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

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Zimbabwe government introduces controversial law reforms
      Thu Aug 18, 2005 4:58 PM BST

By MacDonald Dzirutwe

HARARE (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe's government presented a bill on
Thursday that would let authorities effectively nationalise all seized
farmland and create a controversial second legislative chamber.

Nine of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change's (MDC) 41 deputies
earlier marched from the party's headquarters to parliament in a token
protest against the proposals.

Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF took a two thirds majority in parliamentary
elections in March -- criticised as neither free nor fair by the opposition
and Western nations -- and is using this mandate to introduce a raft of
changes to the constitution.

"I want to assure honourable members and the nation at large that ZANU-PF
will use this majority to effect constitutional changes which we promised
the people during the run-up to the March 2005 elections," Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa told parliament to murmurs of disapproval from opposition

The amendments include barring individuals whose land has been seized from
making a court challenge except on the amount of compensation, setting up a
Senate and a single electoral body and the imposition of travel curbs on
Zimbabweans suspected of "engaging in terrorist training abroad".


MDC legislators who protested on Thursday said the proposed amendments which
they say violate democratic rights.

"What we are saying to the people of Zimbabwe is that today we've broken the
yoke of fear and bondage. We may be (nine) but we've started saying to the
people of Zimbabwe 'stand up and say the things that matter to you," MDC
legislator Priscilla Misihairabwi told reporters during the march.

MDC officials said most of its MPs were held up by parliamentary committee
meetings. But critics charged that the absence of a big number of MDC
legislators sent a signal that they were not serious enough about their

It was the second time opposition members have protested since 2000.

The MDC has spearheaded anti-government protests before but in June 2003
security forces quashed nationwide MDC led protests in what was dubbed final
push against Mugabe's government.

The government early this month dropped treason charges against MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai over the failed protests.

The opposition party has called for a new constitution that will limit the
tenure of a president to two terms in office, create a new "independent"
electoral body and for any senate to be elected by proportional
representation to avoid it being filled with Mugabe's appointees.

The government's Senate plan calls for 65 members, of which 50 would be
elected, the rest going to special interest groups, traditional chiefs and
Presidential appointees.

Chinamasa defended the changes to the land laws, saying out of 6240 farms
seized by the government to resettle blacks, only 1126 had been legally
acquired. He accused former white farmers of clogging courts with
"unnecessary" challenges.

Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, denies critics'
charges of mismanaging the economy. He says the MDC, which has come closest
to unseating him from power, is working with his foreign opponents to
sabotage the economy.

The veteran Zimbabwe leader has rejected talks with the opposition as part
of efforts to resolve his country's problems, saying he would rather talk to
Prime Minister Tony Blair, who he sees as his chief Western opponent.

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Online

Mugabe throws away chance for dignified exit, warns MDC
Fri 19 August 2005

      HARARE - Zimbabwe 's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party on Thursday said President Robert Mugabe had thrown away an
opportunity for a dignified exit out of his worst ever political and
economic crisis when he rejected African Union (AU) mediation.

      On Wednesday, former Mozambican leader Joaquim Chissano, who was
appointed by the AU to mediate in the Zimbabwe crisis, gave up on his
mission saying he had been told by Mugabe on the sidelines of the just-ended
Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Botswana that his
help was not needed because the Harare administration would engage the
opposition in Parliament.

      MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube said that the continental body
should now stop shielding the veteran Zimbabwean leader from punitive
measures by the international community to force him to implement democratic

      Most western powers, who are critical of Mugabe's rule, have accused
African countries of siding with the Zimbabwean leader despite charges of
rights abuses and rampant vote rigging.

      "What the AU was doing was to provide Mugabe with a dignified way out
of the crisis he is facing but he has thrown it back in their face," Ncube
told ZimOnline. "What the AU now needs to do is to tell Mugabe that you are
on your own."

      Ncube said a crumbling economy, marked by surging annual inflation,
which rose to 254.8 percent in July from 164.3 the previous month,
unemployment and widespread shortages would eventually force Mugabe to
engage the opposition.

      But he insisted the MDC would not beg for talks with Mugabe and his
ruling ZANU PF party and that if negotiations eventually took place, they
would be without any preconditions.

      Mugabe has in recent weeks become increasingly defiant, vowing never
to engage the MDC, which he labels a puppet of former colonial power Britain

      SADC has stuck by Mugabe despite murmurings from mostly Botswana and
South Africa , the latter which has crafted a US$500 million financial bail
out for its embattled northern neighbour.

      "Mugabe will not extricate himself out of the crisis if he does not
talk to his very own people whom he purports to govern. He has to make peace
with all the people of Zimbabwe ," said Ncube.

      Mugabe's ZANU PF party defeated the opposition in the March 31
parliamentary election, and effectively assumed absolute control of
Parliament enabling his party to unilaterally amend Zimbabwe's constitution.
But the MDC charges that the March ballot, including those held in 2000 and
2002, was massively rigged.

      And yesterday Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa tabled a
controversial Bill to amend the country's independence constitution amid
criticism from the MDC.

      The Bill, expected to sail through Parliament, seeks to bar
individuals from contesting the seizure of their land except on matters of
compensation, pave way for the setting up of a Senate and a single electoral

      It also seeks to empower authorities to prevent Zimbabweans suspected
of engaging in terrorist activities outside from leaving the country.

      A handful of MDC legislators yesterday launched a token protest march
against the amendments saying this was the start of many more protests to

      Ncube however said the proposed constitutional changes, which are seen
entrenching Mugabe's 25-year rule especially through more party supporters
in the Senate, would court hostility against Mugabe from the restive
Zimbabwean populace.

      "Mugabe can change or write as many constitutions as he wants but it
is not going to resolve the crisis. He can pontificate as much as he likes
but we will not accept to be dictated to," he said. - ZimOnline

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Online

No trade at troubled Zimbabwe Stock Exchange amid fears of looming crash
Fri 19 August 2005

      HARARE - There was no trade on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) on
Thursday as the troubled bourse faces collapse after a government directive
on pension funds to increase their uptake of state bonds and bills while
also imposing a new tax on shares sold on the market.

      Finance Minister Hebert Murerwa, desperate to raise cash to keep the
virtually broke government running until year-end, imposed a 10 percent tax
on all shares traded on the ZSE, until now a source of hope for investors in
an economy in its sixth year of bitter recession.

      But Murerwa delivered what could turn out to be a killer-punch to the
ZSE, southern Africa 's biggest bourse after the Johannesburg Securities
Exchange, when he directed that pension funds should markedly increase their
uptake of government paper by October 2005.

      ZSE chief executive officer Emmanuel Munyukwi said: "All is not well,
it's now just a sellers' market. It's a disaster, and there is a very high
possibility that the market will collapse. All is not well."

      Munyukwi said trading on Thursday afternoon had lasted only minutes as
the ZSE, voted the region's best performing market in 2001, faces an
uncertain future.

      The ZSE boss said: "The new regulations require that pension funds
sell shares to meet the shortfall created by the new requirement, but no one
in the market has the capacity to absorb the shares. There has not been any
activity today. The afternoon session only lasted five minutes."

      But independent economic analyst, Eric Bloch, last night said it was
doubtful the ZSE would crash saying inactivity on the market was because
investors were still trying to adjust to the new requirements.

      Bloch, who is also an adviser to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, said:
"There are problems yes, but this is a slight adjustment (of the market).

      "What is happening has been caused by the government inflationary
budget, which will cause some adjustment in operations of the ZSE, but I
doubt if there would be a crash something which the media seems to be fond
off." - ZimOnline

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Online

Five African states lure displaced Zimbabwean white farmers
Fri 19 August 2005

      HARARE - Five west African countries as well as Sudan and the Central
African Republic, taking a cue from the success achieved in Nigeria, have
lined up to enlist displaced Zimbabwean white commercial farmers to develop
their agricultural sectors.

      According to an internal report of the largely white Commercial
Farmers Union (CFU) obtained by ZimOnline on Thursday, all in all 23 African
governments had approached the farmers seeking to lure them to their

      Insecurity among CFU members ahead of proposed constitutional
amendments that will effectively nationalise all farmland, barring
landowners from appealing to the courts against seizure of their land by the
state, had only helped heighten anxiety among the few remaining white
farmers who are now eager to grab the opportunities available to relocate.

      "The Nigerian project has opened many doors, and will continue to open
more doors in other surrounding countries, with private companies, and
government departments approaching us, wanting to put together similar
projects," the report reads in part.

      Fifteen expelled Zimbabwean white farmers and their families have
relocated to Kwara State in Nigeria where they have taken up successful
commercial agriculture.

      The CFU report said a team from the farmers group was already working
on setting up in Senegal a similar farmer-relocation project as the Nigerian
one. An exploratory team from the CFU had to date made three trips to Dakar
and "proposals are being put together," according to the report.

      "Countries that have contacted us and with whom we are currently
dealing include Ghana , Cameroon , Sudan , Guinea Bissau, Benin, Central
African Republic and Namibia ," adds the report.

      Displaced farmers have found new homes in neighbouring Zambia , Malawi
and Mozambique where their presence has lifted the agricultural profiles of
those countries.

      Farmers' organisations have warned that the proposed constitutional
amendments on land would result in further decline in agricultural
production in Zimbabwe which has seen a 60 percent drop in food output since
President Robert Mugabe's farm seizure programme five years ago.

      Four million Zimbabweans or about a quarter of its estimated 12
million people urgently require 1.2 million tonnes of food aid or they could

      Chairman of farmers' pressure group, Justice for Agriculture (JAG),
John Worswick, last week told a parliamentary hearing into the proposed
constitutional amendments that nationalising land would make it lose its
market value.

      "While China has accepted the need for individual property rights,
Zimbabwe is moving completely in the opposite direction," he said.

      President Mugabe has adopted a "Look East" policy where he expects to
mimic China 's miracle development and economic progress through
partnerships with the rising Asian giant to spite Britain and its Western
allies he accuses of sabotaging Zimbabwe 's economy because of his seizure
of land from whites for distribution to landless blacks. - ZimOnline

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Online

Magistrate to deliver far-reaching judgment on Daily New journalist
Fri 19 August 2005

      HARARE - A Zimbabwean magistrate will on August 31 deliver judgment in
the case of a former Daily News journalist accused of practising without
state registration, setting a precedent for more than 45 other journalists
of the banned paper who are accused of the same offence.

      Former bureau chief of the Daily News' in Mutare city, Kelvin
Jakachira, could be jailed for up to two years if magistrate Prisca
Chigumira upholds the state's case that he violated government media laws
requiring journalists to be registered with its Media and Information
Commission to practise in the country.

      Jakachira and at least 45 other journalists of the banned Daily News
and its stable mate, Daily News on Sunday, were not registered by the
commission when they worked for the two papers before their banning because
the commission refused to register them.

      Commission chairman Tafataona Mahoso conceded in court that he had not
specifically responded to Jakachira's application for registration but had
rejected wholesale applications by the two papers' journalists because the
publications they worked for were not registered.

      Under the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act, journalists can only be registered if they work for registered
newspapers or if they apply as freelance reporters.

      But the same law allows journalists to continue working while awaiting
determination by the commission of their application for registration. It is
silent on what happens if the commission decides not to respond altogether
as what happened in Jakachira and his colleagues' cases.

      The Daily News and its stable mate refused to register and instead
took the case to the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the
requirement that they register.

