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

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ICC bans Zimbabwean journalist

SW Radio Africa is an independent station run by and for Zimbabweans. We are
based in London. We broadcast on short wave to Southern Africa (on 6145 Khz
in the 49 metre band) and world-wide on the internet. We are not affiliated
to any political party.

I arrived in Britain in October 2001, as the Mugabe regime does not allow
independent broadcasting. Our station is the only means of Zimbabweans
receiving non-partisan news. Every other broadcaster in Zimbabwe is state

The Mugabe regime banned my colleagues and I (all Zimbabwean citizens) from
entering the country last November.

As a news producer and presenter, one of the stories I have been following
closely is the "cricket saga". People in Zimbabwe are very interested in the
story, and want an unbiased view of the situation.

I am on the ICC mailing list and receive regular communications from them.
Mark Harrison is the person from the ICC who is dealing with all the
Zimbabwe Cricket Union media relations whilst they are here. I phoned him a
few days ago to tell him I wanted to attend the press conference with the
Zimbabwe team at Lords today. I explained that I had been to press events at
Lords before, and although I was not a member of the NUJ, a letter from my
editor had sufficed. He said that would be fine and he would leave my name
at the gate.

At the Wisden launch on Tuesday evening I introduced myself to Harrison. At
the time I was wearing (as were several people in the room) a black armband.
This follows the lead of Henry Olonga and Andy Flower who wore bands
mourning "the death of democracy" in Zimbabwe. Harrison told me that I would
not be allowed into the Zimbabwe press conference because I was not a member
of the NUJ (a fact he was aware of because of our previous conversation)

The following morning I joined the NUJ (membership number G0914366). I then
sent Harrison an e-mail telling him this and asking to be informed of the
time and whereabouts of the conference.

Late on Wednesday evening I received a media advisory from him, saying, "all
attendees must be in possession of either a valid ECB, MCC or specific
newspaper, radio or TV media accreditation pass". As I had NUJ membership
and a letter from my editor, had applied for ECB accreditation (although
have not received it yet) and had pre-arranged with Harrison on the phone to
be admitted, I duly went along.

I was stopped from entering by the security staff. I left several messages
for Harrison telling him what had happened. I also spoke to a member of
staff from the ECB who told me there was nothing she could do. In common
with the security staff she did not look at my documentation. I also
telephoned and left a message for Ian Wilson the head of press for the MCC.
I got the NUJ to speak to the ECB representative, and still nothing was

By this time the press conference was well underway. When my fellow
journalists starting leaving I told them what had happened and that in my
opinion this made the ICC, the ECB and the MCC as repressive towards the
media as the Mugabe regime. Harrison then started get enquiries from the
press as to why I had been excluded. He eventually came down to the gate,
with Peter Chingoka the manager of the Zimbabwe team and Lovemore Banda, his
press officer. Harrison said there had been a mix up and I could now come in
and speak to Chingoka.

In my opinion, I was deliberately excluded from this conference. I would
have been the only Zimbabwean journalist there, and possibly the only one
with an in-depth knowledge of the situation in Zimbabwe. My questions
therefore could have been potentially difficult for the Zimbabwe Cricket
Union (of which Mugabe is the patron) and would certainly have focussed the
media attention on the appalling acts being perpetrated by the ZCU patron
and his government on the people of Zimbabwe.

In my interview with Chingoka, who predictably said that sport and politics
are separate, I ended by quoting the great cricket writer, CLR James. He
said, "What do they know of cricket, who only cricket know". I put it to
Chingoka that this then did not auger well for the Zimbabwe matches. His
reply....."No comment".

The Chingoka interview will be broadcast during Newsreel this evening, and
outside the shortwave broadcasting area can be heard on the internet between
6 and 7pm on <>

Georgina Godwin News producer/presenter SW Radio Africa
0208 387 1411
07816 673 122
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Zim Independent

Mugabe reduced to prisoner at State House
Dumisani Muleya

THE three-day stayaway that ended on Friday last week shifted the balance of
power in local politics and set alarm bells ringing for President Robert
Mugabe, analysts say.

They say the strike triggered a sea change in the political relationship
between government and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
which backed the industrial action.

The stayaway was organised by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)
in protest against the massive fuel price increases by government.
Political analyst Brian Raftopoulos said the strike reasserted the political
clout of opposition groups and trade unions.

He said it also indicated that internal pressure against government was
continuously building up.

"It reasserted that the MDC, the ZCTU and other civic groups have the
capacity to mobilise people on a large-scale for their cause," Raftopoulos
"Pressure is building up against government and this could lead to the
resolution of the economic and political crisis around the negotiating

The ruling elite has no choice but to find a negotiated settlement to this
Commentators say the rapid loss of grip on the situation by government has
resulted in the MDC and allies stealing a march on the ruling Zanu PF and
its leadership.

Mugabe is seen as becoming increasingly vulnerable as a result of the new
political dynamics within and outside his party. The rising tide of popular
anger against his regime and thickening political plots by those within his
ranks battling to succeed him have also left him susceptible in the current
power play.

While his opponents are gaining clout to direct national events, Mugabe is
viewed as a prisoner in State House who is unable to provide leadership. His
job now seems to be issuing threats or reacting to the situation on the
ground over which he has less and less control.

