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

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New Bid to Arrest World's Leading Homophobe
by Peter Moore Newscenter
London Bureau

      Posted: January 2, 2004 5:02 p.m. ET

(London)  British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell is launching a new bid
to to get an arrest warrant and extradition order against Zimbabwe President
Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe is arguably the most homophobic world leader, having denounced gay
people as "worse than pigs and dogs" and declared "we don't believe they
have any rights at all".

Tachell will appear in a London court next Wednesday seeking an arrest

"I have been granted a hearing before Mr Timothy Workman," said Tatchell.
"He is one of the most senior district judges in England. This indicates the
seriousness with which my application is being taken.

"I am applying for an arrest warrant and extradition order on charges of
torture under UK and international law: Section 134 of the Criminal Justice
Act 1988, and the UN Convention Against Torture 1984.

If an arrest warrant and extradition order is granted, it would mean Mugabe
could be arrested and extradited to Britain from any of the 100-plus
countries with which Britain has an extradition treaty, including
Switzerland, France, Malaysia, Thailand and South Africa - all of which he
has visited recently.

"In support of my application, I have affidavits from three Zimbabwe torture
victims. They implicate Mugabe in the authorization and condonement of
torture I also have affidavits and reports from human rights groups
attesting to the widespread use of torture with the knowledge and consent of
the Zimbabwean government and its security and defense forces.

Tatchell faces two big legal hurdles.  He must get the consent of the
Attorney General for a prosecution under Britain's anti-torture law, and he
must overcome the legal concept of "sovereign immunity", that grants
immunity to Heads of State.

"Regardless of whether I win, and the odds are stacked heavily against me,
this case will be worthwhile in two respects," Tatchell said.

"It will help draw world attention to the human rights abuses in Zimbabwe,
and add pressure on the world community to do something serious to end the
tyranny there."

©® 2004
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The Scotsman

Zimbabwe Asylum Seeker Earns Last-Minute Reprieve

By Sam Sheringham, PA News

A Zimbabwean asylum seeker facing deportation from the UK has earned a
last-minute reprieve, it emerged today.

The man, a high ranking Government official who opposes Robert Mugabe’s
regime, entered the UK in November on a false Malawian passport, after
receiving death threats in his native country.

He has been held at Harmondsworth Detention Centre and learnt in early
December that his appeal for asylum had been rejected.

He was due to be deported to Malawi tomorrow but will now learn his fate
next week to allow time for Asylum Minister Beverley Hughes to consider a
plea on his behalf from John McDonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington – where
Harmondsworth is based.

The man is one of a number of Zimbabwean nationals seeking asylum in the UK
after obtaining Malawian passports.

The Home Office introduced a block on deportations to Zimbabwe in January
2002, but anyone carrying a Malawian passport can be deported to Malawi.

Katrina Phillips, of the Zimbabwe Association, said the Home Office was not
giving Zimbabwean asylum seekers enough time to appeal against rejected

She said: “They are victims of the new Home Office fast-track appeals
policy, which gives people just two days to lodge an appeal.

“Zimbabweans are not returnable. These people come to the UK believing they
would be given a fair hearing and be safe. At the moment this doesn’t seem
to be the case.”

The Home Office said it would not comment on individual cases.

A spokesperson said: “All asylum applications are given full consideration.
It’s our policy not to send failed asylum seekers back to Zimbabwe.”
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The Tourist

I had a good stew about that very long letter from the tourist.
He was very irritating, and Debbie Jeans is so right as to her conclusion.
I have questions of my own in response.  Why didnt this enquiring mind go into a grocery store to find out for himself if he was so interested?  Why was he so scared to ask his contacts here about the currency for his holiday- are they all too stupid to use other words, or items like everyone else does? All those photos he took - surely he asked about it first - but it was a pretty stupid thing to do, and he was lucky to get away with it.
What one earth did he want to take the zim $ out for, except to stick on his bar and tell hairraising stories to his dinner guests - they are no use to anyone else except the opportunists in Zambia who he shouldnt be encouraging anyway.  As for the road blocks, learn to smile, smile, smile - it works wonders.
As for the wife beating and alcoholic white women - I havent heard of any (and my daughter is in that age group) and I really take exception to this blanket accusation when he admits to his limited experiences.  If he said that a lot of people have turned to religion, then I would go along with that.  I actually know more women alcoholics in the 'peaceful' outer world, and more philanderers!
So thanks for circulating that one, good for the blood pressure, as usual, and makes us all take a harder look at ourselves, hopefully, but dont bring him back, whoever it was who brought him in. We're all busy making sure we get to read the last chapter in this saga, and get to the Happy Ending.
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The Zimbabwe Independent, 02 January 2004


Outbreak of barmy worm

THAT rather unpleasant little worm that lives Under the Surface at the
Sunday Mail has been taking pot shots at the Zimbabwe Independent. He
accuses us of always writing stories about inter-party talks, "blah
and blah and so on".

This was in response to our last edition on December 19 when we
referred to President Thabo Mbeki's visit to Harare. During the course
of that visit Mbeki managed to extract an admission from Mugabe that
informal talks had already taken place with the MDC and that further
talks were an urgent matter.

No wonder Cde Under is peeved. He has been energetically telling us
for some months that no such talks had taken place - that this was all
a product of the imagination of reporters at the Independent.

Now he has heard it from the horse's mouth, he has adopted a new tack.
Without the talks the MDC, and therefore the Independent, will be
finished, he argues. That is why we gave them such prominence, he

Perhaps we gave them prominence precisely because Cde Under's handlers
have been denying their existence and saying that anyway they don't
matter. Now their boss has been smoked out by South African diplomacy,
instead of apologising for misleading the nation they have resorted to
the rather sorry claim that the Independent needs these talks more
than Zanu PF. Who are they trying to kid?

While we are on the subject of Cde Under, Muckraker would like to know
how much of his copy is actually his own work. There seems a
remarkable identity of views between Cde Under, whose simple-minded
conspiracy theories loom large every Sunday, and officials in the
President's Office who have similar fantasies. Indeed, Cde Under's
colleagues say he doesn't actually have any views of his own. He
simply transplants them from a disk he carries around.

But he does at least provide a useful insight into official thinking.
Spurning President Olusegun Obasanjo's offer to help bring Zimbabwe
back into the Commonwealth, Cde Under, or rather his handlers, had
this to say: "The Nigerian leader had his chance to show his brotherly
concern before Chogm, but then he decided to dance with the wolves and
now his image in Africa is in tatters."

That's not what the rest of Africa is saying. The wolves would appear
to include Botswana, Ghana, Gambia, Sierra Leone and Kenya. And what
about Jamaica, the rest of the Caribbean, the Pacific and Asia? They
all decided to dance with Obasanjo, not the flat-footed Mugabe.

When not trashing Obasanjo, Cde Under's alter ego, Munyaradzi Huni, is
required to sing the praises of his mentors. President Mugabe is
nominated "Newsmaker of the Year" for his "powerful speeches" at
international conferences.

"The president (so) dominated the news," Huni slavishly wrote, "that
he appeared in the South African paper the Sunday Times more often
than the country's leader."

But Huni doesn't tell us what the Sunday Times said about him!

"While they jostled to demonise him, President Mugabe always outshone
them and now the hero in him is coming out."

Where has he been hiding all this time we wonder? Zimbabwe's pullout
from the Commonwealth, we are told, "left the British government
devastated while the opposition MDC was stunned".

Did it? Has anybody out there seen a single report saying the British
government was devastated or the MDC stunned? How can the successful
ring-fencing of a rogue ruler devastate those who helped achieve it?

But anybody wondering where this drivel is coming from need look no
further than Huni's declaration that the disgusting Sendekera Mwana
Wevhu jingle found favour with Mugabe.

"He showered praise on the Department of Information and Publicity in
the Office of the President and Cabinet in Masvingo. What more should
we say?"

Nothing at all Munyaradzi. That tells us all we need to know!

Lovemore Mataire appears equally prepared to disclose the pushers
behind his pen.

"It would be a miscarriage of justice," he gushed, "not to acknowledge
the efforts of the Department of Information and Publicity led by its
minister Professor Jonathan Moyo and Secretary Mr George Charamba who
with the mastery of seasoned intellectuals and politicians made the
Zimbabwean story known to the whole world."

Indeed they did, utterly discrediting this country and making it an
international pariah when it was not a laughing stock. The South
African media have had a field day ridiculing Moyo's pretensions.

On the subject of worms, have you noticed how poor old Tafataona
Mahoso appears obliged to write every week in support of government
policy. He once had a mind of his own - however disordered. Now he has
become part of the presidential media machine, churning out articles
explaining why Zimbabwe's humiliating exit from the Commonwealth was a
"well-timed" withdrawal - in fact a triumph of nationalism.

Zimbabwe's isolation will enhance South-to-South liberation just as
the people of Iraq are united in resisting US occupation, he claims.
Although many indigenous owners of land in Commonwealth countries like
Australia and New Zealand have been wiped out, the survivors'
admiration for President Mugabe will spread the movement, we are told.

"In the cases of Namibia and South Africa.the hounds of white economic
panic must be unleashed there immediately."

And this is the person charged with the regulation of the media in

Meanwhile, Mahoso's ideological colleague Ngugi wa Mirii, writing on
the presidential succession issue, has been reduced to this: "There is
also Dr Joseph Made.who has articulated the needs of the land reform
with such brilliance and vigour. Through his understanding of the need
and problems of land and the subsequent mandate to lead the agrarian
reform, we have seen his abilities at work."

We sure have: grossly incompetent estimates for crop production made
on the basis of aerial tours and widespread starvation in a once
self-sufficient society. Either Ngugi Wa Mirii is having a little joke
with us or he has been smoking some of that stuff everybody at the
Sunday Mail appears to be on!

Minister of State for Science and Technology Olivia Muchena seems to
have been on it as well. She declared Zimbabwe can prosper without the
aid of Western countries "if people are united and share a common

She used the example of Malaysia "which raised itself from the
economic doldrums when its relationship with the West had hit its
lowest ebb".

"It is totally incredible, but it is possible", she declared.

"Totally incredible" is a good definition. Muchena doesn't appear to
understand that when Malaysia decided to hold out against the IMF on
the convertibility issue in 1998, it was on the basis of an already
strong and self-sufficient economy. And that economy had been built up
by massive foreign investment over 40 years made possible by sound
economic policies and an attractive civic/legal environment.

It tells us all we need to know about the intelligence of Zimbabwean
ministers that they are unaware of the basis for Malaysia's success
but think Zimbabwe can achieve the same defiance of the West without
any of the economic underpinnings. What do we call this sort of
intellectual dissonance?

We heard similar childish pleadings for people to be "united" on
December 22. The state made rather forlorn efforts to whip up loyalty
around the unity accord of 1987. The fact that almost the whole of
Matabeleland has since defected to the opposition escaped the notice
of official commentators who tried to suggest huge strides had been
made because of unity.

Public corporations were required to take out adverts in the Herald.
The Grain Marketing Board congratulated the president and people of
Zimbabwe for 16 years of unity and - in a clue as to where all this
was coming from - their "steadfast sovereignty".

Tel*One, whose network failures have led to communications breakdowns
across the country in recent weeks, joined in the congratulatory mood.
So did the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe.

No explanation as to why Zimbabwe is immeasurably poorer today than it
was in 1987, or why the people of Matabeleland have reaped no
dividends from the accord.

So Econet is to have its operating licence withdrawn because its
foreign currency proceeds are allegedly being used to "finance
subversive activities to undermine the government of Zimbabwe",
according to the Herald.

Not a scrap of evidence is produced to substantiate this paranoid
claim. Instead we are told the company has been defying, along with
everybody else in the telecoms sector it seems, a government directive
that there should be only one gateway for international calls in and
out of the country in the interests of "national security". Relevant
ministry officials and Potraz staff have been "dragging their feet" on
implementation of the directive because they were involved in the
earlier decision "under which Econet was controversially awarded a
licence to operate by the Anthony Gubbay-led Supreme Court", a source
told the Herald.

