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CIO disrupt Makoni plan

Zim Independent

Friday, 29 February 2008 11:31

THE Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and other state security
agents are reportedly disrupting presidential election candidate Simba
Makoni's campaign ahead of its launch tomorrow in the opposition stronghold
of Bulawayo.
This comes as uncertainty mounts over the availability of Makoni's key
Zanu PF and opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) faction allies
for his Bulawayo and Harare rallies at the weekend. This has cast a shadow
over Makoni's rallies, especially the first one at White City Stadium in
Bulawayo on Saturday afternoon which he needs to be well-attended to
establish his credentials as a serious contender. It is equally important
for his second gathering on Sunday at Zimbabwe Grounds in Harare to be
well-attended. Altogether Makoni is due to hold 80 rallies countrywide.
Yesterday he toured Nyamapanda where he got a rapturous welcome.

Sources said the CIO were disrupting Makoni's preparations to
undermine his campaign which they fear might trigger a tidal wave of support
in his favour. They said the state security agents had blocked the supply of
paper for the printing of posters and flyers, as well as other promotional
material from Harare-based company, Paroan Vista. The sources said CIO
agents had told the firm to stop or delay the printing of material which is
now a week behind schedule.

They said this recently led to a fierce clash between a senior Makoni
camp official Ibbo Mandaza and a top manager at the company. Mandaza is said
to have telephoned the company in connection with the material but was told
that nothing would be released because of problems related to payment. The
Makoni group is understood to have paid R270 000 for the material to Paroan
via a South African bank but the company rejected a transaction slip and
vowed not to release the material until other forms of payment were made.

Makoni's camp is said to have made payment in South Africa because it
did not have enough Zimbabwean dollars, but had foreign currency mobilised
from locals living outside the country.

After the problem between Makoni's camp and Paroan, it is said the
firm, in which Indian businessmen have an interest, went on to report the
issue to the Indian embassy in Harare. Paroan  managers could not be reached
for comment yesterday.

The sources said what suggested the CIO were behind the disruption was
a transcript of the altercation between Mandaza and the Paroan manager that
was provided to the Makoni camp by their state security contacts this week.

The sources said the transcript is a correct record of events
surrounding the stand-off between the Makoni's group and the company.

It is understood that most of the gatherings that the Makoni camp
holds at Mandaza's Sapes Trust offices in Belgravia were recorded by CIO,
including last week's critical election strategy meeting which was chaired
by acting coordinating committee chair Mike Mataure, a former Zanu PF MP.

Mataure chaired the meeting, not Mike Madiro, ex-Zanu PF Manicaland
provincial chair, as we reported last week. The committee is now going to be
chaired by former Industry and Trade minister Nkosana Moyo who returned to
the country last week.

Asked for comment yesterday on CIO interference, Mandaza said: "There
has been enormous disruption of our plans by the state."

The police however refused to provide Makoni with security, saying he
was not a VIP. The Makoni camp also claims to have uncovered a plot to
subject their leader to a systematic smear and name-calling campaign by the
state agents through false media stories and disinformation.

"They are trying all sorts of dirty tricks against us," a senior
member of the Makoni group said. "They are almost succeeding, as shown by
the Paroan fiasco, in disrupting our campaign." However, Makoni said this
week he would win 70% of the vote.

To make matters worse, the state appears to be managing to instill
fear in Zanu PF to discourage them from supporting Makoni. If Zanu PF and
MDC gladiators backing Makoni fail to show up at his rallies this could
undermine his ability to eclipse his two main rivals in the race, President
Robert Mugabe and MDC faction leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

There were doubts about whether Makoni's reported Zanu PF allies, who
include retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru and former Home
Affairs minister Dumiso Dabengwa, would appear.

Mujuru and others such as his wife Joice, Vice-President Joseph Msika,
party chair John Nkomo and politburo member retired army commander General
Vitalis Zvinavashe, who reportedly sympathise with Makoni, were not expected
to attend his rallies in Bulawayo and Harare.

In fact, all of them, including Mujuru and Dabengwa, are expected to
attend Mugabe's campaign launch today in Harare.

Zanu PF politburo member Joshua Malinga, who was thought to be on
Makoni's side, said he would not attend because he had nothing to do with
the former minister.

"I'm not part of the Makoni project because I'm a member of Zanu PF.
My interests and constituencies are very clear," he said.

Retired Major Mbudzi, who directs operations in the Makoni camp, said
the rallies were going ahead as planned. He however could not say whether
Zanu PF and MDC officials backing Makoni would be there.

"I don't know whether they will be there but everybody is welcome. If
they support Makoni they will come," he said.

"All that we need is support, it doesn't  matter whether the people
will come from the mountains, seas or forests," Mbudzi said.

Senior members of the MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara, who have an
electoral pact with the former Finance minister's camp, would also not
attend Makoni's rallies because they have their own rally at White City
stadium on Sunday.

Sources said the problem in Bulawayo was that there were divisions
between Dabengwa's group supporting Makoni, which include politicians like
Themba Dlodlo and Joshua Mhambi, and the Mutambara faction over the Makoni

After that it was decided Makoni would launch in Masvingo on March 2,
but the problem was that Mugabe was expected be in the town on March 1. It
was then felt it would not be a good idea to trail him in his campaign.

It is also understood there were problems about what happens if Makoni
wins. Dabengwa and his group wanted a clear-cut deal while the Mutambara
camp wanted unequivocal assurances.

After Masvingo was ruled out as the launch place, Harare was suggested
before they settled on Bulawayo again. Differences on election strategy and
positions are said to have created tensions in the Makoni camp.

This has been compounded by last weekend's failure of the Makoni group
to meet Tsvangirai to discuss a possible electoral pact. Tsvangirai, who has
described Makoni as "new wine in an old bottle", cancelled the meeting.

There was a telephone clash last week between Mandaza and the
Tsvangirai faction's secretary for elections Ian Makone after the former had
called to confirm the meeting.

Makone allegedly said Tsvangirai was not interested in meeting Makoni.
The MDC said it would be easier for Makoni to fly to the moon than meet
Tsvangirai in the present circumstances.-- Dumisani Muleya

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Makoni courts Tsvangirai

Zim Independent

Thursday, 28 February 2008 11:03

SURPRISE presidential election candidate Simba Makoni is making an
effort to win over main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to beef up his
bid to challenge President Robert Mugabe in next month's defining elections.
Informed sources said a meeting between Makoni and Tsvangirai is set
for Sunday to discuss ways of joining forces to confront Mugabe at the
polls. The meeting is expected to be uneasy after Tsvangirai last week
described Makoni as "nothing more than old wine in a new bottle" and accused
him of being partly to blame for Mugabe and Zanu PF's failures. However, if
Makoni pulls it off, this would give a dramatic boost to his electoral
prospects ahead of the polls.

On Wednesday Makoni's formation met in Harare to discuss election
strategy. The meeting was convened by its national coordinating committee
chaired by former Zanu PF provincial chairman Mike Madiro. Makoni, who
chairs the organisation's national management committee, attended the

The outfit's structures include the management committee, coordination
committee, finance and administration, media and communications, and
mobilisation. It also has youth and women's leagues.

Makoni is reportedly working with senior Zanu PF officials including
politburo members retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru and Dumiso
Dabengwa. The two have had several meetings with Makoni in recent weeks.
Mujuru and Dabengwa are leading the challenge to Mugabe within Zanu PF

Dabengwa - detained and systematically tortured by the government on
unfounded treason charges in the 1980s - has of late been open in tackling
Mugabe, especially during politburo meetings.

The sources said Dabengwa told a meeting in South Africa last weekend
that senior Zanu PF officials, including Mujuru and himself, supported
Makoni. It is understood he said Zanu PF needs a change of leadership.
Dabengwa led opposition to Mugabe's unprocedural endorsement as the Zanu PF
candidate at the party's extraordinary congress in December. Makoni has said
many party officials were disappointed when Mugabe was retained at the helm.

Makoni is said to be seeking to close ranks with opposition leaders to
stage a united challenge against Mugabe.

Political observers say Makoni's plan would have been more viable if
he went for a united front against Mugabe instead of an ill-defined outfit
which makes it difficult to secure buy-ins from strategic allies.

However, Makoni's camp is trying to deal with this issue via informal
alliances. Last Sunday Makoni met another Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) faction leader Arthur Mutambara to seal an informal electoral pact.
Makoni met Mutambara at Ibbo Mandaza's farm in Mazowe to iron out issues
after making inconsistent remarks last week about their partnership.

The meeting was attended by Mandaza, who is a parliamentary candidate
for Mazowe West, and other senior officials in the Makoni camp, as well as
Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga, an MP, and Miriam Mushayi, a top official
in the Mutambara faction.

Makoni and Mutambara, who dropped out of the presidential race to back
his new ally, reinforced their working arrangement. Although Mutambara might
not have a power base, MPs aligned to him command sizeable grassroots
support. The Mutambara camp's MPs are likely to retain their seats in
Bulawayo which is their stronghold.

Parliamentary election candidates working with Makoni and Mutambara
are not challenging each other.

The sources said Mandaza has been engaged in talks with Tsvangirai's
lieutenants to prepare the ground for talks between their leaders.

"Talks have been going on between Mandaza and senior officials in
Tsvangirai's faction to find ways of striking a deal in which Tsvangirai
would drop out to support Makoni," a source said. "It will become clear what
will happen after Makoni's one-on-one meeting with Tsvangirai."

Tsvangirai has a relatively large following on the ground and his MPs
are expected to retain their seats in Harare, the faction's heartland. The
Tsvangirai camp might also pick up a few seats in different provinces.

The sources said the Makoni camp is anxious to secure agreements with
both MDC factions to avoid splitting the vote in favour of the ruling Zanu
PF and Mugabe. There are fears in opposition circles that the Makoni,
Tsvangirai and Mutambara groups could split the vote and help Mugabe and his
party to retain power by default.

Political observers say opposition groups might suffer the "Kenya
syndrome" in which the incumbent wins as a result of splitting the vote by
his rivals. The Makoni camp is trying to avoid this situation.

Dumisani Muleya

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Makoni 'allies' to attend Zanu PF launch

Zim Independent

Friday, 29 February 2008 11:16

ZANU PF heavyweights linked to independent presidential candidate
Simba Makoni, among them Solomon Mujuru and Dumiso Dabengwa, are today
expected to attend the ruling party's 2008 election campaign launch in the
This comes on the eve of Makoni's campaign launch in Bulawayo where
Dabengwa was expected to ditch Zanu PF and back the former Finance minister
who will square up with President Robert Mugabe, the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai
and little-known Langton Towungana.

Mujuru and other allies were expected to attend the Makoni launch on
Saturday at White City Stadium and a Zimbabwe Grounds rally in Harare the
following day.

Impeccable sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that Dabengwa
initially wanted to contest the presidential election, but later stepped
down to back Makoni after he announced his plans on February 5.

Mujuru and Dabengwa are reportedly opposed to Mugabe's continued stay
in power and have since March last year been challenging him on many issues
in the politburo.

The two were also irked after Mugabe roped war veterans' leader
Jabulani Sibanda into his corner to spearhead his campaign for endorsement
as Zanu PF's presidential candidate at the party's extraordinary congress in

Zanu PF bigwigs, among them Vice-President Joseph Msika, party
chairman John Nkomo and politburo member Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, opposed Sibanda's
activities, and accused him of challenging former Zapu leaders.

The sources said apart from Mujuru and Dabengwa, Makoni enjoys the
support of over half of the politburo members, who are reportedly working
behind the scenes to mobilise support for the former Zanu PF deputy
secretary for finance.

"It will be interesting to see whether or not Mujuru and Dabengwa,
among other party bigwigs, will attend Makoni's weekend rallies after
President Mugabe's campaign launch," one of the sources said.

Yesterday, Dabengwa declined to confirm or deny that he will attend
the Zanu PF election campaign launch.

"Why are you asking me if I am attending the launch when I have been
attending other party meetings?" Dabengwa said. "What is so special about
the meeting you are referring to?"

The former Zapu intelligence supremo also declined to answer questions
related to the Makoni project.

"I will not answer questions from you," he said curtly.

Meanwhile, Mugabe will today launch Zanu PF's campaign at the Harare
International Conference Centre where he will unveil the party's manifesto.

The manifesto was supposed to have been unveiled on February 15
followed by a string of star rallies throughout the country for 14 days.

The campaign will now run under the theme: "Defending our land and
national sovereignty; building prosperity through
empowerment." --Constantine Chimakure

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NIPC cuts illegal deals with manufacturers

Zim Independent

Thursday, 28 February 2008 16:59
THE National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) is illegally
cutting deals with manufacturers to allow them to sell their commodities
above the gazetted prices. Businessdigest can reveal that the NIPC, which is
empowered to control prices of all products and services, has been doing
side deals with bakeries to allow them to sell bread at higher prices which
are not gazetted by the commission. The NIPC's prices list approved on
February 9 states that a loaf of bread should cost $200 000 but the
commission privately allowed bakeries to sell at $3,3 million.

