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Ex Zim farmers thrive in Zambia
07/01/2004 10:16  - (SA)

Zarina Geloo

Lusaka, Zambia - Exiled white Zimbabwean farmers have helped neighbouring
Zambia break a crippling food shortage that saw millions rely on food aid
last season.

The roughly 100 Zimbabwean exile families have settled in central Zambia's
fertile maize-growing district of Mkushi, where even critics concede they
have revolutionised commercial agriculture by introducing hi-tech commercial
farming techniques through partnerships with local landowners.

They have been so successful that Zambia's Investment Centre (ZIC) has just
issued certificates to 31 Zimbabweans authorising them to begin commercial
farming in their own name and on their own newly acquired land, while
Zambia's national government intends luring even more disillusioned
Zimbabwean farmers across the border - regardless of possible discomfort in
relations between Lusaka and Harare.

Saw them as the enemy

"People initially saw them as the enemy, seeking refuge in Zambia. Because
they were white, people were also scared that the history of racism would
resurface. Even people in government thought there should be solidarity
(with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe), and we should refuse them
(entry)," says Zambian deputy agriculture minister Chance Kabaghe.

"But we saw them as potential investors who could improve our food security.

"We have now been vindicated."

Forced off their farms

The exiles fled to Zambia after being forced off their properties in
Zimbabwe during the fast-track land reform programme that began in 2000. The
Zimbabweans currently either rent land for farming from the locals, or go
into partnership with owners who do not have the capacity to till huge
tracts of land.

"It's farming that we know and do best. So we just want to see where the
land lies, before we apply for permits and licenses and buy land," explains
one of the migrants, Jimmy Stewart.

The official support for the Zimbabweans forms part of a wider multi-pronged
strategy to revive Zambia's agricultural sector, which is still reeling from
the effects of two successive droughts, with a shortfall of 635 000 tons of
grain last year.

As a result, food prices rocketed and 2.9 million people were in need of

"This season we were determined to prioritise agriculture with timely input
distribution," says agriculture minister Mundia Sikatana.

The government continues to support more than 150 000 local farmers with
subsidised maize seed and fertiliser. It has also specified that commercial
farmers, both local and foreign, put at least 10% of their acreage into
maize production to ensure Zambia doesn't suffer another grain shortage.

There is no official figure indicating exactly how much maize Zimbabwean
farmers produced last year, but some reports indicate that they grew over
70% of Zambia's 2003 maize crop.

ZIC notes in its end-of-year report that all the Zimbabwean farmers awarded
licenses had also started producing tobacco and wheat. "They have what it
takes to undertake various farming enterprises and we would like more
farmers of the calibre of Zimbabwean farmers to invest in agriculture," the
investment body said.

While acknowledging the farming prowess of the Zimbabweans, local farmers
complain they had an unfair advantage.

'I am happy, but...'

"I do not want to sound petulant - I am happy that we have a bumper harvest
and do not need food aid. But I feel a little peeved because we (local)
farmers have been made to look incompetent. There are reasons the
Zimbabweans had such a good crop," says Zambian farmer Thrifty Stephenson.

Zimbabwean farmers had collateral for loans from local and international
financial institutions, Stephenson points out, while some also brought
equipment and machinery with them. This gave them a "leg up" when they
arrived in Zambia.

Well-heeled business people

"We are not talking refugees here. We are talking well-heeled business
people," stresses Stephenson.

The Standard Chartered Bank of Zambia, for example, gave loans to more than
20 Zimbabwean farmers who had settled in Zambia, to acquire existing farms
or buy land. The bank's executive director of finance, Brighton Ngoma, says
his institution had set up an agricultural unit to help boost the sector.
The money being lent out was from the European Investment Bank and from
Standard Chartered itself.

Local farmers were also supposed to have benefited from the funds, but
discussions about this matter are still underway with the Zambia National
Farmers Union.

Reduce inflation "It's not that we do not have confidence in the local
farmers. We need to make sure that we protect our investment and also attain
our objective to increase agricultural production. Already we are seeing the
benefits of our lending to Zimbabwean farmers, because the good harvest has
helped reduce inflation as well as stabilise the foreign exchange," said

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa recently announced that government would
revitalise farming through agricultural financing, tax exemptions for
imported equipment and low power tariffs. The government also wants to
revive co-operative banks that lend money to farmers at favourable rates,
and national marketing boards to buy their crops.

Stewart, who has a farm leased from a local resident, is reluctant to
criticise existing agricultural policies. But he agreed that it was
difficult to make commercial farming viable in Zambia. He cited high
electricity tariffs, duties on equipment and the lack of a good lending and
marketing policy.

"Basically we came equipped with our own money, some equipment and good
relations with international banks and donors. So we are not affected by
those problems."

Abundant land and water

On the positive side, says Stewart, there is a steady and reliable supply of
manual labour, abundant land and water resources. Almost half of Zambian
land is suitable for various types of crops.

Government appears to be keeping an eye on the Zimbabweans.

"Minister Sikatana visited us here, I think, just to make sure we were doing
what we said we would do, and was quite happy with our output. So for the
time being, things are looking good," Stewart says.

Kabaghe is confident that more Zimbabwean farmers will come when they
realise Zambia welcomes investors, and that it does not have the
land-ownership problems that have beset other countries in the region.

Meanwhile Zimbabwe is experiencing a debilitating food shortage for the
second year running - something that analysts have ascribed to drought, and
the drop in food production caused by the land distribution programme. More
than half the country's population will require emergency food aid this
year, according to the World Food Programme. - Inter Press Service

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The Herald

Zambians unhappy with ex-Zim farmers

The relocation by some former white Zimbabwean commercial farmers to Zambia
has caused anxiety among Zambians.

Although the farmers are said to have helped Zambia pull out of food
shortages, Zambian farmers are disgruntled over the unfair advantage the
former Zimbabwean farmers have.

In addition to immediately accessing loans from Zambian banks the farmers
also have the equipment that they had been illegally smuggling out of
Zimbabwe to Zambia.

Former white commercial farmers have been smuggling irrigation equipment and
machinery from the country to neighbouring countries in defiance of
Government regulations, which forbid them from doing so.

Recently The Herald discovered two containers laden with irrigation
equipment, which was being transported by road to Zambia.

The equipment included combine harvesters, tractors, irrigation pipes, water
pumps and generators belonging to JJ Estates of Mhangura.

Four more containers were reported to have already crossed into Zambia by

Billions of dollars worth of equipment is believed to have already left the
country for neighbouring countries. Most of this equipment was bought using
cheap funds made available by the Zimbabwean Government to finance the
agricultural sector.

The Government has had to put new measures in place to acquire from farms
all equipment and material that is not being used for agricultural purposes.

The Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Acquisition of Farm Equipment
or Material Regulations gazetted recently make it clear that no owner or
holder of farm equipment or material shall wilfully demolish, damage, alter
or export the farm equipment without the consent of the Minister of Lands,
Agriculture and Rural Resettlement.

The Standard Chartered Bank of Zambia gave loans to more than 20 Zimbabwean
farmers who had settled in Zambia, to acquire existing farms or buy land.

Local farmers were also supposed to have benefited from the funds, but
discussions about this matter are still underway with the Zambia National
Farmers Union.

While acknowledging the farming prowess of the Zimbabweans, local farmers
complain they had an unfair advantage.

"I do not want to sound petulant — I am happy that we have a bumper harvest
and do not need food aid. But I feel a little peeved because we (local)
farmers have been made to look incompetent. There are reasons the
Zimbabweans had such a good crop," Thrifty Stephenson, a Zambian farmer,

He says the Zimbabwean farmers had collateral for loans from local and
international financial institutions, while some also brought equipment and
machinery with them.

This gave them a "leg up" when they arrived in Zambia. "We are not talking
refugees here. We are talking well-heeled business people," he says. —
Herald Reporter-IPS-GIN.
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Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.


Mike quotes The Last Boer as saying of a group of white Zimbabwean farmers
whom he met at the Royal Agricultural Show

     " I found them very arrogant and narrow-minded'

     ' They closed themselves off from the black community.'

     ' They didn't help black farmers. Most of them were selfish.' quote

Now I do not wish to take issue with these claims as such. Merely to
present my own impression of the farmers about whom he speaks.

These farmers had an exceptional level of knowledge and expertise. This
knowledge was the accumulated wisdom and experience of 3, 4, 5 or more
generations of hard-bought experience.

These farmers were the foundation stone of Zimbabwe's thriving economy.

These farmers had an exceptionally happy and harmonious relationship with
their farm workers.

These farmers were a unique group. They had become an integral part of the
system which they had helped to create.

Their removal has precipitated the crash of the Zimbabwean economy.

Finally, we all need to be on guard. We should not permit ourselves to be
distracted by red herrings.

When a man has been robbed is he to be tried for the theft?

Rob Gass



The Council,
of the CFU.


The start of a new year is always good time to take stock of the past and
look to the future. Hylda Richards defined the past as settled but that the
future is problematic because it remains unknown. Her fundamental belief
was that Next year will be better and she wrote a book about it. Trevor
Grundy and Bernard Miller also wrote a book which I was given for Ch
ristmas - called Farmer at War - published in 1979. It causes the reader to
ask a lot of questions about the past and the future of agriculture and
this country - and also the role that you gentlemen are now playing.

Basically it covers what is commonly referred to as the Second Chimurenga.
There are some simple facts about it - it claimed over 270 lives of
farmers, farmers' wives and children that were all part of commercial

The bayoneting to death of a baby girl (Natasha Glenny) left in the care of
her nanny in what is now known as Chimanimani, on 29.9.1977. makes the
reader think carefully about the word Chimurenga - and Gukuruhundi and
Genocide for that matter. Unfortunately there are more questions than
answers. However it seems that these questions need to be thought about by
yourselves even if they are difficult to answer.

*Which African National Union mounted the Second Chimurenga?

*Which African National Union mounted the Third Chimurenga in February 2000
and openly advertised it with "Chave Chimurenga!" on television and radio,
newspapers and T shirts?

*Which African National Union stated:
"In fact, overall, the land question was our major political weapon." (?)

*Which Farmers' Union President stated in August 2002:
"It is our policy to work with the Government on the land reform

*Is it unreasonable for displaced farmers to think that aside from their
elected leaders openly stating that they supported the government's
actions, that their policy was actually to have no policy?

*How many examples are there of agreements with government that have been

*What is the response of the elected body to one of its regions deciding to
distance itself from actions of the mother body?

* Is there an elected member of Council in your midst with the courage of
his convictions to stand up for the human and property rights (Justice) of
a persecuted minority group of committed Zimbabweans known as White
Commercial farmers?

*How has "Chave Chimurenga" helped the Zimbabwean economy and its
international image?

