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

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Zim Independent

Eric Bloch Column

Cloud cuckooland reigns supreme

ALTHOUGH the man-on-the street may not be aware of it, Zimbabwe has defied
all gravitational pulls and has been catapulted into outer space and is now
part of cloud cuckooland, for it is evident that many of those most vocal on
Zimbabwe's present economic circumstance are wholly detached from reality
and are deluded into misconceptions of the actualities of Zimbabwean
situation that it defies all belief.

The rabid, extremist periphery of the ruling party, guilty of self-deception
as to their importance within the party hierarchy, and with unlimited
aspirations to rise to the highest stratum of the party and the government
structures, have been vocal in the extreme as to the role of the Ministry of
Finance and Economic Development and of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. They
have very vociferously castigated both entities for their alleged failure to
implement policies and controls as would assure Zimbabwe of an adequacy of
foreign exchange, and as would contain the magnitude of the unofficial
depreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar against international hard currencies,
as evidenced by the "parallel" or "grey" market.

They suggest that the immense shortages of foreign exchange and the
consequential dramatic escalation in the effective exchange rates, as
distinct from the rigid, unrealistic rates prescribed by the Reserve Bank
under government direction, are wholly due to the unpatriotic, avaricious
manipulations of the commercial banking sector and of the bureaux de change.
Repeated calls and demands are made for the closure of the bureaux de change
and for the rigid control of the banking sector in order to achieve absolute
compliance with Reserve Bank dictated currency exchange rates and to assure
availability of currency, at those rates, to all in need of foreign

But those demands are devoid of all recognition of the Zimbabwean foreign
exchange environment. In the first instance, the criticisms of the Reserve
Bank governor, Dr Leonard Tsumba and the Minister of Finance and Economic
Development, Dr Simba Makoni, and their officials, are without foundation.
Their critics, who include the Affirmative Action Group, the war veterans'
association, various politicians, and others, attack Tsumba and Makoni for a
failure to implement economic and monetary policies as would effectively
regulate the foreign exchange markets and assure Zimbabwe of its
requirements of foreign exchange, thereby eliminating the parallel market
and containing exchange rates to levels which do not impact negatively upon
the economy.

But in voicing those criticisms, they ignore the fact that all of the
targets of those criticisms have repeatedly presented proposals to President
Mugabe and the cabinet to address those issues, which proposals have been
cavalierly rejected because they neither accorded with the political
objectives of the authorities, nor did they synchronise with the
Marxist-Leninist economic policies espoused by those extremists, by the
president, and by the party.

The allegations against the Reserve Bank and against the ministry are that
they should have proposed, and implemented, measures which would prevent the
existence of the parallel market, and as would assure a stability of
exchange rates so as to avoid adverse impacts upon inflation. The accused
did exactly that. They urged that it be recognised that the ravages of
inflation had radically eroded the value of the Zimbabwe dollar. They stated
that the primary cause of Zimbabwe's insufficiency of foreign exchange was
due to an inadequate volume of exports and that that inadequacy was due to a
loss of export price competitiveness as a direct result of pronounced
inflation without a compensatory adjustment in exchange rates. They
therefore proposed that Zimbabwe's currency be realistically devalued to
levels approximating real value.

In doing so, they were conscious that devaluation was not politically
palatable, and they were even more aware that devaluation would fuel
inflation. That was inevitable. However, they also recognised that the
absence of devaluation would cause even greater inflation. If Zimbabwe
failed to devalue, its already severely debilitated export performance would
virtually cease to exist. Exporters cannot survive escalating production
costs exceeding 100% per annum when their international competitors are
subject to minimal increases in their operational costs.

If exporters in general, and those in secondary industry in particular, are
unable to export, they have to recoup their fixed overheads from their
diminished production destined to the domestic market, which dramatically
and unavoidably increases the prices of their products sold to Zimbabwean
consumers. The extent of their production is further reduced by
non-availability of foreign exchange otherwise available to them from their
exports, and this increases yet again the prices of their goods. Thus,
although inflation must rise as a result of devaluation, it must rise even
more if devaluation is not implemented. As much as devaluation may be
abhorrent to most, the alternative is even worse.

But the radicals are not prepared to recognise this harsh reality. They
rigidly resist doing that which must be done, and then have no compunction
in blaming the Reserve Bank and the Ministry of Finance and Economic
Development for not coming up with effective foreign exchange policies. They
did present those policies - not once, but recurrently over more than 18
months. However, those that should, did not listen, and were unwilling to
accept facts. They rejected the recommendations not once, but over and over
again, causing an ever greater decline, and then have the brazen nerve to
attribute Zimbabwe's foreign exchange and inflation problems to those who
had identified the necessary actions to minimise those problems, and to
demand that the governor of the Reserve Bank and the minister resign or be
dismissed, together with their officials. Those loudmouthed antagonists of
the skilled technocrats whose sound advice is speciously rebuffed,
vigorously strive to divert responsibility for their own detachment from
realities by unjustly accusing those who could be key to the rescue and
recovery of the Zimbabwean economy.

The same holds good for the spurious demands of the same fringe economists,
misdirected politicians, unstable, aggressive, fanatical crackpots that the
parallel market should be eliminated (which it readily could be if
Zimbabwe's currency devalued to levels compatible with its real, very
minimal, value) and that the cause of foreign exchange shortages is
attributable to the dealings of bureaux de change which, they contend,
should be closed down forthwith. If there was no parallel market, and no
bureaux de change, and no black market currency dealers in the back streets
of Bulawayo, Victoria Falls and Harare, the aggregate amount of foreign
exchange in Zimbabwe would not change. It would merely result, for a brief
period of time, in that foreign exchange being wholly within the official
market, and it would remain insufficient for national needs. And very
rapidly the total foreign exchange availability in Zimbabwe would decline,
for exporters would lose what little viability they presently have if, in
the absence of devaluation, they have to convert the entirety of their
export proceeds at the unreal official rate.

As the exporters' operations collapse, so too will Zimbabwe's already
extraordinarily meagre foreign exchange resources. Moreover, much of the
foreign exchange remitted monthly to Zimbabwe by Zimbabweans overseas would
no longer reach the money market. Unfortunately, no matter how uncontestable
those facts may be, there are many who blind themselves to the obvious, as
evidenced by the ill-considered rejection of the Reserve Bank and Ministry
of Finance proposals by the Cabinet Committee on Economic and Financial
Affairs, the vituperation that has poured forth from Philip Chiyangwa, the
Affirmative Action Group, spokesmen of war veterans and various others.
Either they are all living in cloud cuckooland, or they have zero
understanding of economic principles and forces.

The same must be true of the Minister of Lands and all others in government
of a like mind who can blithely issue Section 8 directives in terms of the
Land Acquisition Act, requiring farmers to discontinue all farming
operations. They do so without any concern that crops await harvesting, at
the very time that Zimbabwe is reeling under the effects of a devastating
drought. How Zimbabweans are to survive when even the limited available
crops cannot be harvested is beyond comprehension, save perhaps for those
who live in cloud cuckooland!
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Zim Independent


Gaddafi wins over a few cabbages

COL Muammar Gaddafi's attempts to overshadow Thabo Mbeki at this week's
African Union inaugural summit weren't altogether successful.

He made sure he was the centre of attention on Sunday when he flew in with
three giant Antonov transport planes, out of which rolled a fleet of
armour-plated limousines which he wanted to parade through Durban prior to
handing them out to fellow despots. But South African security officials
permitted only one car to leave the airport, insisting the rest remain

They also confiscated the weapons of Gaddafi's bodyguards after a heated
verbal clash. A South African spokesman was quoted as saying individual
security arrangements by visiting heads of state were unnecessary. Judging
by SABC's commentary on his "unscheduled" speech on Tuesday, South Africans
generally were unimpressed with Gaddafi's grandstanding. It was probably
designed for more susceptible people.

Gaddafi's full title by the way is "Brother Col Muammar Al'Quaddafi, leader
of the Great Al-Fatah Revolution in the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab

You can imagine how many column inches that occupies every day in the
official Libyan press. There is no other sort of course.

