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"Heartbreaking" to see the havoc

By: Belinda Anderson

Posted: 2004/03/26 Fri 07:27 | Moneyweb 1997-2004

Zimbabwean businessman and Mail & Guardian publisher Trevor Ncube says
it is "heartbreaking" to see the havoc wreaked on his home country in the
last few years - as President Robert Mugabe has worked to consolidate his
power base and to teach the British a lesson.
Ncube, who was last in Zimbabwe last month, says the stories of petrol
and bread queues are very real, as are the dire shortages of basic

With unemployment levels of 70% and inflation running at 600%-odd,
Ncube asks: "How do you do business in an environment of that nature?"

Ncube's comments come in the wake of a leaked charter for the
Zimbabwean mining sector that could see companies being forced to sell up to
49% to black Zimbabweans.

He says Mugabe currently purports to be in a process of trying to root
out corruption among businessmen who he alleges are stealing the country's
limited foreign exchange reserves. Ncube said this would be good if this
were Mugabe's real intention. But, he said, there was a strong sense that
Mugabe was targeting businessmen who were not sufficient sympathizers with
his political party, Zanu PF, nor needed the support of the party.

"It is a chaotic situation. As if you are in the Titanic and the
captain does not know what to do with the sinking ship," he says.

Ncube believes that Mugabe intends to run for and to win the next
election and will then step down - but only when he is confident the new
leader in Zanu PF is strong enough to protect him.
The next step will then be to rebuild Zanu PF and the economy at the
same time. Ncube says this process is already beginning - the International
Monetary Fund is currently in the country talking about solutions. One
should interpret this as a sign that Mugabe wants to get back into the
international community and feel vindicated by winning the next election as
well, he says.

But, although normally optimistic, Ncube says he does not see any
positive developments on that front for at least another three years - until
2007 at the earliest.

"There will be hope one day, but the question is how long that will
take," he says.
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Farmers abandon wheat

Felix Njini

3/25/2004 7:15:08 AM (GMT +2)

ZIMBABWE, hit by perennial wheat shortages over the years, should
brace for another deficit this season.

Farmers, citing lack of irrigation equipment, high water and
electricity tariffs and poor producer prices, have severely cut or
abandoned production of the crop, used to make bread.

Obert Jiri, chief executive of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union
(ZFCU), said there has been a reduction in irrigable land from 30 000
hectares in 2003 to 10 000 hectares this year, mainly because of the
division of farms into smaller plots during the land reform.

He said some of the country's largest wheat-producing farms that had
been using such irrigation facilities as the centre pivot had been
divided into smaller units, minimising usage of the latest irrigation

"Most farmers are shifting to barley, which is not controlled, and
they sell to Delta Corporation or they grow for export," Jiri said.

It is estimated that of the 140 000 tonnes of wheat produced last
year, only 80 000 tonnes found its way to the Grain Marketing Board
(GMB), while the rest was marketed directly to millers, a development
which has irked the government.

Players in the wheat-growing sector have warned that the winter wheat
programme, which has not been helped by the reduction in prices of
chemicals and fertilisers because of the introduction early this year
of value-added tax, was doomed.

They say it is difficult for established commercial farmers to start
any preparations before the government, which monopolises the
marketing of wheat through the GMB, announces the producer prices for
this season.

Wheat is a winter irrigated crop grown in April and harvested in
September and four varieties - Scope, Scan, Sceptre and Scarlet - are
grown in the prime regions of Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East,
Mashonaland Central and the Midlands province.

Farming industry experts said an archaic marketing system that does
not reflect rising production costs was a major contributor to the
decline in output over the years.

An official with the Zimbabwe Farmers Union said wheat has become a
high-risk crop, adding the government has failed to respond to
concerns raised by the farmers.

The official said the main reason for the decline in output was the
continuously rising input costs, against stagnant producer prices.

Price controls as well as the government's threats to arrest farmers
found selling the commodity outside GMB channels have had a knock-on
effect on production, forcing the country to import wheat to augment
dwindling local supplies.

Zimbabwe needs 450 000 tonnes of wheat a season to meet its annual
domestic consumption. In 2003, less than 140 000 tonnes of wheat were
produced, down from 360 000 tonnes in 2001, resulting in severe bread

Zimbabwean wheat growers had weathered severe disruptions on
production caused by government supporters - who occupied most of the
prime commercial farming areas - to produce a record 360 000 tonnes in
2001. The figure fell to 280 000 tonnes produced in 2002.

Jiri said although it was still too early to forecast the 2004 output,
prospects of a better season were minimal.

"Preparations are just beginning and fertilisers are available and
affordable, but there are still problems besieging the sector," he

According to Jiri, water tariffs have gone up from $12 per cubic metre
in 2002 to $165 per cubic metre this year.

To produce one hectare of wheat, a farmer needs about 7 000 cubic
metres of water, translating to about $1.1 million for water per

Electricity tariffs have also been hiked by a massive 400 percent.

Jiri said it now cost $4 million to farm one hectare of wheat - which
farming sources say yields a maximum of four tonnes - while the
government-controlled producer price is $776 000 per tonne.

The government has over the years been accused of pegging producer
prices of most cereals using the Agriculture and Rural Development
Authority production costs, which commercial farmers say are very low
because the parastatal does not have a commercial orientation.

Jiri said the ZCFU had appealed to the government to increase the
producer price of wheat from the current $776 000 per tonne to about
$1.5 million, which he said was a break-even price.

"Major factors, which encourage farmers to produce include knowing the
producer price of a commodity before land preparations. Currently, it
is very difficult for farmers to prepare, especially the established
farmers who are in business for commercial purposes," Jiri said.

Milling companies, which used to import about 30 percent of wheat to
blend with the local product, are now importing more than 60 percent
to keep their milling plants running, sources in the industry say.

But the cost of such wheat imports has skyrocketed over the past few
years as the Zimbabwe dollar plummeted against major currencies,
forcing millers to push for an increase in the retail price of wheat
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Has Zim journalism gone to the dogs?

3/25/2004 7:16:36 AM (GMT +2)

MARCH 19 2004. Mid-morning in Masvingo, a small town nearly 300km
south-east of Harare.

I sat in total awe as tragedy tore apart what was left of unionism and
activism in Zimbabwe's oldest journalistic trade body, the Zimbabwe
Union of Journalists (ZUJ).

Seated by the door to the conference hall, where about 60 members of
the ZUJ national council were meeting to restrategise their general
operations, I saw two men and a woman walk up purposefully towards the
meeting venue.

Appointed by ZUJ to a committee to run the annual National
Journalistic and Media Awards (NJAMA), in conjunction with major
sponsors like Dairibord Zimbabwe Limited, our committee had been
invited by the union to attend the ZUJ workshop and submit a budget
for this year's awards dinner.

The three visitors were from the state spy agency the Central
Intelligence Organisation (CIO). They called out ZUJ's national
executive members. After a brief chat, and I could hear an exchange of
emotional language, the three visitors determinedly walked into the
conference hall. They were ushered vantage seats right next to the top
table. Thus ZUJ's mistake number one.

The three were asked to introduce themselves. And boldly they gave
their "names" one by one.

"We are here as part of our intelligence gathering process," fired the
seemingly team leader, a serious looking middle-aged man with one
blood-shot eye and dressed awkwardly in a casual blazer resembling a
winter pyjama top and a neck tie.

The ZUJ council members, a mixture of mainly green journalists and
middle level ones, sat passively while others clapped hands in a
traditional way of acknowledging and kindly welcoming the visitors.
The deliberations continued.

The secret agents produced their notebooks and went to work, jotting
down notes and looking very much at home. Three spies had overcome 60
easy-to-manage journalists without the slightest resistance. Thus
mistake number two.

In no time did the level and tone of discourse among the participating
journalists change. A couple of the more "courageous" reporters showed
some bravado that they could speak their minds in the face of the
spies. Some, conscious of the presence of the dreaded spy agency
operatives, immediately switched their attention from the conference
by withdrawing into their shells. Scared. Others spoke but in
self-censored language.

Although the self-declared spies sat dead still, their mere presence
effectively injected fear into some participants, automatically
freezing their mental faculties and invariably affecting their
thinking process.

Mistake number three. Time for lunch. The three agents in tow join the
participating journalists queuing for food. They are offered free
food, courtesy of ZUJ and the Canadian Embassy that doled out millions
of dollars to the union for the conference.

