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From The Sunday Times (UK), 22 May

White farmers scorn call to return

Christina Lamb

White farmers in Zimbabwe have dismissed as "madness" and "completely
divorced from reality" an invitation by the governor of the country's
central bank to go back to their land. The offer, made by Gideon Gono in a
televised speech on Friday night, was widely seen as a government
acknowledgement that its land reform policy had failed. Last week President
Robert Mugabe finally admitted the country needs food after months of
refusing supplies, though he blamed drought for shortages that have left
half the population hungry. "In order to ensure maximum productivity levels,
there is great scope in the country for promoting and supporting joint
ventures between the new farmers with progressive-minded former operators,"
said Gono in the three-hour broadcast, during which he announced a 31%
devaluation of the Zimbabwean dollar. He added that skilled whites and other
new investors would be given guarantees of uninterrupted tenure of five to
10 years, backed by government force to prevent any disruption on the farms.
Only about 300 of 4,500 white farmers remain on their farms after a
five-year campaign to take their land that has seen 15 farmers killed and
thousands of farm workers beaten and evicted. Far from being distributed
among landless peasants, many of the farms have ended up in the hands of
Mugabe's relatives and cronies.

Gono's suggestion that the evicted farmers could return as managers in
partnership with the new occupiers was ridiculed by those white farmers
still in Zimbabwe. "It would be madness to go back while there's no law and
order," said Ian Kay, who was badly beaten when his tobacco farm in
Marondera was invaded. "Even if they were serious, it's not as if people can
just take up where they left off. The farms have been looted, vandalised,
and the equipment sold off." Food production has plummeted since the white
farmers' expulsion as farms have deteriorated into wasteland.More than 5m
people are on the verge of starvation, according to the World Food
Programme. Many of those evicted have set up in neighbouring countries. "The
government seems to think they can beat us, kill us, trash our houses,
attack our women, then expect us to waltz back in to help them out when they
make a hash of things," said another white farmer. "Gono is living in a
dream if he thinks farmers are going to go back without security of tenure,"
said David Coltart, legal affairs spokesman for the opposition. Even Mugabe,
who boasted last year of a "bumper harvest" and said the country would
"choke" on international food aid, has admitted his government would accept
food from the United Nations if it came without conditions.

From The Star (SA), 20 May

SA spy waiting to testify in Zim

The South African spy held in Zimbabwe is physically healthy and it is hoped
he will be released when he has finished testifying in court against the
last of the Zimbabwean officials he allegedly recruited. It is understood
that the spy's two adult sons recently visited him in prison in Harare and
reported that he was being properly cared for. He is a member of the SA
Secret Services and was arrested at Victoria Falls in December after a
Zimbabwean official lured him across the border with Zambia. The Zimbabwean
government has not charged the man. Zimbabwe's national director of public
prosecutions, Joseph Musakwa, was recently quoted in the Zimbabwean media as
saying he was only being held as a witness against the officials he
allegedly recruited to provide information. Three of them, including the
previous consul-general in Johannesburg Godfrey Dzvairo, have already been
convicted and sentenced to prison. But the case against John Karidza, the
head of security of Zanu PF, is dragging on because of complications.

From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 22 May

Former Zim minister 'did not smuggle money out'

A second prosecution witness on Saturday denied that Zimbabwe's former
finance minister Chris Kuruneri smuggled out funds to buy a mansion in South
Africa and flouted the country's tough foreign-exchange laws. Christopher
Hayman of Cape Town, South Africa, told the High Court in Harare that
Kuruneri invested in various properties in South Africa with proceeds from
consultancy work he did outside Zimbabwe before he was appointed Cabinet
minister. Hayman, a property developer, said he helped Kuruneri to open a
bank account in South Africa and invest in various properties through Choice
Decisions, a company of which Kuruneri was director. "Dr Kuruneri said these
were free funds earned even before he came to Zimbabwe," Hayman said under
cross-examination by defence lawyer Jonathan Samkange. "I was led to believe
the funds came from a source outside Zimbabwe and until it is proved
otherwise I will continue to work on that presumption." He said he met
Kuruneri in April 2002 and that the former minister appointed him to manage
his investments in South Africa.

