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

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Guardian reporter's Zimbabwe lawyer threatened with jail

Owen Bowcott
Thursday May 15, 2003
The Guardian

The lawyer representing the Guardian's correspondent in Zimbabwe, Andrew
Meldrum, was threatened with detention herself yesterday after she went on
his behalf to the headquarters of the immigration service in Harare.
Beatrice Mtetwa, a prominent local lawyer, was there to hand in a letter in
response to the Zimbabwean government's confiscation of Meldrum's passport
and residence permit.

Immigration officials alleged earlier this week that he had breached the
terms of his residence permit by writing about the country's political
situation. Meldrum, 51, who has been covering Zimbabwe for 23 years, was
told he should write only about economics and tourism.

Ms Mtetwa was confronted by immigration officials and police officers
infuriated that she was not accompanied by Meldrum.

She was told she would be held until she had produced her client, despite
the fact that there had been no previous request for Meldrum to attend
yesterday. After further exchanges, she was finally allowed to leave.

Ms Mtetwa and Meldrum, one of the last foreign reporters working in
Zimbabwe, have been ordered to appear at the immigration office tomorrow

Last year Meldrum, an American citizen, was one of the first journalists to
be prosecuted under new media laws. A Harare magistrate acquitted him of
criminal charges of publishing false information about Zimbabwe. The law has
been criticised by civil rights groups as an attempt to stifle criticism of
President Robert Mugabe's government.

Meldrum insists he is fighting to remain in the country not just on his own
behalf, but to secure the rights of other journalists.

"The government thinks that by trying to intimidate or deport me, or prevent
me from working, they will also prevent other journalists who are doing
great work," Meldrum said last week.
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DATE: 15 MAY 2003
TIME: 10:00 TO 14:00


ALAN BURL (Chairman)






The Speakers will be professionals in their fields and addressing and
advising farmers on the various aspects of Compensation and the JAG Loss
Claim Document.

The meeting has been called with the support of all the farming
representative bodies in the best interests of the farmers.


Alan Burl is a well-known farmer from the Marondera area and served as
president of the C.F.U. from 1988 till 1992. Allan has served with
distinction on various other committees and is a well-respected personality
in the farming world. Allan will be the chairman of the meeting.

Louis Bennet is a retired Lawyer with Kantor and Immermann. Louis will
address the meeting on the legal aspects of compensation and reflect on the
history of land tenure leading up to the present situation.

Allan Higgins is a valuator with Redfern Mullet and is standing in for the
chairman of the Valuators Consortium. Allan will address the issues around
valuation of Land and Improvements.

Andy Laing is a loss assessor from Bulawayo and runs his own firm Losscon.
Andy will deal with the issue of Consequential loss or Disturbance loss or
Other Losses. Andy was involved in the setting up of the original Loss

David Scott is currently a Senior Partner with Price Waterhouse Coopers. He
is also the current president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in
Zimbabwe. David will explain the role of accountants and auditors and the
procedures that will be implemented.

Kerry Kay is a well-known farmer's wife, HIV/AIDS Project Manager, and
Family Therapy and Traumatized Child Counselor.  Kerry will speak on the
necessity of dealing with the gross human rights violations perpetrated
against the farmer's, farm workers and all their families.
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Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.


Letter 1:

Would JAG be in a position to help with providing the contact details for:

- Mrs Woodhouse - Acorn farm/Crowhill Farm
- Bill and Dudely Searle - Pangoula Farm - Arcturus Rd
- Ian Ross - Glenwyn Farm
- Mr Newmarch - Newmarch Farm/Carrick Creagh Farm


Letter 2:

To Whom it may concern.....

As a Zimbabwe citizen.... it is with deep concern and utter disbelief that
I have read of your issuing an award to the Commissioner of Police in
Zimbabwe. As INTERPOL.....surely you cannot be ignorant of the facts
concerning the breakdown of Law and Order in Zimbabwe, due largely to he
and his cohorts. The police force in that country, over the previous
hundred years, have been amongst the most highly respected, in the world.
Since January of 2000 they deserve nothing but contempt. The complete
disregard for life and liberty, of ordinary Zimbabweans, in that country
over the last 3 years, by most of the Z.R.Police, both urban and rural, has
been absolutely shocking. That you, as the arbiter of Police Forces and Law
and Order, world wide, should see fit to give Augustine Chihuri an award,
of any kind, will completely destroy any respect or faith that all the
people of Zimbabwe, have ever had, in International Law. I AM ABSOLUTELY
APPALLED AND DISGUSTED.(and believe me, I am NOT the only one)

For and on behalf of Zimbabweans worldwide.


Letter 3:

Please read this & pass it to as many people as possible if one family is
warned & saved from a terrible ordeal it will be worthwhile.

On Saturday at about 5:30 pm a couple was visited by 2 extremely well
dressed & well-spoken gentlemen. A third man in tow was continuously
physically abused by the two gentlemen. The couple was informed the men
were CID & they had recovered property stolen from the house some weeks
before & the third party was the suspect. The property was there in view.
The unsuspecting & happy couple allowed the 3 in only to be held up &
robbed again. The couple's pick up truck was taken full of stolen household

We must all have plans in place for answering the gate day or night. Don't
take the gate keys with you find out who is at the gate ask for I.D. police
should have an I.D. & should not be adverse to you phoning their base. Only
if you are satisfied about the person at your gate then go & fetch the
keys. If you are not happy don't fetch the keys & ask them to come back the
next day. Get neighbors to come & help. It is not being a nuisance calling
someone out.

I believe houses are being burgled when people our out on routine visits
I.E church every Sunday at the same time. Going visiting at the same time
try & vary your outgoings.

At the risk of instructing people in egg sucking I have given this a lots
of thought in the past & if anyone would like to contact me with home
details I will give you my thoughts


All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions
of the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice
for Agriculture.

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      Last-ditch bid to save fuel deal

      By Sunsleey Chamunorwa Editor-In-Chief
      5/15/03 10:35:01 PM (GMT +2)

      IN what might be a last-ditch attempt to revive the stalled fuel deal
with Libya, Zimbabwe has cobbled up an ambitious plan to export US$100
million ($82.4 billion at the official exchange rate) worth of an assortment
of agricultural commodities to the north African country in a bid to
reactivate the stuck-up US$90 million revolving facility.

      The proposals that seek to help Zimbabwe ride out of its difficulties
were put on the table between February and March this year, sources privy to
deal said this week.

