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

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Zim Independent

Kuruneri offers $15b
Godfrey Marawanyika
IN a bid to secure his freedom, former Finance minister Chris Kuruneri has
pledged an unprecedented $15 billion worth of assets to the state as part of
his bail terms.

In addition to the $15 billion - representing two immovable properties in
Zimbabwe - Kuruneri is willing to surrender his entire shareholding in a
Cape Town-based company, Choice Decisions, and cash in two South Africa

Kuruneri is also prepared to deposit $200 million in cash with the Registrar
of the High Court as further security for bail and reside at his Mount
Pleasant home.

Kuruneri has been locked up at Harare Remand Prison for the past 15 months.

Charges against Kuruneri arose last year after he allegedly externalised
US$500 000, £37 000, 30 000 euros and R1,2 million to South Africa between
March 2002 and the time of his arrest last year.

The state argues the money was used to buy properties in South Africa
without appropriate clearance with the exchange control authorities.

Kuruneri has already been convicted of holding a Canadian passport. He has
however denied the externalisation charges saying the money he got was
earned as free funds from consultancy work he carried out for the Solano
family in Spain.

Kuruneri's trial opened in the High Court last month, followed by stunning
testimony by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono earlier this
month suggesting that Kuruneri had saved the country from catastrophe by
assisting it with the transfer of funds. The trial was however postponed
indefinitely and Kuruneri has remained behind bars, hence the new quest for
freedom. Kuruneri had prior to the trial made three futile bail applications
in the High Court.

In this application, his lawyer Jonathan Samkange said circumstances had
changed immensely since the last bail application as the state case had been
weakened by Gono's testimony.

Samkange also argues that based on evidence from South African witnesses,
there was no grounds to suggest that his client arrived in South Africa with
foreign currency.

He said the onus was on the state to prove that Kuruneri's funds were not

free funds, adding that its witnesses had failed to establish evidence to
the contrary.

"It is for this reason that the applicant would not abscond and would
continue to attend his trial if released on bail, as he has nothing to fear.
It is very clear that the state's case is very weak," Samkange said.

He said this was evident if one took "into account the unchallenged evidence
of Dr Gono which was to the effect that applicant was an innocent man" who
had made "his free funds available to the state at the request of Dr Gono on
behalf of the state".

Samkange said his client saved the nation from collapse and the possibility
"that lives could have been lost". He said as the administrator of the
exchange control authority Gono's evidence left everyone "wondering why the
applicant was still in custody".

The accused, it is argued, opened an account with Amalgamated Bank of South
Africa on February 20, 2002 with a deposit of £5 000 which amounted to R79
160 when converted.

He made another cash deposit of R175 000 on December 23, followed by another
R530 000 and another R275 430 on July 8.

Samkange also said as explained by the witnesses, his client does not need
exchange control authority where the funds are "free funds in order to make
payment outside the country".

He said to determine whether the funds are free funds or not was at the
discretion of the banker, adding that where the banker was satisfied that
the funds were free that would be the end of the matter.

"Since Dr Gono was satisfied that the applicant held free funds it is
therefore ridiculous for the state to suggest without any basis that these
are not free funds," he said.

"The evidence so far led clearly shows that the payments made by the
applicant in South Africa were from proceeds of his free funds. There is no
evidence to contradict this assertion."

On Friday last week the state lodged an objection against the bail
application saying that it could not argue on its evidence.

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Zim Independent

Army takes over 'clean-up'
Shakeman Mugari
The rebuilding exercise in the wake of the destructive "clean-up" campaign
is now a military operation after government enlisted the service of the

Although government announ-ced this week that a reconstruction committee of
nine ministries had been formed last Wednesday, it is understood that the
military is now actively involved in the operation.

The decision to form an inter-ministerial committee was a follow-up to a

meeting last Friday where army officers directed the agenda. The urgent
meeting, chaired by Major-General Amoth Chingombe, was called to announce
the takeover of the reconstruction plan by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces
(ZDF). Major-General Chingombe is understood to have told those present that
the army would now direct the operation.

This is not the first time the army has been called in to lead civilian
activities. At the height of the 2002 drought the army took over the
importation of grain and distribution of food. The army was also actively
involved in the land redistribution programme.

The Prison Service and the National Youth Service will provide building
brigades but under the direction of the army.

The first phase of the reconstruction being carried out by building brigades
is at Whitecliff farm on the western outskirts of Harare. The capital is
trying to put into motion a plan that would quickly convert the destruction
of shacks into a massive public works programme.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe officials and the permanent secretary for Local
Government Partson Mbiriri attended the meeting. There were officials from
the Ministry of Youth Development and from the Zimbabwe Prison Service also

Sources say Chingombe asked the Reserve Bank to provide the $1 trillion
required for the reconstruction package promised by government. They say the
RBZ was given until the end of this week to release the funds.

According to the plan, the army will provide builders and carpenters from
its engineering department.

Funds are required urgently to procure building materials, especially bricks
and cement.

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Zim Independent

Clean-up forces SPCA to kill animals
Susan Mateko
THE Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has been forced
to kill animals under its care in order to create room for hundreds of
animals left homeless by the government's ongoing clean-up campaign, the
Zimbabwe Independent has established.

The animals have been abandoned by owners after police destroyed homes where
the animals were being kept while dozens of others have been surrendered to
the SPCA by owners leaving the cities for rural homes.

SPCA regional inspector for Matabeleland region, Glynis Vaughan, told the
Independent this week that her organisation had run out of accommodation to
house the many homeless domestic animals abandoned by their fleeing owners.

Vaughan said her organisation rescued dozens of domestic animals after the
clean-up campaign hit Bulawayo's residential areas two weeks ago.

"This is a huge tragedy," she said. "It's really, really sad. We had to put
to sleep healthy dogs in order to get room for new animals coming in from
destroyed homes. As of now we have put down four of the rescued dogs and
seven other dogs that we were keeping," Vaughan said.

She also added that her organisation's budget had been stretched to the
limit in the attempt to save and feed the abandoned animals.

The SPCA is home to many homeless and sick animals.

In Killarney suburb alone, the organisation managed to rescue 211 different
types of animal that include dogs, cats and chickens that were abandoned
after the owners' homes were razed by police.

With this sad scenario, the nation has been drawn back to the fast-track
land reform programme, which saw many domestic animals being left to die due
to starvation leading to the depletion of the national cattle herd.

The Independent this week visited the SPCA premises along Khami road where
the crew was shown some of the dogs that were going to be "put down" that

Vaughan also said some of the sick domestic animals that could be treated
were also due to be put down in an attempt to create room for animals coming
into the centre.

"We are a non-profit making charity organisation and the donations that we
get can sustain us for a minimum level of time. There is a strain on our
budget already due to this exercise," said Vaughan.

She also appealed to the general public to make donations to the
organisation since animals at the centre faced starvation due to a limited

"We are appealing to the public for food and fuel for our rescue teams. We
are also appealing to the public to let us know of the animals left homeless
by the clean-up campaign," she said.

The SPCA team has been trailing the police teams conducting the clean-up
campaign in the suburbs in the hope of saving those animals that are left
behind after the homes are destroyed.

The clean-up operation, which has left thousands of people homeless, has
been widely condemned both locally and internationally.

The United Nations this week appointed an envoy to come and assess the
clean-up operation.

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Zim Independent

Insult laws a gag on media - analysts
Ray Matikinye
ZIMBABWE'S restrictive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(Aippa) in combination with insult laws have inhibited public discussion and
gagged media probes into shady deals by high-ranking officials.

Experts say democracy and economic prosperity are not possible without
public accountability of its leaders and transparency in their transactions,
and vigorous public discussion of issues and choices.

Insult laws are statutes that make it a criminal offense to "insult" the
honour or dignity of public officials. These statutes are used as vehicles
to prevent and punish journalistic scrutiny of public records and official

According to the World Press Freedom Committee, insult laws are a form of
criminal defamation deliberately aimed at elevating officials, governments,
national symbols and public institutions from criticism and examination by
the public and their eyes and ears, the news media.

A proposed amendment before parliament under the General Laws Amendment Bill
seeks to increase the fine "for undermining the authority of or insulting
the president" from $20 000 to $400 000. Public figures the world over are
lampooned by the media, either out of frustration or merely to provide comic
relief in situations of economic or political stress that citizens sometimes
find themselves in. It is the price politicians pay for their ambition and
has the effect of bringing them down to earth - once in a while.

Clause 15 of the Bill will amend a section of Posa dealing with the media to
give effect to the provisions of the Criminal Penalties Amendment Act that
imposes stiffer penalties.

In Zimbabwe authorities take exception to utterances and gestures deemed to
"insult the president". For instance, a lighting engineer at a musical show
was dragged to court for focusing the spotlight on a portrait of President
Mugabe when local musician Oliver Mtukudzi played the crowd's favourite song
Bvuma. The inference was that the lyrics poked fun at President Mugabe, in
power since Independence from Britain 25 years ago. Another court set free a
Chitungwiza commuter arrested for badmouthing the president on his way to
the city centre in reaction to transport problems.

In tandem with an amendment introduced by the late transport minister, Dr
Swithun Mombeshora, to the Road Traffic Act, Zimbabwe now views gesturing at
the presidential motorcade an insult and a criminal offence.

The amendment, some say, was meant to prevent the public from waving at the
presidential motorcade as doing so could be easily misconstrued as taunting
the head of state with the opposition MDC symbol of an open palm.

Questions have been asked why nations resort to such legislation and the
reasons given have ranged from an alleged desire to protect individuals'
privacy, to protect national security and to simply protect leaders'

Critics of insult laws say there are numerous legal remedies already in
existence, in civil libel and slander legislation, to provide recourse for
perceived defamation. In any case, mockery is a constitutional right.

"Public officials deserve less, not more protection from public commentary
than ordinary citizens," the World Press Freedom Committee says. "They have
sought the notoriety involved in serving the common weal through public
office. And as such, they are the servants of the public, not its masters."

Like insult laws, defamation laws are a recourse for people whose
reputations have been harmed by unflattering or offensive statements.

There are, however, crucial differences between the two offences.

Insult laws protect only public figures. These can include individuals like
a president, a king, members of parliament, or institutions like the police,
armed forces, or judicial bodies. The protection also extends to national
symbols like the flag or coat of arms.

Insult laws, unlike defamation laws, can punish both truthful statements and
opinions. Truth is not a defence. Any statement that harms a public
official's reputation is actionable. This means that jokes, cartoons,
satire, among others, are all vulnerable to penalties under insult laws.

That in turn will make Zimbabwe a more dangerous place for journalists,
civic activists and, indeed, ordinary commuters with a gripe.

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Zim Independent

'Two-thirds claim a political statement'

RESPONDENTS to former Information minister Jonathan Moyo's court challenge
against Zanu PF's claimed "two-thirds majority" have admitted the ruling
party has no such a number of MPs in parliament, but urged the court to
dismiss the application, saying it had no legal merit.

Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, who made the claim that his party
commands a two-thirds majority in parliament in a memo to a Zanu PF central
committee meeting on May 27, said his assertion was a "political statement
solely for the benefit and preview" of that meeting.

Without dealing with issues raised, Chinamasa said Moyo's application was
"without cause and therefore should be dismissed with costs on a higher

Moyo recently challenged Zanu PF's claim of a two-thirds majority - which
ceased immediately after the application - saying it was false and had grave
implications for the rule of law and constitutional governance. Chinamasa
said his claim was not based on the legal and factual position of the
composition of parliament but was merely a "political statement".