In fact the only controversy surrounding that award involved the huge
sums of public money the then Minister of Information spent on trying
to prevent Econet founder Strive Masiyiwa from exercising his right to
freedom of expression. It was also shocking that having lost the case
in the courts, the government proceeded to issue a licence to its

The reference to the "Anthony Gubbay-led Supreme Court" should tell us
where this story originated. It is an indication of just how rotten
Zanu PF governance has become that officials upholding court rulings
and behaving professionally should be attacked by anonymous sources in
the Herald reflecting the views of ministers who bear a grudge against

Significantly, while we were being told that Zimbabwe's pullout from
the Commonwealth was a nationalist triumph, government sources were
confiding in the Herald that the publication of the Daily News in
Abuja during Chogm was enormously damaging.

Where is this? The president is facing a "palace coup" as his chief
party rival tells him not to run for re-election again. "When you have
given all you are capable of giving to your country, it is wise,
through term limits, to make room for others."

His remarks cut right to the president's weakness, his age, growing
decrepitude and a sense among voters that he is washed up, too
comfortable in the trappings of office and uninterested in his country
's domestic problems, we are told.

It is France where President Jacques Chirac faces a challenge from
Interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy (48).

The incumbent is doing all he can to minimise the issue of his age,
the Daily Telegraph reports.

"But the French dread M Chirac becoming like Francois Mitterand in his
later years -  a tired geriatric clinging to power for its own sake."

We know the feeling!
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The Zimbabwe Independent, 02 January 2004


A New Year gaze into the crystal ball

THE year 2003 was one of the most horrendous, economically, ever
experienced by Zimbabweans. The cost of living soared to preciously
unimaginable heights, unemployment intensified, hardships became the
order of the day for most, as poverty became even greater, the
infrastructure became increasingly entrenched upon a path leading
towards total collapse, and despondency and despair prevailed in the
minds of almost all.

Inevitably, the majority of Zimbabweans having been so viciously
whipped by the economic lash, perceive no likelihood of change, save
for the worse, and yet have a subliminal, lingering hope that 2003 can
be put behind them and 2004 has something better in store. All
Zimbabwe's economists and economic commentators have been recipients
of endless inquiries as to their expectations for the economy in the
immediate future, and it is appropriate, therefore, that at the
commencement of the New Year that one should peer into the crystal
ball and endeavour to foreshadow what lies ahead.

Regrettably all indications are that the dismal prognostications of
the pessimists and purveyors of doom and gloom will materialise in the
immediate or very near future. Almost all that can be seen in the
crystal ball is negative and suggestive that even those who
recurrently contended "it can't get any worse" are in for the
shattering experience of discovering that it can get worse and it

Zimbabwe will be facing another year of pronounced food shortages. It
can be taken for granted that ministers Joseph Made and Jonathan Moyo
will attribute the scarcity of basic foodstuffs to adverse climatic
conditions, compounded by vicious sabotage by former white farmers
who, inexplicably, must be the cause of inadequate agricultural
production, aided and abetted by an insufferable lack of generosity on
the part of the donor community.

No matter how great may be the well-intentioned philanthropy of
international organisations and donor states, it can only be malice on
their part if they fail to provide in the totality for Zimbabwe's
needs! The insufficiency of food, in practice caused by government's
obdurate destruction of the agricultural sector of the economy will
force government to divert much of the limited available foreign
exchange to the funding of food imports, and the servicing of the
costs of those imports will severely swell the fiscal deficit of the

Payment for food will not be the only cause of shortage of foreign
exchange. There will be a multiplicity of causes, and Zimbabweans can
be sure that the Minister of Industry and International Trade, Dr
Samuel Mumbengegwi, ably supported therein by the Minister of all
Ministries, Professor Jonathan Moyo, will ascribe the near
non-availability of foreign exchange to transfer pricing by exports
(even when there is no credible evidence to support that contention),
to the activities of cross-border traders, to the unlawful
externalisation of assets by Zimbabweans via the black market, to a
lack of patriotism on the part of Zimbabweans living abroad, and to
unmitigated sabotage by commerce, industry and the mining and
horticultural sectors of the economy, all of whom clearly have a
masochistic desire to destroy themselves in order to destroy Zimbabwe.

The paucity of foreign exchange, coupled with ever-increasing impacts
of rising inflation will result in soaring prices in the foreign
currency auctions about to be commenced by the Reserve Bank, with
consequential further inflation. When that occurs, government is
certain to claim that the rise in prices is not indicative of a
lowering value of the Zimbabwean currency, but is due to manipulation
of the auctions by unspecified enemies of government, who will be
accused of using the auctions to embarrass the government. There will
be no explanation how auctions regulated and managed by the Reserve
Bank can be so manipulated.

Irrespective of official figures, real inflation exceeds 700% per
annum, and is continuing to rise. To a significant degree inflation is
feeding upon itself, the upsurge in production and operating costs
forcing price increases which in turn force a further upsurge in those
costs, in a continuing reciprocal spiral. But that inflation will also
continue to feed upon ongoing escalation in input costs, due to the
continuing rise in the cost of foreign exchange driven by a situation
where the demand for foreign exchange exceeds supply. And that
inflation will also be driven upwards by declining volumes of
production, caused by a combination of lessened consumer demand due to
shrinking purchasing power, lessened exports as inflation coupled with
continued surrender of export proceeds to the state at a ludicrous
exchange rate erodes export market competitiveness, and as operating
costs continually increase due to rising costs of imported inputs and
to inflation itself.

A potential source of much-needed foreign exchange is the tourist
industry which has the ability to be a key economic sector, but which
will continue to function in very straitened circumstances. To some
degree that is and will be as a result of a global shrinkage in
tourism in response to continuing fears of international terrorism.

But the renowned Minister of Fiction, Fable and Myth will assure
Zimbabwe that on the one hand Zimbabwean tourism is growing apace and
that on the other hand if Zimbabwean tourism is not growing apace,
that is solely due to foreign journalists, Tony Blair and former white
Zimbabweans unjustly tainting the impeccable Zimbabwean image.

He will remain studiously oblivious to any reluctance of international
tourists to patronise Zimbabwe because they fear a continuing
breakdown in law and order, abuse by some officialdom at border posts
and at roadblocks on major highways, unreliability of air services,
and infrastructure collapse.

The Zimbabwean economy is likely to be severely hit by intensifying
industrial unrest in the months ahead. The never-ending rise in
inflation is impacting horrendously upon workers who live under a
continual stress of trying to meet their own basic needs, and those of
their families and dependants from pay packets which although
frequently increased, have a declining purchasing power. The stresses
upon them are immense as they desperately try to spread their wages
over the costs of accommodation, utilities, food, transport,
education, health care and many other basics and essentials and
finding it ever more difficult to do so. That failure blinds them to
the same (and often, greater) pressures upon their employers. Instead,
driven by their desperation, they make increasingly confrontational
demands on their employers. That such demand can culminate in the
eventual failure, collapse and closure of the employer's enterprise,
and consequential unemployment is disregarded or dismissed, the
immediate needs over-riding all else.

The unrest is likely to be even greater as the Zimbabwean political
opposition will recurrently seek to use the withholding of labour as a
mode of protest against the prevailing political and economic regime.
That such form of protest has heretofore repeatedly failed to achieve
targeted objectives, and only worsens the economy and the lot of the
populace, will not be considered, regard being only to the need to
protest, and not to the fruitlessness of that particular form of
protest and to the prejudice to the protesters and the populace as a
whole, without compensatory political or economic change.

All these and the many other catalysts of continuing weakening of the
economy must result in a yet further deterioration of the national
infrastructure including the provision of energy becoming increasingly
erratic, the already appalling telecommunications resource (both land
lines and mobiles) becoming worse and worse (its now more than 12
months since Econet promised an improved service - where is it? and
Tel*One is unable to attend to faults for months on end!), local
authorities being unable to meet the needs for water, sewerage and
refuse removal, roads falling into increasing disrepair (with more
potholes than tarmac), Air Zimbabwe and National Railways of Zimbabwe
unable to service essential requirements and the health care resource
fast becoming non-existent.

With a shrinking economy, and inflation-driven rises in its costs, the
state will have no alternative but to confront Parliament with a
supplementary budget, despite its resolve to the contrary, enunciated
by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development only six weeks
ago, when tabling his 2004 budget. So taxes or state deficits will
increase, or both! And as the economic deterioration continues and
increases so too will the 'brain drain' which is depriving Zimbabwe of
the essential skills necessary for the eventual economic recovery,
which skills loss must slow down that recovery when it finally

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The Zimbabwe Independent, 02 January 2004


What sort of unity do we want?

THERE are a number of words that democratic Zimbabweans are developing
a healthy allergy towards when emanating from the mouths of our
rulers. Independence and sovereignty are good examples of mantras
regarded with justifiable suspicion.

At a time when the nation is wholly dependent upon the generosity of
others for its most basic requirement - food - the concept of
independence is at best questionable. Any discussion of independence
should centre on how a once self-sufficient society has been rendered
impoverished and helpless by its rulers. As for sovereignty, that has
been hijacked to mean the sovereign right of those same rulers to
sabotage the economy, abuse the law, and oppress the people.

Another of these misleading words is emerging to join the vocabulary
of power which we should be equally suspicious of: unity.

You know that Zanu PF politicians have nothing to offer the public
when they say we should safeguard our unity. We heard a lot of this
just before Christmas when a day is set aside on December 22 to mark
the 1987 accord between Zanu PF and Zapu. Like so many of the ruling
party's special events it is largely redundant now. The people of
Matabeleland unambiguously rejected this cynical pact - and its chief
beneficiaries - in the 2000 election.

Genuine unity can only emerge from democratic diversity, not the iron
template of a self-serving regime. A nation that enjoys constitutional
rights knows the value of unity. It is a unity that grows from respect
for individuals and communities, not one forced down the throats of
people by politicians with a record of power-abuse.

Zanu PF's unity is a camouflage for imposed political conformity, one
evident in the one-party propaganda of the state media. That is a
spurious unity, one that divides the nation into rulers and ruled and
shuts out dissonant voices. It has no genuine roots in society and
only perpetuates the divergence between the privileged powerful and
their subordinate subjects. It depends upon patronage and clientelism
for its survival.

We see this kind of unity in the food handouts that go only to those
perceived as loyal to Zanu PF. We see it in the pattern of land
redistribution and every other corrupt scheme this government has
devised for its own survival.

Genuine unity is born in the hearts of a free people. They will not
need to be instructed by the Minister of Home Affairs on the nature of
their nationhood. Their unity will derive from common values of
democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Nor will their racial or
ethnic background prejudice them.

In the United States, where common values are the glue that unite a
free people, there is no doubt that Greek-Americans and
African-Americans have the same rights and duties as Americans of
English or Irish descent.

The South African constitution is based on the same precept. One of
Thabo Mbeki's most memorable speeches referred to the rich diversity
of his people's origins.

In Zimbabwe, where racism is the common currency of ministers and
their acolytes, unity is a weapon for exercising control and denying
the very rights which the liberation movements promised in their
founding principles. It is significant that those around President
Mugabe now defining the lexicon of power have no connection to the
liberation struggle.

It is their empty shibboleths that are being repeated by ministers,
police chiefs and army commanders who don't appear to have minds of
their own.

Zimbabweans are united in demanding free and fair elections. They are
united in demanding the restoration of their rights and an end to the
brutal repression taking place every day. They don't want robotic
ministers, soldiers and policemen telling them what unity means.

It is time Zimbabweans repudiated the condescending lectures of failed
politicians and their suborned officers. The unity a majority of
Zimbabweans want is the unity of a free people - free to determine who
should rule them and how, not the charade currently being played out
by Mugabe's minions.

The only meaningful unity we can have is one that respects diversity,
tolerates difference, and cultivates civic rights. It is the very
opposite of what Zanu PF is offering. Their unity, built on exclusion,
intolerance, and repression, we can do without.

