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Deal to end Zimbabwe crisis 'imminent'

The Times
January 17, 2008

Jan Raath in Harare and Jonathan Clayton in Johannesburg
President Mbeki of South Africa flew into Harare yesterday amid reports of
an imminent deal between President Mugabe and the Zimbabwean opposition to
end the country's political and economic crisis.

Mr Mbeki, who was mandated last year to try to mediate a solution to a
crisis threatening the stability of the entire southern African region,
arrived to find the country's opposition in an unexpectedly defiant mood.

Both factions of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have called for
mass rallies and marches to demand a postponement of presidential and
parliamentary elections that Mr Mugabe scheduled unilaterally for March.

“It's as if they were inspired by [opposition leader] Raila Odinga's call to
the streets in Kenya,” a Western envoy said. Political analysts in Southern
Africa, however, voiced scepticism over reports of a breakthrough.

“What we are seeing here is classic spin. The fact is Mugabe won't give up
real power and that is what needs to be done to make progress,” one
Johannesburg-based regional expert said.
Mr Mugabe, who is 83 next month and has ruled since independence in 1980,
has vowed to run for another five-year term despite human rights abuses and
a ruined economy that has sent millions of Zimbabweans to seek a living in
neighbouring countries. Annual inflation is now officially higher than 8,000
per cent.

Diplomats in Harare agreed that Mr Mbeki's assurances to Bertie Ahern, the
Irish Prime Minister, in Pretoria this week that a deal was “within days”
would prove unfounded.

After nine months of talks overseen by Mr Mbeki, the ruling Zanu (PF) party
and delegations from the two MDC factions have inched towards an accord on a
new constitution and reforms to electoral, security and media laws. The
talks stalled in October, when the MDC factions demanded that a new
constitution be introduced before the elections and rejected most of the
reforms as cosmetic. Last weekend Mr Mbeki, who announced this month that he
was taking personal charge of the talks, broke the deadlock when he called
negotiators from the ruling party and the MDC factions to Pretoria to
restart discussions.

The MDC has declared that it will hold a march in Harare next Wednesday to
press demands for a postponement of the elections, risking a repeat of the
brutal suppression meted out by police last year to Mr Mugabe's opponents.
Among the concessions granted by Mr Mugabe has been a law effectively
allowing public demonstrations.

The MDC is taking Mr Mugabe at his word. “Our march is a statement against a
failed state,” said Tendai Biti, secretary-general of the MDC faction led by
Morgan Tsvangirai, the former trade union leader. “We have to test the
sincerity of Zanu (PF).”

Yesterday armoured cars and Israeli-made police water cannon vehicles were
patrolling the streets of Harare.

Civic groups indicated recently that Mr Mugabe had already put in place
conditions for an election as contrived as the last three he has fought -
and won - since 2000. One of Mr Mugabe's tricks has been to manipulate the
voters' roll to pour thousands of ruling party worker into opposition
strongholds. His regime also retains control of television and radio and an
“independent” electoral commission is packed with Zanu (PF) stalwarts.

From today the central bank will be issuing Zimbabwe dollar notes to the
value of one million, five million and ten million. The biggest note is
worth about £1.70 on the black market, the only real measure of the
currency's value, and can buy ten bananas. Cash is in short supply because
prices have been going up faster than the central bank has been able to
print money.

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Mbeki fails to break deadlock

Zim Online

by Own Correspondent Friday 18 January 2008

HARARE – South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki on Thursday failed to break
Zimbabwe’s political stalemate but told reporters that the search for a
solution was still on.

Mbeki emerged from a meeting with Mugabe at the State House presidential
palace in Harare that lasted several hours to tell reporters nothing had
been concluded and that the dialogue process was still much a “work in
“We have’nt concluded anything we are still trying to find a solution,” said
Mbeki, who arrived in Harare earlier in the day amid reports from South
Africa that a breakthrough on the Zimbabwe crisis was imminent.

Leaders of the main opposition  Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party
whose leaders met Mbeki earlier in the day were not immediately available
for comment on the matter.

Mbeki, has since last April led efforts by the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) to find a negotiated solution to Zimbabwe’s eight-year
crisis by facilitating talks between Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF party and the

The South African leader said he had brifed Mugabe, MDC leaders Morgan
Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara on the talks, which he said were continuing.

“We are going to continue the process, it’s work in progress,” said Mbeki,
as Mugabe stood silently by his side.

After a surprisingly fruitful start to dialogue which saw the parties
reaching several agreements including a key constitutional amendment
allowing the holding of parliamentary and presidential elections this year,
the talks appear in danger of collapse.

The talks have hit a deadlock over demands by the MDC that a new
constitution drafted by negotiators be enacted before the elections and that
the polls be pushed back to June to allow political reforms agreed between
the two parties to take root.

Mugabe has flatly rejected the MDC demands insisting that the elections will
be held in March “without fail.”

The government-owned Herald newspaper reported Thursday that ZANU PF was
also insisting that the MDC call on its “Western handlers” to lift targeted
sanctions imposed about six years ago on Mugabe’s lieutenants in an attempt
to nudge them towards political reforms.

Mugabe and ZANU PF have often portrayed the MDC as a puppet of the West, a
charge the opposition party denies.

The MDC however says it does not have powers to call on Britain, the United
States and the European Union to lift the sanctions that Harare says have
contributed to Zimbabwe’s economic woes.

Mbeki’s visit to Harare comes a few weeks after he was asked to directly
intervene in the talks following fears last December that the talks were in
real danger of total collapse.

Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe economic recession that has manifested
itself in hyperinflation, a rapidly contracting GDP, the fastest for a
country not at war according to the World Bank and shortages of basically
every essential commodity.

Political analysts say truly democratic elections are a prerequisite to any
plans to resuscitate Zimbabwe’s comatose economy. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe in the last lap towards total collapse

Zim Online

by Dakarayi Mawoyo Friday 18 January 2008

HARARE – Zimbabwe is hurtling towards total collapse with the country’s
public infrastructure fast collapsing, while a severe cash shortage has
drained a population grappling with the world’s fastest rising prices and
that has fed growing anger against President Robert Mugabe’s government.

Zimbabwe has in the past eight years hopped from crisis to crisis - mainly
marked by shortages of foreign currency, food and fuel and the highest
inflation rate in the world - and at the weekend residents in the capital
Harare woke up to find their water taps had run dry.

Since then, residents have come to a reality that water shortages could be a
permanent feature of their lives.

Although some suburbs have gone for weeks, some even months without water,
this is the first time that the entire capital city has been hit by water
shortages because of an acute shortage of foreign currency to import key
treatment chemicals and power to pump water.

“The government has without doubt lost control,” consultant economist John
Robertson said, noting that although the government had taken over water
management from Harare city council, this had only worsened the situation.

“This is a reflection of the state of Zimbabwe’s economy that it has
collapsed. I am not sure they (government) know what to do next,” said

Even when the water finally comes, it is usually rusty and has raised
concern among residents who charge that authorities are not properly
purifying the water, which could lead to a major disease outbreak.

The southern African state is mired in a debilitating economic crisis
largely blamed on Mugabe’s style of governance, which has seen him labelled
a dictator by his critics after forcibly seizing land from whites in 2000
and lately plans to nationalise foreign-owned companies like mines and

The 83-year-old Mugabe is a combative and ruthless politician who denies
dragging the economy into the abyss but argues that his policies are meant
to redress inequality brought about by a century of colonialism.

Although the veteran leader says Zimbabwe will never collapse, events in the
past month have shown he may have lost control.

Thousands of people have besieged banks, wasting valuable working hours
queuing for cash which is in short supply - thanks to runaway inflation
officially at close to 8 000 percent but which independent analysts say
could be anything above 24 000 percent.

Inflation, which Mugabe has labelled Zimbabwe’s number one enemy, has meant
basic goods such as a standard loaf of bread cost more than a million
dollars and consumers often have to carry sacks of cash to go shopping for
basic household goods.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) on Wednesday reacted to the cash crisis
the only way it has for the past five years, by printing more and higher
denominated bearer cheques, with the highest cheque worth Z$10 million.

Bearer cheques are not money but promissory notes first introduced by RBZ at
the height of cash shortages in 2003. They function the same as actual

RBZ chief Gideon Gono - who insisted the bank was “in full control of the
currency situation in the country” - blames currency shortages on cash
barons he says have siphoned off huge amounts of cash from banks to the
lucrative black market to fund fuel deals and foreign currency trade.

But analysts have dismissed this, finding fault with the government’s
economic policies, which have created a fertile ground for corrupt and
illegal business practices by a minority while the majority suffers.

“Some of us have given up, we don’t know what to do anymore,” a despondent
Maria Chikuhwa told ZimOnline outside a building society she had gone to
withdraw money without success. “I don’t think things will improve soon,
maybe they will get worse,” she said.

Indeed things will get worse!

Incessant rains pounding Zimbabwe and the southern Africa region have washed
away crops in many parts of the country and any hope of a bumper harvest
have vanished, which could force the government to dig deeper for scarce
foreign currency to import food.

