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- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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Zim Online

Riot police quell protest in Harare suburb
Thu 12 May 2005

      HARARE - Armed police yesterday beat up and forcibly dispersed
residents of Harare's low income suburb of Mabvuku who had taken to the
streets after going for three days without water.

      Member of Parliament for Mabvuku, Timothy Mubhau, told ZimOnline that
three people had been arrested by the police for demonstrating against the
severe water shortage and that the police were still questioning more
residents over the matter yesterday.

      "Police came in six vehicles and there was pandemonium as people fled
in all directions . . . three have been arrested and several residents are
being interrogated by the police," Mubhau said.

      Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena could however not confirm the
Mabvuku arrests saying he had still not been briefed about the morning
protests in the suburb.

      Harare is grappling severe water shortages because there is no foreign
currency for spares for broken down water pumps and also to pay for water
treatment chemicals.

      But Mabvuku has been the worst hit by the water shortage with
residents there forced to drink sewer and refuse contaminated water from a
stream flowing near the suburb.

      Mubhau, who won the Mabvuku parliamentary seat on an opposition
Movement for Democratic Change party ticket, warned of more possible
protests in the poor suburb saying residents there were still seething with
anger after yesterday's clashes with the police.

      He said: "People demonstrated in the morning because they have gone
for some days without water . . . the protests were quelled by anti-riot
police but the anger is still mounting among the people because there is
still no water."

      The shortage of water in Harare is only one in a long list of basic
survival commodities increasingly difficult to find in Zimbabwe since
President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party wrapped a landslide
victory in a controversial poll last March.

      Fuel, electricity, food and essential medicines have all become
scarcer in Zimbabwe chiefly because there is no hard cash to pay foreign
suppliers. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Manufacturing sector on verge of total collapse
Thur 12 May 2005
  HARARE - Zimbabwe's manufacturing sector is on the verge of total collapse
with several firms having already drastically reduced working hours, the
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) has said.

      The CZI - which is regarded as the voice of the country's business
community - said stringent state price controls, worsening foreign currency
shortages, collapsing infrastructure, water and power shortages particularly
in Harare, were throttling a manufacturing sector already struggling after
five years of economic recession.

      "Some have resorted to shorter working days, others have resorted to a
shorter working week . . . we have gone off track," CZI president Pattison
Sithole told a meeting of business leaders and newly appointed Industry and
International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu in Harare yesterday.

      Sithole said lethargy by the government in implementing its own
economic turn-around programme plus the ineffectiveness of a foreign
currency auction system introduced last year to raise forex have only aided
a crisis that grew more vicious days after President Robert Mugabe and his
ZANU PF party's controversial victory in last March's general election.

      Narrating problems bedevilling industry, Sithole said: "The auction
rate has not responded to rising costs and market fundamentals. The current
auction rate is not attractive for exporters and is considered cheap by
importers encouraging unnecessary use of foreign exchange

      "Infrastructure issues remain a major problem, water in Harare is a
particularly serious problem. (The) Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority
has urgent need of additional generating capacity.

      "The road network is deteriorating partly as a result of National
Railways of Zimbabwe's failure, putting more pressure on the road system . .
. despite ongoing consultations between Government and the private sector,
policy response to the problem on the ground has been too slow."

      Mpofu acknowledged the problems threatening the viability of industry
and said the government was cobbling up a "new national export strategy",
whose details he did not close. But the government official claimed the
export strategy would effectively address the problems afflicting industry.

      The Trade Minister also called on manufacturers not to unilaterally
increase prices of basic commodities but to engage the government in
dialogue over the sticky matter.

      Most basic commodities vanished from shop shelves days after Mugabe
and ZANU PF won a landslide victory against the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change party in the March 31 ballot.

      In the few shops that still had basic goods in stock, prices went up
by more than 100 percent forcing the government to viciously clamp down on
businesses, arresting and fining company officials for charging prices above
those set by the state.

      Now goods such as milk, cooking oil and other basics are no longer
readily available in shops but on the black market where prices are three
times more than those gazetted by the government. - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

Police threaten to ban launch of protest music album
Thur 12 May 2005
  HARARE - Zimbabwe police have threatened to stop the launch and
distribution of a music album produced by local civic society groups calling
for democratic and constitutional reforms in the country.

      The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), bringing together
churches, labour unions, political parties and civic rights groups, said the
police's law and order section has demanded to listen to the album first and
promised to prevent its release if they deem its content "anti-government."

      NCA spokeswoman Jessie Manjome yesterday told ZimOnline that police
officials told the civic coalition that they were worried music on the album
might be used to rally Zimbabweans to rise against the government
particularly as emotions are still high in the country after last March's
disputed election.

      Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena could not be reached for comment on
the matter.

      But Majome, a lawyer, vowed that the NCA will press ahead with the
launch of the album because the organisation does not require police
permission to do so.

      She said: "The police have no power to stop the launch and
distribution of the album. We informed them as a matter of courtesy and we
were inviting them the same way we have invited other people to the album
launch. There is no need for police permission and we will not ask for it."

      Majome said in addition to music calling for constitutional reforms,
the NCA has also included on the album protest songs against police
brutality and President Robert Mugabe's dictatorial excesses.

      She said: "We are using music to protest against police brutality, the
use of dictatorial methods to quash forces of democratic reform and the fact
that after 25 years of alleged democracy, we still don't have a democratic,
people oriented constitution."

      Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party have ruthlessly clamped down on
divergent views and dissension as their hold on power has come under
increasing challenge from the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
party in the last five years.

      Several songs by national music icon Thomas Mapfumo and a host of
other artists remain banned from national radio and television after
government officials deemed them too critical of the state.

      Four newspapers, including the country's largest non-government-owned
daily, the Daily News, remain off the newsstands after they were banned by
the government in the last two years. - ZimOnline

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      Zimbabwe to release 'mercenaries'

      Sixty men linked to an alleged coup plot in Equatorial Guinea are due
to be deported from Zimbabwe to South Africa after more than a year in
      Defence lawyer Alwyn Griebenow said they would be taken by bus from
Harare to Beit Bridge border crossing, where immigration officials will meet

      They are in good health apart from one with tuberculosis, he added.

      Coup charges against the men were not proven, but they were convicted
of breaking Zimbabwe's immigration laws.

      They will be reunited with their families before facing possible
charges in South Africa, their lawyer said.

      The alleged ring-leader of the plot, Briton Simon Mann, and the two
pilots of the plane, remain in prison in Zimbabwe on longer sentences.

      Weapons question

      The men being released had been travelling on South African passports
when they were arrested in March 2004 after their chartered plane touched
down at Harare airport to pick up weapons.

      Zimbabwean prosecutors said they had been en-route to Equatorial
Guinea to overthrow President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo in the oil-rich

      The men said the weapons were to be used for guarding diamond mines in
Democratic Republic of Congo.

      In Equatorial Guinea, 14 other people have been found guilty of
charges linked to the coup plot, including plot leader Nick du Toit who
received 34 years.

      Sir Mark Thatcher, the son of former UK Prime Minister Margaret
Thatcher, was given a suspended jail term in South Africa and fined after
agreeing a plea bargain to help investigators.

      Previous reports said that there were 62 prisoners due for release but
latest reports refer to 60.

      Under South African law, they could be charged with engaging in
military activities abroad without official permission.
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Cape Times

      Zimbabwe paying Eskom bills with gold - claim
      May 12, 2005

      By Basildon Peta

      Johannesburg: Zimbabwe, reeling under acute foreign currency
shortages, has been settling its electricity account with South Africa with
gold because it has no hard currency.

      In the face of denials by Eskom, well-placed sources at the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority said
yesterday that after persistent hard currency shortages, which had led
Zimbabwe to default on its power debt, an arrangement had been made for its
reserve bank to transfer gold bars across the border to South Africa to
settle some of its Eskom debt.

      The arrangement followed a major crackdown on small- and medium-scale
miners in Zimbabwe who had been accused of smuggling gold out of the country
instead of selling it to the reserve bank as required by law.

      The crackdown helped the reserve bank to increase its gold intake last
year as miners, fearing the cancellation of their licences, opted to
surrender their gold to the central bank.

      It is understood that through the arrangement with the bank, the
Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority reduced its debt to Eskom from more
than US$25 million to less than US$7m.

      "Although this is not conventional practice, we had to find a way of
settling the debt, otherwise it would have kept on accumulating because
there is simply no foreign currency here," said a central bank official who
asked not to be named.

      Officials said the arrangement had the blessing of all "who should be
in the know", including Eskom's bankers.

