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

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SW Radio Africa

Prices for basic food items in Zimbabwe


Item Zimbabwe dollars
Matches (one box)
Candle (one)
Oil 2 litres
Sugar 2kg
Flour 2 kgs
Tea bags 100
Margerine 500g
Potatoes 15kgs
Toilet paper (one roll)
Egg (one)
Banana (one)
Orange (one)
Chicken (1kg)
Plum Jam (one jar)
Pasta (500g)
Cabbage (one)
School teacher with 15 years experience takes home
7-800,000 per month
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The Herald

Monthly expenditure basket soars

By Paul Nyakazeya
THE cost of the monthly expenditure basket for a low-income urban household
of six for November has soared to $1 647 855 from $1,5 million, the Consumer
Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) has said.

Major movers of the basket in November were tea leaves, which rose by 28
percent and meat by 15 percent.

Other notable increases were recorded in fresh milk, sugar and non-food
items like rent. The basket does not, however, include the price of roller
meal, which is out of stock in most retail outlets

Commenting on the latest figures, CCZ public relations manager Mr Tonderai
Mukeredzi said in spite of an increase in the tax-free portion of the bonus,
the average consumer is still worse off as we enter the festive season
considering that the new income tax threshold will only be effective in
January 2005.

"While not many workers earn $5 million to derive any meaningful benefit
from the non-taxed bonus, the situation is made worse by the fact that most
retailers, anticipating a boom in business, have unusually hiked some prices
of products to take advantage of increased consumer spending power," said Mr

The consumer watchdog believes there is no real justification for the price
rise in meat, rice and tea leaves, the second in as many months.

Since most commodities are inflation-driven, the monthly expenditure basket
for December is expected to decline. The country's annual inflation rate is
currently pegged at 149,3 percent for November after shedding of 59,7
percent from the previous 209 percent.

The policies that Government has implemented since the beginning of the year
have created a new culture, hope and confidence.

Presenting the 2005 National Budget last month, the Acting Minister of
Finance and Economic Development, Dr Herbert Murerwa, said the Zimbabwe
economy has been experiencing a significant improvement in the supply
response in the productive sectors of the economy, especially mining and
agriculture. There are indications of an improved economic outlook for 2005,
with the economy projected to grow by between 3,5 percent and 5 percent.

As a consumer watchdog, the CCZ conducts fortnightly price surveys in five
regions of the country to monitor price trends. From the price surveys, an
average monthly dossier of prices of basic food and non-food items is
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Harare Struggles to Pay Workers

The Herald (Harare)

December 15, 2004
Posted to the web December 15, 2004


The commission appointed to run Harare held its first full meeting yesterday
as it emerged that council is struggling to pay its workers and has had to
stagger the payment of bonuses and December salaries owing to serious
cashflow problems.

At its meeting at Town House, the commission heard that the city was
operating on a shoestring budget.

The commission - which was appointed last Thursday - has been mandated by
Government to turn around the fortunes of the city following nearly four
years of mismanagement under the now defunct MDC-led council.

Acting City Treasurer Mr Cosmos Zvikaramba told the meeting that by
yesterday council had managed to raise $11 billion out of the required $24
billion to pay the city's 9 500 workers their annual bonuses and December

Mr Zvikaramba said council would pay 7 000 workers on Friday this week while
the remaining 2 500 would be paid by December 23, two days before Christmas.

This means some of the workers would not have enough time to do their
Christmas shopping.

The phased payment of salaries and bonuses has been precipitated by a
cashflow crisis.

The bonus payments were deferred from November to December for the same

The commission was told that preparations for the 2005 budget were complete
and the proposals were now ready for review by the commissioners before
consultations with ratepayers.

Because the Urban Councils Act is silent on the procedures for the holding
of commission meetings, it was agreed that the commission would operate like
a council.

Chamber secretary Mrs Josephine Ncube said the commission would meet once
every month for its ordinary meetings. Special meetings would be convened
whenever the need arises.

She said seven members would form a quorum.

The Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Cde
Ignatius Chombo, appointed eight commissioners whom he said would work
alongside the remaining eight councillors.

This means the commission has a total of 16 members.

The meeting also set up the various standing committees.

The commission's deputy chairperson Cde Tendai Savanhu chairs the finance
committee, Mrs Prisca Mupfumira chairs the education, health, housing and
community services and licensing committee while Engineer Noel Muzuva leads
the environmental management committee.

Mrs Viola Chasi chairs the audit committee and Mr Terrence Hussein the
procurement committee.

The executive committee is comprised of Clr Sekesayi Makwavarara, Cde
Savanhu, Mr Hussein, Mrs Mupfumira and Eng Muzuva.

In her address to the meeting, Clr Makwavarara said the commissioners should
be men and women of integrity ready to add value to the city.

She warned the commissioners against interfering with the day-to-day
management of council business and urged them to devote their energies to
policy issues rather than policing the officials.

"In the Kurasha report on the affairs of the City of Harare, we note
seriously that officials must not be interfered with. They must be allowed
enough space to do their job, knowing full well that they are the ones who
are employed full-time by the City of Harare," she said.

The role of the commissioners and councillors was to give guidance and

"I look forward to a commission that has institutional commitment. I look
forward to a commission that inspires confidence in the City of Harare. I
look forward to a commission that leads by example, conscious that the
council does not have money of its own and does not have property of its own
but it's all owned by the citizens of Harare," she said.

Clr Makwavarara commended the Ministerial Monitoring Committee led by
Professor Jameson Kurasha for producing a turnaround strategy document that
would be used by the commission in its efforts to revive the city's

"But the document on its own is meaningless unless it is concretised," she

The other members of the commission include architect Michael Mahachi, Prof
Kurasha and councillors George Vlahakis, Tapfumaneyi Jaja, Grandmore Hakata,
Francis Marisi, Joseph Mudzudzu, Trymore Magamu, Hubert Nyanhongo and Oscar
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The Mercury

      Zimbabwe crisis tops alliance agenda
      December 16, 2004

      By Karima Brown

      The Zimbabwean political crisis has finally been put on the agenda of
the tripartite alliance, following a meeting of its secretariat in
Johannesburg yesterday.

      South African Communist Party spokesman Mazibuko Jara, who attended
the meeting, told The Mercury the issue of Zimbabwe would now be debated
within the alliance.

      "We have started a political preparation process; all the position
papers and documents of the various organisations will be collated and
discussed in our structures."

      On whether this amounted to the alliance formulating policy on how to
deal with the political crisis in that country Jara said:

      "It's a discussion process - whether it will amount to a policy
position I can't say."

      The ANC's left leaning partners have repeatedly argued that there is
no ANC or alliance position on the question of how to handle Zimbabwe.

      This notion has been rejected by members of the ANC, in particular ANC
Youth League President Fikile Mbalula, who contends that the ANC's
Stellenbosch Conference had decided that it should enter into bilateral
agreement with Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party.

      Fikile also dismissed the need for an alliance position on Zimbabwe.

      While the government soldiered on behind the scenes to try to get the
parties to agree on a political settlement, Cosatu openly criticised
President Mbeki's quiet diplomacy approach and called for strong action
against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

      The SACP backed Cosatu and also publicly questioned whether the March
elections in Zimbabwe would deliver a free and fair poll.

      A public spat between the partners erupted after Cosatu's ill fated
fact finding mission to Zimbabwe was humiliated by Robert Mugabe's

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Confiscation of African Farms Ignored
December 15, 2004

Listen to Rush Conduct the Broadcast Excellence Transcribed Below...(audio)


This is from Zimbabwe. (story) Zimbabwe, run by the communist leader Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF party's central committee, "apparently has decided to confiscate all remaining farms still owned by white farmers. About 500 farms out of the initial 4,500 are still in the hands of white owners," and they're going to go ahead and confiscate all of them now. "The first farm to fall prey to this decision is that of well-known cricketer Dennis Streak, father of Heath, the former cricket captain. This decision, which is discussed in a secret report of the Zanu-PF's central committee, clashes with a statement by President Robert Mugabe and his cabinet that the land-reform process in Zimbabwe has been completed."

