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MDC banishes 'rebels'

Zim Independent

Ray Matikinye/Loughty Dube
THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) national council yesterday passed a
vote of no confidence in executive members of the pro-senate faction,
barring them from carrying out party functions until the party congress next

The resolution suspends deputy president Gibson Sibanda, secretary-general
Welshman Ncube and his deputy Gift Chimanikire, treasurer Fletcher
Dulini-Ncube, information and publicity secretary Paul Themba Nyathi and
secretary for policy and research Trudy Stevenson.

At a meeting attended by 57 of the 66-member council, the body adopted a
resolution to "dissociate with the pro-senate group" by invoking members'
constitutional right to freedom of association.

"The council resolves that pending their availability for party business,
the national council resolves to exercise its freedom of association by not
associating with the deputy president, secretary-general, deputy
secretary-general, the treasurer-general, the secretary for information and
publicity and the secretary for policy and research, among others," says the
resolution passed by delegates from all provinces except Matabeleland South.

Analysts say the resolution was crafted in such a manner as to hobble
efforts by the pro-senate group to take their case to court over party

In what is seen as a victory for party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and chairman
Isaac Matongo against the pro-senate group, the national council reposed
authority to convene all future council meetings in the secretariat while
stripping Welshman Ncube of his administrative duties to arrange such

Youth chairman and MP for Kuwadzana Nelson Chamisa was mandated to take over
the role of party spokesman from Nyathi.

The national council resolved that in the absence of Ncube, Dulini-Ncube,
and Nyathi since October 12 when differences over participation in
senatorial election split the party into two factions, Isaac Matongo would
take over their functions.

The council also nullified Tsvangirai's suspension from the party by the
pro-senate group while upholding the suspension imposed on Job Sikhala, MP
for St Mary's.

Sikhala was suspended for his allegations that the MDC received funding from
Taiwan, Nigeria and Ghana. He later retracted the allegations.

But the pro-senate group, which rebuffed yesterday's meeting, fired its own
salvo, saying it would not attend a "kangaroo" meeting by a former leader
who now has no mandate to call meetings.

Commenting on the resolution to "dissociate" from them, Nyathi said it was
misplaced and had no legal standing. It was carried out by people with
nothing constructive to do, he said.

"How do you stop a political activist from doing what he has dedicated his
life to doing?" Nyathi said.

"It is the most puerile resolution from anyone claiming a desire to confront
this regime. It's nothing exciting. They assume we want to associate with

He disputed the composition of the meeting that resolved to "dissociate"
itself from the pro-senate group, saying nine of the provinces did not
attend the meeting. Nyathi said those who attended were picked from the
streets for the purpose of achieving a quorum.

"That is what people like us are uncomfortable with," he said.

The two groups are embroiled in an argument over the suspension of
Tsvangirai by the Sibanda-led disciplinary committee whose composition has
come under the spotlight.

Nyathi said the party would still take Tsvangirai to a disciplinary hearing
before congress.

Tsvangirai has scoffed at the suspension saying only the MDC national
congress can suspend him.

MDC legal affairs secretary David Coltart said the disciplinary committee
had powers to suspend anyone in the party including the president, according
to Article 10.4 of the MDC founding constitution.

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Seven state firms to go

Zim Independent

Godfrey Marawanyika
IN a major climbdown, Finance minister Herbert Murerwa yesterday said
government will privatise seven parastatals in a bid to staunch hemorrhaging
of the fiscus.

Over the past four years, the government has been reluctant to wean off
non-performing parastatals, arguing either that they are "strategic" or the
state would not get the best value because of high inflation.

In his record $123,9 trillion budget delivered to parliament yesterday,
Murerwa said the nation was now deeply divided between the rich and poor.

Last year's budget provided for total expenditure and lending of $27,5
trillion and revenue of $23 trillion.

This implied a budget deficit of $4,5 trillion or 5% of GDP.

The supplementary budget raised the 2005 total expenditure and net lending
to $31 trillion.

The bid to privatise parastatals comes in the wake of crippling indebtedness
by the state, a bloated budget deficit and continued decline of all economic

"Parastatals and local authorities have remained a major impediment to
economic growth and a drain on the fiscus, with some of the turnaround
strategies being implemented inadequate to provide the desired results,"
said Murerwa.

"Government has, therefore, decided on the restructuring of some of the
public enterprises through strategic alliances and joint ventures that
facilitate the injection of additional equity capital, as well as access to
modern technology and equipment," he said.

Organisations earmarked for privatisation are the Zimbabwe Power Company,
Tel*One, and Net*One who will now look for a strategic partner.

The Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company should operate under a management
contract, the National Railways of Zimbabwe is expected to be put under
concession whilst Air Zimbabwe is set to operate under a strategic alliance.

The Cold Storage Company is set to go under a partial divestiture pending
listing on the local bourse.

The budget, titled "Fostering Macro-Economic Stability for Sustainable
Development", forecast total revenue for 2006 of $110 trillion, whilst
expenditure is expected to be $123,9 trillion. The budget deficit will
remain high at $13,9 trillion, which translates to 4,6% of gross domestic

Murerwa said to raise resources, especially hard currency, and to ensure
wider indigenous participation in the economy, government will also divest
some of its shareholding in other companies.

Murerwa availed $7,4 trillion to the Ministry of Education, whilst the
Ministry of Health was allocated $5,2 trillion, and Defence $4,3 trillion.

Higher and Tertiary Education got $3,9 trillion.

He set aside $5,5 trillion as government's contribution to civil servants'
medical insurance while the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority was given $4 trillion
for its operations.

The agricultural sector was given $31,4 billion for extension services and
another $116 billion for procurement of vaccines, dipping chemicals and
tsetse fly eradication.

Murerwa did not make a provision for the reintroduced senate.

Capital expenditure was allocated $30 trillion.

However, Ministry of Finance officials said the funds will be accommodated
in the Revenue and Expenditure book - commonly referred to as the blue book.

Murerwa raised concerns over lack of fiscal restraint, but said financial
disbursements will now be strictly based to revenue inflows.

As of January next year, Carbon Tax will be collected at the point of fuel
importation at a rate of $1 000 a litre, whilst fuel products will now be
aligned at the ruling inter-bank market rate.

The tax-free threshold was revised from $1,5 million a month to $7 million a

Murerwa also proposed to widen the tax band to end at $40 million a month,
above which income is taxed at 35%.

The tax-free bonus portion was hiked from $5 million to $20 million as of
November 1.

It was not good news though for importers of shoes, clothing, travel bags
and beverages that are denominated in foreign currency as they will be
levied at the inter-bank rate with effect from Thursday next week.

Murerwa reviewed the duty structure of fortified wines, sparkling wines and
spirits from 15% to 10%, 20% to 10%, and 10% to 15% respectively with effect
from today.

Next year, the economy is expected to grow in real terms by between 2% and
3,5% mainly driven by agriculture, manufacturing, mining and tourism,
Murerwa said. This is at variance with IMF forecasts which envisage a
contraction by 7%.

He also proposed that the 2006 civil service wage bill would not exceed $30

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Problems deepen at crippled AirZim

Zim Independent

Godfrey Marawanyika/Roadwin Chirara
NATIONAL flag carrier Air Zimbabwe (Private) Ltd (AirZim) slipped further
into chaos this week amid revelations that it owes other government
institutions close to $50 billion and US$3 million.

Among major creditors is the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ),
which has bailed out AirZim with insurance since 2001.

CAAZ is owed in excess of $15 billion and nearly US$2 million in funds for
the airline's International Air Travel Association (IATA) obligations, fuel
and other needs.

Air Zimbabwe also owes the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe $500 million.

The new information, coming just days after a biting Jet A1 fuel shortage
grounded AirZim planes, also suggests that AirZim has disregarded a
cabinet-approved turnaround programme meant to re-equip and streamline its
bloated structure.

Investigations by the Zimbabwe Independent revealed that the national
airline suffered a flight disruption after it failed to make good on bail
out funds provided by other state institutions.

AirZim, official sources said, was also indebted to southern and west
African air navigation companies as well as the International Civil Aviation

The sources said AirZim had also sunk into crisis due to political
interference and inept management. The government last week sacked Air
Zimbabwe chief executive Tendai Mahachi after the airline cancelled all
flights due to fuel shortage.

Transport minister Christopher Mushohwe was also allegedly actively involved
in the management of AirZim through Mahachi.

It is understood that Mahachi was catapulted to the role of chief executive
in December last year despite the fact that he was a distant fifth in job
interviews conducted by Ernst & Young.

Former AirZim boss Huttush Muringi, Colonel Chirimuuta, George Mwase and
Oscar Madombwe were among the shortlisted candidates who allegedly did
better than Mahachi.

It was further alleged this week that Mushohwe not only influenced
contentious AirZim decisions such as the opening of uneconomic routes like
Harare-China and Thailand, but also single-handedly procured the two MA 60
planes from China.

The acquisitions flew in the face of government plans to replace AirZim's
ageing fleet with bigger and fuel-efficient aircraft such as the Boeing 777
or Boeing 767-300 ER, as part of the turnaround plan.

Under the ambitious 2003-2008 plan, AirZim was scheduled to "consolidate on
its profitable routes" such as Harare-London, while discarding routes like
Dubai and Thailand.

On Tuesday, Mushohwe denied that he influenced the interview results saying
he had never met Mahachi before the appointment. "What is being said is all
nonsense. People like me have a conscience," Mushohwe said.

"Before Mahachi was appointed, the board asked Ernst & Young to do the
interviews and they did their own recommendations. The board also did their
own interviews and they recommended Mahachi. I had nothing to do with his

Mushohwe also said he was never directly involved in running the airline
with Mahachi.

"Those are just allegations of mischievous people. The record and the
minutes are there for all to see. I had no role in the purchase of those
planes. Talk to Jonathan Kadzura, the board vice-chairman. He knows what I
talking about."

The ageing Boeing 767-200 ER planes, grounded for much of last year, were to
be dumped in the cargo division, which would be part of the AirZim group.

A re-branding exercise, including a possible name change for AirZim, was
also mooted, while the airline's 2 000-plus staff complement was to be

It is also understood there is a strategic turnaround paper meant to align
AirZim's expenses with revenue but it is yet to be implemented.

Officials accused Mushohwe of dissembling by claiming AirZim had failed to
secure fuel from the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe when it is a public
secret that the agency is failing to meet national demand.

Due to its high volatility and huge cost of insurance, which can be as much
as US$10 million, Jet A1 fuel in Zimbabwe is mainly handled by multinational
companies such as BP and Total.

Board chairman, Mike Bimha, confirmed that the airline was saddled with
debts but could not be drawn into commenting on the CAAZ debt.

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Mugabe courts foreigners on nuclear project

Zim Independent

Itai Mushekwe
IN a desperate effort to kick-start Zimbabwe's nuclear energy aspirations,
President Robert Mugabe has invited foreign investors to partner government
in tapping into the country's newly-found uranium deposits.

Mugabe made the invitation yesterday at the opening of the 12th annual
general meeting of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) in Harare.

Once processed, the uranium will be used to beef up the country's
electricity generation capacity, which is currently heavily dependent on
imports from neighbouring countries. He said the threat of electricity power
shortages in sub-Saharan Africa by 2007 makes a compelling case for greater
innovation in regional energy generation and distribution.

"In Zimbabwe, for instance, geological surveys have confirmed the presence
of uranium, itself a critical alternative source of energy, which, if used
as productive material for peaceful economic and social purposes, can be a
springboard for economic success," said Mugabe. "We therefore invite able
foreign investors to come and join hands with us."

Zimbabwe has since the inception of the poorly executed land reform
programme failed to attract meaningful investment. Government believes
uranium will attract new investment into the country.

Zimbabwe's newly-found uranium deposits have raised eyebrows across the
world. Uranium is a rare mineral with multi-purposes. It can be used to
generate nuclear energy and at its deadliest is an essential ingredient used
for producing weapons of mass destruction, thus attracting numerous
interested parties who aim at increasing their military prowess.

