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Biti, Gono Fight Spills to Courts

Saturday, 13 June 2009 21:09
THE turf war pitting Finance Minister Tendai Biti against Reserve Bank
Governor Gideon Gono is set to escalate after the RBZ resuscitated a long
abandoned case of alleged externalisation of foreign currency filed against
the former's law firm.

Information at hand shows that the case against Honey and Blanckenberg
Legal Practitioners, where Biti is a partner was filed at the Harare
Magistrates court on Tuesday last week - more than three years after the
allegations were raised.

A trial date was supposed to be set but before that could happen the
law firm sprang into action to stop any criminal proceedings. It filed an
application to have the case referred to the Supreme Court for a
determination on the validity of the search warrants and the seizure of
documents protected under the attorney-client privilege.

The application is expected to be heard tomorrow.

Court documents seen by The Standard reveal that allegations against
the law firm were first raised at the end of February 2006.

By end of March that year, a charge sheet had been prepared by the
Harare Central Police but for reasons known only to the RBZ which was
relentlessly pursuing alleged exchange control violators at that time, the
case did not go to court.

The case only came to the public attention last month when the
embattled governor, fighting to ward off an attempt by the MDC-T to have him
removed from the central bank, alleged the minister was waging a personal
battle against him.

Gono alleged his inspectors had unearthed rampant externalisation of
foreign currency and money laundering activities at the law firm where Biti
is a partner.

He alleged the law firm had externalised over US$1 million it received
from its foreign clients.

The governor said it was because of this investigation that Biti was
at the forefront of those "singing the Gono must go song".

He claimed the matter was at the courts.

But sources told The Standard the papers were filed on Tuesday last
week, almost a month after Gono made the allegations in a letter which was
leaked to newspapers before it was allegedly delivered to the Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai.

According to the charge sheet, Honey and Blanckenberg Legal
Practitioners is being charged with contravening Section 5 (2) (a)(ii) of
the Exchange Control Regulations 109/96 as read with Section 5(1) (a)(i) of
the Exchange Control Act Chapter 22;05.

The law firm is accused of registering patents and trade marks for
clients and then instructing clients to make payments into its offshore
account without exchange authority.

Lazarus Dhlakama, an inspector in the Financial Intelligence
Inspectorate and Evaluation Unit made the complaint against the law firm to
the police.

Dhlakama said he received information from a whistleblower who alleged
the company was externalising funds at the end of February in 2006.

Following investigations, he says he discovered that the law firm was
registering patents and trademarks for corporations domiciled outside

The fees charged for the services were not brought into Zimbabwe but
deposited into an offshore, Barclays Bank Account Number 68949366, kept at
the Victoria Isle of Man, UK.

Dhlakama alleged that the law firm was linked to another Barclays bank
account in the name of Vernon Consultants, also at the Isle of Man.

The inspector alleged a cheque book in its name was kept at the law
firm's offices. But he said he did not get the exhibit.

A representative of the law firm, Mark Albert Rosettenstein who was
summoned to Harare Central Police Station on August 21, 2006, denied in a
warned and cautioned statement that the company had externaliszed funds on
698 occasions between October 3, 2005 and May 3, 2006. The amount involved
was US$1 025 943 53.

 "We deny the charge in its entirety. We do work for Vernon
Consultants Limited, an overseas entity, and its clients," he said.

"VCL then pays us for work done being a monthly fee of US$3 000 which
amount is remitted and banked in Zimbabwe in full compliance with exchange
control laws of this country."

He said the documents which the State based its case were illegally
and improperly obtained and in any event were protected under strict
attorney-client privilege.

In their application for referral to the Supreme Court, the law firm
says the search warrants used by the RBZ were invalid.

It said their right to a fair trial was contravened by the reliance
upon material protected under attorney-client privilege. They said they
could not defend themselves without breaching this privilege.

"In the circumstances, it is respectfully submitted that the matter be
referred to the Supreme Court for hearing and determination of the questions
raised in this application," the lawyers said.


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Showdown Looms Over Zesa Bills

Saturday, 13 June 2009 21:01
A LEGAL showdown is looming between Zesa and its customers after the
power utility threatened to start disconnecting households who fail to
settle electricity bills dating back to February.

 Following the dollarisation of the economy, the perennial loss-making
parastatal is sending consumers outrageous bills based on estimates.

Last week, Zesa said it had been given the go ahead by Energy and
Power Development Minister, Elias Mudzuri to disconnect supplies to
consumers who have not been able to pay at least US$30 and US$40 a month for
high and low-density suburbs respectively.

"There are some customers who have not paid since the inception of the
foreign currency based payments," Zesa spokesperson Fullard Gwasira said on

"Initially, the minister had pegged the amount at $10 per month for
February, March and April but people ignored this directive.

"The $30 and $40 is for May and with effect from this month end people
will be receiving actual billing as our system is now up and we have
procured motorbikes to be used in conducting actual meter readings."

But consumers have threatened to take to the streets and to contest
any moves to disconnect power supplies because they believe that Zesa's
charges did not match services delivery.

Consumers in most parts of the country go for months without

Zesa has also intensified its load-shedding exercise because it has no
money to import electricity while local power stations are always down due
to lack of coal.

The Combined Harare Residents' Association (CHRA), the Bulawayo
Residents' Association (Bura), the Masvingo United Residents and Ratepayers'
Association and the National Residents' Associations Consultative Forum
(NRACF) are some of the organizations that have threatened to tackle Zesa
head on if it goes ahead with its threats.

The associations said they will go to court if Zesa does not back down
on its threats.

"This response by the residents' associations is based on the fact
that the electricity tariffs charged by Zesa are exorbitant while the bills
that are being discharged to households by Zesa are unjustified in the sense
that they are either based on estimates or way above the consumption made,"
CHRA said in a statement.

"It should be noted that more than 80% of the Harare populace is not
employed and those who are employed have an average income of US$100 a

"How does the government expect these people to survive if they have
to part with more than half their salaries for electricity bills alone?"

Bura chairperson Winos Dube said residents had other obligations which
include school fees, food and bills for other services like water and
municipal services.

"Bura members are seriously concerned about this decision," Dube said.
"The government seems not to understand what is on the ground. Both
government and the private sector are not paying people well and one wonders
where they expect people to get the money from.

"We were hoping the government will sit down and come up with low,
affordable prices which can be around $3 or $4 instead of starting from as
high as $30."

CHRA chairperson Simbarashe Moyo said there was need for government
and Zesa to rationalise the billing system as failure to do so will have
negative repercussions especially on the environment.

"People may be forced to use firewood especially now that we are in
winter and the demand for power is high," he said.

 CHRA said Zesa was also sending out bills above $50 to residents in
high-density areas like Kuwadzana and Glen Norah while some people in
low-density areas are said to be receiving bills of more than $100 a month.

CHRA and NRACF said they would meet Mudzuri while mobilising
countrywide demonstrations over electricity bills.

The organizations are also preparing to petition Mudzuri and mount a
legal challenge against the electricity billing system.

Harare lawyer Chris Mhike said it was unfair for the government to
make a demand on consumers without providing a justification for the high
bills given that Zesa had not been reading meters.

"What Zesa should do first is to supply consumers with bills," Mhike

"The authority's failure to produce statements of accounts cannot be
condoned especially when considering the exorbitant levels of amounts being

"At law, any demand should be supported with demonstrable

But Gwasira said there was no need for residents to go to court
because those who were billed for electricity they did not consume would be
credited when Zesa starts reading meters.

"As I said, actual billing begins this month end and we will be able
to reconcile charges with consumption," he said.

"If one overpaid, then their money will be carried forward but if it
is established that they paid lower than they consumed, they will have to
top up.

"We are not going back on the disconnections and once actual billing
starts, some people will be shocked to realize that they actually owe the
authority more than what we are asking for.

"We know that there are some people who have not been receiving power
due to faults on transformers among others and we are not asking those
people to pay for a service we did not render.

"If there are real genuine cases of people who cannot afford the
amounts we are asking for, we are humane and we urge them to come to us and
we discuss a payment plan but disconnections stand."

Gwasira warned customers against misusing power beginning this month
saying if they do so they may find themselves paying even more as Zesa's
billing system was now up.

He also urged those willing to read their own meters to do so to avoid
huge bills for electricity they did not consume.

"We urge customers to understand that the US$30 and US$40 were just
interim figures which were temporarily expected from them as we fixed our
system", he said.

 "We could not wait for the system to be up as we had to honour our
obligations to suppliers.

"You will realise that there is a general power shortage in the region
and if we do not pay our dues, the suppliers can easily disconnect us and
deal with those who are prepared to pay."


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Amnesty Boss Arrives to Assess Zim Situation

Saturday, 13 June 2009 20:58
AMNESTY International secretary-general Irene Khan arrived in the
country yesterday to assess the humanitarian situation in the country and is
expected to meet senior government officials including President Robert
Mugabe as part of her mission.

She was reported to be in Bulawayo yesterday but efforts to establish
her mission were fruitless.

Khan will only address the media towards the end of her tour.

Her visit will put Zimbabwe's human rights record in the spotlight at
a time Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is trying to convince the West to
give the country financial assistance.

On Friday, United States President Barack Obama told Tsvangirai that
his government was not ready to provide direct aid to the inclusive
government because of concerns of human rights violations and the slow pace
of reforms.