Now you may not remember, we talked about this when this first started and I'm going to tell you what the reason Mugabe is doing this is: There were 5,000 white farmers who owned their property in Zimbabwe. That's nowhere near a large percentage of the population, nor of the number of farms. But the precious few numbers, or percentage that this is -- and I'm just going to tell you the facts -- they were the ones that were profitable. They were the ones that were actually growing food that fed the rest of the country. Farms owned by the non-white population of Zimbabwe were failing and were not feeding the country. They were not producing revenue. There was no tax base from them because they were operating in the red. Mugabe went and confiscated all of the white farmer owned land, simply for his own back pocket and a little for his country. The initial take was 4,500 farms. The remaining 500 have just been decided are Mugabe's as well. Now, you haven't heard a peep about this in our glorious, illustrious, legendary media, have you? And you won't hear about this, because they don't find anything wrong with it, and more than that, they probably don't see anything newsworthy about it.

But I will guarantee you if Robert Mugabe were white, and the only farms in Zimbabwe that were productive were black and he seized all of them, you would have heard about this just as we heard about apartheid in South Africa and the University of California Berkeley would be demanding everybody divest from Zimbabwe. It would have been a cause celebre. This is essentially a world secret, and from Johannesburg in South Africa, (story) "Southern African countries need to step up food imports to stop hunger spreading early next year as 2004 harvests are exhausted and prices rise, famine monitor FEWS NET said on Tuesday. Rural households in Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland and Zimbabwe," Hmmmmm, "were running out of food as they entered the so-called hungry season from December to the end of February. Official imports by Zimbabwe and Swaziland did not look to be enough to cover shortages." Another reason why Mugabe has seized the remaining farms owned by 500 white farmers. Just taking it; just taking it, literally just taking it, folks -- and it remains that Bernard Kerik is the big news item in the American media today.

RUSH: Here's Kayleen in Sebring, Florida. Hi, Kayleen, I'm glad you called. Welcome to the program.

CALLER: Hi, Rush. Thank you for taking my call. I just wanted to thank you for talking about Zimbabwe. My uncle is one of the white farmers that has been kicked off his property and they've actually let my cousin, his son, who actually -- it was his inheritance -- stay. And the only reason they're letting him stay is because he's married to a girl from Germany which makes no sense to us at all, but if my uncle goes back on the property, he will be arrested. So I just want to thank you so much for talking about it and getting it out there.

RUSH: Well, I don't know what can be done about it by talking about it. I mean, this is just pure communism, totalitarianism and it's a tantamount admission by Mugabe that... Well, it is what it is --


RUSH: -- but you know, what interests me more is what's your uncle going to do? I mean, if this happened to me, I would be so mad and livid I'd be trying to get everybody's attention on it. What is he going to do? Has he thought about going to the United Nations and pleading his case?

CALLER: He has gone to England quite a bit and talked there. I know that he has quite a few connections. He was a very wealthy tobacco farmer, and he keeps thinking it's doing something, but obviously it hasn't yet, and there's no way they can even leave or move because they can't get their money out of the country.

RUSH: Uh-huh.

CALLER: It's worth nothing now, so his whole entire life, his inheritance. He was a very good farmer. He had a lot of black workers that adored him because he took very good care of them. Now they're starving because their government doesn't take care of them.

RUSH: Well, their government can't.

CALLER: They can't.

RUSH: I mean, no communist government has ever been able to take care of its people.

CALLER: Exactly.

RUSH: No government should.

CALLER: Exactly.

RUSH: In fact, it should not be the objective of any government to take care of its people. But I mean he just got -- what's he going to do for -- I mean, he's literally being given nothing for his --
CALLER: Nothing.

RUSH: So what's he going to do?

CALLER: I don't know. His kids have been able to get out of the country. One of my cousins moved to Zambia and is farming up there, which isn't much better of a situation, and so, you know, it was an incredible piece of property. It was a wonderful place. We used to love to visit it, and it was his whole entire life. So it's a terrible, terrible situation and you're right, I'm not sure what it will do talking about it but I guess I just appreciate that somebody cares.

RUSH: No, no. I'm glad you called. I appreciate that. The thing about this, this is nothing new. This has been going on for years. This plan by Mugabe, I first heard about this and reported it on this program two years ago, and it has not caused a ripple of interest anywhere -- and I'm not talking about among governments. I couldn't care less about them. I'm just talking about average people when they hear about it. It doesn't cause a ripple anywhere. It doesn't cause a ripple in the civil rights group, doesn't cause a ripple anywhere, and you say, "Well, why should it, Rush? It's Zimbabwe." Well, yeah, it's Zimbabwe. Why did we get so worked up about South Africa? Well, we all know why. I mean, if you reversed the races in the situation, you'd have the world caring about this, demanding that the white government cease the seizure of private property. (interruption) Well, Mr. Snerdley, I'm not suggesting we should do anything about it. It's a European problem, it's an African problem. I'm not suggesting we do anything about it. I'm just struck by how it doesn't get reported.

All this really is, I mean, aside from the tragedy that it is to these people that are just having everything they've ever owned and produced taken away from them like that (snapping fingers), what this is, is a case study, once again, in media. It is a case study, folks, in the status of civil rights. Not just in this country, but around the world. It is a case study of what it is that moves and motivates people, and it's interesting from that standpoint and you can build on it, use it for further knowledge when similar events happen in other parts of the world and compare the difference, and ultimately it allows you to be a greater and greater judge of the news you do see -- and become more skeptical of the news you do see when you find out what news you're not seeing or hearing about.

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      Daily News sold

      Nelson Banya
      12/16/2004 7:10:43 AM (GMT +2)

      TELECOMMUNICATIONS mogul and Econet Wireless founder Strive Masiyiwa
has sold off the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) group, publisher of
The Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday, to management.

      Masiyiwa, who has confirmed the transaction, said he would issue a
statement on the matter in due course.
      It could not be ascertained at the time of going to press how much the
company had been sold for.
      ANZ chief executive officer Sam Sipepa Nkomo said yesterday
negotiations between the two parties were underway.
      "There are discussions going on but that has not yet been concluded,"
Nkomo said.
      Masiyiwa, who is the group chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe
Stock Exchange-listed Econet Wireless Holdings Limited and has been based in
South Africa for the past five years, is eager to offload the newspaper
business - which has not endeared him with old adversaries in the
government - to concentrate on his expanding telecommunications empire.
      Masiyiwa successfully fought the government in a bitter war to secure
the country's second mobile network.
      The telecommunications mogul has previously held material shareholding
in the Zimbabwe Independent and The Standard, sister weeklies now controlled
by emergent media baron Trevor Ncube.
      Ncube, a former editor at both The Financial Gazette and the Zimbabwe
Independent, is also the publisher and chief executive officer of South
Africa's Mail & Guardian.
      The ANZ is currently in the middle of a protracted legal dogfight with
the Media and Information Commission (MIC), which stopped its two titles
following a September 11 2003 Supreme Court ruling that media houses could
not publish without a licence from the MIC.
      The ANZ has launched a constitutional challenge against the MIC in the
Supreme Court, which reserved judgment on the matter in March.
      The costly legal standoff was sparked by the ANZ's refusal to register
under the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(AIPPA), while its court challenge on the constitutionality of certain
clauses of the Act was pending, and the subsequent closure of its titles
when the court ruled against the media house.
      Apart from the ANZ newspapers, a private television channel, Joy TV,
and the weekly Tribune newspaper - both owned by ZANU PF officials James
Makamba and Kindness Paradza respectively - have been put out of business
under AIPPA's tough provisions.
      Prior to the closure of its two hugely popular titles, the ANZ
employed hundreds of workers, who now face an uncertain future as the legal
case trundles on.
      ANZ has a battle on another front as the 167 workers it retrenched
earlier this year were awarded hefty severance packages by the Retrenchment
      Management has maintained that the company has no resources to meet
the retrenchment bill and has appealed against the award.
      The Daily News, which enjoyed an uneasy relationship with the ZANU PF
government due to its abrasive and unrelenting criticism of the
      had, within a year of its 1998 launch, grown to become the country's
biggest newspaper and a match for the government's relentless propaganda
against the opposition.
      Newspapers in the ANZ stable bore much of the brunt of the war of
attrition waged by Jonathan Moyo's department of information and publicity
against the privately owned press.
      Prior to the Supreme Court ruling, The Daily News' vicissitudes were
best epitomised by the bombing of its printing press on January 28 2001.
      The replacement, a Solna Distributor D300 imported from Sweden in
October 2002, is perhaps the ANZ's biggest asset among other corporeal

