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

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UN News Centre

Cancellation of UN food assessment mission jeopardizes future aid to
12 May 2004 - By withdrawing its staff from a United Nations food production
assessment mission last week, the Government of Zimbabwe has effectively
cancelled the mission and UN aid agencies may not be able to rebuild their
operations quickly in case of an emergency, a UN official has warned.

The Government invited the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and
the World Food Programme (WFP) to join it in fielding a Crop and Food Supply
Assessment Mission (CSFAM) "to assess the level of food production for the
2003-2004 agricultural season," UN Resident Coordinator in Zimbabwe, J.
Victor Angelo, said yesterday in a statement.

"It is with regret and concern that I have to put on record that on 4 May
2004, the Government of Zimbabwe recalled its field officers who were
jointly participating in the assessment. Since the CSFAM is only conducted
with the agreement and participation of the Government this action
effectively cancelled the mission," he said.

The Zimbabwean Government had not replied to a request for clarification of
its position, Mr. Angelo said.

The CSFAM, which produces credible production figures for planning purposes,
was fielded on 30 April and was to have worked until 11 May, he said.

The responsibility for providing basic needs to a population lies with its
own Government, but "we are concerned that should a food assistance need be
identified later in the year and were the Government to issue an appeal at
that time, a very rapid response may not be possible," Mr. Angelo warned.

The reasons for a slower response could be because the international
community might not respond when the UN had had no chance to carry out its
assessment at harvest time and WFP would have scaled back its operations in
the country, he said.

A Food Security Brief last month, produced by a joint UN agency and
Government team, estimated that the maize crop would be better than last
year's, but only about 67 per cent to 80 per cent of need, "not.sufficient
to cover domestic requirements for the coming year."

Meanwhile, "high inflation is decreasing real incomes, and high unemployment
levels continue to reduce purchasing power for the majority of households,"
the Brief said.
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Sunday Times (SA)

MDC supporters arrested in Zimbabwe

 Thursday May 13, 2004 06:40 - (SA)

HARARE - At least 64 opposition supporters have been arrested this week in
Zimbabwe's western region of Lupane ahead of legislative by-elections at the
weekend, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said.

A senior party official and lawmaker from a neighbouring constituency,
Abdenigo Bhebhe, said 20 were arrested early Tuesday after they clashed with
ruling ZANU-PF party supporters while they were putting up campaign posters
at a shopping centre.

"Our members were putting up posters when ZANU-PF youths approached them and
attacked them with stones and sjamboks (whips)," Bhebhe said.

Forty-four others were arrested overnight en route to a campaign rally that
was to be addressed by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday morning,
Bhebhe said.

"Police impounded their car and arrested all the 44, only to wake up this
morning and release 40," he said.

Forty were released Wednesday without charge, while four are still being
held by police.

Police spokesmen in the capital were unable to confirm the arrests.

Lupane, about 600 kilometres (360 miles) west of the capital, is due to hold
by-elections Saturday and Sunday.

The seat was left vacant following the death of an MDC lawmaker David Mpala
in February from what the party said were torture wounds.

MDC said Mpala's health "deteriorated ... after being tortured and stabbed
by ZANU-PF supporters" in 2002.

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The Herald

Zesa, NRZ lose $700m equipment

From Jeffrey Gogo in NYANGA
THE Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority and National Railways of Zimbabwe
have lost almost $700 million worth of equipment due to vandalism during the
first quarter of the year, delegates attending the Insurance Congress of
Zimbabwe heard on Tuesday.

Fixed telecommunications network provider, TelOne, has also lost significant
amounts of business due to similar activities.

Zesa general manager responsible for operations, Mr Obert Nyatanga said the
power utility had been prejudiced of over $548 million in theft of equipment
and vandalism of power and distribution transformers, theft of wood poles,
copper and aluminum conductor cables.

NRZ chief executive, Mr Munesu Munodawafa said the parastatal had lost over
$120 million worth of stolen copper and signal cables.

Mr Nyatanga said vandalism of Zesa cables had ripple effects on the economy
as it led to massive power cuts, which hampered production.

"Vandalism brings economic activity to a halt. Production is reduced which
results in a massive loss of revenue.

"In most cases, expansion of electricity network will be retarded as focus
will be on replacement of vandalised equipment,'' said Mr Nyatanga.

He added that industry has, of late, been hit by frequent power cuts and
load shedding due to vandalism as the power utility tried to replace stolen

Another factor has been the shortage of foreign currency to procure
essential equipment.

Cases of vandalism, Mr Nyatanga said, have also been on the rise over the
past four years. About 3 200 cases involving equipment worth $1,4 billion
having been reported last year alone.

He said 1 000 cases have been recorded so far "with a recovery rate of 77

Mr Nyatanga urged law enforcement agents and lawmakers to effect a
revolutionary change in laws governing the export of copper, or precisely
supposedly scrap metal products.

He said scrap metal merchants were making business out of stolen property
required for national purposes.

"We encourage relevant authorities such as the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority
and Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to enforce laws on
non-export of conductors and propose stiffer sentences on convicted

"Vandalism should be treated as economic sabotage while possession of
aluminum must be licenced as the case with copper," he said.

Mr Munodawafa said the NRZ has been forced to cancel about 12 monthly trains
due to lack of foreign currency to acquire replacement of stolen and
vandalised equipment.

"We are losing potential revenue of $4 billion on a monthly basis since most
of our wagons are grounded due to failure to acquire foreign currency to
replace the stolen equipment.

"We are concerned about the levels of crime in our industry. The need to
fight crime in the sector can not be overemphasised,'' said Mr Munodawafa.

An official from TelOne also lamented the rising acts of vandalism, saying
that it had a negative effect on service delivery.

The official said the Zimbabwe Republic Police must continue detaining
suspects until proven not guilty while scrap metal dealers buying stolen
conductors must be arrested and have their licences withdrawn.

Delegates at the conference urged stakeholders and relevant authorities to
instill a unity of purpose in their operations and consider crime as a
common enemy, which must be nipped in the bud.

Vandalism of NRZ, TelOne and Zesa copper and aluminum cables has caused
stress within the economy.

Frequent power costs, train and freight delays and loss of telephone
communication have all been a result of vandalism.

The conference, which was organised by the Insurance Council of Zimbabwe,
was held under the theme "Alliance Against Crime".

It was attended by stakeholders from different sectors of the economy and
was expected to end yesterday.

The conference was the first of its kind to be held in the country in which
players in the insurance sector and stakeholders from the Government and
private sector, came together with the sole purpose of looking at ways they
can best fight crime.
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Enough is Enough



We have a fundamental right to freedom of expression!

Sokwanele Reporter

12 May 2004

The brave decision of Stuart MacGill, the Australian leg-spinner, on moral grounds not to make himself available for the cricket tour to Zimbabwe, is to be warmly applauded. MacGill said he could not tour Zimbabwe “and maintain a conscience” in the light of the gross human rights’ abuses perpetrated under Robert Mugabe’s rule. Australian commentators say this is the first time in the modern era an Australian cricketer has refused to tour on moral grounds.  Both the Australian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister have shown their appreciation of the cricketer’s courageous stand, obviously taken at some personal cost.


Also to be applauded in the tough world of international sport in which the commercial factor is usually decisive is the principled stand taken by Des Wilson.  Wilson has resigned from the management team of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) after failing to persuade his colleagues to take a firmer line against the attitude of the International Cricket Council (ICC) towards sport in Zimbabwe.


The position for which Wilson lobbied strongly was that England should tour Zimbabwe in October and November only under clear public protest, and that the ECB should start campaigning now to change the ICC’s position on this issue.  To date the ICC has adopted a strong so-called “apolitical” stance, maintaining that there is no linkage between international sport and politics. In fact the ICC has gone further in introducing harsh financial penalties for any national cricket board which dares to take a principled stand on the issue.  What the ICC fails to understand of course is that the issue as it concerns Zimbabwe is not a matter of party politics at all (the MDC against ZANU PF for instance), nor of idealism.  The issue here transcends the normal boundaries of politics.  It concerns rather a situation of desperate suffering in a nation afflicted by massive human rights’ abuses.  It is therefore essentially a matter of good and evil – literally life and death - in a nation under threat of death.


In support of his proposal that the ECB should only tour Zimbabwe under protest, Des Wilson commented “In so doing it would be seen to exercise both moral judgment and accountability to UK political, public and stakeholder opinion and take a first step in rejecting the unsustainable proposition that moral concerns have no place in sport”. Sadly he found himself isolated not only on the ECB but at Lords where only the MCC supported his argument in favour of adopting a moral stance.


In passing it is interesting to note the clear parallels between the position in which the ICC finds itself today and the position of the major sporting bodies under apartheid-ruled South Africa over a decade ago.  The South Africans’ experience taught them that there could be no normal sport in an abnormal society.  The ICC it seems, and those who support their line, have to learn that lesson all over again, and they appear set to learn it the hard way.  The most enthusiastic sporting authorities in South Africa eventually had to face the truth that there are occasions when over-riding moral considerations transcend the narrow interests of sport.  And sooner or later those who today think that Zimbabwean cricket can continue as before irrespective of the end of the rule of law and the gross human rights’ abuses perpetrated on a daily basis across the country, will have to face the same hard truth.


What do Zimbabwe’s own cricketers think of bringing moral concerns into the game? How many of them are prepared make a sacrificial stand on a clear moral issue ?   


Only last year two members of the Zimbabwean team, Henry Olonga and Andy Flower, made a powerful political statement by wearing black armbands as they took to the field in a World Cup match in Harare – a protest, in their words, against “the death of democracy in Zimbabwe”.    A simple gesture which expressed most eloquently what very many Zimbabweans were thinking.  It was a brave stand which cost both players their position in the Zimbabwean side, but it was widely applauded at the time by many civic groups and those concerned with human rights.  A group of church leaders in Bulawayo hailed Olonga and Flower’s gesture as  “hitting a six for freedom and democracy”.


Moreover if only two members of Zimbabwe’s squad were prepared to make a personal stand on a moral issue a year ago, the position now is very different. The Mugabe regime’s move to take control of ZCU through political appointments to the board and the implementation of a clear political agenda in the selection process (in line with the infamous Dr Zechariah’s document) has now brought out 15 players effectively on strike. Dissatisfaction among the players had been mounting for a long time over the composition of the board (specifically the inclusion of members with questionable cricketing credentials) and what the players perceived as a clear racial, and even regional, bias in the selection of the team.  These concerns, elaborated in Heath Streak’s statement to the press, made it clear that however the ZCU tried to portray the white players it was not so much the players as the ZCU itself which was guilty of serious  racial bias.  Eventually it was their decision to sack Heath Streak as captain which tipped the scales and brought all 15 players out in protest.  The non-white players then received phone calls from officials of the ZCU with known political connections, warning them not to side with their white colleagues.  Hondo, Nkala and Ebrahim who were going to pull out received further threats to ensure their compliance.


