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

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Zim Independent

Kondozi moves to Mozambique
Augustine Mukaro
ONE of Zimbabwe's largest horticultural exporting companies, Kondozi Fresh
Produce, is relocating to Mozambique after the invasion of its farm by Zanu
PF supporters and government officials three weeks ago.

Kondozi was an Export Processing Zone-registered firm but this did not save
its operations from the predatory Agricultural and Rural Development
Authority (Arda) which has taken over the farm. A court order was equally

The move into Mozambique comes after government complained through the
public media that Nigeria, which has been acting as a mediator in the
Zimbabwean political crisis, was taking in its former white commercial

Kondozi's abrupt closure is set to adversely affect the company's
financiers, Barclays-Fincor, Zimbank-Syfrets and the African Banking
Corporation who had collectively invested about $37 billion in the project.

It exported produce to supermarkets in Britain, Europe, and South Africa.

Kondozi production director and former farm-owner, Piet de Klerk, confirmed
the relocation saying it had become difficult to operate locally, adding
that they had informed their financiers.

"We cannot carry on with business here and we have no intention of putting
up another project in Zimbabwe," he said.

"In fact, we have overtures from Manica, just across the border in
Mozambique. The governor, Soares Nhaca, has offered to give us free land so
that we can set up a business on the same model as Kondozi," he said

De Klerk said bilateral donors had indicated that they would provide
financing and equity for the relocation of the project to Mozambique.

"It's not only Mozambique who approached us. Zambia and a number of
neighbouring countries have overwhelmed us with their proposals.

"The Kondozi set-up was a unique model for the whole of Africa with the
biggest out-grower base and engaging the largest pool of local community
participation," De Klerk said.

Although there have been claims that Arda would take over the farm, it has
since emerged that senior politicians are using the parastatal as a front.

Kondozi, which was invaded over Easter, had kept some of its business
running by collecting the produce from out-growers and exporting it through
one of their subsidiaries.

Arda has confiscated four vehicles that were used by management plus

The Independent on Sunday attended a meeting at Kondozi which Vice President
Joseph Msika and other officials were expected to address. However, none of
the scheduled speakers turned up.

At the meeting, attended by over 4 000 displaced workers, Chief Marange said
Msika had given an undertaking to correct the situation at the farm.

"We have been given assurances that the situation will get back to normal,"
Marange said.

"We urge you to remain patient." A fortnight ago chiefs and their headman
from Manicaland visited Msika at his offices in Harare to air their
grievances and he reportedly issued a directive to Manicaland province
governor Major-General Mike Nyambuya that Arda should vacate Kondozi.

Msika met the chiefs in his capacity as the chairman of the Cabinet Rural
Development Committee.

Reports of Msika's directive were shot down by Information minister Jonathan
Moyo, leaving Arda to continue occupying the farm.

Moyo declared that there was "no going back on Kondozi".

De Klerk said in the two-week disturbances Kondozi had lost in excess of $60
billion worth of business and equipment.

He said they had lost over $20 billion worth of movable assets alone which
included 48 tractors, four Scania trucks, five UD trucks, several T35
trucks, four privately owned vehicles that were used by management and over
26 motorbikes.
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Zim Independent

Staggering 20 000% Zimsec fee hike rejected
Itai Dzamara
CHAOS could once again affect the administration of O-level and A-level
examinations this year after revelations that government has turned down a
proposal by the Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council (Zimsec) to have fees
increased by up to 20 000%.

The Zimsec board had proposed to the Ministry of Education to have O-level
examination fees raised from $100 to $20 000 per subject and those for
A-level from $1 000 to $100 000. These represent increases of 10 000% and 20
000% for O and A-level subjects respectively.

Zimsec information and publications manager, Faith Chasokela, last week
confirmed in a written response that the examinations body was waiting for
government's response to the proposed fees. She however evaded the question
regarding the proposed margins of increment. Sources at Zimsec provided the
figures to the Zimbabwe Independent.

"Government makes the decision on these levels and we are still awaiting the
response to our proposals," she said.

The Zimsec management has said that its failure to pay markers in time in
the last couple of years as well as administer the examinations properly
have been caused by funding constraints.

Chasokela stated that Zimsec had "indicated the true costs of examinations"
to government. "We have indicated the true costs of examinations per unit
and it is the prerogative of government to decide how much is paid by the
client and by government as subsidy respectively," she said.

Sources this week said the ministry had rejected Zimsec's proposals and was
expected to order the examinations body to stick to the old fees.

The examination board has been unable to get assistance from government
since the Zanu PF administration implemented a populist decision of
localising O-level and A-level exams in 2001. The University of Cambridge in
the United Kingdom used to run the examinations.

Question paper leakages and mix-ups of results have characterised the
running of examinations during the past three years.

Last year there were serious mix-ups in the issuing of results with some
candidates getting grades in subjects they didn't sit whilst others failed
to get marks for subjects they had written.
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Zim Independent

Mugabe's mansion sealed off

THE government has designated the area around President Mugabe's newly-built
mansion in Harare's Borrowdale suburb a protected area.

This means access to the area will now be restricted as is the case with the
environs of State House and Zimbabwe House along Chancellor Avenue.

The designation of the property, in the Helensvale area of Borrowdale, was
made through a Government Gazette published last Friday.

The Ministry of Home Affairs issued the order in terms of Section 5 of the
Protected Places and Areas Act.

The oriental-looking mansion, which is situated along Borrowdale Brooke
Road, has been under construction for at least three years and is nearing
completion. There is speculation that Mugabe would soon be moving into the
house tucked away in a thickly wooded area overlooked by several other
private homesteads.

Motorists travelling along Borrowdale Brooke Road only have a fleeting
glimpse of the property's blue roof, guarded round the clock by armed
members of the ZRP's Support Unit located strategically at regular intervals
along the winding stretch of the road.

Security is now expected to increase in the area. It is however not clear
whether the government will close Borrowdale Brooke Road at night as is the
case with Chancellor Avenue, which runs between State House and Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwe Independent last year heard that officials from the Office of
the President had interviewed property owners in the vicinity of the
presidential mansion for security checks.

The government has also declared two other properties protected areas, that
is Elphida Farm, owned by the state arms company Zimbabwe Defence
Industries, and Wilton Pipe Station in Marondera. It could not be
established at the time of going to press what Wilton Pipe Station is or
what it does.

The Government Gazette said security would be increased in protected areas.

"These areas should be surrounded by a security fence and warning sign posts
shall be erected. Visitors will be issued with passes and a visitors'
register shall be maintained at the gate," the notice said.

Apart from state properties, the only other house Mugabe was known to occupy
was his rural home in Zvimba. - Staff Writer.
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Zim Independent

Tsvangirai threatens to withdraw councilors

OPPOSITION Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai has
threatened to withdraw all his party's councillors from Town House in Harare
because government has usurped their powers.

In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent this week, Tsvangirai said
there had been a "de facto coup" in Harare and Bulawayo after the
appointment of governors for the two cities.

Witness Mangwende was appointed governor for Harare just before the city's
first popularly-elected executive mayor Elias Mudzuri was sacked.

Tsvangirai said his party's executive would soon meet to decide on a course
of action.

"We have been discussing with the MDC Harare province," said Tsvangirai.

"We have been discussing with the councillors and the provincial executive
in Harare. Now the issue has to be taken to the executive for a political
discussion on it.which is that if we are not serving any purpose, then the
mandate has been pulled from under our feet. We are no longer serving our
purpose. We should consider whether we should continue serving in the city
council affairs."

Tsvangirai said Zanu PF had been running the city anyway.

"If people undertake to grab the city without the mandate of the electorate,
what is at stake is democracy. What has been sacrificed is the whole
democratic legitimacy of whatever Chombo is doing in city council," he said.

Tsvangirai said Chombo was not willing to hold fresh elections in Harare.

"What we now have in Harare is effectively a commission because councillors
who were elected by the people cannot meet and their mayor has been fired,"
said Tsvangirai.

l Meanwhile, Mudzuri has not moved out of the mayoral mansion guest-house
despite claims by the state media that he had vacated the mansion.

In an interview yesterday, Mudzuri said he was still staying at the mansion
and would not go anywhere unless the courts ruled so.

"I am still staying at the mansion and I won't be going anywhere," Mudzuri

Mudzuri said municipal police have already started harassing his workers
demanding the keys. - Staff Writer.
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Zim Independent

McKinnon lobbies African leaders

WHILE in Pretoria to attend President Thabo Mbeki's inauguration this week,
Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon lobbied African leaders to find
a resolution to Zimbabwe's deepening crisis.