      Eskom spokesman Fani Zulu denied the arrangement, saying the
Zimbabwean authority was paying in US dollars.
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ABC Australia

Black Rhino comeback
Thursday, 12 May  2005

Presenter: Andrew Dunkley

After ten years of trying the Black Rhino Breeding Program at Western Plains
Zoo seems to be succeeding more often.

The program has been running for 10 years now and boasts ten babies, most of
them born in the last few years.

The experts are still trying to iron out a few bugs as they learn more about
these amazing creatures. For example, it seems that captive breeding of
Black Rhinos tends to produce mostly male offspring so work is being
undertaken to find out why.

There's further good news for the Rhino in the wild. While the Zimbabwe
Rhinos are still facing significant losses from poachers, the rest of Africa
is actually seeing numbers increase as conservation efforts take hold.

Ten years ago the Black Rhino was all but written off in the wild but things
are starting to turn around for one of natures most incredible animals.

Roger Brogan is a Keeper/Supervisor at the African Section of Western Plains
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      UN: World's Worst Humanitarian Crises Are in Africa
      By Peter Heinlein
      United Nations
      11 May 2005

The top U.N. emergency relief official says all the world's greatest
humanitarian crises are in Africa. The official charges rich countries with
discriminating against Africa in aid donations, leaving many to die.

U.N. emergency relief coordinator Jan Egeland calls Africa 'the challenge of
our generation." Then, with a shake of his head, he adds "we're not
responding to it".

Mr. Egeland told the Security Council that of 14 humanitarian appeals for
Africa this year, eight have received less than 20 percent of the amount
requested. Only one, a small flash appeal for Angola, has reached the 40
percent funding level.

Mr. Egeland says when it comes to Africa, where the need is greatest, donor
nations seem least generous.

"There is an in-built discrimination in this sense that, if we all agree a
human life has the same value wherever he or she is born, there should be
the same attention to northern Uganda as to northern Iraq, the same
attention to the Congo as there was to Kosovo, and that is not the case
today," he noted.

Mr. Egeland says Africa cannot continue on as it is because new crises are
springing up faster than old ones are being solved. As examples, he pointed
to Togo, where the refugee population has gone from zero to 20,000 in a
matter of days, and to Chad.

Mr. Egeland expressed special concern about northern Uganda, where nearly
two million people are displaced by an uprising by a rebel group called the
Lord's Resistance Army. He told of atrocious massacres in the past few
weeks, and said there is an urgent need to protect children who are abducted
and forced into slavery as rebel soldiers.

"The Lord's Resistance Army is world's most brutal insurgency group and it
is very difficult to handle that kind of systematic abduction of children,
and then making these abducted children into killing machines against their
own people," he said.

Mr. Egeland singled out Zimbabwe as perhaps the worst of the southern
African states hit by a "triple threat" of AIDS, food shortages and bad

He noted that foreign donors are so discouraged by the government of
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe that the country has attracted only $4 in
assistance for every AIDS victim. That compares to a regional average of
$74, and $319 per victim in Uganda.

Mr. Egeland said the people of Zimbabwe are suffering from what he called a
"lack of dialogue and a lack of good governance".

"Zimbabwe has gone from being a breadbasket of the region to have an
enormous deficit," he said. "And what I ask for is a better cooperation
between aid organizations and the government to help in addressing the
chronic deficiency of food in Zimbabwe."

After hearing Mr. Egeland's briefing, the Security Council President, Danish
Ambassador Ellen Margrethe Loj, expressed concern at humanitarian conditions
in Africa and calling on the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda to return to
peace talks.

But her statement was silent on Zimbabwe. European diplomats said Council
members China and Algeria had objected to any mention of Zimbabwe, saying
issues of bad governance should not be the concern of the Council.
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Alleged mercenaries to be charged on their return : NPA

May 12, 2005, 09:00

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has confirmed the 62 alleged
mercenaries being held in Zimbabwe will be charged with breaching the
Foreign Military Assistance Act when they return to South Africa.

Makhosini Nkosi, the NPA spokesperson, says the law is a way to make sure
that South Africa is not used as a base for mercenary activities.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwean immigration officials will hold an urgent meeting this
morning with lawyers of the men to discuss their release. The alleged
mercenaries completed their 12 month sentences in a Harare prison this week
for activities linked to a coup plot in Equatorial Guinea.
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Washington Post

Seeds of Hope in Africa

By Jim Hoagland

Thursday, May 12, 2005; Page A21

Africa once carried a world of hope on broad continental shoulders that
stretch from Casablanca to Suez. But a continent of promise quickly became a
zone of failure and despair. Today Africa struggles to escape back to the
future it left behind.

The brutal tragedies of Sudan and Zimbabwe underline the enormous challenges
Africans confront in this task. But now there are also perceptible stirrings
of change that suggest Africa's fate is not immutably fixed as one of ruin
and tyranny.

In Kenya, for example, the democratically elected government that ended the
corrupt rule of Daniel arap Moi in 2002 is writing a new constitution that
will have significant input from the wananchi, or the people -- if the
determined Kenyan woman who won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize has her way,
which I gather she usually does.

"The people are learning that you cannot leave decisions only to leaders,"
says environmentalist Wangari Maathai, whose Green Belt Movement was
creatively recognized by the Nobel jury for contributing to world peace.
"Local groups have to create the political will for change, rather than
waiting for others to do things for them. That is where positive, and
sustainable, change begins."

Maathai was in Washington this week to address the Women's Edge Coalition,
an advocacy group that concentrates on economic issues. On the day we
talked, a very different kind of event was occurring in South Africa to turn
the clock -- or at least the mind -- back to what might have been.

It was the announcement of the biggest foreign investment yet made in South
Africa under the post-apartheid African National Congress government -- a
$5.5 billion vote of confidence in that country by Barclays Bank of Britain.

Barclays is not just any old company in the South African context. The bank
thrived under the white minority regime until investor boycotts and
political instability in South Africa forced Barclays to close operations
there in 1986. Now it has come back to buy a 60 percent stake in the
country's largest retail bank, Absa Group, while agreeing to emphasize black
empowerment in the workplace.

Barclays officials emphasize that they have returned because they have been
impressed by how well governments headed by Nelson Mandela and his
successor, Thabo Mbeki, have managed the economy. The bankers add that
Barclays intends to expand its banking network throughout Africa from its
southern base.

These are not woolly-headed idealists talking. But it takes business and
civic visionaries to look beyond the ruins left by Moi, Idi Amin, Mobutu
Sese Seko, Jean-Bedel Bokassa and the other corrupt and tyrannical African
rulers who exploited and betrayed the unrealistic hopes of the late 1950s
and early '60s. In Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe continues the tradition with,
alas, Mbeki's complicity.

But new hope is generated by a spreading revulsion among Africans themselves
at the excesses visited upon them. That reaction is reflected in the
Nigerian government's reform efforts under Olusegun Obasanjo and by the rise
in Kenya of a leader such as Maathai. She is a consensus-minded, highly
articulate community organizer who has gone from being jailed and beaten by
the old regime for her dissent to being a member of the present cabinet.

When I asked her about the troubled Darfur region of Sudan, Maathai argued
that it is not only possible for Africans to take the lead in resolving that
humanitarian crisis but essential for them to do so.

"Darfur is an example of a situation where a dire scarcity of natural
resources is manipulated by politicians for their own ambition. To
outsiders, the conflict is seen as tribal warfare. At its roots, though, it
is a struggle over controlling an environment that can no longer support all
the people who must live on it," Maathai said.

"You must not deal only with the symptoms. You have to get to the root
causes by promoting environmental rehabilitation and empowering people to do
things for themselves. What is done for the people without involving them
cannot be sustained."

Maathai's Green Belt Movement has organized the reforestation of areas in
Kenya that had been stripped of trees by commercial farming, population
pressures, drought, and unwise policies of land ownership and management.

"We are very fond of blaming the poor for destroying the environment. But
often it is the powerful, including governments, that are responsible," said
Maathai, who studied biological sciences in the United States, Germany and

Africa's false start punished those who expected too much from it. But it
would be unworthy to compound that error now by expecting too little.

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      Makwavarara faces chop

      Rangarirai Mberi
      5/12/2005 8:07:24 AM (GMT +2)

      HARDLINERS within ZANU PF are demanding that Sekesai Makwavarara, the
beleaguered chairperson of the commission running Harare resign or be fired
amid frantic eleventh-hour efforts to save the city from imminent collapse.