Gaddafi did, it seems, have some supporters in his bid to shove Mbeki aside,
apart of course from our own leader. Zambia's President Levi Mwanawasa said
he would urge fellow heads of state to vote for Gaddafi as AU chair and
Tripoli as its parliamentary headquarters. This of course had nothing to do
with the US$3 million Gaddafi gave Mwanawasa to pay Zambia's outstanding OAU

Mwanawasa is currently battling in the courts to disabuse Zambians of the
impression that he is a "cabbage". But when he visited Zimbabwe earlier this
year for the Trade Fair he said exactly what President Mugabe wanted. And
now he is doing the same with Gaddafi. As for his assertion that
Madagascar's election should be rerun because the incumbent candidate
favoured by the OAU presidential trade union was defeated, if he can't see
the irony of that claim then this particular cabbage is well and truly

Does the Office of the President have a standard-issue message of
congratulation which it sends to other heads of state on their national
days? It certainly looks like it. The message sent to President George W
Bush on July 4 looked very much as though it was the same one sent to
Mozambique or Madagascar!

It addressed Bush as "Your Excellency" and congratulated him on America's
attainment of 226 years of independence.

No US president is ever addressed as "Your Excellency". That is reserved for
South American rulers or foreign ambassadors. "Mr President" is the usual
form of address in a democratic republic where European-style pomposity is
discouraged. And most people stopped counting which independence anniversary
it was after about 20 years - ie in 1796.

We might also ask why President Mugabe was "confident that the years ahead
will witness great improvements in relations between our two countries".
Does that look likely given Zanu PF's incorrigible record of misrule?

Still on matters of protocol, why was the visit of Meles Zenawi last weekend
billed as a state visit? Only heads of state can make state visits, not
prime ministers. So was protocol waived on this occasion and Zenawi accorded
a status above what he actually holds? Or were we misled by the official
media that has anyway never been able to differentiate between a state visit
and an official visit?

We suspect on this occasion the President's Office and not the press were
the culprits and that the unprecedented break with protocol was part of a
wider strategy to give the impression of high-level international support
for Mugabe's increasingly isolated regime.

Zenawi was once president of Ethiopia but gave up the post when it became
ceremonial under new constitutional arrangements.

All visitors to Harare by the way are prevailed upon by their hosts to make
remarks in support of Mugabe's land policy. Usually they provide a generic
reply saying land reform is a good thing. As in Festus Mogae's case this is
then misrepresented to mean unconditional support for Mugabe's bloodthirsty
jihad. In Zenawi's case we weren't allowed to hear what he actually said.
Instead we had ZBC telling us what he said. Much safer that way!

Mugabe's claim that relations with Ethiopia date back to the liberation
struggle was interesting. Who was in charge then in Addis Ababa? Certainly
not Zenawi who was fighting a liberation struggle against the regime of Zanu
PF's ally Mengistu Haile Mariam. Did Mengistu's extradition to face
human-rights-abuse charges, which Harare has strenuously resisted, come up
at all? ZBC didn't tell us. As for Mugabe's claim that the people of
Zimbabwe were "overjoyed" to see Zenawi, how many Zimbabweans did you see
around the capital expressing their joy apart from the usual Zanu PF
rent-a-crowd at the airport?

But we did appreciate one salient point made by Zenawi during his visit:
that Africa could not ignore the rest of the world, either politically or
economically. We also appreciated former OAU secretary-general Salim Ahmed
Salim's remarks in Mutare last Friday. Speaking in support of Nepad to
delegates at a conference hosted by the Institute of Peace, Leadership and
Governance, he said: "If a leader has gone wrong he has to be told that he
has gone wrong, otherwise the situation could deteriorate into conflict.
There is a tendency of some African leaders to refuse constructive criticism
and this must stop," he said. Echoing the Independent's editorial heading
last Friday, Salim said citizens had the right to criticise "wayward"
leaders and governments.

The fact that most conflicts on the continent over the past two decades had
been between citizens of the same country indicated that their causes were
internal, he said.

"Invariably these causes are associated with questions of leadership and
governance and the abuse of power and authority, or grievances that emerge
due to denial of participation, violations of human rights, disregard of the
rule of law and practices of intolerance," Salim said. Was he thinking of
anybody in particular we wonder?

Under Joseph Made's leadership rural development agency Arda built a
reputation for ambitious but unproductive schemes. One thinks of dairy and
tea projects that didn't work out. Then there was the Congo farming venture
which never took off.

It was therefore intriguing to see last week a prominent advertisement from
Arda and Katiyo Tea commemorating the third anniversary of the death of
Joshua Nkomo. The ad referred to the "dearth" of "Father Zimbambwe".

Literacy was evidently not among the parastatal's projects. Or perhaps
they've been putting something in their copy-writers' tea!

The Nigerians are back again. The latest "request for a business
relationship" comes from Robert Osagie, "an official of my country's
Ministry of Petroleum Resources and a member of a seven-man tender board in
charge of contract review and payment approvals".
"There were a series of contracts awarded by my committee in 1997," he says,
"and the original values of these contracts were deliberately over-invoiced
by us, to the tune of US$15 million. This amount has now been approved and
is ready to be claimed."

Then there is Amed Tunde of 8/9 Roadpass Close, Johannesburg. He says he is
a bank auditor with $152 million he wants to transfer. The former owner of
the account was "the late Adam C Nicole" who headed a safari company, he

Raymond Dulu is another "prime bank auditor" with a Sandton address, Rider
Haggard Drive, which has appeared before in our reports. He also claims to
have US$152 million stashed away. And Allan Seaman, who the money originally
belonged to, also died in the same year as "Adam Nicole", 1993. What a

The most imaginative approach so far comes from somebody claiming to be an
attorney to Nepal's royal family who says he is holding a large sum
belonging to one of those killed in the shooting incident at the royal
palace last year where the coked-up crown prince went berserk when his
parents thwarted his marriage plans.

We liked this week's tourism supplement in the Sunday Mail. Its headline
ran: "Tourism sector booming". Needless to say, there was not a scrap of
evidence for this imaginative claim. But we were told that Zimbabwe was
endowed with "one of the (most) magnificent architectural miracles of the
universe" in the form of the Great Zimbabwe edifice and that "conservancies
where wildlife is protected and managed" cover a large area of the country.

"The Save conservancy in the east Lowveld of Zimbabwe is now the biggest
privately-owned game reserve in Africa with animals moving freely through
the Gonarezhou park," we were told. West Nicholson, Bubye and Midlands also
have privately-managed conservancies as well.

Garikai Mazara and Stanley Gama put their names to this entirely delusional
piece of reporting. One can only conclude they have been locked in a
cupboard at Herald House while the events of the past two years unfolded!

It is extraordinary how little coverage has been given to the acquittal of
the remaining 10 Chinhoyi farmers found guilty in the state media last year
of attacking settlers who were occupying their properties.

They were originally part of a group of 24 charged. Charges against six were
dropped before plea. The remaining 18 pleaded not guilty. The state's
witnesses proved unreliable, the court heard. The farmers were guilty of no
more than defending themselves against assault while removing barricades
erected by settlers besieging Anthony Barkley in his farmhouse last August.

Nevertheless 21 of the accused were arrested by the police, detained at
Chinhoyi police station and charged with public violence. One was arrested
when he took blankets and warm clothes to his son even though he had not
been involved in the incident on Listonshiels Farm. Another, Barkley's son,
was arrested when he attempted to visit his father and was accused by a
group of people present of having been among those assaulting them.

These false accusations were the pretext for a wave of violence against
whites in Chinhoyi and looting of property on the farms. The refusal of the
police to respond promptly to calls for assistance from the farmers was
given prominence in the defence outline submitted by JC Anderson SC,
assisted by ET Matinenga, instructed by Stumbles & Rowe. So was "the
disgraceful and humiliating manner" in which the accused were detained in
contravention of their rights. In all, the men were held for 16 nights and
then barred by Justice Rita Makarau from returning to their farms.

One of the accused, according to the defence outline, said he witnessed
three persons, including the wife of one of the accused, being abused and
insulted by people in the presence of the police "who did nothing but simply

"Political activists unlawfully took over control from the police and
politicised the issue with blatantly false reports of the incident which led
to wanton assaults on whites and destruction and looting of property," the
defence claimed in its outline.

The court found there was no credible evidence to support the state's
charges and that state witnesses had lied. The farmers are now entitled to
sue the police for wrongful arrest, as well as the Herald and ZBC for
falsely reporting that the farmers were guilty of assault and for not
following elementary professional rules of impartiality in reporting the

The evidence provided in the case must be given the widest publicity
whenever the police claim, as did Augustine Chihuri before the African Human
Rights Commission recently, that the ZRP is professional and non-partisan,
or when government spokesmen claim the Zimbabwe government upholds the rule
of law. Here was a case in which innocent people were arrested and detained
in shocking conditions on the instructions of ruling-party activists who
were themselves guilty of assault. Instead of affording protection to the
victims of violence the police arrested them. And Zanu PF politicians and
their media declared them guilty before the trial had even commenced. They
did not however report their acquittal.

