The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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Deepening Crisis- Eddie Cross, 29th February 2004

Just when you think we have sunk about as low as we can go without
completely collapsing in a heap, new situations present themselves which
fling new challenges to those of us who live in Zimbabwe. One thing is for
sure we do not get bored!

Right now we are dealing with three new levels of hardships which we did
not have to face last year. The first of these is the complete chaos in our
financial markets. The second is the viability crisis in our remaining
export industries and the third is an unfolding food crisis that threatens
to be much worse than last year.

In mid December, a new Governor of the Reserve Bank, Gideon Gono, was sworn
into office. He assembled a group of wise men and came out with a new
monetary policy statement. This was designed to force the "productive
 sector" to pay economic interest rates but to continue to allow the State
to borrow money at very low rates to protect the fiscal deficit targets.

Within two weeks, interest rates had soared into the stratosphere, half of
all the commercial banks were tottering on the edge of bankruptcy and a
whole plethora of Zanu PF dominated lush funds found themselves in hot
water. In a panic the governor reversed his policy and went in the other
direction - pouring cheap money into every institution and company that was
in trouble. When he finally caught his breath he had doubled the national
debt in Zimbabwe dollar term in 6 weeks.  He pumped an astonishing nearly
one trillion Zimbabwe dollars into the money market.

Like heroin addicts the financial industry sighed with relief and lay back
in a drunken stupor - waiting for their next shot of liquidity to keep the
pot boiling. The price is high - inflation and speculation in assets such
as stock shares and property has again taken off and we can expect general
living standards to continue to decline rapidly as a result.

In a parallel move, Gono announced that he was going to auction 25 per cent
of all foreign exchange earnings by exporters. For those who do not live
behind the glass in Alice in Wonderland, this means that when an exporter
is paid, an electronic arm goes into the exporters bank account and takes
50 per cent. His ordinary accounts at the same bank are then credited with
Zimbabwe dollars at the rate of 800 to 1 for 25 per cent and the auction
rate for the rest. But there was a sting in the tail of that one - if the
exporter failed to use the balance in the account in 21 days - the same
mysterious electronic arm would take the rest and give the exporter
Zimbabwe dollars at the auction rate.

The net effect of this neat little scheme was to increase the flow of
foreign exchange available to the State through the Reserve Bank and to
sharply reduce the total revenue of all exporters in local dollars. In
another sphere, unrelated to the Reserve Bank, the electricity utility
ZESA, raised its tariffs by 500 per cent in one month and started to charge
all exporters in US dollars at the auction rate.

Suddenly all exporters and earners of foreign exchange in Zimbabwe found
themselves in an immediate and severe cash crisis. Mines and foundries find
themselves facing liquidation. Industrial firms are suddenly faced with the
reality that if they continue to export they will go bust and if the do not
they cannot function.

Before these developments both the Minister of Finance and the MDC economic
team forecast that the economy would shrink in 2004 - we thought by as much
as 10 per cent. This now looks very conservative. And remember - this will
be the 7th consecutive year that the GDP has declined in real terms - a
situation unheard of in any other country's history, especially those that
are not (yet) at war.

Then there is the food situation. My own estimate of the local crop was
that we would be about 65 per cent short of maize grains this year and
about 85 per cent short of wheat grain. The latest crop estimates prepared
by the people responsible have just confirmed this view.  I keep on
reminding people that the great famine in Ethiopia that caused such a furor
was caused by an estimated 20 per cent shortfall in national grain
supplies. Our total shortfall will be not less than two thirds - more than
three times the shortfall in the horn of Africa.

To this we must add a shortage of all other forms of food - milk based
products, vegetable oils and protein rich pulses and beans. Fish and fruit
are impossibly expensive. In addition to this, the meat industry has shrunk
so much that all abattoirs are scaling down and meat products are in short
supply and very expensive.

Death rates from malnutrition related problems in both adults and children
are running at thousands per week. With nearly 2 million HIV infected
adults and over two million children under 5 years of age - we are seeing
death rates that were last seen in the plagues of Europe in the 1600's. I
estimate that our national population is now declining by at least 2,7 per
cent per annum - a situation exacerbated by migration.

Last week the United Nations Agencies met with the Zimbabwe Government to
decide on their response to this emerging crisis. Three Ministers from the
Mugabe regime attended together with officials and tried to bully the
United Nations into fully supporting this food shortage.

The UN gave notice that they had had enough of this situation - they were
infuriated by the fact that the Mugabe regime was holding back food stocks
to use in their political campaigns this year. They also said that the
crisis was a deliberate creation of the Zimbabwe government and that there
was no good reason why Zimbabwe could not feed itself. This was a
self-imposed problem and the State had to take responsibility for the
situation. They informed the government that they would only feed the ill,
the elderly and undernourished children in the year beginning in April

This is all very well, but it leaves the great majority of the people naked
in a blizzard - not of their own making. I think it is right for the UN to
demand that we grown up and take responsibility for our actions. That is
what independence and sovereignty is all about. But for those of us who
live here, it will make things that much worse.

So suddenly I feel a shiver of apprehension, what does this all mean? Can
we really take another sharp down turn in economic activity and an increase
in unemployment? Can we survive a winter with very little basic foodstuffs
and what is available being impossibly expensive? What will the political
ramifications be?

When Morgan was attacked by a group of 30 young "green bombers" last
weekend his security guards protected him. When I went to see him on Sunday
to find out if he was OK and to put the rumors to rest, his security guards
said to me "Eddie, why are we wasting our time with democracy, it is now
necessary that we go back to the bush".  This evening I see that Aristide
has fled Haiti - perhaps they are right. I pray not.

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76 184 Cases of Malaria Reported

The Herald (Harare)

March 2, 2004
Posted to the web March 1, 2004


At least 76 184 cases of malaria have been reported in the country since the
beginning of the year, with Mashona-land West province having the highest

In an interview yesterday, the deputy director for disease prevention and
control in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, Dr Stanley Midzi, said
there had been an increase in malaria cases, with 12 187 cases being
reported last week.

He said Mashonaland West province had the highest cases with 3 003 reported,
while Mashonaland Central had 2 869.

Dr Midzi said 2 518 malaria cases were reported among children under five
years. Children and pregnant mothers are said to be at greater risk of
contracting the disease.

"The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare is urging people who live in
malaria zones and notice signs and symptoms of malaria to seek medical
advice at the nearest health centre," said Dr Midzi.

He said the country was now entering the peak malaria transmission season,
which is March and April, and there was therefore need to seek medical
advice if one suspected that they might have contracted malaria.

"We also urge people who are planning to travel or have travelled in those
areas and develop symptoms of malaria to also seek early treatment," he

Malaria zones in the country include Binga, Nkayi, Gokwe, Hwange, Lupane,
Kariba, Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe, Centenary and Guruve.

Its symptoms include headaches, fever, vomiting and general body aches,
particularly in the joints.