Although Mugabe last week denied insecurity during his widely broadcast
interview with state television, his government's intensifying repression
and his unprecedented conciliatory statements suggest that he has become
unsafe in his besieged fortress of power.

Mugabe for the first time last week said he was prepared to meet MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai if he dropped his court challenge against his disputed

He also declared his succession debate open although with pre-conditions. On
top of that, Mugabe also hinted directly that his date with retirement could
be nearing after completing his land reform programme.

However, his remarks provoked a furious denial from Information minister
Jonathan Moyo's office. Moyo would be the first casualty of Mugabe's exit
and his remarks have been discounted accordingly.

"All the president did in the recent interview marking the 23rd anniversary
of Independence was to invite national debate on a range of national
questions including that of succession," Moyo's department said.

"But sadly, so far there has been no debate or debaters, serve for flippant
speculations and crazy scenario building."

South African President Mbeki said he was sure Zanu PF was engaged in the
process of renewing its leadership. Seizing on Mugabe's remarks, he said:
"We want to wait for them to finish that process before we can take matters

Mbeki was last week expected in Zimbabwe together with Malawian president
Bakili Muluzi for talks with Mugabe. It is thought their meeting would have
focused on Mugabe's exit plan. But Mugabe's office postponed the meeting
while it attempts to buttress the president's position.

Zanu PF sources say Mugabe wants to leave but he would like to be given
guarantees of immunity from prosecution for human rights violations and
other abuses of power committed under his rule.

Civic activist Lovemore Madhuku said anyone could now organise a stayaway
because government no longer commands the will of the majority and "people
are fed up".

Mugabe's change of fortunes has been dramatic. Until recently, he appeared
to be firmly in charge, but the strike showed his influence could be
diminishing at an accelerated pace.

There have been a number of setbacks for him recently. Just two months ago
it looked as if he was firmly in control. The democratic gains of 2000 had
been rolled back, the repressive apparatus of the state - including
legislation - firmly set in place, with his authority stamped on his party
and the country. The MDC appeared demoralised with resignations of MPs, no
idea how to resist repression, and by-election reverses.

All that has changed. First the MDC-organised mass action on March 18/19
shook the ground under Mugabe as the populace responded to the strike call.
The wave of repression that followed simply fuelled popular hostility. Then
two by-elections in Harare, won in the teeth of bribery and intimidation,
showed Mugabe's blandishments and threats were making no purchase on the
public mind.

That seems to have been the turning point. While government becomes more
defensive, the opposition now seems to have been adrenalised and is on a
roll. The success of last week's stayaway and the failure of the state
propaganda offensive that emphasised claims of MDC violence, has left Mugabe
stranded, evidently clueless about how to solve the country's burgeoning

And with the economic crisis deepening, there may yet be many twists and
turns in government's unsettled economic policy that will reflect political
conflicts between the diehard Zanu PF leadership and the party's reformists.
This would result in a further loss of political turf by Zanu PF to the MDC
and its partners.

Government's inability to tackle food needs, basic commodities, fuel,
foreign currency shortages and other problems could deliver the coup de
grace for Mugabe.

ZCTU secretary-general Wellington Chibhebhe said the strike revealed a
growing discontent with government. He said while government seems to be
backtracking, the unions, which were beginning to appear as powerless, were
gaining clout.

"The strike showed the ZCTU has muscle and that people have reached the
limit of elasticity," he said.

Chibhebhe said the unions were not afraid of a government backlash.

"We know there is going to be a lot of retribution but we are prepared for
the consequences," he said. "People are committed to emancipate themselves."
Government initially tried in vain to avert the stayaway, which it said was
illegal. The Office of the President failed to prevent the strike despite
flighting adverts which portrayed stayaways as violent events and economic

Last Tuesday Moyo, Labour minister July Moyo, Finance minister Herbert
Murerwa and their Local Government counterpart Ignatius Chombo appeared on
ZBC warning strike organisers of serious consequences. They were ignored.

After the stayaway, officials reacted with a mixture of threats, denials and
conciliatory measures.

Moyo adopted a combative posture. "In the interests of the rule of law,
relevant authorities in government are compiling data on those industries
that have illegally locked out workers for reasons that are manifestly
political and have done so at great cost to many other third parties," he

Moyo warned that companies and those individuals who participated in the
mass action would be punished.

The government also threatened to withdraw permits of transport operators
who grounded their fleets during the strike.

Last Friday Mugabe also adopted a belligerent stance against his
adversaries. "Our enemies today seek desperately to divide and weaken us and
to plunge this country back into the dungeon of colonialism and
 imperialism," he said.

He claimed the MDC had "clearly proven to be lawless and deviant, but more
dangerously, an embodiment of violence and terrorism".
On the same day, armed police raided MDC headquarters in Harare and arrested
more than 30 people. Those arrested included the party's director of
security, Tendai Nyamushayi.

But the government also adopted conciliatory measures by fixing urban public
transport fares and raising the level of minimum wages. However, the unions
dismissed this as piecemeal appeasement. Instead, they warned government of
further trouble ahead.

Whatever happens next, March and April of 2003 will go down as a turning
point. Things will never be quite the same again.
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Zim Independent

Eric Bloch

The economy can, and will, get worse

IT is amazing that even the most depressed of the prophets of doom and gloom
are now repeatedly stating that "It can't get any worse!" or, "We've hit
rock bottom!" In saying so, they don't do it with a sense of relief that the
economic decline during most of the last six years will not continue, but
from a point of view that Zimbabwe's economic conditions have reached such a
low that it is inconceivable that they can sink any further.