      The court refused to hear the application in September 2003 and
declared the publications were operating outside the law resulting in the
police shutting down the two papers a few days later.

      Chigumira last week dismissed an application by the defence for
Jakachira's acquittal saying the state had led reliable evidence and that
the journalist had to be put to his defence.

      Eight other Daily News journalists are expected to appear in court on
12 October 2005 on the same charges as Jakachira, with more expected to be
brought for trial in the coming months.

      The Zimbabwe government has arrested more than a hundred journalists
in the last two years allegedly for breaching its tough media laws but has
to date secured only one conviction with the rest acquitted.

      In addition to the Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday, two other
independent papers have also been shut down by the state since 2003.

      World press rights watchdog, the Committee to Protect Journalists,
rates Zimbabwe among the three most dangerous countries in the world for
journalists. The other two are Iran and the former Soviet Republic of
Uzbekistan. - ZimOnline

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Online

Zimbabwe forges ahead with controversial land Bill
Fri 19 August 2005

      HARARE - The Zimbabwe government on Thursday presented a Bill in
parliament that will virtually nationalise all farmland and bar white
farmers from contesting in the courts seizure of their properties.

      Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa presented the controversial
Constitutional Amendment Bill to Parliament yesterday. Parliament is set to
debate the Bill next week.

      With President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party enjoying a huge
majority in the House, the government is likely to railroad the
constitutional changes ignoring shrills of protest from the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.

      The new Bill will also seek to reintroduce the Senate which was
abolished 10 years ago and empower the government to confiscate passports
from individuals who are deemed to pose a "risk to the interests of the

      The MDC yesterday condemned the constitutional changes. MDC legal
secretary David Coltart said: "We will resist and do all in our power to
oppose this draconian and retrogressive piece of legislation."

      The MDC and some civic groups have all criticised the proposed
constitutional amendments with the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights warning
last week that the new law will "usurp the authority of the courts by
denying people recourse to the law." - ZimOnline

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Online

MDC legislators take to the streets in Harare
Thu 18 August 2005

      HARARE - Zimbabwe 's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) legislators on Thursday caught the police by surprise when they
marched in Harare against an "anti-people budget" presented to parliament
earlier this week and pending constitutional changes.

      Under Zimbabwe's tough security laws, it is illegal for Zimbabweans to
demonstrate or gather in groups of more than three people to discuss
politics without first seeking approval from the police.

      But the march, which went ahead in defiance of the security law, was
virtually low-key after only nine of the party's Members of Parliament (MPs)
participated in the demonstration with the opposition party saying the rest
of the legislators were attending parliamentary committee meetings.

      The MDC has 41 members in Zimbabwe 's 150-member parliament.

      MDC legislator for Glen Norah Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga who was
part of the march said: "The march is against the anti-people budget that
seeks to milk poor Zimbabweans. We are also marching against the piece-meal
amendments to the constitution proposed by ZANU PF.

      "We want a complete overhaul of the constitution which is all
inclusive. Every Zimbabwean has a right to participate in the constitutional
process," Misihairabwi-Mushonga said.

      The surprise demonstration took place without incident after the
police were virtually caught unawares. The MDC legislators marched from the
party's headquarters at Harvest House to the Parliament Building in central
Harare .

      The police have in the past violently crushed street protests by civic
groups. Last month, a demonstration by the National Constitutional Assembly
protest group was violently put down with a number of the organisation's
members arrested.

      Misihairabwi-Mushonga said: "We did not apply to the police because we
believe it is our constitutional right to demonstrate. We also wanted to
exercise our leadership in demonstrating to people that it is time we stand
up against the regime. We cannot sit back while our rights are being
trampled upon."

      President Robert Mugabe whose ruling ZANU PF party enjoys a majority
in the House is set to railroad wide-ranging constitutional changes in
parliament to entrench his hold on power.

      The MDC is fiercely opposed to the Constitutional Amendment Bill which
apart from reintroducing the Senate which was abolished ten years ago, will
also bar white farmers from contesting the acquisition of their farms in
Zimbabwe 's courts.

      Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa presented on Tuesday a supplementary
budget statement to Parliament that introduced new taxes on mobile phone
airtime and quarterly taxes for public transport operators in a desperate
bid by the government to raise cash to fund food imports.

      Murerwa also raised Value Added Tax from 15 percent to 17.5 percent in
a bid to boost government revenue. There was no tax relief for workers save
for raising non-taxable income by a paltry $500 000 to $1.5 million per
month. - ZimOnline

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Monday Morning, Beirut

Zimbabwe: For the demolition victims, the nightmare continues

   "I can't see a way forward," says Matsito, 55, a father of five who lives
in Mufakose, a working-class district in Southwest Harare. "I've lost
everything. I have no relatives, no one to ask for help. The people are all
in the same predicament."
Hundreds of thousands of victims of a ten-week demolition blitz are living
on the edge in Zimbabwe after their homes, market stalls and shops were
Promised housing has for the most part yet to materialize, forcing many of
the new homeless to live in tents while others are recovering scraps from
the rubble of their former homes to rebuild a smaller shack.
Tens of thousands of people are sleeping out in the open, exposed to the
bitter cold of the Southern Hemisphere winter, according to aid agencies.
An unknown number have moved to the countryside where food shortages are
acute. Others have been taken in by family and friends in already crammed
After his two-room home was destroyed, Matsito erected walls by piling his
belongings, wrapped plastic sheeting around them and found a slab of
corrogated steel to use as a roof.
His makeshift house lies next to where his backyard dwelling and home of 15
years once stood.
Matsito, who gave a false name out of fear of reprisals, turned to UN aid
agencies for blankets "because the children were shivering at night", and
now depends on hand-outs to survive.
His face drawn and looking thin, Matsito says he sometimes walks three
kilometers to buy bread due to shortages. He worries about the price of
maize, the staple food, which has increased three-fold since he lost his
"I have enough maize now for eight days. Where will I find the next bag?" he
asks. Most of the homeless survive on sadza, a thick maize porridge.
With unemployment at 70 percent, finding a job seems an impossible prospect
for those like Matsito who have been robbed of their livelihoods.
Street and market vending remain outlawed after most of the city's stalls
and so-called home industries, small artisan shops, were razed.
At Hatcliffe Extension, a shantytown of some 20,000 people in northwest
Harare, Farai Sibanda's family spent six weeks in a transit camp before
being told by Zimbabwean authorities that they could go back to the dirt
field where their home once stood.
The family of eight spent close to a month sleeping outside before
construction workers showed up with material to build new homes in the
coming weeks as part of the government's new Operation Garikai, or Live
But the Sibanda family got fed up with waiting, so last week they took some
of the material to build a small shack -- although they expect that it too
will be taken down.
"I don't think the government has the money or the wish to build housing for
these people," says opposition lawmaker Trudy Stevenson. "They are thinking
that they will be grateful that they are back at Hatcliffe and will shut
"They will be forgotten," says Stevenson who is trying to mobilize aid for
the demolition victims.
While the homeless say they blame President Robert Mugabe for their
hardships, there is no talk of protest action, mostly out of fear.
"We are afraid of pursuing anything. We are just waiting," says Sibanda, who
feels he is powerless.
"The worst thing is that we were made to feel that we cannot make decisions.
The people who gave us the stand can come and take it away. The people who
evicted us from Hatcliffe are the same ones who took us back."
Back to the Top
Back to Index


      ZANU PF legislators revolt against Chigwedere Bill

      Njabulo Ncube
      8/18/2005 9:23:19 AM (GMT +2)

      ZANU PF legislators have revolted against Aeneas Chigwedere, the
Minister of Education, Sport and Culture over proposed amendments to the
Education Act that would give government virtual control over private

      Chigwedere, who has accused private schools of being a law unto
themselves and running a parallel education system that discriminates
against poorer pupils through what he deems unrealistic fees, seeks to fix
school fees, oversee recruitment of staff and prescribe uniforms levies
through the Bill.
      The proposed amendments, however, drew vehement opposition from the
majority of ZANU PF legislators this week, many of whom have children
attending elite schools whose standards would be threatened by uneconomic
      Ruling party insiders said a parliamentary caucus had resolved not to
support the proposed amendments.
      "We indicated to (Patrick) Chinamasa (the leader of the House) during
our caucus in no uncertain terms that we will not support the amendments in
their present state," said a ZANU PF Politburo member, speaking on condition
of anonymity.
      "It was felt during caucus that he (Chigwedere) had not consulted
widely and the amendments needed to be referred back to Cabinet," said the
      Another source alleged that Chigwedere had not consulted the Politburo
before rushing the proposed amendments to the Cabinet.
      "He took it to Cabinet, which approved it before forwarding it to
Parliament. However, Chigwedere has been left with egg all over his face
because ZANU PF legislators are against it," added a ZANU PF Member of
      The ruling party legislators join a growing chorus of condemnation by
private school trusts, teachers, labour movements and parents' associations
who believe the amendment sounds the death knell for the country's already
troubled education system.
      Critics of the proposed law say the offending sections are not
practical given that Chigwedere's ministry has previously failed to monitor
and review fees at government schools.
      Last week the influential Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA),
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and the Associated Trust
Schools (ATS) presented submissions critical of the proposed Bill to the
parliamentary portfolio committee for education. ATS officials fear that if
the Bill passes in its present state, half of the 61 schools registered with
the pressure group face closure by mid-next year.
      The justice, legal and parliamentary affairs portfolio committee,
chaired by Shadreck Chipanga, the ZANU PF Member of Parliament for Makoni
East, is expected to issue an adverse report on the Education Amendment

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Mugabe splits SADC

      Njabulo Ncube
      8/18/2005 9:18:32 AM (GMT +2)

      PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe, under immense pressure to embrace a
Western-backed African Union initiative to end the political stalemate in
Harare, has seriously divided the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) with two distinct camps allegedly emerging within the regional body.