Since Zimbabwe's indefinite suspension and subsequent pullout from the
Commonwealth last December, President Robert Mugabe has attacked the
world-wide body and called it evil.

"The chemistry between the Commonwealth and Zimbabwe is clearly not
conducive" to the 54-nation group trying to be directly involved in any
diplomatic efforts, said McKinnon.

"Other leaders are talking to President Mugabe. Many African leaders want to
see that Zimbabwe returns to the Commonwealth family. Zimbabwe has an
important place in the Commonwealth," he said between meetings with African
heads of state. "We will work with African members, and others, to help
resolve Zimbabwe's problems."

Looking towards Zimbabwe's 2005 parliamentary elections, McKinnon
said:"Zimbabwe is out of the Commonwealth so we are unlikely to be asked to
observe the elections. But as long as Zimbabwe adheres to the Southern
African Development Community norms and standards for democratic elections,
then it would be a great step forward as it would reflect the free will of
the people. If the Zimbabwean elections were held on the same basis as the
South African elections, that would go a long way towards solving Zimbabwe's
problems." - Special Correspondent.
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Zim Independent

Air Zim boss faces uncertain future
Itai Dzamara
AIR Zimbabwe management on Wednesday held a meeting with workers'
representatives to discuss a simmering wage dispute.

The marathon meeting reportedly spilled into the early hours of yesterday
and was attended by Transport ministry permanent secretary Karikoga Kaseke.

The future of Air Zimbabwe managing director Rambai Chingwena wasn't clear
by late yesterday with reports suggesting that he had tendered his
resignation to government. Other reports claimed that Chingwena had been
given a dismissal notice by the Ministry of Transport.

Workers at the beleaguered national airline downed tools on Monday after the
parastatal failed to honour its promise to award a 120% pay increase this
month. Workers demanded a 300% increment last month but accepted
management's proposal of a 120% hike this month whilst negotiations
continue. However, it emerged last Friday that the national airline had
stuck to the old salaries and wages for this month.

Air Zimbabwe legal and corporate affairs manager, Arthur Manase, yesterday
confirmed that the Wednesday meeting had spilled into the early hours of
yesterday but declined to comment on Chingwena's fate.

"I can confirm that there was a meeting yesterday (Wednesday) that lasted to
until after midnight," said Manase. "However, I can't offer you details or
outcomes of the meeting. I am also not in a position to comment on
Chingwena's future and current status."

Sources privy to Wednesday's meeting which was attended by members of the
Air Zimbabwe board said Chingwena was blamed for the wage dispute.

"We understand he (Chingwena) will be leaving soon," said a source who
attended the Wednesday meeting and is following the goings-on at Air
Zimbabwe. "He has either resigned or been fired. There has been mounting
pressure on him to quit."

Chingwena, who was said to be out of his office yesterday, is reported to
have refused to shoulder the blame citing Air Zimbabwe's viability problems.

Efforts to verify Chingwena's position with Kaseke were unscuccessful
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Zim Independent

A two-donkey affair
Loughty Dube
NEW farmers failed to take advantage of the return of the livestock show to
the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) where less than 20 cows are
being exhibited in the livestock section.

Only two donkeys are evident in the livestock display that is being
exhibited at the waning international showcase.

The livestock section of the ZITF is a traditional crowd puller and
thousands of people usually flock to the animal stands to view prize bulls
and other livestock on exhibition.

However, this year about three-quarters of the cattle pens are empty while
stands for rabbits and sheep are deserted.

The prize bulls that used to attract crowds in the past were nowhere to be
seen while a few cows belonging to Agricultural Research and Extension
Services (Arex) held fort at the Bulawayo Agricultural Show stand.

Economic commentator and MDC economic adviser, Eddie Cross, said the poor
turnout at the livestock show was due to the absence of former white
commercial farmers.

"The commercial farmers who are supposed to support the agricultural show
are not operating at the moment and there is no chance that you will get any
livestock for the show under the circumstances," Cross said.

He said even the industrial side of the ZITF was pathetic because companies
were struggling to survive under harsh economic conditions.

"Until we get back to normal political and economic activities there will
not be a change to the situation on the ground and exhibiting at the ZITF is
a waste of time as exporters are closing shop," Cross said.

An Arex official told the Zimbabwe Independent that all the cows at this
year's show belonged to his organisation.

"All the animals in the few stands that you see here belong to Arex and we
are yet to see whether other farmers will bring animals for exhibition
before the close of the trade fair," said the official.

The livestock show was cancelled last year after the outbreak of foot and
mouth and anthrax.

There was a marked absence of big organisations at this year's showcase
owing to the troubled economy.

Eleven countries are taking part at ZITF 2004. They include Botswana,
Malawi, Kenya, Italy, South Africa, Mozambique, Nigeria, China and Austria.

A total of 627 local exhibitors are taking part.
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Zim Independent

'Zim can't demand directors extradition'
Itai Dzamara
GOVERNMENT has no grounds on which to demand from Britain the extradition of
Zanu PF directors who allegedly fled the country following the launch of a
probe into the ruling party's companies.

The Joshi brothers, now believed to be in the United Kingdom, this week
released a statement pleading their innocence of any wrongdoing.

Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa said earlier this month that the
Zanu PF directors would be extradited.

The Joshis' lawyer Jonathan Samkange yesterday said there were no firm
grounds on which they could be extradited.

"Firstly, the manner in which it is done, whereby a lot of noise is made
before investigations are done, is futile. It leaves the state or even the
police with insufficient grounds on which to seek extradition of the accused
persons," said Samkange.

"Secondly, as things stand there won't be any cooperation from countries
such as the UK in the bid to extradite the individuals. Zimbabwe is still
considered a rogue state."

Responding to threats by government earlier this month that all those who
committed crimes and had fled the country would be arrested, the Joshi
brothers, Jayant and Manharlal, who are directors of Zanu PF-owned Zidco
Holdings, said they had not had any allegations levelled against them.

"We issue this statement in order to refute any allegations of corruption or
fraud," they said.

"Various statements in the press have inferred that we have been involved in
various corrupt and dishonest activities either through Zidco Holdings or in
our personal capacities.

"We vehemently deny any involvement in such activities and are prepared to
co-operate with the authorities in order to prove our innocence," they said
through their lawyers.

The Joshi brothers reiterated the position made by other Zimbabweans such as
NMB directors who fled the country that they will only return when assured
of their safety.

"We intend to return home in the near future when we are confident that our
personal safety is not under threat. We fully support the anti-corruption
drive initiated by government and condemn any activity that does not foster
the growth and prosperity of the economy of Zimbabwe."

President Mugabe promulgated the Presidential Powers (Amendment) (Criminal
Procedure and Evidence Act) regulations in February, which has a provision
for the detention of a suspected person for up to a month without appearing
in court.

Zanu PF central committee member and businessman James Makamba is still in
custody more than two months after he was arrested on charges of
externalising foreign currency.
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Zim Independent

'Attacks will not deter me' - Ncube

OUTSPOKEN Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube says he will not be deterred
by attacks from the state media and other quarters in his fight against
human rights in the country.

Ncube was responding to a salvo fired by state radio and newspapers after he
was chosen, together with South Africa's Desmond Tutu, as patron of two aid
funds set up to raise money for human rights-related lawsuits and legal
reform campaigns in Zimbabwe.

"The attacks by the state media will not deter me," said Ncube. "Why should
they attack me and skirt real issues affecting the country when the issues
are clear? We need good governance and we do not want to be abused by a
dictator," Ncube said.

He said he was glad to become patron of the two aid funds but was saddened
by the suffering of Zimbabwean people.

"There is low morale in all sections of the population and that is a big
concern as people are not employed and we have serious starvation but the
government wants us to believe that people are only dying of Aids," he said.

The two funds were launched on Tuesday last week at St Paul's Cathedral in

The funds - the Zimbabwe Defence and Aid Fund and the Zimbabwe Aid
Foundation - aim to support those who have become victims of illegal
detentions or malicious prosecutions.

"I feel honoured to work with Desmond Tutu. I have great respect for him for
his unwavering fight for human rights in his country and the world in
general. He is a great man," he said.

Speaking after the launch of the two funds last week, Tutu, a vocal critic
of Mugabe's government, said the world couldn't stand by and watch a tragedy
unfold "without becoming complicit through apathy".