"From June 13-18, Khan will lead a high level mission to Zimbabwe,
during which plans to meet human rights activists, victims of human rights
violations and senior government officials, including Mugabe," Amnesty said
in a statement.

Civic society groups say human rights violations persist despite the
formation of the unity government between MDC formations and Zanu PF almost
four months ago.

Journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders continue to be
arrested on "trumped up charges" while farm invasions continue unabated.

Zanu PF supporters and war veterans have been accused of fomenting the
unrest on the farms.

Tsvangirai was forced to defend the coalition's record on human rights
record after the Minister of State for National Healing Sekai Holland was
quoted saying threats of violence were still being made against MDC.

Holland has said the BBC quoted her out of context.

"I am afraid that is a bit . a bit exaggerated in terms of those kinds
of threats," Tsvangirai told the American Public Broadcasting Service.

"I can tell you, that if you were to come to Zimbabwe. you would
notice that there is a sense of freedom that is pervading that whole

"There is a sense that we have moved away from a sense of siege and
fear, to a sense of being hopeful about the future.

"And so when incidents of that nature come, it's probably one or two

Zimbabwe has been isolated for close to a decade because of its poor
human rights record.


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Mutambara Pleads With WEF Countries Over Sanctions

Saturday, 13 June 2009 20:57
CAPE Town - Deputy Prime Minister, Arthur Mutambara yesterday appealed
to leaders attending the 19th World Economic Forum to lift sanctions imposed
on Zimbabwe to help the country rebuild its economy.

"Sanctions in this juncture in our history are meaningless. Help us
help ourselves by removing all those sanctions so Zimbabwe can have a fresh
start," he told delegates on Friday at the close of the WEF.

Zimbabwe's cash-strapped African neighbours have failed to respond to
its pleas for a $2 billion economic rescue package.

Investors from South Africa are waiting for the implementation of a
new bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement before they move

"Zimbabwe doesn't have the luxury of time on its side," warned South
African deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti said he was determined to overhaul the
country's central bank.

Biti has clashed repeatedly with central bank governor Gideon Gono,
who is a Mugabe ally, but has managed to push through key reforms, including
ending Zimbabwe's hyperinflation and rampant black market by effectively
replacing the Zimbabwe dollar with the US dollar.

 Biti said tax revenues did not begin to cover even basic salaries and
that Zimbabwe's slumbering state-owned companies were a further drain on the

But he said despite the huge problems, Zimbabwe also had massive
potential with a highly educated population.

"We are fossilized and ossified in terms of the way we have been doing
our thing. We need to raise Zimbabwe on another platform, we need to make it
an African tiger," he said.

He predicted the Zimbabwe economy would grow by 4 percent this year,
above the African average of 1.9 percent. - BuaNews

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Norton Youths Take Councillors to Task

Saturday, 13 June 2009 20:54
NORTON - If the town of Norton had better representation, it would
have facilities that respond to residents' needs.

Youths from the area challenged the local authority during a recent
meeting to speed up the opening of an opportunistic infections (O1) clinic
to minimise travel costs for HIV/AIDS patients in the town.

Norton Hospital, the biggest health centre in the town does not have
an OI clinic. As a result patients have to travel about 45 km to Kutama
Mission Hospital for medical attention.

Speaking at a recent Simuka Africa -Youth Dialogue Zimbabwe meeting
with Norton Town councillors, the youths said lack of proper health
facilities in the town was one of the major issues they expected to be
addressed by the local authority as the political and economic situation in
the country begins to normalise.

They said the local hospital only had one ambulance that was not up to
the expected standard while other facilities like a mortuary, a theatre and
an OI clinic were not available.

HIV/AIDS patients were the hardest hit as they had no alternative but
to travel to Kutama or Harare for treatment, the youths said.

"The council is supposed to facilitate the establishment of an OI
clinic because it is costly and frustrating for patients to go to Kutama,"
one of the participants said.

Another youth activist added: "The mission hospital gives preference
to its patients over those that would have been referred from other

Councillor Precious Mufahore of Ward 6, who represented the local
authority, said they were trying their best to improve conditions especially
at health institutions.

"We are trying our best to normalize things and at the moment we are
building an OI clinic with the support of Oxfam," she said.

"Members of the public should be patient with us because we inherited
an ill-run administration and there is a lot of ground that needs to be
covered." said the councillor.


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Parliamentary Select Committee Announces Dates for Public Hearings

Saturday, 13 June 2009 20:48
THE Parliamentary Select Committee steering the constitutional reform
process on Friday announced new dates for public hearings on the new
constitution dealing a severe blow to attempts by Zanu PF to stall the

Initially the public hearings had been scheduled to start yesterday
but were cancelled after the Zanu PF caucus asked for more time because
"people were busy harvesting their crops".

But sources said Zanu PF wanted to stall the process so that it could
mobilise its supporters to drown MDC views during the consultation process.

The legislators from Zanu PF are also said to have demanded allowances
before they could participate in the hearings.

Douglas Mwonzora, the co-chairperson of the committee, told
journalists that the public hearings will be held between June 24 and 27 in
all the country's 10 provinces.

Article 6 of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) which established
the unity government gives guidelines on the writing of a new people-driven

Mwonzora said the provincial consultations were in fulfillment of the
article's demand for a process that was owned and driven by the people.

He said on June 24 meetings will be held in Harare, Mashonaland East,
Mashonaland Central, Manicaland and Mashonaland West.

On June 27 Matabeleland North, Midlands, Masvingo, Bulawayo and
Matabeleland South would hold their meetings.

Zanu PF chief whip Joram Gumbo, who represented Zanu PF co-chair of
the select committee, Paul Mangwana, at Friday's meeting, said his party's
earlier concerns on the process were "misunderstood".

He said Zanu PF MPs only wanted to be given more time to assist the
committee to mobilise people to participate in the consultations.

 "It is not true what some of the papers are alleging," he said.

"To clear the air, all we said is that Zanu PF MPs were requesting, if
possible, that the co-chairpersons postpone the hearings as they felt it was
too early for them to be able to help the committee to mobilise people to

"We did not snub or try to stall the process . . . If anything, we
want to see the process succeeding."
Mwonzora said the committee had secured enough funding to conduct the
consultations but appealed for more assistance towards other events to be
carried out later.

The committee is expected to hold an all stakeholders' conference to
consult civil society on its participation in the Select Committee's
sub-committees and the process of coming up with the new supreme law.

Some civil society organisations led by the National Constitutional
Assembly have threatened to mobilise people to reject the new constitution
because they believe the process is not people-driven.

But in a paper presented at a recent stakeholders' meeting, University
of Zimbabwe lecturer Professor John Makumbe urged civil society to embrace
the process and ensure that they play a watchdog role.

He said the country cannot afford to throw away the chance of ridding
itself of the "much- maligned and over-amended Lancaster House Constitution,
which Mugabe once described as a good document".


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CFU Says Farmers Would Consider Fair Compensation

Saturday, 13 June 2009 20:46
BULAWAYO - Most of the country's remaining white commercial farmers
are no longer interested in farming and will give up their land if
government gives them fair compensation, the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU)
said last week.

The farmers numbering about 400 have been under siege since the land
reform programme began in 2000 and fresh farm invasions have intensified
since the formation of the unity government in February.

President Robert Mugabe and his supporters want the farmers evicted in
defiance of a ruling by a tribunal of the Southern African Development
Community (Sadc) that said the farm seizures bordered on racism.

CFU president, Trevor Gilford said the government will have to fork
out at least US$15 billion to compensate the farmers for the improvements
they made on their properties.

"The Zimbabwe constitution says the government should pay for pay full
compensation for improvements, damages and interest," Gifford said.

"The 400 remaining white farmers face persecution for continuing to

"It will be better off if the government pays farmers US$15 billion as
compensation for the improvements on the farms so that they leave farms

The figure is almost double what the cash-starved coalition needs in
the next three years to fix the economy shattered by Mugabe's disastrous
policies that include the chaotic land reform exercise.

The Attorney-General's (AG) office continues to prosecute white
farmers resisting eviction orders.

No comment could be obtained from the Lands Minister, Dr Herbert
Murerwa on whether the government was prepared to pay off the farmers who
are willing to voluntarily vacate their farms.

According to the CFU president, about 11 600 out of the 12 000 white
commercial farms have since 2000 been forcibly occupied by war veterans,
Zanu PF ministers and Mugabe allies.

 "We (white commercial farmers) are Zimbabweans and we should be
allowed to farm but politics has turned the land issue into a racial issue.
There is no need to colour the debate over farms," Gifford said.

The renewed farm invasions continue to haunt the inclusive government,
which is trying to convince sceptical Western donors that it is committed to
restoring the rule of law.

Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai last month courted the ire of white
commercial farmers when he said the new push to evict white farmers were
"few isolated cases".

The farmers accused him of downplaying the crisis so that he could get
sympathy from donors during his whirlwind tour of Europe and the United


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'Ritual Murderer' Remark Lands Mliswa in Court

Saturday, 13 June 2009 17:38
CHINHOYI - Mashonaland West governor Faber Chidarikire is suing
controversial Zanu PF party official Temba Mliswa for allegedly calling him
"a ritual murderer".