Companies in this deal include Lobels, Kinbran, Mitchell, Proton and
Superbake. The list also includes smaller bakeries.

The NIPC has also allowed millers to sell maize-meal at prices way
above those gazetted. The commission privately allowed millers to sell a
10kg bag of mealie-meal for $9 million even though the approved price is
$152 400.

"The prices on the list are not the ones that the producers are
charging, we are aware of that because we had an agreement with them but the
agreement is only confined to bread and mealie-meal," said an NIPC

Bread and mealie-meal are all controlled products whose prices have to
be approved by NIPC in consultation with the cabinet.

The cabinet did not approve the prices for mealie-meal and bread. In
fact the applications for the price reviews on the two products will only be
tabled in cabinet next week.

National Bakers' Association, Vincent Mangoma, admitted that the
association had a private agreement with NIPC to sell bread at $3,3 million
per loaf.

Mangoma said the association was aware that the understanding with
NIPC was illegal.

"The government has not gazzetted a new price because of political
tension but as long as no one makes any noise they (government) will not do
anything about it," said

"We as the National Bakers' Association have made several applications
to the ministry of Industry and International Trade through the NIPC and
they have said to us 'fine you can move from this price to that price while
the application is still pending'," said Mangoma.

"It is not an agreement but some form of understanding between the
NIPC and us but the commission has said the prices we charge should not
exceed $4 million but if the application is approved in cabinet then the
price may be pushed up to $7 million."

Businessdigest understands that the NIPC told the bakeries to charge
$3,3 million but warned that they should be careful about it.

The NIPC's official line to government is that the millers and
bakeries are over-charging.

NIPC chairman, Godwills Masimirembwa said the commission had struck a
"gentleman's agreement" with millers and bakeries.

Masimirembwa said millers and bakers were only given a dispensation
while their applications are pending approval from cabinet.

It is however understood that the "gentleman's agreement" also applies
to sugar which is one of the controlled products. Questions are now being
asked on how many companies have managed to do such deals with the NIPC.

The disparity between the NIPC's prices and those that are being
charged by big corporates seem to suggest that there could have been more
private deals.

For instance three chicken pieces at Innscor's Chicken Inn are going
for $49,5 million but the NIPC approved price is $13,8 million.

The news of such private deals is likely to trigger discontent among
companies that are already bleeding due to price controls. The companies
accuse the NIPC of failing to approve prices on time.--Jesilyn Dendere

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Minister misled cabinet

Zim Independent

Thursday, 28 February 2008 16:41
ENERGY and Power Development minister retired lieutenant-general Mike
Nyambuya could have misled cabinet on Zesa Holdings restructuring exercise
two years ago.

Nyambuya told cabinet in May 2006 in a memorandum titled Proposals for
rationalisation of Zesa Successor Companies that Zesa was overstaffed and
that this was straining the finances of the group.

Nyambuya convinced cabinet to approve a voluntary retrenchment and
restructuring exercise that resulted in the utility losing a lot of skills
which worsened the problem.

Nyambuya also informed cabinet that most of the overstaffing had
occurred in senior and executive management positions and that this was the
main reason behind Zesa's push for a tariff increase.

The minister told cabinet that a restructuring exercise was urgent,
documents in the possession of businessdigest reveal.

A report that Zesa submitted to the cabinet at that time accuses
Nyambuya of giving wrong figures and information in order to achieve his
plans to restructure the utility.

The reports said Nyambuya had misled the cabinet on a number of issues
including staff deployment, operational efficiency, cost efficiency analysis
and corporate governance.

The Zesa report said all the statistics Nyambuya presented in the
report had been misleading.

"The minister's presentation highlighted perceptions and concerns of
an alleged top-heavy structure in Zesa and an alleged massive increase in
employee numbers, citing statistics on total employee strength, executive
management and senior management.all the statistics presented in the report
are flawed.," the report read.

The Zesa report also stated: "The report to cabinet was constructed on
the premise of statistics with fundamental errors.and on conceptions that
are fundamentally mistaken, leading to conclusions that are not valid."

Nyambuya informed cabinet that Zesa's unbundling exercise had
increased staff levels within the troubled parastatal from 7 610 to 8 235.

Zesa's report however said staff levels before unbundling had in fact
been 7462 and that they had been reduced to 5831 after unbundling exercise
in which cut 1631 jobs.

Zesa also denied claims by Nyambuya that there were seven executive
management and 31 senior management posts before unbundling and that the
unbundling exercise had resulted in 28 executive management and 312 senior
management posts.

Zesa argued that there had been nine executive management posts and
185 senior management positions before the unbundling exercise which saw
executive management posts rise to 27, while senior management positions
were reduced to 174.

Zesa also argued that the only increase had been in executive
management and that this was largely necessitated by creation of two new
companies, Power Telecommunications (Powertel) and Zesa Enterprises
resulting in the creation of nine new executive posts.

"The balance of nine is made up of former division chiefs and section
heads in the former generation, transmission and consumer services
divisions, who only changed titles to directors without change of grades,
when the divisions became companies," the report stated.

The report also details operational efficiency gains increasing after
the unbundling exercise.

There was an eight percent increase in energy supplied, from 10 088
gigawatt hours (GWHs) to 10 891 GWHs, a 36,3% in total numbers of customers
served, an 85,8% increase in the number of customers served per employee and
a 47,4% increase in energy supplied per employee.

The report stated that Nyambuya's statistics were basically flawed as
Zesa was performing well in terms of efficiency gains related to staff
deployment levels.

Nyambuya was not available for comment with his secretary saying he
would only be in the office next Monday. Energy secretary Justin Mupamhanga
was said to be in a meeting.

Since 2006, when Nyambuya's voluntary retrenchment scheme for Zesa
attained cabinet approval, Zesa lost 25 of the 27 executive managers to
emerge from the unbundling exercise.

It has also lost over 200 senior managers out of the 312 who emerged
after unbundling but opted for Nyambuya's voluntary retrenchment exercise.

Energy sources said the skills loss was worsening the energy crisis
facing Zesa, adding to other problems such as an archaic generation,
distribution and transmission network, an unclear energy policy and lack of
new investment in the energy sector.

Kuda Chikwanda

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Government buys three Russian planes

Zim Independent

Friday, 29 February 2008 09:49
THE government has paid a deposit for three Ilyushin planes from
Russia's Voronezh Aircraft Construction Company (Vaco).

The planes, which are Ilyushin-96 models, are for cargo and passenger

The deal is worth US$228 million and government recently paid a 30%
deposit of US$68,4 million to show commitment.

Information to hand shows that the Minister of Transport and
Communication, Christopher Mushohwe, visited Russia earlier this month to
place the deposit for three Ilyushin and Tupolev planes - one IL-96-400 P
for passengers and two IL-96-400 M for cargo use.

The balance will be paid in the form of a loan financed by Ilyushin
Finance Co, one of two state-run Russian companies involved in domestic
aircraft construction and sales.

Ilyushin Finance Co is involved in financing the purchase of
IL-96-300, IL-96-400 and An-148 aircraft.

Delivery of the planes will be done mid-2010. Sources said the
government had backed down on its initial plan to buy five planes because of
financial problems. Ilyushin Finance Co also indicated that they could only
fund the purchase of three planes while they assess Zimbabwe's ability to
repay the initial loan.

Aviation experts have however criticised the deal saying Ilyushin
planes were expensive to maintain. A technical report done by Air Zimbabwe
engineers also criticised the decision to buy the planes from Russia. The
report said the planes had serious "technical shortcomings" that have been
reported by
other users in the past. They are also heavy on fuel and will involve
Air Zimbabwe engineers in extensive retraining.--Paul Nyakazeya

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RBZ fails to release forex to exporters, miners, NGOs

Zim Independent

Thursday, 28 February 2008 17:15
ZIMBABWE's exporters and gold mining companies are on the verge of
collapse because they cannot access their foreign currency which is held by
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

Businessdigest understands that the RBZ has failed to release the
funds into foreign currency accounts (FCAs) on time since November last year
forcing major exporting companies and gold miners to scale down operations.

Gold production is at its lowest level since 2000. Exporting companies
have reduced production because they don't have working capital.

Non-government organisations and civic organisations are also battling
to get their forex from the RBZ. Some NGOs have applications dating back to
as far as December last year.

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), the Zimbabwe National
Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) and the Chamber of Mines this week wrote to the
Ministry of Finance, which was copied to the RBZ, complaining about the
situation indicating that some companies could be forced to shut down if the
monies are not released immediately.

The three groups also requested the Finance ministry to facilitate a
meeting with the central bank to find a solution to the crisis which now
threatens more than 25 000 jobs.

They also requested the ministry to intervene and force the RBZ to
relinquish the FCAs back to commercial banks.

ZNCC president Marah Hativagone confirmed that they had written to the
ministry appealing for the urgent release of the foreign currency.

"We indeed wrote to the RBZ as a combined body of ZNCC, CZI and the
Chamber of Mines complaining on the matter," she said.

The RBZ is however yet to reply to the letter.

In the monetary policy statement announced in September 2007, the RBZ
forced banks to surrender all their client's corporate FCAs to the central

Since then attempts by the export sector and the mining community to
access their funds on time have been futile with banks now reportedly
keeping "paper FCAs" to mirror the accounts at the central bank.

Exporters are required by the RBZ to keep 65% of their export proceeds
in their FCAs and are forced to liquidate 35% of their export proceeds at
US$1:$525 000.

Sources said there was a strong belief in the market that the foreign
currency was used for other things.

"We believe there is nothing in our accounts. All efforts by holders
of FCAs to get their funds released have been in vain. There is despair in
industry as there are no signs they will get their forex anytime soon," said
one source.

The gold mining sector is the most affected. Information gathered this
week shows that some mines have not been paid for their gold deliveries to
the RBZ since October last year.

Production for 2008 is already threatened with mining experts saying
it could be as low as three tonnes.

The sector is operating at less that 15% of capacity due to working
capital problems caused by the late payments from the RBZ.

Mines require foreign currency to import fuels, chemicals and
equipment. Some mining companies are flooded because they don't have the
foreign currency to import spares parts for their pumps.

Production at Metallon Gold, Zimbabwe's biggest gold producer, has
also slumped. For example Metallon's How Mine in Bulawayo which normally
produces more than 150kg per month only managed 25kg in January. The target
for February is 18kg.

RioZim is also struggling to maintain production.

"If authorities don't change their attitude towards gold producers,
then production in 2008 is set to be around three tonnes," said one mine

"This is sad because we can actually produce a conservative figure of
between 15 and 20 tonnes of gold per year. By failing to pay the gold
producers on time, the country lost about 10 tonnes in 2007," he said.

Gold production has been waning for the past eight years. Last year,
gold deliveries to the RBZ were 6,75 tonnes as compared to 11 tonnes in

"We made numerous representations to the RBZ since early 2007 and even
started monthly meetings with them hoping that payments would be honoured.
The monthly meetings were abandoned as the RBZ simply did not respond to
requests for meetings with the industry," the official said.--Kuda Chikwanda

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Fuel shortage looms

Zim Independent

Thursday, 28 February 2008 17:06
A MASSIVE fuel shortage is looming in the country amid revelations
that government has started stocking diesel and petrol for the election

Sources said the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim), the sole
importer of fuel in the country, has been directed to hold on to the fuel
that they have imported on behalf of private fuel companies.

A source said government, which is currently thin on resources, plans
to divert some of the fuel for use during the elections.

The government does not have the foreign currency to import its own
fuel. There were reports this week that the government was buying foreign
currency on the parallel market to import fuel.

The news came as it also emerged that millions of United States
dollars belonging to mining companies, exporters and non-government agencies
have also been diverted by the central bank to fund government operations
ahead of the harmonised elections.

Some companies have not received fuel for the past three weeks despite
having paid for the product to Noczim.

"Every time we call Noczim there is a different explanation," said a
senior manager with a local private fuel company.

The government has also been dithering on licensing more private fuel
companies. Fuel companies are licensed every month. So far only three
companies have been licensed by the ministry of Energy and Power

The three companies are Ekaya, Redan Petroleum and Caltex. More than
20 companies are yet to be licensed. The delay in licensing companies has
created shortages on the market.

The prices of fuel on the black market jumped to around $28 million a
litre as the few companies that have the product try to cash in on the
temporary shortages.

Fuel price have also been increasing in United States dollar terms.

Officials at Noczim told businessdigest this week that the parastatal
also had a huge backlog on fuel deliveries to the companies.