      It is understood the United States, which diplomatic sources say will
assume an influential role in the political affairs of the regional bloc
when Botswana's President Festus Mogae assumes its chairmanship at the
weekend, has been on a crusade in southern African on the eve of the summit
urging SADC leaders to nudge President Mugabe into accepting the AU
      The initiative, spearheaded by Nigeria President Olusegun Obasanjo,
seeks to bring President Mugabe to the negotiating table with his nemesis,
Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), a situation fiercely opposed by the ZANU PF government.
      Diplomatic sources, speaking on the sidelines of the ongoing SADC
summit in Gaborone, Botswana, said there were intense manoeuvres within
SADC, led by South Africa, Mozambique and Botswana to dissuade the other
members of the 13-member grouping from siding with President Mugabe, seen as
a stumbling block in developing the region due to his government's alleged
poor human rights record and mismanagement of the economy.
      Namibia, Zambia and Malawi are said to be on President Mugabe's side
while South Africa enjoys the support of Botswana and Mozambique.
      Obasanjo has appointed former Mozambican president Joachim Chissano as
mediator in the Zimbabwean crisis but President Mugabe has rebuffed the
move. Chissano travelled to Zambia and Namibia for high-level talks ahead of
the SADC summit, allegedly to urge the two countries which support President
Mugabe to change their positions for "the general good of the region and the
entire continent."
      Harare, angered by the AU initiative, is understood to be on a
diplomatic offensive at the summit to buttress its position against the AU
deal and the West's "fixation" with President Mugabe.
      The sources said government spin-doctors were working overtime in
Gaborone campaigning against moves to push ZANU PF into dialogue with the
      The diplomatic sources said Africa's lack of consensus on the proposed
reform of the United Nations Security Council had also created a diplomatic
rift within SADC, with President Mugabe leading a faction opposed to a
compromise deal agreed to by Presidents Obasanjo and Mbeki and the Group of
Four - Brazil, Japan, Germany and India over the veto.
      "Zimbabwe has torn SADC apart in two ways," a diplomat based in
Pretoria attending the SADC summit, said by telephone from Gaborone. "Harare
is against the AU brokerage as they don't trust President Obasanjo in the
whole deal. Another issue is the UN Security Council veto seats relating to
Africa where both President Obasanjo and President Mbeki feature
prominently," he said.
      "However, the US, which sees Botswana as its blue-eyed boy, is excited
by Gaborone taking over the chairmanship of SADC. It is believed this will
enable it to influence events, while South Africa also uses the loan to
Zimbabwe as leverage to get political concessions from Mugabe. The grand
idea is to coax Mugabe to agree to a new constitution that will usher in
fresh elections," he added.
      The MDC is said to have agreed to the AU initiative after being made
privy to the conditions of the deal. Tsvangirai is on record saying he was
ready to meet President Mugabe "anywhere and anytime to solve the country's

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      RBZ hikes rates

      Rangarirai Mberi
      8/18/2005 9:24:34 AM (GMT +2)

      THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) yesterday lifted rates for a second
time inside 24 hours after new official data showed a shock jump in July
      The central bank lifted the key accommodation rate to 260 percent
yesterday, adding to an earlier 10 percentage point hike that had taken
rates to 200 percent late on Tuesday.

      The rate for unsecured lending was raised to 270 percent from the
initial 210 percent.
      The RBZ's unprecedented move came just hours after the Central
Statistical Office released a weaker-than-expected inflation report showing
a 90.5 percent surge in annual inflation to 254.8 percent in July, up from
164.3 percent in June.
      The Financial Gazette has heard from reliable sources that a broader
rate hike lies ahead, possibly within the next two weeks.
      The swift rate hikes knocked shares lower yesterday, piling further
misery on the stock market, a day after Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa
tweaked the prescribed asset ratio requirements for pension funds - the
major market players - and increased stamp duty while raising taxes on
listed tradable securities.
      There was no comment yesterday from the central bank on its latest
move, but in earlier remarks, RBZ governor Gideon Gono had hinted at a round
of frequent rate hikes.
      "Inflation reduction remains the Reserve Bank's overriding objective,"
Gono said. "Against this background, monetary authorities will continue to
maintain a tight monetary policy stance over the outlook period."
      Yesterday's additional rate hike indicates the inflation numbers were
higher than had been anticipated by the RBZ, which hopes to bring inflation
down to 80 percent by December.
      Analysts say the rate hikes and Murerwa's new measures reveal a
combined effort by the RBZ and government to keep investor interest away
from shares.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Unsavoury tale of education sector

      Nelson Banya
      8/18/2005 9:27:01 AM (GMT +2)

      ONE of the many paradoxes about Zimbabwe's education system, which has
long lost the glamour that put the country up among the best in Africa, is
that a study commissioned by President Robert Mugabe in 1999 to look into
ways of redirecting the school system to meet 21st century challenges
remains largely unimplemented but has, instead, been adopted and implemented
by neighbours Malawi and Namibia with scholarly zeal.

      The tale does not end there. A report by the United Nations suggests
that during the past five years an average of 2.5 million children have been
enrolled at primary schools throughout the country, but of the 1.7 million
who completed seven years of primary school, a mere 800 000 have had access
to secondary school education.
      Official statistics show that from about 320 000 students who sat for
Ordinary Level examinations in 2003, 50 000 failed to pass. The startling
statistics point to deteriorating standards of education delivery, mainly in
the grossly under-funded public school system presided over by a government
whose financial resources are stretched to the limit.
      Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere who, since coming into Cabinet in
2000, has presided over the acceleration of the public education system, has
laid out plans to reduce enrolment levels - which average 2 500 per school
in some instances - to 1 000 pupils per school.
      It is estimated that the country needs an additional 1 800 new primary
schools and 1 500 new secondary schools to cope with increased enrolment.
      In the 2005 national budget, of the $5.55 trillion allocated to the
education ministry, a total of $4.95 trillion (89 percent) was set aside to
meet employment costs for primary and secondary school staff. No funds were
earmarked for new works, with work already in progress at 10 schools, each
with a $2.5 billion allocation, only provided for the current year.
      Against this background, Chigwedere's stated goal of doing away with
hot-seating by 2011 through the construction of hundreds of new schools
looks decidedly utopian.
      The situation clearly cries out for private investment in the
education sector, but instead of facilitating the entry of non-state players
in the sector, the education ministry has, since Chigwedere's appointment,
fought a war of attrition with privately owned schools and has moved to
nationalise all schools.
      A former headmaster at one of Zimbabwe's oldest and prestigious
government-run schools - Goromonzi - Chigwedere has ignored the onerous
challenges facing public schools in pursuit of a destructive war with
private schools over fees. Although he lost out in court following a nasty
episode which saw school heads arrested and some schools failing to open for
the new term, Chigwedere has now sought to take the legislative route to
assuage his bruised ego.
      Parents, represented by their development associations, responsible
authorities from church-run schools, teachers' unions and an association of
trusts running private schools, have come out in force to oppose the
Education Amendment Bill tabled by Chigwedere in Parliament in May, saying
if enacted into law, it would be the final straw.
      Jameson Timba, chairman of the Association of Trust Schools (ATS), a
representative body of 61 private schools, said the proposed amendment to
the Education Act "was in essence an attempt to nationalise private
educational institutions - from pre-schools up to high schools."
      Timba added that this was in contrast to the policy adopted by the
Higher and Tertiary Education ministry, which has been encouraging the
establishment of private tertiary institutions, regulated only in terms of
minimum standards and quality assurance.
      "The Bill is also designed to discourage investment in education. The
minister is saying in terms of proposed amendments to sections 21, 36, 59
and 60 an investor is allowed to invest in education, but immediately after
establishing a school, the investor should hand over financial control of
his investment to his clients and the human resources management to the
minister and his permanent secretary," Timba said.
      The proposed amendments, if passed, will bring private schools, which
have hitherto retained significant autonomy, under greater ministerial
control in terms of fees and the recruitment of teachers. The minister will,
by means of a statutory instrument, set the fees that private schools can
      Last September, Chigwedere froze school fees and levies through
Statutory Instrument 19A, directing that any hikes needed to be approved by
the ministry. However, only last week, the government effected massive fee
hikes for state-run schools, by as much as 1 000 times, backdated to
January - a move which does not inspire confidence in the ministry's ability
to timeously adjust fees to realistic levels.
      One of the country's oldest private schools, Eaglesvale, initiated a
process of voluntary liquidation at the height of last year's fees standoff
with government.
      In its alternative Bill, ATS proposes that: "Section 21 recognises
that non-government schools are private institutions and, as such, should
have the responsibility to set their own fees as determined by market forces
with the participation of parents but regulated only to the extent that the
fees fall outside economic fundamentals."
      However, despite all the lobbying opponents of the Bill have done,
recent history with controversial laws passed by Parliament points to
little, if any, chances of success.
      But the government does have a fight on its hands, going by Timba's
parting shot.
      "Significant sections of that Bill will not pass a constitutional test
under any normal constitutional democracy in any jurisdiction under the

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Rising world oil prices spell tougher times for Zimbabwe

      Chris Muronzi
      8/18/2005 9:29:35 AM (GMT +2)

      SOARING international oil prices, on the back of the weakening local
unit point to a bleak future for motorists who continue to bear the brunt of
a protracted fuel shortage spanning six years and steep price increases on
the parallel market.

      International oil prices have risen sharply over the past few months,
reaching a record high US$66 per barrel this week amid indications that the
price could break the US$70 mark soon owing to growing demand, mainly in
      Players in the petroleum industry are already pushing for yet another
price hike to remain viable and to catch up with the 62 percent plunge
suffered by the Zimbabwe dollar against major currencies last month.
      The government approved a 178 percent increase in the pump price of
fuel recently, having kept the prices at uneconomic levels for several
      This has, in turn, triggered an inflation spiral, with annualised
inflation jumping a massive 90.5 percentage points to 264.8 percent in July.
Supplies have not improved, despite the massive price hike, with industry
players pointing to a volatile economic environment, which has already
rendered the revised prices unviable.
      As a result a vibrant informal fuel market is charging rates between
$45 000 and $60 000 per litre of petrol and diesel, a figure way ahead of
the stipulated $10 000 on the same commodity.
      Analysts also point to the recent introduction of fuel sales in
foreign currency, where a litre costs US$1 ($18500 at the auction rate), as
another contributing factor in the recent increase in fuel prices on the
informal market.
      The development has created arbitrage opportunities fro those with
access to free funds who can purchase the fuel from designated filling
stations, while intrepid arbitrageurs plunder the parallel foreign currency
market, where US$1 is trading at $40 000, to buy the fuel for on-selling at
a profit.
      The government has not committed itself to regular reviews of the
price to take into consideration inflation and exchange rate movements, a
situation which has resulted in massive price shocks when the authorities
finally move to correct the situation.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      No one takes Zimbabwe seriously anymore

      Hama Saburi
      8/18/2005 9:28:19 AM (GMT +2)

      WALK the talk: This is an ordinary and yet befitting adage the country
could learn something following a string of futile deals that twisted in the
air over the years for the simple reason that Zimbabweans could not practice
what they preach.