Regrettably, they are wrong. As disastrously distressed as the economy is,
it can still deteriorate further. As much as the economy has been
devastated, it is still possible (and, in fact, probable) that it is going
to be weakened to a very considerably extent than is already the case. In
practice, although it is almost impossible to imagine that the economy can
worsen further, it can.

Zimbabwe still has some agricultural activity, even if only a shadow of that
of a few years ago. And Zimbabwe still has operating mines, although many of
them are fast approaching the point at which they will have to close down.
Zimbabwe still has a manufacturing sector, notwithstanding that most
companies are struggling to survive. It also still has a distributive
sector, with wholesalers and retailers continuing to operate, despite a
markedly reduced availability of stocks and a steadily shrinking spending
power of its customer base. Zimbabwe also still has a tourism industry,
surviving notwithstanding the endless buffeting inflicted upon it by the
political and economic environment.

The hard fact is that an economy only reaches a level of total destruction
once none are employed, no enterprise exists, there is neither domestic nor
external trade, the financial sector has completely collapsed (in contrast
to the present where that sector is probably the most virile in the
country), and where the only resources available to a dying populace are
those provided by other countries as humanitarian aid.

However, the underlying message of those suggesting that the economy cannot
get any worse and that it has hit rock bottom is that the economy has sunk
to abysmally low levels hardly ever experienced previously. That message is
incontrovertibly correct. Never before has Zimbabwean inflation been at
rates of 200% and above, and still surging upwards. Levels of unemployment
are the greatest that Zimbabwe has experienced since a formalised economy
came into being. Government's debts now exceed $320 billion, which is a debt
burden of greater magnitude than it has ever been.

The entire infrastructure is collapsing as evidenced by ever lesser
availability of electricity, absence of essential medical supplies in almost
all government-owned hospitals and clinics, telecommunications which cannot
service national needs, a rail system long overdue for essential maintenance
of lines of rail and of rolling stock, inability of local authorities to
service the cities and towns, and these are but a few elements of
infrastructural collapse.

Poverty has become the order of the day for all but a very few. Most are
without any source of income, and for those who are fortunate enough still
to receive some income, the extent of that income is, with relatively rare
exception, insufficient for essential needs. (The poverty datum line for a
family of five now exceeds $60 000 per month, whilst the newly set minimum
wage is only marginally over $47 000 of which nearly $13 000 disappears in
income tax, so the recipient of a minimum wage subsists on less than 57% of
the poverty datum line).

Pensioners who thought that their pensions would fend for all their needs in
their old age now cannot buy essential medicines and are reduced to selling
their household furniture and clothing to sustain themselves.

Despite those abysmally low economic levels, all indications are that the
economy must sink further, for virtually no effective remedial actions are
being taken by government. President Robert Mugabe and his minions persist
with their contentions that all of the economic ills that have afflicted
Zimbabwe have been the result of malevolent acts of Britain and others who
allegedly wish to recolonise Zimbabwe, sabotage of the economy by whites in
general and white commercial farmers in particular, and due to acts of
nature such as drought. All but the gullible know that all these supposed
causes of the near demise of the economy are without foundation and bear no
relationship to the realities.

The economy has no prospect of recovery, or even of halting its decline,
until those in authority are prepared to recognise facts, no matter how
unpalatable those facts may be. And those facts include that:

- Government doesn't know it all, it just thinks that it does;

- A land reform programme founded upon racial malice, disregard for justice
and equity, distortion of history, self-enrichment and intended enrichment
of family, relatives, friends and colleagues, and devoid of constructive
measures and inputs, is doomed to failure, as already proven, removing the
foundations essential to a viable economy;

- No economy can operate successfully in isolation; it must interact with
the economies of other countries, which it is unable to do if its exports
are rendered uncompetitive, it is unable to service its debts, and it abuses
those as would be its suppliers or customers;

- Any economy which must supporta growing population must grow apace, but
cannot do so if its environment is not investment conducive. Such an
environment is one which is politically and economically stable, welcoming
to foreign investors, incentivises and facilitates investment, all within
the surrounds of democracy and law and order.

- A country with a high dependency upon imports (be they fuel, electricity,
industrial raw materials, agricultural and mining inputs, technological
transfer, or much else) and with an insufficiency of exports to generate
required foreign exchange can only fund such imports with internationally
provided balance of payments support, which will not be forthcoming if the
political direction is confrontational with the very fundamentals of human
rights, justice, equity and adherence to internationally established norms,
and if the economic direction is determined by market forces instead of

- Economic ills can only be cured by addressing and ministering to their
causes, instead of the symptoms. Whensoever an economic element becomes
uncontainable and a disaster looms, government focuses upon that element
without regard to the causes thereof, and without considering whether any
supposedly remedial measure will have severe, negative, side-effects;

- No economy can survive, let alone thrive, if confidence does not prevail.
Businesses are without confidence when they are recurrently without the
essentials of operations, when their personnel are demoralised and
demotivated as a result of the severe economic afflictions which they face
repeatedly, when the country in which they struggle to operate is an
international pariah, and when they can have no expectations of any
meaningful protections in law against unjust acts against them;

- Most of all, no measures can save an economy if the government operates in
blatant disregard for its own, publicly-stated policies, and if it emulates
the confidence trickster by resorting to shams and to empty verbiage. The
best recent example of this duplicity is government's stance on the
Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF). Government pretends that it is in
partnership with private enterprise and labour in the TNF, but it implements
agreements reached between the negotiating partners selectively. It reviews
fuel prices without reaching agreement with its TNF partners, and it allows
its parastatals to increase their charges unilaterally, despite the Prices
and Wages Stabilisation Protocol of which it is a signatory.

