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Communities Make Funerals their Core Business

Wilson Johwa

BULAWAYO, Aug 18 (IPS) - It's the first Sunday of the month. On the streets
in Mpopoma - a working class area - many adults, both men and women but
especially men, are distinguishable by their smart ties and dark blazers.

Some of the men are on bicycles. Most are walking briskly and very few are
in their own vehicles. Together they could be mistaken for devout
Christians, yet church services are not on their minds.

This Sunday crowd makes up the membership of Zimbabwe's many burial
societies, clubs to which members pay monthly subscriptions redeemable only
when there is bereavement in the family.

Typically, members of such a society meet in a beer hall, to take advantage
of the space and quiet on a Sunday morning.

Like other burial societies that have meetings here, Mutare Home Burial
Society has its own place: under the shade of a jacaranda tree in Khongo
Beer Hall, a nondescript beer garden. Today about 30 of the society's 76
members have turned up for the meeting - a highly organized and strictly
controlled affair - where latecomers are fined, as are those who turn up
without the society's navy blue blazer and court of arms.

Still, not everyone could make it. But almost all members are up to date in
subscriptions. Nobody is willing to tempt nature with overdue subs.

The society was formed in 1973 by workers who originated from the Mutare
area, 600 kilometres away, in the eastern highlands of the country. They
sought to contribute towards a kind of funeral policy for themselves and
their families, since they were so far away from the extended family.

Today, in addition to the monthly subscriptions, members contribute toward
the Christmas party and also a 'refund' since last month the society paid
out a funeral benefit of 80 000 Zimbabwean dollars (30 United States
dollars) to a member who lost his wife. Hence, they are returning this money
to the pool in accordance with their constitution.

The quiet discussion heats up when someone complains that apart from the
club's president, none of the other members bothered to spend the night at
the latest funeral in keeping with African custom and the society's very

The chairman of the club unintentionally stokes the fire when he says due to
the difficult times in the country; it would be unfair to expect all members
to travel to every funeral, given the shortage of fuel and high cost of
transport. In any case, he says, too many mourners at a funeral would
increase the food bill of the bereaved member.

The chairman is scolded by someone who says: ”We are here for funerals and
death has no distance. Members who do not attend funerals must be penalized.
Personally, I'd rather you don't come to see me when I'm ill but when I die
I expect you to be at my funeral.”

The argument, typical of a burial society, rages on.

All around Mutare Home Burial Society, similar groups of people are
engrossed in the same business. The nearest is Zivai Rufu (which means 'fear
death') Burial Society 1974 Ltd, that still attracts people from Gutu, a
rural district some 400 kilometres away.

All across the country, such fraternities abound. The concept originated
from Bulawayo in the seventies when, through work, Shona-speakers from the
northern part of the country found themselves separated from their kith and
kin who would otherwise assist them in the event of a bereavement.

As they had always socialised with their ”home-boys”, these ties grew into
burial societies. With a decent burial being so important in African
culture, the idea was to have a savings guild whose proceeds would come in
handy when a member died or had to travel back home to bury a close

The concept spread to other parts of the country, including Harare and has
since spawned loosely constituted church and neighbourhood support groups
with similar intentions.

With an estimated 2 000 Zimbabweans dying every week due to HIV-related
illnesses, burial societies are more relevant now than ever before.

But the amounts that each burial society gives out for a bereavement is
normally not enough to cover the full cost of a funeral. The result is that
most people are members of more than one burial society.

Dora Tavengwa, a mother of three, is a member of four associations: a church
group, a neighbourhood community initiative and two women's clubs. ”For me
it's a form of saving,” she says; ”There is no-one burial society that can
give me enough for a funeral.”

Dora's husband also belongs to a separate burial society. ”The advantage
with the women's clubs is that they will give me money to bury even my
married daughter or any child, even those above 21,” she says.

Leonard Nkala, the councilor for Mpopoma, says burial societies have been a
very useful safety net without which more households would have been unable
to bury their dead.

”There would be very very serious problems and we'd actually have more of
pauper burials than the decent burials we are having right now,” he says.