Dr Midzi urged people to voluntarily visit a health centre if they suspected
they were suffering from these symptoms, which were almost similar to that
of one who had a cold.

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Daily News

      New 'Anti-corruption' Law Tramples on Human Rights

      Date:1-Mar, 2004

      Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's new apartheid-style
anti-corruption law, imposed by decree on 14 February, has joined draconian
security, media and other legislation to further shatter the rights and
freedoms of beleaguered citizens and erode the constitution.

      A sinister amendment to the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act
requires magistrates to remand suspects for 21 days, denies the fundamental
right to innocence until proven guilty and reaches beyond corruption to
cover offences under the harsh Public Order and Security Act.

      Zimbabwe, wrote the respected Southern African Report, has imposed 'a
state of emergency by stealth'. According to the South African based weekly,
the country has been:

      '... turned overnight into a de facto police state, with police being
given wide powers to arrest and detain people for lengthy periods in prison
without trial for political and other 'offences'. Though brought in
ostensibly to combat corruption, the fine print in the law has disclosed
that arrests can be made for conduct as inoffensive as showing passive
resistance to any law.'

      The many critics of the decree believe it will be used by Mugabe not
only to act against corrupt members of his ruling Zanu-PF party ahead of
general elections in March 2005 - to persuade voters that he is serious in
fighting graft - but also against the political opposition.

      He recently announced a reshuffled, expanded 'anti-graft cabinet' to
fight corruption and fix the economy, and signed (after it was passed by
Parliament), the Bank Use Promotion and Suppression of Money Laundering Act,
which cracks down of abuse of the banking system.

      Government argues that the anti-graft decree is proof of its
commitment to clamp down on endemic corruption. Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa said it aimed to extricate investigating officers from long hours
spent in courts:

      'We are determined to stamp out corruption and no one can stand in our

      But political analysts slated the amendment as an election ploy to win
over urban voters, who are currently supporters of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC), ahead of the 2005 election - tough action on a
hot urban topic, much like the way Mugabe secured the rural vote in 2000 and
2002 through tough action on land reform.

      Of significance is that Mugabe imposed the anti-graft law by decree:
it was promulgated in terms of Section 2 of the Presidential Powers
(Temporary Measures) Act Chapter 10:20, and amends Section 32 of the
Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act Chapter 9:07.

      The law would have faced stiff opposition in Parliament, from the many
Zanu-PF MPs tainted by allegations of corruption and, for different reasons,
from the MDC.

      Few dispute the urgent need to fight corruption in Zimbabwe, but many
condemn the means, which are seen as Mugabe grasping - by decree and via
unjust, unconstitutional law - the power to act decisively against political
opponents in and outside his ruling party.

      Indeed, the MDC has argued for stronger anti-corruption laws similar
to those in Hong Kong, which oblige public officials to explain why their
living standards exceed their income. David Coltart, MP, MDC secretary for
legal and parliamentary affairs, told the Financial Gazette:

      'In Zimbabwe, we have become accustomed to Members of Parliament,
Cabinet ministers and soldiers who have become multi-millionaires and now
have assets which are far more than the incomes they have received over the

      However, Coltart described the anti-graft decree as a brazen effort by
Mugabe to circumvent fundamental constitutional rights, including the right
of accused people to have their liberty 'determined by an independent court
in a fair hearing within a reasonable time'. It is:

      '...nothing less than a Trojan horse which effectively ushers in
provisions that give the regime state of emergency powers without actually
declaring a state of emergency'.

      Previously, police have had to produce suspects in court within 48
hours of arrest. Now judges and magistrates are stripped of the power to
hear bail applications while police are investigating suspects for crimes
covered by the decree - corruption, money laundering, externalising foreign
currency or unauthorised dealings.

      The number of days the Magistrate is required to remand an accused
person in custody is 21 days. Where a prima facie case is established, no
bail may be entertained for 14 days. Where no prima facie is established no
bail may be entertained for seven days.

      There have been several high profile corruption arrests this year,
some of which involved suspects being held for long periods without bail.
But the first victim of the new decree was powerful Zanu-PF central
committee member and business tycoon James Makamba.

      He surrendered himself to the police on 9 February after heavily armed
police and Central

      Intelligence Organisation agents raided his homes and properties, and
has been charged with 22 counts of illegal foreign currency dealing. Makamba
was refused bail by the courts, which made it clear they had no option under
the decree. One Judge, Justice Ziyambi, criticised the amendment for
depriving judges and magistrates of the discretion to grant bail and
requiring them merely to act as: '. A rubber stamp to give a semblance of
legality to the detention. This strikes me as being patently
unconstitutional'. Critics correctly argue that the police's extended
detention powers strip suspects of the rights to due process, the
presumption of innocence and access to lawyers. Lovemore Madhuku, head of
civil society's National Constitutional Assembly and a UZ law lecturer,
argues: 'This undermines the principle of the rule of law. Police need to
investigate first before they arrest anyone not the other way round.' The
decree's small print reveals that it also applies to offences under the
Public Order and Security Act, a notorious law introduced two years ago
which deals harshly with 'subversion' of the government and constitution,
including protests or strikes. It has been used to arrest hundreds of
opposition leaders, supporters, and representatives of non-governmental
organizations. Many of whom have been tortured or killed. There are also
fears that it will enable police to torture arrested opposition supporters
more effectively, and prevent them from receiving timely medical attention.
The MDC argues that the powers the decree gives police are similar to those
used by South Africa's apartheid regime. Such powers have only been used in
Zimbabwe during states of emergency - ironically, by the old white regime
during the liberation war and by Mugabe in the 1980s, when his security
forces crushed the opposition in the Matabeleland massacres. The opposition
believes that Mugabe, who stands widely accused of rigging the 2000 and 2002
polls, will use the decree to thwart opponents whether they are inside or
outside Zanu-PF, ahead of the 2005 election. Certainly it would be another
powerful weapon in an arsenal of draconian laws that the 24-year ruler could
deploy in his ongoing quest to cling to power. Importantly, the decree also
places yet another cloud over prospects for talks between Zanu-PF and the
MDC, which South African President Thabo Mbeki has repeatedly promised. In
its 20 February edition, Southern African Report worried about whether
Mugabe, armed with an 'array of laws which can decimate the opposition, has
any intention of indulging in talks': 'Indeed, the decree gives the
impression that Mugabe is intent on eliminating all opposition, which is
hardly an attitude conducive to the holding of talks'.