An increasing number of the Zimbabwean players therefore have demonstrated their willingness to act on principle even at considerable personal cost.  The truth has been borne in upon them through their own brave stand that there can be no normal sport in an abnormal society.  The question which remains at this point is when those responsible for organizing the Australian and English tours of Zimbabwe will stumble upon the same truth.  And whatever the final decision in respect of those tours, the bigger question is when the people of Zimbabwe as a whole will acknowledge this reality.  Accepting this fundamental truth surely requires Zimbabweans, black and white and of all political persuasions, to boycott all such international fixtures en masse. 





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      Plot thickens in ZANU PF companies probe

      Hama Saburi and Felix Njini
      5/13/2004 6:39:56 AM (GMT +2)

      INVESTIGATIONS to unravel the veil of secrecy covering a swathe of
ZANU PF companies, whose mystique had seemingly gained acceptance, has
opened a Pandora's box that could reveal how senior party politicians became
voracious acquirers of wealth.

      Impeccable ruling party insiders yesterday said as the crack team
tasked to lift the lid off ZANU PF companies pounced on the
Bulawayo-headquartered Treger Group of Industries this week, it also emerged
that there has been a new twist to the probe.

      They said that former Zimbabwe African People's Union (PF-ZAPU) cadres
now want the investigations to cover the companies owned by their now
defunct party before the Unity Accord of 1987 that merged PF-ZAPU and ZANU

      The sources said pressure has been rising inexorably on the government
to investigate how former senior PF-ZAPU politicians ended up owning
companies that belonged to the party then led by the late Vice President Dr
Joshua Nkomo.

      They named three senior former PF-ZAPU officials who are now also
senior ZANU PF members, and some of whom are still serving in government, as
the major culprits who used their political muscle to fraudulently take over
companies owned by PF-ZAPU.

      The former PF-ZAPU cadres, comprising mainly the ex-fighters, wanted
the companies to be returned to their "rightful owners". Although the
sources could not disclose details on the disputed companies, they indicated
that plans were underway to soon dispatch a delegation from Bulawayo to
"have an audience with President Robert Mugabe on the issue".

      Although there had been misgivings about the government's sincerity
and commitment to deal with graft, which implicated mostly ZANU PF's top
echelons, the former ZIPRA (PF-ZAPU's armed wing) soldiers, who had lost
hope of recovering the companies they claim belong to them, were encouraged
by President Mugabe's pledge that everyone would be in the firing line under
the anti-corruption crusade, the sources said.

      Initially, sceptics had expressed doubts on whether the government
would take the anti-corruption drive to its full expression. They claimed
that there was a much more complex story behind the crusade.

      According to the critics, the anti-graft drive masked a simmering
internal succession struggle that had not yet broken out into the open. But
President Mugabe has repeatedly said no one would be immune to the
government's efforts to deal with corruption. And the arrest of the
beleaguered Finance and Economic Development Minister Christopher Kuruneri
last month is the clearest sign yet that the government could be serious
about curbing graft.

      The sources expressed fears that this new turn of events could however
set the stage for acrimonious in-fighting, with cracks emerging within the
ruling party. They said of particular interest was that what at first
appeared like a politically motivated deft move to appease a restive
populace ahead of the crucial 2005 parliamentary election was increasingly
turning out to be a tactical mistake.

      This was because the demands by the former PF-ZAPU cadres could see
the net closing in on two (names supplied) of President Mugabe's key
lieutenants. The two are still serving in government and the third left in
2000 after he lost his parliamentary seat to the Movement for Democratic

      Meanwhile, the five-member probe team assembled by the Politburo -
ZANU PF's supreme decision-making body - in March this year departed for the
city of kings on Sunday and before anyone could suspect its presence, it
swooped on Tregers on Monday morning.

      Highly placed sources told The Financial Gazette this week that the
unit, led by ZANU PF finance chief David Karimanzira, targeted three of the
six Treger Group subsidiaries suspected to be the hub of murky deals
involving the ruling party heavyweights.

      The ZANU PF committee spent almost the whole of Monday looking into
the affairs of Monarch Steel, which manufactures steel window frames, door
frames and kitchen units. It shifted its attention to Kango Products on
Tuesday, which is into electrical goods, gas stoves and aluminum cookware.

      While the managing director of Treger, Berek Davies, could not be
contacted for comment as he was said to be away on leave, the group's
operations director, Gerald Keyer, confirmed the presence of the team, which
departed yesterday.

      Keyer said the swoop on the group, which has been fined heavily for
violating sections of the Exchange Control Act for illegally dealing in
foreign currency, was part of a wider probe targeting other ZANU PF

      "They have been here since Monday as part of their investigations, but
I am not aware of any purported disturbances they have caused," he said,
dispelling allegations made by some employees to this paper that the team
was disrupting production.

      Since the investigations started a month-and-a-half ago, there has
been pandemonium and a dark cloud of uncertainty within the ZANU PF
companies and among the party's bigwigs linked to the directors of the

      The investigations are however, seen as targeted at the Speaker of
Parliament, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is the former ZANU PF finance chief.
Mnangagwa has twice been called before the committee to explain his
involvement in the companies.

      There is however, apprehension within the rank and file of the ruling
party that the outcome could split the party right through the middle.

      ZANU PF has built a multi-billion dollar empire out of two investment
vehicles - M & S Syndicate, which was set up before independence in 1980 and
Zidco Holdings, whose board comprises Jayant Joshi, his brother Manharlal,
Dipak Padya, Mnangagwa and Defence Minister Sidney Sekeremayi.

      The two investment vehicles, whose operations have been highly
secretive even to some top members of the ruling party, acquired significant
stakes in companies quoted on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. These included
First Banking Corporation and the Southern African Reinsurance (SARE). Other
investments include Tregers, Zidlee and Catercraft.

      Padya, the finance chief of Zidco, and the Joshi brothers, skipped the
country when the net started closing in on them and have since sought refuge
in the United Kingdom.

      It also emerged this week that the investigating team, which also
includes retired army chief Solomon Mujuru, former Finance Minister Simba
Makoni and Matabeleland North Governor Obert Mpofu, had failed to locate
documents relating to Smoothnest Investments.

      Smoothnest Investments, which acquired a significant number of shares
from S & M under unclear circumstances, is among a number of other companies
that would be looked at by the ZANU PF committee.

      Smoothnest is now a significant shareholder in SARE after it bought
shares from M & S, a ZANU PF investment vehicle.

      Investigations by this paper revealed that indeed the documents
pertaining to the company were nowhere to be found at the Registrar of
Companies. The file (File Number 17104/03) detailing the directorship of
Smoothnest, said sources, might have been plucked out to tighten the secrecy
on the actual owners of the company.

      Commercial lawyer Edwin Manikai, who could not be reached for comment
yesterday, is one of the known partners in Smoothnest. Manikai, of Dube,
Manikai and Hwacha legal practitioners, chairs the National Social Security
Authority board, among other corporate entities.

      Speculation has been swirling in the market that some powerful ZANU PF
politicians could be behind Smoothnest. The investment vehicle, which
sparked controversy when it borrowed $1 billion from First Bank to finance
the deal, now owns a controlling 18.92 percent in SARE, which represents 2
350 000 issued shares.

      M & S Syndicate is the third largest shareholder with 18.43 percent or
23 040 000 shares. Other shareholders include NDH Nominees (11.89 percent)
and Barnfords Securities Nominees (8.04 percent
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      Banks slash interest rates

      Nelson Banya
      5/13/2004 6:41:01 AM (GMT +2)

      SOME commercial banks have moved to reduce minimum lending rates
(MLRs), in line with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) policy thrust and
the attendant developments on the money market.

      A total of six major banks have slashed rates since the beginning of
the month and indications are that more will follow suit in the next few

      Trust Bank effected the biggest cut, by 179 percentage points, from
379 percent to 200 percent per annum.

      Internationally owned banks - Standard Chartered, Stanbic and
Barclays - have also cut their MLRs by as much as 50 percentage points.

      Standard Chartered and Stanbic now levy 250 percent per annum on loans
and overdrafts, while Barclays has set its lending rate at a minimum of 235
percent per annum.

      Locally controlled institutions - Kingdom Bank and First Bank - have
also slashed their interest rates by 50 percentage points, to 250 percent
per annum and 300 percent per annum respectively.

      Moves to reduce lending rates, which peaked at about 400 percent at
the height of a liquidity crunch that hit banks at the beginning of the
year, have come about as a result of liquidity conditions and the attendant
weakening rates on the money market.

      RBZ chief Gideon Gono indicated last month that interest rates were at
punitive levels, saying banks should align their rates with the central
bank's policy of effective rates that are at a premium between 10 percent
and 20 percent to inflation.

      At current inflation levels, nominal interest rates would be around
200 percent across the board.

      The RBZ has since reduced its overnight rate from 400 percent to 205

      With the market largely in surplus in the past couple of weeks,
investment rates on the money market have barely breached the psychological
100 percent threshold.

      However, most commercial banks are yet to align their lending rates to
reflect market conditions where the cost of funds has subsided markedly, as
well as the policy directive from the central bank.

      A survey carried out by The Financial Gazette revealed that lending
rates at some institutions ranged from 285 percent to as high as 395 percent
per annum, although treasury dealers at some of the institutions indicated
that changes were imminent.

      The survey showed that at 395 percent, Century Bank has the highest
MLR in the market, followed by Metropolitan Bank at 350 percent and Royal
Bank at 330 percent.

      Trust Holdings group economist David Mupamhadzi said the recent
movements in MLRs had been brought about chiefly by market conditions, which
themselves had responded to rate management by the central bank.

      "Surplus conditions on the money market have meant rates have
softened. Subsequently, banks have reviewed the cost of funds to clients.

      "It is quite clear from the governor's monetary policy review that he
wants an interest rate policy that is conducive to production," Mupamhadzi

      The money market opened the week in surplus and was up to the tune of
$44 billion on Tuesday. Forecasts projected a greater surplus of almost $60
billion yesterday.
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      Mugabe challenges Paradza

      Staff Reporter
      5/13/2004 6:42:01 AM (GMT +2)

      POLITICAL temperatures are rising in Makonde, Mashonaland West, after
President Robert Mugabe's nephew, Leo Mugabe, this week openly declared his
interest in the constituency.

      This comes barely a fortnight after the suspension of incumbent
legislator Kindness Paradza.

      ZANU PF Mashonaland West province last month suspended the beleaguered
Paradza, a journalist-turned-politician, who is also the publisher of The
Tribune, from performing any party duties in his constituency on allegations
of misconduct.

      But the politician, whose paper was last week threatened with closure
by the Media and Information Commission for not having been properly
registered, denied what he claimed were trumped-up charges.

      Mugabe, who had an unceremonious exit from the Zimbabwe Football
Association, this week confirmed he was gunning for political high stakes in

      He said there were no two ways about his interest in the Makonde seat
and that the incumbent should brace for a bruising fight.