Nkala's constituency has 4 000 households or 28 000 people. He says over the
last three years he has had only three pauper burials, which shows that
burial societies ”are really serving a purpose.”

Some, he says, ”have even developed to such an extent that they are now able
to use their own trucks to ferry their colleagues and even hire out some of
the trucks, which is a form of investing in the society.”

Rubatsiro Makoni is among Bulawayo's prominent burial societies. Unlike many
other societies, its monthly meeting is no longer held in a beer garden but
in a community hall. ”We are guided by the bible and therefore we can't have
meetings where other people are drinking alcohol,” says the society's
chairman, Phillip Mandaza.

The association, which draws its name from people who originated from the
Makoni area of Rusape in the country's north-western province, is also one
of the city's biggest burial societies. Its membership only recently
declined from 400 to 280 due to lay-offs, retirement and death.

”Of late we've been having many members dying, often both husband and wife,”
says Mandaza, who has been a member since 1978.

However, he is under no illusion that the death benefit of 100 000 dollars
(40 US dollars) payable when a member or his wife dies, is enough to meet
all funeral expenses. ”We can't cover the whole process, we simply assist.”

Membership of Rubatsiro Makoni is open to all but nowadays preference is
given to the offspring of existing members, making it easier to trace family
ties. The risk of admitting strangers is that there is no way of checking if
they do not already have terminally ill dependents.

Although it takes three months to be approved as a member, after paying the
joining fee of 35 000 dollars, the new member enjoys the same benefits as
any other member.

Still, the society - like many others - is attracting little interest from
the younger age groups who do not relish the idea of sitting in long
meetings with old men set in their ways, or attending the funerals of people
they did not even know, all for the sake of African brotherhood.

However, Rubatsiro Makoni is cash-rich. Unlike Mutare Home Burial Society,
members do not pay extra when there has been a death. The society has
invested its monies on the money market where there is little risk.

Using some of these excess funds for riskier income-generating projects
would create new challenges that the society's 10 volunteer executive
members are not willing to deal with. ”It once came into our minds but after
looking at the administration side, we dropped it,” Mandaza says.

Funerals, it seems, are after all the sole business of Zimbabwe's scores of
burial societies.

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Distant Horizon takes world rights to 'junkmation' feature
Staff reporters in London18 August 2003 04:05

Anant Singh, CEO of Distant Horizon, has announced the acquisition of
worldwide rights to Africa’s first full-length animation feature, The Legend
Of The Sky Kingdom, and that the film will open the African Horizons section
of the Montreal Film Festival where it will have its world premiere.
The film, produced by Zimbabwe-based Philip and Jacqui Cunningham, is
directed by Roger Hawkins. The characters and sets featured in the film have
been made exclusively from junk, giving birth to the world’s newest
animation style, dubbed Junkmation by its creators, Sunrise Productions.
The Legend Of The Sky Kingdom is the story of three children who make a
daring escape from the underground city in which they are slaves of the Evil
Emperor. They go in search of the fabled Sky Kingdom and the great Prince
Junkmation is inspired by the unique works of art created from junk in
Africa where skilled craftsmen transform pieces of junk into useful items.
Junk of any form – wood, metal, wire, tin, plastic, empty containers – find
new life as objects of art and decoration and everyday use. The producers of
The Legend Of The Sky Kingdom tapped into this art form and brought it to
life to create a world unlike any other where the characters are composed of
"We were thoroughly impressed with the ingenuity of The Legend Of The Sky
Kingdom and its distinctive African flavour," said Anant Singh. "The
filmmakers have done an amazing job in not only creating a film that is
characteristically African, but a film from which a new animation style has
been created for the world. We are delighted to be distributing The Legend
Of The Sky Kingdom internationally and we are confident that international
audiences in Montreal will find a special appeal in the film," added Singh.
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Street People Bind Together to Survive

The Herald (Harare)

August 16, 2003
Posted to the web August 17, 2003

Tawanda Kanhema

A BONY and stunted girl coughs incessantly as she clings to her teenage
mother's back under a ragged cloth along Samora Machel Avenue.