        .. This column is provided by the International Bar Association. An
organisation that represents the Law Societies and Bar Associations around
the world, and works to uphold the rule of law. For further information,
visit the website

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African nations slow in offering Aristide asylum

By Geoff Hill

    JOHANNESBURG - Jean-Bertrand Aristide faces an uncertain future in
Africa, with even his most faithful ally on the continent - South Africa -
showing little interest in granting him asylum.
    The ousted Haitian president arrived in Bangui, the remote capital of
the Central African Republic, aboard a U.S.-provided flight from Antigua
yesterday after an overnight journey and was whisked to the presidential
    "Aristide ... is a free man," CAR Foreign Minister Charles Wenezoui, who
greeted the ousted leader upon his arrival, told the Associated Press. "The
heavy security measures around the presidential palace are for his own
     It was unclear what financial resources Mr. Aristide has at his
disposal. While the opposition in Haiti has long accused him and his
government of corruption, officials yesterday offered no specific accusation
that he had spirited money abroad.
    However, past Haitian leaders have enjoyed a comfortable exile.
Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, who fled to France in 1986, was said to
have embezzled as much as $500 million and set himself up in a comfortable
villa near Cannes.
    Agence France-Presse reported that Mr. Aristide plans to continue from
Bangui to permanent exile in South Africa, but Foreign Ministry spokesman
Ronnie Mamoepa in Johannesburg said his government knew of no such
    "We know nothing of this and have not received any formal request from
Mr. Aristide, the U.S. or anyone else," Mr. Mamoepa said in a telephone
interview. "And the South Africa government has not made any offer of exile
or asylum."
    A spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria said the embassy had not
raised the issue with South African authorities.
    However, Foreign Minister Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma is reported to
have discussed Mr. Aristide's future in a telephone conference call on
Saturday with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, French Foreign Minister
Dominique de Villepin and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
    Haitian radio has also carried reports speculating that Mr. Aristide was
headed for Johannesburg.
    As support for Mr. Aristide ebbed in recent months, President Thabo
Mbeki remained one of Mr. Aristide's last supporters.
    In January, his government gave $1.4 million towards Haiti's
celebrations marking 200 years of independence from France and Mr. Mbeki was
the only foreign head of state to attend the event.
    A Johannesburg newspaper reported last week that South Africa was
sending 150 rifles, 200 smoke grenades, 200 bulletproof vests and 5,000
rounds of ammunition to help Mr. Aristide's forces hold back the rebel
    Diplomatic sources in Pretoria said last night that Mr. Mbeki might not
decide on asylum for Mr. Aristide before South Africa's national elections
on April 14.
    Mr. Mbeki is already under attack from human rights groups for not
taking a stronger stand against the government of neighboring Zimbabwe,
where President Robert Mugabe is accused of rigging elections and misusing
    "He has enough problems with local tyrants without some guy from Haiti
arriving on his doorstep," one senior diplomat said. "Aristide may just have
to cool his heels awhile in Bangui."

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Business Day

Police seek Zimbabwean bankers in forex case


Harare Correspondent

FOUR leading Zimbabwean bankers accused of illegally moving Z30bn offshore
were still on the run yesterday, police said.

Police were looking for NMB Bank MD Julius Makoni, deputy MD James Mushowe,
financial director Otto Chekeche and executive director Francis Zimuto in
connection with externalising funds in alleged breach of the Exchange
Control Act.

Makoni was said to have escaped to London, while the others could still be
in the country. Mushowe may be in SA.

The four bankers ran NMB Holdings, which is listed on the Zimbabwe and
London bourses, and owns NMB Bank.

They allegedly siphoned off foreign currency through LTB Money Transfers.
About £3m and $2m was allegedly transferred.

Last year the government withdrew NMB Bank's foreign currency licence,
accusing it of black market trading .

The licence was recently returned to the bank, which has 10 large
institutional investors.

The government recently launched a campaign to fight corruption, which is
widely seen as a vote-catching gimmick.

A few politicians from the ruling Zanu (PF) and several businessmen have
been arrested.
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Yorke Peninsular Country Times

Escape to the lucky country

JOURNALIST: Kathryn Crisell Probst
Guy and Suzi with (l-r) Demi (9), Jodie (7) and Chelsea (5).

Leaving Zimbabwe for Australia may be a big move, but it was not a hard decision to make for the Alderton family.

Guy and Suzi with their children Demi (9), Jodie (7) and Chelsea (5) decided it was time to leave their homeland, with a family farm destroyed and crime rife, after Suzi was carjacked.

They have moved to Yorke Peninsula, to a farm just outside of Paskeville, in the hope of starting a new, safer life.

While Guy has been here since October, taking a job as a diesel mechanic at Measday's Services Pty Ltd at Kadina, the rest of the family arrived here on New Year's Day after an emotional final Christmas with their families.

"I've always wanted to live in Australia", said Guy. "I've been here three times before in my travels. Ever since a school rugby trip when I was young I have wanted to live here."

It took 18 months for the family to secure visas, based on Guy's trade skills obtained after leaving school and before joining the family farm.

"We're very lucky", said Guy. "Australian people have been wonderful to us. Here you hardly have to lock your car, and there is no big fence around your property."

Both Guy and Suzi say the girls are enjoying school at Harvest Christian School at Kadina.

"We did think it might take them a little time to settle in because it is so different but they loved it from day one", said Suzi.

For Suzi, too, the move is positive.

"There are so many shortages in Zimbabwe now. I could spend hours just in the supermarket here, there are so many choices. Even choices in bread. It's so nice to see everything in the shops", she said.

But, the joy of being in Australia is tempered by concern for family they left behind.

"We do worry about our families because of the level of crime. I wish we could bring them all here", said Suzi.

"I'm not lonely because I've got involved in reading at the school and I'm very busy in the house. Everyone is so friendly. But we both come from quite large, and close families so we always cry after someone has phoned us."

The family farmed sugar cane on two family farms in the Triangle in Lowveld region in Zimbabwe.

One of those farms, some 10,000 acres owned by Guy's father since 1960, has been lost under President Mugabe's changes, leaving one that is too small to support Guy and his brother's families.

"It was beautiful, stocked with game and wildlife", says Suzi. "I believe that's all gone - the wildlife has been slaughtered.

"We also had to leave our pets, three large labradors that some people kindly took for us."

Both have been surprised at the differences in farming practice between the two countries, especially with the amount of technology available.

"We find it amazing that one farmer can work the land here. We had 70 people working for us because all the sugar is cut by hand", said Suzi.

Guy says, by the time they left, Mugabe had "run the country into the ground" with $6,000 Zimbabwe dollars needed to buy just US$1.

"The crops have all failed", said Suzi. "The farms were taken off us but the new owners were not properly backed by the government to put crops in - and then we had a bit of a drought and it all failed."

With their homeland in ruins, the couple have no plans to return to Zimbabwe.

"We will settle here - we love it", said Guy. "If the kids are happy, we will always be happy."

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Business Report

      Trickle-down effect not a viable economic plan
      March 2, 2004

      By The Independent

      London - I sat outside Hugo's gun store watching the flies chew on a
dead Alsatian. The prostitutes fanned each other against the afternoon heat
and started to hang their surplus clothing on the razor wire of the
neighbouring house.

      I had been advised to keep the car window open just a fraction so it
was harder for a street gang to smash it. As my friend ran out of the bank,
I unlocked the car door and he jumped in fast.

