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Zanu PF stalls Mbeki mediation

Zim Independent

Dumisani Muleya

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's government is pulling out all the stops to
sabotage South African President Thabo Mbeki's critical Sadc-driven
mediation on the political crisis in Zimbabwe.

Official sources said Mugabe and Zanu PF were playing hardball with
Mbeki to undermine an initiative agreed by Sadc leaders in March.

Cabinet on Tuesday discussed proposed constitutional amendments to
facilitate next year's joint presidential and parliamentary elections.

Constitutional Amendment Bill Number 18 will be gazetted either today
or next Friday. It will be introduced to parliament in August. If the
proposals are passed into law they will virtually sink Mbeki's mediation

Zanu PF delegates, Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa and his Labour
counterpart Nicholas Goche's trip to South Africa for consultations hit a
snag at the last minute yesterday.

Last week Chinamasa and Goche failed to turn up for talks in South
Africa, while the main opposition MDC's team of Welshman Ncube and Tendai
Biti was already there. This means that Mbeki's first attempt to bring
together Zanu PF and the MDC to start the talks has failed to get off the

Recently Mbeki has had to contact Mugabe after Chinamasa and Goche
tried to avoid meetings, sources said. Frantic attempts by South African
officials to contact the two last week and yesterday failed, it was heard,
throwing the mediation into jeopardy.

"Since last week each time the South Africans phoned Chinamasa and
Goche to organise the meetings, they either found one of them or no one at
all," a source said. "Last week both of them were initially not picking up
their phones and later they became unreachable. Yesterday the South Africans
found Chinamasa, but could not get hold of Goche."

The official explanation last week and yesterday was that the Zanu PF
delegation was unable to attend meetings because Goche is attending an
International Labour Organisation conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

The constitutional amendment plan proposes to synchronise elections in
March, reduce the presidential term and expand parliament which will have
powers in a joint sitting to elect a new president if the incumbent cannot
continue for whatever reason.

Sources said the plan now includes new proposals to introduce the
office of a prime minister who will be appointed by the president and
supported by the majority in parliament. The prime minister - whom
government insiders say could be Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono - would
then appoint and chair a cabinet approved by the president.

Another new addition is a proposal to have one vice-president instead
of two. Currently there are two vice-presidents. Insiders say the strategy
is to block Vice-President Joice Mujuru from becoming president because she
has had a bitter fallout with Mugabe, while also entrenching Mugabe himself
in office for another five years, which may translate into rule for life. A
Human Rights Commission would be added as an inducement to the deal.

Chinamasa would introduce the amendment Bill - approved by the Zanu PF
politburo last week - to parliament in August after it had been publicly
debated for a least a month as required by the constitution. He will also in
August appoint a delimitation commission to delineate constituencies for an
expanded parliament which will now have 210 Lower House seats, up from 150,
and 84 Upper House seats instead of the current 66.

Insiders say Zanu PF, whose strongholds are rural areas, wants to
expand the parliament to increase rural constituencies and hopefully its
seats. The MDC holds sway in urban areas.

If the controversial Bill sails through parliament this would leave
Mbeki's initiative in jeopardy because it means Mugabe's parallel process to
hang onto power would get a new impetus after several months of setbacks.

There are serious disagreements over the proposals, especially the
issue of parliament electing a new president. Vice-President Mujuru and her
allies are opposing it. Political divisions and infighting in Zanu PF are
also militating against the plan.

Government is also said to be taking lightly Sadc's executive
secretary Tomaz Salamao's team which has been here twice in two months to
assess the state of the economy and recommend a rescue package.

Sources said Mbeki and his mediation team were becoming increasingly
impatient with Mugabe and Zanu PF. Mbeki has appointed a team which includes
Local Government minister Sydney Mufamadi, Deputy Foreign Affairs minister
Aziz Pahad, Foreign Affairs Director-General Ayanda Ntsaluba,
Director-General in the Presidency Reverend Frank Chikane and his legal
advisor Mujanku Gumbi.

Mbeki is due to report back to Sadc leaders on his mediation by June

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. . . as MDC submits roadmap for talks

Zim Independent

THE main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which is
divided into two factions, has submitted a joint report on preliminary
issues which need to be tabled for discussion to South African President
Thabo Mbeki, the regional mediator in the Zimbabwe crisis.

Sources said the MDC negotiating team of Welshman Ncube and Tendai
Biti submitted its position paper to Mbeki's team in April. The Zanu PF
delegation, which includes Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa and Labour
minister Nicholas Goche, have already prepared a paper responding to issues
raised by the MDC.

Chinamasa and Goche were expected to deliver their response to MDC
submissions to Mbeki's team yesterday but their trip appears to have stalled
again after last week's failure to travel to South Africa for direct talks
with MDC representatives.

The opposition paper, titled MDC Submission to South African President
Thabo Mbeki: Sadc-appointed mediator on Zimbabwe, Conditions for free and
fair elections in Zimbabwe, a pre-dialogue statement (a joint submission by
the two MDC formations) dated April 11, lists 16 issues which the party
wants addressed during negotiations. These include:

*An end to political violence and intimidation to create favourable
conditions for negotiations and elections;

*A new constitutional order before next year's elections;

*All Zimbabweans above 18 must be allowed to vote;

*Impartial and transparent management of the electoral process;

*Full audit of the electoral processes at key stages;

*Speedy and impartial resolution of electoral disputes;

*Impartial policing during elections;

*Allow political parties to hold peaceful meetings and rallies;

*End of political abuse by the military, intelligence agencies and
Zanu PF youth militia;

*End to political abuse of food aid;

*Press freedom and equal access to media outlets by parties;

*Extensive and credible observation of the elections;

*Election agents and monitors to have free access to polling stations
and vote counting centres; and,

*End to abuse of state resources by political parties during

The MDC said its proposals were largely based on the Sadc Principles
and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections and Sadc Parliamentary Forum
Norms and Standards for Elections.

"This document sets out the numerous obstacles to the holding of free
and fair elections in Zimbabwe," the MDC's 10-page paper says.

"During the forthcoming negotiations the MDC will set out detailed
proposals on how these obstacles can be removed. The proposals are intended
to ensure that political parties will be able to campaign freely and voters
will be able to make free election choices."

The document says the MDC wants an electoral management system that
will guarantee that elections will be "fairly and impartially conducted, and
the electoral outcome will accurately reflect the will of the people.

"Meaningful negotiations cannot possibly take place in an environment
in which one of the parties to the talks is waging a brutal political war
against the other party, using the entire state machinery to try to destroy
the organisational structures of the other party," the document says.

"While not wishing to set any preconditions for the negotiations, the
MDC insists the campaign of violent repression must be halted before the
negotiations commence to create a conducive environment for dialogue." -
Staff Writer.

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Mbeki meets G8 over Zim

Zim Independent

Lucia Makamure

SOUTH African President Thabo Mbeki will today meet G8 leaders in
Germany including chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss regional matters
including the Zimbabwe crisis.

G8 leaders are likely to pressure Mbeki to increase his mediation
efforts in resolving the political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe. Mbeki
who was appointed by Southern African Development Community (Sadc) leaders
to mediate in Zimbabwe's crisis in March has of late been accused of failing
to deliver by the opposition and civil society.

Earlier this year while addressing the France-Africa Summit in Cannes,
Merkel urged Zimbabwe's neighbours to work together with the West to bring a
solution to the Zimbabwe crisis.

"I launch an appeal to the states bordering Zimbabwe to join their
forces to ours and make all their influence count to aid the men and women
in their suffering," she said.

Merkel will be travelling to South Africa in October and is also
expected to visit Ghana, Tanzania and Namibia ahead of the European
Union-Africa summit later this year. Top on the agenda of the G8 summit this
week is the focus on reducing debt and poverty in Africa.

Meanwhile civil society organisations based in the country have joined
hundreds of other African civil society organisations rallying under the
Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) banner as they kick off a week
of action to focus the world's attention on development challenges facing
Africa and the need for the G8 to accelerate global efforts to reduce

GCAP is an alliance of civil society organisations fighting poverty
and inequality worldwide.

The National Association of Non Governmental Organisations (Nango),
which is the umbrella body for civil organisations in Zimbabwe, said GCAP is
calling for the representatives of eight of the most powerful countries to
propose concrete measures to lift millions of Africans out of poverty.

"We are calling for increased aid as it is evident that there are
unequal power relations between the poor and the rich nations," said Fambai
Ngirande, the spokesman for Nango.

Ngirande said many disadvantaged people in Zimbabwe are suffering as a
result of the sour relationship between the government and global governing
institutions like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and United

"Relations between Zimbabwe and the World Bank have been politicised
and it is very unfortunate that it's the poor people who get affected the
most. Our activists will hold solidarity meetings with campaigners in
Heiligendamm for access to treatment for people living with HIV and Aids to
amplify the call for increased financial support towards the local
manufacturing of anti-retroviral drugs," said Ngirande.

GCAP Africa coordinator Christopher Zoungrana said the civil society
organisations want the G8 leaders to recognise the need for a more concerted
effort to meet and exceed the 2005 financial pledges.

"In July 2005, in Gleneagles, G8 leaders pledged to scale up aid flows
and to devote half the increases to Africa, resulting in a doubling of aid
to the continent from 2004 to 2010. This promise was made global at the UN
World Summit in September. We know that this promise is not being kept,
neither in terms of sufficient and sustainable funding nor in terms of
concrete action," said Zoungrana.

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Government paid New African magazine £60 000 in 2002

Zim Independent

Itai Mushekwe

FRESH information about government's relationship with London-based
New African magazine came to light this week amid revelations that it has
splurged significant foreign currency amounts to pay the publication to
undertake various public relations projects to revamp its tainted image.

Sources this week said New African editor Baffour Ankomah has been
government's point man in fighting what it perceives as negative reports
from the media. The magazine was paid £60 000 before the 2002 presidential
election. Last month government squandered over US$1 million on a 70-page
supplement with the magazine, putting President Mugabe's battered image
under media surgery while exonerating itself from fomenting gruesome
political violence in March, which left opposition leaders with serious
injuries whose images startled the world including Sadc leaders.

"Ankomah was paid over £60 000 in the run-up to the 2002 presidential
election to do publicity work for Zanu PF," sources close to the matter said
this week. "Government has footed his airfare and hotel accommodation bills
every time he jets into the country," the sources said. Ankomah was also
instrumental in marketing Mugabe's presidential campaign manifesto promoting
land reform.

The New African editor also tried in vain to suppress the horrendous
effects of Operation Murambatsvina two years ago through a puff piece, which
all but ended up being a disastrous exposé of government as it revealed the
globally condemned operation had been orchestrated by the Central
Intelligence Organisation as a pre-emptive strike to contain a possible
Ukrainian-style Orange revolution against Mugabe.

Critics accuse government of recklessly spending taxpayers' money on
its secret propaganda wars at a time when foreign currency is in short
supply while ironically it is failing to secure fuel, food and adequate
electricity supplies to the people. Its domestic debt has shot up to $2
trillion or US$8 billion in terms of the official exchange rate, while its
foreign debt has topped US$4 billion.

There are also reports that a South African Broadcasting Corporation
(SABC) Africa female reporter was last year removed from the station for
doing sponsored propaganda work for Zimbabwe. The journalist was showered
with gifts from Harare to handle its publicity work at SABC. Newly appointed
Information minister, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, recently announced that SABC would
soon set up a bureau in Harare in what is seen as another attempt to use the
broadcaster as a conduit for its publicity. Ndlovu revealed that government
would be sending information attachés to various embassies around the world
to defend it from so-called negative publicity by the international media.

Deputy Information minister Bright Matonga was this week unfazed by
government's abuse of foreign currency defending the latest move to splash
over US$1 million on New African as money well spent.

"Do you have any receipts of the US$1 million which you are saying
government spent?" said Matonga. "You just want to build a story. Tsvaga
imwe nyaya (Look for another story), that one is dead. Government and the
ruling Zanu PF party are free to spend whatever amount of money they wish.
Even if we spent US$10 million it's none of your business and we have no
apologies to make to anyone because according to us, it was money well

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Government accused of 'usurping' judicial powers

Zim Independent

Orirando Manwere

LEADING human rights lawyers have challenged judges, magistrates and
state law officers to defend the independence of the judiciary from the

The lawyers say the executive is usurping the judiciary's
constitutional mandate using repressive laws like the Public Order and
Security Act and police intimidation in disregard of the universally
recognised separation of powers among the pillars of the state.

Presenting papers on the topic "The Judiciary in Troubled Times"
organised by the Research Foundation of Zimbabwe in Harare on Tuesday,
lawyers Eric Matinenga, Alec Muchadehama and Beatrice Mtetwa (Law Society of
Zimbabwe president), appealed to judicial officers to resist deliberate
attempts by the executive to whip them into line lest the law of the jungle
sets in across the country.

The lawyers' challenge on the judiciary coincided with the start of a
mission by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) on Tuesday to
enquire into the recent arrests and detention of lawyers.

In a statement issued from Geneva, the ICJ said it had begun a
five-day high-level mission to Zimbabwe to investigate the facts surrounding
recent reports of the arrest, detention and beatings of human rights

The ICJ team comprises former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada
and former president of the ICJ Justice Claire L'Heureux-Dube and executive
director of the ICJ Kenya Section, George Kegoro.

The ICJ team was expected to meet the Minister of Justice, the
Minister of Home Affairs, the Police Commissioner, the Chief Justice, and
the Judge President as well as lawyers who have been detained in recent
weeks and those still in custody.

The ICJ team was to enquire into the alleged denial of lawyers' rights
to represent their clients and allegations of the use of force by security
officials during recent demonstrations by lawyers.

The ICJ mission comes at a time when the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP) in Zimbabwe is undertaking a study into the state of the
judiciary as part of its ongoing capacity-building programme.