      If there is any area in which Zimbabweans surpass even the wildest of
expectations, analysts say, it is their ability to speak persuasively - a
not so extraordinary feat for a country as full of educated people as it is
endowed with swathes of natural resources.
      It is convincing posturing, the analysts say, that has won the country
exceptional support from most parts of the world and tilted the scales in
its favour each time the court of public opinion was divided over Zimbabwe.
      But beyond the rhetoric, however, there hasn't been much to show,
except for the footprints of broken promises and a trail of heartbreak as
the government swung from one state to another in search of an elusive
economic miracle.
      A number of otherwise water-tight deals signed in the past amid pomp
and fanfare have collapsed like a deck of cards as a result of bureaucratic
bungling and a carefree attitude towards business, an attitude that is
deeply entrenched in both the public and private sectors.
      Reality has finally caught up, with states offering to salvage the
deteriorating economic crisis demanding action.
      Harare economist Godfrey Kanyenze says this has been so because the
Zimbabwean economy is being driven by politics and yet it should be the
other way round.
      "It comes from the fact that politics is driving the economy and, as a
result, it is not technical people who drive it . . . they merely feed
information to politicians, who then present it for political expediency,"
he said, adding: "In the end, political irrationality overrides economic
      The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) economist says business
people have taken themselves out of the picture for self-preservation.
      Most of them, he says, do business with the government and fear sudden
and adverse repercussions if they stick their necks out.
      "We theorise about it and say we need foreigners to help us, sign
agreements, et cetera, but we don't have the hunger to do it on our own. We
need to start building on our own capabilities," said the ZCTU economist.
      Analysts say Harare should know that rhetoric or talk alone is no
panacea for the full-blown crisis causing untold suffering among ordinary
people. Sooner, rather than later, the world will close the taps on
discovering that Zimbabweans don't follow through on their promises, they
      Events of the past weeks suggest that the country has reached a dead
end because patience seems to be running out over Zimbabwe, forcing the
government into a corner where the only source of hope could be China, the
world's fastest growing economy, and other "friendly" eastern states.
      Reports that China signed a memorandum of understanding with Zimbabwe
that would see 25 percent of the African state's declining export receipts
going towards loan repayments demonstrate the world's increasing annoyance
with Harare.
      Most world econo-mies appear to have identified Zimba-bwe's weaknesses
at the least expected time, hence the current trend where they are now
setting all sorts of conditions before extending assistance to the country.
      Nearer home, South Africa has attached a string of conditions,
including wide-ranging political and economic reforms, before it canlend
US$500 million to Zimbabwe to offset arrears with the International Monetary
Fund (IMF) and for fuel and food imports.
      In the past, Zimbabwe has fallen out with the IMF over its reluctance
to implement agreed policies. The global lender cut off balance of payments
support to the country in the late 1990s and has since initiated procedures
to expel it in response to its failure to adopt appropriate policies
required to redress macroeconomic collapse.
      Then came Libya - once touted as an ally - in 2001 with much promise
to help Zimbabwe overcome chronic fuel shortages that threatened to bring
the country to a standstill. The shortages, which had disappeared last year,
have since resurfaced.
      Tripoli dumped Harare after the government reneged on its commitments.
The north African state, whose relations with Zimbabwe date back to the
liberation struggle in the 1970s when hundreds of ZANLA cadres, the military
wing of the ruling ZANU PF, were trained in military disciplines by the
Libyans, had put together intricate payment arrangements involving barter
deals and the purchase of strategic assets that were never fullfilled.
      Nothing fruitful has also come out of Malaysia, which was on the lips
of most senior government officials.
      Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has since departed from his
predecessor Mahathir Mohamad's camaraderie with Zimbabwe, with recent
reports indicating he is cementing ties with South Africa through a
Malaysia-South Africa Trade and Investment Committee to be established soon.
      A prominent local banker said Zimba-bweans should learn the hard way
that talk alone would not bring food on the table and should quickly move
away from rhetoric into making full use of the country's abundant natural
      "The challenge is on making our deals sustainable and one way of doing
it is to fully utilise the natural resources that we have. It does not help
anyone to move around the world shouting about resour-ces that are not being
      "We are not the only country endowed with resources and so there is
nothing special about us. What is critical though is to make full use of the
resources and ensuring that each agreement we entered is adhered to," said
the banker.
      "No one is taking Zimbabweans seriously anymore. We are becoming a
laughing stock because people say despite our respected education, there is
nothing on the ground to show for it," added the banker.
      Another analyst said the country's failure to implement strategies
stemmed from confusion in the government, where there were too many
ministries with overlapping responsibilities. In the end, ministries just
came up with brilliant proposals and left the implementation to Webster
Shamu, in charge of the Policy Implementation Mini-stry, the analyst said.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      The scandal that never was

      8/18/2005 9:22:28 AM (GMT +2)

      WELL, well, well, it was always coming, wasn't it? The undeclared
media war was always going to get dirtier one day. It was inevitable. And
the last seven days have been marked by a frenzy of "excitement" for us
following what our media colleagues at The Zimbabwe Independent touted as "a
scoop". They "discovered" that the CIO owns this paper following its sale by
previous owners in November 2001 and not in October 2002 as claimed by The

      The same newspaper, (The Independent) and the same reporter, helped by
a bitter former shareholder who, with hindsight seems to realise that he
sold a cash cow, had previously predicted the following: 1) That because of
the supposed stigma surrounding the new ownership of The Financial Gazette,
shareholders would reap the whirlwind with rapidly declining sales and
advertising; 2) That the proposed editorial team would not have a snowball's
chance in hell to reposition the paper as the leading business publication.
In other words, the paper would collapse. This was the tenor of the article
written by Dumisani Muleya on October 25 2002 and in which the former ZANU
PF Central Committee member and former Financial Gazette owner, Elias
Rusike, was quoted. The former shareholder had earlier expressed the same
sentiments in the now defunct Daily News. Thus the stage was set for a war
in which The Financial Gazette refused to be drawn. Noone could be fooled.
Zimbabwe's discerning readership could read through these articles stewed in
the juice of deliberate journalistic dirty-mindedness and baseless
speculation. It was hoped that all this would swell up into a wall of
negative advertiser and readership sentiment against The Financial Gazette
for obvious reasons. Suffice to say the much-hoped-for demise of The
Financial Gazette following the change of ownership has not happened nor
will it happen in this life. If anything, the paper has grown from strength
to strength. And facts and figures on The Financial Gazette's circulation,
enhanced advertising revenue and its pole position vis-à-vis its competition
(read Zimbabwe Independent), drive a coach and horses through Dumisani
Muleya's claims in a South African newspaper this week that the paper's
survival is threatened. By the time The Financial Gazette is threatened, the
Zimbabwe Independent would be dead. That The Zimbabwe Independent would take
this kind of cheap shot at us was as mysterious to us as a blocked toilet
would be to a plumber. The Zimbabwe Independent's tactics have not yet
changed. This culminated in last week's story written by Dumisani Muleya,
which claimed that The Financial Gazette is 100 percent owned by the CIO,
although he could not provide a shred of evidence to prove this. The only
difference this time around is that threadbare explanation about the CIO
being instrumental in the closure of The Daily News and The Tribune. This
was meant to exonerate and sanitise Trevor Ncube's friend of many years in a
futile attempt to promote their tribally-based pet project - the so-called
Third Way. All of a sudden Jonathan Moyo, yes he, who for five long years
stifled democratic space through a sustained war of attrition against the
private press, fanned political intolerance, hatred for compromise,
systematic bullying and intimidation of political opponents, has nothing to
do with the closure of The Daily News! How soon we forget. Yet the green
slime of his deadly touch will live with us for a long time to come. Despite
being the architect of AIPPA and POSA, he had nothing to do with the closure
of The Daily News and Tribune? It was the CIO. Please! Dumisani Muleya did a
follow-up story for a South African newspaper on Monday this week which
claimed that The Financial Gazette has not yet refuted his story. Holy
dancing and whistling Jesus Christ! How do we respond to allegations when we
have not been contacted to give our own side of the story? Ibbo Mandaza,
Editor-in-Chief of The Mirror Group, was contacted for comment. Why were no
efforts made to contact the chairperson, chief executive officer,
editor-in-chief, or major shareholder of The Financial Gazette, who is
well-known to the owner of The Zimbabwe Independent? Did Dumisani Muleya
know that this would kill his story? This is hardly surprising though
because the real target was The Financial Gazette, The Independent's direct
competitor. The grand plan is to project The Zimbabwe Independent and its
sister paper The Standard as the only "independent" papers. "In effect this
leaves Zimbabwe with only two genuinely independent papers with a national
character - The Zimbabwe Independent and The Standard," claimed Dumisani
Muleya in The Business Day yesterday. So, this is what it is all about? Need
I say more about a woman who has to remind all and sundry that she is one?
Now, it is not my intention to pick a fight with the provocative Zimbabwe
Independent or its proprietor, Trevor Ncube, because I have no intention of
adding to those of Zimbabwean newspapers already sitting in the sewer. I
will not waste precious energy blowing out other people's candles in order
to make ours shine brighter because we are failing to hold our own. Which is
why I am just going to state the facts as they are as regards the ownership
of The Financial Gazette. We do not owe our colleagues at The Zimbabwe
Independent any explanation as to who our owners are, neither do they owe us
any explanation as to how they came about. Suffice to inform and confirm to
our readers that The Financial Gazette is owned solidly by a group of
individuals with impeccable financial, commercial and business credentials.
They are not CIO agents, neither does this newspaper have under its employ
anyone answerable to the state or any of its agents. I have not checked with
the major shareholder but for the record and to put this issue to rest once
and for all. The major shareholder is a prominent banker, Zimbabwe's best
known turnaround expert, farmer and businessman with whom Elias Rusike
entered a voluntary agreement and was accepting his personal cheques for the
purchase of the newspaper. This can be confirmed by the Merchant Bank of
Central Africa (MBCA), which handled the transaction as Rusike's financial
advisers. Our major shareholder was in fact approached to buy the paper and
minutes to this effect can be produced. These professionals and real owners
of The Financial Gazette take pride in their non-interference in the running
and editorial policy of the paper even when we give positive coverage to
those who choose to be our enemies in the profession today. All our
shareholders want at the end of the day is a financial dividend, derived
from honest, fair and balanced reportage consistent with the highest ethics
in journalism. From an editorial point of view, The Zimbabwe Independent,
some of whose staffers and shareholders have begrudgingly given me those
left-handed compliments about how well The Financial Gazette is doing, only
knows too well who the market leader is when it comes to business papers.
The acceptance of the paper by the public also testifies to the fact that we
have adopted a serious, bold, fearless, incisive, non-partisan and factual
stance. On that scorecard, our record speaks for itself, as it shall
continue to do in the future. ZAMPS quarterly results have over the past two
years consistently shown The Zimbabwe Independent lagging behind The
Financial Gazette in terms of readership. Which is why I will dismiss the
unfortunate remark on Zimonline by the donor-funded Andy Moyse about the
editorial thrust of The Financial Gazette having a certain slant with the
contempt it deserves. How many times has his Media Monitoring Project
begrudgingly said week in week out, "the private media, The Financial
Gazette, The Independent, The Daily Mirror were more analytical in their
coverage of these critical issues". Why the contradiction Andy? I said it
when I came in as Editor-in-Chief, and I will say it again: we have no
sacred cows. For us love and hate have no place in journalism. It is about
facts and not feelings. The Financial Gazette reportage is premised only on
the truth. Political parties and personalities come and go but the truth
will forever last and be enjoyed and cherished by posterity as indeed will
The Financial Gazette. I and the small-in-size but big-in-passion team of
journalists that I lead know that we have a rendezvous with history, which
is why we cannot and have never permitted ourselves to be afraid - we have
the courage of our convictions. We have no political bias and we report
issues as we see them. We have not been afraid to fly in the face of public
opinion where our "views on politics and business are often controversial,
seeking out events we believe will impact" on a national scale, to quote the
Economist. We have taken this path because we care about professional
integrity and credibility. In this business, in which we seek to be the
best, credibility is like virginity - you can only have it once, so to
speak. I am not yet prepared to have mine ruptured. That is why I am keeping
my legs crossed by not supporting partisan causes at The Financial Gazette.
I will be the first to cry foul and I will not hesitate to quit if there is
any interference that compromises the paper's Editorial Charter which
demands that we should not be restrained by outside influences and to which
I am also sworn to uphold. Any deviation from the guidelines and provisions
of the Editorial Charter will mean reducing The Financial Gazette to a
despiser, distorter and denier of the plain truths as regards the Zimbabwean
situation. That will not happen during my editorship because my whole
history as a professional journalist is unequal to that. And I leave the
market to judge me and my team on that basis. To our colleagues at The
Zimbabwe Independent, I say let us meet in the news market place. Let us see
who between us will maintain a fearless, impartial (not hysterical),
factual, relevant and balanced reportage of the quality and standard
expected of a serious business newspaper.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Was land reform just a gimmick?

