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

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Zim Independent

MDC blasts Mbeki
Dumisani Muleya
THE row between South African President Thabo Mbeki and the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) over the Zimbabwe crisis deepened yesterday as the
opposition accused Mbeki of propping up President Robert Mugabe's embattled

The MDC said Mbeki and his ruling African National Congress (ANC) had
squandered a glorious opportunity to make a positive difference in Zimbabwe
by opting instead to be Zanu PF's unreserved apologists, backers and

MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube said the South Africans were engaged in
a charade which they marketed all over the world as "quiet diplomacy" when
in fact it was a "package of lies and pretence".

"For some strange reason South Africans seem to think we are all morons and
we can't see what they are doing," Ncube said. "But we can see they are
engaged in a game of pretence. It's either they are pathetically unable to
influence Zanu PF or it's all a great deal of pretence."

Ncube said his party decided to dump Mbeki as a mediator in failed talks
with Zanu PF because it had overwhelming evidence his ANC government
supported Mugabe's regime.

He said the MDC had repeatedly raised concerns about South Africa's
impartiality but nothing had changed.

Instead, Ncube said, South Africa had stepped up its support for Zanu PF,
giving it "money and tactical advice" before last month's disputed general

"We won't talk to the South Africans as if they are mediators because we
have realised they are funding Zanu PF and engaged it in strategies on how
to win a two-thirds majority," Ncube said.

"The ANC held several meetings with Zanu PF from June last year until before
the election. It also seconded some strategists to help it prepare for the
election. It's public knowledge they gave Zanu PF some money."

Ncube said Zanu PF also printed election material for the ANC before last
year's general election in South Africa that secured Mbeki a second term in

"Zanu PF printed the posters at some company here in Harare and we went to
see them. I had some of them here in my house. I spoke to (South African
ambassador to Harare Jeremiah) Ndou about it," he said.

"They were delivered in trucks and Simon Khaya Moyo (Zimbabwe's ambassador
to South Africa) came to collect them. We know the ANC is supporting Zanu PF
and we have no problems with that but we also want everybody to know they
can't be mediators while doing this."

Ncube said Mbeki spoke to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai on the telephone
after the disputed election result asking for evidence of rigging but his
cabinet went on to "allege the election was credible".

He said South Africa showed its true colours during the election when it
instructed all ANC observers to "see, hear and speak no evil".

Ncube said South African election observers in the Southern African
Development Community (Sadc) mission "even had the temerity to intimidate
other observers to the point of terrorising them to support their position.

"We spoke to other Sadc observers and their governments and leaders and they
all confirmed South African observers intimidated them to support their
views," he said.

"Observers with dissenting views suffered severe intimidation. So why should
we treat such kind of people as impartial?"

Meanwhile, ANC spokesman Smuts Ngonyama yesterday said the MDC was entitled
to its views but remained an important partner in the resolution of the
Zimbabwe question.

He denied the ANC supported Zanu PF "tactically and materially" because "we
have no money to give Zanu PF or anyone".

"The position that the MDC takes is their choice and right. If they are
angry with the ANC they have the right to do so but it's also important to
remember there is tomorrow to take care of," he said.

"The ANC will continue to play a role in the Zimbabwe issue and we believe
the MDC are an important player in all this."

Mbeki's spokesman Bheki Khumalo said he would not comment because the MDC
had not communicated with his office officially.
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Zim Independent

Gono pleads for bankers' support
Shakeman Mugari
AS the economy remains firmly stuck in a quagmire, RBZ governor Gideon Gono
last week pleaded with bankers to help him solve the current crisis. Gono
made the plea at a meeting with bank executives last week. He implored the
bankers to assist him tackle economic problems that are refusing to go away
despite political claims of an economic turnaround.

It was Gono's first major climb-down in his hardline crusade against bankers
whom he has accused of fuelling inflation and the black market.

His retreat came two days before Time Bank directors had their
externalisation charges dropped before plea at the instance of the state.

Six bankers fled the country last year to escape government's

anti-corruption crackdown while others were arrested and face fraud charges.
Gono was largely seen as the main sponsor of the arrests which are yet to
secure a conviction.

"He said he needed our help to revive the economy and invited us to make
submissions on what we wanted addressed in the economy and the financial
sector in particular," said a bank executive who attended the meeting last
Thursday. "He sounded conciliatory as he recounted how things have not
really worked according to his plan. This time, he was soft as compared to
previous meetings where he would lecture us on what he wanted to do and how
he was going to do it.

"He was mellow in his approach and for first time since his appointment he
told us that he needed our help to put the economy back on track. He also
backtracked on some of the statistical predictions he made last year," said
the executive.

The bankers said Gono admitted government's projected 28% growth in
agriculture was unachievable in the face of drought and cropping levels
since the start of the chaotic land reform.

While Gono had targeted a year-end inflation rate of between 20-30%, the
prevailing economic crisis had forced him to revise his figures to between
75% and 80%. The International Monetary Fund last week said Gono's inflation
targets were "very ambitious".

Revision of the inflation targets points to the inevitable reality that Gono
will have to devalue the Zimbabwean dollar to narrow the gap between the
official and parallel markets.

Although the RBZ has through the controlled auction market kept the value of
the dollar at around $6 000 against the US dollar, the parallel market has
galloped to $17 000. On the official market the fragile Zimdollar is trading
at about $1 200 against the South African rand but the black market rate is
more than $3 000. The dollar has also crashed against other international
currencies like the British pound and the euro.

Gono also said he was contemplating increasing interest rates to rein in the
stock market bubble, the bank executives said. An interest rate hike would
represent a deviation by the Zanu PF government which has in the past
advocated an interest rate cut to support the agricultural sector.
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Zim Independent

Chaotic land reform spoiled noble idea
Augustine Mukaro
ZIMBABWE'S accelerated and often chaotic land reform programme initiated
five years ago spoiled a noble idea to correct imbalances in land ownership
created by the colonial system, a stakeholders' meeting agreed last week.

Stakeholders who attended an African Institute for Agrarian Studies (AIAS)
workshop on land and agrarian-reform reporting in Kadoma last week said the
fast-track approach undermined the initial policy framework drafted with the
participation of various stakeholders, including the donor community.

Different speakers said the fast-track approach, which was illegal in many

respects, was not necessary because in reality no one was opposed to land
reform but the methods of achieving the main objective - equitable land

Government's original agrarian reform policy framework was designed to
decongest rural areas, increase productivity and alleviate poverty while
contributing to broad economic prosperity.

It was also aimed at improving food security and easing social problems
through a vibrant agricultural system and exploitation of natural resources
by balancing access to land with effective use.

Government defied everybody, including the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP), which had put forward a systematic land acquisition plan,
and the whole process turned into a frenzy of politically inspired land
seizure campaign.

Government and its agents grabbed millions of hectares of productive farms
and expensive farm equipment which was either sold for private gain or
destroyed during the sometimes violent takeovers.

Director of the Department of Natural Resources in the Environment and

Tourism ministry, Mutsa Chasi, said the uncontrolled land expropriations
opened virgin land in Mashonaland and Midlands provinces to massive gold
panning, pausing a serious threat to the environment.

"There is a conflict of land use systems between agriculture and mining
particularly gold panning and sand abstraction. The overall effect of gold
panning and sand abstraction is destruction of land resources, water
pollution and dam siltation," Chasi said.

"Areas most affected by this phenomenon include Mazoe Valley and Kwekwe.
Valuable agricultural land has been commissioned out of production.
Reclamation is an expensive process."

AIAS director, Sam Moyo, said his institution's research found that the land
reform had managed to decongest the country's rural areas by a mere 10%
instead of the government's 50% target.

Moyo said Mashonaland provinces recorded the highest improvement and
Manicaland the least.

He said 65% of the resettled farmers were peasants who had invaded farms,
while 32% were urbanites who included Zanu PF officials. The remainder were
farm workers.

Top ruling party and government officials were, by government's own
admission, multiple farm owners.

Bernard Chidziva, a researcher with AIAS, said deviation from the initial
policy framework was compounded by government's series of self-serving
legislative measures secured through amendments to the Land Acquisition Act.
The Act was amended a record 10 times in five years.

Chidziva, a lawyer, said the amendments were a result of frustration with
Britain's refusal to honour its obligations at Lancaster House to fund the
land reform.

He said the problem was that the agreement was not written down and thus not
obligatory to successive British governments to uphold.

Chidziva said some of the amendments, such as the Rural Land Occupiers
(Protection from Eviction) Act (2001), meant to protect invaders who had
moved into commercial farms in anticipation of being resettled, were

"The Act was passed in response to court actions by commercial farmers who
sought the eviction of the occupiers," Chidziva said. "The Act later on
worked against government when it decided to move to properly resettle
people. Settlers used the same law to resisted evictions from the farms they
had invaded and got protection under the same law."