The UNDP said in a statement that the study focuses on a comprehensive
assessment including a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and
threats) analysis of the judiciary by hired external and local consultants
whose recommendations are intended to inform a general judicial reform.

Former Zimbabwe ambassador to the United States, Simbi Mubako, and
researcher and political analyst Joyce Kazembe, are part of the assessment

At the Tuesday forum, lawyers expressed concern over the increasing
interference with the judiciary by the executive which they said undermined
the justice delivery system in the country.

They said there was need for lawyers to fight loopholes in the
law-making process which gave politicians monopoly to enact repressive laws
to ensure their stay in power.

Mtetwa and Muchadehama were last month arrested and assaulted by
police in the course of their duties.

Mtetwa said LSZ members would continue to fight human rights abuses.

"It's unfortunate that the judiciary is the punching bag and the
weakest among the three pillars of the state," she said. "People who make up
the executive are part and parcel of the legislature."

"Where a ruling political party enjoys a majority in the legislature,
repressive laws are deliberately enacted without meaningful contribution by
the judiciary and legal practitioners who are only there to interpret the
laws," said Mtetwa.

"Even when legal practitioners and judiciary officers interpret the
laws correctly and judgements and court orders are passed, we have seen the
executive ignoring court orders with impunity," she said.

Muchadehama called on judges to remain impartial and to abide by their
professional ethics in the face of mounting pressure from politicians.

"Judges should be unbending to the authorities at all times so as to
uphold judicial independence and integrity," he said.

"It has been observed that of the three pillars of the government, the
judiciary is the weakest. It has neither the power of the purse, nor the
power of the sword, neither money, nor patronage on the one hand, nor
physical force to enforce its decision on the other hand. It merely relies
on the support of the people by virtue of its moral authority.

"The judicial officers need to do a soul searching in terms of
accountability. They need to account to themselves and their conscience.
They must be accountable to the law," he said.

Matinenga said it was time the judges stood up and voiced their
concern over the usurpation of their powers by the executive.

"I am asking our judges to stand up-and I am sure that if they stand
up, they will receive support, not only from the professional institutions
but from the generality of all the progressive and law-abiding citizens of
Zimbabwe," he said.

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Government resorts to disinformation to calm nation

Zim Independent

Kuda Chikwanda

GOVERNMENT has stepped up its disinformation campaign to new levels in
a bid to give hope to a gloomy, impoverished population and prevent social

In what observers have referred to as voodoo politics, government has
invented a story on the "discovery" of diesel in Chinhoyi and a hoax about
diamonds in Epworth to mislead the population and give the people hope that
the situation is not as bad as it appears.

Sources say the Chinhoyi diesel saga is part of a government
propaganda campaign designed to divert attention from current problems and
make people believe that there is something to look forward to in the

Government recently set up an inter-ministerial taskforce to
investigate the alleged discovery of diesel at Lions Den, near Chinhoyi.
However, our sources say government is well aware there is no diesel there.

The taskforce's members are Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi, Home
Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi and State Security minister Didymus Mutasa.

It was set up by the Zanu PF politburo following a report compiled by
police Deputy Commissioner Godwin Matanga that said the liquid oozing out of
the rocks in Chinhoyi was pure diesel. Matanga's report added that vehicles
were responding quite well to the liquid.

The Zimbabwe Independent is reliably informed that government also
sent an assessment team, independently of the ministerial taskforce, to the
area last Saturday to further investigate the matter despite knowing full
well that there has been no discovery of diesel in the area.

Last month, on May 7, acting Noczim chief executive Isaac Mhaka told
parliament's Transport and Communications portfolio committee that the
diesel discovery claims were a hoax.

Mhaka was asked by the committee - which is dominated by Zanu PF
legislators - to confirm the discovery of diesel in Chinhoyi. He told the
committee that the traditional leader who claimed to have made the discovery
was pulling wool over people's eyes.

"We cannot confirm (that there is diesel in Chinhoyi) but what I can
say is that if you remember some three months ago diesel was said to have
been discovered at Lion's Den and the provincial leadership with some of our
officials went to try and see what was there, only to find a possessed
individual who claimed that there was diesel, yet he poured diesel and lit
it when people had come to investigate," Mhaka said.

Government's disinformation campaign does not end with the Chinhoyi
diesel saga.

Our sources say it has been extended to the recent "discovery" of
diamonds in Epworth, with government being accused of trying to hoodwink the
visiting Kimberley Process team, which is here to investigate illegal
diamond mining at Marange, by having them visit Epworth instead of Marange.

Government has been accused of facilitating illegal diamond mining in

According to sources, government intended to deceive the Kimberley
Process team using the Epworth diamond miners by giving the impression
citizens start illegal diamond mining on their own.

The Kimberley team refused and proceeded to Marange foiling the plan
to portray government as genuinely interested in curbing illegal mining

After the Kimberley team refused to visit Epworth, Mines and Mining
Development minister Amos Midzi said there were no diamonds in Epworth.

All efforts to get comments from government spokesperson, George
Charamba and members of the ministerial taskforce were fruitless at the time
of going to press.

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Zimbabwe under spotlight at WAN

Zim Independent

Itai Mushekwe

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's scorched-earth policies against a free press
in Zimbabwe came under attack on Tuesday at the World Association of
Newspapers (WAN) meeting in Cape Town.

WAN condemned the continued harassment, detention and torture of
journalists working for the independent press.

The association passed resolutions condemning government's crackdown
on the independent media. Government has enacted a cocktail of punitive
media laws to suppress freedom of expression.

The legislation includes the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (Aippa) and the Public Order and Security Act (Posa).

Under Aippa several newspapers such as the Daily News and its sister
publications the Daily News on Sunday have been shut down. Other papers that
have fallen victim to the draconian law are the Tribune and the Weekly

"The board of WAN calls on President Robert Mugabe to put an end to
arbitrary and violent arrest, detention and torture of journalists, to
firmly commit to the rule of law and to uphold international standards of
freedom of expression and freedom of the press in Zimbabwe," reads one of
the resolutions.

"The recurrent violations of journalists' basic rights and the
complete disregard for the rule of law of the Zimbabwean leadership and law
enforcement agencies are unacceptable."

WAN said it was also alarmed by the recent assaults on human rights
lawyers, among them Law Society of Zimbabwe president Beatrice Mtetwa.

WAN fired a broadside at the Tafataona Mahoso-chaired Media and
Information Commission (MIC) for pursuing a policy to suppress press freedom
and to asphyxiate the "very last private media" adding that it was pleased
with Zimbabwe court rulings including the Harare High Court ruling "to quash
abusive MIC decisions".

WAN president Gavin O'Reilly urged South African President Thabo Mbeki
to use his influence to end Zimbabwe's flagrant abuses of freedom and civil

"Mr President, being on the southern tip of Africa admiring all that
you and your country have achieved is inspiring but alas, I must use this
platform and must talk to the tragedy that is Zimbabwe today," said O'Reilly.

"Though conscious that it is a sovereign state, we hope Mr President
that you will bring your considerable influence and abiding sense of justice
to do all in your power to help rectify the flagrant abuses of freedom that
exist in that country. We readily recognise that the Mugabe regime sees fit
to discount any legitimate commentary from the international community, but
we hope that a fellow African nation like South Africa can actively
encourage real progress and bring normalcy and true liberty to that

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Independent Newspapers Group publisher and
executive chairman, Trevor Ncube has dismissed accusations by Mugabe's
spokesman, George Charamba in yesterday's Herald that he spearheaded the WAN
resolutions and campaigned against Zimbabwe as a violator of press freedom
at the congress.

"Anybody who listened to my speech will know that I never mentioned
Zimbabwe at all," said Ncube. "WAN resolutions are made by the executive
committee which I have nothing to do with," he said.

Ncube also denied state media reports that he had been frustrated by
not winning the WAN Golden Pen award to campaign against Zimbabwe.

"I am a member of the WAN board which made the decision to award the
Golden Pen to our Chinese colleague in Kiev, Ukraine, in November 2006. I
was never in the running for this award, which is for practising
journalists. George Charamba's comments are a desperate fabrication."

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Charamba must not interfere: Ndlovu

Zim Independent

Pindai Dube

INFORMATION and Publicity Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu says George
Charamba, the permanent secretary in the President's Office, should not
intrude on his duties.

Ndlovu said Charamba should not speak on behalf of the country or
about government policy but should concentrate on taking notes and briefing
the president about developments in the country.

He also noted that Charamba should "only" concentrate on speaking on
behalf of President Mugabe since he is also the presidential spokesperson.
He said this in his address at the Bulawayo Press Club last Friday.

"I am the official government spokesperson and my permanent secretary
(without mentioning his name) should concentrate on taking notes and
briefing the president about developments in the country.

"He should also speak on behalf of the president," said Ndlovu in his
address mainly attended by state media journalists.

Charamba is believed to hold sway in the Information ministry and
state media and the comments are likely to unleash a tug of war in the

Charamba could not be reached for comment on Ndlovu's comments.

Ndlovu had earlier heaped praise on himself for wrestling the
Information ministry from suspected contenders, without mentioning their
names, saying they "could not have been appointed Information minister since
they are young and balamawala (overzealous)".

When asked by the Independent to clarify his statement Ndlovu said:
"What I meant is that I am the minister in charge of the Information
ministry and he is the permanent secretary. I have got my own
responsibilities as the minister and he has his own as the permanent

"But why are you asking me that, I am not happy with your questions,"
said Ndlovu.

The ministry was last headed by Paul Mangwana as Acting Information
minister after the death of Tichaona Jokonya. Jokonya had started moves to
restructure Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings to turn it into a viable entity.

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Govt pushes out NGOs in Binga

Zim Independent

THE government has ordered three quarters of the non governmental
organisations (NGOs) operating in Binga district, in Matabeleland North, to
pull out as they are accused of influencing people to vote for the
opposition during elections.

Binga has got one of the highest numbers of opposition MDC supporters
in the country with the opposition winning with wide margins in every
election that have been held in the constituency since 2000.

In the last national parliamentary election held in March 2005 Joel
Gabbuza of the anti-senate MDC who is also the current sitting MP for the
constituency defeated George Nyathi of Zanu PF with a wide margin. Gabbuza
polled 21 906 votes while Nyathi polled 7 264.

There are more than 20 NGOs operating in Binga and the district is
arguably the most underdeveloped part of Zimbabwe.

The National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (Nango)
advocacy officer, Fambai Ngirande confirmed that they have received the
reports about government officials telling most of the NGOs operating in
Binga to pull out.

"We have received numerous reports like that from Binga. This is not
the first time the Zanu PF government has been harassing NGOs operating in
the rural areas, they actually do this every time
when we are heading towards elections," said Ngirande.

The majority of the NGOs are working in the humanitarian sector where
they are running supplementary feeding schemes, helping with construction of
schools, providing medical supplies and medicines to hospitals to the Tonga
people who are the major tribe in the district. - Staff Writer.

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Shock clauses in Indigenisation Bill

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya/ Shakeman Mugari

DETAILS of the Empowerment Bill which is in its final drafting stages
by the Attorney General's office emerged this week with information that it
proposes a more far-reaching indigenisation policy than initially expected.

The AG's office will in the next two weeks complete drafting the Bill
whose salient clauses were heavily borrowed from The Revised Policy
Framework for Indigenisation of the Economy document compiled by the
Ministry of Indigenisation and Empowerment late last year.

The Bill will be brought to parliament early July and government
expects it to become law by September. The Bill will compel companies in all
sectors of the economy to sell 50% of their shareholding to locally owned
firms or risk losing their licence and registration.

It will compel government to procure 75% of its goods and services
from locally owned companies. This means that government's tender process
will also be changed to ensure that three quarters of its tenders are
awarded to indigenous companies.

"Government itself should arrange to secure or procure at least 75% of
its goods and services from indigenous companies," says the document which
the RG's office is using as the framework for the Bill. It also proposes
that government deals only with indigenous banks and accounting firms to
show its commitment to the empowerment process.

Foreign owned banks that want to do business with government will have
to sell a 50% shareholding to local investors. Private companies and
parastatals will also be expected to get their banking and accounting
services from locally owned financial institutions. Government will also be
compelled to set aside a 50% shareholding in the parastatals it plans to
privatise or commercialise for local investors.

It also says government should make it mandatory for all companies
merging or unbundling to set aside 50% for local investors.

Companies that want to list on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange will have
to reflect the same shareholding structure or they will not be allowed to
trade on the bourse.

But the Bill will not end there. It will direct all companies to
ensure that half of their business is done with locally owned companies.
That means companies will be required to ensure that they buy half of their
goods and services from locally owned firms.

"The legislation should direct all companies and individuals to do
business with a minimum of 50% of indigenisation entities in respect of
services provided and good supplied," the document says. Companies
that do 50% of their business with indigenous companies will be given
tax holidays and other economic incentives.

It also proposes to amend all laws which government claims are
impeding indigenisation. The enactment of the Bill will coincide with the
amendment of the Liquor Licencing Act, Mines and Minerals Act, Income Tax
Act and the Manpower Planning and Development Act. The Shop Licences Act and
Banking Act will also be amended in line with the Empowerment Bill which is
expected to come into operation in September this year. The Bill proposes to
form a National Empowerment Council which it says will promote the
indigenisation process.

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RBZ technically insolvent

Zim Independent

Kuda Chikwanda

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is technically insolvent and
requires an urgent cash injection of US$30 million from the fiscal budget to
fund its recapitalisation, businessdigest can reveal.

The central bank, which has been operating with a capital base of only
$2 000, has been technically insolvent for the past four years forcing it to
sustain its operations through money printing. Money printing is the biggest
driver of inflation in Zimbabwe, according to the International Monetary
Fund (IMF). The central bank was last capitalised in 1963.

RBZ sources said the bank urgently needed to recapitalise to allow it
to mitigate the damaging inflationary effects of its quasi-fiscal activities
and protect it from government manipulation.