Mugabe recently announced that the country had uranium deposits.

Last week a private American intelligence organisation, Stratfor, said
Zimbabwe did not have the capacity to generate nuclear energy due to lack of
capital and technological infrastructure. It also noted that Zimbabwe needed
over 2 100 megawatts of power but currently has a deficit of between 400 and
500 megawatts.

In southern Africa, neighbouring South Africa has the only nuclear power
station at Koeberg, while Namibia has a uranium mine near the port of Walvis

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Chinese go for CSC

Zim Independent

Eric Chiriga
AFTER taking over vast tracts of land formerly belonging to the Agricultural
and Rural Development Authority, the Chinese have now set their sights on
the country's beef industry.

The Chinese, who already own abattoirs in the country, are interested in the
Cold Storage Company Ltd (CSC).

In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent this week, Patience Madambi,
the public relations officer of the CSC, revealed that the Chinese were
interested in the struggling parastatal.

"The Chinese are interested in our beef industry. The Koreans are also
interested," Madambi said.

She said the Chinese had already paid visits to CSC facilities.

Madambi said the Chinese were meeting CSC marketing director Isaiah
Machingura. However, she declined to disclose details of the meeting.

"You will have to talk to him about that."

Madambi said there were notable improvements at the CSC.

She said the company had introduced feeding and breeding schemes under which
264 farmers feed cattle for 120 days before slaughter and breeding cows for
restocking respectively.

"The farmers are performing very well," she said.

She said the CSC was currently operating seven farms with a capacity for a
25 000 head of cattle each. Madambi however did not provide details on the
size of the CSC herd on the farms.

She said the CSC was exporting canned products only and was planning to
resume exports to the EU by December next year.

The CSC has not been meeting its beef quota to the EU for the past five
years after exports were suspended due to an outbreak of foot and mouth

Zimbabwe had an annual beef quota of 9 100 tonnes to the EU, generating more
than US$38 million.

Last year the government rescued the CSC by injecting $10 billion to settle
its outstanding debts that had ballooned to over $12 billion and finance its
restocking schemes.

Institutions that were owed by the CSC include Kingdom Bank, the defunct
Time Bank, the Jewel Bank, Trust Bank which is now part of ZABG and Genesis
Investment Bank.

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Arda vehicles up for auction over debt

Zim Independent

SERIOUS indebtedness by the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority
(Arda) is set to scuttle government plans to revive agriculture as the
parastatal is failing to pay traditional suppliers.

Arda, expected to be the driving force in the agricultural revival plan,
risks having about 10 of its latest vehicles auctioned tomorrow after it
failed to pay for seed and other inputs obtained from National Tested Seeds

Sources privy to the case said Arda owes NTS about $9 billion for seed and
other farming inputs, which it could not pay.

NTS public relations manager Langton Marunda confirmed the case but could
not give details, referring the matter to the general manager Collin

Richards referred all questions to their lawyers Honey and Blankenburg.

The lawyer dealing with the matter, a Mr Regan, could not be reached for

Arda lawyers, Jakachira & Company, said NTS obtained judgement by default
when the parastatal failed to respond to a summons.

They have however been trying to challenge the case in the High Court.

"We have challenged the judgement but the applications were dismissed as
having no merit," a lawyer at the firm said.

"Arda then promised to pay the money but the attachment of the vehicles and
subsequent publication of an auction notice shows that no payment was done."

The lawyer said the vehicles were attached two weeks ago and Arda was still
trying to raise the money to prevent the assets from going under the hammer.

Two auction notice adverts were flighted this week to publicise the sale.

The vehicles that are expected to be sold through Ruby Auctions on Saturday
include a Nissan-Hardbody 3.2D; a Mazda Eagle B2500; a Mazda B2500 DX, a
Toyota Corolla, a Toyota Sprinter and five Mazda B1800 pick-up trucks.

All the vehicles except three were purchased last year.

Arda officials said only the chief executive Joseph Matowanyika was in a
position to comment but he was out to his farm. His mobile went
unanswered. - Staff Writers.

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Zanu PF had unfair edge in Senate poll - Zesn

Zim Independent

Ray Matikinye
THE ruling Zanu PF gerrymandered senatorial constituencies by sidestepping
the Delimitation Commission to allow itself unfair advantage in the
senatorial election, a report by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network
(Zesn) says.

Gerrymandering is a deliberate system of drawing electoral boundaries to
maximise the political support for one's party and disadvantage opponents.

Government arbitrarily collapsed the 120 parliamentary constituencies into
50 senatorial ones without a clear formula in order to fast-track the
reintroduction of the senate that had been abolished "as a vestige of
colonialism" in 1989 under the ninth Constitutional Amendment Act.

After abolishing the 40-member senate, the 1989 Act converted the seats into
contested parliamentary constituencies for a unicameral House of Assembly.

Only 10 out of the 50 senatorial constituencies are purely urban although
the population in urban centres constitutes 35% of the total, meaning that
the urban electorate, where the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) has traditionally held sway, is underrepresented in the senate, the
report says.

The report notes that in nine constituencies, all in Matabeleland, the
number of senate seats was almost equal to the number of parliamentary
seats. In Matabeleland, 21 parliamentary constituencies in the March general
election were allocated five senatorial seats while 18 constituencies in the
capital Harare were allocated a similar number.

In voter population terms, for an average of 91 000 voters in such places as
rural Rushinga-Mt Darwin, Guruve, Mt Darwin-Muzarabani, Zvimba and Mutoko
where the ruling party enjoys mass support, a senatorial seat was allocated
against an average of 156 000 voters in three Harare senatorial

The report says arbitrary demarcation of senatorial boundaries was more
evident in Matabeleland North where two large constituencies were left
intact while the third largest in Nkayi was merged with Lupane to form one

"Even more bizarre is that two smallest constituencies of Hwange East and
Hwange West that are geographically contiguous were not merged to form one
senatorial constituency," the election watchdog says.

Zesn says it was inexplicable that Hwange East, narrowly won by the MDC in
March, was left intact while Hwange West where the opposition posted a huge
victory was merged with Tsholotsho.

The report also noted that in Matabeleland South all three constituencies
which were won by Zanu PF were not tampered with while in the Midlands,
Gweru Urban and Mkoba were merged with Gweru Rural and Shurugwi to give
leverage to the ruling Zanu PF party.

Zesn suggests that having each of the 10 provinces as electoral
constituencies would have been a more representative procedure with seats
allocated to parties in proportion to the turnout of each party.

It said the demarcation of senatorial constituencies was such that if voters
voted the way they did in March, the opposition MDC would not win any
senatorial seats even in provinces where it won seats in the March poll such
as the Midlands and Masvingo.

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Starvation stalks poor in Silobela

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari
IN Silobela, a rural area 300km west of Harare, four remotely connected
things interact to tell the story of massive starvation in Zimbabwe's
communal lands - a widow, a dog, three graves and a mahogany tree.

It's not a common coincidence that a widow who lives in an area called Cross
Roads finds herself at a cross roads with life.

And it's not common too that a red mahogany tree can sustain a family of
three. Yet in Silobela the ravaging food shortages have made this a reality.

Thandiwe Ncube, a 35-year old widow, lives with her two children in the
Cross Roads area of Silobela. She looks 20 years older. In her yard are
three graves - two belong to her kids and another for her late husband. A
mangy dog suckles its five puppies under a mahogany tree in the yard.

The widow, the dog, two graves and the tree are connected by one common
thing: hunger.

Two of the graves in the yard are still fresh. They belong to Thandiwe's two
children, Jabson (9) and Sandiso (6), who died on August 25 after they ate
poisonous wild roots. They had reportedly gone for three days without food.

Thandiwe and her two remaining daughters sometimes survive on mahogany seed
because they don't have maize. Her two kids spent the better part of the
last school term doing piece jobs for food.

When they have time to attend lessons they walk more than 17km to the
nearest primary school.

Their mother is not sure whether she will afford the $1 million for their
secondary school next term. The secondary school is "about 20km away",
according to them, but distances in rural areas are normally highly

She is almost in tears as she describes her gruelling life and how her two
children died.

"I was in the nearby homestead doing piece work to buy food when they (her
neighbours) called me," she says, rubbing dust from her cracked feet.

She last owned a decent pair of shoes three years ago when her husband was
still alive.

"When I got home I found the kids lying on the floor almost dying."

By 7pm they had died. She still can't believe it. "Sometimes when I hear
other people's children coming from school I just stand in the yard, hoping
that I might see my Sandiso and Jabson coming home too."

So serious is the food crisis in the area that pets like dogs are now a
burden on most families. Her dog, aptly named Kuhle nxa uzenzela (it's good
when you do it yourself), is so emaciated that a minor twister could blow it

Its five puppies might not live long because their mother barely gets
anything to eat to suckle them.

"What can we give the dog if we the masters do not have anything to eat?"
Thandiwe asks. Thandiwe's case is not isolated. It is emblematic of the
widespread hunger in Zimbabwe.

"When things are really bad we just sleep or eat the mahogany seeds or any
wild fruits," she says.

Sometimes Thandiwe's family survives on matamba (another edible wild fruit)
but these too are running out because donkeys and goats eat them too.

"I did not know that these things (matamba and mahogany seeds) were edible
until three years ago when hunger struck."

The pressure on resources goes beyond the fight for a land or firewood. In
Silobela, humans have to tussle it out for matamba fruits with goats and

"We have to compete with goats and donkeys. That is why they finished early
this year."

Her misery exposes President Robert Mugabe's duplicity on the suffering of
the people outside the circle of his friends. Mugabe recently told reporters
at a UN general assembly meeting in New York that Zimbabweans had enough to
eat. "The problem is Zimbabweans rely too much on maize," said Mugabe with a
straight face. He said there was enough potatoes and bread but the people
are used to maize.

To a rural family, however, bread and potatoes are rare luxuries. "We just
don't have money to buy such food," Thandiwe said.

There are millions in Zimbabwe who, like Thandiwe, don't know where the next
meal will come from. Thandiwe cannot afford three meals a day. In her
bedroom there is less that a kilogramme of mealie-meal left. She insisted
that it was enough to last her family three more days.

"We will eat a little bit of sadza today, then tomorrow we have porridge in
the afternoon," she tries to explain as if to show off that she has mastered
a new art called poverty.

According to the World Food Programme (WFP), close to 2,9 million
Zimbabweans need urgent food aid.

After putting on a brave face, the government seems to have realised that
its resources are too stretched to sustain its belligerence against donors.

A sobering report compiled by the United Nations Development Programme
(UNDP) and the government says about 2,9 million people in the rural areas
are in need of food aid.

Villagers allege that the government has refused food aid to MDC supporters.

A story is told of how before the March parliamentary polls government
transported tonnes of maize to Silobela promising to distribute it after
winning the election. The Zanu PF candidate lost dismally to MDC's Abedinigo
Malinga and the maize was taken back to the Grain Marketing Board depot
where they say one needs a party card to buy a 20kg pack.

Political coercion is also rife in the area. "They make it clear that we MDC
supporters will never get food unless we vote for them," Thandiwe said.

Like other people in Silobela, Thandiwe believes that they are being
punished for supporting the MDC. She has no kind words for Mugabe whom she
describes as a leader who has allowed his people to starve because "he likes
power so much".

"Anoda simba asi handiziwe kuti chii chinofadza kutonga vanhu vane nzara,"
(He loves power but I don't know whether it makes him happy to lead a
starving people) she says. MP Malinga describes the situation in Silobela as
desperate. "I live in constant fear that anytime, I might hear that one of
my supporters has starved to death," said Malinga.

Although Zanu PF supporters are outnumbered, they are capable of wreaking
havoc because they have the political muscle. Thandiwe describes how she was
threatened after she gave an interview to a Sky News crew about the death of
her two children.

"The secretary for Zanu PF here asked me what the people with a car wanted
at my home. He said he had been informed that they were MDC people."

