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Christian Science Monitor

Africa adopts new self-help plan

Thursday, the Pan-African Parliament will be inaugurated in Ethiopia.

By Abraham McLaughlin | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - Africa, it seems, is mustering new resolve to
tackle its problems.
After decades of being mostly unwilling or unable to deal with widespread
poverty, corruption, conflict, and disease, there's growing political will
behind several efforts to address these troubles - with or without outside

Thursday, for instance, in Ethiopia, delegates from 45 nations will
inaugurate the Pan-African Parliament, a first-of-its-kind body that will
eventually make continent-wide laws.

Earlier this year, African leaders also agreed to create a continental
military force to help stamp out wars. It will take orders from a new Peace
and Security Council, which will have the power to intervene in any African

Also on the horizon is a human-rights court. Its judgments will be legally
binding, though only on nations that give it jurisdiction. So far 15 have
done so.

And this month, Ghana became the first of 18 countries to undergo "peer
review," whereby nations open their finances, policies, and programs to
scrutiny by fellow Africans.

Efforts to combat poverty through European-like economic unions continue.
This month's rebirth of the East African Community will meld Kenya,
Tanzania, and Uganda into an open market of 94 million people.

All the moves represent a growing understanding that, "If [we] Africans
don't help ourselves, nobody else will come to our salvation," says Lula
Gebreyesus, head of the Africa Institute for Policy Analysis and Economic
Integration in Cape Town, South Africa. "We've been begging and begging, but
nobody has really helped us."

Many have tried. Rich nations have sent untold billions to Africa. But
without concerted efforts by Africans, those efforts have failed, she says.
Just as "God helps us when we help ourselves," she says, Africans are
realizing they have a big role in their own salvation.

There's a long, tattered history of efforts to integrate Africa under
Pan-African or other banners - and thus plenty of reason for skepticism
about the latest ones. But the new round appears to be less ideological and
more pragmatic. It's driven, observers say, by the growing understanding
that in a world dominated by the European Union, NAFTA, and other regional
groupings, Africa's countries will largely prosper - or collapse - together.
"The emerging consensus in African politics is that everybody is affected by
everyone else," says Francis Kornegay, an Africa scholar at the University
of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

Already, he says, it's clear the African Union - the umbrella organization
that includes the Pan-African Parliament, the Peace and Security Council,
and the African Court on Human and People's Rights - is "radically different
from its predecessor," the Organization of African Unity.

The OAU was a heads-of-state club with a "collegial way of doing things," he
says. Leaders avoided interfering in each others' realms.

Creating the Pan-African Parliament is an effort to inject grass-roots
populism into the once-elite club. The 265-member body will be only
consultative until 2007, when it will begin making laws.

It's symbolic of what Mr. Kornegay describes as a gradual "erosion of
sovereignty," and a new willingness to begin nosing into neighbors' affairs.

The most dramatic example of this may be the African Standby Force. It's
designed to have five brigades of soldiers, policemen, and observers - about
15,000 people total. The Peace and Security Council will order the force
into action. Unlike the United Nations Security Council, no members will
have veto rights. Motions will pass with the relatively low threshold of a
two-thirds majority. Theoretically this means the force will be used more

Another key element of Africa's self-improvement is the peer-review process.
So far 18 countries have agreed to be rated in categories that include
democracy, good governance, human rights, gender equality, and development.
It's being run by the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).

Indeed, peer review heralds the rise of the "NEPAD-istas" as Kornegay calls
them - leaders passionate about shaping up the continent, if only out of
enlightened self-interest. But there are plenty of old-school leaders
resisting the NEPAD tide. A prime example: Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, who has
refused to submit to a peer review.

Yet the self-help strategy may already be having one ironic effect:
increased aid. Aid to the continent rose from $16 billion in 2000 to $18.8
billion in 2002. One reason 18 nations have signed up for peer review is to
gain credibility with overseas donors and investors.

Another tool for luring investors is economic integration. In addition to
the unified market in East Africa, this year the Economic Community of West
African States began issuing one passport for citizens of its 16 member

Ultimately, some of these European-Union-like efforts have a skewed
rationale that says, "If Europe has continent-wide institutions, and Europe
is strong, then if we have them we'll be strong," says Steven Friedman at
Johannesburg's Center for Policy Studies. But at least, he says, Africa is
making a fresh and concerted effort.
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Zimbabwe National SPCA have successfully prosecuted a "new" farmer from the
Beatrice area.  Mr Cloudious Chikwira of Scottsbank was last week found
Guilty of Cruelty to two dairy cows that he owned and was fined $50 000 or
50 days with hard labour.  ZNSPCA Inspectors were able to prove that the
cows died because they had no food or water.  Mr Chikwira does not live on
the farm, but lives on another diary farm in Gweru that he owns.