      Dogged by crippling foreign currency shortages that have taken the
wind out of the economy, leaving it in a tough and desperate situation,
Zimbabwe hopes to earn enough foreign currency to pay for its fuel imports.

      The proceeds from the exports would also be partly used to acquit the
US$61 million plus interests that Zimbabwe owes Libya for the fuel already

      Prior to this proposal, it is understood that the Libyans had insisted
that the financier of the deal, the Libyan Arab Foreign Bank (LAFB) would
not provide any further finance to enable the Libyan oil company, TAMOIL to
release fuel to Zimbabwe.

      The Libyans were irked by the fact that despite signing rescheduling
agreements, the fuel procurement company, the National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) had "practically and legally" defaulted.

      NOCZIM chief Webster Muriritirwa refused to comment on whether
Zimbabwe had paid part of the outstanding US$61 million which the sources
said was the last big obstacle to be cleared before Libya could resume fuel
supplies to Zimbabwe.

      He referred all questions to the parent Ministry of Energy and Power
Development. The Minister of Energy and Power Development, Amos Midzi, had
not returned our calls as promised by the time of going to press, while the
Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Justin Mupamhanga was said to be out of
the office.

      It emerged this week that hoping to strike an eleventh-hour revival of
the fuel deal whose terms have not been made public, Zimbabwean authorities
have since advised their Libyan counterparts that the country could export
tobacco, sugar and beef among other commodities, to Libya to enable it to
discharge its liabilities.

      It could not however be ascertained whether Libya had given the nod to
Zimbabwe's proposals. The Libyan ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mahmodu Yousef
Azabi, could not furnish the paper with any details as he said he was having
a meeting when contacted on Tuesday this week.

      Zimbabwe has however in the past failed to fulfil some of its export
commitments to Libya. The Libyans have since expressed their disappointment
that Zimbabwe's earlier export pledges were still to be realised.

      Initially a local private company, Farai Meats, owned by John
Mapondera and a consortium of other black business people, was said to have
clinched the deal to export beef to Libya but this deal seems to have failed
to take off immediately. Yesterday Mapondera told this paper that his
company would commence meat exports to Libya within the next 10 days. He
said the initial exports would amount to 4 000 tonnes.

      Miffed by the failure of Farai Meats to expedite exports to Libya, the
sources said, the government was now mulling plans for a new line of supply
through the Cold Storage Company (CSC). The CSC would however require up to
three months to effect delivery. The mooted exports through CSC would
however run parallel to the existing arrangements.

      Zimbabwe's fuel supplies have literally run dry with chaotic, long and
winding queues forming, sometimes for days, at various filling stations that
are suspected to be in line for fuel deliveries that are still trickling in.

      Up until the last quarter of last year, the country has been receiving
at least 70 percent of its supplies from Libya under a US$90 million
facility. The facility was dealt a hammer-blow when Zimbabwe failed to pay
US$61 million for the fuel that had been supplied by Libya. This stiffened
the hand of the fuel supplier, which immediately halted all fuel supplies to

      The biting shortages of fuel have become a millstone around the nation
's neck as the economic fallout of the cessation of the Libyan fuel supplies
to Zimbabwe cuts across industry and commerce. NOCZIM has reportedly since
directed service stations to start rationing fuel.

      Well-placed sources told this paper this week that Zimbabwe has
proposed to supply 25 million kilogrammes of tobacco valued at US$60
million. At least half of this would be taken up by the Libyan Tobacco
Company while the remainder would be marketed by the LAFB's appointed
agents. It is understood that this has since been ratified by the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe.

      Furthermore, the sources said, Zimbabwe has also undertaken, to export
10 000 tonnes of refined sugar per month to Libya. Based on international
commodity prices, this would be worth an estimated US$15 million per month.
At the time the proposals were made, it was hoped that Zimbabwe would have
supplied about 50 000 tonnes of sugar to Libya by June this year. They also
added that 300 tonnes of tea and coffee were earmarked for export to Libya.

      If the proposals are approved, it is hoped that the US$90 million fuel
facility would eventually become a "self-liquidating" commitment with more
exports earmarked for shipment next year.
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      Money market plunges

      By Dumisani Ndlela News Editor
      5/15/03 10:46:36 PM (GMT +2)

      THE money market this week took a dramatic plunge from a $12 billion
surplus last Friday to daily shortages of $400 million and $800 million on
Tuesday and Wednesday respectively as interest rates strengthened ahead of
Friday's release of April inflation figures.

      Money market dealers said a $10.7 billion injection from Treasury Bill
(TB) maturities failed to spur a liquid market after the central bank went
on tender to raise $15 billion through a six-month TB issue yesterday.

      The one-year TB rate firmed from 78 percent to 86 percent on Tuesday's
tender, while the six-month TB rate shot up from 79.2 percent to 96 percent
on Wednesday's tender.

      Dealers said wholesale market rates - the rate at which banks sell
cash among themselves - had been buoyant during the week, hovering between
70 and 75 percent.

      But they said the market would now closely follow the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ)'s key re-purchase (repo) rate, which stuck at 56.15 percent
on April 22 after a brief spell on the run, to get an indication of the
monetary controller's intention over the direction of interest rates.

      There was reportedly apprehension in central bank circles over
sanctioning a marked rise in interest rates, with fears running wild in the
RBZ's supervision department that a sudden and marked shift would spell
disaster to the banking sector.

      Preliminary assessments by the RBZ indicated that the banking sector
had cumulative interest sensitive gaps of negative $10,8 billion in the six
months of last year alone, and a negative $90 billion bill for 12 months
which could reduce net interest income should interest rates go up. The
banking sectors exposed are commercial banks, finance houses and discount

      The Minister of Finance, Hebert Murerwa, has already made public the
government's desire for high interest rates to curb run-away inflation and
reign-in speculative borrowing.

      "Of course we don't expect the RBZ to hike the repo until the TB rate
go beyond the repo rate," a dealer said yesterday.

      Under the repo arrangement, TBs constitute underlying security for
borrowing from the RBZ, with institutions without borrowing security paying
up to 40 percent above the repo rate.

      This effectively puts the repo rate, a money market instrument which
allows domestic banks to cover shortfalls in their daily needs, and
determines the direction of commercial lending rates, at 96.15 percent.

      Dealers indicated that hot funds currently spurring a bull-run on the
stock market might soon shift to the short-end of the market once it
regained its lustre.

