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      Can MDC upset the ZANU PF apple-cart?

      Charles Rukuni
      3/17/2005 8:01:33 AM (GMT +2)

      IT will be a tough fight. But while the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) is not likely to spring a surprise victory in the
March 31 elections, it should be able to stop the ruling ZANU PF from
winning the two-thirds majority that the party is so desperate to clinch.

      The MDC's worst enemy will be apathy. Most of its supporters may not
have registered to vote following the party's threats to boycott all
elections including the coming elections if the government did not level the
playing field.
      Though the government has ostensibly opened the airwaves to all
parties contesting the elections, the electronic media seems to be favouring
ZANU PF candidates, those from three smaller parties that are not a threat
to the ruling party, as well as independent candidates who have no chance of
upsetting the cart.
      Five political parties are contesting the elections with ZANU PF and
the MDC contesting all 120 seats at stake.
      The Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU Ndonga) is contesting 15,
including Chipinge, where the party has never been beaten since
independence. Party president Wilson Kumbula presently holds the seat.
      The Zimbabwe People's Democratic Party (ZPDP), which claims to have
been in existence since 1991 and says it was formed to stop ZANU PF from
introducing a one-party state, is fielding only one candidate in the MDC
stronghold of Glen View in Harare. The party is led by Isabel Madangure but
she is not contesting the elections, saying she is waiting her turn in 2008.
      The little known Zimbabwe Youth Alliance, whose acronym ZIYA means
sweat, is contesting three seats, one in Glen Norah, an MDC stronghold,
another in Buhera North which was held by ZANU PF and Chirumanzu also held
      Sixteen independent candidates, among them former information minister
and President Robert Mugabe's propaganda chief Jonathan Moyo and former ZANU
PF provincial chairman for Matabeleland South, Lloyd Siyoka, suspended for
attending the infamous Tsholotsho meeting, are contesting the elections.
      Three MDC MPs are also contesting as independents. These are Silas
Chingono of Masvingo, Dunmore Makuwaza of Mbare and Peter Nyoni of Hwange.
      Margaret Dongo, who made history in the 1990s when she won the Harare
Central seat after standing as an independent when she fell out with the
ZANU PF leadership, is once again standing in that constituency as an
      The only independent candidate who seems to have a chance is Jonathan
Moyo unless the people of Tsholotsho are misleading him just like the people
of Chipinge have misled ZANU PF over the years by packing stadiums when it
addresses rallies on the area only to vote ZANU (Ndonga) at elections.
      ZANU PF has several advantages in the coming elections, the biggest
being that of incumbency. It has access to state machinery and this enables
it to campaign freely and widely.
      It also has the cash. The party was awarded $3.38 billion last month
under the Political Parties Finance Act. It has access to the state media
both electronic and print.
      While the MDC also has cash because it was awarded Z$3.12 billion
under the Political Parties Finance Act last month, it has very little
access to the mainstream electronic and print media. The only independent
daily at the moment, the Daily Mirror, has a very small circulation and is
widely considered to be sympathetic to ZANU PF.
      Another major disadvantage is that the MDC lost three seats before the
race had even begun. It lost one seat in Bulawayo, one in Matabeleland South
and one in Harare which were scrapped during the delimitation exercise. They
were awarded to areas sympathetic to ZANU PF, one in Mashonaland West, one
in Mashonaland East and one in Manicaland.
      A province-by-province analysis shows that the MDC could sweep all the
seven seats in Bulawayo. It had eight seats in the previous elections.
      It could win six of the seven seats in Matabeleland South. Though ZANU
PF currently holds three seats in the province, Beitbridge, Gwanda South and
Insiza, it could lose Beitbridge because Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi,
who won the seat in 2000, is facing a serious challenge from former
provincial chairman Lloyd Siyoka.
      This could split the vote in favour of the MDC candidate but Mohadi is
a tough candidate to beat because of his dollar power.
      There will be a tough fight in Gwanda where two constituencies, one
which was held by ZANU PF and the other by the MDC, were merged.
      Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Abednico Ncube who won Gwanda South is
standing against MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi who won Gwanda North in
2000. The seat could go either way but the scales are in favour of Nyathi.
      There is little doubt that Andrew Langa, the current MP for Insiza,
could retain the seat perhaps becoming the only ruling party MP in the whole
      The MDC could also sweep all seats in Matabeleland North except
Tsholotsho where Jonathan Moyo is widely expected to win. The MDC won all
seven seats in 2000 and lost Lupane through a by-election. It is likely to
regain that seat. If Moyo loses in Tsholotsho, this could be the end of his
political career.
      The MDC is likely to win all 18 seats in Harare. It may face stiff
challenge in Zengeza currently held by ZANU PF through a by-election but
observers say it is likely to win the day. The MDC is likely to pull through
even in Mbare where Dunmore Makuwaza may to spoil things.
      The MDC could pull off four seats in Manicaland, three urban seats in
Mutare and Chimanimani where jailed MP Roy Bennett's nomination papers will
be considered following a ruling by the Electoral Court.
      Some observers say it could retain Nyanga though it has dropped
Leonard Chirowanzira and replaced him with Douglas Mwonzora.
      It is not likely to win any seats in Mashonaland East and Central, but
could pull two or three seats in Mashonaland West, especially in the urban
centres and constituencies that take in both rural and urban voters like the
newly created Manyame.
      In Masvingo, though a ZANU PF stronghold, people in this province tend
to show strong feelings if the party imposes candidates on them. The MDC
could win one or two urban seats. It could also walk away with three seats
in the Midlands.
      The MDC could therefore walk away with at least 49 seats. If Chipinge
goes to ZANU and Tsholotsho to Moyo, this will stop ZANU PF from winning a
two-thirds majority.
      ZANU PF is after a two-thirds majority to override the people's
rejection of a new constitution in 2000. While the party says it wants to
create a senate that will comprise mature politicians who will scrutinise
legislation before it is signed into law, some critics say the whole idea is
a ploy to reward party loyalists.

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      Mbeki ruffles MDC feathers

      Hama Saburi
      3/17/2005 8:02:08 AM (GMT +2)

      SOUTH Africa's reading of the political climate preceding the
watershed March 31 polls might have lessened anxiety within the ruling ZANU
PF, out to please its regional peers, but it has certainly touched raw
nerves within the main opposition - the Movement for Democratic Change