The most recent example of disdainful disregard for the protocol is this
week's huge postage increases by Zimpost, which is a wholly-owned
parastatal. But if any merchant has the temerity to increase prices to
recover increased cost, he is prosecuted and vilified.

As to a recent example of sham and empty verbiage, the best is the National
Economic Revival Programme (Nerp). It would better have been entitled the
National Economic Recurrent Demise (Nerd). Superficially Nerp says all the
right things. It refers to deregulation, export incentivisation, investment
facilitation, fiscal discipline, inter-active monetary policies, and the
like, but 10 weeks after its launch most relevant ministries are already
behind schedule, instead of deregulation there are additional and increased
controls, the incentivisation of exports by a more realistic exchange rate
has been wholly devoured by new electricity tariffs, no investment
incentivisation is apparent, government continues with profligate spending
of that which it does not have but must borrow, and inflation soars

In such circumstances, not only can the economy worsen further, but it will
do so.
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Zim Independent


Zimbabwe's First Shopper a disgrace

ZIMBABWE'S First Shopper has once again found herself in the news following
Radio 702's brief interview with "Her Excellency".

It was very resourceful of them to track down our serial spender to Caesar's
Palace, one of the most expensive hotels in South Africa, at a time when her
husband's misrule has condemned his countrymen to destitution. etv
interviewed a Zimbabwean refugee in Hillbrow who was trying to eke out a
living by hawking on the pavement. Needless to say, he was rather
unimpressed to hear about Grace's stay.

The Democratic Alliance's Joe Seremane put it neatly: "DisGraceful".
It is not difficult to understand the purpose of the trip. With shops closed
in Harare because of the stayaway and further strikes looming, there was an
urgent need to restock the Zimbabwe House larder. And what a treat: all
those items no longer available in Zimbabwe because of forex shortages!

We would hate to see the tab at the end of her stay at Caesar's Palace. Who
will be rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, we wonder? The
ordinary hard-pressed Zimbabwean taxpayer you can bet!

While the rest of us are having to economise owing to the pressure of forex
shortages and inflation, it is good to see that it's not only Grace keeping
up appearances. Reserve Bank governor Leonard Tsumba was spotted at
Washington's Dulles Airport on Sunday, April 20 checking in for a flight to
London, first class of course.

The first class fare is around US$5 000.
Tsumba has served his two terms and is now due to retire. So who will step
into those smart Gucci shoes?

Somebody who seems to be advertising his candidacy is Dr Samuel Undenge who
describes himself as an economic consultant. He has been paying for
full-page advertisements attacking the RBZ for missing Nerp monetary targets
as agreed by the TNF. His central message is that "people from a different
school of thought cannot implement successfully ideas from another school of

It is not difficult to see which school he supports. Undenge is a favourite
"talking head" of the state media. While many of his criticisms of Nerp's
failure to make headway are entirely justified, it is not altogether clear
if he is speaking for himself or a wider constituency that is critical of
the RBZ. Some clarification would be welcome.

Jonathan Moyo was last Friday quoted in the Herald threatening employers who
had closed their businesses during the recent stayaway. Relevant authorities
were "compiling data on those industries that have illegally locked out
workers for reasons that are manifestly political.," he menacingly warned.
Criminal and civil liabilities would have to be sought against the culprits
in terms of Posa, he said.

We hope employers will have a suitably robust response for this ministerial
demagogue. Firstly, Posa is in clear violation of constitutional guarantees
to freedom of expression and assembly. Despite some bravado from Patrick
Chinamasa in this paper a few weeks ago, the government is under intense
regional pressure to repeal it and will have to do so as part of any
political accommodation.

Secondly, employers should listen to their workers and not to self-inflated
ministers. The future of this country lies in the hands of business and
labour, not Zanu PF which is about to go down the toilet of history. Nobody
believes the silly story about thousands of workers wanting to report for
work but finding their premises closed. Ask your workers what they want and
act accordingly.

Finally, remember that Moyo is a loser. He is good at threatening people but
has not inspired a single successful prosecution, even under his own

If, by the way, the government assumes it can prosecute employers for
"seeking to cripple the economy", what can be done about ministers whose
depredations are responsible for forex shortages, 230% inflation, 80%
unemployment, institutional corruption, parasitic parastatals, and
international isolation?

While we are at it, should the Department of Information be spending public
funds on partisan adverts in the Herald and on ZTV? Those carried by ZTV
border on incitement. Should government officials be allowed to abuse
taxpayers' money to publish facile accusations against the MDC that nobody,
except a handful of Zanu PF fanatics, is going to believe anyway?

Which "elements", for instance, of the MDC are, or were, Selous Scouts? This
is a charge that has in the past been linked to David Coltart but, like
Philip Chiyangwa, he served in the police reserve during compulsory call-up,
not the army.