Kuruneri faces seven counts of breaching Zimbabwe's exchange-control laws by
allegedly transferring $500 000, £37 000, ?30 000 and R1,2-million to buy
and renovate an eight-bedroom mansion. The former minister has denied the
charge, saying the house was bought and rebuilt by a South African
investment company of which he was director. He said he bought shares in
Choice Decisions 113 and invested in the other properties with proceeds from
consultancy work he did outside Zimbabwe. A South African lawyer, Lorenzo
Aldo Dominico Bruttamesso, testifying in the high-profile trial on Friday,
said Kuruneri moved money legally from his account in Harare to buy shares
in a property in Cape Town. Bruttamesso represented Dunmow Limited, a South
African company that sold shares for a house in Cape Town three years ago to
Choice Decisions 113. Samkange said Kuruneri had life savings in Spain,
which he moved to South Africa after he was included on the list of
Zimbabwean politicians placed under targeted sanctions by the European Union
and the United States. "It is these funds that the accused invested in South
Africa," the lawyer said.

Judge Susan Mavangira on Thursday convicted Kuruneri of breaching the
country's citizenship laws after he confessed to holding a Canadian passport
in addition to a Zimbabwean diplomatic passport. Zimbabwean law does not
allow dual citizenship. The judge is due to sentence Kuruneri for flouting
citizenship laws at the end of his trial. Kuruneri was arrested in April
last year at the height of the Zimbabwean government's anti-graft crusade,
becoming the senior-most official to face charges of corruption. He has been
in remand prison since. The trial is to continue on Monday with further
testimony from prosecution witnesses.
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Zim Online

Mugabe to appoint nephew as top cop
Mon 23 May 2005
  HARARE - President Robert Mugabe is set to appoint his nephew as the
police commissioner in a re-organisation of the top brass in the security
forces before he retires, ZimOnline has learnt.

      Well-placed sources said Mugabe will appoint his nephew, Innocent
Matibiri, Zimbabwe's top cop when Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri
leaves the police force at the expiry of his term in September this year.

      The appointment of Matibiri, who is the son of Mugabe's late cousin,
Gabriel Matibiri, is part of wider changes planned by Mugabe in the police,
army and spy Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) to place the key
security organs in the hands of "absolute loyalists" before he steps down in
2008, the sources said.

      "The President will reshuffle key personnel in the police, army and
CIO before he retires," said one source, who insisted on not being named for
fear of victimisation.

      He added: "The first move will be the replacement of Chihuri by
Innocent Matibiri as the Police Commissioner. Being a close relative,
Matibiri is of unquestionable loyalty."

      The source could not say whether the change would see new army and air
force commanders being appointed but said it was most likely CIO director
general, Happyton Bonyongwe, might be replaced in the reshuffle.

      Chihuri was being targeted to go first after he allegedly involved
himself in the bitter struggle over who will succeed Mugabe when he steps
down, the source said.

      Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba could not be reached for comment on
the matter yesterday while Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi, under whose
portfolio the police force falls, said he was not qualified to speak about
the matter because the appointment of police commissioners was Mugabe's

      "That is the discretion of the President and I do not tell him who to
appoint as commissioner of police," said Mohadi.

      Matibiri, who also comes from Mugabe's rural Zvimba home area, was
last November catapulted to the rank of deputy police commissioner ahead of
more seasoned officers, in a move that raised eyebrows.

      Before his promotion, Matibiri was an assistant commissioner attached
to the police protection unit that provides guard services to senior
government officials.

      According to police sources, it was Matibiri who assaulted British gay
rights activist Peter Tatchell in Brussels in 2001. Tatchell had attempted
to effect a citizen's arrest on Mugabe saying he wanted the Zimbabwean
leader charged for violating human rights.

      Normally, assistant commissioners must serve as senior assistant
commissioners before they can expect appointment as one of the three deputy
commissioners. But this is more a matter of practice than a set down rule of
the law enforcement agency.

      According to the sources, the longest serving of the three deputies,
Godwin Matanga, was ruled out of succeeding Chihuri because of his
"sometimes" principled and professional stance.

