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

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Grantham Today
A crate of football boots will wing its way to Africa in time to bring Christmas joy to barefoot young footballers in Zimbabwe, thanks to a magnificent response to the Journal story of their plight.
And a whole container-load of kit, mainly boots, will follow next week, shipped out by Grantham businessman Andre Gallagher and his father Pat, whose appeal on behalf of the African youth players has been taken on board in Grantham and surrounding villages.

Andre said: "The response has been unbelievable. Those kids won't know what has hit them when this lot arrives. Grantham Town, Harrowby United, Rushcliffe Eagles, Grantham Youth League and many individuals have all been magnificent in making kit donations."

They said: "We can't wait to see the looks on the kids' faces when the kit arrives at the stony grounds of Zimbabwe."
24 December 2004
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Zimbabwe to establish economic crimes court 2004-12-24 14:44:57

    HARARE, Dec. 24 (Xinhuanet) -- Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has said the southern African country will establish an economic crimes court to deal with the increasing number of economic crimes, according to the Herald on Friday.

    The president said Thursday in a briefing with Supreme Court and High Court judges that this was necessary because the currently constituted courts were failing to deal with the cases promptly due to a huge backlog of other cases. In view of this, Mugabe said, the government had resolved to establish an economic crimes court.

    He told the meeting that a new category of crimes arising from financial irregularities was on the increase with colossal amounts involved and more were being exposed.

    "There are immense irregularities on the part of those in institutions which once upon a time had the confidence of people," said Mugabe.

    Mugabe said some banks were extensively engaged in under invoicing and the creation of foreign bank accounts and all this created a new burden for the courts.

    The Reserve Bank, Zimbabwe's central bank, has placed a number of banks under curatorship following the discovery of severe liquidity constraints, poor risk management, imprudent banking practices and abuse of depositors' funds by senior management.

    Another major issue Mugabe spoke on was the transformation of the judiciary from a colonial one at independence to one that was African-guided by African law.

    He said the evolution of the judiciary had given the government some problems as there was once a shortage of lawyers in the country, but now there were enough numbers to run the judiciary proficiently.

    "Whereas laws are easy to make, judges have to be trained in law schools," said Mugabe.

    However, he said, although the number of lawyers was increasing there were concerns over the quality of some of these legal practitioners.

    "From what we see, hear and experience, there has been a degeneration of quality. Quality seems to have gone down. The numbers are increasing, but quality is going down, quality in the sense of creating a knowledgeable lawyer who is also articulate." the president added.

    "Some lawyers have difficulties to express themselves," Mugabe said.

    He said this raised questions as to whether the lawyers were undergoing sufficient training.

    Mugabe also promised that the government would continue to review judges' remuneration and conditions of service in line with the economic challenges the country is facing.

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Zimbabwe Extends Crackdown on Dissent as Election Looms