The evidence in the Chinhoyi case speaks for itself. And it is a shocking
indictment of a regime that has suborned the police and manipulated the
media to serve its political needs.
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Zim Independent

Farmers challenge cabinet authority
Dumisani Muleya
COMMERCIAL farmers have challenged the constitutional authority of President
Robert Mugabe's cabinet in court applications filed to stop government from
evicting them from their farms.

One of the farmers, George Quinnell, who last week obtained an interim
relief order against removal, is seeking a ruling that the eviction order
issued by Agriculture minister Joseph Made against him be rendered invalid
because he ceased being a legitimate minister in April.

Quinnell is seeking an order saying that: "It is declared that Dr Joseph
Mtakwese Made MP ceased to be the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural
Resettlement with effect from 1st April, 2002, and that the Section 8
acquisition order signed by him on the 29th of April 2002 concerning the
applicant's farm known as Nyalugwe is invalid and of no force and effect."

Mugabe did not appoint a cabinet after his recent disputed re-election. The
applicants contend that the current cabinet's legitimacy expired on April 1.

The farmer, who was granted a reprieve to continue with his farming
activities until a final order is issued, is also asking the court to
declare "that the Section 8 order signed by the first respondent (Made) is

Quinnell is arguing Made - apart from being an illegitimate minister - also
failed to file with the Administrative Court an application to confirm the
acquisition order within the 30-day period stipulated by the Land
Acquisition Act.

The farmer said Made's acquisition order was unprocedural because he failed
to serve notice on the bond-holder for the property in terms of Sections 5
and 8 of the Act.

Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa's constitutional authority is also under
challenge because of the role he played in the amendment to the Land
Acquisition Act in May to widen the state's legal powers to seize more land.

Quinnell wants the court to declare that Chinamasa ceased to be a legitimate
minister on April 1.

The owner of Erewhon Farm was also granted interim relief by the High Court
last week paving way for more court challenges against eviction orders.

Peter Goosen, spokesman for Justice for Agriculture, a group formed to
legally defend farmers against removal, said the current court applications
were just the beginning of a protracted legal battle.

"There are going to be hundreds, if not thousands, of court applications
seeking interdicts after last week's interdicts," Goosen said.

"We have over 1 000 single-farm owners whose properties have been taken and
equipment stolen. This is contrary to what the president has said about
single-farm owners."

Mugabe has always claimed that those with one farm would get another
property allocated them if their landholdings were designated.

"The current applications are only the first step in what is likely to be a
long battle because there are issues which have to go to the Supreme Court
since they are of a constitutional nature and deal with legalities," said
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      Financial Times

      Mugabe warned on food aid
      By James Lamont
      Published: July 12 2002 5:00 | Last Updated: July 12 2002 5:00

      The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned the Zimbabwean
government yesterday that it would suspend food relief in response to any
political interference with its activities in the country.

      James Morris, head of the WFP, said he had told President Robert
Mugabe this week that the UN agency "would be out of the country in a
second" if it encountered difficulties in delivering food to starving
people. James Lamont, Johannesburg
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Business Day

      Zimbabwe's media law is about to be tested

      Magistrate expected to deliver a ruling in Meldrum case
      Harare Correspondent

      ZIMBABWE's repressive media law will be tested today when a
magistrate's court is expected to deliver a ruling in a case against
American journalist, Andrew Meldrum, who writes for Britain's Guardian

      Meldrum, who is a permanent Zimbabwean resident, has been on trial in
recent weeks for writing a story, which President Robert Mugabe's government
said was untrue.

      The story, first published by the independent Daily News, claimed
Mugabe's supporters beheaded an opposition Movement for Democratic Change
follower at Magunje, north of Harare.

      However, events later proved it was inaccurate. The Daily News
apologised for the mistake although government proceeded to arrest its
reporters and editors and charge them. Their case is still pending in the

      If convicted Meldrum, whose attorney has argued that he did not
originate the story and did not deliberately publish incorrect information,
faces a heavy fine or a two-year jail term.

      However, last month the state prosecutor Thabani Mpofu said Meldrum
was likely get away with a fine if convicted.

      Government reacted angrily to Mpofu's remarks and ordered an
investigation, saying the comment amounted to gross misconduct on the part
of the lawyer, a claim denied by legal experts.

      Lawyers said today's ruling would be a test of constitutionality of
the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act under which
independent journalists are being harassed.

      "It will definitely set a precedent," the lawyer said. "But like most
legal experts have been saying it is not just Meldrum on trial but also the
independence of our judiciary and Zimbabweans' liberties in general."

      So far 13 journalists have been charged for allegedly publishing
falsehoods since Mugabe signed into law the legislation described by a
parliamentary committee as "the most calculated and determined assault on
our liberties".

      If the case against Meldrum is not dismissed, his lawyers have said
they would challenge the constitutionality of the law.

      Media proprietors and journalist unions are mobilising resources to
fight the law. The Foreign Correspondents Association of Zimbabwe has filed
an urgent application in the supreme court asking for a review of the law
but the court of appeal refused to treat it as an urgent matter.

      Jul 12 2002 12:00:00:000AM  Dumisani Muleya Business Day 1st Edition

      12 July 2002

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Zim Independent

Chanetsa/war vets clash over farms
Vincent Kahiya
THE land reform exercise faces a new threat from senior Zanu PF officials
bending the ground rules for personal gain, the Zimbabwe Independent has
established. The Independent this week heard that Mashonaland West governor
Peter Chanetsa had clashed with war veterans in the province who accused him
of hoarding choice farms and enriching himself to the detriment of landless

Sources told the Independent that Chanetsa had laid claim to at least six
properties in the province - Gabaro Farm in Karoi, Riverside Farm in Norton,
Elwin Farm in Raffingora, Sligo Farm in Zvimba North, and Deary Farm in
Nyabira. Efforts to get a comment from Chanetsa this week were unsuccessful
as his secretary said he was not at work due to illness.

The sources said at Riverside Farm in Norton, Chanetsa allegedly evicted a
war veteran only identified as Mugadzaweta, raising the ire of his
colleagues. The ex-combatants also claimed settlers who had been issued with
letters of confirmation by the Ministry of Lands were unable to occupy their
plots as the same properties had been earmarked for senior Zanu PF

CFU officials in the province this week said they were getting mixed signals
from the governor's office as officials were still urging farmers to retain
portions of their farms and co-exist with settlers. The Independent has also
heard that senior Zanu PF members and their hangers-on were harvesting crops
they did not grow and marketing them after evicting the owners.

Saviour Kasukuwere, the MP for Mount Darwin South, has reportedly occupied
the multi-million dollar horticulture producing Insingisi Farm in Bindura.
The property has not been listed for resettlement.

The farm has an orchard valued at $5 million and a $25 million packhouse for
oranges. The farm also has a silo owned by 50 commercial farmers for storing
grain. Roses are also grown on the farm for export to Holland. Kasukuwere is
allegedly harvesting the oranges and selling them. The owner, Colin Taylor,
alleged that Kasukuwere drove him off his property two months ago.

"Kasukuwere came to my farm with about six youths who have virtually camped
on my farm and have stopped us from carrying out any farming activities,"
said Taylor.

"The youths gave my supervisor 24 hours to vacate his house. The youths then
proceeded to the orchard where they stopped my workers from picking oranges
and this has prejudiced me of millions of dollars. They also broke into the
warehouse and seized equipment valued at $3 million," he said.

But Kasukuwere denied the allegation. "What that farmer told you is
hogwash," he said. "I do not have a farm and I am currently looking for one.
I do not own any youths and the youths that are said to be on that farm do
not belong to me."
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Friday, 12 July, 2002, 05:25 GMT 06:25 UK
Zimbabwe judge to rule on journalist
Andrew Meldrum, with his wife, Dolores, arriving at court
Andrew Meldrum says he has a strong case
An American journalist being tried in Zimbabwe under new media laws is returning to court on Friday hoping that his test case will be thrown out.

Andrew Meldrum, who writes for Britain's Guardian newspaper, is charged with publishing falsehoods and faces two years in jail if convicted.

His trial was adjourned more than three weeks ago after the prosecution concluded its case.