While the mothers and fathers scrounge for food, their sons and daughters
engage in gold panning.

Panning here is as fashionable as vending is on the streets of Harare.

Unemployment is as widespread as it is in Harare if not worse. Starved of
entertainment, the youths spend their weekends at a local shopping centre
listening to music and watching cars passing by along Nkayi Road. They don't
see many of those in the village save for the chief's government-issued
Mazda B1800.

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Tengenenge - Zim's sculpture heartbeat

Zim Independent

Itai Mushekwe
ZIMBABWE'S biggest but uncelebrated sculpture gallery-, Tengenenge, located
in the wilderness of rural Guruve, 150km from the capital, is without a
doubt the country's sculpture hub winning great acclaim across the world.

In an interview with Independent Xtra, Tengenenge manger, Steve Blomefield,
who recently took charge from his father and gallery founder, Tom
Blomefield, said the gallery which was born in 1966, embraces African art
and has transformed mere communal farmers and farm workers into masters of a
genre they had minuscule knowledge of, thus becoming a hotbed of creativity
and talent while shaping the fortunes of poor artists.

Artists that have risen through Tengenenge include the late Bernard
Mutemera, whose piece Bushman is pictured right and displayed at the
National Gallery.

"I've seen farm workers become millionaires. Ordinary communal villagers
become farm owners and others buy houses in low-density areas," said

He added that the sculptors here have achieved greatness on their own
without undergoing prior training. "The seed of genius and creativity is in
their soul, it's something that we can't give to them," he said.

Tengenenge is a chewa word which means "the beginning of the beginning" and
is credited with producing Zimbabwe's first generation of sculptors such as
Josiah Mhanzi and the late Henry Munyaradzi whose works have graced
galleries across the world.

Ironically, Tengenenge like an island is cut away from major cities and
towns where booming commercial activities enable easy marketing and selling
of stone pieces. But European buyers find their way to the gallery which
falls short of essential communication facilities such as Internet, fax and
telephone. The roads are inaccessible, but because of the majestic stone
carvings branded with originality buyers are enticed to search for
Tengenenge, said Blomefield. He contends that the gallery is the biggest in
the southern hemisphere and is among the top five in the world.

"The only bigger gallery than Tengenenge I know of in the world is St
Petersburg in Russia," he said.

He said the gallery produces a staggering 30 000 pieces of art spread over
16 hectares of land every year. There are 800 artists registered in the
gallery's books, 350 of these are actively exhibiting and 200 are resident
at the gallery.

Tengenenge also makes an export container shipment of about 500 sculptures
to Europe every month. The gallery has pioneered the use of springstone and
serpentine in stone sculpture. It enjoys natural proximity to raw materials
which are mined at the gallery.

Blomefield said the major challenge besetting this oasis of original stone
art is the state of the economy.

"The economic environment is a difficult one and we are in a difficult
position due to a downturn in tourism."

Challenges or no challenges, Tengenenge has made Zimbabwe famous as it
accounts for the bulk of stone sculpture which find its way onto the
international market.

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Leo drags uncle into Telecel wrangle

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has been sucked into the Telecel Zimbabwe ownership
wrangle after his nephew, Leo Mugabe, tried to muscle-in on the
telecommunications company using his uncle's name.

Telecel Zimbabwe is 60%-owned by Telecel International through Egyptian
company, Orascom, while the remaining 40% is held by Empowerment Corporation
(Pvt) Ltd (EC), a company owned by local businesspeople and organisations.

In what appears to be a clear case of influence-peddling, Leo is understood
to have threatened groups forming the EC with unspecified action if they
refused to restructure their shareholding according to his plan.

Documents from the Registrar of Companies show that the shareholders of EC
are Kestrel Corporation owned by runaway businessman James Makamba, Selphon
Investments owned by businesswoman Jane Mutasa, and the National Small Scale
Miners' Association (NSSMA).

Integrated Engineering Group (IEG), through which Leo was supposed to have
been a shareholder in EC when it was formed in 1998, failed to pay for the

Documents available to the Zimbabwe Independent show that Leo's IEG failed
to pay for the stake in 1998 after its cheque of $140 000 to the CBZ, the
then bankers of EC, bounced. The CBZ wrote to EC confirming that Leo's
company had not paid for the stake because his cheque had been dishonoured.

"We wish to confirm that a cheque of $140 000 deposited by IEG was
dishonoured by their bankers with the response 'refer to drawer'," said a
letter written to EC by the CBZ.

This means that IEG does not have shares in EC. Other members paid for their
shareholdings. Over the years Leo has however maintained he owns 10% of EC
even though he has not paid for the shares.

In January this year he made frantic efforts to muscle into the EC, saying
he had special instructions from President Mugabe.

Documents show that in January Leo called a meeting with EC shareholders at
the Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) offices and informed them that he had been
given a directive by the president to change the shareholding structure of
the company.

His plan was to amass additional shares in the company to make him the
largest shareholder in the consortium and earn a place on the Telecel board.
He told the shareholders at the meeting that he had a "presidential
directive" to change the shareholding of EC.

Sources say he also threatened to get some of the shareholders arrested if
they failed to comply with the "presidential directive".

A lawyer from Chinyama & Associates, representing Mutasa, one of the
shareholders, wrote to Leo inquiring about the "presidential directive"
which he claimed to have. Leo failed to produce the directive.

"Our client notices that throughout the meeting Mr (Leo) Mugabe was
constantly referring to the shareholding structure to be done in line with a
'presidential directive' which he said was communicated to him by the
executive," said the letter to Leo.

"With due respect, our client would want a copy of the said 'presidential
directive' to enable them to analyse." Leo was given seven days to produce
the directive.

Leo failed to produce the directive but continued to push for a change in
the structure of EC. Using the president's name, he then proceeded to call
another meeting at the ZFU offices on March 15 where he changed the share
structure without shareholders' approval. He said he still had a stake in EC
and so did other members like the ZFU which had also failed to pay for the
shares in 1998.

He also brought back to life a war veterans' organisation, Magamba
Echimurenga Housing Scheme (MEHS), which had long sold its shares in EC to

At the meeting Leo distributed a 30% stake in EC that had been warehoused
for future disbursement.

He gave Kestrel 5% to increase its stake to 20% and he gave himself 5% in
addition to the 10% he claimed to have. He also distributed 5% each to

"Thus Mr Leo Mugabe proposed that 9% of (former) Native (shares) and 30%
warehoused (shares) be shared equally by six groups," said minutes of the
meeting compiled on that day.

Native Investments pulled out of EC and its shares were acquired by Makamba.

Leo proceeded to design a shareholders' agreement which was however not
signed by the shareholders. The EC consortium needs the signature of Makamba
to change the shareholding as he holds a majority stake in the grouping.

Leo could not be reached for comment all week as his phone went unanswered.

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Tsvangirai sees dawn of new era in Zim

Zim Independent

Ray Matikinye

THE possibility that either of the two factions fighting for supremacy in
the opposition MDC was bound to say "we-told-you-so" over the senatorial
election outcome was a forgone conclusion.

What was doubtful was how harshly the electorate would judge either faction
for squandering voters' goodwill and attempting to take them for granted.

But last Saturday's poll outcome appears to have squashed all apprehensions
the electorate had about an event tailor-made to suit the ruling Zanu PF's

And it left no doubts who between a pro-senate faction led by
secretary-general Welshman Ncube, fronted by his deputy Gift Chimanikire or
those against led by party leader, Morgan Tsvangirai had the luxury to say
they had their finger on the pulse of the electorate.

The MDC still has a vision to confront government and change the political
mindset that seeks to acquiesce to Zanu PF's misrule.

"Our call was a demand for a people-driven constitution, a free and fair
election and an end to dictatorship, corruption and the cruelty we are
suffering under this regime," Tsvangirai said.

Commenting on the poor showing by the pro-senate faction, MDC information
and publicity secretary Paul Themba Nyathi bemoaned having to vote amid
division within the party.

Critics had said participation presented unfair advantage to Zanu PF

National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) vice-chairman, Douglas Mwonzora,
said: "It was clear that the senate was meant to be a cushion for Mugabe's
exit. There is no way the Zanu PF machinery would not manipulate this
election to suit Mugabe by allowing the opposition to win a few seats to
legitimise a flawed process."

The NCA, a key ally of the opposition MDC, joined the anti-senate lobby and
rehashed its campaign to demand a new constitution through nationwide
demonstrations. The Constitutional Amendment Act that re-established the
senate was a creation of a skewed process, it argued.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), another key MDC ally,
ratcheted up pressure on government to reverse deteriorating  living
standards. Both issues run in the same vein along MDC's political agenda.

"The decision made by millions of Zimbabweans is a decisive statement
against any piecemeal and half-baked approach to the national crisis,"
Tsvangirai said in a statement soon after the poll result.

"We have been vindicated. We were proved right in our assessment of the
national sentiment. This was a vote of no confidence in Zanu PF and its
allies," he said.

Of greater political significance for both losers and winners is the way
forward after the senate.

Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro of the University of Zimbabwe and MDC advisor
says if the party has to play a relevant role in the politics of this
country, differences must be resolved through the political process not
through the courts.

"A court of law can never decide who should run the party although there are
people who seem to think this should be so."

Mukonoweshuro added: "A party should be run on the basis of the will of the

Tsvangirai says the polls outcome demands of the MDC leadership a major
paradigm shift that focuses on resolving the national crisis and legitimate
forms of pressurising Zanu PF to accept a new road map to change, based on a
new constitution.

He says the MDC leadership must change gears from discredited election
processes that bring pain to the electorate to an era of democratic mass
confrontation with the dictatorship - an era of non-violent mass resistance.

"That is the way forward," Tsvangirai said.

Zanu PF party spokesman for senatorial polls Webster Shamu said the poll
result demonstrated the electorate's support for President Mugabe and
confidence in the ruling party.

"We are calling on all Zimbabweans to join hands and focus on the
development of the country and addressing the economic challenges that the
country is facing," Shamu says without elaborating on how Zanu PF's victory
would help achieve this.

Critics say the senate is an additional burden on the taxpayer and a
millstone round the ailing economy's neck.  "It is just another way of
broadening the areas of patronage," Mukonoweshuro says.

But Parliamentary Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa says the electorate can
expect a harmonised, concerted approach in legislation "in pursuance of
economic recovery".

"The priority at the moment is turning the economy around and senators are
expected to make major contributions in debating ways to achieve this. We
expect they will sponsor bills targeted at attaining this goal," Chinamasa

"They (senators) are expected make valuable input in the Zimbabwe College
for High Education Bill, the Zimbabwe Development Bank Bill and the Zimbabwe
Investment Bill when senate opens on December 13."

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Zim on flight against civilisation

Zim Independent

By Rejoice Ngwenya
HAVING just returned from an epic journey to Arab North Africa, I have been
scanning through several local newspapers and been hit with astounding
frequency by headlines relating to an interventionist Zimbabwe government
that unashamedly steps in to clean up its own mess and wants us to

If memory saves me right, the last time government "stepped in" to solve our
petrol problems, all pumps subsequently dried up! The audacity and the
courage with which our government exposes its crude naivety is simply
award-winning. But before I bore you with bad news on topical issues of the
government's latest "step-ins", Chitungwiza and Air Zimbabwe, I will share a
few pleasant experiences on Al-Mamlakah al-Maghrebiyah, The Kingdom of

Casablanca is one of the five cities in this not-so-Mediterranean country
literally sharing a coast with Spain. There is Marrakesh to the south;
Rabat, Fez, Meknes and Tangiers to the north. Casablanca is not your typical
African city, but a unique blend of French finesse and Arab monotony. Four
million residents crowd around mainly two-storey, colourless buildings
dotted along four-way lanes that stream with fast-moving European cars. I
say not typically African because you do not see potholes, street kids,
pickpockets and uncollected dustbins at street corners.