      An officer, who worked with Matibiri at the police protection unit,
described him as an "overzealous defender of Mugabe and the system." -

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Zim Online

Campaign against vendors spark riot in opposition stronghold
Mon 23 May 2005
  CHTUNGWIZA - A police officer was seriously injured in riots which broke
out in the opposition stronghold of St Mary's suburb in Chitungwiza town, 30
km south of the capital at the weekend after residents protested against the
ongoing campaign against informal traders.

      Another eleven police officers were also hurt in the skirmishes as the
police fired teargas canisters to disperse angry mobs protesting against the
raids which began last week in what the police said was a clean-up exercise
against criminals.

      A bus belonging to state-owned transport company Zimbabwe United
Passenger Company had all its windows smashed before it was overturned by
the angry mob angered by the government crackdown against the informal

      According to eyewitnesses, violence erupted when police officers
stormed Chigovanyika Shopping Centre in the suburb and started demolishing
stalls. The police also confiscated vegetables and second-hand clothing from
the vendors.

      "They were taking our goods and we had to beat them up," said Thomas
Nyakudya, one of the vendors at Chigowanyika.

      "We were using stones and anything we had because this is our only
source of living they have destroyed. Do they want us to be thieves?" he

      The protests in the suburb were only put down after the police called
for reinforcements from the anti-riot squad.

      The police say the raids are meant to flash out criminals who are
promoting the illegal foreign currency market blamed for sabotaging the
country's economic recovery efforts. - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

FEATURE: Chinese inflict huge blow on struggling Zimbabwean industries
Mon 23 May 2005
  HARARE - Fifty-four year old Alois Kashiri, from the poor suburb of
Kuwadzana in Harare, has worked in the shoe manufacturing industry for the
past two decades.

      Now his employer has had to cut down on the number of working hours he
and his colleagues have to put in because demand for the locally-produced
shoes has suffered a battering partly due to lower disposable incomes among
consumers and also to a very large extend because of the invasion by Chinese
retailers who sell cheaper shoes and other commodities.

      "Some of my workmates were lucky. They are now in Malawi where my
former employer established another business. I have known no other trade
since 1982 and I certainly do not have any alternative way of earning a
living," he said, anxiety written all over his face.

      "I used to repair shoes during weekends to supplement my income but
just the soles to stick on an old pair now costs more than a complete pair
of shoes from the Chinese shops. So even if I stock the replacement soles,
very few people will come to have their shoes repaired.

      "People now prefer to buy the "Zhing Zhong" shoes that last until the
next month-end then they buy another cheap pair. The Chinese have ruined
 us," said Kashiri.

      In central Harare, forty-five year widow Marah Mugombi, sells shoes
and clothes at a flea market along Union Avenue in the city.

      "I am increasingly finding it difficult to clear my stocks. Sometimes
the pairs of shoes will stay for months. Before, my wares hardly lasted two
weeks. It's all because of the Chinese," she said.

      But in the past week, Mugombi's greatest worry has not been
slow-moving stock but a vicious on-going crackdown by the police against
flea market traders with several market stalls destroyed and goods worth
millions of dollars seized by the police.

      The police say they are on a "clean-up" exercise to rid the capital
city of criminals and illegal traders selling stolen goods and also running
the illegal but thriving foreign currency black market.

      Observers say the "clean-up" exercise is nothing but a shameless
attempt by the government to protect Chinese traders who complained to
President Robert Mugabe that the flea markets were taking away a huge chunk
of their business.

      With the West having slammed the doors on Mugabe three years ago for
failing to uphold democracy, the rule of law and human rights, the
Zimbabwean leader has responded by looking East to "bust sanctions" by the
United States, European Union, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand and
Canada. Responding to vigorous courting by Mugabe himself to invest in
Zimbabwe, Chinese businessmen in the last three years descended on Harare
and the country's other major cities, setting up shop literally at every
street corner to sell cheap but substandard clothing and electronic goods
now cynically nick-named "Zhing Zhongs" in local parlance.

      Chinese investment in the retail industry has however not helped lift
Zimbabwe out of the economic crisis. Inflation stands at 129.1 percent, the
highest such rate in the world. Basic commodities like maize-meal, sugar and
flour remain in critical short supply while 70 percent of the country's
labour is out of employment after five years of severe economic recession.