It is the beginning of yet another day, a day in the life of a pauper child.

At the other end of the street, a boy barely 14 with blackened feet and
shaggy hair, high on glue and marijuana lies on his back in the scorching
sun on the dirty pavement while a much younger boy holds a cigarette stub to
his mouth and a thin cloud of smoke rises lazily.

Through the streets and sanitary lanes of Harare, they forage, turning to
every bin and every piece of garbage in their way, they look up to every
face they meet in search of a crumb to keep them going.

The rising sun brings no good news, it only marks the beginning of yet
another distressing day of looking into indifferent strangers' faces,
begging for money and food.

Through the day, they fight hard to keep hunger at bay, moving from one
street corner to another.

Dusk falls, and it has no particular significance. It only ushers in the
onset of harsh weather in winter and the beginning of wars for sleeping
shelters in secluded construction sites, storm drains, verandas of fast food
outlets and nightclubs.

The number of people living on the streets of Harare has risen significantly
in the past three years and despite the economic hardships, they have
continued to hang on and eke a livelihood through accepting alms, clothing
and linen from well-wishers.

Mrs Tendai Mazoya, who is barely 20 and has two daughters, one five months
old and another two years old, sits on the pavement near Jameson Hotel,
patiently waiting for sympathetic passers-by to give her alms.

"I was evicted from a house in Epworth after my husband had been
hospitalised for tuberculosis. He has been in hospital for two months and we
have been here for two weeks," she said, silencing her wailing daughter.

She also stays with a nine-year-old girl who she says is her aunt's child.

Young girls usually stay with older women, as they fear harassment from the
usually rude boys who wander through the city, smoking and drinking without

Street people are highly organised and they have their own structures, which
are very much in keeping with normal social etiquette.

For example, one of the street youths said the leader at their 'base' at
Rainbow movie house along Robert Mugabe Road makes sure that there is no
fighting among the nine members and that all members wash their clothes at
least once every fortnight.

"Our leader at the base controls us and makes sure that there is no
fighting. We often receive bars of soap from Street Ahead, an organisation
that assists the homeless, and we go to Mukuvisi River for laundry," said a
12 year-old boy, who ran away from his home in Marondera in 2002 and only
identified himself as Moses..

Moses left his single mother alone when he was in grade four because she had
stopped sending him to school.

He spent a year at Luck Street Children's' Home in Harare and ran away soon
after being returned home by the wardens.

Another boy, who ran away from his home in Chitungwiza in 1999 citing abuse
by his father's second wife, went to the same place for two months and also
ran away.

He said he found the streets to be much more hospitable than home. "It (the
children's home) is like a prison," he said, "they are too strict and the
food is bad. It is better to stay on the streets."

Ingratitude, some would call it, but it seems apparent that these children
can no longer live in any normally regulated family structure but their own,
wherein they can regulate themselves and live at the mercy of strangers.

A couple of pedestrians invited a seven year old street child who had asked
for money to come and stay with them at their home and the young unkempt
boy, close to tears, asked: "If I come and stay with you, who will look
after my blind father?"

They laughed at the minor's response because their invitation was not
sincere, it was only a way of getting rid of the child who obviously would
not have agreed to go with them but that little boy's question is still

Who will look after the hundreds of disabled people living on the streets if
their young breadwinners are taken out of the streets?

The number of homeless adults, derisively referred to as street fathers and
mothers, has also risen alarmingly with most of them having lived on the
streets for at least 10 years.

Some have retraced their footsteps back to their rural homes, but scores of
youths of all ages, infants, adolescents and women still roam the streets.

By nightfall, the women would have set up pavement kitchens and started
paper fires to make warm dinner in tins for their children, most of who
would still be begging in different parts of town.

Asked why they sometimes grab food from passers-by on the pavements, one of
the youths boasted: "We grab because people are stingy, sometimes they scold
us, telling us to go home."