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Zim Independent

Year characterised by increasing lawlessness

Dumisani Muleya

THERE was intensified erosion of the rule of law and persistent
attempts to undermine the independence of the judiciary throughout the
just-ended year, the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) has said.

LSZ president Sternford Moyo said in his end-of-year report that 2003
was characterised by a serious deterioration in the administration of
justice and respect for human rights. He said the situation was
compounded by the deepening political and economic crisis.

"The year 2003 saw a continuation, and indeed an acceleration, of the
deterioration of access by the public to justice, the effectiveness of
the administration of justice, observance of human rights and public
confidence in the effectiveness of mechanisms for the prevention and
redress of human rights violations," Moyo said.

"Among the major obstacles to access to justice experienced during the
year were attempts to destroy the independence of the legal profession
and the ability of lawyers to discharge their functions without fear
and to access their clients."

Moyo observed the judiciary was plagued by numerous problems that need
to be addressed a matter of urgency.

"Unacceptable levels of administrative inefficiency, delays in handing
down judgements by the judiciary, a progressive weakening of a culture
of judicial activism in favour of human rights, inadequacy of
resources to support an efficient and effective administration of
justice and a growing culture of impunity are other serious obstacles
to public access to justice were experienced during the year," he

To make matters worse, Moyo pointed out, physical attacks against
lawyers heightened during the course of last year, fuelling
lawlessness. More than 10 lawyers were either assaulted or denied
access to their clients last year.

"Attempts to intimidate lawyers who display fearlessness and
independence in the discharge of their duties are inimical and indeed
repugnant to the interests of the administration of justice," Moyo
said. "Such attacks ought to be viewed as a major obstacle to public
access to justice."

Moyo warned that a toadying judiciary was dangerous for democracy.

"An independent and fearless legal profession is an essential
prerequisite to the enjoyment of human rights and to transformation to
a democratic, free and prosperous society," he said. "A sycophantic
legal profession is of no value to the public and the administration
of justice."

Moyo also said there was an "intensification of enforcement of
repressive legislation such as the Public Order and Security Act and
the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act" last year.

"These statutes represent a direct attack on freedoms of assembly,
procession and expression," he said. "The character of this 2002
legislation as a serious obstacle to enjoyment of human rights was
manifest during the year."

Repression reached alarming levels during the course of 2003, Moyo

"A number of people were arrested for participating in assemblies and
processions. Some of the assemblies and processions were reported to
have been peaceful," he said.

"The only independent daily newspaper was closed down in what was said
to be enforcement of the legislation. The existence of independent
newspapers is the primary and principal manifestation of pluralism and

Moyo said media tyranny and suppression of constitutional liberties
was a serious threat to democracy.

"Freedom of expression and thought are prerequisites for the enjoyment
of other rights and freedoms guaranteed by our constitution," he said.

"The fact that we do not, today, have an independent daily newspaper
must, consequently, be viewed as a tragedy for democracy."

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Zim Independent

Made in Xmas farm invasion

Augustine Mukaro/Ndamu Sandu

THE involvement of senior Zanu PF ministers in land grabs took a new
turn over Christmas when Lands and Agriculture minister Joseph Made
led an occupation of the multi-billion dollar Kondozi farm in Odzi.

Kondozi is a 224-hectare horticultural product-exporting project with
a turnover of US$15 million ($90 billion on the parallel market) and
employing around 5 000 workers. The property is registered as an
Export Processing Zone farm and is only second to Mitchell & Mitchell
of Marondera in horticultural production.

The government has already gazetted the Land Acquisition Amendment
Bill, which seeks to empower the state to take over properties that
have EPZ status and those protected by government-to-government
agreements. This is contrary to the recommendations of the Utete land
audit report which said such properties should be spared from
compulsory acquisition.

According to Edwin Masimba Moyo, the major shareholder in Kondozi
farm, Made, accompanied by deputy minister of Transport and
Communications Christopher Mushowe and Agricultural and Rural
Development Authority (Arda) chief executive Joseph Matovanyika, moved
onto the property, defying a High Court interdict barring them from
interfering with the farm operations.

Moyo has a 54% stake in the project.

"During the festive season raid the trio held a Christmas party at the
farm," Moyo said, "Made addressed our workers trying to entice them
into accepting them as the new owners."

Moyo said the trio had shown interest in the property, especially the
equipment and are hiding behind Arda in their bid to take over the

"When they invaded us, they brought an offer letter alleging that the
farm had been allocated to Arda. We offered three alternatives to
them. First we proposed to lease the farm from Arda, which they turned
down. Secondly we proposed to move out, taking with us all our
equipment to a new site which they vehemently denied us," Moyo said.

"This invasion is not about land but an eye for my equipment but I
have told them that they would not take it and I am going to fight for
it," Moyo said. "I cannot borrow money and donate it to inefficient
people who have no capacity to manage my investment," he said.

He said Made has been making frantic efforts to influence Kondozi
out-growers to stop delivering their produce to the farm so that it
fails to meet its market demands.

"We have 35 out-growers registered with us drawn from both A1 and A2
resettled farmers," Moyo said.

Kondozi exports fresh vegetables and flowers to Europe and South
Africa. Contacted for comment Mushowe denied visiting Kondozi farm.

"I don't know what you are talking about," Mushowe said. "I don't even
know what Kondozi is."

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Zim Independent

Mbeki/church leaders in war of words over Zimbabwe

Dumisani Muleya

THE head-on clash between South African President Thabo Mbeki's office
and church leaders over the Zimbabwe crisis intensified this week.

Mbeki's spokesman Bheki Khumalo told the Zimbabwe Independent that
despite rancorous accusations by South African clergymen that
Pretoria's "quiet diplomacy" over Zimbabwe is ineffective, there would
be no policy shift in the New Year.

"As far as we are concerned, our approach to the Zimbabwe question is
the right one under the circumstances and there would will no change
in that case," Khumalo said.

"The church leaders can't just complain, they have to give us facts on
the issues they are raising otherwise their remarks will be taken as
self-serving political propaganda."

Khumalo will tomorrow attack the church leaders over the increasingly
acrimonious issue in an article in the Saturday Star. This will almost
certainly worsen the row that has been rumbling on over the holiday

Church leaders provoked the verbal combat two weeks ago after they
criticised Mbeki's "quiet diplomacy" in dealing with the Zimbabwe
crisis, saying it was ineffective and hopeless. Stung by the sharp
criticism, director-general in the presidency, Reverend Frank Chikane,
reacted with anger defending Mbeki's record on the issue and
questioning the motives of the clergymen.

"These church leaders are aware that Mbeki made a detailed
presentation on Zimbabwe to the National Religious Leaders Forum,
which meets the president twice a year," Chikane said.

"It is most distressing that Johannesburg's religious leaders opted to
attack the South African government on the basis of information that
has not been tested."

The church leaders had claimed that Mbeki had only met Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai for the first time
when he recently visited Zimbabwe.

However, Chikane said it was a "blatant untruth" that Mbeki had only
met Tsvangirai three weeks ago. "The president has met Tsvangirai a
number of times," he said. "In addition, our government has been in
regular contact with the MDC for almost three years."

He charged that the religious leaders had resorted to "fabrications
and clubbing together with political self-seekers in order to achieve
their goals". The clergymen from Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Anglican,
Presbyterian and Methodist churches in Johannesburg had also said
Mbeki's government had failed to condemn human rights abuses in
Zimbabwe. They said "to remain silent any longer renders us complicit
in the brutality being visited by Zimbabwean authorities on their own

But Chikane said it was untrue that South Africa had not spoken out on
human rights violations in Zimbabwe.

In their Christmas-Day counter-punch, the church leaders said
Chikane's statements were "saddening" and "puzzling".

Anglican Reverend Peter Lee said he had been "saddened" by Chikane's

"He used strong and inappropriate language," Lee said. "To be called
fabricators was very distressing, especially coming from a fellow
member of the clergy. His was a broadside prompted by our statement
but had very little to do with its contents."

Lee said it was curious that Chikane did not mention anything about
the massive human rights abuses, including torture and murder,
prevalent in Zimbabwe.
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Zim Independent

Auctions fuel black market - analysts

Shakeman Mugari

THE auction system, touted as a panacea for the country's foreign
currency shortage, could be counterproductive and instead fuel the
parallel market.

Analysts this week said the auction system works effectively when
there is abundant foreign currency. In areas where there is a
perennial shortage like in Zimbabwe the system would push up the black
market rate and inflation, as there would be too many Zimbabwe dollars
chasing too few US dollars. The analysts said the forex black
marketers were not likely to release their money into the formal
economy for it to be auctioned.

In the past three years forex dealers have shunned the
government-pegged exchange rate. The dealers have created a parallel
market from which most exporters have been sourcing their forex.
Currently the parallel market for the United States dollar is hovering
around US$1:$6 000 compared to a government pegged rate of US$1:$824.

The analysts said government could start by ensuring the availability
of forex before introducing the system which they said could lead to
more chaos on the hard currency market.

"The auction system hinges directly on the availability of the forex.
We can't auction a product that is not available," observed Tapiwa
Mashakada, MDC Finance spokesman. "The system will not create more
forex on the market. It will not create new supply. We need more
exports before coming up with further strategies to mop up the
insufficient forex."

Mashakada said the government should create an enabling environment to
lure foreign investment and repair relations with multilateral
organisations to secure balance of payments support.

"The system has worked well in Zambia because they have the forex and
there is an inflow of aid that is pouring into that country. In
Zimbabwe it is likely to flop because there is nothing to auction,"
said Mashakada.

Economic commentator Eric Bloch said the auctions would push up
inflation caused by the soaring prices of foreign currency on the

"The paucity of foreign exchange, coupled with ever-increasing impacts
of rising inflation will result in soaring prices in the foreign
currency auctions with consequential further inflation," said Bloch.

According to Bloch the government would in turn shift blame to
"enemies of the state" when the auction system fails to boost forex
reserves and availability on the market.

"When that occurs, government is certain to claim that the rise in
prices is not indicative of a lowering value of the Zimbabwean
currency, but is due to manipulation of the auctions by unspecified
enemies of government, who will be accused of using the auctions to
embarrass the government," Bloch said.

"There will be no explanation how auctions regulated and managed by
the Reserve Bank can be so manipulated."

The newly-appointed central bank governor Gideon Gono envisaged the
auction system to solve the forex shortage that has hit the country
since the economic downturn intensified three years ago. Analysts
however say Gono's strategy could lead to a repeat of the 2003 budget.

In a desperate bid to curb the parallel market, Finance minister
Herbert Murerwa closed all bureaux de change after accusing them of
plundering the economy through shady deals on the forex market. The
move instead led to a flourishing black market. Analysts said the
auction system could further push the forex black market rate.

"There is a danger that in trying to kill the parallel market we will
end up feeding it through the auctions," said an analyst with a local
asset management firm. "The Zimbabwe situation is different from the
Zambian and Netherlands cases. Zambia and Netherlands auction their
forex because it's readily available. Zimbabwe has no forex. How can
we auction a product whose availability is next to nil," said the

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Zim Independent

State's handling of judiciary a blow to democracy - lawyers

Blessing Zulu

ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has attacked the executive
for continuing to undermine the judiciary and has also taken exception
to President Thabo Mbeki's remarks criticising the functions of human
rights groups.

A statement by ZLHR executive director Arnold Tsunga this week says
democracy cannot function without three distinct organs of the state
represented by the judiciary, the executive and the legislature.

"This separation of powers is necessary to introduce checks and
balances in the manner in which state power is exercised over those
who are ruled," said Tsunga.

He said in dictatorial regimes, the separation of powers is usually
blurred. He said the executive organ of the state, which has control
over the state machinery, the army, the police, the intelligence and
other law-enforcement agencies, usually becomes stronger than other
organs of the state.