He said a similar fund, supported by the international community, saved a
lot of people in South Africa from the gallows, including the country's
first black president, Nelson Mandela. - Staff Writer.
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Zim Independent

ZDI/Arda ignore court order, occupy Charleswood
Munyaradzi Wasosa
ZIMBABWE Defence Industries (ZDI) and the Agricultural and Rural Development
Authority (Arda) have taken over Chimanimani MP Roy Bennett's Charleswood
Estate in contravention of a High Court order barring the government from
acquiring the farm, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.

A High Court application filed by the farm's shareholders said defence
forces had taken over the farm. The farm manager, Sunface Bhaudhi, in his
affidavit said military agents had invaded the farm during Easter.

"On Good Friday, 9 April 2004, heavily armed members of the Zimbabwe
National Army (ZNA) and the ZRP Support Unit led by a soldier identifying
himself as Dzapasi, forcibly invaded and surrounded Charleswood Estate," he

Bhaudhi said the army forced some of the farm workers to sign up as ZDI
workers and ordered a number of them to leave immediately.

"Dzapasi explained that the basis of the forcible 'ejectment' was that
Charleswood Estate had now become Zimbabwe Defence Industries land," he

ZDI is a wholly owned government company, which manufactures ammunition,
weapons, ordnance and military uniforms.

Bennett in an interview said ZDI and Arda had clashed over control of the

"I have been informed that there is a lot of tension between the army and
Arda officials as to who is in control of Charleswood," he said.

The estate is a major producer of coffee for export and has Export
Processing Zone (EPZ) status. Bhaudhi said the army had taken over the
coffee mills at the farm.

Court papers to hand say a considerable amount of potential foreign currency
had been lost due to the invasion.

"We had secured a deal to sell coffee to foreign buyers including a Korean
company called K&Z Incorporated, who expect a delivery of 18 tonnes,"
Bhaudhi said. "I would estimate the loss would be in the region of US$200
000 which could have benefited the country."

Due to the disruptions of production at the farm, the future of over 1 000
farm workers remains unclear.

"In the absence of normal productivity, it would be difficult for
Charleswood Estate to continue paying its large work force," Bhaudhi said.

He said the farm's six managers were immediately ordered to vacate the farm.

"The six of us are currently living as internally displaced persons in a
place of safety in Mutare," he said.

On the farm, Bennett, an MDC MP, is an equal partner with Walter Johnson of
Mawenje tourist lodge, a project of the Zimbabwe Investment Centre.

The two have since filed an urgent High Court application, suing the
government for the fresh invasion and subsequent disruptions of business on
the farm by the army and police.

The Independent has in its possession a copy of the application dated April

Cited as respondents are Manicaland governor, retired Major General Mike
Nyambuya, the Home Affairs minister, police commissioner, Defence minister,
the ZNA commander, and the State Security minister.

Bennett this week confirmed that his farm had been taken over by the

"Yes, and my workers have also been forced to work as employees of the state
on my farm, yet it has not been listed for compulsory acquisition," he said.

Bennett said government agents came for Johnson on April 14 at the lodge and
told him to leave within half an hour.

Bennett claimed that the invaders said they were acting on Nyambuya's

"They ordered Johnson to vacate the property saying they had to comply with
an instruction coming from Governor Nyambuya," he said.

Bennett said five guests who were staying at the lodge immediately left
unharmed. Johnson also left. He has a 50% stake in the lodge registered with
the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA).

The High Court issued an interdict order in January 2003 against the then
Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement from acquiring his
farm, and an Order by Consent, in which the state agreed not to interfere
with Bennett's farm.

The Minister of Special Affairs in charge of lands, John Nkomo could not be
reached for comment as he was said to be out of his office.

Bennett said his farmhouse has been effectively taken over by Arda whose
representative is a man only identified as Huba.
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Zim Independent

Media lawyers petition parliament

THE Zimbabwe Media Lawyers Network has adopted a resolution calling on
parliament to amend or repeal laws that militate against media freedom. In a
statement released at its annual conference in Masvingo on Sunday, the
network said the state must equip the courts and other departments so that
they function effectively when dealing with the media.

"The state is called upon to ensure that its organs are properly equipped
and have the resources to function effectively in discharging its duties,"
the body said.

The legislature was challenged to scrap laws that hinder freedom of

"Parliament must be urged to amend or repeal current laws like the
Broadcasting Services Act, Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act (Aippa), and the Public Order and Security Act (Posa)," read the

"In achieving this, MPs are encouraged to consult stakeholders in coming up
with a new legislative regime."

The judiciary was also challenged to deal with issues involving freedom of
expression timeously.

"The judiciary is called upon to speedily depose with matters of public
interest brought before it such as freedom of expression or fundamental
human rights," the lawyers said.

The network urged media practitioners to resort to international treaties
that protect media freedom if the country's laws fail to do so.

"In the absence of effective domestic remedies and/or their exhaustion," the
network said, "international bodies such as the African Commission on Human
and Peoples Rights and the United Nations Commission for Human Rights should
be resorted to."

The network was formed in 2002 to mobilise Zimbabwean lawyers in defence of
the media and freedom of expression.

Meanwhile, media groups yesterday issued a joint statement saying the media
situation in the country was "anarchic".

"Media organisations in Zimbabwe commemorate World Press Freedom Day on May
3 in a media environment that can be best described as anarchic," the
statement said.

The media groups include the Media Institute of Southern Africa, the
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists and the Independent Journalists Association of
Zimbabwe. - Staff Writer.
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Zim Independent

Chombo approves Harare turnaround plan
Augustine Mukaro
GOVERNMENT has approved Harare town clerk Nomutsa Chideya's turnaround plan
for the city, the Zimbabwe Independent heard this week. Highly-placed
sources in council said the plan, directly borrowed from Johannesburg's
Unicity structure, would be implemented at the beginning of next year.

"Transformation of city departments into business utilities has already
started," sources said.

"A council delegation will be visiting Johannesburg for a study tour towards
the end of May. The tour's main objective is to study the practical
day-to-day operations of Unicity structures with the intention of
implementing the same concept back home."

Last year Chideya denied having borrowed parts of his plan from the
Johannesburg Unicity structure, claiming instead that it was his brainchild.

The strategic turnaround plan was presented to Local Government minister
Ignatius Chombo in November.

Chideya on Wednesday confirmed that his plan had been approved and that they
were engaged in consultations on how it would be implemented.

"No date has been set for the delegation's departure for South Africa but
most likely between the end of May and early June," Chideya said.

"We wouldn't want to hurry the implementation of the plan before people
understand what it entails but it should be ready for implementation early
next year."

The document resembles sacked executive mayor Elias Mudzuri's Vision Harare
2010 strategic plan which was turned down by Chombo last year, which
councillors claimed was prepared by over 25 stakeholder organisations. The
Mudzuri document was sponsored and coordinated by Fredrick Naumann
Foundation to the tune of $20 million.

The Johannesburg structure is made up of 10 utilities in the form of
registered companies wholly owned by council, run on business lines by a
city manager and executive directors.

The utilities are self-funding, receiving no annual grants from the city and
provide billable services direct to individual households.
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Zim Independent

Sugar production declines
Rodwin Chirara
HIPPO Valley Estates, the country's sole producer of sugar, has reported a
sharp decline in production that could result in shortages of the commodity.
According to the company's statement for the year-end results, production of
sugarcane dropped to 1 963 189 tonnes compared to previous production levels
of 2 320 200 tonnes. Production of sugar itself stood at 236 116 tonnes for
the 2003 season.

Production per hectare of planted sugarcane also dropped to 106,28 tonnes
for the season under review from 107,67 tonnes. This drop was against
expectations of higher yields since conditions for growth were favourable
during most of the season, Hippo Valley chairman Godfrey Gomwe, said in the
company's results.

Hippo was last year hit by a land ownership dispute with newly-resettled
farmers and the case is still pending in the courts.

"As previously advised in a number of shareholder updates, the legal dispute
on ownership of cane, and therefore, payment for cane delivered to the Hippo
Valley mill between some A2 farmers and commercial cane farmers, remains
unresolved," Gomwe said.

"All the proceeds from the disputed cane purchases were paid over to the
High Court in accordance with the provisions of the interpleader
proceedings," he said.

Gomwe said $1,8 billion had been paid to the High Court for the disputed
cane, whilst $2,5 billion had been paid directly to A2 farmers whose cane
was not in dispute.