Mr Meldrum's lawyer asked for all charges to be dropped, saying that the evidence was not sufficient to find him guilty.

If the judge does not throw out the case, the trial will continue.

The issue at stake is whether an article published in the Guardian can fall under the jurisdiction of Zimbabwean law or whether the internet version available in Zimbabwe is sufficient to secure a conviction.

The case surrounds a report written by Mr Meldrum which was based on a piece originally published by Zimbabwe's main independent newspaper, The Daily News.

The story alleged that supporters of President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF Party had beheaded a woman in a rural area for supporting the opposition.

Apology issued

The Daily News later withdrew the story as being unsubstantiated and issued an apology.

Two Zimbabwean journalists from the paper were also arrested over the article.

Thirteen other journalists who have been charged under the controversial Zimbabwean Media Law are anxiously awaiting the result of this test case.

Mr Meldrum remains positive, saying he has a very strong case and he believes he has not broken any laws

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Daily News

      Hitchhikers turn car-jackers

      7/12/02 8:54:35 AM (GMT +2)

      Staff Reporter

      A man who gave a lift to four seeming hitchhikers got more than he had
bargained for when they allegedly stole his $1 million Mazda B2200 truck.

      Anthony Dambaza, 32, one of the four suspected car-jackers, on
Wednesday appeared before Harare magistrate Wilbert Mandinde charged with
car theft. Mandinde remanded him in custody to 24 July.

      Dambaza is already facing other car theft charges.

      The State is alleging that on 27 June, Dambaza and three others who
are still at large, were given a lift in Harare by the complainant, who was
not named in court. He was driving towards Murehwa.

      The State alleged that two of the four took the front seat, while the
others went into the back. After they had gone some distance one of those in
the back banged loudly on the body of the truck and the driver stopped and
got out to investigate, leaving the truck engine running, the State said.

      The State further alleged that one of the two in front then drove off,
but the owner managed to jump into the back. The two assaulted him, tied his
hands and dumped him.

      The vehicle was found at Dambaza's home in Epworth.
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Daily News

      Parents accuse school of neglecting children's health

      7/12/02 8:48:15 AM (GMT +2)

      Staff Reporter

      PARENTS with children at Martindale Catholic primary school in Selous
near Chegutu have accused the church of neglecting the health of the
children and discriminating against non-Catholic teachers at the school.

      The parents accused the church of giving Sister Angeline Mudenha, the
Sister-in-Charge at the school, executive powers to run the school as she
wishes, usurping the school headmaster's authority.

      A new headmaster, John Maroto, yesterday replaced the old one,
identified only as Sandey who left because of misunderstandings with Sister
Mudenha, who has been described by some parents and teachers as dictatorial
and very powerful.

      Mudenha said she was responsible for everything that happened at the
school but denied the allegations against her.

      She said: "People can say anything. The truth is that we do what we
think is good for the school."

      But parents said it was unheard of for a mere church nun without any
educational training to delegate duties to a school headmaster and his

      "The current headmaster resigned in frustration," said a parent in
Harare who refused to be identified. "He was powerless."

      The school has failed on two annual general meetings to resolve
critical issues of discrimination on religious grounds, the composition of
the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) and hygiene at the school.

      Several parents said the church discriminated against non-Catholics in
the election of PTA executive members and the recruitment of teachers.

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Daily News

      Parents, son disappear in politically volatile Guruve

      7/12/02 9:04:03 AM (GMT +2)

      By Pedzisai Ruhanya Chief Reporter

      POLITICAL violence in Guruve North in Mashonaland Central led to the
disappearance of the father, his two wives and the eldest son of the Gurudhu
family, in October last year, leaving their 15-year-old daughter, Vimbai, to
look after her four siblings.

      The Gurudhus of Mapfumo village in Chief Chisunga's area, had been
threatened with death by Zanu PF supporters for being MDC activists.

      Biggie Chigonero, the MDC vice-chairman for Mashonaland Central, on
Wednesday confirmed the incident and said his party was making arrangements
to look after the children while trying to establish the whereabouts of
their parents.

      "I sent an MDC team last week with $1 500 to assist the children. As a
province we also send some food," Chigonero said.

      He said his executive had written to the MDC national executive
notifying it of the children's plight.

      "We want those children to be assisted by the MDC. We are going to
send another team this weekend to give them further assistance," Chigonero

      Vimbai, now 16, is the breadwinner for her four brothers, Mudzingwa,
11, Silent, 13, Chaka, 13, and Danhiko, 15. The five left school because
they have no money and
      are in dire need of clothes and other basic necessities.

      Vimbai said the family, who moved from Chirumanzu in the Midlands
province in the 1980s, have no close relatives in the area to turn to for

      She said her father, Daniel, elder brother Morgan, and Gurudhu's two
wives, Judith Mandizha and Tonderai Mutebvu, disappeared after persistent
death threats by Zanu PF supporters led by a so-called war veteran
identified only as Mudzvova.

      She said they left at different intervals.

      Mapfumo village is about 300km from Harare along the Guruve-Kanyemba

      "My father was the MDC chairman for ward 2 while Morgan was an
activist. They organised MDC rallies. They were threatened with death for
bringing the MDC into the area," she said.

      Chigonero confirmed Gurudhu was the party's chairman for ward 2.
Vimbai said her parents disappeared in October while she was away sitting
for her Grade 7 examinations at Chitima Primary School.

      She said she wrote the examinations while staying with someone at the
school as "it was difficult to stay at home because of the political

      "After completing my examinations, I returned home only to be told by
my brothers that our parents had capitulated to Mudzvova's death threats and
had fled. They never told my brothers where they went.

      "They have not written to us. We are living on our own. We will die
here but I am having problems with the children because they are sometimes

      Mudzingwa, the youngest, last month broke his right leg while playing
football and had to be rushed to hospital by a neighbour.

      Vimbai said after her parents' disappearance, Zanu PF youths visited
their home to spend the night, waiting for them to turn up.

      She said the youths would leave in the morning.

      "At times they would knock on the door, pretending to be our parents.
They later took me to Mudzvova's home where they demanded the MDC cards and
receipt books but I told them I was at school and was not involved in
politics," she said.

      She said the Zanu PF supporters did not assault herself and her

      Danhiko said: "We do casual work to get money to buy food. At times we
pick an acre of cotton for $500."

      Mudzingwa said: "I want to go back to school so that I can be a

      Vimbai said they never reported their parents' disappearance to the
police. They were told by Zanu PF supporters the police would not help them.

      "Zanu PF supporters say if our parents return, they will be killed.
But we hope one day our parents will come home, if they are alive."
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Washington Post

The Hand That Reached Out to Africa
After Three Decades, C. Payne Lucas Retires From Africare
By Roxanne Roberts
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 12, 2002; Page C01

Some people are born idealists. They dream, they scheme, they speak in lofty

C. Payne Lucas is an accidental idealist. He has spent 40 years dedicating
his life to the people of Africa. He's passionate, playful and pragmatic as
a thick sole on a pair of work books. He's a salesman, a preacher, a
teacher. And it all started, he said, with one not-so-lofty ambition: He
needed a job.

He found one at the Peace Corps, which was followed by 31 years as
co-founder and president of Africare, the largest African American nonprofit
specializing in aid to African countries. Last night, Lucas was honored by
500 friends and admirers at his retirement party at Africare's headquarters
on R Street NW.

"C. Payne was really a pioneer in all the work with Africa," said Dorothy
Height, president of the National Council of Negro Women. "He had the vision
and really set the pace. He was one of the first to call for people to pay
attention to Africa -- and gave them a channel to do it."

Height, along with former U.N. ambassador Andrew Young, Reps. Charlie Rangel
and Don Payne, representatives from the African diplomatic corps, former
Peace Corps colleagues and supporters of Africare, gathered on this flawless
summer night to bid Lucas a fond farewell. "He's just a regular, ordinary
guy who's a lot of fun," said Young. "He only gets serious when he talks
about Africa."

His combination of charm and chutzpah has made him the go-to guy among
Africa activists. Lucas, 69, has rubbed elbows with Nelson Mandela, Desmond
Tutu and other world leaders. He's credited with creating programs to
directly aid the neediest on the African continent, and persuading Americans
to support those programs.

"He is a great, great guy," said Walter Kansteiner, assistant secretary of
state for Africa. "He has, in a totally unselfish way, committed himself to
the betterment of Africa. He looks at a situation and says: 'What's the
problem? How can we fix it? How much does it cost? And where am I going to
get the money?' And then he goes out and does it."