      But if the truth be told, the Chinese are not the only ones to have
failed crisis-sapped Zimbabwe!

      Initially, Mugabe courted the Malaysians. But the long-suffering
Zimbabweans say they saw little in terms of benefits from the marriage with
the Malaysians.

      And then after the 2002 presidential polls when Zimbabwe experienced a
serious fuel crisis due to the dearth of foreign currency, it was Muamar
Gadaffi's well-oiled Libya that the authorities touted as the deux ex
machina for the troubled southern African economy.

      The Arab African nation saved the day but only temporarily. The
romance ended after Zimbabwe failed to meet it obligations because of a
crunching lack of forex.

      Then in 2004 it was Iran, dubbed part of the "Axis of Evil" by United
States President George W Bush which was touted as the saviour. Again the
results of the much-talked about union are yet to manifest themselves.

      But with the closure of flea markets to protect Chinese shops, most
ordinary Zimbabweans say it is the traders from the emerging Asian economic
giant who have caused the greatest pain.

      And it is not only the odd flea market trader complaining. Large
textile and shoe manufacturing firms also say they may soon be thrown out of
business because of the "Chinese" invasion. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

FEATURE: Mugabe resuscitates "colonial evils"
Mon 23 May 2005
  HARARE - Fifty-year old Taruvinga Chitakunye of Chivi, a poverty stricken
district in rural south-eastern Zimbabwe, gazes into the empty space in the
distant horizon.

      Chitakunye appears lost in deep thought as his mind races to a bygone
era when, as a young man, he could see his parents harvest enough from the
fields to feed the family and afford to have excess food for sale to the
local Grain Marketing Board.

      But now the eight-hectare field, exhausted after years of constant
use, is failing to cope with the demands of producing enough for the family,
let alone for sale to the Grain Marketing Board.

      Soon, Chitakunye must also deal with a greater challenge - paying land
tax to the local rural authority for that unproductive patch of land.

      Last December, rural district councils with the full blessings of the
government, announced that they were re-introducing land tax for rural

      The tax, similar to the much-hated colonial "hut taxes" which formed
part of the national grievances that sparked the first uprising against the
white settlers in 1897, are pegged at Z$70 000 per household, which
impoverished villagers here say is way above their reach.

      President Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF government, triumphant after a
seven-year bush war, abolished the taxes immediately after assuming the
reins of power in 1980, arguing the taxes were a remnant of the colonial
machinery designed to oppress the black majority.

      During the 1970s war of independence, liberation fighters used the
land taxes as a rallying point in denouncing the illegal white settler
regime of Ian Smith. Now, twenty-five years down the line, the villagers say
they feel betrayed at the government's re-introduction of the same land

      "We don't know how they expect us to pay the taxes when we are
struggling to feed ourselves," said Chitakunye.

      Zimbabweans have virtually survived on food handouts from the
international community in the last five years after Mugabe disrupted the
key agriculture sector after seizing large farms from the small white
community for redistribution to landless blacks in what the Zimbabwean
leader said was a correction of a historical injustice.

      The 81-year old Mugabe, once revered as a luminary on the African
continent, stands accused of wreaking what was once one of Africa's most
vibrant economies.

      But despite the shrill voices of protest from the peasants, the
government is determined to go ahead with the taxation plans.

      "Councils will make their own decisions to levy taxes with approval
from the government. The tax levels are the responsibility of individual
councils," says Fred Ndlovu, a policy, and finance adviser for the
Association of Rural District Councils which represents 58 rural
administrative councils scattered throughout the country.

      The cash-strapped Zimbabwe government, battling a severe five-year old
financial crisis, is finding it difficult to support rural district
councils, the engines of growth in rural areas.

      Observers say, in order for the councils to function properly,
government has allowed them to reintroduce the land taxes to support
infrastructural development in rural areas and pay traditional leaders.

      The village heads who were taking home $40 000 a month prior to the
disputed election in March, now earn $400 000 per month after the government
awarded them hefty increases in a bid to buy their support. Chiefs now earn
about $1.5 million.