He said discussions were ongoing with all concerned to find a solution as
soon as possible.

Gomwe said cane yield for the year was 106,28 tonnes per hectare, which
exceeded expectations, although it was marginally lower than the prior
year's yield of 107,67 tonnes.

He said the majority of third party cane suppliers experienced delivery
constraints during the season.

"The majority of third party cane suppliers, including Mkwasine Estates,
experienced cane delivery constraints during the season. A total of 368 943
tonnes of cane was delivered from Mkwasine suppliers compared with 426 700
tonnes in the previous year," said Gomwe.

He said this year independent growers had delivered 350 787 tonnes, which
was significantly lower than last year's deliveries of 580 586 tonnes.

"The company experienced cane haulage difficulties as a result of machinery
breakdowns due to the ageing fleet and unavailability of spares, and low
bundle weights caused by lodged cane," he said.

"Inclement weather during the latter part of October resulted in unseasonal
rainfall which disrupted operations. All these factors resulted in the
milling season extending into January 2004, causing significant adverse
impact on milling efficiencies."

Overall, Gomwe said recovery was a "disappointing 82,27% compared with
85,47% for the previous season, whilst efficiency was 87,64% compared to
89,04% in 2002".

Zimbabwe not ready yet to rejoin Commonwealth

DIPLOMATIC efforts to reconcile Zimbabwe and the Commonwealth have made no
headway and there is little prospect that President Robert Mugabe's
government will rejoin soon, Commonwealth head Don McKinnon says.

"We consider it very sad that they have left the Commonwealth," McKinnon
said on Monday. "We would like them to come back, we believe someday they
will be able to come back, but I think the climate right now is not really
conducive," he said.

Mugabe pulled Zimbabwe out of the Commonwealth in December after the
54-member group of mostly former British colonies extended a suspension of
the southern African nation's membership.

Last week Mugabe derided the Commonwealth - which criticised his re-election
in 2002 polls described as rigged by Western observers and local opposition
groups - as an "evil" group bent on infringing Zimbabwe's sovereignty.
McKinnon said efforts by South Africa and Nigeria to bridge the gap with
Zimbabwe appeared to be going nowhere.

"I believe we've done everything possible to see some kind of
reconciliation. But there has just been no desire to do such a thing on the
Zimbabwe side."- Reuter.
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Zim Independent

Prices continue to rise despite inflation dip
Godfrey Marawanyika

ALTHOUGH inflation has shown signs of declining in the past four months
disposable incomes for consumers are no better as prices of goods continue
to skyrocket.

Inflation, the loss of purchasing power of money largely because of
excessive money growth in circulation, can be reflected in the rise of
prices without an increase in the value of goods and services purchased.

Last year, planning to purchase goods based on the previous price virtually
became impossible as the commodities changed price in a matter of days and,
at times, hours.

Even with the marginal decline in inflation from 622% to 583% industries
such as the newsprint sector have not benefited because of the monopoly
enjoyed by Mutare Board and Paper Mills who are the sole suppliers of
newsprint in the country.
The supplier has been reviewing the cost of newsprint quarterly.

Some of the commodities which last year increased almost on a weekly basis
such as property, vehicles and basic foodstuffs such as bread, sugar,
cooking oil, meal-meal and salt, are now relatively stable.

But analysts say the decline in inflation over the past four months can only
be sustained if this year's agricultural season records a bumper harvest.

Zimbabwe Financial Holdings Ltd (Finhold) senior economist Best Doroh said
the benefits of inflation declining would only be felt towards year-end.

"While the prices of goods have been coming down and stabilising it is still
too early for consumers to benefit from the decline," Doroh said. "If
inflation declines significantly that would be good news for consumers, but
this can only be felt towards the end of the year, especially around the
festive season."
Zimbabwe's year-on-year inflation has declined from a high of 622,8% in
January this year to the current 583%.

At the same time month-on-month inflation that used to average 18% in 2003
and reached a peak of 33% in November last year, slowed down to 13,7% in
January, 6% in February and 5,9% in March.

Doroh said there was need for increased productivity in the agricultural
sector to help reduce inflation.

"If this year's agricultural production is a good one that would assist in
bringing down inflation," she said. "But the bumper harvest must not just be
a one-off thing."

When Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono took over in
December last year he announced that inflation would be his number one

In tackling inflation, Gono's task would also help to protect real incomes
for both households and that of government.

However, one of the major problems which Gono is facing is the high rate of
taxation which leads to demands by workers, which in turn puts pressure on
employers to also revise product prices up.

Zimbabweans are taxed at the rate of 45% of their net gross incomes, making
them one of the most highly-taxed societies in the world.

Unlike his predecessors Gono has managed to win political support and tame
government appetite for easy money. Side by side with Gono's monetary
policy, government has launched its own anti-graft crusade to restore
normalcy in the country's business environment.

In the five months with Gono as governor, government only abused its
overdraft facility once - in March by $80 billion, when it accessed $308
billion instead of the stipulated $228 billion.

In his monetary policy review last week Gono said government was now living
within its means to the extent that at times it has a small surplus in its
current account.

Kingdom Financial Holdings chief economist Witness Chinyama noted that
falling inflation would have a bearing on disposable incomes.

"With inflation coming down, consumers are now able to plan how to spend
their incomes," Chinyama said. "This is unlike last year when one could not
plan what to buy because of erratic price increases.

It should be noted that the sustained decline in inflation also depends on
the availability of foreign currency to check exchange rate volatilities."

He said the greatest challenge facing the country was how to attract foreign
direct investment.

Another economist with a bank however warned that due to high money supply
growth, inflation might not decline that easily.

"Inflation will not just disappear like that unless we are able to rein in
monetary expansion," the economist said.

"Increases in fuel and electricity prices, wages and salaries could also add
to inflationary expansion during the course of the year."

The economist said however that if inflation continued falling largely due
to money market surpluses, interest rates which in January breached the 900%
mark could start to decline in line with inflationary trends.

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Zim Independent


The record speaks for itself

DESPITE what appears to be overweening confidence by our rulers that they
have the various national crises in hand and that the country has already
turned the corner to recovery, every now and again they betray their anxiety
that things are not going as well as they would like people to think.

On Monday the state mouthpiece, the Herald, published an inciteful
commentary aimed at flushing out what it called "traitors" in the media
community, targeting its vitriol at locally-based foreign correspondents and
Zimbabweans in the diaspora.

And what inspired this attack? The "foul canard" that President Mugabe was a
"ruthless despot". It is being "shamelessly alleged that those who dare to
oppose the government are being starved or hunted down", we were told.

Other calumnies cited include the suggestion that the Zimbabwean economy has
degenerated into one of the worst in the world. While the Zimbabwean economy
continues on what the country's critics call an "unprecedented freefall", it
is alleged the government of President Robert Mugabe is sitting idly by.

All this leads the Herald to conclude that "falsehoods" generated by
Zimbabweans in the media have done "immeasurable damage" to the country.

"It is in this light that we call upon the government to explore ways of
dealing with Zimbabweans who are giving aid to the enemies of the country by
deliberately portraying it in a bad light," the newspaper said.

It is difficult to imagine anything more "treacherous" than one journalist
seeking the state's complicity in the persecution of another. But that of
course begs the question as to whether many of those describing themselves
as journalists in the state media are anything more than public relations
officers for the regime.

But their attempts to camouflage the truth are unlikely to succeed if only
because the evidence on the ground is so stark.

If President Mugabe is seen abroad as a "ruthless despot", that could well
have something to do with his record. It doesn't require foreign
correspondents to relay that message to the international audience. His
often intemperate and vindictive remarks about domestic critics and foreign
leaders are quoted in full by Zimbabwe's fawning state press. Very often
individuals such as Roy Bennett and Pieter de Klerk are targeted simply for
seeking the protection of the courts in defence of their legal rights, or in
Bennett's case the very fact of him being an opposition MP.

Commercial farmers generally have been abused in the most excoriating terms
for declining to be dispossessed of properties the government declared it
had no interest in. The residents of Harare have been insulted for voting
for the opposition.

Opposition MPs have been arrested in droves. Civic demonstrators have been
beaten and arrested for exercising their constitutional right to
demonstrate. Lawyers have been tortured for daring to represent clients seen
as critical of government.

Much of this evidence has been set out in court cases. Are foreign
correspondents to be punished for relaying what is in most cases a matter of
public record?