      Thabo Mbeki, the South African leader at the centre of trying to mend
gaping political wounds inflicted by the feuding ZANU PF and its main rival
the MDC has, in recent weeks, tacitly thrown his weight behind President
Robert Mugabe's electoral reforms.
      Mbeki's viewpoint, which has the obvious support of Africa's ruling
liberation movements, courted the ire of the MDC which, for the third time,
would be attempting to dislodge ZANU PF from power.
      To some extent, Mbeki's views have also poured cold water on mounting
United States and Britain's opposition against President Mugabe's
government, accused of human rights abuses and bad governance.
      Welshman Ncube, the MDC secretary general, came up with a scathing
attack of the South African government this week.
      Ncube, a key figure in the failed MDC/ZANU PF talks, said his party is
perplexed by South Africa's claims that the elections would be free and fair
and by its claims that it does not see any problem in the electoral system.
      "The MDC does not understand the South African government's ignorance
about the situation in Zimbabwe and the basis for such optimism and believes
that the position adopted by the South African government is not only
misinformed, but also dangerously premature," he said.
      Analysts this week said the MDC had reacted unfairly to Mbeki, seen as
the only influential African leader capable of resolving the delicate
Zimbabwean crisis that reared its ugly head after the disputed 2000
parliamentary elections before worsening in 2002.
      Joseph Kurebwa, a local political analyst, said there had always been
no love lost between the MDC and Mbeki.
      "Its really nothing new, they (MDC) have been clearly disrespectful of
Mbeki. They are a number of landmarks in recent history pointing to Mbeki
and the MDC not being friendly," said Kurebwa.
      Last year the MDC almost dragged Mbeki to court to force the South
African leader to release a report that was to help the party fight its
court case against President Mugabe. The MDC later backtracked on the idea.
      In the past, the main opposition has also questioned Mbeki's widely
discredited quiet diplomacy, which has so far failed to bring about a
negotiated political settlement.
      Kurebwa said while the playing field is not as level as the opposition
parties would have wanted, it has certainly taken a turn for the better when
compared with previous election periods.
      He said: "It appears Mbeki was referring to free and fair election in
the context of the government having significantly levelled the playing
field in compliance with SADC (Southern African Development Community)
guidelines. There is a vast change over the 2000 elections, which were a
      It is also normal, said other analysts, for the opposition to issue
out statements critiquing the election process to whip up emotions and draw
sympathy from voters.
      The MDC secretary general however, said that it is clear to each and
every objective observer that conditions for a free and fair election do not
exist in Zimbabwe.
      Ncube said there is nothing on the ground to suggest that the
elections would be free and fair, or indeed legitimate, adding the
environment is worse than it was during the March 2002 presidential
      To back up its case, the MDC is citing the voters' roll, which is
still in a shambles, violence and intimidation and equal access to the state
media, which has remained a myth despite the SADC guidelines.
      The main opposition said the elections are being managed and run by
the same biased electoral bodies, which have manipulated the electoral
process to the political advantage of ZANU PF, not withstanding the
existence of the so-called new independent electoral commission, which it
said has failed to impress its authority over the old institutions.
      The MDC further alleges its meetings and rallies continue to be banned
or disrupted by the police under the notorious Public Order and Security
      Lovemore Madhuku, the chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly
(NCA) said the MDC should have known what lay ahead when it chose to
participate in the elections early this year.
      On announcing the decision to participate, the opposition party said
it was doing so "with a heavy heart" and "under protest".
      Madhuku however, said it was ill-advised for the MDC to expect
fundamental changes to the electoral process, adding: "These are the kind of
things that were obvious. This is why the NCA said the MDC has a choice not
to participate and demand overall constitutional changes.
      The NCA chairman, who has been unequivocally lobbying for a new
constitution, said if Ncube is so serious about the electoral flaws
highlighted, then he should influence the MDC to pull out of the race.
      "All that Ncube said constitutes a basis for withdrawing from the
elections and not a basis for rejecting the outcome," he said. "Should they
participate, objecting to the outcome would be overweighed by the fact that
they found it necessary to participate."
      Madhuku said Mbeki had not been well-informed about the problem in
      "Mbeki obviously was informed that free and fair elections would
resolve the problem and yet it is the overall constitutional reforms that
would work," said Madhuku.
      The MDC however, urged the South African government to re-think the
wisdom of publicly expressing its confidence in the capacity of President
Mugabe and ZANU PF to host free and fair elections when there is a dearth of
evidence on the ground to support such an optimistic outlook."
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      Early days yet for country's inflation

      Rangarirai Mberi
      3/17/2005 8:02:30 AM (GMT +2)

      THE slowdown in inflation, after an unexpected rise in January, has
soothed worries at the central bank, but there is little doubt that the
post-election inflation picture may not be as rosy as February's decline
would suggest.

      The Central Statistical Office (CSO) reported recently that inflation
decelerated to 127.2 percent in February year-on-year, down from 133.6
percent in January. Month-on-month inflation also rose by 3.1 percent, the
CSO reported, slower than January's 14.1 percent increase.
      That January figure had come on a 0.9 percentage rise, the first time
the rate of inflation had risen in the 12 months since the 622.9 percent
peak of January last year.
      A worrying consensus has emerged among observers on where they see
inflation heading in the medium to long term.
      "The inflation rate has come down; fine, but is the willpower and
ability there within government to keep the rate down in the long term? I
don't think so, and most people don't either," said one bank chief executive
officer, requesting anonymity.
      Government's decision to suppress fuel prices ahead of the election, a
roaring foreign currency black market, an expected poor harvest, more state
spending on ex-political prisoners and increased government spending are
factors for the RBZ, to watch in the coming months, critics say.
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      After Robert Mugabe, the flood?

      3/17/2005 8:11:07 AM (GMT +2)

      Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Is he power-crazed? Clinging to his
position and, like Madam de Pompadour, celebrated beauty and intimate of
King Louis XV of France, taking the attitude that "after me, the flood"?

      Is this man putting his people through an economic and social meltdown
simply because he wants to continue ruling the country?
      It would be easy to say that he is all these things. In fact, in
Western capitals, and in sections of South African and Batswana society,
this is exactly how the Zimbabwe President is being cast.
      It has been found easy - and intellectually lazy, I believe - to cast
this man in the role of a bloodthirsty, uncaring, unfeeling ogre.
      Even in the face of one of the highest inflation rates in the world,
alarming unemployment and a breakdown of civil services, he still will not
go. He is a bad man, the megaphone diplomats tell us.
      But I believe that President Mugabe's detractors are doing themselves
a disservice. By believing their own hype, they are deliberately choosing
not to understand the real issue.
      And, as any good strategist will tell you, one does not solve a
problem that one doesn't understand. Once you have understood your problem,
coming up with a strategy to solve it is a walk in the park.
      This is the main reason President Mugabe's detractors are shooting
blanks. They do not understand that they are up against the most powerful
motivation known to man.
      Put simply, President Mugabe is fighting for his legacy. And when a
man is fighting for his legacy, he has got everything to lose.
      President Mugabe, I believe, does not want to go down in history
simply as the first executive President of Zimbabwe.
      Being so determined to leave an indelible mark on the history of this
country and the continent, he has genuinely identified land as the issue
that will define his entire career.
      He is gambling that on the land issue, history will judge him very
favourably - and I believe that it will.
      Despite the multiple farm ownership sagas and all the other wrongs
that came with the land reform exercise, by and large, everyone, including
his critics, agree that the land question had to be settled.
      But most importantly, I also believe that for President Mugabe,
retiring or resigning before settling the land question would basically have
negated his entire struggle. It would have meant the struggle he waged, the
years spent in jail and all the rest of it would have come to absolutely
      President Mugabe himself has said that "we went to war because land .
. .", and he has also previously pointed out that people did not die
fighting just for black people to be allowed to live in Borrowdale and to
walk in First Street.
      In other words, getting land back was the primary motivation for the
war that liberated Zimbabwe from Ian Smith's unilateral declaration of
independence (UDI) and colonial rule.
      So, when the President's opponents started off by labeling his land
crusade of the late 1990s a "political gimmick", that was the biggest
blunder they could ever make, strategically.
      They were belittling the very foundation upon which President Mugabe
seeks to build his legacy, dismissing the entire point of his whole career.
      Now, you can see how a man treated like that would dig his heels in.
He became convinced that, should he leave the scene, no one would ensure
that equitable distribution of land was achieved - if they could dismiss it
as a political gimmick
      Then, once the land exercise was under way, the very same detractors
sought to convince the world that it was because of the way he was seeking
to settle the land question that Zimbabwe was now a basket case - an
argument that is itself arguable.
      Surely, his critics were aware that, once they had issued this
accusation, the President would then want to stay on and ensure that when he
left office, the wrongs committed in the process of redistributing land were
righted, and righted in a way that protected his legacy?
      Indeed, for a man fighting for his legacy, to leave the stage while he
is being booed is a non-starter, because he will be leaving knowing that his
legacy has been discredited. And wrongfully so, he would say.
      Better to exit with applause ringing in his ears. That way, his
legacy, that which will define him and his struggle in the history books,
will be secured.
      What he wants is victory. Because, shrewd as the man is, he knows that
history is written by the victors in any war. Their side of the story is
what becomes definitive history, true history.
      The only thing President Mugabe can be accused of is that he failed to
cover his flanks as he went to "war" on the land issue in the late 1990s.
His entire being was consumed by this fight and the ministers he had at that
time, without guidance from him, failed to cover the flanks - which are
primarily the economy and social services.
      Being ostracised is not a death sentence to the economy of a country,
as Smith demonstrated in the age of UDI. Prior to declaring UDI, he lined up
his ducks, made sure there was enough foreign currency, made contingency
plans to bust sanctions, and generally braced the country for the onslaught
he knew would follow.
      In this instance, President Mugabe's ministers of finance, trade,
health and all the other suffering areas of the economy failed to put such
contingency measures in place, even after President Mugabe alerted them in a
Cabinet meeting that he was about to invite the wrath of the monied West by
appropriating land and not paying "a cent" for it.
      And instead of exercising fiscal restraint in the run-up to this
momentous decision on land, the government dished out billions of dollars to
veterans of the country's 1970s independence war.
      Then, to compound the mistake, ministers deserted their posts and
joined the stampede for multiple farms.
      It is clear that we have gone too far down the road for the
President's detractors to convince him that, if he leaves office today, his
legacy is secure and the land reform exercise will not be reversed. Now he
is determined to see it through to a clean end.
      Those who continue to try and score cheap political points by
belittling his crusade to "return stolen property" are only ensuring that he
digs his heels in further.
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      Survey projects high turnout

