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Mugabe, Tsvangirai Battle Hots Up

Thursday, 26 February 2009 22:20
THE power struggle between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai intensified this week after Mugabe "unilaterally"
announced the appointment of permanent secretaries without consultations
with Tsvangirai.

The global political agreement which led to the inclusive government
created two centres of power, one in Mugabe's office and the other in
Tsvangirai's and this has become a source of infighting in the government.
The battle exploded into the public this week when Tsvangirai
lambasted Mugabe for unilaterally appointing permanent secretaries without
consulting him and others as required by the political agreement.

He also slammed the state's failure to release political prisoners "as
agreed" and agricultural disruptions caused by farm invasions.

Mugabe was expected to fuel the wrangling last night in a state
television interview in which he challenges the MDC on a number of fronts
and rejects calls to adopt the South African rand as the official currency.

The political war is expected to intensify after the MDC's national
executive meets today to "review the status and performance of the inclusive
government in relation to the party's expectations".

Sources in Zanu PF told the Zimbabwe Independent that Mugabe told a
politburo meeting on Wednesday that the party should take on the MDC in

Tsvangirai this week confirmed that the operation of the unity
government was under threat when he attacked Mugabe.

The prime minister told journalists and diplomats at his Munhumutapa
offices in Harare on Wednesday that despite the inclusive government,
"parallel forces" - apparently in Zanu PF and state structures - were
undermining the new regime and were blocking the resolution of outstanding
issues besetting the deal.

Contentious issues include the appointment of senior government
officials such as permanent secretaries and ambassadors, appointment of
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono and Attorney-General Johannes Tomana,
provincial governors and the continued detention of political and civic
society activists, among them deputy Agriculture minister-designate Roy

In addition disputes over the mandates of various ministries have
emerged, in particular in the Ministry of Information Communication
Technology headed by Nelson Chamisa and the Ministry of Media, Information
and Publicity led by Webster Shamu.

Tsvangirai was livid that Mugabe had announced the appointment of
permanent secretaries on Tuesday in contravention of both the global
agreement and the constitution.

He cited article 20.1.7 of the eighth schedule that states that: "The
parties agree that with respect to occupants of senior government positions,
such as permanent secretaries and ambassadors, the leadership in government,
comprising the president, the vice-presidents, the prime minister and deputy
prime ministers, will consult and agree on such prior to their appointment."

Tsvangirai said no civil servant has the authority to make such
appointments or announcements.

"Therefore the announcement of the permanent secretaries has no force
of law and is therefore null and void. The permanent secretaries who were in
position as of September 15th will remain in post in an acting capacity
until the matter is resolved."

Tsvangirai said the appointments of Gono and Tomana have to be "dealt
with and resolved immediately" arguing that it was in line with the Sadc
communiqué issued in Pretoria on January 27 which stated that: "the
appointments of the Reserve Bank governor and attorney-general will be dealt
with by the inclusive government after its formation".

"As long as these matters remain unresolved it will be impossible for
the transitional government to move forward with the reforms that this
country so desperately needs," said Tsvangirai.

However, Mugabe has ruled out the possibility of nullifying "any
statutory appointments legally made".
Mugabe told ZBC on Wednesday in an interview to mark his 85th birthday
that Gono, Tomana and anyone whose appointment "was done legally" will not

He said their appointments were done legally and they were vetted by
the responsible authorities to ascertain their suitability for the job.

"I do not see any reason why those people should go and they will not
go," Mugabe said. This has provoked a head-on confrontation with Tsvangirai
who is under pressure to remove Gono and Tomana.
Mugabe also said he would soon meet Finance minister Tendai Biti to
discuss, among other things, whether or not to adopt the rand as legal
tender, which he is opposed to.

He also said he was opposed to paying civil servants in foreign
currency because the country was generating little hard currency and
proposed reforms to make the Zimbabwe dollar strong.

Tsvangirai claimed that the rule of law continued to be "flouted" by
some sections of the community.

"In particular, a new wave of disruptions of farming operations, in
contravention of the Memorandum of Understanding, are undermining our
ability to revive our agricultural sector and restore investor confidence,"
Tsvangirai said.

He said in a meeting last week with Mugabe and Mutambara they agreed
that all political detainees who have been formally charged with a crime
should be released on bail and those that have not been charged should be
released unconditionally.

"This has not yet happened," Tsvangirai said. "Indeed, rather than
allowing the judicial process to take its course with regard to the granting
of bail, the Attorney-General's office is wilfully obstructing the release
of all detainees by abusing the appeal process and this must stop

United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki Moon this week in South Africa
urged Mugabe to release detained activists and said such a move would help
unlock international humanitarian support.

"I support the launch of the unity government, but it will be
appropriate for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to heal the nation and
release the detained activists."

"I hope that he would listen to the expectations of the international
community by releasing them all as soon as possible."


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Birthday Special: 'No mealie meal or beef'

Thursday, 26 February 2009 22:06

PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai will on Saturday join President
Robert Mugabe's birthday bash in Chinhoyi which he previously criticised as
wasteful amid widespread starvation.

Tsvangirai's presence at Mugabe's festivities is likely to draw fierce
criticism from his backers who now say he lacks the courage of his
convictions and has been swayed by the trappings of power.

The bash, which will be attended by Zanu PF supporters, family
members, friends and children marshalled from around the country.

The revelry is being organised by the North Korea-styled 21st February
Movement led by Zanu PF Youth League.

Classy cuisine and expensive drinks, including lobster, prawns,
cheese, caviar, ducks, sausages, champagne, extra-refined whiskies like
Johnny Walker Blue Label and Chivas Regal and Remy Martin will be served.

The list of food and drinks includes 2 000 bottles of champagne, 8 000
lobsters, 100kg of prawns 500 kg cheese, 4 000 portions caviar, 4 000
packets cream crackers, 3 000 ducks, 4 000 packets of pork sausages, 4 000
packets of borewors, 16 000 eggs, 16 000 croissants, 8 000 boxes Ferrero
Rocha chocolates, 12 000 muffins, 500 bottles Johnny Walker Blue Label, Jack
Daniels, Chivas 22 years, 100 bottles of Remy Martin, 4 000 chickens, 3 000
cakes and 500 bottles of olive oil.

The list however has notable exceptions written on it: "No mealie meal
or beef"!

Tsvangirai's spokesman James Maridadi yesterday confirmed his boss
would attend Mugabe's 85th birthday celebrations. Mugabe turned 85 last

"The invitation has been received and the prime minister will go there
(to Mugabe's birthday)," said Maridadi. "It is in the spirit of national
unity that he attends in his capacity as prime minister," Maridadi said. "It
is a courteous gesture that he  responded positively to the invitation."

Tsvangirai has in the past vociferously criticised Mugabe's elaborate
birthday parties in which large sums are spent while  ordinary people
starve, saying they are wasteful and insensitive.

The budget for this year's celebrations is at least US$200 000. Those
pledging to donate money to Mugabe's party have had to pay through their

In the media category, the donation threshold is at least US$50 000,
food and accommodation (US$45 000), transport and memorabilia (US$55 000)
and entertainment (US$50 000).

Donations were supposed to be deposited at CBZ account No 011 220 849
300 21, swift code: COBZZWHAXXX, sort code: 6101, branch Kwame Nkrumah
Avenue, Harare. The account name is 21st February Movement.

This money will be spent partying as the nation reels from hunger and
disease. Aid agencies say at least five million people need food relief,
while about 3 800 recently died of cholera.

The United Nations this week said it would contribute US$500 million
to address the dire humanitarian crisis. It has so far raised US$85 million,
but Zimbabwe's political elite seems to be unfazed by the humanitarian
disaster engulfing the nation.

Mugabe has also been criticised for spending money on overseas
shopping trips for his wife Grace whom the media describe as a compulsive

Grace was recently reported to have been engaged in a dramatic public
scrap with foreign journalists while in Singapore shopping on her way from
Hong Kong to see her daughter who is studying there.

Glorified in Zanu PF circles as the "Dear Leader" and vilified
elsewhere as a tyrant, Mugabe will celebrate his birthday which his
loyalists claim to be "the most auspicious day of the nation".

The state media has been relentless in its praise of Mugabe and his
liberation struggle heroics.

However, critics dismiss the praise-singing as worship at the shrine
of the "personality cult".


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Shamu, Chamisa Clash

Thursday, 26 February 2009 22:06
THERE was drama at the NetOne head office in Harare yesterday when
Minister of Information and Communication Technology Nelson Chamisa and
Minister of Media, Information and Publicity Webster Shamu clashed at a
meeting meant to address workers at the parastatal.

Shamu was scheduled to address the meeting at NetOne, a department
that falls under Chamisa's ministry.
One of the agendas of the meeting was to address the grievances of the

However, the meeting had to be cancelled after Chamisa, who also
attended the meeting, approached Shamu asking him in what capacity he was
attending a meeting without his knowledge.

When the Zimbabwe Independent arrived workers were told to wait in a
separate room while NetOne managing director Reward Kangai left the two
ministers to solve their differences.

Workers curiously watched the ministers argue through a transparent
door in the corridor. After a heated dispute the meeting was abandoned.

Both ministers said they could not comment on the incident.

Sources said Chamisa was given the mandate to take charge of telecoms
and recently there was a handover between him and former Minister of
Transport and Communications Chris Mushohwe.

A source said: "Chamisa was given everything by Mushohwe from
communications acts to documents about the running of the parastatals.
However, Zanu PF realised they had made a blunder by giving
telecommunications to the MDC but it was too late."

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai this week said he was aware of
disputes over mandates of various ministries and that issues of overlap and
duplication would be resolved by his office.

He said: "With respect to the Ministry of Media, Information and
Publicity and the Ministry of Information  Communication Technology, the
functions of the former Department of Communication within the Ministry of
Transport and Communications shall be the responsibility of the new Ministry
of Information and Communications Technology. For avoidance of doubt,
Telecommunications falls under this ministry."


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Mavambo Takes Makoni to Court

Thursday, 26 February 2009 21:57
A FACTION of the Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD) movement led by national
mobilisation chairman Kudzai Mbudzi filed an urgent High Court application
Thursday seeking to bar suspended founding leader Simba Makoni from using
the movement's resources.

In his founding affidavit lodged with the High Court, Mbudzi said the
courts should stop Makoni, a former Finance minister and Zanu PF politburo
member, from "abusing" MKD property until police complete investigations
into alleged swindling of the movement's funds.

"This application seeks additional relief restraining the said Simba
Makoni and other respondents from dealing or interfering in any way with the
money, assets, premises and other resources of the movement pending the
conclusion of investigations for which Makoni has been placed on
 suspension," Mbudzi wrote.

"The application also seeks an order directing the respondents to
surrender all the applicants' books of accounts and property to facilitate
an audit or investigation."

Mbudzi cited Mavambo Trust and trustees, Harare city council
ceremonial mayor Muchadeyi Masunda and MKD treasurer Abiathar Mujeyi as

The retired army major said Masunda and Mujeyi were still in control
of "some of the assets and resources" belonging to the beleaguered movement.

"Worse still, and directly relevant to the matter, Simba Makoni (and
his coterie of friends) also turned the money, assets and other resources of
the movement to his personal use or abuse," averred Mbudzi.

"No one," Mbudzi argued, "except Makoni and a few of his close friends
know where the vehicles (of the movement) are hidden."

The ex-Zanu PF politburo member has since dismissed his suspension and
threatened to sue for defamation some members of the movement's National
Co-ordinating Committee for allegedly maligning his reputation.

Last month some MKD provincial leaders, which excluded Harare
province, recalled Makoni after accusing him of misusing party property.

Makoni came a distant third in last March's presidential elections.

According to Mbudzi, national co-ordinator Ibbo Mandaza and journalist
Kindness Paradza, Makoni's presidential bid received donations to the tune
of US$3 million and 34 vehicles.

Some of the money and vehicles, they alleged, were abused.