Most, if not all "educated" Moroccan urbanites speak French, with few
citizens in international hotels and banks hazarding English words. What
this means for a Zimbabwean is that one's shopping experience is a
nightmare, although I found the late-evening flea market business hours

Once a vendor gets onto your case, he will stick to you like a flea until
you are persuaded to part with whatever little currency you have. The
Moroccan dirham is absolutely strong, commanding a mere nine units to the US
dollar. I therefore found it extremely cumbersome to bargain in two digits,
since my mind is locked into Gideon Gono's triple zero currency mode.

The hospitality of Moroccans is astounding. If you get an invitation to
dinner, be prepared for a six-course meal that has an eternal variety of
fish dishes and sweets that are the envy of the world's most ravenous
diabetic! I cannot comment much about their social life, but the reformist
King Mohammed VI's liberal political policies seem to give Moroccans a kind
of freedom that is unique in Arab countries, in fact, even more freedom than
our local system under a ruling party obsessed with political control.

Casablancans sit and chat freely at pavement drinking holes, spending many
hours gazing at televised football matches. Our tour bus drove past the
Rajah Casablanca FC stadium, situated in the city's wealthiest suburb
nicknamed Little California. However, with my French "disability", it was
impossible to enjoy some of the scores of television channels spoiled by the
hieroglyphics of Arabic sub-titles.

Talking of free expression, Morocco is inevitably a multi-party democracy,
results of the reformist youthful king who not only commands a lot of
respect, but also I gather played a big role in "influencing" political
plurality. Although I have a permanent suspicion of monarchies - and have
reason to, knowing how King Mswati's antics are ripping democracy apart in
poor Swaziland - the nature of King Mohammed VI's intervention can in no way
be compared to our own version of Napoleon Bonaparte. My Moroccan host, a
seasoned politician in his own right, knows all there is to about Zimbabwe
all for the wrong reasons. When he was told I like writing political satire,
he dragged me kicking and screaming to his local newspaper, but cautioned
against getting entangled in separatist and ethnic politics.

Inevitably it happened, since every political journalist there seems to know
that club mates Thabo Mbeki and Robert Mugabe are specialist in commenting
about issues except their own - especially the Western Sahara.

I stuck to my single point that anyone is free to pursue liberty in the best
way they see fit. It is a God-given right. I also ventured to explain that
were it that African political systems are tolerant of minorities, we would
not have ethnic groups gravitating towards separatism in pursuit of

My personal philosophy is of small, unobtrusive, efficient government. This
is why my heart bleeds for the people of Chitungwiza. Since 1980, bloated
Zanu PF local administrations have been watching water and sewerage services
slowly collapse. For 20 years, the residents of Chitungwiza have co-existed
with raw sewage, potholes and mud houses. Some areas around Makoni shopping
centre blossomed into squatter camps under the very eyes of Zanu PF. Because
of the collapsing economy, property giants Old Mutual could not even fulfil
their vision of a satellite metropolitan and civic centre in Seke. Under the
supervision of Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF, Cone Textiles, the single biggest
employer in Chitungwiza, faded away. Many years before Misheck Shoko ever
dreamt of leadership, Zanu PF had already taken Chitungwiza citizens through
consecutive nightmares of false promises about a rail service that never

All the time, informal trade became the only source of survival for people
of Seke, struggling under the yoke of Zanu PF-induced transport problems and
poverty. Only a few years into his tenure, Shoko is being castigated for
depleting the ozone layer, an excuse for vultures to plunder the few
resources that trickle into the coffers of a forgotten town. Sometimes I
wish I could just fly away. Certainly not on Air Zimbabwe!

Our national airline was once the pride of Africa before cronyism plundered
its operational base. Free flights for ministers and their relatives,
numerous incidences of alleged commandeering by the presidency, corruptive
practises by subsequent boards and their general managers and a long list of
unpaid bills. The parastatal bled and haemorrhaged until its assets
disappeared. Now the omnipresent government "steps in" as if it was outside,
and prepares to cremate the organisation. Why is it that the South Africans,
Kenyans and Ethiopians have got their passenger avionics right? Zimbabwe has
so many of these so-called investment parastatals that could have advised
the government on the importance of an independent airline: Zimbabwe
Investment Centre, Export Processing Zones Authority, Privatisation Agency
of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority etc. But alas, because somebody,
somewhere, wanted to have unlimited access to free flights to all sorts of
valueless conferences in the world, they kept Air Zimbabwe under the control
of the Zanu PF government. Now they "step in" to solve the problem - my
foot! How on earth Zimbabwe will ever catch up with international travel
trends I do not know, considering the cost of acquiring modern aircraft. We
are condemned forever to mediocrity. But there is hope at the end of the
runway, because there is life after Mugabe.

When he goes - for no dictator lives forever - we will regain some of the
political and business sanity we have lost. As it is, Zimbabwe is flying
further and further away from the galaxy of civilisation and unless you and
I take the initiative to offload the political excess baggage our airline
carries, we will be lost in the mists of time.

* Rejoice Ngwenya is a Harare-based writer.

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Murerwa budget eskews critical issues

Zim Independent

ZIMBABWE'S economy is set to grow in 2006 for the first time in six years,
Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa predicted yesterday, but analysts said this
offered no hope to the country's millions stuck in poverty.

Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of southern Africa, is reeling from its worst
economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1980.

The crunch is widely blamed on mismanagement by President Robert Mugabe's
government - especially the seizure of white-owned farms, which has led to
the collapse of the agricultural sector, formerly the mainstay of the

Unveiling his 2006 national budget proposals to parliament, Murerwa said
gross domestic product (GDP) growth was forecast at between 2 and 3,5% in
2006, against a 3,5% contraction this year.

"Growth will be driven mainly by agriculture, manufacturing, mining and
tourism," Murerwa said, drawing shouts of derision from opposition
legislators. Last year the government said the economy would start to expand
again in 2005, predicting 5% growth.

The country has suffered six years of recession, with output contracting by
more than a third. A combination of foreign currency shortages and the
drought has forced the country's manufacturing sector to operate well below

Unemployment is estimated at over 70% and inflation is running above 400%.
Economists said the budget would do nothing to solve the economy's main
problems of unemployment and growing poverty.

"It is a highly technical budget, it is really fiddling around the edges of
the central problem, not really tackling any of the critical issues," said
Tony Hawkins, a professor at the University of Zimbabwe.

"Unemployment is continuing to rise and people are getting poorer. I do not
think this budget is going to make an awful lot of difference to
Zimbabweans, I think if anything they are gonna find very high inflation
from the measures announced."

He cited Murerwa's instruction for state companies to charge market prices
for services and his advocacy for the removal of price controls for all but
the most essential basic commodities.

Murerwa promised to further liberalise the foreign exchange market after the
government introduced a partially managed float in October, which has seen
the Zimbabwe dollar plunge 63% against US dollar, but boosting exporter

The finance minister also predicted that the budget deficit would dip to
4,6% of GDP in 2006 from the 5% forecast for this year, which could see the
government moving from the traditional supplementary budgets.

This means that government departments will not be allowed to spend outside
their allocated budget amounts.

Murerwa said the spending constraints required to achieve the budget deficit
target should also result in inflation slowing to 80% by the end of that

Murerwa offered relief for Zimbabweans burdened with one of the highest
rates of income tax in the world, but analysts said most of the benefits
would still be swallowed by inflation, which soared to 411% in the year to

Mugabe (81), in power since independence, says Zimbabwe's economy has been
sabotaged by opponents of his policy of seizing white-owned farms for
redistribution to the landless black majority. - Reuter.

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Nothing for Kunzvi, MZWT dam projects

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro
GOVERNMENT failed to allocate anything for Kunzvi dam and Matabeleland
Zambezi Water projects critical for the alleviation of water crisis rocking
the cities of Harare and Bulawayo despite setting aside $30,9 trillion for
infrastructure development in the 2006 budget.

Kunzvi and MZWT projects have been on the cards for the past 10 years but
construction has stalled due to lack of funding from government.

Finance minister Herbert Murerwa allocated $2,7 trillion for the
construction of roads and bridges in rural areas ahead of the water

"To improve the infrastructure which is supporting the tourism industry, I
propose to allocate for the rehabilitation and construction works, $140
billion for the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Airport and $75 billion for the Harare
International Airport."

Murerwa allocated $1,4 trillion for the construction and rehabilitation of
roads and bridges throughout the country.

The money is expected to finance the construction of 94 kilometres of the
Bulawayo-Nkayi; Kwekwe-Nkayi-Lupane; Mt Darwin-Mukumbura; Gutu-Kurai;
Hwedza-Sadza-Murambinda, and Bindura-Shamva roads.

Murerwa allocated more funds for the construction of bridges at Nyabote,
Chiwidze, Munyati, Save Bote, Mukuvisi, Chipangayi, Nyautsa, Nyahonde, Tuli,
Dande and Manyame.

He set aside $100 billion under the Rural Capital Development Fund under the
Department of Water for borehole, water and sanitation facilities in

at least two districts in every province and funds for boreholes and water
sanitation throughout the country.

Under the District Development Fund, he made available $285 billion for
borehole drilling in resettlement areas.

An amount of $400,6 billion was set aside for the construction of rural
water supplies and $471,5 billion for small irrigation schemes spread
throughout the country.

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$11,4b for securities watchdog

Zim Independent

FINANCE minister Herbert Murerwa yesterday allocated a $11,4 billion grant
to establish the Securities Commission.

The commission is meant to regulate Zimbabwe's securities market and should
start operating on January 3 next year.

Murerwa said the commission would be self-financing, as it will generate its
own income levies on transactions that would have been carried out in the
securities sector.

He said a committee had been set up to advise the ministry over the
appointment of its commissioners.

"The self-financing commission will become operational during the course of
2006, with a nomination committee that will assist the Minister of Finance
in the recruitment of the commissioners now in place," said Murerwa.

The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) will operate under the commission.

The commission will set conditions for the listing of companies on the ZSE
and other bourses that will be registered to operate.

The ZSE is currently battling to raise more than US$2 million to digitalise
its trading operations that are operating under a manual trading system. -
Staff Writer.

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Govt in climbdown on bilateral agreements

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro
GOVERNEMENT has agreed to uphold Bilateral Investments Promotion and
Protection Agreements (Bippas) which were violated during the emotive land
reform programme.

Presenting the 2006 budget yesterday, Finance minister Herbert Murerwa said
government would honour obligations and pay compensation for all Bippas it
has ratified.

"Where Zimbabwe has ratified Bippas, government is committed to honouring
all its commitments and obligations as provided for by the constitution,"
Murerwa said. "This includes payment of compensation for the Bippa-related
farms that were acquired for resettlement."

Murerwa said government recognises the indispensable need to nurture and
preserve an investor-friendly business environment.

"Government is actively laying the foundation for stronger business
relations between Zimbabwe and its regional and international cooperating

"Bippas have a significant bearing on the ability of the country to mobilise
financial and material resources from other countries for the much needed
foreign direct investment," he said.

Analysts said government's climb down was due to pressure from Reserve Bank
governor Gideon Gono and the business community who have called for the
respect of bilateral, as well as multilateral international investment
agreements for the revival of the economy.

Since the inception of the land reform programme in 2000 government has been
ignoring violations of Bippas agreements. It has also ignored calls by
European Union diplomats and the Commercial Farmers Union to urgently delist
Bippa protected properties critical for the survival of the economy.

Government has also ignored a report by Special Affairs minister for Lands,
Land Reform and Resettlement John Nkomo, urging the state to avoid seizing
land protected by international accords after big German-linked timber
company as well as sugar and citrus estates were listed.

Zimbabwe has Bippas with several EU countries, four of them ratified by
President Robert Mugabe. The trade pacts compel the government to protect
the investments and properties of other countries from arbitrary

The worst affected country is South Africa which had over 200 farmers
throughout the country. The farmers have made numerous representations to
their government without success.