      Impeccable ZANU PF sources said pressure was building inside the
ruling party -known for its obsession with exerting its influence in the
city - for the dismissal of the former Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
councillor. This comes just weeks ahead of the expiry of her term of office
on June 9. The move is widely seen as a vote of no-confidence in her ability
to turnaround the city's operations.
      The sources said it was felt that Makwavarara did not have what it
takes to turn around the city and that a new person at the helm could do
better than the incumbent. It was believed within the ruling party that her
ouster would also be sending a signal that the era of politics of patronage
was over.
      According to the sources, senior ruling party officials, increasingly
getting impatient with Makwavarara's failure to restore order and a new
generation of services in Harare, were leaning heavily on Local Government
Minister Ignatius Chombo not to give the commission another term in office.
The Harare City Council (HCC) commission boss - under whose stewardship
service delivery in the capital city has virtually collapsed - has of late
come under intense pressure from residents who accuse her of plunging the
city into an unprecedented crisis.
      Although there is a Supreme Court precedence that a commission should
only be appointed for a single term, Chombo is said to have indicated that
he would renew Makwavarara's term of office.
      ZANU PF deputy secretary for information and publicity Ephraim Masawi
was quoted after last Friday's Politburo meeting as saying that the meeting
had discussed grievances that urban voters had against ZANU PF, which won
only a single urban constituency at the March 31 election.
      The Financial Gazette has heard that senior Politburo members had
insisted at the meeting that opposition to ruling party had remained firm,
particularly in Harare, largely due to an evident decline in service
delivery under a Commission appointed by the ZANU PF government.
      "There is a strong feeling that Makwavarara has failed, although there
are some who are already rushing to her defence," a senior ZANU PF official
said this week.
      However, Chombo has remained a strong supporter of Makwavarara even in
the face of growing opposition to her reappointment from within ZANU PF.
Chombo was yesterday unavailable for comment.
      The government this week announced it had relieved Makwavarara's
commission of the duty of managing Harare's bulk water system, handing that
responsibility to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA). The move
has been seen as a sign of waning
      To Page 30
      patience within government over the Commission, and a no-confidence
vote for Makwavarara despite her latest promises to restructure the
commission and enhance efficiency.
      A meeting has been scheduled for next week between Chombo and Munacho
Mutezo, the new minister of Water Resources and Infrastructural Development,
under whose ministry ZINWA falls. According to council sources, the meeting
will discuss the transfer of all council staff and assets involved in water
supply to ZINWA. The transfer will be at no costs to ZINWA, but the
authority urgently needs $350 billion to normalise water supplies in the
immediate term.
      The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) has said it will
lodge a legal challenge against Chombo's if he follows through on his
intention to extend Makwavarara's stay at Town House.
      CHRA chairman Mike Davies said the association, which has petitioned
council to reverse massive rate hikes of up to 2000 percent, would also call
for a full-scale rate boycott if Makwavarara were allowed to stay.
      Makwavarara last week announced a plan to end worsening operational
inefficiency at Town House by splitting the Harare City Council into seven
independent strategic business units, saying "we must transform or we
      The proposed divisions are Harare Roads and Street Lighting, Harare
Waste Management, Communication, Finance, Harare Public Transport and Harare
Water and Sanitation.
      However, Government, in another show of frustration at Makwavarara's
administration, announced it was restructuring the Commission by appointing
several more officials to Council "to help the city implement its turnaround
      Makwavarara has presided over a sharp deterioration in the standards
of service delivery since she was appointed to replace Elias Mudzuri, who
was elected in 2002, but sacked a year later by Chombo on charges of
incompetence and, oddly, "interfering in the management of city affairs".
      Makwavarara was Mudzuri's deputy in the MDC-controlled council, but
she defected to ZANU PF upon her appointment as acting mayor. She has since
been rewarded with a farm in Chombo's Mashonaland West province.
      Since her appointment, Makwavarara has failed to produce audited
accounts, involved herself in petty staff wars over office space, and
presided over acute water shortages and poor refuse collection.
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      Widespread company closures loom

      Nelson Banya
      5/12/2005 8:08:31 AM (GMT +2)

      THE deepening economic crisis looks set to spawn a fresh round of
company closures, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) warned
government yesterday.

      CZI president Patterson Sithole told government officials from the
line economic ministries at a meeting in Harare yesterday that most firms
were in distress, adding that most of them could close shop if the
government did not move urgently to restore viability.
      "We are in danger of losing the gains that we made in 2004. Most of
our companies are in distress.
      "Many businesses are on the verge of closing down because of the
unavailability of foreign currency. Companies are running at well below
capacity and the foreign currency shortage is causing supply disruptions
which, in turn, are fueling inflationary pressures, as businesses have to
recover overheads from the little volumes they are generating," Sithole
      Yesterday's meeting was attended by Obert Mpofu, Rugare Gumbo, Webster
Shamu and Sithembiso Nyoni - ministers of Industry and International Trade,
Economic Development, Policy Implementation and Small to medium Enterprise
Development ministers, respectively.
      Mpofu's deputy, Phineas Chihota and Samuel Undenge, Gumbo's deputy at
the newly created Economic Development ministry were also in attendance,
along with some senior government officials.
      In a poignant presentation that illustrated the dire situation that
faces industry, Sithole said the exchange rate and price controls were major
concerns for businesses, as these two critical issues were overdue for
      "It would appear that price controls are now being extended to all
products, which was never government's intention. There is a de facto price
      "The foreign currency auctions, which brought much stability at the
beginning of 2004, has stopped working. We need to make the exchange rate
more viable because, at current rates, no exporter is exporting viably. We
urge government to respond to these issues rapidly. Last year showed that
this economy can be turned around, we do not want to go back to 2003,"
Sithole said.
      The CZI, Sithole said, was proposing a two-tier exchange rate regime
that would see the country's essential imports being covered by the 30
percent component of foreign currency earnings surrendered by exporters.
      "The first should be a controlled tier for essential needs such as
maize imports and electricity as well as debt servicing. This should be
funded from the 30 percent surrender money, but this tier should be set at
realistic levels.
      "The second would be the market tier, fully determined by the market,
for the remaining 70 percent and that should also be the official exchange
rate. I know there are fears that the exchange rate could run away, but
experiences in countries such as Kenya have shown that if you control money
supply, the rate will not run away," Sithole said.
      Mpofu, who replaced the combative Samuel Mumbengegwi whose
relationship with industry was anything but warm, hinted that government
would soon come up with an announcement on price controls. Speculation is
that more goods could be brought under price controls, a situation which has
unsettled industry players.
      "Government maintains price controls on essential goods such as maize,
wheat, flour and bread, whose producers enjoy direct subsidies, but price
controls should not be at the expense of industry," Mpofu said.
      Goods such as sugar- which has disappeared off supermarket
shelves-beef, salt, cooking oil, milk agricultural chemicals and implements
as well as cement and tyres, fall under the price monitoring category, with
producers required to approach government with "clear justifications for
      Sithole said while industry saw little hope of having a major policy
shift on price controls, the CZI proposed a trigger mechanism for price
      "There is an urgent need to review price controls and as for price
monitored products, we recommend increase of 90 percent of the previous
quarters' official inflation figures, approved automatically."
      He urged the government to urgently address investor concerns, in
order to get foreign investment, not just from the East, flowing into the
      "We support the government's 'look East' policy, but a businesspeople,
we want to look everywhere. East, West, Centre.everywhere," Sithole said.
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      Chefs want heads to roll at Zimpapers

      Nelson Banya and Felix Njini
      5/12/2005 8:09:18 AM (GMT +2)

      SENIOR ruling party politicians are reportedly pressing for changes at
the state-controlled Zimbabwe Newspapers stable, despite recent assurances
to the contrary from new Information Minister Tichaona Jokonya, The
Financial Gazette has established.