Chidziva said settlers at Little England Farm got a court order preventing
government from moving them to pave way for A2 farmers who had been
officially allocated that land.

The stakeholders also said the land reform programme failed to empower the
ordinary peasant but instead degenerated into a class struggle with the rich
elite grabbing vast stretches of fertile land.

On food security, the land reform has achieved the reverse of what it sought
to do, resulting in Zimbabwe launching a record three humanitarian
assistance appeals in the past five years.

Production of tobacco, formerly the country's third foreign currency earner,
plunged 200 million kilogrammes in the year 2000 to about 60 million kg
expected this year.

Maize production plummeted from more than 2,3 million tonnes to less than
400 000 that were produced last year. The country was reduced from a
regional exporter to a major food importer.

The national beef herd dropped from over four million animals to the current
less than 100 000.
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Zim Independent

African observers in fallout over Zim polls
By Steven Gruzd
THERE is ongoing disagreement about the role played by African countries in
sanctioning Zanu PF's landslide victory in Zimbabwe's parliamentary election
on March 31.

Delegations from the South African government, ruling African National
Congress, parliament and Southern African Development Community (Sadc) all
said the poll reflected "the will of the people", contradicting local
Zimbabwean observers and foreign press who considered the election deeply

South African President Thabo Mbeki says the global media had prejudged the
election; critics say Pretoria deliberately set out to legitimise a Zanu PF

While less violence erupted than in past elections, allegations of
systematic rigging soon surfaced. The opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) charges that 250 000 more votes appeared between the polls
closing and the final result 48 hours later.

The voters' roll may have contained over two million dead, relocated or
fictitious voters. Millions of expatriates were disenfranchised. Over 130
000 potential voters (about 10% of total voters) were turned away in six
provinces. Observers had limited oversight of ballot counting.

State-owned media allowed the MDC token coverage, having demonised them for
six years. Constituencies were carved up anew to boost the number of rural
seats and dilute the opposition's urban dominance. NGO voter education
campaigns were banned. Rural voters feared casting ballots for the
opposition, and the only foreign observer teams came from countries friendly
to Harare.

Last August, Sadc countries agreed on election guidelines that, among other
things, called for freedom of association, political tolerance, judicial
independence, equal access to state media, impartial electoral institutions
and voter education. Zimbabwe has failed to meet at least eight of the 10
key standards, raising the question about how this contest can be called
free and fair.

South African government observers, according to Elinor Sisulu of the Crisis
in Zimbabwe Coalition, found these "elections credible on grounds that they
would never accept in South Africa".
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Zim Independent

Extending Mugabe's term subversive - Moyo
Dumisani Muleya
POLITICAL analysts and opposition MPs this week slammed the ruling Zanu PF's
attempt to extend President Robert Mugabe's current term of office by two
years, purportedly to bring together the presidential and parliamentary

Independent MP Jonathan Moyo, a professor of politics, described it as
"blatantly undemocratic".

Analysts said an extension of Mugabe's term under whatever circumstances
would be a coup against the constitution.

Mugabe said yesterday in Jakarta that he would be going as promised in 2008,
but a clique of Mugabe loyalists is reportedly trying to stretch his term by
two more years under the pretext of holding elections concurrently in 2010.
The issue is expected to be part of Zanu PF's legislative agenda during the
course of the current parliament.

Although Zanu PF failed to win a two-thirds majority in the March 31 general
election, it has a numerical absolute majority achieved through unelected
MPs. Zanu PF won 78 seats out of the 120 contested constituencies - two
seats short of a two-thirds majority.

However, Mugabe appoints 12 non-constituency MPs, eight provincial governors
and his party enjoys the support of 10 chiefs elected through their own
electoral college system. Resident ministers for Harare and Bulawayo are not
MPs but Zanu PF wants to amend the constitution to make them governors and,
thereby, legislators.

Moyo, a former Information minister and university lecturer in politics,
said extending Mugabe's term was "blatantly undemocratic".

"It would be totally undemocratic to extend Mugabe's term outside the
democratic process via the backdoor," Moyo said.

"Such an extension through a constitutional amendment of a fundamentally
flawed constitution would be subversive by definition and a severe attack on
that constitution. If it comes to parliament it would have to be resisted by
all constitutional and legal means possible."

Moyo said the issue would have to be subjected to a national referendum.

"In 1999 during the constitutional reform process we rejected such
undemocratic efforts to reduce Mugabe's term by two years to hold the
parliamentary and presidential elections together in 2000," Moyo said.

"It is scandalous the very same people who benefited from that now want to
extend Mugabe's term for the same reason. Backdoor politics should be
rejected emphatically."

Moyo said instead of increasing Mugabe's term and "prolonging Zanu PF
deadwood to delay the inevitable", the ruling party should take a leaf from
the Roman Catholic church's book.

"Zanu PF should take a leaf from the Catholic Church which, despite being
one of the most undemocratic and conservative institutions in the world
today, is wise enough to realise that cardinals who are 80 years and above
should neither be eligible for election as Pope nor participate in the
election process," he said.

Mugabe is 81. The new Pope, Benedict XVI, is 78.

Moyo said it would be meaningless to bring the two elections together
without addressing the structural flaws in the constitution which does not
allow a party that wins the parliamentary election to form a government.

MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube, a professor of law, said extending
Mugabe's term would be a "coup against the constitution".

"If they do that it would be a coup d'état against the constitution. In
reality Zanu PF has no such a popular mandate because it did not win a
two-thirds majority from the people," Ncube said.

"They have a numerical two-thirds majority but not a popular mandate to
amend the constitution. After all, they stole the election and expropriated
the people's sovereignty."

Lovemore Madhuku, also a law lecturer and civic activist, said if Mugabe's
term is increased that would "undermine the people's confidence in the
electoral process".

"It is a good idea to bring the main elections together but doing so by
extending Mugabe's term would be terrible and unacceptable," he said. "It
would undermine the people's confidence in the electoral process. All these
kinds of issues can be addressed through a comprehensive constitutional
reform process."
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Zim Independent

Govt destabilises ZCTU ahead of ILO conference
Ray Matikinye
THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president, Lovemore Matombo, on
Wednesday accused government of working in cahoots with four of the labour
body's affiliates to destabilise the ZCTU ahead of the ILO conference in

"They want to destabilise the ZCTU so that the Labour minister can proscribe
our participation at the labour convention and deny the union an opportunity
to present its dossier on issues that could embarrass the government,"
Matombo said.

Discussions of Convention 87 and 98 that deal with human rights, freedom of
assembly and freedom to organise will be high on the ILO agenda during the
June meeting and Zimbabwe, as a signatory to these conventions, fears
embarrassment over its recent record.

Convention 87 accords trade unions freedom of assembly and the right to
organise. It gives labour bodies in member countries a right to assembly
without hindrance. Convention 98 deals with the right to organise a trade
union without state intervention.

"We have a dossier of all the incidents when our meetings were either
disrupted by the police or the CIO which we are going to present at the
conference," Matombo said. "Government fears embarrassment, hence the
attempt to get the current leadership removed and replaced by a docile

"Government is sponsoring a minority among the 34 affiliates to cause
confusion and resentment among other trade unions against the current
leadership," Matombo said.

"We are looking at two unions which are vocal about operations in the ZCTU
and another two affiliates who are undecided whether to take part in attacks
against the ZCTU leadership. Two of the most vocal affiliates are not fully
paid up members yet they are in the forefront of accusing the leadership of
all sorts of misconduct," Matombo said.

He said most members suspected the belligerent affiliates, the Construction
Workers and Leather Workers unions, were being orchestrated to cause
disturbances after the government-sponsored Zimbabwe Federation of Trade
Unions (ZFTU) failed to dislodge the ZCTU executive.

The state media has been conducting a crusade against the ZCTU leadership
comprising Matombo, Wellington Chibebe, Lucia Matibenga, and Tabitha Khumalo
saying it awarded itself salaries without consultation.

But Matombo said Langton Mugeji, a member of the labour body's general
council, actually proposed that the ZCTU pay him to cushion his family.

Matombo was last year suspended by his employers for attending an
Organisation of African Trade Unions conference in Khartoum without
permission and his case is still pending.

"The whole thing is a storm in a teacup," Matombo said. "There are wild
allegations that we are conniving with employers to create shortages and
that accusation seems to suggest that these affiliates are being driven by
forces other than their union members," Matombo said.
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Zim Independent

Langa politicising food - MDC

THE Movement for Democratic Change's Matabeleland South provincial executive
last week sent a report to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) detailing
what it termed the politicisation of food by government by denying
opposition supporters access to food in Gwanda district in the run-up to the
March parliamentary election.