During the Zanu PF meeting in question, Chinamasa said: "Zanu PF emerged
from the elections commanding a two-thirds majority in the House of
Assembly". He broke down the purported "two-thirds" showing that Zanu PF has
78 elected MPs, eight provincial governors, 12 non-constituency MPs, and 10
chiefs as part of its bloc of legislators.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairman George Chiweshe said the court could
not make a declaratory order on a case not in dispute. He said it was
abundantly clear Zanu PF has no two-thirds majority in parliament.

"There is no dispute about that and therefore a court cannot make a
declarator (declaratory order) of such an issue which is patently obvious,"
Chiweshe said.

"In any event this honourable court will note that all the applicant has

in the notice of motion is a declaration that statements contained in the
annexures (Chinamasa's memo and newspaper cuttings) attached to the
application are false statements."

Chiweshe, who objected to being cited as a respondent claiming the case had
nothing to do with him, said Moyo had "dismally failed" to set forth a right
in contention and his case should be dismissed. While dismissing Moyo's case
he went on to try to build a defence based on semantics.

"What the honourable minister (Chinamasa) has said is that Zanu PF has
emerged from the election commanding a two-thirds majority in the House of
Assembly," he said. "He did not say Zanu PF has a two-thirds majority in the
House of Assembly."

Attorney-General Sobusa Gula Ndebele said Chinamasa's memo was a "political
statement and not a legal statement". He said Moyo failed to specify which
provisions of the constitution and Electoral Act had been violated.

"The applicant is misdirected concerning the issue of a two-thirds majority
in parliament," Ndebele said. "The issue of mastering or commanding a
two-thirds majority in parliament is a question of fact, not law." - Staff

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Zim Independent

Demolitions: groups take case to UN
Ray Matikinye
GOVERNMENT came under intense international pressure yesterday to halt the
demolition of what it deems illegal settlements as the operation entered its
fourth week.

A coalition of more than 2 000 African and international human rights and
civic groups launched an urgent joint appeal at the United Nations and the
African Union to help the people of Zimbabwe as the humanitarian crisis in
the country deteriorates by the day.

The joint appeal is being coordinated by Amnesty International together with
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. It was presented to the UN in New York
this week.

Other organisations involved include the Inter Africa Network for Human
Rights (Afronet), the Housing and Land Rights Network of the Habitat
International Coalition, the International Bar Association's Human Rights
Institute, the International Crisis Group and the International Commission
of Jurists (ICJ).

"The African Union and the relevant bodies of the United Nations including
the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Security Council cannot fail
to act in the face of such gross and widespread human rights violations and
appalling human misery," a statement issued by the civic groups says.

Civic and human rights organisations in 24 other African countries have
joined the growing chorus of outrage over the nationwide clean-up operation
initiated by the government. The groups have thrown their weight behind
efforts to press the UN and AU to take "immediate and effective action
consistent with their mandates" to ensure an end to forced evictions and
destruction of livelihoods in Zimbabwe.

They have called on the Zimbabwe government to ensure that all those who are
currently homeless as a result of the mass forced evictions have immediate
emergency relief. Government should ensure that those affected have the
rights to justice, appropriate reparations, restitution, rehabilitation and
compensation, they said. Evictees should also be given guarantees on

At a press conference in Harare, director of the national association of
non-governmental organisations (Nango), Jonah Mudehwe, said similar events
had been lined up in five African countries and at the UN to bring world
attention to the disaster unfolding in Zimbabwe. The appeals were launched
simultaneously in Lagos, Johannesburg, Cairo, Windhoek and Harare.

Tens of thousands of ordinary people have been left sleeping on the streets
next to the rubble of their destroyed homes following a three-week
demolition blitz carried out at the behest of the government.Under
international pressure to halt the evictions, President Robert Mugabe has
allowed UN secretary-general Kofi Annan's special envoy to come and assess
the on-going demolitions and the scope of evictions of "illegal" settlers.

According to UNDP public affairs and advocacy officer in Zimbabwe, Katherine
Anderson, Anna Kagumulo Tibaijuka, the executive director of UN Habitat,
will visit Zimbabwe to assess the government-initiated demolitions.

Mugabe allowed Tibaijuka to come after pressure from UN Secretary-General
Kofi Annan who expressed anxiety over the mass evictions which displaced
more than 300 000 households in urban centres under the pretext of cleaning
up filth built up over the years. Illegal settlements - some of them with
overt approval of government ministers - have mushroomed around cities and
towns in recent years.

Although government has promised to relocate displaced families, last week
it failed to launch a promised $1 trillion programme to house the evictees.
Government has instead published a list of new beneficiaries of residential

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Zim Independent

Mugabe urged to set up more camps
Augustine Mukaro
HUMANITARIAN organisations are imploring President Robert Mugabe to stop the
controversial "Operation Restore Order" and set up additional transit camps
similar to Caledonia Farm to provide assistance for displaced families.

Caledonia Farm transit camp now holds more than 3 000 victims of the
clean-up campaign and has become overcrowded with new arrivals, raising
fears of disease outbreaks. Diplomats who have been lobbying government to
halt the operation said more transit camps were needed to house evictees
displaced from Harare's dormitory town of Chitungwiza and the sprawling
Epworth township.

"Homeless people continue coming to Caledonia but there is no more room,"
diplomatic sources said adding that humanitarian organisations had submitted
proposals for another transit camp to cater for thousands of homeless.

The United Nations estimates up to 1,5 million people have been rendered
homeless over the past four weeks following the launch of "Operation

The UN and other humanitarian organisations including churches are already
providing services at Caledonia but according to the Catholic Commission for
Justice and Peace (CCJP), government is not keen to admit it does not have
the capacity to provide for the homeless and that it needs outside help.

"Government appears jealous of the church's efforts to alleviate the plight
of displaced people and they seem to say that what we are doing runs counter
to their operation," a CCJP official, Alois Chaumba, said.

A US spokesman in Harare said his government through the United States
Agency for International Development (USAid)'s Office of Foreign Disaster
Assistance, had already made available US$1,1 million in aid. The money is
administered by the International Organisation for Migration which is
coordinating the humanitarian response efforts.

"We have called for the operation to cease and we are working with others in
the international community to provide relief for the operation's victims,"
the spokesman said.

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Zim Independent

Zim lacks way out of fuel crisis

THE International Monetary Fund, currently in the country this week, met
with officials from the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) and the
Ministry of Energy and learnt that Zimbabwe had no plan in place to save the
country from the crippling fuel shortage.

Zimbabwe does not currently have any fuel in reserve as the shortages have
continued to bite. This week fuel retailers said the country was
experiencing its worst-ever fuel crisis with only a few service stations in
Harare getting the commodity. There was virtually no fuel in smaller towns.

The impact of the shortages were also manifest during peak hours as many
public transport operators have parked their vehicles due to the stockout.

Sources close to the meeting between the IMF team and Noczim and government
officials said the visitors were shocked by the current state of affairs.
Worse still the Zimbabwean team appeared to have no solution to hand.

Sources in the fuel sector last night said the movement of fuel into the
country had been further adversely affected by Noczim's failure to pay
Mozambican company CPMZ for pumping fuel from Beira to Feruka in May. The
sources said as a result of the debt, CPMZ was refusing to pump eight
million of diesel to Mutare from Beira.

This comes amid market speculation that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had
mandated banks to use whatever means possible to procure foreign currency
for fuel imports.

RBZ governor Gideon Gono yesterday could not discuss the foreign currency
issue but said a solution to the fuel problem was in sight. He however
warned that more hard currency was required to procure fuel following the
upward movement of prices on the international market.

"We have been saying that the country required US$40 million a month for
fuel but prices have been going up to US$60 a barrel," said Gono.

"If there is no realignment of the new prices and the foreign currency
allocations we will continue to lag behind," he said. This means Zimbabwe
now requires more than US$40 million a month for fuel.

The country has been badly affected by the increase in the price of crude
since the little fuel that has been coming into the country is procured in
an over-the-counter arrangement. Zimbabwe cannot obtain lines of credit due
to the country's high risk factor. - Staff Writer.

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Zim Independent

Fence complete by August

THE Botswana government says the controversial electric fence along its
border with Zimbabwe is set to be completed by the end of August.

The electrification of the fence will come as a blow to thousands of
Zimbabweans who cross the border illegally on a weekly basis to buy wares to
sell back home.

The Botswana government says the fence is meant to curb the movement of
cattle affected by the foot and mouth disease while Zimbabwean authorities
accuse Botswana of attempting to build a "Gaza Strip" in Africa

The Botswana government says it has so far completed the construction of 400
kilometres of the expected 500-kilometre fence. - Staff Writer.

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Zim Independent

Forex crisis stifles business growth
Godfrey Marawanyika
ZIMBABWEAN businesses did not record any significant growth over the past
six months largely because of the unavailability of foreign currency and
poor pricing strategies, a study by the Zimbabwe National Chamber of
Commerce (ZNCC) has revealed.

The study revealed that 80% of organisations interviewed had not realised
any business growth from the previous year.

"From the 80%, 70% also indicated that they had not even realised any
business growth from the previous six months. (At least) 10% out of that 80%
have realised a marginal growth from the previous six months," ZNCC said.

"(About) 90% said they are optimistic about the economy. Only about 70% out
of those 90% are optimistic about their business. This is in line with the
constraints which they are facing. Most of the business people indicated
that the rate at which the economic issues are being addressed is far below
the rate at which their companies are going down. That's making them become
pessimistic about their business."

Over the past six months, business viability has been greatly compromised by
lack of foreign currency and fuel shortages.

The foreign currency auction system is unable to meet demand.

A number of businesses are on the verge of closing down because they cannot
access foreign currency, whilst others have been forced to reduce their

Most of the companies are operating below capacity, thus increasing unit

The ZNCC said current capacity utilisation in most companies was in a range
of 40-50%.

"The major constraint encountered by most companies is the unavailability of
foreign currency. This is followed by the unavailability of fuel, then
thirdly pricing strategies," ZNCC said.

Interest rates, taxation and the unavailability of electricity were among
other constraints faced by companies.

The survey covered the manufacturing, retail and marketing sectors.

The ZNCC said most business people were citing the issue of foreign currency
as a major problem, which they noted would take time to improve.

"They (business community) also alluded that the agriculture sector was not
growing as forecast. This (agriculture) is the source of raw materials."

Some indicated that corruption should be addressed with seriousness and with
immediate effect.

On the clean-up campaign, the survey said that most of the firms were not
affected largely because they are big and established but concerns were
raised on the issue of accommodation for the affected workers adding that
alternatives should be provided for those affected.

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Zim Independent

Workers suffer serious stress, hardships: study
Eric Chiriga
ZIMBABWEAN workers, particularly low-level employees, are going through
serious stress and hardships due to the prolonged economic downturn. A
survey of personnel managers and directors carried out by Human Resources
(Pvt) Ltd this month reveals that Zimbabwe's working populace is struggling
under myriad problems and anxiety emanating from the ailing economy.

"Extreme levels of difficulty and stress are apparently being experienced
both amongst managers and low-level employees," David Harrison, a director
at Human Resources, said.

Harrison cited foreign currency shortages, high inflation and other
wide-ranging problems, as some of the factors heightening uncertainty over
business survival.

"The major problems listed by those interviewed include worries about
company viability in the absence of foreign currency and in the face of
continuing inflation and difficulties in negotiation with employees and
their representatives," Harrison said.

Employees have been demanding salary and wages increases in light of the
high inflation rate.

Zimbabwe's inflation, which reached a record 620% in January last year
before declining to 122%, has begun rising again and now stands at 144,4%.

However, Harrison said many respondents felt that demands for higher

wages threatened business viability while employees didn't see higher wage
levels as posing a threat to jobs through company closures.

Local companies are facing serious viability problems mainly due to the
shortage of foreign currency to import raw materials, the high cost of
borrowing and skyrocketing operational costs like electricity charges.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's foreign currency auction is equally starved,
resulting in a high rejection rate for bids.