Expropriation of properties owned by South Africans is still continuing in
the southeastern Lowveld where sugar estates are under threat.

HippoValley and Triangle Sugar Estates, protected by the Hippo Valley Act
and the South African Bippa, face siezure.

An estimated 70 Dutch farmers in the country have lost their properties in
the ongoing land reform programme despite the fact that all of them fall
under a ratified Bippa, which came into force in 1996.

Government also allowed the seizure of Border Timbers in violation of an
agreement between Zimbabwe and Germany. The Germany-Zimbabwe Investment
Protection Agreement signed in 1995 by representatives of both governments
was meant to protect Border Timbers' properties and assets from arbitrary

In terms of the agreement, Zimbabwe gave assurances to Germany that Border
Timbers' land would not be targeted for seizure.

In addition to the timber plantations, the government has also taken over
Aberfoyle Estates, a major tea exporter and Eastern Highlands Plantations,
one of Zimbabwe's few producers of washed Arabic coffee.

The country's biggest mixed cropping venture, Highbury Estate, that is
protected under Zimbabwe-Belgium Bippa agreement, has not been spared.

Highbury has been producing wheat, tobacco, maize, citrus and cattle. The
estate is owned by Zimcor Ltd, a subsidiary of Conafex SA. Conafex is listed
on the London, Luxemburg and South African stock exchanges.

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Price controls abolished

Zim Independent

Eric Chiriga
GOVERNMENT yesterday abolished price controls that were interfering with
market forces and wrecking havoc on the economy.

The Minister of Finance, Herbert Murerwa, said the controls were causing
distortions in the market and that the pricing system for all goods and
services will now be market-driven to eliminate parallel market dealings.

Murerwa said distortions in the market had arisen from price controls.

He said the price controls had contributed to the shortages of basic
commodities on the open market with the same goods resurfacing on the
parallel market.

"It will, therefore, be critical that market-pricing mechanisms be embraced,
which are central to ensuring the viability of industry as well as the well
being of consumers," Murerwa said.

But Murerwa insisted that subsidies and safety nets would be essential to
protect targeted vulnerable groups.

He said the removal of the producer and selling price distortions especially
for agricultural commodities and fuel will result in the efficient and
effective utilisation of resources.

"Government departments will therefore levy economic prices for their
services," Murerwa said.

Last year the government introduced price controls in a failed bid to
cushion consumers from galloping inflation. But these controls created
serious shortages of products.

Controls also created viability problems in manufacturing firms as the
government-imposed prices failed to cover the production costs or at allow
manufacturers to break even.

Murerwa said the government would offer post- harvest producer prices that
allow farming to become viable.

"This will enable farmers to cover their costs of production, be
self-sufficient and to re-invest in agricultural production."

He said the sustainability of such post harvest producer prices would
require that the selling prices of the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) be at
break even thresholds for maize and wheat.

Murerwa said GMB will continue to play its central role in the management of
the national strategic grain reserves but the government will put in place
administrative arrangements to facilitate the marketing of grain by private
sector contract growers in order to reduce transaction costs.

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2006 budget: brush-up your maths skills

Zim Independent

Admire Mavolwane
YESTERDAY, the Minister of Finance took to the lectern, to provide both an
operational review of 2005 and unveil the income statement and balance sheet
of Zimbabwe Incorporated for the twelve months to December 2005.

Unlike many a corporate executive, his address did not start by alluding to
the customary; "The past twelve months have been a very difficult period
with inflation ." but with optimistic rhetoric on the need for commitment to
measures needed for the rescusitation of the economy.

Nothing new. We have been on this road before as promises to rectify the
situation have all but come to nil. This time around, we did not get the
"turnaround" strategy but were fed on the economic "take off" remedies.

What a disappointingly incomplete set of financials they turned out to be.

Many analysts and commentators are bound to be disappointed by the
incomplete figures provided by the minister, who from initial appearances
seemed to be missing some of his pages. For instance, for the third year in
a row, no figure for nominal gross domestic Product (GDP) was given, leaving
the public to resort to arithmetic to come up with the figure. What was only
provided was that the budget deficit of 2005 of $6 trillion, 6% of GDP. Even
for the 2006 expenditure and revenues figures and budget deficit estimates,
one has to appeal to calculus. If one takes the capital expenditure budget
of $30,9 trillion, said to be 20% of total, the figure comes out at $154,5
trillion. But in his summary, the Minister expects an expenditure outturn of
$110 trillion. The funding gap of $13,9 trillion, estimated at 4,6% of GDP
will again be financed through domestic borrowings.

In a surprising gesture, perhaps meant to cushion the public ahead of the
full switch to market forces, the minister generously raised tax-free
threshold for incomes and bonuses. The problem is that the supply-side of
the economy was not sufficiently addressed such that all the monies released
will find no goods to purchase. This may in turn fuel inflation as too much
money chases few goods. It will however, come in handy, given the school
fees figures being banded around.

After the scare that was the mid-term fiscal policy review, the budget has
now assumed momentous and probably life changing proportions, that the
markets, especially the equities, now look forward to the event with

However, it appears the need to raise money for the remaining six months was
very critical, as many of the new taxes introduced in the mid-term fiscal
policy review have since been reversed or amended. Those that appeared to
have not been well-thought out have been amended and where it was
nonsensical have been abolished. These include the reduction of withholding
taxes on redemption of unit trusts, reversion of deduction of tax on
interest on maturity rather upfront and the abolishment of the stamp duty on
sale of marketable securities. It is true that the real winners of every
budget statement are the tax consultants.

Many economists and even government officials had shouted themselves hoarse,
exhorting the government to spend more on capital projects, in the economic
sense of fiscal policy. We emphasise "economic sense", because ordinarily
buying cars is a capital project for the private sector, but the same does
not apply to central government. The need to spend more towards
infrastructure and the provision of an enabling environment for business to
get on with it, and less on recurrent expenditure cannot be emphasised and
has been well documented. The authorities seem to have little respect for
economic theory, but, until yesterday it also appeared lost on them that our
own home grown solutions, judging by past pronouncements which prioritised
recurrent over capital expenditure, have so far failed to germinate into
meaningful success.

The cries were finally answered at last with $30,9 trillion being provided
for capital projects and it is now only a question of faith. One has to
trust and believe that the government implements these capital expenditure
projects with the swiftness and military-like precision exhibited in
Operation Restore Order.

It is ironic that among the causes of inflation as enunciated by the
minister, that money supply growth driven mainly by credit to government
which in August, had grown by over 1 500% was consipicous by its absence.

We will reserve our comments on the possibility of attaining a 14% growth in
agricultural production, which dovetail into a growth in real GDP of between
2 and 3,5%. Curiously enough, it seems that all the initial 2005 growth
estimates were slashed in half. But what we are sure of is inflation is
going one way and so will the stock market!

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Govt adjusts tax thresholds

Zim Independent

Roadwin Chirara
FINANCE minister Herbert Murerwa in his 2006 budget statement yesterday
adjusted the PAYE threshold from the current $1,5 million to $7 million
while the income tax band was widened to $40 million per month with effect
from January 2006.

"Individual taxpayers remain a major contributor to tax revenue, in part
reflecting the impact of inflation on incomes, hence the need for relief
through regular review of the PAYE bracket and tax thresholds," said

"In pursuance of this, I propose to adjust the tax-free threshold upwards
from the current $1,5 million per month to $7 million per month.
Furthermore, I promise to widen the tax band to end at $40 million per
month, above which income is taxed at 35%," said Murerwa.

The Value Added Tax (VAT) threshold for corporates was increased to a
minimum turnover of $6 billion with effect from January 1.

Previously companies with a minimum turnover of $250 million qualified to be
registered for VAT.

He said the revision of the VAT threshold had been necessitated by the
erosion of the current threshold by the rise in inflation and increased
demand in administration of the amounts.

"The current VAT threshold was put in place at the inception of VAT in
January 2004.The threshold has, however, been eroded by inflation, greatly
stretching the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) VAT administration
capacity as officers now have to deal with larger numbers of taxpayers
qualifying for VAT registration," said Murerwa.

He said taxpayers with revenues below the new thresholds will be
accommodated under the voluntary registration process.

"Currently VAT registered taxpayers whose turnover is below the proposed
threshold may be accommodated under the voluntary registration," Murerwa

He said all revenue collections for provision of services in foreign
currency shall, with effect from January 1 next year, be remitted to Zimra
in hard currency.

"I propose that VAT collected in foreign currency on provision of services
be remitted to the tax administrator in foreign currency with effect from
January 1, 2006," said Murerwa.

The minister also reviewed the carbon tax collection mode where the tax will
now be collected according to vehicle's fuel consumption levels as compared
to the previous mode which was based on engine capacity.

"I propose to change the current mode of payment, where carbon tax is levied
according to engine capacity, to a system based on fuel consumption. Carbon
tax will, therefore, be collected at the point of fuel importation at a rate
of $1 000 per litre with effect from January 1, 2006," Murerwa said.

He said the move was aimed at alleviating the time spent by taxpayers
queuing to pay the tax.

He however said motor vehicles transiting through Zimbabwe will still be
required to pay the tax based on their engine capacity.

He proposed the charging of penalties on unpaid taxes with effect from
January 1.

"I propose to amend the tax legislation to address this by empowering the
commissioner general to charge market-related interest on unpaid penalties
with effect from January 1, 2006," Murerwa said.

He said withholding tax on interest earned will now be deducted on maturity
as compared to the current system where it is being deducted upfront.

He said the country's informal sector will now be taxed under the
presumptive tax as part of efforts to bring the sector into the tax net.

Driving schools and truckers will now be entitled to pay presumptive tax
unless they want to register with Zimra and pay corporate tax.

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Government slams farm invasions

Zim Independent

GOVERNMENT has slammed fresh farm invasions, saying such activities were
hampering economic recovery.

In a budget statement yesterday, Finance minister Herbert Murerwa said
disruptions on farming activities were not in the national interest.

"In order to effectively guarantee productivity on the farms and enhance
food security, government is committed to enforce utmost discipline in the
agricultural sector," Murerwa said. "Any disruption of farming activities is
not in the national interest and will not be tolerated."

Murerwa said viability of agriculture would also attract private sector

"Agriculture remains the backbone of the economy," Murerwa said. "All
stakeholders acknowledge the need for the timely provision of agricultural
inputs, financial incentives and returns that ensure the viability of

This is the only way that farmers can invest their time, energy and
financial resources into farming."

He said government would offer post-harvest producer prices that allow
farmers to be viable and cover their costs and to re-invest in agricultural

Murerwa said the Grain Marketing Board would be tasked to manage strategic
grain reserves.

"Government will put in place administrative arrangements to facilitate the
marketing of grain by the private sector contract growers in order to reduce
transaction costs," said Murerwa.

Over the past two months, the few remaining white farmers have become prime
targets of invasions.

Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono has also denounced the fresh wave of farm
seizures as criminal.

However, Zanu PF thugs and armed militants have continued with the land
grab, violently kicking out white farmers in a number of provinces.

The Commercial Farmers Union reported attacks of farmers in the Glen
Forest - Welston area north of Harare, where groups of people appeared at a
number of farms demanding that the owners hand over keys to their dwellings
and leave immediately. The invading persons claimed to be members of the
Land Audit Committee.

In the Bindura district, the two remaining white farmers were ordered to
leave their properties in October.

Uncertainty prevails in the Makoni district's Headlands, Rusape and Nyazura
areas, where 40 commercial farmers are still on their properties.

Ruling party militants in October evicted six coffee and macadamia-producing
white commercial farmers in the Chipinge area.

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Murerwa sees recovery despite gloom

Zim Independent

Eric Chiriga
FINANCE minister Herbert Murerwa yesterday maintained that the economy is on
the recovery path despite deteriorating economic fundamentals.

Presenting the 2006 national budget statement, Murerwa forecast the economy
to grow by between 2 and 3,5% next year, with agriculture expected to
register growth of 14,8%.