The Presiding Chitungwiza Magistrate also ordered that if any more of
Chikwira's cows suffer, the court will consider confiscation.

ZNSPCA will continue its fight against cruelty to animals in Zimbabwe
regardless of who the perpetrators are or where they are.

Meryl Harrison
Chief Inspector
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Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.


Prelude text JAG OPEN LETTER FORUM 17TH MARCH 2004 - OLF 247

Letter 1.  Subject: Compensation/Restitution -
                                Simon Pirbright

I have read with much interest the debate on your Letters Forum about Agric
Africa Ltd.

In particular I have noted Mr Freeth's charges, if so they can be termed,
against AA Ltd.  These might be summarised (and apologies to Mr. Freeth if
I misinterpret him) thus:

AA Ltd. are not planning to challenge the injustices of Fast Tract, are not
seeking compensation other than that payable for value of seized farms (ie
no loss of earnings, no 'distress' etc), are not seeking to render
accountable those responsible for Fast Track and are not targeting the
wealth that ZANU PF has generated for itself through its illegal actions.

What to AA plan to do?  I have studied Mr Fernandes's documents as well and
(with apologies to him in turn if I misinterpret them) might summarise the
intended actions of AA thus;

- To seek to redress for those whose Investor Protection Agreements have
been breached in 'a forum or an organisation associated with the World
Bank', - To urge foreign governments to bring actions against Zimbabwe on
behalf of their nationals and who have lost land 'under international law';
- To urge foreign governments to bring actions against Zimbabwe on behalf
of their nationals who have lost land under Racial Discrimination
legislation in the International Court of Justice. - To urge other
governments in Africa to accept former Zimbabwean commercial farmers and
help them start again.

AA does add that any successful actions as described above might act as a
useful precedent for those who do not qualify for any of the above actions.

On my reading Mr Freeth's charges are valid.  But then again, some of its
rhetoric and precedents aside, AA Ltd does not seem designed to do the
things that Mr Freeth would like it to do.  It is, for the time being, a
company that will lobby governments to bring actions on behalf of
non-Zimbabwean nationals whose land has been occupied under Fast Tract in a
variety of international forum, seeking compensation of lost land.  By
contrast JAG, as I understand its aims, seeks the undoing of Fast Track, a
choice for dispossessed farmers as to whether they wish to go back to their
farms or not, compensation for those who do not, and compensation for all,
returning on non-returning, for loss of earnings, damage to property etc.
(I McKersie has already laid out the various types of compensation.)  All
this followed by a proper and workable land reform.  In these aims, (and
again my reading may be optimistic) it would seem to be in harmony with the
MDC land policy which is that of a return to rule of law followed by a
proper land reform process.

So AA Ltd seems to be for the time being a specialist organisation, aimed
at defending the rights of only a small proportion of us.  I would note in
passing that I think its chances of success are slim: Sir Quinton Thomas
is, no doubt, a capable fellow but it seems unlikely that his lobbying of
that 'august body' the British House of Commons will bring a change in
British policy which has been, so far as one can tell, to distance itself
energetically from the Land Issue since 2000.  Not, I suspect for fear of a
large bill but rather for fear of being seen in the same camp as 'white
farmers', working or 'resting' such as Mr Freeth and myself.

But I do understand why Mr Freeth wrote what he did for the AA documents do
generate a certain ambivalence.  They talk of example of 'obtaining
restitution and compensation for dispossessed commercial farmers' and raise
the precedent of Uganda where in Asians were given the option of
'reclaiming their properties or being paid compensation', both phrases more
in line with JAG philosophy than stated AA Ltd intention.

So - might we say that if you are not a foreign national who has suffered
from Fast Track then AA Ltd is, for the present, irrelevant to you?  Not
completely.  For AA Ltd does not spell out, not to my satisfaction anyway,
that dispossessed foreign nationals will have the choice of returning to
their farms or taking compensation for their properties if any of AA's
proposed actions bear fruit.  And that is the nub of it.  Any deal with the
existing Mugabe regime that secured financial compensation, but not right
of return, might turn out to be a de facto recognition and legitimisation
of Fast Track.  And that we cannot have.  This is an issue that AA Ltd
might clarify?