"Although worldwide central, banks are largely undercapitalised in the
case of Zimbabwe it is one of the biggest lenders in the economy and the
issue can't be avoided," a source said.

The situation has put the Finance minister, Samuel Mumbengegwi, in a
corner as the fiscal budget - currently operating in deficit - can hardly
afford to fund the recapitalisation exercise without recourse to borrowing
from the private sector at prevailing high interest rates.

The budget has for the past three years failed to cover the cost of
funding parastatals and broke government departments undertaken by RBZ.
Government borrowing rose to $2 trillion last week. Interest payment amount
to $1,5 trillion which translates to 72% of the total debt.

Quasi-fiscal projects like the Agricultural Sector Productivity
Enhancement Facility and the Productive Sector Facility (PSF) have left a
huge hole on the RBZ's balance sheet. The central bank has been plugging the
holes by printing money.

An IMF working paper titled Central bank quasi-fiscal losses and high
inflation in Zimbabwe: A note said RBZ's liabilities far exceeded its

The paper said the central bank's autonomy has been compromised
through government's failure to recapitalise it. The government has also not
transferred accumulated losses of RBZ's quasi-fiscal funding to the fiscal
budget. The result has been a huge gap in the central bank's books.

RBZ's accounting framework capitalised quasi-fiscal losses as assets
on the balance sheet - a practice which does not conform to International
Financial Reporting Standards and renders the financial statements
meaningless, the IMF paper said.

It said that starting since 2004 the quasi fiscal losses have demanded
financial resources that exceed RBZ's capacity to collect seigniorage.
Seigniorage is the revenue a bank collects from printing money.

The paper said major sources of RBZ's quasi-fiscal losses are
subsidies in the form of free foreign exchange availed to parastatals and
realised exchange losses arising from purchase of foreign currency from
importers at higher prices and selling it at lower prices to the state and
public enterprises.

Government and parastatals owe RBZ $127 billion for foreign currency
made available by the central bank. The debt has not been repaid. Straight
loans to government and parastatals at the end of 2006 stood at $100

RBZ governor, Gideon Gono told MPs last month that adequate
capitalisation of the central bank will help the bank implement its monetary
policies and protect it from government excesses.

"Such a bank will not be susceptible to manipulation by government as
it will be able to fend for itself without recourse to public subventions,"
Gono said.

He said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act was silent on how the bank
should be capitalised. Economic commentator, John Robertson, said the
central bank's ability to print money had saved it from collapse. He added
the money printed to save the bank from collapsing was very inflationary.

"Technically they are bankrupt. But RBZ does not go bankrupt because
it can print money. They have avoided going under by printing money. Any
other bank would have long ceased operations and been liquidated," Robertson

The RBZ has been at the forefront of pushing bank to recapitalise.
Last year it revised the minimum capital requirements for all financial
institutions to the equivalent of US$10 million.

Mumbengegwi and his permanent secretary, Willard Manungo did not
respond to questions sent by businessdigest on Tuesday.

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It's deal time again on the ZSE

Zim Independent

By Admire Mavolwane

BARCLAYS Bank Plc has made a 67 billion euro offer for Dutch bank ABN
Amro. At about the same time that one is pausing for breath, the news comes
through that Royal Bank of Scotland and friends are preparing to launch a
rival bid valued at 71,1 billion euro.

A search for the rationale does not yield much except that the
Barclays/ABN tie-up would create the sixth largest bank in the world. Other
than that, all the mumbo jumbo about synergies and cost savings which used
to accompany such transactions is nowhere to be found. It appears the focus
is only on being the "Big Bank".

The craze is now all over Europe with a number of Spanish and Italian
banks announcing localised and cross-border take-overs. One hopes the
Barclays/ABN will not turn out to be another AOL/Time Warner merger. The
latter - incidentally the focus was on creating one BIG media company - is a
classic case of a merger gone wrong.

Closer home, it is exciting times on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, with
the industrial index advancing by leaps and bounds towards record territory.
On Wednesday, the market re-wrote all the history books with a quantum 37,
28% leap in a single trading day. The gainers on the day were led by Meikles
which rose an unbelievable 66,14% to close at $216 000.

Econet, being inspired by the approval by shareholders of the US$30
million capital raising exercise in exchange for 10% of the company,
appreciated by $50 000 to close at $130 000. The day also belonged to
Delta, FBC and Dawn which traded at new highs of $20 000, $3 400 and $4 000,

Apart from the frightening buying frenzy on the stock market corporate
financiers, judging by the number of transactions coming to the market,
seemed to have been working late nights. Hard on the heels of the Econet
transaction mentioned above, First Mutual (FML) is back yet again with
another composite transaction.

Recall that back then in 2003, the demutualisation listing, IPO, the
Trust Holdings strategic alliance and Capital Alliance private placement
were all approved in one meeting. This time around, management is proposing
to acquire ReNaissance Merchant Bank and ReNaissance Securities Ltd as well
as the Red Door Financial Services. A detailed circular with all the
valuations and ratios is not yet at hand, but it is intended to use FML
shares as cash.

In addition, there is a proposal to consolidate the share register, by
converting the nominal value of shares currently in issue. This process will
see an equivalent of 20 shares being consolidated into one. Scrip
consolidations are the latest fad on the ZSE and, like any of these
developments, a discussion of the merits and de-merits is just academic.
After the completion of the acquisition it is further proposed to change the
name from First Mutual Limited to Africa First ReNaissance Corporation.

Maybe the name change will exorcise the ghost that seems to haunt the
insurance group. FML has not been very fortunate in as far as corporate
transactions are concerned. Its de-merger, although not blighted by
technical hitches, the listing of the group was marred by the Capital
Alliance controversy. Soon after listing, and before its strategic
partnership with Trust Holdings could begin to bear fruit, calamity struck
with Trust Bank Limited running into now well documented problems. The story
after that deserves production of a novel or documentary from the
participants that were close to the scene. They surely owe this to both
policyholders and shareholders.

Shareholders are expected to meet on June 21 - ironically the day of
the year with the least hours of daylight - to approve or disapprove of the
share consolidation, the acquisitions and name change. Should the approvals
be granted a financial behemoth will be created, not to the level that was
initially envisaged via the Trust Holdings Alliance,
but nevertheless a banking and insurance giant would have been formed.
The idea of being the BIG is obviously somewhere in the background.

On Wednesday afternoon ZHL shareholders, at a surprisingly poorly
attended Annual General Meeting, approved the much awaited de-merger of
Zimre Property Investments (ZPI) from the group. This will be achieved by a
private placement to identified property owners as well as an initial public
offering which will raise $606 billion. The proceeds from the IPO will be
used to acquire additional properties. The subscription and private
placement price is $720 per share, which puts the market capitalization of
ZPI at $340 billion. This makes it a tiny tot when compared with Mash
Holdings and Dawn Properties with respective market capitalizations of
$3,688 trillion and $9,548 trillion.

Still on transactions, ABCH is seeking the authority to issue 10% of
the current shares in issue to International Finance Corporation in order to
raise BP39 770 603. This is equivalent to approximately US$6,4 million. The
subscription price will be 2,90 per share which values ABCH at $25,930 using
Old Mutual Implied Rate and the cross-rate between the US$ and the
Botswana Pula, a valuation which is in line with the current trading price.

For the superstitious amongst us the current goings gives one a lot of
goose pimples. In June 2003, ZHL de-merged and listed Fidelity Life on the
ZSE. Please note the timing. At about the same time, FML published the
details of its much awaited demutualisation then set for approval at an EGM
in mid-July and the company eventually listed in November 2003.

Companies were reporting massive profits in historical terms, with
most interims exceeding previous full year earnings by a wide margin. When
all this was happening, the currency was depreciating at a frightening rate
on the parallel market and the bulls were in the ascendance of the stock
market. Also note that both three and seven, as in 2003 and 2007, are odd
numbers. Recall that the year eventually ended in tears for many a
stakeholder. Eerily enough, history has this uncanny habit of repeating

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Bank workers plan strike

Zim Independent

Shame Makoshori

ZIMBABWE'S financial services system will grind to a halt next week if
workers in the sector go ahead with a planned job action to push for salary

The Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union (Zibawu) which represents
about 6 000 employees from 26 companies in the financial sector, is angry
that some financial institutions have refused to award salary increments in
line with the arbitral award for the period March 1 to June 30 2007.

Workers last month gave notice of their intention to strike within 14
day notice citing banks' "failure or unwillingness to implement in full" the
March award.

Businessdigest heard this week that the country's 26 financial
institutions were battling to halt the industrial action which could cripple
the sector.

Zibawu this week said during the arbitration process they agreed on a
salary hike and a cost of living adjustment but financial institutions had
been "selective" in the application of the cost of living award.

"This 14-day notice follows the failure or unwillingness by the BEAZ
to implement in full an arbitral award that was issued in the cost of living
negotiations for the period March 1 2007 to June 30 2007," Zibawu said in
the notice.

"The BEAZ is being selective in its application of the arbitral award
much to the prejudice of our members," Zibawu said.

A senior official at Zibawu told businessdigest that the three parties
had agreed to correct the "differentials" that existed in salary structures
prior to awarding the increments. He said they also agreed to award a
further 165% cost of living adjustment.

This would have taken the lowest paid worker in the industry to a
minimum salary of $626 725 per month from $236 500 per month, according to
Zibawu correspondence.

"We asked them to address these differentials and they rejected. But
in public they want to project a good image when workers who make money for
them are suffering," the official said.

"The banks are encouraging crime and pilferage in their sector. We
know what they are making, there is absolutely no reason for them to
implement what they think suits their pockets only," he said.

A salary schedule in possession of businessdigest shows that excluding
the 165%, a bank machinist/sorter takes home a minimum salary of $318 610. A
Grade C bank teller takes home $422 795 while those in grade B get $586 839.
A teller in grade A takes home $678 386.

Those in designated posts one and five take home $867 656 and
$1,204,381 respectively.

However, with the escalating costs of living a Grade C bank teller's
earnings, for instance, are wiped out by transport costs alone. Transport
cost are ranging between $500 000 and $600 000 per month.

The anomaly is however not confined to the banking sector alone. The
textile, construction, farming, power, media and other workers have voiced
serious concerns over the failure by employers to award better salaries.

Zimbabwe has been hit by rampaging basic commodity hikes of more than
3 000% in the last six month.

Last week teachers rejected a 600% salary increment which would see
the lowest paid teacher earning about $2,5 million per month.

But businessdigest understands that the imminent strike by banking
workers could be blocked by government for the second time in six months.

A series of meetings were lined up this week to quell the
confrontations which were feared would seriously hurt the already ailing

All banks have been served with the notice on intention to strike as
discontentment swelled after major banks reported exceptional 2006 earnings.

FBC Holdings led the pack in 2006 with profit before tax increasing by
3 129% to $28 billion from $868 million in 2005.

FBC's profit after tax was also up 3 552% to $21 b compared to $562
million in 2005.

CBZ Holdings' post tax profit was 970% up on 2005.

Standard Chartered Bank posted a $19 billion post tax profit up from
$1,2 billion in 2005. Kingdom Holdings reported a $17,8 billion in 2006 up
from $198 million in 2005.

Stanbic reported a $17,2 billion profit after tax from $1,1 billion in
2005. Barclays and MBCA also reported impressive results.

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'Empowerment Bill to increase local ownership of economy'

Zim Independent

THE Empowerment Bill which is currently being drafted by the Attorney
General's office is expected to become law in September amidst fears that
some of its provisions might provide the final blow to the ailing economy.
Below are some of the salient clauses that will be in the Bill which is
expected to be brought to Parliament in early July.

* Indigenous investors to get 50% in all parastatals that will be
commercialised or privatised in future. Government has said it will
privatise Net*One, Tel*One, National Railways of Zimbabwe, Industrial
Development Corporation, Air Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Power Company and Cold
Storage Company.

* Three-quarters of government tenders to go to companies which are
locally owned or have complied with the new empowerment regulations to sell
50% of their shareholding to locals.

* It will be mandatory for companies merging or unbundling to set
aside 50% shareholding for local investors. Companies listing on the stock
exchange will also have to comply with the new shareholding structure.

* The law will obligate tertiary institutions to provide courses that
are designed to deliver skills on business management for indigenous

* Companies that award more tenders to indigenous companies will be
given tax holidays as wells as other economic incentives as rewards.

* The legislation will direct all companies and individuals to do
business with a minimum of 50% of locally owned companies in respect of
services provided and goods supplied.

* Setting up of a National Empowerment Council (NEC) which will
enforce the regulation on indigenisation. It will inspect and investigate
shareholding structures of all companies to insure that they comply with the
law. The NEC will also come up with an Empowerment Charter to guide the
indigenisation process.

* All agro-based industries including those in fertiliser
manufacturing, flower production and chemical production will have to
comply. Agriculture contributes 17% of Gross Domestic Product and provides
income to 75% of the population.

* Foreign-owned manufacturing companies specifically those in the home
industries, production of food stuffs, non-metallic mineral products and
packaging industries will be targeted to sell 50% of their stakes to locals.
Manufacturing contributes between 10-20% to the GDP.

* Foreign owned mining companies to sell 50% shareholding to local
business people. About 75% of the mining industry is controlled by foreign
owned firms. Government plans to change this structure within the first six
month after the Empowerment Act is enacted. The mining sector generates 45%
of the gross foreign currency earnings.

* Foreign owned banks will also be required to comply with the new
regulations. Government will only do business with locally owned banks.
Parastatals will engage locally owned auditing firms.

* The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and Department of National Parks and
Wildlife Management will ensure that companies in the tourism sector also
comply with the law.

* Foreign owned fuel companies will also be expected to comply with
the law. Shell, Caltex, Total and Mobil will be forced to offload 50% stake
to locals.