      It was not immediately clear at the time of going to press whether the
fortunes of Mugabe, who was beaten by Paradza in the last primary election
held after the death of the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education,
Swithun Mombeshora, had turned around.

      Mombeshora died at his Borrowdale home on March 17 2003 after he
suffered a stroke and collapsed.

      Party sources were unanimous that Mugabe, who lacks a political power
base of his own and does not seem to have sufficient backing from within the
ruling ZANU PF, was most probably stirring up controversy without
necessarily knowing where it would all end.

      Surprisingly, although both Paradza and Mugabe are girding their loins
to win the Makonde seat, saying they have already started campaigning, it is
still unclear whether primary elections will be held or not. In the past,
ZANU PF, riven by factionalism, has on certain occasions had to impose
candidates on its supporters.

      "I am an aspiring candidate and there is no doubt about that," Mugabe
said. "I am ready for the primaries and I can assure you that even if they
had to be called today, I will emerge the victor.

      "I remember what I achieved in the constituency last time I
campaigned. In two months, I achieved what Paradza has not done since he
went into Parliament. He must show us what he has achieved so far so that at
least we can remember him when he leaves office."

      Paradza, who has openly defied the provincial executive's decision not
to enter his constituency until after his case has been heard by a party
panel later this month, said Mugabe was no match for him.

      "He (Mugabe) is dreaming and he has been doing so for a long time,"
Paradza said. "He wants to get into Parliament by hook or crook. I'll defeat
him hands down anytime, anywhere. I have done it before and I'll do it

      "I am ready for any primary election in Makonde. The people are fully
behind me and they know the dirty game being played by some politicians."

      Sources within ZANU PF said the provincial chairman, Philip Chiyangwa,
his deputy John Mafa and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Edna Madzongwe had
thrown their weight behind Mugabe.

      Paradza's support base, the party sources said, came mainly from Chief
Makonde, who is believed to have a strong political following in his domain,
making it difficult for the legislator to be easily dislodged.

      The sources said Paradza may have to do the impossible and reconcile
with the provincial leadership if his political career was to continue
flourishing, otherwise it could be the end of the road for the young

      Chiyangwa said: "Paradza is still an MP and a hearing has not yet been
conducted. It would be pre-emptive to talk about replacing him. The hearing
has to be conducted fairly and we will be guided by the recommendations of
the hearing committee and then make a decision on the way forward."

      The development is being seen as a litmus test for ZANU PF's fragile
unity in Mashonaland West, which could split the party along factional lines
ahead of the crucial 2005 parliamentary plebiscite.

      Trouble for Paradza started when he openly castigated the draconian
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, under which many
journalists have been persecuted, saying its provisions scared away
investors interested in the media industry.

      Paradza's statement attracted the wrath of senior government officials
and the state media.

      They accused him of working hand-in-hand with owners of the defunct
Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe to bring back its two titles, The Daily
News and The Daily News on Sunday, using The Tribune as a cover-up.
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      Families flee ZANU PF terror

      Staff Reporter
      5/13/2004 6:42:32 AM (GMT +2)

      EIGHT families have reportedly fled Makoni North constituency
following attacks by suspected ZANU PF activists.

      The alleged attacks come despite repeated assurances by the ruling
party that political violence was on the decline around the country.

      Reports also say five Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters
in the same constituency were abducted and tortured for about eight hours
before being released by another suspected group of ZANU PF youths.

      The alleged attacks followed a rally addressed by MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai at Chiendambuya a fortnight ago.

      The MDC said the acts of violence were meant to cow its supporters to
stop participating in opposition politics ahead of the crucial 2005
parliamentary elections.

      Analysts, however, warned that fresh cases of political violence could
bring Zimbabwe, currently desperate to spruce up its image and human rights
record, back under the spotlight for the wrong reasons.

      The MDC said the affected families had since relocated, while those
abducted had been released. It named the abducted as Douglas Chipinduka, his
wife Joyce Katunga, Judith Chikadiwa, Barbara Munyaradzi and Marshall

      "They were abducted by a group of about 20 ZANU PF supporters . . . on
a rampage hunting down and abducting MDC supporters who had attended the
rally," the party said.

      "The five were abducted from their homes at around 2am on May 3 2004
and taken to Makombe business centre where they were severely assaulted . .
. The five were tortured from 2am to about 10am when they were released and
told never to participate in MDC activities," the MDC said.

      Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed receiving reports of cases
of assault, but dismissed allegations of abduction and torture.

      Bvudzijena said: "We have arrested one person in connection with the
incident, but there were no abductions as claimed. No families were
displaced. We checked on the reports of abduction and our investigations
revealed that there were no kidnappings, but assault cases instead. We are
still continuing with our investigations."

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      Apprehensive Zimbabweans dread 2005

      Brian Mangwende
      5/13/2004 6:43:35 AM (GMT +2)

      AS the final countdown to the next parliamentary poll slated for March
2005 begins, Zimbabweans, who in the past have suffered traumatic violence
in the run-up to any election, are looking towards it with apprehension.

      There is heightened anxiety over whether the country's citizens, who
attained independence after a bloody war of liberation in the 1970s, will be
allowed to exercise their right to vote without enduring pain, grief, loss,
sorrow and worse.

      Of late Zimbabwean elections have been characterised by violence that
has left permanent emotional and psychological scars on the victims.

      Government critics were this week agreed that organised political
violence and torture, which have disenfranchised families, orphaned children
and widowed wives, have increasingly become a common feature on Zimbabwe's
treacherous political landscape.

      The irony is that these were the same tactics employed by the minority
white regime led by Ian Smith before independence.

      Political analyst Alois Masepe, who had an unsuccessful flirtation
with opposition politics, said political violence had always been part and
parcel of the Zimbabwean body politic with or without elections.

      He, however, admitted that violence escalated during election time,
adding that so long as the establishment believed in using violence as a way
of keeping its grip on power, it would be difficult to quash it altogether.

      "The issue of violence comes up every time we head towards elections,"
Masepe said.

      "This issue was never addressed when we gained independence. Violence
that is difficult to control is that from ZANU PF because it was born out of
violence employed against them by the Rhodesian Front.

      "ZANU PF emerged as an equaliser and fought fire with fire," he added.
"Because of its experience during the liberation struggle, ZANU PF has
always been a violent party and if seriously challenged, it will resort to
its tried and tested strategy of violence.

      "Soon after independence, youth brigades were formed, PF ZAPU was
squashed, Abel Muzorewa imprisoned, Ndabaningi Sithole died with a court
case hanging over his head and now we have the 'green bombers' all over the
place. The nature of violence is engraved in ZANU PF."

      Various media reports and studies by civic organisations such as the
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights (ZLHR) have revealed astonishing acts of violence, which critics
squarely blame on the government's desperate efforts to eliminate dissenting

      Other organisations monitoring political violence in the country are
the Zimbabwe Election Support Network and the Zimbabwe Human Rights
Non-Governmental Organisations Forum that includes farm workers' unions such
as the commercial Farmers Union and the General Agricultural and Plantation
Workers Union, as well as the International Rehabilitation Council for
Tortured Victims.

      President Robert Mugabe's re-election in 2002, which critics say was
tainted by violence, systematic bullying and intimidation of the opposition,
has been disputed locally and internationally as not free and fair.

      The incumbent is alleged to have employed violence, using war
veterans, youths from the Border Gezi training camps (Green Bombers) and the
state machinery at his disposal to retain power.

      This has, however, been refuted by the government, which maintains the
opposition and critics are echoing the voice of their master, Britain, which
is allegedly bent on effecting a regime change in Zimbabwe.

      Lately, violence reared its ugly head once again in by-elections in
Gutu North and Lupane, where state security agents had to be deployed to
quell disturbances, as well as in Zengeza, where one person was killed
during running battles between ZANU PF and MDC activists.

      In Makoni North, eight families have reportedly been displaced and
five people abducted and tortured for attending an MDC-organised rally,
while last week, an 11-year-old boy was allegedly brutalised by the police
during the opposition party's rally at Rugare stadium, Harare.

      The MDC has condemned the use of violence in elections and demanded
the ruling party should level the playing field for it to participate in the
2005 parliamentary poll, a move derided by ZANU PF as "childish".

      The ruling party has since vowed to go ahead with the poll with or
without the opposition party's participation.

      Margaret Dongo of the opposition Zimbabwe Union of Democrats said:
"Violence is a common feature of Zimbabwe's election process. In 1985, a
report noted that pre- and post-election violence affected many areas of the
country . . . thousands were left homeless and injured . . . government
incited rampages that left several dozens dead, including two pregnant

      "Every election that followed was marked by the intimidation of
opposition candidates . . . Even in 1995 the election was marked by violence
despite the fact that there was no serious opposition party.

      "Brutality is the chief characteristic of Mugabe's rule since
independence. For 20 years ZANU PF has ruthlessly suppressed opposition.

      "In the 1980s, using Rhodesian laws and practices, the regime crushed
the opposition PF ZAPU party, resulting in the death of thousands. It is the
continuity, not the break with colonial rule, that marks Mugabe's Zimbabwe,"
she added.

      The director of the ZLHR, Arnold Tsunga, had this to say about
political violence: "There has indeed been a resurgence of political
violence and it is of grave concern to us.

      "The electoral process is synonymous with organised violence and
torture. The reports we receive indicate the state is responsible for
visiting violence upon the citizens in order to try and influence the
electoral process.

      "There is evidence ZANU PF is trying to acquire the two-thirds

      "If the situation remains the same, it's an absolute waste of time,
money and resources to participate in an electoral process whose results
would be meaningless," Tsunga said.

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      Posturing Chigwedere bungles again

      Njabulo Ncube
      5/13/2004 6:44:24 AM (GMT +2)

      BULAWAYO - First it was the one nation, one school uniform fiasco,
later it was colonial names of schools, and now the row is over fees.

      In all instances, education, sport and culture minister Aeneas
Chigwedere raised the ire of parents and educationists.

      While he may seem to have won the latest round, moves by the
government to arbitrarily slash fees for privately-run schools have
heightened fears that standards will plunge in the already deteriorating
education system.

      Chigwedere has been involved in a disruptive dispute with
privately-run schools over fees, which the government contends have been
deliberately driven upwards to safeguard elitism.

      The government, and Chigwedere in particular, has been criticised for
its high-handed approach which saw several schools failing to open for the
new term this month, while some school heads and administrators were

      Analysts said the excessive school fees charged by privately-run
institutions were a direct result of the hyperinflationary environment.

      Most schools are not, however, beyond reproach. They misled the
government into believing that the controversial fee hikes were approved by
the parents when it was not so.

      One school in Marondera submitted a signed attendance register for a
meeting convened when schools closed last month as proof that the parents
had unanimously agreed on the fees. As it turned out, the majority of the
parents were against the fee hikes.

      However, any attempts, the analysts pointed out, to control and
prescribe levels of school fees would be futile, as had been demonstrated
when similar moves were made to control prices of basic goods and services.

