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- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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Alleged mercenaries are finally home-bound : confirmed

Alleged mercenaries

The lawyer of alleged mercenaries says they will leave the remand prison in Harare tomorrow

May 11, 2005, 17:15

The lawyer of alleged mercenaries held in Zimbabwe says they will leave the remand prison in Harare for South Africa at 6am tomorrow. The alleged mercenaries have completed their 12 months for activities linked to a coup plot in Equatorial Guinea.

They are expected to be taken from Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison to the remand prison some time today. Alwyn Griebenow, the alleged mercenaries' lawyer, says no problems are being encountered with the release process. The 62 South African passport holders are due to arrive at the Beit Bridge border post at 12:00 tomorrow.

Jerry Ndou, South Africa's ambassador to Zimbabwe, has confirmed that the men are due back in South Africa tomorrow. He says they will be sent off after the completion of all their immigration documents.

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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Bennett moved to Chikurubi

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-May-12

JAILED former MDC Chimanimani legislator Roy Bennett has been transferred
again, this time from rural Mutoko Prison to Chikurubi Maximum Security
Prison, a hardcore criminals correctional institution just outside Harare.
Bennett's lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa of Kantor and Immerman yesterday confirmed
his relocation to Chikurubi, but said the Zimbabwe Prisons Services (ZPS)
had not given her reasons for the latest move.
"He was transferred two days ago (Monday). I have not yet been given the
reasons, but as you know these people (ZPS) can do what they want," Mtetwa
Arnold Tsunga of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights yesterday said he had
failed to see Bennett yesterday, with the prison authorities saying he was
busy at the prison farm.
"It is always a huge disappointment to us lawyers to be denied access to a
client on administrative reasons. We as lawyers see this as a lame excuse,"
Tsunga said.
The lawyer also said he had not been told why Bennett was transferred back
to Harare.
Chikurubi becomes the third gaol Bennett has been shut in since he started
serving a one-year sentence last October for contempt of Parliament. The
sentence was passed by Parliament after the burly Eastern Highlands farmer
assaulted justice minister Patrick Chinamasa during debate on the Stock
Theft Bill.
Bennett's first transfer was from Harare Central Prison to Mutoko Prison in
Mtetwa once complained that the prison garb Bennett was made to put on
revealed his private parts. She said she had at one time failed to talk to
him at Mutoko because of the revealing garb.
Efforts to get a comment from the ZPS public relations unit on why Bennett
had been transferred again were in vain yesterday. Written questions sent to
the unit in the morning had not yet been answered by the time of going to
press last night.
However, when Bennett was shifted to Mutoko Prison, ZPS spokesperson
Elizabeth Banda said when they transferred prisoners, they did not look at
their names or status.
She explained that they counted the prisoners to be transferred and if any
prisoners fell within the range, they would be moved regardless of who they
In March, the Electoral Court granted and later suspended its decision to
give Bennett the right to contest the Parliamentary elections after he had
applied to the court to be allowed to contest, despite his incarceration.
His wife Heather went on to contest the seat and lost to Zanu PF's Samuel
Undenge - now Deputy Minister of Economic Development.
Heather is challenging Undenge's victory in the Electoral Court.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Government bows down on domestic workers' salaries