The forecast attracted loud interjections from members of the opposition in
the house.

Murerwa's forecast is in sharp contrast to deteriorating economic
fundamentals and the alleged lack of preparedness in the agricultural sector
due to lack of inputs.

He forecast real gross domestic product (GDP) to decline by 3,5% in 2006.

"The high international oil prices, coupled with the poor performance of the
past agricultural season, have impacted negatively on the economy, resulting
in an anticipated decline of 3,5% in real GDP," the minister said.

He also said the agricultural sector, which is expected to help achieve the
forecast economic growth of between 2 to 3,5% in 2006 through increased
hectarage and timely provision of inputs among other measures, is projected
to decline by 12,8% this year.

"The agricultural sector is projected to register a decline of -12,8% in
2005 mainly due to the drought and the non-availability and or the delayed
availability of critical inputs such as fertilisers, chemicals, equipment
and fuel," Murerwa said.

The projection that the agricultural sector will decline by a negative 12,8%
contradicts Murerwa's statement in his national budget statement for 2005,
when he predicted that agriculture would grow by 28% underpinned by
production in tobacco, sugar, maize, wheat and cotton.

The agricultural sector is now expected to improve from a decline of
negative 12,8% this year to positive growth of 14,8%.

Murerwa also said the mining sector, the country's most lucrative investment
area, declined by 5,7% this year.

"The mining sector is anticipated to register a decline of 5,7% in 2005,
largely due to deteriorating international mineral prices, rampant smuggling
of gold, diamonds and other precious minerals."

In his previous budget Murerwa had anticipated positive growth of 7,5% this

"The mining sector, which contributes about 4% to GDP, is projected to
register a positive growth of 7,5% in 2005 after recording an estimated
growth of 11,6% in 2004," Murerwa said.

With regard to the inflation rate, Murerwa maintained that the rate will
decelerate to 80% by the end of 2006 although it is on an upward trend,
rising from less than 200% to 411% this year.

Analysts have predicted an inflation rate of about 600% by February 2006.

Murerwa said the objective was to achieve a rate of 30-50% by this month,
with single digit inflation afterwards.

"The annual rate of inflation is, however, targeted to decline to around 80%
by the end of 2006."

Under the balance of payments, Murerwa said there will still be a negative
trade balance of US$363 million.

He said in the external sector, total exports for the year are forecast to
decline by 6,4% to US$1,6 million.

"The capital account remained without significant inflows, against the
background of low grant support, foreign direct investment and long-term
capital inflows," Murerwa said.

Murerwa said the continued dominance of domestic financing of the budget
deficit this year pushed the total stock of domestic debt up from $1,7
trillion in December 2004, to $15,9 trillion by the end of October 2005.

He also said the manufacturing sector was expected to decline by 3%.

"The manufacturing sector, which had shown signs of recovery in 2004, slowed
down in 2005 and is projected to register a decline of 3%."

...the highlights

* A $123,9 trillion budget;

* Total revenue: $110 trillion;

* Budget deficit: $13,9 trillion (4,6% of GDP);

* Economy to grow between 2%-3,5%;

* Agriculture growth 14,8%;

* Maize production to increase 33%;

* PAYE threshold adjusted from $1,5m to $7m;

* Income tax band widened to $40m a month;

* $20m tax free bonus;

* Travel allowance increased from US$250 to US$300;

* Inflation to end 2006 at 80%;

* Education, Sports and Culture: $7,4 trillion;

* Health: $5,2 trillion;

* Defence: $4,3 trillion;

* $30,9 trillion for capital projects;

* State debt increases to $15,9 trillion from $1,7 trilion;

* Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle gets $800 billion;

* Ministries that exceed budget allocations will be garnished 10% on vote;

* Further liberalisation of exchange rate in 2006;

* Price controls scrapped;

* Customs duties amount to $2,2 trillion against a target of $1,8 trillion;

* Value Added Tax performs above target - $5,9 trillion collected against a
target of $5,2 trillion;

* Revenue collections for 10 months to October 2005 were $19,2 trillion
against a target of $17,9 trillion;

* Total exports are forecast to decline by 6,4% to US$ 1,6 billion;

* Imports to decline by 2,6% to US$ 1,9 billion;

* Upholding of bilateral investment agreements;

* No to new farm invasions; and

* Promises to reduce arrears to International Monetary Fund.

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Legacy of failure

Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

I THOROUGHLY enjoyed the piece we ran on our opinion pages last week by
veteran journalist Bill Saidi.

In a typically rasp allegory, Saidi had this to say about the
Anti-Corruption minister Paul Mangwana's hairstyle: "He will always be
remembered for a very peculiar hairstyle; or the lack of one. His hair looks
uncombed most of the time. Perhaps this is how he wants to be recognised; as
Harold Wilson was recognised by his pipe, Margaret Thatcher by her hats,
Helmut Schmidt by his snuff, Fidel Castro by his beard and Mugabe by his
dyed hair."

Sithembiso Nyoni's head is always adorned with fascinating hairstyles and
perhaps that could be how she wants to be recognised. Like the Indian
premier Morarji Desai who drank his own urine for medicinal purposes,
everything about her demeanour appears normal and straightforward until her
political life is factored in. Desai eventually let out the shocking secret
about his life and his whole history drowned in the acrid liquid.

Perchance Sithembiso will one day tell us the secret of her political
survival and how she appears to have become an extremely useful person in
the government of President Mugabe.

She does not need to win an election to remain in government. She appears to
live a charmed life in which the presidential crane is always at hand to
pluck her from the political scrapyard, which is where the electorate in
Zimbabwe believes she belongs.

The president was involved in one such rescue operation this week after
Sithembiso lost in last weekend's senate vote in Magwegwe-Lobengula.

To finish off the operation, President Mugabe then put up a mesmerising
juggling act. Edna Madzongwe, a non-constituency MP and deputy Speaker of
Parliament, was shifted from the lower house to become President of the
Senate. The vacancy in the lower house then went to Sithembiso and with it,
the reappointment to the portfolio of Small Enterprises Development

She has now lost three times in national elections. She has beaten the
record set by veteran politician Enos Nkala who was never able to win an
election despite his long history in nationalist politics.

Nkala lost the first-past-the-post poll in Bulawayo in 1985 and 1990 when he
had to be accommodated in the Kariba constituency amid protests from Mash
West voters. Sithembiso is joined in the league of serial losers by former
Bulawayo mayor Joshua Malinga who has also lost in three elections. He has
also been appointed non-constituency senator.

Sithembiso was in 2000 routed by MDC's Thokozani Khuphe in Makokoba. She was
appointed a non-constituency member and given the post of Minister of State
for Economic Development.

In April she was appointed minister when she was not an MP. She had lost the
March poll in the Bulawayo South constituency to the MDC's David Coltart.
Before contesting in Bulawayo, she had literally camped in Nkayi where again
the electorate thought she was not the right candidate for them.

So parliament for a brief period this year had 121 MPs because our
constitution tolerates this strange arrangement for 90 days during which a
constituency should be found for the extra MP. Another juggling act could
have saved her.

Ray Kaukonde, who was MP for Mudzi, was appointed governor of Mashonaland
East which called for a by-election in the constituency.

However, that did not save the day for her. She reportedly could not take up
the offer because the people there did not know her.

In August, having failed to find a constituency, she mutated from minister
to become a consultant in the Office of the President.

Attending the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries congress in Nyanga in
September, delegates sarcastically bestowed on her a new title of
"Honourable Consultant". But she is back to her former glory as honourable
minister. I wonder why she had to go through another embarrassing electoral
defeat to regain her post in government.

The story of Sithembiso is a graphic example of a leader subverting the will
of the people. She is the epitome of political patronage which is the
hallmark of failed governments. If she is not a beneficiary of sheltered
employment, then she has to prove that she is too important to be missing
from the list of ministers in Mugabe's government.

She may want to claim credit for mushrooming SMEs in urban centres. She
should be reminded though that this was a natural process wrought by the
closure of big businesses due to the inclement economic environment.

Under her watch the SMEs and the informal sectors have failed to contribute
to national development through taxes and other government levies. Under
normal circumstances she should have been swept away by the Murambatsvina
tide together with ramshackle shelters housing the informal sector.

She has survived three election defeats but remained in government. Is this
how she wants to be remembered?

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Gono's US ban a non-event

Zim Independent

Eric Bloch Column

ONCE again there has been an international media frenzy centred upon an
event related to Zimbabwe. Numerous press, television and radio reporters
discovered that the governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), Gideon
Gono, and his wife, had been placed on the targeted sanctions list of the
USA. (Although the media claims this to be a new development, Gono is
reported as saying that he has been on that list for almost two years, in
which event the only possible new occurrence may be the addition of his wife
to the list).

However, irrespective of when Gono was placed upon that list, the media is
widely alleging that the consequence of his being a recipient of US
sanctions will mark further economic decline.

On the one hand, that allegation can be regarded as a compliment to Gono,
for it implies that Zimbabwean economic well-being is significantly
dependant upon him (which it very probably is!). On the other hand, the
allegation is demonstrative of a near total lack of awareness of realities.
The foundation of the media's belief that the inclusion of Gono on the
sanctions' list will have major, adverse economic repercussions is founded
upon the fact that anyone on that list is barred from entry into the US and,
therefore, Gono will no longer have access to the International Monetary
Fund (IMF) and to the World Bank, both of which Bretton Woods institutions
have their headquarters situated at Washington DC in the US.

However, even if Gono is now the recipient of the US sanctions, precluding
his travel to the US and subjecting any US-based assets as he may have (if
any, which is unlikely) to embargo, he will in no manner be hindered from
interacting with the IMF and the World Bank. Not only do those bodies send
regular delegations to Zimbabwe to review the economic environment and its
fiscal, monetary and other policies, and in order to engage in dialogue with
RBZ and with the ministries of Finance and Economic Development but, in
addition, any travel ban upon Gono cannot be applied in respect of any
attendance by him at general meetings of the IMF and the World Bank.

In the same manner as it was agreed by the US that any members of the United
Nations would be entitled to head of state representation at any meetings of
that body, the same principle applies in respect of attendances at any
meetings of the Bretton Woods institutions. It was a precondition of the
location of the headquarters of the United Nations, the IMF and the World
Bank in USA that that country would not prevent any member country of any of
those bodies from attending their meetings. Thus, even if Gono is barred
from entry into the US for holiday or other purposes, he remains able to
enter the country when the purpose of entry is to attend upon the IMF and/or
the World Bank.

Notwithstanding, any reasons that may be advanced for Gono to have been
placed the US targeted sanctions list, it is exceptionally difficult to
justify that action. The contention of the US (as also that of the European
Union) is that sanctions are targeted against those in Zimbabwe who prevent
genuine democracy prevailing in Zimbabwe, who rule the country without
regard for the rule of law, and with little or no regard for the fundamental
principles of human rights. Both the US and the EU have been emphatic that
they have not imposed economic sanctions, and that the intent of their
sanctions is not to destroy the Zimbabwean economy, and thereby to intensify
the immense hardships that oppress the majority of Zimbabweans.  They state
that the objective of their targetted sanctions is to motivate those subject
to the sanctions to reform, to re-establish democracy, justice and respect
for human rights in Zimbabwe.

If that is so, then it is incomprehensible that Gono has been targeted.
Admittedly, he is understood to be a member of the ruling party, Zanu PF,
but not all of the party's membership espouses practising only lip service
to democracy, law and order, and moral humanitarian principles.   The fact
that many of the party's hierarchy can be justly accused of that lip-service
does not mean that those led by them do likewise. That is why heretofore the
targeted sanctions have almost entirely applied to the presidium, ministers
and deputy ministers, members of the politburo, and certain of the central
committee, some permanent secretaries, and families of the listed persons.