      "February is when Africa's at its best, no?"

      In this world of two halves, the northern hemisphere is spinning
towards economic recovery. Up to 90 percent of global output comes from
north of the equator, while the south provides most of the raw materials.

      Strip out subsistence farming and the vast majority of sub-Saharan
Africa's (tiny) gross domestic product (GDP) comes from mining. Given the
rapid pick-up in industrial activity and the speed with which China is
joining the rich man's club, you would expect commodity prices to be

      And they are. Prices for copper, aluminium, palladium, platinum,
nickel and lead are up massively, in some cases by nearly 70 percent.

      Companies have reported the benefits: take BHP Billiton's 40 percent
rise in profit this month to $1.96 billion (R12.9 billion).

      But sitting in that street in Africa, it was hard to see much
"trickle-down effect".

      The political dimension is crucial. Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe
had his 80th birthday last month, but Zimbabwe's economic statistics are
nothing to celebrate. GDP has shrunk by a third in the past six years,
unemployment is now 70 percent, and inflation this year will touch 1 000

      Before the war with Iraq, "neo-imperialism" flourished as a concept
among the chattering classes.

      The line ran that whatever the historic sins of colonialism - and no
doubt many of Africa's current problems are a direct consequence of this -
there was still moral justification for active intervention to prevent human

      Post Iraq, this view is almost unthinkable in liberal circles, but
why? Zimbabwe is by no means the only example of political mismanagement.

      The persistent famines in east Africa are a direct result of political
failure. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a bloody war has killed about
4.7 million.

      And then there is Aids. Statistics vary as to the exact prevalence,
but many estimates run as high as 30 percent or even 40 percent in some

      The effect is dramatic: one London friend was part of a team
parachuted in to run a central bank where over half the board had died of
the disease.

      Fighting Aids also requires political will. South Africa's political
reconciliation is cited as one positive development in Africa, but the
budget demonstrated that the authorities there are now paying the price for
their tardy recognition of the reality of Aids.

      The disease absorbs a growing proportion of government expenditure,
yet the health minister talks of traditional "African remedies" such as

      Charity donations might be a more considerate response, but either way
there must be better ways to help.

      US policy makers should consider the effect of their cheap dollar. The
rand has appreciated by 70 percent, which is why none of the rise in
commodity prices (which are priced in dollars) has fed through.

      But if we really want some economic solutions, don't we also need some
political actions?

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104 Export Firms Under Probe

The Herald (Harare)

March 2, 2004
Posted to the web March 1, 2004


AT least 104 exporting companies are under probe for non-acquittal of
foreign currency earnings declaration forms known as CD1 forms, as the
Government keeps a tight grip on businesses involved in illegal foreign
currency deals.

The companies collectively failed to declare earnings of an estimated US$39
million as required by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

The matter has been referred to the National Economic Crimes Inspectorate,
the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and the police for investigation.

Although efforts to get a comment from central bank authorities proved
fruitless at the time of going to Press yesterday, sources said
investigations were underway.

The company, which has the highest figure of undeclared earnings but is
engaged in discussion with central bank authorities is the Minerals
Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe, whose export proceeds were US$20 million
as of February 27, 2004.

Transmart IMP, an agricultural concern has also failed to declare earnings
totalling US$2,7million.

Manufacturing concern Yearend Investment and another agricultural concern
Interwood Marketing, have not declared earnings of US$2,3 million and US$1,9
million respectively in relation to projected foreign currency earnings from
their exports.

The company with the lowest amount is Tanwood Trading, a horticultural
concern, which has not declared foreign currency earning receipts amounting
to US$109 dollars.

However, there are several other companies which have higher figures, but
are engaged in discussion with central bank officials so as to expedite
submission of the respective CD1 forms.

All banks, except Barbican Bank and the Agricultural Development Bank, have
been criticised for failing to ensure that the exporting firms submit the
relevant foreign currency declaration forms.

Last month, the central bank gave exporters and their bankers a two-week
deadline for submission of the forms.

Initially, the companies were supposed to submit the forms before December
15 last year.

Under the Exchange Control Regulations, authorised dealers are expected to
remind exporting clients on the need to submit the forms at 30, 60 and
90-day intervals.

Failure to acquit the forms or export receipts within the agreed contract
period would be in violation of Section 5(1) of the Exchange Control Act.

Central bank officials said they had already sent written warnings to the
respective companies.

While some have not responded to the request, others have furnished the
central bank with all the necessary documents.

Officials said they were aware of some of the causes of the delays in the
acquittal of forms, but preferred to hear from the exporting companies
individually since they operated from different perspectives.

The officials have maintained that it is not the intention of the central
bank to ban exports or cause exporting companies to shut down operations.
Instead, it intends to prohibit people from causing foreign currency
shortages and "pain to the innocent public".

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      Mozambique 'human organ' nun dead

      A Brazilian nun has been found dead in Mozambique after some of her
colleagues said they had exposed an organ trafficking network.
      Doraci Edinger had reportedly been strangled and beaten in her home in
the northern city of Nampula.

      The traffickers are said to target the sex organs of children, which
are sold to make magic charms.

      The nuns from the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate said they had
received death threats since their report.

      On Tuesday, the authorities said they had found no evidence of a trade
in human organs.

      But the nuns say they have spoken to victims who managed to escape the
ring and have photos of dead children with missing organs.

      'Powerful charms'

      The BBC's Jose Tembe in the capital, Maputo, says that many people
believe that a ring does exist and accuse the government of not doing enough
to investigate it.

      One nun told our correspondent that she was extremely angry at the
news of the death in Nampula.

      Ritual murders have been reported in many African countries, as some
witchdoctors say using human organs in magic charms makes them more

      These are believed by some to bring financial or sexual success to
those who use them.

      "Several countries are involved in this iniquitous game and the
victims are the poor, those who have no voice or defence, or the strength to
defend themselves, we are convinced that Nampula is part of an international
ring," order spokeswoman Sister Juliana told Portuguese radio earlier this

      She said there have been several attempts to abduct children from the
orphanage they run in Nampula.

      Mozambican, South African, Brazilian and Portuguese nationals were
involved in the ring, she said.

      The organs were reportedly being smuggled into neighbouring Zimbabwe
and South Africa.

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Doctors backtrack on cash upfront demands
BULAWAYO, 2 Mar 2004 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's private doctors this week stopped
demanding cash payments for services and reverted to accepting valid medical
aid cards, easing the difficulties of patients struggling to afford medical

Private doctors had been demanding cash upfront since January, citing long
delays in the processing of claims by the National Association of Medical
Aid Societies (NAMAS). They also hiked their consultation fees from an
average of Zim $26,500 (US $6) per visit to Zim $46,500 (US $10).

Dr Billy Rigava, president of the Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZIMA), said
members would now comply with an amendment to the Medical Services Act
introduced by the government last week, which effectively made it a crime
for any doctor to refuse services to holders of valid medical aid cards.