      Denford Magora
      8/18/2005 10:16:35 AM (GMT +2)

      THE editor of this newspaper is obviously not crazy. He would not be
editor otherwise. Which means that there is a good reason why this paper
has, over the last six months or so, devoted several editorials to the land
reform exercise and the way it is being handled.

      The reason this paper has to revisit the topic is clearly the fact
that the government appears not too bothered by the fiasco. They appear
unaware of what this paper figured out many moons ago: that agriculture is
indispensable to the rise of an industrialised and prosperous Zimbabwe.
      Although we can continue to rely on it to meet our food needs, it can
not offer sustained prosperity. Because of the subsidies given to western
farmers and the fact that even Zambia is now producing an excess of food,
agriculture's scope for giving Zimbabwe prosperity is limited even in the
medium term.
      The campaign against tobacco worldwide also means that even this
foreign currency earner will be squeezed in the long term. Besides, we are
not the only tobacco-producing nation in the world.
      Still, there is no denying the fact that, in order to power itself up
for true prosperity based on value-added natural resources, manufacturing
and service industries, agriculture must take its place first as the engine
of the current Zimbabwean economy. That is our starting point. With
agriculture having been sorted out, it will be a short hop and skip to
building a sustainably prosperous Zimbabwe.
      This is the reason this paper sees it fit to repeatedly call the
attention of government to the fiasco in the land reform programme.
      Yet, to date, the government appears not to be bothered. We still have
multiple farm ownerships. People who do not even know the difference between
corn and cocoa are still in possession of farms that have fallen into
disuse. The majority of this second group took up their farms with the hope
of getting title deeds, whereupon they would then sell the farms to real,
dedicated farmers.
      They are the ones who are not interested in the loans from Agribank
(which do not need collateral) because they want title deeds under the
pretext of using them to get finance, when in fact they just want to sell
and make a killing. Money for nothing.
      Some of these people are politicians' relatives and even ministers
themselves. They are not serious about farming at all. They have no interest
in the industry whatsoever. Their interest is purely speculative.
      Naturally, this paper sees the recovery of agriculture as the basis of
Zimbabwe's return first, to self-sufficiency, and then on to true
prosperity. This is so blindingly obvious that government's foot-dragging on
this issue is extremely puzzling.
      Is it that they find it easier to humiliate themselves by taking a
begging bowl to South Africa than to actually get the ministers and their
functionaries to work on resolving this?
      We have extension officers in literally every district in Zimbabwe. If
need be, rotate them (to obviate possible corruption) and get them to submit
reports within a month on how the farms in their areas are being utilised.
      Indeed, this is such an important issue that it is surprising that
ministers are being allowed to go home at the end of the day at all. They
should be spending sleepless nights trying to ensure that this issue is
quickly resolved.
      Are they not aware that, today, the world is laughing at the country.
One British citizen (a former Zimbabwean) actually phoned me specifically to
say, "Four thousand white people owned farms and were able to feed all of
you people, yet now you supposedly have three hundred thousand people with
farmland who can not afford to feed you."
      To rub in more salt, he then went on to say that the job of feeding
Zimbabweans is actually easier for these three hundred thousand new farmers
since more than three million people have fled Zimbabwe, hence we have less
mouths to feed. "Still, you can are failing."
      Naturally, I can never agree with him that the maths then show that
one old (read white) farmer is more than equal to 75 new farmers.
Nevertheless, this is a humiliation that is not necessary.
      Why do even have a cabinet then, if it can take more than four years
to actually find out who is using his or her farm and who is leaving it to
be taken care of by weeds and birds? Is the job that difficult for the lot
of them?
      More than anything else, President Mugabe's leadership is being
trampled on by the ineptitude not only at the Ministry of Agriculture but at
virtually all ministries. The fact that he appears unwilling to crack the
whip and get the process concluded quickly is now making Zimbabweans think
that there is truth in the talk that this was a gimmick, a ruse to maintain
political power.
      Having been witness to the repeated editorials in this paper calling
for the land exercise to be sorted out once and for all, I and many other
people have reached the conclusion that the government is not interested.
      For now, their power is secure and they have cast aside Zimbabwe's
cash-cow, agriculture. Our suffering means nothing to the ministers who can
get even the scarce basic goods, who can rig up a generator when the
electricity goes and who get allocations of fuel every week and never have
to queue for petrol.
      To them, the crisis in Zimbabwe is a game between the MDC and the
ruling party.
      Why oh why is the President turning a blind eye to all this? Why is he
behaving as if he really does not care what happens with agriculture in this
      He and his ministers surely know, like this paper does, that without
first sorting out agriculture, our problems will never ever go away? The
silence can only be a sign of one thing: the government is past caring.
      They have the power and that is all that matters to them.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      ZSE heads for crash

      Rangarirai Mberi
      8/18/2005 9:19:14 AM (GMT +2)

      THE Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) headed for a collapse yesterday
after a series of shock measures announced by Finance Minister Herbert
Murerwa kept brokers off the trading floor and left sellers under pressure
to crash the market.

      Only six counters traded as buyers deserted the market and left
sellers stranded - raising the possibility of sellers crashing prices and
bailing out. The industrial index closed 6.5 percent weaker yesterday, while
the resources index declined by 8.4 percent as panic set in.
      Murerwa on Tuesday announced a 10 percent withholding tax on listed
tradable securities, a tax that brokers say is a grave threat to their
industry and the stock exchange. The new tax is charged on gross proceeds of
the sale of stock, and brokers say a dealer now has to make a return higher
than 20 percent just to break even.
      This means investors now have to wait for the value of their shares to
rise by at least 20 percent before they can sell. It's a major threat to
brokers, investors and a number of listed companies that had been planning
rights issues to raise critical capital. Brokers staged a sit-in protest.
      Pension funds are also now required to have 35 percent of the value of
their portfolios in prescribed assets. Yesterday, leading brokers told The
Financial Gazette that a damaging crisis awaited the market.
      "Yes, we are heading for a crash," a broker said late yesterday. "The
minister's new taxes are not practical, they are not enforceable from a
stockbroking point of view. Panic has gripped the market; there is amazing
selling pressure, not even from speculators but from the pension funds."
      ZSE chief executive Emmanuel Munyukwi was not available for comment
late yesterday, but a major brokerage said Murerwa's new measures "could
have far reaching effects on investors and the public is therefore urged to
exercise caution when dealing in all listed companies. The price discovery
mechanism has become distorted on the back of selling pressure."
      Players say 90 percent of the market's business is from pension funds,
which were queuing to sell yesterday ahead of the October deadline to bring
their prescribed asset ratios in line with the new requirements.
      Government, which already collects between $400 million and $500
million in stamp duty from the market daily, raised the stamp duty to $2000
from $500.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Govt clueless on solving economic crisis

      Rangarirai Mberi
      8/18/2005 9:21:19 AM (GMT +2)

      FINANCE Minister Herbert Murerwa gave a starkly frank picture of the
dire state of the economy on Tuesday, downgrading growth forecasts and
admitting there would be "no magic solutions" to the economic crisis.

      But the clearest message that emerged from Murerwa's statement was
that government has no real plan to save the economy from ruin. While
painting an honest picture of the dire state of the economy, Murerwa
scrapped the bottom of the barrel for solutions, banking on a string of odd
new surtaxes to raise revenue.
      Evidence of a badly shrunken industrial base came in Murerwa's
desperate plans for revenue collection. The minister announced new surtaxes
on mobile phone airtime, higher duties on luxury goods, higher stamp duty,
increased withholding tax in securities, and taxes for small-scale miners
and commuter transport operators. There would be no tax breaks for workers.
      Confirming that Zimbabwe was bankrupt, Murerwa said he had rejected
requests for fresh funding from ministries because the government "does not
have the capacity to finance them at this time".
      The airtime surtax would raise $20 billion, while $140 billion would
be raised from taxes on cigarettes and beverages. A further $60 billion
would come from quarterly taxes from miners and commuter bus operators.
Value Added Tax (VAT) was increased to 17.5 percent and new tax on used
vehicle imports was also announced.
      The $6.6 trillion in additional expenditure would be funded by
"reallocation and additional measures to raise revenue", Murerwa told
Parliament. He did not elaborate on how he planned to reallocate the little
funds he has at his disposal. The new expenditure would widen the 2005
budget deficit to 8.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), up from the
initial forecast of 5 percent made last
      Zimbabwe must "not continue with a business as usual approach",
Murerwa warned. But his allocation of $100 billion for the senate is a
continuation of government's tradition of extravagance and presents evidence
that the government is not ready to take the minister's advice to his
colleagues that they "live within their means".
      Latest figures made available by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
show government domestic debt at $16 trillion, a sign that despite Murerwa's
public rebuke of state expenditure, there has been little in terms of actual
action to rein in spendthrift ministries.
      Murerwa has however stuck to projections of positive growth this year,
forecasting growth of 2 percent, down from initial forecasts of 3.5-5
percent. His earlier forecast had been based on projections of a 28 percent
growth in agriculture, but Murerwa was this time vague on what underpins his
latest forecast of positive growth.
      "This year's growth prospects, initially predicated on the rebound of
agriculture, as well as on the improvement in mining performance, have now
receded," Murerwa conceded.
      His earlier bullishness over agriculture's prospects has turned into a
desperate appeal for food aid, for which the minister said Zimbabwe needed
$1.4 trillion in foreign currency. Another $1.6 trillion will be sourced on
the local capital markets, Murerwa said.
      Critics immediately launched into the statement, saying while
revealing the dire situation of the economy, Murerwa's statement showed
little in the way of substantive policy to lead an increasingly elusive
      Delivered in a markedly downbeat tone to much derision from opposition
benches, the midyear fiscal review statement is unlikely to rekindle any
remaining hope for near term recovery, the critics say.
      "The numbers were depressing; the minister looked depressed himself,"
the head of a local bank quipped after watching the televised address
      Despite the strong criticism though, others warmed to Murerwa's frank
remarks, saying he had done well to steer clear of the high-tower forecasts
he made last November.
      Murerwa also kept to the new official line on the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) saying Zimbabwe, which in the past said it did not need
the IMF, "remains in contact" with the Bretton Woods institution and other
international bodies.
      The country is up for possible expulsion from the IMF in three weeks'
time unless it pays off a significant portion of the US$295 million it owes
the global lender.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Govt bars SA food aid

      Njabulo Ncube
      8/18/2005 9:26:24 AM (GMT +2)

      THE government has refused to admit into Zimbabwe food aid from South
African churches to feed victims of its clean-up campaign.
      The rebuff comes amid fears of widespread starvation among those
displaced by the blitz, which demolished illegal homes and informal
businesses owned by the country's poorest citizens.