The auction can only allot a weekly amount of US$11 million, way below the
required amount of more than US$100 million.

Harrison said contrary to the day-to-day conversations with human resources
professionals, Aids-related issues were mentioned by approximately 80% of
those interviewed.

"We are not allowed to tell people when we know they have Aids," human

resources managers who were interviewed said.

They said absenteeism from work was frequent and understandable but very
costly for companies.

During the survey, problems arising from manpower shortages were frequently

A huge number of Zimbabwe' s skilled manpower have left the country for
greener greener pastures in neighbouring countries and mostly the United

"A huge number of needed persons have been attracted by greater security and
better lifestyles in South Africa and further a field. Zimbabwe employees
tend to be popular in other countries," the interviewed managers said.

"We have much difficulty in finding accountants, technically skilled persons
and surprisingly junior managers with suitable potential."

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Zim Independent

Forex crisis saps beer supplier dry
Eric Chiriga
BEVERAGES manufacturer and distributor, Delta Corporation Ltd, says the
shortage of soft drinks and beer is due to lack of crowns (bottle tops),
carbon dioxide and concentrates.

The company said it is unable to access foreign currency to import these raw
materials, which are used in the manufacturing of beverages.

"The current shortage of beverages is a result of the shortage of imported
raw materials," George Mutendadzamera, the corporate affairs executive of
Delta, said.

"The country is experiencing a shortage of foreign currency and this has had
a negative impact on all businesses that require imported raw materials,"
Mutendadzamera said.

The crowns are supplied by the sole manufacturer in Zimbabwe,
CarnaudMetalbox Zimbabwe Ltd.

Carnaud is said to be failing to access foreign currency to import raw
materials used in the manufacture of the crowns.

Ian Randall, the general manager of Carnaud, could not be reached for
comment as he was said to be out of office until Monday.

However, Mutendadzamera refused to disclose the strategies the company is
implementing to overcome the problem and meet market demand.

"We are working with relevant stakeholders to stabilise the situation,"
Mutendadzamera said.

The shortage of foreign currency in the country has crippled the
manufacturing sector.

The government introduced the foreign currency auction system in a bid to
get rid of the parallel market, where the foreign currency is readily

The disparity between the auction rate and the parallel market rate has
continued to widen with the Zimbabwe dollar now trading at US$1: $20 000 and
GBP1: $40 000 on the parallel market

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Zim Independent

Lake View to close

ONE of the country's flagship hotels in Kariba, Lake View Sun, will be
shutting down all operations with effect from Friday next week.

Lake View is owned by the Zimbabwe Sun Leisure Group.

Low guest volumes to the Kariba area have necessitated the closure, because
of unsustainable business.

"However, we remain committed to Kariba as a destination as we continue
operating one of our finest hotels in the area, the Caribbea Bay Sun.

Caribbea Bay Sun will be able to absorb the current depressed volumes," said
the Zimsun Leisure Group chief executive officer, Shingi Munyeza.

"During the time of closure, we shall take the opportunity to carry out
refurbishments to the property so that we position it competitively for any
future boom in tourism. Our closure will not affect our staff who were
working at the hotel at the time, as they will all be absorbed by sister
hotels within our group," said Munyeza.

In addition to low tourist volumes, operations in the industry have also
been greatly affected by the prevailing fuel problems. - Staff Reporter.

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Zim Independent

Zim's domestic debt soars to $10 trillion
Godfrey Marawanyika
ZIMBABWE'S domestic debt has ballooned to $10 trillion from $7 trillion as
of April this year as government continues to borrow from local banks to
finance its budget deficit.

Latest figures from the Reserve Bank also show that broad money supply (M3)
growth increased from 219,4% in November last year to 222,6% in December.

The increase was against a background of steady deceleration in M3 growth
for most of last year from a peak of 490,9% recorded in January.

M3 refers to the sum of notes and coins in circulation plus demand, savings
and time deposits with the banking system. Over the past two months, the
market has been experiencing daily average shortages of $920,7 billion.

This year the country is expected to record gross domestic product rate of
2-2,5%, down from the initial forecast of 3-5%.

The revised decline in GDP has been blamed on poor performance in the
agricultural sector.

GDP is one of the key factors in measuring a nation's economic performance.

Over the past four years, major contributors towards GDP growth, namely
mining, agriculture, tourism and manufacturing, have been in a freefall
since government embarked on the ill-planned land reform programme.

The manufacturing sector has declined by more than 35%. The critical
situation can only make things worse. Tobacco production, once the country's
major foreign currency earner, has gone down by nearly 60%.

Tourism at its peak contributed 6,5% towards GDP while agriculture and
manufacturing, contributed 16% and 18% respectively.

Zimbabwe is in its sixth year of economic recession, which was largely
caused by the 2000 farm and company invasions.

The company invasions led to the resignation of former Industry and
International Trade minister Nkosana Moyo.

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Zim Independent

Why economic reforms are in danger
Godfrey Marawanyika
THE much-vaunted economic turnaround programme rooted in the recent monetary
policy statement is in serious danger of losing direction as a host of
problems militate against its success.

A worsening fuel crisis has become the single largest threat to any efforts
to transform the economy from its current parlous state as industry and
commerce are slowly but surely grinding to a halt.

The long-standing fuel crisis alone has serious repercussions for a country
which is battling to survive rapid de-industrialisation.

In addition, the spectre of increased company closures, unemployment, rising
inflation and low production in the key manufacturing sector, where many
companies are reportedly operating at less than 20% capacity, has put great
pressure on the turnaround programme's survival.

What is even more worrying is the fuel crisis's impact on productivity. Key
workers are being forced to spend hours on end in fuel queues, man-hours
that cannot be recovered, with a consequent impact on companies' ability to
produce goods and services and meet profit and turnover targets.

Staff are spending many working days searching for fuel, meaning that the
rate of absenteeism at work as people queue for fuel is rising daily.

On the other hand, workers are either coming to work late or leaving for
home early, because public transport has been paralysed by the fuel

Zimbabwe is in a serious danger of closing shop unless the authorities do
something drastic to ensure a steady delivery of fuel countrywide.

Even sub-sectors such as tourism, which are expected to be vehicles of
much-needed foreign currency, will find it extremely challenging to meet
targets as domestic tourism will soon grind to a halt. Both tourists and
locals are unable to travel to resort areas due to the fuel crisis.

Industrialists say while the recent measures to funnel money to exporters at
concessionary rates of 5% have been welcome, analysts believe that without a
commensurate increase in foreign currency allocation this additional support
will not yield any immediate result.

Local companies are in desperate need of foreign currency, not local
currency, to import essential inputs, raw materials and spares to enable
them expand and increase output.

And critics of the monetary policy review have questioned when the country
will generate enough foreign currency to enable industry to import essential
inputs, increase output and the supply of goods on the local market.

They say inflation continues to be a major threat to any measures to
stabilise the macro-economic environment.

A few pointers illustrate how difficult it will be to contain an
inflationary spiral: The unbudgeted fiscal expenditure on an expanded
cabinet and the accompanying civil servants will mean government has either
to borrow from the central bank or money market, or simply print more money.

Wage and salary increases expected to be effected from July 1 as well as
increases in tariffs by state utilities such as Zesa will add to the
inflationary cycle.

The recent increase in food prices, sanctioned by the government after talks
with producers, is yet to filter through the inflation numbers. And if and
when the government allows even a marginal increase in the fuel price -
which is long overdue - inflation will further rise.

The government continues to pay lip service to efforts to streamline
expenditure and deal with major policy issues that need to be addressed to
solve the economic crisis in Zimbabwe.

But there is no evidence of commitment. Parastatal reform is still to be
implemented as there is no sign that government has wielded the axe on
non-performing executives of companies that continue to operate dismally.

A case in point being the mismanagement at the national airline where an
aircraft is allowed to fly more than 6 000km with a single passenger. The
National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) continues to wobble on the rails, while
the state fixed telephone operator is failing to meet demand. The Zimbabwe
Iron and Steel Company has yet to attract serious investors willing to
recapitalise the company, and the national oil company has failed to ensure
a steady supply of fuel to the nation.

Much-talked-about turnaround plans at Air Zimbabwe and NRZ have yet to see
the light of day despite several public statements of intent from the parent

Unless the country reaches some understanding with multilateral lenders, it
will not experience any significant inflows of hard currency. Given fiscal
delinquency, there is no hope that the IMF, which has a high-powered team in
the country at present, will give Zimbabwe a respite over its arrears.

Indications are that the country will be given yet another chance to redeem
itself and in the process delay further its re-admission to the
international fold.

A natural consequence of the crisis in Zimbabwe is slowly having a negative
effect on investor perceptions of the region. Nervous investors might shy
away from the region because of the contagion effect of the economic and
political crisis in Zimbabwe.

Many believe that the central bank governor has good intentions to revive
the economy and steer it towards a sustainable growth path. The unfolding
tragedy however is that he desperately needs support from the government to
ensure the successful implementation of his policies. That support seems to
be lacking.

Public support of the governor's policies by the government is not matched
by practical measures to ensure the country overcomes the current problems.

If anything, the conclusion many people are reaching is that the governor is
now a lone voice in the fiscal wilderness.

No amount of lofty ideas and promises of trillions of local currency for
companies, parastatals and city councils will mask the fact that the
government seems to have run out of ideas on how to salvage the little that
is left of Zimbabwe's economic future.

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Zim Independent

Tough test for Zim's anti-graft drive

THE corruption trial of South African mogul Schabir Shaik, whose fallout
eventually led to the sacking of deputy president Jacob Zuma, carries
important lessons for Zimbabwe.

This is particularly so at this time because of government's hype about its
anti-corruption crackdown.

South African President Thabo Mbeki did not hesitate to fire Zuma even
though he had not been charged and convicted of corruption. Mbeki was not
deterred by Zuma's political support in the ruling African National

Mbeki's point was that by being implicated in corruption, Zuma had
undermined his constitutional mandate and should go. In firing Zuma, Mbeki
raised two important points about the need to respect the constitution and
the judiciary, one of the key pillars of government.

This is the test the Zimbabwe government will face in its anti-corruption
crusade. It will distinguish between paying lip service to fighting
corruption and real commitment to tackling graft.

President Robert Mugabe recently announced that government would soon
establish an anti-corruption commission to deal with the problem which he
said was distorting the economy.

Minister of State for Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies Paul Mangwana last
week said his ministry had received $300 billion to fight corruption.

"We have asked for funds from treasury and this provision, which was made in
the last budget, is in the Office of the President and Cabinet," Mangwana

However, analysts are sceptical about the commission and whether the
multi-billion-dollar grant will help curb corruption - now deeply ingrained
in Zimbabwean society. They say if Mugabe wants to fight corruption he must
be bold enough to do it the Mbeki way - put the constitution and government
integrity ahead of politics.

The analysts say splashing billions of the taxpayer's money and setting up a
commission will do little to stop corruption unless there is sufficient
political will.

They say rather than money, the war on corruption first and foremost needs
political will, independent investigation and judicial structures and an
adherence to the rule of law.

Human rights lawyer Arnold Tsunga said it would be difficult for government
to fight graft when it was infested with so much patronage. He said it was
impossible to fight corruption when there was so much centralisation of
political power without checks and balances.

"Centralisation of power breeds patronage," said Tsunga. "Patronage
increases corruption. Unfortunately that is exactly the case with our

Tsunga said because of power centralisation, Mugabe was no longer answerable
to anyone but himself.

"Because Mugabe is all-powerful, if ministers want protection for their
corrupt deeds they align themselves to him.