The report singled out Andrew Langa, the new deputy Minister of Environment
and Tourism, as the person responsible for the politicisation of food and
enforcing a ban on MDC supporters from buying maize meal.

This week the Zimbabwe Independent spoke to Gwanda executive mayor
Thembinkosi Zinti Mnkandla who confirmed that the opposition has written to
the ZEC outlining some of the unethical practices by Langa in denying
opposition supporters food before the parliamentary election.

"The MDC leadership last week forwarded the report to the ZEC and we hope
the grievances will be looked at because Langa has been using food as a
political tool in Gwanda and outlying areas," Mnkandla said.

He said Langa's chief henchman in denying opposition supporters food was
former Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) reporter, Malaki Nkomo, who
is now based in Gwanda.

"We understand that Malaki Nkomo, a close friend of Langa, is behind the
move to bar opposition supporters from getting food. Government may deny
this happened but we interact with the people who were denied food on
political grounds," Mnkandla said.

He further said opposition supporters in the area have been turned away from
government food for work schemes.

This is not the first time that such serious allegations have been raised
against Langa. Before the 2002 Insiza by-election Langa is alleged to have
shot at opposition supporters who were campaigning for the MDC's Malandu

Just before the March parliamentary election this year, Langa was reported
to have told MDC supporters that they would die of hunger if they did not
vote for Zanu PF.
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Zim Independent

Mugabe sets retirement date
Ray Matikinye
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has chosen Indonesia as the setting to announce he
will retire in 2008 when his current presidential term ends, ending
speculation about his retirement plans.

Mugabe has over the years skirted the issue of his retirement only making
vague comments about when he would end his hold on power.

According to Newsnet, Mugabe said he was not grooming any particular person
among his lieutenants to take over when he retires. He reportedly said he
preferred that members of the ruling party choose his successor.

Mugabe is in Indonesia where he is attending the Asia/Africa Summit.

Mugabe, who has been at the helm since Zimbabwe attained Independence from
Britain 25 years ago, will be 84 in 2008.

This is the first time he has emphatically put a date to his retirement.

Reports from Jakarta where he is attending the Asia/Africa Summit with more
than 50 other heads of state and government, say Mugabe set out his
retirement plans during an interview with the Jakarta Post.

The announcement ends speculation on a subject viewed by members of his
ruling Zanu PF party as taboo.

But Mugabe has been inconsistent with his retirement plans, fuelling further
speculation that this could be another of his conflicting signals to expose
those who might dare challenge his authority among factions in his party.

In December 2003, Mugabe hinted at a party annual conference in Masvingo
that his retirement was not open to debate, telling his supporters he would
return to tell them so when he wanted to leave office. "Have I come to you
yet, no," said Mugabe then.

Last week, there was media speculation that Mugabe would use the two-thirds
majority in parliament to push for constitutional amendments to extend his
term until 2010 when the next general election is held.

This stemmed from Mugabe's statement that he wanted both the general and
presidential elections to be held simultaneously.

Presidential elections are held every six years and Mugabe has three more
years until his tenure is up in 2008.

When asked at a post-election press conference at State House when he would
retire, Mugabe told local and international media that he could retire at

Party spokesperson, Nathan Shamuyarira, however told the Zimbabwe
Independent a fortnight ago, that Mugabe would retire in 2008.

The Asia/Africa summit marks the 50th anniversary of the Bandung meeting in
1955 of Asian and African leaders which led in turn to the formation of the
Non-Aligned Movement.
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Zim Independent

'Govt has no business in newspapers' ­- Moyo
Dumisani Muleya
FORMER Information minister Jonathan Moyo has said President Robert Mugabe's
decision to resurrect the old Ministry of Information is emblematic of the
country's rapid regression in various areas.

Reacting to the resuscitation of the ministry which was abolished in 2000
when he came in as minister in Mugabe's office, Moyo said this was not
"reorganisation" as officials claimed but "disorganisation".

"I'm not aware of any reorganisation of the Information portfolio but of
course I'm aware of the disorganisation that is going on," Moyo said.

"I was surprised to hear the Information department has been 'upgraded' to a
ministry because to me that is a backward movement, not elevation."

Moyo's attack against Zanu PF's "retreat into backward arrangements" came as
new Information minister Tichaona Jokonya prepared to meet editors of all
media houses today in a bid to build bridges after deep polarisation during
Moyo's turbulent era.

Moyo said while he respected Jokonya and his deputy Bright Matonga, he was
afraid they had been thrown into a difficult situation in which there was
"an old-fashioned Information ministry located in a modern information-based

"I have the highest regard for Dr Jokonya and Matonga but I don't think they
realise the trouble in which they have been put by being deployed in a
resurrected outdated ministry in this day and age," he said.

"It becomes worse when you have some funny ministry called Public and
Interactive Affairs because I can't imagine anything which is public and
interactive but not information-based."

Having an Information ministry, Moyo said, in an environment where
government's media monopoly no longer exists, was "simply irrelevant".

"A Ministry of Information was justified in an environment in which there
was a government media monopoly but now the broadcasting monopoly has been
lifted. Instead of being controlled by a ministry, broadcasting is now being
run by a legally constituted regulatory authority," he said.

"Things have changed and government ownership of newspapers has become an
anathema to democracy. The whole thing is just not on. Zanu PF must move on
with the times."

During his reign, Moyo maintained a tight grip on the electronic media and
on the public print media.

Moyo said the revival of the Information ministry showed government was
determined to take the country to a bygone era and not forward.

"I see a lot of backward movement in everything which Zanu PF is doing now.
They have gone back to the archaic Ministry of Information and they want to
go back to the senate. It seems it's now all about going back and not
forward," he said.

It was disappointing, Moyo said, to realise Mugabe and his party was
preoccupied with "trivial pursuits" while the economy continues on its

"We have an economically clueless government busy trying to entrench itself
in power through mindless constitutional amendments while the economy is
collapsing," Moyo said.

"Obviously, Zanu PF can see what we all can see: Mugabe is no longer able to
win a free and fair election."
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Zim Independent

Jokonya meets editors
Conrad Dube
NEW Information minister, Tichaona Jokonya, will this morning meet editors
from private and public media houses in an effort to re-establish dialogue
in the polarised media environment.

Jokonya is expected to meet the editors at his Munhumutapa offices where
former Information minister Jonathan Moyo was based.

It will be the first time in five years a government Information minister
has officially met all editors to discuss common issues.

The meeting comes at a time when the Zanu PF information department is
pressing Jokonya to restructure the editorial departments at the
government-controlled Zimpapers and state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting

Jokonya had been expected to meet Zanu PF secretary for information Nathan
Shamuyarira this week to compare notes on the restructuring process. But the
meeting did not take place.

Sources have indicated that the ruling party's information department has
held meetings with reporters from Zimpapers to seek ways of reversing Moyo's
editorial policies which damaged the state media's reputation and created
enemies for the government across the globe.

During Moyo's time the state media was reduced to the minister's megaphone,
something which badly impacted on their credibility and sales.

Before it was banned the private Daily News outsold the government flagship
the Herald, largely because the state press had lost its credibility.

*Meanwhile, police this week charged Standard editor Davison Maruziva and
reporter Savious Kwinika for a story which appeared in their paper on April
10 alleging the Zaka district administrator was arrested after he was found
with seven ballot boxes and ballot papers at his home.

The two were charged under Section 15(2)(a)(i) of the Public Order and

Security Act; in the alternative under Section 80(c)(i)(A) of the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Maruziva was charged on Wednesday and Kwinika yesterday.

The two deny the charges but admit there were certain inaccuracies in the
article which the paper subsequently corrected.