      It has emerged that local church officials who were coordinating the
envisaged distribution of food donated by the South African Council of
Churches (SACC) unsuccessfully approached Agriculture Minister Joseph Made
and Labour and Social Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche in a desperate attempt
to obtain duty-free clearance certificates for the 37 tonnes of maize, beans
and oil.
      Sources within the clergy said officials from the Zimbabwe Council of
Churches and Christian Care, the SACC donation's designated distribution
agency, had for the past two weeks been shuttling between Made and Goche's
offices to have the food cleared but their efforts had yielded nothing.
      Two trucks carrying the maize, beans and oil have for the past two
weeks been stranded in South Africa. Harare has refused to clear the
consignment although the relevant documents have been forwarded to the
      Earlier this week, the government only allowed into the country one
truck carrying 4 500 blankets for the clean-up victims.
      Church officials yesterday said they had resigned themselves to the
reality that the government does not want them to feed starving people in
      "It seems the SACC's actions angered the government, so we understand
there is no way the food will be allowed in," said a source privy to the
      Goche has refused to discuss the issue, saying: "I am not responsible.
Why do you think it is me?"
      Made was yesterday not available for comment, with agriculture
ministry officials saying he was part of President Robert Mugabe's entourage
to the ongoing Southern African Development Community summit in Gaborone,
      Zimbabwe, which experienced a drought last season, is facing serious
food shortages and needs about US$230 million to buy about 1.5 million
metric tonnes of grain.
      Aid agencies say because of the drought and effects of the United
Nations-condemned clean-up campaign, an estimated 4.2 million - more than a
third of the country's 12 million population - could starve unless 1.2
million tonnes of food aid is urgently provided.
      On Tuesday the government, which set aside $1.4 trillion - about US$76
million at the ruling auction rate - for drought relief, opened up trade in
maize and wheat and waived duty on grain imports to facilitate increased
inflow of the key staple into the country.
      Meanwhile, civic society organisations officials claimed yesterday
they had been informed the government, which is still to issue an appeal to
the World Food Programme for assistance, had vowed to use its limited
resources to feed those facing starvation.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Taxing stock market won't help matters

      Nyasha Chasakara
      8/18/2005 9:32:11 AM (GMT +2)

      Taxing the stock market may do more harm than good to the government's
efforts to raise revenues as the recently announced 10 percent withholding
tax on securities will discourage trading in listed securities.

      Essentially the tax, which will be levied on all sale proceeds from
the stock market, will mean that the seller of listed securities will have
to make a return higher than 20 percent before breaking even. Unlike the
capital gains tax, which is levied on profits, the withholding tax is akin
to sales tax as it is levied on the gross proceeds from disposal.
      In the short-term the measure will crowd out individual investors who
must now wait for listed securities they already hold to rise by more than
20 percent to at least get something from the sale of their securities. The
immediate impact is that it will deprive the government of much needed
revenue as the number trades fall sharply.
      Since the Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP) of the early
90s we have seen the listing of companies of many companies on the stock
market. In 1996 the Zimbabwe stock exchange had a market capitalisation of
US$4,8 billion making it one of the biggest African stock markets.
      Despite the number of new listings since 1996, the ZSE has witnessed
significant erosion of value and now has a market capitalisation of US$2.4
billion despite now boasting of nearly 80 listed companies. What this
implies is we are giving our assets away at current market values and with
the expected fall out from the withholding tax we may see further erosion of
      The industrial index is up 312 percent in the year to date, while in
the previous year it was up only 128 percent by this time closing the year
2004 up 1,097,493 points.
      It may look like the market has done exceptionally well when looking
at the movement in nominal terms but in real terms stock prices have just
been responding to the rise in inflation and in some cases are lagging
behind it.
      Now that there is the withholding tax on sale of securities and little
incentive to buy stocks, there is a danger that we could see the market
regressing further in real terms, further destroying the little value left.
      In fact Zimbabwe has witnessed an increase in the number of employee
driven transactions, which will certainly be a thing of the past now.
      It really leaves very little room for investors to reallocate
resources within the stock market as and when the need arises. In short it
discourages investors from buying stocks due to extremely high exit costs
and reduces the level of activity on the bourse.
      In the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange case, individual and upcoming investors
will be significantly disadvantaged as there will be a massive shortage of
scrip as shareholders wait for prices to rise enough to justify selling. Not
only that but companies and individuals who have invested in stock market
industry will face collapse as the level of transactions fall. Stockbrokers
will not be conducting much business as before. The same applies to transfer
secretaries and ZSE related companies.
      Allied with the changes in the Prescribed asset rules where the ratio
is now to be calculated based market value of assets to book value. This
means that the ZSE will now be a sellers market as pension funds seek to
raise money to buy prescribed assets to comply, destroying value.
      Effectively an artificial market that does not take into account the
hyper-inflationary impact of the current market conditions has been created.
Inflation is expected to rise above 200 percent in July, taxing investors
      Zimbabwean investors already face a 20 percent withholding tax on
dividends and given the fact that companies are less profitable there isn't
much tax coming from these, as few companies are still able to give cash
back to shareholders. Investors have therefore derived comfort in the past
from the fact that they do not pay tax on profit but instead pay stamp duty
at roughly 2 percent of the deal amount.
      With the new tax it now means the government is taking 12 percent
every time I sell shares. Most African countries within SADC have not
introduced the capital gains tax and have no withholding tax on the sale of
listed securities.
      One of the fastest growing stock markets has been Botswana, which has
seen the number of listed companies increasing from 16 in 2001 to 44 in
2004. Without stability in our inflation we will continue to see prices
escalating and the rise in the stock market is only a reflection of the
inflationary pressures in our economy. If we contain inflation we will
contain price movements and introduce sanity in our markets. It is hoped
that the introduction of the tax will be viewed in this light, that is a
temporary measure not permanent if investors are to be encouraged to
participate in the stock market. Unfortunately there is little empirical
evidence to support the case for withholding tax on the sale of listed
securities. In most cases taxes have been scrapped to encourage mass
participation on the stock markets. When the market closed yesterday there
were no buyers for most stocks putting pressure on sellers to crash the

Back to the Top
Back to Index



      Reject Chigwedere's Bill

      8/18/2005 8:38:43 AM (GMT +2)

      UP until a decade ago, Zimbabwe's education system was the envy of
many a country across the world. It enjoyed the crème de la crème status.
And justifiably so.

      Enter Aeneas Chigwedere, the bungling Minister of Education, whose
actions even the best brains in this country have failed to understand, and
it is a different story all together. Thanks to the minister's arrogance and
conceit, the education system has been plunged into a state of disorder and
confusion. The situation is so bad that not even the fractious and irascible
government spin-doctors can defend Chigwedere other than point to what seems
to be local education's obvious merit - the increased number of people going
through it and not necessarily the quality that it produces. That is why we
have always said that Chigwedere must go because when it comes to
educationists Zimbabwe is spoilt for choice.
      First, it was the examination debacle where pupils reportedly studied
the wrong set books or syllabi and even received results for subjects they
did not sit for. How in God's name this could possibly happen beats us. Not
to mention the fact that candidates for the Ordinary and Advanced Level
examinations are not always registered on time, a situation the scapegoating
education officials have blamed on, of all things, drought. Or having these
exams, as happened this year, postponed because the truck carrying the
examination papers was supposed to have been hijacked by robbers in South
      The list is endless. Suffice to say that the public's confidence in
the country's erstwhile credible education system is badly shaken. This is
hardly surprising because this is an issue of legitimate public concern.
Which is why almost all stakeholders, concerned with the need to protect the
integrity and credibility of the country's education system, have added
their voices to the chorus of complaints about the terrifyingly swift
decline in standards in this very important sector.
      As if that was not enough, Chigwedere, whose antics have not only been
singularly destructive but whose consequences will be felt for a long time
to come, has come up with the Education Amendment Bill 6, 2005 which is
currently being debated in Parliament. If this Bill in its current form
sails through, and perish the thought, the seal of death is at that moment
set on private and mission schools - the rare or only shaft of light amidst
the ruins of what was once a quality system of education.
      Indeed there are only two ways of killing the private schools. One is
just to close them down. And the other is for Zimbabwe to accept the
Chigwedere-sponsored Bill. Among other things, the retrogressive Bill seeks
to empower the minister to prescribe fees for the private schools, to
deregister them and to formulate the code of conduct for teachers.
      Now we are not going to waste time trying to second-guess what
motivated this Bill, which does not create even a remote semblance of a
false impression of novelty. Chigwedere's misplaced hatred for these private
schools is a matter of public record, given his frontal attack on the
schools. He started by instilling the fear of God in the heads of these
schools who had been targets of unjustified rhetoric after they refused to
yield to the minister's arm-twisting tactics to force them to reduce school
fees to unsustainable levels.
      As we have said before, he seems to believe that such schools are a
bastion of capitalistic privilege and racial discrimination. Yet nothing
could be further from the truth because the majority of the children at
these schools are black. And the evidence is there for all to see. Indeed it
is our considered view that these schools have a critical stabilising
influence in the troubled education sector given that there are no
functional libraries, laboratories, recreational facilities, not to mention
the debilitating acute shortage of teachers at most public schools.
      Chigwedere's hollow assurances that the government would take over the
private schools are of very little, if any comfort. This is nothing but an
empty declaration. The capacity just isn't there. The cash-strapped
government simply does not have the financial wherewithal to run the mission
and private schools. This is why it has scaled down on its services to the
public as can be seen from the disastrous condition of all public
institutions in Zimbabwe. Or if it has the resources, why have they not been
channelled towards propping up collapsing public schools?
      It is clear from the foregoing that the Parliament of Zimbabwe should
unequivocally reject the Bill because if it is passed in its current form,
it will have far-reaching consequences for millions of school children on
whose scholastic development, the salvation of this great nation is

Back to the Top
Back to Index


                  Nation needs moral re-armament

                  Isaya Muriwo Sithole
                  8/18/2005 10:18:44 AM (GMT +2)

                  AT times of crisis we are inevitably called upon to
re-examine our value systems as commonly accepted standards fail to be
adequate. In this age when lowered moral standards have become the breeding
ground for destructive forces, is it not time for democracy to seek again
the sources of her strength, and to demonstrate to the world the power of
moral principles?