Is this an unrealistic view or one lacking in pragmatism?  Should we just
try to grab what we can? No - with Mugabe old and possibly sick, ZANU
divided, Fast Tract an utter disaster and the country in the abyss it is
not.  We must resolutely oppose Fast Tract, and all it stands for, until it
is discarded and consigned to an unhappy chapter of history all of its own.
Then those who wish to return to the land must be not just permitted but
encouraged to do so with a view to their participation in an orderly and
fair Land Programme.

To which end I note with considerable concern the article in Business Day
to which 'Simply Simon' has already drawn attention: a plan to lease
occupied tobacco farms from the government (which does not own them) and
put commercial farmers on them to exploit Russian investment and grow
tobacco.  The sale of this tobacco will then fund arms imports from Russia.
Such a scheme has been lurking behind the agricultural bike sheds in
Zimbabwe for some time and now see the light of day.  It is in every
respect a wicked scheme.  I find it hard to believe any true Zimbabwean,
commercial farmer or otherwise will or can subscribe to it.  If they do
then they make this a Trojan Horse manned by Trojans.  I find it hard to
believe as well that any sensible Russian businessman will base a business
upon the slender reed of Mugabe's longevity.  But be that as it may the
brave Roy Bennet has said that he knows of no farmer who will subscribe to
it.  I hope that I, now and in the future, will be able to say the same.


Letter 2 Subject; Open Letter Forum

I am interested in the community's comments on the documentary shown on
Saturday the 13th March 2003, on BBC World about "The Secrets of the

Personally, I was horrified. Did no one else watch this program, or should
one just ignore it as propaganda, and hope it goes away? What is the future
of this generation going to be and what does this imply to our future here?

Anxiously awaiting some comments.


Letter 3 Subject: BMZ Shares

I visited BMZ today and found that they have Dividends for last year, ready
to send. They are reluctant to send them by Zimpost unless they know that
the addresses which they have are current. Please phone them on 04-621331-4
with your correct postal add. Chipesa Farm,Gresham, Claydon,Idubi are some
that come to mind for which I have no e-mail add. Please pass it on.

All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions
of the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice
for Agriculture.
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Sent: Thursday, March 18, 2004 2:52 AM
Subject: Mt Pleasant Report Back - Tues 23 March 5.30 for 6-8 pm

Harare North Constituency
Trudy Stevenson MP
with Councillors Dr Mushonga, Bangajena, Badza and Jongwe

Report-Back Public Meeting

Tuesday 23 March
5.30 for 6.00pm  - 8.00 pm
Mount Pleasant Hall

Guest Speakers:
Hon Gibson Sibanda, Leader of the Opposition and MDC Vice President (to
Hon Renson Gasela, Shadow Minister Lands and Agriculture
Hon Job Sikhala, St Mary's, Chitungwiza
Mr Femai, MDC Chairman Harare Province
* Please spread the word - no more newspaper ads, unfortunately!
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Panic Withdrawals Hit Financial Institutions

The Herald (Harare)

March 18, 2004
Posted to the web March 17, 2004


PANIC withdrawals hit some indigenous financial institutions yesterday as
members of the public continued to lose confidence in the banking sector.

Long queues could be seen at several banking halls within the city as
clients desperately tried to withdraw remaining funds from their accounts.

Most said they were contemplating opening accounts with traditional banks
where they believed their funds would be secure.

There were fears that some of the financial institutions would run out of
cash and unconfirmed reports said that some had started limiting cash
withdrawals to clients.

Some people had reportedly started hoarding cash and a shortage of notes
appeared imminent.

Efforts to get a comment from the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe and the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe regarding the latest developments failed last

Senior bank officials, however, tried to downplay the developments.

They argued that there was nothing unusual as some people were withdrawing
their salaries.

However, bank tellers who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed that
there were massive withdrawals in recent days.

"We have been very busy throughout the whole week. It appears as if it's the
end of the month to us. People have been withdrawing all the remaining
amounts in their accounts.

"We anticipate business to continue on an upward trend in the coming weeks,"
said a bank teller with one of the financial institutions.

Others said the panic was ignited by the closure of the Intermarket Holdings
Limited and its subsidiaries - Intermarket Building Society, Intermarket
Banking Corporation and Intermarket Discount House - by the central bank.

"The situation was further worsened by the closure of Barbican Asset
Management Company and Barbican Bank.

"People are fearing that their bank may be the next to close. There is
uncertainty in the market which has obviously led to panic withdrawals,"
said another bank teller.

The central bank ordered the closure of the two financial institutions in
the past few days after discovering that their books were in shambles.

The move was meant to protect depositors' funds.

The two financial institutions have already been placed under curatorship
for six months.