Published: December 24, 2004 _ NY Times

Kim Ludbrook/European Pressphoto Agency

Hundreds of protesters representing organizations that are promoting human rights in Zimbabwe and fair elections there in 2005 demonstrated earlier this month at the country's embassy in Pretoria, South Africa.
HARARE, Zimbabwe - A few yards from Raymond Majongwe's office, on the apron of a four-lane highway outside this capital city's downtown, a cherry red sedan sat recently beneath a clutch of trees, its engine off, the driver idle. The sedan has been there for weeks, Mr. Majongwe said. It will be there next week, too.
Mr. Majongwe is the head of a rebel schoolteacher's union. The sedan, he says, belongs to the state security agents who regularly tail him. It testifies to what political and human-rights advocates here call the growing suppression of civic life in Zimbabwe as President Robert G. Mugabe girds for national elections that his government cannot afford to lose.
Mr. Mugabe and the governing Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, or ZANU-PF, came unexpectedly close to being swept from office in parliamentary and presidential elections in 2000 and 2002, and they have taken a series of measures designed to minimize the chances of another competitive ballot.
During the 2002 election the government enacted laws sharply curbing freedoms of the press and public assembly, citing national security. Now, with new national elections looming in March, new laws and other measures promise to silence the remaining independent press and activist groups that have been vehicles for dissent.
In November alone, Zimbabwe's Parliament enacted legislation mandating a two-year prison term for practicing journalism without a license. A second law made it illegal to conduct voter education without government approval, requiring most election workers to register and clear electioneering materials with the state.
A third law, passed in early December, effectively places nongovernmental groups, churches and charities under state control, empowering the government to investigate their finances, to restrict their activities and, in many cases, to disband them at will. A fourth proposal would impose prison sentences of up to 20 years for "materially false" statements or writings that impugn the state.
Earlier this year, the government installed equipment on Zimbabwe's Internet service providers to monitor and censor e-mail messages. In July, it tried to bar the one cellphone company outside state control from routing calls outside the country, saying unsupervised foreign telephone calls were a national security threat.
The company, Econet Wireless, is controlled by a government critic whose opposition newspaper, The Daily News, was far and away the most popular publication in Zimbabwe. The government closed the newspaper in February. In October, it charged five of Econet's directors with illegal dealings in foreign currency.
Such actions, rights advocates here say, are but the latest moves in a long clampdown on Zimbabweans' freedoms that peaked around Mr. Mugabe's re-election in 2002 and then subsided, but is now regaining momentum. After that election, independent observers said that the balloting had been rigged, and that the opposition party would have won a fair election.
Parliamentary documents show that spending on security police officers like the one posted outside Mr. Majongwe's office has run 60 percent over budget this year - and is projected to quadruple in 2005. While it is impossible to verify figures, human rights groups here also claim that the number of government informers and security police has grown sixfold in five years, to as many as one in 60 Zimbabweans.
Similarly, the Solidarity Peace Trust, a group of clerics that monitors human rights in Zimbabwe, reported last month that 300,000 Zimbabweans - roughly one in 40 - have been beaten or tortured, thrown off their land or denied food since violence began to escalate in 2000. Another 300, the trust stated, have died in politically motivated killings.
Like most of the government's domestic critics, these and most other Zimbabweans spoke only on promises of anonymity. The crackdown has silenced most democracy advocates and workers in foreign-based organizations, who now face prosecution or expulsion for publicly differing with the government.
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Zimbabwe's Mujuru speaks out on the future

December 24, 2004, 17:30
SABC news

Joyce Mujuru, Zimbabwe's newly-appointed first vice president, says its a priority to engage the international community in order to restore the country's battered image abroad.

Mujuru was speaking in a wide ranging exclusive interview with the SABC in which she indicated she is even prepared for higher office. It is her second week in office and she says she is ready for the huge task ahead which includes sprucing up Zimbabwe's image abroad. She says her priority is to really want the British to toe the line on what they agreed to with ZANU(PF) at Lancaster.

Her nomination sparked an uproar that saw senior party members being suspended for holding unauthorised meetings. President Mugabe says he will be stepping down in 2008 and Mujuru says she is prepared to fill his shoes. The new vice president is also promising a violence free election in March.

It may be the Christmas season but this hasn't kept the vice president out of her office. She aims to lead by example and hopes her behaviour will spur on the population to tackle the many economic challenges ahead. Challenges she says, she is ready to tackle head-on.

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Public Statement

AI Index: AFR 46/041/2004 (Public)
News Service No: 330
24 December 2004

Zimbabwe: Unfair trial of Roy Bennet, MP
In December 2004 Amnesty International communicated to the government of Zimbabwe the organisation’s serious concern about the proceedings which led to the conviction and sentence of Roy Bennet, Member of Parliament (MP) for Chimanimani, following an incident on 18 May 2004. Roy Bennet is alleged to have pushed the Minister for Justice, Parliamentary and Legal Affairs, the Hon. Patrick Chinamasa, to the floor during a heated exchange between the two of them in parliament. Minister Chinamasa is alleged to have verbally abused Roy Bennet who was then challenged by the Anti-Monopolies and Anti-Corruption Programme Minister, the Hon. Didymus Mutasa, who reportedly kicked him. Roy Bennet was expelled from the chamber.