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      It never rains for Moyo

      Njabulo Ncube
      12/16/2004 7:11:28 AM (GMT +2)

      THE ZANU PF Harare provincial executive has resolved to bar
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo from taking part in any political
activity in the capital, keeping the heat on the tongue-lashing minister.

      The decision to tighten the screws on Moyo, seen as the chief
architect of the unsanctioned Tsholotsho indaba that resulted in the
suspension of six provincial chairmen, was reached at the same meeting which
passed a vote of no-confidence in Tony Gara and Joseph Chinotimba.
      Gara is a former deputy minister of local government, while Chinotimba
is a leader of the war veterans who came to prominence at the height of the
land reform in 2000.
      Sources told The Financial Gazette this week that the ban slapped on
Moyo by the Harare provincial executive headed by Mines Minister Amos Midzi
was part of a continuing witch-hunt meant to purge ZANU PF members linked to
the Tsholotsho meeting.
      Chinotimba has admitted attending the meeting, while Gara distanced
himself from the infamous indaba.
      The onslaught on Moyo, who until recently had the most realistic
chance of representing ZANU PF in Tsholotsho in next year's parliamentary
polls, has also taken another ugly turn.
      It has also emerged that Bulawayo provincial governor and former ZANU
PF legislator Cain Mathema, who emerged stronger after sneaking into the
central committee through the back door at the just-ended ruling party
congress, is challenging Moyo's endorsement as the party's candidate for
      Midzi's executive was making representations to John Nkomo, the ZANU
PF national chairman, seeking the expulsion of Gara and Chinotimba from the
province and central committee.
      The executive would also inform Nkomo on its decision not to entertain
Moyo who donated computers to a school in Mbare East where Gara is
positioning himself as a ZANU PF candidate.
      Meanwhile, The Financial Gazette has it on good authority that a
Matabeleland North ZANU PF provincial co-ordinating committee meeting,
chaired by the province's governor Obert Mpofu and held in Lupane last
Saturday discussed a three-paged letter from Mathema alleging gross
irregularities in the nomination process that had catapulted Moyo into the
central committee.
      Mathema polled 50 votes against Moyo's 70.
      Mpofu confirmed the Lupane meeting but declined to comment on the
contents of the letter Mathema wrote against Moyo's nomination and his
emergence as the sole and undisputed candidate to stand on a ZANU PF ticket
at next March's parliamentary polls.
      "I am on leave and I don't think it's wise for me to talk to the Press
while off duty. Why don't you talk to governor Mathema?" said Mpofu. Mathema
was equally reluctant to comment.
      "What information do you have? Write what you have and leave me out of
the story you are writing. Can't you write the story without me being
involved? I don't want to comment," said Mathema, who represented Tsholotsho
from 1995 until his posting as ambassador to Lusaka, Zambia, after he lost
the seat to Mtoliki Sibanda of the MDC in 2000.
      Mathema was handpicked by the ZANU PF presidency for a place in the
central committee, after they vetoed Moyo's nomination, as the party
leadership moved to punish perceived dissenters, including Moyo, who
attended the fateful Tsholotsho meeting.
      A Matabeleland North source said: "Mathema has produced a three-page
document cataloguing the alleged irregularities. He goes further to support
his argument by naming people from every village in the constituency that
were not supposed to vote in the nominations for the central committee. He
is also questioning why some people are against other aspirants contesting
in the primaries set for early next year."
      In August the ZANU PF executives in Tsholotsho unanimously agreed to
endorse Moyo as the party's candidate for the area.
      Those close to Moyo said the ordinary villagers in Tsholotsho were
seething with anger over Mathema's interest in the area when Moyo had pumped
in several millions of dollars to develop.
      "Mathema is the governor and resident minister for Bulawayo. He
(Mathema) must forget about Tsholotsho," added a ZANU PF member in
Matabeleland North. "Moyo has covered a lot of ground. Most of the former PF
ZAPU old guards cannot dream of bringing the level of development which Moyo
has brought in Tsholotsho."
      Moyo, who is understood to be tense after his congress ordeal, was not
available for comment.
      Meanwhile sources close to the government spin doctor revealed
yesterday that Moyo remained focused in bagging the Tsholotsho seat to gain
some measure of respectability within ZANU PF.

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      New-look ZANU PF politburo

      Njabulo Ncube
      12/16/2004 7:12:26 AM (GMT +2)

      A NEW-LOOK politburo, missing some of the big and promising names in
ZANU PF, is set to be unveiled at an extraordinary central committee meeting
to be held in the capital city tomorrow.