We are told in the Department of Information ads that on February 6 the
Daily News carried a "shocking" article on its leader page under the
heading, "MDC must cripple economy to dislodge Mugabe".

An excerpt from the article is quoted: "The MDC has done it before (meaning
it has caused chaos!) and they should complete the job. The situation is
historically ripe though the people still need political drilling.chaos (not
democracy?) is what we need to remove Mugabe."

Anybody reading the original article by Mkululi Dube would have difficulty
recognising it from the Herald ad. The Department of Information, whose
minister keeps warning the press about falsehoods, changed the words to suit
its purpose.

Here is the original version: "The MDC should simply seek national consensus
and engage in well-organised mass action that will cripple the economy and
inevitably force the government to its knees. They have done it before and
they should complete the job. The situation is ripe, though the people still
need political grilling. I would for once agree with Munyaradzi Gwisai
(Sunday Mirror, 19 January 2003) that chaos is what we need to remove
Mugabe, though it still has to be an organised noise."

In a carefully argued piece, the author pointed out how the MDC leadership
had discouraged its followers from pursuing the path of mass action. A more
robust policy was needed, he argued, referring to Gwisai's statement. This
was written well before March's MDC-organised stayaway.

We should expect the Department of Information to distort what the writer
said. But changing words like grilling - meaning discourse - to "drilling" -
meaning military training - and inserting "historically", are very serious
professional abuses by officials in the President's Office.

On a related matter, the charge that school children were targeted in the
March mass action is raised again in the ad.

Has anybody asked the police whether school children were actually on the
bus at the time? Or indeed anywhere near it? And why are police officers
shown looking at concrete blocks lying exactly where they are supposed to be

In a report on the decision of a number of countries to block a motion on
Zimbabwe by the US and EU at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, the
Herald inadvertently (we hope) managed to put Sweden in both camps. We can
safely assume Sweden would be unlikely to condone murder, torture and rape!
An editorial in the same paper also gave the impression that France was on
Zimbabwe's side.

This is a matter that needs to be clarified. France admittedly gave a poor
impression of its foreign policy by inviting President Mugabe to a meeting
of African leaders in Paris earlier this year. It did so on the grounds that
the meeting would expose Mugabe to the views of his peers. While we should
exercise a healthy measure of scepticism about France's motives, we should
not at the same time swallow state-media explanations as to what transpired.

We know from Zimbabwean official reports that, coming out of their meeting,
Mugabe said he had briefed President Jacques Chirac on the land question.
But Zimbabwean officials were never challenged to disclose what Chirac said
to him.

Muckraker gathers that Chirac did not just sit and listen to Mugabe. While
the Elysée has not officially commented on what took place, Muckraker is
assured by sources in the French capital that it was not the one-way
monologue Mugabe implied. He was told a few things as well. Despite a
reputation for Gallic charm and courtesy, Chirac can be blunt when he wants
to be!

While still on the subject of the Paris visit, Muckraker would like to ask
Stan Mudenge the following: How many visas did you seek for the Zimbabwe
delegation? And how many were approved? We heard three.

And we were pleased to see deputy minister Sithembiso Nyonigetting a firm
rebuff during her visit to Vienna recently. She used the waiver given for a
visit to theUN Industrial Development Orga-nisation to try and contact
theAustrian foreign ministry. "Sorry," they said. "We can't talk to you."

Note the pattern here. Getting a waiver to visit the EU because it was UN
business. And then trying to expand the scope of the visit to claim a
propaganda victory. But the Austrians weren't playing ball.

Now for some light relief:

Each year the Washington Post's Style Invitational asks readers to take any
word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing only
one letter and supply a new definition. Here are the winners:

- Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you
realise it was your money to start with.
- Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting
- Giraffiti: Vandalism painted very, very high.
- Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who
doesn't get it.
- Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
- Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.
- Osteopornosis: A degenerate dise-ase.
- Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad
vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious
- Glibido: All talk and no action.
- Dopeer Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come
at you rapidly.
And, the winner of the Washington Post's Style Invitational:
- Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an a--hole.
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Zim Independent

Are the power-brokers up to the task?

THE expected arrival on Monday of Presidents Thabo Mbeki, Olusegun Obasanjo
and Bakili Muluzi to discuss the resuscitation of Zimbabwe's long-dormant
inter-party dialogue provides a good opportunity for the de-mocratic
majority to send a message to our would-be helpers regarding the usefulness
of their mission.

MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai this week referred to the "suspicion and
anxiety" felt by Zimbabweans after Mbeki and Obasanjo had "subverted and
scuttled" the work of the Commonwealth troika. In particular, Tsvangirai
accused them of shielding President Mugabe from international censure after
they endorsed his fraudulent reelection.
There must be no attempt, the MDC leader said, to incorporate the opposition
into a wider Mugabe succession plan.

This is the core of the problem. Zanu PF is seeking its own survival in
power. Despite belligerent noises from the Office of the President, the
party is resigned to an accommodation with the MDC. But, naturally enough,
it will try to define the terms of that accommodation. Treating the MDC as a
junior partner in a government of national unity is not the lifeline
Tsvangirai is about to throw to Mugabe's sinking crew.