By allowing the notorious state security agents to sit through its
deliberations, ZUJ betrayed the souls of all journalists who have been
murdered by their repressive regimes or jailed in their quest for
freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

By accommodating and feeding the spies, ZUJ betrayed even its donors
such as the Canadians and other anonymous ones, known internationally
for advocating freedom of expression and association.

Allowing the CIO operatives into their council meeting was not
different from a husband who invites strangers into his bedroom to
watch him engage in sacred moments of intimacy with his wife.

It transpired ZUJ did not have the required police consent, under the
repressive Made-in-Rhodesia-Modified-in-Zimbabwe Public Order and
Security Act, to convene its meeting.

Now that is where ZUJ's commitment to any cause is highly
questionable. ZUJ is fundamentally trade unionism and activism. If one
decides to ignore a stupid law then one should prepare for the

During the liberation war freedom fighters never asked for permission
from Rhodesians to wage war.

They just did it and at all costs. It's either you have the courage or
you do not. In modern warfare you do not compromise at the frontline.
If you do, you are dead. It's that simple.

ZUJ danced with the wolves from the state spy agency as a matter of
compromise. In the absence of police clearance for the workshop, it
meant imminent arrest for the executive. So the ZUJ leaders found it
"prudent" to sleep with the enemy to avoid arrest.

Was anyone in the executive prepared to go to the cooler in defiance
of silly laws that the same journalists have condemned endlessly in
news stories? No, hence the unprecedented compromise that exposed the
calibre of the people in the leadership of ZUJ today. The chaps at the
Department of Information and Publicity must be chuckling to
themselves in amusement. Such calibre of journalists makes their job

The disruption of the workshop by the police, whom we later gathered
were on standby in two large trucks, batons, police dogs, tearsmoke
and all in the vicinity of the venue and ready to pounce, would also
have meant a loss of the highly appreciated per diem for the ZUJ
executive and participants, some of whom pocketed allowances much more
than their take-home salaries. That is a critical aspect that can not
be ignored as another factor leading to the embarrassing compromise by
the union's leadership.

The allowances must have been so generous that some of the journalists
left a legacy of inebriation in Masvingo with the resultant assault of
one reporter who had a beer bottle smashed in his face, sustaining a
deep wound above his left eye, after an annoyed patron caught the
Harare scribe (from a newspaper that recently suspended publishing)
trying to force himself on the patron's girlfriend at a local
night-club. Yet more was to come.

A Bulawayo scribe (from a Bulawayo-based daily) dropped his pants to
squat on the tarmac of the Masvingo hotel's parking bays by the
reception area and emptied his bowels. The staff, alerted by a night
watchman who witnessed the horrible shame unfolding, said the incident
was the first of its kind at the resort hotel.

Dull arguments suggest that allowing the CIO into the ZUJ meeting
meant the union did not have anything to hide as far as political
agenda is concerned. Even where there is no ulterior political motive,
overt or covert, state security agents can not be invited as observers
in a workshop where journalists are meeting. It is just not on.

Whether they came in through the front or back door, through the
window, through air vents or through the ceiling, the attendence of
the spies is condemned strongly. The ZUJ national executive owes all
right thinking journalists and human rights champions an unreserved

In the Zimbabwean context the CIO and proper journalists can not mix.
Journalists represent light while the CIO are agents of darkness. But
the ZUJ leadership thinks otherwise. Who is fooling who? And why?

*.. Shepherd Mutamba is a Zimbabwean journalist based in Harare
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...and now to the Notebook

3/25/2004 7:19:18 AM (GMT +2)

AT the end of last week,the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) held a
strategic planning meeting at the Great Zimbabwe Hotel in Masvingo
which culminated in the election of a substantive secretary-general,
the second vice-president and two committee members.

CZ would like to congratulate those who won the elections and hope
they will work very hard for the good of the union.

But still on the good of the union, CZ was disappointed to hell and
back with the nauseating behaviour of some of his colleagues who took
the opportunity to show how much mischief their grandmothers taught

It was really embarrassing and most members left the venue cringing in
shame after witnessing their colleagues, whom they have always taken
for normal family people, doing the unthinkable!

Apart from those who decided to indulge in the "standard" journalistic
behaviour of spending all their allowances on prostitutes and leaving
the hotel without settling outstanding bills, this time it was taken a
step further!

Yes, after being paid generous lunch and supper allowances, a number
still sneaked away from the hotel without paying for what they had

Then there were those who chose to spend the allowances on beer. Since
beer is usually expensive in hotels, these - CZ included - chose to
explore a nearby rural development centre - Nemamwa Growth Point! Here
the scribes, true to form, drank themselves silly!

A very senior colleague from Parade Magazine who had just been elected
a ZUJ committee member got so drunk that he urinated in his pants
right inside the bar!

Another colleague, this one a veteran journalist from the troubled
Daily News, really lost his marbles and had to be carried to a car and
dumped at the hotel. And what did he do there? He walked straight into
the hotel's reception area, opened his zip and started urinating!

As if to put the icing on the cake, the next day, Saturday, another
very senior journalist who is leaving The Chronicle's office in Gwanda
to join the National Family Planning Council as an information officer
drank too much at Nemamwa until the wee hours of Sunday, then vomited
in a colleague's car before proceeding to defecate just metres from
the hotel's reception area! Yes defecating! He actually removed his
trousers, deposited a mountain of excreta and used a toilet tissue to
clean himself! We are told on the way home the same fellow was given a
lift and upon disembarking in Mbalabala, he decided to steal some meat
from another colleague!

We are told that a lot more happened at a hotel in Masvingo City on
the way to the meeting where a number of colleagues had a stopover to
get a few free beers from some of those who were going to contest the
ZUJ posts!

Such is the behaviour of some of our journalist colleagues! Surely no
one can blame the ZUJ executive for taking a bold decision to suspend
some of these members!

BROTHER Fidel Castro last week sent us another consignment of medical
specialists from Havana - 42 of them! But we wonder - due to language
differences - whether he doesn't as yet know that the only consignment
from Havana that is most welcome to Zimbabweans are those cigars.
Quite a number of our rich brothers would not mind the price tag as
long as they can be supplied regularly!

The 42 Cuban general practitioners, specialist doctors, nursing
tutors, engineers and technicians arrived in the country to join
dozens of their compatriots already causing havoc to the country's
collapsing heath sector.

Yes, these people could be experts in Cuba and other Spanish-speaking
countries, but we don't think they could be described as thus here in
Zimbabwe where, with their Spanish and possible execrable English,
they are posted to forgotten areas like Chikombedzi, Filabusi,
Malipati Mbalabala and such other places where local communities
cannot communicate with them, even in the presence, if ever, of
interpreters. So how do they consult? And can the nursing tutors teach
in Spanish?

Small wonder why they end up just guessing and doing whatever they
think - including removing wombs from very young mothers without even
their knowledge and consent!

But we have much more better medical experts who are Zimbabweans . . .
and this leaves us wondering whether we still deserve to call
ourselves a nation at all!

IT is quite amusing that while the government is still insisting that
any ordinary Zimbo who is away from home during any election will not
be allowed to vote since the postal ballot system is a privilege only
confined to "special" people in the army, police and diplomatic
missions, it is at the same time talking of vigorously pursuing the
possibility of taxing all Zimbabweans living and working abroad in
hard cash!

But the laws of natural justice would dictate that since these people
have "lost" their suffrage, the government has also "lost" its right
to collect any taxes from them! Period!

WE were quite surprised that the man widely viewed as the Attorney
General-designate, Cde Johannes Tomana, busy like an ant as he is,
would still accept "the national duty" of probing suspended Harare
Mayor Elias Mudzuri! We wonder if there is anything that the brilliant
lawyer will learn to turn down - even if the money is not good.

Anyway, we know that diligent as he naturally is, the AG-designate
will definitely find something that will stick on the opposition

We also hope the MDC has learnt a big lesson from Sekesai Makwavarara
who last week finally announced that she was quitting the party after
stubbornly sticking like a Savannah tick for months.

When you want to build a solid organisation, you don't just pick
people without looking at their past, capabilities and weaknesses. It
is a pity that the party is choking with opportunists like the acting
mayor who are willing to sell out whenever the money is good.

