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

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      Zimbabwe strike may continue

      Many shops, businesses and factories across Zimbabwe remain closed for
a third day in a protest over the government's decision to triple the price
of fuel.
      Buses have also not been running, despite government warnings that
operating licenses would be withdrawn

      Zimbabwe's Congress of Trade Unions has declared the three-day strike
a success, saying 90% of its members have stayed at home.

      But it is also threatening to take the dispute into a second week if
the government does not reverse its fuel price rise.

      "We are doing this with a vision. That vision still stands," said ZCTU
President Lovemore Matombo.

      The strike was declared illegal and police have been out on the
streets, but there have been no major reports of trouble so far.

      The economy is in desperate trouble with inflation running at more
than 200%, soaring unemployment and shortages of fuel and foreign currency.

      The ZCTU argues that for many workers it will now cost almost as much
to get to work as they would earn in a day.

      The impact has been considerable in the capital and the second city
Bulawayo, but state radio reported most shops and factories in other towns
across the country were open.

      The government said the 200% rise in petrol prices was necessary to
help pay for fuel imports. which have become scarce since shipments from
Libya stopped last year.


      The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has backed the strike
and has said it is planning its own mass action soon.

      Last month, the MDC staged a two-day strike that shut down about 80%
of businesses and industries in one of the biggest protests seen in

      In a security crackdown that followed, hundreds of MDC officials were

      Meanwhile, 45 MDC supporters have been arrested in a town just south
of the capital, Harare, after they took the body of a party activist to the
home of a policeman, who they alleged beat and tortured him.

      Tonderai Machiridza was arrested after the mass protests last month
and died in hospital of his injuries.

      The MDC said his grieving relatives, including his wife and mother,
were held by police and some were assaulted.

      A police spokesman said the officers allegedly responsible for
Machiridza's death are to face murder charges.

      He added that the MDC supporters being detained would face charges for
"desecrating a body".
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ZCTU illegal strike fizzles out on final day

Herald Reporter
THE illegal stayaway called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions fizzled
out on the third and final day yesterday with many banks and supermarkets

The volume of traffic and commuter omnibuses ferrying workers to and from
work also increased in the city centre.

A number of large department stores, banks, furniture shops, salons and
retail shops, flea markets, butcheries, cafes and food outlets, hotels and
hardwares were operational.

There were long winding queues in banking halls and at automated teller
machines in the city centre as many people queued to withdraw money.

Yesterday was April pay day for many in the private sector and for most of
those who are weekly paid.

Transport operators had a fair share of business because of the large number
of people who commuted into town to do various errands ahead of the last
weekend of the month.

Many people who endured long queues at the banks slammed the ZCTU

"It would have been logical for ZCTU to indulge in a comprehensive dialogue
with other stakeholders to solve the problems people are facing," said Mr
Caleb Chaguta, an accountant with a local bank.

"Calling for any protest action against the Government is not a proper way
to solve the economic hardships we are facing but only contributes to
serious economic repercussions for the country."

Many slammed the ZCTU for calling for a strike instead of addressing the
plight of the workers.

They commended the Tripartite Negotiating Forum for coming up with new
minimum wages for workers in agriculture, agro-industry, horticulture,
mining, commerce on industry.

The TNF on Thursday announced minimum wages for these sectors which range
from $23 070 to $47 696 a month to cushion workers against price increases.

The Government took a swipe at some elements in labour who are working with
external forces hostile to Zimbabwe to undermine national sovereignty and
cripple the economy and cause chaos using an illegitimate stayaway and

Most workers who had been reporting for work on the first two days of the
strike found their work places closed and had to go back home.

The Minister of State for Information and Publicity, Professor Jonathan Moyo
said in the interest of the rule law, relevant authorities in Government
were compiling data on those industries that had illegally locked out
workers for political reasons. Firms which heeded the ZCTU stayaway and
locked out workers had breached the Public Order and Security Act and the
Labour Relations Amendment Act.
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From the MDC

Thirty (30) senior MDC officials were picked up by Harare police in a raid
at the
party's Havest House headquarters today (Friday) morning. They are all at
Harare Central Police Station.

Among them: Morgan Femai, the chairman for the Harare Province, Tendayi
Nyamshana, the director of security, Nomore Sibanda, the co-ordinator of
elections and other senior administration and clerical staff.