                  The answer to many of the problems bedeviling the world
today may be found in a re-awakening of the fundamental values on which
democracy was built; in a re-dedication of our people to those elementary
virtues of honesty, purity, selflessness and love which so many of us have
allowed to take a secondary place. The crisis in Zimbabwe and the world is
fundamentally a moral one. The nation needs to re-arm morally because moral
recovery is essentially the forerunner of economic recovery and political
stability. The enemies today are selfish materialism and moral apathy.
                  Many nations often fail because they try desperately to
combat moral apathy with economic plans. Economic breakdown walks as a black
threat through the heart of every statesman and citizen, yet the material
crisis may obscure the materialism and moral breakdown that underlie it, so
having diagnosed the problem incorrectly they have no idea how to prescribe
a cure.
                  Until we deal with human nature thoroughly and drastically
on a national, even regional, continental and worldwide scale, nations will
still follow their historic road to violence and destruction. Nations desire
the fruits of an answer without an answer. We want production, prosperity,
political stability, a united Africa, a world organisation etcetera.
                  Right now there is political heat about reform of the UN
Security Council but we do not go to the root of the matter. The world today
lives in an atmosphere of suspicion, fear, greed and resentment which have
worked with deadly accuracy to bring nations to the brink of catastrophe. We
need to wage a world war against selfishness.
                  Moral re-armament remains perhaps the most effective
answer to recurrent crisis and the one foundation for reconciliation and
future stability. In these critical days the media of every nation can play
a very decisive part in the moral re-armament of world public opinion.
People and nations invariably manifest signs of thinking abnormally.
                  We often suffer from the numbing disease of
auto-intoxication, drugged by our own egos and blinded by our own
selfishness. People have accepted standards lower than they know they ought
to accept. We need to summon a whole new philosophy of living that is above
party, class, faction and even nations.
                  Moral re-armament creates white and red corpuscles, energy
and protection, in the national blood stream. The poisons of moral decadence
and division are thrown off, as a healthy organism throws off disease.
Leadership of the future goes to men and women of great moral courage. There
must be a new spirit in enhancing our capacity to fight against the causes
of conflict - against selfishness, greed and hate. In this war everyone has
a part. Moral re-armament will win because it advances with the strength of
a united mind and it awakens the fire of true patriotism because it holds
the secret to tolerance of diversity, good governance and economic
                  Meanwhile the forces of subversion prey like vultures over
the people's disillusionment On every hand we see disunity. Divisions are
the mark of our time. Men oppose other men because they are of another
nation, another race, another class, another party, or simply because they
hold another point of view. The underlying cause of all this is moral apathy
hence we need, as a nation, comprehensive moral rehabilitation.
                  Admittedly, this is a materialistic age where man's genius
has been largely expended on material science and technological invention to
the neglect of the human spirit and the science of human relationships.
Materialism is democracy's greatest enemy. When one looks closely at the
conflicts within and between nations, you can not miss the fact that the
real struggle in the world is a moral one between materialist, totalitarian
ideologies and the moral ideology of democracy.
                  The popular practice of democracy in Zimbabwe and other
countries is devoid of sound moral content. Any thoughtful statesman will
agree that we need a new moral climate.
                  The odds are seemingly against us but, just as individuals
are delivered from their prison cells of doubt and defeat, so is it possible
for nations to be delivered from their prison cells of fear, resentment,
jealousy and depression, and oftentimes through one illumined man, one
masterful prophet. How often this has been true in history! We need to reach
a whole new level of thinking and interacting regardless of the diverse
particularities of race, class, tribe, religion and political persuasion.
                  We must create in the realm of philosophy and sociology a
dynamic of loyalty and goodwill which, little by little, will change the
face of the world. To produce such a result we must re-arm morally those
elements of society which for a long time have had no sense of mutual
                  Statesmen must find new levers and appeal to neglected
sentiments to set right human relationships within and between countries.
The remedy may lie in a return to those simple home truths that some of us
learnt at our mother's knee, and which many of us have forgotten and
neglected - honesty, purity, unselfishness and love. The leadership and
every other responsible citizen in all spheres of life must launch a fierce
moral offensive.
                  If we make every home a fortress; every home a
life-changing centre, where people just naturally learn how to change
others, we will soon change the moral climate of Zimbabwe. Imagine a rising
tide of absolute honesty and absolute unselfishness sweeping across the
country! That power active in a minority can be the solvent of a whole
country's problems.
                  It is unfortunate that the anti-people forces seem to be
dominating the affairs of the world. But it is my conviction that there is
more goodwill than there is bad will, but the country and the world at large
has suffered immeasurably and is still suffering from selfishness, and that
is because selfish groups have developed a genius for organising and
mobilising, whereas those of good will have seldom demonstrated a talent for
organising. Consequently, only too often bad will dominate the affairs of
man with devastating results, in the form of cruelty, suffering, despair,
starvation, political conflict, chaos and war, which lend more strength to
the anti-people forces.
                  The whole concept of the African renaissance will count
for nothing if it does not engender a moral renaissance because if our
political systems fail at the moral and ethical level, there is no hope for
success at any other level. We desperately need to reconcile with our
concept of "hunhu/ubuntu" but there is a spiritual dimension to it which I
will deal with in due course.
                  --- Isaya Muriwo Sithole is a lawyer, political consultant
as well as a human, civil and political rights activist. He can be contacted

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      ... and now to the Notebook

      8/18/2005 9:54:46 AM (GMT +2)

      DO you want to be buried at the National Heroes Acre? Remember the
chances of you, most born-free Zimboz, being declared even district heroes -
let alone national heroes - are very slim, if non-existent, because you did
not fight in the war that made the only heroes this country has. So for
those of you who would want to have the privilege of being interred next to
this or that hero or heroine, this is a chance of a lifetime.

      Below is a small quiz that looks very simple, but is not so simple.
There will only be one winner. And the prize? A burial place will be
earmarked for the winner at the National Heroes Acre in Harare and the prize
is valid for the next two years.
      So this is the quiz. Below is how one political editor of a South
African paper this week described someone in his comment:
      "The trouble with (Him) is that he lends himself quite easily to
caricature. Call the man a bigot and he will confirm that by labelling gay
people dogs; accuse him of sexism and he will give you the evidence you need
by calling Margaret Thatcher a "she-man"; say he is a xenophobe and he will
oblige you by saying his countryman are better than their fellow African
comrades because they are better educated and his country better developed
than the average sub-Saharan country, except SA. But that is not to say the
man is mad and that President Thabo Mbeki should deal with him the same way
he would a mad man. It is also not to say that his only problem is that he
lends himself rather easily to caricature by the media. His problems are
far, far bigger than that and almost all of them are of his own doing. This
is, after all, a man who would much rather destroy his country than give up
power. This is a man who has callously presided over the total collapse of
his country's agriculture and economy . . . "
      Who is this man?
      Operation papers
      SAD news reaching CZ from the City of Kings is to the effect that a
once good journo colleague of his almost took his life recently over
Operation Show Papers currently going on at the state-owned Chronicle.
      Yes, the man took an over-dose of anti-malaria tablets after the newly
appointed editor demanded that everyone submit copies of their highest
qualifications - obviously qualifications related to their duties - and he
was found wanting. So he thought he would rather die than be subjected this
humiliation. Fortunately or unfortunately for him, he was rushed to hospital
on time and he is still alive . . . and he still doesn't have those papers!
      You see, there has always been this big debate about whether a journo
is really born or trained. There is this school of thought that is adamant
that a year or two in a journalism class at the Harare Poly or COSSA - yes
the prolific and generous COSSA! - does not make one a journo. Journos are
born with the art in their blood . . . or do they drink the art together
with their mothers' milk? These people are adamant that real journos do not
need to go through that harrowing experience where some nutty professors
lecture them on things that they have never done themselves.
      Intros, theories, fact sheets, interviews, et al. They argue that some
of the finest journos in this world have never been in a journalism class,
even for an hour!
      Then there are those who would want all journos to be trained and
regulated like any other professional disciplines.
      Who knows? Both sides might be correct, but the fact of the matter
today is that this idea of journalism being treated more as an art than a
profession has been abused left, right and centre by some perverts who,
after assuming positions of authority by hook and by crook, end up having
their girlfriends, friends, friend's friends, brothers and sisters . . . in
fact the whole clan purporting to be working as journalists when they are
nothing short of conmen!
      A case in point is: the same Show Papers Operation took place in one
public media newsroom which was recently in the news for non-performance,
and it emerged that most of the people goofing around there were not
journalists but prostitutes and relatives of one or two bosses! Some had
certificates in cake-making, hair-dressing and cattle dip inspection, yet
they were masquerading as journalists and what exposed them was that they
could not do half what journalists - born or trained - anywhere in the world
are expected to do.
      AND Cde-Dr David Nyekorach-Matsanga was this week at the professor's
throat again. Remember him? Dr Nyek, who last year made sensational
headlines by claiming that he had conducted some forensic laboratory tests
which proved beyond any reasonable doubt that someone was not straight?
      This week he was on this new website Zimbeat enjoying his freedom of
speech to the hilt! Check it out!

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Good Samaritans become targets

      Mavis Makuni
      8/18/2005 8:37:38 AM (GMT +2)

      IF the New Testament parable of the Good Samaritan used by Christ more
than 2000 years ago to teach his disciples about compassion were to be
narrated in the context of the "Zimbabwean story" today, it would have a
shocking new twist.

      While as the Biblical version about the man who was attacked by
robbers and left for dead by the roadside highlighted the lack of concern
for fellow human beings in distress on the part of those who "walked by on
the other side", the Zimbabwean version would have the Good Samaritan being
targeted too. The only redeeming value, if it can be called that, about the
thieves on the road to Jericho, is that after robbing and wounding their
victim, they were content to leave it at that.
      The issue that has got me thinking about Christ's teachings is neither
an analogy nor imaginary. It is a real situation involving a large number of
people who are being prevented from getting assistance by the people
responsible, as a manner of speaking, for rendering them helpless and
abandoning them by the road side.
      I am talking about the hard to comprehend parable of
Murambatsvina/Garikayi through which hundreds of thousands of people have
been emotionally battered and robbed of shelter and livelihoods. It seems
that after their horrendous experiences, the powers-that-be are determined
to make sure that no one comes to the rescue of these Zimbabweans in
distress who need food, medicines, water and other basic necessities.
Officialdom seems bent on doing everything in its power to place obstacles
in the path of anyone daring to show compassion towards these victims of the
government's ill conceived clean-up exercise.
      In her scathingly critical report on Operation Restore Order under
which hundreds of thousands of people were rendered homeless after an
astonishing decision by the authorities to demolish their abodes without
prior notice, United Nations Special Envoy Anna Tibaijuka, expresses concern
over this "hands-off-our victims" approach. "Most international, regional
and local NGOs have been requested by the government to focus their efforts
on their on-going programmes and not get involved in assisting victims of
Operation Restore Order," reads a section of the UN report.
      This stance would be understandable if the government of Zimbabwe was
in a position to cater for the needs of the affected people. In view of the
fact that the government is either incapable or unwilling to look after its
own people, its decision to block those who are ready and able to show
compassion is deplorable. It is one more sign of the rising level of
paranoia in Harare where officials seem to believe that acknowledging
realities is a sign of weakness and lack of bravado. Their illogical actions
also betray rather juvenile and inappropriate fears about losing control or
popularity to those willing to treat distressed Zimbabweans more humanely
and fairly than the "people's government."
      I recall with bitter despair President Robert Mugabe's spurning of
international aid donors sometime last year when he told them, "We don't
need your food". It later turned out that Zimbabwe's much vaunted bumper
harvest for the 2004/2005 season was a figment of someone's imagination.
Laughably, the government ended up importing maize secretly to make up for
the shortfall in grain stocks while publicly maintaining the pretence that
the country could go it alone and needed nobody's assistance. Incredible.
      Alas, we are seeing a repeat of the same approach in the aftermath of
the government-instigated disaster known as Murambatsvina. Notwithstanding
the fact that the architects of this self-inflicted crisis were themselves
caught flat-footed without alternative arrangements to house and feed the
displaced, they are blocking well-wishers from filling the gap.
      The South African Council of Churches (SACC) is the latest victim of
the government's "leave- our-people-alone-to-suffer'' syndrome. The SACC
decided to send a consignment of foodstuffs and blankets after a delegation
from the organisation had made an on-the-spot assessment in Zimbabwe of the
humanitarian needs at the end of July. Press reports last weekend indicated
that two trucks carrying the urgently needed consignment had been barred
from entering Zimbabwe.
      State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa gave the first indications that
the SACC would not be allowed to play the role of Good Samaritan and would
instead become a target of uncalled for verbal attacks and unfounded
allegations. The church grouping was accused of hypocrisy because, Mutasa
claimed, it had failed to help Zimbabweans in their hour of greatest need
during the liberation struggle.
      According to Mutasa's tenuous reasoning, the SACC's response to the
cry for help from displaced Zimbabweans was therefore politically motivated.
"This (aid) is really not intended for what they say it is supposed to be,
that's not true," roared Mutasa at the beginning of this month. "They are
doing it to help the MDC".
      Mutasa's outburst shows to what lengths the Zimbabwean government will
go to justify its reality defying intransigence. Even if these allegations
against the SACC were true, and they are not, would it be the action of a
responsible government to keep a grudge for more than 30 years? Zimbabwe's
liberation struggle took place in the 1970s during the darkest hours of
apartheid in South Africa. Has Mutasa conveniently forgotten that during
this time the SACC was preoccupied with supporting the liberation struggle
in that country and needed assistance itself?
      Moreover, it must be remembered that ecumenical support for liberation
movements at this stage was channelled through the Geneva-based World
Council of Churches, which was a staunch and vocal champion of freedom and
      The government of Zimbabwe has often been accused of using food as a
tool to blackmail and intimidate voters during elections. Although this has
always been denied, Mutasa's fear that the food being offered by the
churches in South Africa could somehow translate into support for the
opposition MDC is a dead give away. It is a shame that the government would
rather see the people it displaced through Murambatsvina go without food and
other basic necessities because of its paranoid fears and insecurities about
losing ground to the opposition party.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      ZUPCO asks Chinese to tailor buses to Zimbabwe conditions

      Chris Muronzi
      8/18/2005 10:03:46 AM (GMT +2)

      THE Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) has given China's First
Automobile Works (FAW) conditions and specifications to meet before more bus
deliveries can be taken.