      Chigwedere, in particular, has been criticised for his posturing at
the expense of schoolchildren and future private investment in education, a
task which has clearly grown beyond the government's meagre means.

      Education experts and analysts said while fees at some private schools
in the country had become quite high, the government's populist stance on
the matter had sounded the death knell to private investment in education.

      They said lack of investment by private entities and individuals would
further compromise education standards nationwide, which have been on the
decline because of insufficient state funding since the onset of the
economic recession, now in its fifth year.

      The government accuses private schools of racism by charging
exorbitant fees allegedly to keep out blacks, charges roundly dismissed by
representatives of the 46 privately-run schools.

      Fidelis Mhashu, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) education,
sports and culture shadow minister, said Chigwedere's public posturing about
racism in private schools was politically motivated and did not augur well
for the country's troubled education sector.

      "What he (Chigwedere) did (to order closure of schools) was illegal
but we detect some political undercurrents in the whole debacle.

      "I think the man is trying to play it good to his masters. He wants to
be seen as militant and a war minister who holds no brief for whites. His
interference, if unchecked, will in the end kill off our education, which is
on its deathbed," said Mhashu.

      The MDC legislator and veteran educationist added: "People should
remember he is the same fellow who has in the past come up with some
not-so-brilliant ideas."

      About two years ago, Chigwedere, a historian and a school
administrator of many years' standing, announced Zimbabwean pupils would be
obliged to wear one identical uniform, both at primary and secondary level.

      However, the project was quickly shot down after vehement opposition
from parents and civic organisations.

      After failing to bulldoze his way with the one-nation-one-uniform
policy, Chigwedere later announced that all schools with English or colonial
names should drop them and, instead, adopt indigenous titles approved by
him. The policy has met with little success, with some schools flatly
refusing to change their names.

      "We should not allow them (government) to do what they did to the
commercial farming sector," said Max Mkandla, a war veteran and leader of
the Zimbabwe War Liberators Peace Initiative, referring to the government's
forcible seizure of white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks
in 2000.

      "Yes, there are some instances where the fees are high, but it seems
the whole issue has taken a political dimension.

      "Some chefs have their children in schools outside the country, so
they do not care if the education system here collapses," said Mkandla.

      "Public schools are poor and ill-equipped so parents with money find
solace in private schools, which offer more than mere academic subjects," he

      Most public schools inherited from the former colonial government at
independence in 1980 have become run down, with buildings and sporting
facilities falling apart, resulting in low morale among staff and pupils.

      Many well-to-do Zimbabweans no longer send their children to public
schools because of sub-standard education and learning facilities, largely
blamed on poor remuneration for teachers.

      A large number of teachers have left the country for greener pastures
overseas or in neighbouring countries, while others have joined the great
trek to the United Kingdom and the United States to do menial jobs.

      "The government inherited public schools that were remarkable at
independence but standards at these schools have been in a free-fall since
then. This is all because of insufficient funds being channelled towards
education," said David Coltart, an MDC legislator who sits on the governing
board of a private school in Bulawayo.

      "Private schools are not racist nor elitist as the government would
want the world to believe.

      "By charging some of these fees considered exorbitant, the boards of
governors of these private schools are merely trying to maintain standards
that will ensure pupils enrolled at the schools excel," said Coltart.

      "This regime should, instead, slash its defence and Central
Intelligence Organisation budgets and then put this money in public sector
education so that buildings and sports fields are maintained and quality
staff recruited," he added.

      Heneri Dzinotiweyi, a University of Zimbabwe lecturer, said lack of
adequate communication between the government and private schools had
resulted in the impasse that saw the forcible closure of some privately-run

      According to the Education Act, it is illegal for any private school
to raise its fees by over 10 percent within a year without the minister's

      But with Zimbabwe's galloping inflation, the highest in the world at
nearly 600 percent, private schools say it is impossible to continue
operating unless they hike the fees to match soaring costs.

      They said this week's arbitrary slashing of fees would render them

      Chigwedere charged on state television last Thursday night that
"private schools were factories to produce white Rhodesians".

      He added: "The ownership (of private schools) is British. It is the
very war we are fighting against these schools."

      Dzinotiweyi said by ordering the closure of the schools and posting
armed police, Chigwedere had given the impression the government was
bulldozing its way into the running of private institutions.

      "Fundamentally, we have a serious problem of communication,
particularly at high levels, hence this problem.

      "It is well known that the standards of education in the country have
fallen and it has been left to the private sector to try to return some
semblance of normalcy.

      "Unfortunately, in so doing, the private sector has raised the ire of
the authorities by the fees they are charging.

      "We need a fair debate by all stakeholders on how we can continue to
maintain the good standards in the private schools without charging some of
these fees," said Dzinotiweyi.

      He said what was worrying was that a number of cabinet ministers and
senior government officials had children studying abroad where they had
unfettered access to state-of-the-art educational facilities.

      The privately-run schools, which are in fact mostly dominated by
blacks, have been able to maintain superb conditions and recorded high pass
rates attributed to expert teaching staff, some of whom were recruited
overseas or from neighbouring countries such as South Africa and even Kenya,
said a parent whose child is at a privately-run primary school in Bulawayo.

      However, Peter Shumba, an industrialist with a daughter at an elitist
school, said the government and ZANU PF had gone to sleep, allowing some
private schools to "fleece parents".

      "The government let this situation develop. They were all sleeping.

      "Now, as usual, they are fire-fighting. It is impossible to fork out
$9.9 million a term just for a boarding school. Are some of these schools
five-star hotels?" he asked.

      Coltart, however, said: "It is nonsense that private schools are
racist. At most, about 90 percent of children at these schools are of the
black elite. The regime must leave private schools alone and then channel
funds into public schools, whose state of repair is appalling to say the
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      Mbeki lawsuit may prove costly to MDC

       5/13/2004 6:44:52 AM (GMT +2)

      Analysts said the MDC, seen as the only opposition party that could
end President Robert Mugabe's unbridled 24-year hold on power since the
country's independence in 1980, cannot afford to lose key allies such as the
South African leader, who are at the centre of resolving the political
crisis locally.

      This widely held belief has seen the MDC's detractors, who prey on
slip-ups by the opposition party and sympathisers alike, pouring scorn over
its attempts to sue President Mbeki, who has been a key broker in Zimbabwe's
stalled inter-party political dialogue.

      The aborted legal action was meant to push President Mbeki to produce
documentation compiled by two South African judges who monitored the
disputed 2002 presidential election won by President Mugabe, 80.

      Morgan Tsvangirai, who dragged the ageing guerrilla leader to court
soon after the controversial ballot, is still adamant that the election was
stolen from him, a view shared by European and western governments.

      While the tightly held report, which is believed to be highly damaging
and incriminating, could have helped Tsvangirai and his increasingly
litigious party unravel what they believe is the ugly face of ZANU PF's
election rigging machinery, analysts said the MDC should not even
contemplate suing the polished nationalist, whose party recently won more
than two-thirds of the seats in South Africa's parliament.

      They said the MDC, which will be facing ZANU PF in crucial
parliamentary elections slated for March next year, needed as many friends
as possible at home and in the region to put pressure on the ruling party.

      Losing a key power broker like South Africa would be a hammer blow to
the MDC, which is fighting tooth and nail to retain its urban voters and
expose ZANU PF, which has been evading any attempts to resume inter-party
talks that were put in the deep freezer about a year ago.

      "Mbeki remains an important factor in the resolution of the MDC's
struggle in Zimbabwe and the opposition party should hold on to him as a
friend, instead of alienating or antagonising him, because as long as they
do that, he will embrace ZANU PF, which is a disadvantage to the MDC," said
local political analyst John Makumbe.

      Makumbe said it was never too late for the MDC to make amends with
President Mbeki.

      "I don't think it is too late as long as the matter has not been heard
in court. It's never too late to do the right thing . . . even President
Mugabe can do the right thing by stepping down now despite what the chiefs
are saying," he said, throwing a jab at recent calls by traditional chiefs
for President Mugabe to continue holding fort in ZANU PF and the government.

      While Tsvangirai has apologised to President Mbeki and promised to
write to him to clear any misunderstanding, Makumbe said the MDC leader
should also send an envoy to the South African leader and his ruling African
National Congress (ANC).

      MDC critics said the rescinded court action was consistent with the
perception the MDC had of President Mbeki. They said the opposition party
believed the South African leader was not exerting enough pressure to force
President Mugabe to step down despite the damage the crisis in Zimbabwe
could cause to his country's economy and to regional stability.

      President Mbeki has opted for "quiet diplomacy" as opposed to using
his country's standing as a regional superpower to defuse the crisis in

      It was therefore not surprising, the analysts said, that Tsvangirai
poured vitriol on him in 2002 when he castigated the South African leader's
calls for an end to the isolation of the Zimbabwean government and the
lifting of targeted sanctions against the ageing Zimbabwean leader and his

      Tsvangirai said then: "In fact, South Africa has become part of the
Zimbabwe problem because its actions are worsening the crisis. Pretoria's
policy has effectively cast serious doubts on the role of President Thabo
Mbeki as an honest broker in the rapidly deteriorating situation and the
deepening humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe today."

      But despite the suspicion, President Mbeki has continuously engaged
the opposition leader and President Mugabe. For example, he visited Zimbabwe
in December last year to push for talks between ZANU PF and the MDC.

      And in May this year, he proceeded to send a team of his Presidential
Support Unit to Zimbabwe to assess the situation with regard to dialogue.

      Only recently, President Mbeki invited ZANU PF head of delegation
Patrick Chinamasa to the aborted talks, and the MDC chief negotiator,
Welshman Ncube, for meetings in Pretoria where he met them separately.

      Also on his inauguration, the South African leader invited
representatives from both parties to attend the event that ushered in his
ruling ANC for a third term.

      Jonathan Kadzura, a political analyst seen as sympathetic to the
ruling ZANU PF, described the MDC's withdrawn legal suit as "worse than the
last kicks of a dying horse".

      He said the attempt to file a legal suit could subtract the MDC's
friends and sponsors and give ZANU PF the ammunition to go back to its
detractors and say "didn't we tell you?"

      Kadzura, however, said there was nothing that the action could do to
stop President Mbeki from continuing his efforts to bring about a political
settlement in Zimbabwe except that it could show that the MDC did not have
any respect for him.

      "They are trying to save face over a situation they cannot rescue
anymore by hiding behind the lawyers," said Kadzura.

      Tsvangirai was quoted in the South African press as saying: "I will
not be naïve to sue Mbeki, considering the important role he is playing in
trying to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis."

      Another political analyst, Alois Masepe, said if it were at all
necessary for the MDC to put pressure on President Mbeki to release
information, the party should not have dealt with the issue at government
level but should have engaged the ANC at political party level.

      "There can be a relationship between the MDC and the ANC or even
Inkatha Freedom Party, but not at government level," he said.