Munyaradzi Ushehwekunze
issue date :2005-May-12

THE government has bowed to mounting pressure from the Domestic Workers'
Union (DWU) to reverse domestic workers' minimum wages gazetted in March, in
a last-minute bid to avoid massive job losses, a government official said
According to the labour statutory instrument, which came into effect at the
beginning of last month, the least paid domestic worker should earn a
monthly minimum wage of between $800 000 and $1.3 million.
A multitude of domestic workers were facing dismissal because a large
proportion of their employers are also earn wages grossing marginally above
the poverty datum line pegged at about $1.5 million.
The permanent Secretary in
 the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Lancaster
Museka, yesterday said the government has gone back to the drawing board to
redraft a new policy document that will revoke the Labour (Domestic Workers)
Employment (Amendment) Regulations of 2005.
Said Museka: "I admit the issue of domestic wages is a controversial issue.
We certainly need to rethink on that area. We've already
started redrafting a paper to address your (industry and workers') concerns.
I am working flat out on that paper.
"Be assured the ministry will submit the recommendations to government for
review. So something is afoot," he added.
The post-mortem comes against the backcloth of protests by those who hire
domestic workers, who subsequently threatened to embark on an aggressive
collective bargaining process, contending that their present salaries could
not afford the domestic wage levels imposed by the legal instrument.
Economist, John Robertson, also mocked the statutory instrument, saying the
domestic employment regulations had lumped up
more than 60 percent of domestic workers in the same tax bracket as their
employers who earn just as much.
This has angered not only the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), the
employers of domestic workers, but also the business sector, which has been
anxious about looming wage pressures likely to be caused by wage increments
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Chuhuri blasts assistant commissioners

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-May-12

POLICE Commissioner Augustine Chihuri yesterday blasted assistant
commissioners responsible for operations for turning into "armchair
strategists" while criminal activities were on the rise.
Addressing police heads from various departments at a workshop in the
capital, Chihuri said it was saddening that seniors expected to lead by
example were failing to discharge their duties.
"The creation of the post of Assistant Commissioner Operations was a
befitting response by the organisation after realising the centrality of
conducting regular operations focused on crime prevention.
"Regrettably, however, the full benefits of this post have not been realised
since its bearers have turned to be armchair strategists, if ever they are.
Unfortunately, this culture has cascaded to lower level management who have
similarly folded their arms in the face of rising criminality."
Despite the gloomy picture, Chihuri, however expressed gratitude to
provincial police commanders (Propols) and the National Anti-Stock Theft
Coordinator for their critical joint efforts in reducing stock theft cases
in the country.
The police chief also expressed concern at the prevalence of road accidents
involving police vehicles.
"Since January this year, a total of 102 accidents involving B1800 (police
vehicles) were recorded. This cannot be tolerated since our national fleet
is seriously depleted," he said.
He reiterated his call for uniformed forces to tighten screws on black
marketers and economic criminals in the face of new challenges in the
country due to foreign currency and basic commodity shortages.
Chihuri ordered the police to arrest offenders regardless of their positions
in society and without fear or favour.
The commissioner said: "The resurgence of illegal foreign currency dealings
in areas such as Road Port (Harare) and the so called World Bank in Bulawayo
should revoke the interest not only of Propols (officer commanding
provinces) in these metropolitan provinces but all commanders alike,
including CID."
He also said illegal gold dealing and smuggling prejudicing the nation of
the much needed foreign exchange had not yet been combated.
"Similarly, the police has noted with sadness the reports of declining
figures in the inflows of gold to Fidelity. The police have realised there
are people who are smuggling gold outside the country and rob the nation of
the much needed revenue. The leakages of this precious mineral to the grey
areas of the economy cannot be tolerated if our turnaround strategy is to be
Chihuri said what was worrying most was that mines were operating daily yet
mineral inflows at Fidelity continued falling indicating something was fishy
He said the police should descend heavily on these dealers and needed no
high command to arrest such offenders.
"The Commissioner of the police and his deputies can only be notified later
on as a matter of procedure," Chihuri said.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