* An Empowerment fund will be created to finance the indigenous
companies to buy the shares. Banks will be required to provide funding for
the local companies to buy the shares. Additional funding to come from the
National Social Security Authority and Zimabwe Infrastructure Development

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Price increases stoke inflationary pressures

Zim Independent

Shame Makoshori

ZIMBABWE'S year-on-year inflation for May due next week is most likely
to gallop beyond 5 000% on the back of further basic commodity and fuel
price increases that characterised the market last month, bank economists

The year-on-year inflation ended at 3 700% in April following a shock
1 500 percentage points increase on the March figure of 2 200%.
Month-on-month inflation, which had averaged between 40% and 50% over the
past six months, is projected to reach between 60% and 100% in May,
according to results of a poll by businesdigest from economists.

Genesis Bank economist Brains Muchemwa said prices of goods and
services went up by 28% while the parallel market exchange rate increased by
85% in May.

He said fuel prices had also increased by 80% during the same period.
Muchemwa said inflation could rally to about 5 300%. "Looking at the price
trends in May, the conclusion is that prices went up way above 28%. This
means inflation is still on an upward trend. Inflation is expected (to be)
above 5 300%," Muchemwa said. The major drivers of inflation, he said, would
be fuel, bread and transport costs.

This means inflation will further erode the people's purchasing power.

The price of two litres of cooking oil raced to $156 000 in June from
$86 000 in April. A kilogramme of chicken is now costing at least $110 000,
up from $45 000 last in April.

Transport costs for most workers last month averaged $600 000 per
month from an average of $400 000 per month in April. A family of six
requires at least $2,5 million per month for basic upkeep, according to the
Consumer Council of Zimbabwe.

"One day workers will wake up to find they cannot afford to commute to
work," said an economist with a local commercial bank. "The country has
failed to find a working formula to reverse the damaging effects of the
galloping inflation. We are slowly sliding into a very big problem
especially on people's lifestyles and dietary requirements," said the

Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group economist, David Mupamhadzi, said the
depreciating currency, heightened speculation and rampaging energy costs
could push the year-on year-inflation for May to about 4 000%. The exchange
rate had slide by 85,2% in the past three months.

"Inflation is likely to maintain its upward march in May, and break
the 4000% mark," Mupamhadzi said. "The expected surge in inflation will be
due to excessive growth in money supply, high energy costs especially fuel,
the depreciating local currency and rampant speculative activities in the
economy," said Mupamhadzi.

"Expectations are also playing a leading role in driving inflation."

Mupamhadzi said the implementation of the various protocols signed by
social partners last week were important in restoring macroeconomic
stability in Zimbabwe. Premier Banking Corporation has projected year
on-year inflation to reach 4 220,8% in May driven by funding costs and the
increased rate of borrowing.

An asset management firm said the figure could be 5 597% citing the
huge import bill.

But others were cautious. "The best I can tell you is that we expect
month-on-month inflation to be way over 100% in the month although this is
more a thumb suck than anything else," said an analyst from one of the
securities firms.

"The year-on-year figure will depend on whether you are working with
the official historical figures (which are regarded as grossly understated
by most people)," he said. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has
predicted that Zimbabwe's inflation end 2008 at 6 000%. Last week government
gave ambitious projection after signing the social contract saying the
agreement would help reduce of inflation to 25% by the end of 2007.

The government, desperate to paint a stable environment going ahead,
had been throwing highly ambitious but contradictory projections in the past
two years.

Before his exit in February former Finance Minister, Herbert Murerwa
had projected inflation would end the year at between 350% and 400%. The
trend over the past four have even surpassed projection by the International
Monetary Fund which said inflation would end the year at 6 000%.

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20 million kg tobacco auctioned in six weeks

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

AT least 20 million kg of flue-cured tobacco valued at US$43,3 million
(about $10,9 billion at the interbank rate) have gone under the hammer at
the country's three auction floors since the beginning of the selling season
six weeks ago.

Figures from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) show that
the deliveries were 100% more than the 10 million which went under the
hammer during the first six weeks of trade last year.

In US dollars terms the value of tobacco sold is US$43,6 million,
139,19% more than US$18,2 million sold during the same period last year.

A total of 221 669 bales have gone under the hammer so far from 116
908 which were sold during the corresponding period last year, the TIMB

Burley Marketing Zimbabwe (BMZ) has sold 2 884 751 kg worth US$6,1
million ($1,5 billion).

Tobacco Sales Floor (TSF) sold 2 915 997 kg valued at US$6,4 million
($1,6 billion) while Zimbabwe Industry Tobacco Auction Centre (ZITAC) sold 2
290 520 kg worth US$5,1 million ($1,2 billion).

Contract tobacco farmers accounted for 12,2 million kg valued at
US$25,8 million ($6,4 billion).

The current season has also witnessed an increase in the selling price
that has averaged 214 cents compared to 179 cents which prevailed during the
same period last year.

The waste percentage during the period under review is 4,15% compared
to 8,62% recorded during the same period last year.

Over the last few years, production of the crop has been on the
decline owing perennial disturbance on productive farms and unavailability
of essential inputs.

A total of 80 million kg of the golden leaf is expected to gone under
the hammer by the close of the season. A total of 55,5 million kg was sold
last year.

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Construction stagnant despite high demand

Zim Independent

Kuda Chikwanda

KNIGHT Frank, one of the world's leading real estate agencies, has
said there has been very little activity in Zimbabwe's office and industrial
property markets because investors shying away from putting new construction
projects because of high costs. It is now more expensive to construct new
building that it is to buy complete structures.

In a report titled Global Real Estate Markets: Annual Review and
Forecast, 2007, Knight Frank said Zimbabwean investors have been holding
onto properties to hedge against inflation.

Those that have buildings are content to hold on to their properties
until the situation has stabilized. Investors on the other hand are taking
their money to short-term investments like the stock exchange and the money

The report said there has been no investment in real estate because
people are not willing sell properties in the current environment.

"As with the office sector, there is little activity in Zimbabwe's
industrial market, as industrial properties are seen as a good store of
value in hyperinflationary times," the report said.

The report said the real estate market had been forced to hike rentals
by 100% every quarter because of inflation.

"The exceptional economic conditions in Zimbabwe have affected all
aspects of its real estate market. With inflation currently well over 1 000%
the current market practice is for office rents to be increased by 100% on a
quarterly basis," the report read.

Harare properties are now ranked 10th in a Strength Ranking survey of
12 African cities with rent prime yields for the office, retail and
industrial markets.

Knight Frank senior local partner, Amos Mazarire, said activity had
been suppressed by people holding onto properties as a means of protecting
the real values of their investments. Mazarire said the failure to build new
properties to meet the high demand.

"Demand is strong. People want to buy because of hyperinflation,"
Mazarire said.

Prices in the property market have been skyrocketing over the past six
months as supply surpassed demand.

"Since January prices have gone up by over 1 000%. And prices continue
to go up drastically. This is the worst period in the country's history for
property. The levels of price increases are just unprecedented," Mazarire

Zimbabwe trailed behind in the retail property prime yields category,
offering just 3% yields as opposed to a 10 - 15% average for the capital
cities of most sub-Saharan countries.

Retail property prime rents were slightly less than US$100 per square
metre per annum. The average figure for the 12 surveyed cities is US$238 per
square metre per annum.

In the office property sector, Zimbabwe averaged yields of around 7%
whilst prime office rents stood at US$60 per square metre per annum.

The report goes on to say that Africa is set to benefit from
increasing foreign direct investment into the continent. It quotes the
latest Unctad figures which said US$31 billion flowed into Africa in 2005,
up from US$17 billion the previous year.

"Improving economic conditions should aid the development of the
continent's commercial property markets, though common obstacles include
high crime rates in CBD areas, shortages of high quality office space and
public infrastructure problems," Knight Frank added.

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Economy still to bottom out

Zim Independent

Kuda Chikwanda

ZIMBABWE'S troubled economy is set to shrink for the eighth year in a
row, with gross domestic product (GDP) expected to fall by 5,7% this year,
and by a further 3,6% in 2008, according to the International Monetary Fund

With current GDP figures set at around US$3,146 billion, this means
that a shrinkage of approximately US$179 million in 2007 and a further
US$107 million in 2008 - a major blow to government's ambitious "quick-fix"
National Economic Development Priority Programme.

Citing the World Economic Outlook April 2007 report, the IMF also
predicts a massive increase in inflation, which is expected to hit 6 000%
next year. But analysts say events over the past two months indicate that
inflation is likely to be higher by year-end.

A disastrous land reform exercise, ever-increasing inflation, biting
foreign currency shortages, and lack of investor confidence have created
shortages of basic commodities, thus fuelling inflation.

Coupled with an overvalued currency, maladministration by the current
regime, skilled labour migration and shortages of food and basic
necessities, Zimbabwe's economy has gone from bad to worse since 1999.

Tobacco output has fallen by 76% from all time highs of 237 million kg
in 2000, to just 55 million kg for the last tobacco season.

Mining has been affected by delays by government in effecting changes
to the Mines and Minerals Amendment Act, and the uncertainty surrounding
ownership patterns of mines in Zimbabwe has seen the flight of investor
capital to more secure areas.

The manufacturing sector has suffered greatly, as there has been no
foreign currency to import inputs and spare parts, and this has seen
production falling, and many companies downsizing or shutting shop entirely.

Zimbabwe also maintains an overvalued currency which has worsened
foreign currency shortages, and in turn has reduced production levels across
all sectors.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president, Callisto Jokonya, said
production was still falling.

"At the moment, nothing has changed. There has been no increase in
production. Instead, we are going down because of the lack of foreign
currency," Jokonya said.

Jokonya blamed failure by government to adopt a holistic approach to
solving the crisis and sanctions by the West for the rapid deterioration of
the economy.

Zimbabwe is the only member of the 13-member Sadc grouping whose
economy has continued to slide.

Botswana is expecting a growth rate of 4,3%; Madagascar, 5,6%;
Mozambique, 6,8%, whilst predictions for Zambia are at 6%.

Namibia's economy will grow by 4,8%; Swaziland, 1,2%; the Democratic
Republic of Congo, 6,5%; Lesotho, 5,1%, and South Africa, 4.7%.

Angola's economy, recovering from years of civil war, will register
the highest GDP growth for both 2007 and 2008, with the IMF predicting 35,3%
in 2007, and 16% in 2008.

The average growth rate for Sadc for 2007 is 6,8%, and marginally
lower for 2008, where it stands at 5,2%.

Backing up IMF forecasts were the Organisation for Economic
Cooperation and Development (OECD) and African Development Bank (ADB), which
predict growth for the African continent at 5,9% in 2007 and 5,7% in 2008.

All other Sadc nations are set to register growth in economic activity
in the year 2008, with the average growth rate for the Sadc region standing
at 5,2%.

Increased oil and mineral production in southern and central Africa
will drive economic growth, save for Zimbabwe, whose mining sector is in
turmoil because of government's silence on proposed changes to mining laws.

The average Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the Sadc region, excluding
Zimbabwe, is set at 8,03% for 2007, and 5,76% for 2008. For the entire
continent, it is forecast to be 12,7% in 2007, before increasing to 12,9% in
2008, owing to increasing energy prices.

The ADB and OECD forecasts for African economic growth are based on
global expansion, increased official developmental assistance to Africa and
an improving macro economy.

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Zimbabwe tops league of pirates

Zim Independent

Shame Makoshori

ZIMBABWE has been ranked as the country with the highest number of
pirated computer software in Africa, according to a survey by the South
African-based software research organisation, Business Software Alliance

The survey ranked Zimbabwe among the top five countries with the
highest piracy records worldwide in 2006.

An annual report compiled by the BSA released last week showed
Zimbabwe was rated number four in the world software piracy ranks with 91%
of the software on the market being pirate material.

BSA said Zimbabwe had been losing at least US$6 million per annum
since 2003 to software pirates.

"There are five countries in west, east & central Africa that
constitute the top 20 countries with the highest piracy rates worldwide,"
the BSA said in a statement to businessdigest last Friday.

"Zimbabwe ranked 4th in the world with 91%, Cameroon ranked 10th with
84%, Zambia ranked 14th with 82%, Ivory Coast ranked 16th with 82% and
Nigeria ranked 18th " BSA said.

The research did not say which countries had the highest piracy rates
in the world, but in 2005 Vietnam jointly led the rankings with Zimbabwe
with 90% piracy rates.

The BSA report however showed that while Zimbabwe's rates were
deteriorating, most countries in the region had managed to decrease piracy

Botswana, Kenya and Zambia each saw their piracy rates decrease by 1%
as a result of concerted efforts by players to promote the message that
piracy robbed software vendors and end users of revenues.

"While the average piracy rate in Africa is still over 80%, and the
region has some of the highest piracy rates worldwide it is encouraging to
see that the issue of piracy is being taken seriously by governments in
Africa. It is important to note that while Botswana, Kenya and Zambia have
managed to drop their piracy rates, these drops have not resulted in
significant cost savings for those governments."

In other regions, software piracy has been drastically reduced with
China having managed to drop its piracy rates by 10% in three years.

This has resulted in a reduction of piracy-related losses of over
US$500 million per annum.

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Mbeki's Zimbabwe challenge

Zim Independent

By Brian Raftopoulos

THE mediation on Zimbabwe, led by South African President Thabo Mbeki,
presents the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) with a narrow
window of opportunity to avoid even further deterioration in Zimbabwe's
political and economic fortunes.

The initiative, brought about by a combination of growing regional
embarrassment over President Robert Mugabe's authoritarian violence and
international pressure on the regional organisation, is faced with enormous
obstacles in the form of the persistent recalcitrance of decisive elements
of the Mugabe regime.

Nevertheless, the mediation does present an opportunity to pry open
new political spaces in the country.

March 11 2007 and the months that followed provided new evidence of
Zanu PF's growing reliance on violence as a form of rule. The public beating
of opposition and civic leaders, rank and file Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) members and high-profile lawyers in the country signalled an
escalation of repression against the political and civic opposition in the

Faced with a deepening economic crisis, a bitter battle over
succession within the ruling party, the persistent presence of opposition
forces and continued international pressure, Zanu PF responded to the
growing pressures with characteristic contempt.