      Commercial lending rates, which started the year at around 15 percent,
having been making marginal gains, still sit at a minimum charge of 55

      Murerwa has re-affirmed that the government wants a dual exchange rate
system where preferential interest rates are charged to the productive
sector while the rest of the market is left to lurch under market-determined
interest rates for non-essential and consumptive borrowing.
      This is intended to curb consumptive borrowing in order to reign-in
money supply growth through reduced credit lending.

      The RBZ has not yet verified the impact of this policy on the banking
sector, but its supervision department is wont to make sure a hike in
interest rates will not have damaging effects on the financial system.

      "The whole banking sector as a whole is prone to interest risks
especially a rise in interest rates," a banking sector source said.

      RBZ supervision sources said institutions that have high positive
interest sensitive gaps are also exposed to interest rate risk as they will
face a larger fall in the net realisable value of their assets than
liabilities in the event of a rise in interest rates.
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      Cost of equipping Parkview hospital soars by 1 150%

      Staff Reporter
      5/15/03 10:47:55 PM (GMT +2)

      THE cost of equipping Parkview hospital, which is at the centre of a
protracted legal wrangle, has soared by 1 150 percent in the past three
years to an estimated $2 billion, The Financial Gazette learnt this week.

      Bulawayo-based economic commentator, Eric Bloch, who represents the
project promoters, said $160 million had initially been budgeted for
equipping Parkview Hospital, but relentless cost increases had pushed the
figure to an estimated $2 billion.

      "The increase in costs will put a major burden on whoever will win the
legal wrangle," he said.
      Bloch said there was nothing to suggest that the legal wrangle between
the project promoters, Universal Health Care Holdings (UHCH) and its
financiers led by First Mutual Life would end soon.

      Sources at First Mutual, said the investors could be forced to change
the business plan in the wake of escalating costs of hospital equipment.

      Zimbabwe imports most of the hospital equipment. The devaluation of
the Zimbabwe dollar has fueled inflation and the price of hospital equipment
and drugs.

      There has been a tug-of-war between institutional investors in the
project and UHCH led by South African-trained doctor, Vivek Solanki over the
control and running of the hospital.

      Investors accuse Solanki of defaulting on pledges made at the start of
the project, while the medical practitioner accuses them of throwing
spanners into the project to facilitate its take-over.
      Over the past six years, the investors have made several bids to buy
out Solanki and UHCH from the project.

      Bloch said both the investors and the project promoters have lost
money as a result of the protracted legal wrangle.

      "It is a disaster to everyone involved in the project," he said.
      At one point, investors had indicated their willingness to pull out of
the project if they were reimbursed the full value of their investment plus
interest. Problems emerged when they failed to agree with UHCH on the value
of their investment".

      The institutional investors include First Mutual, Zimbabwe Development
Bank, Murray and Roberts, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority Pension
Fund, the Commercial Union and Astra Corporation.

      The hospital was built at an estimated cost of $90 million six years
ago, but is now valued at over $200 million.

      UHCH controls about 60 percent of the project, while institutional
investors own the balance.
      There have been plans to dispose of the building. But these hit the
brick wall after the property failed to find takers.
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      Fertiliser shortage threatens winter wheat crop

      By Zhean Gwaze Staff Reporter
      5/15/03 10:49:49 PM (GMT +2)

      ZIMBABWE'S winter wheat is reportedly threatened by an acute shortage
of fertiliser as the critical foreign currency shortages continue to bite

      Fertiliser firms confirmed that they have now resorted to rationing
their products because the supply in the country remains critical due to
their failure to import raw materials as a result of crippling foreign
currency shortages.

      Some farmers interviewed by the Financial Gazette this week said
Windmill Private Limited and the Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company (ZFC) were
rationing the quantities of the product to only five 50kg bags per customer.

      Windmill managing director, Andrew Humphreys, this week confirmed that
the rationing of the product was in effect because the fertiliser situation
was critical and as a result they could not meet demand.

      "The fertiliser situation has been critical for some months now and as
a result we are battling to support the industry. We have a backlog of
orders and we are trying to supply in chronological order, with the older
(orders) ones first," he said.

      Fertiliser has been in short supply in the past three years.
      Humphreys said the firms could not yet ascertain how much tonnage was
required for the wheat winter season because planting was determined by the
availability of water and there had been changes in the agriculture sector
caused by the government's land reforms.

      Farming experts say the country needs one million tonnes of fertiliser
a year because of the agrarian reform, but fertiliser firms are presently
operating at below 75 percent of their capacity because of the severe
foreign currency shortages, government's price controls and bottlenecks in
the transportation of the product.

      Fertiliser companies said they were facing problems of sourcing
adequate raw materials from Sable Chemicals and Zimbabwe Phosphate
      The two firms produce ammonium nitrate and super phosphate, which are
key raw materials in the manufacture of fertiliser and are unable to supply
the raw materials at full capacity because of foreign currency constraints
and transport logistics.

      Potash, a major ingredient in the manufacture of fertiliser, is also
imported from the Middle East, Chile and Europe and usually arrives in
Zimbabwe two months after it is ordered.
      As a result of the shortage, farmers are now forced to buy fertiliser
on the black market where it is trading at more than $8 000 for a 50kg bag.
The controlled price of Compound D and Ammonium Nitrate is $5 700 and $3 000
per 50 kg bag respectively.

      However, the shortage has been described by farming organisations as
unfortunate as they said it undermines farmers' ability to utilise available
resources such as irrigation facilities and water.
      "The winter wheat crop is very essential to the country's food output
and this shortage of fertiliser means we can not maximise on existing
facilities. As a result, we have to continue importing and this has negative
repercussions on the economy," said the Indigenous Commercial Farmers' Union
president Davison Mugabe.

      Zimbabwe consumes about 400 000 tonnes of wheat a year and most of it
is produced locally. Last year 150 000 tonnes of wheat were produced down
from 360 000 tonnes in 2001 and this resulted in severe bread shortages.
About 50 000 tonnes is normally imported as gristling wheat.
      Commercial Farmers' Union chief economist, Kuda Ndoro, said the
shortage of fertiliser impacted on the size of the crop because if a farmer
failed to apply basal dressing there was no way he could plant.