      ZUPCO's move follows concerns that the Chinese-made vehicles did not
quite match much of Zimbabwe's terrain and deteriorating road system.
      Sources close to the developments told The Financial Gazette that
officials from the state company, who were in China on a week-long state
visit recently along with President Robert Mugabe, made strong
recommendations to FAW on the suitability and sustainability of its vehicles
under Zimbabwe's road conditions.
      ZUPCO chairman Charles Nherera confirmed the parastatal was
considering acquiring more buses from the Chinese automobile maker and had
made recommendations on the new buses.
      "We are working with the Chinese and have advised them to look into
clearance issues slightly so that they make vehicles which can ply all
routes," said Nherera.
      Concerns on the sustainability of the Chinese buses on Zimbabwe's
roads are said to have arisen in the recent months within the Zupco board
and prompted a much stronger position on the vehicles, acquired in terms of
the government's "Look East" policy.
      ZUPCO, according to the same sources, is said to have told its Chinese
suppliers that it was willing to buy the vehicles only if they met certain
      The public transporter recently courted controversy when it took
delivery of 69 buses which had previously been rejected by the government
tender board due to lack of conformity with laid-down specifications, among
other reasons.
      FAW, a leading automobile maker, supplied ZUPCO with 50 buses earlier
this year. The parastatal, whose fleet at its peak of was 1 200 vehicles,
says it has plans to buy 250 buses.
      Zupco has signed a memorandum of understanding with FAW with a view to
setting up a vehicle assembly plant in the country.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Tobacco deliveries up

      Audrey Chitsika
      8/18/2005 10:09:28 AM (GMT +2)

      TOBACCO deliveries to the auction floors, which have been severely
affected by fuel and wrapping paper shortages, have improved as the selling
season approaches its final weeks, according to the Tobacco Industry and
Marketing Board.

      A TIMB official told The Financial Gazette that deliveries to the
auctions had doubled from an average 1500 kilograms to 3000 kilograms per
      "The daily sales of tobacco have doubled, we were collecting almost
half of what we have been collecting since the shortage of wrapping paper
and fuel," Andrew Matibiri, technical services director at TIMB said.
      The board recently sourced 200 tonnes of tobacco wrapping paper from
Hunyani Holdings Limited and 50 000 litres of diesel from the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe, to deal with fuel and paper supply constraints which, in turn,
were slowing down deliveries to the auction floors.
      "The earlier the delivery the better so the growers can start to
prepare for the next season. If the daily deliveries continue to be high, we
expect to end the selling season before the end of September," Matibiri
      "So far growers for both contract and auction have started to put in
applications for the next season," TIMB said.
      Industry players continue to doubt official projections of 85 million
kilograms of the golden leaf, putting forward a conservative 65 million
kilograms instead.
      Zimbabwe's tobacco output has been affected by the government's
chaotic land reform exercise, implemented at the turn of the century, which
forced most experienced farmers off the land to pave way for inexperienced
and under-funded black farmers.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Govt's 'Garikai' behind schedule

      Property Reporter
      8/18/2005 9:05:58 AM (GMT +2)

      A HURRIED reconstruction programme meant to provide decent
accommodation to victims of the government's clean-up campaign is running
behind schedule amid fears that patience could be wearing thin among
thousands of people who were rendered homeless by the two-month blitz.

      Investigations by The Property Gazette this week revealed that only a
few structures have been constructed since the launch last month of the
much-hyped Operation Garikai/Hhlalani Kuhle in two of Zimbabwe's major
cities - Harare and Bulawayo. A damning United Nations (UN) report by a
representative of the secretary-general of the world body, Kofi Annan, put
the number of people rendered homeless by the clean-up at 700 000.
      The opposition Movement for Democratic Change had put its estimate at
1.5 million people, a figure dismissed by the government. The UN report said
an estimated 2.4 million people had been indirectly affected to varying
      Sources said earlier this week the mid-term fiscal policy statement
that was expected on Tuesday would demonstrate the government's commitment
towards the programme, which has been allocated $3 trillion so far.
      "More resources have to be channelled towards the programme to make it
a success, otherwise it will be another pie in the sky," said a source.
      Ignatius Chombo, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and
National Housing, is on record as saying the government would be able to
build houses for the majority of the affected people by the end of August
this year.
      Chombo and other officials in the local government ministry could not
be reached for comment at the time of going to print.
      In a move analysts said demonstrated increased frustration with the
slow progress of the reconstruction programme, the government recently
threatened suppliers of building materials that they risked losing their
licences it they continued to hike prices "without justification".
      It is feared that steep price increases of building materials would
push the cost of constructing the housing units beyond reach, forcing the
government to subsidise beneficiaries of the programme.
      Operation Garikai/Hhlalani Kuhle is widely seen as a public relations
exercise by Harare after international condemnation of the government's
demolition of poor people's homes and businesses.
      Housing has remained a pipedream for millions of Zimbabweans, most of
whom have been on the housing waiting lists of various municipalities for
several years now.
      The situation has been made worse by spiralling prices of building
materials as a result of surging inflation.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Zimbabwe's Cosafa heroes get land
      Zimbabwe's government will reward the country's football team that
recently won the Cosafa Cup by giving them residential plots of land.
      The Warriors beat Zambia 1-0 on Sunday to win the Southern African
championship for a third time.

      The plots will be allocated under housing construction projects which
followed on from the government's controversial clean-up campaign.

      Illegally-built houses and structures were demolished in a nationwide
operation in June and July, and ironically some footballers were among those

      A United Nations report claimed that 700,000 people lost their homes,
figures that government says are "grossly exaggerated."

      Deputy minister Morris Sakubaya announced that the team will be given
18 plots of land.

      "As a token of appreciation, my ministry will facilitate you to obtain
stands (plots) in urban centres of your choice where we are carrying out
housing projects," he said.

      It is not clear which players will benefit, as more than 18 took part
in the four matches during the Warriors' Cosafa campaign.

      "It will be needs-based, we can't have our ambassadors living in slums
and shacks," Zimbabwe Football Association chief executive Jonathan
Mashingaidze told BBC Sport.

      "This type of incentive is the right route to take, and we hope that
there will be more plots for the Warriors if we qualify for the Nations Cup

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Harare City Council Broke

The Herald (Harare)

August 18, 2005
Posted to the web August 18, 2005


Harare City Council is bankrupt and urgently needs at least $1 trillion to
put the city's operations back on track.

Harare owes its creditors over $310 billion and failure to settle the
arrears could damage the reputation of the city with suppliers of goods and

According to a treasury report, the city is reeling from a massive cash flow
problem largely attributed to lack of transport for debt recovery and a huge
salary bill, estimated to be consuming about 90 percent of the city's cash

"There is, therefore, a need to have a massive injection of at least $1
trillion to put the city on an even keel," wrote the acting city treasurer,
Mr Cosmos Zvikaramba, in a memo to town clerk Mr Nomutsa Chideya and all
heads of departments.

The memo, written on July 26, 2005, was circulated on August 2. Mr
Zvikaramba said the recalling of two vehicles to Town House was hampering
the billing system in high-density areas.

System administrators used the two Mazda 323 cars. He said the city's
expenditure far exceeded revenue collection with almost all the money
collected going towards salaries.

"The potential at current tariff levels has gone down from $104 billion to
$90,6 billion," he added.

He attributed the reduction to the closure of home industries and markets.
For the months of June and July, council was prejudiced of at least $23
billion as a result of the closures.

Mr Zvikaramba said the hiring of equipment, vehicle repairs, hiring of tents
for the municipal police and purchase of their food rations during the
clean-up exercise had gobbled $4 billion.

The acting city treasurer said the huge arrears amounting to $310 billion
had the effect of tainting the city's image with suppliers. Some of the
money was overdue by over 180 days.

"Creditors currently stand at $310 billion with some over 180 days old. The
image of the city is at the moment very dented due to non-settlement of
commitments (paying creditors)," he said.

The late implementation of the city's budget, he said, resulted in a loss of
$28,5 billion.

The acting city treasurer also attributed the diminished cash inflows to the
decongestion of high-density areas following the clean-up exercise.

"Assuming that some water meters in congested high density areas were
functional, the decongestion translates to reduced water consumption, hence
reduced water sales," he said.

He said there was need to exercise financial discipline by prioritising
capital expenditure instead of recurrent expenditure, adding that the city
needed transport to pursue debts it was owed by residents and companies.

The water disconnections that council effectively employed to force
residents to pay up bills had also been hampered by transport shortages.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Police vow to curb elephant poaching

From Our Correspondent in Bulawayo
issue date :2005-Aug-19

POLICE in Matabeleland North have launched an operation along the Zambezi to
curb elephant poaching following reports that some armed people were
sneaking in and out of Zimbabwe undetected.
Officer commanding the province, Senior Assistant Commissioner Bothwell
Mugariri told The Daily Mirror yesterday that they embarked on the exercise
following an upsurge in poaching activities over the past months by
suspected armed Zambians.
Mugariri said the poachers were taking advantage of the Zambezi River to
sneak into Zimbabwe and then canoeing back into Zambia with the jumbos
"There has been a worrying trend in Victoria Falls where a number of
elephants have been poached by some armed poachers who cross the Zambezi
River from neighboring Zambia," the police chief said.
"These poachers have killed several elephants and at times made off with
At times our officers and rangers from the National Parks and Wildlife
Management Authority have managed to stop their illicit activities."
Early this month, police together with Parks rangers, engaged suspected
Zambian poachers in a four-hour pitched gun battle clearly demonstrating
that they were dealing with a well equipped enemy.
"The exchange showed that the poachers were adequately armed and knew that
they could come across the police," Mugariri said. "It was after they
escaped that we managed to realise they had killed two elephants."
He also noted that cases of cattle rustling were up in Jambezi, Binga and
Victoria Falls.
"Most villagers in these areas have lost cattle worth millions of dollars to
these cattle rustlers. They slaughter the beasts at night and canoe back
into Zambia. The cattle owners only recover the bones (carcasses) when
tracing their cattle," Mugariri said.
Back to the Top
Back to Index