. Under normal business practice, if a customer
cannot pay the right price or pay on time for goods delivered, the producer
moves off to other markets.

Gold producers have therefore been producing for a customer who can
neither pay the right price nor simply pay on time. They cannot withhold the
gold produced in protest because this would be against the law. The only
other option available to them was to suspend operations and they took it.

The country's exchange rate policy has over the years failed to blend
in with basic economic fundamentals in each sector of the economy. This
failure to synchronise industrial processes and exchange rate policy is
responsible for the sickly state of the mining sector.

The capital-intensive sector requires inputs in foreign currency,
hence timeous payments of producers would enable them to import spare parts
and chemicals straight from the supplier, which eliminates the middlemen and
saves foreign currency. Because there is no foreign currency available,
importation of inputs has stopped and with it production.

But our government does not appear to understand the elementary fact
that gold producers can only produce more if they have the foreign currency
resources to finance production processes. The government has over the years
watched as production figures plummeted from 27 tonnes in 1999 to less than
10 tonnes expected this year.

Our rulers have been quick to blame the decline in production on
smuggling of the commodity. To add impetus to this self-belief, the
government last year launched Operation Chikorokoza Chapera to flush out
smugglers and rid the industry of supposed illegality.

President Mugabe on Wednesday warned that the government would not
hesitate to arrest smugglers of precious minerals. There is no doubt that
there is illegality obtaining in the sector but if the truth be told,
smuggling is not responsible for the current plunge in production figures.
It is a skewed pricing system and the exchange rate policy that have
continued to cause havoc in the sector.

Monthly gold deliveries have been in decline since November when just
over 1 050 kg were delivered to Fidelity. This month producers are expected
to deliver less than 500kg. This is after the conclusion of Operation
Chikorokoza Chapera! One is then compelled to ask what purpose the operation
served and whether it was worth the resources committed to it. But our
government's propensity to focus attention and commit resources to
superfluous projects has become legendary. Time is fast running out to save
the mining sector. The government and the central bank must come up with a
pricing model that is sensitive to the needs of industry to ensure continued
production. President Mugabe was on Wednesday talking of plans to indigenise
the gold mining sector. But Mr President, do we have to kill the sector
first before restructuring it to redistribute wealth?


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Zimbabweans must own the outcome

Zim Independent

Candid Comment

By Joram Nyathi

ZIMBABWEANS suffer from a terrible disease. It is called blaming. We
like to blame and we enjoy failure, especially if that failure can be blamed
on President Mugabe, Zanu PF or Gideon Gono. We then portray ourselves as
innocent victims. Ditto: inflation, NEDPP, the stalled social contract, the
stalemate on tobacco sales and the foreign currency black market.

As I write people are waiting to celebrate another failure by
President Thabo Mbeki in his mediation in Zimbabwe. A bit of context.

When in September last year churches proposed national dialogue as the
way forward, they were blamed for giving Mugabe a lifeline. Their National
Vision document was spurned. Critics tore through it, asking who had crafted
it, why had they met President Mugabe at State House, and why
"controversial" had been substituted for "draconian" laws in the "original"

People knew what needed to be done and did not want to be distracted,
we were told. I was among the misguided few who believed the bishops'
proposals constituted a positive departure from the usual
counter-recriminations. No. It was "quiet diplomacy". Why didn't they shout
at Mugabe?

I don't know what has become of that noble initiative. What I know is
that the bishops quietly gave way to those whose unproclaimed vision
"resonated" with the people, those who did not want to give President Mugabe
a lifeline.

Many months down the line Mugabe is still solidly in power and the
political situation has got much worse, showing that nobody has a foolproof,
quick-fix answer to the Zimbabwean crisis. More than that, we are back to
Mbeki's quiet diplomacy once again.

What I find remarkable this time is the complete silence about whether
this is a good or bad decision by MDC leaders. The reservations raised so
far relate to Mbeki's impartiality, not the decision to endorse him as a
mediator between Zanu PF and MDC and why they think he will be an honest
broker now when in 2003 the MDC threatened to pull out of Sadc in future
because it had been let down.

But then to question that decision is unpardonable. It is to look the
gods in the eye, so I will sidestep that and only show why we suffer from a
disease called blaming.

My dictionary defines a broker as a negotiator, one who acts as an
intermediary - an agent who arranges marriages or negotiates contracts of
purchase and sale. This is what the March-end emergency Sadc summit in
Tanzania mandated Thabo Mbeki to do.