      "We are not going to see the normal winter crop because of the
fertiliser shortage. Last year, the total winter crop was 40 000 hectares
and this year it will automatically be less than that," Ndoro said.
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      NOCZIM's image seen hitting bid to raise $60b

      Staff Reporter
      5/15/03 10:50:25 PM (GMT +2)

      A BADLY tainted image could frustrate troubled National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe's (NOCZIM) efforts to raise $60 billion needed to import fuel.

      Market analysts said fuel bills (petrofin bills) issued by the
parastatal early this week through Syfrets Corporate and Merchant Bank, were
quite attractive, but investors were concerned about the negative image
created by NOCZIM over the years.

      "There are one or two investors here and there with money to buy the
bills, but at the end of the day it's a question of whose paper is it?" a
local dealer said.

      NOCZIM has been ravaged by allegations of corruption and mismanagement
blamed on the fuel crisis that has virtually brought industry to a

      Enos Chikowore, former Minister of Transport and Energy, once
described the rot at the country's sole fuel procurer as "stinking".

      NOCZIM came on the market on Tuesday seeking to raise a whopping $60
billion that will go towards the purchase of foreign currency required to
meet fuel imports.
      Zimbabwe consumes 67 million litres of fuel a month, which it has to
import at a cost of about US$40 million.

      It is estimated that between $120 billion and $150 billion is needed
this year alone to satisfy NOCZIM's financial commitments.

      NOCZIM and the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority's presence on the
money market triggered parallel market rates upwards with the United States
dollar gaining against the local currency.

      The greenback, which fetched between $1 300 and $1 400 in October, is
now going at $2 200 against the local unit.

      Money market rates, which were quoted around 60 to 65 percent last
week, could end the month averaging 85 percent, analysts said.

      They said government has, this time around, put its act together by
starving the market of new commercial paper to enable NOCZIM raise the $60
      "The issue was correctly timed because there are no competing papers
on the market," said another analyst.

      The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) is expected to come on the market
shortly after NOCZIM to mop up funds needed to purchase the current maize

      GMB is currently stuck with $48 billion in grain bills that it has
been rolling over for the past five years and need to be repaid to investors
before it can proceed to issue new paper.
      Syfrets may also bounce back after GMB with another issue of
agri-bills that would finance farmers settled under the A2 model.

      Sij Biyam, the managing director of Syfrets, told The Financial
Gazette yesterday that the petrofin bills had a number of attractions that
could entice investors.

      Apart from being guaranteed by government, the bills have a liquid
asset status that enables investors to use them as security when borrowing.

      Syfrets is targeting pension and provident funds, insurance companies,
life mutuals, commercial banks, merchant banks, financial and other public
and private institutions as well as individuals.
      Biyam said the petrofin bills were the first to be issued by the
merchant bank adding that the first advertisements issued were meant to whet
up investor appetite.

      Witness Chinyama, an economist with Kingdom Financial Holdings
Limited, was confident that NOCZIM would get the market's support, but was
quick to point out that the impact on the market could be too ghastly to

      "This will have a negative effect on inflation because the demand for
foreign currency will go up, resulting in the increase in foreign exchange
rates," he said.
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      Agribond to fund new farmers falls short of target

      Staff Reporter
      5/15/03 10:51:01 PM (GMT +2)

      AN agribond put on the market last year to raise $60 billion to fund
newly resettled farmers has so far managed to raise only $10 billion.

      Sij Biyam, the managing director of Syfrets Corporate and Merchant
Bank (Syfrets), said the money was raised in two parts, with the first batch
of the tender garnering $7 billion, while the second raised $3 billion.

      Syfrets was appointed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to lead about 15
other financial institutions in raising the money on behalf of government.

      Syfrets, a subsidiary of the Zimbabwe Banking Corporation, is also
mulling converting the bills, which are short-term money market instruments,
into bonds, which are long term.
      The money raised from the bills is expected to help the new farmer in
the acquisition of assets like tractors and irrigation equipment.

      "We are trying to convert the instruments to agribonds so to encourage
investors who have shunned the bills to participate," said Biyam.

      Analysts said inflationary pressures could deter investors from
supporting long-term paper.
      Inflation, which reached 228 percent last month, is expected to end
the year at about 500 percent.

      Biyam said the merchant bank would continue to assess market
conditions before floating new bills.

      The financing of the agricultural sector has been affected by
instability created by the chaotic land reform, launched by President Robert
Mugabe to address colonial land imbalances.
      A Harare-based economist with a banking institution said not many
investors would be keen on bonds, as long as the issue of collateral is not

      "The main issue that has to be addressed is that of collateral
security, mainly because of the way the land has been distributed.

      "The other issue, which is important to investors, is that of the
current hyperinflationary environment which affects any form of long term
investments," he said.

      The government last year tried to force institutional investors to
support the agrobills, arguing this would help beef up their portfolios with
prescribed assets as required by law. The agribills have a prescribed asset
status and bear a government guarantee.
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      Nothing more than stop-gap measures

      5/15/03 10:22:49 PM (GMT +2)

      THE National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) is on the market with
its $60 billion "petrofin bills" to raise funds to finance fuel imports. And
with a lot of money looking for a home, it may indeed just capture enough
investors in the jam-jar.

      The jumbo issue comes on the heels of an unforgettable round of
sensitive fuel price hikes that touched off discontent from a wide
cross-section of the community. Sadly these will amount to nothing more than
stop-gap measures when what the country requires are long lasting solutions
to the fuel crisis.

      These two developments are emblematic of everything that is wrong with
NOCZIM, which seems to have turned the fuel procurement issue into something
as complicated as a crossword puzzle with only half the clues and no black
squares. The country's fuel procurement agent seems stymied for which way to
look as regards the sourcing of fuel for the country. The day-to-day running
of the organisation continues to swing like a yo-yo, with not even a single
clue as to the strategic direction the beleaguered institution is headed.

      The country has its back firmly against the wall, the economy has
suffered a bruising setback as corporate Zimbabwe is feeling the sharpest
edge of the knife, industry is laden with gloom, jobs are being shed every
single day and ordinary Zimbabweans have had to endure queues as long as the
original snake, mainly due to the persistent fuel shortages.

      It is not far-fetched to say that come the interim reporting period in
a few months time, some companies will show breathtaking losses. Hundreds of
companies' future is now in the balance. In other words, because of the
debilitating fuel shortages, Zimbabwe is at the very deep end. No corporate
body or individual is insulated from this. Zimbabweans are gnashing their
teeth. This exposes the isolation of Zimbabwe as probably the only major
SADC economy that has serious fuel problems under which the economy can
easily implode. Other economies in the region might not be operating on all
cylinders but they are doing just fine.