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Cabinet Choices Widen Rifts in Zanu PF, MDCs

Thursday, 26 February 2009 21:52
SERIOUS divisions have rocked the three political parties in the unity
government after their principals appointed cabinet ministers based on
cronyism and loyalty to the leaders.

So serious are the rifts in Zanu PF and the two MDC formations that
stability in the parties is under threat.

Impeccable sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that the appointment
of 41 ministers and 20 deputies in the past two weeks by President Robert
Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur
Mutambara, exposed to the public glare the power struggles going on in Zanu
PF and the two MDC formations.

The sources said the divisions were wide in the Tsvangirai-led MDC-T
where the party leader was accused of favouritism, cronyism and tribalism in
selecting his ministers.

After the MDC-T national council met on January 30 and agreed to join
the power-sharing government, the sources said, Tsvangirai called the
members of his party he had picked to serve as ministers to his Strathaven
home in Harare.

Among those invited, the sources said, was deputy secretary-general
Tapiwa Mashakada, but the economist was later excluded from Tsvangirai's
line up.

"He (Mashakada) was originally on Tsvangirai's list but the president
was influenced to drop him by the 'kitchen cabinet'," one of the sources
said, a reference to Tsvangirai's coterie of advisors.

"When the party's standing committee went for a retreat at Pamuzinda
Lodge between February 6 and 8, Eddie Cross told Mashakada that he would not
be in cabinet."

Cross is the MDC-T policy coordinator and a close associate of
Tsvangirai. The sources said Cross told Mashakada that Tsvangirai wanted to
appoint him as a consultant in the National Security Council on a three-year
contract bankrolled by the World Bank to reform state security organs.

On February 10, Tsvangirai held a meeting with his standing committee
at Harvest House and the party's spokesperson Nelson Chamisa challenged him
to disclose his cabinet list, but he flatly refused, the sources said.
Chamisa did not get the backing of other members of the committee to pursue
the matter.

The same day Tsvangirai convened a meeting of the national executive
and told them that he had selected his ministers based on loyalty, gender
balance and blending of the youth and the old.

"He announced the cabinet list to the national executive and Mashakada
was not on it despite his loyalty to the party being unquestionable," one of
the sources said.

"Maybe Tsvangirai meant loyalty to himself (not the party)," the
source said. "Moreover, the list lacked equity and national outlook in that
Matabeleland was marginalised."

The sources said it was apparent that Mashakada was excluded from the
list because of the clash between him and Tsvangirai over the
"unconstitutional" removal of Lucia Matibenga as chairperson of the women's
assembly. She was replaced by Teresa Makone last year.

"Mashakada demanded that due process should have been followed in
dealing with the Matibenga case because she was elected at congress, but
Tsvangirai wanted her out in favour of Makone -- a family friend."

Mashakada fought side by side with Tsvangirai to convince the national
council to agree to join the unity government, while secretary-general
Tendai Biti and other "hardliners" were reportedly against the move.

The sources said soon after the national executive meeting and press
conference called by Tsvangirai ended, MPs from Bulawayo besieged the party
leader's home and told him that his cabinet list lacked balance.

Tsvangirai, the sources added, was told that the legislators were
prepared to quit the MDC-T because he had shown "shocking tribalism" in the
way he picked his ministers.

"The MPs demanded that for them to remain in the party, Samuel Sipepa
Nkomo should be appointed a cabinet minister. They also said he should drop
(Abedinico) Bhebhe of the Mutambara formation whom he had appointed Water
Resources minister and replace him with (Binga lawmaker) Joel Gabbuza," a
member of the MDC-T national council.

The sources said Tsvangirai had to capitulate to the demands and
replaced Bhebhe with Nkomo as Minister of Water Resources while Gabbuza came
in as Minister of State Enterprises and Parastatals instead of Cross.

The Bulawayo MPs also forced Tsvangirai to appoint national youth
chairperson Thamsanga Mahlangu as deputy Youth minister.

The sources said MDC-T senior members in the three Mashonaland
provinces were also bitter that Tsvangirai did not select anyone from the
provinces for his cabinet despite winning seats in traditional Zanu PF

In Zanu PF, insiders said, some party heavyweights were not happy with
Mugabe's decision to retain the old guard at the expense of younger party

The majority of the ministers Mugabe retained, the sources said, were
linked to the faction led by new Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and
this left the camp headed by retired army general Solomon Mujuru sulking.

Mnangagwa was instrumental in Mugabe's re-election in the one-man
runoff on June 27 last year. He allegedly coordinated the campaign that was
characterised by violence, which forced Tsvangirai to withdraw from the race
at the last minute.

Mugabe re-appointed Mnangagwa (Defence), Didymus Mutasa (Presidential
Affairs), Sydney Sekeramayi (National Security), Stan Mudenge (Higher
Education), Ignatious Chombo (Local Government), Kembo Mohadi (Home
Affairs), Nicholas Goche (Transport), Sithembiso Nyoni (SMEs), Joseph Made
(Agriculture), Simbarashe Mumbengegwi (Foreign Affairs), Francis Nhema
(Environment) and Patrick Chinamasa (Legal Affairs).

Others are Herbert Murerwa (Lands), Obert Mpofu (Mines), Webster Shamu
(Information) and Walter Mzembi (Tourism).

 "The majority of the ministers belong to the Mnangagwa faction," one
of the sources said. "The Mujuru faction is bitter about these appointments,
which they see as a way to weaken them."

The sources said Mugabe, after realising that he had dropped some
senior members of Mujuru's faction from his cabinet list, tried and failed
to convince former Health minister David Parirenyatwa and ex-Indigenisation
and Empowerment minister Paul Mangwana to become deputy ministers.

"Mugabe asked Vice-President (Joice) Mujuru to persuade Parirenyatwa
and Mangwana to come into the new government as deputy ministers, but they
declined after they were advised not to take up the posts by their camp," a
senior Zanu PF member said.

In the Mutambara-led MDC, elected MPs in the party are bitter that
they were ignored in the selection of ministers.

Mutambara nominated his deputy Gibson Sibanda as Minister of State in
his office, Welshman Ncube as Minister of Industry and Commerce, David
Coltart as Minister of Education, and Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga as
Minister of Regional and International Integration.

The only other elected lawmaker, Moses Mzila Ndlovu, was appointed
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Bhebhe last week told the Independent that Mutambara's leadership was
undemocratic after it blocked his appointment by Tsvangirai and also
nominated ministers who were not elected MPs.

"This decision shows that the Mutambara leadership is not democratic,
it is a leadership that lost elections and came back through the back door
on the strength of the 16 MPs who won elections on March 29 2008," Bhebhe

"I feel great that they have been exposed for what they are through
this incident."

Sources in the party said the faction intended to expel Bhebhe from
the party because of his outburst.


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Nkomo accused of fanning factionalism in Zanu PF

Thursday, 26 February 2009 21:30
ZANU PF national chairman John Nkomo has been accused of fomenting
divisions in the party's Harare province by backing a faction led by former
Mines minister Amos Midzi that is battling with a rival camp headed by
Energy deputy minister Hubert Nyanhongo.

Midzi was the party's provincial chairperson until last December when
he lost the post to Nyanhongo in polls that were marred by violence.

Zanu PF's conference in Bindura in December did not endorse Nyanhongo's
election and appointed Nkomo to probe and make recommendations on the events
that led to the violent poll.

Nkomo, according to sources in Zanu PF, wanted fresh polls to take
place in the capital and has ordered an overhaul of the party's structures
beginning last weekend.

This has irked the Nyanhongo camp.

"We are convinced that this decision of having another election was
pushed from the top," said a senior member of the Nyanhongo faction. "People
who lost elections want to be bulldozed back into the party through
fraudulent means."

The faction accused Nkomo, Harare resident minister David Karimanzira
and Zanu PF politburo member Tendai Savanhu of working against the wishes of
members by propping up the Midzi camp.

"Savanhu lost in Mbare, Midzi in Hatfield and Karimanzira is an
appointee as well as Nkomo, so how can we be led by losers every time?"
another Nyanhongo camp official said.

"This business of having losers at the forefront is destroying our
party. They have lost and they must just accept that."

Karimanzira on Thursday could not comment on the developments in the
province saying he was in a meeting.

Nkomo referred questions to Zanu PF deputy national political
commissar Naison Ndlovu who was not reachable on his mobile phone.

Nyanhongo on Thursday insisted that he was the chairman of Harare
province before declining to answer further questions.

Efforts to get a comment from Midzi were in vain yesterday, as he was
not answering his mobile phone.

On Wednesday the Zanu PF politburo mandated Nkomo to make a final
recommendation on the way forward and bring the issue to finality.

A fortnight ago, Nkomo met both the Midzi and Nyanhongo factions at
the Zanu PF headquarters in Harare in a bid to end the feud.

After the meeting, Nyanhongo supporters booed Nkomo and also accused
him of destroying the party by backing Midzi who lost the chairmanship poll.

The supporters called Nkomo a sell-out. The same rowdy supporters
insulted Midzi.

Nyanhongo's faction accused Midzi of dividing the party, decampaigning
President Robert Mugabe in the countdown to the March 2008 election and for
belonging to a Zanu PF faction led by former army commander Solomon Mujuru.


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'US$600 million required to revive health sector'

Thursday, 26 February 2009 21:19
ABOUT US$600 million is needed urgently to acquire medical equipment,
drugs, infrastructure refurbishment and other resources to revive the health
sector, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.

In a report this month on the state of the health sector, a task force
of the National Economic Consultative Forum (NECF) said the money would also
cover coordination of medical research and development in the country and
manpower development.

The NECF taskforce on health comprises officials from the Ministry of
Health and Child Welfare, Medical Professional Associations, Medical
Councils, University of Zimbabwe School of Medicine, Private Hospitals
Associations, Private Medical Laboratories Associations, pharmaceutical
manufacturing companies and medical aid societies.

The US$600 million is way above the US$157,8 million allocated to the
Health ministry in the 2009 budget by the then acting Finance minister
Patrick Chinamasa.

In the budget, US$60 million was allocated to government central,
provincial and district hospitals and rural health centers while US$21,7
million was set aside for the procurement of drugs and other medical
supplies for local authorities and mission hospitals and clinics.

NatPharm was allocated US$16,25 million for recapitalisation and the
health ministry is expected to procure 61 ambulances and 80 service vehicles
from the US$4 million it was allocated for equipment.

Over US$6,5 million was set aside for urgent rehabilitation of health
infrastructure such as boilers, steam reticulation systems and laundry
equipment at Harare, Mpilo, United Bulawayo hospitals and Chitungwiza
central hospitals.

The taskforce said Chinamasa's budgetary allocation was inadequate and
made a number of recommendations to urgently resuscitate the health sector
now run by the newly appointed MDC-T minister Henry Madzorera.

The taskforce said the government should mobilise adequate resources
to assist local health products manufactures, wholesalers and distributors
to rebuild capacity and that the allocation of the resources should be done
through an independent body.

"For the public sector resources should be made available through the
National Pharmaceutical Company (Natpharm). The annual requirements for the
three stakeholders in the supply chain must be made available every three
months before the end of the year without fail," the report read.

"The allocation for resources must now be done through an Independent
Health Supplies Committee established by government for this purpose,
comprised of representatives from ministries of Health, Finance, Economic
Development, Trade and Commerce, manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors,
Natpharm and an NECF taskforce member."

The taskforce also recommended the direct funding from both the public
and private sector to local universities so as to attract quality resource

"The private sector must be encouraged to play an active role in human
resource development for the health sector, particularly by providing
sponsorship for specialist programme," read the report.

"The provision of transport and housing is essential for all
professional and supporting staff. An incentive package for health personnel
that is slightly above the regional parity in order to attract those that
migrated into the region and elsewhere should be put in place."

According to the report, healthcare funders and pension funds must be
engaged in resuscitating existing infrastructure at all public hospitals.

It said there was a need for at least two ambulances at each rural
health centre and health workers should be provided adequate transport to
perform their duties.

Most public hospital infrastructure is dilapidated and some of the
equipment, such as boilers, mortuary refrigeration systems and air
conditioners, are beyond repair.