There seems to be an unusual level of tolerance and hospitality among some
street youths, as they accommodate each other in their respective 'bases'
and make sure that the little ones have had something to eat.

"My day begins at the Speke Avenue footbridge where we usually meet with
other 'members'. There are leaders throughout the whole city and we do not
just beg anywhere," said one of the street dwellers, a boy about 14 years of
age, who identified himself only as 'Terry'.

During the evenings, groups of these children subconsciously explode into
conventional cultural masses, usually along George Silundika Avenue, where
they imitate traditional functions by beating tins, singing and dancing

They have developed a culture of their own or exaggerated an already
existing one to entertain themselves and drown their sorrows. They also play
cards as a pastime.

Police have rounded up street kids countless times in an attempt to rid the
streets of the youths, considered a nuisance by urbanites, but every time,
they have returned and set up even bigger camps, emphasizing the fact that
they are part of society.

Another group based behind Construction House along Leopold Takawira Street
and made up of much older members depicts the true picture of street

Most familiar is their excessive addiction to drug abuse as they sniff glue
and smoke marijuana and stubs of cigarettes they pick from the pavements.

With their feet blackened by oil from the tarmac and smoke, their clothes
tattered and torn in their customary boxing and wrestling diversions, they
roam the streets in search of food and money.

David's group is based at the intersection of Rotten Raw and Jason Moyo

They make a fire and spend their evenings there, before retiring to the
veranda of a local nightclub, where they spend the rest of the night.

Some of the members talked about the sexual abuse of young boys by their

"This occurs daily," they chorused, "the younger boys are abused daily and
most of them do not take offence because they get favours in return," one of
them added.

On why they sniff glue and smoke marijuana, some said they do this to
"induce sleep" and "deal with stress".

The streets have become their habitat and most of them have not the
slightest imagination of life in a different environment or what the future
holds for them.

"I came to the streets in 1996 and I do not know what the future holds. I
live each day as it comes," said the leader of the group, who declined to be

What is most striking is their solidarity. They can quickly gang up and make
short work of anyone who tries to harm any of their group.

In one incident, the leader commanded that all boys put their glue sniffing
plastics and bottles down and participate in a discussion with this
reporter. The command took effect within seconds.

David's artificial bold hairstyle is probably a demonstration of his
precocity and that of every other child on the streets.

His fellow street youths address him as 'sekuru' (uncle) and his peace is
rarely disturbed.

The big question, written on the face of the seven year old orphan on the
street is, what offence have I committed that hasn't been committed by any
other ordinary person?

Most street youths have committed crimes, more out of need and frustration
than malice.

They also have their own share of immorality and deviance, though they live
in a barely regulated society.

All they need, it seems, is to be engaged in constructive social activity.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, curfews have been imposed on street
children and they have been rounded up, thrown into lorries and ferried at
least 20 km out of town, from where they would walk through the night back
to the city.

The Kenyan government embarked on a programme to rehabilitate street kids in
January this year and it has yielded remarkable results.

The street kids were taken into training centers like the local youth
service training centers to be trained in vocational skills.

Only three of them are said to have escaped from the training and the rest
have become responsible citizens.

Effectively, the number of street youths has been slashed in the country's

Professor Amadou Baidy Keita, a top United Nations diplomat from Kenya who
is visiting Zimbabwe, remarked that the condition of homeless children in
most African countries was desperate and needed urgent attention.

"The case of children's rights is a very serious issue in African countries.
There are children on the streets and some are fighting in civil wars, for
example in Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Great Lakes Region.

"This problem needs urgent attention and should be systematically solved."

African countries are facing many problems and they often do not have the
funds to implement effective programmes to alleviate problems such as those
of street children as they often have to prioritize a number of pressing
issues, he said.

Harare was much better than other African cities, most of which have been
invaded by Mafia-like groups of the homeless who rob daily.

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Aggressive Tourism Campaign Launched

The Herald (Harare)

August 16, 2003
Posted to the web August 17, 2003


ZIMBABWE has launched an aggressive tourism drive aimed at extensively
marketing the country's prime resort and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of
the World, the Victoria Falls, regionally and internationally.