      Masepe, however, said the relationship between President Mbeki and the
MDC had not been cordial ever since the South African leader and other
southern African heads of state tried to brew a cocktail of plans meant to
bring about a political settlement in Zimbabwe.

      The MDC has spurned the regional leaders' initiatives for a coalition
government, opting for a transitional government leading to fresh
presidential elections.

      Masepe said the only other way Tsvangirai could remain relevant in the
eyes of President Mbeki was to win the 2005 plebiscite or retain a
respectable number of seats in parliament.

      "Tsvangirai's reaction to the lawsuit may help, but time has run out.
All he must do is ensure he scores better than the 2000 election result that
made Mbeki recognise him. Anyone who attracts significant votes would be
recognised. Certainly he must do better in 2005 to keep Mbeki interested in
him," he said.

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      MPs' bold move commendable but . . .

       5/13/2004 6:57:55 AM (GMT +2)

      AIDS is killing Zimbabwe. It would not be alarmist to say that the
disease is spreading faster in Zimbabwe than anywhere else in the world
except probably in Russia where, fuelled by drug abuse, it is spreading like
a wild fire.

      With 2 500 people dying every week from AIDS in Zimbabwe, the crisis
has assumed mammoth proportions. Still, the smart money is on that for
reasons best known to the powers-that-be, official figures on people
infected with HIV, the virus that causes Aids, could be grossly understated.

      The harsh reality however is that millions of our fellow citizens are
suffering from this epidemic, as the world at large remains transfixed by
grim prospects for the all-elusive cure for the Aids menace. In Africa, and
indeed the world, we probably have one of the biggest populations of the
walking wounded. And most of the Zimbabweans shaken by the pandemic have
resigned into believing myth over fact when it comes to the killer disease,
which has the potential to decimate the country's population. And that is

      There is no single family that does not have haunting images insofar
as Aids is concerned. Mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, sons, daughters,
brothers, sisters, friends, ad infinitum, have all gone the way of flesh,
having succumbed to the disease which has wrought a universal pandemic of

      Every one has been touched one way or the other by the deadly
incurable disease although in Zimbabwe, which surprises in its own mirror,
the disease is largely treated more like a loud fart which no one wants to
acknowledge has happened. Even the fragile economy is also feeling the pinch
as a significant portion of the Aids victims are within the economically
active group.

      The situation is aggravated by the fact that the country's health
delivery system has almost ground to a halt and cannot therefore adequately
cater for the legions that are victims. Although the government, previously
accused of either being ominously silent and not producing enough
information about the disease, is now doing something, it is not doing
enough to nip the spread of HIV in the bud. The disastrous condition of the
health services notwithstanding, without good prevention policies and
comprehensive investment to combat the disease, the situation can only get
worse especially as poverty and joblessness increase under the economic
meltdown. Not only that but anti-retroviral drugs remain a preserve of the
rich as they are beyond the reach of many.

      It is against this background that we feel that the bold decision by
nine honourable Members of Parliament to publicly go for an HIV/AIDS test is
a plausible move. Zimbabwe broadly welcomed the news. They did not have to
take the tests, at least publicly, but they did for the greater good. We
believe that they did what they did in the best interest of the nation
during this, one of humanity's darkest of historical periods. Legislators
from elsewhere within the region have already done this.

      All it means is that the honourable MPs are waking up to their
responsibilities as national leaders because they seem to feel deeply
responsible for all that goes on in this country. But they should go one
better and make the results public regardless of their status. These are
eagerly awaited. If they do not do that, the prevailing myths associated
with the existence of Aids and the failure to understand the scale of the
catastrophe that has befallen our beloved Zimbabwe will be here to stay.
More people in positions of influence also need to follow the example of the

      Be that as it may, it is hoped that the commendable move by the MPs
will have an appreciable effect by helping to influence public opinion on
the disease. It will conscientise the people about the reality of the
disease, that it is not a disease for the rich or poor and that it
transcends racial lines. This message has not been sinking in despite a
plethora of dubious and a few well meaning anti-AIDS organisations. It would
also instil behavioural changes and enable the country to a certain extent
control the spread of the Aids scourge and deal with the stigma associated
with it

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      You drove me out, now you want my money

       5/13/2004 6:59:44 AM (GMT +2)

      EDITOR - Georgina Machiridza raised a very pertinent question in last
week's Financial Gazette.

      I am a Zimbo living in the United Kingdom. I left home because of
deteriorating conditions. I love my country and would like to be close to my

      Now, here is somebody whose poor governance made me leave home asking
me to send back my hard currency so that he can continue presiding over its
mismanagement. At the same time he denies me my legal right to vote. You
cannot have your cake and eat it.

      Allow me to vote for the candidate of my choice so that I can entrust
my hard-earned foreign currency with a government of my choice. In other
words, allow me to vote next year first before I start investing my money in

      So you see, there is nothing in this world without conditions and I'm
sure a lot of Zimbos in the diaspora think likewise.

       Theresa Nkala,

      United Kingdom.
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      Zim: four years from the beginning of the plunge

       5/13/2004 7:07:33 AM (GMT +2)

      TIME is out of joint in Zimbabwe. We have gone through the looking
glass and live in a state of schizophrenia. We read one thing in the state
media and experience something quite different on the ground.

      The new farmers are said to be creating a revolution, but there is no
farm produce in the shops, no agricultural goods to export. Our "enemies"
who want to sabotage our economy, are feeding us while our own rulers
destroy productive capacity, pillage our natural resources and even make
money illegally exporting the food on which the people depend for survival.

      Time moves too fast. In a day, lives are turned upside down. A
government decree quadruples tariffs on virtually every imported good,
destroying businesses, crippling industries relying on imported components,
wiping out the means of survival for hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans
who have been eking out a living through cross-border trade.

      In a week, the only non-government daily newspaper is off the street,
on the street and off the street again. In a month prices double in the
shops, and 20 000 Zimbabweans die of AIDS. In a year, inflation soars from
220 percent to 620 percent and your used car depreciates by doubling its
Zimdollar value. And in a year the public mood changes from hope and
expectation of relief from the madness to deep,
      debilitating despair.

      On our side of the looking glass, the mounting catastrophe has
political, economic, social and cultural components. Most objective
observers would trace the economic problems back at least to the late 1980s.
Certainly, the introduction of structural adjustment at the beginning of the
90s can be seen as the process which eroded the living standards of
Zimbabweans and spawned the first broad-based opposition party. It also
generated pressure from interest groups such as war veterans and ambitious
black businessmen who felt they had waited too long to share in the country'
s wealth.

      The government's response to these developments sent the country into
the downward spiral which today ensnares us. Instead of taking the criticism
and the pressure and sitting back to plan a coherent strategy of how to deal
with the inter-related issues, ZANU PF panicked, saw their ruling position
threatened and from 1997 on, have responded piecemeal, reactively and
irrationally, bringing us to the tragedy which unfolds before our eyes.

      They gave in to pressures from those groups with which they had racial
and historical affinities, that is the "indigenous businessmen" and the war
veterans, while viciously attacking those in the political opposition and
civil society who dared to demand policies that would serve the needs of the
people at large. These were accused of wanting to sabotage the economy,
acting as agents of foreign powers, fomenting discord and trying to reverse
the gains of the liberation war.

      Because the government half believed their own fantasies, they became
quite incapable of drawing appropriate strategies to handle the economic
crisis and became obsessed with simply retaining political power.

      Every economic policy became twisted to suit the immediate needs of
ZANU PF, while the needs of the consumer, the producer, the employer and
employee were disregarded. Basic economic sense was thrown to the winds,
commonplace economic imperatives defied. ZANU PF returned to the militarist
leadership and rhetoric of the liberation war.

      The economic slide was precipitated by the 1997 surrender to the
demands of war veterans, but it became a plunge from the beginning of the
seizure of land from white commercial farmers in February 2000. Angered by
the negative results of the referendum on a new constitution in that month,
ZANU PF devised a malicious but brilliant strategy designed to recover
domestic support, provide new sources of patronage, fulfil the promises of
the liberation struggle and attract international support from traditional
allies of the 1970s.

      In their panic they rushed headlong to seize agricultural land from
white farmers by violent means, afraid to wait for a legal process to
unfold. They justified this by the philosophy of armed struggle and the
injustices perpetrated by colonisers in the 100 years before independence.

      Law was no longer necessary; the end justified any means. It is
exactly four years since the officially sanctioned land invasions began.
During that time, the economy has shrunk to less than half its previous
size, while inflation now stands 583 percent. Added to the pre-existing
economic crisis, the destruction of a substantial portion of commercial
agriculture has brought a sharp decline in foreign exchange earnings and
severe food shortages. Government's attempts to manipulate prices, interest
rates and foreign exchange rates have produced chaos - artificial shortages
of price-controlled goods and a booming black market, illegal export of
basic goods to neighbouring countries, closure of factories and other
businesses, especially those related to agricultural production.

      The lack of foreign currency reduced ability to import essential
consumer and capital goods and the general decline of the economy starved
government of revenue. At the same time, runaway inflation led to a need to
print ever larger amounts of bank notes which government could not afford.
The result was the crippling cash shortage in mid-2003.

      High inflation, coupled with low interest rates, impoverished
pensioners and anyone else dependent on a fixed income and initiated a
flight of savings from banks into foreign currency.
      What could no longer be obtained in banks by any but the privileged
few was readily available on many street corners in the major cities at up
to eight times the official rate.

      Those privileged few were having a heyday, amassing fortunes of
gigantic proportions by accessing foreign currency from the banks at
official rates and selling it on the black market. A new class of economic
parasites was being created.

      We began to hear of 25-room mansions, stables of Mercedes Benz cars,
cupboards full of designer suits. The owners did not hide; they boasted of
their wealth in the face of the people whose situation was becoming daily
more desperate.

      The year 2003 was a dreadful one for most Zimbabweans. While the
government tinkered at the edges of the economy and finally brought staple
foodstuffs back to the shelves and solved the cash crisis by introducing
bearer cheques as temporary legal tender, they failed to bring inflation
under control. By the end of the year, it had reached 600 percent. And the
economy continues to shrink.

      The October beginning of the 2003-4 planting season heralded new
disasters in the future, as agricultural inputs were simply not available to
most of those wishing to farm. But the failures on the economic front were
compensated for in the political arena. In spite of the ability of the
opposition to win local government elections in most urban areas, ZANU PF
could make use of its new draconian security and media legislation, the
support of a loyal army and police and national service militia to block out
the opposition from rural constituencies. And in the urban councils held by
the MDC, ZANU PF has used its control of national resources to interfere and
create havoc in local government, dividing and frustrating opposition
controlled councils, particularly Harare, and making them lose public

      The mass action threatened by the opposition never got started in the
face of government terror, and ZANU PF remains firmly in charge. The
political tide running in favour of the opposition seems to have been

      A combination of severe repression, patronage through allocation of
land and positions that give access to public resources, and ever more
strident racial and xenophobic rhetoric have kept the forces of opposition
off balance and out of step. Now, four years on from the beginning of the
plunge, where do we stand, and what is the outlook for the next 12 months?

