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      Heads to roll in Cabinet

      Njabulo Ncube
      12/2/2004 6:58:25 AM (GMT +2)

      AN increasingly authoritative and assertive President Robert Mugabe
might wield the axe on a number of Cabinet ministers after the ongoing ZANU
PF congress to stamp out dissent and tension threatening to tear the ruling
party apart.

      The Cabinet ministers (names supplied) are part of a coterie of ruling
party officials whose flirtation in ZANU PF and the government could come to
a dramatic end after they courted the wrath of President Mugabe and
vice-president-in-waiting Joyce Mujuru's powerful backers in the run-up to
the party's nominations for the key top four posts.
      Highly placed sources said the Zimbabwean leader, who is also on the
war path against corrupt private and public sector officials, has already
made up his mind on the ouster of the ministers, but is considering when to
pull the trigger.
      They said there were, however, some ZANU PF faithful putting pressure
on President Mugabe to let the ministers off the hook, for fear that any
harsh punishment could lay a fertile ground for another opposition party
that might cause more problems for the ruling party.
      The faction-ridden ZANU PF, desperately held together by President
Mugabe, seen as the stabilising influence, has been noticeably shaken in the
past three weeks, which were punctuated by a series of crisis meetings by
its decision-making politburo. The tremor was caused by well-known subtle
but potentially divisive power struggles.
      The situation boiled over when the party nominated candidates for key
posts for its central committee and presidency. As party stalwarts, whose
aim was to lose as little as possible from a political point of view,
jostled for votes, ZANU PF was plunged into a crisis unprecedented since
      With the exercise bringing to the fore the growing intolerance,
confrontation and lack of consensus in the ruling party, several politicians
emerged bruised. Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, who became part of
President Mugabe's Cabinet in 2000, was reprimanded on Monday for convening
an unsanctioned meeting in Tsholotsho just before the nominations, while
Energy and Power Development Minister July Moyo was among the six provincial
chairmen suspended from party activities for the next six months.
      The two ministers are key in President Mugabe's government, where the
information chief has been the brains behind campaign strategies, while the
other Moyo is an experienced civil servant who has worked in various
ministries. He also commands a lot of respect in the Midlands.
      The provincial chairmen were punished for attending the Tsholotsho
meeting convened by Moyo.
      The information minister has previously ruffled the feathers of senior
ZANU PF officials - namely Nathan Shamuyarira, over the SKY News debacle,
Vice-President Joseph Msika over the Kondozi Farm saga,Nkomo and Aeneas
Chigwedere, among others.
      July Moyo, the Midlands politician, catapulted into the Cabinet as a
non-constituency Member of Parliament courtesy of President Mugabe, was hit
for six months together with his Tsholotsho adventurers for attending the
unsanctioned meeting, suspected to have been called to scuttle Mujuru's push
towards the vice-presidency, courtesy of the politburo resolution.
      The politburo meeting, chaired by President Mugabe, found the six
chairpersons guilty of working against the candidatures of Vice-President
Joseph Msika, party national chairman John Nkomo and Mujuru, President
Mugabe's preferred candidate for the vacant post of vice-president during
the party's nominations.
      Sources said President Mugabe, who warned of severe reprisals when the
news of the Tsholotsho political machinations broke, was bidding his time
before cracking down heavily on other senior party bigwigs being fingered in
"shady political deals".
      Besides July Moyo (Midlands), Jacob Mudenda (Matabeleland North),
Themba Ncube (Bulawayo), Daniel Shumba (Masvingo), Lloyd Siyoka
(Matabeleland South) and Mike Madiro (Mutare) were the other provincial
chairmen suspended for attending the unsanctioned Tsholotsho meeting.
      The ZANU PF insiders said that all of the six chairpersons where
eyeing parliamentary seats in their respective constituencies next March and
probably Cabinet posts thereafter.
      The suspensions handed down on Tuesday by the Politburo, the ZANU PF
sources said, automatically rendered them ineligible to contest ruling party
primaries to be held after this week's congress.
      Shumba, the TeleAccess boss, has made public his interest for the
Masvingo Central seat, currently held by Silas Mangono of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC). Mudenda, Ncube, Siyoka, Moyo and Madiro were all
understood to have positioned themselves to run on a ZANU PF ticket.
      Jabulani Sibanda, the war veterans leader believed to be close to
Emmerson Mnangagwa, was suspended for four-years. He has been coveting a
seat in Nkulumane, the same seat being eyed by Dumiso Dabengwa, the former
ZIPRA intelligence supremo.
      When the Politburo suspended the six at a fiery marathon meeting on
Tuesday, it stated that they would not be allowed to take part in any party
activities, which include the primaries.
      "It's a great blow to their political careers. All were ambitious but
forgot that ambition is made of sterner stuff," said a ZANU PF senior
member, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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      IMF jets in for talks

      Nelson Banya
      12/2/2004 6:59:10 AM (GMT +2)

      ANOTHER International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation arrived in the
country yesterday for consultation with government and monetary authorities,
in a development set to see the thawing of the fund's frosty relations with

      Three members of the four-man team landed in Harare yesterday, with
the fourth official expected on Saturday, for a 10-day working visit for
which meetings have been scheduled with senior government and Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe (RBZ) officials.
      The visit by the IMF delegation follows the tour by Abdoulaye
Bio-Tchane, head of the African department at the IMF, a fortnight ago. It
also comes towards the expiry of a six-month reprieve Zimbabwe got from the
Bretton Woods institution, when it will review its position on the possible
expulsion of Harare from the 184-member organisation.
      During his visit, when he spoke of a window of opportunity for renewed
cooperation, Bio-Tchane met President Robert Mugabe, acting Finance Minister
Herbert Murerwa and RBZ governor Gideon Gono.
      The IMF delegation is made up of Paul Heytens, Sonia Munoz, Sanket
Mohapatra and Sharmini Coorey. Coorey is the IMF official responsible for
Zimbabwe and she was in the country only a fortnight ago when she
accompanied Bio-Tchane.
      Gono confirmed the visit by the IMF delegation, saying it was in
keeping with efforts to further strengthen improving relations.
      "The President set the tone for greater engagement with not only the
IMF or World Bank but other multilateral and bilateral agencies in general.
The scene that has been set is one of co-operation . . . there is no
ambiguity in the minds of the monetary authorities as regards the
implementation of the road map set by the head of state.
      "We stand to learn a lot from the IMF, who have indicated that they
are prepared to accept our peculiar homegrown turnaround efforts. We are
ready to go into country-specific solutions, which the IMF can bring on
board and not the one-size-fits-all approach," Gono said yesterday.
      The upbeat central bank chief said relations with the IMF had taken a
turn for the better, for the first time in seven years since the fund
slammed the door on Zimbabwe.
      Zimbabwe's relationship with the IMF and its Bretton Woods twin, the
World Bank (WB), has deteriorated over the years, with the government
accusing the development agency of undue interference.
      The government has often blamed the country's economic woes, typified
by a 28.4 percent decline in gross domestic product, on the WB/IMF-inspired
Economic Structural Adjustment Programme, which Zimbabwe adopted in 1990 and
abandoned at the turn of the century.
      The multilateral institutions have, on the other hand, blamed the
country's worst economic crisis on mismanagement of the economy and alleged
lack of sound governance.
      Further, Zimbabwe's weak economic performance has also meant that the
country was no longer able to service its debts with the fund. This became a
major factor in the country's relations with the IMF, as with other donor
agencies and international financiers, who normally take their cue from the
Bretton Woods institution. Zimbabwe has however since committed itself to
quarterly settlements of US$5 million and the fund has expressed its
satisfaction with the country's debt repayments.
      The IMF resolved to close its Harare branch in October, but stressed
that the move was in no way linked to Zimbabwe's overdue debt, adding that
the fund did not maintain representative offices in all its member
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      Proposed media gag roundly condemned

      Njabulo Ncube
      12/2/2004 6:59:46 AM (GMT +2)

      THE Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Bill, which proposes
punishment of up to 20 years imprisonment for anyone who publishes or
communicates statements perceived to be prejudicial to the state, is
unconstitutional and meant to close any "loopholes" in the existing
repressive media laws, analysts said.

      The proposed law, which has miffed journalists and other media
activists in and outside Zimbabwe, was this week roundly condemned by media
experts and analysts who dismissed it as a another strong-arm tactic by the
government to further curtail press freedom.