*How representative and accountable do you feel as a group to your members,
and ex members, that have lost their properties and livelihoods?

Pro Justice.



The extract quoted below is from an article in ' The Zimbabwe Situation'
dated January 05 2004 :

The writer is Byran Porter

Quote ' In a poll conducted on News 24, 40% of the 3500 people who voted
said that they would like to see Mugabe and his ZANU - PF regime replaced
with new leadership in the news during 2004.'

The participants in the survey had been presented with 5 different possible
scenarios of developments which might take place this year.

The second highest response (18%) said that they would like to see
President Mbeki focus on domestic affairs.

This high level of sympathy for and interest in Zimbabwe's predicament on
the part of South Africans is a resource which we need to utilize...

Rob Gass

All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions
of the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice
for Agriculture.

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The beauty of the land

Has been forgotten because of

All the blood that has been spilt

In the false name of an unjust cause

The farmers and people of Zimabwe

Still see through the deceit and lies

Somewhere in the future, there is hope.

The spirit within us lives on

As the joy remains in our memories

May we be strong enough to survive

The tyranny that has gripped our land

For Zimbabwe is our country,

No matter our skin colour.

Live on, fight on. One day the wrongs

Will be undone and justice

Will prevail once again.

Until then, hold your head up high

And send your prayers even higher.

Smile with the knowledge,

That good will prevail.

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Mugabe immunity court case starts
President Robert Mugabe
Robert Mugabe has been accused of a number of crimes
A UK court has started considering a request to have Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe extradited to the UK to face torture charges.

Human rights activist Peter Tatchell - who has twice tried a citizens' arrest on Mr Mugabe - wants him stripped of his immunity as a head of state.

He asked London's Bow Street Magistrates' Court to allow Zimbabweans to pursue a case in British courts.

A district judge adjourned the hearing for a week.

Sworn affidavits from two exiled alleged victims and documents from human rights groups showed Mr Mugabe was guilty of using torture on a "massive scale", the court heard.

Mr Tatchell wants the court to ignore a ruling by the International Court of Justice in February 2002 which says that a head of state has absolute immunity from prosecution even if accused of genocide or torture.

He then wants it to be possible for Mr Mugabe to be arrested in one of the 100 countries which Britain has an extradition treaty with and brought to the UK.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell protests in front of the Justice Ministry in Paris
Peter Tatchell has tried a citizens' arrest on Mr Mugabe
Mr Mugabe has passed through a number of these countries in the past year.

Mr Tatchell alleged Mr Mugabe had, while in office, "intentionally authorised, condoned and acquiesced in the infliction of severe pain on another person between 29 September 1998 and 7 January this year".

Mr Mugabe has also conspired with others in the commitment of torture, breaching Section 134 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, which incorporates the UN Convention Against Torture 1984 into UK law, the court was told.

Mr Tatchell said it was "inconceivable" that Mugabe, as commander in chief of the Zimbabwean military, did not know about the behaviour of the security services.

And he said the 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal precedent and the UN Rome Statute 1988, suggested there was no immunity in cases of crimes against humanity.

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Independent (UK)

Running on empty
Zimbabwe has expelled nearly all foreign journalists, so its slide towards
starvation is largely hidden from the eyes of the world. Ludger Schadomsky
gained rare access to witness the unravelling of a nation
08 January 2004

A yellowing poster in the arrivals hall of Bulawayo Airport welcomes you to
"Zimbabwe - Africa's Paradise". If there's an advertising-standards
authority here, it's clearly neglecting its job. A sign cautions customs
officials to be on the lookout for "Chechen and Peruvian" nationals.
Luckily, my German passport awakens no suspicions, and I'm able to slip into
the country unnoticed. Nearly all foreign journalists have been expelled
from Zimbabwe by the notorious "Dr Mo", the information minister, Jonathan

Zimbabwe was once renowned as the "bread basket" of Africa. When
independence was declared in 1980, the new president, Robert Mugabe,
confidently announced that his country would never want for food. Those days
are long gone. Twenty-three years later, Mugabe is still in power, but in
the hunger stakes, Zimbabwe now ranks alongside Ethiopia and Sudan. Two
thirds of the population are now dependent on handouts from Western donors.

I travelled with the German non-governmental aid agency Help to
Matabeleland, the region on the south-western border with Botswana. This is
the heartland of the Ndebele people - literally, "Those with Long Spears",
descendants of South Africa's famous Zulu warrior tribe. Matabeleland has
long been a centre of opposition, first to 19th-century British
exploitation, then to the Mugabe regime. In the early 1980s, some 20,000
Ndebele were slaughtered by Mugabe's North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade in
the culmination of a power struggle between Mugabe's Shona-speaking Zanu-PF
party and the Ndebele-dominated Zapu party of Joshua Nkomo, who later became
vice-president. Now, the people here are on the verge of starvation, but no
one expects the government to help them. Aid organisations are their only

Zimbabwe is no stranger to drought - there was a very bad one back in 1992.
But the situation now is far worse. Several hundred people were already
waiting for us when we arrived in a village to distribute food. One hundred
kilos of maize, 16kg of beans, 1.5kg of salt and two litres of vegetable oil
have to last a family a whole month. Help also distributes seeds: maize,
sorghum, beans and millet. This dual approach aims to prevent farmers from
eating the harmful seeds out of sheer desperation, instead of planting them.
The recipients are mostly households headed by women whose husbands have
succumbed to the Aids pandemic now ravaging Zimbabwe. Under a scorching sun,
women and children wait patiently to have their names registered. Despite
its denials, Mugabe's government is using food as a weapon, withholding
supplies to punish opposition areas. Help has therefore enlisted the
assistance of local churches to identify the most needy. The NGO also
provides training for small-scale farmers - something notably absent from
the government's self-proclaimed resettlement programme. "Help People Help
Themselves" reads the sticker on the agency's 4WD vehicle. But ask the
Zimbabweans what would become of them if the foreign aid organisations
weren't there to help them, and they answer, "We would starve".

Mugabe introduced his contentious land distribution programme in 2000. Since
then, 4,000 white Zimbabwean farmers have been driven from their land, along
with 300,000 black Zimbabwean farm workers. The "white farms" were
redistributed among landless black supporters of Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and
so-called "war veterans". These must have displayed an extraordinary
precocity since, at the time that Zimbabwe was struggling to gain
independence from Britain, many of the "veterans" were still in nappies.

These fighting prodigies have, however, no understanding of agriculture, and
although Mugabe rewarded them with farms, he provided them with neither
equipment nor seeds. Even the government has now admitted that at least 40
per cent of the farms that kept Zimbabwe in such abundance are now lying
fallow, with the rest producing far less than their potential. The lack of
food is a man-made, not a natural disaster.

None the less, Mugabe looks bent on continuing with his policy of land
reform. Legislation is to be passed soon to speed up the process of land
acquisition. This will be welcome news to the ruling élite: Jonathan Moyo,
the former union heavyweight-turned-information minister, is said to have
acquired at least three of the farms expropriated by "war veterans". Moyo,
however, may have other problems at the moment. During his union days, he
published a book, Voting for Democracy, which lambasted, of all things,
Mugabe's land-acquisition programme. Much to the author's embarrassment, the
book is supposed to be a bestseller in Zimbabwe - among those who can still
afford to buy a book, that is.

The Zimbabwean dollar has become virtually worthless. It has been pegged to
the US dollar for the past nine months at 824 to one, but $1 now fetches up
to Z$6,000 on the black market. Inflation has reached 619 per cent, and even
the finance minister admits that it's about to get a lot worse. Prices are
so ludicrous that ordinary Zimbabweans are unable to buy even basic items.
Bread is Z$2,500 one morning, Z$3,000 the next. In November, the price of a
pair of glasses was Z$1.2m, 10 times what it was a year ago. If you manage
to find petrol at all, a litre will set you back a staggering Z$4,000. It
used to be Z$65. Around 70 per cent of the population are unemployed, and
those who don't lose their jobs are forced to give them up because their
wages barely cover the bus fare. Galloping inflation depreciates the value
of salaries, and pushes even low-income employees into the highest tax
bracket of 45 per cent. In fact, when a rumour started that the security
thread in the Z$500 note contained traces of platinum, thousands cut them up
and smuggled the supposedly valuable metal over the border to South Africa.

I took a plane to the Victoria Falls. The regular bus service had been
suspended because of the fuel shortage. I had to carry my money hidden on my
body, as police stationed at random road blocks were confiscating foreign
currency. The Falls were once Zimbabwe's biggest tourist attraction, but
tour operators there told me that business is down a staggering 70 per cent.
The "traditional dances" performed outside Vic Falls airport smacked of a
government-orchestrated exercise in damage control.

Faced with the utter ruination of their country, Mugabe and Co comport
themselves with brazen cynicism. Their policies are driving Zimbabwe ever
deeper into bankruptcy, but ministers and administrative officials are
earning a fortune by buying dollars at the official exchange rate and
trading them on on the "parallel" market.

To get around the problem of the useless banknotes, the government has
invented so-called "bearer cheques", a kind of Monopoly money. But there is
a snag: the money is only valid until early 2004. Zimbabweans, who have
cultivated a particularly bleak sense of humour, have another name for them:
"burial cheques". As puns go, this one isn't very funny when you consider
that for Zimbabweans, burials have become an all-too-frequent ritual. A
recent study found that in the past year, 90 per cent of all households had
cared for a terminally ill person. The HIV-Aids epidemic in Zimbabwe has
reached horrifying proportions: every week it is estimated to kill between
3,000 and 4,000 people. The health-care system has effectively collapsed,
with trained Zimbabwean medical personnel fleeing the country for greener
pastures in the UK and elsewhere. Hundreds of thousands of children have
been orphaned by the disease, and no one knows who will look after them.

Whoever doesn't die of Aids or starvation runs the risk of becoming a victim
of political violence. The day I arrived in Bulawayo in late November, the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions had called for marches across the country
to protest against the government's economic incompetence. Nurses were
demanding an 8,000 per cent pay rise. The marches were declared illegal well
in advance; Zimbabwe's strict security laws prohibit any kind of protest
without police permission. The unions went ahead anyway, and the
demonstrations were broken up by riot police. Several hundred protesters and
trade union leaders were arrested in Bulawayo, Harare and other major

I spoke to a doctor who has treated victims of torture. He described how
alleged opposition supporters come to him with their soles beaten to a pulp.
Women are repeatedly raped by the infamous "Green Bombers'", self-styled
militia gangs that are wreaking havoc on communities. Even children are
punished - in government hospitals, doctors refuse to vaccinate the children
of opposition supporters.