      But for Chitakunye and many other villagers here, the move to
reintroduce the land taxes is one more slap in the face by a government they
say has long lost its marbles. - ZimOnline
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Food protest at chief's homestead

Farirai Machivenyika
issue date :2005-May-23

POLICE recently arrested more than 100 women, including an 80-year-old
grandmother, in Silalatshani, Insiza constituency - a drought-prone area in
Matabeleland South - for demonstrating outside Chief Sibasa's homestead
after accusing the traditional leader of politicising food aid.

The government has empowered chiefs in rural areas to lead in the
identification and distribution of food assistance to families in need and
the MDC has cried "foul", claiming that the chiefs were using powers
bestowed on them to deny their party supporters aid.
The allegations have since dismissed by the government as false.
In Filabusi, the MDC is claiming that the arrested women are its members who
had gone to the chief's homestead to inquire on the uneven distribution of
food aid in light of the acute shortages of basic food stuffs, including
grain, cooking oil and beans - which are currently being handed out by the
A policewoman at Filabusi Police Station, who refused to be identified, said
the women had been charged under the Public Order and Security Act (Posa).
"They were arrested on Friday under Posa and released the same day after
paying $25 000 admission of guilt fines," the officer said.
In Harare, Police spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka yesterday corroborated his
colleague's statement, saying the women had engaged in an illegal
demonstration outside the chief's house.
"We arrested a number of women for engaging in an illegal demonstration
although the facts of the matter are still sketchy at the moment," Mandipaka

   However, the MDC losing candidate for Insiza in the March 31 elections,
Siyabonga Malandu, said the women were arrested after they went to seek an
explanation on the "biased manner" in which the chief was distributing food
aid in the area.
Malandu lost the Insiza seat to Zanu PF's Andrew Langa in the recent
parliamentary polls.
"Initially four people were arrested on Thursday when they went to the chief's
home and the rest were told not to bother the chief, but to approach the MDC
through their candidate for the March elections, if they needed any food
assistance," Malandu said.
He said the unequal distribution of food aid by the chief was testimony of
the much talked about, in MDC circles, retribution exercise by the ruling
party.  The country experienced a poor rainy season this year and will have
to import over 2 million tonnes of maize after recent estimates indicated
that Zimbabwe will have a harvest of around 500 000 tonnes of grain - far
short from the annual requirements of 2,8 million tonnes.
The president of the Chiefs, Council, Fortune Charumbira and the Minister of
Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development Ignatius Chombo, under
whose portfolio traditional chiefs fall, could not be reached for comment
last night.
Their mobile phones went unanswered.
Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) director, Tim Morris, is expected
in the country this week to assess Zimbabwe's food requirements in light of
the drought during his tour of Southern African nations.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Police recover $2,2bn

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-May-23

POLICE have to date recovered over $2,2 billion in foreign and local
currency and arrested more than 9 000 people in Harare as they intensify
operation Murambatsvina to rid the capital of suspected criminals.
The clean up exercise, which has been received with mixed feelings, started
last Wednesday.
Police spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka said they had recovered foreign
currency worth $1,4 billion and Z$850 million when they swooped on illegal
immigrants, business people and shops in the Central Business District.
"We found, during the operation, huge amounts of local currency. We
recovered foreign currency to the tune of $1,4 billion. The local currency
recovered amounts to $850 131 310. Most of the notes recovered, were new and
there is an indication of hoarding," Mandipaka said.
Apart from the money, he said police had also recovered 36 tonnes of sugar
and five tonnes of rice from homes in Mbare and Hatfield. Mandipaka said the
police raided six filling stations and confiscated 7 780 litres of diesel
and 13 545 litres of hoarded petrol.  At least 10 people were arrested."We
have arrested 10 people so far working in cahoots with some service stations
in Harare to hoard fuel and the errant service stations in question have
also been fined for hoarding," he said.
Police destroyed 34 flea markets recently and 30 illegal structures in
high-density areas as efforts to clean up Harare and restore the status of
the capital intensify.
Mandipaka said seven illegal immigrants were arrested in the Avenues area
and the department of immigration was working on deporting them."We rounded
up 44 immigrants in the Avenues area, 34 of whom  have so far been cleared
because they have legal documents. Three were refugees from the Democratic
Republic of Congo (DRC) whose papers are in order. The immigration
department is working out modalities for the repatriation of the other seven
immigrants," he said.More than 30 people were arrested for overcharging
basic on commodities, three for illegal possession of firearms and
ammunition, 1 332 for illegal vending, 40 for loitering for purposes of
prostitution, 204 for public drinking and four for operating shebeens.
Police also netted 7 930 people for violating traffic regulations. On
traffic offences, about 867 were arrested for overcharging commuters, 370
for driving without licences, 253 proceeding against a red robot and a total
of 409 vehicles were impounded.
The impounded vehicles comprise commuter omnibuses without legal documents
for them to operate and unroadworthy cars."Our position is very clear. The
operation will continue. We appreciate that during the operation the
affected people will cry foul, but we encourage that business should be
conducted orderly and legally," said Mandipaka
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Gono missed interpretations: Fundira