IS it because of the Lotto fever - $1.6 billion is at stake now - that
we are increasingly hearing some of the most bizarre things on earth?
"Granny (101) raped", "Father in court for raping daughter", and such
other gory stuff!

After 18 weeks without anyone getting the right combination, the Lotto
jackpot is really tempting, but we still hope that those who would
choose to consult sangomas for talismans will still retain their

CZ would want to wish the litigious Pastor Admire Kasingakore all the
best in his billion-dollar lawsuit against a local weekly. We hope
against all hope that God and all the senior angels are on his side!
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AG returns murdered MDC men's docket to police

Staff Reporter

3/25/2004 7:52:20 AM (GMT +2)

THE Attorney-General (AG)'s Office has referred back to the police a
docket on the alleged murder of Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya,
the two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activists allegedly
killed in Buhera in the run-up to the contentious 2000 parliamentary

"We have referred the docket back to the police because there are some
outstanding issues," Joseph Musakwa, the director of public
prosecutions, said. "However, it would not be proper for me to
disclose the exact shortcomings of their docket, but we have directed
the police to attend to the outstanding issues and hand over a
complete docket."

In April 2000, Chiminya and Mabika were petrol-bombed by suspected
ZANU PF activists at Murambinda growth point in Buhera North, a
constituency controversially won by the ruling party but whose results
were nullified by the High Court, citing massive intimidation and
violence during the pre-election period.

Joseph Mwale, an operative of the government's spy agency, the Central
Intelligence Organisation, and Kainos Tom "Kitsiyatota" Zimunya, a war
veteran, were named in the High Court as the culprits behind the
petrol bomb attack, but are yet to appear in court.

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed the docket had been
returned, but said it was procedural for the AG's Office to do so when
dealing with incomplete dockets.

He said: "It is absolutely procedural and we are attending to the
matter before taking it back to the AG's Office, as they are the ones
who prosecute."

Mwale and Kitsiyatota failed to turn up in court in 2001 where they
were expected to testify in an election petition filed by MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai challenging the victory of ZANU PF's Kenneth
Manyonda, a former governor for Manicaland and now the deputy minister
for Industry and International Trade.

The MDC activists are among the over 35 people killed during the
run-up to the hotly contested June 2000 parliamentary elections,
narrowly won by ZANU PF with the opposition MDC clinching 57 of the
120 contested seats.

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Guns still for hire for troubled continent

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

JOHANNESBURG, 26 Mar 2004 (IRIN) - Of 67 alleged mercenaries arrested in
Equatorial Guinea and Zimbabwe earlier this month, at least 27 were former
members of the South African Defence Force (SADF). The case has demonstrated
the leading role South Africa continues to play in providing trained
personnel for hire in the troubled continent.

The transformation of the old SADF into the South African National Defence
Force (SANDF) in 1994, under the new democratic government, led to the "mass
exit of highly skilled military personnel. Left with no real future in the
SANDF, many of these individuals capitalised on a market for their expertise
and knowledge beyond the South African borders," University of
Witswatersrand researcher, Natashia Chhiba, told IRIN.

Jackie Cilliers, head of the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies,
commented that mercenary activity was a "cyclical phenomenon".

"After the First World war, the Germans were the mercenaries of the world;
the Second World War led to the rise of the American mercenaries; so, after
apartheid and transformation, many former white South African soldiers were
looking for work," he explained.

In the post-Cold War era, there was a rise in conflicts in Africa, but
dwindling apetitite for Western governments to get involved in peacekeeping
operations and a limited capacity among African armies. The period also saw
the mushrooming of security firms, such as Executive Outcomes (EO).

Eeben Barlow, one of the founders of EO, in 1998 told WorldNet, a news
website, that his company could fill the "void" and was "able to provide
private counterinsurgency operations, peacekeeping forces, and the muscle
for corporations to control gold and diamond mines, oil and other natural
resources, in a variety of failed states which stretch to the four corners
of the world".

EO shot to fame during the 1990s when it assisted the Angolan government
against the rebel movement, UNITA, and helped the Sierra Leone authorities
beat back the brutal Revolutionary United Front. The organisation drew
heavily on members of the notorious 32 Buffalo Battalion of the South
African special forces (made up largely of dissident Angolan recruits) and
included operatives of the Civil Cooperation Bureau, which was allegedly
responsible for the deaths of several anti-apartheid activists.

EO closed shop when South Africa's Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance
Act came into effect in 1999. Many of the alleged mercenaries arrested
earlier this month in Equatorial Guinea and Zimbabwe have been linked to EO.

"We offer a variety of services to legitimate governments, including
infantry training, clandestine warfare, counterintelligence programmes,
reconnaissance, escape and evasion, special forces selection and training,
and even parachuting," Barlow told WorldNet.

Besides reportedly being able to field 500 military advisors and 3,000
highly trained multinational special forces soldiers, EO also owned
helicopters, tanks and Soviet-era combat aircraft.

According to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Intelligence
Resource Programme, even though the firm's expertise lay in fighting bush
wars, "it diversified and reportedly operated as many as 32 companies, whose
interests ranged from computer software to adult education.

"The firm's tactic of quickly regaining control of a client country's
mineral-rich regions is well-documented. Within a month of Sierra Leone's
hiring of Executive Outcomes in May 1995, government forces had regained
control of the diamond-rich Kono district, which produces two-thirds of
Sierra Leone's diamonds," FAS said.

"In Angola, oil- and diamond-producing regions were the first areas secured
by government forces trained by Executive Outcomes. The firm also reportedly
mined gold in Uganda, drilled boreholes in Ethiopia and had a variety of
interests in the other countries noted above," the FAS report added.

"Executive Outcomes claimed that its sole purpose was to bring stability to
the region by supporting legitimate governments in their defence against
armed rebels. Nevertheless, rumours persisted that the firm was connected to
either the South African DeBeers Diamond Corporation or the South African
government. These claims were denied by all parties, and the South African
government tried to restrict Executive Outcomes' business ventures," it

Doug Brooks, president of the International Peace Operations Association
(IPOA) said EO was the last operating private military company that he knew
of at the time.

Brooks takes great exception to the use of the term "mercenary" for members
of the growing industry of private military companies (PMCs). "The so-called
mercenaries provide legitimate services to governments," he said.

IPOA, the organisation he heads, is an association of military service
provider companies, including those involved in demining operations, armed
logistics, emergency humanitarian services and providing armed peacekeepers.

"The classic definition of the term 'mercenary' is one that makes reference
to an individual recruited to fight in a foreign war. The motive is
primarily driven by profit," Chhiba said.
However, with the "changing international climate, this definition seems
inadequate to fully appreciate the evolution of the private military
industry in general."

But South Africans found to be involved in mercenary operations are in
breach of the Foreign Military Assistance Act, which prohibits the
involvement of citizens in military activities outside South Africa, without
due authorisation of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee.

"South Africa has been extremely embarrassed by the Equatorial
Guinea-Zimbabwe arrests, as it had committed itself to put an end to its
reputation has a major supplier of mercenaries," Cilliers said.

South African anti-mercenary legislation, which was "one of the best in the
world" has made it "extremely difficult to anyone to run a mercenary
operation from South Africa," he added.

Alleged mercenary operations, like the Equatorial Guinea-Zimbabwe saga, have
managed to sneak past the authorities because the state had only recently
started implementing the legislation rigidly, Cilliers said. He noted the
recent prosecution of South Africans involved in military operations in Cote

Brooks observed that "very few former trained military soldiers opt for a
life in a private military company". It is not as "financially rewarding as
people think it is - an average salary of a private military soldier could
be US $5,000 a month. The amount varies according to the work he is
assigned," he said.

But the ongoing recruitment of former SADF personnel for security-related
activities in Africa was also a reflection of the failure by the South
African authorities to rehabilitate these former soldiers, Cilliers pointed

Brooks complained that the South African anti-mercenary legislation had made
it difficult for legitimate PMCs, who can provide key security-related
services in unstable corners of the world, to function.

He pointed out that South Africa, which has some of the best-trained
soldiers in Africa, was keen on building African peacekeeping operations,
"so why not use the private military companies which recruit these former
soldiers? The private companies deploy faster, operate more professionally,
act more decisively, enter riskier environments - where Western countries
are reluctant to go - and they cost substantially less than a UN-run
operation," said Brooks.