"Mugabe has destroyed our country," declares Pius Ncube, the Catholic
Archbishop of Bulawayo. At first glance, the priest seems reserved, almost
shy; but appearances are deceptive. The tall man with the thick horn-rimmed
glasses is a relentless campaigner for human rights, and the most prominent
Zimbabwean critic of the Mugabe regime. When news spread that Ncube had
suffered a stroke, people rushed to his residence, sick with anxiety. We've
arranged to meet at a retreat two hours' drive from Bulawayo, and I'm
beginning to wonder whether "they" have found out that I'm a journalist when
police stop our car for the second time. But we get through, and when I
arrive at the rendezvous, Ncube is in high spirits. "The government wanted
to bribe me with a farm as well," he jokes, "but I was able to resist the

He continues on a more sober note. "Here, people disappear overnight. Others
are tortured, the press is under siege, and the freedom of assembly is
restricted. In the first four months of this year, 180 people starved to
death in my diocese alone. Young girls and boys are turning to prostitution
simply in order to survive."

The archbishop is a thorn in the side of the government. Jonathan Moyo tries
to discredit him by calling him a "crazy priest", and a "very troubled
soul". But the government can't ignore Ncube because he refuses to keep
quiet. "Yes, I get threats," he admits. "But they've silenced everybody
else. Someone has to speak for the people."

Ncube's uncompromising stance has earned him a reputation as "the voice of
the voiceless". But although he is highly regarded in the West, his appeals
to Zimbabwe's neighbours fall on deaf ears. In September he gave a press
conference in Johannesburg alongside former members of Mugabe's youth
militia. The ex-militiamen described how they had participated in the rape,
torture and murder of the government's opponents. Ncube accused African
leaders of being blind to human- rights abuses in Zimbabwe: "African leaders
are a club of rich men who don't care about their own people."

However, Mugabe waited in vain for an invitation from the Nigerian president
Olusegun Obasanjo to attend the recent summit of Commonwealth heads in
Abuja. Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth after the farcical
general election in March 2002, in which Mugabe clung to power for the fifth
time amid accusations of violence, intimidation and electoral fraud. In
December, despite the opposition of some of Zimbabwe's neighbours, the
Commonwealth voted overwhelmingly in favour of extending the suspension. As
a result, Mugabe announced the withdrawal of his country from the

The dispute over how to deal with Zimbabwe has shaken the Commonwealth.
Although several African and Asian countries also voted against him, Mugabe
and others are playing the race card and accusing "white" countries of
hijacking the organisation. His petulant decision can, however, only
increase his country's isolation - and the suffering of the Zimbabwean

© Ludger Schadomsky and Charlotte Collins

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New Zimbabwe

Chiyangwa named in ENG scandal

By Staff Reporter
A TOP official in Zimbabwean President Mugabe’s ruling party and advocate
for black empowerment has been sensationally named in the biggest financial
scandal in Zimbabwean history.

Phillip Chiyangwa, a flamboyant businessman and MP for Chinhoyi was named in
court as a 40 percent shareholder in the ENG asset management firm which
collapsed last week after a whistle blower alerted the central bank to
fraudulent activities at the company.

Chiyangwa was summoned to court Wednesday at the appearance of Nyasha
Watyoka and Gilbert Muponda. He was asked to explain accusations that he
attempted to interfere with police investigations and hid two luxury cars
police have linked to the fraud case.

Michael Nyamazana, the whistle blower from the now defunct Century Discount
House which was defrauded of $22 billion by ENG said he had been invited to
a meeting at Chiyangwa’s office by Muponda.

"Chiyangwa said he had an indirect interest in ENG. He indicated that he was
prepared to offer assets so that the discount house got its money back,"
Nyamazana told the court. “Chiyangwa said there was no cash but something
could be worked out and suggested that he would make property available
within 23 days.

"His interest in ENG extended to a number of shares that had been
purchased…the shares, which were bought on his behalf amounted to 40
percent," he said.

He also told the court that during the course of the year they noticed that
some companies linked to ENG which had the same directors were dominating
the 20 top shareholders list.

‘‘We noticed these new entries and we inquired who was the owner. ENG
confirmed they were their companies. They said the shares were purchased for
Chiyangwa," Nyamazana told the stunned court.

In court, Chiyangwa claimed that he had been approached to mediate as member
of the notorious black empowerment organisation, the Affirmative Action
Group which has been behind the seizure of Asian businesses in the second
largest city of Bulawayo.

"I got involved in this case when Nyasha phoned saying he wanted to see me
and I thought it was any other business. On 22 December they came to my
house and said they were rushing to a meeting. Watyoka and Muponda said they
wanted to discuss with me but they hurriedly went away," Chiyangwa said.

Chiyangwa told the court that on December 27, he received a text message on
his mobile phone from Watyoka stating that he Watyoka, Muponda and Elan
Suisse were in a meeting with members of the Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO).

He further told the court that Watyoka called him around 10pm, saying the
CIO officers had become violent. Chiyangwa later went to the police station
where he saw the duo and the officer in charge of the station. Details of
the meeting were not disclosed.

Defence lawyer Eric Matinenga has submitted in his bail application that
Chiyangwa had intervened only to protect depositor’s interests, and to save
the company from collapse.

The prosecution called Inspector Peter Magwenzi attached to the Criminal
Investigations Department who was part of the investigating team who said
that they recovered two cars from Chiyangwa’s house.

"We interviewed the two accused persons and at first they said they had
three motor vehicles but it later turned out that they had seven motor

"We then recovered two motor vehicles a BMW Z4 and another unidentified BMW
which was being used by Chiyangwa’s son." The detective told the court.

Magwenzi however said the two suspects insisted that Chiyangwa had three
cars, although he denied this and refused to surrender them to police.

"After we threatened to arrest him for trying to defeat the course of
justice, he then indicated that the vehicles were with Vivian Mwashita
(Mwashita is a former Zanu PF MP)," Insp Magwenzi said.

He said Cde Chiyangwa then facilitated that the vehicles be surrendered to
CID Headquarters.

Other vehicles including a BMW X5, Mercedes Benz C320, BMW 330i, which were
recovered were not registered in ENG’s name but individuals’ names and some
other companies. The police say if the cars were acquired with investor
funds then they should have been registered under the company name.
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Gold may soon be Zim's only legal tender

      January 07 2004 at 02:05AM

     By Basildon Peta

Gold may soon become the only legal tender in Zimbabwe.

This bizarre scenario does not seem implausible for embattled Zimbabweans.
They now have to contend with the fact that major shops and supermarket
chains are refusing to accept bank-certified cheques from several
established commercial banks amid reports that some may collapse because of
liquidity problems.

Because of the shortage of Zimbabwe dollars, many customers have resorted to
using bank-certified cheques for commercial transactions. It was also easier
to use such cheques because of the huge wads of Zimbabwe dollars required
for simple purchases.

With official inflation at 619 percent, Zimbabwe dollars have become
worthless and piles of them are needed to buy a simple breakfast of bread,
milk and eggs.

      'We will soon be unable to buy anything'
Many retailers have put "no cheques accepted" notices in their shops because
they fear these might fail to be honoured by affected banks.

The situation has been exacerbated by panic withdrawals of the already
scarce Zimbabwe dollars by nervous depositors after the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) announced that it would no longer help troubled financial

Shoppers interviewed in Harare on Tuesday said the refusal of businesses to
accept cheques could only worsen their plight.

"Bizarre things happen here one after another. Maybe we will soon be unable
to buy anything because we won't get cheques accepted and we won't have the
Zimbabwe dollars to pay," an irate Malvern Choto said.

Despite the country's high inflationary environment, requiring people to be
in possession of wads of notes, banks often restrict the amount of cash a
depositor can withdraw.

The RBZ last year introduced so-called bearer cheques to try to ease the
shortage, but these have not solved the problem.

The bearer cheques should have been abolished last month, but their use was
extended indefinitely because Zimbabwe dollars remain in short supply.

Zimbabwe's once-vibrant financial sector is awash with rumours that many
established banks might go under.

The Zimbabwe Independent said most banks that had low liquidity levels had
been left exposed and scurrying for financial cover after the new RBZ
governor, Gideon Gono, demanded urgent recapitalisation. This was to take
into account rising inflation eroding the institutions' shaky capital
positions and market risk.

A well-known asset management company, ENG Capital, and its subsidiary,
Century Discount House, have since been shut down by the RBZ - and two
directors were arrested - after they failed to account for an estimated
Z$80-billion (about R6-million) in investors' funds. - Independent Foreign

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Opposition Members Attacked in Zimbabwe
Peta Thornycroft
08 Jan 2004, 14:51 UTC

One opposition activist was killed and at least two more injured in the
first reported case of political violence this year in Zimbabwe. Victims say
they were attacked by members of the ruling Zanu-PF party.
The dead man has been identified by his friends as Alexander Chibega, a
peasant farmer who returned to his home area 40 kilometers north of Harare a
month ago. He was reportedly buried immediately after his body was found by
people in the area.

His neighbors say he was a member of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change and has been living in Harare since violence erupted in his home
district shortly before the 2002 presidential election.

According to two of his friends, now in a Harare hospital, Mr. Chibega and
others were attacked late Monday by a crowd of about 40 ruling-party youths.
The dead man's wife was taken to a nearby government hospital.

One of the injured, 60-year-old Enias Mutsonobaya, was taken to a private
hospital in Harare, where he underwent surgery. Human rights monitors and
medical staff treating him and at least one other person injured in the same
attack, say Mr. Mutsonobaya had also recently returned to his village,
Madziwa, that he fled for safety reasons two years ago. Because of political
violence, the area where the dead man and his injured friends come from is
considered a no-go area for many reporters and human-rights workers.

Assistant commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena says police are investigating the

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Yahoo News

      Hunger kills 65 people in Zimbabwe's second biggest city
      2 hours, 17 minutes ago

BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe (AFP) - Sixty-five people, most of them children under
the age of five, have died of malnutrition and other hunger-related causes
in the Zimbabwean city of Bulawayo over the past five months, the city
authorities said.

In a report released this week, the Bulawayo City Council said 43 people
died of malnutrition between August and September last year while 22 others
succumbed to hunger between October and December.

The report says the highest number of malnutrition deaths in the city, the
country's second largest, were of babies and children between the age of one
month and five years.

Among the dead were three adults aged between 60 and 70.

The deaths come just before expected publication by the Zimbabwe
Vulnerability Assessment Committee, a coalition of humanitarian aid
agencies, of its assessment of the food situation in urban areas.

The United Nations  World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that the food
situation is becoming critical in the country's urban areas, which have not
been spared food shortages and drought.

Last June the WFP launched an international appeal for 197 million dollars
to feed more than five million people facing starvation in Zimbabwe but
there is still a 111-million-dollar shortfall.