      Analysts who spoke to The Financial Gazette said the Bill would deal
with those government critics in the media that escape the draconian Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Public Order
and Security Act (POSA).

      Eldred Masunungure, a political science lecturer at the University of
Zimbabwe, said the government, which accuses the independent media of
working in cahoots with "regime change proponents, probably noticed some
loopholes" in AIPPA and POSA, hence the push towards another draconian law.

      "It (government) now wants to close every avenue of free expression.
It is further tightening the screws on journalists, especially those working
in the independent press. It's part of a grand scheme or total strategy to
strangulate the media or those still expressing views contrary to those of
the government or the ruling ZANU PF," said Masunungure.

      "There is AIPPA and POSA. Now there is going to be this law. It's a
multiple-pronged approach designed to net as many dissenters as possible. If
AIPPA and POSA miss you, this one will get you," he added.

      Human rights lawyer Brian Kagoro, who is also chairman of Crisis in
Zimbabwe Coalition, a loose grouping of 350 local civic organisations, said
the unconstitutionality of the proposed legislation was blatant in that it
prohibited Zimbabweans from criticising the state.

      "It's probably worse than AIPPA," said Kagoro. "The state itself is
not infallible so as such it is bound to make mistakes. The safeguard of
every citizen is to be a critic of the state," he said.

      The Bill, which seeks to bring under one document all criminal laws in
Zimbabwe, has already sailed through the second reading stage in Parliament
and is now at the committee stage.

      Clause 31 of the Bill criminalises publishing or communicating "to any
person a statement, which is wholly or materially false with the intention
or realising that there is a real risk of inciting or promoting public
disorder or violence or endangering public safety."

      David Coltart, a Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) legislator and
the opposition party's legal affairs spokesman, added his voice to the
growing disenchantment about the latest law.

      "The section that deals with crimes against the state smacks of
fascism and is far worse than those passed by the Smith regime. The 20-year
sentence is shocking and condemns the prisoner to death in Zimbabwean
jails," said Coltart.

      "The government is passing laws that are unconstitutional. They are
desperate to shut down dissenting voices," he added.

      Kagoro also added: "If the state acts unjustly, the citizens have a
right to criticise or rebel. To enact a law that says citizens can't
communicate to each other statements seen as prejudicial to the state is
grossly unconstitutional and unfair," Kagoro added.

      Clause 31 of the Bill also criminalises the publishing or
communicating to any other person a statement adversely affecting the
defence and economic interests of Zimbabwe or undermining public confidence
in law enforcement agents or interfering with, disrupting or interrupting
any essential services.

      Citizens found guilty risk 20 years in jail or a $5 million fine or

      The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, the largest body representing media
workers in the country, has also condemned the proposed new law.

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      AMA threatens survival of CFU's cotton selling arm

      Zhean Gwaze
      12/2/2004 7:00:21 AM (GMT +2)

      THE future of Cottrade, the cotton marketing arm of the Commercial
Farmers' Union (CFU), is hanging in the balance following plans by the
government to resuscitate the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA).

      Sources told The Financial Gazette this week that Cottrade might be
forced to close shop should plans to resurrect the AMA sail through.

      Irked by the stand-off between buyers and cotton growers over the
pricing of cotton, the Agriculture Ministry is now pushing for the
re-establishment of the AMA, which had been closed in 1994.

      The authority would enjoy a monopoly in the marketing of cotton, which
has replaced tobacco as Zimbabwe's top foreign exchange earner in the
agricultural sector.

      Cottrade boss Michele Bragge could not shed light on the marketing
agent's future when contacted for comment this week.

      Bragge said the marketing arm had been given a new lease of life
following recommendations by the board of directors this week to "continue
serving existing contractors".

      "A decision was reached to continue servicing existing contractors for
the new cotton season and make every effort to make the Cottrade marketing
system available to cotton growers in the foreseeable future allowing for
favourable marketing conditions," he said.

      Cotton is expected to earn between US$120 million and US$150 million
in exports this year. Zimbabwe is expected to produce 400 000 metric tonnes
of cotton, up from 331 000 metric tonnes last year, according to Cottco.

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      The shortest year of my life: Gono

      Nelson Banya
      12/2/2004 7:00:54 AM (GMT +2)

      IT is a full year since Gideon Gono, who cut the image of an
old-school anti-inflation hawk of the traditional economy, took office as
governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

      And what a year it has been.

      Detractors and admirers alike are in agreement that never before in
the country's history has a public servant had the sort of effect Gono has
had, never mind the fact that he has only been at it for just 12 months.

      As the newly appointed governor was being inundated with
congratulatory messages (and, in some instances, messages of commiseration),
the Central Statistical Office (CSO) was reporting an annualised inflation
rate of 619.5 percent (the second highest in the country's history) in
November and a monthly rate of 33.6 percent.

      An interest rate spike, which was to peak at about 1000 percent by the
end of the year, was already evident and sending jitters across the
financial sector and firms with significant exposures to debt.

      The generality of the populace, which expected Gono's decisions to
determine the economic well-being of every Zimbabwean, was emerging from an
unprecedented bank note crisis which destroyed public faith in the banking

      Capacity utilisation in industry had sagged to a low 30 percent.

      Exports were failing and the dollar was falling off the cliff, while
the greater part of the economy had gone underground.

      In short, the economy was a goner and not even Gono, who rose to
public prominence following the successful turnaround of the Commercial Bank
of Zimbabwe (CBZ), an offshoot of the infamous Bank of Credit and Commerce
of Zimbabwe (BCCZ), could do anything about it.

      When an ebullient Gono made his maiden monetary policy statement on
December 18, in which he laid down his targets - both short-term and
long-term- the scepticism simply mounted, particularly over the sub-200
percent inflation target for December 2005.

      Twelve months on, the inflation target is not only well in sight but
has been reviewed downwards to between 150 percent and 170 percent. As of
October, annualised inflation was 209 percent.

      Capacity utilisation has increased from 30 percent to about 65 percent
through a series of policy interventions by the central bank, which have
mainly targeted the supply side.

      "It has been one of the shortest years I've ever had to live in my 45
years of existence," said Gono, who turned 45 on November 29.

      Indeed, the RBZ chief has gone through his first year at a pace that
suggests hyperactivity.

      For instance, the governor's schedule this week, which saw him visit
Cape Town on Monday on a trip organised by Citibank to meet bankers and fund
managers was all in a day's work, as were the two meetings in Johannesburg
with the investment community and unsettled platinum industry investors on
Tuesday. The week will be wound up with a meeting with a visiting
International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation.

      "The year has been hectic, full of trials and tribulations, but I want
to underscore the support that I got, and continue to get, from the
generality of Zimbabweans, the country's presidency, the ministry of finance
as well as the governor's advisory board, made up of captains of industry
and commerce."

      For a central bank governor who attracts the attention normally
reserved for politicians, Gono chooses to be modest about the success his
team has scored following the adoption of a fairly unorthodox monetary
policy and stridently refuses to appraise his own efforts.

      "I leave that judgment and evaluation to my superiors and other
stakeholders. It is not for the governor to say I have done well."

      Indeed like a politician, Gono has earned adulation for reviving
confidence in the economy and brickbats, particularly from those who have
borne the brunt of the painful reorganisation of the financial sector, which
had run on virtual autopilot for a long time.

      Critics have accused Gono of playing the overlord, encroaching into
areas beyond his jurisdiction. But like a patriot, the central bank chief
who happens to have the ear of virtually everyone in the land, has indeed
voiced concern over matters not necessarily monetary.

      The ongoing tour by the England cricket team is a case in point.
Gono's eleventh hour intervention broke the impasse after the government had
denied British journalists accreditation to cover the tour and threw the
fixture in doubt.

      While Gono has certainly not accomplished all he set out to achieve -
the failure by some distressed banks to come around despite the
establishment of a Troubled Banks Fund (TBF) immediately comes to mind, as
does the delay in the setting up of an infrastructure bank - much of his
targets have been met and are being surpassed.

      Apart from the decelerating inflation and the improvement in capacity
utilisation, the central bank has led the diplomatic initiative with
international financiers, led by the IMF.

      Rampant indiscipline in the banking sector has been ruthlessly
punished and a sound corporate governance culture has emerged.

      On the foreign currency front, the introduction of controlled auctions
for hard currency have not only progressively done away with the unrealistic
$824 to the United States dollar exchange rate and brought regular review to
the current $5 600 to the greenback, but has also induced currency
stability, a major factor in stabilising inflation.