Also caught in the swoop were several party activists who were brutally
assaulted at the funeral wake of Richard Tonderai Machiridza, the late MDC
activist who died on Zimbabwe's Independence day (18 April) after he was
arrested and tortured by police in Chitungwiza.

The activists were at the offices seeking assistance to get medical
treatment for injuries sustained when they were assaulted and tortured by
the police at the funeral wake.

No reason was given for the arrests, or the raid. More details will be
made available later.

For further details, please phone 091 248 570.

MDC Information Derpatment
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Protest strike continues in Zimbabwe
Friday, April 25, 2003 Posted: 3:28 PM EDT (1928 GMT)

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- A national strike against massive fuel price
increases kept many stores closed Friday, the third day of protests which
have crippled much of the economy.

Most stores remained closed in the main cities, which are opposition
strongholds, but some banks reopened for the month-end pay day.

Factory owners reported more workers showing up at their jobs to collect
their monthly pay, but estimated about half the industries in the capital of
Harare were closed.

Small lines of people waited at banks to redeem pay checks. Bank staff said
shortages of cash were expected because little business was transacted on
the first two days of the strike, slashing deposits by commercial firms.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the main federation of 90 percent of
labor groups that called the work stoppage, estimated up to 70 percent of
the country's businesses were shut on Wednesday and Thursday.

Strikers are demanding the reversal of last weeks' government-imposed
gasoline price increase of up to 300 percent.

The strike has been declared illegal by the government under stringent
security laws that have outlawed any anti-government demonstrations.

The government, stung by the effectiveness of the stoppage, accused factory
and shop owners of locking out workers and has threatened to withdraw the
licenses of bus owners who refused to ferry commuters to work.

Information Minister Jonathan Moyo accused strike organizers of "working
with external interests hostile to Zimbabwe to cause chaos," the state
Herald newspaper reported.

The government has repeatedly accused Britain, the former colonial power,
and the United States of backing efforts to oust President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe, at the state funeral of provincial governor Stephen Nkomo, returned
to his regular theme of blaming Western powers for fueling dissent against

"Our enemies now seek desperately to divide us and plunge this country back
into the dungeon of colonialism," he said.

The labor federation is closely affiliated with the country's main
opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, which organized a
two-day strike last month that also shut down most of the economy.

Later Friday, the opposition said 30 of its officials were arrested in a
raid on the party's Harare offices.

No reason was given for the arrests of Morgan Femai, the party's provincial
chairman for Harare, Tendayi Nyamshana, its director of security and Nomore
Sibanda, an elections co-ordinator and other senior administrative and
clerical staff, the MDC said in a statement.

Police were not immediately available for comment. Sibanda is a former labor
federation official working for the labor-backed opposition.

The opposition has vowed to step up a campaign of strikes and demonstrations
to demand democratic reform in Zimbabwe and drive Mugabe from office.

The nation is suffering its worst economic crisis since independence from
British colonial rule in 1980, with acute shortages of food, gas, medicine
and other imports.
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Minimum Wages Raised in Response to Hyper-Inflation

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

April 25, 2003
Posted to the web April 25, 2003


Following days of strike action over hyper-inflation in Zimbabwe, the
government announced that it had reached agreement with business on new
minimum wages.

The official The Herald newspaper reported that government and business,
through the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF), had set new minimum wages
ranging from Zim $23,070 (about US $27) to Zim $47,696 (about US $57).

Workers in the agricultural sector would now be paid a basic wage of Zim
$23,070 and those in commerce and industry would receive a minimum of Zim
47,696 per month, The Herald reported.

Not included in the new set of minimum wages were those of civil servants
and domestic workers, and those in "unclassified sectors".

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), a member of the TNF, boycotted
the final round of talks on the new minimum wages as it had organised a
workers' stayaway to protest the impact of recent fuel price increases.

The government has condemned the strike, calling it illegal, and has
threatened to take action against companies who "locked out" workers, and
commuter bus operators who failed to run their services during the stayaway.

But the ZCTU expects that the strike will increase pressure for economic
reforms. Zimbabwe's inflation rate reached 228 percent in March, fuel prices
have more than doubled and power cuts have begun to occur more frequently.
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        Mugabe accuses 'enemies' of sowing division

            April 25 2003 at 01:03PM

      Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Friday issued a stern
rebuke against people he accused of wanting to divide the country, on the
third day of a national strike against fuel prices.

      Without directly mentioning the strike, Mugabe said "our enemies today
seek desperately to divide and weaken us and to plunge this country back
into the dungeon of colonialism and imperialism".