"It's the politics of patronage. It's because of systemic failure that we
are neck-deep in corruption and cannot find a way out," he said.

He said an anti-corruption campaign would be effective in a situation where
an independent and strong judiciary exists, which Zimbabwe clearly lacks.

Zimbabwe's 25-year history is full of rampant cases of corruption that have
been brushed aside to protect senior government officials despite
overwhelming evidence to nail them.

Only recently Education minister Aeneas Chigwedere's son wrecked a
government vehicle that cost treasury $119 million to repair. Chigwedere did
not report the matter to police but filled in a government accident report
form purporting to have been the driver of the vehicle. Despite Chigwedere's
own admission in a letter, no police investigation has been launched.

Mugabe has in the past been equally reluctant to punish corrupt ministers
and government officials. The Zanu PF leadership code designed soon after
Independence to deter over-accumulation of property by the party leadership
never worked. It was conveniently jettisoned as ministers scrambled to amass

Mugabe himself confirmed that he was not interested in the code when he blew
a chance to prove his commitment to stamping out graft in 1988 after the
infamous Willowgate scandal was unearthed.

Cabinet ministers would buy vehicles from Willowvale Motor Industries at
government-subsidised prices and then sell them at exorbitant prices on the
open market.

Mugabe pardoned those implicated, including Fredrick Shava, a cabinet
minister who had been convicted. Shava was convicted mid-morning and
pardoned a few hours later. Other ministers implicated were later recycled
in government. None of the people implicated in the scandal went to prison.

Edgar Tekere was later expelled from the party for speaking out against

Ten years later Mugabe also allowed senior government officials to go
scot-free after looting the War Victims' Compensation Fund in 1997. Reward
Marufu, brother to first lady Grace Mugabe, and senior government officials
helped themselves to funds meant to benefit genuine victims of the
liberation struggle.

Marufu's claim of $800 000, a huge amount at that time, was probably the
highest payout. Instead of being arraigned for corruption, Marufu was
rewarded with a diplomatic posting to Canada, from where government was
later forced to recall him after he was implicated in a child abuse scandal.

A large number of ministers at that time benefited after making exaggerated
claims but were not charged. Vice-president Joice Mujuru is the only
top-ranking official who returned the money after being found to have made
an inflated claim.

Government officials who lied that they were almost 100% incapacitated
continued to work in government, the army and police.

In 1998 Mugabe's cronies were at is again in the VIP Housing scandal,
dipping their fingers into funds accrued from individual home-seekers'
contributions. Mugabe's wife Grace was among those implicated. She used the
funds to build the Gracelands mansion which she later sold at a profit.

Senior police and army officers were also named in the scandal, even though
none of the beneficiaries were charged nor was anyone asked to reimburse
what they had taken.

Five years into the land redistribution programme, Mugabe is still wringing
his hands in sheer frustration over his henchmen who took more than a fair
share of the land and still cling to it. Mugabe has in the past threatened
to name and shame top officials who seized
farms in the chaotic land reform. The nation is still waiting for him to

These cases lend credence to those who doubt Mugabe's commitment to root out
graft. They say he has dismally failed in the past.

Economist and MDC finance spokeman Tapiwa Mashakada said government was
merely posturing because it was not committed to fighting corruption -
especially from within itself.

"So many commissions have been set up and nothing as been achieved. These
commissions work effectively if they are truly independent, not appointees
answerable to the president," said Mashakada.

He said autonomous commissions should have the support of a strong and
independent judiciary.
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Zim Independent

Where are Zim's moral leaders?
IN the past two weeks our newspaper received two communications emanating
from two very different ends of the social spectrum but which in their
different ways explain the malaise afflicting Zimbabwe today.

One was from Nestlé Zimbabwe, the second a complaint by Sister Patricia
Walsh concerning publication of her account of the excesses of Operation
Murambatsvina in the Standard.

In a story we carried in this paper two weeks ago, we quoted Nestlé Southern
and Eastern Africa CEO Yves Manghardt as saying "our Harare factory was
unfortunately receiving only five million litres of fresh milk per year
instead of the 12 million litres it had been processing a few years ago."

We ascribed the drastic supply reduction to farm invasions since 2000.
Nestlé Zimbabwe's finance director, F Munetsi, protested in a letter last
week that his CEO had not attributed the milk shortage to farm invasions. He
didn't say what the cause was of the fall in supplies from 12 million to
five million litres or the period covered by "a few years ago". All we did
was to put the statement in its political and economic context.

Sister Patricia chided the Standard for using what she claimed was a
personal message confined to family and friends which she posted on the
Internet bemoaning the agonies caused by government's brutal clean-up
campaign across the country. One would expect her to respect her conscience
instead of trying to save her skin by propitiating tyranny. It may be a bit
harsh to say Sister Patricia disowned her testimony in the way Peter denied
Jesus, but it did look a bit like that!

There are few better examples of corporate cowardice than this: a large
international company so terrified that President Mugabe may take offence by
having his "land reform" characterised as damaging that it writes letters
denying a self-evident link.

Munetsi and Sister Walsh may not be the best examples but they typify all
that is sick with this country: disingenuous apologia from the corporate and
religious leadership that lack the moral courage to speak out against an
errant political establishment preying wantonly on the weakness of a people
it is its mandate to protect.

For many years business leaders have neglected their duty to position the
private sector as the engine for growth that it is supposed to be. While
they are voluble about what is wrong politically in the privacy of their
clubs and bars, they dare not come out in the open when conscience and duty
call upon them to do so. Their common ailment is called fear.

Many a time we have been shocked to hear business leaders singing Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono's praises for his monetary policies.
Not that we wish anyone to lay gratuitous blame on Gono for the failure of
his measures. But business should be courageous enough to tell Gono to his
face that his policies will not produce magical results in the teeth of
dogged sabotage by Mugabe's economically illiterate government. There is
such sharp discord between his policy measures and Mugabe's extractive
philosophy that the best Gono can do is to resign if he can't get the
necessary political support for, contrary to his coy diagnosis, bad
politics, not inflation, is Zimbabwe's public enemy number one.

So long as your company operates in Zimbabwe it is your duty, your moral
obligation to speak out against policies that obstruct the nation's
progress. Zimbabwe is crying out for leaders who feel the bidding of destiny
to get the country out of the current morass; leaders who when they think of
Zimbabwe tomorrow don't look at Somalia or Sierra Leone but can dream of
rivalling Taiwan or South Korea.

There are also those who think nothing can be done to change Mugabe. Which
might be true. But Mugabe is not Zimbabwe. Those who have business and
political clout should be talking to those likely to assume the mantle after
Mugabe is gone to chart the way forward. We should be looking beyond Mugabe
and his increasingly irrelevant war with Zimbabwe's colonial past.

Regionally, he has already rejected as external imposts the requirements of
Nepad and its peer review mechanism which is viewed as indispensable to
Africa's renaissance. Internally, Mugabe has inflicted the most devastating
damage on the country's once vibrant agriculture and drained the nation of
its human capital through the frustrated exodus of skilled personnel.

Good governance is not in his vocabulary. He has done everything to make it
impossible for Zimbabwe to benefit from the goodwill of rich countries that
have committed themselves to cancel poor African countries' debt.

Zimbabwe will not be among such lucky nations as resolutions are taken at
the G8 summit at Gleneagles, Scotland, next month. Yet the country needs
every penny it can save to fight HIV and Aids, rebuild schools and hospitals
and rehabilitate agriculture and industry. The future of this country does
not rest with Mugabe anymore.

So where is Zimbabwe's Moses to lead his people out of captivity? How many
more plagues must we endure before the day of deliverance? Where are the
moral leaders to speak for the poor, the helpless and destitute?

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Zim Independent

Eric Bloch Column

Catastrophic measures in pipeline
NOT surprisingly, the state-owned press has been ecstatically enthusing over
the heavy emphasis of the current parliamentary session upon matters
economic, as outlined by President Mugabe when he addressed the session's
official opening two weeks ago.

His address did demonstrate that there are many economic issues that
critically need attention. Unfortunately, as focused upon in this column
last week, and although some of the measures to be introduced by parliament
are positive, many of them are catastrophically negative or based upon
unrealistic premises.

Space constraints precluded all being commented upon in that column, and yet
some comment is necessary, in the vain hope that when the parliamentarians
deliberate, they do so founded upon the actualities of the Zimbabwean
economic environment, instead of upon wishful thinking or upon

Very correctly recognising that exports are, in many respects, the
life-blood of the economy, for they must provide the bulk of Zimbabwe's
foreign currency needs, the president said that "negotiations aimed at
improving the flow of Zimbabwe's exports to countries in the region and the
Far East will continue".

Without in any way deprecating the importance of achieving exports to the
Far East, Zimbabwe should not place such great emphasis on those exports as
distract from stimulating exports elsewhere.

The most urgent need is to advance the negotiations intended, according to
the president, to impact favourably upon regional exports, for export growth
can most rapidly be achieved if targeted at markets closer to home.

First and foremost, government must prevail upon Zambia to discontinue that
which is tantamount to a trade sanction upon Zimbabwe. Despite many and
prolonged representations, Zambia persists in applying a unilaterally
determined exchange rate to the Zimbabwe dollar, for purposes of determining
the value of imports from Zimbabwe for the assessment of Value Added Tax
(Vat). That rate has consistently been almost double the official exchange
rate, and is justified by the Zambians by alleging that Zimbabwean import
content of the relevant goods is financed through the parallel market.

This Zambian policy does not help Zambia, for it merely motivates the
Zambian importers to source their requirements from South Africa, or
elsewhere, but it deprives Zimbabwe of access to the Zambian market.

If Zambia continues to be intractable on this issue, Zimbabwe should resort
to an appropriate, reciprocal, sanction.

Pleasingly, the president veered away from his previously expressed view
that Zimbabwe should concentrate almost exclusively upon trade, and other
economic relations, with the Far East. (It's only two months ago that he
said Zimbabwe must look East, for that is where the sun rises, rather than
to the West, where it sets.)

Still referring to export generation, he said that "at the multilateral
level, government will use the platform of the African, Caribbean,
Pacific-European Union (ACP/EU) co-operation framework to negotiate the
establishment of new trading arrangements with the European Union by 2008.
"This is a more positive stance than Zimbabwe has taken for sometime but,
nevertheless, it is too constrained. Zimbabwe produces, or can produce, many
commodities and products that would be saleable to USA, Canada, Australia,
countries in West and North Africa, and in South America as well as to the
countries within the southern Africa region and in the European Union (EU).
There needs to be a concentrated, on-going promotion of trade with all,
instead of an emphasis upon the Far East, and on a distant target to
penetrate the EU.

On the other hand, Zimbabwe continues to delude itself as to its tourism
industry. The president told parliament that "notwithstanding the repeated
attempts to insulate the country, our tourism sector continues to show signs
of strong recovery".

The actual circumstances are markedly different. The first quarter of 2005
had a lesser inflow of tourists than the equivalent period of 2004, even if
the department of immigration figures suggest otherwise.

Those figures include cross-border traders, one day trippers, back-backers,
caravaners, campers and those availed of private accommodation, but the
tourism industry depends mainly upon hotel patronage with over-nights stays.

The president also repeated the oft-stated contention that "granting of
Approved Destination Status by the People's Republic of China provides
opportunities for further growth". That is correct, but solely because the
present extent of tourist arrivals from China is minimal (approximately 29
000 during the whole of 2004!) whereas the tourism industry is geared to
handle over two million international tourists per annum. But the prospects
of major increases in arrivals from China are slim. Chinese tourists' first
destination preferences are Europe and the USA, not Southern Africa.