Power cuts continue to hit residents while potholes widen, making roads
death traps for drivers.

However, as many worry about the effects of the economic crisis, political
temperature is heating up as Mugabe seeks re-election for another five-year
term, which analysts warn would seal Zimbabwe’s fate as a pariah.

Years of discontent within the ruling ZANU-PF could lead to an internal
rebellion against Mugabe as some senior officials in his party are rumoured
to be plotting to form a splinter party to challenge his 27-year-old hold on

“Mugabe is fighting on several fronts but the biggest loser is Zimbabwe
which will be in paralysis when all has been said and done,” Eldred
Masunungure, a political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe
said. – ZimOnline

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ZANU PF and MDC talks: Why compromise is a necessary evil

Zim Online

by Daniel Molokele Friday 18 January 2008

JOHANNESBURG - In 1997, I decided to pass on a chance to attain the status
of being 'one of the founding members' of Zimbabwe’s main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.

Since then I have never joined any other political party up to today. I had
several reasons for all this. I intend to highlight them in my forthcoming
book on my role and contribution to the student movement in Zimbabwe.

But for the purposes of this present debate, I will immediately highlight
one of them.

I decided not to join the MDC because I knew that it had the ultimate duty
to engage the status quo and help to move the Zimbabwean political
dispensation forward.

Inevitably, such a task involved two asymmetrical processes of engagement
with ZANU PF. The first option was an outright victory over the ruling
party. (Witness the MMD's experience with UNIP in Zambia)

The second one was by way for compromise in the event of a failure by the
MDC to completely dislodge the ruling party.

The elections of both 2000 and 2002 were clearly dominated by high hopes and
expectations of an outright victory on the part of the MDC.

Unfortunately as history would have it, it was not to be. ZANU PF managed to
survive the MDC juggernaut by hook or crook. The rest as they say is

Be that as it may, a last ditch effort was further presented to the MDC in
March 2005 but as we might all recall, the MDC proved by then that it had
lost much of its original venom and ZANU PF this time had an easier task of
brushing off the challenge from the MDC.

The issue of the Senate elections then had the effect of further dividing
the MDC and in the final analysis gave the upper hand to ZANU PF.

Since the October 2005 debacle, it was always going to be harder for the MDC
to stick to the first option. It is thus hardly a BIG surprise that as I
write today, the dominant process at the moment is now option B.

Both MDC and ZANU PF need to compromise in order to move forward.

Zimbabwe has virtually come to a standstill. The difference between the two
political parties has narrowed up so much that they are both presently
facing the risk of political irrelevance.

Neither of the two can honestly claim to have the full confidence of the
electorate, let alone the greater Zimbabwean populace.

The fact that at least three million adults and the majority of the
electorate are now based outside the country as the so-called Diaspora
further underline the failure of the Zimbabwean political process in the
past decade.

The public confidence in the electoral system of Zimbabwe is now at an all
time low.

It is doubtful that given the recent history of lack of credibility to the
national polls, the forthcoming ones will even be able to garner sufficient
interest from a weary electorate.

The reality is that the voters are suffering from a serious bout of election
fatigue and apathy could prove to be the decisive winner.

Something then ought to give!

In this regard, one should seriously take note of the words given to
Parliament by the likes of Patrick Chinamasa, Joram Gumbo, Thokozani Khupe,
Gibson Sibanda and Welshman Ncube on the eve of the 18th Constitutional

They all clearly held the notion that as long as the political impasse
continued to persist, then both ZANU PF and MDC risked being accused of
political sterility and stagnation.

They both risked outright rejection by the long-suffering masses of Zimbabwe
who have borne the brunt of the failure of the national electoral system to
produce a clear political leadership for our people.

Here are some excerpts from the reports of the parliamentary debate at that

“This (agreement by Zanu-PF and the MDC on the amendments) should be
regarded as the first step of a holistic resolution to the Zimbabwe crisis,"
said Ms Khupe.

She said the negotiating teams should deliberate further on other important
aspects, including the overhaul of the security, media and electoral laws.

Bulawayo North-East MP and secretary general of the Mutambara faction
Professor Welshmen Ncube also supported the Bill.

"I fully and unconditionally endorse the remarks made by my colleague (Ms
Khupe). I confirm what the Honourable Minister of Justice has said in his
statement in respect of the process and content of the negotiations between
the Government and Zanu-PF on one hand, and the MDC in its collective
sense," Prof Ncube said.

He said the two parties had taken the right steps to address the
socio-economic challenges and the two leaders of the MDC factions were
impressed with the progress being made by the dialogue.

"As the negotiating teams move on with the rest of the agenda (of the
talks), electoral laws, AIPPA (Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act) and, indeed, the question of sanctions, they are on the agenda
and we will deal with them. We hope to find each other.

"We believe we cannot continue to conduct politics for the sake of politics.
We should begin to conduct politics for the service of the people," Prof
Ncube said.

Nkulumane legislator and deputy leader in the Mutambara faction Mr Gibson
Sibanda also welcomed the landmark development, saying the nation should now
collectively find a lasting solution to its problems.

"Today is the beginning of a historic moment in this House. Indeed, I find
today that between the two parties represented here we can find the solution
to the crisis in Zimbabwe . We are in the process of making history and
finding solutions to the crisis," he said.

Mr Sibanda said despite the divisions between Zanu-PF and the MDC, the two
parties were showing maturity and addressing their differences.

"I support and add my voice to the smooth passage of the Constitution
Amendment Number 18 Bill and continued dialogue between Zanu-PF and MDC.
Indeed, we are united as Zimbabweans," he said.

Zanu-PF Chief Whip and MP for Mberengwa West Cde Joram Gumbo said
yesterday's events showed Zimbabweans were level-minded people who could sit
together and resolve their own problems internally.

"We from this side of the House want to say the chickens have come to roost.
We realise now that we are Zimbabweans. We, as Zimbabweans, are able to come
together and solve our issues," said Cde Gumbo.

On the other hand, other leadership paradigms such as the notion of a “third
force” were already being whispered around the darker alleys of the
corridors of power at the expense of both the political parties.

ZANU PF could not decisively defeat the MDC and the MDC could not decisively
dislodge ZANU PF and so as political logic demands, the two had no option
but to reach out for some form of compromise.

This is not a unique political experience at all.

Here in South Africa, we all know that in the late 1980s, a process of
engagement between the apartheid regime and the nationalist movement was
begun against all odds.

By 1990, the process had led to the unbanning of such crucial ‘terrorist’
organizations such as the ANC, SACP and the PAC.

Not only that, political activists returned from exile and those that were
in solitary confinement were released to actively lead the process of
political engagement between the hitherto bitterest of political enemies.

Need I say more about the process of CODESA and the setting up of the
Constitutional Assembly that culminated in the process of the certification
of the 1996 democratic Constitution of South Africa?

But let me bring the above point further home.

We all know that the Patriotic Front (as represented in the battlefield by
Zanla and Zipra) had to engage the powers that be in the Rhodesian

We all know that Lord Carrington had to lead the process of negotiation that
took several months at Lancaster House. We all know that in the final
analysis a new nation called Zimbabwe was born on the mortal bedside of
another one called Rhodesia in April 1980.

It was compromise that led to such kind of a breakthrough amid the
internecine nature of the armed liberation movement. Over 40 000 innocent
civilians lost their lives in that bloody national political conflict.

After the euphoria of independence we all know that all hell broke loose in
Midlands and Matabeleland as the struggle for political hegemony between the
two former Patriotic Front allies escalated.

Between 1982 and 1987, over 20 000 innocent civilians lost their precious
lives in a political struggle that had huge tribalistic or ethnic overtones.
(The great Ndebele versus Shona debate)

But still in December 1987, after several months of secret negotiations, as
facilitated by the late President Canaan Banana, Zimbabweans and indeed the
rest of the international community were pleasantly shocked to see Mugabe
and Nkomo sign the Unity Accord that ended the many years of senseless
bloody conflict.

To the extent that the ANC managed to compromise with the Nationalist Party,
the Patriotic Front with the Rhodesian Front and Zapu with ZANU PF, it
should thus not come as a surprise that both MDC and ZANU PF are now on the
verge of coming up with a political compromise that might initiate the
process of unlocking the political deadlock that has crippled the nation’s
once thriving economy.

Both MDC and ZANU PF owe the people of Zimbabwe a form of compromise that
will help heal the nation and open up the society for a broader national

Compromise, in whatever form, is the necessary evil that both parties have
to face. It is a bitter pill that will ultimately prove to be part of a
political panacea to heal the socio-economic malaise that has bedeviled our
once prosperous country.

Just last week, I passed by some desperate fellow countrymen at Marabstad
Home Affairs Department in Pretoria and also, as usual met the desperate
hand of Zimbabwean blind beggars at several traffic lights and thought to
myself; why are we as Zimbabweans allowing this humiliation and indignity of
out people to continue unabated?

Yes, there is the necessary national ideological debate that needs to
continue. We cannot avoid it at all. But it belongs to those that have
access to resources such as the internet and its concomitant discussion
groups or forums.