Mliswa is also said to have accused the governor of causing problems
on commercial farms in the province.

According to papers filed at the local magistrates' court where
Chidarikire wants Mliswa charged with criminal defamation, the two clashed
during a meeting to prepare for President Robert Mugabe's 85th birthday
celebrations in February.

Mliswa, the Zanu PF provincial secretary for lands is said to have
told the governor: "You are a murderer, uri mhondi inochengeta misoro
yevanhu, uri kunetsa panyaya yeminda."

The volatile former rugby player, who was chairing the organising
committee for the communist style birthday bash, is said to have been
angered by the fact that some Zanu PF officials were not committed to the
fund-raising initiative.

He reportedly refused to apologise to Chidarikire when asked to do so
by his colleagues.

But Mliswa is said to have apologised to Zanu PF provincial chairman,
John Mafa for raising the matter at "a wrong forum". The trial date is set
for July 13.

Chidarikire, who is also a businessman, was acquitted by the High
Court after facing murder charges more than a decade ago.

This was after he was allegedly found with a person's head in his
vehicle in 1993.


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Chombo in Bid to Rrevive' Zinwa

Saturday, 13 June 2009 17:33
CIVIC organisations have rejected a recommendation by the Minister of
Local Government, Urban and Rural Development, Ignatius Chombo for a stand
alone utility to manage Harare's water and sewer system.

The organisations, which include the Combined Harare Residents
Association (CHRA), said they were informed about Chombo's plans by Harare
mayor, Muchadeyi Masunda.

But Masunda yesterday said he had only called for submissions from
CHRA on what they wanted done to address Harare's perennial water supply
problems and Chombo's input was only a suggestion.

Harare has been experiencing serious water shortages blamed on
mismanagement by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa).

The government was early this year forced to reverse the takeover of
water and infrastructure in all urban centres by Zinwa after the parastatal
was accused of running down infrastructure.

The civic groups said they feared that the creation of another utility
would be a repeat of the Zinwa mistake, a charge dismissed by Masunda as
alarmist since consultations were still be carried out on the way forward.

"The final decision on what is going to happen vests with council," he
said. CHRA accused Chombo of trying to take advantage of the confusion
surrounding the handing over of the water and sewer reticulation to council
by Zinwa to impose his model.

"We have been informed that Chombo wants to take advantage of the
confusion in the handover between Zinwa and council to constitute this
 body," CHRA chairperson Simbarashe Moyo said after a joint press conference
with the Crisis Coalition, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Zimcodd and
the Masvingo United Residents' Association on Friday.

"We have also received information that this utility will not be any
different from Zinwa."

CHRA said its preferred model would see the management of water supply
and sewer reticulation being carried out by a department within council with
a director who reports to the town clerk and council.

Masunda said views gathered during the consultation exercise would be
considered by a full council meeting. He accused the civic groups of being
"rebels without a cause" for trying to ratchet up pressure over an issue
that has not been finalised.


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Chegutu magistrate Orders Eviction of Farm Workers

Saturday, 13 June 2009 17:33
A Chegutu magistrate has ordered the eviction of 36 farm workers from
Maridadi Farm to make way for employees of a new farmer allocated land under
the government's agrarian reforms.

Magistrate Tinashe Ndokera on June 4 ruled in favour of Wayne Naidoo
who wanted the workers to leave the farm compound within 30 days of the

Naidoo said the workers had chosen to work for other farmers while
staying at this compound when he took over the farm.

But the workers argued that they had nowhere to go as they had not
known any other home besides Maridadi Farm.

Ndokera dismissed their argument saying the workers had to seek
accommodation from their new employers.The 36 were employed by the previous
owner of the farm before its occupation in October 2006.

The workers said they sought greener pastures because Naidoo was not
paying them on time.

Most farm workers in Zimbabwe originate from neighbouring countries
and have not known any other home outside the compounds.

The General Plantation Agriculture and Plantation Workers' Union of
Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ) said that as much as 1 000 workers might have been left
stranded since the beginning of year because of retrenchments.

GAPWUZ secretary general, Getrude Hambira called on the government to
address the plight of workers who have lost their homes and property during
the chaotic land reform programme.


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Shamu, Charamba Face Contempt of Court Charges

Saturday, 13 June 2009 17:26
MEDIA, Information and Publicity Minister, Webster Shamu and his
permanent secretary George Charamba face contempt of court charges after
four freelance journalists were barred from covering the just-ended Common
Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) summit in violation of a
High Court ruling.

Stanley Gama, Valentine Maponga, Stanley Kwenda and Jealousy Mawarire
successfully challenged the legality of the Media and Information Commission
(MIC) after Shamu and Charamba insisted that journalists without MIC
accreditation would not be allowed to cover the Comesa summit.

 In his ruling, High Court judge Justice Bharat Patel declared that
MIC was a legal nullity and that the journalists should be allowed to cover
the summit in Victoria Falls.

He also ordered Charamba and Shamu to retract their statements on
accreditation using the electronic and print media but by Friday they were
still to comply with the ruling.

Selby Hwacha, who is representing the four journalists, said they were
preparing papers for the contempt of court case, in the face of the defiance
by the minister and his permanent secretary.

"These people were ordered to place statements in the media and they
have not done that," he said. "I am working on contempt of court papers and
we hope to file them (this) week."

The court case has revealed that Shamu, Charamba and MIC chairman
Tafataona Mahoso were still unwilling to accept that the controversial media
regulator set up in 2002 was defunct.

The MIC has been replaced by the Zimbabwe Media Commission, which is
yet to be constituted.

But Mahoso in his opposing affidavit refers to himself as the "current
executive chairman of the Media and Information Commission".

He said the MIC "has not died as such". This is despite legal opinion
from the Attorney-General's office given to Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai, which said the MIC was now defunct.

The AG's office called for the ZMC to be operationalised immediately
saying delays have created a vacuum at law.

Meanwhile, the Media Institute for Southern Africa (Misa) Zimbabwe
chapter and the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) have called on Parliament's
Standing Rules and Orders Committee (SROC) to ensure that the selection of
the ZMC commissioners is done transparently.

The SROC last week called for persons interested in serving on various
commissions including the ZMC to submit applications for consideration.

Both Misa and MAZ said the ZMC should only save as a transitional body
and should give way to self regulation of the media.


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Nigerian Drugs Syndicate Preys on Harare Women

Saturday, 13 June 2009 17:22
WHEN Edith Tugwete, a 27-year-old struggling hairdresser from Harare
was introduced to the world of "easy money" by a friend she thought her
financial problems were over.

Although she managed to live large for some time, the lure of "quick
bucks" finally cost Tugwete her freedom when she was sentenced to life
imprisonment for drug trafficking in China in November last year.

 For her family and friends who will not be able to visit her in China
she is as good as dead as they will never see her again.

 Tugwete is one of the 12 Zimbabwean women who have been arrested for
drug trafficking in Beijing and Guangzhou.

Investigations have revealed Tugwete and many desperate women are
victims of a drug syndicate involving Nigerians and Zimbabweans that now
operates from Harare.

An official at the Zimbabwean Embassy in China who requested anonymity
said of the 12 women arrested, two had already been sentenced to death while
others had been condemned to life imprisonment.
Only three were still to be sentenced.

Some of the women sentenced to life in prison are Cynthia Muchero
(20), Noeline Sithole (32), Mildred Kapotsa (35) and Tugwete.Shirley Rutendo
Maengamhuru (27) and Felistas Marevererwa whose age could not be ascertained
were jailed for 15 years each.

Asaria Mushangwe (25) and Lauraine Itayi Rufaro Taapatsa (22) were
sentenced to death.

 "These ladies face serious charges because drug trafficking in China
is treated as a serious crime," said the embassy official.

He said the latest cases involving Priscilla Chaparadza and Anymore
Chibaya had seen the largest volume of drugs being trafficked by a single

"On average the convicts have ingested between 500g and 1kg.

"As for Chaparadza and Chibaya they each brought two kg but they didn't
ingest the drugs. They concealed them in their bags and according to the
Chinese law anything above 50g is very serious and can attract a maximum
sentence," he said.

 The cases involving Zimbabwean women reveal an underground syndicate
of foreign drug barons operating in Harare.

 Some of the victims said a Zimbabwean woman was recruiting vulnerable
people like orphans, single parents or single women between the ages of 20
and 35 for a Nigerian drug lord.

  The woman is said to be married to a Nigerian who owns a shop in

The drug mules are each promised payment of between US$5 000 and US$3
000 upon delivery.

"I suspect the name she uses is simply to disguise the true identity
of the real criminal," said the official.
 Another Zimbabwean woman recruits potential mules at vegetable
markets or after offering them a lift within Harare.

Most of the women arrested in China had their air tickets bought by a
Nigerian resident in Uganda, their relatives and friends said.

 Except for four cases, all the women confessed to have ingested drugs
in Uganda before flying to China.
Their handlers bought return tickets using the
Harare-Kampala-Beijing/Guangzhou-Harare route.

 In addition to the tickets, their handlers allegedly paid for their
hotel accommodation and upkeep in Kampala.

  The victims are not given contact numbers of persons receiving them
on arrival but are given funds to buy temporary sim-cards and airtime to
call Harare.

The Nigerian in Harare will then contact the receiving Nigerian in
Beijing/Guangzhou to meet the traffickers upon arrival in China.