      Mugabe was speaking at the state burial of veteran nationalist Stephen
Nkomo, which coincided with the third day of a nationwide job stayaway
called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).

      The labour body has threatened an indefinite strike if the government
refuses to reverse last week's fuel price hike, which saw the pump price of
petrol almost treble and commuter fares soar.

            Mugabe said his government was falsely accused of a 'host of
      The government has condemned the strike action, as it did last month
when the main opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), called
a similar two-day stayaway in protest over alleged misgovernance.

      Mugabe said his government was falsely accused of a "host of sins"
including human rights abuses and allowing a breakdown of law and order.

      "We are villified for being allegedly harsh with an opposition that
has clearly proven to be lawless and deviant, but more dangerously, an
embodiment of violence and terrorism," he added.

      The Zimbabwean leader often accuses the opposition party of trying to
overthrow the government with the support of former colonial power, Britain.

      Last month's MDC-led stayaway was followed by a crackdown by the
government, which saw hundreds of opposition supporters arrested, and some
allegedly assaulted.

      On Thursday MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was barred from attending the
burial of a party supporter who died allegedly from injuries he received at
the hands of police when he was arrested during last month's strike, the
party said. - Sapa-AFP
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Agribank Faces Financial Problems

The Herald (Harare)

April 24, 2003
Posted to the web April 24, 2003

Victoria Ruzvidzo

THE transformation of the Agriculture Bank of Zimbabwe is likely to be
derailed following revelations that the financial institution is facing
serious financial problems.

Investigations by Business Herald have revealed that the bank is operating
with a negative capital account, which has largely been attributed to bad
debts inherited from its predecessor, the Agricultural Finance Corporation.

The bank has also failed to produce its financial statements for the past
two years. Impeccable sources said the financial institution made a heavy
loss of about $400 million last year.

However, managing director Mr Taka Mutunhu this week denied that its
finances were in a shambles.

"It is not true, our books are in order," he said.

He said the bank had not produced its results as stipulated by law, "because
we are working on the land bank".

Agribank's financial position could, therefore, delay its conversion into
the land bank. Depositors will need to be paid back their funds before the

This paper has it on good authority that the Government actually directed
Agribank management to map out the transformation strategies last year but
up not now, nothing has materialised, indicating that all is not well at the
financial institution.

The Government made the decision to transform Agribank into a land bank into
which all resources of agricultural credit provided by the public sector
could be disbursed, co-ordinated and administered.

The bank is critical for support and sustenance of the agrarian reform

The ministries of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement and that of
Finance and Economic Development and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe were
tasked, under the National Economic Revival Programme, to ensure the
successful transformation of the bank.

The procedure was scheduled to have been completed last month. The
Government has since said it will not extend deadlines set under NERP and
has challenged all those lagging behind to catch up.

However, the Secretary for Information and Publicity in the Office of the
President and Cabinet, Mr George Charamba, acknowledged that the
transformation process could take a while.

"It cannot be implemented overnight because there are depositors fees at
stake. Meetings are being held with a view of taking into account the
interest of depositors otherwise the transformation of the bank will be
implemented soon," he said.

However, it has also emerged that top management at the bank are resisting
the conversion of the bank and are more comfortable with its continued
existence as a commercial bank.

"If the worst comes to the worst, the management is saying that the bank's
arm which inherited the bad loans from the AFC (Agricultural Development
Assistance Fund) should itself be transformed into the land bank while the
commercial banking division should continue operating as such.

"In fact, the top management intends to take over the commercial banking
activities themselves," said a well-placed source.

However, it is understood that the Government is not going back on its
decision to transform the bank, as a means to boost agricultural production.

"The conversion to a land bank is not an option. In fact, Agribank was given
a directive to pursue this strategy last year and not to defend its
position," said one observer.

Agribank has been operating on a commercial basis charging market-lending
rates since its transformation from the Agricultural Finance Corporation a
few years ago. However, it has failed to assist the recently resettled
farmers due to the punitive lending terms.

Its lending window to farmers, ADAF, has failed to adequately cater for new
farmers due to lack of resources, hence the need to transform it into a land
bank that is sympathetic to farmers.

The Government allocated $500 million to ADAF in the 2003 national budget to
assists small-scale farmers.

The existence of a land bank is not new in this country. AFC started as
such, providing loans to most commercial farmers then, who repaid the funds
under relaxed conditions.

Farmers enjoyed a long grace period and were only required to pay after
their ventures became profitable.