The demand by Sadc at the end of March that Mugabe enter into a
Sadc-led mediation with the opposition is a process that the Zimbabwean
leader is thus obliged to engage in if he is to maintain the integrity and
support of the region. Developing regional solidarity has been a key element
of Mugabe's survival strategy, and therefore his contempt for the opposition
can no longer keep him out of such a dialogue.

However, it is certain that Mugabe will make the process as difficult
as possible for his South African counterpart.

Already in the period since March 11 we have witnessed the continued
arrests, violence, torture and killing of MDC activists on allegations of
terrorism. This attempt to deploy the discourse of "terror" against the
opposition is an addition to the rhetoric of exclusion that already has
pride of place in Zanu PF's nationalist vision. The calumny and language of
disdain used against arrested MDC activists provides additional evidence
that building a language of tolerance and inclusion in a post-Mugabe era
will be a major challenge.

Equally significant is the fact that the recent violence is Mugabe's
introductory gambit into the mediation process. Even as Mbeki has tried to
provide a conciliatory space for both sides on the political divide,
Zimbabwe's ruling party has sought to exacerbate the differences.

In addition we can expect Mugabe to engage in a series of delaying
tactics, such as calls for the postponement of the talks, and the setting of
unacceptable preconditions. Mugabe is likely to drag out the mediation for
as long as possible, even as he prepares for another problematic election in

The Zimbabwean government has already announced that a general
election will take place at the end of March, and the current general
assault on the opposition indicates Mugabe's election campaign is already

Thus it appears that Mugabe is once again setting the time-frame and
agenda of the mediation process. Given the pressure on the mediator to move
the process along as quickly as possible, the central emphasis of the
mediation will be on providing the minimum conditions for a "reasonable and
acceptable" election to take place in 2008.

Both Mbeki and Mugabe understand that the opposition forces in
Zimbabwe have been seriously weakened by a combination of state repression,
the split within the MDC and a lack of support within the region.

The MDC is thus unable to provide strong internal pressure as a
bargaining strategy in the talks. This places the organisation in an
invidious situation, in which its major points of pressure are a reluctant
Sadc mediation, pressure from the West and the possibility of a resurgent
opposition in the future. The balance of forces in the current context thus
weighs heavily against them.

For Mugabe the two major pressures that confront him are the rapidly
declining economy and the factional battles in his party. The indicators of
decline in Zimbabwe have become a standard global reference for economic

The inflation rate stands at over 3 700%, while by 2006 GDP per capita
was 47% below the level in 1980. At the end of 2006 the average minimum wage
of Zimbabwean workers was only 16,6% of the poverty datum line calculated at
December 2006 levels, while the formal sector decreased from 1,4 million in
1998 to 998 000 in 2004.

When these indicators are combined with anticipated shortages of food
this year and the continued loss of high level skills from the country, the
picture looks increasingly bleak.

An important part of the factional struggle within the ruling party is
about the strategy for "normalisation" that will lead to a new engagement
with the international community, and allow the party elite the time and
space to consolidate their fast-acquired wealth. It is the terms of this
re-engagement that will form the core of the mediation talks, while the
future of Mugabe himself will be a major feature of this normalisation.

On this matter, given the intense battles within Zanu PF, Mugabe does
not feel that he can hand over the torch to anyone else. It is for this
reason that the ruling party structures were manipulated to ensure Mugabe's
presidential candidacy for 2008.

For Zanu PF the mediation will thus be about making as few reforms as
possible to get acceptance for an election next year, knowing the current
state of the opposition.

On the other hand the opposition must face the pressures of growing
national and international intolerance of their divisions, and the thought
that a failure of the mediation process will present major strategic and
organisational dilemmas for the future. They are much more dependent on this
mediation to open up new political spaces in the country, in the hope that
these will provide new opportunities for strengthening their position.

This is not the best position for the Zimbabwean opposition to be in,
but it is the reality that has to be confronted and negotiated. More
broadly, it is the dilemma of post-liberation opposition movements that must
confront the anti-colonial discourse of authoritarian nationalist
governments with a political language that negotiates the tensions between
democratic political questions and the pressures of redistributive economic

It may be that in the current regional and global context, diminished
economic alternatives will continue to provide the conditions for generating
renewed authoritarian nationalisms. However the challenge of developing an
alternative, and more tolerant, language of national belonging remains an
urgent task.

* Brian Raftopoulos is head of the Transitional Justice in Africa
Programme, Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, Cape Town.

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18th amendment could make or break national crisis

Zim Independent

By Jonathan Moyo

AFTER two months of groping in the shadows of the polarised and
polarising Zanu PF and MDC politics, in what is arguably the last Sadc
initiative to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis before the March 2008 general
election, President Thabo Mbeki's Sadc-mandated mediation team led by Sydney
Mufamadi must now specifically spotlight its effort on the proposed 18th
constitutional amendment that is about to be gazetted by the beleaguered
authorities in Harare.

If it does not do that without wasting any more time, then its effort
will be doomed to embarrassing failure to the detriment of Mbeki's legacy
and Sadc's reputation.

This shift in spotlight is necessary and urgent given the dogged if
not suicidal determination by President Robert Mugabe to unilaterally use
the proposed 18th constitutional amendment outside the Sadc mediation
process to implement a self-serving Zanu PF plot to keep him in office for
life in a manner that would prolong and worsen the current economic

Up to now, Mbeki's Sadc mediation has lacked a tangible or specific
focus that would not only establish the commitment of Zanu PF and the MDC to
resolving the Zimbabwean crisis beyond partisan interests but which would
also determine the success or failure of the mediation itself.

Public pronouncements by Mbeki that his mediation hopes to secure an
electoral agreement between Zanu PF and the opposition to ensure that the
2008 general election would be conducted in such a way that its outcome
would not lend itself to frivolous disputation on grounds of unfairness or
unfreeness, have been useful for defining the key negotiation issues. But
the pronouncements have not been enough in clarifying how the success or
failure of the negotiation would be determined.

Most previous mediation efforts to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis by
Mbeki have ended in failure - real or perceived - mainly because they were
not driven by a transparent and well defined objective beyond talking for
the sake of talking. The only notable exception that almost succeeded, and
whose product might still see the light of day, is Mbeki's 2003/2004 quiet
facilitation of dialogue between Patrick Chinamasa, then Zanu PF secretary
for legal affairs, and Welshman Ncube, who was then secretary-general of the
MDC before it split. That facilitation led to an agreement on a new draft
constitution whose provisions included the best from the Constitutional
Commission's 1999 draft that was rejected in a referendum in February 2000
and the National Constitutional Assembly's draft.

In terms of its content and relevance in addressing issues that remain
contentious, the Chinamasa/Ncube draft constitution is still a product in
good currency and it might very well find a new lease of life as the first
prize in the ongoing Sadc mediation if all involved were to be serious and
honest in the national interest. Adoption of that draft now would constitute
90% of the solution to the Zimbabwean crisis and the other 10% would depend
on the outcome of the next general election.

But in the world of Zimbabwe's present treacherous politics of
succession underwritten by unprecedented economic collapse with too many
vested interests that are often not declared amid widespread national
suffering, it would be too optimistic to expect Mbeki's Sadc mediation to
produce the first prize by reviving the Chinamasa/Ncube draft constitution.
That is why there is a need for an alternative but transparent and
well-defined focus that would be a second prize in the form of the proposed
18th constitutional amendment.

Mbeki's Sadc mediation team should take it as fortunate that Mugabe
has thus far been unable to steamroll to irreversibility his self-serving
constitutional agenda that was unveiled at the controversial March 30
central committee meeting which endorsed his unpopular reelection bid. After
that central committee meeting, which met only a day following the
extraordinary Sadc summit in Dar es salaam had adopted the Mbeki mediation,
the Zanu PF faction that is backing Mugabe's candidacy sought to rush
through cabinet and parliament an 18th constitutional amendment bill
containing the following patronage-inducing provisions in the main:

* An increase of the constituencies of the legislature in the lower
house from 120 to 210;

* An increase of the number of senators in the upper house from 66 to

* A requirement for the two houses of parliament to sit jointly as an
electoral college to elect a president to serve for the remainder of the
term of an incumbent who resigns, is impeached, dies or is otherwise

* Establishment of the long-awaited Human Rights Commission as a

In seeking to rush this Bill in cabinet and parliament, Mugabe's
henchmen wanted to preempt and sabotage Mbeki's Sadc mediation by turning it
into a meaningless exercise in assured failure. After all Mugabe had already
cynically interpreted the outcome of the March 29, Dar es Salaam Sadc summit
as an endorsement of his brutality unleashed on defenceless opposition
politicians in police custody on March 11.

Indeed, Mugabe has viewed the Sadc mediation right from its onset as a
useful tool only in so far as it can help him contain international pressure
on his government, expose opposition politicians as puppets and agents of
imperialism, remove the international media spotlight on the March 11 state
violence and get Sadc to support the Zanu PF position that the economic
meltdown is due to alleged illegal sanctions imposed by Western countries
and to provide an internationally backed economic rescue package against
these sanctions ahead of the 2008 general election.

Outside these self-serving interests, Mugabe sees Mbeki's Sadc
mediation as an utter nuisance which can easily become very dangerous if it
is allowed to linger on for too long or if it is anchored on a concrete
deliverable such as the proposed 18th constitutional amendment. That is why
there have been frantic efforts since the central committee meeting of March
30 to rush and smuggle through this proposed amendment which is about to be
gazetted with only Zanu PF electoral content.

This, together with the fact that it is now quite clear that Mugabe
intends to use the proposed amendment to entrench his self-serving electoral
interests to the detriment of the opposition in particular and the national
interest in general right in the face of the Sadc mediation, means that
Mbeki's team needs to get serious and tougher with Zanu PF and the MDC as a
matter of urgency. If the team does not do that then its mediation is doomed
to a kind of failure that would widen and deepen the current crisis.

The bottom line is that Mbeki's team should do everything possible
under the auspices of Sadc not to allow Zanu PF to unilaterally author and
make the proposed 18th constitutional amendment into law. Instead, this
amendment which is inevitable before the 2008 general election must be the
compromise point to signal the beginning of a genuine constitutional and
political transition beyond the current crisis.

Sadc-mandated South African mediators should therefore dissuade both
Zanu PF and the MDC from their polarised and polarising politics which have
nothing to offer besides mutually asserting each other's alleged
illegitimacy as either violent puppets masquerading as democrats or violent
electoral thieves masquerading as nationalist revolutionaries.

This means that in addition to what Zanu PF has already indicated to
be its desired content for the proposed 18th constitutional amendment, which
now also interestingly includes provision for a prime minister and one
vice-president in place of the current two vice-presidents, there must be
serious consideration of the widespread democratic calls for the inclusion
of the following, among other relevant constitutional issues necessary to
ensure free and fair elections next year:

* An independent Registrar of Voters (it could be the Electoral
Commission) to be fully and directly responsible for the registration of
voters and the maintenance of a credible voters' roll;

* Making the delimitation and electoral commissions directly
accountable to parliament and for the appointment of their chairpersons and
commissioners to be subject to the approval of either the Judicial Service
Commission or parliament and for their composition to necessarily reflect
the full spectrum of Zimbabwe's political diversity, at least as represented
in parliament;

* Allowing voter education to be undertaken by whoever Zimbabwean
wants to in a free and transparent manner in accordance with the relevant

* Enabling political parties and candidates to access the public media
not only during the election period in the technical sense as happened in
2005 but well before the electoral period where and when it is known that
there is an impending election as is now the case regarding the March 2008
general election.

If the government, Zanu PF and the MDC are serious and honest about
their commitment to resolving the Zimbabwean crisis, then they should be
able to understand why the proposed 18th constitutional amendment offers the
best opportunity for a meaningful compromise towards the much needed
transition from crisis to sustainable development under a democratic
dispensation. In the same vein, and for the same reasons, Mbeki's Sadc team
must understand that if it keeps its eyes off or away from the 18th
constitutional amendment it risks dropping if not losing the ball and that
would most certainly result in embarrassing failure with catastrophic

* Professor Moyo is Independent MP for Tsholotsho.

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Social contract seen as stillbirth

Zim Independent

Orirando Manwere

THE long-awaited social contract - seen as a possible panacea to the
current economic crisis in the country-- was eventually signed by
stakeholders last Friday amid high hopes, at least within government, of the
beginning of an economic revival process.

The signing of the contract by government, labour and business
coincided with the inaugural visit by a three-member Southern African
Development Community (Sadc) team led by executive secretary Tomaz Salamao,
tasked by regional leaders to study ways in which it could assist Zimbabwe
to revive its ailing economy.

Salamao's team held meetings during the week with officials from the
central bank and other players involved in economic development.

The Sadc team's visit comes a year after a similar visit by a team
from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which made specific
recommendations on what should be done to address the economic crisis in the

Zimbabwe's economy has been in decline since 1997 and this has seen a
contraction of the gross domestic product by at least 30%.

The economy is also beset by multifaceted distortions which analysts
say need to be removed to facilitate recovery. These concern distortions in
prices, the exchange rate, and utility service tariffs.

The IMF recommended that government should urgently implement a
comprehensive policy package comprising several mutually reinforcing

These included: strong fiscal adjustment, full liberalisation of the
exchange rate regime for current account transactions, adoption of a strong
monetary anchor, elimination of quasi-fiscal activities of the Reserve Bank
and transparent absorption of these losses by the budget, and fundamental
structural reform, including price deregulation, public enterprise reform,
strengthening of property rights, and improvements in governance.

The purpose of the visit, which occurred ahead of the IMF executive
board's review of Zimbabwe's overdue obligations to the Fund, was to conduct
a review of the economic situation and advise on policies to help Zimbabwe
achieve sustained growth, low inflation, and improved living standards for
its people.