The police would now conclude investigations and refer the docket to the
Attorney-General's Office which will proceed by way of summons if it decides
to proceed with the matter, their lawyer said.
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Zim Independent

New cabinet to gobble more billions
Godfrey Marawanyika/Chris Goko
AT a time when Zimbabwe requires further public expenditure reductions,
President Robert Mugabe's enlarged cabinet announced last week achieved the
opposite, with five new ministers and a raft of other government officials
gobbling up billions of dollars in salaries and perks.
Weighing in at 41 ministers - 30 portfolio ministers, one minister without
portfolio and 10 resident ministers, plus 18 deputy ministers - the
"development" cabinet is supervised by a president and two vice presidents.
While the man in charge of Zimbabwe's economic turnaround, Reserve Bank
governor Gideon Gono, has repeatedly called for expenditure cuts, Mugabe has
evidently turned a deaf ear by creating needless departments in what
commentators see as a bid to extend his network of patronage.
By splitting some ministries and adding others, the Zimbabwean leader
confirmed a long-held view that political considerations take precedence
over economic sense.
The cabinet has, in its ranks, a minister of Public and Interactive Affairs
and sees the return of Emmerson Mnangagwa as Rural Housing and Social
Amenities minister - whatever that is!
Former Finance and Economic Development minister Chris Kuruneri's ministry
has been spilt into two portfolios - that of Finance and Economic
Development, headed by Herbert Murerwa and Rugare Gumbo respectively.
Mugabe, widely seen as preoccupied with surrounding himself with pliant
helpers ahead of his 2008 exit, also split Ignatius Chombo's Public Works
and National Housing ministry, creating an off-shoot for the embattled
The logic, observers say, of having an interactive ministry when the country
has a fully fledged Information and Publicity Ministry is confusing.
Not only is Interactive minister Chen Chimutengwende's brief unclear, it is
also not known in the current geo-political set-up who he is supposed to
interact with given Harare's many political enemies east and west.
The success of Chimutengwende's office will only be reflected in the end on
Zimbabwe's international isolation, but Mugabe will prove a stumbling block
with his increasing anti-West broadsides and regime-change paranoia.
There is also clear duplication of roles in the creation of two economic
ministries; how Gumbo's economic development portfolio will complement
Murerwa's finance office is a mystery.
While Chombo's Local Government ministry failed to deliver over the last
five years largely because of insufficient funds to develop housing and
general infrastructure, it remains to be seen how Mnangagwa's Rural Housing
ministry will make a difference.
It is common cause that the incoming ministers and their deputies will be
showered with new Mercedes-Benz vehicles and four-wheel-drive Toyota Prados,
ranging in price from $500 million to nearly a billion dollars.
Apart from luxury vehicles and perks, the ministers are entitled to aides
and other security personnel, yet Zimbabwe has more urgent funding needs
such as food and energy imports.
The Zimbabwe Independent reported last week that close to $5 trillion meant
for capital expenditure was to be diverted towards food imports, mainly the
staple maize, but the president sees it fit to accommodate Chimutengwende
and Mnangagwa, among others, with cabinet posts.
A senior banking economist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the
decision to enlarge the cabinet would have a negative effect on expenditure.
"The enlarged cabinet flies in the face of the RBZ which has been trying to
cut down expenditure.
"What it means is that the new cabinet will now have new administrative
staff, who will need other resources and they will have to spend more," he
He said the decision to increase the cabinet was poorly timed since the
International Monetary Fund will be in the country in a fortnight.
The Bretton Woods institution has often criticised government's spending and
the latest profligacy will simply exacerbate the current impasse, making
Gono's job of re-engaging the Washington lender all but impossible.
Zimbabwe is six years into the economic doldrums, with inflation running at
nearly 123%, and is continually wracked by fuel and power shortages linked
to foreign currency shortages.
Although Gono has managed to tame the inflation spiral, from a peak of 622%
about 18 months ago, he was forced to eat humble pie last week when he
revised the year-end target from 20-50% to about 80%.
The revision, Gono told banking and industry chiefs, took into account
impending grain imports in the wake of a drought.
Independent economist John Robertson ruled out any immediate change of
fortunes for the country until there was a policy shift.
"Quite honestly, I don't think the cabinet will achieve anything because
people are being rewarded for their loyalty to Mugabe and the party," he
"A lot of money was availed to parastatals and more will be needed for food
imports. The Chinese are taking us for a ride. What is now needed is
investment and not rhetoric," Robertson said.

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Zim Independent

We mere mortals want to know
By Rejoice Ngwenya
THE following is an open letter to President Robert Mugabe:

Dear Mr President,

NOW that the electoral circus is over, and you have managed to parade the
109 recycled pretenders to the throne, we mortals can all fold our grass
mats and retire to the sordid squalor of the caves from whence we scrape a
living - ponder on our future while chewing dried rodents and Mopani worms.

In the distance, we only hear the receding footsteps of our destiny, yelling
in the vice-grip clutch of a gang of infamous pirates known as the
Two-Thirds, whose core business is to loot and plunder what is left of the
treasures in the hold of a sinking ship called Zimbabwe - now settled
peacefully at the bottom of the political ocean.

We know that this is not the last we have heard of the Two-Thirds. No, their
insatiable appetite for good living keeps them permanently on the hunt for
more loot and from us they will not just demand 40% of our monthly produce,
but with it should come prostrate homage, praise-singing and sacrifice to
you, their wise leader, the ageing captain of Zimbabwe whose code name -
Spirit of February - strikes fear in the hearts and minds of friend and foe

Through your highly partisan print and electronic organs of persuasive
coercion, Mr President, we are reminded daily, hour upon hour, that you
deserve this homage. The Grios, with repeated precision of a faulty vinyl
record, tell us that as a singular act of bravery, you, their wise leader,
liberated us 25 years ago from a marauding gang of hostile tribes known as
the Caucasians who had entrenched their rule over our valleys, mountains,
rivers and caves in the name of civilisation.

By his own individual charisma, wisdom, valour and strength they sing, the
Spirit of February drove the intruders out to the fringes of oblivion, then
personally handed our ancestral inheritances back to us in the form of land.

Boy, are we not grateful that the gods gave us such a man without whom we
would still be slave labour in the tea estates of Bwana Bennett and the rose
gardens of Ndugu de Klerk?

Yet, Mr President, those who are outside this hotbed of political
self-delusion, uninformed people like myself, the caveman, want to place you
on the pedestal of rationale and commonsense with only five questions.

Question number one: if you and your party are so popular with the rural
majority, why not establish a seat of government at Mutawatawa, in the lush
and patriotic valleys of Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe? Does it not make sense that
a kingdom should have its roots among those people who dispense the greatest
allegiance to their rulers?

We mere mortals want to know why the great Spirit of February would want to
expose himself to the insults and disrespectful open-palm gestures of the
urban scoundrels who know nothing about the history of the revolution other
than spending days on end blurting theories in the comfort of smoky

Question number two: if you are such a dominant political force, why do we
have in place a myriad laws like the Public Order and Security Act and the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and institutions like
the Media and Information Commission, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the
Registar-General's Office and the Delimitation Commission whose sole purpose
is to shut out free and fair competition?

Don't great players like Tiger Woods derive their satisfaction from winning
by fair play? Are they involved in setting the rules, appointing referees
and announcing the results?

Question number three: your own colleagues, comrades in the legitimate

struggle for self-determination, have gracefully and gratefully retired from
the opera house of dirty tricks to run foundations, write memoirs and assist
grandchildren with their homework. To mind comes names like Nelson Mandela,
Kenneth Kaunda, Joacquim Chissano, Daniel arap Moi and Sam Nujoma.

You, the Spirit of February, remain alone, in a deserted and haunted house,
with ghosts of the past playing havoc with your conscience and imaginary
apparitions tugging at your political reputation. Young men and women who
are novices in the game chase you around the campaign field, hurling
disrespectful yet reasonably accurate allegations of unfairness.

Question number four: you yourself, just after casting your vote on the
morning of March 31, stated confidently in front of a blaze of camera
flashes that your party would absolutely, definitely achieve the Two-Thirds.
This question may sound silly, but how does a captain of a big league team
about to embark on a bruising derby predict that his team will definitely,
absolutely collect maximum points unless the referee is on his side?

Finally, question number five: since when can friends ever give one an
objective assessment of one's performance? Your friends in the African
National Congress and Southern African Development Community had already
judged the elections as a free and fair contest long before the ballot paper
was marked.

Your bodyguards in the guise of military man, police and intelligence
officers and overpaid and underworked Grios in the guise of ambassadors
voted a week before. Thousands of citizens were either turned away or
"assisted" to vote and thousands more voted from their graves. Of course, Mr
President, you would secure a Two-Thirds majority. Anyone in that position

But something tells me, the Spirit of February, that the receding footsteps
of our destiny will soon change into a loud stampede towards emancipation of
the mind and soul. One day, not far away, civilisation and enlightenment
will show its face, and the Two-Thirds will wither away into political
obscurity, as the brave sons and daughters of the nation reclaim mother ship
Zimbabwe from the bottom of the political ocean.

*Rejoice Ngwenya is a freelance writer.
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Zim Independent

25 years on, still no basic freedoms

TWENTY-FIVE years ago Zimbabwe was born, ushering out the years of bitter
and bloody fighting to end Rhodesian minority rule. Robert Mugabe, the
country's still relatively unknown new leader, impressed the population and,
indeed, the world, with his speech on the eve of Independence.

"If yesterday you hated me, today you cannot avoid the love that binds you
to me and me to you. Is it not folly, therefore, that in these circumstances
anybody should seek to revive the wounds and grievances of the past?" said
Mugabe on national television.

Mugabe's statesmanlike words were followed with the announcement of a
cabinet which brought together leaders from all segments of the nation:
black and white, Shona and Ndebele, old and young, men and women.