In addition, the Chinese are as much influenced by Zimbabwe's abysmal
international image as are the populace of other countries. Zimbabwe needs
to polish up its image (but certainly is not doing so at present. Instead,
it is worsening the image further, with inhumane actions such as "Operation
Clean-up", carried out with grossly excessive authoritarianism, violence,
abuse of law by the so-called enforcers of law and many instances of
Gestapo-like bestiality).

Zimbabwe is faced with a rapidly intensifying energy crisis due to an ageing
and inadequate energy-generation infrastructure. Recognising this, the
president said that "several initiatives to attract investors in the
development of both existing and new power generation projects as well as
alternative forms of energy are being pursued, especially within the context
of the 'Look East' policy".

Those initiatives are overdue, and very necessary, but Zimbabwe should not
allow its present infatuation with the Far East in general, and with China
in particular, to blind it from the possibilities of attracting investors
and technology transferral from other parts of the world, including Europe
and South Africa.

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Zim Independent


      Since when did Bright hate the UK?

      THINGS must be going really awry for Emmerson Mnangagwa. Muckraker
understands the Minister of Rural Housing and Amenities was last week
vaingloriously trying to make himself relevant in the rural backwaters where
President Mugabe has banished him. He told a gathering in Zvishavane that he
was Mugabe's eminent messenger sent to deliver development in the form of
roads and houses for teachers and traditional leaders. He said the Midlands
would be the first beneficiary of this presidential largesse.

      We indeed do hope that people will now believe him. But the chances
are very slim. Many people must still be nursing lingering suspicions about
the man who was the Minister for State Security during that dark period of
our history when government literally went mad, killing close to 20 000
people and maiming thousands of others in both the Midlands and Matabeleland
provinces for challenging Mugabe's rule. For that he has not been forgiven.
Twice the people of the Midlands have defiantly rejected him in
parliamentary elections.

      Even after he claimed to have been born again, still people did not
believe nor forgive him. Why does he now think they will when his master has
cast him into the bush? Let's wait and see if the guy can reinvent himself
again, for a rural constituency this time around.

      By the way is this Mugabe saviour going to cast a blessed eye over
Mnene Hospital, the only referral hospital in Mberengwa district, now
threatened with closure? There is no water courtesy of Operation
Murambatsvina (sorry Cyclone Eline) and no qualified doctors or nurses
courtesy of violence and lack of development that have made the place
inhospitable. Ever since the Swedish benefactors ceded control after
Independence, things have never been well at all their institutions in the
district and beyond in Manama in Matabeleland South. Yet year in, year out
the people of Mberengwa have been fooled or been bludgeoned into voting for
Zanu PF. And the MPs move around without any sense of shame when they see
the development others have brought to their constituencies. Let's see what
Mnangagwa has to offer to make himself relevant.

      Following several weeks of state-sponsored mayhem in the high-density
suburbs, we learn that the government has reluctantly agreed to admit a UN
observer mission to assess what is euphemistically called the "clean-up"

      The government says it is addressing "general lawlessness". But the
Urban Councils Act requires the authorities to first notify the owner and
the occupier of any land or building against which action is contemplated
regarding what steps are to be taken against them. The owner/occupier then
has 28 days to appeal to the Administrative Court during which time the
authorities are not permitted to proceed.

      Is that what is happening now? Or like land "reform", are we seeing
arbitrary and illegal behaviour by the state?

      President Mugabe, we read, has "allayed" Kofi Annan's fears regarding
Operation Murambatsvina. No Zimbabwean would be prejudiced, he told the UN
secretary-general as tens of thousands remain homeless. Just as no
Zimbabwean was prejudiced during land reform, we suppose?

      We recall Mugabe's assurances that every farmer who wanted to farm
would be able to do so and that commercial farmers had nothing to fear, the
government just wanted them to share the land. Every farmer would be left
with one property on which to farm, they were "assured".

      Let's hope former UNDP chief Mark Malloch-Brown reminds Annan of the
record of assurances from Mugabe. And Annan will not be deceived by the
silly claim by the president that similar operations were being undertaken
in the UK, South Africa and Kenya. The difference in those countries is that
slum clearances are properly planned and alternative provision is made for
those losing their homes. They are not left homeless in the cold. Is Mugabe
seriously suggesting that in Britain local authorities tear down people's
homes while the victims looks helplessly on?

      Somebody describing himself as "a correspondent" was last weekend
holding forth in the Sunday Mail about privacy, ethics, and human rights -
all the things the Sunday Mail is least qualified to talk about! This was in
reference to a letter by Sister Patricia Walsh concerning the excesses of
Operation Murambatsvina which she had disseminated via e-mail and which the
Standard published.

      Carried away by his own role as an Internet policeman, lecturing the
media on what it can and can't use, the writer melodramatically warned of
the dangers of "cyber terrorism" and quoted Information ministry acting
permanent secretary Ivanhoe Gurira as asking: "Are we safe using the

      Sister Patricia had naively stirred this seething cauldron by scolding
the Standard for using the article when it was supposedly a personal message
confined to family and friends.

      Why then did she not object when it was published widely on the
Internet and in the Daily Telegraph of June 3 in the week preceding the
Standard's reproduction of it? And why, if it was confined to family and
friends, does it attempt to conceal the real names of victims in the way
that newspaper reports do?

      The Sunday Mail's indignant correspondent warns darkly of the case
being one for the Media and Information Commission to ponder, as if that
sinister outfit is capable of regulating the Internet as well as the
Zimbabwean media. He suggests it has left "a dent in the efforts by the new
powers at the helm of the Ministry of Information, Dr Tichaona Jokonya and
Cde Bright Matonga, to harmonise relations between the ministry and a
polarised media fraternity".

      That provides a clue as to which dark corner this particular Sunday
Mail correspondent inhabits. He needs to be told that there is no chance of
the "new powers at the helm" of the ministry harmonising anything so long as
they resort to using as their chosen weapon in dealing with inconvenient
reporting a discredited media agency which contains not a single
representative of the independent press and whose chairman weekly
demonstrates his lack of professionalism by attacking independent papers in
his vituperative column.

      This week he was castigating us for failing to give his "Hotelgate
scandal" the "significance it deserved", as if newspapers have a duty to
pursue the self-serving claims of party propagandists!

      While it may be embarrassing for the ministry to have Sister Patricia's
letter published on the Internet, it should also examine the Herald's
account of the depredations of Operation Murambatsvina published on Monday.
Hiding the truth is proving difficult - even for the state media!

      As for Sister Patricia, is she now disowning her testimony? Why does
she not remain true to her faith and stand by the facts instead of begging
the pardon of the same authorities who are busy inflicting the pain and
destitution she describes?

      Which brings us to a letter from Bright Matonga published in the
Standard on Sunday which took the newspaper to task for claiming that he had
invaded a farm near Chegutu. It was not correct that he had two farms,
Matonga said, nor was it correct that he had hired a mob of Zanu PF women to
invade the farm. It was also not correct that he had been unavailable for
comment. The article was based on malice, he suggested.

      In a story published in the Mail & Guardian on May 20, the newspaper
reported that Matonga and a group of 15 war veterans had invaded Chigwell
Farm belonging to Tom Beattie and thrown out his possessions.

      This was despite the Administrative Court issuing a "notice of
withdrawal" by the Minister of Lands in regard to Beattie's family

      Beattie was quoted in the M&G report as saying: "The new deputy
minister is causing all the trouble here. They don't have proper letters and
I am wondering why this is happening to me. Matonga doesn't even belong to
this district; he is not even an MP of this area."

      Beattie said he summoned the police who temporarily restored order
"but Matonga and the war vets returned the next day and forcibly removed
workers from the workshop where they were processing and packaging produce".

      The article states that in 2002 Matonga was allocated the 670ha
Mpandaguta Farm in Banket. The previous owners had run a successful
horticulture business there.

      "You go to Mpandaguta now," Beattie said. "There is nothing on the
ground. But he wants to come here and do the same."

      Muckraker's question: Did Matonga write to the M&G to deny any of the
claims made in that story? If not, why is he now taking issue with the

      Matonga's smiling face can be seen in the Sunday Mail this week. He
was reported as saying that EU sanctions - renewed last week - were a
"non-event". The latest action was "inconsequential as Zimbabwe had adopted
the 'Look East' policy", Matonga said.

      "Who would still want to go to Europe anyway?" he asked.

      Well he would for starters. Didn't he used to live in the UK? Wasn't
he employed there? Didn't he come back with a British wife?

      So when did he decide he no longer wanted to visit the UK: before or
after his name was added to the list?

      And why are President Mugabe's ministers saying sanctions are a
non-event when they go to such lengths to pin every single one of their
policy failures on Tony Blair and sanctions? Do they not see these yawning

      We note with interest Matonga's claim that "some" EU ambassadors
endorsed Operation Murambatsvina at a recent meeting. Muckraker will be
checking to see which ones are prepared to admit that they now "see sense in
the clean-up exercise".

      Muckraker was under fire in the Herald on Saturday. In an
unprecedented step, the Nathaniel Manheru columnist rose to the defence of
another columnist, Caesar Zvayi, who had been accused of certain
inaccuracies by this writer. Exactly why Zvayi was unable to reply for
himself is not clear. But whatever the case, Muckraker is delighted to be
able to take issue with the malevolent Manheru.

      The story so far: Zvayi has repeatedly stated that Ian Smith wept as
the Union Jack was lowered at Rufaro Stadium at midnight on April 17 1980.
Muckraker replied that this was unlikely as (1) Smith was not present at the
ceremony, and (2) he would be unlikely to weep for a flag that he discarded
12 years earlier in 1968 when he introduced a green and white concoction.

      Manheru attempts to deflect Herald readers' attention from these
self-evident truths by focusing attention on the Zimbabwe/Rhodesian flag of
the Muzorewa regime which superseded Smith's.

      "It is astounding that a man of Muckraker's age and knowledge,"
Manheru wrote, "does not know that at the conclusion of the Lancaster House
Constitutional Conference on December 15 1979, Zimbabwe came under a
transitional authority headed by British governor Lord Soames. As such the
Rhodesian flag was pulled down and the Union Jack reintroduced to signify
that the Queen now held dominion over Zimbabwe till a new government was
elected in line with the Lancaster House agreement."

      Manheru concedes that Smith's green and white flag was replaced by
Muzorewa's "black, green, red, yellow and white flag of Zimbabwe/Rhodesia
after March 3 1979".

      But "there was no way the flag of the vanquished Rhodesians and their
Zimbabwean puppets could have been allowed to fly during the transitional
period because the transition involved a departure from Rhodesia to

      Manheru admits to being a "tiny tot" at the time and therefore
dependent upon material from the Rhodesia Herald for his account of the
Rufaro Stadium ceremony. He makes great play of the Union Jack being folded
and handed to Prince Charles. None of that is in dispute. What is in dispute
is Manheru's claim that the Union Jack was reintroduced in December 1979.

      With the exception of a small corner of Government (now State) House
grounds, it wasn't.

      The British had indeed attempted to get the Union Jack reintroduced to
symbolise the restoration of legitimacy. But the Muzorewa government put up
strong resistance arguing their flag was the country's legal emblem. The
British didn't have the inclination to make an issue of it. It was the price
they had to pay for the cooperation of the existing power structure. As a
result the Muzorewa flag continued to fly across the country at government
buildings, police posts and, above all, at arguably the most important
flagstaff of them all, that in Cecil (now Africa Unity) Square.

      Anybody working across the road at the Herald at the time would be
able to confirm this detail.

      The only presence recorded of the Union Jack in 1979-1980 was at
Government House where Soames resided and at the Rufaro Stadium ceremony
where it was symbolically lowered.

      These facts would be easy enough to check. Any Zanu or Zapu leader
present in the country between December 1979 and April 1980 will confirm
them. They also took exception to the continued presence of the Muzorewa
flag but were confident it wouldn't survive the election.