The report suggested that the Research Council of Zimbabwe be given
the mandate to ensure that all local research, including animal health
science, is properly coordinated across all sectors.

"There should be a dedicated 1% of GDP allocated to research and
development from central government whilst the private sector should also
give a fixed percentage of its profit to research and development," the
taskforce said.

"All humanitarian aid from non-governmental organisatons must now be
turned to development aid so that emphasis is on reconstruction and
development rather than treating a symptom."


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Selling Pressure Leaves Companies Exposed

Thursday, 26 February 2009 18:24
THE selling pressure on the stock market has forced share prices lower
than what the market was anticipating.

After three months of inaction, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange resumed
trading last Wednesday with only Apex Corporation trading on the first day
as all the other counters found no takers.

There has been a big spread between buyers and sellers. Buyers are
offering prices "way below" what sellers are asking for.

This, analysts said, made local companies easy targets for takeover by
foreign investors. The main stumbling block for most of them however are
laws that limit foreign investors to only a 40% shareholding in a local
company and the cost of transacting which is more than twice what the region
is charging.

Given that on Tuesday, Delta, one of the blue chip counters on the
local bourse, traded at US$0,20c, if one invested US$1 000 on the day they
would have bought about 5 000 shares.

In such an environment where more than three quarters of the companies
listed on the stock market are trading below US$0,10, two different foreign
investors can easily take over a company or be a major shareholder by
investing about US$6 000 which can be obtained by selling a Madza 323
Familia vehicle.

Individuals in Zimbabwe are not allowed to have a shareholding that is
more than 10% in a company. Stockbrokers however this week said individuals
who had money were using nominees or other individuals to buy shares on
their behalf to avoid violating stock exchange rules.

"The richest people in the world made their money on the stock market.
There is a lot of potential in Zimbabwe, but the main stumbling block is
lack of clarity on foreign exchange regulation," a stockbroker said.

Stockbrokers said the Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti, the Securities
Exchange Commission (SEC), and Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono are failing
to speak with one voice on a number of rules that govern how the local
bourse should operate.

"Foreign investors are being discouraged by transacting charges on the
local bourse. The minister (Biti) wants 5,1%, while the SEC wants 7,5%," the
stockbroker said.

"The region is charging about 3% and their economies are performing
better than Zimbabwe. Why would foreigners want to come and pay about 7,5%
in Zimbabwe?" said the stockbroker.

For purchases, a brokerage fee of 2% was agreed, although the SEC
wanted 1% but Biti said he wanted 2% to boost value added tax.

Stamp duty was agreed at 0,5% while value added tax would be 15% of
brokerage fees.

For sellers, 2% would be charged for brokerage, while 15% would be
paid for value added tax.

Some analysts said it was going to be difficult for Biti, Gono and the
SEC to speak with one voice as there was no productive sector in Zimbabwe
and as such, the local bourse was a refection of the situation in the

Some stockbrokers said Zimbabwean companies were not necessarily going
to fall victim to predatory foreign investors for a while.

"There are quite a few uncertainties especially from sustainability of
the government of national unity and its implications on policy
flip-flopping," the stockbroker said.

Stockbrokers said some clients were still sceptical about bringing
their funds into the formal banking sector owing to past experiences where
foreign currency retention ratios have been tweaked every so often and in
most cases without warning.

"The major challenge we face therefore is confidence in the monetary
and fiscal systems of the country. There is a lot of interest, especially
from South Africa, but again confidence issues slow down any significant

You can also look at the fungibility of shares, with one side saying
it is now legal and others saying it is not," stockbrokers said.

The indigenisation legislation is also said to be playing a part in
undermining foreign investment.

Before trade stopped on the stock market, prices were very high in
local currency because they were being influenced by parallel market
activities. Prices are now lower in US dollars partly because of the effects
of the global financial crisis.

Trading was brought to a halt on the ZSE on November 20 after Gono
read the riot act to banks that were using fraudulent cheques to
artificially inflate share prices.

The halt was further extended after the SEC ordered stockbrokers to
submit audited financial reports of their net worth by the end of December

The commission warned broking firms that they would be closed if they
failed to meet the deadline.
"Global stock markets are plummeting on the back of recessionary

Zimbabwe is not immune. Selling pressure is also coming from companies
that are looking for working capital as the banks have no foreign currency
to give them," economist Brains Muchemwa told the Zimbabwe Independent.

There have been mysterious buyers on counters such as CFX since trade
resumed on the stock exchange and foreign investors are said to be studying
the market for "possible investments".

"Presently there has been substantial evidence of foreign investors
standing by to buy shares on the ZSE, although those rumours have been
circulating for some time now," said Kingdom stockbrokers.

The few buyers that exist on the market are taking advantage of the
desperation of sellers on the equities market to put in very low bids for

"We expect investors to remain cautious over the coming months as the
new government continues to articulate policies. We believe that
opportunities lie in cynical sectors that are likely to see an upturn in the
coming months," said ZABG stockbrokers this week.

On Tuesday the local bourse continued to trade mixed, with the value
of the day's trade rising to US$42 694 from US$37 171,18.

A total of 21 counters traded on the day compared to 13 the previous

Economic analysts said Zimbabwean banks were too weak to meet the
demands of industry whilst the export market, the window of hope, was not

The question which arises is: who is going to strengthen the balance
sheets of banks when over the past four years they have lost capital by
subscribing to government Treasury Bills (TBs) whose returns were fixed in
the face of galloping inflation?

Every monetary policy announcement during this hyper-inflationary
period came up with a promise to tighten liquidity and every bank took cover
in the deemed "liquid" TBs to prepare for the rainy days to come.

In that safety zone of buying huge amounts of TBs, local banks who are
now supposed to facilitate stock exchange transactions, have lost their
balance sheets and capital to inflation, and the economy is begging for a
lifeline as reflected by events on the stock market after it was dollarised.

"As the 340% yielding TBs succumbed to inflation, the loans to
corporates lost their lustre as companies stopped borrowing the local
currency that was getting unacceptable," Muchemwa said.

The local currency has since died a natural death.

The banking sector, like any other sector that used the local currency
as the transaction asset, has been decimated at its core and needs a huge
bailout for the economy and the stock market to start recovering.
The current unstable economic environment makes it tough for policy
makers, and the choices are limited.


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Top Bankers Tipped for Gono's Post

Thursday, 26 February 2009 21:47
AT LEAST five top Zimbabwean bankers have emerged as potential
replacements for Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono as
pressure for his axing increases.

The feisty central bank boss's mandate under a Movement for Democratic
Change-led economic revival team has become the subject of intense focus
after new Finance minister Tendai Biti said they would be "widespread
changes" to the institution.

Banking insiders told businessdigest this week that South
African-based economist-turned-venture capitalist Wellington Chadehumbe and
Nigel Chanakira, the Kingdom-Meikles Africa Ltd (KMAL) group chief executive
officer, were among the leading candidates for the Reserve BaAnk top job.

Those also being mentioned include Barbican Bank Ltd founder Professor
Mthuli Ncube, Chris Takura Tande of Time Bank of Zimbabwe Ltd and current
deputy governor Edward Mashiringwani.

"As the top MDC hierarchy has intimated (Gono's removal), names that
are being bandied about for the Reserve Bank governorship include
Chadehumbe, Wits University's Mthuli Ncube, Nigel Chanakira, current deputy
governor Mashiringwani and Time Bank's Chris Tande," said a source.

"If you look at the cast, their credentials and competency (education
and experience) are unquestionable. Some of them have ample local and
international exposure that they should be able to mesh ideas and knowledge
effortlessly, in order to restore confidence and stability in the financial
services sector."

There is, however, a realisation that Gono cannot be easily removed
because of his closeness to President Robert Mugabe.

While the likes of Chanakira, Ncube and Tande's names have resurfaced,
this paper can exclusively reveal that two of the men "won nomination,
excelled and attained high commendations" in the 2003 recruitment and
selection process for Leonard Tsumba's replacement -- won or claimed by

However, Gono's economic stewardship record has been disastrous, with
the world's highest inflation rate, a weak currency and worst performing

Sources, meanwhile, indicated that Chadehumbe and Chanakira were the
frontrunners owing to their "active role" and participation in banking

While Chadehumbe was a senior MBCA Bank Ltd executive and current
chief executive of Triumph Venture Capital, Chanakira -- an economics
masters degree holder -- was the CEO of Kingdom Bank Ltd until recently when
he joined the enlarged KMAL group.

Ncube and Tande have impeccable banking experience emanating from
their founding roles and service at Barbican and Time respectively.

The former is a mathematics finance professor and director of Wits
Business School in South Africa, who has also served at regional banks,
including Investec, while Tande is an associate banker and holder of degrees
in management and economics.

Their banks were felled in the tumultuous 2003/2004 financial period
under a wave of reforms instigated by Gono.

While Barbican was collated into the Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group,
Time is still in the lurch three years after the end of
PriceWaterhouseCoopers' Tinashe Rwodzi's curatorship.

With observers supporting reforms to Zimbabwe's main bank in a bid to
restore stability in the eyes of global investors and financial partners,
there are also hints for an external governor supported by local deputies.

However, another school of thought also says locals should be given
the chance with the support of an external technical team -- reflecting the
ages-old and globally-tested structures.

"Such a structure would ensure skills transfer and that any in-coming
team operates, and sticks to a consultative approach as well as strategies,"
said an analyst. -- Staff Writer.

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Govt Levies Create Fuel Crisis - NECF

Thursday, 26 February 2009 21:47
ZIMBABWE will face a fuel crisis in the near future if the government
fails to review downwards a raft of taxes introduced in January, an economic
think tank has warned.

The National Economic Consultative Forum (NECF) taskforce on energy in
a report this month said the introduction of the levies had resulted in
reduced inflows into the country of petroleum products.

Due to the high import duty, the task force said, at one time at least
80 fuel tankers were stuck at the Beitbridge border with South Africa.

The introduction of the taxes resulted in the price of petrol and
diesel going up to as much as US$1,20 from as low as US$0,70 in December.

Because of the new tax regime, fuel retailers were getting profit
margins below US$0,10 a litre.

"Most of the oil companies have, in a space of 14 days, lost their
credit lines and are technically bankrupt due to the new tax regime," read
the NECF report.

Under the fuel tax regimes, the compound tax level is 60% spread among
Zimra, Environmental Management Agency, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, City of
Harare and Zimbabwe National Road Authority.
Government levies US$0,22 for every litre of petroleum sold.

This, analysts warned, could stifle plans to resuscitate the depressed
manufacturing industry.

"The result is less and less fuel coming into the country. Currently,
there are about 80 fuel tanker trucks stuck at Beitbridge border post after
oil companies failed to raise US$9 500 required for duty purposes by
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) and National Oil Company of Zimbabwe

The whole productive sector, the report warned, would be "affected
negatively and the prices of goods and services are going to go up rapidly
as retailers and other service providers pass on the extra cost to the
consumers" despite a temporary government waiver exempting importers from
paying duty on food commodities.

"This is going to be even more felt when farmers start buying inputs
in preparation for the next agricultural season. Even their produce may
actually end up being much higher than imported food due to the fuel
 factor," read the report.

The taskforce however recommended that government would require a
"more rational approach" in addressing the impending crisis despite its
urgent need to replenish dried-up revenue coffers.

"On the fuel tax regime, it would be more prudent to  reduce the
duties from the present high levels of US$220/cubic metre to US$80/cubic
metre to enable an incremental system of US$20/cubic metre every third month
for the next twelve months," recommended the NECF.

This according to the taskforce, would provide oil companies time to
"re-align their systems" to the new tax regime while improving fuel

The taskforces also said delays in establishing a joint Zimbabwe-Iran
US$200 million petroleum refinery earmarked for Beira could affect future
oil supplies.

The report recommended that government should partner with Mozambique,
which also mooted plans of building an oil refinery.

The NECF also criticised exorbitant levies charged by public utilities
after government said they should charge "viable tariffs" in hard currency.