Shame Makoshori
issue date :2005-May-23

RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono last week went on the
offensive, describing the tourism industry as graft infested and being at
the helm of promoting black market foreign currency transactions that
threaten to shred the economy.
Gono declared he would take decisive steps to cleanse the sector of bad
practices, arguing that the first quarter statistics released by the
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) did not tally with foreign currency inflows
from that sector.
About US$5 million was received in the first quarter of this year despite a
30 percent increase in tourist arrivals.
However, ZTA chairman Emmanuel Fundira dismissed the statement in an
exclusive interview with The Business Mirror on Friday pointing out that
Gono had not been adequately appraised about the goings on in the sector.
Stressing that graft cannot be ruled out in that industry, Fundira said the
ZTA had given an accurate tabulation of 452 328 tourists that visited
Zimbabwe in the first quarter, but a significant number of the tourists did
not stay in hotels, hence the wide discrepancies.
"He (Gono) has good intentions, but missed interpretations. We will engage
him as an industry to educate each other because various variables come into
play on arriving at the figures.
"There is high cross border trading at entry points like Nyamapanda and
Chirundu. These people choose to stay with friends, but they come in as
tourists. We also have cases where tourists  settle bills with an agency.
The figures will not reflect on the hotel's books," Fundira said
He added that arrivals should be looked at in relation with bed occupancies.
He said he supported the central bank's intentions to carry out extensive
audits to unearth possible graft, but emphasised the need to engage
accountants with the requisite knowledge of the industry.
ZTA statistics indicate that Zimbabwe's hotels have a combined capacity of
12 053 beds.
Throughout the period under review, total occupancy remained at 29 percent,
reflecting that 61 percent of these were not utilised.
The latest impasse regarding the local tourism sector reflects the
shortcomings of the definition given to a tourist by the ZTA whose debate
dominated last year but has since whittled into oblivion.
The ZTA defines a tourist as a visitor who stays at least one night in
collective or private accommodation in a country visited.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Retailers reduce prices

Business Reporter
issue date :2005-May-23

DESPITE the ongoing shortages of most basic commodities in most of Harare's
main retail shops, some products started reappearing unnoticed on the
shelves of some shops selling at reduced government directed prices.

The government swooped down on more than 28 supermarkets and retailers last
week, punishing them with hefty fines for alleged unauthorised and
unjustified price hikes.
On Thursday cooking oil reappeared on the shelves of a Food Chain Group
(FCG) supermarket along Nelson Mandela in the morning after more than a
month out of supply and selling at a reduced price of $16 000 from $22 000
for one 750 ml bottle.
"We are now selling cooking oil at a lower price as directed by government
after the supermarket was fined for increasing the price of the product
without notice," a source at the company said.
For the greater part of last week the OK supermarket along Nelson Mandela
remained under siege by consumers that queued to buy sugar at the
On Thursday, the First Street Mall entrance of the supermarket was
impassable, blocked by hundreds of consumers that were buying 2kg packets of
The sugar was being rationed at five packets per person.
At one time there were about 10 uniformed soldiers and a handful of
policemen, one of them yielding baton stick, crowding at the front of the
queue as they contained the queue and alternately bought their sugar in
Sugar, together with other commodities such as maize meal and bread have
been scarce for the past six weeks.
Last week queues, that were a nightmarish feature of the 2003 economic
crunch, resurfaced again in the country as the biting shortages of most
basic commodities stretched into their second full month.