The amendment also sought to address the doctors' complaints about delays in
payment by compelling medical aid societies to pay doctors within 30 days of
receiving their claims for services rendered.

"We are law-abiding professionals and our role is not to make laws but to
abide by them. So, with effect from [1 March], all doctors under our
association shall accept medical aid cards," Rigava announced on Friday.

He said one of ZIMA's conditions for reverting to the acceptance of medical
aid cards was that patients requiring a general consultation at a rate of
Zim $46,500 would make a cash payment of Zim $14,500 (US $3) as
"co-payment", which he defined as the difference between ZIMA's own
consultation fees and that of NAMAS.

While ZIMA increased its consultation fees by 400 percent in November, NAMAS
opted for a 360 percent rise. Doctors insist on demanding the non-refundable
co-payment to make up the difference in the fee structures.

"Part of the impasse between us and NAMAS was that they wanted to impose a
fee structure on us - but these are the same medical aid societies that have
been taking as much as three years to pay doctors for services rendered to
their members. We felt this posed a serious threat to our viability," said

With ZIMA and NAMAS unable to settle their differences, the government had
threatened to intervene and gazette the fees in the interests of the public.

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Clerical task team to kick-start talks
JOHANNESBURG, 2 Mar 2004 (IRIN) - South African and Zimbabwean church
leaders on Tuesday said they would play a more active role in trying to
defuse tensions between Zimbabwe's political leaders in the run-up to next
year's parliamentary elections.

On Monday seven prominent clergy from both countries formed a task team
aimed at encouraging talks between the ruling ZANU-PF and the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

"We are particularly concerned about the plight of ordinary Zimbabweans, and
we will pool our resources together to assist those who are in need. But we
also realise that unless the political crisis is resolved, much of our
efforts will, in the long term, be ineffective," secretary general of the
Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference, Father Richard Menatsi, told

He acknowledged current efforts to get both parties back to the negotiating
table. "We hope to assist those who are already working towards a solution
to the Zimbabwean crisis, so there is no intention, at the moment, to repeat
much of the efforts that are already underway."

Since talks between President Robert Mugabe's government and the MDC broke
down in April 2002, there have been several attempts by the diplomatic
community and the church to re-start them. In July last year Zimbabwe
clergymen met with both the MDC and ZANU-PF in a bid to resolve the
political impasse.

To date, the parties have yet to resume a formal dialogue. But Trevor
Manhanga, the head of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe told IRIN:
"There has been some progress since our meeting. Both sides have presented
us with some of their concerns and now we can work towards finding common

According to Manhanga, the government had raised concerns over a court
challenge to Mugabe's presidential victory in 2002 and the perceived British
influence over the MDC. The opposition had called for electoral reform and
the scrapping of legislation that undermined a free and fair poll.

Menatsi said the current concern of the churches was the ongoing political
instability as the country started preparing for parliamentary elections in

Menatsi warned: "It is clear that the upcoming parliamentary elections will
not be free and fair as long as the situation is unstable - it doesn't
matter who wins the election, because everybody loses in an unstable

"We are aware that the army and police are very powerful in Zimbabwe - one
of the urgent issues right now is trying to get some assurance that the
police and army would remain neutral during the elections," he added.

Last month the South African Council of Churches (SACC) wrote an urgent
letter to South African President Thabo Mbeki, requesting that a delegation
be sent to Harare to help resuscitate talks with the MDC.

The SACC called on Mbeki to clarify whether Mugabe was indeed committed to
talks with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, after Mbeki had publicly stated he
had been personally told by Mugabe that preparations for talks were
underway. However, the MDC subsequently denied having had any contact with
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Northampton Today

MP wants sanctions imposed on Mugabe
THE Government has been urged by a Northampton MP to impose sanctions on
Robert Mugabe's regime following the latest evidence of human rights
atrocities in Zimbabwe.

Footage of brutal camps in the troubled African nation training young men to
maim, torture and kill was screened by the BBC in a Panorama documentary.
And Sally Keeble, the Labour MP for Northampton North, saw the effect of
Mugabe's violent youth brigades during an undercover visit to the
famine-stricken country.
As the full horror of the camps where thousands of young people are raped
and beaten as part of their "training" was laid bare for the first time on
television, Mrs Keeble called for more pressure and sanctions on Mugabe's
But despite 23 years of Mugabe's cruel presidency, Mrs Keeble, a former
international development minister, said it was not the time for military
Mother-of-two Mrs Keeble said: "The regime is extremely oppressive and that
is very evident. It was clear that it had completely destroyed the economy
and people are very frightened.
"In Harare, it is increasingly becoming a militarised society. There are
real signs in Bulawayo that people are self-censored because they know what
is likely to happen. Some of the people I met obviously had real
Mrs Keeble did not see any of the country's so-called training camps during
her illegal visit last year, but said fear of them and the Green Bombers
youth brigade was tangible on the streets.
The MP, who resigned from the Government last year, sneaked across the
Zimbabwean border in October to witness the human rights atrocities carried
out by Mugabe's regime.
Mrs Keeble said she continued work with aid agencies and lobby the
Government to pressure neighbouring African states to condemn the Zanu-PF
She said: "People think that Mugabe is a one-off and that when he's removed,
the whole system will collapse and pave the way for democratic government.
"But in oppressive regimes the system of government falls into such abuse,
it is quite likely that if anything happens to Mugabe, Zanu can set up an
equally brutal regime.
"That is the biggest nightmare facing Zimbabwe."
She said that targeted sanctions should be widened to affect more people
linked with the regime, such as relatives, and more aid should be channelled
to agencies not directly to the government. On Sunday night, BBC's Panorama
screened interviews with young victims who were regularly raped and tortured
and the camp commanders who maintained that the government knew the brutal
methods used.
Mugabe wants to make it compulsory for all youths aged 12 to 30 through the
camps in his bid to win the parliamentary elections in 2005.
02 March 2004
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Sunday Times (SA)

Zimbabwe's Daily News to challenge ruling

Tuesday March 02, 2004 15:27 - (SA)

HARARE - Zimbabwe's Daily News, a fierce critic of President Robert Mugabe,
is due to challenge the southern African country's tough media laws before
the constitutional court, a lawyer for the paper said.

Mordecai Mahlangu said the Daily News, which was shut down by armed police
in September and has been struggling ever since to get back onto the
newsstands, would on Wednesday "ask for leave to be heard on the
constitutional challenge".

The challenge comes six months after the Supreme Court accused  the Daily
News of operating illegally by not being registered with a state-appointed
media commission as required under press laws.

The paper, the country's most popular daily, had gone to the Supreme Court
last year to argue that the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act (AIPPA), passed by Mugabe shortly after his controversial re-election in
March 2002, was unconstitutional.

But the court accused the paper of approaching it with "dirty hands" and on
September 12 police forcibly shut down the paper.

When the Daily News tried to register with the Media and Information
Commission, its application was turned down.