 "Obviously they are not given contact numbers of people they will be
delivering drugs to in case they are caught," said the embassy official.

The Zimbabwean embassy in China has already warned Zimbabweans about
the dangers of such activities to themselves and the country.

Last week five Kenyan nationals were sentenced to death in China after
they were convicted of drug trafficking.

Police spokesperson Superintended Andrew Phiri said they were not
aware of a drugs' syndicate was operating from Harare.

"What we only know is what we are reading in the newspapers," he said.


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Swedish Delegation Criticizes Pace of Zim Media Reforms

Saturday, 13 June 2009 17:22
A HIGH level Swedish delegation that was in the country a week ago
expressed disappointment at the slow pace the unity government is
implementing political and media reforms proposed in the Global Political
Agreement (GPA).

Sweden's director-general responsible for International Development
Co-operation, Jan Knutsson, and Pereric Hogberg, head of Southern, Eastern
and Central African section, arrived in the country on 3 June to assess the
situation as Stockholm prepares to take over the rotating presidency of the
European Union (EU) next month.

Sten Rylander, the Swedish ambassador to Zimbabwe, told The Standard,
the delegation had the "impression that things are moving in the right
direction on the economic front".

But they were not impressed with the speed at which the inclusive
government was implementing political reforms to ensure that there is rule
of law and a free media.

 "We hope to see more progress on that front. It's in the GPA that
things need to be done," Rylander said.

Key Western donors have insisted that they would only start supporting
the inclusive government with direct aid after seeing evidence of political

Several delegations from Europe have assessed the situation in the
country and its humanitarian needs since the formation of the inclusive
government in February but none have promised cash for the country's

Rylander said there were problems with farm invasions while media
reforms were still to be implemented.
He said the team implored the principals to implement what they
promised in the September 15 power-sharing agreement.

The Swedish team met Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai; Finance
Minister Tendai Biti, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric
Matinenga, Economic Planning and Investments Promotion Minister, Elton
Mangoma and civic society groups.

The team also wanted to assess the situation ahead of Tsvangirai's
whirlwind tour of Europe to rally support for the inclusive government.

Tsvangirai is scheduled to visit Sweden from 15-16 June.

Last week, the Prime Minister told his party's annual conference that
the three-month-old government had made little progress on urgent political
reforms despite scoring some successes in a number of areas.


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Rights Watchdog Set to Visit Zimbabwe

Saturday, 13 June 2009 14:17
OSLO, Norway - While some say the speed with which the government is
moving to set up four independent commissions is understandable, the African
Commission on Human and People's Rights Special Rapporteur on Freedom of
Expression and Access to Information will be visiting Zimbabwe to assess
progress on the human rights situation.

Last week, it was reported that as Zanu PF and the two MDC formations
were moving to implement provisions of the Global Political Agreement, the
Zimbabwe Media Commission, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, the
Anti-Corruption Commission and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission would be in
place next month.

 However, in an exclusive interview here, Advocate Pansy Tlakula, the
Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in
Africa, told The Standard that she would be undertaking "a promotional
mission" to Zimbabwe in September.

"During the visit, I will be accompanied by special rapporteurs on
prisons and human rights defenders. I have already notified the permanent
secretary in the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs (David Mangota)
through a letter which I gave him in May."

There has been frenetic movement of late to try and improve the
welfare of Zimbabwean prisoners following damning evidence of appalling
prison conditions.

Reported fresh outbreaks of cholera and the anticipated mission could
have pushed authorities into cleaning up their act.

"During the visit, we will try and assess what has been done in terms
of the law and see how we can assist on any challenges being faced," Tlakula
said. "We have been to Zimbabwe before and then we were looking at what
could be done on Freedom of Expression, including amendments or the repeal
of Aippa and Posa and we would want to have a practical look at issues to do
with basic freedoms and people's rights."
Tlakula told The Standard that there was a feeling that free
expression was under attack on the African continent with governments using
alleged lack of ethical conduct among journalists and state security as
reasons to clamp down on free expression.

The continued existence of criminal defamation laws in some countries'
statutes was another negative development, she said.

Tlakula said the establishment of an inclusive government in Zimbabwe
provided the best opportunities to democratise national institutions which
could be guaranteed in the expected new constitution.

African journalists and Freedom of Expression experts and their
colleagues from around the world were meeting in the Norwegian capital for a
series of conferences for the Global Forum on Freedom of Expression.

BY Foster Dongozi

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Civic Groups Express Disquiet Over Pace of GPA Reforms

Saturday, 13 June 2009 14:17
DELAYS in resolving outstanding issues from the Global Political
Agreement (GPA) and mounting evidence that some of President Robert Mugabe's
close lieutenants are determined to slow down the pace of democratic reforms
continue to undermine the credibility of the hybrid government, civic groups
have warned.

The recent controversy over President Mugabe's unilateral appointments
of Attorney- General, Johannes Tomana and Reserve Bank governor, Gideon Gono
has exposed serious fault lines in the fledgling coalition.

MDC-T and Zanu PF officials have also clashed over media reforms that
were guaranteed in the GPA.

The MDC-T recently referred the dispute over Gono and Tomana to Sadc
for arbitration, while differences over media reform are now playing out in
the courts after four freelance journalists challenged the continued
existence of the Media and Information Commission (MIC).

High Court judge Justice Bharat Patel ruled recently that the MIC was
a legal nullity but the Minister of Media, Information and Publicity,
Webster Shamu and his permanent secretary George Charamba are contesting the

In a new publication reflecting on the inclusive government's first
100 days compiled by the Crisis Zimbabwe Coalition (CZC), 14 civic
organisations say all the hope they had in the coalition was "dying a slow
The publication is titled 100 days into the inclusive government: A
compendium of reflections from civil society organisations.

"As we reflect on the recent past we have to admit that nothing much
has changed," the Ecumenical Support Services said in its assessment.

"Many negative things are still happening around the country which we
do not expect to happen under a government which the MDC is part and parcel

The faith-based organisation said human rights violations still
persisted to an extent that the international donor community has refused to
extend financial assistance to the inclusive government.

Arbitrary arrests of journalists and human rights defenders have
marred the unity government's first three months in office, fuelling fears
residual elements from Mugabe's previous administration were working hard to
torpedo the coalition.

 CZC describes the first three months as a period of extended
negotiation mainly because of an apparent tug of war around roles and
responsibilities between Zanu PF and the MDC.

"In addition, prolonged inaction on issues that were outstanding on
the day the government went into business, an unrepentant bureaucracy that
is still largely manned by Zanu PF apologists at its apex, residual
antagonistic elements who still want to see the death of the marriage of
convenience and normal dynamics of group cohesion and formation represent
the major stumbling blocks," the group said.

Organisations representing students, churches, people with
disabilities and human rights defenders felt that the battle to control
government in the first three months had shifted the focus away from the
country's worsening humanitarian situation.

Aid agencies say three quarters of Zimbabweans need food assistance
while the situation in education and health sectors still remains critical.

"Although the inclusive government is rightly focusing attention on
economic stabilization and recovery and political allocation of power it
should not lose sight of the people's needs and aspirations," the Students
Christian Movement of Zimbabwe said in its submission.

However, the groups were unanimous that the transitional government
remains the only way out of the country's long running economic and
political problems.


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Economic Crisis Tough on HIV, TB

Saturday, 13 June 2009 14:10
A staggering 70% of African people on antiretroviral treatment (ART)
are at risk of losing this life saving treatment in the next 12 months due
to the economic crisis, according to a recent World Bank report.

Considering that only one in three HIV-positive people in Africa
actually receive ART, the economic crisis holds a serious health threat to
the continent.

This is one of the concerns expressed on Wednesday by HIV and TB
activists at the start of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Cape Town. The
Treatment Action Campaign and Aids and Rights Alliance of Southern Africa
(ARASA) are calling on the region's leaders to prioritise health, and in
particular the treatment, prevention and care of TB/HIV during their
planning at the WEF.

"As financial resources become increasingly scarce, it is more
imperative than ever for regional leaders to ensure that their priorities
are in line with the needs of the people they serve," reads a TAC report.
"As world leaders gather in Cape Town to discuss the economic crisis and to
develop a new roadmap for Africa's future, activists around the region will
be watching the outcomes of this meeting for evidence of political
commitment to the rights of people living with HIV and TB on the continent."

"Access to ART is already in crisis and the current economic crisis
could trigger a disaster," said Paula Akugizibwe from ARASA. If leaders fail
to provide resources in the fight against HIV/Aids, TB and other health
issues, they are actually creating additional and unnecessary costs to
themselves as an increasingly sick population will put pressure on
healthcare systems, said Akugizibwe. -News24.

According to Rebecca Hodes from the TAC, the public health sector is
already feeling the pinch of the economic crisis as stock-outs and shortages
of ART, TB-medication, condoms and other basic medication have already been
reported at clinics in various provinces. - (Wilma Stassen, Health24)

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US business Says no Deal to Zimbabwe

Saturday, 13 June 2009 14:51
UNITED States companies said no investment would come to Zimbabwe in
the absence of rule of law and respect for human rights in another blow for
the country's reconstruction programme.