Under Zimbabwe’s Privileges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act (as amended 1991), parliament is empowered to sit as a court and to award and execute punishments for specific offences which are listed under the Act. Assaulting a Member of Parliament within the precincts of parliament is one such offence. In the case of Roy Bennet, parliament tasked a five-person parliamentary committee, known as the ‘Privileges Committee’, to review the conduct of Roy Bennet and make a recommendation to parliament in terms of the powers vested in parliament under the Act.

The committee was made up of two MPs from the Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) - two MPs from the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and an unelected Chief appointed to parliament by President Mugabe. All members of the ‘Privileges Committee’ were present in parliament during the incident on 18 May. The Hon. Paul Mangwana, the member who proposed its establishment, chaired the committee.

Proceedings before the committee included an opportunity for Roy Bennet to account for his conduct and present evidence. The Hon. Minister Chinamasa and the Hon. Minister Mutasa were also called to give evidence to the committee, although the committee was not tasked with any investigation into their conduct on 18 May. Roy Bennet was permitted to have legal advice during the proceedings, although no cross-examination of witnesses was permitted.

The committee recommended a sentence of 15 months’ imprisonment with hard labour, with three months to be suspended, subject to good behaviour. On 28 October parliament voted to accept the committee’s recommendation. In both the committee and parliament voting was split along party lines. Under the Privileges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act there is no provision or mechanism for appeal against sentences passed by parliament. Roy Bennet was taken into custody on 28 October, and is now detained at Mutoko prison.

Amnesty International has raised the following concerns about the procedures used to convict and sentence Roy Bennet: The lack of independence and impartiality
Article 18 of the Zimbabwe Constitution, as well as Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to both of which Zimbabwe is party, guarantee everyone the right to a fair hearing by a competent and impartial tribunal established by law. The right to trial by an independent and impartial tribunal is so basic that the UN Human Rights Committee has stated that it "is an absolute right that may suffer no exception". See Gonzelez del Rio v. Peru (263/1987). Report of the Human Rights Committee to the General Assembly, vol. II, (A/48/40), 1993.

The primary institutional guarantee of a fair trial is that decisions will not be made by political institutions but by competent, independent and impartial tribunals established by law. The independence of tribunals is rooted in the separation of powers in a democratic society. Different organs of the state have exclusive and specific responsibilities. In so far as the Privileges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act allows for parliament to act as a court, it is inconsistent and incompatible with the basic tenets of fair trial.

A body sitting as a court or tribunal must be impartial. The principle of impartiality, which applies to each individual case, demands that each of the decision-makers, whether they are professional or lay judges, be unbiased. Actual impartiality and the appearance of impartiality are both fundamental for maintaining respect for the administration of justice.

An impartial tribunal requires that judges and jurors have no interest or stake in a particular case and do not have pre-formed opinions about it. In the procedures used to judge and sentence Roy Bennet, the five-person committee was weighted in favour of ZANU-PF, comprising two members of ZANU-PF and a Chief appointed to parliament by President Mugabe, and two members of Roy Bennet’s party, the MDC. The committee recommended a sentence and this recommendation was then voted on in parliament where ZANU-PF holds the majority of seats. The injured party, the Hon. Minister Chinamasa, was amongst those who voted in favour of the recommendation on sentencing. Amnesty International does not believe that either the parliamentary committee as constituted or the proceedings for the adoption of its recommendations were impartial, particularly in view of the deeply polarized nature of Zimbabwean society. The very fact of the aggrieved party voting in the punishment of the accused is contrary to the principles of disinterested administration of justice.