But how about those of us that are presently wallowing up at the Lindela
Deportation Center, Marabstad, Hillbrow, Sun City prison complex etcetera.

Don’t they deserve a better chance of a peaceful life back home in Zimbabwe
at all?

I verily believe that if the leading politicians cast their petty
differences aside and focus on nation building, those long suffering
Zimbabweans will get another chance to be willingly associated with the once
‘Proudly Zimbabwean’ brand.

Last but not least, let me end by quoting Morgan Tsvangirai when he said
these immortal words to the delegates at the launch of the Save Zimbabwe

“Let us as politicians not listen to our voices but that of the people. Our
people are saying stop dividing us and start uniting us.”

So if it means that ZANU PF and MDC have to agree to a form of political
compromise to end the crippling impasse, then let it be. The time for that
has come. The time for that is NOW!

The MDC has not been Zanunised. Neither has ZANU PF been MDCised!

The political reality we all have to face is that the inevitable process of
compromise has eventually dawned yet again on the Zimbabwean political
landscape and hopefully it will ultimately prove to be for our own good.

Daniel Molokele is a human rights lawyer and civic society leader who is
based in South Africa

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NamPower to fork out more in Zim power deal

Engineering News

By: Felix Njini
Published: 18 Jan 08 - 0:00
Namibia's power utility, NamPower, says that it is to fork out an additional
$10-million for the refurbishment of the Hwange power station, in Zimbabwe,
in return for more electricity supplies.

NamPower MD Paulinus Shilamba says that the refurbishment of electricity
generators at the power station is on track and electricity would start
flowing this month, as agreed with the Zimbabweans.

Namibia agreed early last year to provide $40-million for the refurbishment
of generators at Hwange, in return for a guaranteed flow of electricity.

Under the initial agreement, Namibia was to receive about 40 MW monthly, but
Shilamba says that the new agreement provides for an additional 30 MW.

Shilamba says that the deal – which has been the subject of negative media
reports – is the best form of Southern African Development Community (SADC)
inter-country cooperation under the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP).

"We are very confident about this project and I personally want to prove
critics wrong. This is one of the best deals we have ever had, and we are
going to have power for the next five to seven years," Shilamba says in an

"I know that there has been a lot of criticism of this cooperation – many
people don't want SADC countries to co-operate and they do not want us to do
business deals with Zimbabwe, but we are going to prove critics wrong,"
Shilamba adds.

The NamPower head says that structures have been put in place at Hwange,
adding that most of the spare parts are already on site.

Namibia's Minister of Mines and Energy, Erkki Nghimtina, and his Zimbabwean
counterpart, Mike Nyambuya, toured the Hwange power station in November to
familiarise themselves with progress on the project.

"The project is on track and we expect to receive the first 40 MW from
Zimbabwe [this month].

"At closer inspection of the units to be refurbished, we realised that an
additional $10-million needs to be invested in exchange for more megawatts,"
he adds.

NamPower has also announced a raft of projects, among them the Caprivi Link

The N$3,2-billion Caprivi Link power project is a 350-kV, 300-MW
transmission aimed at interconnecting the electricity networks of Namibia,
Zambia, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and South
Africa to create an alternative route for power imports and exports to and
from neighbouring countries.

NamPower has hinted that it is going to upgrade the link to 600 MW.

The first stage of the project comprise of a 970-km, 350-kV high-voltage
direct-current bipolar transmission line with 300 MW monopole converter
stations and associated alternating current substation extensions at Zambezi
and Gerus.

Construction will start towards the end of 2009.

Swiss company ABB Namibia was recently awarded a N$1-billion tender to
construct two converter stations at the Zambezi and Gerus substations.

Indian firm KEC won the tender for the construction of transmission lines
from the Zambezi substation to inland substations.

The transmission line will be fitted with an optical fibre which will, apart
from providing essential transmission communication, expand NamPower's
communication capacity.

The second stage of the project will comprise of the upgrading of converter
stations at the Zambezi and Gerus substations to 600 MW bipolar, a 285 400
kV AC transmission line from Gerus to Auas and associated substations at
Auas and Gerus with a possible interconnection to Omburu.

This will be implemented when the need arises, Shilamba says.

NamPower says that a 300-MW capacity will be dedicated to Namibia alone,
whereas the 600-MW design will have to rely on other offtake agreements.

NamPower and Zambian, Botswana and Zimbabwean utilities are expected to sign
an agreement for a power project which involves the construction of a 330-kV
high-voltage alternating current power line from Hwange, through Victoria
Falls, to the Zambezi substation.

This phase is expected to increase the capacity of the project to 600 MW.

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Monetary Doctor Steve Hanke Examines Zimbabwe Hyperinflation In New Book


      By Blessing Zulu
      17 January 2008

Hyperinflation is ravaging the purchasing power of Zimbabweans but U.S.
economist Steve Hanke, an expert on monetary systems and how to fix them,
found Zimbabwe's plight so interest he has written a whole book about it.
"Zimbabwe, Hyperinflation to Growth," to be released in Harare in a few
weeks, offers possible solutions.

Hanke has long been practicing hands-on, high-level economics: he served on
the Council of Economic Advisors of President Ronald Reagan, and has given
counsel to a number of countries in distress, including Kazakhstan,
Indonesia, Venezuela and the former Yugoslavia, whose inflation was even
higher than Zimbabwe's.

The last official data from Harare put inflation at around 8,000%, but many
economists say it has topped 50,000% - higher than that seen in Weimar
Germany after World War I but less than Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, at
over 300 million percent.

Hanke says that in order to halt its hyperinflationary spiral, Zimbabwe must
replace the Reserve Bank with a new monetary regime imposing discipline on
money supply.

In an exclusive interview with reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for
Zimbabwe, Hanke notes that hyperinflation is a rare occurrence, and that
Zimbabwe is the first country this century to experience it.

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Harare Water Taps Remain Empty But Cause Of Crisis Still A Mystery


      By Patience Rusere
      17 January 2008

Water shortages in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare continued and in some
areas worsened on Thursday despite earlier assurances by authorities that
the disruption which began on Monday would be resolved before the end of the

Sources in various parts of Harare said most of the city had no water, and
even areas which seemed to have a good supply earlier in the week have seen
taps dry up.

Mbare, one of the city’s most populous residential areas, has been without
water for six days though it had enjoyed a steady supply for the past three
months. The satellite city of Chitungwiza has had no water for two weeks,
sources there said.

Efforts to obtain comment from relevant water authorities were unsuccessful,
and the real reasons behind the water shortage in the capital remained

When water was first cut off early this week, authorities blamed power
outages which damaged pumping equipment at the Morton Jaffray Water
Treatment Plan, but other sources have suggested the national water utility
is out of purifying chemicals.

Opposition lawmaker Gift Chimanikire, who represents Mbare for the Movement
for Democratic Change faction of Morgan Tsvangirai and sits on parliament's
committee on local government told Patience Rusere that the crisis
demonstrates the inability of the Zimbabwe National Water Authority to
manage and deliver water.

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Zimbabwe Opposition Cites 'Anomalies' In National Redistricting Report


      By Carole Gombakomba
      17 January 2008

With national elections possibly less than 10 weeks off, one grouping of
Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change has cited "anomalies"
in a redistricting report given to parliament Wednesday by the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission.

The first reservations about the report were expressed by the MDC formation
led by Arthur Mutambara, which has said it is ready and willing to contest
March elections.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa urged parliamentarians to “study the
report diligently,” but most members had yet to be issued copies of the full
report Thursday, 24 hours after it was officially tabled in the lower house.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper declared that “there is no need for
debate over the report as the commission says it has consulted all parties
during the preparation of the report," a contention disputed by commission

With 60 house seats being added for a total of 210, metropolitan Harare has
been redivided into 29 constituencies, Bulawayo and environs into 12,
Midlands into 28, Mashonaland Central 18, Mashonaland East 23, Mashonaland
West 22, Masvingo 26, Matebeleland South and Matebeleland North 13 apiece
and Manicaland 26.

Those bare numbers raise certain questions immediately, such as whether the
largely rural provinces of Manicaland and Masvingo have populations
sufficient to justify an allocation nearly as large as the province around
Harare, the main urban center.

The introduction to the redistricting or delimitation report says it
includes 10 chapters, one for each province in the country, but VOA was
unable to locate any sources who had obtained the full report including
annexes and maps. Many are concerned that the redistricting may have been
politically steered, resulting in gerrymandering.

Spokesman Gabriel Chaibva of the MDC formation led by Arthur Mutambara told
reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that what his
grouping has seen so far indicates that the electoral commission failed to
adhere to the terms of last year's 18th constitutional amendment which
authorized the redistricting.

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Farm Equipment Used to Buy Votes

Financial Gazette (Harare)

17 January 2008
Posted to the web 17 January 2008

Njabulo Ncube

Zanu PF is using farm equipment and threats to sway voters ahead of
elections to be held in March, a report by a pressure group says.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), which is monitoring the
pre-election period, reports numerous cases of politicisation of state and
public functions and programmes in rural areas.

ZESN has deployed 120 long-term observers that are monitoring election
related events in the existing 120 parliamentary constituencies.