"It has been noted that the country is now being faced with the ugly
face of uncontrolled de-regulation where high levies are being charged
across the board with utilities the biggest culprits," the report stated.

The NECF taskforce meets regularly to assess the country's energy
sector, which includes underutilised fossil fuels, bio-fuel and energy


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Gono Reverses Biti Decision as Battle Rages on

Thursday, 26 February 2009 21:40
AS the battle between Finance Minister Tendai Biti and Reserve Bank
governor Gideon Gono rages on the central bank has reversed the decision
made by the former last week to restore dual-listed shares offshore.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti last Monday announced a cocktail of
measures which the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) would operate under to
allow trade to resume.

The stock market had not been trading for three months.

Biti said although a number of issues were still outstanding it was
"wise and appropriate" to find common ground on the sticking issue between
ZSE and Securities Exchange Commission while the market was trading.

Biti last week said fungibility had been restored for all dual listed
counters and a letter to that effect was on it way to the Reserve Bank.

Barely a week after the decision, Gono suspended trade of dually
listed shares saying fungibility could only resume after ZSE and the
Securities Commission had put in place a framework outlining "the rules of
play" to avoid under pricing of shares.

Gono had suspended trade of dually listed shares last year.

In a letter to authorise dealers seen by businessdigest, the Reserve
Bank said it had not revoked its directive issued last year.

"Authorised dealers are advised that trading of dual listed shares
offshore remained suspended," Gono said.

Counters whose shares are fungible on the stock exchange are Old
Mutual, Pretoria Portland Cement Company and ABC Holdings.

Stocks are often listed on several stock exchanges, and a fungible
stock would allow one to exchange the shares purchased on one stock exchange
to another country where it is also listed.

Most local companies which had foreign debts were re-paying them by
buying shares in dual listed counters which they would dispose in either
South Africa or England to earn foreign currency which had been scarce on
the local market.

"However, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange shall be required to put in
place a framework outlining the rules of play, which should be well-defined
and understood by all stakeholders on the stock exchange market," Gono

Prices of dual listed counters had become the most reliable gauge of
where the parallel market rate was at any given day.

"The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange and the Securities Commission should
ensure that correct valuation of shares, to avoid under pricing of such
shares," added Gono.

"Foreign investors remain welcome to invest on the stock market. The
deregulation of dividends and profits remittance allowed for the free flow
of investment income and should result in creased foreign participation on
the stock market," Gono said.


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US$3,3 Billion Required to Boost Power Output

Thursday, 26 February 2009 21:40
ZIMBABWE'S cash-strapped government requires over US$3,3 billion in
the next six years to boost aggregate energy supplies at the country's major
power plants.

Pressure is amounting on government to seek alternative power sources
following the current below capacity performance of power plants and the
breakdown of the Zambia-Zimbabwe inter-connector, a grid that transmits
imported electricity from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

According to the National Economic Consultative Forum (NECF) energy
taskforce report for February, at least five energy plants - Hwange thermal,
Kariba South Extension, Gokwe North, Lupane Gas and Batoka power plant -
should be commissioned by 2015 if government is to fully address domestic
and commercial energy demands.

Currently, the country generates and imports 1 340 megawatts against a
target of 2 090 megawatts.

This means that the new inclusive government would require urgent
financing for transmission and construction costs of new plants during a
planned lead-time of six years.

Government, according to the report, could be losing up to US$200
million every year in "low grade coal" imports from regional countries,
which resulted from viability problems at Hwange Colliery.

All coal deposits parcelled out to individuals in Bubi area, the
report stated, must be consolidated into one big coal-field at which a
thermal power plant can be built instead of exporting coal to South Africa's
power utility, Eskom.

The NECF also criticised poor government policies and unviable tariffs
for Zimbabwe's failure to partner with South Africa in a multi-million
dollar energy project.

"It is noted that South Africa was building gas plants in Nigeria when
Zimbabwe next door had enough resources but was being left out. While
politics could be at play, tariff structures in the energy sector were
mainly the reason why foreign investment in the gas sector is non existent,"
read the report.

Below capacity generation has already crippled industry despite
frantic efforts by some companies to settle energy bills in foreign
currency, before the introduction of multi-currencying to the national
payment system.

Soaring production costs, flooding of mines and declining agricultural
productivity, among other problems, have resulted from the intermittent
power cuts.

The frequent power outages have resulted in domestic consumers
incurring inflated costs in alternative energy sources such as firewood,
paraffin, gas, gel and candles.

"The task force noted with grave concern the effect of diminishing
generation which compromises international system integrity given that
Zimbabwe is at the epicentre of the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP),"
read the report.

Lack of funds, the report stated, have also hampered government plans
to explore the feasibility study of the coal-bed methane project.

The taskforce appealed to government to "seriously consider" external
investors in major explorations projects.

"A flexible framework on the shareholding must be allowed given the
risky nature of the capital involved to encourage foreign direct investment
in this area," read the report.

Investment laws prohibit foreign investors from acquiring a
controlling stake in local companies.

Turning to vandalism, the NECF noted that more than US$1,2 billion
dollars were lost in the last eight years.

"The taskforce strongly recommends the establishment of an Economic
Intelligence Unit for the country to deal with such issues and all issues
associated with the economy including economic sabotage."

Meanwhile government has ordered power utility Zesa to charge a
minimum of US$10 for February tariffs.


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Kunaka Defends Yarrowdale Farm Take over

Thursday, 26 February 2009 21:01
LAWYERS representing Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe official Matthews Kunaka
who has laid claim to Yarrowdale farm in Mazoe have launched a counterattack
on Interfresh saying the land had been gazetted for acquisition by
government and therefore the company was farming illegally.

Interfresh Limited has challenged the occupation of the farm by Kunaka
and six others. Two weeks ago the Zimbabwe Independent revealed attempts by
Kunaka to take over the farm. Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono waded into
the saga, warning Kunaka against taking over the farm.

Yesterday, Kunaka's lawyer, Gerald Mlotshwa wrote the Independent
claiming our earlier article was "potentially defamatory" and the farm in
question was legally acquired by the state in 2005. He annexed
correspondence to Interfresh lawyers Kantor & Immerman to the letter.

 "The property is gazetted land, having been acquired by the state on
September 15 2005 pursuant to the provisions of section 16B(2)(a) of the
constitution of Zimbabwe as enacted by the constitutional Amendment (No 17
Act of 2005)," said Mlotshwa in the letter to Interfresh.

He said Interfresh had no right to resist the "lawful" takeover of the
farm and should stop issuing statements which are "false and defamatory" to
their clients.

"We note that a cautionary statement has been issued by your client
(Interfresh) in local press regarding the farm. The statement is misleading
and fails to disclose the legal status of the property," said Mlotshwa.

He said Interfresh's activities on the farm were illegal.

Kantor & Immerman have however challenged Kunaka's lawyers to provide
personal details of the other individuals claiming to have been allocated
portions of the farm.

Correspondence to hand shows that Mlotshwa had at the time of going to
press not provided such details.

Kantor & Immerman also want Kunaka's lawyers provide copies of all the
offer letters that their clients were relying on showing name of client,
business and home address and national registration number.

Mlotshwa on February 19 responded saying: "We are obtaining our
clients further fuller instructions in respect of the same. You will
appreciate that not all of them are resident in Harare and are thus not
readily available."

Interfresh alleges that on February 7, a group of individuals
accompanied by ZRP officers and a uniformed ZNA military policeman claimed
ownership of plots comprising Yarrowdale farm, the crop section of Mazoe
Citrus Estate.

They are alleged to have demanded that Interfresh employees vacate all
the houses on the farm by February 13 so that they could move in.

Interfresh are insisting that they have title deeds to the farm and
were entitled to peaceful and undisturbed possession of the estate until
such rights were varied by an order of a competent of court.


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Companies Discard 2007 Financial Results

Thursday, 26 February 2009 20:23
MOST companies that are scheduled to release their financial results
for the year ending December 31
2008 have said that they would not include figures for 2007 as they
were reduced to "zero" after the last revaluation.

According to the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, more than 80% of the listed
counters are expected to announce their December 31 year end financial
results between now and the end of April.

The Reserve Bank on February 2 revalued the currency removing 13

This, according to economists, has resulted in companies only
announcing figures for the period under review without comparing them to the
previous year.

"Most companies will only give an overview of the financial results,
outlook and notices to shareholders. Although Zimbabwe dollar figures do not
reflect a reliable picture of a company's performance, 2007 figures fell
over after the revaluation," said an official from the stock market.

The local currency has been revalued three times with a total of 25
zeroes removed inside two years.
Cafca yesterday became the first company to officially announce that
it would not compare the December 2008 figures with prior year figures.

"Due to the current revaluation, comparative figures for 2007 were
reduced to nil and therefore not disclosed," said Cafca in a statement
accompanying its financial results.

Cafca, however concentrated more on percentages revealing that its
sales volumes declined by 54% against last year with domestic volumes
declining 7% and export volumes declining by 78% due to reduction of export
toll orders.

In real terms the company's turnover declined by 25%.

"Operating expenses declined in real terms by 16% from last year due
to cost cutting initiatives as the business rationalised activities in
response to the harsh macro-economic environment," said Cafca.

Most company directors are said to be of the view that due to the
existence of multiple foreign exchange rates, translations from the local
currency to the US dollar for financial results purposes should be based on
exchange rates that are aligned to the market forces and fairly represent
the value of transactions and balances when translated.

The translations are said to be a true reflection of companies'
operations. The requirements of the International Financial Standards cannot
be considered in such translations.


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Mixed Trading in Property Counters on Stock Exchange

Thursday, 26 February 2009 20:09
PROPERTY counters on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) had mixed
trading since the local bourse resumed trading last Wednesday.

Common investment strategies suggest that in a hyperinflationary
environment, investors hedge against negative real returns by seeking refuge
in non-interest bearing assets such as equities, the property market and the
currency market.

Property which is the safest form of investment under the current
hyperinflationary environment were expected to be among the most sought
after counters but have been lagging behind telecommunication and mining

Dawn properties shares this week traded between US$0,2 and US$0,4.
Mashonaland Holdings also traded in the same range during the period under
review as selling pressure coming from companies that are looking for
working capital as the banks do not have foreign currency to give to them

Pearl Properties was ranging between US$0,6 and US$0,8 while Murray
and Roberts traded mixed between US$0,5 and US$0,9.

Other property linked companies such as Larfarge and Pretoria Portland
Cement Company (PPC) had attracting offers.

Larfarge one of the counters with the most volumes traded ranged
between US$1 and US$1,40. PPC which is also listed on the Johannesburg stock
exchange traded between US$150 and US$200.

Market analysts said property counters such as Dawn, Pearl Properties,
Mashonaland Holdings were expected to trade mixed in the long term as both
local and foreign investors have defined policies of how the market is going
to operate.

Stock brokers said statistics are revealing a dilemma or
self-limitations of investors in the diaspora considered privileged with
disposal incomes which those in Zimbabwe lack, because of the deteriorating
economic conditions.

Very low on investment and very high on subsistence, An estimated 20%
prioritise investments in a business or in buying properties. The reasons
often cited for the failure to invest had been the unstable political and
economic climate.

Counters such as Murray and Roberts and Larfarge are expected to
improve and be more attractive because of the demand for cement and
increased construction in neighbouring south Africa ahead of the soccer
world cup next year.

The current boom in the construction and infrastructure sector in
South Africa is expected to continue well beyond 2010, as the country plays
catch up after its under-spending in recent years.

"It is not a 2010 story alone. South Africa has been under-spending.
We are running out of production capacity. So it will be unrealistic to
expect the economy to grow at four to five percent if we don't boost our
capacity," Peter Steyn, head of construction and infrastructure at Absa
Corporate and Business Bank was  quoted in the media.

Future growth is expected to be driven by investment-related activity
such as power generation, road infrastructure and water-related investments
within the public sector.

Although no figures has been made available over the past two years,
as to how much activity on the property sector has declined by, market
experts estimate the it had done down by over 60%.