A Market Assistance Pilot Programme launched last year by the US Agency for
International Development to provide urban dwellers with cheaper sorghum
meal has benefitted only some of them, the authorities say. - AFP

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Zimbabwe Government Threatens to Abolish Uniforms at Some Schools
Peta Thornycroft
08 Jan 2004, 16:38 UTC

The Zimbabwean government is threatening to abolish uniforms at some schools
because they have become too expensive. The sharp increase in the price of
uniforms follows massive school fee hikes. There is concern that the
increased costs of education may result in thousands of children not going
to school this year.
The government made its threat Wednesday, saying while school uniforms are
compulsory, no school has the right to bar children without uniforms.

Making the announcement, Secretary for Education Thompson Tsodzo said the
directive was a response to appeals by parents against what he called
unauthorized hikes in uniform prices.

This year, parents are being asked to pay as much as three times last year's
price for school uniforms. The prices are far beyond the ability of most
Zimbabwean workers.

Children at all government schools and most private schools in Zimbabwe are
required to wear some kind of uniform, and children whose parents can not
afford them are normally not allowed to attend.

Mr. Tsodzo also warned school heads against increasing school fees without
government approval.

Most schools in Zimbabwe have announced that their fees would be going up
substantially this year. Some schools have announced fees increased by as
much as 2,000 percent.

The school fee hikes have led to fears that many parents, already burdened
with an inflation rate 620 percent, will not be able to send their children
to school this year.

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Yahoo News

            Consumer goods suddenly appear in Zimbabwe ... at a price
            Thu Jan 8,11:12 AM ET

      HARARE (AFP) - Basic consumer goods have suddenly appeared in
Zimbabwe's shops -- at a price -- while the cost of big-ticket items has

      Bread, sugar, cooking oil, milk, corn-meal and wheat flour, scarce
throughout 2003, can now be found on almost all supermarket shelves in
Harare but the prices have doubled from last year. Petrol stations are
displaying huge posters advertising the fuels they are selling and motorists
can even shop around for lower prices.

      The changes -- after a two-year food crisis which obliged the country
to seek foreign emergency aid -- are due to the scrapping of price controls
and changes in consumption habits, economists said.

      "The shortages were due to the price controls which had been
introduced to cushion people against the increasing inflationary trends ...
but since the lifting of price controls, there is viability," said Sam
Mapungwana, an economist with the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce
(news - web sites) (ZNCC) in an interview.

      Food and fuel queues, which had become a daily grind for many
Zimbabweans, have suddenly disappeared.

      "Even foreign currency is now readily available (on the unofficial
market)" said ruling party lawmaker David Chapfika.

      Economists said an oversupply of foreign exchange on the parallel
market, coupled with the uncertainty surrounding the central bank's upcoming
exchange rate auctioning system, has led to rates tumbling this month by
about 30 percent.

      A television set which cost 2.7 million Zimbabwean dollars a few weeks
ago now sells for 1.6 million dollars (2,000 US dollars at the official
rate, 355 at the parallel rate). A refrigerator now sells for 2.7 million
dollars instead of 4.4 million.

      The government relaxed the price controls it had slapped on selected
basic goods and services in the last quarter of 2003. It even deregulated
the petroleum industry, allowing companies to import their own fuels.

      "The major issue was obviously the lifting of price controls,"
Chapfika told AFP.

      University of Zimbabwe economist Innocent Matshe said that in addition
to the removal of price controls, consumers' purchasing power had been
heavily eroded by inflation, currently at more than 600 percent, forcing
many to change their buying habits.

      "The consumers' ability to buy things has been eroded. They are buying
less," he said.

      "There is an adjustment in the way the Zimbabweans are consuming,"
Matshe said, adding: "People no longer can consume certain products such as
sugar, as much as they used to do. They have cut back on how much they can
consume and how."

      Critics had long opposed price controls, viewing them as a populist
policy aimed at ensuring support by politicians during national elections.

      Zimbabwe's economy has been in a nose-dive in recent years with
international support drying up, and rates of inflation and interest
skyrocketing to record highs.

      A two-year food crisis has meanwhile seen the country seeking
international humanitarian aid to feed millions of people faced with

      The city council in Bulawayo, the second-biggest city, reported this
week that 65 people, most of them children under the age of five, had died
of malnutrition and hunger-related causes there over the past five months. -

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      ENG saga: One trillion dollars at risk

      Sunsleey Chamunorwa
      1/8/2004 7:19:40 AM (GMT +2)

      THE crisis-hit financial sector, the one time odd shaft of light in
the economic melt-down, could face even more slippery banana skins as it
emerged yesterday that asset management companies, with their backs firmly
against the wall, have more than a trillion dollars worth of investors’
funds under their portfolios.

      Impeccable industry sources said that the Association of Asset
Managers has just advised the country’s monetary authorities that asset
management companies’ combined portfolios were well over a trillion dollars
at a time when most of the asset management companies are teetering on the
edge of bankruptcy.

      This figure is equivalent to almost 13 percent of the country’s
national budget for the 12 months to December 2004.

      The information was availed to the monetary authorities after the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), up until now accused of sleeping on the job,
sought to jettison what could have been a deeply embarrassing debacle if the
asset management companies had continued to operate outside the law without
proper supervision and monitoring.

      The revelation has sparked off fears of an even worse-than-expected
crisis in the financial sector, which has become a staple of the local media
over the past few weeks, given that only about 15 of the country’s heavily
undercapitalised 70 asset management companies are registered.

      While he gave a glimpse of the potential impact of the risk posed to
the financial sector by asset management companies, the RBZ governor, Gideon
Gono, had not indicated the magnitude of their portfolios, which were
erroneously thought to run into not more than tens of billions of dollars.

      The disclosure on the magnitude of the funds being managed by these
companies comes as the financial sector, going through a severe crisis of
confidence, cratered last week with the collapse of ENG Capital Asset
Management, where investors risk breathtaking losses with the wiping out of
billions of dollars of their funds.

      ENG, which came on stream only a year ago, managed about $150 billion
worth of investors’ funds. The company’s management is said to have spirited
away $61 billion from investors’ funds although authoritative sources say
this figure is conservative.

      It is not only the investors who are feeling the sharpest edge of the
knife but some sprawling financial institutions are also feeling the pinch
as there has been a run on their deposits. The institutions have since
admitted that they are now facing a liquidity crunch.

      With fears that more asset management companies could implode under
their absurdities, investors seeking to escape to the nearest underground
bunker this week reportedly rushed to withdraw their funds, signalling a
deep alienation from the asset management companies. Several of these
investors were however given cheques they could not cash because the
companies did not have money.

      The crisis at ENG, widely seen as a tip of the iceberg in a sector
with probably some of the country’s most voracious acquirers of ill-gotten
wealth, was blamed on top management’s ineptitude and malfeasance.

      Market watchers were yesterday unanimous that the unfolding crisis at
the unregistered ENG where the youthful management team is accused of
cooking the books and shading the truth among others, showed that there was
always a dark side to the financial sector which not only notched up
phenomenal growth over the past few years, but is not about to call time on

      They added that the ENG saga also gave credence to central bank
governor Gono’s assertion that the underground nature of the asset
management companies posed a significant risk to the financial sector.

      Gono, they said, had a compelling case against the asset management
companies which, he said, would now fall under the direct supervision of the
central bank with effect from this month.

      Meanwhile, in a series of startling events, with the central bank, a
watchdog previously accused of not barking, finally waking up to its
responsibilities, it has also emerged that its quest to ensure stability in
the financial sector could spark off a political storm. The Financial
Gazette can reveal that as the markets digest the potential impact of the
latest developments in the financial sector, the situation now has political
undertones as it has rubbed influential politicians the wrong way. It is
reliably understood that plans have since been mooted to lobby the
authorities to "clip Gono’s wings".

      Gono, who moved to the central bank last December, is being accused of
targeting certain banking institutions. Within the corridors of the ruling
party, ZANU PF, whose officials have interests in some troubled
institutions, Gono is being accused of having sold out with his monetary
policy, which sought to clean up the banking sector.

      On one hand, steeped in a deeply-rooted political patronage system,
some banks which are rocked with insolvency have been known to practice
crony-capitalism—whereby they pump funds to politically well-connected
businessmen who run up large debts in misguided expansion plans. They are
reportedly turning to these politicians for protection.

      On the other, some senior members of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change were reportedly miffed with the central bank’s move in the
sector and they are accusing Gono of targeting "independent banks
sympathetic to the opposition".

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      ENG saga: Chiyangwa implicated

      Zhean Gwaze
      1/8/2004 7:20:08 AM (GMT +2)

      MAVERICK business magnate and ZANU PF chairman for Mashonaland West
Province, Phillip Chiyangwa (right), has been caught up in Zimbabwe’s worst
financial scam that exploded recently at ENG Capital Asset Management
involving a massive Z$61 billion.

      The controversial legislator is being accused of interfering with one
of the complainants in the unfolding ENG saga, which has seen two of the
asset management company’s directors arraigned before the Harare magistrates

      Chiyangwa, known as a fierce proponent for black economic empowerment,
allegedly tried to persuade a director of Elan Sussie Financial Advisory
Service to withdraw charges preferred against ENG and settle the matter out
of court.

      Elan Sussie Advisory Service claims to have been defrauded of over
$259 million invested with ENG.

      Contacted for comment yesterday, the ZANU PF legislator said he only
tried to arrange a "deal" with Patrice Dhliwayo, one of the directors of
Elan Sussie over their $259 million debt before the arrest of the ENG
bosses, Nyasha Watyoka (28) and Gilbert Muponda (32).

      Appearing in the Harare magistrates courts yesterday, Chiyangwa said
Watyoka sent a message on his mobile phone on December 27 2003 at 8:37pm
indicating that ENG directors were having a meeting at Chiedza House, Harare
with the directors of Elan Sussie, who had brought in Central Intelligence
Organisation officers.

      The legislator had to pass his mobile around for court officials to
view the message he had saved. At that time, Chiyangwa said, they were
demanding $18 billion, which they had invested in ENG.

      Chiyangwa went to the place and advised the directors of both Elan
Sussie and ENG to settle their scores at the police station.

      He later followed them to the Harare Central Police Station where the
legislator spoke to the officer-in-charge after he found both parties
arguing outside.

      The court had to be adjourned before Chiyangwa finished his
presentation because court officials had to make transport arrangements for
the accused ENG directors.

      Sources interviewed by The Financial Gazette yesterday said it was
puzzling that the police claimed to have recovered two cars belonging to the
two ENG directors at Chiyangwa’s home.

      It is suspected that Chiyangwa had also tried to assist ENG directors
in getting the regulatory approvals for Century Discount House, which they
acquired from Century Holdings for Z$1.5 billion.