      The ruling party stalwarts, sources said, are eager to reassert their
influence at Zimpapers, having lost control of the powerful information
outlet to former minister of state information and publicity, Jonathan Moyo.
      Jokonya and his deputy, Bright Matonga, have given conciliatory
signals and allayed fears of wholesale changes to editorial teams that had
given their allegiance to Moyo over the past five years.
      Sources said some officials at ZANU PF headquarters were wary that
Moyo, ousted from government after defying the ruling party and standing as
an independent candidate in the March elections, could retain his influence
within the stable.
      Zimpapers board chairman Herbert Nkala, group chief executive officer
Justin Mutasa and Pikirayi Deketeke, editor of the flagship daily Herald are
reported to be targeted should the ZANU PF gurus have their way.
      The Financial Gazette is reliably told that ZANU PF wants Nkala,
Mutasa and Deketeke to leave the group and has tasked Jokonya to find a
workable way of getting rid of the trio.
      Government owns 51 percent of Zimpapers, which has eight titles under
its stable, namely The Herald, The Sunday Mail, Kwayedza, The New Farmer,
Trends magazine, Chronicle, The Sunday News and The Manica Post.
      Nkala and Deketeke are accused of being close confidantes of the fired
minister, Moyo.
      Mutasa, who is also deputy chairman of public transporter Zimbabwe
Passenger United Company (ZUPCO), is reported to have been entangled in
Matonga's inauspicious exit from the bus company, where he was chief
      The same sources said Nathan Shamuyarira, the ZANU PF information
supremo, summoned Jokonya to the party headquarters last week where he told
him the party's desire to relieve the trio of their duties.
      Zimpapers in March fired Chronicle editor Stephen Ndlovu, a fierce
Moyo loyalist who stood by his patron even as the former minister's fall
became inevitable.
      Ndlovu's dismissal raised the spectre of more sackings at the company's
titles in Harare and Bulawayo as the party moves to sterilise Moyo's
      Shamuyarira, however, denied meeting Jokonya over the issue: "I don't
know anything about that. I have no powers to summon a minister. You just
want to create confusion."
      Government spokesperson George Charamba could not be drawn into
discussing the fate of Nkala, Mutasa and Deketeke, saying appointments at
Zimpapers were a matter of implementing the ruling party's policies.
      He, however, confirmed Jokonya's meeting with Shamuyarira. "Last week
Jokonya paid a courtesy call on Shamuyarira and discussed policy issues not
personalities," Charamba said.
      Charamba said the ministry implements what would have been recommended
by the Politburo.
      "The party hired a dog and the dog must do the barking. If the
minister finds anything broken, he will fix it," Charamba said.
      ZANU PF insiders told The Financial Gazette that the party had taken
"a hard look at the structure and operations of the public mass media and
found that a single person has influenced all appointments of board,
management and editorials (sic) in public media with just one thing in
mind - loyalty to the person in charge himself.
      "The influence of that one person runs deeper than anyone could ever
imagine. Thus, although a purge would be necessary to start getting things
back on track, it is important to reflect on the damage this would do in
terms of the operations of the media, the massive financial outlay that the
companies would require in order to meet the massive retrenchment bills,"
reads part of a brief circulated within the party.
      However, the brief goes on to suggest the dismissal of the board, the
"managing director and at least one editor" whose alleged "zealous defence
of someone" bordered on perjury.
      It has become something of a ZANU PF tradition for any new information
minister to appoint his favoured gatekeepers to man critical Zimpapers
titles and the public broadcaster, which still enjoys a monopoly.
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      UK withholds sensitive Zim documents

      Blessing Ruzengwe
      5/12/2005 8:11:43 AM (GMT +2)

      THE UK government is refusing to release information about cabinet
deliberations and directives issued to Lord Carrington during the Lancaster
House talks that brought independence to Zimbabwe in 1980.

      In February The Financial Gazette, seeking to ascertain exactly what
was agreed on especially as regards the emotive land reform programme, used
the Freedom of Information Act seeking the release of cabinet minutes for
the period June 1979 to April 1980 specifically those that mention
deliberations about the Lancaster House Talks on Zimbabwe.
      The paper had also sought the release of directives issued to Lord
Carrington, who chaired the talks, by the government of Margaret Thatcher in
relation to how he should handle the talks.
      The land issue has been at the centre of the prolonged diplomatic rift
between Whitehall and Harare, with the latter accusing the British
government of interfering in the domestic politics of a sovereign state
through its perceived support of the opposition in the country and ducking
its responsibility to finance land redistribution as a former colonial
master. The diplomatic row has led to the international isolation of
      The Zimbabwe government, a target of bitter attacks from the UK and
its allies over allegations of human rights abuses and stifling democratic
space, has always insisted that it was agreed at the Lancaster House talks
that the former colonial master would provide funds for the land
redistribution exercise.
      As a result Zimbabwe has refused to compensate white commercial
farmers for land acquired by the government for redistribution to black
people. It says the farmers would only be compensated for developments on
the farms.
      In an interview with The Financial Gazette last year, Tony Blair's
government, which claimed that it pumped in 44 million pounds to finance
land redistribution, however, maintained that the full requirements of the
land reform programme were beyond the capacity of any single country.
      Releasing the documents on the Lancaster House deliberations could
help unravel the controversy and explain why diplomatic fences have
irretrievably broken down between Zimbabwe and Britain over the land issue.
To date no full disclosure of what transpired at the talks has been made
although information has filtered to the public through autobiographies
written by politicians who attended the talks. And the British government
has slammed its doors on any disclosure of the details.
      "Inappropriate disclosure has the potential to limit the full and
frank discussion of policy by ministers," Kevin Nichols of the Histories,
Openness and Records Unit said in a written response to The Financial
Gazette application.
      Nichols added: "This information is being withheld as it falls under
the exemption in section 35(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act."
Section 35(1)(a) states that information held by a government department can
be withheld for the purposes of formulation or development of government
      The Freedom of Information Act which became law in January this year
gives the public, from anywhere in the world, the right to access
information held by 100 000 public bodies. The Act also allows some 50 000
government files in the national archives to be made public.
      Among some of the information that the UK government tried to prevent
disclosure of was the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith's legal advice on the
war on Iraq. The British government finally published it after it was leaked
to the press just before the election.
      "We have concluded, for these reasons, that the public interest in
withholding this information outweighs the public interest in disclosing
 it," Nichols said.
      The Financial Gazette is in the process of appealing for an internal
review of this decision and if this fails it will apply to the Information
Commissioner for a disclosure.

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      Malawi bans sterilised milk from Dairibord Zimbabwe

      Chiza Ngwira
      5/12/2005 8:12:23 AM (GMT +2)

      MALAWI last week banned the importation, distribution and selling of
Dairibord Zimbabwe's Steri milk, a move some Malawian analysts say is a
"technical barrier aimed at protecting the country's local industry."

      In a statement, Charles Malata Chirwa, acting director general of
Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS), said his organisation had noted that most
of the imported Steri-milk of Dairibord Zimbabwe goes bad before reaching
the sell-by date indicated on the products.
      "This situation no doubt poses unknown health risks to the consumers
of the product.
      "The general public is therefore informed that the MBS has impounded
more than 40 metric tonnes of the product," Chirwa said. The consignment was
later offloaded at a dumpsite with locals scrambling for "Manna from Heaven".
      The ban would be lifted only after Dairibord Zimbabwe satisfied the
MBS that they have rectified the problem affecting the quality of its milk
products, he added.
      Dairibord Zimbabwe is a majority shareholder in Dairibord Malawi and
last month the Malawi subsidiary introduced several products on the market
imported from its parent company in Zimbabwe.
      Chirwa issued a stern warning to the public traders and importers that
'no person shall import, sell or distribute Dairibord Zimbabwe Steri milk
until further notice,"
      However, he said, "the ban shall be reviewed and lifted as soon as the
product quality has been brought under normalcy and assurance of the product
consistency re-established by Dairibord Zimbabwe,"
      "Any breach of the ban is a serious punishable offence and shall be
dealt with according to the MBS Act Chapter 51; 02 of the law of Malawi,"
warned Chirwa.
      Malawi Bureau of Standards Certification officer Lovemore Malunga,
said his organisation had been forced to ban the sterilised milk because it
was landing in Malawi in bad state and posed a health hazard to consumers.
      "When the manufacturers have come up in the open that they have
rectified the problem and upon satisfaction of the Bureau, we may lift the
ban," he said.
      Dairiboard Zimbabwe Limited (DZL) relies on export markets and the
move by Malawi is viewed in many quarters in this country as aimed at
protecting its fragile milk industry.
      DZL spokesperson Busi Chindove confirmed that Malawian authorities had
slammed a ban on its product but said:
      "Following as meeting held today between Dairibord Malawi and the MBS,
the ban has been lifted with effect from tomorrow (today). We are advised
that a statement to that effect will be issued by MBS tomorrow and therefore
exports of Steri milk will resume. DZL has met all the requirements as
requested by MBS," Chindove said.

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      Polls: SADC boss invites MDC

      Njabulo Ncube
      5/12/2005 8:13:04 AM (GMT +2)

      THE Southern African Development Community (SADC), accused of not
being assertive in dealing with Zimbabwe's nagging political impasse, this
week appeared to act, with its chairman, Paul Berenger, inviting Morgan
Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), to
Mauritius for a tete-a-tete.