      Zimbabwe's fuel crisis is as tricky as it gets. On one hand very
little foreign currency is going through the central bank because of a
number of factors, including the country's skewed exchange rate policy,
leaving NOCZIM having to scrounge for expensive foreign currency on the
parallel market where it is now going for as much as $2 200 to the United
States dollar. This has been aggravated by the waning competitiveness of the
country's exports on the international market. In fact the country's export
performance is pathetic. Hence the foreign currency is not easily available.

      In the not-too-distant past, because NOCZIM is a quasi-government
institution prone to interference, the institution could not price its fuel
correctly for political expediency, once again underlying how Zimbabwean
politics meshes up with business. Government refused to listen to the voice
of reason when there were calls for staggered fuel price increases as far
back as 1996. It decided in its wisdom to adopt the populist stance and
forego reasonable fuel price increases, although this was just a question of
postponing the inevitable. That was then, this is now. The government should
now awaken to a sobering reality.

      It is high time the government went back to the drawing board and
adopts a more assertive approach in dealing with the fuel issue to see what
can be done to bring sanity at NOCZIM. How are we going to rid the once
scandal-tainted organisation of its mountains of debts?

      Having said all that, the question that begs an answer is, do we need
the parastatal anyway? Shouldn't it just be disbanded and done away with?
What purpose is it serving when it cannot rise to the occasion? If it should
be retained then it should only be a regulator whose responsibility would be
to ensure that there are no malpractices in the fuel industry.
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      We are being taken for a ride

      5/15/03 10:36:23 PM (GMT +2)

      EDITOR - The propensity for Zimbabweans to be gullible is so huge that
it is not possible for us to move forward as long as we remain so innocent.

      Every time someone comes up with a well planned idea that Mugabe might
retire, we get excited and we tell the whole world that we are going to be
liberated. We start to discuss such futile topics as exit plans, immunity
from prosecution, succession, caretaker governments, and rebuilding the

      Zimbabwe is one of the most academic nations in Africa, and therein
lies its problem. We like to theorise on everything and half the time we
miss the obvious facts looking us in the face.

      Mugabe knows this and uses it to maximum effect. Jonathan Moyo knows
this but is not very good at using it in any way. The facts are plain.

      First, Mugabe cannot leave office and also avoid prosecution. The
courts can accept a negotiated immunity deal between the opposition and ZANU
PF, but that could not include any private lawsuit raised by any private
citizens whose child, spouse, brother, mother or father have died at the
hands of the Mugabe regime.

      Secondly, any immunity deal can be reneged on by the incoming
government, as happened in Chile and Zambia. It is a matter of time before
Kenya starts on the big fish.

      This is more so if it can be shown that large sums of money were
siphoned out of the country for personal use.

      Thirdly, all the operatives around Mugabe know that they would not be
included in any immunity deal. They have everything to lose by helping to
negotiate any exit plan.

      African leaders with influence are not interested in Mugabe leaving
under the current climate. This is mainly because that would raise the
African expectation for the leader to leave office when he/she has failed
the nation.

      Of the three leaders who came to Zimbabwe to look at the problem,
Obasanjo is not without legitimacy questions, Muluzi believes he should be
allowed to rule forever, and Mbeki contradicts his AU and Nepad rules each
time he opens his mouth. What example did they bring to Zimbabwe?

      Progress in Zimbabwe is in the hands of the estimated 71 percent of
the people who now know that Mugabe is not the right man for the job, and
that waiting for his death spells the death of the nation, since the economy
is depreciating faster than Mugabe is ageing.

      We also now know that our fate is not in the hands of the United
KIngdom, European Union, United States, or the United Nations. Although
their help is welcome, it should not be paramount.

      Some say that making positive decisions means certain death from the
police and army. I say our options are few. We are currently being murdered
one by one. We can choose to be murdered in the open. The number either way
is the same. Think about it.

      Joseph Sibanda,

      Co-founder of Zimbabwe Crime Registry,

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      Of 'diktats' and resignations

      5/15/03 10:19:53 PM (GMT +2)

      . . . and now to the notebook

      One could be forgiven for assuming that the four Cabinet ministers who
recently resigned from Tony Blair's government did so on account of
Zimbabwe. The jubilation with which some people welcomed the resignations
leaves one wondering what direct benefit will accrue to Zimbabwe from this

      Does this mean that Zimbabweans will start getting good governance,
foreign currency, fuel, food and everything that we so desperately need?

      Only regimes that were feeling threatened by the recent ouster of one
of their own in Baghdad would celebrate when British ministers quit over the
handling of the Iraqi issue.

      Otherwise there is nothing worth making a song and dance about.

      The latest of Blair's four ministers to resign is Clare Short, who
tendered her resignation this week. In her parting shot, Short used one word
to describe Blair's government. "Diktats".

      Short used this word to describe Blair's government which she said was
led by people who are accountable to nobody but themselves. To any
Zimbabwean this small word coincidentally comes handy in describing the
denizens of Munhumutapa Building.

      Talking about ministers resigning, Short and company decided to call
it quits because their conscience could not allow them to be party to
actions they do not subscribe to.

      CZ wonders when we will start getting ministers walking out of this
Munhumutapa madhouse because, in the forum of their own conscience, this or
that is no longer being done properly? People like Nkosana Moyo, who don't
believe in being plastered with silly titles like "amadoda sibili" when they
know they are not at all doing men's jobs.

      Anger over donor funds

      It seems the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is in trouble
with mandarins at Munhumutapa Building for allegedly working with Agric
Africa, a non-governmental organisation, to assist hapless former white
commercial farmers whose farms were expropriated by the government in
relocating to our neighbouring countries.

      Although the UNDP is disputing this claim, the allegation is a fact to
the government so it is pointless for the international body to make any

      These mandarins are taking umbrage at the fact that the same UNDP
refused to fund President Robert Mugabe's so-called agrarian revolution
despite numerous requests by the government.

      What is surprising is that we are told day and night that these same
whites are merely a bunch of unrepentant Rhodesians masquerading as
commercial farmers who are working in cahoots with imperialist forces and
the opposition MDC to plot the re-colonisation of Zimbabwe.

      Now that some people have decided, at the their own expense, to rid
Zimbabwe of these personae-non-grata who have been living in this country on
sufferance, the same patriots in the government cry tears of blood saying
the UNDP is being racist, is employing double standards this and that. So
what do we believe?