Mbeki has stated unambiguously that the solution to our crisis lies
with the people of Zimbabwe. He wants Zimbabweans to take charge of the
negotiating process and hence ownership of the outcome.

On the other hand the media and the MDC have cast him in the
improbable role of a messiah coming to save Zimbabweans while we sit idly
by. In response to a letter from Mbeki, one MDC faction leader is quoted as
saying: "We as the MDC want to see how President Mbeki is going to resolve
this crisis. We wish him well."

Shouldn't it be Mbeki wishing our sick country well? If this infantile
attitude doesn't change then we are about to celebrate another failure and
there is already a candidate to blame. The process is already being viewed
as a Mbeki problem and a final test of his quiet diplomacy. Even holding
elections in March is now held up as evidence of Mbeki's support for Mugabe.

Instead of the MDC helping ease Mbeki's mediation task, it "wishes him
well". All it has to do for its part is issue demands which Mbeki must take
to Mugabe and Zanu PF. If they accept them, he is successful. If they are
rejected, Mbeki is confirmed as a failure. The opposition and the
international community can then celebrate the final interment of his quiet

Similarly, Mbeki won't be interested in Mugabe's propaganda about the
MDC being a terrorist organisation or that it is entirely a creation of
people who want to recolonise Zimbabwe. State-sponsored violence will have
to come to an end. Mbeki is interested in more substantial issues related to
the welfare of Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans.

But negotiations succeed because all parties are committed, are
willing to give up something and take their national obligations with
sincerity. So far we have only heard demands from the MDC. They are prepared
for talks if Zanu PF delivers Mugabe; they want power sharing and are ready
to grant Mugabe immunity for past crimes. Most important, they want a new

I ask myself today how it was possible for those bishops to have their
reputations sullied by their closeness to Mugabe more than his cabinet
ministers and other architects of government policies with whom the MDC now
seeks to cut political deals. I thought the fight was more against an evil
system than an individual? Will sadistic state agents who torture and beat
up opposition supporters transform into angels over night just because
Mugabe is gone and there is a new face at State House?

Curiously, nobody has solicited Zanu PF's views on the Sadc initiative
and Mbeki's role as the peace broker. It is portrayed as the vanquished part
and must surrender everything.

This to me is to approach the negotiation process in utter bad faith
and there can be nothing better assured to fail. Mbeki could soon get
frustrated if this is the environment in which he is expected to help. He
will decide his time is being wasted and let Zimbabweans stew in their own

Mugabe is not averse to that turn of events. He is remorseless and has
become an implacable enemy. Some more bloodshed for him is a little balm to
cool his path as the action enters the catastrophe. His fear is most likely
that the MDC will act rationally and deny him a final demonstration of what
he is capable of doing, if only to spite Tony Blair and George Bush. He
already relishes the fact that he will outlive them in office.

As for the MDC, the truth of its situation is more sobering than the
surrealistic interpretations about the improved stature of its leaders
following the brutal police beatings of March 11.

In the international community, the injuries to opposition leaders and
their supporters had no more than a Sharpville effect, emphasising at once
Mugabe's tyranny and the utter vulnerability of those fighting it. It
provoked the usual condemnation and Mugabe told his critics to "go hang". He
has innoculated himself against so-called international opinion.

Locally, what the beatings did was to temporarily relieve the MDC of
the paralysing catatonia caused by the October 2005 rupture. There has been
visible activity although there are no obvious indications of a meeting of
minds in the leadership which Mbeki is demanding.

Mbeki must realise he is dealing with an opposition which overrates
its bargaining power and an intransigent, arrogant old man who cannot
contemplate life outside State House and sees next year's election as his
final showdown with the forces of imperialism. Failure by faction leaders in
his party to openly challenge him only
reinforces this belief in his indispensability.

In the end Mbeki's success or failure rests on Zimbabwe's political
leaders putting the national interest before personal egos. There can be no
outright winner as a party or at the personal level. It is Zimbabweans who
must succeed or fail. Mbeki comes merely to facilitate a process and an
outcome which ultimately must reflect the wishes of the people of Zimbabwe.
Anything else is a foreign impost with no legitimacy, and Mbeki is alive to
that fact.