In interviews this week on the signing of the social contract and the
Sadc team's visit, analysts said instead of pursuing projects like the
social contract in isolation, government should be looking at initiating
wide and deep reforms that cover various sectors of the economy as part of
efforts to tackle prevailing multilayered problems.

They said initiatives like the social contract - with unrealistic
targets like reducing month-on-month inflation to 25% by the end of the
year - are largely undeliverable because they are premised on wishful
thinking and an unsound policy framework.

Bulawayo-based economic analyst Eddie Cross said government must avoid
policy inconsistencies and genuinely commit itself to implementing sound
agrarian and other economic policies, and uphold good corporate governance
principles by assigning competent personnel in strategic public utilities.

Corruption has been identified as one of the major inflation-drivers
in the economy.

He said every Zimbabwean was aware of the causes of the problems
bedevilling the country but the authorities were not keen on addressing them
as " they are the ones benefiting from the corrupt and flawed system".

Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono conceded during his recent monetary
policy statement in Bulawayo that three quarters of Zimbabwe's problems "are
of our own making" due to failure by authorities to implement certain policy

Cross said government had failed to implement sound agrarian policies
and act on corruption and the abuse of state resources by top officials.

"The signing of the social contract will not achieve anything unless
we address issues of production, particularly in the agricultural sector
which is the backbone of our economy," Cross said.

"Right now we are importing maize, our staple food crop, wheat and
various other food items when we used to be the breadbasket of Sadc which we
are now looking forward to assist us to solve our economic problems," he

"We do not have to be told by Sadc that we should fully utilise our
land and existing water bodies in the different provinces. We do not have to
be told by Sadc to ensure that we put checks and balances on the utilisation
of financial and material resources mobilised for our agricultural and
manufacturing sectors.

He said over the past two years billions of dollars had been disbursed
by the Reserve Bank to government institutions like Arda and to large and
small-scale new farmers without proper controls to check what became of the

"Money that is supposed to be used to buy inputs like fertilisers and
seed has ended up being used to procure luxury goods, yet there are
responsible ministries and other arms of government in place," said Cross.

Harare-based economist John Robertson said it was time government
stopped using sanctions as a scapegoat for its failures.

"There is rampant corruption by top government officials which has
been confirmed by the police and the president himself but nothing is being
done to bring these culprits to book," Robertson said.

"Diamonds, gold and other precious minerals are being smuggled out of
the country daily and the people involved are known but we have not seen any
notable arrests and prosecutions because they are the same people who are
benefiting from the illegal deals," he said.

State media reported last week that Arda had not repaid a $24,3
billion loan advanced by the Reserve Bank two years ago for repairs and
improvements on farms around the country.

Robertson said it was surprising that despite such admission of
failure by Arda, top management remained safely in their jobs.

Commenting on the Sadc team's visit, Robertson said there was need for
it to carry out a critical analysis of the causes of the country's
socio-economic problems by consulting all stakeholders.

"The Sadc team must not entirely rely on information from government
officials. They must widely consult and seek to understand the origins of
our problems because there is no guarantee that the same people who are
failing to manage locally mobilised resources can put whatever assistance
they may get from Sadc to good use," he said.

"We know the cause and solutions to our problems and there must be
political will to address them. It is not the social contract protocols or
outsiders who will solve our problems. It is us who have the answers," he

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Will Mugabe face the same fate as Taylor?

Zim Independent

By Tim Rogers

"I HAVE committed innumerable acts of cruelty and had an incalculable
number of people killed, never knowing whether what I was doing was right or
wrong. But I'm indifferent to what people think of me." So said Genghis
Khan, universal ruler and leader of the Mongol hordes, in the 13th century.

This is how casual dictators in the past used to kill and be arrogant
about it.

The world from time immemorial to the present has seen some of the
worst atrocities to have been committed by humankind. Barbarism and wilful
acts of mass-slaughter were the order of the day in ancient times. People
used to take for granted massacres, torture, wild repression and looting,
and other forms of random acts of outrage that led to mass suffering.

Humanitarianism and human rights protection were not a universal code
of civilisation. Instead, barbarism was almost like the code of conduct.

However, while atrocities still continue today, there has been a
dramatic change in how the world now views them. Dictators and their
henchmen are slowly but surely being brought to book to account for their

No matter what the flaws of the current international justice system
are, it is important that leaders who abuse their power to commit wilful
murders are held to account. Political butchers, like any other, must be
prosecuted. They should not be allowed to get away with murder!

This week the trial of Charles Taylor - former president of Liberia
and the first former African leader to face an international court - opened
in The Hague where he stands accused of war crimes during the
diamond-fuelled conflict in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

True to form, Taylor behaved like other deposed tyrants when brought
before the courts. He abstained from the first hearing and his lawyer argued
that his client did so because he would not get a fair trial. But Taylor's
antics were familiar - all dictators behave in a strange way when faced with
justice. Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein are the most recent examples.

Human rights groups this week welcomed the trial of Taylor at a
special court of international and Sierra Leonean judges as an important
step in addressing the issue of impunity in Africa and elsewhere.

The prosecutor opened the trial, expected to last for a year, in
Taylor's absence by detailing 11 war crimes charges against the accused.
Taylor is accused of forming a "joint criminal enterprise" by giving Sierra
Leonean rebel groups weapons and training in return for access to the
country's diamond fields.

It is alleged Taylor was complicit in the Revolutionary United Front
rebel group's campaign against civilians in Sierra Leone, which included
mutilation, usually chopping off of arms or hands, and the abduction of
women and girls as sex slaves. Small boys were turned into child soldiers.

Taylor, who ruled Liberia from 1997 to 2003, has pleaded not guilty,
arguing he has immunity because he was a head of state at the time of the
alleged crimes. But at an earlier hearing, the court invoked the precedents
of the Nuremberg and Tokyo war crimes trials, and tribunals for Rwanda and
the former Yugoslavia, to rule immunity does not extend to crimes against
humanity. Taylor faces up to life in prison if convicted. Britain has
offered to jail him if convicted.

The Taylor precedent will send dictators quaking in their boots and on
the run everywhere, specifically in Africa in this case.

In Zimbabwe it would be interesting to see how the issue of human
rights abuses by President Robert Mugabe's regime will be addressed. There
has of late been contradictory messages from within the opposition groups on
how to deal with the issue. Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition MDC leader,
has been quoted as saying he wants Mugabe to get immunity for his alleged
human rights abuses, particularly the Matabeleland atrocities.

Those who hold a different view have said Tsvangirai has no authority
at all to say this, essentially when the victims have not been consulted.
For Tsvangirai it could well have been a case of political expediency. Those
who argue for Mugabe's trial say they want to ensure Zimbabwe draws a line
on this to guarantee no recurrence of similar atrocities in the future.

The issue is not up to Tsvangirai or Mugabe to decide but victims and
international players. Mugabe has all but admitted the alleged atrocities -
except their extent - after he publicly said they were an "act of madness".

The Matabeleland massacres - in which human rights groups say at least
20 000 civilians were murdered by Mugabe's state security machinery are one
of the most horrific atrocities in post-colonial Africa. Last week a book on
the massacres was launched in South Africa, bringing the issue back under
the international spotlight and keeping it precariously hanging over Mugabe's

Britain's Foreign Office minister for Africa David Triesman on Monday
warned that Mugabe risks the same fate as Taylor. "Mugabe is at one of those
points where dictators have to consider whether if they press on they don't
fall into the category of committing crimes against humanity on the sort of
scale that the law proscribes," Triesman said.

"Taylor presented quite a difficult target in the sense of coming to
trial, but no impunity is a baseline we shouldn't cross. Those who commit
terrible crimes will come to trial and be convicted and go to prison."

Now the question is: will Mugabe face the same fate as Taylor?

* Tim Rogers is a writer on legal issues.

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Benefits and dangers of negotiations

Zim Independent

By Gene Sharp

WHEN faced with the severe problems of confronting a dictatorship some
people may lapse back into passive submission. Others, seeing no prospect of
achieving democracy, may conclude they must come to terms with the
apparently invincible dictatorship, hoping that through "conciliation",
"compromise", and "negotiations" they might be able to salvage some positive
elements and to end the brutalities.

On the surface, lacking realistic options, there is appeal in that
line of thinking.

Serious struggle against brutal dictatorships is not a pleasant
prospect. Why is it necessary to go that route? Can't everyone just be
reasonable and find ways to talk, to negotiate the way to a gradual end to
the dictatorship? Can't the democrats appeal to the dictators' sense of
common humanity and convince them to reduce their domination bit by bit, and
perhaps finally to give way completely to the establishment of a democracy?

It is sometimes argued that the truth is not all on one side. Perhaps
the democrats have misunderstood the dictators, who may have acted from good
motives in difficult circumstances? Or perhaps some may think, the dictators
would gladly remove themselves from the difficult situation facing the
country if only given some encouragement and enticements.

It may be argued that the dictators could be offered a "win-win"
solution, in which everyone gains something. The risks and pain of further
struggle could be unnecessary, it may be argued, if the democratic
opposition is only willing to settle the conflict peacefully by negotiations
(which may even perhaps be assisted by some skilled individuals or even
another government). Would that not be preferable to a difficult struggle,
even if it is one conducted by non-violent struggle rather than by military

Negotiations are a very useful tool in resolving certain types of
issues in conflicts and should not be neglected or rejected when they are
appropriate. In some situations where no fundamental issues are at stake,
and therefore a compromise is acceptable, negotiations can be an important
means to settle a conflict.

A labour strike for higher wages is a good example of the appropriate
role of negotiations in a conflict: a negotiated settlement may provide an
increase somewhere between the sums originally proposed by each of the
contending sides. Labour conflicts with legal trade unions are, however,
quite different than the conflicts in which the continued existence of a
cruel dictatorship or the establishment of political freedom are at stake.

When the issues at stake are fundamental, affecting religious
principles, issues of human freedom, or the whole future development of the
society, negotiations do not provide a way of reaching a mutually
satisfactory solution. On some basic issues there should be no compromise.
Only a shift in power relations in favour of the democrats can adequately
safeguard the basic issues at stake. Such a shift will occur through
struggle, not negotiations. This is not to say that negotiations ought never
to be used. The point here is that negotiations are not a realistic way to
remove a strong dictatorship in the absence of a powerful democratic

Negotiations, of course, may not be an option at all. Firmly
entrenched dictators who feel secure in their position may refuse to
negotiate with their democratic opponents. Or, when negotiations have been
initiated, the democratic negotiators may disappear and never be heard from

Individuals and groups who oppose dictatorship and favour negotiations
will often have good motives. Especially when a struggle has continued for
years against a brutal dictatorship without final victory, it is
understandable that all the people of whatever political persuasion would
want peace.

Negotiations are especially likely to become an issue among democrats
where the dictators have clear military superiority and the destruction and
casualties among one's own people are no longer bearable. There will then be
a strong temptation to explore any other route which might salvage some of
the democrats' objectives while bringing an end to the cycle of violence.

The offer by a dictatorship of "peace" through negotiations with the
democratic opposition is, of course, rather disingenuous. Violence could be
ended immediately by the dictators themselves, if only they would stop
waging war on their own people. They could at their own initiative without
any bargaining restore respect for human dignity and rights, free political
prisoners, end torture, halt repression, withdraw from the government, and
apologise to the people.

When the dictatorship is strong but an irritating resistance exists,
the dictators may wish to negotiate the opposition into surrender under the
guise of making "peace". The call to negotiate can sound appealing, but
grave dangers can be lurking within the negotiating room.

On the other hand, when the opposition is exceptionally strong and the
dictatorship is genuinely threatened, the dictators may seek negotiations in
order to salvage as much of their control or wealth as possible. In neither
case should the democrats help the dictators achieve their goals.

Democrats should be wary of the traps which may be deliberately built
into a negotiation process by the dictators. The call for negotiations when
basic issues of political liberties are involved may be an effort by the
dictators to induce the democrats to surrender peacefully while the violence
of the dictatorship continues. In those types of conflicts the only proper
role of negotiations may occur at the end of a decisive struggle in which
the power of the dictators has been effectively destroyed and they seek
personal safe passage to the closest international airport.

"Negotiation" does not mean that the two sides sit down together on a
basis of equality and talk through and resolve the differences that produced
the conflict between them. Two facts must be remembered. First, in
negotiations it is not the relative justice of the conflicting views and
objectives which determines the content of a negotiated agreement. Second,
the content of a negotiated agreement is largely determined by the power
capacity of each side.

Several difficult questions must be considered. What can each side do
at a later date to gain its objectives if the other side fails to come to an
agreement at the negotiating table? What can each side do after an agreement
is reached if the other side breaks its word and uses its available forces
to seize its objectives despite the agreement?

A settlement is not reached in negotiations through an assessment of
the rights and wrongs of the issues at stake. While those may be much
discussed, the real results in negotiations come from an assessment of the
absolute and relative power situations of the contending groups. What can
the democrats do to ensure that their minimum claims cannot be denied? What
can the dictators do to stay in control and neutralise the democrats? In
other words, if an agreement comes, it is more likely the result of each
side estimating how the power capacities of the two sides compare, and then
calculating how an open struggle might end.

* Professor Sharp is a political scientist, author and founder of the
Albert Einstein Institution, in Boston, Massachusetts, US.

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Talks need brains not brawn

Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

by Dumisani Muleya

SOUTH African President Thabo Mbeki's Sadc-mandated mediation
initiative on Zimbabwe is running into serious hurdles strewn on the
negotiation path by President Robert Mugabe.

Recent political events, including developments this week, have shown
that Mbeki would have to use exceptional diplomatic savvy to pin down Mugabe
and his ruling Zanu PF to accept the urgent need for a negotiated
settlement, starting with free and fair elections next year.