The few companies that have the fuel are also jittery about government's
plans to control prices of diesel and petrol.

Last week the National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) chairman,
Godwills Masimirembwa, told businessdigest that the commission was working
on plans to control the price of fuel. - Staff Writer.

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Companies mull reporting in US dollars

Zim Independent

Thursday, 28 February 2008 17:03
THE Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) is analysing proposals submitted by
listed companies to report their accounts in United States dollar terms as a
means of getting around the delays in the release of inflation figures.

ZSE chief executive officer Emmanuel Munyukwi said the local bourse
had received a number of proposals from quoted companies after the Central
Statistical Office (CSO) failed to publish inflation results for the greater
part of last year.

Munyukwi said the proposals were submitted before the CSO released the
annual inflation figures for December 2007 two weeks ago. He said the ZSE
would look at the merits of the proposals.

The CSO has failed to publish year-on-year inflation figures on time
for the past seven months.

Munyukwi said companies had argued in their proposals that the delay
in the release of inflation figures was affecting the release of their
inflation-adjusted accounts.

They also argued that most of their costs were United States

"There is a drive at the moment by some of these (listed) companies to
publish their (financial) statements with figures denominated in US
dollars," Munyukwi said.

"We are not too sure if that is legal but we are looking into it," he

Mining counter, Falgold, was the first to publish its financial
statements in United States dollars last year. However, this move was met
with stiff resistance from the ZSE forcing Falgold to eventually publish its
statements using the local currency.

Listed companies are required by both the ZSE and the Companies Act to
publish their audited financial statements at least 90 days after the
financial year end. The 90-day requirement is also observed internationally.

The delay in the release of the inflation figures has made it
difficult for most listed companies to release their account with the
required 90-day period.

Most quoted companies changed their financial year end to December 31
when Zimbabwe changed its tax year.

Foreign-owned companies have been hardest hit by the CSO's delays.

The majority are required to prepare their audited and inflation
adjusted financial statements well before the 90-day deadline to allow the
holding companies to consolidate their accounts into the group statements
before deadline, which is an international standard, lapses.

Munyukwi said there were fears that some local companies could fail to
submit their audited statements on time because of the delays in the
inflation figures.

"We are not encouraging companies to delay in releasing their audited
financial statements. The inflation figures were released last week so they
should try and make sure they comply. But we know some will fail because of
genuine reasons. If they do, why punish them when the fault was not theirs?"

He would not however divulge which exchange rate the companies would
use. Zimbabwe has three main exchange rates - the official one at US$1:$30
000, the Old Mutual Implied Rate and the parallel market rate.

"I would rather not go into details on that as we are talking to the
companies concerned and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe
(ICAZ)," Munyukwi said.

ICAZ chief executive officer Sonny Mabheju said annual reporting by
both quoted and unquoted companies had become a nightmare because of the
delay of inflation figures.

"Foreign owned companies are the worst affected," Mabheju said. "They
have stricter reporting requirements as holding companies will have to
consolidate and report within 90 days. The late release however of December
inflation figures may avert our worst fears."

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president Callisto Jokonya
said: "Inflation figures are always of importance as they help us plan. We
are talking to the Minister of Finance who is the first port of call. If we
quote in other currencies, it would look like we are not working with
government. But government has to make the environment favourable by
providing these figures." -- Kuda Chikwanda

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Zanu PF candidates refuse to step down

Zim Independent

Thursday, 28 February 2008 16:15
THE ruling Zanu PF's efforts to conceal divisions in the party
collapsed this week as bigwigs who defied President Robert Mugabe and filed
their papers to stand as Zanu PF candidates along with official candidates
refused to withdraw from the elections.

This week the party's leadership sent out high-powered delegations to
provinces to convince a number of seasoned Zanu PF politicians who filed
their nomination papers to stand as candidates in the parliamentary and
senatorial polls to withdraw their candidacies.

Ruling party sources said the biggest delegation led by the party's
secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa, descended on Masvingo to try
and convince the renegades to withdraw from the elections.

Masvingo has the highest number of candidates who filed papers,
challenging Zanu PF's official candidates.

Notable figures that filed their papers for nomination included
Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi, Senator Dzikamai Mavhaire, Eddison
Zvobgo (Jnr) and Henrietta Rushwaya.

Mumbengegwi, however, on Wednesday lost the party's primary election
re-run to former Masvingo governor Josaya Hungwe but is again disputing the
result, indicating that he might not withdraw his nomination papers from the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

Mavhaire is still challenging Zanu PF official candidate Maina
Mandava, while Zvobgo will stand against businessman and party appointee
Edmund Mhere.

However, the Zanu PF leadership has managed to persuade political
minnows Rushwaya and Sabina Mangwende to withdraw their candidature from
Gutu South and Glen View constituencies respectively.

A number of the candidates who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent
confirmed that they either received a letter or were approached by senior
Zanu PF officials and told to withdraw their candidacy.

They said they were not going to withdraw because the electorate
wanted them to contest the elections.

In Manicaland's Makoni West, the Zanu PF elections directorate wrote
to Nation Madongorere, a former Central Intelligence Organisation operative,
to withdraw from the parliamentary race in favour of Agricultural
Engineering minister Joseph Made.

"I have received a call from provincial chairman Tinaye Chigudu saying
that he has a letter from the elections directorate persuading me to
withdraw and pave way for Made," Madongorere said in an interview.

"In the run-up to the primaries I was given a similar letter, but I
turned it down in the same way I will refuse this initiative."

Matongorere said he would not step down because he was chosen by the
people to represent them.
"People of Makoni West invited me and I accepted it," he said.

"I submitted my CV as required which the presidium approved before
going to primaries which I won so why would they want me to step down now?"

Traditional chiefs in the area support Madongorere.

Five chiefs from the constituency besieged Zanu PF headquarters
questioning why the leadership wanted to impose a candidate on them.

In Masvingo's Gutu South, seven traditional leaders from the
constituency last week confronted the Zanu PF presidium over the
controversial candidature of Shuvai Mahofa in the forthcoming parliamentary

The chiefs said Mahofa, who sat in previous parliaments since 1985,
had lost support in the constituency.

Chiefs Makore, Mukaro, Chiwara and Majada, as well as headmen Maungwa,
Shenjere and Makore travelled to Harare last week to hand a petition to
President Robert Mugabe at State House.
They demanded that Mahofa be dropped from the race.

"We, the undersigned traditional leaders, hereby ask your office to
bar former Gutu south legislator Shuvai Mahofa from representing the party
in the forthcoming elections," read the petition.

"Mahofa has overstayed in this position as MP but she has done nothing
to develop the area. She has lost touch with the electorate and we appeal to
your office to give us another candidate in Gutu South."

However, the party upheld Mahofa's victory in the Gutu South primary
elections and has since succeeded in persuading Rushwaya to withdraw her

The party's elections directorate chairperson Elliot Manyika this week
said Zanu PF was working "tirelessly" to end double nominations throughout
the country.

Augustine Mukaro

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Govt gazettes new cash law

Zim Independent

Thursday, 28 February 2008 16:43
A STATUTORY instrument released by government last week says it is now
illegal for companies and individuals to do cash transactions worth more
than $250 million.

Under Statutory Instrument 21/2008 of the Bank Use Promotion and
Suppression of Money Laundering Act released last Friday, it is also illegal
for traders and parastatals to hold cash in excess of $500 million for more
than 24 hours from the last trading hour.

It also prohibits companies from settling trade debts above $250
million in cash.

The Statutory Instrument defines holding cash in excess of $500
million as "unlawful hoarding of cash". Licenced money lenders are also not
allowed to keep more than $500 million. Analysts have said the new law shows
that the government is still in denial about the real situation in the

At the current prices $250 million can only buy ten litres of fuel.
Many basic commodities cost far more than $250 million. Using the prices for
this week $250 million can only buy a two-litre bottle of cooking oil ($100
million), a 20kg bag of mealie-meal ($110 million) and a bar of soap ($30
million). For companies the amount is not enough to buy stationery.

The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) has described the
Statutory Instrument as a futile attempt by the government to control the
liquidity position of business.

"I don't know why government overburdens itself by creating extra work
for themselves," said ZNCC president Marah Hativagone.

"It is like a dog chasing its tail," she said.

Hativagone said the amount was not enough for most companies that are
now paying transport fares for their employees daily.

For instance a company employing 60 people requires a minimum of $600
million per day to transport employees to and from work.

Bernard Mpofu

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Police refuse to give Makoni protection

Zim Independent

Friday, 29 February 2008 09:47
POLICE have turned down an application for protection from independent
presidential candidate Simba Makoni and his associates amid reports that
they are being trailed by the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).

Sources said Makoni wrote to the police last week requesting
protection for himself, his family, and his allies, among them Ibbo Mandaza
and Kudzai Mbudzi, but the application was turned down by Deputy
Commissioner-General in charge of operations, Innocent Matibiri.

Matibiri, President Robert Mugabe's nephew, is in charge of the VIP
protection unit.

In his request, Makoni reportedly said his life and that of his allies
were in danger because CIO officers were monitoring his movements.

The state spies have been attending Makoni's press conferences and
filming proceedings, which the former Finance minister argues constitute a
threat to his physical security.

Matibiri in response to Makoni's application on February 19 said
police protection would only be "awarded to individuals with VIP status.
Regrettably you do not hold such status."

Makoni on February 5 announced his presidential ambition and a day
later Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs Emmerson Mnangagwa and national
commissar Elliot Manyika announced that the former Finance minister had
fired himself from the party.

The decision was later upheld by the ruling party's politburo on
February 11.

The move by Makoni to stand against President Robert Mugabe in the
March 29 elections was described by the head of state as "disgraceful".

In a television interview last week, Mugabe described Makoni as "worse
than a prostitute" and last Saturday at his birthday party in Beitbridge
likened him to lice, which can be easily crushed.

Mugabe questioned who Makoni's backers were and vowed that he will not
win the presidential election because he did not have supporters.

"Are you being backed by your relatives or by your wife or your
girlfriend? He only says he is being supported by one Ibbo Mandaza. Being
challenged by a person in such state, without even a tiny party, is a
complete display of disdain for me," Mugabe said. "He thinks people will
fall over each other while trying to align with him. The likes of (Joseph)
Msika, (Joice) Mujuru and Mugabe will be forsaken by all the people for
rushing to join Makoni because he is 'a magnet'. This is hopeless ambition,"
said Mugabe.--Constantine Chimakure

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A time for election futures

Zim Independent

Thursday, 28 February 2008 17:08
FINANCIAL innovations have been blamed for most of the ills that have
afflicted the world's financial systems. Futures, derivates and financial
engineering are all smart ideas put into practice. However, every now and
then, these ideas are found at the epicentre of financial earthquakes.

In the late 1990s, derivatives were responsible for the collapse of
many a hedge fund. The Russian moratorium saw United States-based Long Term
Capital Management, which had been trading a lot of spread contracts on
Russian debt creating a US$1 trillion hole in the international financial
markets. The vanguard of British banking, Barings Inc is no more.

The bank went under as a result of rogue futures trader Nick Leeson's
losses in Nikkei futures. The latest headline is that of one Jerome Kerviel
of Societé Generale who lost his bank US$7 billion betting that the European
equities markets would continue rallying.

After the derivatives came a new term called financial engineering. In
simple terms financial engineering is the creation of new and improved
financial products - cash flows - through innovative design or repackaging
of existing financial instruments. Collaterised Debt Obligations (CDOs)
which are at the heart of the current sub-prime crisis are products of
financial engineering.

The bad overshadows the good. All the discussions on financial
engineering and derivatives focuses on the losses or negatives but rarely
are the profits mentioned. Sub-primes were largely responsible for the bulk
of the profits posted by most international banks prior to the current
crisis. That is why all of them are exposed in one way or another.

Zimbabwean and many African markets have largely been unaffected by
the troubles of the derivatives and sub-primes. Not because we are better at
pricing the risks associated with these products or cleverer than our first
world counterparts. The reason is that we have not been participating in the
markets where these products are traded. The closest Zimbabwe came to having
a derivatives market was when Zimace was set up and when banks had equities'
derivative desks. This was in the good old days prior to the 2004 financial

Today, it is exactly sixty days into the New Year and 30 days from
knowing who the next great leader will be.

March 31 will also mark the end of the first quarter of 2008. As of
Wednesday this week the industrial index was only up 156%, compared to the
American dollar which has returned 247%. This is despite the fact that the
US dollar itself is weakening against other major currencies. Generalising
the returns of the stock market using the industrial index, masks the fact
that counters like Starafrica, SeedCo, CFI, and Medtech are up 588%; 525%;
471% and 400%, respectively.