The promotion is expected to turnaround the fortunes of the tourism

Engineered by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority in conjunction with the
country's key tourism players - Air Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Sun Hotels, Rainbow
Tourism Group, Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe and Parks and Wildlife
Authority - the Victoria Falls promotion will be launched in Johannesburg
and Cape Town in South Africa next month.

A committee to spearhead the launch - which comprises representatives of the
Department of Infor-mation and Publicity in the Office of the President and
Cabinet, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and all the key tourism
players - has been established and is already brain-storming the promotion.

At least 20 tour operators in Victoria Falls have also joined the campaign.

The exercise follows the launch of the "Come to Victoria Falls - Down in
Zimbabwe" CD and video by the Ruvhuvhuto Sisters which promotes the
magnificent Victoria Falls.

The compilation of the CD was initiated by the Department of Informa-tion
and Publicity.

The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Cde Francis Nhema, will be the
guest of honour at a dinner for about 250 guests while the VIP guest list is
expected to include his South African counterpart, Zimbabwean High
Commissioner to South Africa Cde Simon Khaya Moyo, the Minister of State for
Information and Publicity Professor Jonathan Moyo, a representative of the
Regional Organisation for Tourism in Southern Africa (Retosa) and the South
African Tourism Business Council.

Entertainment at both events will include live performance by the Ruvhuvhuto
Sisters - made up of seasoned musicians Plaxedes Wenyi-ka, Jackie Madondo,
Fortunate Matenga and Ivy Kombo-Moyo - who will be backed by a live band.

ZTA marketing and communications director, Mr Givemore Chidzi-dzi, said the
initiative was a follow up to the successful launch of the CD and video in
Victoria Falls.

"It was discussed and agreed with stakeholders that such a launch needed to
be taken across our borders. Our first port of call is South Africa because
of the proximity and the fact that most of our visitors come from there."
The Herald will launch its Travel magazine at the function.

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'Land Audit Report Complete'

The Herald (Harare)

August 16, 2003
Posted to the web August 17, 2003


CHAIRMAN of the Presidential Land Review Committee Dr Charles Utete says his
committee is formulating the final report on its findings on the fast-track
land reform programme and would present it within a few days.

The committee yesterday briefed President Mugabe on progress on its work.

"We are at the point where all the preliminary work of gathering data has
been completed," said Dr Utete.

"All that work is now complete and we are at the stage at which we are
formulating our report alongside the business of editing.

"We want to say that what remains is polishing up the report."

Dr Utete said it was difficult to say exactly when the report would be ready
for submission but it would be complete within a week.

He could also not divulge the preliminary findings of the committee saying
that would be contained in the final report.

"We did not go to see the President to present a report," said Dr Utete.

"We met him to put him in the picture about the progress we made in carrying
out our mandate."

He said the committee met various stakeholders during the course of its

"It was very complex," said Dr Utete.

"We were required to travel the length and breath of the country.

"We interacted with people who benefited and those who were propelling the

"We gathered information on how the business of land reform was conducted.
We have fairly voluminous sets of material. It is a matter of days before we
finalise the report, but it depends on the pace at which we do the work
because it can be demanding."

Dr Utete expressed gratitude to the people the committee interacted with who
co-operated fully.

He said some were mistaken on the role of the committee, but understood once
an explanation was given.

President Mugabe said about two weeks ago, that one of the preliminary
findings of the committee indicated some top Zanu-PF and Government
officials had multiple farms.

He gave the officials two weeks to relinquish the farms.

The committee was appointed in May and given two months to complete its
task. It however asked for an extension to wrap up its work.

It was to establish the extent to which the programme's objectives and
principles had been achieved and implemented.

The committee was also expected to look at the consolidation of the land
distribution and the subsequent utilisation of the land from identification,
gazetting, acquisition, settlement, input and support systems.

The committee would outline remaining challenges and constraints in the
ongoing implementation of the land reform programme.

Its other tasks would be to verify the implementation of the A1 and A2
resettlement schemes and provision of agricultural inputs and support
services for the optimal use of the land.