Free and fair elections, won by whomever, would pave way for recovery.

There is no doubt we need new electoral rules built by consensus among
Zimbabweans to ensure, as Mbeki himself said, that poll results are not open
to unnecessary dispute. Zimbabwe simply cannot afford to have yet another
disputed election which only compounds the prevailing political deadlock and
worsens the economic situation.

It would be political suicide for Mugabe and his regime to allow the
present economic deterioration and attendant social unrest to continue when
a rare window of opportunity to save the situation has been opened by Sadc.
State-driven repression and official terror cannot possibly be the answer to
our problems.

There is a cloak-and-dagger war - a war by other means - being waged
by the government against its own people. However, brains, not brawn, will
prevail in the end. So we need more sound thinking from the top rather than

If Mugabe squanders this golden opportunity to extricate himself from
this political tangle and persists in a path of self-destruction, he would
have set himself up for a disastrous endgame.

As things stand, Mugabe is clearly moving in an opposite direction to
Mbeki. While Mbeki is busy trying to kick-start talks between Zanu PF and
the MDC, the main protagonists in this situation, Mugabe is hectic in
pursuing his unilateral plans for elections.

Last week the Zanu PF politburo approved proposed constitutional
amendments - introduced in cabinet this week - and Justice minister Patrick
Chinamasa got the all-clear to proceed with his controversial project.

Cabinet was on Tuesday expected to approve the 18th Constitutional
Amendment Bill designed to return Mugabe to power for another five years -
which may turn out to be rule for life. If it becomes law, it would
virtually sink Mbeki's critical mediation.

The endorsement of the Bill would leave Mbeki's initiative in jeopardy
because it means Mugabe's parallel process to hang onto power would get a
new impetus after several months of setbacks.

Cabinet's approval of the controversial Bill would give Mugabe a lot
of room to outmanoeuvre Mbeki and Sadc leaders who initiated the Zimbabwe
mediation in March.

If Mugabe presses ahead with his plan, this would render the whole
mediation irrelevant. Sadc leaders made a mistake by not telling Mugabe that
he should not proceed with any plans which contain issues that would have to
be tabled for negotiation.

In fact, Sadc leaders gave a hostage to fortune by issuing a
communiqué in Tanzania in March full of statements to appease Mugabe. From
the beginning, Muagbe has been trying to use those statements to suggest
that Sadc leaders said they support him and the mediation is merely there to
endorse his rule.

Sadc leaders should have known that appeasing a corrupt and
incompetent dictatorship does not work. They simply need to confront the
Zimbabwe crisis head-on.

Besides his own government's strategic limitations, succession
politics in Zanu PF and the increasingly frivolous MDC squabbles make things
more difficult for Mbeki.

To prevent a failure of his diplomacy and Zimbabwe plunging into what
now appears to be inevitable chaos, Mbeki would need to stop Mugabe now from
pursuing a process which undermines his mediation.

This means Mbeki has to find urgent ways to ensure Mugabe's plans,
which directly affect next year's elections, should immediately be tabled
for debate, not just by Zanu PF and the MDC, but by all Zimbabweans. How
would Mbeki conduct his mediation if he allows Mugabe to embark on a project
which sabotages the very essence of his mission? What would there be to
negotiate if Zanu PF is allowed to maintain a unilateral course on
fundamental electoral issues?

What is to be done, one may ask? Mbeki's task is very difficult but
what needs to be done now is that all issues to do with elections be put on
the negotiation table for debate and consensus-based resolutions which
clearly define new electoral rules to guide us into the next elections.

If Zanu PF wins the polls in a free and fair way, it would then need
to start a national reconstruction process in an inclusive way. The only
problem with a Zanu PF victory is that its leader can no longer be part of
the solution. So Mugabe must simply go together with his heroics.

Mbeki should not allow Mugabe to wriggle off the hook this time round.
His task would be easier if the power relations between Zanu PF and the MDC
were relatively balanced. But the trouble is the balance of power between
the MDC and civil society on the one hand and Zanu PF on the other favours
the latter. The MDC and civil society are fractured, weak and incoherent. It's
not a very hopeful picture.

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Joking with the ancestral spirits

Zim Independent


BY far the funniest story to appear in the media last week was the
formation of a cabinet taskforce to investigate a report of diesel oozing
from a rock in Chinhoyi.

The Zanu PF politburo, we were told, had set up a taskforce comprising
three cabinet ministers following a report by a committee led by Deputy
Police Commissioner Godwin Matanga that the liquid oozing out of rocks near
the Chinhoyi Caves was "pure diesel". Vehicles had responded well to the
fuel, we were told.

No, this was not April 1. The politburo was absolutely serious in
investigating what a local spirit medium called "a gift from ancestral

It was immediately evident that there was no scientific mind involved
here. Diesel is a specific distillate of fuel oil, mostly petroleum. There
is no such thing as pure diesel.

Does it really take three cabinet ministers to establish this? Where
are government's geological officers who are employed to investigate
precisely such phenomena? What do Didymus Mutasa, Sydney Sekeramayi and
Kembo Mohadi know about fuel distillation?

Do this country's leaders want to be taken seriously? It seems not.

Now, if it was crude oil - black gold - seeping from the rock there
may be some cause for excitement. But diesel, no. Somebody is having a joke
here at the government's expense.

Equally gullible are the Herald reporters who told us on Saturday that
under the social contract inflation would be coming down from 3 700% to 25%
by the end of the year. Only when we looked at the protocol itself was it
explained that this figure referred to monthly inflation.

It is extraordinary to think a professional journalist, equipped with
a healthy measure of scepticism, could fall even for this projection. It was
also suggested that the budget deficit will be reduced to under 10% of GDP
by the end of 2007.

How naïve can our business leaders get in agreeing to these completely
delusional targets? How can any serious person put their signature to a
document that promises to reduce inflation when all the driving forces are
currently hard at work pushing it up?

It is quite clear the National Incomes and Prices Commission will be a
government agency for holding down prices while government itself continues
to print money in an election-driven spending binge.

Let's see in December exactly how successful this initiative has been
and let's hope that those business leaders who have signed up for a project
that defies the essential laws of economics and those gullible state
journalists who have once again found another panacea that obviously won't
work have the decency to apologise for misleading the public.

We liked the story about the MDC faction leaders sneaking out of
Harare for a "rendezvous" with Tony Blair in Pretoria. They "stole out" of
Zimbabwe on Tuesday night last week, the Herald reported, ahead of their

You have to laugh at such blatant lies however unprofessional they may
be. There was not a scrap of evidence to support this silly story.

Muckraker alerted readers recently to "official lies" which are
hatched at Munhumutapa Building and then repeated at every opportunity in
the official media even when they no longer have any currency.

It would have been easy enough for the Herald's political editor to
check out the story. Blair's schedule was no secret. All his appointments
were transparent and fully covered by the large press retinue travelling
with him, not to mention the South African press. And the MDC leaders were
very much in evidence attending the Idasa conference. It would have been
easy enough for the Herald's friends in dark glasses to keep an eye on them.

The Herald sought to confirm its story by claiming Downing St kept a
lid on the talks for security reasons. But surely somebody would have
witnessed the meeting or heard something about it? But nobody did.

Yet in pursuit of its own lie the government, we are told, "blasted"
MDC leaders for "clandestinely meeting with Blair". Joseph Msika, who it
appears doesn't ask too many questions about what he is told, used the false
story as a basis for a bitter attack on the MDC.

Nathaniel Manheru, with whom the story probably originated, used it to
claim that the MDC leaders were in Pretoria to receive their marching orders
from Blair. But by Saturday it had become obvious to all that no such
meeting had taken place.

It may have been mooted at some point but given Blair's busy schedule
it seems unlikely. More probably, it was a product of faulty intelligence
based on reports emanating from within the Tsvangirai camp, disseminated by
Caesar Zvayi and given the nod by unquestioning editors. In all, a shocking
commentary on how the state media operates.

As for Sikhanyiso Ndlovu's asinine comments about Blair being doubly
rejected by the British people, how many elections has Ndlovu won?

What we found significant about the Blair visit to South Africa was
that while dozens of pictures of Blair holding Nelson Mandela's hand and
embracing Thabo Mbeki were published around the world, only one appeared in
Zimbabwe's official media. Why?

Because, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. So instead
we had the Sunday Mail's political editor pretending that Blair had left
South Africa "with his tail between his legs after being told that the
Zimbabwean issue was under control as it was being handled by Sadc".

This was obviously a political editor who wasn't following things very
closely. Blair and Mbeki agreed on their joint position long before the

Mbeki's aides, in briefings ahead of the Blair visit, were at pains to
emphasise that remarks made by Mbeki on how the West would look for other
victims to bully after Zimbabwe, repeated endlessly in the official press,
had been taken out of context. For Mbeki's real views on Zimbabwe, his aides
said, journalists should refer to his Financial Times interview.

That was of course the one in which Mbeki said how shocked Sadc
leaders were to see the pictures of Zimbabwe's opposition leaders after
their beatings at the hands of the police and how electoral reform was
likely to be high on the agenda of any national dialogue.

Have you noticed, by the way, how those arrested and detained on
"terrorism" charges in March, including Ian Makone, the so-called
mastermind, are being released by the courts one by one because none of the
charges against them will stand up? Yet they have been detained all this

In other words, despite endless reminders of those charges by police
spokesmen, commentators in the state media, and official websites, nobody
has been convicted of "terrorism" or petrol bombings. Not a single person!

The MDC's Mutambara faction will have won few friends with the
revelation last weekend that several of its leaders were pursuing their
lawsuits against Morgan Tsvangirai for remarks he made to diplomats after
the split in his party in 2005. He claimed his former colleagues were out to
assassinate him.

They are demanding $200 million in damages. Asked if the lawsuit
wouldn't impede progress towards unity, those bringing the case claimed not
to know anything about talks on reunification, choosing instead to hang

"What talks?" they scoffed.

It was a frankly ill-advised performance by all concerned.

Tsvangirai's remarks to diplomats in December 2005 about threats to
his life were widely seen as paranoid and delusional. And nobody of any
importance took them seriously. He should have been allowed to wallow in his
own foolishness.

But, as we have always argued, MDC leaders are unable to see the big
picture. They will now divert the nation's attention from the task in hand
while they play petty politics in the civil courts over a hugely
inconsequential issue and in so-doing give a gift to their detractors. Their
friends should tell them frankly how unedifying all this is.

We were left with an abiding impression from last week. That was of
Blair and Col Muammar Gadaffi embracing outside the Libyan leader's tent in
the North African desert. That image must have stung Zimbabwe's leadership
after all the promises made to the Libyans and all those pledges of eternal

And now we learn BP and British defence manufacturers will soon be
moving in to do business with Tripoli. So much for solidarity!

Tony Blair and his wife Cherie appear to have thoroughly enjoyed their
trip to South Africa where the prime minister received unaccustomed praise.
Mbeki referred to his accomplishments in Northern Ireland and his work in
bringing Palestinians and Israelis together. There was also praise for his
achievements in Sierra Leone.

"Blair, the proponent of 'enlightened intervention' and Mbeki the
advocate of 'quiet diplomacy', were in a back-slapping mood," the Sunday
Times reported, "publicly congratulating one another on their achievements
and treading diplomatically around thorny issues."

"It seems I have to come a few thousand miles to get a compliment
these days," Blair joked on his warm reception in South Africa.

Blair's last function was the Queen's Birthday party held at the
Reserve Bank Conference Centre in Pretoria on Friday night. The Sunday Times
reports that Guardian correspondent Andrew Meldrum, booted out of Zimbabwe
in 2003 and soon to embark on a Nieman fellowship at Harvard, was given a
hug by Zimbabwe's ambassador SK Moyo in front of several high-ranking
journalists and told he would be allowed back soon.

Quite evidently he hadn't cleared his script with Manheru!

Swedish ambassador Sten Rylander is, we can all agree, a thoughtful
and well-intentioned diplomat. He may be a slow learner in the field of
bridge-building but nobody doubts his sincerity.

At a reception to mark Sweden's national day this week he introduced
to his large and influential audience three women who had made an
outstanding contribution to Zimbabwean public life, Betty Makoni, Hope Sadza
and Beatrice Mtetwa. They stood with the ambassador facing the guests.

Speaking for the government, Foreign Affairs secretary Joey Bimha then
singled out Betty Makoni and Hope Sadza for congratulation, deliberately
ignoring Beatrice Mtetwa. It was an act of gross disrespect, keenly felt by
diplomats and other guests present. More than anything else it was a kick in
the teeth for Rylander. But at least it served to expose the limitations of
bridge-building with this recalcitrant regime and showed everybody present
just how churlish and petty it can be.

A point of order may be useful here. Rylander said, when proposing the
toast, that it was EU tradition to toast the president of the republic.

He was wrong. The EU position is to toast the people of Zimbabwe
currently experiencing hardship and repression. Let's have less diplomatic
indulgence Sten and more straight talking.

The Swedes are wonderful hosts at their national day with an
impressive spread of things to eat and drink. But it didn't help to hear
some spoil sport calling out "Rudolf" every time somebody took a bite of
reindeer meat.

Finally, we were interested to note President Mbeki's strategic plan
for his last two years in office, tabled in parliament this week, which
commits the presidency to "resolving the situation in Zimbabwe".

This represents a helpful admission that, contrary to Zimbabwe's
official line, there is a situation that needs to be resolved.

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A shame on us all

Zim Independent


GRICULTURE minister Rugare Gumbo last week toured Arda's estates in
Middle Sabi and Chisumbanje in Manicaland Province. It was as if he expected
a miracle. Of course there was none. Unmitigated incompetence stared him in
the face everywhere.

After touring Agricultural and Rural Development Authority projects in
the company of Policy Implementation minister Webster Shamu, Gumbo expressed
"disappointment" with the parastatal's performance.