      While details of the final line-up were still sketchy, ZANU PF
insiders said the presidium, which survived a "coup" in the drama-filled
ruling party nominations, cherry-picked members of the politburo from the
party's 240-strong central committee at a meeting held during the weekend.
      President Robert Mugabe, who promised to wield the axe on ZANU PF
members fingered in sowing seeds of hatred within the party, is expected to
name 25 members of the politburo and 14 deputy secretaries.
      Young Turks accused of fanning dissent would be thrown out, while the
tricky tribal balancing act would be maintained to preserve the 1987 unity
accord and rid the ruling party of the rift that emerged in the runup to the
ZANU PF national people's congress, according to the same sources.
      Most of the big names linked to clandestine manoeuvres to oust
Vice-President Joseph Msika and ZANU PF national chairman John Nkomo would
be purged.
      President Mugabe's trusted colleagues, particularly the old guard that
has been languishing in the political wilderness after losing seats to the
opposition in 2000, would replace them.
      Emmerson Mnangagwa, who coveted the post of vice-president, triggering
what has come to be known as the "Tsholotsho Decla-ration", which claimed
the scalps of six provincial chairmen, is unlikely to be retained as the
ZANU PF secretary for administration.
      Jonathan Moyo, President Mugabe's spin-doctor reprimanded for
allegedly orchestrating a coup to oust the old guard, might be out of
consideration after his name was deleted at the last minute from nominations
for the central committee.
      Moyo, a former staunch government critic who turned its chief
propagandist, was parachuted into the Politburo courtesy of President Mugabe
who appointed him a non-constituency Member of Parliament in 2000.
      President Mugabe, said sources, might pacify Moyo, credited for
"reviving" the fledging political fortunes of the ruling party through
repressive media laws and an aggressive propaganda machinery by giving him a
diplomatic posting or an appointment to lesser portfolios.
      "Mugabe knows that he needs him (Moyo) for the elections. He will drop
him from the Politburo, but give him something, a diplomatic posting for his
combative approach to international issues or as head of one of the many
commissions created by the new legislation.
      "We need a commissioner for the anti-corruption commission or the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. Moyo could come in handy," said a ZANU PF
      Nathan Shamuyarira, who could not immediately comment yesterday on the
agenda of the extra ordinary meeting called by President Mugabe, is tipped
to retain his post as head of the party's information department. Webster
Shamu, a former editor of ZANU PF mouthpiece, is tipped to be the new
national commissar, replacing Elliot Manyika. Shamu was also in line to fill
Moyo's shoes as the Minister of Information and Publicity.
      Paul Mangwana has been mentioned to succeed Patrick Chinamasa as the
secretary for legal affairs. Chinamasa, who allegedly apologised profusely
to the presidium over the Tsholotsho debacle, is also thought to be on his
way out of the echelons of power within the ruling party.
      Olivia Muchena, also drafted into the central committee by the
presidium in the last minute, is heavily tipped to emerge as the secretary
for education, stepping into the shoes of Vice President Mujuru who
previously held the portfolio.
      Dumiso Dabengwa, the former cabinet minister, and Sikhanyiso Ndlovu,
two cabinet ministers dropped after they both lost their seats to the MDC,
also tipped to rise within the politburo.
      Dabengwa, a former intelligence supremo of PF ZAPU, is tipped as
deputy secretary for security, while Ndlovu could bounce back as deputy in
      Both made it into the central committee courtesy of the intervention
of President Mugabe at the congress. In security and defence, the sources
said President Mugabe would stick with his wartime colleagues Sydney
Sekeramayi and Nicholas Goche.
      Obert Mpofu, the Matabeleland North Governor, the deputy secretary of
security who is understood to have played a crucial role in busting the
Tsholotsho project, could retain his post.

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      Banks scurry for solutions to interest rates directive

      Own Correspondent
      12/16/2004 7:13:34 AM (GMT +2)

      ZIMBABWE'S defiant banking institutions were this week reportedly
scurrying for practical solutions to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)'s
demands for an upward revision of interest rates on deposits, with sector
sources indicating that bank chiefs could request an urgent meeting with the
central bank governor on the issue.

      But there were indications that banks, mainly those trading in the
retail sector, could hike bank charges to recoup costs that might erode
profit margins if they were to revise interest payments on deposits.
      This, commentators said, would be worrisome considering that many of
the institutions already had exorbitant bank charges, which almost amounted
to a penalty for saving.
      RBZ governor Gideon Gono this week made his last warning to banking
institutions to revise upwards interest rates paid to depositors, warning
that the central bank, which had "raised these concerns on a number of
occasions", could be forced to act against its will.
      "It will be a sad day when the Reserve Bank would be forced, against
its will, to prescribe interest rates on the back of perceived, as well as
actual unfairness of play," the governor warned in a publicised statement
issued this week.
      Market sources this week indicated that there had been no immediate
response to the central bank's call during the week but said banks were
still working out the implications of the governor's statement.
      "There is certainly going to be an impact on profit projections," a
dealer with a banking institution said. "Banks will look at practical issues
first before they can make a response."
      Indications suggested banks were likely to seek a collective response
through the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ). Sources suggested a
meeting was likely to be sought between BAZ, which represents the country's
banking institutions, and the RBZ governor.
      BAZ president Elisha Mushaya-karara was not available for comment this

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      Govt reclaims Moyo cousin's farm

      Njabulo Ncube
      12/16/2004 7:14:09 AM (GMT +2)

      THE government has reclaimed a farm occupied by Information and
Publicity Minister Jonathan Moyo's cousin, following revelations that the
wildlife-rich farm in Matabeleland North was improperly acquired.

      Initially, the farm, identified as Lot 2 Dete Valley, had been
associated with the government's chief spin doctor through a company called
Eternity Trading, where Moyo was listed as one of the directors.
      Moyo however, disowned the property earlier this year when the
controversy surrounding multiple farm ownership by senior government and
ZANU PF officials erupted.
      The minister stated that the farm had been allocated to his cousin,
Jackie Meyers.
      Sources said Matabe-leland North governor Obert Mpofu, who could not
be reached for comment yesterday, pressed Meyers to explain how she came to
occupy the Lot 2 Dete Valley property when records from John Nkomo's
Ministry of Land Reform and Resettlement indicated the farm was vacant and
earmarked for redistribution to the landless.
      It is understood that Meyers, who switched off her mobile phone when
reached for comment yesterday, told Mpofu she had been allocated the farm by
authorities in Harare.
      "As far as the records in the governor's office of Matabeleland North
are concerned, Lot 2 Dete is unoccupied. Minister John Nkomo wrote a letter
to that effect, but officials from the governor's office were surprised to
find that Meyers occupied the farm," said a source.
      "She produced an offer letter from Minister (Joseph) Made, but people
were baffled how she could be allocated a farm without records in the
governor's office supporting her application for land. The government is
taking that farm to resettle landless people in Matabeleland North. It does
not follow that because her relative initially had interest in the farm, she
can also have it," said the source.
      Minister Nkomo said he was not sure of the actual status of Lot 2 Dete
Valley, referring this newspaper to governor Mpofu.
      "The governor is the man on the ground. If a withdrawal letter has
been issued he will know as he has the records. Ask governor Mpofu. We have
issued a lot of withdrawal letters and I cannot remember all of them off
hand," Nkomo said.
      There has been widespread defiance to President Robert Muga-be's
orders that multiple farm owners, who are mostly members of the ruling
party, relinquish excess properties.
      Most of the accused elite has simply secured technical immunity from
charges of multiple farm ownership by having relatives assume occupation of
the extra properties.

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      ZANU PF defers primary polls yet again

      Felix Njini
      12/16/2004 7:14:52 AM (GMT +2)

      ZANU PF has, again, deferred primary elections to choose candidates to
represent the ruling party in the 2005 parliamentary poll.
      The move comes amid revelations that the party might have exceeded its
budget at at its congress two weeks ago.

      Party insiders said the primary polls, initially pencilled for end of
September and later pushed to October, would now be held in January,
although no specific dates had been set.
      They said problems related to the issuing of new cards, vetting of
potential candidates and inadequate financial resources had caused the
      The sorces said there was confusion over ZANU PF's recently introduced
party cards, which were being resisted in some constituencies, with some
members who had subscribed for the old cards up to 2006 questioning why they
should be made to buy new ones.
      Only card-carrying party members are allowed to participate in the
ZANU PF primaries.
      "Very few have managed to buy the new cards while some are completely
against getting them," said a source.
      "The other problem is that the party, because of a shaky financial
position, cannot afford to hold primaries in December and sustain a campaign
till March next year," added the source.
      ZANU PF had targeted to raise $20 billion for both its congress and
the general elections campaign.
      The party insiders said the bulk of the funds had been exhausted
during its just-ended congress, where it had to cater for more than 1 000
unexpected members plus 60 foreign delegates.
      A significant number of ZANU PF's current Members of Parliament did
not go through the sometimes divisive primaries, with some allegedly using
their connections to represent the party.
      ZANU PF national chairman John Nkomo refused to comment on the primary
elections, telling The Financial Gazette to "wait till Saturday".
      But President Robert Mugabe, apparently incensed by some in his party
who had virtually declared themselves undisputed candidates in the 2005
parliamentary election, said in August everybody would have to be subject to
a primary vote.
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      MDC meetings barred

      12/16/2004 7:15:54 AM (GMT +2)

      THE Zimbabwe Republic Police has barred the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) from holding crucial indabas in Harare and Chitungwiza
scheduled for tonight, as the opposition party seeks to round off
consultations with its rank and file over the party's participation in next
year's elections.