It emerged yesterday that one of the leading financial institutions, Kingdom
Financial Holdings, is likely to lose close to a billion dollars if one of
the financial institutions that has been placed under curatorship fails to

Kingdom Holdings official, Mr Mark Woods, told a media and analysts'
briefing yesterday that the financial institution was exposed to at least
one of the banks.

He, however, refused to provide the name of the financial institution.

"We can confirm that we have at least $176 million in one of the financial
institutions in question . . . but I am not in a position to disclose which
of the banks owes us the money," said Mr Wood.
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New Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe cops rearrest Mugabe ally

By Our Correspondent
ZIMBABWEAN cops once again blocked businessman and President Mugabe's
political ally - James Makamba's bid for freedom Wednesday when he was
re-arrested immediately after a Harare magistrate ordered his release from
remand prison.

Magistrate Judith Matsamba ordered that the former Telecel Zimbabwe chairman
Makamba be released after she declared his arrest and continued detention

"The court rules that the arrest is illegal, as he should have been brought
on a warrant," Matsamba said in front of a packed courtroom.

Makamba is charged with 22 counts of "externalising" foreign currency.

She said the prosecution case had totally missed the point of the defence's
contention that Makamba's detention was illegal by concentrating on bail.
She said the issue was whether Makamba's arrest was legal under new
corruption laws.

Makamba, she said, should have been arrested after a warrant of arrest had
been issued which the police didn't comply with.

But soon after the prison authorities granted Makamba his freedom in front
of cheering supporters who included the writer, political commentator and
media mogul Ibbotson Day Mandaza, Zimbabwean police pounced.

As the jubilant party waited outside the court, Makamba's lawyer George
Chikumbirike emerged to announce a team of detectives had rearrested Makamba
and used a side entrance to take him to Morris Depot Police Station.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said: "We applied for an arrest warrant
which a magistrate duly issued. He will be processed through the normal
police procedures. We can't give a date when he is going to be booked, or
when he will appear in court."

In a statement Bvudzijena said an appeal had also been noted against Ms
Tsamba's judgment and police acting on that, had rearrested Makamba.

In his statement, Bvudzijena noted that Tsamba's ruling was founded on a
High Court judgment by Justice Charles Hungwe who last week ordered the
release of businessman Cecil Muderede on the submissions by the defence that
police needed to obtain a warrant of arrest first before effecting arrest
for offences under First Schedule.

"Justice Hungwe, according to magistrate Tsamba's judgment, clearly stated
that such persons could be re-arrested on the strength of a warrant of
arrest. It is on this basis that Makamba and Muderede have been arrested.

"There have, however, been a series of appearances by James Makamba in court
and it has been indicated that one of the charges Makamba is facing is
fraud, which is a First Schedule offence whereby police do not need a
warrant to effect an arrest," said Bvudzijena.

"These issues arising from the court decisions are firstly the
interpretation of what constitutes a statutory First schedule offence
whereby the police may arrest an offender without a warrant.

"Where the statutory offence calls for imprisonment for a period in excess
of six months with or without the option of a fine then that offence is a
First Schedule offence. Makamba's offences fall within this category hence
it is a First Schedule offence.

"Secondly, we have failed as the State to timeously obtain Justice Hungwe's
judgment on Muderede's application by the defence handed down on March 12
2004 despite several visits and inquiries by both the State counsel and the
police investigating team. What has happened in such situations is that
accused persons have often absconded to some countries where they have
sought political asylum and it is difficult to have them extradited back to
Zimbabwe to face trial," he said.

"The prevalence of such crimes has had a serious negative impact on the
country's economy and national security especially on commodities, medicinal
drugs and even local currency shortages.

"The police would like to assure the public that the force is determined to
ruthlessly deal with all forms of economic deviancy and we continue to
appeal to the public to supply us with information as regards such crimes,"

Chikumbirike said he would be filing papers at the High Court seeking his
client's release Thursday.

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State to Unveil Multi-Billion Dollar Wheat Programme

The Herald (Harare)

March 18, 2004
Posted to the web March 17, 2004


The Government will soon unveil a multi-billion dollar wheat programme, in
which 100 000 hectares of land will be put under the crop for a target
production of 420 000 tonnes of wheat.

The hectarage would be an improvement on last year's 50 000.

Preliminary figures indicate a budget of $625 billion would be needed for
the programme that would see the Government spending $330 billion on
rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructure and $295 billion on direct
costs, such as tillage, fertiliser, seed, chemicals, water and electricity

Zimbabwe needs about 400 000 tonnes of wheat annually to meet national

However, a small percentage will still have to be imported for gristing
purposes in bread-making.