Stephen Hayes, Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) chief executive
officer told business leaders in the capital on Thursday that despite the
interest by US companies in the country there would be no stampede on
investments in the meantime until drastic changes are made to ensure an
investor-friendly environment.

"For US businesses to do business with any country we seek a nation
that follows the rule of law, so that when we invest in a nation and in a
company, we know that we will be justly and fairly dealt with," he said.
"We need to know that the judiciary is independent and that our course
of law is clear and fair.

"If we know the laws, and we know the laws will be consistently and
evenly enforced then we can do business with you."

Zimbabwe is in a reconstruction phase following the formation of the
inclusive government in February between Zanu PF and the two MDC formations.

Under the Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme launched by the
unity government in March, the country plans to increase capacity
utilisation of industries to 60% by the end of the year with an injection of
US$1 billion.

Hayes proposed changes "in the political and economic management of
this great country, in particular in the area of rule of law and respect for
human rights".

On the same day that Hayes was addressing business executives in the
country, CCA was hosting a luncheon for Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in

Tsvangirai addressed executives of US companies with investments in

Hayes invited Zimbabwe companies to participate at the 2009
CCA-US-Africa Business Summit, a premier economic private sector meeting
held after every two years.

This year's edition will be in Washington from September 28 - October

CCA is a not-for-profit organisation composed of about 180
It also has trade organisations representing their interests such as
the Africa Coalition for Trade representing more than 150 African companies
doing business with the US.

Hayes said some US companies were already doing business in Zimbabwe,
while others look on from the sidelines as interested parties.

"In both cases, however, we cannot expect that these companies will
either enter Zimbabwe for the first time or expand their operations here
until there are substantial changes in the way that business is done in your
country," he said.

"Those businesses gathered in Washington also have no expectations of
any change in US policy until change comes to Zimbabwe."

Investors are keen on putting their money on Zimbabwe but are waiting
for the full implementation of the power-sharing deal signed in February.


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CCZ Bemoans Skyrocketing Utility Bills

Saturday, 13 June 2009 14:39
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe's consumers spend most of their money on utility
bills, which shot beyond the reach of many following the introduction of
multiple currencies early this year, the country's main consumer rights
watchdog said last week.

The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) said the cost of living went up
by two percent last month to US437 from US$427 in April.

This was despite a drop in the prices of basic commodities especially

CCZ director Rosemary Siyachitema attributed the fluctuations to the
unstable economic environment still prevailing in the country.

"There are changes and variations in the figures that exist in the
economy especially in schools where parents are being asked to pay extra
monies," she said.

 "This has pushed up the cost of the consumer basket."

Comfort Muchekedza, the CCZ regional manager for Bulawayo said the
cost of the family basket went up because of "unreasonable" utility bills.

"Most of the things are going down but electricity, phone bills and
other local authority rates have not gone down, pushing up the cost of the
bread basket," Muchekedza said.

"These need to be included because the basket looks at the basics that
a family needs to survive."
Muchekedza said rates and tariffs for local authorities should be
determined by government to protect vulnerable members of society.

He said parastatals were taking advantage of the fact that they were
monopolies, which meant that consumers were left without a choice.

The consumer basket comprises the total basic goods and services and
the amount of money an average family of two parents and four children
requires a month to purchase the commodities and services.

Siyachitema said the food component of the basket had been
depreciating since the beginning of the year.
The food component in January was pegged at US$167.23; in April it
went down to US$111.31 and by last month it was US$111.06
All civil servants have been earning US$100 since February.

Economic analysts say the economy is showing signs of stabilising
after a decade of decline, but remains strained by foreign currency


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Govt to Appoint New Board for Ailing NRZ

Saturday, 13 June 2009 14:35
BULAWAYO - The government is in the process of reconstituting the
National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) board and is likely to bring in fresh
blood to rescue the parastatal from collapse.

The new board will replace the one led by Brigadier General Douglas
Nyikayaramba whose term expired last month.

Nyikayaramba's board has been under fire from NRZ workers who accuse
it of failing to halt the collapse at the country's main rail transporter.

The NRZ is facing viability problems and last month it revealed that
out of its 168 locomotives, 54% were serviceable.

Government is also under pressure to demilitarise parastatals in line
with the new political dispensation.
Sources said this might force Transport Minister Nicholas Goche to
sacrifice Nyikayaramba.

Besides Nyikayaramba, acting NRZ general manager Retired Air Commodore
Mike Karakadzai has a military background.

Partson Mbiriri, the Secretary for Transport confirmed that changes
were looming at the parastatal but defended the previous board saying it
performed well under difficult circumstances.

 "I can confirm that the NRZ board's term (of office) came to an end
on May 31 and that a new board will be appointed as soon as practicable," he

 "In our view, the last board did a sterling job under the
circumstances in terms of high inflation, the declining economy, declining
cargo volumes, skills flight, and old rolling stock, among other factors."

He said some of the challenges the previous board had to tackle
included ageing railway infrastructure and the deteriorating business
environment in the country.

"NRZ's performance should be judged against the performance of the
national economy," Mbiriri said.

"The last NRZ board ensured the survival of NRZ at a time when mines
and factories, which constitute over 80 % of NRZ business, were closing.

"Not doing so is to misconstrue NRZ's role in the economy as a mover
of bulk cargo required or produced by the economy."

Last month, the NRZ said it urgently required US$150 million to fund
short-term priority projects that included the hiring of foreign locomotives
to clear congestion and overdue cargo.


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ZTA, Safari Operators Dispute Escalates

Saturday, 13 June 2009 14:35
SAFARI operators have asked Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi to
intervene in their dispute with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) over
the disputed trophy fees in yet another battle that threatens to derail the
growth of the industry.

Operators and ZTA have been haggling for the past two years over the
two percent levy on trophy fees which the authority charges operators and
the matter has spilled into the courts.

In a June 5, 2009 letter to Mzembi, the Safari Operators' Association
of Zimbabwe (SOAZ) accused ZTA of using the issue of the disputed levy to
deny them new operators' licences.

Unlicensed operators cannot import tourism products duty free
according to fiscal incentives given to the tourism industry in April.

Statutory Instrument 46 of 2009 provides the terms and conditions
under which the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority may grant suspension of duty on
specified types of motor vehicles for licensed tourism operators.
The suspension is effective March 1 and will run up to February 28,

SOAZ said the industry had always paid the two percent levy on their
daily rate since the promulgation of the Tourism Act in 1996.

They argue the daily rate covers all facilities in the camp -
accommodation, food, drinks, services, and transport but not trophy fees.

The operators said matters came to a head in 2006 when ZTA advised
operators that trophy fees were now included.

SOAZ sought legal opinion from their lawyers, Scanlen & Holderness,
who found out that trophy fees could not be classified as "Tourism Facility".

The legal opinion was delivered with a cover letter from SOAZ chairman
Jacob Mudenda to ZTA chief executive officer, Karikoga Kaseke on January 17
last year.

An appeal was made to the minister through the then permanent
secretary who responded that trophy fees should be included in the levy.

"From the beginning of the hunting season 2008 (April) our hunting
members were being harassed by demands from ZTA to pay two percent on the
Trophy Fees. SOAZ advised its members to refer ZTA to the legal opinion,"
the operators said.

"In June 2008, ZTA sent out letters to all hunting operators demanding
the two percent and they sent the police around to visit the offices of
these operators, demanding to see three years of documents, and implying
that if payment were not made there would be legal consequences."

This prompted SOAZ to ask Scanlen & Holderness to write a formal
letter to Kaseke advising their interpretation of the Act as already made to

The lawyers advised that should the harassment of their members
continue, they would seek a Declaratory Order from the courts.

Scanlen & Holderness wrote a letter to the ZTA's lawyers Gula-Ndebele
& Partners on August 28 laying out the case, and asking them to instruct
their clients to desist from using threats of arrest in a civil matter to
coerce payment, SOAZ said.

SOAZ said harassment continued until it culminated in the arrest of a
number of operators, including the association's administrative officer on
August 29.

Affected members were Makuti Safaris; Chapungu Safaris; HHK Safaris;
Lowveld Hunters, Mazunga Safaris, Mokore Safaris, Threeways Safaris, Big
Five Safaris and Roger Whittall Safaris.

The lawyers then met privately with the ZTA lawyers and an agreement
was reached that the matter would be sorted out between SOAZ and ZTA

It was agreed that both parties would abide by the judgment although
there would be redress through an appeal if it was justified.

The case went to the High Court in January 2009 and the ruling is
still pending, the operators said.
SOAZ told Mzembi that operators had in January received reports that
ZTA were refusing to renew operators' licences on the grounds they had not
paid their two percent levy on trophy fees.

The association instructed their lawyers to write to ZTA advising that
this amounted to extortion and advising that it was illegal.

Gula-Ndebele responded that their client, ZTA, denied that this was
the reason for not renewing licences, the operators said.

"We appeal to you, Minister Engineer Mzembi, to assist our struggling
industry in reaching an equitable solution to this problem," SOAZ wrote.

Since his appointment as Tourism Minister in February, Mzembi who is
on a whirlwind tour of western capitals with Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai has been diffusing tension among members who accuse the authority
of killing the industry.

But ZTA argues that it is merely enforcing the laws. Mudenda was
unavailable for comment.


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Alex Magaisa: How Long will the GNU last?