That marked the beginning of a marathon legal battle between the paper and
the media commission.

The Daily News successfully challenged the media commission's refusal to
register it in the administrative court, but the commission immediately
appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court is Wednesday due to hear the media commission's appeals
against the court rulings made in favour of the Daily News.

Meanwhile, the Daily News has now done "everything to comply with the law"
and expects to have its constitutional challenge heard Wednesday, Mahlangu

He said the Daily News intended to challenge the legal requirement for media
houses to be registered with the commission.

The Daily News is the only independent alternative to the two state-run
daily newspapers - The Herald and The Chronicle.

Its million or so readers have only seen the paper for short periods since
its forced closure in September after various courts ordered that the paper
be allowed to publish again.

The last edition came out on February 5.

The Daily News stopped publishing in February after the Supreme Court upheld
a section of the press law requiring journalists to register with the media

None of the Daily News journalists are registered.

Last week the paper's chief executive officer, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo,
announced that he was forced to lay off 250 employees.

Just 50 workers would be kept on until the paper's fortunes improved, he

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Mail and Guardian

SA eager to accept 'thuggish' Haiti leader

      Moyiga Nduru

      02 March 2004 09:26

Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who fled a rebel onslaught
on Sunday, is searching for a new home -- and it appears that he may take up
exile in South Africa. Aristide arrived in Bangui, capital of the Central
African Republic (CAR), on Monday along with a small entourage that included
his wife.

He resigned his post over the weekend to avoid what he called a "bloodbath",
this after months of political tension that began in the western town of
Gonaives. The rebels took control of Cap Haitien, Haiti's second largest
city, a week ago. As Aristide left under a heavy US marine escort, rebel
forces were closing in on the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Reports from Bangui said Aristide had been offered temporary asylum in the
CAR, but that he would continue his journey to South Africa after a few
days. Morocco and Taiwan have both turned down Aristide's request for
political asylum.

However, South Africa's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aziz Pahad, told
journalists on Monday that Pretoria had not yet received any request for
asylum from the former Haitian leader. "Such a request, if received, would
have to be approved by cabinet," he said.

The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, said it would oppose any
move to shelter Aristide.

"We don't have any real interest in Haiti," said Douglas Gibson of the DA on
Monday. "The United States, France and all the countries in the Caribbean,
which border Haiti, have interests there."

 "What is happening in Haiti is none of our business. We should keep out of
it," Gibson added.

 But Pallo Jordan of the ruling African National Congress disagreed.

"In principle, I have no problem granting Aristide political asylum. He is
the democratically elected president of Haiti. He is not 'Papa Doc' or 'Baby
Doc' Duvalier (the father and son dictators who ruled Haiti before Aristide
took power). He might have behaved thuggishly while in office. But so many
presidents do that," he told a news briefing in Johannesburg on Monday.

Francois Duvalier (Papa Doc) died in office in 1971 after naming his
19-year-old son, Jean-Claude (Baby-Doc) Duvalier, as his successor.
Following a bloody uprising in 1986, the younger Duvalier fled into exile in

"What I gather is that the rebels are supporters of Duvalier. We know the
track record of the people who are trying to overthrow Aristide," Jordan
said. "It would have been necessary for the international community to
support the elected government in Haiti."

But, when asked whether he would have endorsed a decision for South Africa
to send arms and soldiers to prop up the government of Aristide, Jordan
said, "No. I will not support it."

South Africa's links with the Caribbean state were strengthened last year
when President Thabo Mbeki attended the anniversary celebrations marking 200
years of independence in Haiti. Under the leadership of Toussaint L'
Ouverture, the island became the world's first independent black republic,
following a slave revolt.

Mbeki also donated about R10-million to the impoverished island.

Ronnie Mamoepa, South African foreign affairs spokesperson, urged the
international community on Sunday not to allow the rebels to seize power in

"The international community must not allow 'rebels', many of whose leaders
are notorious criminals responsible for gross human rights violations, to
determine the future of Haiti," he said in a statement.

"The international community must act decisively to arrest the situation
from a further decline into lawlessness and disorder, with a view to
creating a climate conducive for a dialogue among Haitians to find a lasting
resolution to challenges facing their country."

The 53-nation African Union has also called for a peaceful political
settlement in Haiti.

As part of its efforts to restore order, the United States says it will send
up to 500 troops to Haiti. France has agreed to deploy 300 soldiers -- while
Brazil and Canada have indicated that they will also contribute troops to
the peace-keeping effort.

The deployment of the troops comes just 10 years after former US President
Bill Clinton sent 20 000 marines to restore Aristide to power. The former
Haitian leader first became president in December 1990, but was deposed in a
military coup the following year.

Heeding a constitutional ban on serving two consecutive terms in office,
Aristide left office in 1995, but contested the presidency again in a 2000
poll -- which he won under dubious circumstances. The opposition did not
recognise the results of this election, something that led to
anti-government protests which grew more vocal last year.

The worsening political and economic crises in Haiti prompted the U.S. and
former colonial power France to bring pressure on Aristide to resign. -- IPS

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Three Journalists From Government Daily 'The Herald' Dismissed for Working
With Voice of America Radio

Reporters sans Frontières (Paris)

March 1, 2004
Posted to the web March 2, 2004

RSF has called for the reinstatement of three journalists who were recently
dismissed from the government daily "The Herald" because they worked with
the American public radio station Voice of America (VOA).

The three journalists - sports editor Robson Sharuko and sports journalists
Tendai Ndemera and Rex Mphisa - were dismissed from "The Herald" in early
February 2004.

In a 25 February statement, the Media and Information Commission (MIC) said
that Zimbabwean journalists' collaboration with VOA ran contrary to
"national interests and security," since the station is "among the media
outlets that spread lies about this country, contributing to a deterioration
in its image."

RSF said the dismissals were symptomatic of the state of press freedom in
Zimbabwe. "The authorities are trying to cut all links with the outside
world by preventing a free exchange of news," the organisation said.
"Journalists are restricted to writing about the president's 'munificence.'
No initiative is tolerated because it is viewed as a threat to the Mugabe
regime, which feels threatened by growing international pressure. 'The
Herald' is, after all, the mouthpiece of the ruling party, so in effect the
authorities are punishing their most fervent supporters," RSF added.

The organisation also regretted that the government daily had published an
article justifying and backing the decision to dismiss the journalists.
"Even government media seem to be afraid of the authorities," RSF said.

In a separate development, "The Herald" managing editor Pikirayi Deketeke,
news editor Innocent Gore and reporter Tsitsi Matope are facing criminal
proceedings for allegedly "defaming" a leader of the ruling Zimbabwe African
National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), after carrying an article accusing
him of fraud. Under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(AIPPA), they face several years in jail.
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News Release -
Financial Sanctions: Zimbabwe

2 March 2004

The Bank of England, on behalf of Her Majesty's Treasury, has today issued a Supplement to the Bank of England Notice dated 24 February 2004 on Zimbabwe.