But Lucas is the first to admit that he backed into the "vision" that became

He was born in Spring Hope, N.C., in 1933, the 11th in a family of 14
children. The "C" in his name stands for . . . ("Committed!" he shouted.)
Nope. "Cleotha" -- a moniker he deemed so embarrassing it was quickly and
forever shortened to one letter.

His father was a sharecropper, his mother barely educated, but Lucas always
liked being a student. He graduated from the town's tiny high school in
1951, and headed up to the University of Maryland's Eastern Shore campus,
where he quickly landed a scholarship. After his sophomore year, he enrolled
in the Air Force for four years and then returned to college with the notion
of becoming a schoolteacher. His senior year was pivotal for two reasons: He
realized that the classroom -- lesson plans, rigid rules, forced exams --
was not for him, and he met his wife of 38 years, Freddie, with whom he has
three grown children.

Lucas's next move was to graduate school at American University with an eye
toward a degree in government and an internship at the Democratic National
Committee. He fell in love with politics just as John Kennedy swept into the
White House. Two years later, he told the head of the DNC that he needed
more than an extended internship -- he needed work. Anything, as long as it
was a paying job. Lucas was sent to the Peace Corps, where Sargent Shriver
gave him a position as Washington desk officer for Togo. "I didn't know
where it was," said Lucas with a laugh. "I hadn't given a lot of thought to

Here the ex-Air Force technician, not-quite-schoolteacher,
not-quite-politician found his true calling. Shriver sent him to the small
West African country as a field representative, which proved to be a
transforming experience: "I'd never been to a country where blacks were in
charge," he remembered. "It inspired me to get past the neo-colonialism. We
were driven to do everything we could to make the country a success." After
Togo, Lucas went to Niger as a country director, then back to Washington as
the regional director for all of Africa.

In 1971 Lucas joined forces with doctor William Kirker -- a former Peace
Corps volunteer in Niger -- to turn Africare (then just a small health care
program) into a Washington-based nonprofit specializing in grass-roots
development. Working out of offices in Niger's embassy here, Africare began
raising money to help victims of the crippling drought in West Africa.

"The first people to give us money were the poor people of Washington," he
said. "They came with their nickels and dimes. That's how we got started."
Those tiny contributions were followed by two grants, and Africare went to
Niger and five other countries in the Sahara to dig wells, plant trees,
establish vegetable gardens.

"He said, 'You've got to stop romanticizing Africa, because we have work to
do and it's not romantic,' " Rep. Payne said in his tribute last night.

Lucas, no idealist, was determined to ensure that Africare's programs were
practical, administered as honestly as possible, and wanted by the villagers
instead of imposed on them. "They've done great work in development," said
TransAfrica Vice President Selena Mendy Singleton. "What he's doing is
really so beyond grass roots. When I lived in Zimbabwe, I got to know some
Africare workers. The kind of work they were doing was so fundamental --
really providing basic needs."

With an annual budget of $35 million, Africare now has 150 programs in 27
nations, focusing on clean water, health, education and training in
self-governance. Since its founding, it has poured a total of $400 million
into the continent: 60 percent from government agencies, the rest from
corporate, foundation and individual donations.

"When I first went to Africa, there was a coup d'etat every six months,"
said Lucas. "Corruption was understood to be. Now that is changing. There is
accountability. Africans now feel they can do the work themselves. They just
need encouragement."

The good news: Last month, the G-8 group of industrialized countries
introduced its Africa Action Plan to assist economic and political
stability. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and rock star Bono drew the
world's eyes to Africa on their recent tour, and President Bush announced
that he would visit early next year.

The bad news: Lucas says Africans have never demonstrated any real capacity
for tolerating diversity. And he's frustrated that African Americans have
not banded together to lobby effectively for more foreign aid.

But that pales in light of the AIDS tragedy: Twenty-four of the world's most
afflicted countries are in Africa; in seven of them, more than 20 percent of
the population is infected with HIV. Life expectancy has dropped from the
mid-fifties to below 40 in some sub-Saharan countries; 15,000 people a day
are dying from the disease.

"AIDS is not just a compelling moral issue, it is not just a humanitarian
issue; it is far more than just a health issue," said Secretary of State
Colin Powell last month. "It is a security issue. It is a destroyer of
nations. It is a destroyer of societ ies. It has the potential to
destabilize regions, perhaps even entire continents."

Africare does not have the resources to supply drugs, but has established an
AIDS service corps, which recruits African volunteers to educate men and
women in their own villages. The AIDS crisis, Lucas said, is the one place
where imposing Western standards is entirely justified.

"All the work to get Africa to this point will be lost," he said. "We can
dig all the wells we want, but there won't be anyone to drink the water
unless we get on top of this disease."

In his farewell last night, Lucas gave a fire-and-brimstone speech on the
subject, imploring everyone present to do more. "This is a continent and a
civilization that is dying," he told them. "We have to organize ourselves
better to save Africa."

Technically, Lucas retired last month, although he stayed on to make the
transition smoother for new president Julius Coles, formerly of the U.S.
Agency for International Development, Howard University's Ralph Bunche
International Affairs Center and the Andrew Young Center for International
Affairs at Morehouse College.

"I don't know why we're here because nothing much is going to change," Young
quipped to the audience. "He's going to retire like I retired."

Lucas was presented with a computer system -- printer, laptop, the works --
by the board to write a history of Africare. "Obviously, I'm not running
finance anymore, because I don't give away laptops," he joked.

Lucas will still work on Africare's annual fundraiser, named after Bishop
John T. Walker, the first African American Episcopal bishop to the
Washington Diocese and former chairman of Africare. He wants to encourage
more private investment in Africa. He's still going to fight AIDS.

And one more thing: "I'd like to see Africa with my wife," he said. Seems
he's been so busy being practical that he's never made a trip just for fun.
"I'd like to discover Africa."

Lucky for him, Africare also gave Lucas a digital camera and a trip around
the world for two.

© 2002 The Washington Post Company
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Planet Ark

      Sixty mln southern Africans face hunger, disease - UN

      SWITZERLAND: July 12, 2002

      GENEVA - Some 60 million people in southern Africa are facing hunger,
disease and death because of a health and humanitarian crisis due to drought
and political instability, the United Nations said this week.

      David Nabarro of the World Health Organisation (WHO) told a news
conference that the WHO and other U.N. bodies estimated some 300,000 people
could die in the next six months.
      "This is a not just a food crisis. It is a total health and
humanitarian crisis as big as anything we have faced over the past decade,"
Nabarro declared.

      The worst hit countries were Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland,
Zambia and Zimbabwe, he said, but others like Angola - which is just
emerging from a devastating two-decade civil war - were also badly affected.

      And another WHO official, Johanna Larusdottir, told the news
conference that if a new El Nino weather phenomenon - the last one of which
four years ago brought intense drought to southern and western Africa -
"then the situation will be much worse."

      An official of the U.N. childrens' welfare organisation UNICEF,
Director of Emergency Operations Nils Kastberg, said that 2.3 million
infants and toddlers under five were among the endangered populations.

      "These are among the most vulnerable. If they don't have the right
food and medical treatment, then they are much more prone to diseases like
diarrhoea and pneumonia," he said.

      Another WHO official, Rayana Bu-Haka, said the U.N. was seeking
additional funds from the international community - governments and private
organisations - for food and health support, but the amount for health had
yet to be finalised.


      There had been a good response so far from the European Union and the
United States on the food front, but the region's health services
desperately needed additional medical personnel, drugs, and other resources,
Nabarro said.

      Nabarro, Executive Director of WHO's Sustainable Development and
Heathy Environments division, said the dry weather and erratic rainfall over
the past two years had brought severe food shortages "compounded by
instability and population displacement in some countries."

      Additionally, governments in the area tried to provide crucial health
services on very small budgets - less than $20 a year per head of the
population in at least two of the crisis-hit countries.

      "If only we could find a way to persuade governments to give much more
priority to health and other social services than to investing in military
and other activities," he said.

      Local health workers were few and far between, many of them having
left for other parts of the world where they could earn better salaries, and
many others dying in the AIDS epidemic that has swept Africa, he said.

      "There are millions of people at risk of extreme poverty and suffering
due to lack of food, lack of opportunities to earn cash through agriculture
and food production.

      "In addition, they are eating seed grain that should be set aside for

      Nabarro said the policies of some governments was compounding the
crisis - including actions in Zimbabwe's land reform that had resulted in
the closing down of farms owned by people of European origin.