"In such undesirable situations as has become the case in Zimbabwe,
the executive begins to undermine other organs of the state," said

"In Zimbabwe we have had the executive refusing to enforce certain
court orders that are seen to be unfavourable to the state or the
ruling Zanu PF party. The executive has also attacked the judiciary
openly, quite unprofessionally and unfairly in a number of cases," he

The most notable recent disregard of court rulings was in the
Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ)'s cases against the Media and
Information Commission. The government has refused to abide by two
Administrative Court's rulings that the ANZ should be allowed to
publish the Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday.

There are at least a dozen other rulings, which the state has elected
to disregard since 1999 when the High Court ruled that the police
should investigate the torture of Standard journalists Ray Choto and
Mark Chavunduka. To date nothing has happened.

Tsunga said the government has a history of attacking the judiciary or
members of the legal profession each time it is unhappy with judicial

Tsunga also described recent remarks by Mbeki as having the potential
to create real danger to human rights defenders.

Mbeki was last month quoted on his party's website ANC Today as
stating: "It is clear that some within Zimbabwe and elsewhere in the
world, including our country, are following the example set by
(Ronald) Reagan and his advisors to treat human rights as a tool for
overthrowing the government of Zimbabwe and rebuilding Zimbabwe as
they wish. In modern parlance this is called regime change."

Tsunga said such remarks by Mbeki were likely to further exacerbate
the human rights crisis in the country.

"His attack on human rights defenders is likely to unfortunately
result, whether intended or not, in an increase in attacks on human
rights defenders in Zimbabwe and worsen an already deteriorating human
rights record and increase the suffering of the majority of the
powerless Zimbabweans," said Tsunga.
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Zim Independent

Banks face collapse as crisis mounts

Staff Writers

FEARS of a collapse in the multi-billion dollar financial services
sector mounted yesterday with reports that a number of locally-owned
banks and asset management companies are battling for survival as
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono cracks down on institutions engaged
in shady dealings.

High-level sources said banks and asset management firms -some of
which are used as conduits for money-laundering activities and
speculative investments - are struggling to cope with new regulations
ushered in by Gono's recent monetary policy statement.

"Most of the locally-owned banks are facing a serious liquidity crisis
and bank managers have been holding emergency meetings, including on
Christmas day, since the monetary policy statement was announced to
find ways of surviving in the new environment," a source said.

"Gono's threat that the curtain will soon come down on the era of the
proliferation of weak, poorly-managed financial institutions dependent
on cheap and unlimited central bank credit was real."

Sources said most banks that have low liquidity levels, in an
environment of hyperinflation (620%), were left exposed and scurrying
for financial cover after Gono demanded urgent recapitalisation to
take into account rising inflation, which has eroded the institutions'
shaky capital positions, and market risk.

Gono said in his monetary policy statement on December 18 that banks
would beginning this month be expected to adhere to the New Capital
Accord, also known as Basel II, which seeks to align regulatory
capital requirements with economic principles of risk management.

New capital level requirements and allocation of outlay for market
risk will be issued this month and strict compliance will be expected
by September 30.

"A good number of the banks are most unlikely to respond positively to
the new rigorous measures or meet new requirements on capital levels,"
a source said.

"Banks are now panicking. They are selling their properties and
foreign currency reserves to improve their liquidity and raise their
capital levels." Several banks are understood to have off-loaded the
United States dollar onto the market in the past few days, which is
why the parallel market exchange rate for the greenback has gone down.

The US dollar has dramatically crashed from US$1:$6 000 to US$1:$4 500
in the past couple of days.

Sources said some bank managers who had taken advantage of cheap funds
available before interest rates skyrocketed are now selling their
properties, including cattle on their farms, to meet their financial

Some financial institutions reported to be already in serious trouble
include Trust Bank and ENG Capital. ENG directors were said to be on
the run as a result of problems engulfing their financial services
concern. The firm is understood to be facing a liquidity crunch of
between $70 billion and $80 billion.

Creditors are said to have pounced on ENG, seizing the firm's property
with one leading bank grabbing vehicles and shares which the company
holds at a local commercial bank. ENG is failing to meet financial
obligations to investors and creditors.

Trust, recently defrauded of $7 billion, is understood to be facing a
major liquidity crisis. There were reports the RBZ had given the bank
an $80 billion lifeline on condition that the central bank would
oversee the disposal of some of its assets to finance the shortfall,
which runs into billions.

Trust has confirmed it has been affected by the prevailing general
liquidity crisis in the market but denied speculation that it was
under curatorship, saying "the bank's operations and liquidity
position can be independently verified with the relevant regulatory

Asset management companies, some of which are being used to siphon
depositors' funds, are also in trouble and pose a serious threat to
the stability and soundness of the financial system.

Some asset management firms plunged into crisis by using investors'
money to buy fixed assets that cannot be readily converted into cash
when the investors' funds reach maturity, leaving them unable to meet
their financial obligations. Some of the investors' money was siphoned
to buy luxurious vehicles for directors and senior managers.

Gono has said he was aware of the shady operations of asset management
firms, which were supposed to re-register with effect from yesterday.

"The underground nature of some asset management companies is
evidenced by the fact they do not even have physical addresses or
working contact phone numbers," Gono recently said, "which makes it
all the more difficult to gather information about them."
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Zim Independent

Moyo undermining authority of courts

By Tawanda Hondora

SINCE the government illegally shut down the operations of Associated
Newspapers of Zimbabwe, three judges have ruled that the ANZ be
allowed to resume the publication of the Daily News and the Daily News
on Sunday. On each occasion the government has unlawfully and
contemptuously refused to abide by the court judgments.

In fact, instead of using scarce manpower to police the streets, the
government maintains a constant guard at the ANZ premises.

Information minister Jonathan Moyo is reported in the Herald of
December 20 as saying the judgment by the President of the
Administrative Court, Judge Selo Nare, would not be enforced because
the Media and Information Commission (MIC) appealed against an earlier
ruling made in favour of the Daily News by Judge Michael Majuru.

According to Moyo and MIC lawyer Johannes Tomana, the appeal suspended
Judge Mujuru's order in favour of the Daily News and therefore the
newspaper could not resume publication. This is despite the ruling by
Judge Nare that his order was effective notwithstanding the appeal
filed by the MIC.

Moyo and his ilk are making a mockery of our judicial system. The
government's attitude vindicates those that say there is no longer any
rule of law in Zimbabwe.

Instead of appealing to the Supreme Court against Judge Nare's order,
Moyo proclaimed that the order was academic and would therefore not be

Since he is an unashamed know-all and more so because he is not a
lawyer, one may forgive Moyo for not understanding the complexities of
the law. It is however utterly disgraceful for a lawyer such as Tomana
to identify with, if not encourage his client to so blatantly violate
a fundamental bedrock of our legal system.

The government has no power to decline to enforce an order of a court
even if it is of the honest opinion that the judgement is academic.
Within the concept of separation of powers it is the judiciary's role
to interpret the law and not the government's. Even Moyo should know
that with his background in academia. It is one of the most basic
principles of a modern legal system that it is not up to the litigants
to a dispute to unilaterally decide the propriety of a judgment and
decide whether or not it is enforced.

The government should have appealed to the Supreme Court against the
recent judgment by Judge Nare.

Section 31G of the Constitution obliges all ministers to swear an oath
undertaking that they would be "faithful and bear true allegiance to
Zimbabwe and observe the laws of Zimbabwe". By contemptuously
undermining the authority of the judicial system and disregarding the
law as stated by the Administrative Court, Moyo violated the
Zimbabwean Constitution.

Even if a judgement is palpably wrong, the executive is duty bound to
enforce such judicial order, until such time as the judgement has on
appeal been set aside by a superior court.

Section 31H (2) of the Constitution states that it "shall be the duty
of the president to uphold this Constitution and ensure that the
provisions of this Constitution and all other laws in force in
Zimbabwe are faithfully executed." Either intentionally or as a result
of gross dereliction of a constitutional obligation, it is utterly
distressing that President Mugabe, spurning his obligations under
section 31H (2), has not censored his ministerial appointee, or
ensured that the country's laws are enforced.

In this context, Mugabe's protestations that Zimbabwe had not done
anything to warrant its suspension from the Councils of the
Commonwealth appear ridiculous. Additionally, the Constitution does
not allow President Mugabe or his lackeys like Moyo to ignore court
judgments, and as such in this context their empty pleas that there is
rule of law in Zimbabwe is at best laughable.

This is not the first time the government has refused to obey court
orders, and in this context the relevance of lawyers and judges, if
they decline to obey the government's bidding, is questionable. How
does one fight against the British or white commercial farmers by
undermining and disregarding the provisions of one's supreme law, the
Constitution? The logic is simply bewildering.

What is worrying about the actions of President Mugabe's government
and Moyo is the effect such decisions have on both local and foreign
investment in the Zimbabwe economy.

Who would invest in a country where court orders are routinely
ignored, where property rights do not exist, and private investment is
always under threat of acquisition? Whoever told Moyo that an appeal
suspends the judgment against which the appeal has been filed should
have also told him that this was only a general rule which was not
applicable to all courts of law.

The opinion that Moyo penned for publication in the Herald of December
20 reveals a shocking level of naivety about a highly technical aspect
of the law.

There is a general rule of practice (mark I did not say a rule of law)
that a judgement of the High Court (or what is also known as the
superior court) is suspended once one of the litigants files an appeal
against the judgment. The High Court is also known as a court of
inherent jurisdiction. This means that the High Court can hear any
matter, civil or criminal in nature and can control the execution of
its judgments.

All other courts however, including the Supreme Court and the
Administrative Court are not courts of inherent jurisdiction, but
obtain power from specific statutes. These courts cannot exercise
power outside the enabling statutes. It also means that these courts
cannot establish rules of practice such as the practice that a
judgment is suspended once an appeal has been filed.

It is only judgments of the High Court which as a result of that
Court's rule of practice are suspended once an appeal has been filed.
Unless the enabling statute expressly provides to the contrary,
judgments from all other courts remain effective notwithstanding an

The Administrative Court Act created the Administrative Court, and
this enactment does not state that judgments emanating from the Court
are suspended when an appeal has been filed.

This means that a judgment of the Administrative Court remains
effective notwithstanding the filing of an appeal by any of the
litigants. This also means that Judge Majuru's judgement (as that of
Judge Nare) authorising the Daily News to continue operations remains
valid despite the appeal filed by Moyo's MIC.

The actions of Moyo and the MIC, apparently on the advice of Tomana,
should be of concern to the entire legal profession and Law Society of
Zimbabwe. Moreover in a normal democracy, the actions of the erstwhile
professor should have occasioned the ire of the Chief Justice, the
Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, and the

The actions are disturbing because Moyo has undermined confidence in
our judicial system by stating that he will obey a court judgment only
if he thinks it is valid, correct and not academic.

Tawanda Hondora is a Harare-based lawyer and human rights activist.
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Zim Independent

'Sit-tightism' anachronistic

The Daily Champion (Nigeria)

ZIMBABWE'S withdrawal from the Commonwealth on December 7 followed the
refusal of the organisation to end that country's suspension from the
body. In March 2002, the Commonwealth cited Zimbabwe's President
Robert Mugabe's election-rigging and persecution of dissidents to
suspend the country from the group.

In the heat of the electoral campaigns in 2002, the opposition
presidential candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, was restricted by a new law
from campaigning openly and his supporters labelled dissidents and
hounded. Independent journalism was banned, and journalists Mugabe
disliked barred from practising in the country. Mugabe's army chief
warned that he would never let Tsvangirai become president. For the
same reasons of election-rigging and violation of human rights by the
Mugabe government, the United States and the European Union (EU)
imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe.

At the last Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), in
Abuja, the organisation refused to terminate Zimbabwe's suspension
insisting that Mugabe's government was yet to shun its oppressiveness
and embrace democratic means. The evidence is there.

In September, barely three months before the CHOGM, Zimbabwean police
shut down the country's only independent daily. By a new law, known as
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which demands,
among others, licensing of journalists and prohibitive registration
fees for private newspapers, President Mugabe has permanently kept out
independent journalism.