      Although it is scarcely sufficient to meet demand for hard currencies,
the auction system has brought a degree of predictability firms sorely
missed when the parallel market for major currencies thrived.

      As a consequence of this and other policy measures the country had, by
November 2004, raked in US$1.5 billion against just US$300 million in 2003.

      There has also been a positive response in gold production figures. By
November 2004, 19.1 tonnes had been produced, with a target of 22 tonnes set
for the whole year. Production of 12 tonnes was recorded in 2003 and an
unprecedented target of 30 tonnes has been set for 2005.

      The broader picture shows Zimbabwe returning to positive economic
growth in 2005, although expert opinion remains divergent when it comes to
the quantum of the growth.

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      Police seal Zvinavashe's farm

      Felix Njini
      12/2/2004 7:01:31 AM (GMT +2)

      ZIMBABWE'S emotive land question continues to stir controversy four
years on with the police last week moving to seal off former Zimbabwe
Defence Forces commander Vitalis Zvinavashe's farm.

      The police blockade on the former defence forces chief's Melton Park
Farm in Mashonaland West, which ended a few days later, came against the
backdrop of a government crackdown on alleged multiple farm owners.
      Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena this week confirmed dispatching
officers to seal off Zvinavashe's property and other farms linked to
multiple farm owners, who are mostly ruling ZANU PF officials and senior
civil servants.
      Highly placed sources said the police only rescinded the blockade
after Zvinavashe, a former soldier and ruling party loyalist, argued his
case "to the highest authorities". They said Zvinavashe, who apparently had
an offer letter, also proved to the authorities that he had been allocated
only one farm.
      The land reform, sparked off in 2000 by the fighters of Zimbabwe's war
of liberation, has been fraught with controversy at every turn.
      Land audits carried out so far have revealed that top ZANU PF
officials and senior civil servants owned more than one farm, in
contravention of the government's one-man-one-farm policy.
      The bulk of the land allocated to landless blacks is also
      Zvinavashe, who joined ZANU PF's military high command in 1969, was
reluctant to comment on the issue this week. He, however, said he still had
control over Melton Park.
      "I do not know what you are talking about. I am here at the farm so
this talk that I have been dispossesed of the farm is unfounded," Zvinavashe
      Despite Zvinavashe's denials of the blockade, workers at Melton Park
confirmed to The Financial Gazette his future at the farm had been plunged
into doubt when a police team descended on the property a week ago.
      "Six police officers came here last week and they stayed for a whole
week. We did not even know what they were here for but the surprising part
is that they barred us from carrying out our normal farming duties," said a
worker at Melton Park.
      The workers said Zvinavashe's visits to the farm had become very
      The farm produces soya beans, seed maize, commercial maize and wheat,
among other crops.
      Police officers have also been deployed at Glensite Farm, situated
between Norton and Chegutu.
      "The police officers have been here for nearly a week and they told us
not to engage in any farming activities," said a worker at Glensite.
      "The problem is the police suspect that some of these new farmers are
fronts for big chefs," said the worker.
      Bvudzijena told The Financial Gazette that the police had started
probing the issue of multiple farm ownership.
      He said police officers were being deployed to ensure that
resettlement regulations were being adhered to.
      "Multiple farm owners are being investigated. The police move on the
farms as soon as possible if there are suspicions that there are multiple
farm owners like the area you mentioned, Glensite," Bvudzijena said.
      "The presence of the police is to ensure that regulations pertaining
to resettlement are sorted out," Bvudzijena said.
      He would not shed more light, referring all further questions to
Special Affairs Minister John Nkomo, who refused to comment.

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      Congress hottest, not-to-be-missed show in town

      Mavis Makuni
      12/2/2004 7:03:41 AM (GMT +2)

      THE cutthroat bickering and jockeying for power that characterised the
run-up to this year's ZANU PF People's Congress has generated unprecedented
interest in the gathering to be held this weekend.

      This congress will be like no other the ruling party has held in the
last decade. It will indeed be a "people's congress" in a true but rather
ironic sense of the word - the whole nation will be waiting with bated
breath for the outcome of these deliberations.

      In the past, Zimbabweans who are not members of the ruling party and
who blame its policies for pauperising them have tended to dismiss the event
as an irrelevant "talkfest". Some have seen the congress as an excuse for
ZANU PF and its members to throw an elaborate party while the rest of the
people struggled to put food on their tables and others famished.

      These "festivities" were punctuated with self-congratulation and the
chanting of familiar mantras about land reform. Stepped up attacks against
familiar "enemies of the state" such as United States President George Bush,
British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change became permanent features of these gatherings.

      The party's voice against these scepegoats and perceived enemies was
particularly shrill during last year's people's congress in Masvingo.
Zimbabwe had just angrily pulled out of the Commonwealth and as a result
this group of countries that were at one time under British rule, were the
enemy of choice. The venue of that particular congress, a giant tent, was
awash with slogans and epithets denouncing Don McKinnon, general secretary
of the Commonwealth, Australian Prime Minister John Howard (Howard the
Coward) and of course Messrs Blair and Bush.

      McKinnon and Howard were accused of being spokesmen for the "racist
White Commonwealth" which had criticised Zimbabwe's alleged human rights
record, lack of democratic governance and lawlessness within the country.
Bush was accused of trying to effect regime change while Blair was cast as
the villain responsible for every conceivable problem bedevilling this

      This year, with an uproar raging within its own ranks, it will be
interesting to see how and whether ZANU PF will insinuate these familiar
scapegoats into the equation and accuse them of being responsible for the
divisions that have rocked the party following the nomination of Joyce
Mujuru for the post of one of the co-vice presidents of the party and
automatically the country.

      "This congress can be full of unexpected developments and the impetus
for long-term political change could come from ZANU PF itself." This is not
the view of a political scientist or analyst. These words were spoken by an
ordinary Zimbabwean who was taking part in an impromptu but lively pavement

      It seems that every where one goes, Zimbabweans are talking about the
goings-on within the ruling party and their likely ramifications for the
rest of the country. Some long-suffering Zimbabweans hope that rampant
disgruntlement within its own ranks will jolt it into listening to the rest
of society. While riding into town in a public transport vehicle, I listened
to another spontaneous and animated discussion on the implications of the
in-fighting within ZANU PF occurring so close to the holding of its

      His voice rising an octave with each point he made, one passenger
asked how the ruling party could hope to continue its attempts to create a
"mass mind" within the rest of society when events leading up to this year's
congress have shown that dissent exists even within its own ranks. When
people in the larger society have expressed or held views that did not
coincide with those of the government or the ruling party, they have been
accused of being unpatriotic and puppets of foreign imperialistic masters.

      But what are those within ZANU PF who defied a directive to nominate a
woman candidate for vice president to be called? What foreign interests were
they serving? Developments that have occurred within the ruling party over
the last few months have tended to demolish some of the themes used
regularly by government propagandists to ridicule and discredit critics of
state policies and actions.

      One young passenger in the emergency taxi where this lively debate was
taking place said although she welcomed Joyce Mujuru's ascendancy to a top
position, she had reservations about the way she had been nominated. "The
fact that ZANU PF provinces were ordered to nominate a woman shows that the
process was not free and spontaneous."

      She was disturbed by the fact that this was an "election" whose
outcome was determined before hand.

      Her views were echoed by other passengers who said this showed ZANU PF
would never change its spots. Someone asked how Mujuru could be expected to
be effective and operate as a free agent when she owed her victory to the
leadership. Although the people know they should not read too much into the
troubles within ZANU PF, it is nevertheless true that this year's congress
cannot be dismissed as a non-event as has happened in the past.

      Some Zimbabweans said if for no other reason, they would follow this
year's proceedings closely to see what action President Mugabe would take
against those accused of defying party directives. A case to be watched with
the keenest interest is that involving Information and Publicity Minister
Jonathan Moyo.

      The controversial propaganda chief has been accused of convening an
unsanctioned meeting at which a document being referred to as the
"Tsholotsho Declaration" was allegedly crafted. President Mugabe vowed last
weekend to deal with Moyo for defying the party. A statement attributed to
President Mugabe by a Sunday paper touched on a question ordinary
Zimbabweans have been debating for a long time. The President was quoted as
saying, "The name Tsholotsho has become good and evil. At first we thought
the professor was getting the resources, wherever they come from, to improve
the area but what is frightening us now is this thrust to defy the party".