The depression in the property sector has significantly affected
government revenue collection projections the then acting Minister of
Finance Patrick Chinamasa said.

The property sector is facing low demand in purchasing houses and
property-related fixed assets due to high building costs.

Suppression of the economic activity mainly due to exchange rate
misalignment resulted in viability problems for most companies.

This consequently contributed to the poor performance of corporate

Whilst returns on properties had been exceeding inflation, few in
Zimbabwe consider buying a property as an investment than securing a family

Many who buy more than two properties would want to invest in
something else but have no adequate information on what else to invest in.

When markets engage in a rip-roaring bull market, there is nothing
that matches the excitement and the sheer speed with which investors can
make money on the stock market.

Whilst property prices often move in a group, if the stock market
index were to double this would be the average of a vast spectrum of
movements with many shares rising far more than 50%, spreading the returns
across many counters.


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WorldView: Recession Shakes up Political Scene

Thursday, 26 February 2009 19:54
BIG crises like the current recession change a lot of things that once
seemed to be a permanent part of the landscape. In Japan the Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP), which has governed the country for all but nine
months of the past half-century, is about to go over a cliff.

Prime Minister Taro Aso's approval rating has fallen to single digits,
but having changed leader three times in the past three years, the LDP
cannot decently do it again without calling an election.

The election must be held by October in any case - and it is hard to
believe that the LDP can win it.

For over half a century, Japan has effectively been run by the "iron
triangle" of conservative LDP politicians, bureaucrats who had spent their
entire careers under LDP governments, and the big industrial companies. It
was very successful in fostering rapid economic growth between 1955 and
1990, so much so that by the late 1980s the United States was rife with
paranoid fantasies in which the Japanese took over the world economy.

The "lost decade" of the 1990s, in which Japan's economy barely grew
at all, put paid to that notion, and the last decade has not been a lot
better. The LDP's highly effective patronage machine postponed the day of
reckoning, but the biggest opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan
(DPJ) won control of the House of Councillors (the upper house of
parliament) in July, 2007 - and the recession virtually guarantees that it
will also win control of the more powerful lower house later this year.

At that point, Japan's post-war history finally changes course. The
DPJ's secretary-general, Yukio Hatoyama, says bluntly that as soon as his
party takes power, it will fire any bureaucrat who does not whole-heartedly
support its policies.

That's not a normal way to treat public servants when a government
changes in a democracy, but this is a democracy where all the civil servants
have served only one party all of their lives.

What is bringing fundamental change to Japan is the recession, of
which it is the foremost victim: in the last quarter of 2008, the Japanese
economy shrank at an annual rate of 12.7%.

The LDP is finally losing power because the underlying weakness of the
Japanese economy that made it so vulnerable in a recession cannot be blamed
on anybody else.

Blame is what is driving things in Britain, too, although the Labour
Party has only been in power for 12 years, not 54.

Before Gordon Brown became prime inister less than two years ago, he
was the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with overall responsibility for the
British economy, for 10 years.

The British economy, though not falling as fast as the Japanese, is
not doing well, and everybody knows who's to blame. So the main opposition
party, the Conservatives, are certain to win the next election, which must
be held within 14 months.

But that's not the point.

The point is that Labour might not even come second, for there is a
Liberal Democratic Party in Britain too. It is the heir to the historic
Liberal Party, which under that name or in its previous guise as the Whigs
was  one  of  the two  great  political parties in Britain for several

But in the early 20th century  it was  overtaken   by the new Labour
Party and reduced to third-party status.

Two-party systems of the sort that predominate in the English-speaking
countries are very unforgiving to third parties, and since the First World
War the Liberals and their Liberal Democratic successors have never won an
election or formed a government in Britain.

Sometimes their policies had quite broad support, but too many people
always calculated in the end that a vote for a third party was a wasted

Until, perhaps, now.

Britain's Lib Dems have had a good crisis so far, with their economic
spokesman, Vince Cable, consistently demonstrating a firmer grasp of the
situation than either the floundering Labour government or the Conservative

The opinion polls still show Labour safely in second place, although
far behind the Conservatives. But with at least a year to run until the
election, and every month bringing more bad economic news that will be
blamed on Labour, those numbers are going to move.

The main movement will be of Labour voters, who are far likelier to
move to the Lib Dems. If enough of them move, then the seemingly impossible
could actually happen: an election result that put the Lib Dems, however
narrowly, ahead of Labour.

The Conservatives would still be the government, of course, but the
Lib Dems would become the official opposition.

The psychological impact would be huge.

Suddenly, for the first time in almost a hun dred years, the Liberal
Democrats would    be seen as the alternative government.

And what happened to the Liberals almost a century ago would happen to
Labour instead.

Is this probable? No. Is it possible? Yes. If the recession is big and
bad enough to drive the Japanese Liberal Democrats from power at last,
almost anything is possible.

Although it is a  hell of a price to pay.

Gwynne Dyer is a London-based independent journalist.


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Govt Must Cut Spending

Thursday, 26 February 2009 18:33
AMONGST the many causes of Zimbabwe's shattering, world's highest-ever
inflation, one of the most pronounced is excessive government spending.

Year after year, and to an ever-increasing extent, the Zimbabwean
government has spent far beyond its means.

That spending has, to a considerable degree, been funded by
borrowings, including extensive direct and disguised borrowings from the
Reserve Bank.

In turn, that has driven repeated extensive printing of money,
substantially unsupported by national reserves.

The great printing of money is one of the major factors fuelling
inflation, and has irrefutably been one of the main causes of the
record-breaking hyperinflation that has impoverished a majority of

If the catastrophic profligacy of government is to be halted, and
thereby the devastating inflation significantly reduced, there has to be a
meaningful reduction of government's expenditure in real terms.

This was recognised in the 2009 Budget Statement of then Acting
Minister of Finance, Patrick Chinamasa, and has since been reiterated by the
recently appointed Finance Minister, Tendai Biti.

However, similar recognition has characterised many previous
governmental statements and budgets over the years, especially over the last
three years, but that recognition has not been matched by requisite
reductions in spending.

But now Zimbabwe and its populace is in such parlous circumstances
that it is absolutely essential that declared intents be converted into

The time has come (in fact, it is overdue) for pious declarations of
intent to be transformed into actualities, instead of recurrent

The opportunities of containing state expenditures, without prejudice
to national needs, are many. With genuine will, government could readily
reduce its fiscal outflows whilst still achieving both effective government
and provision of national needs in general, and those of health care, social
welfare, education, security, and the like, in particular.

Firstly, it is incomprehensible that, in order to serve a population
of less than 12 million, Zimbabwe should have an aggregate of 71 ministers,
deputy ministers and provincial governors.

Even disregarding the latter (and many of them deserve to be
disregarded!), Zimbabwe has 61 ministers and deputy ministers.

This is approximately twice as many as in the United States, and yet
all of Zimbabwe's population could fit into New York! It is not only the
direct cost of the ministers, inclusive of salaries, ancillary benefits and
perks, but also the immense costs of their underlying infrastructures of
secretaries and numerous staff, offices, motor vehicles and their
chauffeurs, travel expenses, and much more.

With appropriate proportional reduction in numbers between the
relevant three political parties, the structure of the so-called "inclusive
government" can remain intact.

Similarly, it defies all rationality and reason that, in addition to a
120-seat parliament, Zimbabwe should also have a senate.

This is naught but the creation of jobs and sinecures "for the boys",
a luxury that Zimbabwe cannot afford, with a very considerable and costly
infrastructure which should be speedily dispensed with - albeit necessarily
requiring appropriate Constitutional amendment.

The reduction in the Public Service as a result of a substantive
reduction in the number of ministers, deputy ministers and governors, and
through discontinuance of a two-tiered parliamentary system, would be fairly

However, even greater cuts in the Public Service are very necessary.
How on earth can it be justified that, for an overall population of less
than 12 million, Zimbabwe has approximately 250 000 government employees?

First and foremost, there must be a major containment of the size of
the armed forces. Zimbabwe has had peace with all its neighbours since
Independence, and especially so since the "new" South Africa came into being
in 1994.

The only war Zimbabwe has to fight is an economic one, and to have
victory in that war it not only does not need a vast army, air force,
Central Intelligence Organisation and ancillary militaristic entities, but
would actually expedite victory in its economic war if it had markedly fewer
armed and allied forces.

Moreover, if Zimbabwe focused upon having quality, capable civil
servants, instead of many who are only fiscal parasites, it would need much
lesser numbers. Its focus should be upon public service quality, not

In similar vein, state expenditures could be markedly reduced, without
any deprivation of Zimbabwean needs, if there would be a significant
reduction in the number of embassies, consulates and trade missions
representing Zimbabwe abroad.

This would be doubly beneficial, for not only would the result be a
meaningful reduction in costs of government, but would also reduce needs for
foreign exchange.

Of course, Zimbabwe must have adequate representation internationally,
but this can be effectively achieved by adopting regionalised approaches.

Surely two embassies would suffice within the European Union, being
one in Brussels (the EU headquarters), and one in London, instead of a
plethora of others.

Such consolidation has been effectively achieved by other countries,
such as when New Zealand closed its embassy in Harare, and several others in
the region, all the countries in Southern Africa being serviced by its
embassy in Pretoria.

Yet another opportunity for major cost containment would be if
government would now, belatedly, drive to curb widespread Public Service

Of course, there are many honest civil servants, but it cannot be
denied that there are numerous who are corrupt.

Whether it be abuse of travelling expenses and allowances, misuse of
state assets, unauthorised recourse to telephonic services, misappropriation
of consumables, or otherwise, corruption represents a major cost to

There has long been talk of vigorous actions to bring about a
concerted reduction in corruption, including as recently as in the 2009
Budget Statement, but most of the talk has been unmatched by any actual

It is well overdue for government to not only state anti-corruption
actions, but to fulfil those statements.

A key element to achieving a balance between revenue inflows and
outflows is also for government to now speedily progress the privatisation
of parastatals.

Not only would doing so relieve government of having to fund the
endless losses incurred by many of them, and of having to support so many of
the parastatals with loans and guarantees, but in addition many parastatals'
privatisation could yield revenue flows to government.

Those revenues could settle some of government's immense borrowings
and other debts, thereby relieving it of much of its debt-servicing costs.

Doing so would not only help to reduce revenue deficits, but would
also eliminate much need for further recourse to borrowings, and the
concomitant interest and other debt-related costs.

There must be boundless other opportunities for government to achieve
effective expenditure reductions.

If government has any genuine intent to curb inflation, restore
economic wellbeing to a presently deeply troubled Zimbabwean economy, and to
reinstate national and international confidence in Zimbabwe, it will now
intensively strive to cut its spending.


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Is Tsvangirai Up to the Task?

Thursday, 26 February 2009 18:24
ZIMBABWE'S unity government  Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, has in
the narrowest sense of the word assumed political power. On February 10 he
announced his share of 13 cabinet ministers.

Two days later on Friday 13, President Robert Mugabe made them swear
an oath of allegiance to seal their fate in the corridors of what can
confidently be described as supreme bureaucracy.

In Western folklore, 13 is an unlucky number, and for a rookie prime
minister to commence office with that reviled digital label is a bad omen.
Not without justification.

The man hitting hardball from the opposite end of Tsvangirai's
political spectrum is perennial sore loser, Robert Mugabe.

Even before the "13th Ink" is dry on ministerial appointment
contracts, Mugabe has already abused the racquet twice by not only sending
MDC fundraiser and minister-in-waiting, Roy Bennett, to the cells but also
trying to "smuggle in" an unofficial addition of ministers onto the
politically unbalanced team.

However, the subject of my article is not Mugabe, but Tsvangirai.
Ever since his entry into big-time politics in 1998, analysts have tainted
him with several incidences of reckless ineptitude, some of which resulted
in Mugabe's getting away with the crime of defiling the legitimacy of
democratic elections, others which led to the split of his MDC.

At one time, allegations were that Tsvangirai watched with bemused
paralysis as Mugabe's graders flattened homes in Operation Murambatsvina.