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From The Sunday Independent (SA), 22 May

Fuel exporting by profiteers speeds Zimbabwe's economic meltdown

By Charles Rukuni

Bulawayo - Zimbabwe is exporting fuel to Botswana and South Africa, which is
helping to further cripple its badly battered economy. Fuel exports are part
of a plethora of survival strategies and illegal deals that comprise the
burgeoning parallel market in Bulawayo. They rely on government bungling and
the inept management of the economy. A few individuals have become
exceedingly wealthy in the process. It is now widely accepted around the
world that Zimbabwe, once hailed as the bread basket of Africa, has become a
basket case. This was illustrated this week in a pie shop in Robert Mugabe
Way where a meat pie sells for Z$15 000. "That's what I paid for my house
and it wasn't so long ago," said a customer who was buying a pie for lunch.
Z$15 000 would indeed have bought a modest house less than a decade ago.
However, at the present rate of inflation, a pie will probably cost more
than Z$20 000 by the end of this year. The latest data from the government's
central statistics office showed that a Zimbabwean family of two parents and
three children needed Z$2,3 million for basic food and non-food items. Basic
food items cost Z$816 200 several months ago. Inflation is now at 127
percent. With the minimum wage still at Z$800 000 a month, even those with
jobs now rank with the poor. Only 30 percent of the available workforce is
officially employed.

Luxon Zembe, the president of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce,
said most of the country was in survival mode. This has led many Zimbabweans
to develop survival strategies that were often detrimental to the economy
and would make any turn-around programme even more difficult. "We have
developed a new breed of speculators ready to pounce whenever the government
bungles," Zembe said. The government certainly has bungled on the fuel
front, pegging prices at the pump at between Z$3 450 and Z$3 950 a litre.
This in a country where the thriving parallel market exchange rate is now up
to Z$3 200 to the South African rand and where a Botswana pula fetches up to
Z$4 300. So, fuel bought at roughly R1 a litre in Zimbabwe can readily sell
in South Africa for R4 or more. The rand or pula for which the re-exported
fuel is sold comes back into Zimbabwe to be exchanged on the parallel
market. One result has been a recurring shortage of fuel. This is also
experienced in maize meal, sugar and cooking oil, on which price controls
have also been applied. "They simply don't work," Zembe said. Economist and
business consultant Eric Bloch agrees with Zembe. Bloch pointed out that
petrol and diesel now had to be sold at less than their landed prices. "To
make any money at all, local suppliers will have to sell fuel at no less
than Z$7 500 a litre," he said. On Thursday, Gideon Gono, the governor of
Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank, again promised to tackle these problems. He
announced the widely expected devaluation of the local currency by 31
percent, still a far cry from the parallel-market rate. "Gono certainly
seems to be trying to keep the ship afloat. The trouble is that the
government is continuing to drill holes in the hull," Bloch said.
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Harare police target foreigners in crackdown
          May 22 2005 at 02:30PM

      Harare - Zimbabwean police have arrested 20 foreigners in Harare in a
crackdown on illegal immigrants and criminals, a newspaper said on Sunday.

      "Police in Harare have arrested 20 foreigners from eight countries for
staying in the country illegally under a clean-up operation aimed at ridding
the city of criminal elements," the state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper said.

      Police spokesperson Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka said the 20
arrested "failed to give satisfactory explanations on how they entered the

      The suspected illegal immigrants being held at Harare's main police
station include Zambians, Burundians, Congolese, Mozambicans, Angolans, a
Malawian, a Nigerian and a Liberian.

      "The operation was launched to arrest and prosecute foreigners without
required documents," Mandipaka told the newspaper, adding that "there were a
lot of illegal immmigrants in the country and that the blitz would continue.

       Foreign nationals in Zimbabwe have been implicated in various crimes
including human trafficking and trading in foreign currency on the black

      A Pakistani arrested early May is facing charges of conniving with
Zimbabwean immigration officials to run a human trafficking syndicate by
producing counterfeit visas.