Besides Dr Utete, other members of the committee are National Economic
Consultative Forum co-chairman Dr Robbie Mupawose, former Agriculture and
Rural Development Authority chief executive Dr Liberty Mhlanga and former
secretary for Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Dr Tobias

Dr Boniface Ndimande, former secretary for Agriculture, Lands and Water
Development, Professor Rudo Gaidzanwa of the University of Zimbabwe and Dr
Mavis Chidzonga, the former Member of Parliament for Mhondoro are also in
the committee.

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The Herald

Cash restrictions waived

Herald Reporter
THE Government has waived restrictions on Zimbabweans who have externalised
billions of dollars in local currency to bring back any amounts
unconditionally until next Sunday.

In a public notice yesterday announcing a new law against hoarding of and
dealing in cash, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe said after August 24, only
individuals repatriating permitted amounts of up to $50 000 would be allowed
to do so.

This would be on condition that the cash was lawfully exported from Zimbabwe
prior to 8 August 2003.

The law is contained in the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures)
(Promotion of Banking Transactions) Regulations, 2003, Statutory Instrument
171 of 2003.

This comes as a relief to crossborder traders, organisations and individuals
who have been holding onto large sums of money and were at a loss on how to
return the money to the banks.

Government recently said it would phase out the current $500 dollar note at
the end of next month and introduce a new one as a way of dealing with the
cash crisis currently gripping the country.

Crossborder Traders Association of Zimbabwe president Mr Killer Zivhu has
admitted that members of his association externalised billions of dollars in
local currency.

Mr Zivhu has also repeatedly appealed to the Government to guarantee his
members safe passage so that they would repatriate the money before the

The central bank said the main purpose of the new law was to encourage the
public, traders and businesses to deposit cash into the banking system
rather than to hoard it.

A unit called the Banking Transactions Promotion Unit, the RBZ said, had
been established within the central bank to administer and assist in the
enforcement of the law.

With effect from yesterday, the RBZ said it would be criminal for anyone to
be in possession of cash exceeding $5 million and police would be authorised
to seize such money.

However, the central bank said this law would apply subject to certain
conditions such as those permitting recognised traders and parastatals to
deposit surplus cash exceeding $5 million from previous day trading
activities into their accounts.

The central bank said it was now an offence for anyone, except financial
institutions, to exchange any cheque or other negotiable instrument for cash
at a premium or other benefit.

Any exchange must be of equal value.

Banks, building societies and the People’s Own Savings Bank (POSB) were now
prohibited from charging fees, commissions and other charges on cash
deposits unless the central bank published a notice in the Gazette
specifying the amounts or level of such fee, commissions or charges.

On the other hand, as from next week individuals would only be allowed to
withdraw cash amounting up to $2 million within a 24-hour period from all
the accounts they hold with banks, building societies and the POSB.

Traders and parastatals, the RBZ said, would be limited to aggregate cash
withdrawals of up to $4 million.

The central bank said for good cause, individuals and organisations would be
permitted to make larger withdrawals upon completion of a form designed for
the purpose and the approval of the Banking Transactions Promotion Unit.

Zimbabwe has been facing a severe cash crisis for the past three months
attributed to the externalisation of the Zimbabwe dollar, shortage of
foreign currency and the emergence of a shadow economy.
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The Herald

Revival of cattle herd hits snag

By Isdore Guvamombe
A PROJECT to revive the national cattle herd has collapsed after the Cold
Storage Company failed to raise $33 billion needed to kick-start it.

Acting chief executive of the CSC Mr Ngoni Chinogaramombe yesterday said the
company had failed to access cheap money.

"The CSC has not yet raised any funds towards the $33 billion for the cattle
finance scheme.

"The major hurdles are to secure both reasonably cheap finance and stock
feed so that the project becomes viable.

"Currently, the cost of both money and stock feed is making the project not
viable for the farmer,’’ said Mr Chinogaramombe.

The project, scheduled to start this month, would have run concurrently with
the Government’s initiative to restock Matabeleland region, which has lost
more than 100 000 cattle to the current dry spell.