      It was not immediately clear whether the legislator was offering his
services for free.

      Chiyangwa told The Financial Gazette that Muponda and Watyoka had left
their two cars, and not eight, when they were picked up by police at his

      "The two cars were fetched from my house by the police and it is in
their statements that the number of cars was two. The guys never stayed at
my house and these reports are only meant to dramatise the issue.

      "Those are irresponsible remarks by the prosecutor because I am a
Zimbabwean and politician, what is so funny about my association with
anyone?" he asked.

      A Criminal Investigations Department Inspector Magwenzi confirmed in
court that the police had found two vehicles at Chiyangwa’s house.

      "We were told by the accused that Chiyangwa had three cars and we
persuaded him to surrender the cars, but he refused. Muponda was then given
a chance to phone Chiyangwa by some of the officers and he said ‘mudhara
vapei mota iyoyo’.

      "We phoned Chiyangwa again and told him he was interfering with the
court of justice and he indicated that the other vehicle was with Vivian
Mwashita," Magwenzi said.

      The other car was found parked at Chiyangwa’s house, while the other
was being driven by Chiyangwa’s son. Watyoka and Muponda also left some
Century Holdings share certificates, which they had brought with them to
discuss their deepening predicament.

      Chiyangwa said he was only trying to assist the ENG directors because
of his political connection with Watyoka.

      "Watyoka comes from Mhondoro in my province and his uncle is the one
who stepped down for me to get a provincial seat. It was when the young men
were briefing me about their problems that I decided to assist them because
I noted that Watyoka had an affiliation to the ZANU PF ruling party. That is
how politics works," he said.

      He said his association with the Watyokas dated back to the ZANU PF
congress in 1999 held in the capital during which the party’s politburo
blocked Chiyangwa’s nomination to the central committee on the grounds that
he did not hold a party provincial post at the time.

      Levi Watyoka, he claimed, stepped down from the Mashonaland West
provincial executive to pave way for Chiyangwa as the province pressed on
with his failed nomination.

      The flamboyant businessman said Watyoka and fellow ENG director
Muponda phoned him just before their arrest on new year’s eve seeking
assistance on how to solve their mounting problems.

      He said he had associated with the directors because of his history as
a champion of black empowerment and he had assisted them in negotiating
out-of-court settlements with some of the disgruntled investors. He however,
refused to name them.

      The names of the investors who had agreed to an out-of-court
settlement were handed over to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe before the
arrest of the directors, according to the legislator.

      Chiyangwa revealed that he had also brokered a truce between ENG and
the African Banking Corporation (ABC) when the two had a fallout involving
$1 billion in 2002.

      The legislator described as alarmist and sensationalist the assertion
by the state media that eight cars belonging to the troubled ENG were found
parked at his Borrowdale home.

      Chiyangwa said he could have averted the arrest of the two, but their
lawyers took over the case and sidelined him in the process.

      "It is hysterical to criminalise matters of money because the
directors of Unibank (Universal Merchant Bank) and ZBS (Zimbabwe Building
Society) were not arrested when they had problems. We are the ruling party
and the policies we make should determine our pace. It will not help me
recover my money to go to the police or court."

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      More media restrictions on the way

      Staff Reporter
      1/8/2004 7:23:32 AM (GMT +2)

      IN what could provoke widespread concern, Zimbabwe’s media regulatory
authorities are reportedly mulling plans to tighten the current registration
requirements as the future of The Daily News and its sister weekly, The
Daily News On Sunday, increasingly appear perilous.

      Impeccable government sources said the Media and Information
Commission (MIC) and the Department of Information and Publicity in the
Office of the President and Cabinet were formulating amendments to the law
in order to tinker with the registration requirements.

      The sources said an additional requirement that a majority shareholder
in a media house should also be a resident of Zimbabwe could be included.

      Currently the law only states that a majority shareholder should be a
citizen of Zimbabwe, but the new amendments could see the majority
shareholders being required to be resident in the country as well.

      "There was a meeting last week to discuss possible changes to
registration requirements and one change that is likely to be introduced is
the requirement that the majority shareholder of a media organisation should
be a permanent resident of Zimbabwe," a source told The Financial Gazette
this week.

      "This would be over and above the requirement that the majority
shareholder should be a citizen of Zimbabwe . . . in other words, one has to
be a citizen of Zimbabwe who is a permanent resident of Zimbabwe."

      The ANZ, which publishes The Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday,
is battling to get registered after it was forcibly closed by the government
in September last year for allegedly operating without a licence after it
lost its Supreme Court challenges to the requirement that it registers with
the MIC.

      The ANZ’s majority shareholder, Strive Masiyiwa, resides in South

      The executive chairman of the MIC, Tafataona Mahoso, pleaded ignorance
of any such moves, saying that if there were any, there could be taking
place in the law-making process of which the MIC is not part to.

      "It is ridiculous to ask me about such things because laws are made by
Parliament . . . all we are there for is to implement the laws not to make
them," Mahoso said. "There is no Parliament here (at the MIC)."

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      Doctors, medical aid societies trade accusations

      Staff Reporter
      1/8/2004 7:25:16 AM (GMT +2)

      PRIVATE doctors have called on the police to probe the activities of
medical aid societies, as the finger pointing between the two feuding
parties enters its third week.

      The private doctors have accused some medical aid societies of
converting contributions to their own use and diverting them to fund
speculative deals.

      Health experts warned that the tug-of-war between the societies and
the private medical practitioners would only serve to further cripple the
health delivery sector, which is on the verge of collapse.

      David Parirenyatwa, the Health and Child Welfare Minister, said there
was nothing wrong with an inquiry. His major concern at the moment is,
however, to get the two parties to agree on the payment mode.

      "Those who want an inquiry should send me their suggestions in
writing," he said.

      The private doctors declared last month that all patients would be
required to pay cash up-front. Medical aid societies would then reimburse
those on medical aid the standard rate.

      The doctors alleged that it is taking up to 60 days for medical aid
societies to honour their claims and by the time they get paid, the money
would have been eroded by inflation.

      They have also increased their consultation fees by over 100 percent.
It now costs Z$46 200 for medical consultation, up from Z$20 000.

      Medical aid societies concurred that they were delays in reimbursing
the doctors because of the huge number of claims received.

      An official with CIMAS accused the private doctors of greed, saying
they were putting business ahead of patients’ welfare.

      The official also accused the private doctors of overstating their
claims, adding that they were always unhappy with the revised reimbursements
they were receiving after assessments.

      "Claims are assessed for a period of between four to six weeks and the
doctors have been aware of this situation," said the official.

      "Some doctors have been overcharging on their claims and sometimes
after our assessments, we give them half of their claim because we realise
the figures have been inflated. So this development is meant to bypas the
medical aid society and deal with the unsuspecting patients."

      Zimbabwe Medical Association secretary-general Paul Chimedza denied
the allegations.

      "The medical aid system has ruined the private practice. Medical aid
societies owe doctors millions in claims and this cripples the whole system.
Their actions have led to the exodus of medical personnel and we have lost
75 percent of our membership due to the delays in payment in Bulawayo.

      "A commission of inquiry must be set up to probe the operations of
medical aid societies because as non-profit making organisations we are
surprised to see them on television donating millions of dollars," Chimedza

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      ZANU PF, MDC rift set to widen further

      Cyril Zenda
      1/8/2004 7:29:44 AM (GMT +2)

      THE rift between Zimbabwe’s bickering political parties could remain
wide open this year as both the ruling ZANU PF and main opposition, the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), oil their campaign machinery ahead of
the watershed 2005 parliamentary elections.

      Political analysts this week said chances of an end to the political
impasse in Zimbabwe look slim as they see little, if any, change for the
better this year.

      If anything, things could change for the worse as the rot on the
economic front could push players on both sides of the political divide to

      Despite pressure for dialogue between the feuding parties, ZANU PF,
which has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, has kept an arms-length
relationship with the MDC, headed by veteran trade unionist Morgan

      President Mugabe, who impressed the world with his reconciliation
stance with the Ian Smith regime, has been ducking the round table with the
MDC, contemptuously referring to Tsvangirai’s party as a front for the

      He has also diverted attention from his government and party by
introducing the succession debate, which has threatened to split ZANU PF
right through the middle, and by picking verbal fights with white members of
the Commonwealth.

      This has, however, not helped the 80-year-old leader’s situation as
the economic decadence has continued unabated, courting the intervention of
regional leaders namely Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and Olusegun Obasanjo of

      "Naturally, I am not a pessimist, but looking at the circumstances on
the ground, I can say there will be no positive change on the political
scene. any change could be for the worse unless some unforeseen political
event takes place," said University of Zimbabwe (UZ) political science
lecturer Eldred Masunungure.

      "Unless the President (Robert Mugabe) resigns or retires, then I don’t
think there would be anything positive to expect. If anything, the year
could be the nastiest since independence."

      Masunungure said with preparations for the crucial 2005 general
elections picking up tempo, it would be unrealistic to expect the country to
ease out of the political morass in which it has been languishing over the
past four years.

      "Any political change — be it positive or negative — will depend on
what happens to ZANU PF," said political analyst Ernest Mudzengi.

      "If it (ZANU PF) decides to listen to the people and take advice from
the opposition and civic groups, then there could be some change for the
better, but if it chooses to remain arrogant, then there will be more
problems this year. There could actually be mass protests similar to those
that took place in 1998 and these would be driven largely by economic
hardships," Mudzengi said.

      Most economic analysts see Zimbabwe’s economic problems, which have
been worsening over the years, as the main factor in setting the mood of the
ordinary people.

      Most of President Mugabe’s critics accuse him of mismanaging the
economy, but the veteran leader denies the charges, instead blaming it on a
consecutive four-year drought and the insidious work of local and foreign
detractors who he charges are bent on undermining the country’s sovereignty
and derailing his land reform exercise.

      John Makumbe, also a lecturer at the UZ, agreed that to expect a
change for the better this year would be expecting too much.

      "The regime is not about to fold up and depart, so the only things one
can expect this year are more demonstrations, more strikes and possibly some
dialogue," Makumbe said.

      Makumbe said the possibility of talks between the two parties was
likely this year, but they would not focus on anything fundamental as the
ruling party would only seek to use them to buy time while it prepares for
the 2005 elections.

      He said to avoid international pressure, ZANU PF would seek to seem to
be engaged in talks of some sort with the litigious opposition which, with
the support of the international community, is challenging President Mugabe’
s legitimacy.

      Mudzengi concurred with Makumbe: "ZANU PF is in power and its interest
is to remain in power so its intention of going into ‘dialogue’ with the MDC
would be to create some breathing space for itself."