      Sources at Harvest House, the headquarters of the main opposition
party, said yesterday Tsvangirai, accompanied by his deputy Gibson Sibanda
and deputy secretary-general Gift Chimanikiri and other support staff,
arrived in Port Louis on Tuesday and were scheduled to meet Berenger, the
Mauritian President, later yesterday.
      Welshman Ncube, the MDC secretary-general, together with other senior
members of the opposition party, could not immediately comment yesterday on
the latest development as they were said to be attending the funeral of one
of its senior officials in Matabeleland South.
      Ncube, however, confirmed to a South African-based website that
Tsvangirai was in Mauritius to meet Berenger on the continuing crisis in
      The meeting between the MDC and Berenger comes in the wake of
allegations of irregularities in Zimbabwe's March parliamentary polls after
SADC had tried to put in place regionally acceptable mechanisms to thwart
any electoral fraud.
      "He (Tsvangirai) will tell Berenger of how SADC has let the opposition
down, especially South Africa's chameleon attitude," said a party official
close to the MDC leader.
      "He is going to give reasons why the party severed ties with Pretoria
and then go on to chronicle why the MDC disputes the election results. He is
also going to mention the retribution against MDC supporters in perceived
ZANU PF strongholds, and how SADC was hoodwinked into believing Zimbabwe was
adhering to the principles and guidelines agreed to in Berenger's backyard,"
added the source.
      The insiders said the MDC delegation left with dossiers chronicling
how President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF allegedly stole the March 31
parliamentary polls in which the opposition won 41 seats against 78 for the
ruling party.
      Soon after the announcement of the outcome of the disputed polls, the
MDC moved with speed to cobble up a 56-page dossier entitled Stolen: How the
Elections were rigged.
      In the document, a copy of which is in the possession of The Financial
Gazette, apart from alleged stuffing of ballot boxes by a "partisan"
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the MDC cites political violence and
intimidation, the politicisation of law enforcement agencies, manipulation
of food aid, andthe role of traditional leaders in allegedly coercing the
electorate to vote for ZANU PF as some of the major reasons for refusing to
endorse the elections as free and fair.
      Tsvangirai's meeting with the SADC chairman is the first such
engagement between the main opposition party and any SADC head of state or
government since the MDC resolved on April 4 this year to pull out of any
South Africa-driven initiatives to find a solution to the Harare crisis.
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      No offices for Mugabe's bloated new Cabinet

      Felix Njini
      5/12/2005 8:14:56 AM (GMT +2)

      PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's bloated Cabinet is posing serious
administrative problems to planners, racing against time to secure elusive
office space for the newly created ministries.

      Four ministries were added to President Mugabe's old Cabinet, bringing
to 59 the total number of ministers in the revamped line-up, including 18
deputy ministers and 10 provincial governors.
      The local government ministry is struggling to find accommodation for
the contingent and scores of civil servants likely to be recruited by the
new ministries, nearly a month after the appointment of the "development
      News of the headaches about space comes amid revelations that
recruitment of staff for the newly created ministries, which analysts say is
set to significantly swell the government's expenditure, has not yet
      Government spokesperson George Charamba said the new ministers were
temporarily housed at Munhumutapa Building, while Ignatius Chombo's Local
Government Ministry was still looking for office space.
      "Recruitment of staff has not yet started. The ministers are working
on the structures of their ministries while the Public Service Commission is
working on the recruitment. But they cannot recruit now because there are no
offices," Charamba said.
      "There were some government properties which were offloaded and this
has left a gap, but there is a number of structures being put in place . . .
government is at work," he said.
      The affected ministries include the Ministry of Economic Development
headed by Rugare Gumbo, the Rural Housing and Social Amenities Ministry
headed by Emmerson Mnangagwa, and the Ministry of State for Public and
Interactive Affairs headed by Chen Chimutengwende.
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      Not again, Minister Made --- AN OPINION

      Mavis Makuni
      5/12/2005 8:15:30 AM (GMT +2)

      I MUST confess that I am a doubting Thomas who is still aghast and
incredulous over the vote of confidence expressed in Agriculture Minister
Joseph Made through his re-appointment to President Robert Mugabe's
reshuffled "development Cabinet".

      It is nothing personal, but over the last five years that he has
headed one of the country's most strategic ministries, Made has become a
butt of ridicule and sarcastic jokes because of his bumbling performance and
inept handling of important issues.
      It does not help that the minister is not blessed with the gift of
eloquence to enable him to articulate his ministry's policies and actions
      To be brutally blunt, Made is not the sort of person who would inspire
confidence even at the best of times, let alone amid the relentless struggle
to keep body and soul together that the majority of Zimbabweans are engaged
      As a result, I am certain that I am not the only person who is often
left with a nagging sense of doubt as to whether he knows what he is talking
about each time Made opens his mouth.
      I know it is uncharitable to keep dredging up Made's most damaging and
inexcusable faux pas when, with his head literally in the clouds after
enjoying a helicopter jaunt over some farms, he misled the nation into
believing that a bumper harvest was in the offing for the 2002/2003
agricultural season.
      Made's cloud-cuckoo-land maize yield projections resulted in the
nation being caught flat-footed when, instead of a bumper harvest, a serious
deficit of the staple grain soon became apparent.
      With mealie meal as scarce as gold in the shops, people had to
scrounge for any grain they could lay their hands on and have it ground at
hammer mills.
      Long, winding queues became a familiar and disturbing sight outside
supermarkets that received meagre deliveries or were rumoured to be
expecting consignments of the precious commodity.
      Bearing in mind that a hungry man is an angry man, this was a tense
situation that could have degenerated into civil unrest reminiscent of the
2000 food riots.
      But despite coming so close to the abyss, no lessons seem to have been
learnt, especially by the minister responsible for the country's food
      Every crop planting season since this disastrous episode has been
characterised by an appalling lack of strategic thinking and forward
planning on the minister's part.
      As a result, farmers have felt frustrated and helpless each time
planting deadlines have elapsed before they could lay their hands on inputs
such as fertiliser and seed.
      Now, with the winter wheat planting season upon us, the familiar
refrain of farmers' complaints about being unable to access the necessary
inputs or funds to buy them has already reached a crescendo. According to
press reports, the farmers are blaming the Grain Marketing Board, Arex and
Agribank for the delays.
      However, regardless of the reasons for these institutions' failure to
move timeously to avail farmers of those inputs they are responsible for,
the fact remains that overall responsibility for overseeing and facilitating
a successful crop season rests with their parent ministry, which is headed
by Made.
      Since the logistical problems pertaining to the distribution of inputs
have become a seasonal occurrence, the question that begs an answer is why
Made's ministry has not been proactive. Why does the ministry always assure
the public that things are under control when the same problems recur every
      It is only by anticipating some of these problems that the ministry
can make contingency plans and actively assist the relevant parastatals and
departments to execute them.
      A crisis is supposed to be a temporary situation. But in the case of
the agricultural sector, it seems to have become the norm. Is the minister
out of his depth or does he lack the gumption to step in and provide the
leadership needed to break this vicious cycle of snags that are nevertheless
not insurmountable?
      When Made was first appointed Minister of Lands, Agriculture and
Resettlement in 2000, he was described as a land expert and shrewd
strategist. He told an interviewer: "When policy pronouncements are matched
with policy implementation then public confidence zooms."
      Regrettably, public confidence has sagged as the minister seems to
have chosen to hide his light under a bushel.
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      Who will address Harare's sorry state of affairs?

      Hama Saburi
      5/12/2005 8:16:10 AM (GMT +2)

      THE cosmopolitan city of Harare, now a pale shadow of its former self,
has plunged into a deep hole, posing a great danger to its inhabitants as
years of corporate governance breaches take their toll on the capital city.