Those investors, who were unfortunate to buy shares in Caps, have to a
large extent been impoverished. The counter is trading at below its December
31 2007 level. Also in much the same boat are the shareholders of Cottco,
Powerspeed, ZPI and RTG. Although still in the positive the distance from
zero is negligible. If these guys are to meet their targets for the first
quarter then they might have to take on some higher risk. As is well known;
risk and return are positively correlated.

Investors in these counters could consider making up for lost time by
turning to the esoteric world of financial derivatives. Given that there are
no single stock or index futures trading on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange and
the commodity futures are not operational because the country' s marketing
regulations do not facilitate such a market, election futures are, in
theory, the only avenue left.

Presidential elections futures have two forms; "winner-take-all" and
"vote share". The forthcoming Zimbabwean presidential election has four
candidates Robert Mugabe, Simba Makoni, Morgan Tsvangirai and Langton
Towungana. There are a number of permutations that one can structure of the
"winner-take-all" variety.

Contracts can be in a winner-take-all form, in which an investor bets
on the overall winner. The other variety would be to pick any two out of the
above four. In other words, one can bet on Simba beating Morgan, or vice
versa. In the "vote share" future, the buyer would purchase a contract
stipulating that one candidate will command a certain proportion of the
vote. For instance, candidate X will win 33% of the vote.

Both types of contracts would have a fixed purchasing fee and a
predetermined payoff. The contracts expire on the day of the elections. The
payoff could be anything, from a fixed amount of Zimbabwe dollars, a
portfolio of better performing ZSE shares, a tonne of maize/soya beans, a
generator or a drum of fuel. This route - unfortunately - is only available
in theory as Zimbabwe does not have a futures market. However, there is no
law prohibiting an individual setting up an over the counter trade in such
futures. In the United States, investors are busy right now betting on a
candidate of their choice for the primaries. The Democratic Party race is
the one that has elicited much interest.

For those with an appetite for futures, a missed opportunity was the
Meikles extraordinary general meeting last December. The resolution on the
acquisition of Kingdom was a good candidate for an election future contract.
A writer could have structured a "winner-take-all" or a "vote share"
contract on this controversial resolution. Some money could have been made
or lost.-- By Admire Mavolwane

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MDC vows Mugabe won't retain power

Zim Independent

Thursday, 28 February 2008 15:59
AS the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai's convoy arrived at Sakubva
Stadium, Mutare, last Saturday, violence broke out and marred the opposition
party's biggest rally since its inception in September 1999.
The 25 000-seater stadium was full to the brim and the supporters were
in a jovial mood awaiting Tsvangirai to launch the party's March 29
presidential, legislative and council elections campaign.
The MDC leader was also to unveil the party's manifesto before the
excited supporters.However, for close to 10 minutes after Tsvangirai's
midday arrival, sporadic violence became the order of the day.

The fracas erupted soon after Tsvangirai arrived at the venue when MDC
members from Harare went into a "Mexican wave" demanding party T-shirts.

"T-shirts, T-shirts, Harare," chanted the disgruntled Harare delegates
much to the dismay of the party's organising secretary, Elias Mudzuri, who
desperately tried to calm the mob by promising to them the party regalia.

Hell broke loose momentarily when the supporters started throwing the
party's red cards onto the pitch in disgruntlement.

The party's youth in charge of security moved in and assaulted a
number of supporters in the glare of Tsvangirai who later condemned the

"The youth are a misfit to our agenda. We condemn the violence
unreservedly," Tsvangirai said.
Among those assaulted was a Zimbabwean journalist working for an
international television network.

But once the commotion died down, it was back to the day's business
with MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti vowing that never in history has a
sitting government won an election in a hyperinflationary environment like
that of Zimbabwe.

"There is no government in this world which can win an election when
inflation is over 100 000%, 80% unemployment and three million of its people
living abroad," Biti said. "Mugabe you cannot and you will not do the
impossible. Victory is certain for us."

He said the party election campaign launch was meant to make a
statement to Mugabe that the MDC would win the elections given the
political, economic and social crisis facing the nation.

Biti said millions of Zimbabweans were looking forward to change in
government leadership and the MDC was prepared to fulfill the aspirations of
the people.

"The MDC represents the idea of change. We have travelled a long way .
. . The face of our struggle is Morgan Tsvangirai,"  Biti said.

"The expression of our struggle is Morgan Tsvangirai. This is a people's
project to remove Zimbabweans from hunhapwa hwababaChatunga (Mugabe's

Tsvangirai, dressed in a navy blue pin-stripe suit and matching shirt,
told the multitude of his supporters that March 29 should herald an era of
change in the country.

He did not speak on the entry of former Finance minister Simba Makoni
in the presidential race, given reports that the two wanted to form an

MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said Tsvangirai avoided speaking on
Makoni because he was not an issue.

He ruled out chances of Tsvangirai stepping down to back Makoni's

"A whole party cannot join an individual. Makoni is an individual not
a party.

He is not just an ordinary individual, but one who has embraced Zanu
PF," Chamisa said. "Mixing donkeys and cattle does not make the cattle herd

Unveiling the MDC manifesto, Tsvangirai said if his party is elected
into power it would pursue a social democratic programme to resolve the
country's problems.

"Be part of this movement whose proud legacy is that it is the face of
change in the country," Tsvangirai told his supporters. "We remain the
legitimate drivers of the democratisation of this country."

The MDC leader said Zanu PF had no programme to extricate the country
from the current problems.

"The dictatorship has a programme, or course," he said. "Poverty,
exile, starvation, disease - that has been the programme of the dictatorship
for the past five years."

Tsvangirai said his lack of a degreed education would not preclude him
from being a successful leader as parroted by the government.

"Well, one successful political leader worked as a waiter in a
restaurant. He said that politics is a lot like being a waiter - you listen
to the people - and you bring them what they want.

That is not a bad definition of democracy," he said.

 As a result of listening to the people, the MDC came up with a
manifesto for the 2008 elections premised on the need for a new
constitution, he said.

Tsvangirai said his government would have a new people-driven
constitution two years after assuming power.

He said the country had an enclave economy that was uneven, unequal
and virtually dead.
"The challenge for the MDC is to craft an alternative human-centred
auto-centric economic programme that is based on domestic demands, use of
local resources, domestic savings and people-based regional integration,"
Tsvangirai said.

The economic programme would be spearheaded by the creation of the
Zimbabwe Economic Development Council under the MDC's Restart strategy.

"Restart still remains our fundamental economic recovery vehicle whose
key tenet is a strong social democratic state," Tsvangirai said.

He added the MDC would trade centralised government for local autonomy
and devolution.

Tsvangirai said his government would need at least US$10 billion to
address the current problems in the country and was hopeful that the East
and the West would come to its aid.

He said his government would establish a fund to assist victims of
Gukurahundi and Operation Murambatsvina to rebuild their homes and
businesses that were destroyed by the government in 2005.

"We cannot restore the life that was lost during the Gukurahundi. But
we can rebuild the devastated communities," Tsvangirai said.

"We can build roads and schools and make loans to people to establish
income generating projects.

We can also create special economic zones, exempt from taxation during
the period of rebuilding."
On the contentious land reform programme, the MDC said it would carry
out an audit to establish the physical and legal status of all holdings.

The party, Tsvangirai said, would implement and coordinate a
participatory and planned resettlement programme based on the principle of
need and ability.

The MDC would design and define the minimum and maximum land holdings
per region and also enact laws that guarantee ownership of one household per
one land holding.

Tsvangirai also said his government would change foreign policy, and
put in place robust health and education policies, among others.

Constantine Chimakure

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Zim to rejoin Commonwealth - MDC

Zim Independent

Thursday, 28 February 2008 16:10
THE Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC has said it will re-establish "full"
diplomatic relations with all countries and rejoin the Commonwealth if it
wins next month's elections.

According to the MDC's manifesto the opposition party would engage
relevant countries and organisations to mobilise resources to stabilise the
flagging economy, meet urgent humanitarian needs, and resume normal economic
and political relations.

"The immediate goal of the MDC government will be to re-establish
full, normal, diplomatic relations with all countries, and to restore
Zimbabwe to its rightful place in the community of nations," the document

"Zimbabwe will rejoin the Commonwealth and resume normal diplomatic
activity in all relevant multilateral organisations."

President Robert Mugabe pulled Zimbabwe out of the Commonwealth in
December 2003 in protest at the country's continued suspension following a
flawed presidential election the previous year.

The MDC said the centrepiece of its foreign policy would be to
safeguard the values of the country's national independence, territorial
integrity and national security.

The party said the policy would aim to rekindle and recapture the
original spirit of Sadc and create a renewed sense of hope and common
purpose in the peoples of the region.

"Zimbabwe will have a positive vision of the region, one in which all
states co-exist in peace, security and dignity, where all people have jobs
that put food on their tables, provide a roof over their heads, and offer a
decent education for their children," the policy document reads.

"We will uphold a vision of a region that develops in a spirit of
tolerance and understanding, and we will propagate a vision of a region
where respect for the sanctity of the individual, the rule of law, and the
politics of consultation and free democratic civic participation grow
stronger by the day."

"The MDC well understands that it will inherit a very demoralised
cadre of diplomatic staff who are poorly and irregularly paid and have
become symbols of a pariah state in the countries and regions they serve,"
the MDC said.

"It also understands that it will have to cut its coat to fit its
cloth, and that a complete review of diplomatic representation will be
urgently required once it is elected."

Addressing a rally at the launch of the party's 2008 harmonised
elections campaign last Saturday at Sakubva Stadium, Mutare, Tsvangirai said
Zimbabwe needed to change its current foreign policy.

"We need to replace our warrior foreign policy with a commercial
foreign policy," Tsvangirai said.

"We won our independence 28 years ago, but the dictatorship continues
to engage in a battle with shadows. The dictator is engaged in a long
running battle with Britain, with Tony Blair as long as he was in power and
now that Blair is gone, maybe with the Queen."

This battle, the MDC leader said, cuts Zimbabweans off from the world's
commerce. "We need to present Zimbabwe once again as the best tourism
destination in Africa.

Zanu PF, of course, does not really want people from Europe or America
to come to Zimbabwe - we welcome them," Tsvangirai said.

Constantine Chimakure

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Domestic debt up 200% in one month

Zim Independent

Thursday, 28 February 2008 16:55
ZIMBABWE's domestic debt increased 200% inside one month to $60,8
trillion from $21,1 trillion as government continued to borrow from
financial institutions to funds operations, figures released by the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) this week say. Of the $60,8 trillion, $39,8 trillion
was an advance to government. Interest payments accounted for $5,7 trillion.
Interest payments account for 75,4% of the total debt.

Government's recourse to the domestic market for funding has led to an
expansion in money supply growth.

The increasing government debt stock raised fresh fears of renewed
turbulence in the crisis-ridden economy, battling high inflation currently
topping 100 580,2% for January.

The debt is likely to rise further on increased borrowing by
government to finance the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled
for March 29. Government wants the money to buy fuel, maize and wheat.

Money supply (M3) growth continued on an upward trend increasing to a
new record high of 51 768,8% in November from 24 463,6% the previous month
the RBZ said.

Money supply is the total supply of money in circulation in a given
country's economy at a given time. It is considered an important instrument
for controlling inflation. The continuous rise in money supply would further
trigger inflation.

"Annual broad money growth recorded a 51 768,8% growth, during in
November, largely contributing to the increase in broad money growth where
increases in credit to the private sector of 125 348,4% and credit to public
enterprises 12 425,3%," said the RBZ.

Analysts said the money supply figure would be over 100 000% for
January due to expansionary fiscal and monetary policies being pursued by
government and the RBZ.

The central bank last month introduced higher bearer cheque
denominations of $1 million, $5 million and $10 million.

The previous month the bank had introduced a new $250 000, $500 000
and $750 000 to ease cash shortages that the country experienced between
October and January.--Paul Nyakazeya

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We are doomed if Mugabe wins

Zim Independent

Thursday, 28 February 2008 10:02
ELLEN G White, the prolific 19th Century writer as iconic in
conservative Seventh Day Adventism as Ayn Rand is in modern-day liberal
philosophy, refers to prophets as God's messengers who bear a critical
responsibility of exposing positive and negative facts on spiritual status
of mankind, where necessary foretelling the evil that will befall a whole
nation or community that defies the Creator's laws.
White explains that, at any one time, God's people will always know
what the future holds as long as they care to listen to the recitals of
prophets who tend to be part of the local social fabric.Therefore, I want to
assume a role of what the Zanu PF propaganda machinery would label "prophet
of doom", neither being possessed by some crude revelatory spirit nor driven
by cynical forces of pessimism, but by empirical evidence.

This puts me in an unenviable position of desecrating White's scenario
of turbulence that precedes the coming of the Son of Man by placing it in a
context of one Robert Mugabe's post-election resurgence, also known as the
"son of the soil".