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      UN envoy in southern Africa tour
            By Nick Miles
            BBC News, Johannesburg

      A top UN envoy has started a tour of southern Africa to look at the
threat of food shortages and the impact of HIV across the region.
      James Morris, the UN secretary general's special envoy to southern
Africa, will visit four countries, Zambia, Botswana, Malawi and Zimbabwe.

      Another aspect of Mr Morris' week-long tour will be to look at the
effect of weak government in the region.

      He was appointed UN envoy in July 2002 and is on his fifth trip to the

      Zimbabwe focus

      Mr Morris will meet government officials and aid agencies in Zambia
and Botswana, where HIV infection rates are among the highest in the world.

      Then in Malawi he will witness the impact of the recent drought that
has forced the government to import hundreds of tonnes of staple foods from
neighbouring countries.

      But Zimbabwe, which has also been hit hard by drought, is the country
Mr Morris will want to focus on most.

      Rapidly rising unemployment and failed crops mean large numbers of
people are without reliable food supplies.

      President Robert Mugabe has blamed the shortages on what he calls
economic sabotage by Western nations.

      The opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, says it is
the president himself who has caused a catastrophe.

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Zim aid food 'contaminated'
22/05/2005 21:22  - (SA)

Harare - The UN's World Food Programme (WFP) last year distributed
contaminated food to needy Zimbabweans after the food was given a health
clearance permit by the government, a state-controlled newspaper said on

The Sunday Mail said 4 000 tons of corn and soya were imported from a
manufacturer in the United States by the UN agency to feed people in the
southern African country, including children, but was later found to possess
dangerously high levels of lead, zinc and copper.

The paper said the food had been given a Health Clearance Permit by the
government, resulting in its distribution to several urban and rural areas.

"We have had incidences where people complained that some of our corn soya
blend was turning colour after cooking," a WFP spokesperson, Makena Walker,
told the paper.

"The blending was not being done properly. That factory (that produced the
food) has since been closed and we have isolated all food from the
manufacturer. As I speak, probably 800 tons are waiting for disposal," she

The paper reported that after the food was found to be unsuitable, the UN
agency withdrew it and distributed fresh supplies.

It was not clear how much of the contaminated food had been eaten. The paper
said the effects include "reduced intelligence, impaired memory, weakness
and the paralysis of the wrists and ankles."

It said the issue was likely to make the government "suspicious" about
receiving further handouts from the UN agency.

James Morris, the head of the UN body, is due in Zimbabwe early next month
for talks with President Robert Mugabe over the country's requirements for
outside food assistance.

Zimbabwe has been in the grip of recurrent food shortages since 2002, when
the WFP first started distributing food aid to millions of hungry people.

The government says it requires 1.2 million tons of food this year to make
up for shortfalls in the staple maize. It estimates just 1.5 million
Zimbabweans are in need of urgent food assistance, but aid agencies say at
least five million of the country's 11.6 million people are in need of help.

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      Zim cops hold journo

      Zimbabwean security forces yesterday detained a freelance journalist
filming police as they cleared Harare's central business district of street
vendors, according to a lawyer for the press freedom group MISA-Zimbabwe.
The journalist, Frank Chikowore, was being held without charge, according to
a statement by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

      "It's outrageous that Zimbabwean authorities would lock up someone who
was simply filming the activities of police in a public place," said Ann
Cooper, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. "We
demand the immediate and unconditional release of Frank Chikowore and an end
to this kind of abuse."
      MISA-Zimbabwe legal officer Wilbert Mandinde, who is seeking
Chikowore's release, said police gave no explanation for the arrest. He told
CPJ that Chikowore had a government license to practice journalism, as
required by Zimbabwe's Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(AIPPA), and that he had been detained because he was filming police
"harassing innocent people."

      Chikowore had just finished another assignment when he came upon the
police sweep and began filming, MISA-Zimbabwe spokesman Nyasha Nyakunu said.

      Mandinde, who met with Chikowore, said the journalist has a swollen
left foot after being manhandled by police. MISA-Zimbabwe reported that
police confiscated Chikowore's video camera and two notebooks.

      A crackdown on the independent press in Zimbabwe that started in 2002
has included the detainment, harassment, and forced exiled of dozens of
journalists, as well as the closure of four newspapers.

Sunday, 22 May, 2005
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