      Staff Reporter
      3/17/2005 7:56:46 AM (GMT +2)

      A MASS Public Opinion Institute (MPOI) pre-poll survey has found that
of the 46 percent decided Zimbabwean voters, 30 percent would vote for the
ruling ZANU PF, while only 16 percent would vote for the main opposition
party, MDC.

      The survey, whose results were released this week, was conducted
between December 2004 and January 2005, before the MDC discontinued its
boycott of all elections, which had been in place since last August.
      "On the most crucial question of voter preferences, thirty in hundred
Zimbabweans intend to vote for the ruling ZANU PF party while nearly sixteen
in hundred Zimbabweans expressed their preference for the main opposition
MDC party.
      "So 46 percent of Zimbabweans can be said to be hard-core party
supporters who have firm voting preferences. Of major significance too is
that up to 45 percent out of every 100 potential voters are undecided, a
vast reservoir that awaits harnessing by the political gladiators," MPOI
      Charles Mangongera, the principal researcher at MPOI, told The
Financial Gazette that his institute had done another survey closer to the
election date to capture the impact of recent developments on the political
      "It should be emphasised that the survey was in the context of the
suspension by the MDC of its participation in all national elections because
of the alleged uneven electoral playing field. This suspension has since
been lifted and the MDC has already
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      registered its candidates to contest. We have just done another survey
to gauge the voter preferences as things have changed and we have a host of
independent candidates," Mangongera said.
      The survey also found that 70 percent of the respondents were
registered voters, while the remainder cited handicaps such as not knowing
where to register, procrastination and not having vital documents such as
birth registration certificates. The majority of the respondents did not
bother to inspect the voters' roll.
      "Apparently and unexpectedly in light of some persistent assertions
about the state of the voters' roll, nearly three quarters of the electorate
say they trust the voters' roll.
      Also contrary to projections of widespread apathy, MPOI found that 86
percent of the respondents declared their intention to vote in the March 31
poll. It was also found that 90 percent thought elections are important,
with 80 percent saying they believed elections influenced their life.
      The survey also established that the majority of Zimbabweans are not
conversant with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) principles
and guidelines on free and fair elections.
      The survey showed that out of 1 200 respondents, only 16 percent were
aware of the SADC guidelines.
      A slightly bigger minority representing about 28 percent of the
respondents said they knew about the electoral reforms introduced by the
government in the run-up to the polls while the rest displayed total
ignorance of the electoral reforms.
      On the decision to have people vote in only one day, just over half
were not supportive of this innovation while a third of Zimbabweans were
supportive. The survey also reveals support for translucent ballot boxes
with 55 out of 100 Zimbabweans welcoming the boxes while a third registered
their disapproval.
      As for the counting of ballots at the polling stations, six in ten
were supportive but nearly a quarter were against the counting the votes at
polling stations.
      The MPOI survey, carried in the old and new resettlement areas, low
and high-density suburbs and communal and commercial farming areas, also
dwelt on voter registration, food aid and distribution and political
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      Mawere blames Mugabe for downfall

      Staff Reporter
      3/17/2005 7:57:23 AM (GMT +2)

      TROUBLED tycoon Mutumwa Mawere, who is battling to retain control of
his vast business empire, has launched a scathing attack on President Robert
Mugabe, accusing him of orchestrating his downfall.

      The increasingly desperate Mawere, whose aggressive acquisitive
business culture saw him benefit from government support in the form of
guarantees, was the subject of a failed extradition attempt by Zimbabwean
police, who say they want him to face fraud charges involving $300 billion.
      The businessman denies the charges, saying he is the victim of a murky
political plot.
      Mawere this week wrote to President Mugabe, accusing him of making
defamatory statements.
      "I have read with concern a press article published by the Herald on
Monday, February 28 2005, in which you were quoted as having made a number
of defamatory statements about me and the companies I am associated with.
You were quoted as having said that I was "so corrupt that I bought Shabanie
and Mashava Mines through fraudulent means" and that I had established
Southern Asbestos Sales, a company incorporated in South Africa, with the
deliberate intention of foreign exchange externalisation. The two
accusations are at the core of the harassment I have endured since May 2004.
      "I had naïvely thought that there was a genuine intention on the part
of the government of Zimbabwe to pursue justice and uncover the truth but it
appears that there is a well orchestrated plan to strip me of my assets
using state machinery accompanied by intensified propaganda.
      "Your intervention on a matter that your government has been
purporting to investigate and on which the courts are competent to
adjudicate, leaves me with the inescapable conclusion that the source of my
trouble lie (sic) squarely in your office. Although we are challenging the
illegal methods used to acquire my assets, I am concerned that it appears
from the statements alleged to have been made by you that the real force
behind (state-appointed SMM administrator Afaras) Gwaradzimba and (Edwin)
Manikai in their crusade to strip me of all my assets is your office. If
this is true, I think the public and all asset-owning people with interests
in Zimbabwe have a reason to be concerned," Mawere wrote.
      He claimed he had written to
      inform the public on his "politically motivated" predicament as well
as the President's "irregular nature of intervention on matters the courts
are competent to resolve."
      "Firstly, it is important to note that I have not been convicted of
any crime in any jurisdiction. Equally, I am not facing any pending criminal
charges and yet you saw it fit to convict me in the eyes of the public when
it is common cause that the government's attempt to extradite me on trumped
up charges was dismissed in the South African courts, notwithstanding the
fact that the government was given 30 days to come up with a case. Having
failed to come up with any charges, the government then proceeded to specify
me on charges of corruption and yet the basis of the extradition application
was externalisation."
      Mawere is currently challenging a proposed rights offer at Zimre
Holdings Limited (ZHL), a diversified insurance group in which his
controlling interest is imperiled, should the capital raising initiative go
      Several other businesses linked to Mawere were specified, along with
the businessman, last July.
      Before his problems spilled into the public domain, Mawere was linked
to ruling party stalwarts, mainly ZANU PF legal affairs secretary and
parliament speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa whose political star has been on the
wane since the Tsholotsho debacle. The two are reported to have fallen out
over a battle to control First Banking Corporation (FBC), now FBC Holdings,
in which Mawere was a founding shareholder but has now been elbowed out as
ZANU PF increases its influence within the group.
      Mawere was also reported to have easy access to President Mugabe. The
businessman would regularly call on the President, often in the company of
current and potential business partners.
      Last year, Mawere, who has been resident in South Africa since 1995,
turned down a position within the ZANU PF Midlands provincial executive, to
which he had been elected in absentia as a sign of confidence the
establishment had in him. It has all turned sour, leaving the affable tycoon
a very bitter man.
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      Govt debt soars to $5.8 trillion

      Nelson Banya
      3/17/2005 7:58:19 AM (GMT +2)

      FISCAL stimulus measures adopted by the central bank to induce
supply-side responses through heavy capital injections into the productive,
parastatal and municipal sectors have driven the government's internal debt
to $5.8 trillion, up from just over $1.3 trillion a year ago.