That scenario, minus earthquakes, is one of untold human misery of
biblical proportions - the gnashing of teeth, war and rumours of war,
brother against brother, hunger, disease, unprecedented poverty, corruption,
crime and persecution of martyrs of the truth.

The fact is that on March 31, Zimbabwe and the world may wake up to
the reality that Mugabe has once again prevailed over the forces of
democracy to assume another five-year term.

Of course, knowing Zimbabweans - always the optimists - it is in bad
taste to consider any such outcome that is incompatible with our fantasies.
From 1995, we have always reassured ourselves that things will be all right
and would never get any worse - the rock bottom mentality (RBM).

Every fifth year, we have approached the ballot box with religious
zeal and conviction of a priest in the vicinity of an altar who is convinced
that every ritualistic act brings atonement as a just reward for confession.
Citizens of the country have, for decades, walked out of polling stations
with a sense of satisfaction and egotistical self-esteem bordering on
complacency that for once the "X" they have placed in the "right" column is
a seal of future prosperity.

The protagonists of RBM in Zimbabwe argue that there is an imaginary
line below which economic decline, subjugation of rights, subversion of
justice, poverty and human despair cannot go. Certain components of Zimbabwe's
humanity, they insist, are indestructible - capable of assuming and
retaining a residual state from which re-activation and re-construction
remain possible.

In this category of the "indestructible" are pride, hard work,
resilience, integrity, optimism, constructive debate, self-belief and noble
intent. Placed in the paradigm of a post-election Mugabe resurgence, such
attributes remain a figment of philosophical self-delusion because while
they are important elements of Zimbabwe's fundamental value system, they
count for nothing when pitted against the theory of objectivism.

Students of geography and tectonic science will know that the RBM
theory is totally discredited by the mere fact that below the mantle there
is pressurised hot ash and lava always ready to explode onto the surface.
Other than natural volcanic eruption, a violent distortion and fracture of
fault lines deep in the belly of our planet could result in volcanic
eruption - at sea, this would trigger a tsunami.

Therefore for Zimbabweans to keep reassuring themselves that were
Mugabe to retain his throne, our country would never sink to the deplorable
levels of ethnic conflict experienced in the Democratic Republic of the
Congo, Rwanda, Kenya, Darfur, Chad, Iraq and Afghanistan is self-delusion
bordering on criminal neglect.

For the first time since 1980, Zimbabwean voters are awake to the fact
that their vote will usher the country's destiny into a proverbial pillar of
stone. We either vote for the future and go forward, or we wallow in
lethargic self-pity and sink.

I want to place my argument in a prophetic context that requires
careful, analytical interpretation. Assuming that the trend of catastrophic
events remains in the post-2000 negative mode, it is a correct prognosis
that all elements responsible for volcanic action will trigger a six-digit
reading on March 31's Richter scale.

The rationale is simple: as long Mugabe retains power, national,
regional and international confidence in the ability of Zimbabwe to
re-invent itself will remain low, or altogether evaporate, unless he
undergoes a complete transformation.

Mind you, the six-digit reading is not just mere speculation:
inflation is already beyond 100 000% - thus living us with the critical
figures of employment, migration, brain-drain, child mortality, school and
college dropout, industrial, agricultural and mining output.

As a voter, one has to enquire what it is about voting for Mugabe that
will reverse the trend of negative social, economic, political and
infrastructure decline Zimbabwe has been experiencing in the past twenty

If, as Mugabe wants the world and us to believe, Zimbabwe's woes are
traced to him being a victim of British and American vilification, how is he
going to regain their confidence when George Bush, Gordon Brown and the
"free world" have already condemned the processes preceding the March 29
election as pointing towards "unfree and unfair"?

As long as the Robert Mugabe brand name is dominant on Zimbabwe's
post-March 29 political market, no known computer or prophetic model can
extrapolate the magnitude of and resultant human catastrophe. I will support
this statement by exposing the facts.

Zanu PF leaders and their supporters term anyone who does not support
Mugabe an enemy of the revolution, so you cannot rule out post-election

All major and minor roads in towns and cities now are now virtually
impassable, thus require a multiple-billion-dollar resurfacing budget that
is beyond even Mugabe's wildest imagination.

Public schools and hospitals require astronomical capital injection -
in foreign currency - to be able to offer basic service, since teachers and
doctors have abandoned conventional practice.

Power outages require that Zesa - the national power utility - invest
not less than US$100 billion to cope with industrial demand.

No less than 1 000 professionals escape from Zimbabwe every day,
including teachers, doctors and engineers, because of a pay packet not
sufficient even for monthly bus fare.

Universities, colleges and high schools are operating with less that
30% of required staff due to mass resignations.

The national banking system has completely collapsed, with simple
money transfers taking more than 10 days to effect, leaving millions of
account holders stranded every month.

Citizens cannot travel to and from rural homes because diesel and
petrol are bought in US dollars, causing bus fares to double every week.

Home development has altogether stopped because cement and brick
prices have increased five-hundredfold in the past 12 months.

There is one state-controlled television and radio station and one
daily newspaper in Zimbabwe.

No public meeting can be conducted without police authority.

Commercial farms have no title deeds.

Although duty for cars and petrol is paid for in foreign currency, it
is still considered "illegal" to possess foreign currency in Zimbabwe!

Question: if Mugabe wins the March 29 elections, how and with whose
support is he going to reverse the endemic trend of national emaciation? Not
a hope in hell.

By Rejoice Ngwenya

* Rejoice Ngwenya is a Harare-based writer.

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87% workers would rather leave employers - survey

Zim Independent

Thursday, 28 February 2008 16:52
MOST workers in Zimbabwe are unhappy with their current employers and
would prefer to leave if they get an alternative job, a recent human
resources survey conducted by a local labour consultancy reveals.

The survey done by Organisational Excellence Consultancy whose results
were released two weeks ago shows that the majority of workers are desperate
to leave their current jobs because they are not happy with their salaries.

The survey revealed that given a choice, 87,50% of workers in Zimbabwe
would leave their current employers with the remaining 12,50% saying they
would rather stay put.

However, the reason for those who would rather remain with their
current employers has little to do with the salaries but the relationship
that they enjoy with colleagues at the workplace.

About 83,87% who said they would remain in their current places of
employment said they would do so only because they enjoy good working
relations with colleagues.

The survey also shows that as inflation continues to rise workers are
becoming more interested in package benefits than the salary itself. About
12,90% said they are only remaining in their current jobs because they enjoy
free fuel while 9,68% said they would rather hang on because they have a
company vehicle.

Another 12,90% said they are persuaded to stay on in their jobs
because of a good working environment with 9,68% remaining because the
company helps pay their children's school fees. Only 6,45% said they are
staying put because they have a good basic salary.

Most workers said the pay cheque was no longer a very important factor
because it has become unsustainable in the current inflationary environment.
On average junior managers earn between $400 million and $900 million.
Executives are earning between $8 billion and $10 billion a month while
chief executives are getting around $20 billion.

The survey however revealed that even the top earners like chief
executives are not happy with their salaries which are losing value because
of inflation. The month-on-month inflation rate has averaged 180% over the
past two months.

Organisational Excellence Consultancy's principal consultant, Memory
Nguwi, said most professionals were frustrated because they could not afford
to get mortgages for houses and loans for cars.

"What most workers want is a comfortable life but unfortunately many
have concluded that this might just be a pipe dream if they continue working
in Zimbabwe," Nguwi said.

Nguwi said the survey indicates that companies are struggling to
retain skilled workers.

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The only way out

Zim Independent

Thursday, 28 February 2008 15:42
WE all agree that all is not in order in our motherland and we need
sacrifices now more than ever before. We have to forget our personal
ambitions and do what we must do.

As leaders, we must be able and prepared to lose what we love most for
the good of Zimbabwe.

What the contenders in the March 29 elections should know is that
Zimbabweans want solutions - real solutions - not politicking.

We have had truckloads of that trash before and if anyone has not
learned by now he is a damned fool. The 28 years of school in politicking
for Zimbabwe is a long time for anybody not to have grasped the meanings
behind all the political rhetoric.

What we must all understand is that the country is being run along the
lines of the mafia - all with the omerta "code of silence". All insiders who
oppose the hegemonic oligarchy are seen not as reformers but as enemies of
the "people".

What we must know is that nobody is God here on earth - none is
sacrosanct or a deity.

By voting this time Zimbabweans must realise the importance of what
they are about to do. First, we have to acknowledge that a problem exists
and that we need to have a viable solution.

We are voting for all-encompassing solutions, not for politics. If we
all want power then we had better announce the victory of the ruling party.
Our new leaders must have solutions, not political power and megalomania.

There is a danger that history might repeat itself if we let our
egocentrism overshadow our reason. We know the problem causers - and they
also know themselves and their narrow interests.

Oppression is oppression whether it is done by a priest or Ian Smith.
In fact, what we have now is worse than during the liberation war - at least
then we had a well-defined enemy, not the chameleon we are now countenancing

The economy is in need of problem solvers not those with a track
record of looting and causing mayhem with impunity. We need responsible
people to govern.

The question is who are these responsible people? We start from what
we know. All we know for starters is that all the contenders were Zanu PF at
one time or the other.

The Zanu PF problem must be set aside and we must focus on the
problem, not on smear campaigns on the basis of Zanu PF - a sinking ship. It's
time to abandon ship in a typhoon and we have limited options.

The key issue is that we must recognise both Simba Makoni and Morgan
Tsvangirai as true and dedicated politicians who somehow emerged from the
same Zanu PF monster.

It is not to be mistaken for the English adage of setting a thief to
catch a thief; it is a matter of the proven good guys coming clean out of
the morass - and doing their duty according to God's wish.

Tsvangirai deserves a reward, so does Makoni and here we have a dicey
situation and little time to solve it. This is the test of the executive
mettle of these two guys - for if any majority win is only possible it must
be by these guys, not severally but in solidum. Or else we may say goodbye
to the presidency.

We have all the tools and what we need is the strategy. Like Garibaldi
in Italy, Tsvangirai fought a long battle and deserves a hero's recognition.

And like Camillo di Cavour, Makoni is a proven strategist and
statesman with no villainy directly linked to him. A combination of such
forces would have a devastating effect and rigging would be well nigh

Tsvangirai was placed in a pro-Zanu PF trade union in 1980, which was
a strategic position for launching a viable opposition.

We can say that the time was ripe for him following developments in
Zambia (Frederick Chiluba and the MMD).

Makoni on the other hand is a tried and tested reformer who worked
from within and knows the strategies of the enemy. Makoni's history is one
of struggle from within - don't despise him.

Let's be careful not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

We know President Robert Mugabe's methods and why fall into the trap
open-eyed? We all know the problem and what must be done - and Makoni and
Tsvangirai must do it for our sake if they are genuine.

The complications are naked for all to see. If Makoni and Tsvangirai
contest separately it would be hard to get the requisite majority and the
confusion would make rigging easier with the rigger claiming that he took
advantage of their confusion.

In that case, Makoni and Tsvangirai must know that they will be doomed
and our woes will continue to escalate. If they unite with Makoni at the
helm, then Tsvangirai will obviously be either vice president or prime
minister or any such vital post, rather than running all these years without

Let us form a united front and push out the tyrant. In fact, this
election will be a serious liability increasing post-election tyranny with
impunity and retribution.

This will be a betrayal to the people since it shows clearly that
both, or the one that opposes a united front, is not for the people because
he will simply be aiding and abetting Mugabe on his eternal perch.

It is obvious that after the harmonised elections, Zanu PF will launch
its usual vengeance campaign on the population like after the "No" vote in
2000 and Operation Murambatsvina and others we cannot mention.

The secret is now to unite and get all or contest separately and
suffer the same fate as the Zimbabwe Unity Movement and other opposition
parties before.

Mao Tse Tung, the Chinese Communist strategist, united with his bitter
enemy, the Kuomintang, to remove Japanese occupation. Likewise in Kenya that
was the only strategy to topple the tyrant Daniel arap Moi from his majestic

We may have so many lessons and yet never learn. That omission or
commission will be like a criminal act against the people of Zimbabwe.

So the idea is to settle for slightly less and get to your goal. That
is these two guys' first lesson in diplomacy. They must know that a
"winner-takes-all" orientation does not work in this time and place.

You give some and take some. What you give must be dear to you - that's
what we call sacrificing - and the harvest will be good for all.

Let's vote for reason and progress. All the rhetoric about colonialism
and imperialism is a façade and a charade which only worsens our lot and it
is all lies.

By Joe Makuch

* Joe Makuch is a Zimbabwean based in the UK.

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Who is imposing whom and why?