Cilliers, however, rejected the idea of a role for PMCs in
internationally-sanctioned peacekeeping operations. But he noted that the
South African government could usefully employ some former soldiers in more
limited military observer missions.

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Fuel Supplies Still Low

The Herald (Harare)

March 26, 2004
Posted to the web March 26, 2004


FUEL supplies are still fairly low in Harare with queues forming at filling
stations selling petrol and diesel but petrol at least was being delivered

About half of the service stations in central Harare were selling fuel
yesterday. Of the 12 visited, three were selling diesel at $2 750 a litre
and three were taking deliveries of petrol and were going to sell it at $2
800 a litre.

Employees at some of the fuel outlets said importers had told them
deliveries would be erratic for a while as they were facing difficulty in
buying foreign currency at rates that would make present retail prices
viable. Paying more for currency would result in higher retail prices.

Petroleum Marketers' Association spokesman, Mr Masimba Kambarami said this
week that fuel importing companies have had their foreign currency bids
turned down at the auction floor. Rejected bids are those at the low end.
The auction allocates currency to the higher bidders first.

Mr Kambarami said his association was looking at establishing a "Special
Purpose Vehicle Company" that would access foreign currency on behalf of all
the other fuel importing companies.

Plans to set up the Special Purpose Vehicle Company, according to Mr
Kambarami, were at an advanced stage and it was hoped that the company would
get preferential treatment at the foreign currency auction floors.

He also dispelled rumours going round that service stations were hoarding
fuel in anticipation of a fuel price increase.

"It is all speculation, there is no statute to support an increase in the
price of fuel because we always contact the Government for fuel price

"Fuel price increases will only be possible if there is a change on the
value of the dollar at the auction," Mr Kambarami said, confirming that
prices would rise if importers were prepared to bid more.

The Ministry of Energy and Power Development has finished compiling a
position paper on the proposed phasing-out of leaded fuel and the switch to
unleaded fuel. The Secretary of Energy and Power Development, Mr Justin
Mpamhanga, said although the document was now ready, he could not disclose
its contents.

"We have done everything and we are now sorting out a few things and when we
are ready we will look at it.

"We want to discuss things as and when they happen because we do not want to
pre-empt our plans before we are sure that they are in motion," he said.

If approved by all stakeholders the document was likely to be forwarded to
Cabinet for approval.

The approval at Cabinet level would pave way for the phasing-out of leaded
fuel. The compilation of the document follows an all stakeholders'
preparatory meeting organised by the ministry in January to get views from
industry on the proposed phasing-out of the fuel.
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Zim Independent


Govt will soon choke itself with lies

I AM really worried here. When a government goes on a lying onslaught and
then begins to believe the lies, then that government has become dangerous.
They have used many people to lie to us and justify their immoral behaviour,
torture, murder and mental siege.

You have Caesar Zvayi being considered a columnist. On March 23 he was at it
telling us what he really is - a Zanu PF cadre masquerading as a Herald
columnist. He tells us the first time he saluted an opposition member was
when he did so for Sekesai Makwavarara.

You have Tazzen Mandizvidza who tries to lambast the Panorama programme
which exposed the behaviour of Zanu PF by destroying the mental faculty of
our youths through indoctrination. He shows us a youth who has learnt to
hate being lifted by the president and with a wad of bearer cheques. How did
he earn the bearer cheques? By spewing hatred and yet Mandizvidza tries to
show us the young boy as a patriot.

During the presidential election there again was a little boy who went on a
frenzy ridiculing MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai at a Zanu PF rally. Who
taught this boy to hate?

The boys need guidance, they need to be taught to love yet they are taught
to say Pasi nanhingi and get $200 000 just like when "Toilet" Tambaoga got
some money for abusive and hate language coming to us as a song against
another country's leadership.

Mugabe keeps on telling us that the MDC was formed by the British when we
know the MDC was formed by trade unionists, intellectuals, the youth, the
marginalised women, and students of Zimbabwe.

Zanu PF supporters then assault the MDC on the basis of this lie.

Because of lies we have seen people throwing conscience to the wind. A good
example is Jonathan Moyo. Look what he has done to Zimbabwe in pursuit of
supporting a lie that Britain wants to recolonise the country. He does not
have a shred of evidence to that effect. The only British blemish we see is
to tell Zimbabwe to respect human life and this to the Zimbabwe government
is horrible.

Look at how they lie to the world that they are correcting past land
imbalances yet they are the same government who invited so many foreigners
to come and invest in Zimbabwe. Unfortunately most whites took the offer as
genuine. Most invested in factories and farms that the government had
declined. After establishing these entities we fight them to move off our
land - yes the land we invited them to buy.

Look how they support Munyaradzi Gwisai. Just because he said something bad
about Tsvangirai he has become a hero.

Look at Kurauone Chihwayi. As soon as he criticised Tsvangirai he has become
the darling of the government press.

Trevor Ryan Mashayamombe,


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The Border Mail (Australia)

Fri, Mar 26, 2004

Evictions causing famine: farmer

A HORRIFYING story of beatings and torture startled delegates at the Royal
Agricultural Society conference in Albury yesterday.

Mr George Campbell-Johnston, an unscheduled speaker, told the audience how
the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe was continuing to force white farmers from
their farms.

He said the evictions had resulted in one of Africas most productive
agricultural regions being reduced to subsistence farming with only 200 of
the 4000 farms remaining fully productive.

As a result, five million people were facing starvation.

Mr Campbell-Johnston, a grain farmer from England, who once farmed in
central Africa, helped form a registered charity, the Zimbabwe Farmers Trust
Fund, to help the displaced farmers.

It has so far distributed $120,000.

"We can only give them small amounts of 500 to 1000 (English) pounds," he

Among the delegates at the conference are Mr and Mrs Christopher Strong,
whose son farms in Zimbabwe.

Donations can be sent to Mr Campbell-Johnston at Winscott House, Cholderton,
Salisbury, SP4 0EG, England.

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Pigs do fly after all!

3/25/2004 7:42:18 AM (GMT +2)

THE meat processor notched a pleasant set of results for the year
ended December 31 2003. In a feat of rage to the nay sayers, the
flying pig (Gavin Sainsbury did not have to go to painful lengths to
convince all that the fatty omnivore actually does fly).

The group has been doing well in terms of managing their pig
population through their 50 percent held joint venture Triple C farm
near Chegutu. Last year, the farm supplied 50 percent of Colcom's
unprocessed pork needs. The visionary move of establishing such a
project has helped the group in these times of farming disruptions.
Effectively, the company does not have to rely entirely on an
out-grower scheme.

In the company's quest to diversify its sources of income, the company
will find their multi-purpose Bulawayo abattoir coming in very handy.
The facility is used for the slaughter of goats and cattle and in the
coming year, the company is looking at obtaining halaal certification.
This would also broaden their market reach.

Hurdles have, however, been encountered in the company's export drive.
The exports trend, which had hitherto grown to 22 percent of turnover
contribution, is being threatened by the lowered exchange rate and the
25 percent retention at $824 to the greenback.

This effectively makes the blend rate at which the company exchanges
foreign currency receipts fall to around $3 200. The company says they
would require a rate approaching $5 000 to the greenback to break

Hefty increases in ZESA tariffs are not helping the company either.
The company noted that their electricity bill has ballooned to around
10 times what they used to pay a few months ago.

That said the company declared a dividend of 10 times cover or $18.50,
showing the company's stable cash position. 2004 is going to be the
year that would put the pig's flying skills to the endurance test.

THE mining bellwether stock has been hit hard following the clumsy
handling of investor relations by management. First there was a story
that the group had been robbed of two truckloads of processed nickel
destined for the Eastern markets in the gangsters' paradise.

Instead of leading from the front, the Bindura management left the
market guessing what had really happened and the implications arising
therefrom, with the company chief executive declining to confirm or
refute one of the most pertinent factors on any serious investor's
mind. Failing to answer the simple question of whether the load had
been insured left investors with no option but to run for their money.

Failure on the management's part to cooperate led the press to guess
work and drawing their own conclusions. Papers went to the country's
marketing board for minerals in the country, MMCZ, whose management
also seemed to be clueless about what had happened.