Although AFC eventually suffered from bad debts as some farmers failed to
pay back the loans, the success of many white commercial farmers was built
around it.

The newly resettled farmers need access to finance their cropping and
livestock programmes. A significant number need to purchase capital
equipment and engage in other programmes to develop their farms.

So far more than 54 000 new farmers have been resettled under the A2 model
while at least 300 000 have been allocated land under the A1 scheme.
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Abuja Sneezes And Africa Catches Cold

Business Day (Johannesburg)

April 25, 2003
Posted to the web April 25, 2003

Jethro Goko

AM I the only one worried that Saturday's elections for the presidency and
36 state governors in Nigeria the country's first civilian-organised polls
in 20 years have been tainted by allegations of fraud made by the opposition
and international observers?

Gen Muhammadu Buhari, the former military dictator whom President Olusegun
Obasanjo defeated in the presidential ballot, has graphically portrayed the
exercise as "a massive and state-organised rape of democracy". And while the
Commonwealth observer group has given the election a passing grade, the
European Union has concluded that the elections were "marred by serious
irregularities", adding that in a certain number of states, "minimum
standards for democratic elections were not met". Similarly, US-based
observers spoke of widespread rigging, voter intimidation, violence, and
"many instances of obvious premeditated electoral manipulation".

What worries me about the allegations of extensive electoral manipulation in
the ballot is that they carry potentially dire negative implications beyond
Nigeria's borders.

Indeed, Nigeria is not just another African country.

In spite of its many problems including a history of cyclical military
dictatorships and low living standards, where two-thirds of its estimated
130million people live on less than $1 a day (according to the World Bank)
Nigeria is a political giant on the continent. Outside of SA, it is just
about the only other sub-Saharan Africa country that the developed world
occasionally listens to.

One measure of its continental importance is that Abuja heads the
implementation committee of our latest recovery programme, the New
Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad).

Nigeria, under Obasanjo, has together with Pretoria also been at the
forefront of trying to solve many of Africa's myriad other problems.

From efforts to nudge Uncle Bob in Zimbabwe to behave himself, to putting
mechanisms in place to stop unrest and military coups in West Africa, Abuja
has been willing to invest time and resources in these noble endeavours.

Yet, despite Obasanjo's laudable panAfrican intentions, his first term in
office as a democratically elected leader has failed to have a positive
effect on Nigeria's well-documented economic problems, as well as the
violent and frequent flare-ups of ethnic, religious and political divides
that have ravaged the country since its independence four decades ago.

Almost inevitably, then, his controversial re-election has once again raised
questions about his ability to lead the country out of the many difficulties
which it faces.

Corruption remains endemic in both public and private sector business deals;
the much-hoped for democracy dividend that Obasanjo said he would deliver to
ordinary Nigerians during his first term is yet to come; and there are no
signs of a pay-off, for that matter, from the past few years of buoyant oil

So can he, indeed, keep Nigeria's fragile democracy intact?

Let's keep to the matter at hand; the implications of the allegations of
electoral manipulation. Assuming Obasanjo is ultimately deposed because of
this mess (he has said he will resign if the courts annul the ballot), who
will President Thabo Mbeki rely on to help make this century an African
Century, if the Nigerian leader is not around?

Nepad is predicated on the hope that the developed world will give financial
meaning to the programme. But in turn, the west is looking up to countries
such as SA and Nigeria to lead Africa out of the morass the continent finds
itself in.

It would be folly to assume that if Obasanjo loses the reins, say, to a
military dictator, that person would be as positively enthusiastic about
Africa as the incumbent leader. Nigeria's military rulers before Obasanjo
were only really interested in lining their pockets with loot stolen from
state coffers.

It is, thus, in Africa's interest that the negative perception of Obasanjo's
victory in many quarters is dealt with urgently and adequately. As they say,
when Nigeria sneezes, Africa catches a cold.

Goko is Deputy Editor
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One of the by-products of Robert Mugabe's regime is an increase in poaching.
Zimbabwe's Wildlife Producers' Association estimates that 50% of the
country's wildlife has been killed in the space of just two years. Much of
the poaching has been blamed on the so-called war veterans occupying
white-owned farms; and woodlands in conservation areas have been torched to
clear space for new farms.
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      25 Apr 2003 14:15:45 GMT
      Rights abusers let off at U.N. - pressure groups


By Richard Waddington and Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA, April 25 (Reuters) - Human rights activists said on said on Friday a
key U.N. body had been hijacked by countries bent on stopping it naming
those that abuse human rights.