Peace and stability had been restored across the country and it seemed that
a bright future lay ahead.

The new Zimbabwe re-established the rule of law in the cities and rural
areas. The police force was quickly transformed from one that had enforced
Rhodesia's racist rule to one that protected the rights of all citizens.

The new parliament, elected by majority rule, began a series of reforms that
appeared benign. The judiciary, after years of upholding minority rule, made
great strides to become more independent from the government.

It appeared that the new Zimbabwe's success in establishing a multi-racial,
multi-party democracy would be a model for South Africa, an example to help
end apartheid and establish its own majority-ruled democracy.

That was 25 years ago. South Africa has triumphed in ending apartheid. But
the bright hopes for Zimbabwe have been tragically dimmed, especially
regarding the law.

There were some expressions of worry in legal circles that the Mugabe
government continued to use the Rhodesians' state of emergency and the
notorious Law and Order (Maintenance) Act. The two legislative instruments
gave the government and the police authority to arrest and detain people for
lengthy periods and the ability to ban large public demonstrations. They
were designed and used by the Rhodesians to repress public demonstrations of
support for the African nationalist movement.

But the new Mugabe government used the laws to detain its critics and those
suspected of spying and carrying out violent acts of sabotage for apartheid
South Africa. The new government found the repressive laws very useful in
hobbling its critics.

Eventually the Mugabe government dropped the state of emergency. But 20
years after Independence it was still using the Rhodesian-era Law and Order
(Maintenance) Act to prevent public demonstrations, to hamper nascent
opposition parties and to restrict the press.

Civic organisations pressed for the Mugabe government to repeal the
oppressive security law. By the year 2000 the government agreed that the old
law had to go. But it surprised even its most bitter critics when it put
forward a new security law that was even harsher than the Rhodesian law. The
Public Order and Security Act allowed police sweeping powers of arrest and
to ban public meetings of more than three people.

A special Bill was passed to restrict the press. The Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) has an innocuous title which does not
disguise the fact that the law empowers the government to ban newspapers and
prevent journalists from working, on pain of jail terms.

Mugabe signed the press law in March 2002, shortly after he was re-elected
to yet another six-year presidential term. Aippa quickly gained notoriety as
it was used to close down four newspapers and to arrest and charge
journalists with criminal acts.

Further repressive legislation permits the government to hold people in jail
for up to 28 days without seeing a judge or hearing charges against them.

Legislation has been passed which gives the government powers to close down
any private, voluntary or charitable organisation. It specifically prevents
any non-governmental organisation dealing with human rights or governance
issues from receiving foreign funds from donors. It is designed to restrict
the activities of civic organisations the way Aippa squeezed the press.

The Non-Governmental Organisations Bill has not yet been signed into law by
Mugabe. The president recently stated he would reform the law so that his
critics would not object to it so strongly. But legal experts expect Mugabe
to make a few cosmetic changes and leave the main thrust of the Bill intact.

Zimbabwe's judiciary has not been left to interpret legislation
independently. The Supreme Court has been fully packed with those who are
Mugabe's unquestioning adherents. The High Court has also been "transformed"
into one that largely upholds the government's wishes.

Twenty-five years ago it was hoped that Zimbabwe would learn from the bad
example of Rhodesia and would chart a new path of just laws and fair

It is as ironic as it is dismaying that the Mugabe government has instead
decided to follow the example set by Rhodesia in creating repressive laws
which grossly restrict individual freedoms. Those offensive laws are upheld
by the compliant courts and brutally enforced by the police.

*This column is provided by the International Bar Association.
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Zim Independent


Who will pay for this merry-go-round?

PRESIDENT Mugabe in January told us 2005 was a year of investment. Four
months into the year, it is becoming clear that this was yet another
presidential ruse meant to galvanise the hard-to-believe notion that the
country is going forward.
There was more subterfuge last week when Mugabe appointed a capacious
cabinet which he has tried to sell to the nation as an agent of development.
He called his gargantuan all-in team a development cabinet.
At a time when government is being implored to streamline operations and cut
back on expenditure, Mugabe has decided to invite more of his comrades to
partake at the feeding trough. There has never been a positive correlation
between a large cabinet team and service delivery. The enlarged team is
another layer of bureaucracy to be funded by the taxpayer.
Last year we recall central bank governor Gideon Gono applauding the
government for living within its means. We recall him urging government not
to make extraordinary payments to any given sector as this would upset the
apple cart. A few days later the government announced large payouts to
mujibhas, chimbwidos and ex-detainees.
What will Gono say to this latest spendfest? As he did with the pay-outs,
that it was a noble cause and he could live with it?
That is the tragedy of our situation. We simply watch while Mugabe drives a
coach and horses through the few positive developments in our economy.
Development is not suddenly going to arrive on Zimbabwe's frontiers because
there are now more fingers in the pie. The men and women whom Mugabe has
entrusted with developing the nation are directly responsible for the
current quagmire that we find ourselves in. The nation will not be fooled
into believing that Finance minister Herbert Murerwa can suddenly produce a
blueprint that will turn around this economy when he has been unable to at
any point in the past and was only recently predicting a 28% recovery in
We do not believe that Aeneas Chigwedere can develop the country's education
system after his well-documented attempt to ruin private schools so that
they resemble dilapidated government institutions.
Joseph Made, the architect of hunger and manufacturer of fictitious harvest
statistics will not suddenly metamorphose into a pundit of prudent
agricultural principles.
What can the new Industry and International Trade minister do to restore
confidence in the manufacturing sector and among investors when populist
policies bereft of business sense are the fuel of the regime?
The president on Independence Day told us our problems had been caused by
IMF-imposed structural adjustment. He told us that after 25 years of
unbroken rule, he was a "lot wiser".
We saw the nature of his wisdom - the enlarged cabinet with the creation of
comical portfolios like the Ministry of State for Public and Interactive
Affairs. Where was the wisdom in appointing fading party bigwig Emmerson
Mnangagwa - rescued from the political scrapyard (again) - Minister of Rural
Housing and Social Amenities? These, together with two dozen others, will
need new limousines which cost at least $1 billion each. They will need
offices, furniture, support staff, computers, houses and other executive
perks. That will create a huge hole in the current budget that forecast
reduced government spending.
But Mugabe's government, with its history of underachievement, would like
the world to believe that it is fostering development. No amount of
posturing or sloganeering will mask the fact that there is nothing visible
to talk about here. The evidence of our "development" is there for all to
see in resettled areas where tobacco barns have become classrooms and
oxcarts have replaced ambulances. This is because Mugabe is a lot wiser!
What became of the winter maize project which we were told the whole region
was emulating? When will government start to put up basic infrastructure in
resettled areas? Kunzvi Dam, Tokwe Mukosi Dam, Arda farming in the
Democratic Republic of Congo.?
The development theme attached to the current crop of ministerial failures
is an illusion and a tired cliché to gloss over the shortcomings of the
current regime. There are always reasons for the failures. It is the West
and its sanctions. It is Tony Blair and the opposition MDC. It is the IMF
and structural adjustment. It is everyone except the real culprits.
But who will pay for this latest comfort zone, this merry-go-round of the
intellectually lame and undeserving? Presumably those who voted against this
gang in the first place!