      Economically, we are still spiralling downwards. This year,
agriculture is expected to produce only one third of the nation's staple
maize requirements.
      Exportable crops such as tobacco and paprika are down to a small
fraction of what was previously produced. Industrial capacity deteriorates
and unemployment rises. While donor aid feeds those people in rural areas
whose own crops fail through poor rains and lack of inputs, an ever greater
percentage of the urban population fail to cope, enter the ranks of the
destitute and are in need of food aid themselves even while food sits on the
supermarket shelves.

      Not only goods, but also services are either not available or
unaffordable. Starved of government finance, social welfare has long ago
collapsed as a point of last resort for the destitute. Hospitals have no
equipment or medicines and few qualified staff. A patient with a fracture is
told to bring plaster of Paris before his bone can be set. Schools have
poorly functioning infrastructure, broken desks and toilets, paint peeling
from walls, no laboratory equipment or books. Yet they charge fees that have
forced many, in both rural and urban areas to withdraw their children.

      The mission boarding schools, once the pride of Zimbabwean education
and the training ground for the professional classes, are deteriorating
rapidly, unable to sustain quality with the fees that the dwindling middle
classes are able to afford. Both the major state universities have been
crippled by repeated staff and student strikes.

      While high fee paying private schools manage to maintain reasonable
standards, private health care is faltering on the brink of collapse.
Doctors' fees, hospitals and medicines are unaffordable except for the elite
and many procedures are no longer provided in the country. When a simple
consultation, laboratory test and prescription may cost half a month's
salary, or more, it will be rational for a worker to terminate medical aid
subscriptions and it will not be surprising if all the medical aid societies
collapse completely before this year is out, leaving health care accessible
only to the very rich.

      Government's response to the failures of service providers was
predictable - punish headmasters who try to keep their schools running by
allowing fee increases in line with inflation, criminalise doctors who
charge cash. It is hardly surprising that many educational and medical
professionals have left the country.

       They are not alone. A recent survey showed that 3.4 million
Zimbabweans - a quarter of the population - lives outside the country.
Professionals have left with their families to find work where there is
greater security and they can command a higher standard of living. Young
people have left to escape the dejection and boredom of joblessness and to
find tertiary education, which does not require the completion of a
"national service" which brutalises and indoctrinates. Mothers have left
their children behind while they live in squalor and do menial jobs to send
home the precious "forex" which buys food, clothing and pays school fees.
Pensioners go to do care work because they cannot survive on their pensions.
Others have gone to earn the money to buy a house. They leave behind
families broken, rudderless, a prey to the immorality which has gripped the

      Led by the orgy of violence and rape characterising the land seizures,
national service training, and election "campaigning", we - especially our
younger generation - have lost the ability to distinguish right from wrong.
Might is right; if you can exploit your fellow before he or she exploits
you, fine. And then we have the example of our "businessmen" who amass
wealth without any skills, any work, by manipulating a corrupt system.
Dealing is the name of the game, and he who plays it well prospers. "Cry
Beloved Zimbabwe", was the lament of the WOZA women who were stopped by the
police from distributing roses on Valentine's Day. "Let love overcome hate"
was their stifled message that few were allowed to hear.

       The New Year produced a surprise as a new monetary policy announced by
the Reserve Bank Governor began to take effect. Suddenly we found members of
the corrupt elite, even a designer-suit, 25-room mansion ZANU PF MP, behind
bars on allegations of fraud and foreign currency dealing. Government
announced a war on corruption. Was this an attempt to win favour among the
people, with an eye to the 2005 elections or simply the public manifestation
of a power struggle within ZANU PF as the succession issue hots up, or even
a desperate need to raise foreign currency at any cost? The population is
sceptical, and waits to see. A real war on corruption would have to bring
down far more known crooks and thieves from their high places.

      At the same time, there has been an attempt to bring some sanity to
the foreign currency market by introducing a state-controlled auction. This
effectively devalued the currency by 75%, bringing the official exchange
rate up and the black market rate down, at least temporarily. But it has
negatively affected exporters, importers and consumers and will certainly
fuel inflation further. We are set for another round of catastrophic price
rises. Where the problems are essentially political piecemeal policies
cannot rescue us. A modern economy cannot thrive in the absence of political
      stability, without smooth linkages to the international players.

       On the economic side then, 2004 is likely to bring us only misery.
What of the political? It is encouraging that through all the intimidation
and violence the opposition MDC has managed to survive, maintain its
structures and has held together in spite of a wide internal divergence of
ideological positions. It contains some individuals who have worked at great
personal risk to bring change.

      Furthermore, they deserve credit for firmly adhering to principles of
non-violence, restraining their youthful hotheads who would prefer to answer
violence with violence. It is clear, however, that elections marked by state
violence and terror will not bring change unless the electoral ground rules
are completely rewritten, and that is certainly not going to occur in the
present circumstances. What about the mass action route? Besides the
opposition party, MDC, several civil society organisations have raised their
voices against government policies. These include the labour federation,
ZCTU, the National Constitutional Assembly, some of the churches which have
countrywide membership organisations, and several other NGO's. All of them,
including the MDC, are divided between the activists who want to take to the
streets and the lobbyists, who want to push for some kind of "talks" with

       Those in favour of street action are in a weak position. 2003
demonstrated that while people were prepared to protest by staying away from
work, they were not ready to take to the streets and face the riot police
and possibly the army. Activists watched events unfold in the Georgian
capital Tbilisi with envy, but have been forced to admit that Zimbabweans
are simply not yet willing to take the risk. Small demonstrations organized
by the ZCTU, the NCA and WOZA, a group that organizes grassroots women,
invariably resulted in arrests or police brutality or both. The masses have
shied away from such action, and without the masses, this tactic cannot
shift ZANU PF in any way. But the bravery of the few, especially when they
are women, keeps the
      opposition visible and raises sprits and hope.

      Dialogue between ZANU PF and the MDC has been held out as the solution
by neighbouring African countries, particularly South Africa. The purpose of
such inter-party talks would be to agree to end human rights abuses,
re-establish the rule of law, and rewrite the electoral rules so that a new
election could produce a government accepted as legitimate domestically and
internationally. Then a start could be made to repair the economic damage.
Such talks would have to be brokered by foreign mediators.
      For the MDC, talks would be the best solution, but so far they have
proved elusive. For obvious reasons ZANU PF is not interested and has
deliberately held out the impression to the South Africans that they were
committed while doing absolutely nothing. But it is now becoming clear that
in the end this is the only way that a solution will be found.

       ZANU PF appears to think that they have outwitted the opposition and
can hang on to power until 2005, when they will conduct an even more violent
and dishonest election which will see them clear for another five years.
Even now they are making preparations. A new Presidential decree has
introduced the power of detention without bail, on mere suspicion, where
there is no evidence of wrongdoing. Youth militia training is being stepped
up to provide a reserve of shock troops. The United Nations was asked to
provide funding for the election, but the request was quickly withdrawn when
they proposed to send a delegation to study the situation on the ground. The
MDC, under severe constraint from forces of terror, unconstitutional laws,
and a compliant judiciary, and the unwillingness of their members to engage
in civil disobedience, is hobbled. It can not do much more than to hold its
supporters together, plan policies to implement if they do gain power, and
work hard, as they are now doing, to persuade African governments,
particularly that of South Africa, to apply the pressure for internationally
accepted elections.

       Hence the deep despair of the population. Most Zimbabweans face the
year with little hope for any early solution. But there are signs that the
logic of economic failures may finally bring the whole edifice crashing
down. Maybe enough Zimbabweans will decide that "enough is enough" and
provide the critical mass in the streets to topple ZANU PF. The "war on
corruption" has now exposed the rot at the core and could develop into an
uncontrollable internecine struggle. The distortions in the Zimbabwean
economy have impacted heavily on the region. President Mbeki, like Obasanjo
in December, might finally decide that it is not worth the embarrassment of
continuing to support Robert Mugabe, whose galloping paranoia occasionally
turns on Mbeki himself. Or, a serious illness or even death of the
80-year-old Mugabe might
      open an opportunity for a South Africa assisted return to legitimacy,
and an end to the madness. "An idea whose time has come cannot be stopped".
      The time for democratic change in Zimbabwe has not yet come. But time
does move fast in Zimbabwe. The unexpected occurs on a daily basis. While
today we may see little hope, tomorrow or next week will surely be
different, for ultimately time is on our side.
      This article first appeared in Pambazuka News, an electronic
newsletter for social justice in Africa -
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      Shake-up costs Air Zimbabwe millions

      Thomas Madondoro
      5/13/2004 6:45:59 AM (GMT +2)

      NATIONAL passenger carrier Air Zimbabwe has lost millions of dollars
in revenue in the past four months amid revelations that more than 20 top
and middle level managers sacked in January 2004 are still receiving their
salaries with all the benefits.

      Sources close to the national airline told The Financial Gazette that
Air Zimbabwe had acted hurriedly by dismissing the senior managers without
setting aside their retrenchment packages.

      "This has resulted in the national airline incurring more expenses as
both the retrenched workers and the staff, which replaced them are receiving
full salaries and benefits," said the source.

      The restructuring, sources said, targeted the airline's top three
levels of management.

      Pressure mounted this week for the current management and the board of
directors to throw in the towel following their failure to come up with a
turnaround strategy for the loss-making airline.

      Rambai Chingwena, the airline's managing director, faxed his
resignation letter from Namibia last week.

      It is also alleged that Air Zimbabwe accounts are in a shambles, a
development which has prompted government to institute an audit into its

      Sources, however, said it had become difficult for management to
institute any turnaround strategies because of political interference.

      Contacted for comment, Air Zimbabwe legal and corporate affairs
manager, Arthur Manase, said the sacked managers' matter was before the
retrenchment board and this was the standard legal procedure with all such

      "Until the retrenchment committee makes a ruling, the managers are
entitled to all their payments and this is normal. It is not true, however,
that all the managers are in this position.

      "Some of them obtained alternative employment and these ceased being
on the airline's payroll the moment they got employed elsewhere," he said.

      Manase said the airline was in the process of implementing a
turnaround programme, which should see its fortunes take a turn for the

      He said part of this programme entailed a major shake-up of managerial
personnel and structures. He added that the restructuring led to the
creation of a leaner and more efficient management system.

      He dismissed reports that Air Zimbabwe's accounts were in shambles,
saying the books were in perfect order and were subjected to the normal
six-month audits as is customary in the industry.

      Previous attempts to transform the national carrier from being a
loss-making parastatal have hit a snag due to ballooning debt and shortage
of foreign currency to procure spares.

      Air Zimbabwe has suspended flights to Kariba, the Democratic Republic
of the Congo (DRC) and other regional and European destinations, citing a
drop in tourist traffic due to the negative publicity the country is
receiving abroad.