CZI calls for devaluation

Munyaradzi Ushehwekunze
issue date :2005-May-12

CAPTAINS of industry yesterday came hard on the government, calling on it to
urgently devalue the local dollar against Zimbabwe's major trading partners.
Speaking at a breakfast  meeting, industry told the Minister of Industry and
International Trade, Obert Mpofu, that the business sector is angry with the
government, which, instead of complementing the economic rehabilitation
efforts of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor, Gideon Gono, has
"begun to pull in the opposite direction".
They said the government decision to keep a vice grip on the exchange rate -
motivated with the desire to keep foreign currency cheap to fund its
"uncontrolled" consumption expenditures - has re-ignited the macroeconomic
instabilities, which Gono has been trying to rectify.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president Patison Sithole,
yesterday told Mpofu that the dual official auction rate, pegged at Z$6 200
and Z$824 against the greenback, has "effectively sentenced exporters to
bankruptcy" given that production costs are rising at high and unpredictable
levels due to rising inflation, a mounting wage bill and expensive black
market foreign currency to finance raw material imports.
Said Sithole: "We (as a country) run the risk of losing everything that we
had gained (in the past year). We are almost sliding back to the situation
we were languishing in, in 2003. The foreign exchange auction system has
literally stopped working when for business, foreign currency is its
lifeblood. Every business needs foreign exchange to meet its requirements of
raw material imports. But, currently, the auction system has lost all
relevance. If you submit your bid to the auction, chances are high that you
will not get what you want. That is why most companies are under distress

He added: "It is sad that most companies have begun to scale down their
production units
from, say, five shifts to four, and from three to even two shifts. This is
not fiction. It is reality! Businesses are on the verge of collapsing."
The auction, introduced by the central bank in January 2004 with a view to
systematically liberalise the exchange rate, has not responded to market
fundamentals since May last year and this has dried up the auction system,
re-igniting fuel and power shortages, and starving the productive sector of
both spare parts, new investment machinery and imported raw materials.
The follow-on foreign currency shortages have incentivised a fresh
proliferation of a grey market for hard currencies, charging exorbitant
rates threatening the viability of the productive sector.
The central bank requires exporters to remit 30 percent of their earnings at
the government rate of Z$824 against the US dollar, with the remainder
fleeced off at the Z$6 200 auction rate because it is also pegged at margins
way below the producers' average costs.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Zifa in UK visa scum

Michael Kariati Sports Editor
issue date :2005-May-12

The Zimbabwe Under 20 team for the 16-team invitational tournament in the
Netherlands was nearly denied visas after the British Embassy in Harare
unearthed some irregularities in the applications submitted for transit
Three of the applications were turned down after the embassy found out that
the three 'officials' were not in any way connected to the team, and some of
the team members did not even know them.
Worse still is the fact that a letter submitted by the Zimbabwe Football
Association for the processing of visas for the so called officials had four
names, but five applications were submitted against the same letter, raising
suspicions on the authenticity of the applications. In fact, the five
'officials' wanted a 10 day stay in England on their way back from the
The embassy had no problems in processing the applications of the players
and the coaches but problems came when they were processing transit visas
for the officials. The number of people on the letter from Zifa and the
applications submitted did not tally resulting in the embassy turning down
the applications.
One of the reasons why the embassy has been strict with visa applaications
is that most Zimbabweans have been using such trips like the Under 20 as a
gateway to go into London and stay there illegally.
Initially team manager Simon Makaza had also been refused a transit visa as
his name was on the list that was on the suspicious letter which had people
who were requesting a 10 day stay in London on their way back from
Netherlands. He and his close friend Dominic Kambeu were only issued out
with the visas at the last minute with Kambeu travelling via London after
presenting himself to the British embassy as the physiotherapist for the
Zimbabwe Under 20 side.
The British Embassy officials spent the whole morning yesterday trying to
clarify these issues with the Zifa offices but could not get an explanation
as the Zifa chairman Rafik Khan is said to be in Gambia for the African
Youth Championships while chief executive officer, Jonathan Mashingaidze is
said to be in Botswana on Zifa business.
Although British Embassy' spokesperson Gillian Dare could not be reached to
shed light on what exactly happened, The Daily Mirror can safely reveal that
a senior visa services official at the British Embassy openly told the team
officials that judging from the application for visas, 'Zifa is in shambles
and next time we would require a week or so in advance when dealing with
people from Zifa."
The senior visa official made it clear that in future that Zifa should
provide a full list of who should be going, their role and full sporting
schedule. This would be done in order to avoid 'the inconvienience created
No explanation could also be received from Zifa as to why the visa
applications had to be made now when the invitation to the Netherlands came
about two months ago.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Chinese company invests in glass factory