      If the President indeed gets to the bottom of this matter, it will be
interesting to know where Moyo, who has been a prolific donor for years,
gets the money and equipment he routinely gives away. When Moyo's donations
have sparked controversy in the past there have always been unanswered
questions about how much the President knew about his propaganda guru's
activities and his motives. Complaints in the past by other government
ministers that Moyo was meddling in their portfolios and usurping their
powers have tended to fall on deaf Presidential ears.

      Matabeleland North Governor, Obert Mpofu, complained at the weekend
that he had lost control over civil servants in the region because they were
now "reporting to Tsholotsho". Can the President still ignore these

      The nation watches with bated breath to see whether Moyo, who has
seemed unassailable as he has clashed left, right and centre with
stakeholders from all walks of life over the past few years, will manage to
wriggle out of the trap he set for himself. The Moyo saga and the other
emotive issues to be resolved at the People's Congress make it the hottest,
not-to-be-missed show in town.

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      Budget exposes need for international cooperation

      Nelson Banya
      12/2/2004 7:04:35 AM (GMT +2)

      THAT the 2005 national budget announced last week by acting Finance
and Economic Development Minister Herbert Murerwa was crafted against the
backdrop of another poor financial year for Zimbabwe - in contrast with the
global economy's strongest growth in 30 years - accentuates the urgent need
for the country to seek greater international cooperation.

      Despite rising oil prices, the global economy will grow by five
percent, higher than the projected 4.5 percent - the strongest growth
recorded since 1973.
      The sub-Saharan economy will also grow by 4.2 percent this year, up
from 3.5 percent in 2003.
      By contrast, the Zimbabwean economy, which has shrunk by as much as
28.4 percent between 1993 and 2003, will record further negative growth this
      Murerwa said the decline in real gross domestic product (GDP) would be
2.5 percent, an improvement from 8.5 percent in 2003.
      However, independent statistics put this year's decline at 9.3
      The government is optimistic the country will return to positive
growth in 2005, by between 3.5 percent and five percent.
      Analysts question the feasibility of this forecast, which is based
largely on a 28 percent growth in agriculture - a sector yet to recover from
the controversial land reforms, which destabilised the economy.
      Agriculture declined by 3.3 percent in 2004.
      Along with manufacturing, which declined by 8.5 percent, and tourism,
which is stuck in a deep trough, the poor performance of the agricultural
sector underpinned the overall poor performance of the economy.
      Only mining, projected to grow by 11.6 percent this year, bucked the
trend and the sector looks well poised to register further growth in 2005.
      Capacity utilisation, which had slumped to a startling 30 percent,
recovered marginally during the year to rise to between 50 percent and 60
percent, but remains a dent on manufacturing, which should decline by a
further five percent in 2005.
      To compound the situation, the country's balance of payments position
worsened in 2004, from a deficit of US$335 million in 2003 to US$523 million
in the current year.
      Despite announcing an inflation target of between 30 percent and 50
percent by the end of 2005, on the back of huge inflation decelerating
successes registered this year, the government projects total expenditure
for 2005 to top $27.5 trillion, an above-inflation increase of 215 percent
over the figure for the 2004 fiscal year.
      Of this, $22.5 trillion (or 81.8 percent) is earmarked for recurrent
expenditure, while only $5 trillion would be channelled towards capital
      With the revenue target for 2005 being set at $23 trillion, the
ensuing budget deficit of $4.5 trillion (or five percent of GDP) will be
financed from domestic sources, mainly domestic bank credit, in keeping with
the trend since Zimbabwe slipped into its not-so-splendid isolation.
      This year, 99.9 percent of the required resources to finance the gap
were sourced from within.
      According to Murerwa, only $11.3 million was from foreign sources.
      Among the positives that Murerwa enumerated last week was the near
balanced budget, achieved at a huge cost to workers - income tax revenues
amounted to $2.1 trillion, more than the budgeted $1.63 trillion and, more
importantly, at the expense of mounting obligations on external arrears as
well as virtually non-existent social services.
      Next year presents a multiplicity of challenges for those driving
economic policy. Inflation, which has declined from a peak of 622.8 percent
in January to 209 percent in October, has to continue decelerating to the 30
pecent-50 percent target set for December 2005 and single-digit figures
thereafter, in the face of rising public sector financing requirements.
      Agriculture, upon which chances of positive economic growth largely
depend, has to be resuscitated through conscientious planning, capacity
building and utilisation.
      De-industrialisation has to be arrested through targeted policy
interventions and export promotion, while infrastructural repair and
development also has to assume greater urgency.
      Murerwa also spoke of confidence building in order to spur investment
and savings, key economic indices that continue to make depressing reading.
      Overall savings were 1.7 percent of GDP in 2004, while investment has
remained in the nether levels of five percent of GDP.
      Murerwa said the government hoped to spur savings by reducing "the gap
between lending rates and deposit rates so as to promote savings".
      Analysts, however, note that savers are more motivated by rates of
return than by the gap between lending and deposit rates.
      Murerwa also came up with another income tax review under which the
tax-free threshold for personal income was raised from $750 000 per month to
$1 million with effect from January 1 2005. The tax bands will now end at
$108 million per annum or $9 million per month, above which a 40 percent
tax, down from the previous 45 percent, will be levied.
      The upward adjustment of the tax-free threshold, as well as the tax
bands, has the effect of releasing $5 trillion to taxpayers, a move which
will see an upsurge in local aggregate demand for goods and services in the
short term.
      "At least that is one of the positives of this budget," said an
analyst, "Money is better used in the people's hands than by the
      Murerwa also reviewed the tax-free portion of bonus, from $100 000 to
$5 million, with effect from November 1 2004.

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      12/2/2004 7:05:15 AM (GMT +2)

      Total expenditure to top $27.5 trillion, made up of $23 trillion total
revenue and a budget deficit of $4.5 trillion (five percent of gross
domestic product).

      Recurrent expenditure proposed to amount to $22.5 trillion (81.8
percent of total expenditure). Capital expenditure - $5 trillion (18.2
percent of total expenditure).
      lPublic service wage bill- $11.49 trillion (51 percent of recurrent
      lEducation ministries to receive $6.8 trillion in the 2005 fiscal
year. Health - $2.3 trillion; defence and security - $2.3 trillion;
agriculture - $688 billion; parliamentary elections - $483.5 billion.
      lPersonal income tax threshold raised from $750 per month to $1
million per month.
      lTax bands now end at $9 million per month, above which income tax has
been educed from 45 percent to 40 percent.
      lTax-free portion of bonus increased from $100 000 to $5 million with
effect from November 1 2004.
      lTax credits for the elderly and disabled increased from $120 000 to
$500 000 with effect from January 1 2005.
      lCarbon tax goes up by 400 percent in January.
      lTax-free pension contribution increased from $720 000 to $1.44
million per annum from January.
      lTax-free retrenchment/ severance package increased to a minimum of
$300 million or one-third of the severance package provided the package does
not exceed $1.2 billion.
      lCorporate tax payments to be made current through a phased approach
over three years, starting in 2005.
      lWithholding capital gains tax increased from 10 to 15 percent in
      lTen percent surtax on most imported goods to be removed
      lWithholding tax of 20 percent on commission earned by real estate and
insurance agents.
      lExcise duty on carbonated soft drinks removed.
      lDuty on imported textiles and footwear: clothing and textiles - 60
percent + $100 000/kg; second-hand clothing - 60 percent + $200 000/kg; and
footwear - 60 percent + $30 000/ pair.
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      ZANU PF infighting turns ugly

      Hama Saburi
      12/2/2004 7:05:45 AM (GMT +2)

      POWER struggles within the ruling party have taken an irreversibly
ugly turn, with President Robert Mugabe -who has thus far managed to
maintain a delicate balancing act - all but showing his open hand in the
ZANU PF succession conundrum.