His speech on Wednesday to senior party officials, councillors and MPs was
carefully phrased to avoid setting specific preconditions. But it made clear
that meaningful political engagement could only take place in a peaceful

This is not an unreasonable requirement. No dialogue of any sort can proceed
in the poisoned atmosphere that the government's low-intensity war against
the opposition has emitted. The Mugabe regime must put a stop to all forms
of state-sponsored violence, Tsvangirai said, uphold the rule of law and
respect human rights. It must ensure the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, police and
the CIO operate professionally in accordance with their constitutional
mandates and cease participating in politics as organised units of Zanu PF.
Posa and Aippa must also be revoked to permit freedom of expression and

The three visitors should be asked whether they agree or not that these are
the minimal conditions in which dialogue can succeed. These are exactly the
conditions the ANC required before they agreed to talk to FW de Klerk's
regime at Codesa. And they accord with a number of Sadc commitments South
Africa and Malawi have signed up to.

Also in keeping with the Codesa precedent, the transitional period needs to
be defined with provision for free and fair elections at the end that are in
accordance with Sadc Electoral Norms and Standards. That will require an
independent electoral commission responsible for drawing up a transparent
and accurate voters' roll, the presence of local and international observers
with unfettered access, and unrestricted media coverage so voters can make
an informed choice.

It is now evident that Mugabe, who procured his own return last year by
electoral manipulation and intimidation, cannot remain as head of state when
he has violated his commitments to uphold constitutional governance,
unleashed illegal militias upon the populace, and sabotaged the economy to
perpetuate his grip on power. While the three leaders insist they are not
coming here to negotiate Mugabe's exit, they concede they are brokering a
process of dialogue that nearly all players, including many at the top of
the ruling party, see as leading to Mugabe's departure well before the end
of his term in 2008.

One reason for this consensus is the self-evident conclusion that Mugabe has
no answers to the pressing problems facing the country of which he is the
principal author, and any continuation of his vengeful rule is likely to be

The MDC has in place a national rescue plan that, given international
goodwill towards Zimbabweans, is likely to attract immediate donor support.
This would involve a programme of sustained recovery in the agricultural,
mining and tourism sectors which have been hardest hit by Mugabe's
slash-and-burn tactics.

An emergency plan of this sort to kickstart the economy needs to be given
the widest possible publicity so Zimbabweans can look forward to a future
government that has their interests, and not those of a corrupt clique, at

In his speech on Wednesday, Tsvangirai promised that on the morrow of a
democratic government, the pariah status earned by the Mugabe regime would
evaporate and Zimbabwe would assume its rightful position in the community
of law-abiding nations.
The MDC leader was in effect saying there is a future beyond Mugabe. We have
to remember that.

If the triumvirate visiting Harare on Monday - one of them fresh from a poll
in which he won 100% of the vote in a district where 100% of voters cast
their ballots - are to be of any use at all, they will have to drop their
redundant plan to rescue Zanu PF by coopting the MDC and concentrate instead
on the minimal conditions for a political dialogue that rescues Zimbabwe
from its current crisis. Are they up to it?
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Zim Independent

Power shortage hits winter cropping
Blessing Zulu/Augustine Mukaro

THE impact of the current electricity shortage has spread to the
agricultural sector, forcing farmers to reduce the hectarage for winter
maize and wheat.

Zimbabwe normally grows between 85 000 and 100 000 hectares of winter crops
using overhead irrigation. The water pumping engines used for watering are
driven by electricity.

Agricultural experts this week said because of the power shortage in the
country only a quarter of the winter crop would be grown.

"At the moment industry, including the agricultural sector, is operating at
only 30% of capacity because Zesa is unable to meet power demands," one
expert said.

"There is no power for irrigation on the farms."

Commercial Farmers Union economist Kuda Ndoro said the power crisis would
severely affect the winter crop.

"Farmers use most of their electricity during winter since there will be a
lot of irrigation," Ndoro said.

"If nothing is done to augment supply this will affect the performance of
the winter cereals."

Many companies have been hard hit by Zesa's load-shedding over the past few
weeks. This has compelled some of them to shut down, scale down operations,
retrench or reduce working hours.

This has worsened unemployment and poverty.

Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce chief executive Luckymore Zinyama said
businesses had no choice but to adopt survival strategies.

"There are many companies including our members who are scaling down
operations," Zinyama said.

"Industries have now resorted to a shorter working week and workers are
being told to commute their leave days. Those who used to be on three-day
shifts now have only one shift."

Zimbabwe is already facing a serious shortage of wheat caused by the
destruction of the agricultural sector by government's chaotic land reforms.

Government has been trying to make up for the maize deficits by growing 100
000 hectares of winter maize at Nuanetsi Ranch.

"We will be self-sufficient in maize this year by producing 2 100 000 tonnes
from 100 000 hectares on Nuanetsi Ranch," Agriculture minister Made was
recently quoted as saying.

To encourage farmers to plant winter wheat, Made increased the producer
prices of the crop from $70 000 to $150 000 per tonne.

The producer price of maize was also hiked from $28 000 a tonne to $130 000.

But agriculture specialists say all these efforts at food self-sufficiency
could be sabotaged by the shortage of electricity.

Although government's latest economic recovery initiative, the National
Economic Revival Programme, has agriculture as its foundation, farming
experts say the programme will not work so long as shortages of power, fuel,
and foreign currency to import machinery and spare parts persist.