The press was left with little choice but to publish reports that had
a cloudy conclusion as to whether the loads had been insured. Since
the headlines yelled billions of dollars, the average Joe Investor
quickly panicked and pressed 911 on their broker lines. On seeing what
had ensued the company's managers then acted, but the company's share
price had already been halved. They published a statement that was
more than two weeks overdue, stating that both loads had been fully

Hopefully, the nickel miner has seen the light in terms of alerting
shareholders and other stakeholders wherever they require the
information. It's always Mission Impossible, especially if one is just
a portfolio investor, to get the Bindura management for an update on
any developments.
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Minerals plundered

Nelson Banya

3/25/2004 7:43:48 AM (GMT +2)

THIRTY-SIX tonnes of Zimbabwean platinum concentrate disappeared
without trace in South Africa on Monday last week as it emerged that
in a flush of impatience with the spate of mysterious robberies, the
government's anti-graft crusade will have its radar locked on the
goings-on in the key mining sector.

Impeccable industry sources, who indicated that there was a whiff of
panic within the government over the recurring robberies, said the
latest victim of the unfolding mineral hijack mystery was Zimasco's
Mimosa Platinum.

A truck carrying the 36 tonnes of platinum, whose monetary value could
not be immediately ascertained, was enroute to a South African
refinery when the thieves pounced.

Details of the latest heist, which follows last month's theft of 40
tonnes of nickel belonging to Bindura Nickel Company (BNC), are still
sketchy as company officials at the mine, which is jointly owned by
Zimasco Consolidated Enterprises and South Africa's Impala Platinum
Holdings, remained tight-lipped on the issue.

Both Zimasco chief executive officer William Smart and Mimosa mine
general manager Alex Mhembere were unavailable for comment. Zimasco
public relations consultant Jill Day said the company's official
statement on the matter would only be made tomorrow.

The hijackings, which mainly target platinum and are quite frequent in
South Africa, have forced police in that country's North West
province - dubbed the Platinum province - to crack down on platinum

The provincial police force's specialised investigation unit has so
far netted 13 gold and platinum thieves since the clampdown began in
the last week of February.

Almost two tonnes of platinum and gold concentrate worth 41 000 rands
(about $27 million) were recovered.

The theft of the Mimosa cargo brings to four the hijackings of
Zimbabwean mineral cargo in South Africa in the past five months as
speculation swirled in the market that the robberies could be the work
of organised syndicates.

Zimbabwe Platinum Mines' (Zimplats) Makwiro lost 56 tonnes of
converter matte in October, while gold and nickel producer Rio Tinto
also lost mineral cargo late last year.

It is, however, understood that the Mimosa cargo was on its way to
Impala Refinery Services (IRS) in Rustenburg. IRS official Angie
Isaacs declined to give details on the matter and referred all
questions to Implats' Johannesburg head office.

"I do not have the privilege of talking to the press, you better talk
to officials at head office about that subject," Isaacs said.

Although the value of the stolen mineral could not be ascertained,
industry sources indicated that the platinum, which was in concentrate
form, could not have been anywhere near the US$2 million that Zimplats
lost when 54 tonnes of platinum matte from Makwiro Platinum Mines were
intercepted by impostors in October last year.

Zimplats has since received a US$1.8 million payout from its insurers
after investigations absolved the company of any negligence.

"We understand the cargo was mainly made up of platinum concentrate,
which means the bulk of it was ore, largely made up of nickel,
sulphur, copper, iron, with the platinum group metals, platinum, gold,
palladium and rhodium making a tiny percentage of the cargo.

"But then, the robbers might have thought there was value in the
cargo," a source said.

Typically, large bodies of concentrate, in excess of 90 000 tonnes,
are smelted to produce as little as 3 000 tonnes of converter matte,
which has a higher value.

Authoritative mining sources have also indicated that the matte, as a
product, had no known use unless it found its way to a refinery for
further processing to separate the various minerals forming the

"The process of separating the metals is extremely difficult and
recovery of the individual minerals is only possible through use of
hi-tech refinery facilities and fundamentally, South Africa has three
places where white matte can be treated and these are all reputable,"
the source added.

Since inception in 1995, Mimosa has enjoyed a concentrate offtake
agreement with IRS.

Initial processing is conducted on-mine, with the concentrate being
shipped via road to IRS' facility in Rustenburg.

Mimosa, which is located 125 kilometres to the east of Bulawayo, is a
shallow underground mine with a depth of about 200 metres on a
well-defined orebody.

The mine, which is expected to ramp up production to 65 000 grammes of
platinum by the end of this quarter, is reported to have some of the
lowest production costs in the world.

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The highway robberies mystery

Felix Njini

3/25/2004 7:47:08 AM (GMT +2)

* Yet another load of platinum disappears

* And why is nobody in govt talking?

THE increasing frequency with which minerals cargo from Zimbabwe is
being hijacked in South Africa has raised alarm in the ailing mining
sector, with industry sources indicating the country might have become
a target for highly organised syndicates.

Cases involving hijackings of minerals, all of which have happened in
South Africa in the past six months, give a picture of sophisticated
syndicates carrying out the well-orchestrated heists.

To date, two incidents of platinum cargo theft and one involving
nickel have been recorded.

In October last year, 56 tonnes of platinum worth US$2 million
belonging to Zimbabwe Platinum Mines (Zimplats) disappeared on its way
to Impala Refineries in Rustenburg, South Africa.

What has raised eyebrows is the apparent lack of government attention
and concern over the trend that could cost the country dearly if it
continues unchecked.

So far, investigations into the matter have only yielded unconvincing
responses from the authorities.

But even before the dust has settled in the platinum theft case, 40
tonnes of nickel worth $2.5 billion belonging to Bindura Nickel
Corporation (BNC) was hijacked in circumstances similar to last year's
platinum heist.

BNC, the country's biggest producer of nickel, lost two truckloads of
nickel to armed robbers in a well-executed criminal hijacking while
the trucks were refuelling at a transport depot in Alberton near

Industry sources indicate that BNC has been exporting nickel using the
Durban port for over 20 years, but there has not been an incident
involving hijacking of the mineral en route to its export destination.

News of another heist involving 34 tonnes of platinum from Mimosa
Platinum Mines has filtered through from South Africa, further
compounding the unfolding mineral conundrum.

Mike Houston, the chief executive officer of Makwiro who will take
over as Zimplats chief executive next month, said there could be a
syndicate with an ability to re-export the platinum matte abroad.

Houston said there were only three refineries in South Africa, all of
which would not be involved in any illicit refining activities, and
ruled out the possibility of hijacked platinum being sold inside South

He said before the hijacking in October last year, Zimplats
transported its platinum matte using the label cover nickel sulphate
as a security measure, although all the composite metals would be

"A month after we got a precious metal licence from the South African
police, there was the hijack at a fake police roadblock. The robbers,
dressed in police uniform, stopped the trucks, blindfolded the drivers
and took them away, only to release them two days later when there was
no longer any trace of the stolen platinum," Houston said.

The company has already been paid an insurance claim of US$1.8

Houston said Zimplats had improved its security features and all
trucks were now under satellite monitoring even when they were in
South Africa.

But what has raised eyebrows is the increasing frequency of the
hijackings and the seemingly inconclusive investigations, which some
analysts said pointed to an unidentified enemy, probably operating
from within the country and who could strike at will.

A player in the mining industry claimed the hijackings were being
carried out by well-organised syndicates. The player further claimed
the heists were being committed with the help of company officials,
who gave out logistical information on the trucks' movements.

"Zimbabwe is not a problem . . . the problem lies in South Africa, but
it remains to be explained why those trucks with all the security
features such as satellite monitors are being hijacked," he said.

He said there were bush refineries in South Africa where some of the
hijacked minerals were being processed.

"People are forming syndicates to target minerals and they have seen
that there is big money involved. There is need for networking between
security forces on both sides," he said.

Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines chief executive Ian Saunders dismissed
allegations that the robberies were the work of syndicates involving
South Africans and Zimbabweans.

"This is not specific to Zimbabwe and I think this is just random.
Naturally, we expect companies involved to improve their security
arrangements," Saunders said.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena could not shed light on progress in
investigations involving the mineral thefts, but said the matter was
receiving full attention as well as cooperation from the South African

A local economist said steps had to be taken to lure investors, both
local and foreigners, into establishing minerals beneficiation plants,
considering that Zimbabwe was one of the countries blessed with large
quantities of mineral resources.