      According to central bank statistics, government debt, mainly made up
of treasury bills, government stocks and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
overdraft, stood at $5.8 trillion last Friday.
      The bulk of the debt is in the form of treasury bills worth $2.25
trillion and attracting interest of $2.94 trillion. Government stocks
account for $456.56 billion.
      The figures also reflected an expansion in RBZ advances to the
government, which maintained a positive cash balance on its account for long
periods last year.
      Although central bank advances to the government were down to $161
billion last Friday, recent weeks have seen peaks exceeding $700 billion.
      Analysts have always urged the central bank to ensure that the
government overdraft remains within the statutory limit of 20 percent of the
previous year's revenue, as stipulated by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act.
      Based on last year's total revenue of $7.87 trillion, this year's
statutory limit is $1.574 trillion.
      Failure to rein in government expenditure would result in the creation
of excess money, a situation inimical to current efforts to check inflation.
      Broad money supply growth, which was around 450 percent at the
beginning of 2004, closed the year at around 150 percent, a situation
reflected in declining inflation figures.
      Annualised inflation declined from a January 2004 peak of 622.8
percent to 132 percent by December 2004. The central bank projects a
year-end rate in the 20 to 35 percent range.
      However, government debt is expected to continue rising on the back of
debt rescheduling and liquidity management efforts by the RBZ, as well as
the need to finance the budget deficit of $4.5 trillion.

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      Diasporans to hold mock elections

      Felix Njini
      3/17/2005 8:00:21 AM (GMT +2)

      IRATE non-resident Zimbabweans, who have been barred from taking part
in the March 31 parliamentary polls, are going to stage mock elections on
that same day to express their anger at being excluded from the polls.

      The Diaspora Vote Action Group (DVAG), which recently laun-ched a
legal challenge to be allowed to vote in their current domiciles, said it
was going to stage mock elections in various parts of the world.
      The South Africa chapter of the DVAG said will conduct the elections
in Pretoria, in front of the Zimba-bwean embassy.
      The elections will also be followed by demonstrations, said
spokesperson for the movement, Daniel Molokela who is also a human rights
      Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) from Zimbabwe and South Africa
as well as human rights activists from that country are also expected to
join hands in picketing the embassy.
      Molokela said Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition was playing an instrumental
role in organising the mock elections.
      Other mock elections are also planned in Australia and United Kingdom.
Both countries have significant populations of Zimbabweans resident there.
      It is estimated that more 3.4 million Zimbabweans, who are eligible
voters, are living and working abroad.
      More than two million Zimbabweans are estimated to be living and
working in neighbouring South Africa. Molokela said more than 12 buses would
be used to pick up Zimbabweans from designated points to Pretoria for the
mock elections.
      "Voting will be done in Pretoria at the Zimbabwean embassy where
polling booths are going to be erected. After the elections there will be
picketing where solidarity speeches will be delivered," Molokela told The
Financial Gazette.
      "We want to register our concern about the failure of democracy in
Zimbabwe, to tell the whole world that we are not happy at being excluded
from voting in our motherland," he said.
      Molokela also said his group had concerns over Zimbabwe's election
processes, which he said had a lot of shortcomings.
      Concerns over Harare's ability to conduct free and fair polls also
comes at a time when government has invited observers from friendly nations,
while spurning perceived critics of the ZANU PF government.
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      Southern Times prints paltry 2 000 copies

      Felix Njini
      3/17/2005 7:59:06 AM (GMT +2)

      THE Southern Times, a joint Zimbabwean and Namibian newspaper project
launched to shore up the faltering fortunes of regional leftwing
revolutionary political parties, has hit troubled waters.

      It has been established the regional propaganda project, launched amid
pomp and fanfare in September last year, is struggling to remain afloat.
      The newspaper project, cobbled up to spearhead attempts by the region's
liberation movements now in government to ward off a new wave of demands for
greater democratisation, had become a drain on the financial resources of
the Zimbabwean and Namibian governments, its main promoters.
      The government-controlled Zimbabwe Newspa-pers and Namibia's New Era
Publications are managing the project.
      The weekly paper, which had hoped to exploit the sympathy of the
regional advertising market, has failed to make an impact. Instead, the
paper has sparked what insiders at the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-quoted
Zimpapers say is an unsustainable financial haemorrhaging at the publishing
      According to sources, the biggest newspaper publishing concern in
Zimbabwe has so far coughed up in excess of $2 billion in production costs
since the troubled paper was launched.
      Sources said the paper's print run was drastically reduced for last
Sunday's issue, which was only distributed locally. They said the paper
almost failed to come out this week adding that only 2 000 copies were
printed for the local market. This, they said, indicated the future of the
weekly hung in the balance. Normally, copies of the paper are also
circulated in Namibia and Zambia. The paper is printed by Natprint, another
Zimpapers subsidiary.
      The editor of the paper Moses Magadza, who reliable sources say is
being paid in foreign currency, is understood to be jittery over the
uncertainty surrounding the paper.
      Press reports early this month indicated the paper had failed to
penetrate its intended market amid revelations it had sold only 20 000
copies throughout the region in its first eight weeks.
      Sources linked the apparent death spasms of the newspaper project to
the unceremonious departure of former information minister, Jona-than Moyo,
who played an instrumental role in its establishment.
      The Southern Times would be just one of Moyo's floundering
initiatives, including the long-stalled vernacular National TV project and
musical band Pax Afro, which has followed the mercurial former minister off
the stage.
      State media reports this week indicated Moyo had told a rally in
Tsho-lotsho, where he is standing as an independent candidate, he would seek
to establish newspapers to publicise his projects.
      It was not immediately clear whether the Frank-enstein monster he
created in the form of the Media and Info-rmation Commission would not come
back to haunt him in his reported plans to establish newspapers now that he
is on the other side of the political divide.
      During his tenure as the infamous information minister, Moyo also
presided over the establishment of other Zimpapers publications such as the
New Farmer, Zim Travel and Trends magazines.
      Contacted for comment, Zimpapers board chairman Herbert Nkala flatly
denied The Southern Times project was in trouble.
      Nkala said Moyo's departure would not have any impact on the
broadsheet, adding that the paper was gaining tremendous support.
      "How many ministers have changed since Zimpapers was formed and has
that dragged down the company or any of its projects?" Nkala asked.
      "We are in the business of printing and publishing newspapers with our
partners at the New Era Publications and talk that the newspaper is in
trouble is not correct," Nkala said, although well-placed sources indicated
this week the Namibians were no longer interested in the project.
      "We only print according to demand but I cannot tell you those
figures. This is a project owned by two very strong shareholders. There is
no talk of it going down," Nkala said.
      He claimed copies for the Zambian and Namibian markets were being sent
by road.
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      Zero tolerance

      3/17/2005 8:00:51 AM (GMT +2)

      THE forthcoming parliamentary election is a serious trial for Zimbabwe's
political maturity. And the world is watching with keen interest as the
major players start girding their loins for the political high stakes in the
elections - hoping to lose as little as possible.