Impeccable sources told The Herald yesterday that although the programme was
still in the planning stages, there was tremendous determination for its
success on the part of Government.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is also expected to play a role through its
productive sector facility. It has already disbursed $408 billion which
farmers have accessed.

The target hectarage and production are part of recommendations that would
be put forward to the Cabinet Action Committee on Land Reform and
Agriculture by an inter-ministerial committee set up to look into the
preparations for this year's winter wheat crop.

The committee, which is chaired by the Ministry of Special Affairs in the
President's Office in Charge of Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement, is made
up of permanent secretaries from several ministries and stakeholders in the
agriculture industry.

A Farmer Identification Task Force will identify farmers with the land,
water and irrigation to be part of the programme.

Its mandate will be to identify suitable land for the wheat winter crop and
farmers who are able to produce; and to draw up a report on the requirement
for the targeted wheat crop.

As part of its mandate, the inter-ministerial committee, through the
Department of Agriculture and Rural Extension Services, was currently
finalising the identification of farms and farmers who should be part of the
programme and their requirements.

Sources close to the committee said the farmers and farms had been drawn up
in three categories.

"The first category contains farmers who already have the infrastructure and
have been growing wheat but are waiting for the right incentive to continue
growing the crop such as a favourable producer price.

"The second category comprises of those farmers who were resettled on land
that has infrastructure which needs rehabilitating or needs additional

"The third category is of farms that were acquired but have not been
allocated and farms that have been allocated but are not being used," the
source said.

Sources said unlike other committees which only made recommendations, the
inter-ministerial committee was an action-oriented entity that was expected
to oversee the implementation of the project.

"The various taskforces which fall under the committee are expected to
report to the committee on a weekly basis on the progress being made in
their different portfolios," the source said.

Apart from identifying the farmers and the farms, the committee, which has
several taskforces under it, has already identified some of the resources
that are required to increase the hectarage to 100 000 ha.

Seed companies that form part of the committee and taskforces have already
indicated that they have enough seed to meet the requirements of the

The seed houses have indicated that they currently have 12 800 tonnes of
wheat seed in stock which is more than the 10 000 tonnes needed for the

Fertiliser companies have also indicated that they are able to meet the
requirements of the programme.

The companies indicated that they currently have 10 400 tonnes compound D
fertiliser although there was capacity to produce 78 000 tonnes with the
resources at hand, which was more than the minimum of 40 000 tonnes and
maximum of 60 000 tonnes needed for the projected crop.

In terms of ammonium nitrate, the companies indicated that they had 1 000
tonnes of the fertiliser in stock while 37 000 tonnes could be produced with
the raw materials at hand.

A minimum of 30 000 tonnes and a maximum of 40 000 tonnes of ammonium
nitrate was needed to meet the requirement of the targeted hectarage.

The committee has also proposed that the District Development Fund till 45
000 hectares using its own fleet of tractors while Arda should till 15 000
hectares. The remaining 40 000 hectares would be tilled through

The whole programme was expected to consume about 10,8 million litres of

Some of the taskforces which fall under the committee, include those on
land/farmer identification, finance, seed procurement and distribution,
fertiliser and chemical procurement, engineering and mechanical services,
transport and communication and information management.

Efforts of the project were expected to be complemented by the private
sector which is expected to finance the planting of an additional 60 000
hectares of wheat through contract farming.

The winter wheat planting season traditionally starts in May while
harvesting usually starts in October.

Last year, more than 150 000 tonnes of wheat was delivered to various Grain
Marketing Board centres nationwide although the quality was reduced due to
early rains.

Out of the targeted 78 616,2 hectares under wheat, only 40 809, 51 hectares
was planted during the time due to delays in the distribution of inputs.

Last year the country faced an unprecedented shortage of flour which forced
some companies to import their supplies from South Africa.

As an incentive for many farmers to go into wheat production, a new wheat
producer price is expected to be announced at the end of the month to enable
farmers to make quick decisions on which winter crops to grow.

There has always been competition between wheat and barley in terms of the
producer price. Barley has tended to pay more than wheat and as a result
farmers have gone into its production.
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In-Fighting Rocks Miners' Federation

The Herald (Harare)

March 18, 2004
Posted to the web March 17, 2004

Leonard Makombe

THE Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) has been reduced to a battlefield as
the organisation's national executive and general council fight for control
of the federation.