"Why is it that we cannot beneficiate our own minerals? Zimbabwe is a
traditional player in the continent's mining industry, but still our
minerals are being exported in their raw status," he said.
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Fleeing bankers: devious businessmen or victims?

Nelson Banya

3/25/2004 7:48:14 AM (GMT +2)

IN polarised Zimbabwe, no significant event occurs without a political
interpretation being ascribed to it, and the current banking sector
turmoil is no exception.

The fact that no less than half a dozen of the country's leading
entrepreneurial bankers have left the country in the tempestuous past
couple of months in the most undignified manner has given birth to a
multitude of scenarios, all pointing to the existence of an intricate

Intermarket Holdings Limited founder Nicholas Vingirai, Barbican chief
Mthuli Ncube, the NMB team of Julius Makoni, James Mushore, Otto
Chekeche and Francis Zimuto, have all left their banking institutions
and the country in inauspicious circumstances.

Other banking sector entrepreneurial executives, such as Trust
Holdings Limited founder William Nyemba and Metropolitan Bank founder
Enock Kamushinda have taken back seats amid the unfolding drama.

Apart from the apprehension that has gripped the sector and stripped
locally-owned banks of priceless confidence, whispers have since
emerged that there could be more to the developments than meets the
eye, despite an evident streak of staggering imprudence and startling
corporate malfeasance.

Economic analyst Jonathan Kadzura, a known ZANU PF sympa-thiser, said
the charge of victimisation could only gain credence if other culprits
slipped through the anti-corruption dragnet, but now is not the time
to take stock as the process is yet to be completed.

"As far as I can see, no one is being victimised. It is just
unfortunate that we had a financial sector that deviated from
international standards into untoward conduct.

"It would only appear as though there was focused victimisation if
this does not go full circle.

"It is common knowledge that a lot of well-placed people were engaging
in illegal activities, so if some are left out, then it would give the
impression of focused victimisation. The nation at large will be
satisfied if this goes full circle," Kadzura said.

He said while political innuendoes were almost inevitable, a close
analysis of some of the implied victims of the financial sector
shake-up would belie the notion of victimisation.

"You will always have political innuendoes, but look, they are
arresting some people with connections to the establishment, aren't
they?" Kadzura said.

Apart from connections to the centre of Zimbabwe's political power,
some of the victims of the ongoing purge have made donations to the
ruling party. Close to $1.5 billion raised for the ZANU PF annual
national conference was mostly accounted for by the troubled
black-owned banks.

Eminent economic commentator Eric Bloch blames the amendments made to
the Criminal Procedures Act through the Presidential Powers, saying
this law had induced a siege mentality among top bankers and business

"It means they (fleeing banking executives) cannot stick around and
defend themselves against the charges because of the 30 days they
might spend in prison before appearing in court.

"I have heard the victimisation speculation, but I think the
authorities are just trying to crack down on exchange control

"They are just doing it in a heavy-handed manner," Bloch said.

He, however, added that while the banks and other private companies
were bearing the brunt of the drive to bring exchange control
violators to book, quasi-government institutions, which were key
players in the parallel foreign exchange market, were left unscathed.

"Not just the banks, but other companies also participated in the
parallel market just to keep their businesses going. However, the
biggest players in the parallel market were the parastatals.

"What is happening now has resulted in the total destruction of
business confidence . . . morale is at its lowest at the moment,"
Bloch said.

Economic consultant John Robertson concurred with Bloch's sentiments,
saying that the government, through parastatals, had actively
participated in the illicit parallel market during the height of the
foreign currency crisis.

"Nearly all the banks have committed the indiscretion, but it would
appear as though the government is selectively picking on banks.

"This demonstrates the level of selective and subjective accusations
applied to some and not to others," Robertson said.

He said the fleeing bankers were doing so because of the new laws
touted by the government as necessary and effective anti-graft

"The reason (for executives taking flight) is because the laws allow
the government to arrest and detain you for an inordinate period of
time without trial.

"Without those laws, I think they would stay and try to defend
themselves. I think they will admit that they did this and prove that
government itself, through parastatals, was a key customer and even
some government officials on unofficial personal business," Robertson

Some analysts have suggested that the unfolding drama, which has
precipitated into a full-scale crisis and a sad indictment of the
indigenisation drive, called for a foreign currency amnesty, such as
the one recently implemented by South Africa.

Last June, South Africa launched an amnesty to allow South Africans to
repatriate their grey offshore assets, with a 10 percent penalty.

By the time the amnesty closed in November, the SA authorities had
recovered about R30 billion, from the expected R90 billion.

Most of the assets were externalised during the twilight years of
apartheid as apprehension gripped the white citizenry over the
post-apartheid dispensation.

The jury is still out as to the efficacy of the amnesty.

Kadzura said a form of amnesty would be welcome, although in a
different form.

"We may need a foreign currency amnesty, but after that, what? A sugar
amnesty? Cooking oil amnesty and a grain amnesty?

"People should be arrested, go through a trial and an amnesty should
only come if it guarantees recovery of externalised assets," Kadzura

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Parties gird loins for Zengeza fight

Brian Mangwende

3/25/2004 7:49:55 AM (GMT +2)

WILL it be ZANU PF exploiting the power of incumbency or the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) banking on voter anger
and frustration that will clinch the Zengeza parliamentary by-election
slated for this weekend?

The result is difficult to predict given the allegations of systematic
intimidation and harassment of the opposition by ZANU PF, which has
been previously whitewashed by the MDC in urban centres.

But analysts were unanimous the by-election to fill the seat left
vacant after the MDC Member of Parliament, Tafadzwa Musekiwa, skipped
the country and sought refuge in the United Kingdom was critical for
both ZANU PF and the opposition party.

On one hand, they said, a win by the MDC would give a glimpse into how
the party could fare in next year's parliamentary elections, as
retaining the seat would confirm its dominance among the urbanites who
have borne the brunt of ZANU PF's economic mismanagement.

On the other, President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF would want to
win the Zengeza by-election to prove it had made significant inroads
in what is an MDC stronghold.

Historically, the MDC has trounced ZANU PF in urban constituencies,
riding on people's anger against the manner in which ZANU PF has run
down what was once a regional bread-basket.

A high voter turnout, said the analysts, could work in favour of the
opposition. ZANU PF's power base is mainly in the rural areas where it
has been accused of playing politics of the stomach by threatening
people who depend on food handouts with starvation if they do not vote
for it. The ruling party tends to thrive on voter apathy.

Vying for the post are Christopher Chigumba (ZANU PF) and James Makore
(MDC). There is also Tendai Chakanyuka of the National Alliance for
Good Governance and Gideon Chinogureyi of ZANU, two of the many fringe
political parties that do not register on the relevance radar.

The race for the seat is therefore likely to be a two-horse affair
between ZANU PF and the MDC as the smaller parties are expected to
make little if any impact in the poll.

The Zengeza poll, however, comes amid heightened fears of a marked
voter apathy. Zimbabwean voters seem to have increasingly resigned to
their fate as evidenced by the MDC's hollow victory in last year's
local government and parliamentary by-elections in Harare.

Because of the urban voters' indifference, the MDC, which has been
accused of failing to mobilise its supporters, scrapped through with a
narrow margin after its candidate Murisi Zwizai polled a paltry 2 707
votes against ZANU PF's William Nhara's 1 034 votes in the Harare
Central by-election last year. In the 2000 parliamentary elections,
the MDC candidate had garnered a massive 14 200 votes against ZANU
PF's 3 620.

It is widely feared the result from the Zengeza by-election, if the
current indifference to elections remains, could be a replica of the
September polls.

Analysts were, however, agreed this week that despite the current
electoral laws which tilt heavily in favour of the ruling party, the
MDC stood a big chance of winning, arguing that the urban voter was
unwilling to be fooled by talk of improvement in the economy.

"People have faced severe economic difficulties and although there is
talk of improvement in the economy, it has not been adequate to change
their minds," political analyst and University of Zimbabwe lecturer
Heneri Dzinotyiwei said.

"Economic difficulties continue to be felt and the voter will want to
take punitive measures against the government. But if people feel that
there is no real solution to the economic plight coming from the MDC,
there may be voter apathy, which is a real threat to the MDC."