It was the Minister of Finance who said the country's inflation rate was the
highest in the world. As for the government of President Mugabe "sitting
idly by" while the economy experienced an "unprecedented free-fall", no such
suggestion has been made. On the contrary, nearly all journalists outside
the state sector have rightly said the government is directly responsible
for propelling this country on its disastrous current trajectory.

Its reckless assault on commercial agriculture has inevitably produced a
harvest of thorns. The 1998 agreement with donors, brokered by the UNDP,
provided a reform template that would have redistributed large acreages with
the financial support of the international community.

Instead agricultural production has collapsed and we are dependent upon the
generosity of countries which can feed themselves and have plenty left over
for those which no longer can.

How is it possible to write that story as a success? It is a disaster by any
definition. And it is nobody's fault but those who led us there.

As recently as yesterday the government media was claiming that Zimbabwe has
"a sound investment climate unparalleled in Southern Africa". It must be
assumed investors haven't noticed what has been happening on Kondozi Farm
where the owners have been arbitrarily deprived of their huge investment by
ambitious and greedy ruling-party politicians in complete disregard of a
court order.

It can be understood that the state's captive media is obliged to endlessly
replay its master's voice. And that this may involve a large measure of
dishonesty when it comes to attributing responsibility for the state we are
in now. But, as Jonathan Moyo pointed out some years ago, "adopting a
confrontational stance against opinions of citizens under the pretext that
they are foreign-influenced is a colonial mentality based on the paranoid
assumption that behind every thinking Zimbabwean there is a foreigner".

How objective are politicians in the discharge of their public duty in
situations where there may be a conflict of interest, Moyo asked?

"These and related questions cannot be answered by a gullible press which
believes that finding and highlighting government faults is unpatriotic," he
said. "The questions demand a critical press and not a government
information department masquerading as the press. Only a free and critical
press can save the country from falling hostage to political manipulation by
the powers that be."
We couldn't agree more.
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Zim Independent

Eric Bloch Column

Positives and negatives of monetary policy

THE governor of the Reserve Bank, Dr Gideon Gono, continues to be the very
deserved recipient of high commendations from almost all in both the private
and public sector. Those commendations are founded upon recognition of his
intense motivation to try to restore economic wellbeing to Zimbabwe, despite
the myriad of potentially insurmountable economic obstacles and of
overwhelming difficulties occasioned by circumstances virtually, if not
totally, beyond his control.

The commendations are based upon awareness of his unbounded ability to work
for hours and hours, and days and days, on end with disregard for
consequential physical exhaustion, because of his anxiety to bring about
economic transformation as rapidly as humanly possible. The commendations
are also founded upon recognition of his willingness to consult, to seek
guidance and advice widely, instead of an arrogant conception that he is

Instead, he readily acknowledges that none, including himself, can
conceivably formulate and implement a vast range of diverse policies without
some of them being either ineffective or insufficiently effective. He is
prepared to accept that there must be an evolutionary process of monetary
policy formulation where policies must be subjected to modifications, if

Thus when he presented his review of the first quarter of 2004 under the
monetary policy which he had announced on December 18, that review was
generally very well received. His audience in the RBZ auditorium, and his
wider, nationwide audience via television and radio were, in the main, very
impressed. They welcomed the depth of the review and the clear successes of
some of the new monetary policy. And they welcomed the fact that he openly
recognised that some changes to those policies were necessary, and that the
successes to date were "modest" and only "encouraging pointers towards

Amongst the "pointers" which he highlighted was the slight reversal to the
hyperinflationary trend that had prevailed for all too long. Reflecting on
that reversal, he drew attention to the fact that whilst month-on-month
inflation had averaged 18% in 2003, and reached a peak of 33,6% in November,
2003, it "retreated to 13,7% in January, 2004, to 6% in February", and a
further slight deceleration to 5,9% in March. Moreover, year-on-year
inflation had peaked at 622,8% in January, but fell to 602,5% in February
and to 583,7% in March.

He addressed in some considerable detail, the pursuit of stabilising the
foreign exchange regime and maximising the inflows and availability of
critically needed foreign currency. In that regard he highlighted that in
the first quarter of 2004 the delivery of gold to the mint was 5,13 tonnes,
worth US$67,3 million, compared to 3,4 tonnes worth US$39,0 million in the
first quarter of 2003.

Moreover, foreign exchange inflows amounted to US$333,5 million during the
first quarter of 2004, as against only US$301,7 million for the entire 12
months in 2003.

But Gono also disclosed that he considered that the RBZ had also suffered
some short-comings, stating that "as monetary authorities, we remain deeply
remorseful over the failure of our systems to timeously and appropriately
guide the market in areas of prudential financial sector management".

He continued that: "With hindsight, we as the central bank feel that we
could have guided the sector much better than we did, especially during the
last half of 2003, when a lot of the short-earnings seem to have
accelerated. We are taking self-corrective action in this regard."

The humility of this self-recrimination was very highly regarded by the
private sector, being so very different to experiences over the years
insofar as the public sector's prolonged belief of infallibility was
concerned. After making this self-effacing admissions, the governor then
enumerated, in very considerable and impressive detail, the remedial actions
initiated by the central bank.

After a comprehensive review of the circumstances of Zimbabwe's various
economic sectors, the governor then identified how agricultural and mineral
exports, value-added manufacturing and exporting of manufactured goods,
enhanced tourism and accessing foreign exchange from Zimbabweans abroad
would be essential elements for economic recovery. He urged that Zimbabwe
needs to "export first in order to import", and that to do so a paradigm
shift is required, to which end he announced various new monetary policies,
and modification of others.

These included that exporters who are able to achieve timely acquittances of
export proceeds by way of advance payments and prepayments, the 20%
mandatory sale of export proceeds to government would be transacted at the
ruling auction rate, instead of $824 per US dollar, as previously pertained.
These provisions would also pertain to tourism operators' foreign currency

Concurrently, the entitlement to partial retention of export proceeds in
Foreign Currency Accounts by exporters with approved extensions of acquittal
periods was modified to aid such exporters, the 15% FOB Export Incentive
Scheme was modified favourably from an exporter perspective, and a $5 200 to
US$1 exporter floor price was introduced for the foreign currency auctions.
Various other positive exporter support measures were also announced.
Unfortunately, as meritorious as these measures and moves are, they will not
suffice to restore fully exporter viability and achieve substantial
enhancement of export earnings.

Many are under the erroneous impression that by virtue of their previous
realisation of earnings through the parallel market, exporters were
realising vast profits, but in most instances that is, or was, a far cry
from reality. In practice, exporters have been subjected to massive cost
increases over a very prolonged period of time. Responsive to pronounced
inflation, wages were necessarily increased progressively to a very
considerable extent.

Electricity charges soared upwards, to levels way beyond the scales of
charges applying elsewhere in Sadc. Other costs similarly spiralled upwards.
But exporters could not increase their foreign currency denominated selling
prices, for doing so would have rendered them highly uncompetitive as
against suppliers of like products operating in countries with markedly
lower rates of inflation. All that could, under such circumstances, have
maintained exporter viability, was a devaluation of Zimbabwe's currency.

But government dogmatically and myopically refused to devalue. The result
was that the only way whereby the exporters could survive was by achieving a
de facto devaluation through parallel market trading. That kept them alive.
It did not make them millions! That that is so is very evident from study of
inflation - adjusted financial statements which demonstrate that most
enterprises either sustained losses, in real terms, or at best attained very
markedly reduced real profits.

And now, once more, they have been cast into a position that continuance of
operations once again places their very survival in jeopardy. Although
several measures announced by the governor are beneficial to exporters, the
bottom line is that the benefits can only, in most instances, reduce losses,
and will not restore profitability. The reason for this is that most
exporters cannot access advance payments for their exports, or even any
early payment after shipment, for foreign competitors are willing to extend
credit to customers.

As a result, most exporters cannot benefit from the governor's
"carrot-and-stick" measures. They must surrender 50% of their export
proceeds, realising a niggardly $824 per US$1 on half of that surrender, and
$5 200 per US$1 on the balance. This yields them an effective blend rate of
only $3 012 per US$1, which compares most unfavourably with the required
effective blend rate of between $5 000 and $6 000 per US$1, previously
attainable in the parallel market (and before recognising the further
impacts of inflation upon exporters' costs since the near demise of that

Also still embattled are those exporters who have an import content and/or
other foreign currency denominated commitments which, as a proportion of
export earnings, exceed the 50% of such earnings that most of them are
entitled to retain in order to service their foreign currency inputs. As a
result, they have to bid in the foreign currency auctions to obtain their
additional forex needs. To all intents and purposes they are buying back
their own forex earnings, with concomitent costs and delays, impacting
negatively upon their operations. This too needs to be addressed.