      Manheru not only hasn't done his homework but believes that by volubly
repeating a lie and occupying acres of space to do so he can shout Muckraker
down. Here we have a classic case of the Herald and its columnists having
access to the facts but choosing to ignore them - all in the interests,
Manheru claims, of the Silver Jubilee.

      How many readers noted a significant concession in the Sunday Mail
last weekend? In his Comment headed "Continue reasserting Gono's authority",
the editor suggested the Reserve Bank governor was losing his grip.

      "All sorts of mischief are at play," he claimed. "Reports of Dr Gono
no longer enjoying the full support of the ruling-party bigwigs have also
gone a long way in weakening his authority."

      Now when the Zimbabwe Independent reported on May 6 ("Knives out for
Gono") that Gono no longer enjoyed the full support of the ruling-party
bigwigs, the governor used an interview with the Sunday Mail to hotly deny
any evaporation of support and suggested those spreading such stories were
engaging in wishful thinking.

      So who are we to believe now?

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Zim Independent


Have mercy on them

MANY people in Mbare have lost their livelihoods. Their home industries have
been destroyed, the lodgers removed.

On top of all this, homeowners are now receiving massive backdated bills
charging them for water, refuse collection, sewerage and millions in
penalties. Many will not be able to pay these bills. Why are they being
penalised? On what legal grounds?

The city administration must not put unbearable burdens on people who have
been hit very hard already by the destruction of housing.

Many lodgers left homeless are now sleeping outside in the cold, including
pregnant women, mothers with small children and extremely sick people. They
have nowhere to go.

Shelter is a basic human right. "Every human being is entitled to respect
for his/her life and to safety." (The African Charter on Human and Peoples'
Rights, Article 4).

Officials must refrain from harsh and inhuman treatment of defenceless
people. It cannot be in the interests of a responsible government to drive
its citizens into unemployment, homelessness and general destitution.

"Judgement will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy
triumphs over judgement." (James 2:13).

Fr Oskar Wermter SJ,


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Zim Independent


Pogrom must never be forgotten

EVERY day we are reminded of the terrible repercussions of the government's
onslaught on the most disadvantaged, yet the most hardworking members of our

It is imperative, in the interests of future justice for these poor
displaced persons, that as much relevant information is recorded. The
Independent and the UK-based Zimbabwean are doing a commendable job in
showing the rest of the world what is happening and recording events.

The ripple effects of this pogrom insidiously permeate through all layers of
our society - except of course the well-connected, uncaring fat cats -
leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. No wonder it has been so quickly
named by true Zimbabweans as a "tsunami".

All right-thinking Zimbabweans are horrified by what has happened. It is a
disaster made by the very people who have mandated themselves to govern us.
The irony of it!

President Robert Mugabe and company have been planning this for months. The
programme was planned with a deliberate agenda of providing no alternative
shelter for the people, in order to weaken them and with no consideration
for an ordinary citizen's rights.

Because of the magnitude of this horror visited on the people of Zimbabwe by
their own government, I think:

*That the Independent and The Zimbabwean as a matter of policy continue to
publish articles and photographs on this pogrom and the ongoing effects of
it so that it remains at the forefront of people's minds. The effects of the
pogrom will continue for years but must not be forgotten; and

*This period of "the destruction of people's lives" be noted as an annual
memorial for those who have suffered under the cowardly regime's dastardly

I am not a very good organiser, but wish that someone with the appropriate
abilities might take up these suggestions. Aluta continua!



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Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

More fuel, fewer Bills

I HAD a good laugh on Saturday reading about the latest efforts by the
hopeless Ministry of Energy to ensure there are adequate fuel supplies. The
solution, according to the ministry's permanent secretary Justin Mupamhanga,
lies in legislation.

Government will come up with a Petroleum Bill - not petroleum bills - to
regulate the fuel industry and ensure that there is order in procurement and
that all players behave properly.

There is a Shona idiom that says: kutsvaka kweashaya kutsvaka uta mugate.
Translated loosely, it means: the hopeless desperation of one who looks for
a bow in a gourd. That is how desperate our rulers are. They are now looking
for fuel in parliament.

On the day the Petroleum Bill becomes law, we should all perhaps go and
queue at Parliament building for a helping of the precious liquid. This
sounds ridiculous but is there any sense investing hundreds of man-hours in
drawing up legislation that will regulate a substance that is not there?

The Bible in the book of Hebrews says faith is "the substance of things
hoped for, the evidence of things not seen". Mupamhanga and his boss, Rt Lt
General Mike Nyambuya, have stretched their faith to near breaking point. It
is no longer an issue of something hoped for but not seen. They are going to
regulate something that is not there!

Legislation, my good general, is no substitute for foreign currency at the
moment. That is what the nation needs. We have seen at least half-a-dozen
measures by government to regulate the industry in the past four years and
none of them has worked.

Putting new laws in statute books is not the answer. The tragedy of our
government is that laws have been made on the hoof to deal with the
desperate economic situation. There are anti-hoarding laws, anti-black
market measures and it is now illegal for landlords to hike rents to market

This creates an impression that the desperate situation we are in is
permanent and therefore requires equally desperate legislation. The
government can promulgate as many laws as it deems fit but it cannot
legislate against inflation, neither can it legislate against general
shortages and bankruptcy.

But one thing the government can do though is to create the right
environment for the economy to flourish. The preoccupation with erecting
barriers and controls in all facets of life is symptomatic of a government
that is clutching at straws to salvage a plot that is almost irretrievably

The Zimbabwean story is a sad one. Here is a country whose leader has laid
claim to fame and to having many friends across the face of the earth
(except in European capitals and the United States). But the friends are not
there during times of need. In other words, they either do not care about
little Zimbabwe or they do not have the capacity to assist.

Which reminds me of President Mugabe's forays to secure fuel deals for
Zimbabwe over the past five years. The list of those the president said
could help include Libya, Sudan, Iran, Kuwait and Equatorial Guinea. These
"friendly nations", like anyone in business, require Zimbabwe to pay in
foreign currency for fuel - up front. The mantras we hear daily about
friends and detractors are therefore rubbish. Where are our "friends" now?
And who is feeding the country when we can't? They are our true friends.

The president's friends, I sometimes feel, are merely cheering our
performance in the theatre of blundering. Did we not hear earlier this month
Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa saying he supported Operation
Murambatsvina? Another cheerleader and a diplomatic coup for Mugabe but
where is the fuel? In the 15-vehicle presidential motorcade? Tanzania
certainly hasn't offered any.

That aside, this nation has to start a serious process of introspection in
which government opens its eyes to the problems that abound. It is not about
inadequate policing. The problem is an incompetent coterie of leaders
apportioning themselves too many powers to parade their incompetence and
embarrass themselves in public.

In his Tuesday message this week, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai tried to
point the Zanu PF government to what it needs to do. He said: "The only way
out of this situation is political. The Zanu PF-led regime must acknowledge
its failure and start the process that will allow Zimbabwe to eventually
take its place in the community of nations and put the economy on the road
to recovery."

Sounds easier said than done! The process which has to take place first is
one of national cohesion and political settlement. This process also
requires the opposition to play a part even if Mugabe appears uninterested
in political discourse. The tactics should change from merely mobilising
public opinion against Mugabe to encouraging greater civic participation in
discussing and finding solutions to the Zimbabwean problem.

Because of the fixation with Mugabe, we do not have time to brainstorm about
the future. Instead we are treated to silly moves like the Petroleum Bill -
even when we are queuing for petrol.

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Mugabe's true colours clearer as exit looms
By Chido Makunike
ZIMBABWE and the world have been shocked by the terrorism of the Mugabe
regime against the citizens under the guise of a "clean-up" project over the
past month.

It is quite understandable that all the focus so far has been on the
horrific humanitarian effects of our tormentor's wicked actions.

It is difficult to look at the shameful images of Mugabe's storm troopers
cruelly wreaking such misery across the land and see any good in it. But one
thing the current actions have done is finally, definitively showed, for
those who still had any doubt - the true nature of Mugabe.

It is interesting that even the members of the "Mugabe is right" brigade
that has been dwindling steadily over the years have been rendered largely
silent by the shock of his inexcusable actions against the interests of the
very people that he has always claimed he gets his legitimacy from. Attempts
to explain, understand or justify Mugabe's most recent repressive actions
have been few, awkward and so intellectually weak as to be laughable.

Yet while desperate to claim legitimacy on the basis of deeply flawed and
dubious "revolutionary", rhetorical, democratic and other such formalistic
credentials, Mugabe has also never been able to hide that true nature,
despite being an accomplished actor. Rather, it has been more the case that
many sectors of his audience preferred to overlook his widening cruel streak
and his embarrassing economic incompetence, desperate for an African hero.

The general reality of post-colonial Africa has been so disappointing, so at
odds with the high hopes and the heady promise of the era of the initial
waves of decolonisation that many have been willing to turn a blind eye to
vicious actions by Africa's despots that would have raised howls of outrage
had they been committed by white colonial rulers. Mugabe has also been
hitherto very effective at exploiting the Western world's white guilt over
their historical role in much of the world, at using their own record of
anti-African repression to justify his. But with his current
inappropriate-for-the-times and cruelly effected upsetting of a large part
of the nation's tenuous hold on the basics of subsistence, shelter and a
sense of relative security in one's own country, Mugabe will find it very
difficult to fool any, but the most irrational and rabid of any genuine
support that he might have still commanded.

Let us briefly look at the many ways that the real Mugabe has long differed
from the image he has been trying to sell us. At one time Mugabe was the
doyen of the non-aligned movement, hosting international conferences and
speechifying all over the world in its name. Most of the world is adjusting
to new relations with an economically burgeoning China, while still seeking
more equitable relations with a still dominant West. Yet Mugabe acts like he
has personally discovered the East, virtually throwing himself into its arms
in a worrying neo-imperialistic relationship forced on him by his poor
management with relations with the rest of the world. When he cries
"Zimbabwe will never be a colony again", he is merely exhibiting another
manifestation of his bitter tiff with Britain for spurning him while his
country becomes a virtual client state of China.

At one time one could disagree with Mugabe and yet still respect him for a
certain consistency in his approach to various issues. When he ascribed the
word "principled" to himself it did not seem as empty as it does now, when
he so regularly contradicts himself on so many fundamental counts.

Mugabe has always liked to be considered a cultured and learned man,
sophisticated and an intellectual. Yet in a country that he likes to boast
his government helped have the highest literacy and formal education rates
on the continent, the intellectual and media environment is one of the most
limited, dullest and most repressive. How consistent is it for a
self-proclaimed "intellectual" to be so afraid of opposing ideas that he has
to set up an elaborate infrastructure to thwart and silence them?

Does anyone remember that Mugabe at one time found it fashionable to claim
to be a socialist? That seems laughable now given what is now publicly known
about how he and his wife Grace are so enamoured of the capitalistic "good
life" of consumerism.

One of the most nauseatingly hypocritical inconsistencies he has for too
long been allowed by some to get away with is his claim to be a "devout
Catholic". He loves the rituals and the pomp and ceremony of Olden Europe,
whether in the parliamentary or religious spheres, but is very deft at
abusing their substance, their essence. So there is an elaborate effort to
maintain the appearance of the shells of various European institutions in
regards to the judiciary, parliament, the civil service and in his private
life and religious ritual.

But there is not even an attempt to modify them to make them more relevant
and useful for the local situation. Instead there is a completely
hypocritical negation of their essence in reality, while verbally shouting
belief in and adherence to them from the mountaintops.