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights found that the creation of a special tribunal consisting of one judge and four members of the armed forces, with exclusive power to decide, judge and sentence in cases of civil disturbance, violated Article 7(1)(d) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The African Commission stated: "[r]egardless of the character of the individual members of such tribunals, its composition alone creates the appearance, if not the actual lack of impartiality". The Constitutional Rights Project (in respect of Zamani Lakwot and six others) v. Nigeria, (87/93), 8th Annual Activity Report of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, 1994-1995, ACHPR/RPT/8th/Rev.I at 14, para. 10. Disproportionate nature of the punishment
International standards in respect of sentencing clearly prescribe that any punishment imposed upon conviction following a fair trial must be proportionate to the gravity of the crime and the circumstances of the offender. Report of the 8th UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders, UN Doc. A/Conf.144/28, rev.1 (91.IV.2), Res. 1(a), 5(c), 1990. Courts may not impose a heavier penalty than the one that applied when the crime was committed. Article 15 (1) ICCPR.

In the case of Roy Bennet the procedures used did not conform to the standards for a fair trial. Furthermore legal experts in Zimbabwe have pointed out that the sentence for common assault (which is the offence with which Roy Bennet would most likely have been charged had the matter been brought before a criminal court) would attract a far less severe sentence. In many such cases only a fine is imposed. Even if a more serious assault charge were brought against Roy Bennet it would not have attracted such a severe penalty.
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Mugabe is 'rigging election' before vote
By David Blair in Johannesburg
(Filed: 24/12/2004)


President Robert Mugabe was accused yesterday of "rigging" Zimbabwe's coming election before a single vote had been cast by abolishing parliamentary seats in opposition strongholds.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was outraged by the "illogical" decisions made by the official body charged with drawing-up parliamentary constituencies.

This commission has delivered its report to Mr Mugabe and the MDC has seen its main findings. Both the capital, Harare, and the second city, Bulawayo, will lose one MP each despite growths in population in both cities.

But they are MDC strongholds and the party took all 27 of their seats during the last elections in 2000.

Innocent Gonese, the opposition's chief whip, said: "By doing this, the government is rigging the election. They really don't care what people's opinions are, either internationally or locally. "

The last official census found that Harare's population grew by 30 per cent, or 424,670 people, between 1992 and 2002. Yet the latest electoral roll shows that 46,780 names have mysteriously disappeared from the capital's list since the presidential election two years ago.

Mr Mugabe's heartland in rural Zimbabwe is gaining three seats. The rural provinces of Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West and Manicaland are getting one additional MP each for the next election, which is due in March.

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The Herald

10m litres of fuel for farmers

Business Reporter
THE National Oil Company of Zimbabwe has released 10 million litres of diesel for the summer cropping season at heavily subsidised prices that are less than half the service station price.

This is in addition to the five million litres released in September this year, which Noczim says has already been exhausted.

Noczim has put in place a three-tier pricing structure as follows:

Distributing oil companies will get diesel from Noczim at the discounted price of $1 250 per litre. They, in turn, will sell it to their service stations at $1 500 per litre.

On the other hand, service stations supplied directly by Noczim will pay $1 500 per litre for diesel delivered to their premises.

Farmers will get the diesel at a maximum retail price of $1 650 per litre. Those uplifting from any of Noczim’s depots in Msasa, Feruka and Beitbridge will pay $1 500 per litre, but will have to make their own transport arrangements.

"Issues of overpricing at any stage should be reported to the respective Arex official or Agricultural Inputs District Sub-Committee," Noczim said.

While every effort has been made to bring fuel to within easy reach of farmers, those in some parts of the country will have to travel long distances to access the fuel at designated Noczim receiving depots.

Examples are those from areas such as Rushinga and Chikomba who will have to travel all the way to Harare while those from Nyanga and Mutasa have been directed to Mutare.

In Matabeleland, farmers from Binga will need to travel to Hwange while those from Bubi, Nkayi and Umguza will go to Bulawayo.

There are already concerns that land preparations have not been proceeding at the desired rate.

Of the four million hectares targeted for tillage nationwide this season only 977 694 hectares had been tilled so far.