      The 80-year-old leader, widely expected to pass on the baton stick in
2008, had hardly shown his hand in the past, happily maintaining a heavy
hint of mystery within ZANU PF succession politics as his close lieutenants
fought for attention and prominence.
      But that all appears to be the distant past now, following the past
fortnight's events.
      In the run-up to the controversy ridden nomination process leading up
to the congress currently underway in the capital, the veteran politician
broke his silence on the intense jockeying for ZANU PF posts and shocked
neutrals and interested parties alike by virtually dictating how events
would unfold, crucially determining, as had been agreed by its politburo,
that a woman should fill the vacant vice-president's post in the party.
      An urgent and ultimately fateful politburo meeting called by President
Mugabe two weeks ago did the trick by turning the tables against Emmerson
Mnangagwa, the ZANU PF secretary for administration, who had reportedly
roped in seven provinces to endorse his nomination for the hotly contested
      After the party's supreme decision-making body had thrown its weight
behind a female candidate for the post left vacant following the death of
Simon Muzenda last year, Mnangagwa, once touted as President Mugabe's
trusted lieutenant, had virtually lost out.
      But it is turning out that Mnangagwa's loss might just be the
beginning of worse inhouse squabbles that could split ZANU PF along ethnic
      Daggers had literally been drawn out ahead of the ZANU PF congress as
two distinct feuding camps eyeing the slot, seen as a launchpad to the holy
grail - President Mugabe's post.
      The two camps - one led by retired army general Solomon Mujuru; backed
by former intelligence officer and Mashonaland East party provincial
chairman Ray Kaukonde and the other marshalled by Mnangagwa, with the help
of Midlands provincial chairman - July Moyo - threaten to split ZANU PF
right through the middle.
      To date, six provincial chairmen who stood accused of attending an
unsanctioned meeting in Tsholotsho ahead of the nominations have been
suspended for six months, while Jonathan Moyo, who organised the meeting,
escaped with a reprimand.
      The suspended provincial party chiefs are July Moyo (Midlands), Mark
Madiro (Manicaland), Daniel Shumba (Masvingo), Jacob Mudenda (Matabeleland
North), Themba Ncube (Bulawayo) and Lloyd Siyoka (Matabeleland South). War
veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda was also suspended for four years.
      Analysts said the issue of gender, used to spring up Mujuru into the
presidency, meant that more candidates for the high-pressure job would now
be kept at bay for the next three years when the Zimbabwean leader's current
term of office expires. They said events following Mujuru's nomination
marked the beginning of a major crisis within ZANU PF.
      Male candidates who lost out feel hard done by as they feel that
President Mugabe swayed the vote in favour of Mujuru, who, at 25, became the
youngest minister in Mugabe's Cabinet. She also made history by becoming the
first female minister to act as the Defence Minister.
      Alois Masepe, a former opposition politician, said the latest
development could turn out to be a carbon copy of what happened in 1987 when
the late ZANU PF legal supremo Eddison Zvobgo amended the ruling party
constitution by abolishing the powerful post of secretary-general, then held
by Edgar Tekere. Tekere went on to form the Zimbabwe Unity Movement in
      Masepe said the presidium has lost the ethnic balance it had
historically, which might pose problems.
      President Mugabe has hit out at "divisive" leaders who he claimed were
using money from "white capitalists" to buy votes in the nomination.
      The message was targeted at senior ZANU PF politicians and provincial
leaders who openly defied his directive to nominate a woman candidate for
the vice-presidency.
      Other analysts, however, argue that President Mugabe may still be
content on shielding his choice of a successor from marauding political
vultures who may want to destroy the incumbent before 2008.
      In adopting the gender resolution, they said, ZANU PF has re-written
its own constitution and could do the same should President Mugabe decide on
picking someone outside the presidium.

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      Bredenkamp speaks on Tsholotsho

      Staff Reporter
      12/2/2004 7:06:23 AM (GMT +2)

      BUSINESS tycoon John Breden-kamp this week denied any involvement in
the ongoing ZANU PF succession gridlock, describing the allegations as
"totally false".

      Bredenkamp, who has in the past been linked to prominent government
and ruling party officials, refuted allegations that he had lent an aircraft
to a ZANU PF faction that organised a fateful meeting in Tsholotsho two
weeks ago, presumably to drum up support for Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was
eyeing the vacant party vice-president's post that has since been filled by
Joyce Mujuru.
      "The aircraft that I am alleged to have 'lent' to a political party
was not in Zimbabwe at the time it was purported to have been used - it was
being serviced in South Africa. It is my understanding that the aircraft in
question was a hired, twin-engine propeller driven aeroplane.
      "Insofar as the allegations that I am backing Mr Mnangagwa's political
campaign are concerned, I reiterate that I am not involved in any political
activities and have not made funds available to any political party or
individuals within any party, either as loans or donations or on any other
basis," Bredenkamp said.

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      Costly indecisiveness

      12/2/2004 7:33:38 AM (GMT +2)

      SINCE independence in 1980 Zimbabwe, the erstwhile regional
bread-basket, has come up with no less than six major economic reform
programmes including the International Monetary Fund-sanctioned Economic
Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP).

      This translates to an average of an economic reform programme every
four years, which certainly should be a world record.

      All of these admittedly well-thought out blue-prints were at best
tucked in piece-meal to the detriment of the fragile economy, betraying the
government's reluctance to go all the way and see these policies to their
full expression. At worst, they just remained nothing more than paper
reforms - they never took that giant leap to implementation.

      It is not difficult to see why this has been so. First of all, these
proposed economic reform programmes, some of which we must admit were quite
clear on how the economy could be revived, underlined the fact that
Zimbabweans are strong on ideas but short on action. Little wonder,
therefore, that despite the proposed economic austerity measures, Zimbabwe
was on the road to nowhere other than an unprecedented economic blizzard
which subsequently ran into a wall of negative investor sentiment.

      Secondly, despite accepting that there was need to put a fresh heart
into the sickly economy, the influence-peddling politicians, who usually
object to ideas only when other people have them, had not mustered the
political will to implement economic reforms probably for fear of some
imagined political backlash because the devil with economic austerity
measures is usually in the implementation process. But we feel that this
should have been the least of the government's concerns because any tough
choices made, especially tough belt-tightening economic measures, are bound
to spark off criticism. However, as has been said before, criticism that
comes mainly as a result of an unwavering desire to achieve greater good
should be a leader's greatest test of maturity, conviction and commitment to
his vision. In fact it goes without saying that an economic stimulus
package, even with the hardships and lack of comforts that people will have
to endure under efforts to turn around the economy, can amount to reasonably
enlightened self-interest for the politicians.

      Lastly but most importantly, the failure to implement the economic
reforms underlines the fact that no plan is worth the paper it is written on
unless it starts you doing something. It was Stephen Brennan who observed,
". . . our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which
we may fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no
other route to success . . ." And so should the country's leadership.

      Indeed, we sincerely hope that the Zimbabwean leadership has learnt
from their costly stop-go implementation of economic reforms. They have to
be more decisive than before in their efforts to put a fresh heart into the
economy whose resilience is legendary but had since started caving in. This
is moreso now when signs of modest recovery are beginning to emerge. The
solution does not lie in holding a series of expensive and meaningless
crisis meetings which are nothing but just talk-shops about how to reverse
the once robust economy's flagging fortunes in as much as it would be folly
to discuss fire prevention when the house is already engulfed in a ball of

      This approach, which has been emblematic of everything wrong with the
way the situation has been handled so far, has not worked in the past and
will not work in the future. The earlier we, as a nation, realise this the
better. It is now time to bite the bullet. The government should follow
through on all the crisis meetings held so far at which enough must have
been said about what is wrong with the economy and make good its pledge to
decisively act on key issues.

      The sad story of the non-performing state-owned enterprises provides a
good example of the costly indecisiveness we are talking about. The
long-mooted parastatal reform where privatisations, which the government has
announced it has now abandoned, were mostly left half-done. We know that the
government has to proceed carefully with the privatisations because of the
likely impact of this on local economic pride and promise as well as the
fear of selling off the gold mine and keeping the coal mine. This is moreso
given that there are still unanswered questions as regards the privatisation
jigsaw puzzle especially in connection with its welfare effects. This is
because in some countries, divestiture has been a positive sum game while in
others it has been negative. As a result, many questions have swirled around

      In Zimbabwe, the government was understandably concerned more with
three issues: that the privatisation should feed through into economic
empowerment for the historically marginalised blacks, that it eased pressure
on the fiscus and that there was a guarantee that even if the spin-off of
state enterprises was swamped by foreign investors, the country would not be
reduced to a branch office economy in the event that the privatised
companies decided to move their headquarters offshore.