Shame Makoshori in Kadoma
issue date :2005-May-12

Chinese glass mining concern, Hebei Jingniu Group, has pumped in a total of
US$160 million into the construction of a glass manufacturing factory here
that is set to commence production in the next 12 months.
In an exclusive interview with The Business Mirror this week, Hebei Jingniu
group chairman Wang Chang Lin said the company had set aside US$20 million
for the first phase of the construction of the Glaverbel product line and
its auxiliary facilities.
"The total investment of the second stage is US$80 million including a float
product line of 500 tonnes and the facilities for glass coating.
"US$60 million would be further invested in the second phase and that would
include the setting up of product lines for glass bending with temperature,
glass toughening, laminating, auto windscreen and high quality glass
furniture," Chang Lin told The Business Mirror.
When in full throttle, the Hebei group plant would turn Zimbabwe into the
third largest glass exporting country in Africa after Egypt and South
Africa, and thousands of unemployed in the Mashonaland West city are
expected to be absorbed by the factory.
Kadoma has recently been hit by the closure of several key companies,
including several mines.
Chang Lin added that completion of the project, which will be established a
few kilometres west of the city, would take between five and six years.
Hebei, with a staff complement of 3000 in the vast Asian economy, has
already started on the modalities and logistics of bringing in both
technical staff and equipment for the Kadoma glass factory project, whose
construction officially started here on Tuesday.
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Country's key livestock sector needs support, says expert

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

JOHANNESBURG, 11 May 2005 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's key livestock sector needs
further assistance to fully realise its potential as a foreign currency
earner and valuable food resource, says Dr Stuart Hargreaves, principal
director of the Department of Livestock Veterinary Services.

The country's livestock sector had been decimated by "a major outbreak of
foot-and-mouth disease and recurring drought" in recent years, and although
the government had disbursed Zim $50 billion (US $8.1 million) to farmers in
a bid to restock the national herd, this was "definitely not enough", he

The country's herd - which stood at six million in 2000 - now stands at
about 5.2 million, the official Herald newspaper reported.

"I think that it's a concern for the [livestock] industry that there is not
sufficient developmental finance available," Hargreaves noted, calling for
concessional finance to be made available to farmers through the
Agricultural Bank of Zimbabwe.

While the situation in the sector "has definitely stabilised", he said there
was a need to "increase livestock production, both in terms of numbers and
quality", so the country could take advantage of export opportunities. The
livestock sector played a vital role in the country's economic and food
security situation.

"Cattle are important because they provide, maybe, 90 to 95 percent of
draught power on smallholdings - that's where the bulk of our population
live [and farm]; they're a valuable food resource, providing both milk and
meat, and also are a source of manure for cropping in smallholder farming
areas. And in terms of exports, it's [the livestock sector] got enormous
potential, and not just beef - at the moment we exporting crocodiles, fish,
poultry, pork and milk," Hargreaves pointed out.

Poultry and small ruminants, such as sheep and goats, were particularly
important to poor people.

"The wealthy own cattle and the poor own poultry and small ruminants, and we
must not lose sight of that - these sectors need support. Certainly, when
you look at pigs and poultry [farming], which are generally reliant on grain
inputs, we need to develop strategic grain reserves specifically for
livestock," he urged.

The government had done much to stabilise the sector: "the Department of
Livestock Production and Development was formed in 2002, and the extension
services were increased - that's all positive stuff; a lot of money was
allocated to foot-and-mouth disease control, the rehabilitation of fencing
and purchases of vaccines, etc."

Making concessional financing available to the livestock sector would ensure
its future viability, Hargreaves said, and allow new farmers to establish

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African crises rising, UN relief aide warns

      By Warren Hoge The New York Times

      THURSDAY, MAY 12, 2005

      UNITED NATIONS, New York The UN emergency relief coordinator, Jan
Egeland, said that relief crises in Africa were outpacing efforts to contain
them and that the international community was failing to focus on the
world's most pressing needs.