Zim Independent

Thursday, 28 February 2008 15:33
LAST week, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) treasurer Roy Bennett
gave an interview to Violet Gonda on SW Radio Africa's "Hot Seat" programme.
One salient aspect of the fascinating exchange was Bennett's
indication of clear displeasure at what he saw as the "imposition" of Simba
Makoni on the electorate by what he referred to as the "diplomatic
 community". Of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, Bennett is quoted as saying:
"He is going to shock the world, shock the chattering class, shock the
diplomatic community that all try to impose people of their choice rather
than listening to the grassroots of Zimbabwe and the people of Zimbabwe."

On being asked who the diplomatic community is trying to impose, he
stated: "They are trying to impose Simba Makoni."

Whether or not this is correct, it indicates that there is a
perception within the MDC leadership that the "diplomatic community" is
interfering in opposition politics and trying to impose its will on the
people of Zimbabwe.

This raises many questions.

Why would they be trying to impose Makoni?

 Do they have the power or leverage over the MDC to impose Makoni?

Have they, in the past, played a role in selecting opposition leaders?

Why would the opinion of the "diplomatic community" cause any worries
to the MDC leadership which is confident of its local support base?

Or is there a deeper relationship here that has taken a wrong turn and
if so why?

There is no easy answer to these questions, but one senses that there
is tension building up between the MDC and its traditional base of external

And that makes victory on March 29 even more imperative given the
diplomatic fallout that seems to be brewing.

It is easy to overlook the fact that this line of thought now
advocated by the MDC is not new.

The reason President Robert Mugabe has been steadfast in his refusal
to allow space to the MDC is that he perceives them as puppets of the West.
The run-ins between the government and the US, UK and lately Swedish
diplomatic missions indicate the public face of this animosity and

Could these be the same powers whose diplomats the MDC alleges to be
now favouring Makoni in place of Tsvangirai?

Gonda did not go further to ask specification on the identity of these
diplomats leaving the audience to speculate on the specificities of this
amorphous "diplomatic community".

There is, plainly, a sense of betrayal, perhaps frustration within the
MDC leadership over the intentions and activities of this undefined
diplomatic community.

For a party that has enjoyed visible support from the diplomatic
community, these latest allegations reveal simmering tensions and mistrust.

But, importantly, the allegations do raise shades of a "Mugabesque"
approach to opponents, except that Bennett does not use the same derogatory
language often employed by Mugabe whose choice of descriptions of
adversaries range from puppets to prostitutes and lately frogs.

But Bennett's comments which effectively characterise Makoni as
someone who is being imposed on the electorate by the "diplomatic community"
will no doubt find resonance in the state media which has been carrying
similar attacks  in much the same way that it has treated Tsvangirai over
the years.

There is here the irony of a so-called stooge now turning and calling
another a stooge on precisely the same basis. That being the case, it seems
to be one of those rare instances when the MDC and Zanu PF seem to be in

But in the eyes of Zanu PF, this does not exonerate the MDC from the
same charges.

It simply provides further ammunition to its arsenal, arguing perhaps
that the MDC is simply acting like the petulant child who cries on seeing
his slice of the cake being given to a new sibling.

But if there is any substance in these comments, they do raise serious
concerns about the character of opposition politics in Zimbabwe. The
question that has dogged every serious opposition leader for the last decade
is whether one can actually claim to be his own man.

Zanu PF has always suggested the problem to be the opposition's lack
of independence, it being a tool to further the interests of the West. Crude
though it might be, it has been an effective method, especially among the
uninformed sections of society.

It has also been effective in the community of African leaders who,
plainly, believe that Mugabe is a victim of Western interference. It also
explains, in part, why Tsvangirai has never quite found the favour he sought
from the likes of Thabo Mbeki and fellow African leaders in southern Africa.

It is interesting, therefore, that the MDC would now resort to the
same line of argumentation in respect of a fellow challenger. That might
well be interpreted to its disadvantage, it being taken by its perennial
detractors to give credence to Mugabe's usual rhetoric.

The MDC may well be right about its apprehensions. But when it is
trying to manoeuvre in this treacherous terrain, it seems to make sense to
also retain a measure of diplomacy in its dealings.

Bennett's comments came hardly two weeks after another diplomatic faux
pas in South Africa, when Tsvangirai was reported to have publicly
criticised Mbeki for not being "a little brave" in handling Mugabe.

He may be right, but it is not helpful to appear to be humiliating a
host, to whom one is likely to return in future.

The MDC is right to say that the decision-makers are the Zimbabwean
voters and that they may well post a surprise on March 29. But surely, they
have been in the trenches long enough to know that local support needs to be
augmented by external understanding and backing.

There will be a time when they will be needed just as their material
largesse has sustained the organisational needs of the opposition and civil
society groups.

A lesson learnt, perhaps, would be that there is nothing like a free
lunch in this world. If there is indeed some pressure on the MDC leadership,
it is perhaps the price they are paying - a consequence of investment in a
relationship that had up to now appeared safe and comforting.

It brings to mind the old lesson that there are no permanent friends
in the world of politics. Rather, it is only the pursuit of interests that
is permanent.

It is easy to forget that although by the time he went to the gallows
Saddam was a sworn enemy, it was not always so. Even America's most wanted,
Osama Bin Laden, he too, was not always a bad apple.

There is, however, a risk here for the MDC: one of burning bridges.

Legend has it that "burning bridges" is a phrase that goes way back to
the Roman times. It is said that the generals of the Roman army took the
practice of burning bridges once their soldiers had crossed on their way to

This, supposedly, took away any ideas of retreating that the soldiers
might otherwise have entertained. Today, it is a phrase that means that
those who burn bridges tend to place themselves in positions from which
there might be no return. This comes at great cost.

The opposition now finds itself facing more challenges, not just
Mugabe but also the simmering doubts within the traditionally friendly
"diplomatic community".

Is there something more the public should know? No doubt this is only
the tip of the iceberg. Sooner or later, it shall manifest.

By Alex Magaisa

*Dr Magaisa is based at the University of Kent Law School and can be
contacted at e-mail address is being protected
from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or

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Zim's No 1 headache

Zim Independent

Thursday, 28 February 2008 15:28
AT face value, news that security forces had been given a pay rise
that will push their monthly salaries to a little over one billion dollars a
month gives the impression that they are now getting a lot of money.
To anybody not accustomed to life in Zimbabwe a billion-dollar salary
sounds like an obscene amount. This impression however only lasts until the
seemingly huge figure is compared to what it can buy in real terms. It
becomes even worse when one looks at how much the same amount will buy at
the end of the month in light of Zimbabwe's galloping inflation which the
Central Statistical Office reported to be 100 580,2% for January on a
year-on-year basis.

Zimbabwe's month-on-month inflation has averaged 180% for the past two
months. The month-on-month inflation rate is given by the percentage change
in the index of the relevant month of the current year compared to the
previous month. It indicates the average change in prices of the goods in
the consumer basket.

For instance January's month-on-month inflation of 120,8% indicates
the average price increase changes from December last year. In other words
the same salary cannot buy the same commodities it did last month.

In specific terms it means that a Zimbabwean dollar today is no longer
worth the same tomorrow.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Zimbabwe is now
experiencing hyperinflation - a situation when month-on-month inflation
reaches more than 50%.

So serious is the cost of inflation on the salaries that by the time
it is received at the end of the month the amount will be worth next to

Even though most Zimbabweans might not know the academic definition of
inflation at least they see what it does to their earnings.

For example, Norman Nerwande (34) was one of the soldiers who received
a billion-dollar salary last week but instead of being happy he is

The reason is that the amount is barely enough to buy the basics for
his family of three.

The mathematics of it all is quite simple. Using the prices for this
week Nerwande's billion-dollar pay cheque is only enough to buy two litres
of cooking oil ($60 million), a loaf of bread per day for the rest of the
month ($120 million) and a packet of meali-meal ($20million).

It will also pay rent for his three rooms in Budiriro ($80 million per
room), four kilogrammes of meat ($40 million per kilogramme) and provide
enough bus fare ($205 million per month). He will also be able to pay the
city council rates, water and power charges which now require $250 million
per month.

The amount is finished before Nerwande can cater for other basic
commodities, clothing and school fees. Nerwande's problem is that these
calculations are based on the prices that are valid for a week and in some
cases a day.

As the month progresses Nerwande's money will only be able to buy
fewer loaves and pay for fewer trips to his work at the Presidential Guard
headquarters in town.

The list of the things that he can buy with the salary is getting
smaller every day because of inflation. His situation will be even more
desperate because the next salary which is due on March 18 will not be able
to buy the same things that he bought this month.

"The salary is finished before it comes," said Nerwande.

This is the sorry situation that every worker faces in Zimbabwe. At
the current average month-on-month inflation of 180% a billion dollars next
month will only buy a bottle of cooking oil which will cost $168 million and
pay rent for three rooms which will cost $224 million per room.

This list will be whittled down further by April and can only be
enough then for a single room and a smaller bottle of cooking oil.

This means that Zimbabwean workers are continually sinking into
poverty. No amount of salary increase can be enough under the current
conditions where the Zimbabwean dollar is losing value everyday.

Analysts say it is now difficult for companies to motivate employees.
"Very few workers now look forward to their salaries," said David
Mupamhadzi, group economist for Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group.

"The reason is that in most cases the salary reviews are way below the
inflation rate. Workers have also realised that inflation is not only eating
into their current salaries but future earnings as well," Mupamhadzi said.

Mupamhadzi said in such situations inflation becomes a subtle tax.
"The issue here is that while ideally workers must be paid per month but
sticking to this arrangement disadvantages workers.It becomes a subtle tax
on the worker."

Already some companies have started paying their workers weekly. The
problem is, however, that not all companies will afford to pay their workers
every week because of cash flow problems.

For example some companies have a system where debtors pay after 30
days.  This means that a move to weekly salary payments will disrupt the
cash flow position.

Most companies are already distressed with the majority operating at
below 10% of capacity.
Human resources consultant, Memory Nguwi, believes that there will
come a time when people will not bother to come to work because their
salaries are continually at the mercy of inflation. "It's a headache for
most companies.

It will be difficult to justify coming to work because the wages are
just insignificant," Nguwi said.

"Companies will have come up new incentives to motivate workers."

Some companies are supplying groceries to workers while others are
reviewing salaries every month. Analysts however said even these methods
might not be enough to encourage workers to stay on their jobs.

"Hyperinflation tends to render even these methods useless," said
Other countries like Germany (after World War I) and Bolivia faced the
same problems.

For instance there was a time when prices would increase every few
hours in Germany meaning that workers that got their monies in the morning
would be better off than those that get their salaries in the afternoon.

The rich have also not been spared by inflation - fuel and property
prices have sky-rocketed. Even those that earn in foreign currency will have
to deal with inflation somehow. At the current rates at the parallel market
the rand buys more in South Africa than it does in Zimbabwe even at the
parallel market rate.

The concept of parity pricing has been skewed because of inflation.

"The biggest cause of inflation in Zimbabwe is now inflation itself,"
said Martin Tarusenga, a business consultant.

"The sad part of the Zimbabwe story is that those in power know what
needs to be done but they just choose to do nothing," Tarusenga said.

Shakeman Mugari

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What Masimirembwa said last week

Zim Independent

Thursday, 28 February 2008 17:01
BELOW are excerpts from the interview Zimbabwe Independent business
editor, Shakeman Mugari, had with NIPC chairman, Godwills Masimirembwa last
Mugari: Your commission has been accused of taking time to approve
prices. Companies say by the time they get new prices things would have
changed. Consumers say your approved prices are always far removed from the
reality on the ground.

Masimirembwa: We are not always behind. What is always ahead is the
tendency to profiteer. I must however say that we have worked well with big

Mugari: You are trying to inculcate a culture of responsibility in an
economy with 66 000% (now 100 000%) inflation. The International Monetary
Fund says even this figure is understated.

Masimirembwa: The NIPC does not sit in an abstract. We look at an
application and its merits. We want stability. The price must hold for 30

Mugari: It seems that even the 30-day time frame is not working?

Masimirembwa: We must realise that price reviews are not a panacea to
our problems. The solution lies in productivity. There are shortages in the
whole economy. We will still have problems achieving this stability if
inflation continues to rise. We need a total package to solve this problem.

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Eric Bloch Column

Zim Independent

Thursday, 28 February 2008 15:21
ALTHOUGH inevitably Zanu PF would vehemently deny it, it is becoming
more and more apparent that the party's 2008 election campaign has been
devised and structured to ensure the party's defeat.

Zanu PF plans to lose elections

The rationale for such an incongruous objective defies comprehension,
but it is near impossible to assume any other intent from government's
current policies and actions.

It is commendable that, albeit belatedly, government has enabled and
empowered the Central Statistical Office (CSO) to resume timeous release of
Consumer Price Index (CPI) and related inflation data, after a four month
hiatus of near total CSO silence.