The pressure group has produced a report covering events that took place
between November 24 and December 14, 2007.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is likely to seize on the report as
evidence of what it says is continuing ZANU-PF intimidation of its
supporters and the use of state resources to influence the outcome of the
March polls.

ZESN says its observers found that in the Midlands province, traditional
leaders in Silobela, particularly Chiefs Gobo and Ruya, have banned all
opposition activity in their areas.

In Manicaland, ZESN observers in Nyanga noted that Chief Chifodya has been
openly campaigning for the ruling ZANU-PF party.

In Hwedza and Chiredzi North, villagers called to a meeting for the
distribution of ox-drawn ploughs under the Reserve Bank's Farm Mechanisation
Programme were made to chant ZANU-PF slogans before they could benefit.

In Masvingo Central, at Roger Howmann Hall, the ploughs were only allocated
to people who held a fully paid up ZANU-PF membership card and could chant
at least three of the party's slogans correctly.

ZESN observers also established that the District Administrator for Gokwe
Nembudziya, one Mr Mutikizizi, assured people who had been given ploughs at
Mutora that they would not repay their loans if the ruling party won the

Masvingo Provincial Governor Willard Chiwewe is alleged to have stated that
the ox-drawn ploughs donated to poor peasants would be withdrawn if ZANU-PF
lost in the elections.

Under the mechanisation programme, beneficiaries are, in fact required to
pay for the implements they receive.

Observers in Gokwe Sengwa, Chivi North, and Mutare South have witnessed the
partisan distribution of agricultural inputs under Operation Maguta, a
government farming programme coordinated by the Zimbabwe National Army to
members of the ruling party.

In Zaka West, a councillor allegedly warned villagers they would be "bitten
by dogs" if they supported the MDC.

In Hopley, Harare South, the pressure group's observers reported an incident
in which at least one person was assaulted after he refused to attend the
"million-man" march.

Police reportedly stood by as youths in ZANU-PF regalia tried to force
residents to join the march.

Talks between the opposition and the ruling party have stalled as the MDC
presses for a postponement to allow a level playing field to be put in place
before any elections can be held.

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Doctors' Bid to Get Paid in ForEx Rejected

Financial Gazette (Harare)

17 January 2008
Posted to the web 17 January 2008

Synodia Bhasera

THE government has rejected demands by doctors to be paid in foreign
currency, saying such a move was illegal.

Sources involved in talks between the Ministry of Health and striking state
doctors said health professionals had proposed that they should be paid in
foreign currency.

However, Health and Child Welfare Minister David Parirenyatwa said
government would continue reviewing salaries but would never pay its workers
in hard currency. "We will always top up the salary and we will always do so
in local currency. There are certain partners wishing to assist us in the
retention of staff. However, if the money comes in foreign currency, we
cannot give them in foreign currency. We cannot do that, " said

Doctors working at state hospitals have since last year gone on strike
frequently to press for better salaries and working conditions.

At one time, the government resorted to roping in army health personnel to
fill the gap left by striking doctors and nurses, but they could not cope
with the large number of patients seeking care.

Numerous previous attempts to resolve the long-running dispute have ended in
an impasse as the striking doctors have continued to defy government calls
to return to work while their grievances are being addressed.

The health sector is among those hardest hit by the drain of skills from the
country, and government has resorted to bonding newly qualified
professionals to stem the exodus. The country trains 4 500 nurses and 149
doctors every year, but three quarters of these find their way into private
service industries or leave the country once they complete the mandatory
bonding period.

Last year, the director of Preventive Services in the Ministry of Health and
Child Welfare told a parliamentary portfolio committee that the country had
738 doctors instead of an establishment of 1 570. Standards in the health
sector have deteriorated drastically due to the economic meltdown, leading
to a mass exodus of senior health specialists to countries such as South
Africa, Britain, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

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Tobacco Output Seen Lower This Year

Financial Gazette (Harare)

17 January 2008
Posted to the web 17 January 2008

Kumbirai Mafunda

ZIMBABWE'S economic recovery prospects faded this week following projections
of yet another dismal tobacco season.

In yet another blow to government, the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association (ZTA)
projected that this year's tobacco crop would plummet after last year's
rebound, owing to challenges ranging from input shortages and a sudden shift
by some farmers into the production of less capital-intensive crops.

The ZTA said tobacco production, which rebounded to 73 million kgs and raked
an estimated US$170 million last year, would tumble below 70 million
kilogrammes this year.

Andrew Ferreira, the ZTA president, said the irrigated tobacco crop had been
affected by last year's water shortages while the current wet season would
affect average yields for the dry land tobacco crop.

"There have been some growers who have opted out because of inputs and the
difficult nature of the season. So we are looking forward to a crop of at
least 65 to 70 million kgs," said Ferreira.

The ZTA chief however said prices could firm for the quality tobacco crop,
which was planted under the water shortage.

Some growers reported that they had already lost significant volumes of
their crop, which had been damaged after farmers went for several hours
without electricity to cure the tobacco.

Farmers said they were only receiving limited supplies of power daily, and
usually during the night, instead of getting a whole day's supply to cure
their crop.

Economic analysts warned this week that the drop in tobacco production could
further hasten the economic meltdown marked by out of control inflation and
shortages of essentials.

With Zimbabwe's nine-year-old foreign currency crisis increasingly choking
its frail economy, a boost in tobacco output, a crucial earner of hard
currency in the troubled economy, was expected to bring relief to the

But with the drastic drop in tobacco output, Zimbabwe could experience an
acceleration of its economic meltdown, with merchants reportedly

shifting their attention to nascent regional tobacco growing countries such
as Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania, which are taking steps to boost output.

Zimbabwe's dramatic tobacco plunge is attributed to the effects of the
unsystematic seizure of white-owned farms by the government ostensibly for
redistribution to landless blacks.

At its peak in 2000, the country produced a record 237 million kgs of the
golden leaf, raking in US$400 million.

But earnings have been falling since then, recording an estimated US$170
million last year.

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Zim to Lose Exclusive Gold Rights

Financial Gazette (Harare)

17 January 2008
Posted to the web 17 January 2008

Shame Makoshori

ZIMBABWE could this year lose exclusive rights to sell gold directly to the
international markets after failing to produce a benchmark output of 10
tonnes of gold last year required to maintain membership with the
influential London Bullion Market Association (LBMA).

Preliminary figures obtained by The Financial Gazette indicate that the
country's embattled gold mines failed to produce enough to meet the target.

LBMA accreditation is the recognised surety of quality international gold
buyers considered before purchasing the metal from any refinery or country.

To be admitted into membership, countries have to produce at least 10 tonnes
of gold per year.

A loss of the LBMA membership would mean Zimbabwe would be forced to sell
gold through intermediaries who charge exorbitant fees to facilitate the
trade, reports have indicated.

Thabani Ndlovu, a Ministry of Mines and Mining Development permanent
secretary, said in December that the country needed to produce an additional
3.5 tonnes of gold to meet the minimum target.

"The government is concerned about the decline in amounts of gold being
remitted to Fidelity Printers," Ndlovu told a stakeholders meeting.

Mines Minister Ambassador Amos Midzi could not be reached for comment at the
time of going to print.

Fidelity Printers and Refiners, a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ), the sole buyer of all gold produced in the country, is a member of
the LBMA.

Provisional gold output figures for 2007 compiled by the Chamber of Mines
shows that output for the year fell short of meeting the minimum threshold
imposed by the LBMA on members.

Chamber of Mines chief executive Douglas Verden recently said in an
interview that the chamber estimated gold output to plunge by 33 percent to
7.5 tonnes in 2007.

"Nearly all minerals have shown a decline, these are just estimates," Verden
told The Financial Gazette.

"We project gold to decline by 33 percent to 7.5 tonnes in 2007. The only
areas where we expect improvements will be those that are not important," he

Platinum output is also expected to have declined by between three and four
percent, the chamber's figures suggest, while chrome output is seen down 12

The major factors that have contributed to the decline of production in the
gold mining sector include erratic power supplies, foreign currency
shortages and erratic payments.

The chamber estimated that the industry was owed US$20 million by Fidelity
Refiners in December 2007 for gold deliveries made last year.

Erratic payments to gold producers began in September 2006 but intensified
in 2007.

Production output for most minerals have also been affected by the
uncertainty that shrouds the economy, which has been fueled by hostile laws
proposed by the government to enable it to expropriate shareholding in
foreign owned mines.

With agricultural output during the 2007/2008 seasons expected to decline
due to high rainfalls and input shortages, the plunge in gold output could
deal a further blow to an economy that is already struggling to create
opportunities for job seekers due to high inflation.

About 40 000 workers are estimated to have lost employment in mines in the
past decade.

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China to Inject More Funds Into Zim Venture

Financial Gazette (Harare)

17 January 2008
Posted to the web 17 January 2008


China-Africa Development Fund (CADF) is expected to inject part of US$90
million earmarked for four African projects into a joint venture ferrochrome
plant being built by the state-owned Sinosteel Corp in Zimbabwe, reports
this week indicated.