Two factions have emerged, one supporting incumbent president of the
association, Mr Nixon Misi, and the other backing his vice Mr George

Confusion is reigning supreme in the association as there are accusations
and counter accusations being thrown from one side to the other.

It is ironic that the association, formed mid last year to replace the Giles
Munyoro-run Small-Scale Miners Association (SSMA), is already embroiled in
such a mess barely two months after elections for substantive office bearers
were held in Masvingo.

In what appears to be deja vu, the two factions are claiming to be in
charge, accusing their rivals of wanting to usurp power just like what
happened during the time of SSMA.

It all began last week when ZMF national council members passed a vote of no
confidence in the Misi-led executive and subsequently held elections for
interim members with Mr Kawonza emerging the new president.

This did not go down well with the ousted executive who said the meeting to
pass a vote of no confidence was unconstitutional and did not constitute a

"The meeting to oust the executive was unconstitutional as it was not
announced 14 days before it was held as per the requirements of the

"There was no quorum as only less than the 11 association members needed to
make a quorum were represented at the meeting and we have realised that this
is a machination of people who are power hungry," said the ousted
secretary-general Mr Earnest Mudimu.

He added that Mr Kawonza should be a genius to be able to tell that an
executive that was in office for only two months was incompetent.

However, Mr Kawonza said the resolution to pass a vote of no confidence was
made as per the constitution and the members who were not represented
decided not to turn up for the meeting.

"Everybody was invited to the meeting and the decision was passed and I am
the only member from the previous executive to have survived.

"Our mandate now is to restructure the organisation and make sure that we do
not pursue some silly squabbles," said Mr Kawonza.

The national council chairman Mr Mugejo Makoni said the decision to boot out
the old executive was precipitated by a discovery that there were gross
irregularities and maladministration.

"As general council, we called everybody and some few people decided not to
come, but the meeting went ahead as we made a quorum," said Mr Makoni.

Both factions are trying by all means to make sure that they tarnish the
image of the other as there has already been allegations of misappropriation
of funds.

A commission of enquiry was instituted immediately after the Masvingo
congress as it had emerged that some of the leaders had misappropriated

Both factions are mum over the findings of the commission of inquiry.

This is a sad development to the organisation that was formed expressly to
represent the small-scale farmers after a realisation that there was no
coordination of efforts from the myriad of organisations that existed.
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Confidence in Financial Institutions Lowest

The Herald (Harare)

March 18, 2004
Posted to the web March 17, 2004


PUBLIC confidence in the country's financial institutions is at its lowest
ebb following a series of crisis, which hit the sector in the last nine

It has since dawned to some account holders that having a passbook or cheque
book does not necessarily translate into acquiring cash.

Most have been disappointed to find offices of banking halls or automated
teller machines of either building societies or financial institutions in
which they bank with either out of order or closed without explanation.

Some have also been complaining about high service charges, which have been
increased without justification. This came at a time when the banking sector
witnessed an unprecedented increase in the number of players and products.

Crisis which emerged in the last nine months include cash shortages, closure
of branches, liquidity crisis and failure to make any transactions as
building societies and some financial institutions were placed under

All banks were hit by a serious cash shortage in June last year, which was
only eradicated by the introduction of bearer cheques, which replaced cash.

While the blame on the shortage of cash was squarely laid on the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe, the banking public was not amused with the way the banks
handled the crisis.

It was the announcement of the new monetary policy, which put the largest
dent on the confidence the public has in the banking sector as some were
found to be illiquid.

There was an unprecedented run on deposit, as Trust Bank account holders
feared that the financial institution would collapse.

There are 17 commercial banks operating in the sector and had asset bases
amounting $2.9 trillion.

While such figure may appear impressive, they have been greeted with
skepticism by the banking public, as it has not translated to a better
service delivery.
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Events in Banking Sector: Embarrassment to Nation

The Herald (Harare)

March 18, 2004
Posted to the web March 17, 2004


At face value it would appear that I have a profound fixation on the banking
sector, but recent events have once again compelled me to delve into this
segment of the economy.

There is a positive correlation between the state of the banking sector and
that of the economy.

Hitherto the new monetary policy announcement, the banking sector was on a
roll, reporting phenomenal profits without exception.

This is one sector that evidenced the progression of indigenous players.

We had highly educated, seemingly professional and success-bound individuals
running banks and apparently excelling at it. How the mighty have fallen.

The signals emanating from this sector are distressing to say the least.

Barbican and Intermarket are the latest institutions in turmoil, and both
are indigenous-owned.

There is, thus, a growing perception that locally-owned banks should be
avoided like a scourge. Therein lies the problem.