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Zim Independent


The sins that Comrade Paradza committed

MUCKRAKER was intrigued by a report in the Sunday Mail last weekend
suggesting Makonde MP and former journalist Kindness Paradza was scheming
with ANZ executives to obtain financial support from the perfidious British
for his Tribune newspaper.

"ANZ officials indicated that in the event of them securing funding for
Paradza, they would want to have a say in the editorial policy of the
Tribune, saying this is a clever way of bringing back the Daily News," the
Sunday Mail's usually suspect sources were reported as telling the paper.

Indeed, it sounded exactly like something a Sunday Mail source would be
likely to say!

But how do we explain the dramatic disclosure that Paradza is plotting with
the ANZ to obtain filthy Breetish lucre, leading to "serious questions about
(his) suitability as a Zanu PF MP"?

Apparently Paradza committed the heresy of suggesting in parliament that
Aippa and the Broadcasting Services Act should be revisited because they
were discouraging investment in technology and the media.

And that's not all. He committed another unpardonable offence, according to
the Sunday Mail.
"On April 16 the Tribune carried an editorial in which it clearly bemoaned
the demise of the Daily News."
Surely not? One newspaper championing the right of another to exist? What

A half-baked "political analyst" was quoted as calling it a "stupid
editorial", thus helping us to appreciate the intellectual reach of
state-media commentators.

But, in addition to all this, there appears to have been another,
undisclosed, factor leading to the Sunday Mail's attempted hatchet job. On
April 23 the Tribune carried a front-page story about the battle for Kondozi
Farm headed "Msika lashes out at Moyo". The battle had intensified, we were
told, "with Vice President Joseph Msika reprimanding the Minister of
Information and Publicity, Professor Jonathan Moyo for leading, together
with other junior ministers, a clandestine campaign to take over the
lucrative farm using Arda as a guise".
Now we see where Paradza really went wrong. All is clear at last!

Meanwhile, Zanu PF MPs should beware. Speak out in parliament and you could
find yourselves deselected next March by a minister who has never been
elected to anything in his life!

Can somebody please help us get to the bottom of this Kondozi project! Just
what is Moyo's interest in it that has led to this reported standoff with
the VP?
Muckraker is informed there was a delegation of 70 traditional leaders from
Manicaland which came to see VP Msika over that disputed farm. They were not
"villagers" as claimed by the Herald. The delegation was led by Chief
Marange himself and included at least 39 chiefs. That is why the VP was
ready to meet them. He said the acquisition had not been done properly and
ordered Arda to step back. To which the puffed up Moyo took what looked like
a few pot shots at Msika while purporting to comment on the Standard story:
".there is no going back on Kondozi, come rain, come sunshine and Arda as an
institution is there to stay", he declared.

The Herald reports that Chief Marange "has since disowned the villagers". We
hope its readers are aware that they are being treated as fools. Why would
Chief Marange disown a delegation that he himself led to Harare? This would
be the first African chief to disown his people. It's unheard of in our
African culture.

Muckraker reckons we need a huge billboard at Africa Unity Square facing
Herald House with a bold warning: "Beware of Made." We have not forgotten
his aerial bumper harvest last year. We know what followed. He is already
predicting another one. MDC agriculture spokesman Renson Gasela has
predicted a grain deficit this year from a survey they carried out across
the country. For this heresy he has literally been demonised.

We are not so naïve to take the MDC's predictions as gospel truth, but we
have even less inclination to believe Made any more. Apart from "economic
saboteurs" trying to "derail our very successful land reform programme",
there were real shortages of inputs such as seed, fertiliser, draught power
and diesel in addition to erratic rains throughout the cropping period. But
Made, borrowing generously from his friend Moyo, now wants us to believe
that "what Gasela is saying is the figment of his imagination and of course
it is the work of the enemy. It is clear that Satan has taken hold of Gasela
and his party."

Quite revealingly, he didn't have any figures to disprove Gasela's claims.
He didn't explain why the police and GMB officials were seizing maize from
urban dwellers returning from communal lands at roadblocks if there was
plenty for everyone.

"The police officers are only enforcing the laws . which control the
movement of grain in the country," was the lame excuse from Made. We thought
it was commonsense that you only ration or control a product that is in
short supply.

If anyone was unclear about Zanu PF's propaganda pitch ahead of next year's
poll, it was set out quite neatly by Morris Mkwate in last weekend's Sunday
Mail under the heading "Private sector chiefly to blame for economic woes".

"Although public sector corruption levels remain high, startling revelations
of massive corruption in the financial sector have dispelled the myth that
the government is solely behind the economic meltdown."

That's strange. We don't recall the state media ever saying that the
government was even partly to blame!

"Renowned economic analyst" Dr Samuel Undenge was quoted as saying
corruption in the private sector had brought the country's economy to its

So that lets President Mugabe and his ministers off the hook. Their economic
management can now be safely removed from the public spotlight. That
includes all those parastatals that were encouraged to charge in forex or
find their fortune on the parallel market. How very convenient!

By the way, were you aware that all those millions of South Africans casting
their votes two weeks ago for the ANC were really voting for President
One of his apologists in the Herald was very clear on this last weekend.

"Their overwhelming vote for Mbeki and the ANC was not an acceptance of the
status quo," we were told, "only a recognition and reward that the ANC
wishes to challenge and change it. And Mugabe personifies that no-nonsense
change they yearn for and will get or wrestle sooner than later."

Has anybody told the South African public this? The cheer he recieved at the
inauguration emanated largely from the VIP stands, we are told by somebody
who was present. The general public were less enthusiastic. Meanwhile, it
was rather remiss of the ANC to block the PAC's attendance at last week's
Zanu PF solidarity shindig and then not turn up themselves.

We can't count the embassy staff who were sent along. They were civil
servants whatever their party credentials.

Muckraker can well understand Pretoria not wanting the PAC grandstanding in
Harare on the government's alleged failure to deliver on land and then
returning home to agitate for land occupations.

But the ANC should have come along to say that planned and consensus-driven
policies work better than racist demagoguery. That would have made South
Africa's approach to addressing colonial anomalies crystal clear to the
investor community.

Meanwhile, our commiserations to the PAC for obtaining less than 1% of the
popular vote.

There was an interesting report in the Herald last Friday concerning the
re-arrest of safari operator Emmanuel Fundira. His lawyer George
Chikumbirike complained that magistrates were being used as "toys" by either
the police or politicians. One magistrate orders the release of a prisoner
while the police approach another magistrate with the same old affidavit
seeking to arrest the same prisoner.

When Harare magistrate Sukai Tongogara ordered Fundira released because he
had been arrested without a warrant, the police quietly left and approached
another magistrate in the same court building for the warrant.

Chief Superintendent Patrick Ncube explained to the court that he made sure
that this time around the police had a warrant to be "served to Fundira
after he was released from prison". They waited for Fundira to be brought to
Harare remand prison to collect his personal effects and Ncube instructed
his officers to go and wait for him outside the prison gate.

"I informed them that they should see that formalities had been done .
signing of the liberation papers, that he has been given his clothes and he
has been freed," Ncube revealed. It's a matter of form, not substance.

In other words, when the police are not actively ignoring court orders they
are calculating how these can be circumvented without them appearing to defy
the magistrates issuing those orders. Meanwhile, the accused is made to feel
that he has been "liberated" as prison officials go through the motions of
giving him his clothes and perhaps even his relatives are waiting for him at
the gate. As soon as he puts on his clothes and steps outside the gate the
police pounce. What a better way to cause maximum pain and break a man's

We do hope those entrusted with protecting people's liberties are treating
this travesty of justice seriously. It's not just diabolical, it makes an
ass of the law. That's exactly how James Makamba was waylaid after the court
ordered his release and he has not been "liberated" since. We hold no brief
for a Zanu PF opportunist like Makamba, but his case represents the most
shocking abuse of the legal system since the Cain Nkala affair.

President Robert Mugabe's Independence Day speech was a huge yawn. Not for
lack of invective against phantom enemies threatening our sovereignty, but
for a surfeit of imagination and scapegoating. The opposition MDC was
conspicuous by its absence in the written speech, although it got more than
its fair share of bashing in off-the-cuff remarks for lack of proper
ideological orientation.