This is part of the first investment plan by the CADF, a government-backed
institution created to help Chinese firms invest in Africa.

The fund is financed by policy lender, China Development Bank and was
launched in June to honour a promise made by Chinese President Hu Jintao at
a summit with African nations in Beijing in November 2006, reports said.

In one of the four projects, the fund will work with Shenzhen Energy
Investment Co Ltd to finance a power station in Ghana, the fund said in a

Another of the projects will fund a glass factory in Ethiopia, and a third
will support a joint venture ferrochrome plant being built by state-owned
Sinosteel in Zimbabwe, it added.

The other will help China National Building Material Co invest in cement and
glass production facilities around Africa.

The fund has initial capital of $1 billion, which will eventually expand to
$5 billion.

Beijing says the fund will focus on industries that are important to the
development of African nations and the welfare of their people, including
infrastructure, agriculture and manufacturing.

Sinosteel became a controlling shareholder of Zimasco Consolidated
Enterprises, the Mauritius-based holding company of Zimasco Holdings Limited
of Zimbabwe after buying off a 73 percent stake in the company in a deal
closed on December 13, 2007.

Sinosteel, China's second largest iron ore importer had initially earmarked
taking up a 50 percent stake in Zimasco but later gained approval for the
acquisition of a much bigger state in the Zimbabwean ferrochrome miner.

Sinosteel had entered into an agreement with Zimasco Consolidated
Enterprises shareholder, Exultate Limited, for the purchase much earlier in
the year, and the two had consummated the deal after all the conditions
precedent to the sale and purchase agreement entered into between themselves
had been met.

The agreement had been signed on September 19, 2007.

Sinosteel is also said to have agreed to invest in a US$230 million
ferrochrome mine and smelter project with South Africa's Samancor Limited.

Zimasco, with an annual production capacity of 180,000 tons of ferrochrome,
was once the fifth largest ferrochrome producer in the world.

A statement from company representatives said: "Sinosteel has recognised the
importance of retaining the existing management team in the company's mining
and smelting operations in Zimbabwe and intends growing the company to the
extent made possible by prevailing conditions."

"Sinosteel will market the output through the appropriate channel, with due
regard to existing contractual obligations, the present customer base, and
the need to maximise company profitability."

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Zim to Lose Exclusive Gold Rights

Financial Gazette (Harare)

17 January 2008
Posted to the web 17 January 2008

Shame Makoshori

ZIMBABWE could this year lose exclusive rights to sell gold directly to the
international markets after failing to produce a benchmark output of 10
tonnes of gold last year required to maintain membership with the
influential London Bullion Market Association (LBMA).

Preliminary figures obtained by The Financial Gazette indicate that the
country's embattled gold mines failed to produce enough to meet the target.

LBMA accreditation is the recognised surety of quality international gold
buyers considered before purchasing the metal from any refinery or country.

To be admitted into membership, countries have to produce at least 10 tonnes
of gold per year.

A loss of the LBMA membership would mean Zimbabwe would be forced to sell
gold through intermediaries who charge exorbitant fees to facilitate the
trade, reports have indicated.

Thabani Ndlovu, a Ministry of Mines and Mining Development permanent
secretary, said in December that the country needed to produce an additional
3.5 tonnes of gold to meet the minimum target.

"The government is concerned about the decline in amounts of gold being
remitted to Fidelity Printers," Ndlovu told a stakeholders meeting.

Mines Minister Ambassador Amos Midzi could not be reached for comment at the
time of going to print.

Fidelity Printers and Refiners, a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ), the sole buyer of all gold produced in the country, is a member of
the LBMA.

Provisional gold output figures for 2007 compiled by the Chamber of Mines
shows that output for the year fell short of meeting the minimum threshold
imposed by the LBMA on members.

Chamber of Mines chief executive Douglas Verden recently said in an
interview that the chamber estimated gold output to plunge by 33 percent to
7.5 tonnes in 2007.

"Nearly all minerals have shown a decline, these are just estimates," Verden
told The Financial Gazette.

"We project gold to decline by 33 percent to 7.5 tonnes in 2007. The only
areas where we expect improvements will be those that are not important," he

Platinum output is also expected to have declined by between three and four
percent, the chamber's figures suggest, while chrome output is seen down 12

The major factors that have contributed to the decline of production in the
gold mining sector include erratic power supplies, foreign currency
shortages and erratic payments.

The chamber estimated that the industry was owed US$20 million by Fidelity
Refiners in December 2007 for gold deliveries made last year.

Erratic payments to gold producers began in September 2006 but intensified
in 2007.

Production output for most minerals have also been affected by the
uncertainty that shrouds the economy, which has been fueled by hostile laws
proposed by the government to enable it to expropriate shareholding in
foreign owned mines.

With agricultural output during the 2007/2008 seasons expected to decline
due to high rainfalls and input shortages, the plunge in gold output could
deal a further blow to an economy that is already struggling to create
opportunities for job seekers due to high inflation.

About 40 000 workers are estimated to have lost employment in mines in the
past decade.

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'Price Controls a Form of Sanctions'

Financial Gazette (Harare)

17 January 2008
Posted to the web 17 January 2008

Kumbirai Mafunda

ZIMBABWE'S battered and bruised industrialists yesterday wrote off chances
of an economic recovery and came out with guns blazing over the punitive
price controls imposed by the government.

Government introduced prices controls on almost all commodities last June
after forcing manufacturers and retailers to slash prices by 50 percent in a
desperate bid to reign-in out of control inflation. It accused entrepreneurs
of frequently hiking prices of goods and services to foment anger against
President Robert Mugabe's administration.

Despite the marked effects of widespread shortages of staple foods and basic
commodities spawned by the ill-fated price controls, the government still
maintains and enforces its unfriendly and uneconomic price regime on almost
every commodity and service.

The country's industrial lobby group, the Confederation of Zimbabwe
Industries (CZI), yesterday came out of its closet and fired a broadside at
the price enforcement body, the National Incomes and Pricing Commission
(NIPC), for imposing controls on goods and foreign currency.

The industrial representative body condemned the imposition of price
controls and equated them to sanctions.

"It (price controls) is an imposition of sanctions on ourselves," the CZI
president, Callisto Jokonya, said.

He added: "Price controls have no economic benefit. To impose price controls
is not different from imposing sanctions. We are imposing sanctions on the
lifeblood of the economy. Business is the lifeblood of the economy."

"There are issues in our economy. There is a fundamental need to understand
how the economy should be and is run. People need to understand how to run
the whole economy."

Jokonya said the government, through the NIPC, should not unnecessarily
dictate prices but should leave the determination of prices of goods and
services to the forces of demand and supply.

"Whom are we protecting by not allowing a free market economy? We are not
protecting the man on the street, as there are no goods in supermarkets.
Controls haven't achieved us anything," charged Jokonya, who is also the
chief executive officer of Imperial Refrigeration.

Jokonya's counterpart at the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC)
last year lambasted the NIPC, describing its attitude towards business as

"What we do not want to see is this bullying (attitude) because one of us is
more powerful," said Mara Hativagone, president of the ZNCC.

"Government can only do well if business is doing well because the private
sector is running the wheels of this economy. We do not want to create a
situation where we end up thinking it is no longer useful to be in
business," Hativagone said.

Jokonya spoke yesterday as Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa announced
plans to expand the number of commissioners serving in the NIPC from six to

The government, which has always suspected an alliance between business and
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, has since 2001 maintained
Soviet modelled price controls, which it reasons are vital to keep under
control rising inflation and "profiteers".

But the communist-styled and populist policy, which the Soviets dumped
decades ago, has fanned the flames of an economic crisis now in its ninth
consecutive year.

Companies have halted production of basic goods and services while retailers
have been unable to restock because the artificially low prices have eroded
profit margins and made operations financially unviable.

Jokonya ruled out any chances of economic recovery as long as the government
maintains price controls and continues to shun counsel from the business
lobby groups.

"It (price controls) will continue to be just a dream. We will continue to
dream (of recovery). Price controls have no economic benefits. They are
purely for government or politicians," Jokonya said.

The CZI boss said price controls had turned most Zimbabwean companies and
consumers into net importers.

"Price controls have made us key importers. We are boosting the
manufacturing industries in South Africa, Zambia and Botswana yet our
manufacturing industry is collapsing," Jokonya said.

He also called for the scrapping of controls on the exchange rate, which is
currently pegged at a ridiculous $30 000 to the greenback, against between
$3 million and $5 million to the US dollar on the parallel market.

"To keep holding the price of foreign currency at where it is today is
purely to cultivate corruption in our economy and to encourage bad business
practice which breeds queues of currency and cash barons," Jokonya said.

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Graft Not the Only Police Problem

Financial Gazette (Harare)

17 January 2008
Posted to the web 17 January 2008

Mavis Makuni

In a speech to mark the official opening of the 2008 legal year, Bulawayo
High Court judge, Justice Maphios Cheda, made a familiar call on the need to
stamp out corruption in the police force.