      The state of affairs at Town House, the administrative centre for
Harare now turned into a political turf, has deteriorated into a full-blown
crisis that no amount of public relations can gloss over.
      While it has taken just two decades to bring the city down to its
knees, it is quite clear that it would cost the hardened ratepayer a fortune
to bring Harare back to its former status. But again, that is if the city
fathers are given the autonomy to run the affairs of the city.
      Despite collecting $30 billion in revenue every month, the council can
hardly afford to pay its 8 000 workers, currently fighting for a 161 percent
salary rise, on time, let alone providing a second-best service to its
      "Clearly things have gone wrong and should be corrected. There is need
to get things right in the city. Its (Harare) value is going up in terms of
assets and the revenue should be equally high. There is a mismatch
somewhere," remarked David Samudzimu, a former representative of the Harare
      Harare is grappling with a severe refuse problem, with litter going
for several months without being collected in some areas, a situation likely
to deteriorate because of the resurfacing of fuel shortages.
      Residents have been forced to dump litter in open spaces, posing a
serious health hazard that had been boiling underneath as a result of the
population explosion and the mushrooming of squatter shacks, now home to
over 500 000 people.
      Raw sewage is also flowing in some suburbs, while potholes have made
some areas inaccessible in what could have inspired the lavish spending on
luxury 4X4 vehicles by officials at Town House.
      Water supplies to swathes of Harare have largely been erratic with the
eastern suburbs of Mabvuku, Tafara, Msasa Park and Greendale being the worst
affected. Although officials, known to fault everyone else except
themselves, blame the inconsistent water supplies on thinning foreign
currency inflows, there is no denying that the situation could have been
better had they sought alternative water supplies.
      Plans to construct Kunzvi Dam as an alternative water source to the
heavily polluted Lake Chivero are stuck in red tape four years after the
idea was mooted.
      Analysts said while the sorry state of affairs was no different from
that obtaining in other municipalities, it is the accelerated rate of decay
that is alarming even those that had been benefiting from the decadence.
      Gabriel Chaibva, the former Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
shadow minister for local government, believes Local Government Minister
Ignatius Chombo got it wrong when he used trumped up charges to dismiss
sitting mayor Elias Mudzuri, who had secured the position on an MDC ticket.
      Mudzuri had replaced the ruling ZANU PF's Solomon Tavengwa, who was
sacked in 1991, alongside the entire council on allegations of corruption
and mismanagement. In between Mudzuri and Tavengwa's terms, a commission
headed by Elijah Chanakira had run the city.
      Mudzuri, however, became a victim of political interference, leading
to his suspension and later sacking from council in September 2003 for
alleged mismanagement, flouting of tender procedures and anti-government
political activity. Prior to his sacking Mudzuri, who denied the charges,
also had his powers curtailed after the government appointed governors to
oversee the running of two MDC-led councils - Harare and Bulawayo.
      Another commission, led by political turncoat Sekesai Makwavarara,
formerly of the MDC before crossing the floor to join ZANU PF, is currently
running Harare.
      Makwavarara's team has since mulled unbundling the current city
structures into strategic business units namely Harare Water and Sanitation,
Harare Roads and Street Lighting, Harare Waste Management, Communication,
Harare Public Transport and Administration and Finance in a desperate bid to
improve efficiency and service delivery.
      The unbundling could remain on paper as the commission, which has
since been restructured with the appointment of two more deputy
chairpersons, is racing against time given that its mandate is due to expire
on June 9.
      Chaibva said there was clear contempt of the people's right to choose
their own leaders, all with the aim of keeping a stranglehold on the city.
      "The primary motivating factor is not to do with the politics, but the
cash that comes with controlling the council's affairs. Mudzuri should be
reinstated unconditionally or the government should call for fresh elections
to choose a democratically elected mayor who will be accountable to the
people," said the former MDC legislator.
      Analysts said Harare has found itself in its current position owing to
political interference by the local government ministry and populist
policies, where council has been forced to charge uneconomic tariffs.
      It is only now that the Makwavarara-led commission has been allowed to
raise rates, tariffs and supplementary charges by between 60 and 2000
percent with effect from July, a decision that is being resisted by the
Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA).
      "Council has been reported bankrupt on two occasions over the period
Makwavarara has been acting mayor because residents have been refusing to
recognise her, thereby holding back payment of rates, council's main source
of revenue," a local weekly quoted a CHRA official saying.
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      Zim needs divine wisdom to stay afloat

      Charles Rukuni
      5/12/2005 8:16:47 AM (GMT +2)

      BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe is heading for an economic catastrophe and only
divine wisdom among its leaders can save the country from total collapse, a
leading businessman says.

      Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president Luxon Zembe said if
the leaders persisted with their current policies, the little gains that the
country had so far achieved in its turnaround programme would be wiped out
and the country would head for a real collapse.
      Bulawayo-based business consultant Eric Bloch, one of the 60 or so
advisers to central bank governor Gideon Gono, said things are likely to get
worse if the government continues with its current policies that are
undermining all the gains made by the central bank.
      "Gono is trying to keep the ship afloat but the government is drilling
holes in that ship," he said.
      The country was heading for collapse in 2003 when it was rescued by
the central bank which introduced tight monetary policies that saw inflation
decline from over 600 percent to just over 120 percent.
      Fuel suppliers almost returned to normal. Commodities that had
disappeared from supermarket shelves and were only available on the black
market were back. Even the black market in foreign currency disappeared - at
least during the first quarter of last year.
      But all this has been reversed.
      Bloch said the economy was collapsing because the government was not
prepared to modify its policies to match the monetary policy of the central
      "As long as we continue to pursue policies that alienate investment,
both local and international, there is no possibility of a turnaround,"
Bloch said.
      He attributed the present stalemate to three key issues - the collapse
of agriculture, the negative image of the country and government's constant
intervention in prices.
      "Agriculture is the foundation of the economy but there had been near
total collapse of agriculture with current output now 35-40 percent of what
it was in 2000," Bloch said.
      The government has accused the international community of punishing
the country for its agrarian reform programme which saw white farmers lose
their land to new settlers.
      Zembe said the government had pumped a lot of resources into
agriculture last year but at the wrong time because the country had been hit
by a drought.
      "We had been warned about the pending drought by the SADC early
warning unit but we ignored the warning, and now we have been hit hard," he
      He said the problems the country was currently facing were all linked
to supply and demand. The country was not generating enough foreign currency
because the exchange rate was not competitive.
      "As long as the gap between the official rate and the parallel market
rate remains wide, there is no way people will offload their money onto the
formal market," Zembe said. "That is a natural phenomenon. People with money
will capitalise on that gap because the benefit is worth the risk."
      Zembe said there was also too much reliance for foreign currency on
the central bank. It could not accommodate everyone.
      "We need to open up relations with the international community," he
said. "Let's not be arrogant about that. Yes, China has come in but we need
more friends and not just one. We need money to come in through credit lines
so that we can relieve pressure on the RBZ (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe)."
      Bloch said it would be difficult for Zimbabwe to attract any foreign
currency apart from humanitarian aid as long as it continued to project the
wrong image. Even tourism, which was about to surpass tobacco as the
country's major foreign exchange earner before the present crisis, would not
improve because Zimbabwe continued to be perceived as a country with a
totalitarian and dictatorial government which had no respect for the rule of
      On price controls, Zembe said this was a war the government would
never win. It had been tried before and had failed dismally. He said with
unemployment at around 70 percent and the current drought, people were
finding survival strategies.
      "We have created a breed of speculators who are relying on shortages.
Price controls will therefore not solve anything. In fact they can create a
political crisis if the government continues to harass those trading on the
black market without creating jobs for them. We have to create jobs and we
can only do that by creating a vibrant and dynamic economy," Zembe said.
      He said government was also not paying enough attention to the
productive sector. Rentals, for example, had gone up by over 1 000 percent
over the past year, rates had gone up by over 500 percent, wages by an
average of 300 percent and there is pressure to increase electricity by
between 150 and 400 percent.
      "The government cannot therefore insist on price controls because
pricing depends on how much you get your inputs for," Zembe said.
      Bloch said most of the current shortages, such as those of fuel and
sugar, were due to the government's price controls. He said fuel companies
were currently selling it at less than the landed cost and the National Oil
Company of Zimbabwe, which gets the bulk of the foreign currency allocation
for fuel, was incurring huge losses. He said for fuel companies to be viable
they had to sell the commodity for not less than $7 500 a litre.
      The government's pricing policy is also full of contradictions.
Observers said this will not solve the current problems but will worsen the
      The government, for example, recently increased the producer price of
maize to over $2.2 million a tonne but said the Grain Marketing Board's
(GMB's) selling price to millers would remain at $600 000 a tonne.
      Its Macro-Economic Policy Framework for 2005-2006, released in
November last year, clearly states that: "To strengthen the capacity of the
GMB to support farmers, both at the production and marketing stage,
government will ensure that GMB selling prices take account of its
purchasing price as well as its handling costs.
      "Failure to do this in the past has left the GMB facing accumulated
losses and debts, estimated at $147.79 billion and $155.5 billion,
respectively, in 2003."
      One observer noted that this skewed policy opened doors for
      "Under such circumstances," the observer, a former staunch supporter
of the ruling ZANU-PF, said, "a miller makes more money by buying maize from
the GMB, repackaging it and selling it back to the GMB than milling it."
      This might appear far-fetched but it happened during the 2002 drought
and is already happening with fuel where taxi and commuter operators are
making more money from selling fuel on the black market than transporting

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      Zimbos must start behaving like humans

      Denford Magora
      5/12/2005 8:43:46 AM (GMT +2)

      DO you know any human beings? No, really. Do you? This question is
especially relevant today when Zimbabwe is abuzz with such phrases as "human
rights" and "human dignity".