      He said if the opposition was not careful, the crafty ZANU PF could
use the "dialogue" to come up with what he called an "elite pact" similar to
the one signed between it and PF ZAPU in 1987 after similar talks had
negotiated PF ZAPU out of existence.

      Makumbe, however, warned that if the opposition was fooled into going
to next year’s parliamentary elections under the current electoral system,
it would be "rigged out" because the present system ensures that only ZANU
PF wins an election.

      "The MDC would be fooling themselves if they go to elections with no
changes to the terms and modalities under which elections are held," Makumbe
said. "They will be simply rigged out like in 2000 and 2002."

      The MDC and other civil society movements like the National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA) have threatened that this year they will
organise mass protests to force President Mugabe to agree to embrace
all-round reforms and a re-run of the controversial 2002 presidential

      The government, which has over the past four years been increasingly
dependent on the jackboot for survival, this week sternly warned that it
will crush any activities by forces that it dismisses as being sponsored by

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      Break the egg to make the omelette

      1/8/2004 7:13:28 AM (GMT +2)

      THE financial sector, that erstwhile odd shaft of light in the
economic gloom, is in turmoil. This not only gives credence to claims that
its foundation was sunk on shifting sands, but also brings into disrepute
the black economic empowerment drive where the country has seemingly been
navigating without a compass.

      This is especially more apparent now when the distinction between
banks and other financial institutions is increasingly becoming blurred
against a background of a proliferation of mostly unregistered and
undercapitalised asset management companies. These have been used as
conduits for speculative practices by some banks under a complex web of
influence-peddling and back-scratching relationships.

      Lingering concerns about the financial health of the sector had, for a
long time, percolated through the market, casting a pall over its stability.
And as we speak, there are genuine concerns that, against the still
unfolding crisis, the creaking financial sector could move into even deeper
trouble — a crisis from which the economy cannot remain insulated.

      The situation in the financial sector, where asset management
companies with a capital base of $10 million have been managing investments
of several billions of dollars, has always been unsustainable. It was a red
flag the Central Bank, which controls the country’s financial levers, could
not ignore without being charged with neglect.

      The untenable situation clearly shows that it has been nothing more
than false impressions in the financial sector which, as it turns out, has
been skating on thin ice. We believe that to have hoped that this situation
of an egg-shell-thin veneer of stability would improve without the
intervention of the RBZ would have been hopefulness bereft of realism.

      Predictably, operators in the sector who, in our view, have been
painting a rosier-than-real picture of their situation as window-dressing
for the public’s benefit but admit in private that they have not been
operating above board, have been ruffled. And they already want the Central
Bank governor’s head on the stick. This is why the early adulation that came
with Dr Gideon Gono’s appointment as Governor of the RBZ is fast evolving
into scepticism and will inevitably soon turn into outright hostility. But
that should be the least of Gono’s worries because it comes with the
territory. He should crack the whip in the comfort that, like the Shona say,
mvura bvongodzeki ndiyo garani (turbulence precedes calm).

      Instead of shirking his responsibility to clean up the shaky financial
sector, this should, in fact, strengthen his determination not only to
correct, but demystify what was increasingly becoming the financial sector’s
terrible aura. Gono, who should know that in order to make an omelette, you
have to break the egg, should not take his foot off the pedal but, in fact,
tighten the screws because there is luminous evidence of a sector in

      The Central Bank should act as if it was impossible to fail and press
ahead with its plan of action as spelt out in the monetary policy statement
because that is the only sure-fire way of putting paid to the madness in the
financial sector. This will restore sanity and integrity. Indeed, there is a
compelling case against the unregistered and unscrupulous asset management
companies whose future increasingly appears perilous. Already, several
investors have burnt their fingers following the debacle at ENG Asset

      Having been left in the lurch to the tune of $100 billion,
shell-shocked investors caught up at the scene of this financial accident
can only puzzle and wait. Not only that, but the run on some of the
so-called banking high-flyers, the clearest sign yet, of the growing
nervousness on the part of risk-averse depositors in the face of the turmoil
in the financial sector, underlines how all embracing the malady in the
sector has become.

      The chaos at ENG, where we cannot rule out the possibility that those
who founded the company have always been intent on deception, could be
nothing more than the proverbial tip of the iceberg. This situation is not
only distressing to the investors’ psyches as it is exceedingly costly to
their portfolios, but could have ripple effects across the sector which
could, in turn, undermine investor confidence and in the process weigh down
the economy.

      Glossing over the problems in the sector could, therefore, be an
expensive gamble given the disturbances and disruptions that might arise
from the collapse of a bank or financial institution. Even if it means those
shareholders of poorly managed distressed banks should lose their investment
and control of their banks, then so be it.

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      Let's stop moaning but act out of our numerous problems

      1/8/2004 6:51:06 AM (GMT +2)

      Once again we have come to the end of another challenging year. For
some it's been gloom after gloom and yet for others things have never been

      Are we living in the same Zimbabwe, I wonder? I am sure if things were
that good, you must have been one of those unethical, crooked persons or a
ZANU PF supporter. Otherwise, how can anyone normal and ordinary be smiling
under such tough conditions?

      What is the difference between the two perspectives or conclusions?

      Let me start by telling you a tale of two prisoners. As they sat in
their small tiny cell, the only thing that came through their tiny window
was a little light. Day in and day out they looked through the window.

      One saw bars and this obviously brought in the reality of anger and
hopelessness, but the other saw stars beyond and began to see the
possibility of starting a new life in freedom.

      So what? The difference in their visions made a big difference in
their lives.

      Today, Zimbabwe needs people who can see beyond the obvious, not the
nut and bolts type of people — those who want to do things the exact same
way, as they have been told — nothing more or less. We have plenty robots
but precious few new-idea people.

      Zimbabwe seems to be full of analysts, commentators and spectators but
a few players.

      We need people with imagination, who think over time, who find ways to
make improvements or increase efficiencies.

      Let us leave the terraces and go onto the playing field and have more
action, than talk, talk and talk.

      Some in business, who are risk averse and always finding excuses for
not making decisions, have been hiding under "we are waiting for the new
monetary policy".

      I wonder what excuses are being given now for failing to take
necessary action. Maybe the festive season.

      As expected, Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono delivered the monetary
policy statement which is "exactly what the doctor ordered", but what we
would like to see is how the doctor’s orders are administered and whether
the patient sticks to the prescription.

      The monetary policy is what I can summarise as "delayed gratification"
which Scott Peck, in his book, "The Road Less Travelled", defined as "a
process of scheduling the pain and pleasure of life in such a way as to
enhance the pleasure by meeting and experiencing the pain first and getting
it over with".

      Why pain now, we may ask? When we look at the generations before us
and what they sacrificed for us to enjoy political and social independence,
that should spur us to go a level higher if we are to be truly independent.

      This stage has been called many names but the most popular one is
"Third Chimurenga".

      This is necessary because economic independence is a must for any
nation, race, colour or creed. Once achieved, it brings about real freedom,
independence and human dignity.

      But it does not come without any pain. Remember no pain, no gain.

      I stand to be corrected but the economic issue is a revolution of its
kind. So is the land issue. A revolution can be in many forms.

      Conventional and guerrilla warfares easily come to mind because of the
history of this country.

      It is easy to prescribe from a leather chair, air- conditioned office
what we should do.

      As President Mugabe once said, what we learnt when doing our various
degrees does not state what to do when an economy is under siege. In short,
let us stop being too bookish.

      Soldiers correct me: When you go to war with a specific plan on paper
and you find what is on the ground is different, do you stick to your
original plan because you want to impress others or you change the plan to
suit the situation?

      For anyone to expect results in the short-term is being naive. Results
will come once we begin accepting that the land issue was, is, and will be,
a pressing issue.

      Whether we differ in terms of the method of acquisition, the fact is
that there is no going back.

      Therefore, how do we move as a nation and make the best out of the
weapon of wealth we have recently acquired?

      For Zimbabwe to realise its full potential, we need visionary leaders
who will see from the "cell window" the light at end of the tunnel, leaders
who are able to break out of the conventional thought patterns, leaders who
have confidence and dare to travel the untravelled road and dare to take the
risk, were others would have chosen to stay safe and secure.

      We need people who are solution-orientated and not problem-orientated.

      But the trend in Zimbabwe is to get stuck in the problem, moan and
groan to every person who cares to listen. We even go down on our knees and
give God a vivid picture of the situation as if we are saying God does not

      Eventually, we start sending invitations for black-tie pity parties
and before we know it we are part of the problem, our lives begin to revolve
around the problem, paralysis sets in and the problem then defines who we

      We are doing everything we can about the problems we face even flying
all over the world, putting articles on the internet etc, except one thing:
devoting ourselves to finding solutions.

      What is life, if it is not really a series of pain, trials,
tribulations, challenges and disappointments? Why allow ourselves to get
paralysed by problems instead of committing ourselves to solving them?

      The other thing: we are so divided, we lack national pride and are so

      Some of us are so greedy that it has become our second nature.

      Until we are truly sincere in whatever we do or propose as government
or private sector, no solution will ever work.

      This is our country, our Zimbabwe and our future. Let us unite and let
’s rebuild our nation.

      I do not wish to apportion blame to anyone. We all have a role to

      In whatever thing we do let us ask ourselves: are we building the
nation or destroying it?

      Before blaming anybody, look at yourself in the mirror and see if you
are faultless and, therefore, qualified to cast the first stone.

        .. Millicent Momb-eshora is a former radio and television

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      Opposition MDC must perform or perish

      1/8/2004 6:51:06 AM (GMT +2)

      While it may be relevant for us to talk about the establishment in
relation to ourselves, we must not make this our pre-occupation for it can
be a negative exercise.
      As we proceed further towards the realisation of our goals let’s talk
more about ourselves and our struggle and less about ZANU PF.

      I never intended to write a second part to this title but this is a
response to some of my readers who feel that I am descending harder and
harder on the MDC. I must say these are a minority of my readers and I must
confess I have a passion to be identified with minority and disadvantaged
groups and where possible to be their voice. That’s me!

      We all have passions of one kind or the other. It appears there is a
very serious problem of articulation and clarity on the part of the
leadership of the pro-democracy movement.

      Our hope lies in the MDC as the official opposition party.

      Civil society has the obvious limitations of not being a political
party and the only weapon that we have is our vote and we will use it

      What we are simply saying is that those in political parties who want
our vote must adopt concrete policies and programmes that we can identify
with, policies and programmes that also address the fundamental concerns of
our particular constituencies.

      All the multiple civic organisations in Zimbabwe have got their own
rationale for existence and they must also be accountable to their members
in whatever stance they take on any issue.