He said while the police were to be commended for their general devotion to
duty, which had resulted in the reduction of the crime rate within the
region, corruption was still a cancer within the force. Said the judge:
"However, while a lot has been done by the police, there is still more to be
done , particularly in those areas which relate to traffic offences. It is
now common knowledge that most police officers manning roadblocks are now
concentrating on public transporters and foreign-registered vehicles."

The reason was obvious, said Justice Cheda. The culprits were doing it to
get foreign currency to supplement their meagre earnings. "While we live in
difficult economic times, it is important that those who are charged with
public duties should not unlawfully enrich themselves to the prejudice of
the public fiscus." I have no problem with the judge warning traffic police
not to take bribes at roadblocks or demanding payment from motorists for
dubious offences. I just happen to think this is now a tired theme that has
been repeated ad nauseam over the years.

I am not saying the misdemeanours of traffic policemen should be condoned. I
am simply saying such themes should not be used exclusively in speeches by
government and judiciary officials to avoid speaking out on the more serious
charges levelled against the police force. These include police brutality
and selective interpretation and enforcement of the law, which are a serious
problem, particularly as the country prepares to hold harmonized elections
in March.

The selective enforcement of the law has been exposed in the past through
complaints by opposition parties and civic groups over the problems they
face in trying to obtain police clearance and authorization to hold rallies
or peaceful demonstrations. The police have been accused of outright bias in
this regard in that while they would never dream of banning a ruling party
rally or meeting, they will do everything in their power to thwart attempts
by other groups to enjoy the same freedom of speech and assembly. Opposition
parties have complained in the past about meetings or rallies previously
cleared by the police being banned at the last minute for tenuous reasons.

The most famous of these fabricated excuses is that the police do not have
enough manpower and the almost mystical one of police having "reason to
believe" that the holding of an event would lead to a breach of the peace.
Some events organised by opposition and civic groups have indeed led to a
breach of the peace -- by the police themselves when they have unleashed
violence on unarmed citizens. Before the battering of Morgan Tsvangirai of
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and Lovemore Madhuku of the
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) in March last year, the police had
perpetrated similar atrocities against trade union leaders towards the end
of 2006. And despite the worldwide condemnation that the attack on
opposition politicians sparked last year, the police subsequently subjected
a group of lawyers, including the president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe,
Beatrice Mtetwa, to similar abuse. On all these occasions, the judiciary,
which is supposed to be the custodian of the law, reacted with thunderous

It is ironic that the harmonised elections should be held in March, which is
the anniversary of one of the darkest periods in the country's political
history. This is when opposition and civil society organisation leaders
referred to above were battered by the police after being arrested at
Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield in Harare. They had gone there to attend a
prayer meeting of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign. The brutal handiwork of
Zimbabwe's police force was displayed throughout the world when the swollen
faces, bandaged heads and broken bodies of the victims, who included women
activists, were splashed in newspapers and on television screens.

The hypocrisy of the police in banning events organised by opposition
parties and civil society groups while allowing those of the ruling party to
go ahead was demonstrated most clearly in the run-up to the ZANU PF special
congress held in December last year. During that period, war veterans
organised a series of marches to show solidarity with President Robert
Mugabe in his quest to win endorsement as the ruling party's presidential
candidate in the harmonised elections. These events culminated in the
million-man march in the capital city.

Suddenly, the police, who have been known to treat a peaceful demonstration
by small numbers of members of the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) pressure
group like a major disturbance calling for the deployment of the riot squad,
were suddenly ready to co-operate and cope with the much bigger procession.

This partisan approach within the police force is unethical and
unprofessional and should be among unacceptable practices to be regularly
condemned by public officials such as judges. But what happens because of
the abnormal political culture prevailing in this country is that officials
choose "safe" subjects and themes when they speak in public so as to avoid
rocking the boat. They seem to forget that all it takes for evil to prevail
is for good men and women to remain silent.

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Bulawayo to Host Election Debates

Financial Gazette (Harare)

17 January 2008
Posted to the web 17 January 2008

Charles Rukuni Bureau Chief

- Election 2008 debates will kick off in Bulawayo this weekend with
representatives of at least three political parties thrashing out issues at
a public debate organised by Bulawayo Agenda, a civic organisation that
promotes debate, discussions and dialogue on critical issues affecting the

Speakers will include Tsholotsho Member of Parliament, Jonathan Moyo; Eddie
Cross of the Movement for Democratic Change (Tsvangirai faction); Paul
Themba Nyathi of the Mutambara faction of the MDC and Paul Siwela of
ZAPU-FP. Activist Jennie Williams of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) will
share the platform.

Moyo is a former government spin-doctor but parted ways with the ruling
party when he decided to stand as an independent candidate. He was
reportedly associated with a group within the ruling party opposed to the
appointment of Joyce Mujuru as vice-president.

Other reports linked him to a new political party, the United People's
Movement but he has remained as an independent candidate.

Eddie Cross is a former general manager of the Cold Storage Company and is
the MDC's economic adviser.

Nyathi is the Mutambara faction's director of elections. He was a Member of
Parliament for Gwanda before losing in 2005 and was also the MDC spokesman
before the party split.

Siwela contested the 2002 presidential elections but lost. His party has
been advocating a federal government but he said last week he was going to
join forces with the Tsvangirai faction of the MDC because they shared the
same views. Some members of his party have been trying to oust him without

Williams is the national coordinator of WOZA, a civic movement famous for
its protest matches during which its members are inevitably arrested.

The Public Order and Security Act under which the women were arrested has
since been amended.

National polls, which will include presidential, parliamentary and local
government elections, are scheduled for March though there have been calls
for them to be postponed to level the political playing field.

Bulawayo Agenda says this weekend's meeting will be the first of a series of
debates lined up in preparation for the March elections.

President Robert Mugabe has already been endorsed as the ruling ZANU-PF
candidate though there are increasing reports that the party could split
before the elections.

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Gono to Spill the Beans Before Parly Commitee?

Financial Gazette (Harare)

17 January 2008
Posted to the web 17 January 2008


AFTER weeks of hesitation, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget
and Finance has resolved to call Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor
Gideon Gono to provide information on high-ranking government officials he
accuses of corruption.

Zhombe legislator Daniel Mackenzie Ncube told The Financial Gazette after
his appointment as chairman of the committee this week that his team would
on Monday hear from the RBZ boss on the goings-on surrounding the hoarding
of cash and other corrupt activities.

He said: "We have taken up the governor's request and have invited him to
appear before the committee on Monday afternoon." "In fact, we are availing
ourselves at his open invitation to us. He invited himself to the

Critics said the committee, whose former chairman David Butau skipped the
country last month after the police dragnet started closing in on him would
face Gono at its weakest point.

Its former chairman had indicated that the committee was in no hurry to call
Gono, who invited the committee first to summon him to Parliament so he
could disclose the names of senior officials he labelled "cash barons".

Butau, who is said to be on the RBZ list, is now on the police wanted list
in connection with various economic crimes.

While vindicating Gono, the Butau affair has cast new light on the extent of
the involvement of senior ZANU-PF officials in the hoarding of cash.

But the public will wait for Gono's appearance before the portfolio
committee with bated breath. The timing of the invitation might however,
present problems for the RBZ chief.

Several weeks have already passed after Gono had invited the committee to
quiz him and in the interim, a number of developments related to the issue
have taken place.

For instance, several executives are appearing before the courts on charges
ranging from the hoarding of cash to exchange control violations. Legal
experts say Gono might subvert the due processes of the law by referring to
these and other cases, which are now being investigated by the police.

Critics said it would be interesting to see which giant would prevail at the
end of the day, the committee or the monetary authorities.

"It will be an interesting test for the giants," said an observer.

Gono has also accused officials in ZANU-PF and the government of fuelling
trade on the black market for foreign currency.

But while Gono's disclosures have won him support among the ordinary people,
they have courted the anger of top figures in government.

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ZTA Brews a Shocker

Financial Gazette (Harare)

17 January 2008
Posted to the web 17 January 2008

Shame Makoshori

THE Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has sprung a surprise by being awarded
the gold prize by the France-based Business Initiative Directions (BID) for
its aggressive campaign that has resulted in increased tourist traffic
despite an economic and political turmoil that has courted bad publicity in
key markets.

The World Quality Commitment (WQC) awards are among the biggest awards given
to companies and business organisations by the French firm.

A delegation from the ZTA is due to travel to France in March to receive the
prize, according to ZTA chief executive officer (CEO), Karikoga Kaseke.

About 17 international media houses, including Business Week, China Daily,
CNN, the Economist, Forbes Magazine, and Newsweek, sponsored the awards,
"given to leaders by leaders."

"The BID world congress, with meetings in Paris, London, Madrid, Geneva,
Frankfurt and New York, gathered companies from 93 countries over 10
months," a statement released by BID, a copy of which was shown to The
Financial Gazette, said.

"Throughout the congress, participating leaders were requested to submit
their proposals for the annual WQC awards. On the basis of the WQC
regulations and criteria, the ZTA has been designated to receive the WQC
award in the Gold category in Paris," the statement said.

BID said the selected companies, including medium and large as well as those
listed in the Global Fortune 500, had demonstrated "leadership excellence
within each designated industry, increased market share, improved results as
well as sustainability".