      Party insiders said the cancellation of the meetings, coming amid
revelations its leader Morgan Tsvangirai was under immense pressure from
regional leaders to reverse the party's decision to suspend participation in
polls until President Robert Mugabe's government implemented comprehensive
electoral reforms agreed by the Southern African Development Community in
Mauritius, would further delay a final decision over the issue.
      They said the MDC had envisaged finishing consultations with the
masses before the end of this month to allow its national executive council
to announce a final decision in early January next year. The MDC, the party
insiders said, had lined several public meetings between now and month-end.
      Welshman Ncube, the party's secretary-general, said police had
"proferred some flimsy reasons" in denying the MDC permission to hold a
public meeting at the Stodart Hall in Mbare. Ncube was pencilled to lead the
discussion tonight for the party to tap supporters' opinion regarding
participation in the 2005 parliamentary polls.
      "Police have refused to sanction our public meetings in Harare and
Chitungwiza," said Ncube. "They said we can't hold our meeting at Stodart
Hall because ZANU PF will be holding its own meeting nearby. In Chitungwiza,
they said the MDC cannot hold meetings there at night," he said.
      - Staff Reporter

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      Mujuru needs to look East for inspiration

      Mavis Makuni
      12/16/2004 7:16:40 AM (GMT +2)

      Zimbabwe's brand new Vice-President, Joyce Mujuru, may have to take
advantage of the government's new "Look East" policy for inspiration and
ideas on how to survive at the very top of the political pecking order.

      Mujuru may not be a full-fledged head of state yet, but President
Robert Mugabe's recent enigmatic "I have a dream" statement could be an
encoded signal that she could one day find herself in that important
      Statistics show that, globally, about 50 women have so far served as
presidents or prime ministers of their countries. The records also show that
a significant number of these women were appointed or elected as compromise
candidates and therefore served for very brief "stop-gap" periods in these
      A number of African countries have had women serving briefly as prime
ministers or presidents in acting capacities in such situations. They
include Ruth Perry of Liberia, who headed a transistional government before
Charles Taylor became president.
      Countries in the Caribbean and South America have had women heads of
state elected in their own right serving full terms.
      Ireland has so far been served by Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese as
presidents. Gro Harlem Brundtland served three terms as prime minister of
Norway, showing that her initial election was no fluke.
      In New Zealand, Helen Clark and Jenny Shipley have both served full
terms as prime ministers, as have Milka Planinc in Yugoslavia, Agatha
Barbara in Malta, Violeta Barrios de Chamorro in Nicaragua, Tansu Ciller of
Turkey and Vigdis Finnbogadottier of Iceland.
      Canada, Portugal, France, Guyana, Bermuda, Haiti and many other
countries have been led by women prime ministers or presidents for varying
      The most well-known leaders to have served as prime ministers outside
Asia are Margaret Thatcher of Great Britain and Golda Meir of Israel.
      Thatcher was prime minister from 1979 to 1990 and Meir from 1969 to
1974. However, in almost 30 years, no other woman has emerged to continue
where Meir left off. And although it is only about 15 years since Thatcher
was forced out, there seems to be no sign that the British are ready to
elect another female prime minister.
      But the situation is different in a number of Asian countries. Despite
the widespread perception that these countries have cultures that are
particularly oppressive towards women, this region seems to have
consistently produced women heads of state and government for the longest
      The first woman to be elected to the position of prime minister of an
Asian country was Sirimavo Bandaranaike. She was elected in 1960 to succeed
her husband, WDR Bandaranaike, who had been assassinated the previous year.
      She ascended to power when her country, now known as Sri Lanka, was
called Ceylon. She served three non-consecutive terms as prime minister. She
was appointed to her last term from 1994 to 2000 by her daughter, Chandrika
Kumara-tunga, who first became prime minister, then president of Sri Lanka
in 1994.
      Kumaratunga's experience of political violence did not end with her
father's assassination. She has herself survived at least one assassination
      The next woman to become prime minister of an Asian country was Indira
Ghandi, whose father, Pundit Nehru, had guided India through its first years
of independence.
      Indira, who was assassinated in 1984 while serving her second term,
was succeeded by her son Rajiv Ghandi, who was in turn assassinated in 1991.
      Indira's daughter-in-law and Rajiv's widow, Sonia, would have become
the second woman and a fourth member of the Nehru-Ghandi dynasty to lead the
world's largest democracy recently if she had not done something unique.
      After leading her party to victory in general elections, Sonia allowed
someone else to become prime minister.
      To the north of India, Benazir Bhutto became prime minister of
Pakistan in 1988. She was following in the footsteps of her father, Zulfikar
ali Bhutto, who was executed in 1979 after being overthrown in a military
coup in 1977. He had been president of Pakistan for seven years.
      In Bangladesh, Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina Wajed served as leaders
of their country following the assassination of a husband and father
      Corazon Aquino served as president of the Philippines in 1986 to 1992
following the assassination of her husband, Benigno, who was an opposition
leader. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was sworn in as the country's second woman
head of state in 2001.
      Indonesia also had a woman leader until this year. Megawati
Sukar-noputri, daughter of the founding father of the country, Surkano, took
over the reins after years of turmoil triggered by the 32-year corrupt rule
of Suharto.
      In 1990, Aung San Suu Kyi's party won 80 percent of the seats in
elections in Burma. But she was never able to come into power because the
country's military government refused to recognise the results.
      Suu Kyi, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, has endured
political harassment and house arrest since then.
      The history of female power in these Asian countries shows that these
women have played the power game longer than women from other regions.
      In addition, they have seen and survived more political upheavals and
high dramas. They have witnessed and survived military coups, executions and
assassinations. Megawati Sukarnoputri and Gloria Arroyo have also been in
the thick of things with regard to the fight against international
      In view of the above, Madam Vice President Joyce Mujuru might find the
Far East an invaluable source of practical advice and inspiration on how to
run a country from a female perspective.

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      Ex-ZIPRA in quandary over unity

      Charles Rukuni
      12/16/2004 7:17:15 AM (GMT +2)

      BULAWAYO - Jingles about Unity Day are being flighted on national
television with intoxicating frequency.