      If, for instance, a civic organisation decides to openly side with a
political party like the MDC, it has to satisfy its own particular
constituency that such a stance is the best to adopt in the circumstances.
It can only be the best when the political party being aligned to also seeks
in some way to further the agenda of the particular civic group.

      This does not only apply in politics, but in business as well. In
fact, it is a truism of all human and organisational dynamics.

      To give a rather hyperbolic example, you cannot have a company which
specialises in the manufacturing of weapons of mass destruction entering
into a "strategic merger/partnership" with a company which specialises in
the manufacture of dairy products.

      So if the MDC is serious about getting or retaining the support of the
pro-democracy civic groups and other small opposition political parties in
this country, it must come up with policies that, if any of these groups
decides to side with them, it will not have headaches trying to justify such
a move to their members.

      This appears only commonsensical but it is conspicuous by its absense
within the opposition party.

      The party’s advisors and consultants do not seem to be doing their job
at all and it’s unfortunate, to say the least.

      Joining an alliance or popular front must not amount to total
abandonment and surrender of one’s original and perculiar agenda but,
rather, the alliance must enhance and enrich the diverse agendas of all the

      For the MDC to expect all other small opposition political parties and
civic groups to deviate from their manifestos and publicly stated objectives
in support of their vaguely defined policies is simply political naivety.
The MDC has had alliances with other small opposition political parties and
civil society before, particularly in the "NO" vote campaign but this does
not by itself and of itself guarantee continued support for the party even
when the centre does not seem to hold anymore.

      It is fundamental to realise that while there are enemies in politics
as in any other human endeavours, there are no permanent friends but
permanent interests.

      The worst thing that could happen to any struggle and endeavour is to
have permanent definitions of friends and enemies.

      An "enemies list" must change with circumstances because it is a fact
of human and political life that relationships are neither static, stable
nor stagnant, but dynamic.

      Individuals, orga-nisations and nations too rigid to adjust to
flactuations crack and collapse. Similarly, too much flexibility becomes
political notoriety and opportunism to the detriment of the individual, the
organisation, the movement and the nation in relation to their environment.

      So the MDC must decide now whether it wants to be a friend of other
small opposition political parties and civil society or it wants to be
painted with the same brush as ZANU PF.

      To choose the latter option is political suicide. To choose the former
option takes more than just a declaration of friendship at a press
conference or party rally without increased and greater interaction between
leaders of the party and other opposition political and civic leaders.

      One wonders why opposition political leaders and civic leaders avoid
and shun each other.

      It is really puzzling to some of us and what is even more puzzling and
nauseating is the extent to which the leadership of the progressive movement
has become afraid of new ideas despite changing realities. Yes, afraid is
the word! They are paranoid and its pathetic, to say the least.

      Political parties seek political power. Civil society does not seek
political power, but instead, seeks to limit it by empowering the people.

      Any political party that chooses to antagonise civil society in its
entirety like ZANU PF, or a large section thereof like what the MDC seems
bent on doing, creates a presumption within the people that it does not want
its political power to be fettered and the implications of unfettered power
are well-known.

      so the onus is on those seeking political office to rebut that
presumption by being "with the people" in all their struggles, hopes and

      The point is that since it’s the MDC that desperately want the support
of civil society and not vice-versa, it is them that must break the ice and
take the initiative for a political courtship of the latter, and they must
bear in mind that their rival suitor, ZANU PF, is also making very charming
maneouvres. The die is cast and the year 2004 will decide who will win the
bride and take her on a honeymoon in the 2005 general elections.

      But my honest opinion is that the picture is rather gloomy for the MDC
because ZANU PF has its traditional support base intact and is also making
significant inroads into the traditional MDC territory while the MDC, apart
from exposing its support base to invasion, is doing nothing to
counter-invade the ZANU PF territory. This is not to discourage the
opposition but to emphasise the amount of work that needs to be done, and
unfortunately, time is running out. Things are moving so fast in Zimbabwe at
the moment. Its like a roller-coaster.

      ZANU PF is now already far ahead of the MDC in its preparations for
the next general elections. The party is making giant strides in
consolidating and fortifying its power bases by further patronising and
integrating its partner and tributary organisations. Not that I support
political patronage but it’s a political strategy and if those against whom
it is intended to operate let it pass them they must not cry foul.

      For the MDC to counter-balance ZANU PF’S strategies they must come up
with their own policies and strategies that appeal to their own partner and
tributary organisations as well as to ZANU PF’s partner organisations like
the war veterans, war collaborators, ex-detainees and ex-restrictees and so
forth. This will be an invasion of the ZANU PF territory and if executed
with greater skill and precision, it will certainly succeed. I will give a
few hints next week. Let’s make a date.

        .. Isaya Muriwo Sithole is a Harare-based legal practitioner

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                  Farmers set sights on 2004/5 season

                  Staff Reporter
                  1/8/2004 7:10:31 AM (GMT +2)

                  ZIMBABWEAN farmers are already looking ahead to a better
2004/05 farming season after realising that the current agricultural season
would be another major disappointment.

                  Davidson Mugabe, president of the Zimbabwe Commercial
Farmers Union (ZCFU) said all local farming organisations had stepped up
efforts to mobilise funds for the procurement of inputs in the coming

                  The 2003/04 farming season has flopped owing to the acute
shortage of inputs and uncertainty that still shrouds the sector over land

                  Agriculture experts predicted that output in the 2003/04
season could plummet by as much as 50 percent this year. Mugabe said the
sector would not be caught napping again next season.
                  He said: "We will not be caught unawares this coming
season. Most of our members have agreed to mobilise finance and inputs
starting this month (January) for the coming season. The sector is
constrained because of the shortages of inputs, fuel and farming implements.

                  " We are still battling and everybody should be involved
to ensure a
                  complete rejuvenation of the sector." Agriculture is the
backbone of Zimbabwe's economy, accounting for 40 percent of the country's
gross domestic product. It also provides an estimated 60 percent of the
inputs used in the manufacturing sector. However, new and old farmers are
still struggling to acquire seed, fertiliser and fuel, three months into the
cropping season.

                  Mugabe said some farmers were still battling with the
planting stages, which will obviously affect yields.

                  Economic analysts and farmers' representative
organisations have urged the government to implement strategic policies to
turn around the sector before it faces total collapse.

                  " The agricultural sector should be handled in a holistic
manner. We will liaise with the government on how best to market cotton,
wheat and maize in a bid to entice farmers into farming. The government only
offered a solu tion for tobacco growers in the new monetary policy," he
said. Receipts from tobacco, which were meant to prop up the critical
foreign exchange situation, have dropped by 51 percent compared to last

                  Tobacco has been Zimbabwe's single largest export earner,
contributing a third of the nation's annual foreign exchange receipts. The
Early Famine Warning Systems Network has warned that the country would
produce less than 66 percent of its food requirements of 1.2 million metric
tonnes due to the input shortages.

                  Fertiliser companies have issued a joint statement that
they will not be able to meet demand because of the shortage of foreign
currency needed to procure raw materials.

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      You can’t fool all the people all the time

      1/8/2004 7:16:18 AM (GMT +2)

      IN a period marked by political bombshells and melodrama, one thing
that did not come as a surprise to me as 2003 drew to a close was the
outcome of a study on Zimbabwe’s land reform programme.

      Conducted by the Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI), the survey,
which was funded by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, confirmed what most
objective people have known all along. That is the fact that while in
principle, land redistribution to redress historical imbalances and
injustices was a noble cause, the haphazard and expedient manner in which it
was embarked upon cancelled almost all the benefits that would have resulted
if proper planning and strategic thinking had taken place.

      Press reports towards the end of last month indicated that the
majority of respondents interviewed in the MPOI survey had negative
perceptions on most aspects of the programme which they were asked to
comment on.

      Not surprisingly, the majority of the people sampled perceived the
land reform programme as a vote-buying exercise that has not benefited the
generality of the target group — families living in congested rural areas.
And this is not an aberration or a figment of these respondents’
imaginations. Access to land became such a prerogative of the elite and
politically well connected that even the government itself could not ignore
the scandal. After the Utete commission confirmed that some chefs were
multiple farm owners, the Minister of Special Affairs in the President’s
office, John Nkomo, has been tasked with cleaning up the mess and
regularising the situation.

      It would have been a routine reaction for government propagandists and
apologists to dismiss the findings of the MPOI study as the work of
"imperialists and their puppets" if one of the effects of the chaotic land
reform programme, namely its devastating impact on agricultural production,
had not resulted in massive and chronic food shortages.

      As things stand, even if government had the best spin doctors in the
world, it would still be a very tall order to convince a starving population
that they are better off than they were a few years ago when food was
plentiful and affordable. The prevailing state of affairs is particularly
deplorable when one considers that the hardships Zimbabweans are enduring
now are not the result of some natural disaster that struck without warning.
This is a situation deliberately brought about by the government on the spur
of the moment in a desperate bid to win back the support of an electorate
that was determined to ditch the ruling party if the parliamentary elections
of 2000 and the Presidential polls held in 2002 had been free and fair.

      The findings of the MPOI survey may be bad news for the government but
they represent a beacon of hope for all those who long for true democracy
and the finding of lasting solutions to the problems bedevilling Zimbabwe.

      I find it specially encouraging that despite the torrents of
unremitting propaganda and self-righteous rhetoric they have been bombarded
with over the past few years, the people of Zimbabwe have not lost their
capacity to form discriminating judgments. They have not allowed the
relentless repetition of catchwords the ruling party wishes to be acceptable
as true, the arousal and rationalisation of passions that the party can
exploit and the suppression of facts it wants ignored, to cloud the evidence
of their own senses and experiences.

      If there is a lesson to be learned, it is that the government’s
over-reliance on heavy-handed tactics to silence opponents alongside a
system of political patronage as a reward for conformity, has failed
spectacularly to blind ordinary people to its failings shortcomings. The
findings of the MPOI survey are a resounding thumbs down for the rampant
culture of impunity in official circles.

      In addition, the mountainous dosages of anti-American and anti-British
propaganda force-fed to the public via state-controlled media have not
resulted in hatred for westerners in general and Tony Blair and George Bush
in particular, who are the government’s favourite scapegoats routinely
blamed for the country’s self-inflicted problems. If anything, the constant
denigration of Bush and Blair and their steadfast and statesmanlike refusal
to respond to Harare’s rantings has had the reverse effect of elevating
their countries’ way of life to taboo status, making it irresistibly
attractive to weary Zimbabweans. Impoverished by their own government’s
mismanagement and ruination of a once thriving economy, thousands of locals
have sought economic refuge in Western countries. This is one phenomenon the
Land Reform Programme should have curbed had it been embarked upon for the
correct reasons.