The economic recovery programme has been widely criticised as next to
useless because it does not have a holistic approach to Zimbabwe's economic
and political crisis. Already the programme is failing to take off due to
the country's catalogue of problems, including electricity shortages.
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Zim Independent

Cosatu warns on Zim crisis
Blessing Zulu/Loughty Dube

THE Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) says there is need for
urgent steps to resolve Zimbabwe's economic and political crisis to avoid a
regional contagion.

Cosatu said the Zimbabwe situation could end up drawing other countries into
its vortex if not immediately addressed. The South African labour movement
made these remarks after a three-hour long meeting with South African
President Thabo Mbeki.

"If the economy of Zimbabwe is affected, it's going to affect this country,"
said Joseph Maqhekeni, Cosatu president.

"It will affect the workers of this country, as such we need something to be
done," Maqhekeni said.

Last week, African Institute of International Affairs chairperson, Fred
Phaswana, said it was imperative to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis to avoid
an economic meltdown.

"One of the greatest factors of Africa's current problems lies in too little
effective and constructive criticism of its leaders, not too much," Phaswana

Phaswana said this had clearly not brought about a change or halted the
accelerating downward political and economic spiral in Zimbabwe.

He said the New Partnership for Africa's Development offered not only a
vision but also a path to African development.

"The need for African societies to foster good governance regimes, greater
accountability of leaders to the governed, and more effective socio-economic
development for all citizens - goals of both the AU and Nepad - can only be
achieved by a more vibrant debate across the continent by all elements of
the population," he said.

Meanwhile, Cosatu has congratulated the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union
(ZCTU) on last week's three-day mass stayaway in protest against massive
fuel price increases by the government.

Cosatu said the fuel price hikes would impact negatively on workers. It
promised to continue to support the ZCTU in any further action it would take
to press for price reductions and an end to human rights abuses.

"The federation fully supports its fellow workers in Zimbabwe in their
struggle against an excessive 200% fuel price increase, which means that
many workers have to pay more each day to travel to and from work than they
earn in a day," Cosatu spokesperson, Patrick Craven, said in a statement.

Cosatu also condemned the continuing arrests of trade unionists, including
the over 20 ZCTU activists arrested in Bulawayo and Gweru during the mass

"We demand that the (Zimbabwean) government immediately and unconditionally
release all those still in detention and refrain from any further arrests of
trade unionists and politicians, "Craven said.
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Zim Independent

Govt abandons plans to sell state firms
Ndamu Sandu/Shakeman Mugari

DESPITE a public commitment to privatisation, government has abandoned the
programme in favour of commercialisation of state-owned companies.

Sources said government has ditched the programme and no state-owned company
is likely to be privatised in the near future.

"The state is no longer committed to privatisation and is now concentrating
on merely restructuring and commercialising parastatals," a source said.

Privatisation Agency of Zimbabwe (Paz) director Andrew Bvumbe confirmed
government has directed his organisation to now focus on restructuring and
commercialisation, instead of privatisation.

"Government has indicated that at the moment we should commercialise and
restructure until the economic environment has changed," he said.

"The major challenge is how to effectively implement the programme under
existing conditions which have reduced the privatisation pace. The focus is
now on effective commercialisation and restructuring of parastatals before

Privatisation, which has ostensibly been part of government economic policy
since the advent of economic reforms in 1991, was meant to make the
companies more efficient and to raise funds for government. It was also
designed to reduce the financial burden on the fiscus.

Most of the parastatals such as Noczim, NRZ, Zesa, Air Zimbabwe, and the
CMED are making serious losses and are heavily indebted. They are currently
surviving on taxpayers' money.

Under the current New Economic Recovery Programme (Nerp), government puts
emphasis on "indigenous economic empowerment and agrarian-driven
socio-economic transformation", and not on privatisation.

Bvumbe said the loss-making Zesa, which has been on the priority list for
privatisation for the past four years, would now be unbundled into five
strategic business units and not privatised.

Initially, the state had directed Paz to privatise the power utility but
later made a policy U-turn in keeping with its record.

Government recently rejected the privatisation of the three demerged Astra
Holdings companies, Cairns, Tractive Power, and Astra, despite initially
inviting tenders.

The state is expected to relinquish its shareholding in Finhold and Cold
Storage Company. It was also expected to dispose of its controlling stakes
in NRZ, Agribank, and Wankie Colliery Company and some subsidiaries of the
Industrial Development Corporation but nothing has happened.

Parastatals are seen as a millstone around the neck of government as they
continue milking the fiscus of billions of dollars. Presenting the budget
last year, Finance minister Herbert Murerwa cited Air Zimbabwe and Zesa as
examples of parastastals draining public funds.

Successfully privatised companies include Dairibord, Cottco and Rainbow
Tourism Group.

Economic analyst Tony Hawkins said Paz has to be autonomous if it was to be
effective like similar agencies in Mozambique and Zambia.

"For Paz to work effectively, it has to be autonomous which is not the case
in Zimbabwe," he said.

In 2001, the then Minister of Finance, Simba Makoni, had set the target for
privatisation at $40 billion but the agency raised only $10 billion.
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Zim Independent

Mahofa/Maseva farm dispute rages on
Augustine Mukaro

THE dispute over Lothian Farm between Gender, Youth Development and
Employment Creation deputy minister Shuvai Mahofa and slain war veteran Amos
Maseva's family remains unresolved two years after the conflict claimed its
first victim, the Zimbabwe Independent heard this week.