Bank of England Notice 24 February 2004






1. On 18 February 2002 the Council of the European Union adopted Council

Regulation (EC) No 310/2002 which, inter alia, had the effect of freezing the funds,

financial assets and economic resources of various individual members of the

Government of Zimbabwe and certain individuals associated with them. All such

targeted persons were listed in Annex I of that Regulation. Regulation (EC) No

310/2002 was published in the Official Journal of the European Communities and

entered into force on 21 February 2002 (OJ L50, p.4). The list of those targeted

persons was extended by Commission Regulation (EC) No 1345/2002 and

Commission Regulation (EC) No 1643/2002. Regulation (EC) No 310/2002

expired on 20 February 2004.

2. On 19 February 2004 the Council of the European Union adopted Council

Regulation (EC) No 314/2004 which amended and extended the financial

sanctions imposed by Regulation (EC) No 310/2002 and replaced that Regulation

upon its expiry. Amongst other things, Council Regulation (EC) No 314/2004

introduced a new definition of "funds and economic resources" and Annex III

effectively extended the list of targeted persons subject to the financial sanctions

regime under Regulation (EC) No 310/2002. Regulation (EC) No 314/2004 was

published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 24 February 2004 (OJ

L55, p.1) and applies with effect from 21 February 2004.


3. A copy of Regulation (EC) No 314/2004 is attached to this Notice. It may also be

found on the Bank of England’s website:

4. Regulation (EC) 314/2004 applies within the territory of the Community including

its airspace, on board any aircraft or any vessel under the jurisdiction of a Member

State, to any person inside or outside the territory of the Community who is a

national of a Member State, and to any body which is incorporated or constituted

under the law of a Member State, or any person doing business within the


Definition of funds and economic resources

5. For the purposes of Regulation (EC) No 314/2004,

"funds" means financial assets and benefits of every kind, including but not limited to:

(i) cash, cheques, claims on money, drafts, money orders and other payment


(ii) deposits with financial institutions or other entities, balances on accounts,

debts and debt obligations;

(iii) publicly and privately traded securities and debt instruments, including

stocks and shares, certificates representing securities, bonds, notes,

warrants, debentures and derivatives contracts;

(iv) interest, dividends or other income on or value accruing from or generated

by assets;

(v) credit, right of set-off, guarantees, performance bonds or other financial


(vi) letters of credit, bills of lading, bills of sale;


(vii) documents evidencing an interest in funds or financial resources;

(viii) any other instrument of export-financing;

"Economic resources" means assets of every kind, whether tangible or intangible,

movable or immovable, which are not funds but can be used to obtain funds,

goods or services.


6. Interest or other earnings on frozen accounts, or payments due under contracts,

agreements or obligations that were concluded or arose prior to the date on

which those accounts became subject to Regulation (EC) No 310/2002 or

Regulation (EC) No 314/2004 may be added to frozen accounts provided that

any such interest, other earnings or payments continue to be frozen.

Targeted Accounts

7. All funds belonging to the persons listed in Annex III to Regulation (EC) No

314/2004, held by banks, building societies, stockbrokers, solicitors,

accountants, etc. must be frozen. No funds, financial assets or economic

resources are to be made available directly or indirectly to or for the benefit of

the listed persons.

Provision of information

8. All financial institutions and other bodies and persons in the UK are required to

inform the Bank of England of all funds that they have frozen in accordance with

Regulation (EC) No 314/2004. They must also provide the Bank of England with

all relevant information necessary for ensuring compliance with Regulation (EC)

No 314/2004.


9. Enquiries concerning any matter contained in this Notice should be addressed to

the Bank of England, Threadneedle Street, London, EC2R 8AH and marked for


the attention of the Financial Sanctions Unit (FSU). Enquiries may also be made

by facsimile transmission (020 7601 4309), by telephone (020 7601 4768/5811/

4783/4328) or by email (


24 February 2004






Bank of England Notice dated 24 February 2004: ZIMBABWE



2 March 2004

The purpose of this Supplement, which is issued in accordance with the powers

delegated by HM Treasury, is to advise of the addendum to Council Regulation (EC)

No 314/2004 issued by the European Union on 25 February 2004.

Interest and other payments

The following paragraph is inserted after paragraph 6:

"6. (a) The prohibition against making funds or economic resources available shall not

prevent the crediting of frozen accounts by financial institutions that receive

funds transferred by third parties to the account of the listed person or entity,

provided that any addition to such accounts is also frozen. Financial institutions

are required to inform the Bank of England of any such transactions."


2 March 2004

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      Namibia land seizures 'very soon'

      The Namibian government has said that it will begin forcibly taking
land from white farmers "very soon".
      Lands Minister Hifikepunye Pohamba said in a speech to parliament that
the government had enough money to kick-start the process.

      But expropriations would be carried out within the law, he said, in an
apparent attempt to allay fears of Zimbabwe-style land invasions.

      Mr Pohamba did not specify how many or which farms would be targeted.

      The government has so far only purchased land from farmers who wish to
sell for redistribution to some 240,000 people waiting to be settled.

      About 4,000, mostly white, farmers own almost half of Namibia's arable


      Last year, some Namibian farm workers threatened to invade white-owned
farms. The BBC's Frauke Jensen in Windhoek says political pressure ahead of
this year's elections may have influenced the move.

            118 farms bought since 1990
            $105m spent
            37,100 people resettled
      "The ministry has adequate funds to kick-start the [expropriation]
process and will proceed with this option without further delay as those who
should have benefited from land reform are becoming impatient," Mr Pohamba

      He added that expropriation notices would be issued to the owners of
some commercial farms in areas where no farms had been offered to the
government on the basis of a willing seller and a willing buyer.

      Absentee and foreign farmers as well as those owning more than one
farm and those believed not to treat their workers fairly will be among
those targeted.

      Landowners would be given an official letter to say that they had been
targeted and would be asked to offer a price for their farms, the minister

      But he failed to calm the fears of owners of farms on a list published
by the Swapo party newspaper Namibia Today on Friday.

      Mr Pohamba had been expected to say whether or not the farms on the
list would be targeted.

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New Zimbabwe

      Of the Herald, corruption and witch hunts
      AFTER a few months of relative stability in the availability of diesel
and petrol, in the past fortnight we have witnessed the re-appearance of
petrol queues, and the worry and panic that accompanies the shortage of such
a basic of a modern economy.

      As usual there is no explanation from the responsible ministry or the
now largely de-regulated industry. Lack of information about fundamental
developments that affect our lives is one reason Harare thrives on rumour
and speculation.

      Recently the duty on many imported goods was increased several fold
with little warning. There were reports of people being stuck at border
posts, suddenly finding themselves unable to pay for items they wished to
clear and bring in because of the dramatic increases.