Another political analyst who declined to be named said: "I see ZANU
PF doing well but not so well as to win the election. The urban voter
is too clever to be hoodwinked and it would be difficult for an urban
voter to give in to intimidation and violence and vote for ZANU PF.

"ZANU PF don't just beat up people during the run-up to elections;
they also have retribution systems in place."

Despite media reports of violence ahead of the Zengeza by-election,
another political analyst, Alois Masepe, said there was no need for
any political party to campaign as people had made up their minds a
long time ago.

"Because of reports of violence there, one can expect voter apathy,
but it is a well-known fact that urban constituencies belong to the
MDC," Masepe said.

"ZANU PF knows that and if they intimidate people into shying away
from polls, then they stand a chance. MDC's enemy is voter apathy.
There is no need to campaign. People made up their minds a long time
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RBZ bills in issue pass the $500 billion mark

3/25/2004 7:27:41 AM (GMT +2)

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Financial bills in issue have increased
to over $500 billion in nominal terms after another successful
floatation early this week.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Financial Bills tender which is open to
the general public and other non bank institutions had its second
floatation on Tuesday.

The tender attracted subscriptions totalling over $116 billion against
an offer of $100 billion.

The weighted average rate for the allotted bids came to 316 percent
per annum and bids submitted ranged from 250 percent to 370 percent
per annum. This confirms the central banks'intent to maintain the
obtaining interest rates as the offer was made against a background of
a projected deficit of $153 billion.

This further demonstrates that the bank has taken a strong stance to
keep the money market in deficit and mop up all excess liquidity from
the market.

With the average rate on the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe bills attaining
some level of stability and the money market still in deficit,
interest rates remained firm and largely unchanged from the previous
week's levels.

The indicative money market rates obtainable for the week are as shown
below:Tenor (days pa) Rate (% 7 - 14 days 150%

30 days 175%

60 days 200%

90 days 250%

180 days 300%Treasury Bills Market

The Treasury bill market has been quite dormant since the introduction
of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe bills. Treasury bills have become very
scarce on the secondary market and there have been no primary issues
this month.

Treasury bill maturities have also been very thin since the beginning
of the month with just over $7 billion maturing to date, however they
will be heavy maturities in the last two weeks with total Treasury
bills maturities of over $98 billion.

With the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Financial Bills having been assigned
the role of open market operations, its expected that Treasury bills
will now be issued only for government funding and as such volumes of
treasury bills outstanding in the market at any one point should be
reduced.Stock market

Last week, Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited reported a strong set of
results with attributable income for the year 2003 of over $22

Zimnat also came up with better than expected set of results with $4
billion in attributable profits. This week the market awaits financial
reports for Jewel Bank and NMB Bank.

The mid-week closing ZSE trading session had heavyweights Old Mutual,
Delta and Meikles advancing to put to halt the downward slide to the
industrial index which had not recorded a gain in the current month.

The index closed yesterday, at a level of 332 091.99. Other notable
gains in the mid week trading session were in Astra up $5 to $115 and
Zimre up $1 to $13. Losses were however recorded in M& R, Dawn
Properties, CFI, Interfresh and Medtech.
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Eskom to resume full power supply to ZESA

Dumisani Ndlela

3/25/2004 7:30:33 AM (GMT +2)

JOHANNESBURG - South African energy supplier Eskom is working on
breathing new life into the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority
(ZESA) as it emerged this week that the company could resume full
supplies to Harare beginning next month.

South Africa's Public Enterprises Minister Jeff Radebe said ZESA,
which has been battling to resuscitate power supplies from Eskom, was
taking steps to reduce its indebtedness to Eskom, a prerequisite for
the resumption of supplies.

ZESA has paid an equivalent of US$2.7 million but pressure was being
exerted on the Zimbabwean power utility to repay its debt in full.

Zimbabwe has been facing the threat of a national power blackout after
most of its power import contracts expired on December 31 2003.

Eskom spokesman Fani Zulu told The Financial Gazette that the South
African power utility was in the process of negotiating an agreement
with ZESA for the renewal of electricity exports to Zimbabwe.

"The supply arrangement for the period commencing from April 1 2004 is
being negotiated. At this stage, Eskom would not like to comment on
the substantive issues that are subject of the negotiation," Zulu

Zimbabwe, whose electricity import contracts with Eskom and
Mozambique's Hydroelectrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB) and the Democratic
Republic of the Congo's Snell expired in December 2003, has had
problems renewing the contracts because of an acute shortage of
foreign currency.

Zimbabwe's peak electricity demand is projected to have increased to
over 2 600 MW this year from 2 000 MW last year, according to the
Zimbabwe Power Company, a subsidiary of ZESA. Electricity imports,
which meet about 50 percent of Zimbabwe's power requirements, have
declined by 60 percent since December 31 2003.

Eskom refused to renew its contract with ZESA until an outstanding
debt of US$21 million was "fully amortised".

This resulted in the two power companies settling for a temporary
supply arrangement for 150 MW for three months from January to March
2004, subject to ZESA paying for the power supplies in advance as well
as making part payments towards servicing the debt.

But Zulu said it was untrue that Eskom had refused to renew its
contract with ZESA, claiming the two parties had agreed to "extend the
contract from January to March 2004 to allow for further negotiations
between them".

ZESA also owes HCB US$30 million for power supplies. HCB has also
refused to renew its contract with ZESA until the debt is fully
repaid. HCB had been supplying ZESA with 250 MW under the expired
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Multi-million dollar mining equipment rotting at border

Staff Reporter

3/25/2004 7:29:58 AM (GMT +2)

MINING equipment worth millions of dollars is rotting at Beitbridge
Border Post after Freda Rabecca Mine, owned by Ashanti Goldfields,
failed to raise the US$700 000 tax required to clear it.

The equipment, whose value could not be established, has been at the
point of entry for close to three weeks , dealing a body blow to the
rehabilitation of Freda Rebecca's mines in Bindura.

Innocent Munikwa, the managing director of Freda Rebecca, told The
Financial Gazette this week that the company had been made to pay
Value Added Tax on zero-rated capital goods and has met with
difficulties in raising the money.

Negotiations to secure the release of the equipment have started with
the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) to enable the rehabilitation of
the mines to proceed unhindered.

"We are negotiating with ZIMRA officials since the equipment is zero
rated. They want us to pay first and then they will refund us, but the
problem is we do not have the money and moreover, ZIMRA is using the
auction rate," he said.

"Freda is currently undergoing a very expensive plant rehabilitation
programme and we are struggling to keep the company afloat."

ZIMRA officials could not be reached for comment at the time of going
to press.

In its 2003 annual report, Ashanti reported that the unavailability of
equipment and difficulties in accessing foreign currency needed to
import equipment had hit Freda Rebecca hard.

Munikwa said the situation has been compounded by the fact that the
gold mining giant was being paid for its bullion at below the auction
rate, making it extremely difficult to raise the US$700 000.

"The plant rehabilitation which we are currently undertaking is an
ongoing process and it is going to be very difficult to continuously
bring equipment into the country in the coming months," he said.

Freda suffered a 45 percent dip in output from 98.255 ounces in 2002
to 51.091 in the full year 2003, revealing the industry's
vulnerability to problems haunting the Zimbabwean economy.

Management has remained optimistic that the rehabilitation of the
plant could see the company meet its new target of 60 000 ounces of
gold per annum in the year 2004.

The company said the pullback in output was short-lived as, apart from
plant rehabilitation, Freda was stepping up exploration drilling,
which is being undertaken on adjacent satellite deposits at Promoter,
Phoenix Prince and PEN-Kimberly prospects allocated in Mashonaland
Central province.

Production costs at Freda have also gone up from US$214 per ounce in
2002 to US$268 per ounce in 2003, making Freda the highest cash
operating cost mine in the Ashanti stable.
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Propaganda machinery in overdrive

3/25/2004 7:17:15 AM (GMT +2)

Zimbabwe's propaganda machinery, arguably one of the most inept in the
world, has been in overdrive over the past few weeks, presumably in a
bid to influence public opinion over a couple of incidents.

One was the BBC Panorama programme's expose on youth militias that are
notoriously known as "Green Bombers" and have long been accused of
perpetrating all manner of horrendous atrocities against innocent
citizens perceived to be supporters of the opposition.