The two ministers specifically accused Arda management of failure to
perform, with Shamu once again resurrecting the issue of
"performance-linked" contracts to get rid of incompetent managers.

"I am very disappointed by the performance of Arda here at Middle
Sabi," Gumbo told Arda chairman Tobias Takavarasha and CEO Joseph
Matowanyika. "I am even more disappointed to note that the neighbouring
farms owned by A1 farmers who have no resources are doing wonders," he said.

He said the new farmers, with their limited resources and lack of
skills, had turned into green fields vast tracts of land which only a year
ago were thick forests.

Gumbo found that much of the 4 000-hectare estate was lying idle.
Where there should have been the staple maize to improve the country's food
security, Arda management had planted sorghum and cotton. There were only
200 hectares of maize. Tractors which should have been repaired were being
left to disintegrate.

"This sort of thing cannot be allowed to continue," warned Gumbo, to
which his companion Shamu retorted that it was not the first time such
concerns had been raised with Arda management but that there had been no

The message should have been very clear. Mere threats to fire
incompetent managers cannot turn them into serious producers. Government has
become the biggest saboteur in efforts to restore national food
self-sufficiency by its partisan issue of offer letters. Gumbo will only be
able to change the lackadaisical culture of parastatal managers by
demonstrating that he means business - that is by getting a few empty heads
to roll.

But more curious is the fact that government insists on taking land
from productive white farmers when it cannot put to productive use what it
already has. If Arda is emblematic of the incompetence and lack of
accountability among government parastatals, it also reflects government's
own warped policies.

With its long history of incompetence, a few years back Arda was
allowed to take over foreign currency-spinning Kondozi Estate in the Odzi
district of Manicaland. Hundreds of local outgrowers who had depended on the
farm's critical skills and inputs had their livelihoods ruined overnight.
Today the estate bears the unmistakable imprints of having been touched by a
leper named Arda - it is wasting away.

There are many formerly white-owned commercial estates across the
country which have been similarly blighted, thus breaking what was once
described as the backbone of the economy - commercial agriculture. The
result has been an economic decline of frightening proportions characterised
by over 3 700% inflation, drugs, food, fuel and foreign currency shortages
compounded by skills and capital flight.

What was embarked on in 2000 as a policy to equitably redistribute a
finite national resource - the land - has been shamelessly turned on its
head into a policy of post-colonial racial retribution in which land use is
no longer of consequence so long as it is in the hands of a loyal black
party cadre. The upshot has been to turn Zimbabwe into a beggar nation - it's
more than just a shame on our politicians. It's a shame on every one of us.

Why for instance do we still have new offer letters and eviction
orders being issued after seven years? How are farmers supposed to plan and
invest in their enterprises if they don't know whether they will be on the
land tomorrow? For, unlike Zanu PF and government who can operate without
planning because they can commandeer national resources at will, farmers
like any other businesses have to plan in advance. They have limited
resources to rely on.

While we understand Gumbo's tough-sounding threats, it would be more
helpful if charity began at home with policy consistency in cabinet to
assure farmers of whatever race of security of tenure. What he found in
Middle Sabi and Chisumbanje estates obtains at all Arda farms across the
country, starting with Nijo Farm just outside Harare along Domboshawa road.
The nation cannot prosper on the politics of racial vindictiveness.

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To isolate or not to isolate Zimbabwe?

Zim Independent

Candid Comment

by Joram Nyathi

I HAVE never believed in the wholesale isolation of Zimbabwe as a
solution to the current economic morass. Nor do I subscribe to the belief
that "shouting" at President Mugabe constitutes a solution to the political
stalemate. As a result, I have found myself unsure of what policy options
the international community has in helping us end this malaise.

While I am not sure of the efficacy of President Thabo Mbeki's "quiet
diplomacy" I still prefer it to the bandwagon of "shouters" who have
rendered us deaf and made Mugabe even more obstinate.

This dilemma was inadvertently dramatised by human rights lawyer
Daniel Molokele in his contribution to the newzimbabwe website this week. He
said outgoing British prime minister Tony Blair's visit to South Africa last
week was seen by most Zimbabweans there as a non-event. He had failed to
help Zimbabweans by "isolating Mugabe and Zimbabwe", Molokele said.

"The man is just stranded like everyone of us who made the choice to
join him in the isolation process of the country," he wrote. "The man is
utterly clueless! In the end, he handed over full responsibility to Thabo
Mbeki, the very same man who had stood by Mugabe through thick and thin. The
very same man who, through his policy of 'quiet diplomacy', has maintained
full diplomatic relations with Mugabe. The very same man who together with
his cabinet ministers has defended Mugabe from further isolation, be it at
Sadc, AU, G77, and Nam or even at UN level."

Which of the isolationist nations has not maintained "full diplomatic
relations" with Zimbabwe?

Molokele says Zimbabwe's crisis has worsened during Blair's tenure of
isolation. The implication is: Blair is to blame for isolating Mugabe and
Zimbabwe. Mbeki is equally guilty for not isolating Mugabe and Zimbabwe. So
what's it to be? To isolate or not to isolate?

Molokele makes the telling point that Blair was clueless "like every
one of us" who advocated Zimbabwe's "isolation". He doesn't say what result
they expected and how it should have come about. To me the point about
isolating Zimbabwe was to cause an implosion which would force Mugabe to
either reform or quit.

Instead, it has worsened the economic decline and precipitated an
exodus of people who should provide pro-democracy forces with the critical
mass, the brains and the direction they need to achieve change. Recovery can
only be that much harder for whoever takes over the reins, degenerating into
more discontent and further repression.

I have never received a convincing response when I ask colleagues who
criticise Mbeki's quiet diplomacy what they would rather he did. Political
rivals can shout at each other. That is the name of the game. They can't be
"quiet" about abductions, torture and other forms of violence.

Which is not the same thing with those trying to mediate and end the
political impasse. The language of politics and that of diplomacy should be
different. Blair and his allies failed for the same reason that they
followed the advice of those who believe shouting constitutes a solution to
a problem. He had turned himself into a local political rival.

At the nadir of despondency, Molokele says the meeting of Mbeki and
Blair at the Pretoria press briefing "marked the final confirmation of Mbeki's
failure to help Zimbabwe". He laments further: "For Blair, therefore, to
throw his full weight behind Mbeki's policy of engagement is an admission of
failure, and a grudging acceptance that engagement (quiet diplomacy)
triumphs over 'shouting'."

Mbeki is adjudged to have failed with his "quiet diplomacy". If both
"isolation" and "engagement" have produced a similar result, shouldn't both
sides be revising their strategies and tactics instead of making Mbeki a
scapegoat for Mugabe's repression?

Nowhere in the past seven years has anyone demonstrated to hungry
Zimbabweans that "shouting" diplomacy is more effective than "engagement".
To me Blair's gesture is an admission that at least Mbeki has left the door
open to talk to Mugabe. President George Bush admitted as much when he
singled out Mbeki as his pointman on Zimbabwe in 2003. It is a position
which has also been endorsed by Sadc and beyond.

The objectives of both sides are the same. It is a question of
strategy and so far nobody has prescribed a formula that works.

Mbeki's success may not be a simplistic victory that the oppressed who
are impatient for change are craving for. Such success in politics depends
on the threat posed by pro-democracy forces at home and the way Mugabe
responds to them. It also depends on the way Mugabe views those he deals
with - whether he sees himself safer in power or out of it. Blair and Bush
now realise only Mbeki has access to Mugabe. It's a question of whether
Mugabe reciprocates his counterpart's respect.

The simple truth that Zimbabweans didn't admit from the start is that
there was nothing lawful which Blair, Mbeki or Bush could do beyond either
whispering or shouting to make Mugabe change his thinking. His barely
plausible rhetoric about puppets, imperialist machinations and giving land
to the poor kept him ahead of the competition and made his position
virtually impregnable.

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Supplementary budget must stimulate recovery

Zim Independent

by Eric Bloch

LAST week's column focused upon the very great necessity for government to
table a supplementary 2007 budget before parliament and the senate.

Such a budget is, in a normal and well-managed economy, both unnecessary and
undesirable, but is critically necessary when an economy is deeply
distressed, hyperinflation is pronounced, and the fiscus is, to all intents
and purposes, bankrupt. That is irrefutably the Zimbabwean economy's present
circumstance, and therefore not only is a supplementary budget critically
required, but is already greatly overdue.

Wholly coincidental, on the same day as last week's column was published,
the state-controlled press carried an announcement that the Ministry of
Finance would, within a few weeks, commence consultation with private sector
representatives on a mid-term fiscal review. Better late than never!

The column centred mainly upon the absolute need for review of the tax
threshold, bands, rates and credits, having regard to the gargantuan
hyperinflation experienced in Zimbabwe since the 2007 budget, and underlying
taxation policies, were formulated. It also partially addressed the
essentialness of government massively reducing its deficit, doing so
primarily by determined cuts in expenditures.

However, space constraints unavoidably limited the issues that could be, and
should be, addressed in the supplementary budget, and hence this column
seeks to relate to a variety of other key considerations, although it is
again not possible to deal with all.

A supplementary budget must not only revise taxation measures, but must also
seek to stimulate an economy, and especially so when it is one which is
verging upon total collapse. Many stimulants are required, and they include:

Although many believe, erroneously, that currency exchange rate
determination is the responsibility and prerogative of the Reserve Bank and
its governor, in reality it is the responsibility of the Minister of
Finance. Most endlessly castigate the Reserve Bank governor for the
never-ending, spuriously false and unrealistic exchange rate regime, which
is one of the major contributants to Zimbabwe's distraught economic
condition, but the fault lies with government, in general and, in
particular, with the Minister of Finance, who is clearly reluctant to
counter political devaluation bigotry.

Zimbabwe needs to target at a market-driven exchange rate, instead of one
which is speciously and unrealistically driven by misguided economic
concepts of politicians incapable of modifying their entrenched
misconceptions and by concerns as to the costs of foreign exchange to the
fiscus and the chefs, without recognition of the economic destruction being

Admittedly, in his surprise interim monetary policy statement in April,
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono circuitously achieved some significant
exchange rate redress, and undertook to effect regular reviews, but he
should not have had to do so, for government should have long ago done the
necessary, and continued to do so.

The minister should now bite the bullet and do what must be done. The worst
that can happen is that thereafter he has to join Simba Makoni, Herbert
Murerwa, Nkosana Moyo and many others as ex-ministers, having bravely
addressed national needs as priority over politically dictated and misguided

After 20 years of talking about it, but only very little actually done, the
minister must lead government into a determined, implemented programme of
parastatal privatisation. Not only would the disposal proceeds significantly
contribute to the funding of much overdue, vitally necessary and urgent
infrastructural development and refurbishment (thereby reducing the burden
upon fiscal revenues), but privatisation will, if constructively pursued,
with appropriate strategic partners, enhance the operations of the
parastatals, thereby benefiting the economy and the populace, instead of
continuance of the pronouncedly inadequate service delivery of bodies such
as Zesa and Zinwa.

The minister should have the courage to repeal the ill-conceived, unjust and
nationally despised recently introduced obligation to pay import duties and
taxes on luxuries (actual and so-called) in foreign exchange. Undoubtedly
the state had two key motivations for this foolhardy legislation.

On the one hand, the state is as desperate as is the private sector and the
majority of the populace to access foreign exchange, and undoubtedly
perceived imposition of this measure as an immense opportunity for a foreign
exchange windfall into the fiscal coffers. On the other hand, government
probably thought that, to the extent that imports of "luxuries" are not
funded from non-Zimbabwean sources, the new policy would discourage recourse
to the parallel and black markets.

However, the reality is that, to some major extent, the foreign exchange
requirement is now deterring foreign family, friends and business associates
from gifting goods to Zimbabweans, thereby depriving them of pleasures and
needs, and compounding national scarcities, and that many are now resorting
even more to the alternative markets to access the additional foreign
exchange now required.

Moreover, many of the gazetted products subject to foreign exchange payment
of duties and taxes are not, in fact, luxuries.

In order to stimulate economic recovery and growth, the minister needs to
review the grossly inadequate economic incentives that presently
characterise Zimbabwean taxation. For many years his officials have
incorrectly contended that incentives are prohibitively costly for the
fiscus, but that contention is a marked misconception, without foundation.
If an incentive is linked to increased economic performance, thereby
generating much-needed foreign exchange, increased productivity, and greater
downstream, of the exporter, economic activity.

However, the incentives should not motivate the export of commodities
critically needed by, and inadequately supplied to, local industry. An
example of such commodities is cotton, which is heavily exported by the
ginners without substantive value-addition, while Zimbabwe's textile
industry operations are constrained by non-availability of adequate cotton
supplies. Such commodity exports should not be rewarded by incentives, but
discouraged by imposition of an export tax.

In like manner to the creation of real export incentives, so too should
government incentivise import substitution, and especially so when it is
based upon value addition to Zimbabwean primary products. Targetting at
attaining increased productivity, and thereby containing inflation,
incentives should also be given for personnel training expenditures, and for
plant, machinery and equipment enhancement (for which current capital
allowances are insignificantly small and most inadequate).

And, as one of Zimbabwe's greatest social-economic problems is the magnitude
of unemployment (within the formal sector), commerce and industry, mining,
agriculture, tourism, the distributive and services sectors should be
incentivised towards meaningful job creation.

Having regard to the immense cost burden of healthcare and education for
much of the population, the minister should demonstrate governmental
compassion by according suppliers thereof zero-rating status for purposes of
value-added tax (VAT), instead of exempt status on their services. This
would mean that their operational inputs would no longer be subject to VAT,
and therefore the costs of that tax sustained by those suppliers would not
be passed on to patients and students, and hence a cost reduction for them
of up to 15%.

These are but a few of the constructive measures needed in the very overdue
supplementary budget which, hopefully, will not be subject to any further
prolonged delay. The economy and the Zimbabwean population are bleeding, and
government must not delay in stemming the flow of blood.

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