      Unfortunately, no matter how much the people may want to exercise
their universal adult suffrage, the election fever that has gripped the
leadership of the ruling ZANU PF and their counterparts in the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), has seemingly failed dismally to capture the
imagination of the common ruck of folk. Instead there is a deep sense of
trepidation that one can literally cut with a knife. And it is not difficult
to see why.
      Election time in Zimbabwe has always been one of grief and pain
despite the ordinary citizens' quest for untainted, indisputable free and
universal elections. What with the orgy of violence, intimidation and
systematic bullying of opponents? For a long time now, the country's
citizens have suffered the consequences of intolerance of political
opponents and deep-seated hatred for compromise - the birthmark of the
country's politics.
      It is well-documented that in the presidential election of 2002 and
the parliamentary election of two years earlier, Zimbabwe slid into a sad
theatre of political bigotry where ordinary Zimbabweans felt the sharpest
edge of the knife. The chaos, brutality and purposeless sadism in which
ordinary Zimbabweans were turned into pawns in the country's tragicomic
political chess game, was the height of madness.
      And what has been the upshot of it all: Terrible and irretrievable
losses in terms of precious human lives and property - a visible reminder of
the terrible aura of Zimbabwean elections in its starkest form. That is why
we believe that the issue of political violence should be placed on the
pre-election political stage. It indeed should be an election issue just
like health, education, jobs and the economy because it involves people's
lives. Not only that, but Zimbabwe also needs to have a decisive rupture
with its immediate violent past because this was a tragedy that should never
be allowed to happen again.
      It is an understatement of significant proportions to say that the
insanity of the past five years has left permanent emotional scars among
disenfranchised whole families, orphaned children and wrought division,
frustration, anger and hatred among the country's citizenry. Indeed there
are no big enough words to describe the sad story. It is like saying the sea
is wet. Suffice it to say that the trauma spawned by this violence will
haunt the nation for years to come when political skeletons from times past
inevitably come tumbling out of the closet.
      Indeed political violence has been one of the country's biggest curses
and curses, like chickens, usually have the habit of coming home to roost -
it has dampened voter enthusiasm and severely damaged public confidence in
the country's electoral system. Little wonder therefore that even the
adoption of certain aspects of the SADC guidelines and principles on
democratic elections has failed to bolster the battered voter confidence.
And yet political violence cannot and should not be admissible for whatever
reason. That is if each and every Zimbabwean feels responsible enough to do
something about it and rejects all those politicians who play a subtle but
blunt behind-the-scenes role in fanning the avoidable violence. That is why
the chorus for zero tolerance for political violence is reaching a
      The mind indeed boggles as to how such a civilised country like
Zimbabwe could tolerate something so barbaric when people should be allowed
to organise on the basis of their political convictions.
      The foregoing is the major reason why the March 31 2005 parliamentary
election is attracting priority attention amid political battling,
psychological crises, apathy and in some cases euphoria that usually
accompanies such elections.
      True, for a country accustomed to bloodshed, shootings and wanton
destruction of property in the run-up to a major election, Zimbabwe's
political life has been uncharacteristically calm, even though there is no
telling what might happen in the remaining two weeks.
      What is clear however is that the dangerous tensions that have in the
past torn the nation apart are simmering under. The politically-motivated
violent confrontation is now slowly raising its ugly head, indicating
growing intolerance. Hence the 71 cases of political crimes reported to the
police by mid this week.
      While the reported incidents of political violence are few and far
between, this should not lull us into a false sense of security. If
anything, the cases of violence should provoke alarm and concern among the
peace-loving people of this great nation. Even a single such incident is one
too many in Zimbabwe's endless search out of the vicious circle for a way
towards the democratic renewal of the country.
      The dangerous political zealotry should be nipped in the bud lest the
country's political life could be poisoned again. Zimbabweans have to accept
that difference is a real factor in politics and learn to co-exist with
those with different political views.
      Even Christian churches in their multitudes subscribe to the belief
that the Lord Jesus Christ walked on earth 2005 years ago. But that is as
far as the unanimity goes. They do no draw the same conclusions about how to
live now. And so it should be with politics. We have said it before and we
will say it again. Consensus of opinion is not a virtue in politics. People
should learn to agree to disagree. In any case, as we have so often reminded
Zimbabweans, no politician is worth killing or dying for. None whatsoever.
Zimbabweans have to remember this as they join together in silent reflection
and memory of those maimed, raped and murdered by political attack dogs!
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      ...and now to the Notebook

      3/17/2005 7:52:41 AM (GMT +2)


      Our newly appointed attorney-general, Sobuza Gula-Ndebele, was
recently quoted as saying that chefs should regularly declare the sources of
their wealth, or something to that effect, as one way of keeping high-level
graft in check.

      Sounds like a brilliant idea. A really brilliant idea from a guy whom
we are made to believe is a brilliant lawyer.
      But the problem here is that the seemingly well-intentioned man doesn't
seem to know how some of his predecessors left that office! Should we remind
him that first and foremost, he is employed to protect the people to whom
this country personally belongs?
      Imagine a nobody like him knocking at the door of some minister to
harass him with such pesky questions like where he got money for his new
socks, his new spectacles, his children's toys, his wife's shopping sprees,
the mansions, etc, etc. That would be too much, wouldn't it?
      Just imagine getting our leaders - most of whom officially earn much
less than some pick-pockets at Mbare Musika - to explain the huge variation
between their earnings and the jaw-dropping riches they have accumulated in
no time!
      Will they tell you that they got so much in kickbacks from this or
that project, so much in signature fees from this and that investor or
abused this or that facility? Or that it is pure theft or plunder of public
resources for individual gain that has made them this embarrassingly rich?
      Actually, some people will not even explain where they are getting
money to buy the computers that they are haphazardly donating to schools
daily, including to those without electricity!
      Anyway, with these so-called land reforms, everyone will tell you that
they are rich because they work hard on the land even on those farms where
the land is still virgin.


      In the past two weeks or so, CZ was away. He was out to see how they
do it in other countries so that he remains abreast with developments in the
      A child who does not travel always thinks all mothers cannot cook
well. So CZ needed to compare and contrast. Good, isn't it? To see how
others run their countries (up or down).
      During this absence, CZ missed quite a lot. A lot and a half because
so many things happened when he was away, the saddening of which was the
passing on of Harare governor Witness Mangwende. He will be missed a lot.
      But what CZ dearly missed were those juicy events that curiously
decided to take place when he was not there, of all the time in the world.
      Tell me about this super tenant who was booted from that Gunhill
property on very short notice. What really happened? So where is he staying
right now? In a tree, in a hotel, or sharing with a friend? Sorry to him,
but we told him before that he was dealing with a merciless lot!
      And also tell me about our dear brother, Cde John Singh of the Miss
Tourism World beauty pageant - our new-look Ari Ben-Menashe - whom we are
told after all had been said and done bolted out of the country with a
warrant of arrest in hot pursuit. Unbelievable! Jesus God!
      And there were all other stories: some churches were fined for illegal
dealings in foreign currency; some well-known political thugs, perhaps
realising that thuggery does not pay, start claiming they are born-again
Christians and . . . eeh . . . sister Cde Sekesai Makwavarara finally
sashayed her way into the controversial mayoral mansion! Good for her!