The second incident over which audiences were driven to distraction
when it was reported ad nauseum on state radio, television and in
newspapers was the arrest of 67 alleged mercenaries at Harare
International Airport about two weeks ago.

In spite of their well-known heroics and ill-advised attempts to
over-dramatise these events, government propagandists only succeeded
in achieving the complete opposite.

Their frantically bitter and amateurish efforts raised more awkward
questions than they provided credible answers to legimate concerns.

The net result was that instead of winning friends, these efforts
focused the spotlight on the Zimbabwean government's own warts.

Take the attempt to dismiss the Panorama revelations on the exploits
of the "Green Bombers" and to accuse the BBC of fabricating the story.
Along with the usual macho histrionics and breathing of fire and
brimstone against the "imperialist media" and BBC correspondent
Hillary Anderson came a local component of the tirade.

This was in the form of veiled threats against some local media
practitioners who were accused of working in cahoots with the BBC, the
British Broadcasting Corporation, especially in providing photographs
of militia bases.

To top it all, some frightened-looking youths were paraded before
television cameras to recite the virtues of the national youth service
training programme. One young man, obviously unaware of a revealing
slip of the tongue, said on ZTV that as a result of the training he
now knows how to fear superiors (kutya vakuru).

The question is: how can such a completely cowed and brainwashed young
person be expected to say anything other than that which he is ordered
to regurgitate?

The contents of the BBC report were nothing new. Calls have been made
repeatedly by Zimbabwean churches, human rights organisations and the
general public for the militia programme to be dismantled so that the
youths can be rehabilitated and re-integrated into society. The
government has persistently turned a deaf ear.

It has only seemed eager to respond over the last few weeks, albeit in
its usual belligerent manner, because the BBC placed the deadly
escapades of the "Green Bombers" in the international domain.

But how, may I ask, can the international community believe the
government's frantic denials when it has refused to come clean at home
about the real purpose of this controversial programme?

If this scheme is as noble and harmless as it has been touted to be,
why does it continue to be shrouded in secrecy?

One sure way to allay the fears and doubts that have been voiced would
be to organise facility tours for the media, including the BBC, to see
the goings-on for themselves. The state's insistence on keeping an
iron curtain around these youth camps only serves to prove that it has
something atrocious to hide.

The arrest of the alleged mercenaries, who have also been described as
terrorists, has done more to attract negative publicity rather than
admiration for the Harare regime. The 67 men are said to have been on
their way to Equatorial Guinea to topple the government of President
Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

Harare has done its best to hawk its entrapping of these men by
promising to sell them arms as a heroic act that forestalled the
staging of a coup against a fellow African Union (AU) member country.

But despite this AU solidarity excuse, the question still arises: why
should a country that has shouted itself hoarse over its own
sovereignty be so eager and quick to meddle in the affairs of
Equatorial Guinea? Could it be that birds of a feather flock together
and look out for each other?

The similarities between Equatorial Guinea and Zimbabwe are striking.

For a start, like our own head of state, Obiang is accused of being an
iron-fisted dictator. He has clung to power for a quarter of a century
and has survived by rigging elections, jailing and killing opponents.

He has spun a web of political patronage to rival Zimbabwe's, enabling
a small band of his cronies and relatives to live like kings while the
rest of the country's people are scavengers like the majority of

Because of his dismal record of human rights abuses and corruption,
Obiang has been ranked by one human rights watchdog as number six
among the world's 10 worst dictators. Our own President is frequently
placed in the same category by different organisations.

As is the case in Zimbabwe, a free press is anathema to the Equatorial
Guinea regime, where only media that sing the praises of the Dear
Leader can hope to survive.

These are obviously values that our local propaganda pundits admire
and identify with. But it is doubtful whether touting Obiang's
tyrannical rule as something worth defending can win Zimbabwe a single
friend at home and abroad.

All that the saturation coverage of the mercenaries saga is guaranteed
to achieve is to draw attention to and place Zimbabwe's own human
rights and other abuses under a magnifying glass.

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ZANU PF deputy mayor arrested

Staff Reporter

3/25/2004 7:45:09 AM (GMT +2)

POLICE have arrested ZANU PF councillor and deputy mayor for Chegutu,
Phineas Mariyapera, in connection with the disappearance of over $150
million from the municipality's coffers.

Mariyapera's arrest comes barely a week after the Minister of State in
the President's Office responsible for the Anti-Corruption portfolio,
Didymus Mutasa, announced that he would descend with a hammer on the
rot at the council.

"We don't care who the culprits are. We are going to treat every
corruption case equally and bring the perpetrators to book," Mutasa, a
former parliamentary speaker, who bounced back into President Robert
Mugabe's Cabinet was quoted by this newspaper last week as saying.

Allegations against Mariyapera arose from a damning audit report
produced by a government-appointed taskforce last year which cited him
as the brains behind the looting of the council funds.

Following the revelations, the team recommended that Local Government
Minister, Ignatius Chombo, stops Mariyapera from interfering with
management of Chegutu's finances forthwith and that the treasury
department be overhauled or dismissed. Chombo has been mum on the

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed Mariyapera's arrest

"He was picked up on fraud charges involving the disappearance of
money at Chegutu Town Council. He will appear in court soon," said

The report into the investigations further alleged that Mariyapera,
who has been on a collision course with the executive mayor of
Chegutu, Francis Dhlakama, was a crucial player in the disappearance
of the funds and the hiring and firing of key staff.

"Employees have been recruited into cash collection points in the name
of the party ZANU PF to facilitate the theft of money from council . .
. Due to the chaotic situation, Chegutu Municipality has become a
hunting ground for thieves. If administrative and political stability
is to be achieved, the minister is advised to dissolve council and
appoint commissioners. The current crop of councillors is not fit to
run council affairs and should be barred from contesting future
elections," read part of the report.
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ZANU PF stranglehold on rural areas over: Tsvangirai

Staff Reporter

3/25/2004 7:44:21 AM (GMT +2)

IN what could be a major volte-face, Movement for Democratic Change
leader Morgan Tsvangirai this week raised the political stakes by
threatening to exploit the country's never-ending deteriorating
socio-economic situation to hand ZANU PF a shock defeat in its rural
stronghold during the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

Tsvangirai's sentiments are the clearest sign yet that the opposition
leader could consider contesting what is widely viewed as the
watershed election despite earlier threats to boycott the 2005 poll
unless the electoral laws are reviewed.

The poll is slated for March next year and the two major political
parties started campaigning as far back as last year.

The MDC leader, who many feel has a compelling case in disputing
President Robert Mugabe's victory in the 2002 presidential ballot,
claimed an upsurge in the MDC's rural support base this week. The
five-year-old opposition party, which now feels it has the ruling ZANU
PF on the ropes due to the economic meltdown, has over the years
struggled to penetrate the rural areas where the majority of the
country's population lives. It has blamed this on systematic bullying
and intimidation by ZANU PF.

The MDC claims that for the past four years, ZANU PF has maintained an
iron grip on rural constituencies by politicising food aid and
unleashing violence using rogue war veterans and youth militias, a
charge President Mugabe's government, which accuses the MDC of being a
western front to effect regime change, strongly disputes.

"If we decide to participate, I am confident we shall surprise ZANU PF
in its perceived strongholds. Delegates from the rural areas who
attended the Saturday meeting reported an upsurge in the MDC support
in those areas.

"Rural Zimbabweans are deeply disturbed by the political, economic and
social decay that is evident around them. Their businesses ceased to
function many years ago. The cost of basic necessities has gone up so
much that many can't afford to buy essentials like salt and soap," he

Tsvangirai said: "Hungry rural voters listen in amazement to the news
of food exports masterminded by Mugabe's cronies and associates when
the majority are struggling to feed their families."

He launched a blistering attack on corruption, which he blamed on ZANU
PF officials now busy covering their tracts for fear of the crackdown
on the rot, which many view as a mere election gimmick.

Tsvangirai said President Mugabe's ministers have no confidence in
Zimbabwe and prefer to invest millions of "looted" funds in
neighbouring countries while local hospitals are collapsing.

"Recent events show clearly that the rot is entrenched in a corrupt
system of political patronage nursed by a corrupt dictatorship that
seeks to cling on to power at the expense of the majority.

"Most of the businessmen and women who are in trouble donated part of
the booty to ZANU PF regularly, the most recent case being that
party's December conference. The record is clear," he said.
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