      "The world's biggest drama is not found in Europe or the Middle East
or North America - the world's biggest challenges and dramas are found in
Africa," Egeland said in an interview Tuesday before delivering a
closed-door briefing on the subject to the Security Council.

      Saying it was essential that people decide that "human life is worth
as much in northern Uganda as it is in northern Iraq, or in the Congo as in
Kosovo," he declared, "The way it is now in Africa cannot continue because
at the moment we are getting more new crises faster than we are solving old

      While the killing and displacement of tens of thousands of people in
the Darfur region in Sudan has engaged the world, he said, a crisis of
similar horror was being largely neglected in northern Uganda, and new
outbreaks were erupting in countries like Chad and Togo.

      He said that of the 14 fund appeals the United Nations had made for
Africa, 8 had attracted less than 20 percent of the requested amounts.

      "In the Central African Republic, which is one of the poorest places
on earth, we have 6 percent of what we asked for," he said. "And in Somalia,
which has in some areas worse mortality rates than Darfur, we have 8

      In Chad, he said, more than 200,000 refugees from neighboring Darfur
were overtaxing the resources of an already impoverished country. In Togo,
unrest after a disputed election has generated "overnight" a refugee problem
in Benin and Ghana, Egeland said.

      He said there were desperate food shortages in the south, in Malawi,
Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Mozambique, and in the north, in Ethiopia
and Eritrea.

      He warned of a "triple threat" menace to southern Africa - a
combination of HIV/AIDS, which he said had taken 250,000 lives in the region
since January; drought brought on by catastrophically low rainfall, and weak

      Egeland appealed in particular for urgent attention to northern
Uganda, where several recent attempts to sign truces and open peace talks
have faltered, and fighting has intensified in an 18-year-old conflict
between rebel fighters and the government that has left 500,000 people dead
and two million displaced.

      The rebellion has been led since 1988 by a brutal force called the
Lord's Resistance Army, which, in the name of forming a government based on
the Ten Commandments, has slaughtered peasants and kidnapped children,
turning them into what Egeland called mindless "killing machines."

      Relief groups have estimated that 28,000 children have been abducted
and forced to become soldiers and sex slaves in northern Uganda.

      "It goes beyond anything I have ever seen in my years of humanitarian
work in terms of trauma and suffering and incomprehensible cruelty, where
people are mutilated, humiliated and destroyed as human beings," Egeland

      In Uganda, he said, only 34 percent of the $54 million sought in a UN
appeal in November had been received.

      "We are in danger of losing an historic opportunity to put an end to
one of the worst set of atrocities in our generation," he said. "If we don't
act, the window will close, and we will always regret what we did not do in
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Oregon Daily Emerald

Lessons for dictators
Jennifer McBride

May 11, 2005

Kim Jong Il, disgusted by being referred to as a "tyrant," recently
responded to President Bush's "slander" with his own tirade (routed through
his foreign ministry of course, which was no doubt rolling head-over-heels
in its efforts to form the most devastating rhetoric). "Bush is a hooligan
bereft of any personality as a human being, to say nothing of stature as
president of a country," North Korea tells us. "He is a half-baked man in
terms of morality and a Philistine whom we can never deal with."
Pot, meet Kettle.

I've always known you had to be a little crazy to be a dictator. Can you
imagine it? Living in constant fear, a dictator's paranoia becomes as common
as snack food. Every confidante is a traitor, every cook an assassin; you
have to be on the lookout for those exploding cigars. Sure, the benefits are
nice: You get your own pool and a slave to clean it (preferably the hot
kind), but you're constantly facing threats from within your country,
threats from without your country, insurgencies, rebellious sycophants.
Really, you can't trust anyone, not even your faithful body double. No
wonder Kim Jong Il is two doughnuts short of a policeman. However, I must
admit that I find the idea of wielding absolute power somewhat enticing.
Wave your hand and BAM! His head is gone. So in the spirit of fear and
repression of people everywhere, I present the following advice for would-be