While the speech opened with bluster about Zimbabweans facing the "future
with confidence, hope and dignity" it was so laden with anger one was left
wondering where the confidence about the future lay. It was a litany of
problems more than solutions. We are not sure when land will be repossessed
from "greedy multiple owners" for distribution to the needy - those trained
at numerous agricultural colleges who can put the land to good use. What
happened to Mugabe's ultimatum issued in July last year regarding multiple
owners? Is it being implied that there are sacred cows in Zanu PF who can
defy government policy with impunity?

The most astounding claim was the cause of the country's economic decline
and it bears quoting at length to do justice to it.

"Our economy has been badly bruised by some in our midst given to greed and
corrupt practices. The situation that has been obtaining in the financial
sector is simply disgusting and has required a very robust response,"said
Mugabe. "Millions in foreign currency have been externalised through a
variety of fraudulent activities practised by highly placed people we had
trusted to manage our economy.

Now we are very clear that far from deserving our trust, these fraudulent
and thoroughly dishonest people are the real enemies of our country and
people, whose place and permanent home is the prison."

Now don't we recall the president boasting in 2000 that "no one could have
managed the economy better than I have"? Who are those that we are now told
"we had trusted to manage our economy"? So which economy was he managing?
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Zim Independent

Insurers next - Gono
Ngoni Chanakira
NOW that he has removed the dirt from under the carpets of financial
institutions, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono says he is
moving in on the insurance and pension fund sector where the situation could
be worse.

"We are compiling a list of all defaulters and those caught on the wrong
side of the law will have only themselves to blame," Gono said last week,
departing from his prepared presentation.

"There is a lot going on in the insurance and pension fund industry and we
will get to the bottom of it. Hollick, (Graham) I hope your members are

Graham Hollick is Old Mutual Zimbabwe boss and caught the governor's
attention when he asked a question at the monetary policy statement review

Insurance sector firms listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) include
Fidelity Life, First Mutual, NicozDiamond, Old Mutual, Sare and Zimnat.

First Mutual is currently under suspension from the bourse because it was
exposed to the collapsed ENG Asset Management, shut down by Gono when he
began his clean-up exercise of the financial services sector in December.

The matter between the ZSE and First Mutual has now taken a legal twist and
is headed for the courts.

There are several insurance and pension fund firms not listed on the ZSE and
Gono said these would also be investigated because some of them were reaping
but not ploughing back into the public sector.

Major companies in the sector include the National Social Security Authority
Pension Fund, Mining Industry Pension Fund, PTC Pension Fund, Zesa Staff
Pension Fund, NRZ Contributory Pension Fund, Local Authorities Pension Fund,
Zimpapers Staff Pension Fund and Intermarket Holdings.

"As monetary authorities we also take a keen interest in the stability of
the insurance and pension fund industry, as it has an important bearing on
the smooth functioning of the banking system," Gono said in his prepared

"We are, however, greatly concerned that the majority of players in this
industry are not complying with prescribed asset holding thresholds, citing
unavailability of long-dated government paper in the market."

He said investigations by the central bank on the industry so far had been
shocking as the majority of institutions were flouting laid down procedures.

According to the insurance and pension fund industry's compliance status as
at December 31, companies in the life assurance, life reinsurance, non-life
reinsurance, funeral reinsurance, and self-administered pension funds were
not complying with RBZ regulations. Only non-life assurance firms were

"We are moving in on the sector," Gono said. "You cannot eat your cake and
have it."

According to the regulations, life assurance firms are required to have a
prescribed assets holding of 45%, non-life assurance 30%, life reinsurance
45%, non-life reinsurance 30%, funeral reinsurance 45%, and
self-administered pension funds 45%. However, the central bank governor
pointed out that the situation on the ground was a cause for concern.

Life assurance firms stood at 9%, non-life assurance 31%, life reinsurance
5%, non-life reinsurance 14%, funeral reinsurance 21%, and self-administered
pension funds 19%.

At 31% however the actual figure for non-life assurance was above the 30%
requirement, giving it a positive variance of 1% and, therefore, fully
complying with RBZ regulations.

"As part of efforts to engender long-term stability of the financial sector,
we strongly recommend to the authorities, auditors, boards and trustees to
take necessary steps to ensure compliance with statutory requirements by the
insurance and pension fund industry," Gono said.
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Zim Independent

RBZ to probe Agribank loans
Shakeman Mugari
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) will soon make a thorough audit of the
$60 billion agricultural fund disbursed to farmers through the
government-owned Agribank last year.

RBZ governor Gideon Gono announced on Wednesday last week that the bank
would within the next few months comb through Agribank's loan book in an
effort to recover the funds.

"Furthermore, the coming months will seek to see the proper account and
recovery of the $60 billion funds disbursed through the Land Bank Capital,"
he said. "Important lessons should emerge from the exercise."

The audit would include an analysis of the beneficiaries, how they used the
funds and payback conditions that were set by government and Agribank.

"Those who took the money must be made to account for it," Gono said.

The disbursement of the fund has been a subject of heated debate and
controversy with allegations that the loans did not reach intended

There were allegations that top government and bank officials allotted
themselves millions of dollars for speculative purposes. A number of
ministers are also reported to have benefited from the concessional interest
rates offered under the fund.

Gono said the RBZ had already begun consultations with the Ministry of Lands
and Agriculture to pursue debtors.

Repayment of the loans has been slow with information that the bulk of the
beneficiaries were unable to repay them.

Agricultural production has declined by a cumulative 26% over the past three
years. Since the beginning of the year agriculture has benefited to the tune
of $522,2 billion, which is 36,8% of total disbursements under the
concessional financing facility.
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Zim Independent

NRZ pays Spoornet R6m monthly
Godfrey Marawanyika
THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is paying South African rail service
provider, Spoornet, R6 million in monthly charges.

The foreign currency is being dished out mainly because the NRZ is failing
to return wagons borrowed from the South Africans.

Spoornet is a division of Transnet Ltd, a commercialised company in which
the South African government is also a shareholder.

The latest development comes against the backdrop of the signing of a
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between NRZ management and another South
African firm known as Sheltam. Under the MoU the SA firm will lease
locomotives to be used by local chrome mining concern, Zimasco.

The situation has been worsened by NRZ only having 60 usable locomotives
when it needs at least 108 to operate viably.

Transnet has seven divisions providing various transport services.

Spoornet represents the group's rail transport interests and is the largest
of Transnet's divisions in terms of revenue, size and employee numbers.

Concerned by the continued hemorrhaging of foreign currency from Zimbabwe to
pay escalating foreign debts, central bank governor Gideon Gono said NRZ
management should enhance operational efficiencies for a long-term recovery.

"Unavailability of locomotives has thus seriously impacted on the company's
ability to return foreign wagons to the owning railway administrations,
especially to Spoornet," Gono said. "This limitation is resulting in NRZ
paying monthly interchange costs of around R6 million to Spoornet,
effectively eating into the country's limited foreign exchange resources."

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Zim Independent

CFU numbers dwindle
Ngoni Chanakira
THE Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) which used to be the cauldron of
Zimbabwe's agriculture with more than 4 500 members now only has 1 100,
according to CFU vice president Stoff Hawgood.

In an interview after the presentation of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor
Gideon Gono's monetary policy statement review Hawgood said the membership
continued decreasing.

Some CFU members have joined the rival Justice for Agriculture (JAG)
organisation which broke away, accusing the CFU of being insufficiently
robust in dealing with government.

Hawgood confirmed that some of his members had been offered lucrative
farming opportunities in various neighbouring countries including Zambia,
Malawi and South Africa and some of them had taken up the offers.

Recent reports have also linked Zimbabwean farmers to Nigeria where
President Olesugun Obasanjo welcomed them.

"There isn't much activity on the farms right now because farmers are not
sure whether they will be on that land tomorrow or not," Hawgood said. "The
serving of Section 5 and Section 8s has resulted in many commercial farmers
sitting on the fence and wondering what is the next move."

He said the serving of notices had brought commercial agriculture to a
virtual standstill.

Government began taking over commercial farms in 2000 after having concluded
that the land apportionment programme agreed upon at Lancaster House was
taking too long.

Political pressure also resulted in government speeding up the process and
compulsorily taking land away from commercial farmers unwilling to offer
their farms for resettlement.