      As part of the often petty culture of governing in Zimbabwe, dramatic
changes of this type are implemented almost punitively. It is as if to say
"we reserve the right to take you to the cleaners in exchange for doing you
the favour of importing a car" or whatever item. The suddenness, sullenness
and general drama with which it is all done may also be just to emphasize
the raw exercise of power, a question of reminding us who is in charge.

      Yet there are times that quite apart from the public relations
crudeness of the governing authorities, changes of this type could be easily
economically justified. For instance, is the punitive increase in duty meant
to increase revenue? If so, does the magnitude of the percentage duty
increase neutralise the hoped for added income from duty, by drastically
decreasing the volumes of the imports from which it is hoped the increased
revenue will come? Is it to support local industry, whatever of it is left
after the upheavals of the last few years, by discouraging certain sometimes
subsidised foreign products from flooding our markets? (In reality duty has
been increased by huge margins on even products we don't produce in
Zimbabwe.) Is it to encourage local industry to innovate local substitutes
for some imported goods? All these and more could be used quite legitimately
to explain and justify duty increases.

      But then that would take a government propaganda department that knew
what it was doing, and one must remember that ours is run by the likes of
Jonathan Moyo, far more effective at polemics and being a political turncoat
than at explaining things well and winning over opinion!
      In any case, some say that the worry about the effects of the shock
increase in import duty on the price of fuel led to the sudden drying up of
petrol. It was said that importers feared that fuel they had ordered would
now cost several times more in duty to bring in, and so they dithered until
the situation had been cleared up. It was eventually explained by government
that the duty increases did not apply to fuel,and in fact the duty on it was
decreased. There was a collective sigh of relief at this development, but
the week or so of uncertainty, probably while the typically bungling regime
of Mr. Mugabe was trying to digest the effects of its own ad hoc, impulsive
and inadequately explained policy, disrupted the inflows of petrol.

      If this explanation is true, the long queues for it one sees could be
because it will just take a little more time to re-establish and smoothen
that flow. As a service station operator explained to me, most of Zimbabwe's
fuel is trucked in, so when the supply stops, those hired trucks , local or
foreign, must be hired out to ferry other goods for their owners to stay in
business. It may therefore be a question of enough of them completing their
other contractual obligations, entered into during the time of Zimbabwe's
confusion over the changes in import duty, to revert to bringing in our fuel
and resume normal supplies of it.

      Whether this is indeed the reason for the recent shortage of petrol or
not, it illustrates the knee jerk policy making and implementation of the
Mugabe government that has made us lurch from one crisis to another for many
years now.

      The practice of the government paper The Herald becoming more of an
outright tool of propaganda as well as an arm of the "intelligence" services
and of keeping perceived government opponents in line continues. In the last
few days the Jonathan Moyo-run paper was used to announce that two prominent
bankers, James Mushore and Julius Makoni were wanted by the police for
"externalising" large sums of money. The paper is now slyly used to tell us
who is out of favour, it is used as a tool of intimidation and demonisation
in both what pass for news reports as well as in its editorials. Never has
its ability to argue that it is a professionally run newspaper that is just
a little more sympathetic to the government cause been weaker.

      The shoddy writing of the recent past in it and its sister paper The
Sunday Mail are one thing, but it is far more alarming that there is no
longer any serious attempt to hide the fact that they have become something
far more sinister than mere tools of state propaganda.

      The coded but now well understood language that government
propagandists spoon feed the so-called journalists in the Jonathan Moyo-run
media is designed to intimidate judges before politically crucial rulings,
for instance. If any judge or other high profile public official is to be
brought low for a little too much independence, the eager young hired guns
of the state propaganda media are often not far behind in the effort. If
there ever is a truth commission after Zimbabwe emerges from the nightmare
of Mugabe, certainly many members of the state media would qualify to be
called before it to explain their role. Presenting the ruling authorities'
point of view is an important function, whether one agrees with it or not,
but the state media has recently gone way beyond this to become a really
down and dirty instrument for silencing, cowing and destroying the lives of
government opponents.

      Mushore and Makoni, like James Mutasa, Philip Chiyangwa and James
Makamba, will probably have relatively few sympathisers among the general
public. But the anti-corruption effort is beginning to look more like a
highly selective political witch hunt than a genuine effort to stamp out
corrupt practices across the board. Part of this is because of the fact that
none of the biggest long time crooks in Mugabe's inner circle has been
apprehended yet, either by the police or The Herald that now seems to be a
branch of the propaganda machinery as well as of the police and spy
services! On the contrary, some of those big crooks have recently been
re-appointed to high office!

      Another reason that the said corruption crackdown is beginning to look
unconvincing so soon is that so far it has mainly focused on currency law
violations. At the height of the currency speculative period, everybody who
could changed any hard currency they came across at the "illegal" black
market rates.

      Many close cronies of Mr. Mugabe are said to have been at the
forefront of these activities, but none have been booked yet! The official
currency exchange rates were so absurdly out of touch with reality that
government bought forex on the black market for many of its needs, allegedly
including for the foreign trips of certain very highly placed globe
trotters! So really trying to paint those who did so a little more openly
than the official globetrotters reeks strongly of hypocrisy and
victimisation, both hallmarks of the regime of Mugabe. As for
"externalising" forex that was and still is badly needed at home, let me
just say that I doubt that the many ministers and countless other Mugabe
cronies whose children and other close relatives are scattered all over the
Western world are particularly innocent of this! But don't expect to read in
The Herald about how they are being hunted down like animals, virtually
judged and tried before they are even arraigned like is happening to the
regime's sacrificial lambs, and others out of the emperor's favour for one
reason or another.

      But whatever the hypocrisy and unfairness of a few high profile people
being targeted for a "crime" many of their most ardent and gleeful accusers
are just as guilty of, it is true that we have had a small group of high
fliers, both in the private sector and the ruling party, who lost all sense
of proportion in the time of easy, overnight, fabulous speculation-based
wealth. They often recklessly rubbed salt in the public's wound of
desperate, increasing impoverishment and economic hardship with their
flaunted wealth. Many wondered what secrets of hard work and innovation
known to only this flashy new elite could account for their high living at a
time all of the economic fundamentals of the economy were wrong and
deteriorating. The political targeting of a few of these people has
therefore been met with a certain degree of public cathartic relief at their
bring brought down.

      Whether this can be sustained and harnessed to the benefit of Mugabe
and his regime in the run up to next year's general election remains to be
seen. In the meantime we are likely to see more of those individuals who
have been a little more flamboyant with their wealth than was prudent at a
time of great hardship, as well as those believed to be the financial
backbone of the opposition, gleefully disgraced in the Herald and in public.

      Over the next several months more of this and other parts of the
Mugabe regime's preparations to obliterate any opposition to it will emerge.
In the run up to the election, there will be renewed efforts to try to move
public attention way from the fact that virtually all the political and
economic fundamentals required for a real and sustained improvement in
Zimbabwe's fortunes are in absolute shambles, and will likely remain that
way for as long as Mugabe is in power -
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