Noczim’s initiative is therefore likely to prove a timely shot in the arm for the agricultural sector as the country seeks to achieve its full productive capacity.

The 10 million litres is "part of the 15 million litres that Noczim pledged to make available to farmers for this season," the fuel procurement firm said.

Noczim added that an audit team comprising its own officials and officials from the ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development and Energy and Power Development and Arex would be visiting various districts countrywide.

This was to ensure that the initial five million litres was used for its intended purposes.

In October when the first batch of the fuel was disbursed a Noczim-Arex Fuel for Farmers Committee was set up to ensure transparency in the exercise.

Arex officers on the ground are expected to submit weekly reports giving details of all the recipients.

Noczim has threatened to come down hard on those found to be abusing the facility.

"In case of diversion or abuse Noczim will not hesitate to suspend provision of fuel either to or through the culprits and also institute criminal proceedings," Noczim said.

The disbursement of the facility has been tainted by reports that non-farmers were benefiting and that some fuel was finding its way onto the black market.

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The Herald

Things fall apart at Doves

Business Reporter
IT would not come as a surprise if Zimbabwe’s oldest funeral company, Doves Funeral Services, went, literally, six feet under.

It would, however, be the "mother of all shocks" if such an occurrence were to eclipse everything else in a year of drama characterised by aborted mergers, curatorships and suspensions from the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. But the fact that it did not happen does not mean it will not happen.

It could still happen, but not in 2004.

It is not a secret any more that things are falling apart at the funeral parlour. Some say the country’s funeral house is in the morgue.

Otherwise, how do you describe a situation where a firm shuffles four CEOs in a space of seven months? Even office orderlies are unlikely to be hired and fired with such frequency.

New Doves owner Newton Madzika left the company in a huff earlier in the year headed for South Africa amid growing fears of bad corporate governance.

Madzika had barely served a year at the helm of the company.

In came Judith Chamboko. But before she could settle down in the executive chair, Newton appointed his brother Takawira to run affairs at the funeral company.

Judith resigned in October, along with nine other top executives. Takawira’s whereabouts are still a mystery.

Now there is Francis Mukurazita. He has since announced positive turnaround plans for the company.

But his stay at Doves (we can only speculate) will be determined by his strength to lift a financially frail company out of the quagmire and his ability to steer it to new heights.

Mukurazita says, according to earlier Press reports, Doves is courting new investors to pump in $10 billion in a desperate bid to retire its debts and inject fresh capital into its moribund operations.

The new boss says the move is part of a turnaround plan adopted by his company, currently groaning under a $4 billion debt.

The required amount should take care of Doves debt and ensure the century-old funeral company returns to profitability.

Doves is currently undergoing a facelift geared towards revamping all company procedures and systems to make them more efficient and cost- effective. The restructuring exercise is critically looking at all aspects of the business from its organisational structure, strategy, skills, human and technical resources.

Moving away from the world of near extinction, Doves has also stopped bothering the market with its intentions of going public, pronouncements that have never come to fruition.

The media has been awash with reports of an imminent listing by Doves as it sought to be the first funeral company to list on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.

Doves made public its intentions early last year with Madzika arguing the firm was now ripe for ZSE listing after consolidating its operations.

However, the announcements have remained a pipedream, as they never got to see the light of the day, more than 15 months after the proclamations.

The present plan would be to restructure the company’s operations with a view to making profit and ensure none of its troubled subsidiaries become a liability to the firm.

At least then, Doves executives could entertain the idea of going public.

The funeral service provider at present operates 23 parlours countrywide.

Established in 1902, Doves are the country’s oldest funeral company. The company was transformed from a family business earlier this year following its acquisition by Ecofin Venture Capital Finance led by Newton Madzika.

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AABC online

Zimbabwe farmers cutting agricultural land

A government official in Zimbabwe has admitted farmers have prepared a quarter of the land available for planting this agriculture season, raising the possibility of more food shortages.

Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo says only 1 million hectares of farmland has been prepared for the 2005 crop, out of a targeted 4 million.

Critics say President Robert Mugabe's seizure of white-owned land to re-distribute among landless blacks has disrupted agriculture and is partly to blame for food shortages in the country over the past three years.

Amnesty International has also accused the Grain Marketing Board of only giving food to supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF Party.

The country suffered serious shortages in 2002, when a drought hit much of southern Africa.

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Financial Gazette
Chiyangwa strokes?
Njabulo Ncube

Philip Chiyangwa, the maverick business tycoon held by state security agents on suspicion of espionage, is unwell and reportedly suffered a stroke this week as it emerged that a Zimbabwean intelligence attache to Geneva was recently recalled and arrested on arrival as the murky plot thickened this week. Sources said the flashy Zanu PF Mashonaland West provincial chairman and Chinhoyi Member of Parliament, who was taken in on December 15, was on Wednesday brought to St Giles Rehabilitation Centre for specialist treatment after showing signs of a mild stroke. While it was difficult to verify the information given the shroud of secrecy surrounding the issue, deemed sensitive by security agents, The Financial Gazette is reliably informed that Chiyangwa spent a few hours being examined at the health institution. Suspected members of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) later drove him from St Giles, which specialises in spinal cord and stroke-related illnesses.
Chiyangwa; Godfrey Dzvairo, Zimbabwe's ambassador to Mozambique; Kenny Karidza, Zanu PF deputy security chief; and Tendai Matambanadzo, Metropolitan Bank secretary, were picked up at different times and dates by unknown people last week in what is shaping up to be an intriguing case. Sources said the high-profile Zimbabwean citizens were being interrogated by officers from the dreaded CIO at safe houses in different locations on suspicion that they were part of an intricate web of espionage. Espionage is generally considered to be a form of treason, which carries the death penalty in Zimbabwe. Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change, and the late Zanu Ndonga leader, Reverend Nbabaningi Sithole, were some of the high-profile figures to be charged with treason locally for allegedly plotting to kill President Robert Mugabe in a bid to seize power. Tsvangirai has since been acquitted of the charge although the government has appealed to the Supreme Court.
Matambanadzo, one of the longest serving officials at Metropolitan, was picked up by unknown people close to his residence last week and has not returned home since then. Karidza, the brains behind the failed musical show that was to feature the Democratic Republic of the Congo's France-based rhumba artist Koffi Olomide, was said to have been picked up at the Harare International Airport while allegedly trying to flee the country. He is said to have been in possession of some classified Zanu PF documents at the time. Although Chiyangwa's exact whereabouts were still sketchy yesterday, speculation is rife that the flamboyant businessman is being held in Goromonzi. It has been a tough year for the billionaire, who became one of the first top Zanu PF officials to have brushes with the law after he was dragged to the courts on allegations of threatening a police officer, perjury and defeating the course of justice in the ENG Capital Asset Management saga. Chiyangwa has since been exonerated of the charges.
While panicking officials at St Giles were tight-lipped about the legislator's brief admission and the state of his health yesterday, a source closely monitoring developments surrounding Chiyangwa said: "He is sick. We understand he had a mild stroke. We understand he is being grilled and bear in mind that Goromonzi is not a place for the light-hearted." Nicholas Goche, the Minister of State Security and Kembo Mohadi, the Minister of Home Affairs, professed ignorance over the whereabouts of Chiyangwa and the other high profile individuals who are reportedly missing. James Chiyangwa, the young brother to Phillip, was yesterday adamant that Chiyangwa was around and "100 percent fit." "People are lying. He is around and very fit. He is 100 percent fit. If he was sick, do you think I will talk nicely and laugh with you. Usanyeperwe, Phidza aribho (Don't be lied to, Philip is okay," said James Chiyangwa. The sources said the families of all the four men, whose exact locations are the subject of immense speculation, had been gagged by state security agents from revealing the circumstances surrounding the capture of their relatives. "That is why all the family representatives are professing ignorance. These people are facing serious allegations of the same magnitude as those faced by Tsvangirai," added another source.
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Financial Gazette
Daily News to re-open

Felix Njini
12/24/2004 9:35:27 AM (GMT +2)

THE Daily News, the first newspaper to close under harsh media laws promulgated in 2002, could be given a new lease of life as the government makes frantic moves to regain legitimacy ahead of next year's parliamentary elections.