      Power FM, the radio station targeted at the youths, reminds listeners
every hour of the number of days to go before the "big" day.
      But while the unity accord of 1987 ushered in peace after five years
of civil strife, it brought little joy to a group of former Zimbabwe People's
Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) combatants whose business venture, Nitram (Pvt)
Ltd, was taken over by the government in 1982.
      Nitram Holding Company was formed in 1981 by former ZIPRA combatants
and their commanders who contributed $50 each from their demobilisation
allowance while they were still at assembly points.
      The company was to set up viable businesses part of whose profits were
to be invested in Nitram Trust to assist disadvantaged "comrades and their
families", while the remainder was to be ploughed back for the expansion of
projects and acquisition of new ones.
      The businesses were taken over by the government in February 1982 soon
after the discovery of arms caches on some of the properties and those that
were owned by the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) as a party.
      All in all, 13 companies associated with ZAPU, which had 29
properties, were outlawed.
      At the time of the ban, Nitram owned six business units that were all
operating profitably. These were the Castle Arms Motel in Bulawayo, Woodglen
Farm in the Umguza/Nyamandlovu farming area, Ascot Farm in the Khami farming
area, Nest Egg Farm in the Douglasdale area near Hope Fountain, Hampton Farm
near Gweru, and Black Cat Removals in Bulawayo.
      Records show, for example, that Nest Egg had 6 000 chickens and 100
pigs at the time of the ban and was producing thousands of eggs a day.
      There has been a deafening silence about what happened to the
properties after the signing of the unity accord. The Nitram file at the
companies office in Bulawayo still reads on its cover: "Declared an unlawful
organisation in terms of section 3 of Chapter 91 Proclamation number 9/82
dated 16th February 1982."
      Under the Unlawful Organisations Act, which was used by the Ian Smith
government to ban nationalist political parties, the President's
proclamation could not be questioned in any court of law.
      Anyone who defied the proclamation could be fined up to $2 000 or
could be imprisoned for a period of up to five years, or could be both fined
and imprisoned.
      Though the amounts are insignificant today, the Zimbabwe dollar was
stronger than the United States dollar in 1982. A simple conversion shows
that the $50 that the former combatants contributed is equivalent to $630
000, while the $2 000 fine translates to $2.5 million.
      According to documents that The Financial Gazette has, Nitram was
verbally handed back to the former combatants by Vice-President Joseph Msika
at a function at Castle Arms on April 16 2000.
      But this has not been formalised up to now despite the fact that the
group's patron is Dumiso Dabengwa, who has been a member of the ruling
party's supreme making body, the politburo, for years and was at one time
Minister of Home Affairs.
      Senior former members of the ZIPRA command, who are the custodians of
the properties, are in a quandary because they were technically given back
the properties but legally they belong to those who bought them when they
were liquidated.
      This has stalled their plans to resuscitate the businesses.
      For example, some of the projects that they envisaged for Castle Arms
included setting up an officers club and a troops canteen, which would
comprise a bar, dining room and kitchen, and recreational clubs for retired
      Other projects included a bakery, butchery, a poultry scheme, piggery,
a phone shop, metal fabrication, carpentry, a grinding mill, a surgery, and
a library.
      The former motel, whose equipment was auctioned in May 1984, remains
the company's quickest way back into business as there are few hassles
associated with it. But it has been run down.
      Nitram's major handicap is that it is cash-strapped. It recovered only
$113 000 from the liquidation of its business units.
      The company, however, faces an enormous task to regain the other
business units unless the government, which authorised the sale of the
properties in the 1980s, steps in.
      The Financial Gazette understands, for example, that Black Cat
Removals has changed hands several times.
      An indigenous businessman now owns Ascot Farm, while a white farmer
owns Nest Egg.
      New farmers have been settled on Hampton Farm, though it is not clear
whether this was done legally or they invaded the property.
      The Financial Gazette wrote to Msika's office in August seeking
clarification on the status of Nitram but he has not responded up to now.

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      War on inflation: enemy No 1 in retreat

      Nelson Banya
      12/16/2004 7:18:11 AM (GMT +2)

      "I REAPPOINTED him and he disappointed me," said former US president
George Bush (Snr) of Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan.

      But given Zimbabwe's modest economic recovery and easing inflationary
pressures, President Robert Mugabe is however likely to say to Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono: "You have done a great job in a period
when there was no rule book to look to."
      The annualised rate of inflation has once again surpassed the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) year-end target ahead of schedule, raising hopes of a
return to single-digit inflation within two years.
      The government has dubbed the triple-digit rate of inflation, which
has best mirrored Zimbabwe's economic malaise and peaked at 622.9 percent in
January, enemy number one.
      The RBZ had initially forecast a year-end rate of between 170 percent
and 200 percent, but revised the target in October to between 150 percent
and 160 percent.
      Figures released by the Central Statistical Office (CSO) this week
showed that year-on-year inflation had declined by a further 59.7 percentage
points in November, from the October figure of 209 percent - the tenth
consecutive time the annualised rate has declined.
      Monthly inflation for November was 7.8 percent, having shed 2.3
percentage points on the October rate of 10.1 percent.
      The 7.8 percent change in average price between October and November
this year was significantly lower than the change in the average price of
the same basket between October 2003 and November 2003, hence the decline in
the year-on-year rate of inflation.
      November 2003 recorded the peak in monthly inflation, 33.6 percent,
since the country's worst economic crisis intensified in 2000.
      The CSO said the continued decline was accounted for by a general
deceleration in the prices of both food and non-food commodities.
      Of the 149.3 percent annualised rate of inflation, food prices
accounted for 52.8 percentage points while non-food items accounted for 96.5
percentage points.
      Food inflation was 143.1 percent in November, having declined from the
October rate of 210.8 percent - a decline of 67.7 percentage points.
Non-food inflation stood at 152.8 percent, having shed 55.2 percentage
points on the October rate of 208 percent.
      Food prices accounted for two percentage points of the 7.8 percent
monthly inflation figure, with non-food items weighing in with 5.8
percentage points.
      RBZ governor Gideon Gono, who has characterised the inflation problems
as a "venomous viper", attributes the decline to tighter money market
conditions and improving production levels, among other measures.
      The money market has, in recent weeks, been recording huge deficits,
which peaked at about $800 billion last week on the back of interventions by
the RBZ, which has regularly issued special open market operation bills to
staunch the market. Capacity utilisation has improved from about 30 percent
last year to 60 percent currently.
      "This marked progress is largely attributable to increased capacity
utilisation, tight money market conditions, economic agents' low inflation
expectations, fiscal discipline, concessional cost of funds to producers and
a marked improvement in foreign exchange inflows that are thawing down
supply side rigidities in the economy," Gono said in his last monetary
policy statement for the year, made in October.
      The Zimbabwean economy, moribund for the past five years, has recently
shown modest signs of recovery and is forecast by both the government and
multilateral agencies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to
return to positive growth in 2005.
      The government has projected gross domestic product growth of between
3.5 percent and five percent next year, while the IMF has been conservative
in forecasting a 1.8 percent growth for the economy which, according to
official data, shrunk by 2.5 percent this year.
      Although the dramatic developments on the inflation front are perhaps
the most palpable sign of improved economic performance, compared
particularly to 2003 when the economy shrank by 8.5 percent, questions have
been raised on the accuracy of the country's inflation data, with the
government conceding that the CSO required to be restructured and better
capitalised to enhance efficiency and, ultimately, improve market
      While a common misconception forms the basis of most Zimbabweans'
scepticism over the inflation data - many wrongly expect the deceleration of
inflation to translate into wholesale price reduction and not just a slower
rate of increase - economists have called for a review in the calculation of
the data.
      The consumer price index is based on a 1995 incomes and expenditure
survey, which economists have said
      no longer gives an accurate indication of the situation.
      In a country that has emerged deeply polarised by a seemingly unending
political crisis, the argument over inflation data often takes a political
      Some critics of government economic policy query the veracity of the
data, while the authorities point to the critics' silence when the CSO
figures showed galloping inflation since January 2001.
      Away from the politics, though, there is agreement that the CSO needs
support to bolster its effectiveness and efficiency, with Gono exhorting the
government to ensure the agency updates its data.
      "We hold no defence brief from the Central Statistical Office, which
operates independently from anyone and ourselves, but we owe