There is nothing inherently wrong or dreadfully lacking in the blacks'
business aptitude.

Admittedly, recent events seem not to attest to this fact.

What is transpiring in the banking sector is a harsh indictment on
indigenisation, on one level, and a wake up call on another.

There are, of course, a multiplicity of paragons of virtue and business
acumen amongst blacks.

However, unfolding events should not cloud our judgment on all things
indigenous - to do that would be tantamount to self-betrayal.

The repercussions of banks' mismanagement have far-reaching consequences and
remedial action taken should be fully supported.

There has been a shocking lack of integrity in the handling of depositors'
funds. Companies and individuals use banks precisely because they are
established and trustworthy.

A blatant disregard of banking principles will engender distrust and
apprehension from depositors thereby shaking the very foundation of the

Whosoever engages in such retrogressive behaviour sounds the death knell of
the banking system.

We can understand when banks consider the issue of security before giving
loans because the money is essentially not theirs, but belongs to
depositors. And thus, needs to be prudently looked after.

We, therefore, fail to comprehend how they then become reckless with the
same funds for personal benefit or for some obscure speculative purposes.

Indeed, events in the banking sector are an embarrassment to the nation. The
Reserve Bank surely needs to continue acting decisively to ensure that
sanity is restored in the sector.

Something desperately needs to be done to restore public confidence in
banking institutions, which are central to the welfare of individuals,
families and the nation at large.
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Black Market Slowly Resurfacing

The Herald (Harare)

March 18, 2004
Posted to the web March 17, 2004

Nelson Chenga

A TRUCK recently offloaded tonnes of sugar at a supermarket chain store in
Norton and shoppers naturally streamed into the shop to buy the commodity.
They soon left disappointed.

The stuff, though no longer scarce as over the past year, never made it onto
the shop's shelves but instead mysteriously resurfaced a day later at the
small lakeside town's informal "speed" market at Katanga shopping centre,
some distance away.

No one protested.

The incident was a mere reminder of the norm that had for the past two years
or so fed the food commodity black market not only in Norton but also across
the country.

For many Zimbabweans, who had helplessly become used to watching shop
shelves being systematically emptied onto the street, the sight of the shop
shelves filling up again since the December 2003 announcement of the
country's monetary policy was undoubtedly a big relief.

But the black market food merchants threaten to wipe off many smiles, as
evidence seems to show that they could be staging a silent comeback.

More ominous is the resurfacing of fuel shortages as indicated by the "No
Fuel" signs that are reappearing at service stations.

The shortage of affordable fuel on the formal market largely triggered
phenomenal price increases of food commodities at the height of the
country's economic crisis.

"We have to survive. Our families must be fed. This is the only means by
which we can make a living," said one street vendor selling an assortment of
goods that included sugar, flour, cooking oil, soap and mealie-meal in
Harare's city centre.

The young man, in his early twenties, who refused to be named, daily sets up
his stall on the pavement in front of one of the city's supermarkets, a
routine that involves playing cat-and-mouse with national police and their
Harare Municipality counterparts.

Word that police are in the area spreads fast and in a matter of seconds the
pavement is deserted.

The black market vendors obtain their wares through the most intricate
methods from wholesalers and corrupt shop managers and owners, who sometimes
employ the traders to maximise profits.

Although the vendors, an offshoot of the informal sector, were mainly
confined to major markets like Mbare Musika, their operations have since
spread onto the streets of towns and cities.

They intercept anything from soap to fuel as evidenced by the fact that all
commodities scarce on the open market have always been available on the
black market.

Even during last year's cash crisis the black market was so awash with money
that even banks started plying the streets for cash.

Black market traders are so well connected that many of them actually have
contacts with people in companies that manufacture products that are in

For example, in an unconfirmed case an off-duty truck driver is alleged to
have, one evening, drove a 30-tonne container truck laden with cooking oil
out of a Harare factory to return later with the truck empty. The incident
allegedly happened in February this year.

At the height of the food shortages some of these shady traders, nicknamed
"Maboworangoma", used to hang around wholesale shops and supermarkets
waiting to intercept deliveries.

Then there were also affluent business people who would intercept supplies
before they reached the wholesaler.

For months on end, shops went without basic commodities such as sugar,
flour, salt, bread, mealie-meal and soap as hordes of people joined the
hoarding mania.

President Mugabe in an interview recently with Newsnet said: "Over time we
have, I think, wittingly or unwittingly, nursed a situation where people
have resorted to bad methods or shall I call it devilish methods of wanting
to earn incomes, earn monies, earn wealth wrongly by cheating society,
cheating Government and by all kinds of corruption and this is now the main
fight we are waging.