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Zim Independent

Eric Bloch Column

Development will be a real mirage
IF there is anyone that President Robert Mugabe listens to, could that
person please tell him that a "development cabinet" does not comprise 41
ministers - being 30 portfolio ministers, one minister without portfolio and
10 resident ministers for the various provinces and the two major cities.
That monolithic cabinet is supplemented by 18 deputy ministers and overseen
by a president and two vice presidents.
In other words, Zimbabwe has 62 overseers to manage - or mismanage! - the
country, before even bringing to account the underlying tens of thousands of
bureaucrats that comprise the public service, 150 parliamentarians and a
proposed senate.
"Zimbabwe Ltd" has more "directors" than any corporate entity anywhere in
the world, notwithstanding that some of those corporates individually have
more economic activity than does all Zimbabwe. They meet many of the diverse
needs of their numerous worldwide customers, greater in number than Zimbabwe's
total population.
Their human resource management is more extensive than the numbers who must
be served by Zimbabwe's Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social
Welfare. Their revenue inflows and expenditure outflows are immensely
greater than those of the Zimbabwean exchequer, and yet more often do they
not only sustain deficits but realise surpluses. They set themselves
targets, and more often than not achieve them. When they do fail, they will
generally acknowledge the causes of failure, including those attributable to
others, instead of blaming others.
But should comparisons with the private sector be perceived to be invidious,
is there an underlying lesson to be learnt from the fact that the Zimbabwe
cabinet infrastructure is greater than that of the United States, China and
all countries that comprise the European Union, including the United
Although those countries inevitably have varying fortunes, enjoying economic
upturns and downturns, when the latter occurs they invariably address the
negative circumstances constructively. They don't try to do so by expanding
their government infrastructures exponentially.
And they certainly don't do so by retaining the services of those
responsible for the economic morass, or those whose actions - or lack of
actions - have weakened their countries. Those culprits of incompetence are
dismissed, and usually are replaced by others with proven ability.
But that is not so for Zimbabwe. After 25 years of Independence, almost 80%
of the population are suffering, with incomes far below the poverty datum
line, while almost half the population barely exist below the food datum
line. At least three of every four Zimbabweans wishing to be employed are
unemployed, and have little hope of any change to their misfortunes.
Hospitals run out regularly of x-ray film, drugs and medications and spares
to keep life-sustaining equipment operational. More motor vehicles populate
fuel queues than do the country's roads and highways. Although the country
cannot feed its people, provide sufficient housing and avail all of
critically needed health care, it spends many millions of US dollars buying
fighter aircraft from China!
The narrative of Zimbabwean ills is so great that it alone could fill these
So what does the President do to address the crisis? Over and above a
continuing attribution of blame to others, including in particular the
British government and Tony Blair and the United States government, George
Bush and Condoleezza Rice, Mugabe brings into being that which he calls a
"Development Cabinet". Momentarily, some experienced a surge of hope. The
president had recognised that Zimbabwe has a desperate need for development.
It needs development to create jobs, to fuel economic activity, to generate
foreign exchange and to yield inflows to the fiscus. At last something
positive was about to happen!
But the euphoria was short-lived. Soon two elements of the "Development
Cabinet" were recognised by many who had fruitlessly grasped at hope for
change. The first was that the new cabinet was even larger than its
predecessor. There were more "jobs for the boys".
That enlarged cabinet means more ministerial salaries, fringe benefits,
motor vehicles, permanent secretaries and public servants. In turn, that
means more fiscal outflows, which results either in higher, inflationary
deficits, or greater taxation upon an already overtaxed population, or
diversion of funds from more deserving objectives.
The second characteristic rapidly seen as a factor of the "Development
Cabinet" was that although, in increasing its size, some new blood was
introduced into the cabinet, almost all those who had failed dismally in
fulfilling their tasks and in promoting Zimbabwean well-being had been
retained. In a few instances the ministers had played musical chairs, being
moved from their previous portfolios and appointed to others, but
overwhelmingly those who should be hiding their heads in shame for their
contribution to Zimbabwe's woes have remained in the cabinet.
Based upon performance heretofore, who can view the new cabinet with any
confidence that it will bring about recovery for agriculture when, for five
years, it has experienced a never-ending downward slide? Who can expect that
there will be substantive urban development, including critically needed
housing, and effective local government, when for five years there has been
Who can confidently foreshadow restoration of education to its 1980s glory,
when for five years education has been in decline? And who can reasonably
expect that Zimbabwe will revert to a free, independent judiciary and to a
state of preservation of law and order, freedom of speech and freedom of the
press, when that has been virtually non-existent for
the last five years?
Some may say: "Ah, yes, but now we have a new 'Development Cabinet'."
However, the new cabinet includes the same ministers responsible for
Agriculture, Local Government and Urban Development, Education, Justice and
Home Affairs as were responsible for those portfolios from 2000 to 2005. So
what realistically can be expected to change?
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Zim Independent


A beaten nation chants president's totem

DON'T we recall a pledge by President Mugabe during the election campaign
that he wouldn't appoint as a cabinet minister anybody who had not been
elected to parliament?
So how come we now have people like Emmerson Mnangagwa, Patrick Chinamasa,
Amos Midzi and Simbarashe Mumbengegwi as cabinet ministers? What popular
mandate do they have and what sort of accountability is it when the
president appoints individuals who either did not stand for office or who
have been rejected by the electorate?
Never has there been such a collection of dead-wood as appeared on the front
page of the Herald on Saturday. As one commentator put it, you could build a
large ark with that lot. A wide-angle lens was needed to get them all in the
picture. There were no new faces there. Just the same old recycled failures.
It was a blatant case of jobs for the boys - and just a few girls!
Is this the cabinet that will pull the country out of the huge hole Zanu PF
has dug for it? Simbarashe Mumbengegwi is arguably a new face at Foreign
Affairs. But anybody watching his bull-headed performance on the BBC's
Hardtalk would have recognised an old-guard apparatchik breathing defiance
who is completely unsuited to re-engaging the international community. Stan
Mudenge stood a better chance!
Then there is Tichaona Jokonya who as Zimbabwe's ambassador to Ethiopia
pledged Zimbabwe's unyielding support for Mengistu Haile Mariam's brutal
He will now preside over an utterly dishonest official media that pretends
the country is undergoing an economic "turnaround". What will he do with
that whole raft of Jonathan Moyo mouthpieces strategically placed throughout
Zimpapers and ZBH?

'Bouncing back" - a favourite expression of Herald propaganda writers but
appropriate in this case - is Chen Chimutengwende who fell from grace when
he was replaced by Moyo at the Information department in 2000. Chen has been
pursuing Pan-Africanist chimeras over the past five years and now assumes
the high-sounding title of Minister of State for Public and Interactive
What the hell is "Interactive Affairs"? It sounds like a euphemism for
kwasa-kwasa! Does Chen know what it is? Does the president? Does anybody?
But when we speak of recycled dead-wood there are two emblematic
reappointments. Joseph Made at Lands and Agriculture is arguably the most
incompetent minister this country has ever had. His aerial surveys of crop
production are now the stuff of comic legend. And his maize forecast of 2,4
million tonnes continues to be held up as a shining example of ministerial
It was Made who presided over the chaos that is misleadingly called land
reform. He is ultimately responsible for the country's headlong decline from
self-sufficiency to one of Africa's leading basket cases. Yet he is rewarded
for all this by being returned to office by a grateful president for whom
racist evictions appear more important than agricultural production.
Then there is Aeneas Chigwedere whose populist attempt to pretend that
private schools were the last bastion of recalcitrant whites was met by such
stiff resistance by parents of all hues that he was forced into a tactical
retreat. But not before he had managed to inflict considerable damage upon
that part of the education system that had hitherto escaped government's
In the end the courts upheld the rights of the schools and ordered him and
the police to stop interfering.
The reappointment of both Made and Chigwedere prove there is no new thinking
at the top and nothing is going to change. Let's not hear any more Herald
nonsense about "turnarounds" or re-engagement with the international
community. They aren't going to happen. And the Chinese will end up
demanding hard currency just as the Iranians and Libyans did before them!

As a glaring indication that there is no change in the state media there was
a clumsy attempt by the Herald last week to link MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai to a violent episode on a resettled farm in Beatrice. The police
subsequently said that it was premature to describe this as a political case
as reported in the Herald.
But there was no retraction by the Herald for its defamatory insinuation.
This did not however stop Tafataona Mahoso, who is becoming increasingly
vitriolic in his attacks on the MDC, from claiming that the MDC had
"announced programmes to defy the will of the people of Zimbabwe in many
ways including...unleashing Selous Scout-style terror against resettled
African farmers".
We have in the past suggested a number of instances where Mahoso, who heads
a quasi-judicial body, has made assumptions about an individual or an
organisation's guilt when there has been no evidence for such assumptions.
Admittedly, he made other claims in his article last Sunday about the MDC
which would incline a reader not to take him seriously. For instance he
suggested the party was "using its alliance with foreign business monopolies
to sabotage the economy and reverse the gains of the national economic
turnaround programme... making up false stories about vote-rigging (and)
using sponsorship launch totally unnecessary court cases to reverse
election results in at least 13 constituencies where the MDC lost to the
ruling Zanu PF".
What does this tell us about Mahoso's views on the rights of individuals and
parties to appeal to the courts where they believe they have been wronged?
The High Court ruled in a number of cases between 2000 and 2004 that
electoral outcomes should be set aside where Zanu PF had won because of
irregularities, inducements or violence. Those cases are currently on appeal
by the incumbents.
Is it Mahoso's contention that those cases should never have been heard? And
what does that tell us about his role at the Media and Information
As for sabotaging the economy and reversing the "gains of the national
economic turnaround", you have first to swallow the childish claims of Zanu
PF's propaganda machine as to the existence of such a turnaround before
anybody can reverse it. We all know who the real saboteurs are in respect of
Zimbabwe's economy. If Mahoso wants to demonstrate his partisan gullibility
that is his business.
But when making so much of the MDC's "sponsorship", why doesn't Mahoso tell
us who his sponsors are and whether it is part of his brief to attack the
opposition in such venomous terms?
Exactly how much does the MIC and Mahoso in particular cost the nation when
the law under which he operates has yet to secure a single successful
prosecution? Or does this regime reward, as we suspect, those officials and
law-enforcement officers who lurch from failure to failure as in the recent
case of the Telegraph Two?