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Hired guns bid to dupe Herald readers

Zim Independent


"HOW do people feel knowing that Western powers have been paying
people to criticise the Zimbabwe government? They should feel duped." says
the state propaganda machine's latest hired gun, Ayinde Hotep of Trinidad &

He joins a long list of dubious contributors who are hired by the
state to dupe Herald readers into believing that President Mugabe is a
victim of Western bullying.

Some of the reports about Mugabe may be true, Hotep concedes. The
Zimbabwe government isn't perfect. "It is easy for any government that
believes it is being unfairly attacked to become repressive," this Caribbean
apologist argues.

His Herald piece was lifted from It should be
called judging by the facile justification of Zanu PF's
excesses. But we would like to know how many of these foreign mercenaries
have been recruited to the state's cause and what actual connection they
have to Zimbabwe's politics. How many have even been here?

We have seen Obi Egbuna emerging from the MIC offices so it is safe to
conclude he is a regular visitor to Zimbabwe. But many are happy to use
Zimbabwe as a weapon in their wars against Bush/Blair.

Steven Gowans sits in the comfort of Ottawa and tells us "Zanu PF's
abridgement of formal liberties (including freedom of assembly and freedom
to travel outside the country) are warranted restraints justified by the
need to protect the political programme of the elected government".

So here is another hired gun who is happy to see Zimbabweans deprived
of their liberties so he can pursue his private war against Western leaders.

Gowans cites George Shiri as his source on the land issue, so we end
up with a foreign oppressor quoting as his source a Zimbabwean who declines
to live or work in Zimbabwe!

And what of the local apologists? Who is David Samuriwo? He tried to
revise a death threat against British diplomat Gillian Dare last week
following a diplomatic incident over his first foray. It wasn't actually a
death threat, he lamely pretended. Then he repeated it.

Should she continue with her "nefarious activities" in trying to
locate arrested MDC officials at various police stations, "she might be
caught in the crossfire and end up in a body bag".

We know something definite about Samuriwo from this. He, like all
state bullies, is a coward. But why does the Herald not tell us who he is or
is it a secret?

And why Does Peter Mavunga file from London? Why is he so reluctant to
live in this country?

The same goes for other foreign-based super-patriots who prefer to
live in countries whose leaders they excoriate but whose lifestyles they

At least Samuriwo confirms that a police station is not a safe place.
And visitors planning to come to Zimbabwe in 2010 will hardly be reassured
to hear that there is "crossfire" taking place in the vicinity of these
law-and-order establishments!

Exactly who is firing at who Samuriwo doesn't reveal. But we did enjoy
his description of Cosatu as "a union of sheep in wolves' clothing".

A new British government, following Tony Blair's departure, might
realise the necessity of engagement with the government of Zimbabwe, he

Really? What planet is he living on? As US ambassador Christopher Dell
pointed out in the Standard this week, "it was hard to think that any
government could do anything resembling bridge-building when it was so
intolerant of criticism".

The government, he said, didn't understand the "extremely negative
consequences" the country would experience of unleashing a campaign against
foreign critics.

Samuriwo doesn't understand that either, it would appear.

Zimbabwe is already experiencing very negative consequences of
"bashing" leaders of the opposition. Only a regime threatened by a
potentially successful party would feel the need to resort to this. If
Mugabe feels he deserves another term why doesn't he allow his views to
compete in the market place of ideas? What is he afraid of?

But who in their right mind would vote for more of the same: more
inflation, more unemployment, more misery and more repression? The bashing
that he promises the opposition is a confession of failure; that he has
nothing else to offer and knows it.

The New York Times this week said Western diplomats and election
observers generally believe Mugabe's party has won major elections this
decade only through fraud.

"The government's critics see the attacks on the opposition as the
beginning of a strategy to ensure that the MDC will be unable to win even a
reasonably fair presidential race," the paper said.

Interviewed by the paper, Dell called the assaults "a concerted,
thorough, sanctioned-from-the-top effort to cripple the MDC by physical
violence and intimidation".

"He's hoping that international attention will drift away from
Zimbabwe again so he can do this in the dark of the night when no one is
looking," Dell said.

Has Wayne Bvudzijena told us yet what progress has been made in the
apprehension of those responsible for the attack on Nelson Chamisa at Harare
airport? This was surely a matter that needed urgent attention given how
badly it reflects on the country. But while MDC activists have been arrested
and refused bail by helpful magistrates, those responsible for abductions,
torture and murder have appeared to escape the attentions of the police. How
do we explain this?