 It is also commendable that the CSO is releasing data which confirms
the intense hyperinflation that prevails, instead of deviously attempting to
conceal that reality.

Undoubtedly government has finally, and very tardily, realised that
any attempted misrepresentation would be an exercise in the fruitless, for
the populace is fully aware of the inflation actualities.

In fact, the populace knows that real inflation is even greater than
stated by the CSO, because most essential commodities are not available in
the official markets accessed by CSO, but must be obtained at considerably
higher prices from black market sources.

However, the commendability of the data release, free of blatant,
deliberate distortion, is markedly outweighed by government's total failure
to do anything to contain the devastating inflation, or to alleviate the
intense, ever-increasing, hardships afflicting almost all in Zimbabwe (other
than the Zanu PF hierarchy).

Ever since inflation commenced its surging upwards spiral, government
has done naught but speciously blame others, save and except for
ill-conceived, misguided actions to worsen the circumstance (such as price
controls, creation of the National Incomes and Pricing Commission,
castigation unjustly of the business community, and so forth), although the
motivation of such actions could well be construed as part of Zanu PF's
death wish.

No matter how greatly, or how frequently, government may attribute the
hyperinflation to the greed of the business world, or to conspiracy between
the government's perceived international enemies and the captains of
commerce and industry, the incontrovertible fact is that each and every
cause of Zimbabwean hyperinflation has been the creation of government.

As tragic and contemptible as that is, what is even more tragic and
contemptible is that government compounds the catastrophes that it has
created by continued recourse to the very same actions that have fuelled the
world's worst inflation, and to yet further such actions.

The CSO determined that year-on-year inflation to December, 2007 was
66 212,3%, increasing to 100 580,2% in January 2008.

As horrific as those figures are, comparable to the greatest ever
recorded inflation, in Germany in the days of the Weimar Republic (1923),
actual Zimbabwean inflation was even greater than the CSO has stated, with
authoritative estimates placing it at between 130 000 and 140 000% in
January 2008.

If the Weimar Republic-like trend continues, Zimbabwe will exceed the
near trillion percent inflation that Germany sustained in the period from
1922 to 1924. And the blame for this disastrous plague upon the Zimbabwean
people lies fairly and squarely with government.

It is the Zimbabwean government that has:

*Destroyed agricultural production, with a land policy which has
caused nothing but decimation of that which was the economy's foundation,
the region's bread-basket, the greatest provider of employment, a major
foreign currency generator, and much else;

*Maintained a spurious exchange rate wholly unrelated to the need for
exporter viability, thereby causing massive shrinkage in mining production,
horrendous contraction in industrial output, and stultification of the
tourism sector;

*Alienated the international community to an extent that
criticlly-needed balance of payments support and developmental aid is not

*Alienated international investment by pursuit of a command economy,
characterised by draconian regulation and legislation;

*Fuelled grossly excessive money supply by never-ending recourse to
unaffordable spending, exacerbated by destroying the independence of the
central bank, and forcing it to engage continuously in vastly costly
quasi-fiscal operations, generally politically-driven, and economically

Government's spending of that which it does not have has become so
pronounced that it spends no time governing, and all its time spending. The
latest example of this endemic profligacy is the provision of trillions of
dollars of "loans" to the country's military.

This was a blatant act of vote-buying, notwithstanding government's
recurrent contentions that the forthcoming elections will be wholly free and

There is as great a prospect of such elections as there is that
President Mugabe could become prime minister of Great Britain, or the pope!
All these, and many other actions of government of a calamitous
nature, coupled by governmental inaction when actions were necessary, have
occasioned the gargantuan inflation that afflicts Zimbabwe.

So great is that affliction that hundreds of thousands are homeless,
millions are unemployed, malnutrition and associated ill-health is the order
of the day for very many, and an overwhelming majority of the populace are
subject to endless misery, and extreme, life-endangering hardships.

 And this circumstance has not only endured for almost a decade, but
at a continuously intensifying pace, to such an extent that for most of the
afflicted there is not even the compensation of the faintest glimmer of hope
of change.

As if government's culpability for the near destruction of Zimbabwe
and its people does not suffice to satisfy its machiavellian disregard for
the need to assure wellbeing for all Zimbabweans, government torturously
continues to turn on the screw of suffering, poverty and consequential
agony. Amongst its many tools of affliction is taxation.

Not only does it apply rates of taxation which are the highest on the
continent of Africa, and which contest for the unenviable status of being
amongst the world's highest, but it applies those rates not only to those
few with substantial incomes, but also to those who live on the precipice of

  Although the Minister of Finance, Samuel Mumbengegwi, last November
in his 2008 budget, adjusted the tax thresholds and bands for individuals,
effective from lst January, 2008, his concessions were reduced to levels
below the insignificant by that date, as a result of the ongoing inflation.

By February, the tax threshold is less than a sixth of the Poverty
Datum Line (PDL) for a family of six.

Thus, a person earning only one-sixth of that which is necessary to
sustain himself and his family on the border-line of poverty, becomes
subject to onerous income tax, over and above diverse indirect taxes, such
as VAT.

Only a government that is contemptuous of voters, or which is actually
planning to lose elections, would resort to such unjust, back-breaking,

Perhaps government has realised that even the must pronounced
pressures upon an electorate to support it are victims to the ultimate
extreme pressure of endangered survival, and it is therefore pushing for the
electorate to find the courage to vote against it.

What is, however, confusing, is reconciling these acts of apparent
determination to lose the elections with the concurrent disguised rigging of
those elections by the abusive usage of the state-controlled media to
promote the ruling party and to defame its opponents, the indirect
vote-buying of the votes of the military, teachers, and other civil
servants, and many like actions.

By Eric Bloch

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Candid Comment

Zim Independent

Thursday, 28 February 2008 15:09
"THEY (European nations) are complicating the problems in Zimbabwe by
recognising that elections are only free and fair when the ruling party
loses," said Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa this week.
 Leave us to chart our destiny

"We are sick and tired of having elections later disputed. We hope
losing parties will accept when they have lost," Mwanawasa said.This
followed his observation that European nations, Canada, the United States
and Australia would only pronounce Zimbabwe's harmonised elections next
month free and fair if the ruling Zanu PF lost to the MDC, judging by their
comments on the whole electoral process. He said the Europeans should leave
Zimbabweans to work at their problems without foreign interference.

Under normal circumstances, the Europeans and their American and
Australian counterparts should not have been surprised at this rebuke from
the Sadc chair as the organisation has in the past been accused of backing
President Mugabe against Morgan Tsvangirai or is it Zanu PF against the MDC?
Even the contradiction in Mwanawasa calling Zimbabwe a "sinking Titanic" and
then appealing for it to be left alone to resolve its problems would not be
so much striking, coming out of Africa.

But things are not normal here, they are indeed getting "complicated"
as we move fast towards the March 29 elections. Mwanawasa's comments came
the same week the MDC attacked the "diplomatic community" for trying to
impose independent presidential candidate, Simba Makoni, on the people of

The coincidence is unprecedented.

The difference is that Mwanawasa is mindful of the disastrous impact
of Western influence on our elections given what is going on in Kenya and
would be happy to scotch what appear set to be self-fulfilling European
prophecies about rigged elections in Zimbabwe should Zanu PF win - even if
the MDC boycotts the elections.

On the other hand the MDC's Roy Bennett in South Africa seems to have
been angered by the "diplomatic community's" warm reception of Makoni's
entry into the presidential race, thus confirming a widely held perception
that they prefer working with a "reformed" Zanu PF to a "complete change"
advocated by the MDC.

As I have indicated, there is nothing radical in Mwanawasa's position.
It is the MDC which seems to be walking a tightrope vis-à-vis the
"diplomatic community" with whom it has been cosy over the years.

First, if the claim is true, then Mwanawasa is right that foreigners
should not unduly interfere in our elections. They complicate things for us.
We are unable to make "informed" choices.

 Philanthropist George Soros calls this "counterproductive
intervention" by Western powers in an interview in the South African weekly,
Mail & Guardian!

Second, the link between Makoni and the "diplomatic community" might
just be a perception by the MDC. Which means it sees things through Zanu PF's
jaundiced lens - anybody who challenges it cannot be his own man. He is
either Zanu PF, as Bennett says of the Arthur Mutambara camp, or is imposed
by the West, like Simba Makoni.

Exactly what President Mugabe and Zanu PF say of Tsvangirai and the
MDC. How the disease has become dangerously contagious and mentally

But things get even more complicated for the MDC, for in its demand
for foreign observers and the international media to cover our elections
next month, it is common cause that its reference point is chiefly the
"diplomatic community" it now accuses of treachery by trying to impose
Makoni on the people of Zimbabwe - Britain, the United States, Canada,
Australia and European nations.

This is evident in the way the MDC has not hidden its suspicion of
Zanu PF's choice of "friendly nations" to be invited to observe the
elections - Sadc, the AU, China, Russia, etc.

There is no official list yet. This leaves us with no "independent"
foreign observers at all - a very painful prospect by any standard, all
because of the so-called Makoni factor.

Before this Makoni fellow upset the apple cart there was no doubt
about which way in the political fight the "diplomatic community's"
sympathies lay - listen to the cacophony of how Mugabe has already mugged
the ballot.

Yet for me Mwanawasa's warning is pertinent as we enter very sensitive
and what could turn out to be watershed elections in the country's history.
There has been a lot of external prejudging and too much noise about the
elections being rigged in Zanu PF's favour that it is doubtful whether any
rational voices will be heard post-election if the preferred party loses.

That is before one can even factor in the logistical nightmare of
voting in one day and problems of power outages or poor accessibility for
some parts of the country.

More tragically, there are frustrated youths in Zanu PF and the MDC
who cannot tell between genuine grievances and reckless electioneering, all
of which has the effect of inflaming passions which may burst into a
conflagration at the touch of a tinder. This calls for sensitivity and
responsible leadership on both parties.

Let aliens give Zimbabweans who vote the respect and chance to decide
the future of their nation without undue influence.

Why all this craving on the part of foreigners to turn our elections
and the resultant upshot into another "whiteman's burden" by prejudging

By Joram Nyathi

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Editor's Memo

Zim Independent

Thursday, 28 February 2008 15:01
MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti over the weekend raised a
fundamental point regarding President Mugabe's quest for re-election. At his
party's rally in Mutare on Saturday, Biti pondered whether "Mugabe would do
the impossible" and win an election in an environment dominated by
hyperinflation and unemployment.
 Will Mugabe achieve the impossible?

"There is no government in this world which can win an election when
inflation in over 100 000%, 80% unemployment and three millions of its
people living abroad," Biti said. "Mugabe, you cannot and you will not do
the impossible. Victory is certain for us."

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai who spoke more directly to party
supporters in the key note address said the election next month was a
referendum on Mugabe's misrule.

One intriguing aspect about President Mugabe's quest to for
re-election is that he expects the electorate to vote him back into office
without really promising them anything.

At a time when the country is crying out for prudent leadership to
chaperone it out of the current low, President Mugabe and his Zanu PF have
mounted a campaign inviting voters to defend their land and sovereignty.

That's all there is in Mugabe's project at the moment. He is begging
for another term not because he believes he has anything to offer but
because he simply wants to spite those he believes want to rob the national

The preoccupation with defending land, independence, sovereignty
presupposes that the people are enthralled by being constantly engaged in
battles on behalf of Mugabe and are not keen to enjoy the fruits of their

This is the nature of Zanu PF's project of national impoverishment.
The party is seeking popular endorsement of a project designed to render the
people dependent on Zanu PF for virtually everything. The message is,
without Zanu PF there is no independence, land, food, tractors, ploughs,
fertiliser and all the other goodies that come with dictatorial paternity.

The unfortunate issue about our dear leader is that all the goodies he
has dished out have no impact in righting the situation here. His latest
gifts of tractors and farming implements have done nothing to improve

Zimbabwe will be importing grain again this year. He has failed to
realise that the country will not be developed on the back of freebies,
especially those contained in the pouch tainted with corruption. It is from
the same receptacle that he pulled out land, fertiliser, fuel, Aspef funds
and so on.

Anyone challenging this embarrassing patronage is considered an enemy
of the state and an agent of the West. It was not surprising therefore that
President Mugabe's birthday interview broadcast last week and the speech at
the birthday party in Beitbridge over the weekend stakes emphasis on those
wanting to take away candy from his mouth.

To fend off the vexation from challengers, Simba Makoni and Morgan
Tsvangirai, Mugabe has resorted to berating them using crude language
usually consistent with emptiness.

He has likened Makoni to a prostitute and a frog. What does Joyce
Kazembe at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, who was recently lecturing the
media, say about this crude language?  How about his adversaries responding
in equal measure? (Crocodile? Dinosaur?)