      This time CZ was in the Royal Kingdom of Swaziland, a beautiful, nasty
little mountainous country where some of the most primitive unimaginables
are still happening in broad daylight.
      For the record, it was only through sheer coincidence that CZ found
himself there just in time for the Marula (maganu) Festival. He didn't plan
it to be like that, so who was he to avoid seeing locals partaking of this
highly famed potent drink which spawns some of the craziest stories there?
      The drink, made from a seasonal Marula tree fruit, is saluted locally
as reason why most children there are born in the last quarter of the year.
It is famed to be highly aphoristic, so men - and sometimes women also - who
drink it end up failing to resist the temptation.
      There were stories about some men raping minors, or even going for
chickens after taking this brew . . . that sort of thing.
      However, not everyone agrees with this belief. Some dismiss it as a
mere excuse by brothers to behave the way they do . . . placebo effect.
Remember some Zimbos say the same thing about our own innocent Scud?
      After the Marula Festival in the first quarter of the year, the next
important date on the Swazi calendar is in August. The Reed Dance is in
August and that is when King Mswati picks his next bride from thousands of
half-naked little girls.
      We are doubtful if this year's Reed Dance will take place since there
are already unconfirmed rumours in Mbabane that the king has already helped
himself to a 13-year-old kid.
      Please don't quote me but rumour - strong rumour for that matter - has
it that the man who would otherwise be a plain criminal on any other part of
the earth thought the Reed Dance was too far for him so he decided to help
himself to this little girl.
      This king, young as he is, seems to be missing ordinary simple life
and we are told there are times when the man just disappears from his many
palaces and, disguised, goes into night spots purportedly to do a one-man
survey on what people think of him . . . but in fact to dance the night
      Still on night spots, there is this one somewhere about halfway
between Mbabane and Manzini . . . veterans of the place call it Why Not? In
fact, its full name is "If not, Why not?"
      Those who cared to invite themselves there said the only major
attraction there is the striptease - haplessly poor girls, most of whom come
from Mozambique, dancing in their birthday costumes night in night out in
return for a few coins. Cruel, isn't it?
      One more thing: As soon as CZ arrived there on his short visit,
authorities there announced that blowing one's nose in public had become an
offence. Was this targeting CZ? One wonders.

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      Government in no hurry to delist Hippo Valley land

      Staff Reporter
      3/17/2005 7:46:03 AM (GMT +2)

      LISTED agro concern Hippo Valley Estates Limited is still battling to
recover part of its land listed for compulsory acquisition under the
government's agrarian reform.

      The government exercise, which dispossessed over 4 500 farmers of
their properties, has not spared Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-quoted firms owning
estates despite earlier assurances to the contrary.
      Hippo Valley managing director Sydney Mtsambiwa told The Financial
Gazette this week that his company was still negotiating with the government
in its bid to find a lasting solution to the problem.
      "We are continually engaged in talks with the authorities. We have
deliberated on the issue but that is all I can tell you. Our position has
not changed from the last announcement," said Mtsa-mbiwa.
      Critics of the agrarian reform programme, which began in 2000 and took
the form of invasion of white commercial farmland, say the exercise has only
benefited a few influential government and ruling ZANU PF party officials.
      Spearheaded by veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation war and ZANU PF
supporters, the land reform exercise has seen massive reversals in
agricultural production over the past five years, badly affecting agro-based
      Apart from Hippo Valley, controlled by global mining giant Anglo
America PLC, horticulcture group Interfresh Holdings is also battling to
recover more than 88 percent of its Mazoe Citrus Estates, also listed for
      Repeated pleas from the companies that the seizures and listings were
disrupting production and future investments have so far not yielded any

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      Poverty datum line increases

      Felix Njini
      3/17/2005 7:47:01 AM (GMT +2)

      THE poverty datum line (PDL) has shot up to $1 951 248 in January
2005, an increase of 142 percent over the year, as Zimbabweans continue to
grapple with a worsening economic crisis characterised by high inflation and
rising unemployment.

      A key economic index, the PDL represents the minimum consumption
expenditure necessary to ensure that households consume a minimum food
basket representing 2 100 kilocalories.
      In January 2004, the PDL was $805 887 and closed the year at $1 702
627, according to the latest Central Statistical Office (CSO) data.
      An individual whose total consumption expenditure does not exceed the
food poverty line is deemed to be very poor.
      "This means that poor individuals required that much to purchase both
food and non-food items," CSO said.
      Although inflation, which has since been declared the country's number
one enemy, has declined from a peak of 622 percent in January 2004 to 127
percent in February 2005, the rate is still too high and continues to
decimate incomes.
      The rising breadline also comes at a time when most companies, caught
up in a ballooning web of rising overheads, shrinking profit margins and the
generally depressed economic environment, are mulling salary and wage
      The central bank has also sent an advisory tone to industry warning
against the implications of awarding salary increases out of line with
revenue generated.
      The CSO said the national food poverty line (FPL) per individual stood
at $132 769 as at January 2005.
      "This represents an increase of 8.69 percent over the December figure
of $122 154," the CSO said.
      The FPL has risen by 118.4 percent on the January 2004 figure of $60
789 per person.

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      The ball's in Police Commissioner Chihuri's court

      3/17/2005 8:02:04 AM (GMT +2)

      Dare the apprehensive people of Zimbabwe hope for peaceful and
violence-free parliamentary elections at the end of this month?
      After many traumatic years when the prospect of an impending election
has sent shivers down the nation's collective spine, Zimbabweans desperately
hope that things will be different this time around.

      They hope the tragedy of the past five years when no national or local
government election has not passed without unspeakable acts of violence
being perpetrated against innocent people is a thing of the past. They hope
they have seen the last of horrific incidents in which hundreds were killed
and scores were maimed
      While this terrible carnage took place, political leaders from the
different political parties publicly declared their abhorrence for violence
and pledged their determination to ensure that the atrocities would end. But
lo and behold, the scourge of violent incidents in the build-up and during
polls has continued unabated.
      The question is: who are the desperate culprits who know that they
cannot win elections by convincing the electorate of their worthiness to be
the people's representatives and have to resort to fomenting violence as a
campaign strategy?
      This time round, politicians and the police are, as usual, doing what
they do best at this stage of the pre-election period. They are making all
the right noises and uttering the politically correct warning and sound
bites on the subject of election-related atrocities.
      Speaking the loudest are the police, who launched their anti-violence
campaign some months ago. That was when Police Commissioner Augustine
Chihuri announced with great flourish that the police force was adopting a
zero-tolerance approach in dealing with political violence.
      The police chief raised (false) hopes by stressing that this time
round there would be no sacred cows and all culprits would have to face the
music regardless of political affiliation.
      All well and good, but what does the police commissioner have to show
the nation to prove his commitment to these lofty goals? For all we know,
events have actually served to raise serious questions about the credibility
of the police rhetoric.
      I wrote in this column some months ago when the police first unveiled
their "new" approach that the litmus test as far as their even-handedness
was concerned was how they would deal with pending cases of political
violence involving ruling party politicians.
      One such case involved Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies Minister
Didymus Mutasa, who police had determined had a case to answer in connection
with violent incidents that had taken place in his Makoni North
constituency. Whatever became of this matter about which nothing further has
been heard?
      Mutasa's case, moreover, is not the only one that appears to have been
swept under the carpet. More politicians, including Agriculture Minister
Joseph Made, were accused of fanning violence in a bid to intimidate
opponents during ruling party primary elections. There has been an equally
deafening silence from the police with regard to how these cases of violence
were dealt with.
      As if this lack of action by the police were not bad enough,
newspapers have been awash with disturbing headlines indicating a resurgence
of political violence ahead of the polls at the end of this month. It is
noteworthy that when these reports appear, albeit mainly in the independent
press, the police never bother to comment and enlighten the nation on what
they are doing to bring the situation under control.
      The culture of non-accountability that has taken root in Zimbabwe
seems to have given public officials carte blanche to deceive and mislead
the nation without flinching. These officials have no qualms about making
public declarations about commitments they have no intention whatsoever of
      The police have been accused in the past of dealing with violent
incidents selectively and turning a blind eye on atrocities perpetrated
against opposition party activists.
      It would be too easy for the police to claim that such incidents never
occurred and were fabrications by the private media and opposition parties.
However there are well-known cases when police looked the other way while
terrible things were done to fellow Zimbabweans, offering the lame and
illogical excuse that they had not acted because the disputes concerned were
      Can the police tell the nation how they expect to deal with violence
without fear or favour by steering clear of disputes involving politics?
      If we are to see a genuine improvement this time round, police have to
get serious and stop hiding behind a finger and offering implausible excuses
for their unprofessional dereliction of duty.
      A state-controlled paper reported last Friday that police in
Matabeleland North had met candidates contesting the forthcoming elections
to reinforce President Robert Mugabe's message that violence will not be
tolerated this time round.
      It is fair to say enough talking has been done on this matter. All
that remains is to translate the rhetoric and pledges made so far into
reality. The onus is now on the police to prove they can rise to the
occasion and exercise zero-tolerance towards violence by dealing with all
perpetrators even-handedly. Zimbabwe is a small country. How can our
supposedly efficient police force which show such zeal in setting up
roadblocks and issuing tickets for traffic fines, yet fall short when a
crucial issue like political violence has to be dealt with once and for all?
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      Are you swayed by these fables?