During the recent CHOGM, Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) showed in Abuja grisly video clips of its members being
hounded and brutalised by Mugabe's government. Almost simultaneously,
President Mugabe threatened to use "some measures of force" against
his opponents. The continued hounding and hurling into detention of
members of Zimbabwe's opposition cannot rightly be dismissed as a
common fate of dissidents on the African continent.

The situation is bound to worsen still with Zimbabwe's expulsion on
December 3 by the IMF. The expulsion was prompted by the government's
unwillingness to take steps to revive Zimbabwe's economy that has
shrunk by 40% since 1999 and reduce the current inflation of 619,5%
and large dependence of the population on foreign food aid. President
Mugabe and his supporters claim that Zimbabwe is being unfairly
treated by white members of the Commonwealth who are opposed to its
controversial land reform programme. So far, by the redistribution of
the farmlands or the wholesale transfer of them from white farmers to
black Zimbabweans, the farmlands have become less productive in the
hands of farmers who lack skills and equipment. The solution should be
gradual, phasal transfer of the farmlands.

Zimbabwe's pull-out from the Commonwealth follows the example of
apartheid-era South Africa which quit the organisation in 1961 rather
than dismantle the oppressive apartheid regime. Pakistan, though still
suspended from the Commonwealth because of its military regime, has
not withdrawn from the organisation.

With the restoration of democracy in Fiji and Nigeria, the countries
once suspended for mounting coups and hanging dissidents respectively,
have returned to the Commonwealth. President Mugabe should be
persuaded to take necessary steps to return his country to the

As long as Zimbabwe stays out of the Commonwealth, the US and the EU
are likely to retain their sanctions which are having adverse effects
on the country's economy. Because Zimbabwe is out of the Commonwealth,
members of the organisation may no longer be able to exercise peer
pressure on Mugabe. Even then, Zimbabwe remains a member of other
relevant international organisations such as the Southern African
Development Community, African Union etc.

Leaders of these organisations should persuade Mugabe to retrace his
steps. President Olusegun Obasanjo's report to the recent CHOGM on his
efforts at reconciling the differences between the Zimbabwe government
and opposition raises the hope of fresh elections in Zimbabwe. This
will reduce President Mugabe's term of office and probably open up the
political space. Anti-democratic arm-twisting, manipulation of the
ballot and constitution for the purpose of sit-tightism is totally
anachronistic in the post-Cold-War world where popular pressure for
change has swept away one-party dictatorships and compelled truly
multi-party elections in a number of countries.

Again, if President Mugabe is no longer confident of being voted into
power in a free and fair election, it may well mean the calculation of
Zimbabweans that he has nothing more to contribute to the growth and
development of their country after his 23 years in power.

Cabinet reshuffle to reward cronies

Chido Makunike

THERE have been rumours of a pending regime reshuffle by President
Mugabe for some months now. No such reshuffle has taken place, with
the only personnel changes being of a few provincial governors. Not
that changing faces in his regime will make any difference to solving
the many problems that are out of control as long as Mugabe remains
the head of any "new-look" structure.

We have had gimmicks like the "war cabinet", the "technocrats" and so
forth that were designed to fool us into thinking Mugabe was a dynamic
problem-solver who knew what he was doing, only having been let down
by his less able lieutenants. It has now increasingly become apparent
that he is the problem, not his hangers on!

Still, the well-timed window dressing publicity stunt of changing some
faces in his inner circle may have given Mugabe's buddy presidents
Olusegun Obasanjo and Thabo Mbeki of Nigeria and South Africa
respectively the pretext to more successfully argue that he had made
some changes, no matter how cosmetic and ineffectual, and deserved to
be invited to the Abuja Chogm he so desperately wanted to attend. He
may not be a competent or enlightened ruler, but show him a podium
from which to read a speech and the man can barely contain himself!

But Mugabe's previously sharp political instincts are now so dulled by
over-staying in a job he performs so poorly in, the megalomania caused
by that and being surrounded by weak "yes men", as well as his
increased dependence on intimidation of associates and foes alike, he
can't even see the need to give his friends some ammunition to defend
him, no matter how tenuous and unconvincing. It is fascinating to
watch a former political master now trip himself up at every turn.

- What are the prospects of him carrying out the long-expected window
dressing reshuffle this month? Good I think, for a number of reasons.
Really grappling with the many manifestations of national decline is
not his main reason for clinging so tightly to the position, so any
changes will not be to address problems. As long as he can keep the
trappings of the position such as the foreign trips with Grace, being
able to threaten and insult his foes while he lurks behind Ian
Smith-type laws to protect him from protest, the fact that he presides
over a shamefully crumbling country does not appear to bother him in
the least.

There are also not many Zimbabweans of ability as well as integrity
who at this stage of Mugabe's decline would want to be a part of his
negative legacy by close association with him. He therefore can no
longer count on the country's best and brightest to be his aides, the
way he might have been able to in the early post-Independence days
when serving under him was considered to be honourable and
prestigious. He can mainly count on the calibre of ministers and other
top officials he already has now anyway, so change would be for
reasons other than to have the best corps of problem-solvers.

One reason would be to get rid of those of dubious loyalty to him.
There are many who are suspect because of the feverish current
interest in his successor. Easily threatened and reacting ruthlessly
to any hint that any of his aides do not believe him to be immortal
and indispensable, he does not take kindly to those who show
themselves to be thinking beyond him. Punishing such disloyal ingrates
would be one reason for a reshuffle, naturally using the pretexts of
lack of performance or corruption for getting rid of them.

"Lack of performance" won't wash because Mugabe himself is the worst
performing member of his regime, although like a bad chief executive
he only takes credit for things that go right (by sheer coincidence,
not by planning and ability!) while passing the buck for the many
things that are screwed up to others.

"Corruption" is a tired stunt that he brings up periodically but this
also won't fool anybody anymore. This is defined so cynically that it
would likely only be used to scapegoat real or potential foes, leaving
his closest cronies unscathed. Besides, using this pretext for culling
certain of his cronies is dangerous because given how high up and
widespread this cancer now is in his regime, one or two of the
discarded cronies may turn around and putting aside their fear of
being eliminated, politically ostracised or worse, being made to
forfeit their ill-gotten gains, decide to squeal on the true extent of
corruption in ways that could be rather embarrassing!

About the only way to convince some sceptics about sincerity to deal
with corruption in high places would be for the whole regime, starting
with Mugabe, to resign. What do you think are the chances of that
happening? No, the corruption stunt as a reason for a reshuffle may
produce editorials in lavish praise of it in one or more of the
Jonathan Moyo-run newspapers, but everybody else will howl with
cynical laughter at this tired old trick.

- Speaking of Moyo, he is one Mugabe crony who can be fairly confident
he will survive any reshuffle in one portfolio or another. His
"information and publicity" have been disastrous for Zimbabwe and for
Mugabe's personal standing in the world, but I believe Mugabe is
beyond caring too much about this now. He was initially hurt and angry
at becoming the world's favourite bad guy, but he seems to have
rationalised it to himself by telling himself his is a noble kind of
unpopularity because he is reviled in the Western world whose respect
he craved, which to him now means he must automatically be doing
something right!

Mugabe would likely continue to appreciate Moyo's coarse language and
his boyish rhetorical stunts in defence of him. Moyo made a tactical
personal mistake that will haunt him in the political future by
hitching his star so closely to Mugabe in the most crude and hateful
ways, although in the short term it may have helped him escape his
foreign accusers of misappropriation of funds. Once Moyo had dug
himself into the Mugabe hole, he had to just stay in it to the bitter
end. Having limited alternative choices has made Moyo the most
vociferous, crudest defender of Mugabe in ways that the latter is
likely to continue to find useful or at least amusing and

Moyo's important role in keeping the Daily News off the streets will
also have earned him a star or two at the presidential palace,
although this may yet come back to haunt Moyo in the post-Mugabe era.
But for now Moyo should be quite safe and secure in the regime.

- The one surviving vice president, Joseph Msika has nothing to offer
the nation, and little to offer Mugabe. He is quite expendable if
Mugabe decides to give an image of a complete regime overhaul. It
would however be unprecedented to fire a vice president and would
raise questions about Mugabe's judgement in appointing him in the
first place. In an era where a frenzied anti-whiteness has almost
become political ideology, recent reports of receiving whisky from and
being on speaking terms with white farmers were designed to "tarnish"
his image by suggesting that he consorts with the enemy.

In an illustration of the complete lack of consistency and shame in
Zanu-PF, some of the accusers have themselves had close and shady
links with both local and foreign whites while spouting anti-white
vitriol when convenient. But just because his accusers are hypocrites
will not necessarily save Msika's skin! Msika may survive by ably
satisfying the requirement that all of Mugabe's aides look
particularly useless in comparison to the Great Leader!

Having given up on continuing to rule through popularity, the respect
of the electorate and moral authority, Mugabe has increasingly relied
on subtle and not so subtle menace to ward off challenge. While Moyo
has ably played his part in this effort by his hateful speech and
repressive media laws, there are some other Mugabe cronies who deserve
special mention.

-Patrick Chinamasa, though far from being as bright as Moyo (actually
often shockingly insipid in his reasoning and utterances!) as the
crony occupying the "justice" portfolio played a useful back-up role
to make sure the appropriate laws are passed to keep a lid on
democratic expression. There are also signs that the judiciary has
become more pliant. Where certain judgements would make them look
utterly ridiculous to the whole world, there is always the tactic of
"reserving judgement" on a controversial issue indefinitely! There are
still pockets of free-spiritedness in the judiciary, but by selective
harassment, innuendo, threats and smear tactics in the Moyo-run Herald
and the Sunday Mail, they will surely soon be mopped up!

- Green Bomber minister Elliot Manyika has succeeded in making the
youth militia widely despised but has also achieved the more useful
end of making them deeply feared. Reports of willy-nilly beatings of
the citizenry and mass rapes are chillingly, nonchalantly dismissed by
Manyika but the message such atrocities are supposed to send to us
nevertheless get home, helping to add yet another layer of fear by
which the regime maintains control. Manyika may be promoted for his
star role in helping make Zimbabwe a police state.

- In ways that may not be obvious at first glance, Agriculture and
Health ministers Joseph Made and David Parirenyatwa respectively are
also playing their own pivotal roles in propping up Mugabe's regime
that have proven to be devastatingly, diabolically effective. If the
earlier mentioned Mugabe cronies have made us too terrified of the
consequences of the kind of ordinary democratic expression that is
taken for granted in more enlightened and free societies, these two
have contributed to keeping us down in more subtle but no less
effective ways.

The earnest decimation of commercial agriculture coincides with Made's
tenure in office, and Parirenyatwa has adopted a cool, aloof, "hands
off" approach to the turning of hospitals into mere death chambers as
the health system collapses along with everything else.

People who don't understand the Mugabe regime have naively asked why
there hasn't been more concern shown about these historical
humanitarian disasters unfolding before us. If they can't do their
jobs with so much suffering caused by that inability, why don't they
do the honourable thing and resign, many of us have asked in anguish
and puzzlement. But they are doing their jobs, and rather effectively!
If large numbers of the population are not only repressed by beatings,
imprisonment, legal harassment and rape, but also are kept sick and
hungry, they are not going to have the time or energy to challenge
their oppressors, are they? Made and Parirenyatwa are also likely to
be at least retained, and perhaps also promoted for their sterling
service in Mugabe's interests.

Regime reshuffle or not, things are likely to get a lot worse before
they get better but fellow Zimbabweans, do not lose hope. Despite
surface appearances to the contrary, the Mugabe regime that has caused
so much misery is crumbling to an end, backing itself against the wall
and committing suicide by its own excesses and contradictions.

* Chido Makunike is a regular columnist based in Harare.