      The government’s failure to mislead and deceive the public as
demonstrated beyond doubt by the MPOI survey is also attributable in no
small measure to the valiant efforts of the independent media in Zimbabwe to
report events truthfully and objectively in very difficult circumstances.
They have earned a feather in their cap for striving to present alternative
viewpoints despite being severely hamstrung by the provisions of the
misnamed Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA). Once
again relentless harassment of editors and reporters in this sector and
constant denigration of their coverage of events has not immunised readers
against their hunger for the truth, hence the popularity of privately-owned

      The question that now begs an answer is having failed to pull any wool
over the public’s eyes by politicising and propagandising land reform; will
the government step back and revaluate how to redeem the situation?

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From Business Day (SA), 8 January

Zimbabwe meltdown worries SA's banks

Standard, Absa and Nedcor say they are keeping an eye on unfolding crisis

Financial Services Correspondent

As alarms sound over the escalating crisis in Zimbabwe's banking sector,
three South African banks with major shareholdings in Zimbabwean banks Absa,
Nedcor and Standard Bank have admitted to concerns over the stability of
that country's banking environment. With inflation rocketing past 600%,
Zimbabwe's banking system is showing cracks after Zimbabwe Reserve Bank
governor Gideon Gono said last month he would cease baling out troubled
banks with inadequate liquidity. This sparked interest rate hikes and, last
week, six of Zimbabwe's 16 banks were suspended from the country's
settlement system for interbank debt because of concern that they could not
pay the other banks. As public jitters over bank cheques grow, at least
three major companies are now refusing to accept cheques from any Zimbabwean
banks, according to a Zimbabwean bank source.

Amid criticism of President Thabo Mbeki for his policy of quiet diplomacy on
Zimbabwe's humanitarian and economic woes, this is a clear indication that
the fallout has had a major effect on SA's business sector. And for SA's
three banking giants with a stake in Zimbabwean banks, the crisis is a worry
even though they say their institutions are safe from harm. Standard Bank
owns Stanbic Bank Zimbabwe, and Greg Brackenridge, Stanbic director for
Africa, said yesterday his bank was worried about the stability of
Zimbabwe's banking system. "Clearly, we have an interest in a stable
financial system in Zimbabwe so this current issue is a concern for us on
that level. But as an individual bank, we feel we have conservative lending
policies so we don't feel we are at risk at the moment." But Brackenridge
said that with banking sentiment such a volatile and sensitive matter, he
was keeping an eye open for signs that systemic risk could be infiltrating
the banking environment.

Absa owns 26% of Commerce Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ) and Absa director Louis von
Zeuner said he too had concerns. "Although we are perfectly comfortable with
CBZ at the moment, we are certainly concerned about the banking environment.
But what is making this worse is that rumours and speculation are adding
more risk to an already tense situation." Von Zeuner said CBZ had not yet
experienced any interbank loan defaults, "although we are monitoring this
situation extremely closely". Colin Drew, GM of Nedbank Africa, which owns
28% of the Zimbabwe-based Merchant Bank of Central Africa (MBCA), said the
country was in the grip of a banking crisis. Drew said that although MBCA
had been exposed to most of the other banks through interbank loans, "we
have managed our exposure carefully and have been positioning our bank for a
crisis for some time, given what is happening in other parts of the
Zimbabwean economy". "We don't anticipate that this crisis will spread to
affect us, although we are monitoring the situation closely," he said.

Drew said part of the problem was that the Zimbabwe Reserve Bank had
introduced a real-time settlement system for interbank loans in November
that revealed liquidity problems in frailer banks. Whereas in the past there
was a delay in the time taken for banks to settle interbank loans, the
real-time system exposed any liquidity deficiencies. Standard Bank economist
Robert Bunyi said Zimbabwe's bank crisis had been "a time bomb waiting to
explode". Until December, the Zimbabwe Reserve Bank had kept interest rates
at about 150%, yet inflation was running at more than 500% prompting people
to borrow relatively cheaply to buy assets to sell at a profit. "But now
(Gono) has tightened the screws on lending between the reserve bank and
commercial banks, the banks have raised their interest rates on interbank
lending and this has filtered through to an increase in the interest rates
charged to consumers on their loans," he said. In November, the nominal
interest rate was 150%, but this has increased to 375%- 450% at big banks,
and to 600%-700% at small banks.

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From Business Day (SA), 8 January

Zimbabwe meltdown worries SA's banks

Standard, Absa and Nedcor say they are keeping an eye on unfolding crisis

Financial Services Correspondent

As alarms sound over the escalating crisis in Zimbabwe's banking sector,
three South African banks with major shareholdings in Zimbabwean banks Absa,
Nedcor and Standard Bank have admitted to concerns over the stability of
that country's banking environment. With inflation rocketing past 600%,
Zimbabwe's banking system is showing cracks after Zimbabwe Reserve Bank
governor Gideon Gono said last month he would cease baling out troubled
banks with inadequate liquidity. This sparked interest rate hikes and, last
week, six of Zimbabwe's 16 banks were suspended from the country's
settlement system for interbank debt because of concern that they could not
pay the other banks. As public jitters over bank cheques grow, at least
three major companies are now refusing to accept cheques from any Zimbabwean
banks, according to a Zimbabwean bank source.

Amid criticism of President Thabo Mbeki for his policy of quiet diplomacy on
Zimbabwe's humanitarian and economic woes, this is a clear indication that
the fallout has had a major effect on SA's business sector. And for SA's
three banking giants with a stake in Zimbabwean banks, the crisis is a worry
even though they say their institutions are safe from harm. Standard Bank
owns Stanbic Bank Zimbabwe, and Greg Brackenridge, Stanbic director for
Africa, said yesterday his bank was worried about the stability of
Zimbabwe's banking system. "Clearly, we have an interest in a stable
financial system in Zimbabwe so this current issue is a concern for us on
that level. But as an individual bank, we feel we have conservative lending
policies so we don't feel we are at risk at the moment." But Brackenridge
said that with banking sentiment such a volatile and sensitive matter, he
was keeping an eye open for signs that systemic risk could be infiltrating
the banking environment.

Absa owns 26% of Commerce Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ) and Absa director Louis von
Zeuner said he too had concerns. "Although we are perfectly comfortable with
CBZ at the moment, we are certainly concerned about the banking environment.
But what is making this worse is that rumours and speculation are adding
more risk to an already tense situation." Von Zeuner said CBZ had not yet
experienced any interbank loan defaults, "although we are monitoring this
situation extremely closely". Colin Drew, GM of Nedbank Africa, which owns
28% of the Zimbabwe-based Merchant Bank of Central Africa (MBCA), said the
country was in the grip of a banking crisis. Drew said that although MBCA
had been exposed to most of the other banks through interbank loans, "we
have managed our exposure carefully and have been positioning our bank for a
crisis for some time, given what is happening in other parts of the
Zimbabwean economy". "We don't anticipate that this crisis will spread to
affect us, although we are monitoring the situation closely," he said.

Drew said part of the problem was that the Zimbabwe Reserve Bank had
introduced a real-time settlement system for interbank loans in November
that revealed liquidity problems in frailer banks. Whereas in the past there
was a delay in the time taken for banks to settle interbank loans, the
real-time system exposed any liquidity deficiencies. Standard Bank economist
Robert Bunyi said Zimbabwe's bank crisis had been "a time bomb waiting to
explode". Until December, the Zimbabwe Reserve Bank had kept interest rates
at about 150%, yet inflation was running at more than 500% prompting people
to borrow relatively cheaply to buy assets to sell at a profit. "But now
(Gono) has tightened the screws on lending between the reserve bank and
commercial banks, the banks have raised their interest rates on interbank
lending and this has filtered through to an increase in the interest rates
charged to consumers on their loans," he said. In November, the nominal
interest rate was 150%, but this has increased to 375%- 450% at big banks,
and to 600%-700% at small banks.

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Mail and Guardian

SA land restitution: Fears of another Zimbabwe

      Mariette le Roux | Pretoria

      08 January 2004 10:22

The restitution of land to those previously dispossessed of it will not
result in a stoppage of agricultural production in South Africa, the Land
Claims Commission said on Wednesday.

Fears to this effect are being propagated by a minority "who believe that if
you give land to blacks nothing will happen on that land", said chief land
claims commissioner Tozi Gwanya.

The government needs strategic partners to make the process work, and there
are many commercial farmers committed to helping build a new generation of
agriculturists, he said.

The Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU) stands by its contention that
restitution claims have been lodged for at least 70% of commercial farming
land in Limpopo and Mpumalanga -- the two provinces with the highest
percentage of claims.

This was disputed by Gwanya, who said about 20% of commercial agricultural
land has been claimed nationally -- and up to 50% in the two provinces.

He also rejected the union's claim that failed restitution projects have
cost the country millions of rands. There have been some problems -- but
these have been overshadowed by the successes.

He could not give figures in this regard, but said "it is definitely not

The commission is at pains to ensure that claimants intend putting the land
to good use, Gwanya said. A viable land use plan is important, though not a

The government assists upcoming farmers with a settlement planning grant and
training programmes.

"Once a claim has been validated there has to be a careful balancing act
[between the interests of the claimants and the future of the land]," Gwanya

TAU labour and property rights manager Jack Loggenberg described the
restitution process as a big flop.

"The government realises this -- that is why it is increasingly trying to
get current land owners involved [in development]," he said.

The union is now more concerned about the effects of restitution than ever
before, given the pending enactment of an expropriation clause of the
Restitution of Land Rights Act.

An amendment Bill was approved by Parliament last year, which empowers the
minister of agriculture and land affairs to expropriate land without a court

This has the potential of ruining the country, Loggenberg said.

"Property rights are the cornerstone of a freemarket system. If that is
taken away or damaged, the economy of the country will go down the drain."

The TAU intends fighting the clause with all its might, and is considering
legal action.

Agri SA said most successful restitution claimants have trouble with farming
in the beginning. There have been some reversals in production, but no
critical financial losses.

"To get a process like this under way will always cost money. It is a
learning curve. But if we don't start somewhere, we will never know where we
are supposed to end up."

The Democratic Alliance said restitution is important to make amends for the
forced removal of people from their land by the apartheid government.

"But at the same time, productive commercial farms must be maintained to
sustain the agricultural economy and ensure that South Africa is never faced
with the food deficits experienced in Zimbabwe."

To ensure this, the government has to maintain the trust and cooperation of
existing farmers and harness their skills. But the new expropriation
legislation has done exactly the opposite, it said.

The Pan Africanist Congress said there can be no genuine liberation and
democracy without the just resolution of the land question. It lamented the
fate of thousands who are still landless and are evicted from land daily.

"The land question cannot be ignored forever without making what is
happening in Zimbabwe look like a nice afternoon picnic," the PAC warned. -

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