      They say the UNDP and Agric Africa should sky-jack these funds and
instead donate them to our own A1 and A2 model "farmers" who have been
disastrously experimenting with land during the past two seasons.

      If indeed there is any money meant to assist these former farmers, CZ
wonders who are we to tell the UNDP and any other NGOs how to spend their
money. It is their money and it is only them who should decide who should
benefit and who should not.

      It is a fact that since 1998 the UNDP has been advocating for an
orderly land reform, not the haphazard reform spear-headed by the rancorous
Mugabe and his rambunctious war veterans, which condemned Zimbabweans to
near almsmen.

      The fact that we have failed to meet the conditions laid down by the
donors does not preclude any other group of organised people from receiving
that aid. We only have ourselves and our grandmothers to blame for failing
to qualify for this assistance!

      Superstitious Chief Charumbira

      Chief Fortune Charumbira, also the deputy minister of Local
Government, Public Works and National Housing, says he is working on a
cleansing ceremony to exorcise the haunted roads in Masvingo where many
lives continue to be lost in road accidents.

      Good idea, it seems, but is this the best suggestion the good chief
can hazard?

      Why does our good chief want to complicate simple issues by trying to
invoke quaint superstitions? The roads in questions are narrow and have
sharp curves making them dangerous for any user especially in the light of
the high number heavy vehicles passing through the area.

      Why can not the chief-cum-minister first try to use his influence to
suggest that the roads be widened before he resorts to juju and other such
antediluvian solutions? If the spirits continue to kill people in the areas
even after the roads have been widened, then we can give his idea a try. If
it works, that will be good for every one because we may even export it and
get a lot of forex!

      CZ is not simply opposed to the good chief's idea for the fun and
pleasure of opposing it. The truth is that in the past such all-night
seances in the same area have ended up being heavy sex orgies as some of the
randy participants used the event to attend to their carnal tastes.

      And Chihuri, the superstar

      Police commissioner
      Augustine Chihuri, never mind his office's record of torture,
selective application of justice and the whole host of their serious human
rights crimes, continues to shine on the regional scene. CZ wonders what
yardstick those who repeatedly honour our police chief are using. Is it an
African or international yardstick?
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      Zim's defenceless dollar takes heavy knock

      By Dumisani Ndlela News Editor
      5/15/03 9:41:44 PM (GMT +2)

      ZIMBABWE'S defenceless dollar took heavy knocks from its major trading
partner currencies this week as authorised dealers invaded the parallel
market to mop up hard cash for the embattled National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) and other key parastatals, dealers said.

      The Zimbabwe dollar, which had for the past three months found a home
on the 1 300 to a US unit level on the parallel market, weakened further
into negative territory during the week to hit its lowest level ever at 2
000 to the greenback.

      "There's not going to be any reprieve to the Zimbabwe dollar," warned
John Robertson, an independent economic consultant. "It could hit 3 000
within the next few months."

      NOCZIM has instructed its bankers to secure US dollars from the
parallel market "at any price" as it battles to clear arrears with its
international suppliers and also raise enough money for its oil procurement

      Dealers and analysts said the situation had become desperate for
foreign currency hunters as the once-thriving parallel market, which had
been offering lucrative rates to exporters compared to the official market,
was now starved since a government decision forcing exporters to surrender
all receipts to the central bank.

      The decision had been made at the same time the government announced a
devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar from 55 to 824 to the US unit at the end
of February in a move that was designed to encourage receipts in the ailing
interbank market.

      But dealers said this week that export receipts had dwindled to
historic lows and pressure was now expected to pile up on the government to
allow a further devaluation of the local currency on the official market at
a review meeting with stakeholders this month.

      "There is virtually nothing in the interbank market and dealers are
busy scouting for foreign currency on the parallel market for NOCZIM," a
commercial bank foreign currency dealer said. "It's a desperate situation in
the market and one that gives an indication of doom."

      Robertson added: "Exporters are waiting for a devaluation and they are
now holding on to their export consignments. The parallel market used to be
fed by exporters with excess receipts but that changed when the Reserve Bank
started capturing all the forex from exporters."

      The government early this year announced that all export receipts
would be held by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), which would
compulsorily take 50 percent for disbursement to NOCZIM and the Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) for oil and electricity imports,
respectively. The other 50 percent would be made available to exporters on
application for approved import requirements or be remitted to the RBZ at a
rate of 824 local units to the greenback.

      This move meant that exporters who used to divert their excess
receipts to the parallel market at better rates were unable to do so.

      Market watchers said the parallel foreign currency market was no
longer the hive of activity that it used to be, but still played a crucial
role in determining the direction of the Zimbabwe dollar in a highly
inflationary environment beset by critical foreign currency shortages.

      They said the main drive behind the parallel market was now the
cross-border traders, smugglers and Zimbabweans working abroad.

      ZESA this week won a key concession with the RBZ allowing it to charge
its corporate export customers in US dollars in a bid to beef up its foreign
currency account for payment of electricity imports, but there was still
mounting pressure which could force the utility to resort to the parallel

      Publicly, the government has condemned the parallel market, which
forced it to unceremoniously ban all bureaux de change operations in the

      But privately, sources said, it was still an active accomplice to the
unofficial market, with all its major parastatals - Air Zimbabwe, NOCZIM and
ZESA, among others - buying heavily from it.

      "The dollar will continue to suffer because there is an absence of
confidence in the country," said Lovemore Kadenge, president of the Zimbabwe
Economics Society.
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      Insurance fees mandatory at Air Zimbabwe

      Staff Reporter
      5/15/03 9:42:44 PM (GMT +2)

      THE national airline Air Zimbabwe has introduced a $19 000 insurance
fee for passengers using domestic flights and $64 536 for all travellers on
aircraft plying regional routes, an airline official said.

      The fees will act as cover in the event of a major disaster.

      Travellers to Europe would have to pay $47 000. The costs would
however be factored in on purchase of an airline ticket.

      This development is in line with new international aviation
requirements to ensure travellers are compensated in case of an accident
during flight.

      With the new regulations, Zimbabweans would pay a $20 000 fee, which
includes the usual $1 000 departure fee.

      Air Zimbabwe managing director Rambai Chingwena said that the
insurance was not only being charged by Air Zimbabwe but by airlines

      "The airline insurance is not being charged by Air Zimbabwe alone but
airlines across the world," said Chingwena.