      Be that as it may, we feel that, in Zimbabwe, the goal posts have been
moved too far, too many times as regards the privatisation of parastatals,
which have continued to pressure public finances. Initially there was talk
of full-scale privatisation. Then there was commercialisation. And lastly
there was heightened speculation about the likelihood of corporatisation - a
Chinese halfway house between rigid state control and private ownership. And
before anyone could say Ziscosteel, there has been yet another volte-face.
The government is no longer going to dispose of the under-performing state
assets! It is such policy indecisiveness that has been a drag on the

      While government is sworn to end the privatisations it claims were
ill-conceived, we are for partial private ownership, especially foreign, for
the technological know-how that will come with it. The exercise should start
with big utilities such as ZESA, NRZ, AirZim, ZISCO etc. This will
ultimately have a much more profound impact on the overall economy.

      While in the past the primary motive had been raising revenue, this
time around liberalisation, deregulation and efficiency-enhancement should
be the key goals. Admittedly funds raised from such an exercise can help
stabilise the economy. But the treasury should not receive any revenue from
the sell-off. In fact, any hard currency raised should be retained with the
respective companies where it is needed most as an equity infusion as the
government shareholding gets diluted. Government can get the money it
requires for infrastructural development and social services from taxes.

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      Clash over fuel service stations

      Property Reporter
      12/2/2004 7:20:32 AM (GMT +2)

      EMERGING indigenous fuel importers have lashed out at their
established counterparts for allegedly refusing to lease out idle fuel
stations scattered nationwide.

      Representatives of the Indigenous Petroleum Group of Zimbabwe (IPGZ)
said they were disappointed with the lack of cooperation from major fuel
procurers. The IPGZ has over 60 representatives.
      Rodwin Sibanda, one of the IPGZ members, said the indigenous importers
could not afford to construct new fuel stations and had approached members
of Petroleum Marketers Association of Zimbabwe (PMAZ), representing the more
established players, for assistance.
      "In our midst there is a representative of one big fuel company who
refused to lease me a fuel station in Matabeleland, which has been lying
idle for the past two years. They denied me access and I am therefore
calling on them again to look into my proposal.
      "We need some place where we can safely keep our fuel as we do not
have a place where we can stock this crucial and flammable commodity," said
Sibanda. He was speaking at a fuel procurers' forum held in Harare recently.
      PMAZ chairman Masimba Kambarami said while the IPGZ's request could be
looked at, there were no idle fuel stations. Those that appeared to be idle,
he said, usually got busy when the commodity was available in abundance.
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      ZESA bows down in debt row

      Chris Muronzi
      12/2/2004 7:07:03 AM (GMT +2)

      THE Zimbabwe Electri-city Supply Authority (ZESA) has finally bowed to
pressure and agreed to settle a $62 billion debt owed to the Wankie Colliery

      The two energy firms, both controlled by the government, have been
haggling over the debt, which ZESA had sensationally disowned citing pricing
      The spat, which erupted in October, saw ZESA threatening Wankie with
legal action for alleged slander over press reports on the
multi-billion-dollar debt emanating from price adjustments on coal supplied
to the Zimbabwe Power Company, a ZESA subsidiary.
      The price of coal was adjusted from $37 000 to $60 000 per tonne,
widely considered a more realistic level.
      Sources indicated that, in an about-turn, ZESA recently paid $40
billion to Wankie following the apparent collapse of an arbitration process.
      Wankie marketing and public relations manager John Nkala confirmed the
      "That is true . . . that ZESA has paid $40 billion," said Nkala.
      Zesa corporate affairs director Obert Nyatanga also confirmed the

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      'Murerwa's figures too good to be true'

      Felix Njini
      12/2/2004 7:13:41 AM (GMT +2)

      A TWENTY-EIGHT percent growth in agriculture projected by the
government for 2005 is too optimistic, analysts say.

      Presenting next year's national budget last week, acting Finance and
Economic Development Minister Herbert Murerwa said Zimbabwe's economic
decline in the past five years had been halted and that 2005 would see the
economy return to positive growth of between 3.5 and five percent, based on
growth in agriculture.
      The farming sector has failed to shrug off the effects of the
government's chaotic land reforms, which started in 2000, and the economy
has, as a result, shrunk by 30 percent in the five years following the onset
of the upheavals.
      "Much of the projected growth is assumed to come from agriculture,
which is estimated to grow by a massive 28 percent in 2005. Yet growth in
agriculture is highly dependent on exogenous factors, such as the weather,
which the country has no control over.
      "If, for example, Zimbabwe receives below normal rainfall this season,
the projected growth will not be achieved.
      "The minister is also highly optimistic with respect to tourism.
Statistics show that the number of tourist arrivals declined by 29 percent
for the nine months to September 2004 relative to the corresponding period
of 2003," banking group Finhold said in its analysis of the 2005 budget.
      Zimbabwe has been grappling with a severe economic crisis,
characterised by an inflation rate of more than 200 percent, unemployment of
around 70 percent and biting poverty affecting close to 80 percent of its 12
million population.
      "Agriculture, which contributes about 16 percent of total gross
domestic product (GDP) and is the backbone of the economy, is expected to
recover in 2005 after registering a relatively marginal decline of 3.3
percent this year," Murerwa said.
      International Mone-tary Fund (IMF) estimates suggest that the
Zimbabwean economy has declined by 9.3 percent during the past year.
      Murerwa said gains in the agricultural sector would be bolstered by an
improvement in horticultural exports.
      Unveiling the $27.5 trillion budget, Murerwa said the mining sector,
whose lacklustre performance over the past years has been buoyed by a surge
in platinum outpu,t had witnessed a 11.6 percent growth.
      Observers attribute Zimbabwe's economic meltdown to inappropriate
macroeconomic policies and a poor governance record, including a general
breakdown of law and order, which they say have undermined investor
      Agriculture, which employed 26 percent of Zimbabwe's workforce prior
to the government's controversial land redistribution, contributing 20
percent to GDP, now contributes 16 percent.
      Analysts say the government's continued seizure of commercial farmland
is scaring away investment from the agricultural sector.
      They disagreed with Murerwa's projected growth rates, saying athe
country's economic crisis continued to deepen.
      "Disruption in agricultural activity, coupled with drought, caused a
sharp decline in output. This has seriously affected operations in the
sector and the agri-based manufacturing sector," said one analyst.
      The new farmers resettled by the government on former commercial white
farmland have faced a number of problems.
      Chief among these have been a severe shortage of inputs, spiralling
overheads, as well as lack of technical expertise and finance.
      The analysts accused the agricluture ministry of not doing enough to
address the problems affecting the sector.
      "The sector has been on a free fall for the past four years and to
just turn it around is not achievable," said an economist.
      Independent estimates suggest that the sector has shrunk by more than
50 percent.
      Tobacco, Zimba-bwe's single largest foreign currency earner at its
peak, has slid year-on-year to 160 million kilogrammes in 2001/2, 85 million
kgs in 2002/3 to 65 million kgs in 2003/4.
      Horticultural exports, which contributed 5.8 percent of total
agricultural output and about eight percent to the sector's foreign currency
earnings, declined by 22.53 percent in 2003.
      The horticultural industry had registered growth rates of 15 percent
annually on average, 10 years before 1999.
      The sector's problems are being aggravated by lack of producers.
Players in the sector said tractor fleet has shrunk by over 22.2 percent
over the past four years, posing a threat to the country's mechanisation
      The industry now requires 45 000 tractors, with a single tractor
costing about US$20 000.
      "Financing and lack of expertise are the major problems," said an
agro-economist with the commercial farmers union (CFU).
      "These people are not farmers. They got into farming by virtue of land
reforms. These people are not farmers and hence lack commitment," said the
      The economist said that the forecasted 28 percent growth from the dip
of the last four years would hardly be noticed adding that well-connected
citizens ahead of the deserving farmers were snatching available funding.
      "The new farmers are only getting operational finances, they are not
getting money to mechanise and equip themselves for commercial farming,"
said the agro-economist.

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Zim Online

Thur 2 December 2004
  HARARE - Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU PF party will not discuss President Robert
Mugabe's retirement because "he is still alive" its chairman, John Nkomo,
told the Press in Harare yesterday.

      Responding to queries by journalists whether the party's key congress
underway in Harare this week would discuss an exit plan for Mugabe who has
been at the helm of the party for nearly 30 years, Nkomo said: "Why should
his exit be on the agenda, (of the congress) when the President is still fit
and raring to go? The issue of his exit does not arise at all. He is still

      Nkomo, who was briefing the Press, straight out of a meeting of ZANU
PF's central committee that was deciding on the final agenda of the
congress, added: "His (President Mugabe) exit does not arise at this
congress at all.

      "Why do you want him to reveal his exit plan when people still want
him to continue leading them? It is not for this congress but it is up to
him to put it up. At the moment it is not on the agenda for this congress."