And there was Nicholas Goche accusing business leaders on the
Tripartite Negotiating Forum of not negotiating in good faith. He even had
the gall to accuse business of wanting to see chaos in the country.

Business leaders should spell out for him the impact of inflation on
their businesses. What measures has the government taken to rein in

Ministries were reported this week to be way over budget.

What are they doing right now to curb inflation? It is completely out
of control with the state's incontinent spending driving it. No wonder they
are trying to hide the figures.

As for chaos in the country, why doesn't Goche tell us who are
responsible for the abductions and assaults that have so tarnished the
country's reputation and killed off what was left of the tourist industry?

Business leaders must not let ministers get away with dishonest
attempts at scapegoating. The government is directly responsible for
inflation and political chaos and its delinquency needs to be advertised by
those it blames. As for charges of business wanting to see regime change,
Goche needs to understand that the whole country wants to see regime change.
People want a regime that will manage the country's affairs competently and

Only Goche and Zanu PF want to see a continuation of the current
situation where pay is eroded, people lose their jobs and thousands are
forced into emigration to countries that have prospering economies. This is
a regime that promotes lawlessness and instability and robs people of their

John Nkomo needs to understand that as well before he makes any
further silly comments about Western countries using NGOs to foment
instability. Who is fomenting instability here? Who is organising the terror
gangs that stalk the land? Certainly not NGOs.

We liked Not-so-Bright's remarks about the Spanish destroying
Equatorial Guinea's broadcasting equipment 200 years ago. He was showing his
Guinean counterpart around Zimpapers.

Guinean Information minister Santiago Nchama claimed that "after 200
years of colonial rule our president had to fight to liberate our country".

He didn't say what happened to his president's predecessor and how
that little episode fitted into the country's history!

Equatorial Guinea was today a "liberated, free and democratic
society", we were told.

Amazing isn't it how ministers of information get away with these lies
in captive newspapers which question nothing.

Anybody concerned with the independence of magistrates will not have
found much comfort from Michelle Gudo who denied three MDC youths bail this

"Considering the current political tension and that the accused are
already sensationalising the politically charged environment," she was
reported as saying, "there is clear indication that the accused are likely
to continue using their illegal behaviour or even do worse things".

She then said that by denying them bail, the court was not implying
that the three were guilty!

Morgan Tsvangirai's remarks at a press conference last week about a
complicit judiciary need to be noted. Dozens of people have been deprived of
their right to liberty even when the state admits it is still looking for a
case against them.

A reader has mailed us to say in an earlier more tranquil age in
Britain it was always said that if ever you wanted to know the time you
could ask a policeman.

The same is unlikely to be said in Zimbabwe today. You are likely to
get the reply: "It's time for a bashing."

Will the editor of the Business Herald please tell her reporters that
Air Zimbabwe is the national airline, not the national "airliner" (March
30). An airliner is what AirZim occasionally puts in the air. Perhaps David
Mwenga could write one of his letters to them!

Muckraker's award for stating the obvious goes to Industry minister
Obert Mpofu. Visiting a Bulawayo factory last week he threw this pearl of
analytical wisdom before us: "Prices are going up at an hourly rate. If this
goes unchecked it will have a negative impact on our economy. At the rate at
which things are going there will be no economy to talk of."

By George, I think he's got it.

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Business morale hits all-time low

Zim Independent

By Eric Bloch

A PAUCITY of business confidence has been a pronounced characteristic
of the Zimbabwean economy for an extended period of time. But all
indications are that what little confidence has continued to prevail is
rapidly eroding, with confidence levels plummeting to an all-time low.

Doom and gloom, despondency and depression have become the order of
the day throughout almost all sectors of the economy, including industry,
commerce, finance and virtually all others. More and more are becoming
convinced that the economy is beyond redemption, while most of the very few
who still consider an economic recovery is possible are wholly convinced
that such possibility is wholly contingent upon an immediate change of the
Zimbabwe political hierarchy.

It is incontrovertible that the economy is in a disastrously
devastated state, far worse than has ever been experienced before in

Inflation continues to soar upwards unabated, with most convinced that
the real rate of inflation is very markedly greater than that determined by
the Central Statistical Office. It is widely believed that, in reality,
inflation has catapulted upwards to an annualised rate in excess of 3 000%,
or almost three times that of only three months ago.