      It leads me to ask the question: should we be demanding "human rights"
when we are not living, behaving and acting like human beings?
      A true human being is one who does not inflict harm on other human
beings unless they pose an imminent and mortal danger to him. A true human
being is one who recognises that being human is not a matter of what you
look like but how you behave. A true human being recognises that humans are
not a race, but a society.
      Consequently, a human being knows that for any society to function,
all its members must pull their weight. A human being also knows that for
humans to be humans, they should respect the ideals that separate us from
wild beasts and domesticated animals.
      More importantly for Zimbabwe, though, a human being knows that the
"each man for himself" dictat is alien to human society. This dictat is a
fundamental betrayal of what it is to be human. What happens to protecting
the economically, socially and physically weak?
      So then, when Zimbabweans walk by as a human being is screaming for
help while under attack from thugs, when they seek to ensure their own
comfort at the expense of the comfort of other humans, when they only seek
to understand "what is in it for me" when called upon to improve the lot of
their fellow Zimbabweans, are they still human?
      Bankers, businessmen, politicians and speculators from either side of
the political divide have all displayed a frightening contempt for that
which makes us human. There is blatant theft of money entrusted to bankers,
there is shameless collection of revenue by authorities without putting the
revenue to the use it is intended. There are abitrary increases in prices of
goods and services when being human calls for the need to cut margins to
make life meaningful for fellow humans. There is greed, murder.
intransigence, speculation that has rendered innocent Zimbabweans homeless
and foodless. There is rape of toddlers. There is also corrupution that has
directly impoverished Zimbabweans from all walks of life.
      Efforts to turn things around by such dedicated human beings as Dr
Gideon Gono are nakedly assaulted by inhuman beings who want to pursue
bumper harvests where they did not sow. All these are driven, not by the
need for self-preservation, which is human, but by a need to "beat the
system", which, in effect, means beating other human beings, ensuring that
they stay down so that you can rise.
      I put it to you therefore, that Zimbabweans, by their actions and
their mentality, have demonstrated that they are not human. By failing to
live out the essence of being human, they have also given up their right to
be treated as human beings. Just as a criminal can not demand the right to
be free, so those who betray what it is to be human should not be mounting
the pulpit to demand human rights.
      For, indeed, if these rights are god-given, so are the
responsibilities that come with the rights. Chief among these
responsibilities is the responsibility to be human. To act and think human.
To be, in other words, humane. Emotional cruelty, financial cruelty and
moral cruelty should automatically disqualify a person from being considered
a human being.
      Then there is the reponsibility to other humans. To be human, one
needs to be conscious of the impact their actions will have on other people.
If the impact is lkely to be negative, being human means doing everything
possible to mitigate against that suffering, even if it means changing one's
plans. But, in Zimbabwe, it is now a case of "I'm alright Jack" and everyone
else can go and fry at the end of Satan's pitchfork.
      Instead of measuring their own worth as a human being against their
own goals and aspirations, Zimbabweans are more likely to measure their
worth against the suffering of other Zimbabweans. Their success will not
satisfy them unless they can see someone worse off than they are.
      If the whole nation is worse off than them, then that would be even
better. It is the reason we have the most rabid and unconscionable
speculators on the whole of the African continent and perhaps even beyond.
These are people willing to reduce a country to ashes as long as they are
OK. They are quite willing to enrich themselves while impoverishing the
      It is not a year yet since there was a correction on the housing
market, with rentals and house prices being realistic. We all remember the
laughable situation we had back then when landlords and home sellers, in a
huff, let it be known that they would "withdraw" their properties from the
market. My way or the highway. And the rest of the country can go and jump.
That was the essence of their inhuman and laughable stance. They soon
realised their folly however and the country plodded on. Yet this example is
a stark illustration of the moral bankruptcy that afflicts most of our
      I was surprised the other day to hear a man selling firewood telling
me that the price of firewood had gone up ten-fold. Naturally, I asked why.
The answer? Foreign currency. I kid you not. He told me in Shona, "Ha-a,
mudhara, forex irikunetsa".
      This "each man for himself" mentality is also responsible for the
state that this country is in today. Zimbabwe is no longer a society. Where
we previously had teamwork, now individuality rules. Where we previously
watched each other's backs, we now happily the plunge knives into each
others backs. Zimbabweans can not even come together to support efforts to
revive the economy. Some are afraid that if the economy starts working as it
should, all their avenues of amassing wealth overnight will evaporate.
      I am for human rights. I am also very firmly for human
responsibilities. Which is why I feel that, until Zimbabweans start behaving
like human beings. Until Zimbabweans start respecting the dignity of fellow
Zimbabweans in their day to day lives, then they do not deserve to be called
human. Which also means that we can not even begin to talk about human
rights until there is evidence of human life in Zimbabwe.

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      Silence is not golden

      5/12/2005 8:45:10 AM (GMT +2)

      AT the risk of being dismissed as being too impatient, we find
ourselves with no choice but to repeat some of the sentiments expressed in
our editorial comment of December 2, 2004.

      These were that the economic blizzard makes the Finance Minister Dr
Herbert Murerwa identify more with Robert Browning's The Lost Leader because
this period seems more and more like "never glad confident morning again".
      What else can we say given the minister's deafening silence against a
backcloth of a sickly economy that has, for want of a better expression,
collapsed into a recessionary heap. There is no escaping the unpleasant
truth that the economic crisis is deepening. Admittedly the previously
galloping inflation has to some extent been tamed although inflationary
pressures are intensifying. But the lengthy depressing economic crisis
continues unabated. Industrial production, which was by and large static, is
now falling; joblessness is on the increase, not to mention the acute
shortage of food and fuel.
      While it is said that silence is golden, sometimes it can simply be
yellow especially against a background of such prolonged negative growth and
suffering of the people. It was therefore high time the honourable minister
made a statement that makes clear how government hopes to achieve the
all-elusive long-run growth of output and income - the ultimate goal of
macroeconomic policy.
      Indeed industry, commerce and the generality of the country's citizens
who have suffered under the initially slow-motion but now accelerating
collapse of the economy want to know how the government plans to soothe the
economy's running sore to achieve the highest possible levels of
productivity, real incomes and living standards.
      What boggles the mind though is that despite growing concerns over the
state of the erstwhile reassuringly resilient economy and the urgency of the
matter, the minister seems to be in no hurry to deal with the depressing
situation or at least to say something about the way forward. Yet even the
government itself has since admitted that the economic decline has reached
alarming levels and therefore needs to be arrested.
      Apart from being puzzling and curious, the minister's silence has done
very little, if anything, to assuage the general perception that the
economic outlook remains very much uncertain and that he does not have what
it takes to turn around the economy.
      As we have often said, a lot is said by the unsaid. The minister's
silence therefore seems to suggest a couple of disturbing facts. It is
either that Dr Murerwa, under whose stewardship of the Ministry of Finance,
Zimbabwe has experienced the costly stop-go implementation of economic
reforms that have seen the economy on the road to nowhere other than to rack
and ruin, does not have the ideas and surgical skills so badly needed to put
a fresh heart into the enfeebled economy.
      Or if he has workable solutions to the country's economic woes, to
give him the benefit of the doubt, then they have remained nothing but paper
reforms because rigid influence-peddling ruling ZANU PF politicians who
object to ideas only when other people have them are at their usual game
again - preventing the minister from vigorously acting upon what he
fervently believes in. These politicians have always come out with some
ritualistic nonsense about "the need for consultative meetings on how to
reverse the flagging fortunes of the economy" when it is clear that those
meetings are nothing but expensive and meaningless talk-shows. It is no less
foolish than discussing fire prevention when a house is already engulfed in
a ball of fire.
      The politicians, for whom everything should be done for political
expediency and bloated self-interests, could be blocking him from
implementing belt-tightening economic reform measures for fear of some
imagined political backlash. It goes without saying that the devil in the
economic austerity measures is usually in the implementation process mainly
because of the hardships and deprivations they would inevitably spawn in the
      But we feel that this should be the least of the politicians' concerns
because any tough choices made, especially austerity measures as being
advocated for here - are bound to spark off criticism. It will come thick
and fast. That is however neither here nor there because as we have said
before, any criticism that comes largely as a result of an unwavering desire
to achieve greater good should be a leader's litmus test for maturity,
conviction and commitment to his vision.
      But if the reasons for Murerwa's failure or reluctance to act on the
economy have nothing to do with him but with frustrations resulting from
interference by leading hawks in the party, then the best way to protest
this is to throw in the towel. Unless it is true that supping with ZANU PF
is like riding on the back of a lion which will devour you immediately after
you alight, which we find hard to believe.