In another incident of spontaneous verbal euphoria, he is said to have
challenged Mugabe to leave office voluntarily or else face forceful

There are also records that he and Renson Gasela were once duped by
Israeli Ari Ben-Menashe into discussing military options to rid Zimbabwe of
dictatorship and tyranny. Not far back, analysts questioned his motive in
replacing long-time ally and woman labour activist Lucia Matibenga with
Teresa Makone in MDC's influential women's assembly.

Recently, armchair critics swore they heard Tsvangirai say that the
government of National Unity (GNU) was a no-go area for him unless Mugabe
met specific political demands. In short, Tsvangirai has been accused of
being indecisive, unsure of the provenance of political advice, subject to
the dangerous whim of appeasement and above all, suspiciously insecure.

This is why perhaps the restive civil society, especially National
Constitutional Assembly allies led by maverick activist lawyer Lovemore
Madhuku have on several occasions advanced the theory that without full
civic society participation, Tsvangirai is too exposed in the GNU.

They do not understand why a man with such a rich history of
spontaneous blundering can withstand the demands of national governance.

Tsvangirai is up against forces of tectonic proportion, the kind of
impact that is experienced at the bottom of the Devil's Cataract at the
world famous Victoria Falls gorge.

Consider his current adversaries in the GNU: Mugabe,
Commander-in-Chief of the defence forces; General Constantine Chiwenga,
Commander of the defence forces; Lieutenant-General Phillip Sibanda, head of
the Army; Perrence Shiri, head of the Air Force; Happyton Bonyongwe, the
director of the Central Intelligence Organisation; Augustine Chihuri, police
Commissioner-General and Paradzai Zimondi, the prisons Commissioner.

Throw in a bunch of Zanu PF hardliners like Emmerson Mnangagwa, Kembo
Mohadi, Gideon Gono, Patrick Chinamasa, Paul Mangwana and many more.

I have not even mentioned the widespread incremental culture of
impunity, non-compliance, corruption and laziness inherited from Zanu PF's
30 years of bad governance in the public service.
Of course Madhuku is wrong.

Civil society is not part of government, but a crucial building block
in governance. We play a watchdog role without begging the crumbs off our
master's table.

For the first time, Zimbabweans have a section of government that can
relate to the demands of civil society, thus our role is to keep the
spotlight on them, guide and admonish them and at best, demand their

Politicians are a product of a political process, and as such, civil
society has no role in building their capacity. Our interests are divergent.
Such examples abound.

If municipal positions were based on progressive civic activism, 95%
of MDC councillors and mayors currently in office would never have seen the
light of day.

Observations are that when it comes to elections, the critical forces
at play have no epicentre in proficiency, professionalism and integrity, but
populist rhetoric and busybody mania. In such an environment, it is near
impossible to attract the "right human capital" to political office,
especially in a polarised environment like we have in Zimbabwe.

And yet Tsvangirai's team has certain pockets of brilliance; whether
or not Zanu PF will allow them to exercise their full potential is another
story.  Finance minister Tendai Biti has what it takes to rattle any

His background in student activism, legal training and of course
having stood toe-to-toe with Zanu PF since 1998 makes him just the right man
to ride the GNU political thunderstorm.

Advocate Eric Matinenga's role in the Ministry of Constitutional and
Parliamentary Affairs is a perfect fit. He understands the psyche behind
Zanu PF's contamination of the judiciary, thus faced with people like
Chinamasa, Matinenga is likely to secure his fair pound of flesh.

While Engineer Elias Mudzuri would have been better placed in local
government, he is a fast learner, thus Energy and Power Development will
demand that he draws on the experience garnered as Mayor of Harare.

Intellectual whiz kids Professors Arthur Mutambara and Welshman Ncube
will be no pushovers. Although many MDC blind faithful are still obsessed
with the illusion of Mutambara's "illegitimacy", the former University of
Zimbabwe firebrand student leader will give Mugabe a run for his money.

Mutambara might pass as an eccentric demagogue, but underneath that
veil of careless fanaticism is a thick layer of strategic acumen.

Many analysts claim that Welshman Ncube is the one who coined Zimbabwe's
French-style GNU. Mugabe might find him hard to swallow.

Priscilla Misihairabwi's jovial feminist overtones disguise a wealth
of activist experience. When HIV and Aids were still Holy Grail words in
Zimbabwe in the late 1980s, the woman was already attracting a whirlpool of
advocacy around the epidemic.

Therefore the bigger political picture is that in dealing with Zanu
PF, it will be extremely critical for Tsvangirai to, proverbially speaking,
sleep with one eye open and one finger on the trigger.

The culture of cronyism, favouritism, spasms of political blundering
and departing from the script as practised at Harvest House (MDC party
headquarters) must be erased.

While politics in developed countries attracts citizens who have
everything in life except power, ours is dominated by poverty-stricken
activists. I can understand why MDC leaders are struggling to fend for their

Ten years of violent, corrosive and destructive political duelling
with Zanu PF have impoverished many cadres. But the warning is clearly
marked in red: this is not the time for self-enrichment and gluttony. Zanu
PF will employ KGB-style temptations to lure gullible MDC ministers into
corruption traps.

As for us in civil society, we will keep the spotlight on Tsvangirai
and if he begins to show signs of professional fatigue, we will be the first
to fire the proverbial accountability bullet.

If the MDC think because they are in the GNU civil society must put
more padding on their gloves, they have another think coming.

Rejoice Ngwenya is director of Coalition for Liberal Market Solutions
in Harare and an affiliate of


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Editor's Memo: Tsvangirai's Halfway House

Thursday, 26 February 2009 19:54
WHAT is a spaghetti mix?

It is the description MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai gave to the nascent
Movement for Democratic Change in 2000.

He said in an interview with journalist and academic Patrick Bond: "We
are social democrats. The MDC can never be pure, ideologically, because of
our broad orientation. Besides, social democracy is a halfway house, a
spaghetti mix. In our case, the main characteristic is that we are driven by
working class interests, with the poor having more space to play a role than
they do now. But one of the components is an element of participation by
business, which is just not able to develop under present conditions."

Here Tsvangirai did not just liken his movement to that pasta dish
from the tin, but also used another allegory -- a halfway house -- to
describe his party.

Ordinarily, the purpose of a halfway house is to allow people to begin
the process of reintegration with society, while still providing monitoring
and support; this is generally believed to reduce the risk of recidivism or
relapse when compared to a release directly into society.

Some halfway houses are meant solely for reintegration of persons, who
have been recently released from prison, but many are recovery houses or
"sober" houses where residents are asked to remain sober and comply with a
recovery programme.

In some instances a halfway house usually refers to a place where
people with mental disorders, victims of child abuse, orphans or teenage
runaways can stay.

Perhaps a more apt illustration of the MDC today than the spaghetti
mix which by now is way past its "best before" date!

A decade after its formation, not much appears to have changed in
terms of the MDC's composition and focus.

It has remained a potpourri of competing interests which recently
manifested in the appointment of cabinet and deputy ministers.

The end result was a mélange of labour, big business, farmers, civic
society, youths, the Matabeleland lobby and lawyers.

They have all come together in Tsvangirai's "halfway house" to sober
up and lead the process of change, albeit with no clear political ideology
to direct their intentions.

Secretary-general and Finance minister Tendai Biti at a party function
last week confirmed the obvious.

He said the MDC was not a political party but a movement and it
remained as such.

This, I believe, worked when the party was in opposition because the
guiding light then was the raw hatred of Mugabe and the ruling

But as part of a unity government, the MDC requires an identity that
sets it apart from the Zanu PF project that on paper preaches pro-poor
policies yet in essence has created a super rich aristocracy.

The party identity is crucial today. What is the MDC? A labour party?

Is it pro-capital or is it a people's party ready to deliver free
education and health? (We have not forgotten Tsvangirai's promise at Sakubva
Stadium last year of free education for all).

The MDC would like to be seen as a modern, moderate reformist entity,
capable of restoring investor confidence while at the same time satisfying
the poor.

The danger is for the MDC to repeat the dismal experience of Zambia
where Frederick Chiluba's multi-formed alliance won an election in 1991 and
quickly applied neo-liberal economic policy with even worse results than his

Chiluba had full control of government and Tsvangirai does not,
although he has been entrusted with the tool box to fix our problems. In
doing so, he runs the risk of being forced to implement an unfocused project
dictated by the conflicting interests in the "halfway house".

There is going to be enormous pressure from those holding the purse to
force reform. For example, we are keen to know what the MDC's position is on
funding from the World Bank.

In the Patrick Bond interview alluded to earlier Tsvangirai had this
to say about the international financiers: "They have put us into a serious
debt trap. We may have to negotiate with the IMF to get out of that.

What is important, down the line, is for Zimbabwe to work itself out
of the IMF and World Bank's grip. In the short-term, we have to distinguish
between financial support that serves Mugabe versus that which serves the

That distinction today could be a bit blurred.

Tsvangirai would like any assistance that would strengthen the
position of the MDC in the unity government while weakening Mugabe's resolve
to rehabilitate his Zanu PF.

To be really cynical, how will the MDC respond to dictates of the
World Bank to cut social spending in health, education and farm subsidies?

Will the MDC be amenable to reducing the size of the civil service?
How will its government spread the dollar so that it satisfies capital and
expensive social programmes? A sobering thought for the inmates in the
halfway house.


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Comment: Leave the Courts to do their Work

Thursday, 26 February 2009 19:43
PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai crossed the very thin line between
making a rational decision and a monumental political gaffe.

Daggers were out for the PM this week after he wrote to the High Court
offering himself as "surety" in the bail application by incarcerated Roy
Bennett who is facing charges of possession of fire arms.

Tsvangirai in his letter said Bennett should be given bail so that he
assumes his duties as Deputy Minister of Agriculture.

"Such is the need for Zimbabwe to have at its disposable all nominated
and qualified personnel to work to rebuild our economy and our nation that
it is imperative that Mr Bennett is granted bail and begins his work
immediately," said Tsvangirai in a letter addressed to the High Court.

The letter alarmed state prosecutors who had to be restrained by
Justice Lawrence Karwi not to attack their "principal".

A prosecutor said the letter was "irregular" and that the PM's actions
amounted to a "serious infringement on the separation of powers".

Bennett's lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa however told the court that there was
nothing amiss in Tsvangirai writing to the court.

Our position on this issue is different and unequivocal.

Tsvangirai, as a powerful member of the executive, should not be
writing to the bench to say "it is imperative that Mr Bennett is granted

The argument is not about the law; the letter is an affront to the MDC's
rhetoric about non-interference in the judiciary.

We believe that we have a role to raise alarm very early on when key
issues of principle -- especially to do with the separation of powers -- are
infringed upon by politicians hiding behind the veil of common good.

The same subterfuge of pretending to act in defence of the common good
drove the Zanu PF project which over the last decade has resulted in the
subversion of property rights, subornment of the judiciary and a breakdown
of the rule of law.

Tsvangirai knows this because he has pitched himself as one who has
greater respect for the basics of the rule of law than President Mugabe.

We are well aware that present day dictators and juntas were
yesteryear loveable men and women who developed a culture of impunity
because they were left to get away with little infringements.

There is danger in being lenient with Tsvangirai and his new members
of cabinet because they are "new on the job" and that their blemishes are
not as egregious as those perpetrated by Zanu PF.

That is the fodder that nurtures emerging dictatorships.

This incident may not necessarily draw criticism from the doyens of
the rule of law and defenders of the doctrine of the separation of powers,
but we will not be guided by their complicity on this issue. Tsvangirai's
letter we believe was a monumental mistake for which he will be judged.

The fact that he is working in a transitional authority is beside the
point. This is a useful training ground for him.

Here we want to state that the merits of the case against Bennett
could be dubious and that his case may be politically-motivated.

But because Tsvangirai is effectively head of government as prime
minister, he has become part of the authority prosecuting Bennett.

He knows better that what is required is a political solution to the
problem, but his contribution to the discourse around the Bennett case does
not warrant him writing to the courts.

There is Jomic to make a report to.