"The fight to try and clean our house, purge it of those who really are
undesirable characters . . . people who have had it, you know, who are used
to cheating and corruption. They have been nurtured in the system . . ."

The black market thrived, in the recent past, simply because cash was awash
mainly emanating from the massive money-laundering activities in the

With the misappropriated money black market merchants had grown so large
that they could purchase the entire contents of a supermarket, hoard the
commodities to create an artificial shortage and release the goods onto the
streets or even back into the shop at inflated prices.

As the police meticulously scan the financial sector for these miscreants
the threats directed at the man who set the barn on fire, Reserve Bank
Governor, Dr Gideon Gono, are some of the salient indicators that the
scoundrels are intent on not going down without a fight.

Despite the real danger these threats pose to Zimbabwe's safe passage to
economic recovery the police and Dr Gono remain unmoved.

"I have received serious death threats from corrupt bank managers,
politicians and other company owners who were thriving from rampant
corruption," Dr Gono has been quoted as having said.

". . . This will not stop the policies we are trying to implement. But while
I need security it is important to highlight to the nation that even if I am
killed Zimbabwe has a population of 14 million people who will take over the
fight against corruption in the financial sector."

For the first time in years Dr Gono's efforts have managed to reverse the
rate of the galloping inflation by 20,8 percent from 620,5 percent for
November to 598,7 percent for December.

Police chief spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena, who
described the ongoing operations to fish out white collar criminals as
Zimbabwe's biggest crime investigations since independence, has assured that
no one will escape the net.

The threats to the RBZ Governor and attempts by those still at large to
cover up their tracks are futile, he said.

Said Assistant Commissioner Bvudzijena: "There are people who posture to try
and influence the course of investigations, but that cannot stop us.

"We are determined to do our job. Threats in themselves constitute a crime."

So far the police have unearthed massive corruption involving billions of
dollars, confiscated tens of luxury cars and arrested several people while
others have either run away or gone underground.

Asked how best the activities in the black market can be ridden of,
especially where food commodities are involved, the Consumer Council of
Zimbabwe called for a complete boycott.

"The first thing, consumers should be responsible enough not to buy those
commodities from the black market because for a start they are compromising
on their health. In the event of any problems one cannot approach these
people for redress," said a CCZ official.

The problem of doing business with black marketers is that anything goes in
this sector. Fake currency peddlers, con artists and all tricksters
imaginable are found in this sector.

Indeed consumer resistance is able to help redress the situation but only
when the people are united as what happened when the black market influenced
the price of bread to shoot to unaffordable heights last year.

People simply did not buy the commodity and to remain in business bread
merchants had to revise their prices downwards.

Heavy fines are another possible deterrent, but as long as the profit being
make by those engaged in the black market takes care of the fines
comfortably then efforts to rid the country of the villains will be
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Vandalism Threatens NRZ Operations

The Herald (Harare)

March 18, 2004
Posted to the web March 17, 2004


Vandalism and theft of railway signalling, telecommunication and electrical,
as well as rail track, wagon and coach components are threatening to
paralyse railway operations in Zimbabwe.

"These acts of sabotage perpetrated by vandals and thieves, who steal and
destroy components of our railway infrastructure, compromise operational
safety and adversely affect the movement of rail traffic," NRZ corporate
affairs manager Mr Misheck Matanhire said in a statement yesterday.

"Rail disruptions caused by these economic saboteurs have over the past
three months cost the NRZ about $25 billion in potential revenue, through
train cancellations at a great cost to the NRZ and our valued customers."

During the same period, electrical, signalling and telecommunication
components worth $120 million were stolen.

The seriously affected areas are between Bula-wayo and Dete as well as
Dabuka and Harare, Mr Matanhire said.

These acts of vandalism were militating against the NRZ's turnaround
programme intended to enhance its capacity.

This impacted on Zimbabwe's image considering the fact that tourists heavily
patronised the Victoria Falls train and also travelled by train from Harare
to Bulawayo en route to Victoria Falls.

The movement of local, export and in transit traffic was also severely
impeded by the criminals, Mr Matanhire said.

"However, the Government, in acknowledgment of the central role which the
NRZ plays in the economy of Zimbabwe, allocated $7 billion in the 2004
budget, meant to enable it to embark on various programmes envisaged at
turning around the national utility," he said. Part of this money would go
towards the installation of a vandal-proof micro-wave link communication
system between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls, Harare and Dabuka and Rutenga
rail routes. - New Ziana.
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