However, not only has Gideon Gono's endeavours been very strongly directed
towards restoring the Zimbabwean economy, but they have often been in
disregard for the known stance of his political masters. He has had the
courage of his convictions to speak out against any government policies.
Thus, for example, in his third quarter of 2005 Monetary Policy Review
Statement, delivered October 20, he unflinchingly confronted government
declaring "abhorrence against the current land invasions".  He continued
that "anyone invading farms..... is not working for the interests of the
country; is a criminal and ought to be locked away".

He also called for "a climate that has and upholds investment protection
laws and agreements", emphasising the need by saying that "we yet again make
a passionate call to government to have a rethink on the policy stance on
Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPPAs)."

Gono was similarly outspoken on other issues relating to government, such as
the almost unlimited profligacy that has characterised the fiscus for many
years.   He said that it is "imperative that government, across all line
Ministries, exercises restraint on current and future expenditure
 programmes", and declared, "No room will be accommodated for unbudgeted
outlays". Gono has also been willing to disregard the President's renowned
opposition to currency devaluation. President Robert Mugabe is on record as
having informed Parliament that "the advocates of devaluation are saboteurs
and enemies of the State", but that has not deterred the RBZ governor from
initiating substantial currency devaluations ever since he took office, even
though the extent thereof has not been sufficient in the perspective of most
within the private sector.

On various occasions this column has contended that the US and EU targeted
sanctions were not directed against the economy, but were politically
driven,  and that government recurrently attributed Zimbabwe's economic
downturn to those sanctions, falsely alleging that the motivation for the
sanctions was to destroy the economy. Until Gono was added to the targeted
sanctions list that contention of this column was wholly correct, and
government's stance was merely in order to divert attention from the fact
that it was government's actions that were actually the cause of the
disastrous state of the economy. But now, with the inclusion of Gono and his
wife on the list, either the US is now extending to economic sanctions
(albeit that the ban upon Gono will not, in fact, negatively impact upon the
economy), or the USA has been misinformed as to that which Gono seeks to
achieve, being economic recovery, with a focus of minimising the hardships
confronted by the Zimbabwean masses. In the alternative, if Gono has
actually only now been placed upon the list, as is suggested by the
international media, one must ponder whether doing so is not but a petulant
reaction to the disgusting and unfounded attacks by government  upon US
Ambassador Christopher Dell.

Whichsoever of these reasons account for the inclusion of Gono in the
targeted sanctions of the US, that inclusion will have no substantive
economic repercussions. The RBZ has, through its governor's statement and
actions, made it clear that it intends that Zimbabwe continue to honour its
international obligations with the IMF, the World Bank and other
institutions, and to interact constructively with them on an ongoing basis.
Therefore, the speculation of the international media, that the listing of
Gono augers further economic ills for Zimbabwe, is baseless.

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Enough Dumi, the people have spoken

Zim Independent


IT'S a measure of how desperate Zanu PF is for electoral validation that it
can claim a "landslide" on the basis of a 19% voter turnout.

There was indeed a "landslide" in Bulawayo, but the ruling party lay
underneath it!

This was the worst result for them since 1980. All those column inches in
the Herald about how the MDC and its Western sponsors had to be sent an
unambiguous message, all that aviation fuel guzzled as the president toured
the country in his helicopter hawking his threadbare political goods, and
all they had to show for it at the end of the day was a handful of seats in
a parliamentary chamber nobody wants.

"3,2 million expected to vote", the Herald misled the country into believing
last week. In fact that was the size of the total electorate. Only 19,4% of
that figure bothered to vote. That was the "stupendous" victory the Herald
talked about on Tuesday. Significantly, like the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission, it went to some lengths to keep the total percentage poll a

You can't blame the Herald for trying to provide a silver lining to this
electoral disaster. Dissembling of this sort is part of its mandate. It even
had Zanu PF senators scoring "victories" in uncontested seats!

Caesar Zvayi said the MDC had been "thumped" - thumping evidently being
something he would know about. He took the Standard to task for saying that
Mugabe had been rebuffed. Mugabe was not a candidate, Zvayi lectured.

How does he therefore explain all those drums of aviation fuel consumed, all
those rallies and all the attention given to Mugabe's every word?

Or rather wasted. If there was any message in this election, it was that
Mugabe is no longer able to get the people to support him at the polls.
Which is hardly surprising as neither he nor his party were able to tell us
why we should vote for Zanu PF apart from keeping the MDC out. Indeed, this
was an election in which the divided opposition featured more prominently
than the ruling party.

Mugabe wasn't able to tell us how he was going to solve a single one of the
country's problems. He didn't even try.

Zanu PF's serial losers in Bulawayo demonstrated a distinct lack of learning
skills. Dumiso Dabengwa is arguably one of the country's more respected
politicians. But he failed to grasp the significance of his defeat in 2000.
He deluded himself with the thought that he could stage a come-back; that
the MDC was a transitory phenomenon.

"Unfortunately the people have decided what they want.," he declared on
Sunday, a telling epitaph if there was one. Why did he stand when it was
obvious that "the people" have had enough of his party's empty promises? Or
can't he, as we suspect, say no to Mugabe - the Victoria Chitepo dilemma?

Joshua Malinga was even more pathetic. "Naturally I'm disappointed but I
will not abandon the people," he said. But the people certainly abandoned

It could have been a protest vote, he mused. "If it is a protest, then for
how long will they be protesting?" he asked, unwittingly exposing a rotten
plank in Zanu PF's propaganda platform which has claimed the 2000 election
was a protest vote - as if people are not supposed to protest against
poverty and hardship! They are still protesting, Malinga has discovered the
hard way.

Then he tried to shift the blame onto the Bulawayo city council. The council
ran the city, he claimed, while "government just creates an environment that
is conducive for council to run their areas".

And how "conducive" is that environment? Has he checked recently with the
Bulawayo business community?

Another lesson to emerge from this week's events is the futility of
appealing through the courts for protection from a predatory regime. Justice
Ben Hlatshwayo, who was at one time camped in a caravan on a farm he was
claiming, declared that the restriction of postal ballots to members of the
uniformed forces and diplomats abroad, the retrospective extension of the
voter registration period, and the compilation of the supplementary voters
roll were not enough to warrant the nullification of the election results.

It must be asked: exactly what is it that the government has to do in
placing impediments in the path of opposition parties before the courts will

It took Hlatshwayo two years to announce his conclusion that there was no
legal dispute to resolve.

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku recently invited the public to comment on
court judgements, something they are at liberty to do anyway. The public
should use this opportunity to comment on the steady erosion of supposedly
entrenched liberties and the rule of law. The issue of a lopsided electoral
playing field has not been addressed by the guardians of the constitution.

The Sadc Observer Mission was quick to declare the senate election free and
fair. But it made no mention of the government's failure to adhere to many
of the points raised in its report on the March poll such as equal access to
the media. A token attempt by the Herald to offer space to the MDC on
Saturday hardly meets the Mauritius terms.

There are times when Zimbabwe seems a bit like what Alice saw through the
looking glass. Media and Information Commission member Jonathan Maphenduka
recently resigned from the commission in disgust with the biased and
partisan nature of its decision-making. His letter of resignation was
published in this paper.

But MIC chair Tafataona Mahoso claims Maphenduka has not resigned. Why?
Because the Office of the President has not accepted his resignation!

That is the most fatuous and implausible explanation imaginable. A
resignation is a resignation. Period! Only in Zimbabwe's Orwellian
information regime does a resignation become a non-resignation because its
recipients find it inconvenient!

In a clumsy attempt to rubbish our story on the spreading sanctions net last
week, the Herald declared that Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono had never
been barred from entering the US.

That may be true, largely because he was seen as the acceptable face of an
otherwise rotten regime that abuses office and rigs elections. It was hoped
he would restore the economy to better health by encouraging sound policies.

However, judging by his silly comments in the Herald on Saturday about
sacrificial lambs and martyrs, he has, like our judges, been badly

He claimed to be "apolitical" and "above it all', but then situated his
struggle for economic reform in the same context as the struggle for
Independence. "The struggle to emancipate the country from poverty,
indiscipline and economic backwardness was never going to be easy," he
sanctimoniously declared. No amount of blacklisting would reduce his
commitment to an economic turnaround, he told the Herald.

This was the same weekend that saw elections for a senate that is estimated
to cost the country $60 billion a year. Gono should understand that he is
not being blacklisted because of his noble campaign for an economic
turnaround but because he has identified himself too closely with a regime
that has thwarted his efforts at every turn. It is precisely because his
political masters have made any turnaround impossible that he is now being
branded a failure who supped with the devil but forgot to use a long spoon.

It appears that US ambassador Christopher Dell hit them where it hurts most.
Nathaniel Manheru is still furious that a foreign ambassador could be so
deadly forthright about the cause of Zimbabwe's economic and political
crisis. This week Manheru went over the top, accusing the US of paranoia by
building a concrete wall around its embassy along Hebert Chitepo Avenue.
Where was he all along?

"Make me president of this country for just one moonlit night and Dell and
his lot will find themselves huddled in an all-thin-glass-embassy situated
right next to a humming mosque," prayed Manheru.

We don't know to whom the plea to be made president was directed. But we
think even President Mugabe who once boasted that he could be ten times
worse than Hitler is well aware of international conventions regarding the
treatment of diplomats.

As for paranoia, if Manheru were not a hypocrite he would be telling us
about the fortifications around State House and how many innocent lives have
been lost on that accursed road. We have not heard of anyone shot outside
the US embassy.

Also refusing to go away is the saga of Makosi Musambasi in the UK since she
joined the Big Brother reality television show. She last week won a stay in
the UK for another five years, which has provoked the ire of many moral
humbugs both in Zimbabwe and in the UK who felt they deserved to be in the
UK and not Makosi.

The Herald tried to build a case against Makosi for openly saying what a
majority of the people fear to say. While her life may not be in danger back
home, she said she was happy to be allowed to stay in the country she loves.
And thousands of Zimbabweans spend a fortune trying to get a visa to go and
stay in the UK but still fail. Caps United recently lost eight players after
they vanished during a trip there.

Commenting on Makosi's victory, jealous Zimbabweans could not hide their
bitterness: "Makosi sold a watery alibi and succeeded in fooling the
immigration authorities . because genuine Zimbabwean asylum-seekers have
over the years been denied refugee status, detained, bundled onto planes and
flown back into the real lion's den."

So how does that become Makosi's problem we wonder? Who would want to return
to "a lion's den"? And how many of those now playing holier than thou can
prove that their own lives were in danger in Zimbabwe but still went on to
tell lies about persecution just to escape poverty? Talk of people living in
glass houses throwing stones!

Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo is not ashamed to boast about his
government's incompetence. In his spirited attempt to spread the Zanu PF
malady to all urban centres, Chombo last week attacked the Bulawayo city
council for allegedly failing to provide residents with water. He accused
the MDC-led council of playing political games instead of implementing the
same failed Zanu PF policies.

Bulawayo has been in the throes of water shortages for the past three months
and Chombo, beyond making asinine threats against elected officials, is out
of his depth. He went ballistic when he was told that the council planned to
stop using the scarce water from the Nyamandlovu aquifer for irrigation
purposes and divert it to hospitals, schools and residential areas. He
accused the council of trying to cause food shortages. That was sabotage, he
told the Chronicle, as if farming was the core business of local

Incidentally, more than 46 of the 77 boreholes are still down after war
veterans wrecked them and stole parts.

Without saying where additional water should come from, Chombo told the
council to sort out the water problem in the city or risk being pushed out
to make way for people who are prepared to do the job. And everybody knows
that Sekesai Makwavarara has been his star-performer in Harare! How is
that for a leadership that has "clarity of thought and vision" Cde Chombo?

Yet the people of Bulawayo have been calling for precisely that vision for
more than a century now and Chombo behaves as though he heard about the city's
water problems yesterday.

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Soul-searching vital after senate poll

Zim Independent


THE senatorial election has passed without casting a silver lining on
Zimbabwe's dark cloud. If anything, the situation is grimier with prospects
of even greater costs of maintaining the bicameral parliamentary system
solely for President Mugabe's pleasure.