Saturday, 13 June 2009 16:59
THEY say the perfect eye of a tropical storm is often calm, quiet and

The sky is clear and everything seems beautiful, a welcome relief
after the heavy and violent storm. But at the same time it's an eerie
silence; an odd and uncomfortable calmness. You probably think the worst is
over. But this is deceptive.

This sudden reduction in the intensity of the storm and the apparent
serenity as the eye passes over the land is only temporary.

For soon, the next eye-wall will follow causing a sudden increase in
storm intensity - a violent interruption to the calmness.  It is at this
point that one is most vulnerable because it catches you unawares having
been deceived during the eye-phase of the storm that the worst was over.

Sometimes, looking at politics in Zimbabwe, you do wonder whether the
country is simply in the eye of the political storm; that this is but a
temporary phase which will be followed by yet another violent storm. To be
sure, this is by no means the perfect eye of the political storm. The
harassment and arrests of civil rights activists and defenders; the violence
and disruption at the farms in recent months continue to disturb the peace.

Yet most Zimbabweans seem to agree generally that things are different
from and getting better compared to the chaotic and violent situation of
2008 and the years preceding it. Some might be forgiven for thinking and
hoping that the worst is behind us. But is it really over or is this merely
the deceptive eye of the storm?

I ask this question because the expectation is that at some point this
GNU will have to give way to a popularly elected government. It is envisaged
in the Inter-Party Agreement (IPA) that forms the basis of the GNU that
there will be a free and fair election at some point in the future. When
exactly that will be remains a grey area.

Originally, it was said the GNU would last no more than 24 months but
lately there have been mixed signals with '5-years' figure coming up from
time to time. The way I see it, Zimbabweans may have to get used to the idea
that this GNU will be with us for a very, very long time. A number of
factors conspire to make this a real possibility.

First, there is a real fear that Zimbabwe is not ready for an election
and that it is unlikely to be ready in the next two years. There is a fear
that the election represents the eye-wall that could violently disturb the
purported calm and stability that the GNU seeks to achieve. The United
Nations' Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) painted
a bleak picture of the situation recently suggesting that the situation
could deteriorate if a new election is called.

Second, an election would naturally involve competition between the
parties. This would entail a break in the partnership between the parties in
the GNU.

Already there are concerns that the parties are scheming against each
other in order to be better positioned at the next election. Not only does
this threaten the success of the GNU, it also means that there could be
further instability as they jostle for power.

Third, at this early stage, there is no evidence to suggest that the
key conditions and players that existed prior to the GNU will have changed.
The parties will be the same.

The principal candidates are likely to be the same. The electoral
structures may have been reformed under the proposed constitutional reforms
but a change in structures does not necessarily mean that there is a change
in the behaviour and culture of the human agents who have played decisive
roles in previous elections.

Given the prevailing attitude and behaviour of the leading figures in
the security structure it remains unlikely that any victory other than ZANU
PF's would be given effect. In short, the election could be yet another
exercise in futility.

Fourth, there is very little and slow progress on the fulfilment of
the main structural precondition for new elections.

It is that there must be comprehensive constitutional reforms. This
process was initially expected to take 18 months from the inception of the
GNU. Progress has been painfully slow and success remains wildly uncertain.

Not only is there a problem of resource-shortages, there is also
debilitating controversy over the process. All these factors could conspire
to derail or at best delay the constitutional reform process.
By-elections: Political Gamesmanship?

Indeed, given the fears over new elections it is not beyond
imagination that the GNU itself or parts of it could engage in political
gamesmanship and dilly-dally with the constitutional reform process and use
that delay as justification for postponing the elections.

There are some in government who might see their future closely tied
to the fortunes of the GNU and a new Constitution is not necessarily in
their immediate interests. They could throw spanners into the works just to
prolong the life of this creature.

To be sure, there are already signs indicating that the GNU is
hesitant about holding elections in the immediate term.

This is evident in the confusion surrounding by-elections, which
confusion seems to be deliberately calculated to avoid by-elections at all
costs. Due to deaths, appointments to new stations, and other factors since
last year's elections, certain vacancies have arisen in Parliament. These
vacancies must ordinarily be filled by holding by-elections in the
respective constituencies.

The makers of the IPA foresaw the problems that could arise from
by-elections so they inserted Article 20.1.10 which regulates the filling of
parliamentary vacancies. It states that, "In the event of any vacancy
arising in respect of posts referred to in clauses 20.1.6 and 20.1.9 above
[parliament], such vacancy shall be filled by a nominee of the Party which
held that position prior to the vacancy arising."

The effect of this is to say for example that if an MDC-T MP vacates
office for whatever reason, the MDC-T would be allowed to nominate a
replacement and the other two partners to the IPA would not contest that

The idea was to minimise competition between the partners which could
potentially undermine the stability of the GNU. This clause forms part of
the transitional provisions in the Constitution governing the GNU's

Nevertheless, as we will see shortly, this is an imperfect arrangement
which fails in legal terms to achieve what the makers of the IPA intended,
namely to avoid potentially divisive elections.

It is interesting to note that the related Article 20.1.1 of the IPA
states that, "For the avoidance of doubt, the following provisions of the
Interparty Political Agreement, being Article XX thereof, shall, during the
subsistence of the Interparty Political Agreement, prevail notwithstanding
anything to the contrary in this Constitution ." These provisions include
the Article 20.1.10 referred to above.

This seems to suggest that the clause allowing parties to nominate
their own candidates to replace those of its members who may have vacated
office takes precedence. However, it is important to note that whilst this
clause prohibits the partners of the IPA to contest a vacant seat it is
silent on whether or not other political parties or independent candidates
are also prohibited from so contesting.

The agreement binds the three partners of the GNU and even though it
was made part of the Constitution it still does not exclude the right of
other political parties and indeed independent candidates from contesting
any vacant seats.

In any event doing so would have been a clear breach of Article 23A
which was introduced by the same Constitutional Amendment No. 19 to provide
for the protection of 'political rights'. These rights include the right of
a person to vote in and contest in a free and fair election.

Therefore, evidently, by-elections should be held to fill the vacant

The risk of course is that there is nothing to stop one of the
partners- for example MDC-M and Zanu PF from 'sponsoring' independent
candidates to contest against the nominated candidate of the MDC-T or

The 'sponsoring' parties can pretend that they have nothing whatsoever
to do with the 'independent' whilst helping him to win the seat thereby
diminishing the parliamentary position of the other party. These risks mean
that none of the parties are pressing ahead with demands for by-elections.

Rather, as we have observed, parliament, the government and the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission are shifting responsibility to each other as
if holding by-elections is something that has never been done before. They
know what needs to be done but they are reluctant to hold them.

There is only one reason for this: they are uncomfortable with storm
that would be cause by elections at this delicate stage of the transitional

The fears are probably not unfounded but it does raise the question as
to whether and when exactly Zimbabwe will ever be ready for a free and fair

It seems to me that we are in the eye of the storm. The storm itself
is not over yet. The question is whether we have sufficient mechanisms to
deal with the impending storm, as the other side of the eye-wall approaches.
It will arrive one day.

Alex Magaisa is based at, Kent Law School, the University of Kent and
can be contacted at   or

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SundayView: Unravelling Zim mysteries for flying witches, acrimony and knighthood

Saturday, 13 June 2009 16:50
IT'S not often there's much to smile about in Zimbabwe these days but
the 'Flying Witch' story has had me chortling all week.

The story originated in my old hometown of Murehwa; unfortunately,
there were no pictures to accompany the story but one report did show a very
small winnowing basket on which the witch-person was alleged to have
It was a very small basket and I don't think it would even have been
much use for its original purpose, let alone carrying a full-grown adult.

Witches normally travel on a hyena's back, I thought, but whatever the
mode of transport, this particular witch-person had travelled from Murehwa
into Harare on a winnowing basket to carry out some nefarious purpose.

The gallant ZRP - always there when you need them - had arrested her
and she was being charged under the Suppression of Witchcraft Act - a
leftover from colonial times.

Various experts in traditional practices were called to give testimony
as to the validity of the witch-person's claim to have flown from Murehwa
but in the midst of the proceedings the witch-person went into a trance and
started to make very loud and angry hissing noises! Absolute panic in the by
now crowded courtroom as the magistrate called a halt to the proceedings and
demanded to know where the snake noises were coming from!

Apparently the magistrate was having real difficulty deciding whether
the witch-person should be released on bail because the court could not be
entirely certain she wouldn't just climb in her basket and fly off back to
Murehwa! Who knows, next time we hear of her, the witch-person may be
striking a rock and bringing forth US dollar notes! It was diesel fuel last
time and certain credulous Zanu PF ministers were only too willing to
believe that piece of witchcraft.

I was thinking about the Flying Witch as I walked to the Polling
Station on Thursday to cast my vote in the local and EU elections.

The place was abuzz with activity, all under the watchful eye of the
British police.

The state of British democracy is nothing to write home about at the
moment but at least all the murky goings-on are out in the open for everyone
to see, thanks to a free press and a genuine Freedom of Information Act.

Details of MP's expenses published on a daily basis have not
unnaturally caused a huge wave of anger in the British public which will
certainly be revealed to the Labour Party's detriment as the election
results come in.