In the recent general election he tried very hard to put distance between
his reputation for violence by repeatedly using the rhetoric of peace. But
the message that his various militia are given seemed to be the same as it
has been in all the time he has been ruler: when you need to knock heads, to
terrorise in the service of my regime, go ahead, you have impunity to do so.

In the case of the Matabeleland massacres, it was claimed to be an
insurgency that threatened to tear the country apart that justified the

In the previous election it was necessary to contain agents of Britain that
wanted to recolonise Zimbabwe. But in the case of the current violence of
his military machine against people's homes and remaining sources of
livelihoods, that violence seems more a sickly cathartic show of power at a
nation that increasingly spurns him, and whose most pressing problems Mugabe
is no longer relevant to helping solve.

So Mugabe has helped to make it clearer to all that he is not at all what he
and many others have liked him to be: a new generation of enlightened
African leader. Rather than a leader who helps his country and Africa
separate itself from its colonial legacy by showing a different,
beneficial-to-the-people way of doing things, he like many other African
rulers, increasingly must resort to the methods of the former oppressors.

Having failed to improve the condition of the country, everything he found
in place crumbling around him, Mugabe is going out on a sour note and
showing his true nature as the destroyer of a nation, muparadzi wenyika.

* Chido Makunike is a Harare-based writer.

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Zim Independent

Clean-up should've started with govt itself
By Bill Saidi
ONE choice epithet in the aftermath of the recent orgy of destruction: the
most illegal structure today is the government.

This is a reference to the 2000 parliamentary and the 2002 presidential
elections. As a result of how the government conducted those polls, it lost
friends right, left and centre. The land reform fiasco may have been a prime

But if there had been no disgust with the bare-faced rigging of the two
elections, President Robert Mugabe and his colleagues might have escaped the
black lists which restrict their international travel today.

Even people accustomed to Zanu PF's zany ways wondered at the destruction:
whose wet dream was this?

The clean-up of the central business district made eminent sense. Harare had
become a veritable dump, with some visitors asking: What kind of tsunami hit
the city?

But even with the compliments came the indictment: It was so sudden, so
brutal and so vengeful, it had to be political.

Which is where some people wondered if it was someone's wet dream.They
figured someone so filled with vengeance against the urban dwellers for
voting for the MDC in the last election thought to gratify his perverse
desire for revenge on what they felt were the urban ingrates.

They had it so good, didn't they? Building houses where they wanted, buying
and selling anything they wanted, anywhere they wanted. And how do they
reward Zanu PF? They give the party a mighty kick in its electoral teeth.

For some, the comparison with the farm invasions of 2000 was irresistible.
Zanu PF, for them, was continuing its time-worn policy of Shoot First,
Second and Third and Don't Ask Questions.

As with the farm invasions, any plan to deal with the aftermath of the orgy
was an afterthought.

If there had been a well-prepared plan, the savagery would have been
needless. There would have been prior consultation.

The destruction of the flea markets in Harare was so comprehensive, cynics
thought they saw a Chinese hand behind it. Their theory was: the zhing-zhong
trade was not doing well and the flea markets were to blame.

It was a far-fetched theory, but the destruction was so total people spent
futile hours flailing the air for a rational explanation.

To many politically savvy analysts, the government has messed up since
Independence. It would be fair to say, in one or two cases, Mother Nature
refused to help... There was little to be done about the droughts. Yet the
droughts did not begin after 1980. As far back as 1947, yellow maize was
imported from Kenya when the rains failed.

Inevitably, the people called it "Kenya".

But Zanu PF's talent for messing up scaled new heights in 2000, after what
their detractors called their biggest blunder yet - the violent farm
invasions - a bigger blunder than the Gukurahundi massacres, some say.

At the head of the invasions were the war veterans, the malcontents led by
the late Chenjerai "Hitler" Hunzvi, aided and abetted by Mugabe himself.

Among the illegal structures demolished around Harare were so-called housing
co-operatives initiated by the war veterans.

After 2000, the war veterans gained enormous presence in Zanu PF. Most of
their acts were condoned. They invaded private companies, vandalising their

There are war veterans today living like kings, overnight billionaires who
profited from the looting. Zanu PF held them in such awe their demands were
granted without question. They were almost the de facto government.

Initial reports linked the bombing of the Daily News printing press in 2001
to the war veterans. A few days earlier, they had staged a rowdy protest
march at the newspaper's offices along Samora Machel Avenue.

But the investigations into the explosion, which reportedly featured deadly
limpet mines, petered out a few weeks later. To this day, the police's
standard response to inquiries is: "Investigations are continuing."

Most of our economic problems can be traced back to that single act of
lunacy, as some critics have called it - the farm invasions.

It started when Mugabe publicly defied a court order to have the veterans
removed from the farms. That, for many, was the genesis of lawlessness.

The poverty which drove people to construct illegal structures and trade in
contraband was caused partly by the economic isolation resulting from the
farm invasions.

In 25 years, Zanu PF has gambled with the goodwill of a peace-loving people.

They have gambled with the goodwill of foreign governments which respected
Zimbabwe as a bastion of democracy, in spite of a long, bitter, bloody war
of freedom.

Dictatorship, corruption, cronyism, police brutality and arrogance have
blighted that image. Mugabe pulled Zimbabwe out of the Commonwealth. If, by
this precipitous act, he hoped to destroy that multi-racial grouping of
former British colonies, then he must now acknowledge utter failure. He must
have hoped for a massive Afro-Asian walk-out.

But not one of them quit. The pull-out was totally without meaning,
politically. The Commonwealth remains intact and not even the staunchest
supporters of Mugabe's racist rhetoric have left the grouping.

Mugabe's refusal to face reality -to accept that he has outlived many
people's political generosity and should get real - is what drives his party
to engage in the sort of senseless orgy of violence that results in
thousands of citizens being thrown into desolation.

*Bill Saidi is editor of the Daily News On Sunday.

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Arise Mai Grace, lest we perish
By Rejoice Ngwenya
Dear Amai First Lady

IN African tradition, when a boy or a man is in distress, in great pain or
about to die, he summons just enough energy to call his mother. The mother
is the cradle of life, an umbilical cord that bridges the dark depths of the
invisible with the ecstasy of free breathing.

Mothers pay a high price for procreation, but ultimately get rewarded with
the gift of life. Hapana akaita saAmai, so sings Elijah Madzikatire.
Therefore, Amai First Lady, hear us, the last cry of a people in
excruciating pain, having laboured under the yoke of food shortages,
transport blues, barren farmlands, mealie-meal, bread and sugar queues and
now face-to-face with the evil and mortal blow of Operation Murambatsvina.

How much more can we suffer? The book of Judges says: "Village life in
Israel ceased, ceased until I, Deborah, arose, arose a mother in Israel."

Arise, Amai, arise and give guidance to those men around you who have lost
all sense of human dignity in pursuit of a selfish, vindictively destructive
agenda under the false guise of Operation Murambatsvina.

Village life in Zimbabwe has ceased. On Caledonia farm, your children huddle
around in the dead of night, their soft limbs quivering in the stinging
nocturnal breeze of June. At Chaka Growth Point, your children suckle at
withered breasts, rubbing hot foreheads that have been scorched by the
African sun.Until you arise, you, the First Mother of Zimbabwe, your
children will perish in the avalanche of despair that has been ignited by
Operation Murambatsvina.

None of the men that surround you have ever experienced the pain of birth or
long nights of shrill cries of a child whose stomach turns like a volcano.
Those men who sit beside you have no experience of the nausea and the
stinging back pain that brings a wonderful life into the world or the
tasteless crusts of red soils scraped off old Jacaranda trees. They know
nothing of losing oceans of blood to sail a tender infant on the river of
life. Theirs is a world of power, destruction and reproduction. But why
reproduce to kill, I ask, Amai First Lady?

Your children at White Cliff and Hatcliffe are staring death in the face. No
shelter, no water, no life. Isaiah asks: "Can a mother forget the baby at
her breast and have no compassion on the child she has born...?"

Amai First Lady, can you forget your children who lick the dust in the
streets of Zvishavane or blot from your memory the little white eyes that
sparkle in the moonlight along Mukuvisi River? What about the soft knees
that crawl on the hot gravel in Rimuka, Kadoma, would you forget? Certainly

Those men who purport to carry the seal of your husband, Amai First Lady,
pounding at the walls of a kiosk in Senga, Gweru, are hypocrites. Their
bellies are full. They kiss their children on the forehead as they drop them
at Fletcher High, and yet strike at the only source of income that will take
your children, Amai First Lady, to Pakhame Mission.

Those men who purport to represent your husband's throne are great
pretenders. They have spent hundreds of nights and thousands of dollars
huddled in a wood cabin in Sakubva, Mutare, making love to concubines, and
yet when the sun rises, they burn the napkins and towels of your children,
Amai First Lady. Do they deserve to live? What kind of a man, Amai First
Lady, can order a bulldozer to crush the bananas of a poor breast-feeding
mother in Mbare Musika?

Can we say to a man like that, as Luke says: "Blessed is the mother who gave
you birth and nursed you." Certainly not!

I can testify that men litter the history of this country, or the world for
that matter, with cases of destruction. It is a man who invented the nuclear
bomb that destroyed thousands upon thousands of children at Hiroshima. It is
a man who instigated the extermination of millions of Jews and started the
Second World War that wiped out millions of children.

It is a man who murdered thousands of citizens in Uganda. Is it not a man
who ordered, Amai First Lady, the vicious napalm bombing of hundreds of
children at Chimoio? What about the massacres of innocent civilians in
Matabeleland? Was it not a creation of men?

Who sent Nelson Mandela to Robben Island or struck the nails that crucified
our Lord and Master?

Now we know that it is a man who ordered the plunder and destruction in this
so-called Operation Murambatsvina that has left thousands upon thousands of
your children homeless, cold, sick and hungry.

Therefore, Amai First Lady, can you entrust the lives of your children even
with those men that sit next to you? Certainly not!

The solution, our hope, the future of the children is in your hands, Amai
First Lady, because you yourself are a mother. Use your motherly instincts
to call off these cruel, vicious hounds called men who are going from
house-to-house, market-to-market and street-to-street, destroying the future
of your defenceless children. Apply your motherly charm and authority to
stem the tide of anger and hatred against innocent citizens of Zimbabwe who
have known nothing but struggle to cling to dear life in the past five

*Rejoice Ngwenya is a Harare-based writer.

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      Govt in flagrant violation of Scripture

      WE, the members of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference, issued a
press statement on June 2, in regard to the "clean-up" operation dubbed
"Operation Restore Order" in which we expressed our dismay at the suffering
and hardship experienced by the most vulnerable members of society in some
areas nationwide.

      Now, almost four weeks after the event started, countless numbers of
men, women with babies, children of school age, the old and the sick,
continue to sleep in the open air at winter temperatures near to freezing.
These people urgently need shelter, food, clothing and medicines, among

      Any claim to justify this operation in view of a desired orderly end

      totally groundless in view of the cruel and inhumane means that have
been used. People have a right to shelter and that has been deliberately
destroyed in this operation without much warning.

      While we all desire orderliness, alternative accommodation and sources
of income should have been identified and provided before the demolitions
and stoppage of informal trading.

      We condemn the gross injustice done to the poor. As a follow-up to our
press statement, we wish to offer a pastoral reflection on recent events
based on Scripture and social teaching of the church.

      In the gospel of June 5, while these events were taking place, Jesus
tells us: "What I want is mercy, not sacrifice' (Mt 9:13). His words reflect
those of the Old Testament prophets who continually state that prayers and
sacrifices are of no value unless there is concern for the poor and needy
(Amos 5:1-4).

      There has been no concern for the poor and needy in this operation and
the prayers and offerings of those responsible find no favour before God.

      The prophet Isaiah reminds us "to share our bread with the hungry, to
shelter the homeless poor and to clothe the man seen to be naked" ...(Is.