      The airline, which recently started quoting fares in foreign currency
in an effort to reassert its financial fortunes and enhance its services and
market share, has been haunted by a plethora of problems caused by severe
foreign currency shortages.

      The International Airline Transport Association (IATA) in February
this year suspended the national airline over a US$1.3 million debt, which
it later lifted following payment.

      The troubled airline has also failed to recover the US$4 million
(about $20.8 billion) it is owed by Lignesa Airlines of the DRC since March
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      Occupancy levels in safari areas slump to below 50%

      Staff Reporter
      5/13/2004 6:46:32 AM (GMT +2)

      A SLUMP in tourist arrivals caused by the bad publicity the country is
receiving abroad has affected hunting and photographic safaris in the
country with occupancy levels estimated to be below 50 percent, industry
players said thiweek.

      Apart from the bad publicity surrounding Zimbabwe's political and
economic environment, the disruption of land ownership patterns in the
country has spilled over to the safari industry.

      The industry has been at the centre of persistent haggling over
hunting concessions, particularly in the Matabeleland provinces, where many
safaris are located.

      Ngamo Safaris, one of the largest safari operators in the country,
said its photographic line of business has been adversely affected by the
tourism slump and business was slowly picking up.

      "Occupancy levels are around 20 percent consisting largely of domestic
tourists," said Enos Shumba, the general manager of the Forestry Commission
of Zimbabwe, which runs Ngamo Safaris .

      Ngamo Safaris was established by the commission to generate revenue
for conservation programmes in the country's indigenous forest areas through
recreational hunting.

      Zimbabwe is one of the world's finest safari destinations and the
hunting season runs from April to November, which coincides with Zimbabwe's
cool, dry months.

      The commission hunting line operates four hunting camps - Intundhla in
Ngamo and Sikumi forests, Mubiya in Fuller forest, Kazuma in Kazuma and
Pandamasuie forests, and Amandundumela in Gwayi and Bembesi forests.

      The photographic line operates two photographic lodges, Ganda near
Hwange in Sikumi forest and Jafuta near Victoria Falls in Fuller forest.

      The country's hunting sector clinched hunting deals estimated at over
$20 billion at the world's largest international hunting convention, the
Reno Sparks Convention, held in Nevada, United States, in late January this

      The sector has the potential to rake in foreign currency as evidenced
by the prices of trophies that were clinched at the convention.

      A trophy elephant was selling for up to US$40 000 per animal, lion
from $3000 to US$12 000 and leopard up to US$2 800.

      Zimbabwe has raked in up to $6 billion per year from sport hunting
during the past few years.

      New trophy hunting fees announced by the government last month were
suspended following an agreement between the Department of National Parks
and Wildlife Management and representatives of safari operators.

      The new trophy prices had come at a time when most operators had
clinched deals with international clients, mostly from the United States and
South Africa.

      In February, the government pegged the price of a male elephant trophy
at US$10 000, up from last year's figure of US$6 000.

      A male buffalo was set at US$1 200 from last year's price of US$800
and a male zebra at US$550 compared to US$450 last year.

      The new fees, which have been suspended, were for the 2004 hunting
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      Maize farmers up in arms

      Staff Reporter
      5/13/2004 7:12:17 AM (GMT +2)

      A NEW maize producer price of $750 000 per tonne announced by the
government last week could result in farmers making a $1.8 million loss per
hectare, farming organisations warned this week.

      The farmers, who have never been happy with the government-gazetted
prices, told The Financial Gazette that the producer price, which should
spur farmers to grow specific crops, made it unprofitable for them to
produce maize.

      Both the Indigenous Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe president
Davidson Mugabe and Commercial Farmers Union leader Douglas Taylor-Freeme
said their members were unhappy with the new price.

      "If the price is not adjusted, farmers will move away from growing
maize. With this new producer price, farmers will not be able to purchase
inputs," Mugabe said.

      Farmers were anticipating a price of $1.2 million per tonne, which
would have given them an average of $4.8 million per hectare.

      A hectare produces an average of four tonnes of maize and the
government price will result in farmers getting only $3 million per hectare.

      Said Tailor-Freeme: "The new maize price is not realistic to meet
operational costs. There is really no incentive for maize production."

      The prices of inputs such as seed, chemicals and fertiliser have
spiralled over the years because of rising inflation, which slowed to 583
percent in March.

      The ballooning prices, coupled with poor rains and the catastrophic
effects of the government's haphazard land reform programme, have resulted
in reduced maize output.

      Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of the southern African region, has now
been turned into a basket case.

      "There must be room for adjustment. We believe government should
subsidise the production of the crop through funding the inputs rather than
the millers. Why doesn't the government put that subsidy into fertiliser?"
Mugabe asked.

      Millers buy from the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) at a subsidised rate
of $400 000, almost half the price farmers sell their maize to the
state-owned entity.

      Under Zimbabwean law, the GMB has a monopoly over the marketing of
cereals and grains.
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      Equipment shortage hits wheat farms

      Staff Reporter
      5/13/2004 7:12:48 AM (GMT +2)

      AN acute shortage of irrigation equipment has emerged as a major
setback for new farmers interested in winter wheat cropping despite the $85
billion set aside for the purchase of machinery.

      Industry experts said most farmers settled under the controversial
land reform were still without irrigation facilities - a prerequisite for
successful winter wheat cropping.

      Reluctance by the authorities to announce the new producer price of
wheat has also caused doubts among farmers as to the viability of the crop
this season.

      Douglas Taylor-Freeme, president of the Commercial Farmers Union, said
his members were anxious to start preparations, but were being deterred by
doubts over prices.

      The government, which dictates the marketing of wheat and other
cereals, is accused of setting producer prices based on operational costs
and margins set by the Agricultural Rural Development Authority, a
parastatal seen as not commercially oriented.

      The farmers' plight has been aggravated by the exclusion of some
growers from the productive sector finance scheme introduced by the central
bank early this year, Tailor-Freeme said.

      "Farmers are ready and willing, but because of sluggish incentives,
preparations are not in top gear," he said.

      An official from the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union said although
farmers were receiving seed and fertiliser from the Grain Marketing Board
through the grain loan scheme, their major constraint had been the shortage
of irrigation equipment.

      "Most farmers do not have the equipment and they have to rely on
natural moisture in the ground, but this is inadequate considering that the
current rainfall pattern has not been perpetual."

      Zimbabwe consumes about 400 000 tonnes of wheat a year and most of it
is produced locally. The deadline for the winter wheat programme is around

      Last year, less than 150 000 tonnes of wheat were produced, a decrease
from the 360 000 tonnes produced in 2001.
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      Consolidating the gains of land reform

       5/13/2004 6:58:34 AM (GMT +2)

      Zimbabwe is in the process of finalising the controversial land reform
programme, which sought to address historical imbalances in the ownership of
this important means of production.

      Land reform is a necessary but not sufficient condition to ensure
improved production and productivity. What the nation requires is a robust
agrarian reform which involves more than redistributing the land.

      Such reforms should seek to empower the "new" farmer to be as
productive as the "old" farmer. Now that the majority of Zimbabweans have
the land, a number of issues still need to be addressed if the nation is to
retain its status as the breadbasket of southern Africa.

      Funding of farming operations

      When one closely looks at the high production and productivity by the
white former commercial farmers, there is nothing much in the colour of the

      The current new farmers were the managers or workers at these farms,
driving much of the production. One wonders why all of a sudden they cannot
do it on their own account.

      One of the major constraints explaining this situation relates to
funding of the operations. While the efforts by the government this far are
fairly commendable, there is a general feeling that what has been done is
not enough.

      Moving around the country, one sees evidence of lack of adequate
funding resulting in serious under-utilisation of land.

      One of the arguments for the land reform programme was to account for
the idle land that commercial farmers were keeping under their ownership. A
successful reform should, therefore, lead to near full-capacity utilisation
of the land.

      Some funds have been made available to farmers through various
avenues, including the Land Bank. But these funds have tended to benefit a
few who already had adequate equipment on site, otherwise the monies were
covering predominantly working capital needs and not capital expenditure.

      The tenure of the loans, including the productive sector facility
funds, also seem to suggest that they are only for working capital needs.

      With most former commercial farmers having taken their equipment with
them, many of the new farmers were stuck on the farms without appropriate

      Trying to run a commercial entity using draught power has proved
futile for most of these farmers.

      In the absence of appropriate machinery, timing is missed in a number
of operations, resulting in a very poor return even on the loans advanced
for working capital needs.

      With the land audit almost complete, and assuming serious settlers on
these farms, there is a critical need to fund the "new" farmer
appropriately. This should reflect in the amounts advanced as well as the
tenure of the loans, which should give the farmer time to breathe.

       Commercial farming is a business and settling a person on a commercial
farm does not necessarily make him or her a commercial farmer. A lot of
investments must be made not only in terms of capital, but also the skills
to run the entity.

      We certainly should not expect our people to transform from being
peasant farmers or non-farmers to commercial farmers overnight.

      Observations made on the ground seem to suggest that the services of
AREX leave a lot to be desired. The staff are not well resourced enough to
face the challenge of supporting the entire country technically.

      Before the reforms, they were mainly in the communal areas where
settlers were concentrated, hence the challenge to visit individual farmers
was bearable. But even then there was serious evidence of failure to

      The situation has now become worse as some districts are without a
single vehicle to do the rounds in farms. In the absence of adequate
technical assistance to the "new" farmer, the nation risks losing the bulk
of the money advanced as agricultural loans.

      The responsible ministry should serious look into the constraints of
AREX and related bodies in discharging their duties, which are needed now
more than ever before.

       The nation is struggling to bring foreign currency inflows that can
sustain the economy. Exports of agriculture produce were one of the major
sources of income, especially tobacco and horticultural produce.

      Most marketing deals by the former commercial farmers were structured
in such a way that the departure of the white farmer meant the loss of the
market for that produce.

      After taking over horticultural concerns, not many new farmers were so
lucky to retain their markets or even secure new ones. Some learnt it the
hard way after having done everything to export flowers abroad. Farmers are
told: "Sorry, we cannot take your produce," either because of its poor
quality or because they have no contract with the potential buyers.

      In some markets, the farmer may even be made to pay for the disposal
of his or her produce if he or she cannot take it back, which, by the nature
of the product, is impossible. Farmers are thus encouraged to first
understand and ascertain their markets before venturing into most of these
cash crops.

      As far as the gold leaf is concerned, statistics are available to show
what exactly has happened ever since the nation embarked on the land reform.

      Annual output fell from a peak of 236.7 million kgs in 2000 to 82.9
million kgs in 2003 and about 60 million kgs this tobacco season. Meanwhile,
the number of growers during the same period has trebled from about 8 531 to
25 600.

      One can easily defend this dismal performance in the context of
teething problems. Fair and fine, but let's just look at the marketing
implications of the current scenario.