      them constructive criticism and support or continued consistency of
the thought process. It is common knowledge and standard the world over that
base years for national accounts are revised often enough to capture
inter-temporal structural shifts in economic variables.
      "While there is no rule of thumb or the correct periodicity of
rebasing time series, periods of five to 10 years, particularly in
transition economies, are long enough to warrant reviews of baskets and base
years. As we work towards rapid macroeconomic convergence over the next 12
to 18 months, we strongly call upon the relevant authorities to make
necessary provisions to enable the Central Statistical Office to carry out
new runs of consumer expenditure surveys," Gono said.
      Best Doroh, principal economist at Finhold, said another incomes and
expenditure survey was expected next year, adding that the current base had
outlived its usefulness.
      "There is a statistical inadequacy in the base they are currently
using, based on an incomes and expenditure survey conducted in 1995. It
doesn't really give an indication on matters on the ground, so there is a
need to rebase.
      "In the absence of any alternative, the month-on-month figure gives a
more useful indication of the situation, although it is based on the same
index as the annualised rate," Doroh said.
      Moses Chundu of CFX Financial Services concurred.
      "The basket we are using right now is the same we used in 1995, that
is not technically sound. However, the scepticism stems from a serious
misunderstanding of the significance of the declining trend. People wrongly
expect prices to fall along with the declining rate. That would be
deflation, which, in our circumstance, is impossible," Chundu said.
      Tony Hawkins of the University of Zimbabwe graduate school of
management said the 59.7 percentage point decline in annualised inflation
between October and November - the second biggest after a decline of 78.7
percentage points between March and April this year - was attributable to
the difference in the monthly rate over the year.
      "The main reason for the big jump is that we had a record monthly
inflation rate of 33.6 percent in November last year and recorded a monthly
rate of 7.8pecent this year," Hawkins said, before forecasting inflationary
pressures to rise in the first half of 2005.
      "We must be getting to the end of that (decline) now. We should see
the rate coming up in February."

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      Cabinet: recycling art perfected

      12/16/2004 7:47:36 AM (GMT +2)

      I was shocked to discover recently that, like the young listeners on a
radio quiz show I was listening to, I could not match the names of certain
Zimbabwean government ministers with their portfolios.

      As an example, when Herbert Murerwa's name came up, I remember getting
dizzy just trying to figure out how many times he had been minister of
      I was even at a greater loss when it came to citing the important
economic milestones that had been achieved during his different forays into
that ministry.
      I threw in the towel when I tried to recall the other capacities in
which he has served in his cabinet career and what his outstanding
achievements had been in those posts.
      With another cabinet reshuffle widely reported to be imminent I dread
the thought of becoming even more ignorant. If President Mugabe sticks to
his formula of recycling the same old pool of human resources to fill posts
in his new cabinet, I will find it even harder to keep track of who is who
and who is doing what.
      You will appreciate my predicament if you take into account the fact
that my chronological confusion with regard to Murerwa's term in cabinet
applies to almost all the other ministers.
      Under normal circumstances a reshuffle is supposed to be a means to
improve efficiency and ensure greater achievement of goals by injecting new
blood into the team. But I have noted with increasing frustration that our
cabinet reshuffles seem to have a different thrust.
      Their sole aim seems to be to ensure that despite their proven record
of lacklustre performance, our government ministers are assured of a job in
one form or another. The same people have been recycled so many times that
frankly, it no longer matters who is doing what. The collective result is
the same.
      To be fair, President Mugabe did try to do things a bit differently a
few years ago. This was when he appointed his first themed cabinet - the war
      Although like me, many Zimbabweans did not understand what war the
country was fighting, that cabinet reshuffle ushered in a few new faces in
the form of technocrats and young Turks.
      It however soon became quite clear what war we were fighting. This was
after one of the technocrats, Nkosana Moyo, realising he had bitten off more
than he could chew, hastily and prematurely threw in the towel.
      The President's subsequent biting remark that he only wanted "amadoda
sibili" in his cabinet, apparently fired up the remaining newcomers with a
determination to prove that they had what it took to be "amadoda sibili".
      It did not take long for Zimbabweans to understand the nature of the
"war" the country was involved in.
      Its battle front was located on the lips of the Minister of
Information and Publicity, Jonathan Moyo and to a slightly lesser degree,
Patrick Chinamasa, Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
      The two ministers worked themselves into a frenzy as they shot off
their mouths against the country's real or imagined enemies both internally
and externally.
      I hope that when pondering who to include in his next cabinet, the
President will remember what a waste of energy and resources these two
gentlemen's overzealous antics were and in view of recent events which have
earned these ministers the label "rebels" because of their involvement in
the clandestine Tsholotsho meeting, one can not help asking what "war" they
have been fighting as members of cabinet. Were they using their cabinet
positions to serve collective interests or to pursue their now exposed naked
      It was also through the appointment of the war cabinet that the
country became saddled with the most inept Minister of Agriculture
      Cde Joseph Made will go down in history for committing the most
dangerous bungling in a strategic ministry. Who can ever forget Made's
wide-off-the-mark food production projections and the ridiculous methods he
used to arrive at his conclusions. I shudder to think of such a bungler
surviving another cabinet reshuffle.
      President Mugabe's current cabinet came into office under the
anti-corruption theme. After cracking my head, l am still hard pressed to
come up with the achievements of the Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies
Ministry under the leadership of Didymus Mutasa.
      All I can remember, in fact, is that Mutasa's most outstanding act was
to become embroiled in politically motivated violence in Makoni North.
      Police have indicated that he has a case to answer stemming from his
involvement in the violent clashes in his constituency, I do not think that
someone with such "baggage" should be allowed to drag it around into the
next cabinet.
      The only thing that is certain, if the current speculation about a
cabinet reshuffle is accurate, is that we will have a new team very soon.
      Whether it will be a themed team and "new" in the same old sense of
moving the same chess pieces around, I can not wait to find out.

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      Heed Mugabe's call

      12/16/2004 7:39:22 AM (GMT +2)

      THE next parliamentary elections are only three months away and they
are attracting priority attention.