1) Start in Africa. Your economy might be poorer, but as most of the world
powers have given up on the "darkest continent" anyway, you might as well
reap the benefits of their disdain. For example, does anybody know that
approximately as many people die every four months in Congo's civil war as
were killed in the recent Asian tsunami? One only has to look at Sudan to
acknowledge that Africa isn't on top of anyone's priority list. As an
enterprising tyrant, not only will you face less resistance, but you can
also play on racial fears to justify any action. For example, Robert Mugabe
of Zimbabwe is famous for declaring: "Our party must continue to strike fear
in the heart of the white man, our real enemy." While most of your citizens
and most of the world will look down on you with contempt for your
hypocrisy, at least your misguided sense of justice will silence the tiny
sting of that monster known as conscience. Caveat: Make sure your country
doesn't have oil, as that just tends to complicate events.

2) Never deny entry to non-governmental organizations, such as advocates for
human rights. Many dictators make the mistake of refusing international aid
or entry in order to hide their human rights abuses from the world. This is
a mistake, as brutality against your own people is rarely the reason your
skies are full of bombs. The list of dictators who have perpetuated
atrocities on the U.S. dollar is staggering. Some of the lesser-known
crazies include Idi Amin, former dictator of Uganda, who profited from
foreign aid while pumping up the body count. Ferdinand Marcos was the
beneficiary of an $88 million loan from the World Bank despite throwing
60,000 of his own citizens into jail for political reasons and torching
various subversives' genitals. Roberto Suazo Cordova, Reagan administration
puppet, received $231 million of U.S. aid money. Though the United States
denied knowing about his death squads or his drug trade, the evidence points
to officials who had a serious case of suspended disbelief. The bottom line
is that being a dictator can be profitable, as long as one avoids the coup

3) If you have the bad luck of being invaded, negotiate. The international
community is often willing to cough up princely sums in order to avoid media
embarrassment resulting from the death of its soldiers (and its previous
economic support; see No. 2). Take General Raoul Cedras for example, once
usurper of Haiti (nicknamed by the CIA the "best hope for democracy"). After
his soldiers killed estimates of up to 5,000 people in the aftermath of his
bloody coup over the democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide, he took wing to Panama to live in peaceful, luxurious exile. He
also received a $5,000 stipend every month from the Clinton administration.

4) Before starting your dictatorship, make sure you have the proper tools at
the proper prices. You may not have known it, but Costco is introducing a
new line of product: coffins. Richard Hastings, a financial analyst for
Bernard Sands, said Costco is trying to bring undertaking out of the
oh-so-depressing funeral homes. "These things don't have to be a lugubrious
experience any more," he said. "They've made it into a stylish process where
people can make rational choices. That's called shopping." The 18-gauge
steel caskets are available for the low, low price of $799.99 and come in
six colors, including lilac and Neapolitan blue. I recommend buying in bulk.

With these quick tips you are sure to be successful in your reign of terror.
Until you have a country of your own, the friendliness-challenged can
purchase their own Saddam Hussein action figure from The
democratically minded can also get a Condoleezza Rice figurine to kick his
pudgy, white ass (while looking totally fabulous in her powder-blue blouse
and lovely faux pearls).
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From The Mercury (SA), 11 May