"An 'abusers club' of governments hostile to human rights has further
consolidated its position and blocked several important country
initiatives," said Human Rights Watch.

The six-week annual meeting in Geneva of the United Nations Commission on
Human Rights has traditionally sought to bring pressure on countries that
are grave violators, but activists said there had been an increasing trend
to stop pointing the finger at individual states.

At this year's session which was ending on Friday, the 53-country commission
voted to halt a probe into human rights abuses in Sudan despite the fact
that an investigator had reported no improvement there over the past 12

Debate on Zimbabwe, which Western countries and activists accuse of
widespread abuse, was blocked by African states and a resolution critical of
Russian policy in the separatist region of Chechnya was defeated for the
second successive year.

The commission narrowly voted to maintain pressure on member Cuba by
insisting it agree to a visit from a special U.N. rights envoy and to add
three states -- North Korea, Turkmenistan and Belarus -- to the shrinking
list of those whose records will be the subject of individual scrutiny.

But in none of these cases was an individual country investigator appointed
who could have intensified the international pressure on the three states,
activists say.

"A growing bloc of repressive governments -- including Algeria, China, Cuba,
Libya, Russia, Sudan, Syria and Zimbabwe -- have become progressively more
aggressive in blocking or obstructing resolutions critical of any specific
country," the New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

These countries are all members of the commission.

"States are undermining a large part of what the U.N. system was established
to do, namely to serve as a vanguard of human rights protection," declared
Ian Seiderman of the Swiss-based International Commission of Jurists.


Many developing countries are ideologically opposed to putting individual
states in the human rights dock. They also feel that the commission ought
give more emphasis to social and economic rights -- such as the right to
health and food -- saying that political rights mean nothing to those who
are starving.

"The commission is divided between North and South, unfortunately," said
commission chairwoman Najat al-Hajjaji of Libya, whose election came in the
first ever such vote on the chairmanship in the 57 years of the body.

India, the world's most populous democracy, is among developing countries
opposed to singling out offenders. Its delegation has consistently voted
against such resolutions.

"We believe in advancing the cause of human rights but not through 'naming
and shaming' because it almost never works," Debabrata Saha, deputy head of
India's delegation, told Reuters.

But rights activists also accuse Western states, notably the United States
and the European Union, of increasingly putting political considerations
ahead of the fight for human rights.

They say that Washington did not lobby against China, despite continuing
allegations of political and religious persecution there, or against Russia
over Chechnya out of a desire not to worsen relations already fraught over
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Noczim seeks $60 billion for fuel imports

Herald Reporter
The National Oil Company of Zimbabwe wants Syfrets Corporate and Merchant
Bank as lead financial advisor to raise $60 billion for fuel imports.

Others in the desired team that will undertake the task include Sagit
Advisory Services and Prudential Advisory Services.

Noczim board chairman Mr Charles Chipato confirmed that an application for
Noczim to appoint Sybank as lead financial adviser had been made to the
Ministry of Energy and Power Development, but would not give details about
the deal.

"As far as I know, yesterday (Thursday) they were still processing it," he

It is understood that the team would provide Noczim with the necessary
financial advisory services and negotiate, structure and mobilise the
required finance both locally and off-shore through private placement and
the issue of "petrofin bills".

The financial advisors would review Noczim's current operations with regard
to both local and foreign currency requirements.

The team has to put in place a structure to secure a sustainable supply of
foreign currency and the Zimbabwe dollar equivalent to ensure the continued
availability of fuel.

Zimbabwe's fuel crisis has affected the viability of several industries. The
recently introduced electricity load shedding has added to the woes of

Foreign currency shortages have been worsened by a slump in exports as the
country continues to face economic problems.

The Government increased the price of fuel by up to 309 percent to bail out
Noczim from collapse.

Noczim is experiencing severe cash-flow problems as it has wiped out the oil
company's reserves when it purchased fuel using the US$35 million
Anglo-American Corporation facility and the US$5 million Zimbabwe Leaf
Tobacco scheme at $824 to the greenback.

The country has been experiencing fuel shortages since 1992 due to years of
corruption, mismanagement and a wrong pricing policy by Noczim.

A string of deals aimed at ensuring a lasting solution to the fuel crisis
are being pursued and efforts are still on to revive the deal with Libyan
oil company, Tamoil.
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