      The entire ministry of Jesus is marked by concern for the weak and

      Jesus tells us that we will be judged at the end of time on whether we
have shared this concern, and he has terrible words to say to those who saw
him hungry, thirsty, a stranger, or naked, or sick (or homeless...) and
neglected to help him (Mt 25:42 -46).

      As Christians we must hear the cry of the poor and the homeless in our
townships and villages and support them in their efforts to gradually
rebuild their lives. In this task we should be motivated and guided by the
social teaching of the Church.

      The social teaching of the church sheds the light of the gospel on
issues that affect our lives in society, and offers the church's wisdom,
insight and experience in dealing with them. This teaching, based on
scripture, has developed over more than a hundred years, and is mainly found
in Papal letters and documents emanating from Synods and conferences of

      It contains a number of principles which are particularly relevant at
this time:

      *Dignity of the human person. Created in the image and likeness of God
(Gen 1:26-27), each person has an innate human dignity, given to us, not by
secular authorities, but by the Creator himself. This dignity was gravely
violated by the ruthless manner in which "Operation Restore Order" was
conducted in the townships and other areas.

      Every violation of the personal dignity of the human being cries out
for vengeance to God and is an offence against the Creator of the individual
(Christifideles Laici, 37 - Pope John Paul 11);

      *Basic rights. Basic human rights are an offshoot of our God-given
dignity. Every human being - man, woman and child - has the right to life,
shelter, clothing, food, education, health care, employment, etc. These
basic rights have been and are being violated. No secular authority, no
group, or no individual should be allowed to violate such rights.

      As Christian leaders we must continually remind authorities of both
their duty to respect and uphold human rights, and of the serious
consequences of failure to observe such rights. Furthermore, it is our duty
as a teaching church to form and educate Christian people in rights, values
and principles - a task that we will continue to perform;

      *Promotion of common good. Public authorities should promote the
common good of all members of society - not the good of an elite group - by
creating an environment in which economic, social, cultural and political
life can flourish.

      In such an environment, all citizens - including those who have lost
their homes and livelihoods - can have access to the goods of the earth
which are intended by God to be equally shared. The promotion of the common
good should be the first priority of public policy, not the promotion of
party political aims.

      "It is the proper function of authority to arbitrate, in the name of
the common good, between various particular interests; but it should make
accessible to each what is needed to lead a truly human life: food,
clothing, health, work, education and culture, suitable information, the
right to establish a family, and so on," (Catechism of the Catholic church,
1992, par 1909).

      In the order of things, people always come first and cannot be
subservient to an economy, a political agenda or an ideology for that

      *Option for the poor. In the application of the principle of the
common good, some people remain poor and marginalised. The church must show
particular concern for them. The moral test of a society is how it treats
its most vulnerable members.

      As Christians we must continue to examine public policy decisions,
including policies related to housing, healthcare and food security, in
terms of how they affect the poor, and bow our heads in shame at the
nation-wide operation that has greatly increased poverty and destitution in
all areas.

      The interference with informal trading, which supports formal trading,
can only accelerate our economic decline. The option for the poor, most of
whom are informal traders, is an essential part of society's effort to
achieve the common good of all its members. To the church, the poor are a
treasure (St Laurence, in Butler, Lives of the Saints, August 10);

      *Subsidiarity. The principle of subsidiarity refers to passing powers
downward from the top to the grassroots, or as close to the grassroots as
possible. The principle implies a preference for local over central

      Central authority should support local authority efforts and only
undertake those tasks which local bodies cannot achieve. If there is a
"clean-up" required on our streets or if there is a problem of criminality
in the townships, it is essentially the task of local authorities -
including community/residents associations and church bodies - supported by
the police and the courts, to deal with these problems. This should take
place in an orderly process over a period of time, and in a way that
promotes and preserves human dignity, people's rights and the common good.

      As always, our prayer for you is peace be with you.

      *Mt Rev Robert C Ndlovu of Harare;

      *Mt Rev Pius Alec M Ncube of Bulawayo;

      *Rt Rev Michael D Bhasera of Masvingo (president);

      *Rt Rev Alexio Churu Muchabaiwa of Mutare;

      *Rt Rev Angel Floro of Gokwe;

      *Rt Rev Patrick M Mutume, Auxiliary Bishop of Mutare
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Zim Independent

      Govt simply obsessed with trivia
      By Hudson Taivo

      I HAVE always thought that Herald columnist Nathaniel Manheru was an
intellectually-challenged ignoramus, but I never had a very decisive
corroboration of my suspicions. But his article printed in the Herald
edition of June 18 has shown that behind the long-winded sentences and
meaningless words is the hand of a dunderhead who does not understand simple

      Indeed, it seems Manheru has perfected the art of subterfuge; covering
up for his lack of wit by using cloudy indecipherable language.

      He gave a very detailed account to prove that it was the Union Jack
that was lowered at Rufaro Stadium on the eve of April 18 1980. He even
quoted the Rhodesia Herald, and provided the reader with other extras
ostensibly to rub salt into the wounds of those who in his confused mind are
still not happy about that historic day.

      Manheru's research was inspired by a brief, passing comment made in
the Zimbabwe Independent's Muckraker column where another Herald columnist
was chided for telling fibs to buttress his shallow arguments.

      Yet all Muckraker said was that Ian Smith could not have wept when the
Union Jack was lowered because he had discarded the flag 12 years back,
preferring his own green/white flag.

      To his credit, Manheru did reproduce what Muckraker had said to show
that he wasn't making up the case. And it was right there in front of him,
written in plain, simple language. You don't even need to be a barrister to
understand that the question was not whether or not it was the Union Jack
that was lowered at Rufaro Stadium, but whether Smith wept when it did.

      It is unlikely that Smith could have wept, because he despised the
Union Jack, and nothing in Manheru's week-long research seems to prove the

      Comprehension skills are not taught in journalism classes because it
is assumed these are basic skills. Manheru is too old to go back to
elementary school, but I have seen a number of high school boys loitering
around Herald House around lunchtime. I am sure they would be happy to give
a helping hand, if he asks.

      More importantly, however, Manheru's obsession with trivia is a
microcosm of the government's pursuance of issues peripheral to national
development. With shortages of fuel, electricity and other basic
commodities, one would have expected that the priorities of the government
would have centred on these issues.

      Indications are that inflation is on the rise again, and a sensible
government would have sought ways of complementing the efforts of the
Reserve Bank to keep inflation down.

      The G8 summit is only a few weeks away and the world's richest nations
have emphasised that eradicating Africa's debt and poverty would be top on
the agenda.

      The Zanu PF government should have seized that opportunity to show the
world that it is committed to improving the lives of its people, and would
use debt relief to divert funds to real issues like fighting HIV/Aids,
health and education.

      It should have been worried by the latest indications that Africa is
the only continent that has been growing poorer in the last decade. But no,
all the government could think of was Operation Murambatsvina!

      The government has destroyed thousands of people's lives in an
operation to restore order, yet that issue was not on the election manifesto
three months before. Surely, the government must have known well in advance
that there was serious lack of order in urban areas, and should have told
the electorate that the first major step would be to bulldoze their houses.
That way, people would have voted knowing what was coming.

      There is no way government can eradicate the black market without
eradicating the reasons why it exists in the first place. Sending the police
on door-to-door searches for foreign currency from DStv subscribers is not
only the height of lunacy but an affront to people's liberty and freedom of

      The best way to generate foreign currency is to create an environment
conducive to foreign investment, not crucify people for their meagre monthly
subscriptions. But how does government invite foreign investment when it
destroys its own people's homes and bulldoze them to more poverty and

      In 2000 government targeted white commercial farmers and the
justification was that they were a minority gaining at the expense of the
black indigenous population. Five years later, the government is starving
the same black people - true Zimbabweans who never shout that they are
Zimbabweans, because they cannot be anything else. What hypocrisy!

      The government has no shame trying to court foreign currency from
Zimbabweans living or working abroad, yet the majority of those people were
driven away by bad economic policies at home.

      Zanu PF does not want to accept responsibility for mismanagement of
the economy, preferring to blame its detractors - most of whom are

      The Mugabe regime is always complaining about bad publicity in the
foreign press and blames Britain and the opposition for misrepresenting the
facts. But the whole world has seen bulldozers razing people's homes and
Mugabe himself throwing his weight (he has actually lost weight) behind the
inhuman act.

      These are the real issues that bootlickers like Manheru should
address, rather than wasting 1 304 words trying to find out whether Smith
wept when the Union Jack was lowered, and failing in the attempt.

      *Hudson Taivo is a Zimbabwean writer based in the UK.
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Zim Independent

      Echoes of Mao in Mugabe's blitz
      Dumisani Muleya

      WHAT started as a civic clean-up campaign in Zimbabwe by President
Robert Mugabe's increasingly repressive government has degenerated into a
man-made disaster, spawning a humanitarian crisis.

      The nationwide demolition blitz - which has caught the attention of
the United Nations - has destroyed more than 200 000 shantytown homes, as
well as informal businesses and a sprawling parallel market economy. The
ramifications are shocking. Human rights groups say up to a million people
have been affected.

      About 30 000 people have been arrested during the campaign, which has
been widely condemned by foreign governments, civil society organisations
and churches.

      Tens of thousands of people were thrown onto the streets - with no
jobs, shelter, food, water or sanitation. The campaign has left thousands of
pupils out of school. Women and children face hunger and disease. Some live
in the open while others were packed like sardines into trucks and driven to
drought-stricken rural areas with no means of livelihood. The smouldering
ruins of their houses and businesses bear testimony to the scorched earth
campaign. A huge internal refugee population has been created.

      Innocent civilians' social and economic rights are being violated on a
massive scale by security forces serving a discredited regime whose
leadership and policy failures are rapidly turning Zimbabwe into a failed

      Those banished to the impoverished rural areas - in Mugabe's own

      of the apartheid bantustan model - wallow in abject poverty. People
living in rural areas survive largely on food aid due to the food crisis.

      After the chaotic land seizures that began in 2000, when Mugabe's rule
was challenged by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Zimbabwe
plunged into a cycle of hunger. The country has undergone an alarming
regression in the past five years because of the political and economic

      The scenario is almost like a theatrical revival of Mao Zedong's
Cultural Revolution or Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge rampage. The political
philosophy and motives are similar. There are several theories - ranging
from the absurd to the rational - to explain Mugabe's dangerous political

      Some say it is political purging with ethnic cleansing overtones,
others say it is a kind of social engineering, and yet others think it is
simple tyranny and a cynical way to divert attention from the economic

      Others say Mugabe has created a Frankenstein monster through the
exercise and that a third force is at work. Government claims the blitz is
merely a clean-up campaign to rid the country of the black market, criminals
and illegal structures.

      Whatever is happening, it is clear that this is not a public policy
issue. There is nothing to be gained politically by destroying people's
homes, and no politician in their right mind would expect to consolidate
power through such a move.

      The deployment of security forces to execute the crackdown suggests

      rise of a police state and a breakdown of social order. It looks like
the centre can no longer hold. Mugabe has become a prisoner of a situation
of his own creation and is lashing out in all directions. He is surviving
only due to the lack of organised opposition.

      He has managed to survive electoral defeats by allegedly stealing
elections three times in a row. He obfuscates his failures by waving the
race card, pointing fingers at alleged foreign saboteurs and playing to the
nationalist gallery. By legitimising terror, coercion and intimidation,
Mugabe is desperately trying to maintain his faltering hegemony.

      His ideology - if he has any beyond political irrationality - is a
hodgepodge of authoritarian prescriptions, crude racism and propaganda, all
wrapped up in a package labelled "sovereignty and nationalism".
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