Zimbabwe secures loan from SA bank

Basildon Peta

Johannesburg - South Africa's First National Bank (FNB) has emerged as the
knight in shining armour for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's regime in
its battle against fuel and food shortages. A major Zimbabwean bank has
announced that it has secured a $15-million (about R91-million) loan from
FNB to finance fuel purchases. The deal - announced in state media in Harare
by Nyasha Makuvise, the managing director of the Jewel Bank, in which the
Zimbabwe government is a shareholder - comes as the Mugabe regime has
resorted to raiding hotels and lodges in a desperate attempt to raise
foreign currency. Makuvise told the state-owned Herald newspaper that the
$15-million "loan facility" had already come into effect and a total of 34
million litres of fuel would be imported under the deal. "It is a revolving
facility and we are happy to be playing our part as a bank to assist
(Zimbabwe) overcome this challenge," Makuvise said. Asked to comment on his
bank's rescue package for Zimbabwe, FNB spokesperson Louis Jordaan, the CEO
of the bank's international banking division, said in a carefully worded
statement: "FNB has correspondent banking relationships with banks located
throughout the world. Furthermore, FNB provides rand account and
international banking services to a large number of international banks,
some of which are located in Africa, and more specifically in Zimbabwe.
These accounts and services enable banks to facilitate payments between
exporters and importers of goods and services in South Africa and other
countries. . . "In this instance, FNB is facilitating payments for fuel on a
no-risk basis on behalf of a Zimbabwean bank . . . These transactions do not
take the form of unsecured loans as payments are secured to FNB by means of
various risk mitigation methods." The statement did not elaborate on the
risk mitigating methods in this deal. As the foreign currency shortage bites
harder, officers from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) investigations unit
have been reportedly raiding hoteliers for spot checks on their foreign
currency earnings, which they have to forward to the central bank as
required by law. The hoteliers are accused of not repatriating foreign
currency earned during the March elections when more than 7 000 observers
and journalists booked into hotels and lodges to observe the controversial

From Zim Online (SA), 11 May

Tax collectors raid firms in bid to raise cash for food imports

Bulawayo - Government tax collectors have in the last three weeks raided
businesses demanding on the spot inspection of their books to see if they
were paying tax as the government battles to raise cash for critically
needed food imports. A senior official with the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority
(ZIMRA), the state's tax collection arm, said the revenue organ was under
pressure from the government and from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to
probe all revenue paying businesses to ensure they were paying tax. The
official, who spoke on condition he was not named said: "ZIMRA is under fire
from the government and the RBZ. The RBZ is under pressure to raise money to
import food and fuel. Hopes that tobacco sales would boost our foreign
currency coffers have left the country facing a crisis with ZIMRA as the
only source of revenue, hence this pressure." As well as inspect tax books,
ZIMRA officials were also examining financial records to ensure businesses
were not earning money through black-market deals and thus prejudicing the
state of revenue, according to the official. An accountant with one of the
largest firms in Bulawayo narrated how ZIMRA officials barged into the firm's
offices demanding all audited statements of accounts, proof of previous tax
remittances and all receipts showing current and previous business
transactions. "We were not prepared for them (ZIMRA) at all. It is normal
practice for them to make appointments before they visit," the accountant
said. He added: "The two tax inspectors simply told me they would be working
from my office and that I was required to be present throughout the audit."

But Industry and International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu denied ZIMRA was
under pressure to raise money for food and fuel saying the ongoing
inspection by the revenue body was a routine exercise meant to ensure good
corporate practice and accountability in the business sector. Mpofu said: "I
can confirm that (the) tax inspections are routine, regular exercises. It
surprises me that when Zimbabwe government carries out its duties
diligently, it faces accusations of (having) foul intentions, yet it is
derided as a failure when it does not enforce national regulations." The
company raids by ZIMRA comes as the RBZ last week launched a similar raid of
hotel and tour operators inspecting their books to ensure they were
declaring all foreign currency earnings to the central bank. Zimbabwe,
grappling its worst ever foreign currency crisis, must import 1.2 million
tonnes of the staple maize after poor harvests this year. Fuel, electricity
and essential medical drugs are already in critical short supply in the
country because there is no forex to pay foreign suppliers. The government
last month diverted Z$5 trillion meant for capital projects to pay for food
with ruling Zanu PF party spokesman, Nathan Shamuyarira, declaring at the
time that the state was going to do whatever was necessary to raise money to
pay for food.
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From The Times (UK), 11 May 2005