As I said last week, that's how democracy works; if the people lose
faith in the government they elected, then they can demonstrate their
disapproval when voting time comes round again. For that system to work, of
course, you need free and fair elections - which brings me neatly back to

As Morgan Tsvangirai and his high-powered delegation were preparing to
travel to Europe and the US to persuade them to drop sanctions and rescue
the bankrupt country, ordinary Zimbabweans were wondering why their lives
have not substantially improved in the 100+ days since the GNU has been in
existence. One reason for the people's understandable confusion is the
contradictory voices coming from within the MDC itself. Last Sunday, for
example, the Prime Minister gave his own supporters a frank admission that
the government which he leads has not been able fully enforce the rule of

Political intimidation and human rights abuses continue in Zimbabwe,
he admitted. Not two days later, an upbeat Prime Minister was telling the
BBC that "the period of acrimony is over."

If that is the case, how does Morgan Tsvangirai explain why Zanu PF
supporters and war vets continue to attack MDC members with the ZRP doing
nothing to prevent these violent attacks. Local chiefs are still punishing
villagers for their support of the former opposition party. That doesn't
sound as if 'the acrimony is over'.

How does the PM explain why lawyers and human rights activists
continue to be intimidated and imprisoned on trumped up charges if " the
acrimony is over" Are we to believe that Mugabe is a changed man, that he
has seen the error of his ways in his old age?

Mugabe is a typical Victorian gentleman, the Minister of Finance tells
an interviewer. When you meet him, said Tendai Biti, it's hard to believe
that this is the man the MDC has been fighting for so long, with his
beautiful British manners, just like a Victorian gentleman. "He deserves a
knighthood"  Biti adds.

Commentators are suggesting that Biti's comments were 'tongue in cheek'
Well, perhaps, but to me it suggests that the well-known Mugabe charm has
once again worked its magic.

ners were certainly a pre-requisite of Victorian gentlemen but that
did not make them any less ruthless as they marched into Africa and claimed
it for themselves, rather like Mugabe has done to Zimbabwe.

It's very hard for ordinary Zimbabweans to understand the MDC
leadership's repeated attempts to make Mugabe sound good.

They seem to have forgotten why the country is in such a parlous state
and who caused all the ruin and decay in the first place. Perhaps they have
made a deal with him, could it be that? "Get rid of sanctions for me,
promise not to prosecute me for crimes against humanity and I'll go quietly
into retirement." Could it be that?

Witches might fly!


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Comment: Zesa's Demand Points to a Deeper Crisis

Saturday, 13 June 2009 16:43
THE reality is catching up. And it is this that explains the sudden
u-turn in demands to consumers by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority
(Zesa) to pay up by this Saturday (June 20) or face power disconnections.

The immediate explanation is that Zesa is hard up and has to meet its
obligations, principally salaries which fall due before the end of this
month. It also has to pay for power imports.

Consumers take issue with Zesa's bills, especially as they are based
on unrealistic estimates.

There is no way households across cities and the country can consume
the exact amounts of electricity. The amounts of US$30 and US$40 being
demanded monthly for the high-density and low-density respectively for the
last three months are nothing but downright extortion. It would have been
better for Zesa to undertake actual readings and then use these to estimate
consumption patterns for the period in question.

But Zesa's demand suggests that the new Minister of Energy and Power
Development has come face to face with reality and acknowledges that his
initial populist move has given way to facts on the ground:

power exporters want to know why they should continue to supply
Zimbabwe when the country is unable to service its debt.

On the other hand there are countries like Botswana, which require
energy supplies and have the capacity to pay for their needs and are asking
electricity suppliers to increase their exports.
Zesa says that it has shut down four of its units at Hwange because
Wankie Colliery Company is unable to supply coal to the thermal power

The explanations may not be that simple. But in any other business
failure to meet demand would result in heads rolling. What business would a
company like Wankie have if it is unable to meet consumer demand? It
suggests either an appalling lack of anticipation or creativity on the part
of the company, while it strides vast reserves of the resource.

The failure to supply Zesa with coal could partly be due to the power
utility's inability to pay for coal deliveries but it could also be
attributed to inadequate equipment to extract coal. However for this to
occur in the middle of winter, when demand for power peaks, when winter
wheat cropping has commenced and when the country is battling to persuade
foreign investors to consider Zimbabwe as an investment destination is a
remarkable lapse in strategic planning.

So the failure to generate sufficient electricity to meet domestic
requirements will see the wheat hectarage plummeting. There will be a severe
shortage of bread, which will have to be met by imports, using scarce
foreign currency which could have been channelled towards imports of more
electricity in the first place thus averting the need to resort to wheat

But there is an even serious side to the power crisis, whether or not
Zesa or Wankie is responsible: it is that the targets set under the Short
Term Emergency Recovery Programme will not be met and that attracting more
investment will not be achieved. Investors want to be assured of regularity
of energy supplies because each time power outages occur they represent
losses in production and missed opportunities.

Zesa's charges must be realistic and the demands to consumers must be
based on actual as opposed to estimated consumption. At the same time if
Wankie is unable to supply coal to Hwange thermal power station because it
has no resources, it needs to find a strategic partner. Valuable time has
been lost as a result of indecision.

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Zim Standard Letters

Time We Reached Our Destination
Saturday, 13 June 2009 13:58
THE survival of the inclusive government has been the subject of
considerable debate since signing of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

There are varying opinions on whether Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
should have held on longer as all indications pointed to the fact that
President Robert Mugabe was about to give in. But there is also the opinion
that Tsvangirai was sincere in agreeing to an inclusive government and that
by so doing he saved the country from total collapse.

Others still believe Zanu PF was not going to recapitulate. Either
way, the MDC-T's decision to participate helped to stabilise what had become
a highly toxic political environment.

There is a view that the inclusive arrangement provided a soft landing
because if the MDC-T had been pronounced winner after the 29 March
harmonised elections, there would have been bloodshed, especially given the
violence in the lead up to the elections.

I understand that even within the uniformed forces there was
considerable uncertainty and tension among the rank and file officers.

It is fortunate that Zanu PF did not win because a "cleansing
operation" designed to eliminate those who do not support it would have
followed. So this arrangement that forces Mugabe and Tsvangirai to embrace
each other and denounce violence in whatever form from their supporters
provided a soft landing and saved Zimbabweans.

This arrangement ensured that no single person or political party
could exercise supreme authority in the Zimbabwean politics.

However, it should be noted that the people of Zimbabwe did not vote
for this inclusive government. This is not what we want and neither
President Mugabe nor Prime Minister Tsvangirai should be happy with this
arrangement. We want to determine our future through elections.

The three principals are facing significant challenges within their
parties. For Tsvangirai, this is not the time to get carried away and forget
our challenge.

For Mugabe, after Zimbabweans made up their mind to dump the party,
the challenges are immeasurable. Then there is the issue of the camps within
Zanu PF. Whether he is going to stand as Zanu PF's candidate remains to be

Professor Arthur Mutambara is fighting to keep his party from falling
apart. The challenge for him is for his party to remain relevant to the
Zimbabwean politics.

All these intricacies form the matrix of our current political
struggle. We need elections under a new people-driven constitution. Let us
not lose hope by focusing on the inclusive government because it is not a
permanent feature. And let no one try to make it permanent.

We have followed this river for far too long. It's time we got to the
sea, because as a nation we deserve better.

V N M Maunganidze Mlambo
Mt Pleasant

      Stop 'Hazing' Practice

      Saturday, 13 June 2009 13:56
      I have recently learned that Zimbabwean police recruits are
subjected to beatings as a kind of indoctrination or "hazing". I have seen a
short video of this practice and I am appalled. No civilized country employs
such practices.

      If police are inducted to their service in this way, you can
expect them to act brutally when performing their duties, in clear violation
of our laws and international norms.

       Please Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai act immediately to stop
this highly destructive and counter-productive practice.

      Edna Musarurwa


      Directors, Managers Looting
      Saturday, 13 June 2009 13:55
      WHAT does it mean when these parastatals ask for rescue
packages - they first buy luxury cars? Zesa recently bought top of the range
vehicles for all their management.

      Fullard Gwasira, Zesa's Communications manager is always in the
media complaining that the parastatal is dead broke. Why doesn't he come in
the open and say that we are putting ourselves first instead of the nation?

      In Chitungwiza Makoni Unit O we have had no electricity for the
past three months and we have no hope that we will have power anytime soon
because Zesa is broke and will not be able to buy us a transformer. However,
it has money to buy a Toyota Prado for a manager (name supplied) and sell
him at book value a Toyota d/cab raider he was using.

      In Norton some residents had to contribute to buy a transformer,
diesel and used their cars to transport Zesa technicians yet Zesa had money
to purchase some Toyota Landcruiser V8 latest models for all the directors
of its subsidiaries. Then these directors bought all the cars they were
using at book value.

      They have generators, their children's school fees are paid by
Zesa, and they have entertainment allowances, fuel they take as they please.

       All ministers with parastatals falling under their ministries
please help the nation by clipping wings of these directors in time.

       If you remember very well President Barack Obama also complained
to the US financial institutions about executives getting massive allowances
from the rescue packages.

      Ministers, please have a look at the issue of luxury vehicles at
parastatals that are said to be struggling and requiring financial
injections from the government.