The country will come under the spotlight before, during and after next year's polls after the Southern African Development Community (SADC) states, including Zimbabwe, adopted guidelines for holding democratic elections.
The government has been accused of closing democratic space through repressive legislation through which no less than three newspapers have been forced to close and several civic groups outlawed.
The SADC guidelines provide for independent electoral structures and equal access to the public media - factors which have seen observers casting aspersions on Zimbabwe's elections and questioning the legitimacy of the ZANU PF government.
Impeccable sources intimated that there were manoeuvres, actively supported by some ZANU PF heavyweights, to register the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ)'s defunct newspaper titles, hoping that their resurrection would boost the government's faltering profile.
It is no coincidence, they said, that telecommunications mogul Strive Masiyiwa, who ranks high among the government's most-hated people, had moved to spin off his controlling stake in ANZ a few weeks before the Media and Information Commission's (MIC) December 31 2004 registration deadline.
It has been established that the ANZ - whose two titles, The Daily News and the weekly Daily News on Sunday, closed doors in September 2003 after the courts ruled they were operating illegally - has launched a fresh bid to register in terms of the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
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Act (AIPPA).
The group, which started publishing The Daily News in 1999, and saw it grow to become the largest circulating daily newspaper, had refused to register with the state-appointed MIC, resulting in the retrenchment of nearly 160 workers, who are now battling to secure their retrenchment packages.
"Powerful ZANU PF politicians are pulling the strings behind the scenes, and as far as I am concerned it is a win-win situation in that the ruling party (ZANU PF) would be seen to be increasing democratic space, while the ANZ would not only resuscitates its operations, but make full use of its multi-billion-dollar printing press," said a source.
"But in the process, it may also cost the ANZ the much vaunted independence, as the forces pushing for its registration may press for a more friendly and reconstituted board and management," the source added.
Masiyiwa has confirmed selling his stake to a consortium linked to former Econet Wireless Holdings chairman Norman Nyazema, journalist Jethro Goko and former ANZ chief executive officer Muchadeyi Masunda.
The sale is now awaiting the evaluation of the group's assets, particularly its printing press, a Solna Distributor D300.
Masiyiwa, Econet Wireless Holdings Limited group chief executive has faced incessant retribution from government and some senior ZANU PF officials whom he successfully fought in a bitter war to secure a licence for the country's second mobile network.
Sources said ZANU PF officials, who firmly believe that the main opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would be a walkover in the March 2005 parliamentary elections, are mostly interested in enhancing President Robert Mugabe's acceptability in the international community. President Mugabe has had to live with contested legitimacy following the 2000 parliamentary election as well as his own re-election in 2002.
The re-opening of The Daily News- an unrelenting critic of the ZANU PF government- would provide the tonic to efforts being done to align Zimbabwe's electoral system to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) guidelines and principles governing democratic elections.
Sam Sipepa Nkomo, ANZ chief executive officer, professed ignorance on the latest development.
He said: "We already have an application launched a year ago, but it was rejected by the MIC."
Tafataona Mahoso, the MIC chairman could not clarify whether his organisation had received the ANZ application.
"Ask them, we do not make news out of applications. We do not discuss applications because we receive hundreds of them, and if we single them out for discussion, that is bias," Mahoso said.
ANZ had refused to register under AIPPA and has been fighting running legal battles challenging the constitutionality of certain clauses of the Act.
Sources said Masiyiwa's exit from ANZ was meant to restructure the board and shareholding structure to 'make it acceptable to government'.

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