Dogs of war are going home - but when they get there, they'll find it's gone

From Jonathan Clayton in Johannesburg

After more than a year in a Zimbabwean jail 62 black South African
mercenaries are due to be released this week, but freedom will be a
bittersweet experience. Not for the first time in their lives the
mercenaries - seized at Harare airport as they allegedly prepared to mount a
coup in Equatorial Guinea - are set to pay for their actions with their
homes. Embarrassed by the "cesspool of mercenaries" within its midst, the
South African authorities have decreed that the dust-blown former asbestos
mining town of Pomfret on the edge of the Kalahari desert must be razed and
the inhabitants scattered across the country. Sam Mkhwanzi, a spokesman for
the South African Defence Ministry, said: "I can confirm that Pomfret is to
be destroyed. This is property belonging to the South African defence forces
and on that basis you live there." Most of the mercenaries and their
families have lived in Pomfret, in the remote north-western corner of the
country, for the past 15 years. They were among 3,000 fighters - mainly
Angolans but also other Portuguese-speaking Africans - who fought with South
Africa's apartheid army against fellow blacks seeking liberation in
neighbouring Angola, Mozambique and Namibia.

During negotiations in 1990 to end minority rule in South Africa the
fighters - who had formed the Battalion 32 known as the Buffalo Squadron and
the "Terrible Ones" - were given citizenship and resettled in Pomfret, then
empty due to fears of asbestos poisoning, as part of the last apartheid
Government's obligations to its former military allies. But the men and
their families were shunned as traitors. Apart from the Portuguese music
echoing down its dusty lanes, Pomfret was, on the surface, just like many
other South African shanty towns. But whereas life and amenities slowly
improved elsewhere, Pomfret - with its 700 lean-to shacks, run-down school
and handful of shops - was left to fester as a standing monument to being on
the wrong side of history. In 1993, Battalion 32 was finally wound up. A
handful moved on, but most of the former soldiers were left jobless and
embittered. They become a reservoir of talent for mercenary outfits. Until
recently, it was rumoured that a few phone calls to Pomfret were all that
was needed to put together an effective mercenary force - talk which
infuriated South Africa and led directly to the Government adopting some of
the world's toughest anti-mercenary legislation in 1998.

It was into this ready-made pool of discontented military veterans that
Simon Mann, an old Etonian and former SAS officer, dipped while allegedly
planning a coup to overthrow the Government of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea
last year - a plot in which Sir Mark Thatcher, the son of Baroness Thatcher,
was also implicated. The plot fell apart when the 64 former Buffalo Squadron
fighters - two have since died in detention - were arrested along with Mr
Mann and two white South Africans at Harare airport where they had
apparently met to pick up weapons. A further 15 alleged coup plotters were
arrested at the same time in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea. The
involvement of the former South African soldiers has infuriated President
Thabo Mbeki's Government. Pretoria was already considering taking action
over the large number of white former members of the South African Defence
Force who had volunteered to work for private military outfits in Iraq. This
convinced the military it was time to do away with Pomfret and its legacy.
The official reason for the town's demolition is asbestos poisoning, but
insiders say the timing is a lot more than coincidental. "They made the
mistake of fighting on the wrong side yet again," said one government
insider. Residents will have to apply for government housing elsewhere, and
will be scattered across the country.

The Buffalo Squadron are seen by most South Africans as a brutal force which
did the dirty work of a repressive apartheid regime. But they were also
taking on Marxist guerilla movements in Angola and Mozambique backed by
Havana and Moscow. "This is a sad end for Buffalo Squadron. Whatever the
politics and geo-politics of that time, they were a superb fighting force.
They spearheaded operations deep into Angola," said one South Africa-based
expert on Angola. "There were no saints in those wars." Battalion 32's most
famous military encounter was in 1988 at Cuito Cuanavale in Angola where
they fought a combined force of Marxist Angolan guerrillas, Cubans and East
Germans, to a draw and prevented that country falling into the orbit of the
Soviet Union.
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