If it had been implemented, the Cold Storage Company’s cattle finance scheme
would have been part of a long-term plan to boost cattle production and help
the company climb out of its teething viability problems.

Last month, Mr Abdul Nyathi, a CSC board member and Zimbabwe Farmers Union
vice president responsible for cattle production, said the project would
start this month, raising interest among the farmers.

Under the project, communal and resettled farmers would access loans to buy
heifers and bulls for breeding purposes.

Erratic rainfall, intermittent droughts and cyclone-induced floods had
decimated Zimbabwe’s cattle population to almost half.

The Government has already moved into troubled Matabeleland with a
comprehensive cattle restocking package, which includes breeding, pasture
management, supplementary feeding and buying a new herd.
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Business Report

      Zimbabweans fail to heed state plea over cash crunch
      August 18, 2003

      By Reuters

      Harare - Bankers in Zimbabwe said on Friday few people had heeded a
government plea to return large amounts of stashed cash, giving no relief to
a crippling note shortage.

      For the past two weeks scores of people have queued at banks in
desperate hope that depositors, mostly retailers, would bring in cash that
could be withdrawn to buy food and fuel - which are also scarce in the
crisis-hit economy.

      President Robert Mugabe's government has outlawed the hoarding of cash
and set a September deadline to abolish the highest denominated Z$500 note,
which it said was being hoarded for black market trade.

      An official at a Harare commercial bank said: "We haven't seen any
significant inflows of the Z$500 notes back into the system, and cash
injections from the central bank are still inadequate to meet demand.

      "Either people do not believe the government means business or they
are waiting until the last minute to bring back the money."

      Zimbabwe's main labour union, which recently led several
anti-government protests, said it would consult its members on what action
to take after a two-week deadline it gave the government to resolve the cash
crunch expired on Tuesday.

      The banknote shortage is the latest sign of a political and economic
crisis that has deepened since Mugabe's controversial re-election in a March
2002 poll, which the opposition and several western countries condemned as

      In a statement accompanying its interim results last week financial
services group Kingdom warned of further hardships for the country and said
inflation could exceed 800 percent by the end of the year.

      "What has clearly emerged ... is that any remedy is dependent on a
resolution of the political environment ... thereby improving the country's
sovereign risk, which is essential to attracting foreign investment," the
group said.

      Mugabe denies charges of misrule levelled against him. - Reuters

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Business Day

Mugabe takes no chances on future charity


Deputy Editor

IN A move that political analysts have interpreted as indicating that
President Robert Mugabe may be contemplating leaving office soon, the
79-year-old leader has signed into law legislation that guarantees his
financial security when he goes.

Mugabe signed the Presidential Pension and Retirement Benefits Amendment Act
which sets the annual pension of the "first President of Zimbabwe at 75% of
the annual salary of a serving president" on Friday.

Commentators viewed the hurried enactment of the law as a sign that Mugabe
was securing his financial future ahead of a pending early retirement.
President Thabo Mbeki has said that the Zimbabwean crisis will be resolved
within a year, without giving details.

"As the terms of the new act only apply to Mugabe and his vice-presidents,
it is only logical to assume that his much talked about early retirement is
now very close.

"Otherwise, why should Mugabe worry about his future when he still has five
years to serve on his term?" analyst Elliot Mhlanga said.

Pegging his pension to that of a sitting president's salary is seen as a
move by Mugabe to avert the situation where the ageing leader's financial
security could be at the mercy of an unfriendly successor.

It is also seen as confirmation of the seriousness of the economic crisis
affecting Zimbabwe and the need to make his benefits keep up with inflation.

The new act says that any person who, at any time since December 31 1987,
has been president or vice-president of Zimbabwe for at least a full term,
shall receive an annual pension that is equal to 75% of the annual salary of
a serving president or deputy.

The amendment to the act also provides for Mugabe's wife and children.
Mugabe signed it soon after attending the 2003 Smart Partnership
International Dialogue in Swaziland.

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