The land programme has become the major bone of contention between President
Robert Mugabe's government and Western nations as well as some African
countries that describe it as being "skewed".

"Just go around the country and see what is actually happening on the
farms," Hawgood said. "I can tell you that there is nothing happening on
them. Look at greenhouses, crops planted, and the actual herd whether it be
beef or dairy cattle. The situation is pathetic."

He said commercial farming was a very expensive venture and one needed to be
a hands-on person to be successful in it.

Gono in his monetary policy statement review said agriculture remained the
backbone of the Zimbabwean economy as it pulls strong downstream linkages
with manufacturing and other key productive sectors, both as supplier and
consumer of raw materials.

He said between 2001 and 2003 production in agriculture, hunting and fishing
declined by a cumulative 26%, undermining the country's resolve to be
self-sufficient on food security.

"Underperformance in agriculture exerts pressure on the country's foreign
exchange resources through grain imports to meet internal deficits," Gono
said. "As indeed a proud nation, we need to rebuild our food reserves and
consolidate on the historic land reform programme, one of whose principal
objectives was to spread land ownership to the majority of Zimbabweans and
in the process help to alleviate poverty through growth and development."

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Zim Independent


Contempt of people's will invites disaster

WE Christians Together for Justice and Peace, an ecumenical group of church
leaders from a wide cross section of denominations in Bulawayo, note with
dismay the manner in which the recent by-election in Zengeza was conducted.

Our interest is not partisan and we hold no brief for either of the main
competing parties, but we feel bound to express the gravest concern about
the violence, intimidation and other gross irregularities which occurred
both before and during the by-election. In particular we deplore the
shooting incidents which left one person dead and others wounded.

We note the strong statements of condemnation issued by the United States
government and the European Union. Closer to home we note the adverse
comments issued by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network who were only able
to deploy half the number of independent poll observers they wanted and yet
still recorded irregularities and intimidation across the district.

We further note that Zimbabwe is a signatory to the 2001 Sadc protocol on
electoral standards, yet almost every single one of those democratic norms
were breached in a flagrant manner.

Here we need only mention the Sadc requirements that "eligible individuals
should have the right to non-discriminatory voter registration and
nomination procedures", that they should have the right "to vote unimpeded
and . in secrecy" and that "any measures such as political violence,
kidnapping, murder, threats and sanctions .that prevent eligible individuals
to register and to vote in secrecy should be perpetually outlawed by Sadc
member states".

Further standards protecting the sanctity of the freedom of association and
expression, encouraging the development of a free and independent media and
giving the opposition equal access to the state-owned media, were equally
flouted. And once again the Sadc norm of a completely independent and
impartial electoral commission was mocked by our own Electoral Supervisory
Commission which has proved to be nothing more than an instrument of the
ruling party.

Indeed in view of so flagrant and comprehensive a breach of the Sadc
electoral standards we are surprised that no Sadc government has yet
complained - or complained openly.

Our own sad conclusion is that the electoral environment in Zengeza was
neither free nor fair, and therefore the declared result cannot be taken to
represent the will of the electorate. So obviously flawed a process was bad
for democracy. It further undermines the legitimacy of the present regime
and sets a bad precedent not only for the forthcoming by-election in Lupane
but for the parliamentary elections planned for March 2005.

As Christian leaders we seek the shalom (peace) of all God's children in
this land. We feel bound to speak boldly and clearly on this issue before it
is too late. To flout the democratic norms and standards agreed by Sadc for
the region is to show contempt for the will of the people and to continue on
this path regardless is only to invite disaster for the nation. Faced with
such a serious threat to the peace and well-being of our people we cannot
remain silent.

We urgently plead with our present rulers to turn from the path of tyranny
and to bring Zimbabwe's electoral laws and practices into conformity with
the Sadc standards which they have already approved.

We urge each and every one of our fellow citizens to make their contribution
to lasting peace by dissociating themselves from every form of intolerance
and violence and to promote a culture of mutual respect and non violence. If
Zimbabwe is to be saved from untold further suffering there is not a moment
to lose.

Fr Barnabas Nqindi,


Rev Graham Shaw,


Christians Together for

Justice and Peace.
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Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

Plain speaking

I WAS sorry to say goodbye to Australian ambassador Jonathan Brown last
week. He has been an exemplary diplomat taking a strong interest in civil
society, raising the profile of his country and earning the high regard of
all who met him. His farewell reception was well-attended by a
representative cross section of Zimbabwean society and his remarks, among
the most forthright I have heard at a diplomatic function, were

He spoke of Australia's aid programme that took him to villages in Mt
Darwin, Beitbridge, Nyanga, Wedza and the Dande Valley.

He was struck by the importance people attached to education for their

Parents, teachers and pupils alike, he said, were deeply committed to
learning and to seeking improved facilities to make a better future

He spoke of the destruction of commercial agriculture he had witnessed in
A2-designated areas on commercial farms.

"In some of these cases the use made of the land has caused immense damage
to agricultural assets," he said. "The prosperity of the nation has clearly
been adversely affected. The figures issued by industry groups and credible
official sources have pointed to a steady decline in the agricultural

Brown said while he supported the aspirations of genuine new farmers, he
could not believe people could be expected to farm productively given the
manner in which they have been resettled.

"There may be success stories," he said, "but I have not seen them. Zimbabwe
may have suffered from a drought that is now diminishing, but drought is not
responsible for the broken fences, the game snares, ruined greenhouses, and
derelict and burnt-out farm buildings that I have seen."

He said the most striking memories were the disturbing ones.

"I have met mothers who have said their babies are crying because they are
hungry and they have no food for them. I have witnessed village councils
thank NGOs for bringing food when their communities have been on the brink
of starvation. I have worked with people who have died of HIV/Aids, and who
have spent too much time at funerals. I have met a member of parliament who
was tortured while in custody. I have met a civic leader who was savagely
beaten by police. I have met lawyers who have been assaulted while assisting
their clients. I have read court orders and heard from litigants that the
orders have not been respected or implemented by the authorities."

Brown said he had met judges who expressed fear for the independence and
effectiveness of their judicial responsibilities.

"I have met businessmen who have complained that government economic
policies have forced them into illegal practices to remain viable. I have
met businessmen who have been assaulted by others grasping for their
enterprises. I have seen people afraid to talk about politics in public
places. I have met members of the ruling party bitter and angry at their
situation. I have met members of the opposition who, with patience and
courage, pursue a deep commitment to peaceful democratic change."

Brown said it was usual on occasions such as his farewell reception to talk
about the happy memories one would carry away on leaving the country.

"In view of what people have shared with me," he said, "it would be a
mockery to say I leave this country with happy memories. I leave Zimbabwe
with an earnest and abiding hope for justice."

Brown attended the Abuja Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in
December. The final communiqué recorded: "They reiterated their commitment
to non-racism, international peace and security, democracy, good governance,
human rights, rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, freedom of
expression, and a political culture that promotes transparency,
accountability and economic development."

When the situation in Zimbabwe was considered against these values, he
noted, "all Heads of Government or their representatives present, including
friends of the Government of Zimbabwe and the leaders of the 15 African
Commonwealth countries, came to the inevitable conclusion that Zimbabwe must
remain suspended from the Commonwealth. The integrity of the Commonwealth
was preserved and affirmed by our leaders."

Australia hoped that conditions would eventually improve in Zimbabwe to
enable its full return to the Commonwealth, Brown said. "Until then,
Australia will continue to support human rights and democratic processes in
Zimbabwe and those who promote them, including the NGO community."

Some of Ambassador Brown's most revealing remarks were about his prime
minister, John Howard who is often the target of abuse by Zimbabwe's
leaders. He said he was surprised in the unlikeliest of places when people
who heard he represented Australia said: "Oh, that's John Howard. We like
Howard. He speaks it like it is."

Howard is certainly no coward. He says what he thinks about our delinquent
rulers and enunciates the principles for which his country and other members
of the Commonwealth stand. Which, as he proved at Abuja, is increasingly the
international consensus. That may explain why he is so demonised by the
government's propaganda machine!

Brown's remarks confirmed something I have myself been beginning to
conclude. That those most abused by the real cowards in our midst are
quickly seen by everybody else as their friends. The size and varied
complexion of Brown's audience last Friday paid testimony to that.

Jonathan Brown was certainly a friend of Zimbabwe. And he will be remembered
as such by all who met him. I wish him and Camilla all the very best and
look forward to seeing them again in a free Zimbabwe.
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