In an interview, the ZTA CEO Karikoga Kaseke told The Financial Gazette this
week that the BID award, which come from a European country had helped
consolidate their arguments that Zimbabwe's tourism industry was back on a
growth path after nearly collapsing as a result of a serious plunge in
arrivals due to the bad publicity.

"We have defeated the British," Kaseke told The Financial Gazette on

"They can cover as much acres as they want in their print media with the bad
publicity, but we have defeated them," he said.

Provisional statistics for the year 2007 from the ZTA indicate that tourist
arrivals in Zimbabwe had increased by 18 percent in 2007 to 2,7 million, up
from 2,228 million in 2006.

The highest number of tourists the country ever registered was 2,286 million
in 2003.

Critics, who say the situation on the ground depicted a totally different
picture, have previously viewed the ZTA statistics suspiciously.

The numbers, the critics argue, do not reflect in hotel occupancies.

But Kaseke denied the perception this week.

"The ZTA cannot go to the boarders and tell tourists that you go to (a
specific hotel)...we just market the destination. The United Nations has a
definition that it uses when calculating arrivals, and that is what we use,"
he said.

He said the figures used by BID had been sourced from the UN's World Tourism

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Who Should Pay for Cash Crisis?

Financial Gazette (Harare)

17 January 2008
Posted to the web 17 January 2008

Vote Muza

The current cash crisis gripping the financial sector that has persisted for
the past two months without any sign of relenting calls for discussion in
order to find any legal implications be it on depositors or banks.

To start with, I studied the banking statutes, and that is to say the
Reserve Bank Act as well as the Banking Act to explore the true position of
the law as regards rights and obligations visa vis banks and their clients.

The Banking Act did not provide much help since it does not spell out the
duties of banks towards their clients.

However, the Reserve Bank Act does provide some insight into its
responsibilities towards other banks and their clients.

Thus, some key functions of the Central Bank are to "foster the proper
functioning of the Zimbabwe's financial system", and to provide for the
"smooth operation" of the payment system.

Looking at the nature of the cash crisis, how it has unfolded and the manner
in which prescribed solutions have failed to arrest its tenacity, one is
left in no doubt that the Central Bank has failed in one its it's uppermost
duties, and that is to "foster the proper functioning", of our financial

Rather than being "proper"- meaning that the financial system among many
other things must be convenient to the public, many have evidently lamented
the excruciating experiences that have been brought to bear on depositors
desperate for their cash who have had to endure long and winding queues in
oeder to access their cash.

Such cash being required for their day to day requirements, and meeting
other basic responsibilities like paying school fees. On the same note, the
payment system can not presently be said to be "smooth" as is dictated by
section 6(e) of the Reserve Bank Act. Rather, it has been very rough as
evidenced by the numerous queues forming at banks that appear to be growing
longer by the day.

In addition to these statutory responsibilities of the Reserve Bank towards
banks and depositors, the common law also provides for the nature of the
relationship between these parties.

But to understand this relationship better, it is paramount that a banker be
defined. A banker is a dealer in money and credit in all their forms. As,
the ordinary trader lays in a stock of goods to meet the requirements of his
customers, so the banker accumulates money and rights to money in the shape
of cheques and bills of exchange, and on that basis creates credit to supply
the needs of trade and industry.

With the aid of their extensive branch systems, and their reputation for
stability, banks collect large and small deposits, which would otherwise
remain unproductive in the hands of individuals.

By lending out these sums to be used in the development of legitimate
enterprise, the baker confers a real service on the community and at the
same time he engages in profitable business.

In terms of common law, the banker is not in a position of trustee of the
money deposited with him. The basic relationship is that of debtor and
creditor, but with the proviso that whereas an ordinary debtor has to repay
the whole or any part of the amount due at any time on the customer making
the necessary demand.

Therefore, when millions of depositors who daily queue for some of their
money fail to get it, then by law, such banks who default will be in breach
of contract. For this breach of contract, it is possible for a client to sue
for payment of the sum deposited in whole or in part.

However, this proposition may in reality just be academic since the overall
circumstances of our economy and judicial system make the launching of such
a legal suit an insurmountable task. This leaves depositors with no remedy
other than to pursue other legitimate means of protest.

The onus is therefore on the RBZ and other players in the financial sector
to devise lasting solutions to the on-going cash crisis that is obviously
causing unbearable inconvenience to the public without rank or status.

I believe, as it everyone else should that these cash shortages are not
beyond solution as if they are a natural calamity beyond the control of

A holistic, honest assessment of this crisis needs to be urgently undertaken
in order to prescribe a lasting solution so that our financial sector does
not lose its credibility that is fast being eroded with each day that passes
with no action being taken.

The financial sector is the backbone of every modern economy. It is delicate
and if mishandled it has the potential to ruin the entire fabric of an

Most importantly, depositors who contribute immensely to the well-being of
this sector need not have their confidence eroded for when that occurs, the
seed for the collapse of the financial system would have been planted.

Amidst any crisis, the effectiveness of leaders is judged by their
promptness to meet the public's expectations in addition to being constantly
in touch with them to report about measures being taken to address the

Vote Muza is partner at Muza & Nyapadi Legal Practitioners

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Cop's Death Ominous

Financial Gazette (Harare)

17 January 2008
Posted to the web 17 January 2008


A VERY disturbing incident occurred in Nyanyadzi, Manicaland, recently when
a rowdy mob stoned to death an undercover police officer.

Detective Sergeant Robert Katini of the CID Minerals Section met his tragic
death while attempting to arrest suspected illegal diamond dealers. May his
soul rest in eternal peace.

As the nation struggles to come to grips with this barbaric incident a
number of questions remain unanswered. How ordinary men and women, including
an army officer for that matter, could conspire to snuff life out of an
innocent policeman performing his duties to safeguard their interests defies
conventional wisdom.

Zimbabweans are known for being God-fearing and law-abiding and so what
could it be that got into the minds of those behind this gruesome murder?
Could there be something missing from the facts presented to the public?

While we unreservedly condemn all forms of violence and strongly urge the
police to descend heavily on those behind the officer's needless death, we
believe that this incident should not be treated as just one of those
occupational hazards. It is not!

We are convinced that it is one of those tell-tale signs pointing to a
potentially damaging breakdown in society that is not confined to Nyanyadzi
alone. It is vital, therefore, for government to get to the bottom of this
incident before rushing to conclusions.

The gruesome murder of Katini in the full glare of the public might be a
macrocosm of wider cracks developing in our society for various reasons, one
being that the country has been at the crossroads for a long time, with no
easy solutions to lift it out of economic ruin.

The economic meltdown, now in its ninth year, has had serious psychological
and emotional effects on the increasingly restive population. It could be
that society, disillusioned by government's failure to come to its rescue,
is beginning to weigh rebellion among several options to get out of the

Unemployment is fast hitting the roof and the nation is in the throes of a
frightening scale of deprivation. The HIV/Aids pandemic is wreaking havoc on
productive members of society while the economic contraction has left
hundreds of thousands jobless, with school leavers failing to secure

In order to survive, people are turning to all forms of activities -- gold
panning, diamond mining, vending and trading in currencies -- putting them
at odds with the law.

Those who cannot withstand the rigours of such life are joining the mass
exodus of skills into the diaspora.

At the same time, the law enforcement agents have been out in full force to
root out corruption and other malpractices now pervading the country's

Unfortunately, government has not been able to create new opportunities to
absorb the unemployed who are finding it difficult to make ends meet. It has
also done little in response to criticism that its anti-corruption dragnet
and several of its operations, such as Operation Chikorokoza Chapera and
Operation Murambatsvina only netted small timers feeding into an intricate
web of dealers said to be well-heeled members of society and government.

But because of these conflicting pressures, most people are finding
themselves trapped between a rock and a hard place, with public
disenchantment rising inexorably against the system.

And as pressure rises, so does the desperation to extinguish bottled anger
and frustration. This was the case with the Svosve people who, in 1998,
forced government into publishing the first list of farms to be compulsorily
acquired after they invaded white-owned farms in Mashonaland East, angered
by the slow pace of the land reforms. Up to today, government has struggled
to restore order on the farms.

After several years of empty promises, patience is wearing thin among the
people. The volatile conditions created by the economic meltdown and the
standoff between the main political parties only needs the slightest
provocation to ignite pandemonium, which will be bad for the country.

As it is, farmers are spending long hours queuing for diesel.

Parents are still unable to access cash in the banks to pay for school fees,
buy school uniforms and pay for their children's bus fares. Godwills
Masimirembwa's National Incomes and Pricing Commission, which regulates
prices, has also contributed to the chaos by failing to resolve the
confusion surrounding school fees on time.

The cash shortages have persisted beyond the festive break and are likely to
get worse as workers are paid their January salaries.

With heavy rains pouring across the country, there has been widespread
leaching and farmers have not been able to replace lost nutrients due to
fertiliser shortages.

While showing signs of easing, food shortages -- again a direct result of
government's flawed policies -- are still far from over.