He also has access to President Mugabe and other senior government
officials to discuss the matter, including Sadc

Tsvangirai would argue that the thrust of his letter is being

He would want to give the impression that he was offering himself as

But can we also not surmise that the letter was telling the judge how
to conduct himself when dealing with the Bennett case?

That in our view amounts to executive interference.

Tsvangirai would have said the same if President Mugabe had written to
the courts offering his views on the case because it simply sets a wrong

What we find odd is that Tsvangirai has only elected to write to the
courts on the Bennett issue and has not deposed documents to the same courts
to secure the release of Jestina Mukoko and dozens of "other nameless"
activists who have been in custody for over three months.

Are they lesser beings than Bennett?

We understand the pressure Tsvangirai is under to ensure Bennett is

Bennett's wife and "a group of friends" have been pushing Tsvangirai
to walk out of the unity government to protest Bennett's incarceration.

We also understand Tsvangirai's frustration in dealing with the wily
Mugabe. Bennett's continued incarceration is an egregious act of bad faith
given the assurances made.

But Tsvangirai should not start to show signs of poor judgement so
early on in his tenure as PM. There will be more pressure and more demands
on him in the coming months.

He will need to put the interests of the nation ahead of personal
friends. We are watching closely to see what stuff he is made of.

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'You are now one of us'

Thursday, 26 February 2009 19:42
A WEEK is a long time in politics, British Prime Minister Harold
Wilson once remarked. And this last week was no exception. We have witnessed
unprecedented changes.

First, we had Nathaniel Manheru bidding us farewell.

This came just two weeks after he had sworn never to be diverted from
his crusade against "Rhodesians" who he imagined, together with their MDC
surrogates, are lurking in every dark corner of the land, ready to strike
the minute his back is turned.

They were even marshalling in scout training camps and outward-bound
centres, he tried to argue.

But many of the last-ditch reactionary forces in the media, only a few
weeks ago so bitterly opposed to the prospect of a unity government, have
now embraced the opposition leaders.

Morgan Tsvangirai has overnight become "Cde Tsvangirai", and the
Finance minister now finds himself hailed as "Cde Biti".

The title "comrade" is a leftover from the socialist-state era.

It suggests a post-liberation aristocracy stuck in the political mud.
Above all it denotes political failure.

The MDC tolerates state-media patronage of this sort at its peril. It
says: "You are now one of us". Please don't be flattered. Believe us, you
don't want to be one of them.

The worst case of such attempted subornment was deputy Media minister
Jameson Timba's transformation last weekend.

His name was used in a gushing tribute to Gushungo appearing in the
Sunday Mail.

"We thank you Cde President for your wise leadership," he averred in a
joint statement from the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity.

"Wise leadership", Jameson, with the country in ruins all around us?

Please inform the staff at the ministry that the next time they
associate you with tyranny and misrule they ask you first so you have no

Elsewhere in the state press it was instructive to note those
parastatals whose performance is the most emblematic of Zanu PF's misrule
"hailing" President Mugabe's 85 years the loudest.

"Air Zimbabwe congratulates His Excellency President RG Mugabe on 85
high flying years of success," the national airline slobbered without any
mention of high-flying diversions! "We join the nation in celebrating the
21st February movement acknowledging your wisdom and guidance as you lift
Zimbabwe to greater heights."

Do you think if we asked anyone at AirZim what "wisdom and guidance"
they had in mind they would be able to tell us?

NetOne, which barely functions in some parts of the capital, said it
was "inspired" by Mugabe's work as a statesman.

The customer relations department at Zimpost, which sometimes takes
months to deliver a letter, said it was "reaching everyone, everywhere", a
claim that is somewhat at odds with the facts!

The Ministry of Defence compared the president to "a mighty crocodile",
a reference that was picked up by the international media, not surprisingly
given Hastings Banda's utterances about how to feed them.

The Zimbabwe Prison Service was understandably effusive with so much
business coming its way recently.

The Minerals Marketing Corporation, however, has reportedly seen quite
a lot of business leaving the country!

But that didn't stop it parroting the same mantras as the others.

Muckraker is convinced somebody tells the advertisers how to frame
their salutations. They all seem to follow the same predictable pattern.

In a sense it is useful to have all these messages of servility. At
least we know what wood to take the axe to.

In keeping with the new order, the Saturday Herald carried a
front-page pic of President Kgalema Motlanthe and Morgan Tsvangirai sitting
together at what the paper called "Thainyus, the presidential house at the
South African parliament in Cape Town".

Partly right. It is situated adjacent to parliament and, like State
House here, is used for official receptions. But it is called Tuynhuys,
meaning "the house in the gardens", the gardens in question being those once
belonging to the Dutch East India Company. Formerly Government House, it was
restored to its original Cape Dutch character in the 1980s.

But careless captioning aside, we do expect the Herald to start
getting its facts right now there is a new dawn.

Twice on Tuesday and again on Wednesday the paper reported that Roy
Bennett was being charged with attempting to leave the country illegally.

In fact that charge was dropped last week because the state couldn't
sustain it. Surely the Herald knew that?

And readers should note that despite the departure of Manheru, the
main letter to the editor every day still comes from the same incubator.

These praise President Mugabe's "visionary leadership".

Rather amusingly on Tuesday the same office was trying to work up
public demand for Manheru's return.

The editor has promised a "suitable replacement". We can't wait. We
just hope that, unlike the previous submissions, it gets edited!

But we liked the letter which said "there are very few other leaders
across the world who will do what President Mugabe has done".

Who can quarrel with that!

This week Mugabe was pleading with UN Assistant Secretary-General for
Humanitarian Affairs Catherine Bragg for help with the cholera epidemic.

Discussions also centred on how the UN could assist with agricultural
revival, the Herald reported.

The CFU reports that 77 farms have been occupied by well-placed
individuals including Reserve Bank officials since the formation of the
unity government.

They are attempting to move in on the remaining white-owned properties
before Tsvangirai can stabilise the country, the CFU said.

So there is Mugabe seeking UN support for the revival of agriculture
while his well-heeled supporters disrupt production and break the law with

It is significant that many of those farmers affected secured a ruling
from the Windhoek Tribunal that their dispossession was discriminatory and

Mugabe raised the issue of "illegal" sanctions with Bragg, we are

"Why are sanctions there now?" Mugabe asked her. "Should they continue
to punish our people this way?"

It needs to be spelt out that so long as illegal land invasions
continue, those responsible will face international "punishment".

As Mugabe told Bragg with regard to Bennett, the law must take its

The BBC on Tuesday showed footage of the latest farm invasions. What
was notable was the solidarity of the farm workers with their employers in
resisting Zanu PF's opportunist thugs.

At least there were no illusions there about who benefits from "land

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Candid Comment: A tale of Two Britains

Thursday, 26 February 2009 19:36
THERE is a schizophrenic disconnect between Britain's foreign policy
and its cultural ambassadors abroad. Well, sort of if you can grasp the
symbolic significance of my recent experiences.

Two weeks ago I was a guest of the British Council in Surrey, just
outside London, on the final part of a leadership development programme
called "Interaction -- Trust the Difference".

It was an exhilarating learning experience. We visited a virtually
deserted Trafalgar Square, just a short walk from Buckingham Palace, where
we took a dozen or so pictures.

At the seminar I was one of 157 people from several countries in
Africa, Asia and Britain itself, all booked in at Selsdon Park Hotel in
Croydon, west of London.

We were eight from Zimbabwe from the original 18 members. I understand
others couldn't make it because of stringent visa requirements. I got mine
on Friday, February 6, a day before departure! Like everybody else, I had
lost hope.

The programme itself is simple but its impact profound. Its emphasis
is on ubuntu. We learn to cherish and value the richness humanity derives
from its diversity.

Cultural and political tolerance and conflict resolution are key
result areas.

It challenges our assumptions in our personal lives and in our
relationships, showing that our prejudices are largely a result of ignorance
and arrogance.

There is so much intolerance in society because we refuse to be the
other person.

It stresses the need to learn about and understand better those things
or people with whom we disagree than to condemn and pass value judgements --
all this under a broad concept called appreciative inquiry.

There was a lot of interest in Zimbabwe, where prejudice and
misconception vied for attention. I soon learnt how hard it is to fight
prejudice, especially from the I-know-it-all type about "the problem with

To them we are a doomed continent solely because of political leaders
who won't leave power. Democracy is no more than a ritualistic cyclic change
of leaders without any fundamental improvements in people's lives.

To some of them Zimbabwe is a tourist resort for visitors to enjoy
while poor blacks watch over from the periphery.

They talk glibly about wonderful infrastructure such as roads and
hotels and ask when you will "return" to "your former glory".

I told them we were not "returning" to anything. "We are not moving

We are building a better Zimbabwe on the foundation of the resources
we now control than foreign charity could ever achieve."

Many were shocked. Was I a government spy, they inquired? I am used to
these accusations.

To them only lunatic Zanu PF supporters can see anything positive in
Zimbabwe and discern a principle behind the land reform other than Mugabe's
imperialist rhetoric.

They can't see the "bigger picture" on the land and our "full spectrum
response" to the nagging problem of rural poverty and congestion.

To them it is all about Mugabe "using white farms" to buy black votes.

They imagine all the 140 000 resettled families as Mugabe's "cronies"
who have ruined Africa's fabled "former breadbasket".

I was supported mainly by three guys: one Zimbabwean, Thula Dlamini
working for SABC in South Africa, a young writer from South Africa who told
me of former Zimbabwean farmers who have constructed a "laager of
 Rhodesians" in Port Elizabeth, and a Briton, Michael Holdgate who said he
had lived in Zimbabwe for 14 years until 2002 and married in Murehwa. He
liked to call himself Mhofu.

He volunteered to chair a lively panel discussion on Zimbabwe with
excited contributions from Zambian and Namibian delegates.

The highlight of the programme was an address by chairman of the
British Council, former Labour leader, Neil Kinnock, and a presentation by
Monica Sharma, a strong proponent of the "full spectrum" theory and senior
UN official.

The British Council's mission, Kinnock explained, was to help increase
understanding between the United Kingdom and other nations. Britain also
wanted to improve "interaction" among other nations, hence the grouping of
so many nationalities at one venue.

Britain is responding in a practical way to its own localised

There are growing communities of ethnic minorities in the UK from
India, Pakistan, Jamaica and Africa.

There are fears of racial prejudices coalescing into xenophobia as
happened recently in Britain and France, and in South Africa last year.

British media are playing their part in fighting racial prejudice
through a voluntary, non-political version of our Jomic called the Society
of Editors.

My belief was reaffirmed that the "chalk and cheese" imagery about the
MDC and Zanu PF is hyperbole, for there are neither ethnic, cultural,
linguistic nor ideological differences between the two parties.
Ideologically, the MDC is still rudderless.

Globally, Kinnock waxed about his country's cultural victory against
rivals, the United States and France. France, he said, had lost the battle
given that English was the most widely spoken language in the world, while
the US's Public Affairs section was 50 years behind the British Council.

Back home I was greeted with news that Britain was planning to
"evacuate" its elderly and other "vulnerable" citizens from Zimbabwe because
of deteriorating social and political conditions.

Some of the elderly had lost their farms and their pensions had become
worthless due to inflation.

I wondered if this was a welcoming present for Prime Minister
Tsvangirai for joining the coalition government.

Was this plain racism? You impose sanctions on the natives and airlift
your own to safety! Have the black elderly who have suffered equal if not
worse deprivation under these sanctions lesser human rights than their
British counterparts?

And what message was being sent out to the wider world about the
situation in Zimbabwe at the very moment of its rebirth, a time of our
"finding each other"?

For it is Britain which sets the cue for the other nations which only
imposed economic sanctions on Zimbabwe in sympathy with the UK's private
grievance over land reform.

This political act doesn't in any way reflect the values of mutual
understanding and respect which the British Council seeks to spread across
the globe. To me this is schizophrenia.