      But he said the burning of crops by warring sides in Angola before the
end of the civil war late last year had also worsened the situation.

      Story by Robert Evans

Dispatch online (SA)

Worst humanitarian disaster in world ­ WFP

12m people face starvation

JOHANNESBURG -- The threatening famine in six Southern African countries
which affects more than 12 million people is the worst humanitarian disaster
in the world at the moment, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)
said yesterday.

WFP head James Morris said at a media briefing here that the situation was
desperate and getting worse by the day.

"Throughout the region people are walking a thin tightrope between life and
death," Morris said.

"The combination of widespread hunger, chronic poverty and the HIV-Aids
pandemic is devastating and may soon lead to a catastrophe.

"Policy failures and mismanagement have only exacerbated an already serious

Long droughts and other adverse weather had played a role by ruining crops.

The six countries affected by famine are Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia,
Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland.

Morris said the WFP needed to raise at least R5billion to feed 10,2 million
of those worst affected by the lack of food.

In Zimbabwe alone at least six million people face starvation.

Morris said in the last 10 days the WFP had managed to raise R1,350bn.

The United States had donated R980million, the UK R285m and other European
countries had also donated small amounts.

Morris said if the deaths of millions of people were to be staved off,
countries would have to maximise crops.

In addition, the private sector in the affected countries would have to get
involved in supplying food and the world donor community would have to

"We are in a crisis and we cannot overemphasise the seriousness of it."

He said most of the food would have to be distributed before the rainy
season began in October.

The worst affected were children, women and the elderly.

"This can escalate into an unthinkable human catastrophe."

Morris said he had held talks with Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe about
food aid being used for political gain.

"I made it very clear to him that the WFP will not tolerate the politicising
of food distribution.

"We will have zero tolerance towards political interference."

He said if he thought the WFP was not free to do its job, it would withdraw
"in a second".

"But I would work very hard to resolve the problems, if any should arise."

Morris said the WFP had been calling the world's attention to the
deteriorating situation in Southern Africa for two to three years.

The WFP would do a continuous assessment of the situation in the countries
where food shortages occurred. -- Sapa
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How Zimbabwe is Killing the Region

Congress of South African Trade Unions (Johannesburg)

July 9, 2002
Posted to the web July 9, 2002


While the G8 commits US$6 billion to development assistance in Africa, South
Africa alone loses US$7,7 billion because of Zimbabwe's economic breakdown.
Food for thought.

At 2001 Zimbabwe dollar prices, Zimbabwe has seen export trade fall by Z$134
billion over just two years. This sum converts to US$600 million at an
exchange rate of Z$220 to one US dollar, or to US$2.4 billion at the
ridiculous official exchange rate of Z$55 to one US dollar.

The $600 million is equivalent to a whole year's earnings from our most
important export crop. Because it was lost, about 20,000 jobs have been lost
in industry.

The US$600 million would also be enough to pay for all the food imports
needed now that we have failed to produce the needed crops. Instead, we have
to beg for loans or grants to pay for it.

Zimbabwe's conduct has led to withdrawals of development aid from most
regional countries. Zambia believes it would have had much more success
attracting direct investment as well as in restoring more of its own
manufacturing capacity. The amount lost cannot be estimated accurately, but
it probably exceeds US$500 million.

In South Africa, the lack of will to express disappointment or anxiety about
Zimbabwe's conduct since 1997 has caused the rand to fall from R6.5 to one
US dollar to figures that recently reached R11 to one. If the fall is
measured only as the drop from R6.5 to R9.5 to one US dollar, South Africa's
import bill at US$27 billion a year caused an increase in rand terms from
R175 billion to R256 billion, an increase of R81 billion. This expressed in
US$ terms amounts to US$7,7 billion, so South Africa's direct loss exceeds
the full amount of support agreed to at the Nepad Conference in Canada for
all the beneficiary countries.

** John Robertson is one of Zimbabwe's leading economists.
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Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

Picking up the pieces

I WAS interested to read Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi's remarks in
Harare last weekend that Africa could not afford to ignore the rest of the
world as the imperatives of globalisation made themselves felt.

This appeared to be a thinly-veiled warning to the dinosaurs in our own
government who think they can hide from reality behind a flimsy wall of
ill-conceived economic measures.

Price controls are evidently not working. The land seizures have spawned
food shortages. And there is no workable plan to get us out of the hole our
rulers have dug, apart from an entirely delusional 10-point plan. Those
ministers who do see a way out have been marginalised and now reportedly
face the chop.

Finance minister Simba Makoni and Industry and Trade minister Herbert
Murerwa both want to restore ties with the international community. That
would clear the way for aid and credit to prop up the economy. But such
assistance depends on a restoration of the rule of law, coherent economic
policies, and good governance, things President Mugabe and his inner circle
appear determined to resist. They see globalisation, not as a challenge but
part of an imperialist conspiracy to plunder Zimbabwe's resources -
something they are doing pretty well on their own.

However, there is growing evidence that developing countries which have

embraced globalisation have developed faster and reduced poverty more
effectively than those that have not. The most obvious examples are the four
Asian "tigers" - Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea. They have in
the space of 40 years caught up with - and in some cases overtaken -
advanced Western economies. South Korea was on a par with Ghana in terms of
per capita GDP in 1960.

Now it is home to high-tech companies, auto plants and shipbuilding. The
performance of the four tigers can be contrasted with protectionist India's
sluggish growth over the same period and persisting levels of acute poverty
on the sub-continent.

It is true that some countries embracing economic reforms in the 1990s have
gone badly wrong. These include Brazil, Thailand, Indonesia and Russia where
banking systems were insecure. But Thailand and Russia are recovering fast
having learnt from their mistakes. More recently, Argentina has experienced
a meltdown. Fingers have been pointed at the IMF with its one-size-fits-all
prescriptions. The IMF has in particular been lambasted by Nobel-winning
economist Joseph Stiglitz whose book, Globalisation And Its Discontents, is
a searing attack on the "Washington consensus".

Stiglitz claims the IMF's insistence on the removal of trade barriers,
privatisation and caps on government spending can be disastrous for
developing economies such as Kenya. But his critics have pointed out that in
a number of cases the IMF's concern for its social role has prevented it
from acting with the toughness required.

In Argentina it has been accused of not intervening when it needed to at the
outset as government spending shot up, and then providing an overdose of
assistance when remedial policies were clearly not working.

In all this, however, the main responsibility for Argentina's crisis lay in

Buenos Aires, not Washington.

The same is true of Zimbabwe. Our economic crisis is entirely home-made. IMF
prescriptions that spending be controlled, parasitic state corporations
privatised, trade and investment encouraged, and wasteful projects - such as
the Congo intervention - scrapped are difficult to fault. We need policies
geared for growth which will in turn underwrite social investment. These
must include security of property and the rule of law.

Yet our ruling political class is resisting any such programme. Instead it
will persist with policies that have not only been discredited elsewhere but
demonstrably failed here at home as well. That price and exchange-rate
controls are failing with disastrous consequences for industry is evident to
all except those cushioned from the impact of their policies.

Shortages and inflation are not the product of foreign sabotage but the
result of ruling party saboteurs active at every level of the economy. Their
allies are those ignorant of how a modern economy works.

With the African Union's endorsement of Nepad and the enthusiastic embrace
by regional partners of the challenges posed by globalisation Zimbabwe is in
severe danger of being left behind. Backed by business and civil society,
Makoni, Murerwa, and Reserve Bank officials have been trying to warn of the

But nobody at the top, it appears, is listening. Zimbabwe is hostage to
damaging demagogues who seem to be living on another planet.

Sooner or later they will have to come down to Earth. But then there will be
little left of a once-resilient economy and we will be left to pick up the
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Zim Independent


Whither interest rate policy?
Barnabas Thondhlana/Godfrey Marawanyika
AS pressures mounts for government to review its low interest rate policy,
market commentators this week warned against adopting populist ideas in the
wake of declining economic performance.

Since August 2000, the central bank and the Ministry of Finance have
maintained the low interest rates regime which both have been under intense
pressure to restructure. The low interest rate policy has proved a boon for
some sections of the economy, but has had disastrous results on deposits and
money market instruments.

Some analysts have said, when introduced, the low interest rate policy did
not address lending rates, but was restricted to deposit rates which
subsequently went down to around 25%. Calls have been made to lower the
lending rates even further, to hover around 20%.