      We may need another three or so years to go back to the peak output of
the year 2000. Remember our tobacco is rated the best in the world, and for
that reason is usually used for branding/flavouring other poor-quality stuff
from other tobacco-producing countries.

      By its very nature, tobacco is addictive, which means even if the
"enemies" of the state would want to sabotage by way of refusing to buy the
produce, they would be forced to. This is quite unlike products such as
horticultural produce.

      What then will possibly happen in the six or so years we are trying to
find our feet?

      We cannot satisfy our traditional market, notwithstanding the
anti-smoking campaigns. If we cannot satisfy the market, then the consumers
will have to painfully adjust to other brands. Should they succeed in doing
so, then it means a permanent loss of that market, because it would be very
difficult to reverse those smoking habits again.

      This ugly picture of the future is only to encourage the nation to
move with speed. Whatever correction or improvement has to be made in the
area of agrarian reform, it must be done in a way that recognises that we do
not have all the time to find our feet.

      Moses Chundu is group economist for Century Holdings and a member of
the Zimbabwe Economics Society
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      Govt's contempt for the judiciary unwelcome

       5/13/2004 7:06:49 AM (GMT +2)

      AN efficient, morally correct and apolitical judiciary is a necessary
corollary of an authentic democracy.

      Such a judiciary can only co-exist and mutually complement parliament
and the executive where there is an obedient adherence to the doctrine of
separation of powers.

      This is a doctrine found in constitutional and human rights law. Its
fundamental tenet is that for democracy to flourish, together with
accountability and transparency, there must be a distinct dichotomy between
parliament, the executive and the judiciary.

      To this end, a properly crafted, pro-democratic constitution must
provide for checks and balances. These must prevent one arm of the state
from usurping functions of the other, and having dominant influence over the
other two.

      This doctrine is sacrosanct not just because of its promotion of
efficiency in governance, but because it guards against a propensity to
drift towards dictatorship and oppression.

      Any judiciary existing in a free and open democratic society must be
able to discharge its duties freely, judiciously and without fear of
interference. The courts are the ultimate custodians of justice and as such,
any intrusions into their tasks erodes orderliness, promotes anarchy, lack
of accountability and a violation of individual rights.

      As observed, no modern state that claims to be democratic can function
without an efficient judicial system. The judiciary itself must also nurture
survival instincts to evade any intended encroachments on its hegemony.

      Once a judiciary adopts a passive stance to the insidious machinations
of politicians and parliamentarians, it runs the risk of becoming irrelevant
and obsolete. Its authority will become gradually eroded, pausing a danger
to democracy and people's undying quest for equality and equity.

      Over the years, the Zimbabwe government, through its ministries and
various bureaucrats, has openly advertised its contempt for the courts and
the rule of law. By designing overt and covert strategies, it has attempted
to render the judiciary highly obedient to its intentions.

      It has openly insulted and at times caused arrests of judicial
officers on flimsy, unprosecutable grounds. Libellous and slanderous
outbursts by government officials dehumanising members of the bench have
gone unpunished.

      Through certain sections of the media, the judiciary has been
denigrated, labelled racist-imperialist and caricatured as agents of
neo-colonial masters.

      The worst incident was when the government, through the indirect
support of law enforcement agents, allowed certain sections of the ruling
party apparatus to go and cause a nuisance by invading chambers of judicial

      This was not only an ultimate humiliation to members of this high
office, but paused a great hazard to their life and limb.

      Our constitution, which is blotted with countless amendments, has
bestowed too much power on the executive - to the detriment of parliament
and the judiciary.

      The result has been a persistent, well-calculated tendency to abuse
parliament through the ruling party's majority to pass blatantly unlawful
and oppressive laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act and the Public and Order Security Act.

      In the past, the judiciary remained vigilant and maintained the
momentum to quash harsh legislations and oppressive administrative
practices. Reputable judicial officers illustrated by the late Justice Enoch
Dumbutshena vigorously resisted this conspiracy to emasculate our courts and
thwarted all efforts to invade and invert the rule of law.

      Frustrated by government obstinacy and desire to drift towards
authoritarianism, some of the judicial officers resigned and most easily
found work in the Southern African Development Community region and beyond.

      Some were, through the government's intolerance and open insults,
coupled with duress, forced to quit prematurely. These were highly
experienced jurists whose reputation transcended all areas of the globe.

      Their voluntary and, at times, forced retirement left an experience
vacuum which will take time to fill. A number of members of the profession
were, through an affirmative action policy, fast-tracked from the bar to the
bench and some were elevated to the Supreme Court.

      This otherwise inexperienced and suspiciously paranoid crop of judges
is accused of being too sympathetic and obedient to politicians. Despite the
government's concerted contempt of judicial pronouncements, the judiciary,
through its chief justice, has remained conspicuously mute.

      A combination of inexperience, insufficient staffing in the face of a
debilitating backlog, an alleged patronage to the government and a host of
other factors have gravely affected timeous delivery of judgments. This is
despite the common adage that justice delayed is justice denied.

      The government has mischievously allowed the judicial system to
degenerate to the extent it has through its tacit disregard of the

      While we have a constitution, our system has gradually been divorced
from principles of constitutionalism. Judicial decisions are being laughed
at and scorned by overzealous government officials and other willing
accomplices among law enforcement agents.

      Whereas no one should be above the law, the nation has witnessed
certain individuals and groups, such as war veterans, being conveniently
above the law.

      If this scenario is permitted to persist, public confidence in the
judicial system will be eroded. A culture of promoting anarchy at the
expense of order will creep in and take root. In fact, it is this
unexamplary anarchic conduct by the government that has permitted and
perpetuated corruption and other manifestations of illegality.

      Success can never thrive in an atmosphere of pandemonium, oppression,
hysterical name-calling and insults to judicial officers. The government's
new economic turnaround initiative must be founded on clear and sound
principles of the rule of law.

      Without public confidence and respect for law and the courts, no
matter what sonorous noises about economic turnaround the government may
make, no progress will be achieved.

      If the government's overbearing and the uninvited assault on the
judiciary persists, the whole legal process will lose its meaning. There is
nothing that frustrates a lawyer more than having a valid court order that
one cannot enforce. This is now a daily occurrence for members of the

      The Kondozi Estate affair starkly brings to the fore the government's
disregard for order and legality.

      This scenario does not only pause a danger to the hegemony and
independence of the judiciary, but also to the very existence of the legal
profession. Sooner or later, the legal profession may become obsolete and

      Currently, judges may not have enough time to research and deliver
well-reasoned judgments because they are under siege from a backlog that the
government has allowed to escalate. Rather than increase the monetary
jurisdiction of magistrates, the government seems satisfied with the
statuesque. In the end, judges are made to spend valuable time trying
trivial matters otherwise only suitable for magistrates.

      This oversight on the part of the government has caused a flood of
matters that in the past could be dealt with in the Magistrates Civil Court
to be destined for the High Court. This is principally the cause of the
backlog that has almost incapacitated our superior courts.

      It is not uncommon to find a claim for a cellphone or VCR being sued
out in the High Court. This is because of inflation, which has trivialised
our currency. As long as stakeholders, especially the government, turn their
backs on this anomaly, our judges shall remain captives to floods of
frivolous civil claims.

      This unfortunate development is likely to frustrate judges and may
even compel some of them to quit because of the pressure of work. It is an
area that calls for pragmatism and swiftness in the interests of democracy,
justice and orderliness.

      Vote Muza is a legal practitioner with Gutu & Chikowero law firm.
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      Kondozi fiasco scuttles $7.6 billion pack house

      Staff Reporter
      5/13/2004 6:49:23 AM (GMT +2)

      THE fiasco at one of the country's largest horticultural concerns,
Kondozi Fresh Produce, has scuttled plans to build a R10 million (Z$7.6
billion) horticultural produce pack house in Mutare, The Financial Gazette
has established.

      The pack house was going to be used as a storage and packing facility
for fresh horticultural produce destined for the export market.

      The government, in its latest and highly publicised move to dispossess
the white community of prime agricultural land, has seized Kondozi Farm in
Odzi, one of the country's largest horticultural exporters.

      Kondozi production director and former farm owner, Piet de Klerk,
confirmed that Kondozi had abandoned plans to construct the pack house as a
"consequence of the disturbances at the farm".

      De Klerk told The Financial Gazette that his company was now exploring
investment opportunities in the region, but could not disclose much on the
firm's new preferred investment destination.

      The company has been reported to be mulling investing in neighbouring

      He said the pack house project, which was going to be constructed in
Mutare, near Dangamvura, was a mirror copy of the pack house at the farm.

      "The project has been abandoned. We are looking at prospects of
investing in some regional countries but nothing has been concluded yet," De
Klerk said.

      Observers blame investor disenchantment on Zimbabwe's crumbling
economy to unending disruptions in the country's agricultural sector, which
has resulted in a lot of uncertainty.

      The agricultural sector is the backbone of the country's economy as it
pulls strong downstream linkages with manufacturing and other key productive
sectors, both as supplier and consumer of raw materials.

      Agriculture contributes over 53 percent to the country's export
earnings, by far the largest contribution by any economic sub sector,
followed by mining, which contributes 23 percent.

      Economic analysts have noted that underperformance in agriculture has
exerted immense pressure on the country's precarious foreign exchange

      "The project is a mirror copy of the other pack house on the farm, it
would have been one of the biggest horticultural produce storage
facilities," De Klerk said.

      Agricultural experts said the Kondozi set up, which also boasted of
the biggest out grower scheme in the horticultural sector, was a unique
model on the continent.

      De Klerk could not say whether the abrupt end to Kondozi's business
activities at the farm was going to jeopardise the local horticultural
industry's ability to supply the world market with fresh produce.

      Horticulture is the second largest foreign currency earner in
agriculture after tobacco.

      Statistics from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) indicate that the
horticultural sector contributes about 5.8 percent of total agricultural
output and 8 percent to the country's foreign currency earnings.

      Export earnings in the horticultural sector have risen from US$19.5
million in 1992 to an estimated US$67.7 million in 2001 with up to 80
percent of horticultural exports landing in mainland Europe.

      Earlier reports indicated that Kondozi's sudden closure was set to
affect the company's relationship with some of its financiers,
Barclays-Finer, Zimbank-Syfrets and African Banking Corporation, which are
said to have invested heavily in the horticultural concern.

      Economic analysts noted that the horticultural sector has been
operating under extreme difficult conditions, which might stunt its future
growth at a huge cost to the country.

      "The biggest threat which has been facing the sector has been from the
land reform exercise," said a local economist.

      The economist said apart from disruptions at Kondozi, an ongoing
wrangle between listed horticultural producer and exporter, Interfresh
Limited and the settlers at Mazoe Citrus estates have been disruptive to the
smooth operations of the company.

      In its first quarter 2004 trading update, Interfresh said 88 percent
of the farm remains listed with 46 percent having been actively resettled.

      "Mazoe Citrus Estates remains challenged by the uncertainty of the
outcome of our dialogue with government regards our land," Interfresh said.
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