      "The decision to make customers pay for insurance came after what
happened on September 11 2001."

      On that date two airlines which had been hijacked by terrorists rammed
into the Twin Towers in New York, United States, killing all passengers

      Airlines across the world experienced a major decline in travellers
due to the tragic event.

      Zimbabwe has experienced a drastic decline in traffic due to the
perceived risks in the country associated with the turbulent economy and
political upheavals.

      Many European Union governments, including the United States and
Australia, have issued warnings to their nationals against travelling to

      Chingwena said that the money paid as insurance is not handled locally
but submitted to a pool of international funds.

      "When a major tragic event like what happened then (September 11)
takes place, the cost would not be passed to an airline but the insurance
fee paid out would come in handy," he said

      "Once the funds are paid they are submitted to a central depository
fund which administers them."
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      Stockfeed prices shoot up by 84 percent

      Staff Reporter
      5/15/03 10:09:35 PM (GMT +2)
      STOCKFEED prices this week went up by between 24 and 84 percent,
worsening the crisis in the livestock industry at a time the country is
battling to rebuild the national herd.

      Industry players said this week the recent hike would trigger a sharp
rise in the price of beef, already beyond the means of many of the country's
restive population.

      They said what had particularly pushed the stockfeed prices up was the
increase in the cost of soyabeans, the main input in the manufacture of

      "The price of soyabeans has gone up tremendously from $210 000 a tonne
to about $383 000 and any stockfeeds with a content of more than 40 percent
soyabeans were greatly affected and are now the most expensive," a senior
official at Agrifoods, Zimbabwe's largest stockfeed producer, said.

      The official, who declined to be named, said that the non-availability
of milling offals and fuel for deliveries, which they were sourcing from the
black market, were also key contributors to the increase.

      A 50kg bag of high performance fattening meal (beef feed) now costs
$13 170, up from $5 955 while the same quantity of broiler mash now costs
$23 995, up from $21 481.

      Miscellaneous feeds such as horse meal have gone up by between 40 and
50 percent while all concentrates have gone up by more than 61 percent.

      Soyabean output dropped by 28 percent to 50 000 tonnes this year,
against Zimbabwe's annual requirements of 120 000 tonnes.

      Analysts said the country might this year be forced to import
soyabeans but wondered if this would be possible given the country's acute
shortage of foreign currency. Besides, any move to complement the country's
shortfalls with imports would push the cost of stockfeed up, they said.

      But if imports fail to materialise, further production cutbacks were
envisaged at a time when stockfeed manufacturers are meeting less than 50
percent of farmers' needs.

      Livestock producers said the shortage of stockfeed had contributed to
a decline in output, already low because of instability in the agricultural

      The national beef herd currently stands at an estimated 250 000, a
drop from 6.5 million two years ago, while pork products had declined as the
number of slaughtered pigs fell from the normal 250 000 a year to 95 000
last year.

      The drop has been largely blamed on the government's controversial
land reform exercise that resulted in the displacement of scores of
commercial white farmers.
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      Effect of real interest rates on savings, pension funds

      5/15/03 10:25:33 PM (GMT +2)

      INTEREST rates have moved up sharply in the past month, much to the
alarm of those who believe the cost of borrowing should be kept very low and

      The government led the way in this thinking when it cut interest rates
to a fraction of the rate of inflation at the beginning of 2001, after
trying to keep them roughly equal to the rate of inflation for the previous
eight years.

      But now, with interest rates having doubled to about 50 percent,
questions are being asked about the need for the changes.

      The government, the biggest borrower by far, did not want the costs of
servicing its Z$350 billion debt to rise and no borrower in the business
community actually wants to pay lenders more money.

      Lenders, on the other hand, see the problem very differently. They
have seen the return on their savings drop so much that a large part of the
value of their savings has disappeared. With the capital repayments plus
interest, they do end up with more dollars than they lent in the beginning,
but the buying power of those dollars has fallen a long way short of the
buying power of the money they lent.

      For the borrowers, that is not much of a problem to start with and
they believe it is not their problem anyway. But after a time it becomes a
very big problem. Because costs are rising with our worst-in-the-world
inflation rate, they usually want to carry on borrowing ever increasing

      But the lenders no longer have the quantities of money needed, simply
because they have lost so much of their capital while the interest rates
were being kept to such a small fraction of the inflation rate.

      Lenders have not received much sympathy from the public, but that
reflects a major - and costly - misunderstanding.

      The public believes the lenders are the banks and other financial
institutions and the pension funds. They see that the finance houses are
making bigger profits than ever before and that the pension funds own most
of the biggest buildings in every city. But these organisations are just the
"middlemen". They are lending money that does not belong to them.

      It belongs to you. It is your bank deposits and your pension
contributions, including your contributions to the National Social Security
Authority. It is your endowment policy premiums, your POSB savings, your
annuity payments and even your insurance premiums.

      And over the past two years and four months, you have been robbed,
systematically and ruthlessly, through the deeply negative real rates of
interest. To calculate the real rate of interest, simply subtract the
interest rate from the inflation rate. For March 2003, the answer will be
roughly minus 180 percent.

      The annual inflation rate at the beginning of 2001 was 57 percent. By
January 2002, it had doubled to 116.7 percent, but lenders had been
compensated less than 20 percent over the period. At an average of 71.9
percent inflation and a negative real rate of interest of about 60 percent,
the interest earned by lenders fell 42.5 percent short of the amount needed
to restore lenders' purchasing power at the beginning of 2001.

      By January 2003, inflation had reached 208.1 percent and the average
rate for 2002 was 133.2 percent. Lenders had been compensated less than 25
percent through the year, so the effective interest rate was minus 108

      The buying power of your money, which was lent to the government in
January 2002 for 12 months, and repaid with 25 percent interest in January
2003, had been reduced to 40.5 percent of its original value.

      To help preserve the buying power of their existing capital and
savings, people in business, the corporate investors, directed attention to
speculative commercial activities that usually involved smart trading deals
and, in particular, deals in foreign exchange. For those who were active and
knowledgeable in certain markets, the strategies often proved successful,
for them.

      In succeeding, however, these same activities led to a deepening
scarcity of foreign exchange and a steep fall in the parallel market
exchange rate for the Zimbabwe dollar. These changes added further to
inflation and to the difficulties experienced by those on Zimbabwe pensions
or dependent on interest earned on their savings.