Reading through the president's address at the Silver Jubilee celebrations
on Monday, we were struck by the delusional claims he made. The government
had "delivered on education, health, infrastructure, water, energy and
communication", he told the assembled crowd.
Has it? It may have delivered on educational expansion in the 1980s, but
where are all the teachers now? Most are in the UK. And what use have all
those universities been without books, facilities and high-level
instruction? Academics have been leading the exodus to greener pastures.
Health care is more evident in its absence than provision. Has President
Mugabe ever been to a state hospital and seen the conditions there? It doesn't
sound like it.
Infrastructure is everywhere in a state of advanced collapse. There are
water shortages all over Harare, partly due to political meddling in the
administration of the city. What happened to the Kunzvi Dam scheme?
Energy, particularly fuel supplies, are erratic while communications are
dependent upon private service providers. NetOne seems to be spending public
money on congratulating Mugabe on his "outstanding electoral victory". And
when did you last see somebody using a post office after Zimpost hiked the
cost of postage beyond most people's means? Hiking the cost of telephone and
postal charges thus preventing ordinary people - such as school children and
pensioners - communicating with each other is one of the many cruel
impositions this regime's parasitic parastatals have heaped on the public
while the state orders private businesses to
hold their prices at unsustainable levels.

Mugabe evidently lives on a different planet from the rest of us. We did
however appreciate his reference to "hapless villagers slaughtered in cold
blood only yesterday". We should welcome this belated recognition of the
depredations of the Fifth Brigade by the president. The same number of
people were "slaughtered" in Matabeleland in the 1980s as in the liberation
war and it is fitting that the regime should own up to its atrocities
instead of constantly pointing at other people's!
But the most helpful remarks the president made related to genuine democracy
not being able to grow on the soil of racial poverty and inequality. He
should have said that democracy cannot grow on the soil of state-induced
poverty and racism.
Zimbabwe enjoyed solid growth and job expansion in the 1980s and 90s. It was
only after the hate-fuelled third chimurenga in 2000 that living standards
plummeted. The lesson is there for all to see. Zanu PF's vicious assault on
a productive and law-abiding minority has sabotaged the economy and
destroyed jobs. Per capita GDP has fallen well below pre-Independence
levels. That is why so few people participated in Zanu PF's contrived
celebrations last weekend. And it's not getting any better.

Zanu PF Women's League members knelt and chanted President Mugabe's totem,
we are told. Doesn't that sum up the whole phoney event? A nation on its
knees chanting Mugabe's totem. Except of course the inhabitants of the
cities who are totemless!
By the way, why weren't Josiah Tongogara and Rekayi Tangwena on the list of
those posthumously honoured? And why weren't Thabo Mbeki or Armando Guebuza
present at the celebrations? Reports from Johannesburg said the
newly-elected Mozambican president had deliberately side-stepped visiting
Zimbabwe. According to ZimOnline, sources within his delegation said he didn't
want to be seen as the first leader to endorse the government in Harare by
undertaking an official visit.
We can well understand that!
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Zim Independent

RBZ 's economic plan queried
Roadwin Chirara
ANALYSTS have questioned the ability of the central bank to come up with a
clear economic plan, after it backtracked on its earlier decision to issue
91-day treasury bills.

The RBZ last week reintroduced the short-term paper to mop up liquidity on
the market, a move that was in direct contrast to its earlier decision to
scrap the bills.

Analysts said it was now difficult for business to plan in an environment
where the central bank continues to shift policies overnight.

The latest move saw the RBZ immediately floating 91-day TBs to raise $200
billion, although it only managed $175 billion. The latest short-term effort
came after the market reacted reluctantly to the central bank's long-term
180-day paper, thrust on the market to mop up excess liquidity.

An analyst said lack of policy consistency on the part of the RBZ showed its
lack of strategy in dealing with economic challenges facing the country.

"It really becomes difficult to trust the economic recovery plan of a
central bank which seems not to have a single (clear) strategy to deal with
the current challenges," he said.

Other analysts said the central bank had no choice but to backtrack on its
long-term paper ambitions as investors were more interested in short-term
investments in a volatile economic climate.

"The decision by the Reserve Bank had put them in a difficult position as
the old paper was failing to find any takers, leading to an urgent need to
reintroduce the attractive short-term 91-day TBs," he said.

The 91-day paper's reintroduction comes after the central bank halted the
issuance of short-term paper to the financial markets without offering an

The move to bar short-term paper was announced by Hazvinandaa Saburi, the
central bank's acting division chief for financial markets.

Before the decision, the market was distributing short-term paper ranging
from 7-14 days and attracted an average of 50% interest, while the 30-day
paper averaged 55% in interest.

The 60-day paper attracted 60%, while the 90-day paper attracted 75%
interest. The decision to bar the issuing of short-term paper meant that the
central bank was only in a position to issue treasury bills.

TBs are issued by the central bank on behalf of the government to raise
money for various national purchases, including essential imports of energy
and fuel.

In its effort to force institutions to adhere to the new regulations, the
central bank announced that institutions that breached the new requirement
would be forced to buy a two-year paper attracting a lowly penal rate of

By yesterday, the market was still digesting the likely impact of the
central bank's decision.

Analysts said the decision was mainly a result of the market's lacklustre
response to the central bank's long-term paper.
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Zim Independent

Hippo prejudiced of millions
Roadwin Chirara
SUGAR producer, Hippo Valley Estates, has been prejudiced of billions of
dollars in export earnings after an Indian company allegedly "hijacked"
Hippo's sugar export quota to the European Union.

Hippo has a deal to export 31 000 tonnes of sugar under the EU-ACP
preferential quota.

Hippo Valley alleges the Indian company delivered sugar to the EU under the
pretence that the produce was of Zimbabwean origin. Company insiders say the
scam came to light after Hippo Valley was informed that it had met its full
export quota to the EU market under the ACP agreement. But Hippo claims to
have supplied only 24 151 tonnes of sugar to the EU.

The EU is reportedly investigating the true origin of the 6 858 tonnes
supplied by the Indian company.

Hippo Valley has mooted legal action against the Indian company to offset
losses from the deal which constitutes one of its major export markets.

Hippo Valley Estates chairman, Godfrey Gomwe, acknowledged in the company's
annual results to December 2004 that Hippo was involved in a dispute
regarding the delivery of a sugar consignment to the European market.

He said the company was awaiting the outcome of an investigation being
instituted by the European Union with regards to the matter.

"Exports to the EU under the ACP preferential quota amounted to 24 151
tonnes, 6 858 tonnes short of the full quota due to the fraudulent tonnage
of the Indian sugar under false certificates claiming to be of Zimbabwean
origin," said Gomwe.

"The matter is still under investigation by the EU," he said.

He also said the company was still awaiting its certification to export to
the United States market under the Certificate of Quota Eligibility granted
last year amounting to 12 103 tonnes.

He said the balance of sugar produced during the course of the year under
review was exported to the company's other regional export markets.

"The balance of production was exported to regional markets under bilateral
trade arrangements," said Gomwe.

He said despite the company meeting its sugar export to the EU under the
Special Preferential Sugar quota, its export market was under threat.

He said the proposed reforms governing the ACP sugar regime would prove a
challenge to the company as its exports produce price would face a price cut
of 37% under the tabled proposal.

"In July 2004, the European Union tabled a paper proposing reforms to the
ACP sugar regime, which would result in a 37% reduction of the ACP
guaranteed price from -524 to -329 per tonne by 2007/2008," said Gomwe.

The company managed to record a net profit of $126,2 billion in the year
under review, a marked increase from the 2003 figure of $114,3 billion.
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Zim Independent

Interest, exchange rates and inflation-pegging

THE changes brought about mainly by the Reserve Bank governor at the
beginning of last year brought back sanity to an out-of-control economy, and
for most Zimbabweans, were the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel the
country entered in 1997.

The economy appeared to have stabilised, and was even said to be on the
recovery path last year, before faltering towards the end of the year, and
coming to a position which looks even worse than 2002-3 as of now.

Interest rates have remained stubbornly punitive, inflation is no longer
declining at last year's fantastic rate, and the country is in the throes of
a crippling foreign currency shortage. What has gone wrong?

Raising interest rates to stifle speculation was a step in the right
direction. The introduction of the foreign exchange auction was also a
positive move, as was the introduction of the Productive Sector Facility to
cushion industry and commerce. For some time after these changes, the
economy did appear to be recovering.