      Mugabe - the only ruler Zimbabweans have ever known - has never said
when he plans to quit politics but he has indicated that he might leave
office at the expiry of his current term in 2008. He will be 84.

      The disclosure by Mugabe that he might leave office in three years'
time triggered vicious jockeying by his lieutenants to take over his job
with Water Resources Minister, Joyce Mujuru, emerging as the frontrunner to
become ZANU PF and possibly Zimbabwe's first ever woman president.

      Mujuru is expected to be elected ZANU PF's co-vice president at the
congress. The party's other vice president Joseph Msika is expected to
retire together with Mugabe.

      Nkomo said the congress will focus on the government's chaotic land
reforms and on measures to rescue Zimbabwe's crumbling economy.

      Meanwhile, outgoing Mozambican President, Joachim Chissano, 65, is
expected here today to bid farewell to Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party
at their ongoing congress.

      Chissano, who is 15 years younger than Mugabe, steps down after
serving three five-year terms as President.

      He is scheduled to address the ZANU PF congress tomorrow.

      Chissano's departure from the helm follows that of Malawi's former
President Bakili Muluzi in May this year and that of Namibia's founding
President Sam Nujoma, who gave up power last month.

      South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki and Botswana's Festus Mogae are
firmly on their way out of public office as they are serving their last
terms. - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

Regional labour unions throw weight behind COSATU bid to close borders
Thur 2 December 2004
  HARARE - Labour unions in Zambia and Botswana have agreed to close border
posts between their countries and Zimbabwe as part of a blockade called by
the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) to protest human rights
violations by President Robert Mugabe and his government, ZimOnline learnt

      Unions in Lesotho, Swaziland and Malawi which do not share borders
with Zimbabwe have also agreed to give moral support for the blockade that
COSATU has indicated might take place this month, labour movement sources
said yesterday.

      It was not possible to confirm with union leaders in the various
southern African nations but Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions acting
secretary general Collin Gwiyo said: "Regional labour organisations will
support whatever action they (COSATU) will take."

      A fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe by COSATU was unceremoniously
bundled out of the country by the government which said the mission was a
challenge to Zimbabwe's sovereignty. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Banned satirical play moves on to Botswana
Thur 2 December 2004
  GABORONE - A Zimbabwean theatre production banned by censorship
authorities in that country will premiere in Botswana today.

      The play entitled, Super Patriots and Morons, was banned by the
government's Censorship Board which felt it mocked President Robert Mugabe
and his government.

      The play, written by Zimbabwean playwright Raisedon Baya and produced
by Rooftop Promotions depicts an unnamed man in an unnamed African country
that is facing severe economic problems. It showed in Harare only once last
year before the government banned it.

      Rooftop spokesperson Shephard Mutamba said: "For some reasons the
government claims the play is directed at them. The play does not name any
names. It is about an African man in an unnamed country that is facing
economic problems."

      Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party are grappling their worst economic
and political crisis since taking power at independence in 1980. The
government blames Britain and other Western countries opposed to its land
reforms of sabotaging the economy to incite citizens against it but critics
and many ordinary Zimbabweans hold Mugabe squarely to blame for the
      meltdown of what was once one of Africa's most vibrant economies.

      Producer of the play, Daves Guzha said: "(The play) laughs at our
socio-political follies in a humorous way. Yet humour can be misunderstood.
In Zimbabwe, the play fell victim to such misunderstanding. Because the play
is not ordinary art, it will weather the storm in the face of draconian laws
that stifle free expression." - ZimOnline
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Mugabe bans charity feeding 90,000 children
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
(Filed: 02/12/2004)

Ninety thousand hungry Zimbabwean children have lost the only daily meal
they could count on because President Robert Mugabe's regime has forced an
aid agency to leave the country.

Switzerland's Medair was feeding primary school children in two of
Zimbabwe's poorest districts but the authorities refused to renew work
permits for international staff.

The regime stopped Medair from distributing any food four months ago and
refused to register it as an approved non-governmental organisation. "We
found ourselves prevented from distributing and so the food has sat
deteriorating in the warehouses since August," said Mark Screeton, a Medair
spokesman at its Geneva headquarters.

"It's been so frustrating - not being free to work - and now we leave,
knowing the increasing food insecurity that faces those primary school
children and their families."

Medair began working in Zimbabwe two years ago and gave a meal of enriched
porridge to children in 150 schools.

The United Nations World Food Programme, which has fed millions of
Zimbabweans since 2001, described Medair as one of its best distribution
partners. "They were efficient and reliable," said a UN spokesman. "What
more could we want?"

The government in Zimbabwe regards foreign aid agencies with deep suspicion
and is quietly disrupting their work. Yesterday a senior WFP official, who
declined to be named, said: "There is no implementing partner available to
replace Medair and we are nervous that the few which may come forward to
help will also be forced to leave Zimbabwe before the next harvest."

Last month the Famine Early Warning System Network predicted that more than
two million rural households would need food supplies by this month.
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The Times

            Players in line for top-level tour talks
            From Richard Hobson

            EHSAN MANI, the most senior figure in world cricket as president
of the ICC, wants to meet players in the England party before the weekend to
canvass opinion about the tour to Zimbabwe. He watched England win the
second one-day international in Harare by 161 runs yesterday and intends to
speak to Michael Vaughan and his players on all aspects of the trip.
            "I hope to see them over the next two days because it is very
important to hear their views," Mani said. "I want to know what they think
about the level of cricket in Zimbabwe and their experiences in the country
so far." The squad are scheduled to fly to Bulawayo this evening for
back-to-back internationals at the weekend.

            It is unusual for players to receive a request of this kind from
such a high-ranking official, but the very presence of Mani in Harare and
Bulawayo confirms that this is not a normal trip. Mani said that he planned
to attend the matches even before the dispute over media accreditation that
threatened to scupper the series last week. "I just felt that there were
some concerns about England being here and I wanted to come here to see it
for myself," he said.

            As a resident of St John's Wood, northwest London,Mani knows the
strength of feeling against the tour in England. Equally, he believes that
the standing of the ECB in the circles of cricket power will improve because
the commitment has been fulfilled.

            He defended David Morgan, the ECB chairman, against criticism
that he should have pulled out on Wednesday last week, when nine news
organisations were initially refused entry to cover the matches by the
Zimbabwe Government. "David acted in good faith and character all along,"
Mani said. "He has gained a lot of respect in the ICC for the way he handled
this issue.

            "I could see that England were caught between a rock and a hard
place, but he has been absolutely superb, honest and totally upfront with
people. He has had to deal with a lot of domestic pressures, which is
understandable because of the unique situation between England and Zimbabwe.
The issue was not going to die down."

            Mani said last week, before the ban was lifted, that the ICC
would be sympathetic if the ECB decided to withdraw. That appeared to offer
a get-out, free from the threat of fines or a suspension. However, he denied
that he raised the issue of suspension last week during a ring-round of the
ICC executive committee.

            "Talk of suspension was never on the radar during those
discussions," Mani said. "I felt terribly disappointed at that point because
the tour was hugely important for the development of cricket in Zimbabwe.
The country has enough problems without adding another. The game would have
gone backwards and that was my concern, not punishing England.

            "I made those calls to keep people abreast of the situation. The
general feedback was a very strong feeling that you cannot exclude the
media. You don't always like the media, but you accept they are important
stakeholders in the game. So when the journalists were not accredited, we
could hardly turn away and say, 'That's fine.' "

            Whether the ICC would have carried out the threat of suspension
had the ECB pulled out on moral grounds will be one of the great unknowns.
John Carr, the ECB's director of cricket operations, said recently that
while the risk may have been relatively small, the possible consequences
were so severe that the ECB could not take that chance.

            Mani said yesterday that suspension was "a bit extreme", but he
added: "I think the ECB was right to protect its interests. The threat of
suspension was a possibility, even if it was only a 1 per cent or 5 per cent
or 10 per cent possibility. It could have been a terrible penalty, which
would have hurt badly."

            Six days into the tour, the players came face-to-face with
demonstrators for the first time yesterday when three young men with
placards stood outside the team hotel as they boarded the bus taking them to
the ground. They were protesting against the imprisonment of Roy Bennett, a

            Richard Bevan, the chief executive of the Professional
Cricketers' Association, who is with the team, said: "The protesters were
ushered away by hotel security and we did not consider it a threat." The
match itself passed without incident, as did the first, on Sunday, in what
is now a four-match series.
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Financial Times

Zimbabwe opposition leader may take part in elections
By David White and James Lamont
Published: December 2 2004 02:00 | Last updated: December 2 2004 02:00

Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe opposition leader, hinted yesterday that his
party might change its stance and take part in parliamentary elections next
March if Robert Mugabe's regime called a halt to political violence.