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Zim Independent

How Mugabe stole Christmas

By Brian Latham

ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe this year stole Christmas. For most
Zimbabweans, Santa Claus was a World Food Programme (WFP) worker
distributing a basin of emergency maize meal.

Zimbabweans have just experienced their bleakest Yuletide ever. With
hyperinflation running at about 620%, the middle classes are reeling
while the poor are struggling for survival, let alone any hint of good

Zimbabweans call the-ir unenviable existence "Zimlife" and wonder when
it will end. With a small Christmas turkey costing up to $200 000, the
middle classes opted for chicken. But many of Zimbabwe's poor simply
did not have Christmas this year.

Zimbabwe's inflation threatens to rocket past the four-digit figure in
the coming months. Retailers in the capital Harare said on the eve of
Christmas sales were down to unprecedented levels.

"Sales are lower than even an ordinary month," said a shop manager in
Harare's normally bustling Westgate shopping mall. "There's no
Christmas in Zimbabwe this year."

Some mall shops were deserted just days before Christmas. Even basic
necessities cost more than many employed people can afford. And with
unemployment at about 70% and rising, most Zimbabweans live in abject

"There was a time when I could afford to buy nice presents," said one
shopper. "Those days are gone."

In a country where thousands of people earn as little as $50 000 a
month and a loaf of bread costs more than $3 000, many go without.

Prices rise day to day, often doubling month on month. Or worse. "I
ordered roofing timbers for my house two months ago and they quoted me
$4,5 million, but when the timber arrived this week the bill was more
than $16 million," said Harare resident Philip Mukwazi. "Now I'm
broke." At Harare's refuse dumps, scores of bedraggled men, women and
children move systematically, like vultures, through foul-smelling
rubbish, scratching for food and anything that might be sold or

Food shortages have worsened the plight of all Zimbabweans, with
mealie-meal in critically short supply. Empty supermarket shelves
stand as stark testimony to the economic and political crisis.

Even the supply of basics such as sugar, milk, bread and flour is at
best erratic. Cooking oil is now too expensive for many. Glum
pensioners queue patiently at shop tills. In their baskets a single
egg, tomato and onion show their plight.

"My pension is under $300 a month after 20 years of service," said
retired civil servant George Takawira. "The stamps on the envelope are
worth more."

In the rural areas the situation is worse, with 5,5 million
Zimbabweans, about half the population, dependent on emergency food
aid. United Nations organisations such as the WFP and the Food and
Agriculture Organisation blame starvation in part on Mugabe's violent
seizure of about 95% of the country's farms.

Before 2000, Zimbabwe fed much of Southern Africa and massive
quantities of fruit, vegetables and flowers were exported. Most of
that has come to a standstill as hundreds of thousands of
once-productive hectares now lie idle.

That means most of Zimbabwe's rural poor will be dependent on food aid
in the New Year. The food comes largely from the United States,
Britain and the European Union, the very countries Mugabe accuses of
trying to recolonise Zimbabwe.

But the attitude of donors is fast changing as is evidenced by the
disclosure by the WFP that it does not have enough food for the three
million people in need.

WFP country director Kevin Farrell says some Zimbabweans are at risk
of starving.

"Certainly at this stage, the evidence is all around us that there is
acute hunger," he said.

"Because of our shortage of supplies, it's inevitable that that's
going to get worse."

The WFP has been forced to cut food aid to about 2,6 million
Zimbabweans after donors came up with less than half the funds
requested by the UN agency, officials said recently. The WFP said that
in July it had appealed for US$311 million to feed 6,5 million people
in Southern Africa through June this year.

"However, to date donors have only come forward with less than half of
what's needed, leaving a $161,3 million shortfall. Two-thirds of the
overall amount is needed for Zimbabwe, where more than four million
people will need WFP assistance by January," the agency said.

It also warned that the outlook for the first quarter of this year was
"even worse", a further blow for the impoverished country where
hyperinflation is rampant and one in three adults is HIV-positive.

"Zimbabwe's lean season starts in January, a period when granaries
tend to be empty and people enduring food shortages are most reliant
on food aid," the WFP said. "Without sufficient food, people won't
have enough energy to cultivate crops for the year's first harvest.

"Few people still have income or savings to buy staple foods, which
have jumped in price by nearly 50 % in the last few weeks, putting
them out of reach of the average family," it said. - Additional
reporting by AFP.
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Zim Independent


Panic tells us

I HOPE you were able to make the best of the festive season and are
now settling into the rhythm of another year.

For many Christmas 2003 will have been the most miserable on record.
Soaring inflation, mass unemployment and shortages will have meant
last year was a period of unprecedented hardship for all except the
minority of people in well-paid jobs. As a result of suicidal economic
policies Zimbabwe has the fastest shrinking economy in the world. It
is a source of endless fascination to the foreign media how a country
could have been brought so low so quickly by its own rulers.

The domestic consequences of this is impoverishment on a scale not
experienced since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Even then, a
population of two million with far fewer involved in the formal
economy meant the impact was less devastating.

My heart goes out to elderly people on fixed pensions struggling to
cope on incomes of less than $20 000 a month. These are people who
have been careful with money all their lives, brought up families, and
now face a life of absolute destitution in old age thanks to President
Mugabe's fiscal recklessness. His policies have devalued money to
Weimar levels, wiped out savings and, as in 1920s Germany, ruined many
ordinary decent people.

A whole generation of young people has emigrated to find employment in
Botswana, South Africa and Britain. The more Mugabe waves his fists at
Britain the more people seem to want to go and live there!

The official press has been writing stories about migrants struggling
to survive over there. But many Zimbabweans have made good careers for
themselves overseas and are able to send remittances back to their
relatives who are struggling here.

Where once agriculture and tourism constituted the main sources of our
forex receipts, now remittances from Zimbabweans abroad fill the
breach. It is small comfort to know we are now competing with Lesotho
as a country dependent upon the earnings of its nationals abroad!

There is no light at the end of the tunnel just yet. Herbert Murerwa
has proved time after time that he is not in control of fiscal policy.
The economy has been hijacked by a coterie around Mugabe who are
careless of the damage they inflict upon the nation, and upon its most
vulnerable elements, spending public funds in a way that stokes
inflation and destroys savings.

Mugabe and his gang have literally been ruinous for Zimbabwe. But one
small victory of the departed year has been that, with the possible
exception of Thabo Mbeki, nobody takes the regime's land rhetoric
seriously any more. That was the important lesson of Abuja. And the
reason is obvious. Having taken the land, literally all of it,
repression and human rights abuses persist. Leaders who in the past
may have been sympathetic to Mugabe's cause, such as Percival
Patterson of Jamaica, cannot understand how the subversion of the rule
of law and crude attacks on any manifestation of civic protest can be
excused now the upheaval of land recovery is over.

We still have ministers instructing courts on the extent of their
jurisdiction, the legalised theft of farm implements, and threats to
bona fide businesses. Anybody exercising their constitutional right to
take to the streets in protest is liable to violent attack by the
police who have become crude instruments of repression.

This is not a regime capable of reforming itself. At the same time,
the opposition has made very real progress with its diplomatic
contacts elsewhere in Africa. A substantial bloc of African states
have abandoned Mugabe. And at home, despite its near-incapacitation,
the MDC grows in support with every new crackdown.

Zimbabweans don't like bullies. And this government exposes itself as
vindictive and thuggish with each new assault on people's rights. It
is Dale Carnegie in reverse: how not to win friends and influence

This is hardly a regime confident of its authority. The recent
fist-waving at Econet, coming hard on the heels of Mugabe's posturing
on the information society in Geneva, will have won more friends for
Strive Masiyiwa's company than its service sometimes warrants!

Wherever I go in this city I am greeted with warmth and enthusiasm by
Zimbabweans in all walks of life who identify with the democratic
cause. I am humbled by the support we receive in the independent
media. The facile racism of Mugabe's propaganda department would
appear to have been counter-productive, as indeed all his bile has

There is a groundswell of support for democratic reform that will
continue building as the economy sinks. So the one glimmer of hope I
can offer you is that this is obviously a regime that has lost the
battle for hearts and minds and which knows perfectly well it no
longer rules by popular consent. In the past year it has manifestly
failed to snuff out that most powerful weapon with which ordinary
people can equip themselves against dictatorship: an idea whose time
has come.

We all live in hope of a better future once the nightmare of Mugabe's
misrule is behind us. And, given the regime's repeated disclosures of
panic, it seems to agree that day will come sooner rather than later.
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Zim Independent

Interest rates breach 900% mark

Godfrey Marawanyika

INTEREST rates this week broke the 900% mark as the curtain came down
on 2003 before eventually sliding back to 850% by close of business on
Wednesday, a trend that has largely been caused by some banks not
having enough funds to cover their shortfalls.

The latest development comes hard on the heels of the parallel market
which has also suffered a major dip against the major currencies as
the greenback was being sold for between $4 000 and $5 000, down from
$6 000.

When markets opened this week rates firmed to 975%, then slightly went
down to 940% on Tuesday before ending the year on 850%.

The continued rise of interest rates has also been caused by the
reaction by financial institutions towards monetary policy.

"The rates have continued to rise largely because of the market
reaction towards the monetary policy, as some banks are now fearing to
go to the Reserve Bank to ask for cover," Nyika Chideme, an investment
analyst with Highveld Discount, said.

"Some banks who seem to have a lot of cash seem to have taken a
position not to extend their cover to other institutions. Some banks
who are looking for cover have not been able to access money from
anywhere." Last month during his budgetary statement, central bank
governor Gideon Gono said any liquidity support would attract penal
rates as it should be "assumed", until proven otherwise, that such
support has been necessitated by the "diversion of funds to the
non-productive and speculative activities".

Chideme said since the greenback was being accessed at $4 000 largely
indicated that some firms had taken a position not to purchase hard
currency adding that markers were also digesting how the floor auction
system would work.

The forex auction system is set to come into effect later this month
as government and the central bank try to channel hard currency into
the formal market.

An economist said the parallel market had slid to such low levels over
the past week largely because of the end of year shutting down period,
thereby leading to small demands of hard currency.

Best Doroh, an economist with Zimbabwe Financial Holdings Ltd, said
although the market was in surplus a number of banks were in the red.

"As it is right now a number of banks are in short, in fact a number
of them have suffered significant high rates of withdrawals," Doroh
said. "It seems two or three banks have cash but the rest are in short
supply." He said the continued rise of inflation had also had a
bearing on the demand for cash, thereby pushing up interest rates.
Currently inflation is 619%.
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Zim Independent

Confusion reigns supreme at banks

Ngoni Chanakira

CONFUSION and uncertainty surrounds the country's banks today as they
decide whether or not to alter their minimum balances on personal
accounts as commanded by new Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon

Last month several commercial banks led by Kingdom Bank Ltd told
customers that they would increase minimum balance requirements on
personal savings accounts.

Kingdom said the balance would go up from $25 000 to $250 000, a sum
considered too high for the country's lowly-paid workforce.

NMB Bank was last year already asking high profile clients to fork out
$250 000 as minimum balances for personal savings accounts.

Royal Bank Zimbabwe Ltd was asking for a minimum balance of $150 000.
In his Monetary Policy Statement Gono said his "Vision" sought to
protect the loss of personal, hard-earned financial resources and
encourage a culture of saving among the country's citizens.

"With effect from January 1 2004 all banking institutions in Zimbabwe
are directed to lower their minimum bank balances to not more than $25
000 for savings accounts and $50 000 for current accounts. The profit
motive of banks needs to be balanced with the privilege of holding a
banking licence in a society experiencing some economic difficulties,"
Gono said.

In a dramatic move on Wednesday the country's largest building
society, the Central African Building Society (Cabs) began putting up
notices immediately after closure informing customers that it was
increasing minimum savings balances to $25 000. This amount is the
minimum required by Gono in his monetary policy statement.

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Zim Independent

Soft drink shortage dampens festive season

Godfrey Marawanyika

FOR the second straight year running Zimbabweans have spent the
festive season facing an acute shortage of soft drinks.