With perceptions that inflation has virtually trebled since the turn
of the year, expectations of commerce and industry, and of an overwhelming
majority of the population, are that inflation will not only continue to
surge higher and higher, but will exceed 5 000% by June 2007, and could well
exceed 10 000% before year-end.

The pronouncedly pessimistic expectations of never-ending worsening of
inflation are founded not only upon the fact that inflation has been rising
continuously over a relatively extended period of time, almost entirely
without interruption, but more substantially because there is no perception
that government is doing anything meaningful to curb and contain that

Instead, all indications are that government continues (as it has done
with anything and everything that has gone wrong since Independence) to
disclaim any and all responsibility for whatsoever may be the calamitous
circumstance, and concurrently to attribute blame to others, and thus it
does so insofar as inflation is concerned, as it does for all else.

Deliberately oblivious to the facts that the inordinately high
inflation afflicting Zimbabwe has been occasioned by those governmental acts
of omission and commission that have fuelled immense scarcities of foreign
currency, decreased industrial productivity, and nearly destroyed
agriculture, government unhesitatingly and ceaselessly blames commerce and
industry, the private sector in general, and the international community,
for that inflation.

Instead of trying to address the real causes of inflation, government
resorts to endless threats of dire actions against industrialists and
traders, recurrently asserts that it will intensify price controls, and that
it will wreak vengeance against profiteers (which, it has convinced itself,
are all within the business sector, save for those who are members of the
ruling party, even if their prices are higher than any others).

In doing so, it equally continuously disregards that not only have
price controls never effectively contained inflation, whether in Zimbabwe or
elsewhere, but they have usually exacerbated scarcities, and thereby
stimulated black market operations, which in turn trigger yet further

Based upon recent ministerial statements, and accompanying threats,
government takes it for granted that each and every price increase is solely
an act of profiteering. That almost all input costs are directly or
indirectly affected by the escalating parallel market foreign exchange rates
(themselves driven by intensifying currency scarcity) is apparently wholly
dismissed by government as being a factor necessitating price increases.

So too government appears to dismiss cavalierly that businesses must
pass on rising costs of electricity, telecommunications, local authority
charges, rentals, salaries and wages, and numerous other costs, unless they
are to sustain losses and ultimately be forced into closure.

Moreover, in a hyperinflationary environment, profit generation must
be sufficiently great as to ensure that working capital resources grow apace
with inflation, failing which future operations cannot be adequately funded,
thereby also resulting in business failure.

Government's inability to recognise realities (or its total
unwillingness to do so), and its boundless vitriolic threats directed at the
economy's private sector, is a very major trigger for the intense loss of
confidence, and for the very extensive negative morale, that now abounds
throughout commerce and industry. And yet, that is but one of the triggers.

The appalling deterioration of almost all facets of the infrastructure
necessary for effective, viable economic activity has been accelerating at a
gargantuan pace. Most factories are faced with electricity load-shedding as
frequently as four times each week, and sometimes even more, usually for
periods of four to six hours.

Very often, the days and timings of discontinued energy supply are at
considerable variance to schedules issued by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply
Authority, playing havoc with all industrial production planning and
control. Similar havoc is inflicted upon most trading operations, impacting
upon cold rooms, freezers, refrigerators, cash registers, lighting and much
else critical to effective operations.

Similarly, telecommunications are deteriorating continuously, and this
pertains to not only land-line services, but also to all the mobile
telephone networks. Congestion in the telephonic systems is so great that it
can take numerous hours to achieve a connection on any intercity, regional
or international call, or to any mobile telephone number. The combination of
valuable time losses, and intense frustration, further diminishes confidence
levels in all sectors of the economy.

Yet another confidence-destroying factor is the growing divide between
employers and labour. Workers are, almost without exception, unable to align
their incomes with the basic, essential needs of themselves and their
families, and therefore make continuous demands upon employers for
inflation-related remuneration enhancement, irrespective of the enterprises'
ability to fund increments.

At the same time, with the financial stresses and pressures upon them,
the workers inevitably allow their standards of performance to decline,
negatively impacting upon both volumes and qualities of production. In turn,
the employers, battling to assure survival of their businesses, while
sympathetic and understanding of the employees' trying circumstances,
inevitably become aggravated by the continuing demands made of them, and
especially so when the demands are confrontationally made, and are unmatched
by necessary operational performance.