      3/17/2005 8:11:55 AM (GMT +2)

      Zimbabweans have been told and will continue to hear about how the
ZANU PF administration is beyond reproach and is an innocent victim of
Anglo-American strategies of regime change and the imperialist attempts of a
conglomeration of Western citadels to overthrow a well meaning, transparent,
accountable; law upholding regime in Harare.

      The 'tea party' atmosphere that once epitomised Harare's relations
with Washington and London has turned into something rather difficult to
characterise, though definitely not cordial.
      Our government's international relations are poor to say the least.
The harmonious relations that were once enjoyed with London were themselves
not based on the truth; they were constructed on a precarious foundation,
one which was designed to support certain economic and political columns, to
preserve a certain balance of economic power and simultaneously
reconfiguring political power in a way which was then seen as significant
but is now perceived as being of token value.
      To the individual who reads in between the lines, it is true to say
that during the negotiated Lancaster House settlement the social realities
of ordinary Zimbabweans were rendered secondary to the primary economic and
social interests of elites on both sides of the negotiation table.
      The patriotic front ascended into the symbolic offices for exercising
power and the predominantly white business community continued to control
production in agriculture and manufacturing. Indeed that was the sum total
of the Lancaster House settlement.
      Now that ZANU PF decided to revisit its part in that agreement and
decided to forcefully re-organise the economic superstructure of Zimba-bwe's
economy the powers-that-be in the economy decided that they will have
nothing to do with that project and used their levers to make that point
      It seems virtually impossible to discuss the present condition that
Zimbabwe finds itself in without looking at history.
      Attempting to fix history once and for all is a foolhardy project and
has been the lonesome lever used by ZANU PF to resuscitate its dwindling
political fortunes in the last five years.
      Completely ignoring its own part in presiding over the spectacular
de-industrialisation we are experiencing and subsequent loss of livelihoods
through mass unemployment and appalling deterioration in standards of public
service delivery, misinforming Zimba-bweans and the world at large has been
the foremost survival strategy of ZANU PF.
      When a country is recorded as having the fastest shrinking economy in
the world with the highest levels of inflation and the highest rates of
outward bound migration of skilled labour surely as a government there must
be some deeply incorrect things you are doing.
      The whole purpose of suppressing the media using a legal mantra
identical to the false supremacist Rhodesian Front's tactics is to get
Zimba-bweans to view the nation's situation through ZANU PF's own narrow
lenses and begin to rationalise politics from the party's own limited
reading of history.
      The machinery of misinformation will continue to harp on and on about
how the ZANU PF government has been flawless in service delivery, public
policy management, and meeting basic health, educational, nutritional needs
of citizens.
      The public's memory has been unrelentingly told of the suffering of
the comrades in the liberation war and reminded how we should be eternally
grateful to, and submissive to a regime that is paternalistic and founded on
      In the coming weeks as in all the years since 2000 Zimbabweans will be
told that government ministers, public officials, and prospective ZANU PF
candidates for the elections are a well meaning, hardworking, and basically
peace loving lot whose image is being traduced by Tony Blair.
      Our choice is clear, Blair has precious little to do with the failure
to run the day to day affairs of this country, like procuring medicines in
hospitals, repairing roads, ensuring adequate levels of food security within
the country, delivering justice and standing for the poor.
      The author is a political scientist with research interests in
humanitarian issues and complex political emergencies.
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      SADC faces poll credibility test

      Njabulo Ncube
      3/17/2005 8:08:48 AM (GMT +2)

      AS DEVELOPMENTS in Namibia, where the country's High Court last week
ordered a recount of the national assembly electoral votes, cast serious
questions on the capacity of the Southern African Development Com-munity
(SADC) states to preside over untainted polls, local observer groups find
themselves having to contend with a heavy financial burden that could
diminish their effectiveness in the March 31 parliamentary election.

      Zimbabwean civic groups intending to field observers in all 120
constituencies will have to fork out hundreds of millions of dollars to
cover all 8 277 polling stations planned by the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) the electoral body to run all the country's national
elections and referenda.
      SADC desperately hopes for an undisputed election outcome in the poll
could bring to an end Harare's nagging five-year political impasse. Critics
are adamant that the region, led by South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki,
could have done more to resolve the five-year political crisis.
      Information reaching The Financial Gazette indicates that local civic
organisations, already grappling with donor fatigue and general apprehension
wrought on by the Non-Governmental Organi-sations (NGO) Act, need to fork
out $100 000 per observer in the 120 constituencies in and around the
      An organisation intending to field an observer at each of the 8 227
polling stations proposed by ZEC will be entitled to pay more than $822
      Players in the sector said the figure did not include transport costs,
out of pocket allowances, accommodation and other incidentals for each
person. Foreign observers are required to pay US$100.
      The Electoral Supervisory Commis-sion (ESC), which started vetting
aspiring local observers, was, however, on Tuesday still yet to inform local
civic organisations and other interested observers that applied for
accreditation on the outcome of their individual requests.
      Applications for local observer status were invited about a month ago.
      However, sources within the country's NGO fraternity this week charged
that the participation fee of $100 000 per person being charged by the ESC
was exorbitant, coming as it does at a time when international donors were
wary of bankrolling local organisation due to government charges that
western countries were agitating for President Robert Mugabe to effect a
regime change.
      Rindai Chipfunde-Vava, the national director of the Zimbabwe Election
Support Network, bemoaned the expenses associated with the poll, adding it
would financially cripple stakeholders interested in observing the country's
elections. ZESN is an umbrella body of local civic organisations with an
interest in Zimbabwe's electoral process.
      Chipfunde-Vava also expressed concern at delays by the ESC in
releasing the names of approved local observers.
      ZESN, which represents about 40 institutions with an interest in the
staging of free and fair elections as outlined by the SADC Mauritius
Protocol, applied to have 6 138 observers.
      "We have applied for 6 138 observer posts but we are yet to get a
reply from the ESC," Chipfunde-Vava said. Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa
on Tuesday however indicated the ZESN had been invited among the 8 548 local
observers from 29 "non-partisan organisations".
      "We would have wanted to field observers at all the polling stations
but charges of $100 000 per person are proving to be prohibitive," bemoaned
      ZESN would need to pay more than $600 million just for registration,
minus accommodation, transport, out of pocket allowances, among other
      In the 2002 President polls ZESN applied for 12 000 observers but the
state election body only acceded to 400 names.
      Added Chipfunde-Vava: "This is the kind of money that we don't have.
We can't afford to have observers at all the more than 8 000 polling
stations. As for transport and accommodation, we have no choice but appeal
for assistance. We need vehicles to cover all the 120 constituencies."
      Government has been accused of cherry-picking election observers for
the poll. Russia is the only European country invited to send an observer
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      Police block four MDC meetings