This time around the problem has been caused by the non-availability
of carbon dioxide to Delta Beverages Ltd (Delta) by a South African
firm whose plant had a breakdown.

Carbon dioxide is used during the production of soft drinks to produce
the fizzy product.

The breakdown has resulted in Delta, the manufacturers of fizzy
drinks, failing to supply most retail outlets in Zimbabwe.

The manufacturers have failed to supply carbon dioxide because their
plants broke down, but supplies are expected to resume any time from
next week.

During the past 12 months Delta, which controls the Coca-Cola brand
name and also does distribution, has had its production capacity

Among some of the problems include the lack of colourings and sugar.
No comment could be obtained from Delta this week as those responsible
for media queries were all said to be on leave.

It is reliably understood that the company has not made an official
statement on the latest problems because it does not want to create
panic buying and hoarding by outlets.

Last year Zimbabwe experienced a severe shortage of basic commodities
that was exacerbated by the imposition of price controls by
government. The process led to a thriving parallel market of the
controlled goods.

The shortages of carbon dioxide have also greatly affected many retail
outlets that have since run dry of soft drinks.

Many tuck shops have also been affected. The situation has been
worsened by the continuous breakdown of Zimbabwe Glass' G2 furnace,
used in the manufacture of bottles.

Zimglass is the country's sole bottle manufacturing firm.
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Zim Independent

Establishling a credible public/private Nepad partnership

By Aziz Dieye

THE New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) appears as a
break with the past as concerns the political strategies and the
economic development objectives in Africa.

Break with the past in the sense that Africa is no longer begging and
that for her the era of development aid and assistance is a bygone
era. Break with the past because Nepad wants that henceforth Africa be
perceived as a single and unique operational economic field.

One does not any longer think in terms of micro-markets but in terms
of a coherent global entity and that is the great ambition.

One thinks as if the ills resulting from the colonisation, especially
what is called the Balkanisation, are over forever in the mentalities,
the ways of thinking, as well as in the practices since one envisions
the possibility of a good governance code of conduct going beyond the
models known so far in the world characterised by the harmonisation of
the policies leaving to each member the possibility of defining the
ideological content.

The examples of harmonisation existing in the world have been governed
by means of directions and not by regulations, through common sectoral
policies; but one has ignored the necessity of putting in place common
moral rules.

A gleam of hope

Africa is no longer like a hunting ground or a playground where any
shooter can come and easily earn profits exportable without regard to
ethics and social responsibility.

Not being likened to the Sicilian underground economies or to the post
perestroika policies and practices, it is obvious that the
"blackguardism" has generally been the rule in the African economy and
the social and moral responsibility the exceptions.

With the advent of Nepad, Africa chooses the priority areas, the
preferable judicial and legal models, especially the option of
inviting the investors to bring their contributions according to rules
accepted in such sectors as the New Technologies of Information and
Communication (NTIC), the agro-industry, the great infrastructures,
education, health and good public and private governance.

Nepad's problem

There is no doubt as to the context of break. Nevertheless, a certain
number of important questions are to be raised regarding the content
and feasibility of the economic options.

It seems in fact that a certain number of prerequisites are not met
yet. l Are the Nepad selected sectors to be imposed when the new
economic paradigm worldwide is "laisser faire - laisser passer"?

- What liberty is left to capital owners to choose between project A
in lieu and place of project B?

- What are the guarantees offered to investors and what entity will
offer these guarantees?

- Can the institutional instability co-exist with a conducive enabling

- How to assure that the African economy will no longer be only a
riches exportation economy? As a matter of fact, Africa exports much
more than she imports riches. Practically all the profits are

- How to harmonise the policies, the rules and laws governing the
investments in all the continent?

For example, what solutions to the problem of volatility and diversity
of the units of payment?

In order to respond to these questions, we have adopted the following
methodological approach.

The Nepad actors

The point is how to do in order to get the different parties, the
public together with the private actors as well as the foreign
investors, have the same perception with respect to such important
concepts as the economic flows, for example.

The partnership should really be conceived as a trustworthy offer of
collaboration for the creation of wealth with the view to developing
the continent. It shouldn't be conceived any longer as an external
vision to take or to live. On that score, should the African
governments only present themselves as guarantors?

Nepad's partners and roles

The partnership actors should be identified as being - the
governments, African and international private actors, international
funding agencies, and the regional and community institutions.

Each of these actors has to play a special role. In respect of these
actors, it is advisable to set out precise rules determining the
public actors, the private actors, the roles and responsibilities for
each partner, their credibility, ie the respect of the commitments
made, the establishment of trust and the existence of adequate means
or resources. It takes therefore a genuine willingness.


It will be proper to adopt a common definition of the rules of the
game: who does what, when to do it, and how to do it?

It will be important to keep a follow-up and implementation schedule
showing the list of the projects.

The governments, now turned out of the economic field by the
international financial institutions, should not make a comeback as
intruders or trespassers by the intermediary of Nepad.

Nepad will not function without a real political will. The economy
should be in the hands of the private sector.

Government should put in place policies of inducements and incentives
harmonised throughout the continent.

The visibility of Nepad is necessary.

A good coordination system will be necessary for the projects as well
as an optimal allocation of the resources.

A high level task force should be put in place as well as surveillance
and monitoring mechanisms especially in terms of credibility,
discipline, constant controls over the application of the rules of

As for the financing problem, a solution could be found with the
involvement of the regional communities institutions, endowed with
financial means and resources through a system of community levies,
which could constitute the basic contributions to the funds needed.

The projects should be consortialised so that they generate enough
resources for refinancing purposes. That will prevent or reduce the
African dependency.

It is essential to ponder over the urgent necessity of a monetary
harmonisation in order to resolve the volatility and monetary
dispersion now being experienced.

* Aziz Dieye is part of the Nepad business group team based in South
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Zim Independent

Monetary Policy just old wine in new bottle

By Tendai Biti

THE long-awaited monetary policy announced by the Reserve Bank has
come and gone. Within the heat and emotion of Gideon Gono's lengthy
address, the question to be asked is whether it deals adequately with
the issues of substance that will carry Zimbabwe forward.

MDC has always said that no amount of tampering or even gymnastic
reform of economic parameters will succeed in this country while the
substantive issues of governance, the rule of law, constitutionalism,
legitimacy and social justice are not addressed. The governor's
statement was not expected to address these issues and did not do so.

Secondly, monetary policy is at most a component of an entire
macro-economic strategy. Within the context of a turn-around strategy
or a stabilisation programme, monetary policy is a prisoner of the
more important fiscal and supply-side issues. Herein lies the Achilles
heel of this much hyped monetary policy.

In our critique of the recent budget statement, we stressed that the
budget had failed to address the key macro-economic issues of interest
rates, exchange rate and inflation, as well as meeting requirements
for investment and growth. We will examine and put the Monetary Policy
Statement to the test on the same key issues.

Interest rates

On interest rates, the governor endorsed continuation of the two-tier
system - this despite the admission by the president in his speech to
parliament (acknowledged by the governor) that the two-tier system has
not worked. The system is supposed to provide cheap credit to
productive ventures while providing market-related rates for borrowing
for consumptive or speculative purposes.

But as the governor well knows, money is fungible. Borrowing for one
purpose frees up resources to be used for other purposes. The governor
says that it takes a year for new policies to work. But we've had
three years of extremely cheap borrowing for productive investment and
during that time the economy has shrunk by 26%.

No amount of supervision, exhortation or threats will achieve the
objectives the governor claims to be pursuing. He was until last month
a banker himself, so he knows better. The ranting about patriotism and
so on in his speech is part of disguising the statement's lack of
substance. It is just populist posturing intended to please his
political masters.

What is welcome is the governor's drive to stop banks from misusing
resources that are supposed to accommodate short-term liquidity
problems. In his short tenure in office so far, he has refused to
automatically accommodate the market to resolve liquidity problems.
Money market rates have thus risen to unprecedented levels (500-600%).

As a result, at least four banks with poorly structured asset
portfolios are already technically insolvent. Their inability to meet
their obligations cannot continue for very long. The acid test for the
new governor will thus very soon arise when he has to choose between
allowing a bank to go bankrupt or to pump liquidity into the market
and thereby exceed his money growth and hence inflation targets. It
seems very likely that it is the monetary policy targets which will be

Exchange rate

Turning to the exchange rate, the crucial question is whether the
newly-announced "controlled auction" will increase the flow of foreign
currency to the economy. "Controlled" and "auction" are not words
which sit together easily, so exporters will certainly be sceptical.
Importers will also be frustrated at it seems that embedded in the
auction proposals, is a very stringent form of import control.

Exporters will also take note of the fact that they still have to
surrender 25% of their proceeds at $800/US$ and that 50% of their
funds have to go into FCA accounts. Given that this government has
previously removed FCA account privileges, many exporters will be
understandably hesitant to commit themselves to this system.

These are the costs of the policy inconsistencies and reversals that
both the Minister of Finance and the governor have decried in their
recent public speeches. The propensity of the authorities to inconsist
ency is accentuated by the removal of privileges from EPZ companies.
The governor was at pains to say that foreign-owned EPZ provisions
were not being changed, but given the selective treatment of foreign
investment guarantee agreements, this is small comfort to foreigners.
The lack of sincerity, credibility and consistency is evident.
Furthermore, in changing the rules for domestic companies only, an
unacceptable and unnecessary disadvantage for domestic firms as
compared with their foreign counterparts has been created.

Only those exporters who feel they can't get away with it will submit
to the controlled auction. Other remittances of foreign currency -
including the huge sums from expatriate Zimbabweans sending money back
to support their families - will continue to keep a parallel market
alive. The parallel market means no surrender of 25% to RBZ at
$800/US$ and no bureaucracy. As their relatives back home have been
impoverished by the government's destructive economic policies, the
least the expatriate Zimbabweans should demand is the full value of
their remitted income.

Inflation policy

The most damning aspect of the Monetary Policy Statement is that it
does not contain any tangible or credible anti-inflation strategy. The
governor's stating that inflation will fall to 200% by December and to
single digits by 2008 is pure "visionary" wishful thinking. The actual
announced policies constitute a continuation of the pro-inflationary
macro-economic stance that has caused the dramatic rise of inflation
that Zimbabweans have had to endure over the past few years.

The main underlying inflation driver is the large budget deficit of
7,5% of GDP, a level which in other contexts would be regarded as
totally unacceptable and highly inflationary when financed entirely
from domestic resources. The governor acknowledges as much in his
statement, giving special emphasis to the need for the budget to be
managed so that the deficit is no larger than the budgeted amount.

The auction system for 75% of the foreign currency that comes through
official channels may ease some of the foreign currency distortions,
but the auction exchange rate will be market determined. This is in
effect a legitimation of parallel market operations, but with the cost
of continued depreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar, and hence continued
increases in import prices. As Zimbabweans are painfully aware, one of
the main drivers of inflation has been rising import costs due to
devaluation. The policies announced in the monetary statement ensure
that this is set to continue.

In respect of interest rates, the policy of suppressed rates is to be
maintained for certain types of borrowing, with high interest rates
being used principally (but dangerously) to discipline the banks. High
interest rates are a necessary part of an anti-inflation strategy, but
are not sufficient by themselves. They need to be part of a coherent,
properly co-ordinated set of monetary and fiscal measures which
neither the government nor the Reserve Bank has been capable of

We are now being pushed by the governor into the worst of both worlds.
Interest rates will still not be high enough for "real" interest rates
to be positive, that is for interest to exceed inflation. Economic
actors will still expect (correctly) that inflation will continue to
accelerate. In such circumstances, as has been the case since the
start of the suppressed interest rate policies, there continues to be
no incentive to save and every incentive to spend and to buy assets
which might retain their value - foreign currency, shares, property.
This is precisely the incentive structure in which inflation not only
continues, but accelerates every month.