Compounding all these and the many other catalysts of declining
business confidence is government's endless, abusive usage of its monolithic
propaganda machine to berate the international community with false and
fictitious allegations and misrepresentations, destroying prospects of
Zimbabwe being accorded the international support as is a prerequisite to
the country's economic recovery and growth.

That misuse of the propaganda machine is also continuously applied to
bolster a pretence of Zimbabwean total adherence to the principles of good
governance, preservation of, and compliance with the precepts of, law and
order, of respect for human, and for property, rights.

So blatantly untrue is much of that propaganda that Zimbabwe is
becoming more and more distanced from almost all of the world's nations,
other than those of like or similar ideologies and governmental
authoritarian methodologies.

As a result, foreign direct investment, lines of credit, developmental
aid, and even trade, are dwindling more and more. Thus perceptions of
economic recovery being possible are more and more scant, causing greater
and greater losses of confidence.

The absence of business confidence will be yet another nail in the
coffin of economic recovery, and very probably the largest of them all. And
that, in turn, will undoubtedly become the main nail in government's own
coffin,for by destroying the economy, government is hastening its own

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Special prayer vigil for Zimbabwe


Press Notice - 19th April 2007

Zimbabwean exiles in the United Kingdom are to observe a Prayer Vigil from
2 - 6 pm on Saturday, 21st April, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand,
London to mark what they say is a holocaust now taking place in their

The Vigil will be led by two visitors fresh from Zimbabwe, Useni Sibanda and
Promise Manceda of the Zimbabwean Christian Alliance (ZCA). The ZCA
spearheads the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, the umbrella organisation from which
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Zimbabwe's main opposition party,
and civic bodies in Zimbabwe are campaigning for change.

The Save Zimbabwe Campaign organised the prayer meeting on 11th March which
resulted in the brutal assaults on many opposition activists including
Morgan Tsvangirai, President of the MDC.  This exploded the situation into
international arena.

The Vigil has invited many church groups to be with us on this day which is
the closest Saturday to Zimbabwe's Independence Day, which we marked with
demonstrations outside South Africa House, 10 Downing Street and Parliament
(see Vigil Diary 18/04/2007,

"Each time a man or a woman stands up for justice, the heavens sing and the
world rejoices."

Useni and Promise will be addressing the Central London Zimbabwe Forum on
Monday, 23rd April at 7.30 pm. Venue: The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum at
Development House, 56-64 Leonard Street, London EC2A 4JX, Nearest tube: Old

For further information, contact: Vigil Co-ordinator: Rose Benton, 07970 996

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Sad Picture

The Mercury


April 20, 2007 Edition 1

Zimbabweans this week took stock of changes that had occurred in their
country over the past 27 years - and many privately hated much of what they

The country's liberator, Robert Mugabe, exhibited tremendous leadership
qualities when he took over in the early 80s. He had great plans for the
southern African nation. This had inspired hope of better things to come.

His first few years in power left little doubt that he meant what he said
when he promised his people that never again would they be treated as
second-class citizens.

The so-called breadbasket of the region was in the making, and the economy
had already begun to lift many hopes and transform millions of lives.

On the social front, Mugabe rolled out one of the best education plans on
the continent and Zimbabwe became the most educated and literate among the
54 African nations. It is not even a decade since Zimbabwe's public health
system was recognised as one of the best in Africa.

How things have changed in 27 years. Mugabe's unrelenting grip on power has
taken its toll. The economy snapped first, and social deterioration soon

Today, four out of five Zimbabweans are unemployed - a statistic that has
broken down the family structure as millions flee the country to eke out a
living elsewhere. Rapid inflation, now sitting at 1 700%, means that few can
afford three meals a day.

Parents are struggling to keep abreast of escalating school fees. The health
system is on its knees - a worrying thought in a country with such a high
incidence of HIV/Aids.

And barely a whisper of discontent is to be heard. Either you are with me or
you are against me, Mugabe tells his people. In the present climate, few
dare to challenge him.

At 27, Zimbabwe has become a dysfunctional adult. Now, the question is: how
can Zimbabweans liberate themselves from Mugabe?

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Zimbabwe Government Reported In Bailout Of Friendly News Group


By Jonga Kandemiiri
19 April 2007

News reports and media sources said the Zimbabwean government is pouring
some Z$178 billion (US$8.9 million) into the Mirror Newspaper Group to allow
it to revive the Daily and Sunday Mirror Newspapers, both of which ceased
publication in March.