Economist Dr Samuel Undenge in an advertorial in a local daily last week
said that the low lending rates policy regime had failed to achieve the
desired results.

"If the high interest rates have not worked for the last eight years, why
not try low lending rates of less than 20%," asked Undenge. "Last year, only
deposit rates came down below 20% and lending rates remained above 40%, yet
it is lending rates which will stimulate the economy."

The low interest rate policy was enacted to enable government to restructure
its bloated domestic debt - above $300 billion as of June 22 - from short to
long term, and also provide an impetus for exporting companies to expand.

The central bank has been following an expansionary policy designed to
promote the productive sectors and assist the government to restructure its
domestic debt.

Government has failed to boost the performance of the productive sectors
because of high inflation and the negative real interest rates. The low
interest rate regime has resulted in the growth of asset price inflation,
which refers to the continued rise in the price levels of assets such as
bonds, shares, foreign currency and real assets like residential property.
The negative real interest rates of more than 90% are due to the wide
divergence between interest rates of around 30% and inflation 122,5% which
has seen many investors looking for inflation-beating assets. The government
has failed to bring down the rate of inflation, currently at triple digit
levels at a time when inflation levels in neighbouring countries are at
single digit levels.

"The guesswork being suggested in some quarters is not sustainable in the
long term," said one analyst. "Simple logic dictates that the high interest
rates reflects the country's high level of inflation. This is why the
property market has been thriving at a time when savings with banks have
been declining. The proposals being suggested could be detrimental to banks
as they will be less money on the investment side."

The analyst said that this was why currently the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange is
experiencing an equity bull-run, due to the crash of the local currency on
the parallel market and ever-increasing prices on the property market.

"This explains the negative real interest rates that have discouraged
savings with banks, a development that has resulted in significant financial
disintermedition," the analyst said. "It is these side effects of the
current low interest rate policy that have given rise to the current
expectations of a possible rise in interest rates."

Currently, banks are offering between 35%-47% as interest on loans, which
analysts say, if maintained, could could have serious repercussions on
government's agrarian reforms. "If interest rates are adjusted upwards, this
could spell political doom since government has mostly given the new farmers
cash and inputs at very low lending rates," said one analyst.

Another economist with a local financial institution warned the government
against adopting an ad-hoc policy.

"Although some people have been advocating that as an option the government
should try low lending rates of less than 20%, this is not practical," said
the economist. "Populist ideas have been advocated for but the question is
do they work? The problem, as has become the norm, is we are trying to deal
with symptoms, " said the economist "But reducing interest rates arbitrarily
will increase money supply growth."

He acknowledged that, to some extent, the low interest rates regime has
protected the vulnerable companies currently struggling from the economic

"The best way of addressing the economic crisis is by addressing the
excessive government borrowing, this has greatly exposed the whole economic
performance of the country due to interest repayment."

Although interest rates have been slowly creeping up unofficially, this has
been caused by the government demand for cheap and quick money to buy basic
commodities. To successfully implement the importation of food, the
government wants to continue borrowing cheaply such that allowing rates and
go up would have some serious fiscal consequences.

One economist said the pegging of the bank rate - the rate at which the RBZ
lends - at 57,2% since 2001 had distorted the market. "The bank rate is
normally the standard from which other rates take their cue," said the
economist. "The RBZ, as the bank of last resort, is not giving the market
direction." He said instead, the market was taking its cue on rates from the
Treasury bill auctions.

"In the past three consecutive weeks bids were rejected by the market
because they did not meet expectations. The obtaining TB rate is now the peg
for interest rates."

He described the sudden rise in interest rates as short-term.

"This is the time government comes into the market collecting its tax
revenues resulting in billions being remitted and leaving the market short,"
he said.
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Daily News

      Traders allege sugar racket at ZSR

      7/12/02 8:59:24 AM (GMT +2)

      Staff Reporter

      THERE was chaos at the Zimbabwe Sugar Refinery (ZSR)'s Canberra Road
head office in Harare's Workington industrial area on Wednesday as scores of
people, mostly retailers, failed to buy sugar.

      Sugar is one of several basic commodities that have been in short
supply for the past few weeks.

      The other scarce commodities are salt, maize-meal and cooking oil.

      Despite an announcement by the State-owned ZBC this week that the
shortage of sugar had eased as production had resumed after a short break,
the situation at most retail shops has not improved at all. There was
confusion and disorder at the refinery, with many people being turned away.

      Many vehicles were parked on either side of the road in front of the
ZSR offices as their owners jostled to get onto the premises. They were
barred from entering by security
      details, who included soldiers and policemen.

      Some of the people were shop owners from as far away as Guruve and

      They were told their names did not appear on the list of those allowed
to buy sugar on the day.

      The list included One Batallion Regiment, ENG Support Regiment, AMC,
Cabs Head
      Office, Capricorn, Dulux, Dimon, Mashco, Sedco Head Office, Forestry
Commission, the ZRP, Fidelity Life and Knight Frank and Rutley.

      Some of those turned away said the selective selling of sugar was open
to abuse and was promoting the thriving of a black market where the
commodity is being sold at highly inflated prices.

      They said in Harare's high-density suburbs a 2kg packet, normally sold
for $90, was being sold at prices ranging from $300 to $500.

      "Management here are very selective about whom they sell sugar to,"
complained one of the retailers who failed to get sugar on Wednesday.

      "It's so unfair because there are piles and piles of sugar at the ZSR
offices, as you can see for yourself."

      This reporter managed to get into the yard and witnessed several
trucks, including those from the army and one from Natprint being loaded.

      There were huge stacks of 2kg pockets of sugar in rows about 30 metres

      An irate shop owner from Mabvuku said he had been in the queue since
6am but by 11:30am he had still not bought any sugar.

      He said: "My name does not appear on the list of people who have been
allowed to buy

      He said it was disturbing that none of the 50 or so companies whose
names were pasted at the front gate and who were allowed to buy sugar on
Wednesday, were licenced dealers.

      Another retailer questioned the decision to sell to the army and the
police as if they were a special group.

      Patson Sithole, the ZSR group managing director, could not be reached
for comment.
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Daily News

      Zanu PF supporters allegedly demand money from vendors

      7/12/02 8:55:14 AM (GMT +2)

      By Henry Makiwa

      MARAUDING gangs of Zanu PF supporters on Monday besieged the Mbare
Musika vegetable market demanding that vendors pay them a "security fee" of
$100 each for their stands.

      About 30 militants descended upon the market demanding the fee and
threatened eviction and a $50 interest for those who failed to pay.

      A vendor who refused to be named said: "The Zanu PF supporters
threatened to evict us and ordered us to pay or lose all our goods

      The gangsters were allegedly making the demands on the pretext of
setting up a security company, the vendors said.

      "We are now living in constant fear as the militia come and demand
money from us whenever they wish.

      "The most painful thing is that after every episode of their 'tax
collection' we see them milling around their Mbare 3 headquarters,

      The vendors allege the militia claim the city council is aware of
their activities and the Harare mayor has given them his blessing.

      "We suspect it is a plot to set us against the new mayor, and that
they are behind the recent thefts around the market," another vendor said.

      One vendor lost goods worth $40 000 on Friday night.

      But the city council says it knows nothing of the militants'

      A security officer with the municipal police, who identified himself
as Sergeant Masasa, said: "We are not aware of the allegations by the

      "It is criminal for anyone to go around demanding money from vendors
on council property without the council's consent," he said.
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Daily News

      MDC's Matamisa confident of turning the tables on Zanu PF

      7/12/02 8:23:45 AM (GMT +2)

      Municipal Reporter

      IN Zimbabwe, those wishing to run for political office, especially on
an opposition party ticket, must brace for political violence and make sure
they have adequate security for themselves and their homes.

      It has taken brave men and women to run for office on an MDC ticket as
this inevitably means it is only a matter of time before they have to deal
with violence on their doorstep.

      Some of those running on an opposition ticket have actually been
branded as lunatics by their friends and relatives, worried that they would
be facing near certain death at the hands of Zanu PF hoodlums.

      But one woman, a sub-deacon with the Church of England and a former
civil servant, Edita Matamisa, has dared to venture where some men fear to

      Matamisa is the MDC candidate for the Kadoma mayoral election, where
she will contest against acting mayor Fani Phiri, who holds the fortunes of
Zanu PF in Mashonaland West, the home province of President Mugabe.

      When we arrived at her home in Waverly, she was busy putting her
nomination papers in order, ready to become the first woman to run for mayor
as an MDC candidate.