In short, Zimbabweans have been traumatised by these economic hardships, and
need urgent physiological relief. They have waited long enough for the
government to show urgency in correcting the anomalies but unfortunately,
all they can see is sheer arrogance on the part of the politicians.

Zimbabwe cannot afford Kenya's recent experience and the only way to avoid
such tragedies is for the powers-that-be to create a conducive political and
economic environment.

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U.S. Set to Pump More Aid

Financial Gazette (Harare)

17 January 2008
Posted to the web 17 January 2008

Stanley Kwenda

THE United States government has pledged to increase its aid to Zimbabwe
this year, from the US$220 million it gave in 2007.

US ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee, told reporters this week that the
American government continued to be concerned about the escalating economic
deterioration in Zimbabwe and was considering reviewing its aid grant to

"The American government contributed US$220 million to Zimbabwe in aid in
2007. The prospects are there for a slight improvement this year, especially
to include other areas where Zimbabwe needs help, such as medical drugs and
concentration on killer diseases such as malaria."

The US government last year availed US$171 million for food aid and US$40
million for medicines, especially HIV and AIDS related drugs.

McGee said many Zimbabweans including professional workers, were suffering
as a result of the economic meltdown.

"The economic situation is deteriorating, unemployment is high and the rate
of inflation is extremely high. These are facts on the ground , something
has to be done and things have to be negotiated."

He said the declining economic situation in Zimbabwe was one of the factors
that left many Zimbabweans frightened about the future, citing the exodus of
Zimbabwean professionals from the country.

"If there is anything that frightens me in Zimbabwe, it is the economy,"
said McGee.

His offer of cooperation to help end the economic crisis had been spurned,
he said.

"I am extending an olive branch to everyone in government, but there is no
feedback. I would, however, want to encourage the government to get away
from the habit of conducting business in the newspapers. Since I came here,
no one has sat down with me to understand who I am, we need to sit down and
talk," said McGee.

He emphasised the need for free and fair elections in March.

"The elections should reflect the will of the people of Zimbabwe. They
should be free and fair. The government should forget what the international
community says and satisfy the will of the people of Zimbabwe. The elections
should not make the people in South Africa or Washington happy, but reflect
what Zimbabweans want," said McGee. He said he had reservations on whether
the conditions were right for free polls.

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Kibaki Afflicted By the 'African Disease'

Financial Gazette (Harare)

17 January 2008
Posted to the web 17 January 2008

Mavis Makuni

As Zimbabwe prepares to stage elections in the next two months, according to
the government, it continues to be instructive to watch electoral processes
in other countries so as to avoid certain pitfalls and adopt transparent
practices that remove barriers to the genuine expression of the will of the

The debacle in Kenya has many lessons for Zimbabweans, who are already
familiar with the ramifications of political violence and disputed election

What is so excruciating about the Kenyan situation is that it was not
supposed to happen under a government headed by a man who was swept to power
on a tidal wave of the people's hunger for change.

Mwai Kibaki's government came to power with the promise of moving the
country forward after decades of Daniel Arap Moi's autocratic and corrupt
governance. Regrettably, once ensconced in Kenya's state house, Kibaki has
betrayed the people by condoning and entrenching the abuses of the previous

A lesson for opposition parties such as Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic
Change and the one expected to emerge after a breakaway from ZANU PF, is
that when the people agitate for change, they desire genuine change, not the
mere supplanting of the visage of one authoritarian leader for that of a
political clone equally afflicted with imperviousness to their aspirations.

Ruling parties in turn must realize that regardless of how long it takes,
hard-nosed intransigence characterized by a resort to subterfuge is a recipe
for inevitable disaster. Trickery and cosmetic changes in response to deeply
felt national grievances and perceived injustices can only work for so long.
At some point, the dam will burst, with tragic consequences such as the
unnecessary loss of life in Kenya.

Moi's administration was criticized for its poor human rights record and the
use of the legal system to harass government critics. Under Moi, opposition
leaders and pro-democracy activists were subjected to arbitrary arrest,
detention without trial and abuse in custody.

These and rampant corruption such as that which manifested itself in the
Goldenberg scandal, which cost the equivalent of Kenya's gross domestic
product, resulted in international donors withdrawing aid and countries like
the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and Norway breaking off
diplomatic relations.

Under Kibaki, politically motivated human rights abuses abated but the
security forces, particularly the police, were still accused of perpetrating
atrocities against innocent citizens. The police force has been described as
the most corrupt entity in Kenya, accused of demanding bribes, using
excessive force and complicity in criminal activities. Most of these
unacceptable traits which Kibaki allowed to remain unchecked have become
evident in the current crisis.

The Kibaki government's disproportionate show of force in recent weeks using
an organisation already notorious for being trigger-happy has resulted in
the death so far of 700 Kenyans for whom voting should have been an
empowering rather than fatal experience.

But despite the escalating bloodbath, Kibaki continues to exhibit the
unmistakable symptoms of the "African disease"- a single-minded
unwillingness to yield power under any circumstances.

Zimbabwe has similar problems. Its police force is notorious for its
brutality and the authorities are accused of condoning widespread abuse of
police power.

The police force openly enforces laws selectively, including those
pertaining to freedom of speech and assembly which ultimately impact on the
integrity of the electoral process and its outcome.

The Kibaki government was reported this week to have rejected a bid by
former United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, to help end the harvest
of death.

The Minister of Roads and Public Works, John Michuki declared: "If Kofi
Annan is coming, he is coming not at our invitation. We won the elections so
do not see the point of anyone coming to mediate power sharing."

It is clear that despite knowing the election results were disputed, all
that those in power are now worried about is safeguarding their positions
and sinecures. They are not bothered that hundreds of the very people they
are supposed to have been elected to serve are losing their lives.

African governments have yet to accept the fact that disputed election
results are not cast in stone. Out of self-interest, officials stubbornly
refuse to acknowledge that the simplest way to deal with these disputes is
to open the electoral process up to scrutiny. If the victorious party won
legitimately, it should have nothing to fear from a re-rerun of the polls or
a recount of the ballots.

Some ruling parties that have held sway in Africa since the end of
colonialism have simply refused to accept that it is impossible to have fair
and valid results from elections conducted in a flawed environment openly
tilted in the sitting government's favour.

This was a factor in Kenya where Kibaki's main challenger and losing
presidential candidate, Raila Odinga, charged that the Electoral Commission
of Kenya was dominated by Kibaki's cronies and was therefore biased and
prone to manipulation. The government has neither disputed this serious
charge nor explained why the integrity of the electoral body has been
compromised by inundating it with government apologists and beneficiaries of
state patronage.

The role and composition of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has equally
been a bone of contention because of charges that it is stuffed with ruling
party loyalists and military /security operatives.

As this country's dreaded elections loom, official calls for non-violence
are reaching a crescendo, the latest being made by judge president, Justice
Rita Makarau who said this week : "We, as the courts stand ready to play our
part in ensuring that the rights of individuals enshrined in the
constitution of Zimbabwe will be given legal expression to, before, during
and after the elections."

She called on the people of Zimbabwe to accept the results of the harmonized
polls to be held in March. But how sincere are these calls in the midst of
all else that is wrong in the country?

Me thinks the learned judge doth protest too much - in the wrong vein. The
authorities cannot call for the acceptance of election results without
taking any measures to ensure the existence of a level electoral playing

Justice Makarau knows this has been a contentious issue for many years but
the judiciary has been conspicuous by its deafening silence even when
blatant abuses and irregularities have been exposed.

A disturbing report is published elsewhere in this issue about the alleged
intimidation of rural voters that is already in full swing as reported by
Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) observers.

The methods of coercion range from threats of repercussions if the ruling
party loses to using government handouts to "buy votes" even before polling

The declaration by Justice Makarau that the judiciary stands ready to defend
the constitutional rights of Zimbabweans is therefore as hollow as her
exhortation on the acceptance of the results is insincere. This plea is
analogous to a criminal who declares: "I did not kill Mr X" before he or she
has been charged with any crime.

There would be no need for any trepidation about the reaction of Zimbabweans
to election results if polls were conducted in a free and fair atmosphere.
The results would speak for themselves.

The unease betrayed by a need to campaign for the acceptance of the outcome
beforehand implies that the winner is already known.

But electoral victory should reflect an expression of the will of the
people, not the wishes of a particular party.

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Journalists Down Tools

The Herald (Harare)  Published by the government of Zimbabwe

17 January 2008
Posted to the web 17 January 2008


Journalists and supporting staff at Zimbabwe Independent and The Standard
yesterday downed tools demanding an urgent salary review.

ZimInd chief executive Mr Raphael Khumalo confirmed the industrial action
but said it was illegal.

The workers went on strike after they failed to reach an agreement with
their employer, who offered a 200 percent salary increment for the lowest
paid worker reportedly earning $20 million and junior reporters earning $30
million a month. They are demanding $400 million for the least paid worker
and transport allowances. Mr Khumalo said the workers felt the percentage
increase was too little to cushion them from the current economic

"We are, however, working on a formula taking all those things into
consideration," said Mr Khumalo.

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