      For those able to step up their prices or demand higher salaries, the
rising inflation has been a less serious challenge than for those on fixed
incomes. Most pensioners have suffered a very serious fall in their
standards of living. However, those people who have to live on interest
earnings have suffered much more as their incomes have been cut to a
fraction of their former levels.

      The recent increase in interest rates has not saved them, simply
because inflation has also increased. The negative real rate of return,
still at about minus 180 percent, is no better than before. Many have had to
resort to using their capital to meet day-to-day expenses, further reducing
their interest income and guaranteeing a quicker slide into poverty.

      Far from respecting and rewarding those who have contributed their
life's work to Zimbabwe, the country is generating a class of impoverished
senior citizens whose capital is being systematically confiscated.

      Large numbers of people are being added to this class every day, and
they have to watch helplessly as the value of their savings is rapidly
eroded as a direct result of a seriously flawed, but deliberately chosen
government policy.

      If the negative interest rates remain in place, the same fate will
await future pensioners as well. Everyone's contributions to their future
pensions are being rendered progressively less valuable as their pension
funds continue to invest these vital savings on these damaging terms.

      In effect, the government is forcing our senior citizens to subsidise
the servicing of the nation's domestic debt through an immoral process that
is reducing defenceless people to penury. The same process is also
destroying the pension fund industry, which was previously a principal
source of investment funding for the business sector and loan capital for

      By forcing the dissipation of the effective value of the nation's
savings, the government should take seriously the fact that it is
undermining its own source of capital to fund future budget deficits.

      The country's ability to support its own economic recovery in due
course is also being badly undermined. This will make inflows of foreign
capital - the savings of other nations and other nationals - essential if
any future recovery is to be successful.

      Meanwhile, the immediate victims and casualties of this process,
Zimbabwe's own pensioners, desperately and urgently need assistance.

      The government's decision to pay them a rate of return that
effectively confiscates three quarters of their capital over two years is,
without doubt, an immoral use of authority. In many countries, such a
practice would be illegal. It should be made illegal in Zimbabwe too, and
the government should accept its responsibility to pay compensation to the

      John Robertson is a past president of the Zimbabwe Economics Society
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      It's only the 'povo' who can legitimise Mugabe

      5/15/03 10:10:51 PM (GMT +2)

      WHAT dialogue did Thabo Mbeki, Olusegun Obasanjo and Bakili Muluzi try
to re-initiate by having separate talks with Robert Mugabe and then Morgan
Tsvangirai, instead of providing the fora for them to meet face to face?

      Mugabe or Tsvangirai are not having any problems with South Africa,
Nigeria or Malawi, but the problems are between themselves so the logical
relevance of the troika is to chair the talks and not to act as frivolous
middlemen who run with a message from one party to the other until their
ultimate purpose is lost.

      The tragedy of the ill-fated ZANU PF/MDC talks is that both Tsvangirai
and Mugabe are communicating via the media or via South Africa, Nigeria or
Malawi and yet the problem is right here in Zimbabwe.

      Mugabe should be humble enough to confront Tsvangirai, and straight to
his face, ask for recognition as legitimate President. It's no use telling
the world and all who will care to listen that he will not entertain any
dialogue with the opposition leader unless he legitimises him and withdraws
the poll court petition.

      Tsvangirai cannot and will never legitimise Mugabe. Tsvangirai does
not have the mandate to legitimise Mugabe and this is what Mugabe should
know before opening his mouth.

      In all fairness, it is apt to say it is this guilt inherent in the
President that he is illegitimate that has not given him the willpower to
rescue the tattered economy of this country. The President is being nagged
by an ever-persistent conscience, which like a ghost, is haunting him
indicating that nothing good will come of a stolen mandate.

      By imploring Tsvangirai to endorse him, Mugabe is at once signalling
his fear of what the MDC election petition might reveal - that not only were
the polls heavily flawed but also human rights abuses are rampant in the

      Mugabe's pre-conditions for the inter-party dialogue to commence
reveal an acute sense of panic and desperation. There can be no guarantee
that once the talks are in progress he will not demand other conditions for
them to continue. It is therefore prudent to say that as long as Mugabe is
president, nothing good can come out of those talks.

      Even though Tsvangirai may recognise Mugabe as president, it will not
wash away the guilt, panic and desperation Mugabe feels and will continue to
feel for the rest of his life.

      Even if Tsvangirai withdraws the election petition from the courts,
that will not increase the number of ruling party supporters in the disputed
constituencies - indeed it would actually increase Tsvangirai's support base
for being a mature political calculator.

      The opposition leader should not be drawn into trying to make demands
that will render the inter-party dialogue impossible. In fact he should make
as many compromises as will ensure that he is brought to the same table with
the ruling party leader to map the way forward for this bleeding country.

      Tsvangirai should bear in mind that time is running out for him as
well and if he is not seen to be doing something such as dragging Mugabe to
the negotiating table or administering the "final push" as he calls it, then
he is likely to face a counter-revolution soon.

      The situation must be clear to Zimbabweans that dialogue is certainly
out of the question before the "final push", which will take the form of
street protests, can materialise.

      Already many people are in a dilemma as to what will solve the
Zimbabwe crisis.

      Dialogue has been attempted before but it came to nought and so it
will not come as a surprise if this second effort to talk Zimbabwe out of
the dire plight it finds itself in hits yet another brick wall.

      Stayaways have been tried as well, but the government has simply
ignored their repercussions and instead gone on to increase the price of
fuel by over 200 percent.

      The ZCTU called for another stayaway to protest against the fuel price
hike but Energy Minister Amos Midzi dismissed their efforts as a dream. And
a dream it was for after the stayaway we woke up to find that indeed the
trebled price of fuel was there to stay.

      The only other option that the MDC has never dared to engage in is the
street protests which its leader has dubbed the "final push".

      Perhaps it is the best option at the moment for it might bring us back
to an option that has failed - the inter-party talks.

      It is clear that these talks have never really been successful because
there has never been a major meeting of the minds between the two parties.
On the other hand although Mbeki, Obasanjo and Muluzi havae recognised the
MDC as a force to reckon with, Mugabe still belittles them and in fact feels
he must not sanctify the opposition by engaging it in dialogue for the
national good.

      Well, a child will only know that fire is dangerous when he gets

      At 79, Mugabe mustn't be a child as that "final push" is bound to
come, sooner or later.
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