The costs started with Mugabe's extravagant campaigns across the country,
which were stolidly ignored. But that did not stop government purchasing air
tickets for those invited to the great beanfeast in Harare - whether Zanu PF
or MDC.

Parliamentary Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa has been trying to convince
a sceptical nation that the senate is good for us, that it will exercise
useful oversight on legislative matters. This, we all know, is hogwash. The
calibre of those selected or elected to this upper house says it all.

We however reject the simplistic dichotomy that the low voter turnout -
estimated at 19,4% - on Saturday should be seen as a slap in the face for
President Mugabe and the pro-senate camp in the MDC on the one hand, and an
endorsement of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai's call for a boycott on the
other. It was neither. It would be opportunistic for Tsvangirai to claim to
have his finger on the pulse of national sentiment.

Staying away from the polls and a boycott were a happy coincidence, and that
has been the most unfortunate trend of Zimbabwe's protest politics. Voter
apathy, for whatever reason, poses the greatest threat to parliamentary
democracy because those put in power have no stake in the national interest
or the democracy project.

There were more reasons for a stayaway than for voting for Mugabe: there was
no cash, no fuel, no food and simply no sign of the economic turnaround that
we were promised when RBZ governor Gideon Gono arrived in 2003. Indeed, even
the promises made in March have evaporated. To cap it all, apart from its
own cost, nobody believes the senate will add value to legislative debate.
The last bit explains why the pro-senate MDC faction was unable to galvanise
more than a handful of voters to turn out, not so much Tsvangirai's call for
a boycott.

There is mass disillusionment with the whole party. If it couldn't influence
government policies with 57 MPs, what hope does it have with much less?

Herein comes the MDC's opportunism - what could be easier than telling such
disaffected people to stay at home and blame Mugabe for all our problems?
That has become the nation's biggest pastime and its self-made tragedy -
finger-pointing and doing nothing.

A self-fulfilling defeatist philosophy is being celebrated as a victory for
the anti-senate camp and democracy! It's a classic case where mental
"attitude is everything".

Yet in February 2000 men and women with spunk beat Mugabe and the newly-born
MDC nearly did it in June. Was it all fortuitous and the leaders are now in
rigor mortis?

Instead of providing solutions to the national crisis, the MDC leadership is
following the lead of a people in distress for the immediate needs of
survival. The bigger picture has been lost. And those in the leadership who
should be holding the compass call this a "vindication" of a call to

Come congress and the same herd mentality will determine who stays and who
goes - not who has new strategies to defeat the nation's common enemy.

It is however edifying that Tsvangirai is beginning to think beyond a
boycott. Last week he said it was time to engage the dictatorship in
"democratic resistance" for a new constitution. We hope this is an approach
the whole party will seriously embrace now that Zanu PF's diversionary
senate project is settled.

No new, people-driven constitution will come out of election boycotts, nor
will a free political environment come from the Mauritius electoral
protocols. We cannot imagine a time when Zanu PF will relinquish power on
moral grounds, even where 95% of the electorate boycott the poll.

It was a different story in Kenya where the rejection of a proposed
constitution forced President Mwai Kibaki to fire his entire cabinet. In
Zimbabwe it is business as usual.

Those who expected Mugabe to bat an eyelid with embarrassment at the low
voter turnout on Saturday must have been quickly disabused when he went on
to appoint those who lost to his cabinet. How does boycotting elections deal
with such presidential arrogance and advance the cause of democracy?

What the people of Zimbabwe are looking for in the opposition is a spark of
leadership in the deep national crisis and not petty vendettas to mask lack
of strategy. So far that spark is not showing anywhere.

This is a time for serious soul-searching about the future of this country.

We see nothing to celebrate from the senatorial poll outcome, least of all
from those who claim to be leading the struggle for democracy and to have
the will of the people in their hearts. That's cynicism not worthy of any

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Zim Independent Letters

Whither now Morgan Tsvangirai & crew?

DEAR Morgan Tsvangirai, I write to you as a troubled Zimbabwean who thinks
the future of the MDC can only be secured if you are not part of it. The MDC
is not a party that belongs to you alone. It is a people's party and you are
not above the people.

I however, have this question for you and all your sidekicks, including
Tendai Biti, Tapiwa Mashakada and William Bango. You vehemently campaigned
against senatorial elections and these have come and gone, now tell us what
next? What is your course of action to fight Zanu PF?

Don't you think those who campaigned and won on an MDC ticket are better
fighters than you and your faction?

Remember what happened to The Daily News and Daily News on Sunday.

While other papers decided to fight a bad piece of legislation from within
by registering, the ANZ (in all its wisdom) thought they could go it alone.
Where are they now? Don't you think as a party leader, you risk rendering
the MDC irrelevant if it does not participate in elections?

Don't you think the more elections the MDC participates in, the more chances
there are for you to learn how Zanu PF rigs? This will enable the MDC to
come up with strategies to handle future elections.

Personally I salute all MDC candidates who participated in the senatorial
elections (whether they lost or won) because they fought hard against Zanu
PF while their own party, the MDC, was busy de-campaigning them.

You told people that the senate was a waste of money. Account to us how much
money you spent going around the country de-campaigning your own guys? I ask
again, please tell us whither now that senate elections have come and gone?
Don't just oppose others in your party without offering an effective
solution to the crisis at hand.

To your sidekicks, the Bitis, Mashakadas and others who blindly follow you,
we do not want another Zanu PF cabinet. It is better to have followers who
publicly criticise their leader than blind followers. They should know this;
they are just like Patrick Chinamasa, Joseph Made, Obert Mpofu, Ignatious
Chombo and other Zanu PF bootlickers who are Mugabe's "yes-men".

Clinton Sitshela,


Garikai houses fall apart

THE so-called low-cost houses that are being built under Operation Garikai
are proving to be of really low quality.

Of the 30 structures that have been built in Chinhoyi, 13 of them were
destroyed by the little showers that came last week. This indicates that by
the end of the rainy season, not even a single house will be firmly

It should be known to the public that the Ministry of Housing is using low
quality bricks. No brick force is being used, no lintles have been custed
for the windows and door frames. And these are supposed to be homes for

Mapako Chomi,



Ncube like a hurricane

LIKE a hurricane in the Amazon, so is Welshman Ncube causing havoc in the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) at the expense of people who have come
so long a way in the struggle against the Mugabe regime.

One may never cease to wonder as to why Ncube, who is a professor in law,
would stoop so low as to fail to realise that our nation needs the highest
degree of unity and peace.

I am writing this letter from the University of Zimbabwe and I should
hastily submit that Ncube has contaminated our beloved college. We now have
students old enough to be our fathers trying to steer up a struggle in
favour of Ncube, when what they want are a few coins from the MDC. This is
not the struggle. Chitima hachimiri nekuti imbwa yahukura (A train will
never stop because of a barking dog).

We shall not cease fighting the regime because Ncube and "Jobless" Sikhala
have moved out of MDC and are trying to join the United People's Movement.

We shall never cease because Priscilla Misihairabwi, David Coltart and Trudy
Stevenson have abandoned the struggle to satisfy their greedy, selfish if
not horrible and petrifying needs.

Be careful Ncube lest the wrath of the people visits you.




What Murambatsvina failed to achieve, Zanu PF senators will do

NEWS that unopposed Zanu PF senators have already started targetting MDC
supporters in their constituencies is no surprise, since their colleagues in
the lower house have been doing this for the past six years.

What is disturbing is that the general public, particularly in Harare, have
not yet understood the reality of the situation, which is that there will be
a senate.

They are so determined in their mind that the senate is a bad thing that
they simply refuse to accept that it is reality. The result of this mental
block is that half the constituencies have been given to Zanu PF without any
fight whatsoever, and those are the ones which are already tasting the
reality of Zanu PF senators, even over MDC MPs, as in the case of
Dzivarasekwa, Kuwadzana, Kambuzuma and Mufakose.

Those MPs will have great difficulty resisting the regime's efforts to
thwart their successes and their programmes with the people, for the simple
reason that the senators will be given all the resources and state machinery
for their own purposes. Removing MDC is their number one priority - starting
with vendors, but moving on to businesses, lodgers, house-owners - until
every non-card-carrying member is booted out.

What Murambatsvina failed to achieve, Zanu PF senators will finish off. It
is difficult to see a positive outcome to this situation, even in MDC
strongholds, brought about by lack of proper analysis -or more graphically,
by the ostrich head-in-the-sand mentality.

Trudy Stevenson,

MP (MDC), Harare North.


Genius needed to assist govt

IT will take a genius to correct the government because most of them are
doctors, PhDs, well-read people who hold titles on paper, but lack common
sense to know right from wrong.

The Chinese are a hard working, patriotic, selfish people, who are just out
to grow crops which they will in turn sell and send the money to their
mother country. If not, they will supply their market with the food grown in
this country. It is the Chinese who have become the new colonial master (and
by the way they are not Zimbabweans). The white commercial farmers were
Zimbabweans that is why they were bringing their monies back to their mother
country. It does not take a politician to tell us that.

The majority of skilled manpower that was driven out of Zimbabwe by Zanu
PF's greed, corruption and selfishness is now in the diaspora, paying taxes
and making it in foreign lands.These same people if they left the country
voluntarily would have been able to sustain this country by repratriating
all their monies back home, just like the Indians, Chinese, Filipinos do.
But the so-called kings of this country think that they can with the help of
the Chinese, turn this economy around.

Personally I have sold all I owned in Zimbabwe. Even if the Zimbabwe dollar
has an exchange rate of US$1:$3 million, I will not waste my money to change
it at even that, because it's the same old greedy people who are wanting the
foreign currency to fly around the world looking good, whilst the population
is starving.

Look at the North Koreans, the way they portray their country as if
everything is glorious, whilst people are dying of hunger. That is the same
way our leaders commandeer planes to go shopping whilst people are wallowing
in poverty. The thing I like and love about life is there is a just God who
is watching, and remember that what goes around comes around.

At least I have done my service to remind the powers that be that the
writing is on the wall, you have failed with these grades in the following
subjects related to running a country as a leader and as a party:

Agriculture: U

Economics: U

Transport management: U

Public relations: U

Human resources: U

Dressing: B

Travelling: A+

Policy making: E

Accounting: E

I wish all Zimbabweans the best and look forward to doing business in the
United States. I hope that things will turn around for you in Zimbabwe and I
do not regret leaving this country, which was my home for many years. I hope
to write again in the near future, but with these last few words, keep
hoping for a better tomorrow, with better leadership and a responsible

I will continue to pray for Zimbabwe.

God bless you all.

Praying parent,



Disturbed by leaders' disrespect of Ndebeles

I AM disturbed by the disrespect shown by three of our political leaders
towards the Ndebeles and their language.

The offending leaders are President Robert Mugabe, his vice Joice Mujuru and
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

As if to perpetuate the "1979 Grand Plan", they travel all over Matabeleland
campaigning in Shona without even caring whether or not their audiences
understand Shona!

I should of course apportion blame to organisers of their rallies who seem
to always fail to get interpreters. I urge these leaders to learn to respect
all their subjects and culture.

No wonder Zanu PF always loses in Matabeleland while Tsvangirai's faction
has failed to garner our support.

Those who support or saw no evil in Gukurahundi might label me a tribalist
but the victims and their sympathisers will agree that the three lack
respect and qualities of a national leader like the late Joshua Nkomo and
former South African president Nelson Mandela.

The Gukurahundi forces went all over Matabeleland and the Midlands on their
killing spree, barking orders in Shona, even to a day-old baby! So in these
three Shona leaders we see an undying Gukurahundi spirit which is in line
with the 1979 Grand Plan of "Shonalising" the whole of Zimbabwe. I urge them
to show respect to various communities by getting interpreters if they
cannot speak local languages.

A humble and desirable gesture is to always apologise and find out first if
the audience understands and is comfortable with their language before they
descend on them, Gukurahundi style!

D Ncube,


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