It was not clear which government branch would be putting up the funds.
Mirror Group Chairman Jonathan Kadzura said in March that his publications
ran into a shortage of newsprint, but knowledgeable sources said the holding
company was bankrupt.

The Central Intelligence Organization was said to have taken control of the
papers in 2005, though its previous owner, Ibbo Mandaza was trying to regain

Mirror Acting Chief Executive Tichaona Chifamba denied the media group was
being bailed out by the government, whose policies were supported in Mirror

Legal officer Wilbert Mandinde of the Zimbabwe branch of the Media Institute
of Southern Africa told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that he welcomes media
plurality, but thinks Harare should come clean on the deal as public money
is involved.

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Harare Magistrate Refuses To Intervene In Alleged Political Evictions


By Carole Gombakomba
19 April 2007

A Harare magistrate has declined to overturn an eviction order issued to 25
families turned out of their homes last week, allegedly on political

Lawyers for the families said the magistrate ruled that if the families were
allowed to move back into the houses in Harare's Masasa district, it would
in effect set aside the certificate of ejection which the present landlord
obtained from the courts.

The residential property, previously owned by the Zimbabwe Leaf Tobacco
Company, was purchased by Deputy Agriculture Minister Sylvester Nguni,
sources said.

The evicted families, who were still camped outside their former homes, say
they have been victimized because they support the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change. Sources said policemen have taken over their homes.

Official Alexio Maphosa of the Combined Harare Residents Association told
reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Nguni visited
the complex last week and provided confirmation that the evictions were

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We will never talk to MDC-Zanu(PF)

The Zimbabwean

HARARE - The ruling Zanu (PF) party has said it will "never" hold talks with
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) charging it was an
appendage of the West, effectively giving the SADC and South African
President Thabo Mbeki the middle finger.
Southern African leaders last month appointed Mbeki to head efforts aimed at
promoting dialogue between President Robert Mugabe's Zanu (PF) party and the
MDC. But even before the ink has dried on the SADC initiative, the ruling
party is already dithering.
Mbeki, who since 2000 led collapsed talks between the country's political
protagonists in a bid to rescue the tattered economy and chaotic politics in
Zimbabwe, has repeatedly been slammed for his "quiet diplomacy," a
hear-no-evil, see-no-evil policy that has seen Zimbabwe sink deeper and
deeper into crisis.
Mbeki has said he believed all sides in Zimbabwe agreed that political talks
were the best way to address the crisis.
But Zanu (PF) spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira said the ruling party had no
business talking to "puppets of the West."
"We cannot talk to them when they go behind our backs," Shamuyarira said.
"They must first change their anti-people stance, and show to us that they
are no longer a puppet party. If they want serious talks with us they must
come as true Zimbabweans not as puppets of the West. First the MDC should
withdraw its call for Zimbabwe to be isolated. They must go back to their
masters and tell them to lift sanctions before they can talk to President
Mbeki last week wrote to Mugabe, and the two MDC leaders Morgan Tsvangirai
and Arthur Mutambara informing them about the terms of reference of the
talks. In a response seen by The Zimbabwean, the MDC stated that it would
not compromise on demands for a new constitution before the poll.
But Shamuyarira said: "We are not going to have a new constitution now and
we don't know what they are talking about. We proposed a new constitution
and it was rejected by the same opposition that is now calling for a new
constitution now. They rejected it after it took us two years to prepare
after wide consultations and, being a democratic party we accepted the
verdict. It is only seven years and we cannot go on writing a constitution
every seven years. A constitution is written for a lifetime."
Tsvangirai has warned that his MDC might not participate in the 2008
elections if there is no new democratic constitution that guarantees free
and fair elections, charging Mugabe has abused the constitution to give
himself an unfair advantage.
The governing party has already shown contempt for talks with the MDC. At
Tuesday's Cabinet meeting, a decision was officially made to retain the
83-year-old Mugabe as Zanu (PF) presidential candidate and to limit the
presidential term from six years to five. The number of seats in the Upper
and Lower chambers of Parliament would be increased.
The changes endorsed by Cabinet paves the way for Mugabe to stay in power
until the age of 90.
Cabinet has also approved changes to the rules enabling the ageing despot to
die in office, or if he resigns, the Zanu (PF)-dominated Parliament to elect
a successor, instead of holding an election.
The ruling party would make these changes through a constitutional
amendment, meaning any considerations of having a new constitution are
completely out of the way.

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