Trouble started when the exchange rate stopped moving in line with inflation
developments. The rationale behind this move seemed to be to accelerate the
rate of decline in inflation, albeit at the expense of the exporter and the
diasporans. While this worked for some time, the cost has now obviously
become too great for these parties as shown by declining inflows from
exports and the drying up of official diaspora money. This became
increasingly evident from the last quarter of 2004.

Had the Zimbabwe dollar been put on a crawling peg system from that time,
where the local currency would be depreciated in line with month-on-month
inflation, the gains made from squeezing margins on exporters over the first
three quarters of the year would have been crystallised. The decline in
inflation would also have been maintained, as the outlook would have
continued to be one of high, but receding inflation.

What should also be noted is that while the cost of foreign currency was
held constant, those accessing it at the auctions were pricing the goods
they bought in line with parallel market rates as they were aware that fewer
goods were being imported and therefore they could increase prices without
suffering a slowdown in demand. Holding down the exchange rate therefore did
not slow down inflation, particularly as there was an absence of foreign
currency reserves to continue meeting demand.

Given the acute state of the foreign exchange shortage now and the continued
absence of balance of payments support (it also appears this will not be
coming anytime soon, given President Mugabe's speech on Independence Day),
nothing short of a massive devaluation would restart meaningful levels of
foreign currency inflows.

Unfortunately, once that happens, all prices (including those that have
already been adjusted upwards in line with the parallel market rate) will be
raised, resulting in the level of prices jumping beyond where they would
have been had the currency been on a crawling peg all along. It would,
however, mean that we have meaningful inflows once again.

Having effected this one-time devaluation, the monetary authorities would
then have to continue to devalue the currency in line with developments in
month-on-month inflation, and more importantly, make it known that this will
happen. By so doing, the authorities would have created an environment in
which all players know the path that the important fundamentals will take.
This would also kill off speculative opportunities currently in existence.

For example, if one knows that the Zimbabwe dollar will have declined at the
same rate as inflation in a year's time, and there will not be a parallel
market from which to realise higher gains, one would most likely not buy or
hold foreign currency. This would be especially so in a positive interest
rate environment, as one would realise more from investing on the money
market than from holding foreign currency.

On the other hand, trying to hike interest rates again without devaluing and
putting the currency on a crawling peg would only result in a higher cost of
capital for those struggling companies still in a borrowed position, which
would result in inevitable company closures, and greater hardships on the
general populace. It would also stifle the already low aggregate demand
within our economy, thus impacting negatively on even those companies that
are not borrowed, and that are not engaged in speculative activity. In the
medium to long-run, high interest rates would also lead to inflation as
money is channelled away from productive activities into bank accounts to
generate more money when the economy's output is falling.

High interest rates would not reduce demand for foreign currency

significantly as most of this demand currently is for the purchase of inputs
and commodities. It is also highly unlikely that there are still people
borrowing to buy currency on a speculative basis, as banks' lending policies
have become very stringent, and borrowing rates are still punitive.
Moreover, high interest rates would not kill the parallel market as foreign
currency shortages would still be there.
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Zim Independent


Spare them

ACCORDING to a ZTV news report Joseph Chinotimba and members of the Zanu PF
Women's League organised a party for Harare's street kids to enable them to
celebrate Zimbabwe's silver jubilee. Needless to say, the event was
politicised and clenched fists, Zanu PF regalia and slogans were much in

Have they no shame? Are they not aware that the destitute of all ages who
live on the streets of Harare and other towns in Zimbabwe are there because
of Zanu PF's misrule?

Let all the "fat cats" who have prospered from a corrupt regime celebrate,
but please spare the destitute the indignity of being forced to "celebrate"
in order to be fed a few crumbs from their table of plenty.

There are many in Zimbabwe who would do well to avoid any public pretence at
showing humanitarian concern for their suffering fellow citizens.

The image is just too nauseating for public consumption.

Everett Scott,

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Zim Independent


Robert Jr up for grooming, watch out!

IT is a fact that Zanu PF's leader is trying to extend his term of office by
another two years for one simple reason - grooming his son Robert (Jr) to
become the next president of this nation.

We should not be fooled by this sovereignty issue, it is only a ploy to
distract our minds from reality.

Mugabe is a very cunning person and he knows that the people of this country
are only concerned about living comfortably, and for as long as they can
watch DStv in peace, he can as well give them that freedom and forget about
those "useless" township people who vote for the MDC. For as long as we have
people only concerned with wealth and not the country's management, we are
all doomed.

I salute Mai Margaret Dongo for putting it correctly: they are all Mugabe's
wives. Look at the way the pastors, the academics and the politicians bow at
his feet to clean his shoes! It's such a shame. Who will rescue the nation
from this man?

Mbuya Mhlanga,

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Zim Independent

Editor's Memo


      PRESIDENT Mugabe called the previous cabinet a "war cabinet" to
emphasise his propaganda fight with British premier Tony Blair. And there
was some fighting to do. Information minister Jonathan Moyo spearheaded that
fight with zeal, attacking everybody from Blair and the MDC to his seniors
in Zanu PF.

      The current cabinet has been dubbed a "development cabinet". What is
doubtful is whether it will be anything more than a burden on the fiscus.

      First of all, people are worried by the size of the cabinet. Too big
for nothing is the verdict. There is certainly nothing new about it to
inspire confidence. All the ministers, their deputies, and provincial
governors will require salaries, vehicles, bodyguards, accommodation, etc.

      This must have come as a shock to Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor
Gideon Gono. Somehow he had begun to believe that he was working hand in
hand with politicians in his fight against inflation and government
spending. When he heard the president talking of a development cabinet, he
must have felt that there would be more resources directed at economic
growth and at promoting more exports to earn foreign currency.

      That was not to be. It's consumption galore. Zimbabweans can brace
themselves for more taxation. While the rest of the country is tightening
belts because of swingeing poverty, government is busy dishing out national
resources to its own plutocratic class. It was a happy Silver Jubilee for
those invited to join the Zanu PF gravy train.

      Zimbabweans committed to the welfare of this country must wonder at
these policy incongruities. Nowhere has it ever been demonstrated that a
bigger cabinet means better development. We are seeing a government that has
grown not only too confident from the recent parliamentary majority, but one
that has become both arrogant and heartless towards its citizens. What does
it tell us about the president's seriousness on the economic front that he
can appoint a bloated cabinet to feed from a shrinking base of overtaxed
workers in a year of crushing drought?

      While unemployment is estimated at close to 75% and urban poverty is
on the increase, Mugabe has no qualms about providing ministerial shelter
for party colleagues who were rejected by voters. Emmerson Mnangagwa, Amos
Midzi, and Sikanyaniso Ndlovu are all electoral rejects. Patrick Chinamasa,
Paul Mangwana and Sithembiso Nyoni have no popular mandate.

      It is hard to avoid the creeping suspicion that urbanites, who are the
majority of taxpayers, are being punished for voting wrongly. Unfortunately
the punishment is being visited on those who voted correctly too!

      As for the development part of it, we wait to be surprised.

      Meanwhile, the Silver Jubilee celebrations have come and gone. The
question is what next? Most of those who provided the entertainment at the
celebrations have gone back to their rural poverty or resumed their daily
toil in the townships. There is no sign that their lives are any better.

      While Mugabe was long and loud on his government's past achievements,

      he sounded unconvincing about future programmes. Conspicuous by their
absence from the cabinet are the so-called technocrats bringing new ideas
into the government, no doubt partly as a result of the fallout from
Tsholotsho. There is evident antipathy against mafikizolos seeking to upset
the apple cart.

      Just as an aside, despite efforts to make the Silver Jubilee a huge
national event, how come there were only five heads of state who found time
to attend? The event was announced 100 days in advance and the Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Holdings made a point of reminding us everyday of this great
event. If not our Chinese and North Korean friends from the east, at least
we expected more Sadc presidents.

      Despite spirited propaganda about the March 31 election results,
leaders in the region appear not to have bought into the propaganda that the
poll was free and fair or that lack of violence on polling day was
sufficient proof that Zimbabwe was now a full-fledged democracy. Most of
them opted to stay away than be used to endorse a result that is dubious.
Painfully absent was South Africa's Thabo Mbeki of course. He is still
examining evidence that there were disconcerting discrepancies in the voter
figures broadcast by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

      Also absent were MDC leaders. Apparently some people are trying to
wish the party out of existence, forgetting that most of the people they see
on the streets in all urban areas voted for the opposition party. Each time
we see these futile attempts to kill the MDC in the state media we are
reminded of a recent picture of President Mugabe embracing Afonso Dhlakama
as "our brother" and the human and financial resources Zimbabwe spent over a
10-year period trying to kill Dhlakama and his Renamo.

      Short of hypocrisy and selfishness, one can't explain why such a
gesture with the MDC and its leader Morgan Tsvangirai is considered an
anathema in Zimbabwe. And we expect outsiders to take us seriously!

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