      Matamisa was head teacher at Westview Primary School in Kadoma, where
she resigned on 30 June to pursue a career in the wilderness of politics,
where some have been killed and injured in the quest for change in Zimbabwe.

      "I am ready to take up the challenge. My husband and family are
supportive of this decision and when I was chosen to run for this post, I
knew God the Almighty would see me through the whole way," she said.

      Her husband for 31 years, Cornelius, is a headmaster at Chingondo
Primary School in Hwedza.

      On whether her political expedition would not bring trouble on her
husband, a civil servant, she said:

      "I know he could be in trouble and he knows it. But this is my
personal decision. If he gets into trouble, then it would be political
immaturity on the part of the perpetrators of violence and maybe that is the
price we may have to pay to bring democracy on this land."

      Matamisa, a mother of four, was born on 2 August 1950 in Hwedza, where
she attended her early education at Chemhanza primary school. She later
attended St Annes' Secondary School before she went for teacher-training at
Waddilove Institute in 1969 after completing her Junior Certificate studies.

      She abandoned plans to further her secondary education following the
death of her father in 1969 because she had to look after her brothers and

      She taught at several schools in Hwedza and Rusape before moving to
Patchway Mine school in Kadoma in 1978.

      Matamisa has four children - Munyaradzi Lawrence, 27, Vivian
Zivorinashe, 26, Darlington Mudiwa, 23 and Mark Chidochemoyo, 16.

      She said her family played their part in the liberation struggle. She
said when they moved from St Agnes Mukuvapasi to Patchway, they threw a
party for the freedom fighters in the area, whom they used to supply with
watches, shoes and clothes.

      Matamisa holds a Masters Degree in Educational Administration,
Planning and Policy Studies from the University of Zimbabwe.

      She taught at several schools in Kadoma before she was appointed head
teacher at Westview primary school.

      She applauded the MDC for realising the potential of women by choosing
her to run for the Kadoma mayoral post.

      Matamisa said she had had a foretaste of what she was up against when
a group of so-called war veterans visited her school.

      "I was away when I heard that they had visited the school demanding to
see me. They told the guards the school belonged to Zanu PF and there was no
way I could run for mayor on an MDC ticket, Matamisa said.

      "I was ready for them but they never returned until I resigned."

      She said if elected, she would demand an audit of the city's finances,
a clear health policy that makes sure clinics have adequate drugs,
improvement of the education system and making sure the residents get
services commensurate with their rates.

      Matamisa said there had been massive recruitment of Zanu PF supporters
ahead of the election and there was need to look into the council's
recruitment policy and see how that could be rectified.

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Zim Independent


Jury out on prospects for African Union

THE launch of the African Union this week marks a departure of sorts. It
reflects the determination by a handful of African leaders to abandon
Africa's troubled past - particularly its sterile rhetoric - and make the
most of the trade and investment possibilities opened up by globalisation
and measures such as the US African Growth and Opportunity Act.

There is an unambiguous commitment to improved governance by leaders signing
up to Nepad, which the AU has adopted as its lodestar, and an array of
bodies designed to make closer union a reality.

But will it work? Will the understandable cynicism, not least in Africa
itself, about the prospects for a new beginning, prove justified? After all,
grand schemes for African union have proved unattainable before.

Comparisons are being made with the European Union. This is a good template
because it illustrates just how far the AU has to go in making things happen
on the ground. The EU had its genesis in the European Coal and Steel
Community of 1951 which was designed to harness German post-war recovery to
French, Belgian and Dutch security concerns. That in turn grew into the
Common Market set up under the 1957 Rome Treaty and the subsequent European
Economic Community and European Union.

But all these structures with their councils, commissions and parliaments
were built brick by brick over 50 years with endless horsetrading and
inevitable concessions of sovereignty. There were also significant
mutualities such as German industry and French agriculture as well as
far-sighted statesmen working to stabilise the new European order on both
sides of the Rhine. The threat posed by the Communist bloc to their east
concentrated minds. Above all, closer union was built on the strong
foundations of stable national institutions.

African states have few mutualities. They all export unprocessed raw
materials and prefer external trade partners to each other. They are
reluctant to concede sovereignty and have weak national institutions. Nor is
there any commitment to civil society structures or democratic consensus
which underpin the EU.

There is another daunting reality here. While South Africa's Thabo Mbeki has
warned against the politics of blaming the West for Africa's shortcomings,
he is surrounded by fellow rulers who have no intention of departing from
their old habits. Col Muammar Gaddafi's crude demagoguery at Durban's Absa
stadium on Tuesday was a reminder of the obstacles ahead. So was the
presence of President Mugabe, the ghost at the feast.

Understandably the AU leaders agreed not to let Zimbabwe's crisis rain on
their parade. That will be postponed for subsequent peer review. But while
ignoring flawed elections in Zambia and Zimbabwe where ruling parties
ensconced themselves in power, they insisted that Madagascar's Marc
Ravalomanana, whose election was endorsed by his country's courts, be
subject to a re-run because he had the temerity to defeat an incumbent.

It is the concern that the AU will persist as a mutual survival club where
unstable mavericks like Gaddafi and Mugabe can strut upon the continental
stage that poses the greatest danger to the infant AU. If they succeed it
will not be taken seriously. With regional building blocs like Ecowas and
Sadc still struggling to promote intra-group trade, an economic union seems

Mbeki, Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo, Senegal's Abdoulaye Wade, and Algeria's
Abdulaziz Bouteflika have a mountain to climb if they want the new-look
Africa to succeed. They at least have on their side international leaders
who are committed to giving them a chance and domestic democratic
imperatives which the continent's rulers can no longer ignore.

There will be plenty of tests for the much-vaunted peer review mechanism
ahead. The AU and Nepad will be judged by how leaders handle their first big
test which they have been studiously ignoring for the past four months on
the grounds that institutional structures are not yet in place. Regional
heads have already told Mbeki they are not prepared to appear before any
review body to account for their performance. And the Nepad implementation
committee has been extended from 15 to 20 members to include its likely

That's a predictable start. It remains to be seen just how serious Africa's
leaders are about projecting a new profile. Until then the jury is out.
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Zim Independent

NGOs to import food
Augustine Mukaro
GOVERNMENT has been forced to allow non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
and the private sector to play a greater role in the importation of food as
the food crisis wreaks havoc across the country. The latest United Nations
Humanitarian Re-port on Zimbabwe says two NGOs have already obtained
licences to import food.

"Plan International report that they have imported 2 117 tonnes of maize and
are planning to import another 31 000 tonnes," the report says.

"Oxfam (GB) has obtained a permit allowing a maximum of 10 000 tonnes of
food per month," it says.

The report also says that discussions are currently on-going between
government and the UN regarding ways of engaging the private sector in
humanitarian assistance efforts to alleviate the crippling food shortage.

The government has been under sustained pressure since a meeting between UN
secretary-general Kofi Annan and President Mugabe at the World Food Summit
in Rome last month to abandon the Grain Marketing Board's monopoly on grain

"Currently a working group composed of major donors, government, bank
representatives, business representatives and the UN are drafting a proposed
format for this programme, which will be presented to the relevant
government ministries in the second week of July," the report says.

Diplomatic sources said major food donors threatened to withdraw aid to
Zimbabwe unless government removed constraints which prevented the private
sector from grain importation to help over six million Zimbabweans facing

The UN is proposing to establish a foreign exchange facility with the aid of
the international community from which licensed firms could borrow to pay
for grain imports.

Prior to the March 9/11 presidential election government banned NGOs and
other private institutions from delivering food to needy people arguing that
it would be used for political purposes.

Food imports to fill the 2001/2003 production years' cereal deficit of 1,86

million tonnes is still well below needs.

The report said as of June 30 total cereal imports of 270 400 tonnes had
been brought into the country and that would cover less than two months of
Zimbabwe's consumption requirement of 25 000 tonnes a week.

"The remaining nine months' cereal needs for the country to get to the next
harvest have not yet been addressed," the report said.

"Government has only indicated that it was going to parliament to request a
budget revision in order to secure more funds for purchase of food."

Contrary to statements by Lands and Agriculture minister Joseph Made that
the country did not need to import wheat, the report said the government had
such plans in place.

"Government has assessed the situation and plans to import 35 000 tonnes of
wheat to meet the shortfall for the 2001/2 marketing season," the report

The report said yields of up to 96 000 tonnes were expected from the current
winter crop, leaving a deficit of 324 000 tonnes next year.
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