      All the political players in the country, especially the ruling ZANU
PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), including those on the
political fringes who do not register on the relevance radar and only emerge
during election time, are already girding their loins for the political high
stakes. ZANU PF is hoping to exploit the power of incumbency while the MDC
is fancying its chances against a backcloth of a deep well of disenchantment
against the government.
      And that is as it should be. The tragedy of Zimbabwe is however that
political violence, which flares up in the run-up to most elections, is one
of the country's biggest curses. Sadly curses, like chickens, usually come
home to roost. And true to form, the peace-loving people of this country
have suffered the consequences of this insanity which has produced so much
frustration, anger and hatred among citizens, leaving in its wake
disenfranchised whole families, orphaned children and widowed wives.
      As a result despite their quest for untainted, indisputable, free and
fair elections, Zimbabweans have not, for the past five years, been allowed
to exercise their universal suffrage without enduring pain, grief, loss,
sorrow and worse. The trauma and permanent emotional scars spawned by this
political zealotry unleashed by political attack dogs will haunt the nation
for years to come when political skeletons from times past inevitably come
tumbling from the closet.
      That scores of people in a country like Zimbabwe, where even one
single death from political violence is one too many, have met abrupt,
brutal and tragic deaths at the hands of political murderers, has provoked
growing concern. Not without reason and not least of all the well-founded
fear that the systematic bullying and intimidation against political
opponents could stifle democratic space and the expansion of pluralism in
the political sphere, making a mockery of the country's democratic
achievements which were hard to come by but could easily be destroyed in a
      The country's leader has acknowledged that there has been dangerous
political zealotry in the past. In his State of the Nation Address,
President Robert Mugabe alluded to the heightened violent political battling
preceding elections in Zimbabwe.
      "In keeping with our tradition, we are going to hold our sixth
parliamentary elections in March next year on a date to be announced in due
course. This presents an opportunity to seek renewed mandates, depending of
course on how well we served the people over the past five years. I want to
reiterate government's determination that this impending poll should not be
marred by incidents of violence from whatever quarter."
      These were the words of President Mugabe who is only too aware of the
orgy of violence and the subsequent callous murders and wanton destruction
of property which has not only attenuated voter enthusiasm but public
confidence in the country's electoral system. It has left hoardes of
families across the country that no longer have fathers, mothers, brothers,
sisters, daughters, sons, uncles or guardians. His call could not therefore
have come at a more appropriate time. The import of the President's warning
is that there would be no political sacred cows and those who kill to deny
others the freedom of choice and association do not deserve that freedom
themselves. Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri has added his voice to the
anti-election violence chorus and we applaud that. Those fanning violence
should be brought to account, political party affiliation notwithstanding.
      This has to be nipped in the bud because there is a deadly poison that
has been seeping through the moral fibre of this country over the past five
fateful years - lack of respect for human life. The poisoned political
situation has been aggravated by an equally poisonous egotism of the
parochial Zimbabwean politicians who do not seem to realise that difference
is a real factor in politics. Consensus of opinion is not a virtue in
politics and people should always be free to agree to disagree. They should
be allowed to organise freely of their own political convictions.
      But sadly, this is not so in this country. The sad and noxious
development in Zimbabwe was born of a deep-seated political bigotry giving
rise to chaos, brutality and purposeless sadism. All this because
politicians with their characteristic hatred for compromise and growing
intolerance are, as pointed out in our editorials of April 8 2004 and August
26 2004, guilty of encouraging political zealotry through their strong
populist phraseologies which they employ with reckless abandon as if it is
some political innovation.
      Sadly, ordinary Zimbabweans who feel the sharpest edge of the knife in
this political violence seem to oblige the bloodthirsty politicians in this
tragic madness. They have become willing pawns in this political game -
having seemingly resigned to the belief that violence is the norm in
elections as if it is something Zimbabwe's historical situation prescribed.
Yet, like we have said before, there is no politician worth killing or dying
      Indeed it is possible to have violence-free elections in Zimbabwe
where those rejected by the electorate smile, shake hands and retreat to
their farms, country or suburbia homes! True, to see such a scenario
emerging in Zimbabwe would, in the eyes of those who have felt the country's
terrible election aura in its starkest form, be only for dreamy text-book
escapists or utopians.
      But we feel that we can wake up and walk away from this nightmare
visited upon us by politicians who, although they hardly deliver on their
election promises, will, if we do not put a stop to it, continue sacrificing
innocent lives, not for Zimbabwe but for their bloated self-interest.
      Zimbabweans should therefore emphatically reject those politicians
that play the subtle and blunt behind-the-scenes role in the violence
plaguing the country's rugged political landscape. The great people of this
country should refuse to be used by these mouthing, slobbering demagogues
who exude a brutal lust for power and whose patriotism is all jawbone. They
should not allow these practitioners of political sadomasochism to narrow
and degrade their souls by making them kill and maim each other. Thus they
can bridge the increasingly violent political divide and co-exist with those
with whom they have different political views.

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      Dairy farmers struggle to supply enough milk

      Staff Reporter
      12/16/2004 7:22:38 AM (GMT +2)

      THE National Association of Dairy Farmers (NADF) says the sector,
which has been adversely affected by the government's agrarian reform,
remains unstable, with production levels constantly fluctuating.

      The NADF, a grouping of large-scale commercial dairy farmers, said the
instability in the industry was making it difficult to plan.
      "Viability of milk production is going through cycles, with periods of
reasonable profit margins, to months when producers have to try and sustain
financial losses," NADF chief executive officer Rob van Vuuren said.
      Van Vuuren said the industry's woes were being made worse by the
unavailability of foreign currency to import vaccines, essential drugs,
milking machine spare parts and replacements for existing equipment.
      Zimbabwe has been facing a severe foreign currency crunch since the
late 1990s, a result of declining exports and foreign direct investment, as
well as lack of balance of payments support from international lenders.
      The NADF said many producers had limited access to arable land to grow
forage for their cows.
      "Others have limited or no access to the natural veld which is also an
important component in feeding the animals," said Van Vuuren.
      Dairy farmers are reportedly using only 20 percent of the national
processing capacity of around 450 million litres per year and the NADF
predicts it will take many years for the industry to recover.
      The government's controversial land reform, launched in 2000, was
followed by two years of drought, worsening an already critical situation in
the agricultural sector.
      Estimates put current milk production at around nine million litres
per month, against the country's requirement of 13 million litres monthly.
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      Mugabe threats unsettle foreign mining investors

      Staff Reporter
      12/16/2004 7:23:52 AM (GMT +2)

      THREATS made by President Robert Mugabe of unspecified action against
foreign mining industry players he accuses of sabotaging Zimbabwe's
tottering economy have triggered fresh fears in the mining industry.

      Presenting his 17th state of the nation address, the President said
the country's economic revival for next year would be pinned on the mining,
agriculture and manufacturing sectors, which have been on a lull for the
past five years due to eschewed economic and populist policies.
      "Those foreigners intent on holding on to our wealth embedded
underground for speculative or other shady reasons must make way for others
who mean serious business," said President Mugabe.
      He said the platinum mining sector, which is dominated by foreign
multi-nationals, should pull the industry to full economic recovery as well
as leading the way in terms of mineral processing.
      "It baffles the mind that despite having the world's second largest
deposits of platinum, the country still does not have platinum processing
capacity. This is a capacity we are now planning to have," he added.
      President Mugabe's discontent with foreign platinum miners in Zimbabwe
comes hard on the heels of a directive by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
ordering players in the sector to open local foreign currency accounts.
      The RBZ accuses platinum mines of siphoning foreign currency earnings
out of the country.
      President Mugabe said he expected Murowa Diamond Mine, the country's
first big diamond producing mine, to begin production early 2005.
      He said Zimbabwe's economic revival for the next two years would be
pinned on a new policy framework that will focus on rejuvenating the
agriculture, mining and manufacturing sectors, which have been on the brink
of collapse.
      The programme titled, "Zimbabwe: Towards Sustained Economic Growth -
Macro-Economic Framework for 2005-2006", will anchor all policy initiatives
next year and the following year.

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      Government drags feet over producer prices

      Staff Reporter
      12/16/2004 7:25:25 AM (GMT +2)

      THE government continues to drag its feet over the announcement of
pre-planting producer price of maize, a setback farmers said deprived them
of a vital signal upon which to base their cropping and output decisions.

      Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister Joseph Made told The
Financial Gazette that the prices of controlled crops would be more
attractive this season, but would not reveal when the producer prices of the
crops would be announced.
      "This year is going to be better in terms of the prices of controlled
crops, that is maize and wheat because of the need to keep the momentum
gathered so far in the recovery of agriculture," Made said.
      The current official projections state that agriculture is expected to
grow by 28 percent in 2005.
      Producer price and production cost disparities in the determination of
the prices of agricultural food commodities have in the past been blamed for
producing a skewed export-biased cropping pattern that tended to worsen the
country's food situation. The marketing of major grain products in Zimbabwe
is the sole preserve of the state marketing agency - the Grain Marketing
Board (GMB).
      Farmers and economists have said there is a growing trend where
farmers have abandoned production of food crops in favour of export crops
for which the government has gazetted more attractive prices in a bid to
stimulate increased foreign currency receipts.
      Analysts have, however, said such a policy objective would only be
effective if it did not lead to a conscious neglect of food production. The
government has announced an agricultural policy framework that seeks to
simultaneously achieve economic growth, equity, food security, stabilisation
and inflation control and foreign currency generation.
      But delays in announcement of the pre-planting price for maize, which
is the country's staple food, might regenerate a planting pattern in which
export cash crops increasingly supplant food production.
      Silas Hungwe, president of the Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU), urged the
government to announce producer prices in time.
      "Pre-planting price announcements are important because they give
farmers an essential signal about how to make cropping decisions, that is,
which crops to grow and which ones to shun. The pre-planting price also
helps them to calculate the returns from growing a certain crop against the
price of inputs such as seeds, fertilisers and implements.

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