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      5/12/2005 8:42:38 AM (GMT +2)


      Zimbos are a blessed lot. A really blessed lot because God and the
gods gave them a leadership that is not only wise but exceedingly caring as

      Whatever they want - whatever it is - the government is there to do it
or give it to them. Anything . . . because this government is so passionate
about its role as the provider of first resort.
      And only this week this good government of ours said, through the
Zimbabwe National Water Authority, that it is henceforth taking over the
supply of water to the capital city. What a relief to opposition supporters
in the capital who have endured swinging water shortages for close to a
decade now!
      This is just but one of the many things that we should be grateful to
our government for. The same government is providing its people with almost
anything they would want for next to nothing.
      Yes, our government, because it cares a lot, is willing to buy maize
from farmers at this price and then sell it to millers at half that price.
      It spends sleepless nights worrying about where the next fuel
consignment will come from, only to give it away at sub-economic prices. It
struggles to import electric power with the little foreign currency it has,
only to re-sell that power for next to nothing, simply because it is so
      The government does almost anything - provides near-free transport
through the National Railways of Zimbabwe, Zhupco (and shortly Air
Zhimbabwe), it provides near-free "loans" to perennially new farmers, it is
involved in mining, farming, construction, banking . . . anything!
      It is also in the business of controlling news for its beloved people
through Zimpapers and the so-called Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings.
      From the look of things, very soon we will start seeing it doing much
more. Remember it recently indicated that it could soon be making bread for
us through the Grain Marketing Board.
      You never know. Very soon our government could even get itself into
the business of making babies!
      Ours is a typically interventionist government - it is always trying
to over-extend itself into almost anything in its heady quest to endear
itself to the people.
      You all know governments that have some communist backgrounds! They
cannot bear seeing any person other than themselves doing anything that
might be beneficial to the people . . . they want all credit to themselves.
      The world over, the trend is to focus on "core business", and that
means dropping one or two extra duties that distract one from focusing on
what is most expected of them. But in the case of our government, its "core
business" is to do everything - even those things it is clearly
ill-qualified to do.
      In an ideal set-up, the core business of the state is protecting life,
liberty and property. Period!
      Then it should provide an environment where it is possible for
citizens to have the maximum freedom compatible with the rights of others,
as well as exercising a commensurately wide range of responsibilities for
the betterment of their lives and social progress.
      We know governments should provide security, education and health
services to their people.But when a government makes it its business to run
a whole fleet on buses the way ours does, then something is terribly out of
      Instead of making available conditions conducive to job creation, our
government thinks it is its business to create jobs itself. How can a
government seriously want to be the largest investor in the country . . .
and at the same time expect to facilitate local and foreign investment?
      Surely, how can a serious investor be keen to invest in a country
where the government is not a mere referee, but an active competitor in the
same ball game?
      Investors naturally feel crowded out because there in no way a serious
business can thrive in an environment in which the government deliberately
distorts everything for its own political expediency. Price controls, false
exchange rate, subsidies, etc, etc.
      While in theory the government has embarked on a privatisation path,
in reality the same government has added more businesses to its portfolio
and is not showing any signs of divesting anytime from those areas it
clearly cannot perform. Surely, is it government business to sell stationery
and own music labels?
      This is the problem of a government which does not have a clear vision
about what it seeks to achieve.
      A government which focuses its energies on its core functions is more
likely to perform those functions much better than one that is always busy
over-extending itself. Our government is not performing because of
      What triggers this interventionist behaviour is a siege mentality, and
it is not surprising that citizens have had to be made to forego some few of
their rights and freedoms because someone in this government thinks a
jackboot can bring about perfection in human beings. The freedom to sell my
maize to whosoever I want, the freedom to associate with whosoever I please,
the freedom to sell my forex to the highest bidder, the freedom, free will
and ability to imagine, reason and create.
      It, however, should be noted that man is not, and will never be,
perfect, but he would rather be free and imperfect than have his freedom
sacrificed so that he can be made to pretend he is perfect. In real fact,
neither men nor society need to be perfect.
      It is the right of the state to protect my rights and freedoms from
invasion by others, just as I must be prevented from violating other people's
rights. But what about when the state makes it its right to violate my


      WE are made to believe that sometime in December we will have in our
movie houses a movie on former Namibian president Sam Nujoma . . . a movie
called Where Others Wavered.
      CZ cannot wait until 2008 when - God and the gods willing - we might
have a blockbuster movie on the life of the Great Uncle. We can call it
anything - Never, Ever, or Never a Colony Again!
      And what is this that we hear that our newly acquired planes are going
to be reconfigured so that they can carry a lot more passengers . . . like
our freedom trains?
      This is CZ's Notebook. Extra care!

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      Rate hike fears send rumour mill a-rolling

      Rangarirai Mberi
      5/12/2005 8:27:29 AM (GMT +2)

      TO raise or not to raise interest rates: that is not even the
question. The question, though, is how much more rumour over the size of the
rate hike the market can take.

      There is a lot of bet taking, with every other punter sure that their
information is "more inside" than everybody else's. Many got it wrong in
December 2003, when the central bank shut the door on cheap lending to
banks, resulting in a sharp rise in interest rates, a lot of burnt fingers
and many bruised egos.
      However, this time, the market reckons it has it all figured out.
Take, for instance, one banker The Financial Gazette spoke to this week.
According to him, the tone of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) boss Gideon
Gono's April 15 statements to bankers was telling.
      There was simply too much non-productive money being made on the
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) and some knuckles had to be rapped, Gono is
said to have warned.
      Of course, according the banker, confirmation that a big rate hike was
on the way could hardly have come any clearer than this. The rumour sparked
a huge stock market sell-off, wiping 17 percent off ZSE investors' wealth
inside four days.
      But a recent commentary by Kingdom Stockbrokers took a more defiant
tone on the rumour, doubting there could be a rise big enough to sink the
stock market.
      "Crushing the equity market using interest rates basically implies the
re-establishment of positive real interest rates. If this is not done, there
is no way the governor can successfully crush the equity market as arbitrage
opportunities will continue, with investors borrowing cheaply on the money
market to finance their speculative activities," Kingdom argued.
      But just as investors are known yellow-bellies that hide at the
slightest tinge of danger, they also behave like cows; just one cow decides
to get up out of the shade and get back to the grazing, and the rest follow.
      So, having sold their heads off on rate hike rumours, when one
brokerage reminded investors that Zimbabwe has not known real interest rates
for five years - and that this was unlikely to happen any time soon -
investors trooped back in, chasing after the very same stocks they had
initially sold, at times at dirt cheap prices.
      Forecasts gathered by The Financial Gazette on the rate hike over the
past three weeks cross a wide range. Last week, one economist had heard of a
45 percentage point rise in the accommodation rate - the central bank's key
policy rate - to 140 percent. This rise, he said, would see minimum lending
rates turning higher to between 155 and 160 percent. "That's the minimum
level that is needed to give real returns and to start fighting speculative
      But other rumour-mongers have better information. There is talk,
obviously from people who had "people inside" last week's ZANU PF politburo
meeting, that the government opposes a large rate rise. Zimbabwe needs some
$5 trillion to import grain and, for lack of foreign friends, the government
has to borrow locally to raise that cash. It won't want to borrow at
anything over 100 percent and dig itself deeper into debt, this quarter
      So, at least according to this rumour, no rate hike is coming. But if
at all it comes, they say, it will not be broad enough to eclipse the ZSE.
      "There is a strong, but dangerous, belief that if a hike does come, it
will not be significant," cautioned leading analyst Nyasha Chasakara last
      There are also rumour-mongers that "know" of increases on a string of
fees, duties and taxes. The increases are supposedly designed to make it
more expensive to trade on the ZSE, driving investors to the money market.
      Then come rumours, obviously from people with green notes stashed
under the mattress, that there will be a massive devaluation. But, according
to more informed people, the ZANU PF politburo will hear none of it.

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