      Zesa staff


      Outrageous Bills
      Saturday, 13 June 2009 13:53
      FOR the past two years I have been connecting to the Internet
via TelOne's CDMA phone. For that duration we were charged a modest fixed
monthly amount which was paid in advance.

       However, in April out of the blues I got an Internet bill for
US$4 633.74. A few weeks later I got the May bill and I owe TelOne US$4
818.25. Where in the world do you get such an Internet bill for private home
use? Not only is the bill unrealistic

       . . . it's simply outrageous.

      Minister Nelson Chamisa should do something about these
unrealistic bills. Even if I were asked to pay only 10% of the bill I would
think that would still be too expensive.

       Alois Kachere


      MDC Must be Commended for Al-Bashir Snub
      Saturday, 13 June 2009 13:52
      PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and ministers from his MDC-T
formation should be congratulated for not taking part in welcoming Comesa
leaders such as Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

      It would have been a great embarrassment to the MDC-T leaders to
be seen shaking hands with a leader whose hands are dripping with blood
following the murder of thousands of innocent people in Darfur.

       When the international community is calling for his arrest, the
MDC leaders were correct not be associated with Al Bashir.

       This gesture has shown that the MDC-T although having formed an
inclusive government with Zanu PF, still respects the rule of law unlike
their counterparts in Zanu PF.

       The MDC leadership should let President Robert Mugabe, who is
responsible for the murder of thousands of people in Matabeleland and the
Midlands during the early 1980s and other hundreds of innocent Zimbabweans
through Operation Murambatsvina, farm invasions and violent election
campaigns, wine and dine with other dictators in Africa.

      Trymore Mazhambe


      No Trust in the GMB
      Saturday, 13 June 2009 13:49
      IT was with interest that I read last week that Governor of the
Reserve Bank, Gideon Gono, was erecting grain silos at his farm in Norton.

      Why is Gono putting up silos when his party Zanu PF has failed
to fill the country's national grain silos for the past 10 years? Does Gono
no longer have trust in the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) to the extent he now
prefers to keep grain at his farm?

       Does he remember that he and other state organs like the police
and soldiers were forcing farmers to deliver their grain to the GMB or
confiscating the grain if it was not destined for the GMB? The police even
prevented ordinary people from transporting maize for their consumption in

        Gono should remember that the people are hurting  because of
government polices he was party to.

      E M


      Gono, not sanctions, to Blame for Economic Collapse
      Saturday, 13 June 2009 13:49
      I know for certain that sanctions have absolutely nothing to do
with Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation and economic decay. Low agricultural, mining
and industrial output and money printing have brought economic misery on
this land.

      Money printing, especially, is the major driver of
hyperinflation and even Gideon Gono, the Governor of the Reserve Bank
proudly admitted that he was printing money and boasted he would not succumb
to "bookish economics".
      Why would the state media now say that sanctions have brought
about misery when any economics scholar will tell you that increased money
supply not backed by production causes inflation?

      You cannot spend what you don't have. The Minister of Finance,
Tendai Biti, simplified this economic matrix in his budget presentation when
he said you eat what you kill and gather. How can you feast on 20 bushbucks
in a year when you only managed to hunt and gather five?

       Everybody knows that sanctions were a reaction to flawed
elections, disrespect for human rights and many other factors. Gono further
exacerbated our economic misery by printing money, benefiting a few
individuals, who make up the elite. These are the same individuals who are
in a minority and are now saying that Gono saved this country from collapse.

      These are the same individuals who wanted to benefit from the
illegal secondary taxing of businesses by Gono's policies. We are already
overburdened taxpayers, but Gono wanted to impose fees for using forex
because he destroyed what was left of our currency.

      I want to the thank Biti for unequivocally dismissing the fees
as unnecessary and stating that it is the domain of Parliament to come up
with such charges. What was the rationale for charging us such exorbitant

       Such policies are the reasons why the majority of Zimbabweans
want Gono to go. We want him to resign because of the misery he brought

      Biti might not have anything personal against Gono. It is people
like me and the majority of Zimbabweans who have everything personal against
Gono because he destroyed our livelihoods.

       I really wonder whether Gono and his elite circle of friends
genuinely believe such statements when they say Gono saved Zimbabwe from
further collapse.

      There are many men and women across the political divide
regardless of their political affiliation who want this man's resignation.
There are also those who benefited from his policies who want him to go, and
rightfully so for the sake of progress and in the country's best interests.

      Avondale, Harare.


      SMS The Standard
      Saturday, 13 June 2009 13:59
      Have pride

      PLEASE have pride and keep our beautiful city clean. Let us all
get together and stop littering and causing health hazards.

      Burn rubbish or take it to the municipal dump site. Complain to
the City of Harare if your rubbish is not collected. Stop littering the
streets or throwing litter from your vehicle. Do whatever it takes to help
keep our environment green. Our city is in a shocking mess. It's not a good
sight to attract tourists. A relative who visited years ago told me that
Harare was one of the cleanest cities in the world. Do us proud and pick up
your litter. - Concerned, Harare.

      Urgent SOS
      WE are urgently appealing to the Parliamentary Portfolio
Committee on Higher Education to immediately institute an investigation into
allegations of corruption and victimisation of staff workers' unions at the
Bindura University of Science Education.  - SOS, Bindura.

      Uphill struggle
      JAMESON Timba, the Deputy Minister of Media, Information and
Publicity, should work extra hard and reign in public media over its lies,
which it continues to spread despite the advent of an inclusive
government. - Shozhi, Harare.

       PUBLIC media journalists should think twice when writing their
stories. How can a rational journalist write that the Dutch government turns
down Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai as if the Prime Minister is on a
mission to the West in his private personal capacity? - Tindo.

      IS owning a radio or television set that special? If ZBC wants
money from its viewers, it should come up with a decoder of its own so that
we can be free from its shameless greed.- Rindai.

      THERE is no point in TelOne slashing tariffs by 30% on a bill
which I disagree with. TelOne for once needs to be serious. I got a bill of
US$800. Unfortunately I am not paid anything near that amount. - Get Real,

      Bosso losing plot
      CAN the executive at Highlanders Football Club care to explain
why we have an all-rookies outfit except for Gift Lunga, Richard Choruma and
Johannes Ngodzo masquerading as Bosso when it is evident that they fall far
short. Why did most senior players leave and what efforts were made to
retain Cuthbert Malajila, Washington Arubi, Obadiah Tarumbwa or acquire good
players from relegated teams and from other teams just as Dynamos did? Where
is Alumeda, G Banda, Cooper and others? - M K Shumba.

      THE Highlanders executive must get serious during this window
period by getting experienced players and a seasoned coach like Jostein
Mathuthu, assisted by the likes of Willard Khumalo. - Nyatanga K.

      MADINDA Ndlovu should be fired immediately before Highlanders
loses ground on the title race. Just like Moses Chunga, Ndlovu is a soccer
scout and not a coach. Chunga's kidnet Norman Maroto, Samson Choruwa, Murape
Murape, Esau Amisi, Eddie Mashiri, Leo Kurauzvione and others only
flourished long after his departure. It was the same with the likes of
Tafadzwa Rusike at Caps United. So Ndlovu is a scout masquerading as a
coach. He must join the juniors - that's where we need scouts. - M Moyo,

      Zimra's war
      HAS the government, through the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority,
decided on an all-out war against cross-border traders? Could the Minister
of Finance and that  of Small and Medium Enterprises rescue us from the
punitive duty? It is just too high for the majority of us. We are paying R2
000 for goods worth R1 000 before transport. How are we expected to
survive? -Byo SME member.

      Academic independence
      THERE should be independent vice-chancellors for all state
universities. The continued closure of the University of Zimbabwe is a shame
and exposes the paucity of leadership at the institution. Please help. -

       Where he belongs
      AFTER watching Gideon Gono's so-called "new Donnington farm" on
ZTV, I am convinced that that's where he belongs and must stop wasting his
talent at the central bank. - Zivai, Epworth.
      I AM surprised Editor on your comment "Scrap bills based on
estimates" on Zesa. You don't seem to realise the role of the regulator in
setting electricity tariffs. Where is the rule of law? - Anony.

      WHILE the MDC-T is busy trying to source funds for the nation,
Zanu PF was busy showing off their looted farms to King Mswati III of
Swaziland. I am sure many voters took note. - Oracle.

      Gono's cushy job
      HOW did Gideon Gono manage to have
      5 000 cattle on his farm? How did he come to accumulate such
wealth? I hope he was able to explain this to his admirers and to King
Mswati III. He must have benefited from his activities at the central bank.
Who then would want to leave such a job? - Observer.

      CAN anyone explain why it is that whenever a company,
organisation or individuals try to justify their service charges they refer
to the regional or international averages yet do not make the same
comparisons when it comes to salaries and economies? Is this arrogantly

      RONNIE Nkiwane, people die for their principles and beliefs.
That does not make them stupid. Sam Sipepa Nkomo did not register The Daily
News in protest and due to his principled stand. You can kiss Jonathan Moyo
but that won't clean his bloody hands. - A victim.

      According to Patrick Chinamasa, sacking Gideon Gono from the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is tantamount to pushing Zanu PF out of the
government of national unity. So what the learned lawyer forgot or rather
chose not to tell us is that the central bank is now a Zanu PF project and
that the Governor is not representing the interests of the masses but is on
a Zanu PF mission. - V Kleere.

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