      Njabulo Ncube
      3/17/2005 8:09:18 AM (GMT +2)

      ZIMBABWE police have denied the main opposition Movement Democratic
Change (MDC) permission to hold four public meetings in Harare South
constituency, amid revelations that not a single ZANU PF rally has been

      The battle for Harare South, presently held by the MDC, pits James
Mushonga of the main opposition against Hubert Magadzire Nyanhongo of the
ruling party.
      Documents obtained by this reporter indicate that MDC public meetings
scheduled for Sunningdale Peoples' Park, New Prospect Park, Zindonga Open
Space and a door to-door campaign had been thwarted after police in the
areas refused to sanction the exercises.
      Under the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), it is a requirement
for organisers of public meetings to first notify the police of the
intention to gather.
      It is an offence, under the same law, for more than five people to
meet without notifying the police, who have the prerogative to permit or
deny permission to hold public meetings.
      "I regret to advise you that authority to hold your meeting at Zindoga
Open Space, Waterfalls on March 20 2005 has not be granted in terms of
section 26 (1) of the Public Order and Security Act, Chapter 11:17. Section
25 2 (b) does not allow people holding public meetings at public places,"
reads part of a letter written to the MDC by chief superintendent Sadzamari,
the officer commanding police in Mbare district.
      "Anyone who shall be caught violating this section shall be guilty of
an offence and will be arrested and prosecuted. Police will monitor the
situation," added Sadzamari in the letter, dated March 4 2005.
      Sadzamari has also written to the MDC denying the opposition
permission to hold a door-to-door campaign and letter distribution in
Waterfalls and Houghton Park.
      Sadzamari gives the reasons for cancelling this political activity as
"in a door-to-door campaign there is no specific venue or time and it is
therefore difficult to cover and it interferes with other people's rights."
      The police, in denying the MDC permission to hold a public meeting in
Sunningdale People's Park, also said POSA did not allow people holding
meetings at public places.
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      Cops angry over violence reports

      Staff Reporter
      3/17/2005 8:09:54 AM (GMT +2)

      ZIMBABWEAN police have angrily reacted to media reports on the
increase in incidents of violence, which threaten to spoil a relatively calm
run-up to the March 31 election, although official statistics released this
week show a surge in political violence since last Friday.

      In her media briefing to journalists yesterday, senior assistant
commissioner Mary Masango accused the private media of twisting facts when
"there's overwhelming peace on the ground."
      "Yes, any one political violence case indicated by some sections of
the media is one too many but the response by the ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic
Police) in line with the zero tolerance policy has been emphatic," she said.
      "We never thought these media briefings could be misconstrued or
distorted as what is being portrayed in some sections of the media. By
hosting these media briefings, we are being accused of propping up ZANU PF
or the government when we observe that the situation is overwhelmingly
peaceful on the ground.
      "They would like us to join them in coining fiction and to see shadows
where there no shadows. I need to remind them that our responsibility as a
police organisation is to deal with the practical issues on the ground and
inform the nation accurately," she said.
      But she conceded there had been an increase in the number of
politically motivated crimes since her last briefing on Friday.
      "Since my last briefing, we have recorded an additional 15 cases only
of politically motivated crimes and of these six relate to political
violence, while the remainder are contraventions of the statutes. A total of
52 supporters from ZANU PF and the MDC were arrested. This brings the number
of politically motivated cases committed by ZANU PF supporters to 32,
resulting in 112 supporters being arreste,d and the MDC to 39 cases and 112
arrests," she said.
      Regarding an MDC truck allegedly hijacked on its way to deliver
campaign material in Chimanimani, the policewoman said the ZRP suspected it
was an inside job and investigations were in progress.

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      Spoil ballots,Zvakwana urges voters

      Staff Reporter
      3/17/2005 8:10:30 AM (GMT +2)

      SHADOWY protest group, Zvakwana, is urging voters to come out in full
force on March spoil the ballot papers and register disenchantment
with the circumstances under which the parliamentary elections will be held.

      Zvakwana, which has taken protest to new heights, or depths, depending
on where one stands, is behind bold political graffiti and has been accused
of defacing bank notes and condom brands to further its cause - the ouster
of the ZANU PF government.
      "At Zvakwana we believe that spoiling your ballot is the best action
on election day. Why? Because there is no question that many things with
this election are unacceptable. The opposition party is saying this all the
time. The only news we get from them is information about assault, abandoned
meetings, intimidation and such like.
      "On election day when you spoil your ballot you will be clearly
stating that you do not legitimise the sham that all these politicians are
calling an election. Spoiling your ballot is active, and it is a valid form
of expression when faced with a flawed election. For all those who have been
saying we do not support this election in any way - go and spoil your ballot
instead of sitting at home on election day. This action is not a rejection
of any independent candidate or political party it is a rejection of the
process," Zvakwana exhorted in its newsletter, distributed via e-mail.
      The esoteric Zvakwana, regarded by government as a rogue pro-Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) regime change proponent, last year caught
international attention when it floated two yatchs off the coast of
Mauritius, boldly emblazoned Zvakwana (enough), as Southern African
Development Com-munity heads of state and government - including President
Robert Mugabe - met at Grand Baie to deliberate on regional standards for
democratic elections.

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Boston Globe

Jailed legislator can run again
Zimbabwe court sets separate date for vote in his race
By John Donnelly, Globe Staff  |  March 17, 2005

CAPE TOWN -- Zimbabwe's new Electoral Court has ruled that a jailed member
of parliament can run for his seat in the far east of the country and set a
date for the end of April, a month after the nationwide vote.

But Roy Bennett's entry into the race, after his wife, Heather, had begun
campaigning in his place, was met with mixed reactions from his supporters
yesterday in Harare. They said they were happy he could run for reelection,
but expressed concern about the stand-alone vote. In such previous races,
they note, President Robert Mugabe's ruling party used intimidation and
violence to win.

The case of the Bennetts, who are white, has drawn widespread attention
following their violent eviction from their farm in 2000, the strong support
from black Zimbabweans for Roy Bennett's successful candidacy that same
year, and his sentencing in 2004 to a year in jail for pushing the country's
justice minister to the floor during an argument.

''He can run, and that's a good thing," Heather Bennett said by telephone
from Harare. ''But in past stand-alone elections, the ruling party has put
all their resources into the one area, rigged the election, and the violence
becomes far worse than normal."

Plus, in this case, she said, her husband will have to run for his seat from

It means that Heather Bennett, a reluctant campaigner, will continue
addressing public rallies on his behalf. The nationwide parliament election
will be held March 31; the vote for Bennett's seat will be on April 30.

The Electoral Court ruling, issued late Tuesday, surprised many political
observers in Zimbabwe. It overturned an earlier ruling by an electoral
nomination court to bar Bennett from the race because he was in jail. The
Electoral Court was established in January as part of overhauls called for
by the Southern African Development Community toward free and fair

''People do want to have the opportunity to vote for Roy," Heather Bennett
said. ''But we wish they could do it at the end of March, not April."

John Donnelly can be reached at
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