President Mugabe believes that Zimbabwe's salvation will come from
shouting at the British. He wants the electorate to join him in howling at
the moon instead of focusing on the problems. To say the least, Mugabe has
ceased to be part of the solution to the national crisis. He is the
embodiment of a national tragedy in which he is asking the electorate for
another chance to star in the drama of calamity.

This brings me back to the MDC rally over the weekend. Tsvangirai
articulated the solutions to our crisis well: international re-engagement,
return to the rule of law, restoring productivity on the land, in mines and
factories and restoring the dignity of our currency. But will this earn him
the popular vote or will it be the cheap rhetoric of insults and innuendo
which will win at the end of the day?

Mugabe's record in between polls has not been good. The Zanu PF
government has since the last election in 2005 seen inflation rise from 164%
in June 2005 to the current 100 580% and the local currency weakened against
the US dollar from US$1:$6 100 (May 2005) to the current rate of US$1:$20
000 000.

Capacity utilisation has dropped from about 50% to less than 15%
today. Agricultural production and social services indices - especially in
health and social security - have plummeted to life-threatening levels.

That is the Zanu PF record in between polls. But Mugabe still insists
that the anti-British theme is key for him in this election. We'll see.

By Vincent Kahiya

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Zim Independent

Thursday, 28 February 2008 14:55
POLICE Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri has warned Zimbabweans
against engaging in politically motivated violence. He said this on Tuesday.
This was a follow-up to a march by the ZRP at the weekend to raise public
awareness against violence.
 Public order not about shooting

This is a worthy initiative by the police, although it should be
embarrassing to any self-respecting Zimbabwean. It has however become
necessary to mount this campaign given that elections in Zimbabwe have
become synonymous with violence, which is a shame.

Chihuri said the police force had adequate resources to deal with any
acts of violence related to the harmonised March elections, including the
use of "full force" and firearms if this became necessary.

"The use of full force by the police the world over has always
attracted criticism, and is deliberately exaggerated most of the times for a
purpose," said Chihuri. "This is a sticky point so designed to undermine and
discredit the entire electoral process."

We are not going to apportion blame about who is responsible for
violence. Our wish is for as free and fair elections as is possible under
the current polarised and badly poisoned political atmosphere.

A decision having already been taken that the elections will be held
on March 29, and with all political parties already hard at work on their
campaigns towards that deadline, it would be foolhardy of anyone to imagine
elections under any other conditions.

The best that we can do for our part is to appeal for a sense of
maturity and responsibility among all those involved in the electoral
process and in the elections themselves - from the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission, politicians and their political parties to the police. It
behoves the ZEC to be seen to be as impartial as is humanly possible in the
execution of its duties.

This will avoid unnecessary finger-pointing and recriminations with
those who already view it as a partisan body. We shall give them the benefit
of the doubt.

The police's efforts in ensuring peaceful elections can only benefit
from the behaviour of the different political parties and their candidates.
It would be remiss of us to expect the police to maintain peace while
political leaders use inflammatory language and hate speech in the course of
their campaigns.

Extolling parties' degrees in violence is as bad as glorifying the
mayhem which followed the announcement of the Kenyan election results last
month. Those responsible for these irresponsible utterances should be
personally held accountable for the consequences regardless of which
political formation they belong to.

Then there is the police itself and law enforcement. Gratuitous
threats to shoot people are as bad as the threats of street protests and
violence by those who lose elections. The police can only hope to get as
much public respect as it deserves in terms of how impartial it is seen to
be in applying the law.

Once the police are seen to partially enforce a law already as
discredited as the Public Order and Security Act, they can only bring
dishonour on themselves.

It starts with the way the law is applied regarding public meetings,
gatherings and rallies. All parties must be seen and feel that they are
being treated equally. The conduct of the police must be beyond reproach, a
tall order in such a charged atmosphere but one that must be executed with

It is in this respect that we appeal for maximum restraint in the use
of "full force and arms" as threatened by Chihuri. An unfortunate incident
in trying to control a rowdy crowd disgruntled at the electoral outcome
might turn out to be just the spark to trigger a holocaust.

In his address on Tuesday, Chihuri warned: "We are not deterred by the
utterances of hate from the Western world concerning this issue (use of
force) as it is in their interest to discredit all who are not their puppets
in their quest to defend their interests."

This is obviously a very loaded statement going well beyond
professional policing for law and order. Using "full force" to enforce law
and order and to protect life and property are different from applying the
same force to defend a particular political system.

This becomes a matter of personal discretion by the officer in charge
on whether a grievance is genuine or it is meant to serve foreign interests.
This compromises the role of the police and opens it to charges of
partiality towards certain causes. That is not what public order should be

Therefore the success or failure of next month's elections will very
much depend on the role played by all the stakeholders with their competing

These interests must however at the end of the day defer to the
overarching national interest. Nobody should have a greater stake in the
outcome of next month's elections than those Zimbabweans who will vote to
choose their leaders and decide their country's future.

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Zim Independent

Thursday, 28 February 2008 15:16
IT was interesting to see the tributes flowing in to Fidel Castro upon
his retirement. Norman Mailer once described him as "the first and greatest
hero to appear in the world since the Second World War".
Lavish birthday bash amid abject poverty

Others differed. "Initially an admirer, the Peruvian writer Mario
Vargas Llosa grew to hate the man he dubbed 'the Super Ego'," the Daily
Telegraph reported. "The Cuban people, said Llosa, had been left with only
two aspirations by Castro: get enough food to eat and escape as soon as

Sound familiar?

The South African press went to town on the $3 trillion Zanu PF was
spending on President Robert Mugabe's birthday celebrations in Beitbridge at
a time when shortages of just about everything blighted the land. And then
there was the balloon tethered on the South African side of the river with
the legend "Bob, you've had your cake, now beat it" emblazoned on the side.

Those of us a bit slow to get the message, should understand this is a
variant of the "having your cake and eating it" aphorism.

Some elements in the ruling party, we understand, wanted to shoot the
blimp down but cooler heads prevailed. Then there was that unprepossessing
piece of embroidery the Chinese ambassador presented at Zimbabwe House.

The ambassador said Mugabe was "a great revolutionary in the world,
the best friend of the Chinese people".

 If that was the case, someone should have asked him, why does his
boss keep dodging Zimbabwe every time he comes to Africa?

Simba Makoni is unlikely to respond to the childish rebukes of a
lightweight political columnist like Godwills Masimirembwa. But Masimirembwa's
accusation that Makoni has "all along been an enemy of the revolution" leads
us to ask what role Masimirembwa played in the revolution? Running a chicken
farm doesn't count.

It is only revolutionary in the sense that the chickens lose their

Isn't it significant that Zanu PF's most shrill propagandists at home
and abroad are those who played no role whatsoever in the liberation of this
country and have indeed been complicit in its collapse?

We had, for instance, the vacuous George Shire inviting us to remember
our history. That, after all, is the only thing Zanu PF has left! But why
doesn't Shire explain why he won't join his compatriots in sharing their
travails at this time in our history? Why does he prefer to live and work in
the safe embrace of a proclaimed enemy? Intriguing isn't it? But it is
typical of the double standards that infect every utterance of these useless

Poor old Christopher Mushohwe. He is haunted by the fact that while
Manicaland has the largest number of people in the present cabinet, it also
has the largest number of individuals turning against the president.

"I am challenging you Cde Governor," he said to Tinaye Chigudu in
Marange recently, "to do something about this problem."

Exactly what it was the hapless governor was supposed to do was not
spelt out.

Mushohwe said "it was common knowledge that the Simba Makoni project
is being spearheaded by whites as witnessed by several parties that were
thrown in Harare when he announced his intention to stand against the

Some nightclubs did not close down that night as whites celebrated the
news, Mushohwe claimed.
So this is the level of intelligence ministers reach after getting
their MA fast-tracked through UZ? We can see quite clearly here where the
problem in Manicaland lies.

"Perhaps you can find out from these people what their real problem
is," Mushohwe told Governor Chigudu.

Now there's an idea!

Meanwhile, Muckraker would like to know more about the Illyushin 96
deal. Zimbabwe has paid a deposit for three of the gas-guzzling planes, we
are told. Why has Mushohwe not given us the details? Illyushin officials at
the Singapore air show last week said it was a done deal!

Why does the Herald think voters should listen to the views of George
Charamba who was given top billing in the newspaper on Monday?

Charamba claimed the opposition was going into the March 29 poll with
manifestos that serve the interests of Britain and the US. He claimed Simba
Makoni's manifesto was inspired by the US Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic
Recovery Act (Zidera).

"Read Zidera and you will know who the father of Tsvangirai and Makoni
is," Charamba proclaimed. "Their land policies betray their parentage."

In fact their land policies call for a fair and equitable distribution
of land which leads to agricultural recovery.

Why Charamba should find that sinister we can only guess at. But why
are the partisan views of a senior civil servant being given prominence in
the public media? Shouldn't he be adopting a professional stance of
political neutrality?

One of the key weaknesses of Zimbabwe's electoral system is the role
of public servants in promoting the interests of the incumbent regime whilst
abusing their government platform to hurl insults at opposition figures.

At the same time, the public media which is supposed to reflect a
diversity of interests behaves as a ruling-party cheerleader.

Editors in the public media are happy to be used in this way because
they don't know any better. Why isn't Charamba challenged to say what
happened to the £44 million that Britain provided for land reform prior to
1993? And why is he opposed to a land audit which would reveal the extent of
the chicanery in the land redistribution exercise?

Meanwhile, he might have a word with his boss about unstatesman-like
behaviour. How appropriate is it for an 84-year-old leader to go around
calling his opponents prostitutes? And what would be Mugabe's response if
his opponents used the same language?

The regime has passed a raft of laws making it illegal to denigrate
the president.

So Mugabe is able to insult his critics and then hide behind the law
when somebody in the back of a commuter omnibus says something mildly
unflattering about him!

How brave or dignified is that sort of political behaviour?

Following the nomination process, we have some curious names of
political contestants. In Dangamvura-Chikanga we have Mutsekwa Giles
Tariyafero (MDC Tsvangirai), Binari Yard (Zanu PF), Muza Nomore (MDC),
Maeresera Taziveyi Rajab (Independent), while in Nyanga North there is
Mazambani David (Independent), Nyawupembe Siboniso Tarisayi (Independent),
Chibvura Nichodimus Antimalaria (Zanu PF), and Mwonzora Douglas Togaraseyi
(MDC Tsvangirai).

In Mwenezi West there is Masukume Pilot (Zanu PF) and Tedious Douglas
(MDC Tsvangirai).
In Zaka Central Rufurwekuda News (Independent), Mahora Douglas (MDC),
and Tachiona Nyaradzo (Zanu PF) are contesting the poll.

In Gutu Mudyahoto Tapuwa (Independent), Zvinavashe Vitalis (Zanu PF),
and Makamure Empire (MDC Tsvangirai) have thrown their hats into the ring.

In Lupane East Girls Ndlovu (Zanu PF) is in contention.

In Lupane West we have Vigilance Ncube (MDC Mutambara) while in
Emganwini there is Vanish Ndlovu (UPP) and Legion Dube (Independent). Gwanda
has Mlilo  Orders (Zanu PF).
Good luck to them all!

Don't you get the impression reading the official press and
presidential pronouncements that Simba Makoni has committed some
unforgivable offence by standing for president?

As we know, "there's no vacancy there". But surely other people are
allowed to throw their hat into the ring? We are given the strong impression
that challengers are unwelcome; in fact they are committing a form of lese
majesté, a law Louis XV1 used to incarcerate his critics in the Bastille.

We noted earlier how Mugabe uses what are called "insult laws" to
discourage criticism. But here we have something equally serious: a climate
in which people don't dare exercise their political rights. Zanu PF, despite
being the author of the nation's misery, is promoted as the only authentic
claimant to the people's trust.

Under the mantra of sovereignty those seeking to engage the
international community to help rescue the country are damned as traitors.

What one can identify clearly enough is presidential fury that anybody
should propose an alternative programme to Zanu PF's bankrupt policies.

ZTV's absolutely pointless interview with Mugabe last week at least
exposed his failure to offer a solution to the crisis he has spawned. It was
a public relations disaster and those sitting off-camera in the shadows
giggling at his puerile remarks must have known it.

This was a man bereft of policies and locked in the mantras of the

The big question now is, will the mix of coercion and official
propaganda be sufficient to avoid a run-off after March 29? That is his
biggest worry.

It all depends
on how many voters Makoni and the MDC have registered. There's no room
for unbridled optimism there.

Zanu PF has been advertising its dishonesty by inserting words into a
letter by Gordon Brown announcing an increase in funding for civil society
organisations such as doctors, lawyers and NGOs.

Where Brown said civil society, Zanu PF has inserted the words "read
as opposition". So, not just deceitful but clumsy as well! Is this the best
they can do?

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