His Movement for Democratic Change party suspended participation in all
elections earlier this year until the government met conditions for free and
fair ballots. He said party members would take a decision in the next three
weeks on whether to stand in the March elections, the first national poll
since Mr Mugabe's re-election as president in 2002 in a contest condemned by
most international observers for intimidation and vote-rigging.

In an interview with the Financial Times in London, Mr Tsvangirai said
violence against opponents of the regime was "the really critical issue".
The MDC had other demands including an impartial electoral commission and
free media access. But Mr Tsvangirai accepted "we may not get 100 per cent".
If the MDC stayed out of this contest, it would have to wait until the next
presidential ballot in 2008.

Without seeking to prejudge the decision, he added: "My gut feeling is that
the majority of Zimbabweans want to go in [to the elections], want to
participate regardless of the conditions".

Mr Tsvangirai, one of Africa's best known opposition figures, is due to
return to Zimbabwe today after a tour of African and European capitals, the
first foreign trip he has been allowed to take for two and a half years. He
regained his passport when he was acquitted last month after a long-running
trial on charges of plotting to have Mr Mugabe assassinated. He still faces
separate treason charges for attempting to overthrow the government in mass
protests called last year.

Mr Tsvangirai called on European governments to support polling guidelines
agreed in August by leaders of the 14-member Southern African Development
Community, to assist with the training and deployment of SADC election
monitors and to raise the profile of the Zimbabwe issue in the United
Nations. "There is no reason why the Zimbabwean crisis should not be
internationalised," he said.

He was careful to avoid criticising the "quiet diplomacy" approach of South
Africa's President Thabo Mbeki, who has sought unsuccessfully to promote a
negotiated outcome to Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis.

If the MDC fought the next election and won a parliamentary majority, it
would have to negotiate a transition deal with Mr Mugabe.

The party had contacts with members of the ruling Zanu-PF party who favoured
change, he said. "We talk to them, but they all plead helplessness," he
said. "Of course, they are just cowards, that's all."
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Pretoria News

      Mbeki displays the anger of a man on his way out of power
      December 2, 2004

      By Barney Mthombothi

      President Thabo Mbeki in responding to Archbishop Desmond Tutu's
well-reasoned address, has eloquently demonstrated the veracity of Tutu's
charge - that those who dare to raise their heads above the parapet get
cruelly clobbered and that in the new South Africa, it pays to grovel. Tutu
was well and truly clobbered.

      Tutu has now resorted to irony. But he did not need a rejoinder.

      In defending himself, Mbeki has made the case for the prosecution.
Mbeki's was not even a response. It was a denunciation, smouldering with
anger and contempt.

      Mbeki literally called Tutu a liar . That is no way to talk to an
Archbishop, not one with Tutu's pedigree. Mbeki will have offended a lot of
people by the manner of his response. This is a very religious country. You
do not refer to an archbishop as a liar. People look up to them for moral

      The irony is there is nothing new in what Tutu said. These things have
been mentioned and written about before. The difference this time is the
person who said it and the occasion.

      Tutu was giving a Nelson Mandela lecture, two Nobel laureates - a
formidable combination - both icons with something of a rebellious streak.

      Mbeki will do well to have a word with PW Botha. He tried - and failed
miserably - to rein in Tutu. He was not called the troublesome bishop for

      It should also be said that the reason why Mbeki is now lording it
over the Union Buildings is partly because people like Tutu spoke out at a
time when discretion would have been the better part of valour .

      Tutu spoke like a statesman, pointing out realities without fear or
favour. Mbeki spoke like the politician that he is, spinning and leaving out
inconvenient facts that did not accord with his own reality.

      Reading Mbeki's response, one is reminded of a line from one of
Shakespeare's characters: "The lady doth protest too much methinks."

      But it is good this debate is taking place, even if they seem to be
talking past each other.

      We should not be too hard on Mbeki. He is under pressure. He is
struggling to hold together a fractious party. Sometimes one wonders whether
he speaks for his party, as the party takes a position contrary to his.

      It happened with his spat with Tony Trahar. This time his party also
seems eager to make peace, contrary to the stance he has taken.

      But Mbeki is presiding over a party that is riven with divisions -
divisions that have been so dramatically exposed by the Scorpions'
investigation into Jacob Zuma's messy affairs on the side.

      For the first time, Cosatu is openly talking about splitting away from
the tripartite alliance. That has always been an improbable marriage of
convenience. Time and reality will ultimately rend it asunder.

      But what is hidden from public view is the fact that Mbeki is slowly
losing his grip on his party, and the alliance. He has hardly begun his
second term, and talk within the movement and the country at large is not
about how his agenda will be fulfilled, but about who his successor will be.
He is already yesterday's man.

      He may not yet be history, but people are already factoring him out of
their future calculations.

      Zuma is campaigning unashamedly, using State resources as he
criss-crosses the country consolidating his position as heir-apparent.

      Schabir Shaik notwithstanding, Zuma is in pole position.

      Those who want to succeed Mbeki as party leader will have to take him
out first - that is if Shaik does not do it for them.

      The divisions may not point to Mbeki's weakness, but to Zuma's fight
for survival. For Zuma, it's either he succeeds Mbeki or it's bust. And the
wilderness is just not an option.

      Civil war within the ANC has never been this bad, even in the dark
days of exile. The leadership has always been able to impose control. But
the new ingredient in the mix is political power. We may be 10 years into
democracy, but that still feels like virgin territory.

      There is no script on how to navigate its realities, especially human
frailties of people who for long have been denied the good things in life
and who suddenly find themselves with the power to open and shut doors.

      The irony of Mbeki's inability to deal with divisions in the family is
that globally he is unchallenged as the spokesman of the underdogs of this
world - despite Aids and Zimbabwe - and as the patient peacemaker in Africa.
Will he suffer the same fate as JC Smuts, lauded abroad and rejected at

      But Zimbabwe may be feeding into his perceived weakness at home. Why,
for instance, should Zwelinzima Vavi take him seriously when Robert Mugabe -
who after all cannot survive even for a day without Mbeki's protective
embrace - disregards him almost with disdain?

      Cosatu's stillborn delegation to Zimbabwe was a warning to Mbeki that
his whispering diplomacy is a failure.

      But reading Mbeki's text one is struck by the anger of his language.
It is the language of the street. Its tone, its timbre, comes across as that
of an angry demonstrator hollering at some illusive power.

      But it sometimes seems as though those who spent long years in exile
have yet to deal with their anger and often find it difficult to accept a
contrary view.

      Robust and open debate in exile could only be allowed up to a point,
for obvious reasons.

      And unlike dissidents inside the country, exiles did not have the
pleasure or satisfaction to tell the oppressor to his face or on home soil
what they thought of him or his machinations. They therefore missed out on
the opportunity to work the anger out of their system. They came back home,
got into power and found themselves in the dogbox lambasted like the old
apartheid regime.

      The anger lingers on. They are still caught up in the language of
Radio Freedom, where cheering your side and hurling insults at the enemy
sometimes passed for political discourse or commentary. To them, dissent is
not always the hallmark of democracy, but a sign of disrespect.

      We have to appreciate the fact that we have been propelled to where we
are right now via different trajectories. The fact that people are members
of the same organisation does not mean they share the same values in every
respect. They are products of different traditions, different cultures. In a
sense the divisions within the ANC and the alliance are as a result of a
collision of these cultures.

      Many ANC members understand the wisdom of Tutu's wordsand will
disagree with their president. They share Tutu's values because they marched
with him against mass removals; they were with him when he threw himself
into an angry mob in Duduza to prevent the necklacing of man suspected of
being a police informer. They were with him when he was vilified and hounded
by the apartheid state.

      How the wheel has turned! Whatever mud is flung at him won't stick
because the people know better about this man. Tutu's words are worth

      "We want our society to be characterised by vigorous debate and
dissent where to disagree is part and parcel of a vibrant community, that we
should play the ball not the person and not think that those who disagree,
who express dissent, are disloyal or unpatriotic."

      It is quite a mouthful, but that should do as our national anthem.

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