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Zim Independent Letters

Econet Must not Take us for Fools

Thursday, 26 February 2009 19:27
I QUESTION the motive behind Econet's recent adverts in the press in
which the " Inspired" network is doing everything possible to justify its
exorbitant tariffs as the cheapest in the region!

Don't they say self-praising has no recommendation? Let us the
consumers be the judges.

I was annoyed to find that the Vodacom and MTN charges they are
comparing with are not local South African tariffs.

Instead, they are roaming charges which we all know are expensive by
any definition. Whenever one compares product prices the norm is to take
those in the same category, like say Colgate and Close Up.

You don't compare the prices of Energade with Coke and neither can you
compare a Mini Cooper with a Hummer!

Why Econet did not put on their roaming charges defies logic. Besides,
they lied that you only use a contract from South Africa to roam. Almost
every line can be activated for roaming.

If you take your South African Vodacom line to countries like
Mozambique and Uganda where Vodacom is available you are billed using the
South African tariff.

My own Vodacom-4-U pre-paid can roam without visiting Vodacom offices
but by just activating via sms.

Econet did not add that Cell C offers free calls during weekends. They
also forgot to tell us that all South African networks offer a host of
services for free from call me backs, not less than five free sms, free
mobile internet (I use this service to read Zimbabwean newspapers whenever I'm
down south).

South African mobile network products also include not only 3G but
3.5G HSPA.  They charge per second thereby making their tariffs the lowest
because on the 71 cent tariff you are charged about 5,91 cents for
connecting for five seconds whilst Econet charges you a whole 29 cents.

By the way, it is possible to call to Zimbabwe with R2 (US20 cents)
airtime even though it's just for a few seconds. Is it possible on Econet?

The reason why most people want to have an Econet line is not your
purported cheapness.
It's because Zimbabweans did not like the unjustified refusal to grant
Econet a licence when they wanted to start operations.

Econet's current tariffs and products do not give it any advantage
over NetOne and Telecel. They all offer 1G service so there's no need to
choose it over the others.

Remember it is now two years since they ran adverts promising us 3G in
a matter of weeks. That in itself should have made us re-think.

My prayers are that Potraz acts in the manner Patrick Chinamasa
instructed in that they bring in regional price structures and standards so
that we enjoy truly cheaper services rather than the current scenario where
those who are fleecing us lie that they doing us a great service!


MDC Must Sack Indisciplined Bhebhe

Thursday, 26 February 2009 19:21
IT was quite interesting reading through what Hon Abednico Bhebhe had
to say in defence of his appointment by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

One would have also expected the latter to talk to the MDC Mutambara
leadership first before going ahead with the appointment of Bhebhe.

It's rather bizarre to appoint someone ahead of those of your own
party and who does not possess any special or rare skill.

As a disciplined  party cadre the Hon MP was supposed to address his
concerns through laid down channels of communication within the MDC instead
of trying to ridicule respected party leadership.

He forgets that not all those that win elections are good leaders and
those that lose are bad.

I don't foresee any member of Zanu PF or MDC-T ridiculing their party
leaders in the paper like what Bhebhe has done.

Whether right or wrong such people don't deserve to be taken
seriously, they are just championing obscure agendas.

If I was the leader of that party l would get rid of him no matter how
popular he thinks he is; popularity without discipline is useless.

I am sure there is a disciplinary committee that can decisively deal
with such even if it means losing that parliamentary seat - let it go.

Gone are the days when leaders' abilities were gauged by the amount of
noise they made.

S Mpofu,

Let's Take a Cue from Our Tortured History
Thursday, 26 February 2009 19:21
WHEN the Zanu PF government took over from Ian Smith it did not repeal
any of the repressive legislation but continued to use it and added more and
more repression onto it largely to maintain power and repress any
opposition. Many of the people in power have enriched themselves through the

It follows that as the opposition now begins to take power they too
could stay with the laws that Zanu PF have created and begin to use them.

It is very notable that when the administrators of those laws change
so the direction changes. It is the people who control the administration of
those laws that control what happens.

The Herald should change or meet its demise. There is now considerable
international focus on the Zimbabwe situation and freedom of the press may
well seem to be the order of the day but the existing partisan press has to
change or go.

The laws that have been created by one party to suppress another can
be used against them as the administration changes.

One has only to look at the regulations that allow for the
specification of individuals and the fact that their assets can be
confiscated to realise that at some stage this could be used to regain some
of the assets that certain individuals have accumulated through illegal or
immoral means.

There are any number of Zanu PF people who could be said to have acted
inappropriately and may justify being specified. There are many who have
gained through the corruption and favours dished out by the party.

There could come a time when Zanu PF would press to cancel or seek
amendment to some of the laws that they have introduced and the MDC could
just vote against them.

It is unlikely because governments cannot envisage themselves losing

W Peters Carreg,
United Kingdom.

Eric Bloch Shackles English
Thursday, 26 February 2009 19:15
ERIC Bloch in his weekly column analyses the Zimbabwe casino economy,
a subject of interest, if not apprehension, to many readers.

Bloch spoils both the fun and the message in his analysis by writing
awful English, decorated by circumlocutions, and tautology.

His article "Economy shackled" (Zimbabwe Independent, February 20 to
25) was more a case of English shackled.

Try this in one sentence: "horrendous inflation" of "atmospheric
heights". Yowe-e, mai-whe!

This reminds me of the only book I threw away at Chigwedere Primary
School for progress' sake: the Student's Companion.

No pun intended, either. Readers with access to Google may wish to
search and use the eponymous in-word, humongous in place of Bloch's
"gargantuan extent" or "overly-great". Surely Bloch can produce better fare.
The Economist comes to mind.

Commenting on cost-push inflationary trends in the Budget, Bloch
writes ingloriously about "the volcanic operational cost effect".

I hasten to defend the diversity of volcanoes or their eruption modes
that Bloch presumes to be all air-borne.

Here in Zimbabwe, there are ancient pillow lavas (or valentine
mattresses) and other bubbly or effusive volcanoes that, in Bloch's
parlance, would represent benign inflation.

Eric could, of course, thoroughly amuse Zimbabweans (on, say a
satirical late night show at the KweKwe Theatre) by enthusing that Acting
Minister Chinamasa's budget "potentially accelerates economic collapse",
hence giving new meaning to "acting".

Again, Eric has the last word on "these appallingly ill-considered
budgetary actions!" I don't know whether to laugh, cry or sing.

Bloch's quaint verbosity gets close to making me do all three at once.

I recommend a good book to Bloch, the award-winning The God of Small
Things by Arundhati Roy.

Pafunge by T Tsodzo is another, but then, the latter is written in a
sovereign language that defies Google's challenge of a borderless world.

Mark Tsomondo,

TelOne Customer Service a Disgrace
Thursday, 26 February 2009 19:12
THIS week marks my first anniversary with a telephone line down and
not available.

A report I made at Kuwadzana TelOne Exchange last year is yet to be
attended to, several follow up visits and calls were always received with a
commitment to come to my home and fix the problem.

I am not sure if TelOne management is aware if  my problem  exists.
Staff at the exchange advised me to always pay my monthly fixed rentals or
risk losing my line, so I am a paid up customer.

I am waiting to receive my first bill in forex for a non-existent
service. I later checked with my neighbours who had faults attended to
despite my report being made earlier.

The technicians need "something", I was told.

If that is what TelOne needs for a fault to be attended to and
rectified, shame on you!

Mundondo K,

Time for MDC Ministers to Perform
Thursday, 26 February 2009 19:04
THIS week, the MDC ministers had their second week in government and
it has been encouraging to note that the issue of getting our salaries in
foreign currency at the banks has improved.

Again we have noted the availability of more products from the shops
at lower prices than a month ago.
The bright future that we envisage is however being tainted by an
increase in the costs of such services as telephone bills, rates and

Because of the past failures of the Zanu PF government, our best hope
in seeing these challenges being looked into is through the MDC ministers
who are now in government.

These ministers should urgently look into the issue of the city
councils charging astronomical rates both for households and business.

This is despite the fact that some households and business properties
have gone for days or even weeks without water yet they are being given
bills of over US$150.

How did the councils come up with these figures yet people have been
failing to get access to clean water?

We know that the Harare City Council inherited the treatment and
supply of potable water from an incompetent parastatal, Zinwa and need to be
fully operational but they should put the interests of its residents first
and look at whether the charges they are giving out are reasonable.

It is also worrying that another parastatal, TelOne has taken
advantage of the dollarisation process and is billing its clients out of
this world amounts without any reasonable justification.

The MDC ministers should urgently look into this matter as I believe
that by charging these amounts some people out there would like to see the
inclusive government failing.

Let's bring transparency back to the country.

Agrippa Zvomuya,

Zimbabwe Independent SMS
Thursday, 26 February 2009 19:27
IS your puzzle for members of the EU or AU?

DR Gideon Gono is an asset that can still be of great use in the GNU.
You cannot expect him to have done otherwise from what he did since he is a
man who worked under authority. Things have now changed and I believe he can
still help Zimbabwe. Just try him.

IF Gideon Gono is to leave office it must be stressed that his exit
package be paid in his beloved Zimbabwean dollar.

THE best way of getting rid of Gideon Gono is to institute an audit of
the Reserve Bank by a professional team of external auditors.This is
important to establish what the new government is inheriting.

There is a lot of dirt in almost all aspects of what Gono has been up
to which needs to be cleared.

IF Gideon Gono failed to bring about positive policies for the past
decade we can't expect him to do that now. He should just go.
Hard Times.

Gideon Gono has utterly destroyed the finance sector through his
futile policies and now it's high time that he be shown the exit door. He
has failed us as Zimbabweans and we don't need him anymore!

TENDAI Biti and Gideon Gono just need to work together. Gono could
have made some decisions that have been costly to the country but there are
good reasons why he did that.

Robert Mugabe has been the root and the MDC are dining with him, so
why bother Gono?

RAYMOND Majongwe, you should think like an economist.

There is no government that can give teachers US$2 400 because the
greenback is not printed at RBZ amongst a host of other reasons.
Economist, Harare.

TEL ONE in Mutare has this month raised extortionate US dollar bills
for the general use of its services. Efforts to verify the amounts billed
against usage are near impossible.

May the new minister responsible please save us from this daylight
Concerned User.

TO Dumiso Dabengwa we say that we applaud you for the reformation of
the PF-Zapu party.
Matabeleland Alert, Bulawayo.

ABEDNICO Bhebhe should show some semblance of political maturity. What
he is currently showing us is absolute greed.

Why would Morgan Tsvangirai give him a ministerial post if it was not
a kick back? What is it that he has that all those who are in the MDC-T who
failed to make it into cabinet do not have?

IN voting for you Abednico Bhebhe we were voting for the party, not
you as an individual. The earlier you learn that the better for your
political future.

UNTIL  Jestina Mukoko, Roy Bennett and all the other political
prisoners are unconditionally released and the rule of law restored, I will
be lobbying the West to not only maintain sanctions against Zanu PF but to
increase them.
N Maine.

I WAS initially disturbed by Roy Bennett's arrest but now I believe
that the law should take its course. The same law should be used to
investigate Zanu PF agents including the army and police.
J Mhene, Bindura.

THE Prime Minister should consider injecting subsidies into the
operations of parastatals so that they are able to absorb operational costs.

These costs have been passed on to the consumers -- eating into their
disposable income.

BRITAIN and the US should help Morgan Tsvangirai demonstrate
effectiveness in improving the lot of the Zimbabwean people, including those
in the army and the police, thus isolating the hard-line elements in Zanu PF
who no longer have the resources they need to continue to buy the support of
the security forces and the civil service.
Political Analyst.

MORGAN Tsvangirai, will you make sure that you and the MDC are not
swallowed by Zanu PF. Always be on guard because you carry the aspirations
of the suffering majority. Indoda emadodeni! (Man among men).
Amai Zimba.

WE are thankful to John Nkomo and Joseph Msika for representing our
region and for their leadership. The appointment of  the cabinet ministers
was also a great achievement; we thank President Robert Mugabe, honourables
Morgan Richard Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara for facilitating that
process. We wish the GNU the best as it progresses.

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