However, with the much higher nominal interest rates many of the
entities which until recently have been exhorted to borrow will now
find themselves in real difficulty. Individuals, companies and banks
will go bankrupt and more jobs will be lost. A much greater threat is
that bank failures could precipitate a systematic collapse of the
financial system. As the government has proved itself so incompetent
in the simplest of macro-economic management tasks, the likely
prospect of it bungling a system-wide banking crisis is truly

Investment and growth

The governor seems to think that by talking for an hour and a half and
covering all sorts of topics within and outside his domain, that he
would instil the confidence needed for investment to resume. This
overlooks the fundamental weaknesses in the national governance
structure. Investors, whether domestic or foreign, first and foremost
require assurances about the rule of law and an independent judiciary.
These are far more important than whether some export incentive scheme
(that is irrelevant even on the governors own figures) is made
slightly more attractive. And to talk of reopening discussions with
multilateral and bilateral donors without resolving governance issues
is fanciful.

The fact that the governor one month after the budget made two or
three changes to fiscal provisions, including one involving 1% of
budget revenues, suggests that the Ministry of Finance is no longer in
charge of fiscal policy. This too undermines confidence. The
self-appointed economic tsar in the RBZ tower seeks to manage
everything from phone-call termination charges to whether bank staff
have their traditional Wednesday afternoon of sporting activity.

In assessing the Monetary Policy Statement, Zimbabweans need to bear
in mind that the Budget Statement presented in November failed to
address any of the key macro-economic issues. These were all pushed
over for the Monetary Policy Statement to deal with. That the
statement for all its verbiage and multi-faceted coverage is so
inadequate is a reflection of the stark reality that this government
has abdicated its responsibility to govern.

The destructive economic policies which have been in place for the
past four years gave opportunities for the politicians and well
connected businessmen to grossly enrich themselves. But even for this
coterie the continuation of the headlong destruction of the economic
base no longer makes sense. For the public of Zimbabwe, it is a
complete disaster.

* Tendai Biti is MDC shadow minister of Home Affairs.
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Zim Independent

Blood on the floor as markets hurt

By Admire Mavolwane

THE new governor of the Reserve Bank's monetary policy statement has
indeed rocked the boat, the first casualty being the stock market
which fell a massive 9,39% the day after the pronouncements.

While investors exhibited some jitters prior to the statement, many
dived for the panic button once it became evident that interest rates
were not coming down any time soon and were actually going into
positive territory. The selling has continued, albeit on small
volumes, with the industrial index closing on 396 316,03 on Tuesday,
representing a decline of 26 544% since December 18.

The index has now almost halved, having declined by 47,48%, from the
record high of 754 608 reached on August 28.

Even though the money market is in surplus, wholesale inter-bank rates
have remained in excess of 500% per annum, with some institutions
quoting rates just below 1 000%.

The explanation however for the apparent contradiction is to be found
in the adage "high risk high return" which has seldom been more
appropriate. On the back of this situation, the inverse relationship
between interest rates and the stock market is likely to continue
affecting sentiment towards the latter.

Banking shares in particular could well be affected by the far less
tolerant attitude promised by the new governor towards certain unwise
or unsound practices in which, he says some institutions have engaged
in the recent past.

The sector thus appears likely to be next in line for a good shake
down or is shake out? This factor too can be expected to unsettle the
market in the days and weeks ahead.

Turning to results, this week we look at Mashonaland Holdings Ltd and
its former subsidiary Willdale Ltd, fresh from listing in March this

After the demerger of Willdale, in 2002, Mashonaland Holdings was left
with rental income from industrial properties as the primary source of
revenue. Thus turnover for the group was down by 65% to $35 million.
However, stripping out the brick-maker which was accounted for in 2002
as a discontinued operation reveals an increase in rental income of

This revenue stream proved to be insufficient to sustain the group's
profitability resulting in an operating loss of $33 million being
realised compared with a $48 million profit in the prior year. Net
interest receivable more than halved from $80 million to $32 million
as the group increased borrowings to fund working capital.

Fair value adjustments of the industrial properties, of $2,5 billion,
provided the much-needed boost to the bottom line.

After taking account of a deferred taxation charge of $805 million
attributable earnings of $1,8 billion were attained, up 520% on 2002.
Post balance sheet, the group undertook a major restructuring exercise
which encompassed, a rights issue which raised $26 billion a change in
board and management and a shares for properties swap deal which
resulted in the group acquiring a number of upmarket office blocks, a
retail complex and land for residential property development.

The rental income from these buildings and the revaluation thereof is
expected to bolster the group's fortunes going forward.

Turnover for Willdale was up 345% to $3,3 billion as strong demand
from the urban housing sector in the second half made up for the
depressed first half, when incessant late rains and the slow-down in
the construction industry affected sales.

Operating profit grew by an impressive 5 729% to $1,3 billion, as
operating margins increased by 35 percentage points to 38%, thanks to
implementation of appropriate pricing structures and stringent cost
and shrinkage controls.

Net interest income of $96 million was received against a charge of
$214 million in 2002.

Attributable earnings of $1,1 billion were realized against a $192
million loss in the prior year, not a bad debut performance!

Going forward, it is anticipated that the new state-of-the-art all
weather brick making factory and the refurbished dry weather factories
will be equal to the task, as demand from urban housing development is
expected to remain strong and the commercial construction sector is
expected to start picking up.

In other corporate news Zimre published the results of its
extraordinary general meeting held on December 19 where shareholders
were asked to approve special resolutions changing the name of the
group to Southern Union Financial Holdings Ltd and approving the issue
of 95 million shares to Africa Resources Ltd, Total Finance and
Ukubambana-Kubatana Investments Ltd in exchange for 297 million First
Banking Corporation Ltd shares, together with the placement of the
remaining unissued shares under the control of the directors.

The name change resolution was passed while the issue of shares to the
three parties was not approved.

With the deal to acquire First Bank shares, which gives Southern Union
Financial Holdings Ltd a 21,9% stake, having been consummated in
September, it is now up to the board to find alternative means of
financing the acquisition.

Finhold also published the results of its rights offer to
shareholders, which closed on December 19.

Out of the total of 47,78 million shares, 47,14 million shares,
representing 98,67% of the offer, were subscribed for.

The underwriters took up the balance.

This should rank as the most successful rights offer this year. The
net proceeds of $14,9 billion will be applied towards the
recapitalisation of the group, hopefully now making Finhold adequately
geared to meet the economic and financial challenges of 2004.
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Zim Independent


Who benefits from Zim's starvation?

IT is generally agreed that one man's misfortune can be another man's
gold. Now that our beloved country is reeling under severe starvation
caused by the government's lack of the requisite foresight and chaotic
policies exacerbated by drought, we have people who seem to be
thriving on our adversity.

Not everyone of us is a victim of this malaise. How about the
profiteering business people who profit at our penury? What about the
Zanu PF government, are they not thanking this starvation for
providing them with ground to entrench their hegemony? I am bound to
believe that someone, somewhere actually profiteers either politically
or economically.

A look at the business community will generally reveal that because of
the malaise in our country they are presented with an opportunity to
further enrich themselves at the expense of the poor who have
generally been reduced to vagabonds. Of course an endemic economic
crisis is so infectious that it cripples every sector of the economy,
but when it comes to some of our business people it is a real case of
making themselves even more richer, unfortunately at the expense of
the poor masses. This has prompted the creation of an abysmal gap
between the rich and the poor.

This is the reason why some go on to buy flashy cars and live
flamboyant lives while more than 80% of the population is struggling
to fill their tummies just for a day.

Here I am not trying to undermine the fact that most companies or
businesses are actually closing down which is symptomatic of President
Robert Mugabe's archaic economic policies. So much about the business

But my issue is on the politician of our land. A crisis in a country
always has beneficiaries or losers. The war in Angola had
beneficiaries as well as losers. In the DRC the general populace was
wallowing in poverty and fear while some of our own top political
leadership managed to reap some bloody diamonds to line their already
fat pockets. So precisely who benefits from our economic, political
and social decadence? Is it Morgan Tsvangirai or President Mugabe? I
leave this to conjecture.

One school of thought likes to shift the benefit or the profit to
Tsvangirai. It says any crisis in any nation provides an opportunity
for that country's opposition to preach the weaknesses of an incumbent
government. So in this case they say it is Tsvangirai who has been
presented with a golden chance to tell the people of this country that
Mugabe has failed them. The proponents of this school of thought say
this is the reason why the MDC was born and why it is still a potent
force to remove Mugabe who has dismally failed and has no hope to
revive the economy of the decaying country, at least in his remaining

To them it is the starvation and general penury of the people that
entrenches the political life of the opposition party. Thus in a sense
it is the MDC which benefits from the continued failure of Zanu PF to
ameliorate the current morass. This has given the opposition more
opportunities to remove the geriatric leader. What do you say to this

But some would argue otherwise saying it is actually Mugabe himself
who profits from our starvation and hunger. Being the author of our
problems, Mugabe has generally designed and manipulated the starvation
so that it conforms to his own bidding. This is why the dear leader
seems not to be serious about finding a lasting solution to our
predicament. Why not if the hunger is used as a capitalisation ground
to spruce up his dwindling support base. In light here is the case of
using food as a political weapon.

In my home area of Chipinge people are actually given food through
some Zanu PF structures. You actually have to register with the ward
executives before you are rendered eligible for some maize to feed
your family. The ward executive will actually have to ensure first
that you are a regular attendant at the party meetings before you are
accepted. If you are not a meeting goer you are branded an MDC member
who by all standards does not deserve the food since it comes from the
ruling party.

The current regime also benefits in terms of extinguishing the
revolutionary zest of the people of this embattled country. Revolution
here is defined as an inalienable nature of people when it comes to
change. Revolutionaries are those who act when an anomaly happens,
thus they fight to correct it. So according to James Davies, an
English scholar, hungry people are no material for a revolution
because they are so hungry that they do not think of anything other
than food. In this sense hunger forces people to be passive. It is the
same hunger that causes people not to be receptive to calls for mass
action. They are just plain hungry and are prepared to spend the whole
day in a queue and nowhere else.

Jack Zaba
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Mugabe Vitriol Could Scupper Tours

Zimbabwe Independent (Harare)

January 2, 2004
Posted to the web January 2, 2004

Staff Writer

AS President Robert Mugabe continues on the warpath that has isolated
Zimbabwe, pressure is mounting for the boycott of tours to the southern
African country by England and Australia scheduled for this year.

Australia is scheduled to play two Tests and five one-day matches in
Zimbabwe in May and June. The Australian Cricketers Association has said it
will wait until mid-January before it turns its attention to Zimbabwe.

"The Zimbabwean tour is exactly the same for of the areas we look
at is security, but we haven't begun the process yet," association chief
executive Tim May said.

The cricketers association and Cricket Australia will send representatives
to Zimbabwe before Australia's tour to oversee security arrangements and
will discuss the proposed tour with the Australian government.

Meanwhile in Britain, Foreign secretary Jack Straw was under pressure this
week to veto England's planned cricket tour of Zimbabwe amid concern that
the trip would endorse the regime of President Mugabe.

The London Independent reported that Michael Ancram, the Shadow Foreign
secretary, urged Straw to intervene to prevent a repeat of the "shambles"
before England pulled out of a match scheduled for Harare during the Cricket
World Cup at the beginning of last year.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has pledged to take a final
decision the planned tour at the end of February.

Tim Lamb, the ECB chairman, has already conceded the board will have to
balance political and moral as well as sporting considerations when deciding
on the tour.

But any decision to go ahead would meet with fierce opposition after
Zimbabwe's withdrawal from the Commonwealth.

Derek Wyatt, the Labour chairman of the Commons all-party Zimbabwe group
said: "We are seeing the Commonwealth Secretary General on January 6 and
then we will have an idea of how the land lies. After that we plan to see
Tim Lamb in the New Year (this year). We will tell him not to go.

"It would be mad for them to go. They would be crazy to go. As (former South
African president Nelson) Mandela said, no sport in an abnormal society.
Eight million people are dying. We should not prop up this regime."
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