The two families clashed again earlier this year after Mahofa destroyed
crops planted by the late Maseva's brother and planted her own.

In an interview over the weekend, Maseva's father said he was contemplating
exhuming and dumping his son's coffin at Mahofa's home.

"It was all my fault to bury Amos before Mahofa had done something about the
matter," Maseva's father said.

He said Mahofa had intensified her efforts to push his family off the
controversial plot number 19 where the farmhouse is situated.

"Earlier this year Mahofa destroyed the maize that had been planted by Amos'
brother using tractors from the District Development Fund," he said.

"She proceeded to plant her beans on the same piece of land but we never
disturbed it."

The late war veteran is alleged to have died of injuries sustained when
Mahofa teamed up with other people and assaulted him at Lothian Farm after a
dispute over occupation of the farmhouse.

Relatives of the deceased, led by the Masvingo war veterans leadership,
dumped Maseva's body at Mahofa's house at Mpandawana growth point.

The family reportedly demanded $2 million and 20 head of cattle as
compensation before they could bury the body. The burial was done after the
intervention of Vice-President Simon Muzenda, local chiefs, war veterans and
other politicians.

"It's two years now since my son died and there is nothing happening to
bring Mahofa before the courts. Chief Gutu who is handling the matter seems
to be dragging his feet about setting dates for the hearing," said the late
war veteran's father at the weekend.

Maseva (Sr) said Mahofa was evading the hearing through excuses.

"She told Chief Gutu that she could not attend the first and second hearings
that were set by the traditional court because she would be out of the
country. We now realise that she is buying time so that we abandon the whole

"We are going to Muzenda this week to tell him that there is no progress on
the issue," Maseva said.
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Zim Independent

FSI builds empire renting A2 farms
Augustine Mukaro

MORE names of Zanu PF cronies renting out farms taken under the fast-track
land reform programme emerged this week.

Investigations by the Zimbabwe Independent revealed that of the 634 model A2
farmers whose properties are being operated by FSI Agricom, over 400 are
allocated to either ruling-party officials, war veterans' leaders, or
businessmen with close links to government.

FSI Agricom Holdings (Pvt ) Ltd and CFI Holdings (Pvt) Ltd have entered
contractual agreements with A2 beneficiaries to run theirfarms. The
contracts are, however,bound by a government Memorandum of Understanding
(MOU) of September 17, 2002 signed by the two companies.

In Mashonaland West province, where provincial chairman Phillip Chiyangwa
was among the first people to offer his farm to FSI Agricom, over 150
farmers are sub-letting their farms.

Prominent figures renting out their farms include war veterans' chairman
Patrick Nyaruwata and secretary-general Andy Mhlanga who are both occupying
Bramfield Farm.

Sources said FSI had planted about 105 hectares of soya beans on the farm,
which is ready for harvesting.

"The two started benefiting from the FSI contract last year when the company
planted about 100 hectares of wheat," sources at FSI said.

"We will be harvesting the sum-mer crop in the coming weeks and making the
land ready for wheat."

FSI provided financial support to the two war veterans' leaders covering
inputs, planting and harvesting of the crops.

Another beneficiary of the A2scheme with close links to govern-ment in the
same province is Tsitsi Mugabe, the wife of Davison Mugabe who is the
chairman of the Indige-nous Commercial Farmers Union.

Papers seen by the Independent show that in Mashonaland Centralbeneficiaries
from the FSI arra-ngement include Agricultural perm-anent secretary Ngoni
Masoka and writer Alexander Kanengoni.

In Manicaland, Zesa boss Sydney Gata is a beneficiary and in the Midlands,
deputy minister of Home affairs Rugare Gumbo is also a beneficiary.

Sources said the Mashonaland West scenario was a microcosm of the wider
national scenario in which senior ruling party and government officials
seized farms only to rent them out.

"Provincial chefs are manipula-ting loopholes in the land reform programme
with a good number of them renting out their farms to government
organisations such as Arda and the District Development Fund where FSI has
not come into picture," a source said.

Documents seen by the Indepe-ndent show that FSI Agricom, which has quickly
become an agricultural giant, divided the country into four regional areas -
Central, Northern, Eastern and Western - for its purposes.

In a statement to the Independent, FSI Agricom managing director Ivan Savala
said the September 17, 2002 MOU has given his company a mandate to produce
for the country to ensure food security.

"In terms of this MOU, FSI Agri-com was required to produce the following
quantities of crops: 30 000 tonnes of maize; 30 000 tonnes of soya beans; 30
000 tonnes of sorghum; 90 000 tonnes of wheat, and 60 000 tonnes of seed
cotton," Savala said.

"Pursuant to this agreement FSI supported 634 A2 farmers growing the first
three crops.

"Under our cotton out-grower scheme alone we supported 25 000 A1 and A2
farmers," he said.

Savala said that the agreement provides for FSI assisting A2 bene-ficiaries
with inputs as well as management where necessary to ensure that the
objective of food security and production is met.

Savala said FSI as an agro-processor has provided a window of opportunity
for A2 beneficiaries. Precise contractual agreements are tailor-made to suit
individual requirements of each beneficiary, he added.
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Zim Independent

Zimpapers editors fight over vehicles
Tracy Mpofu/Cynthia Mahwite

A WAR of words has erupted between controversial Chronicle editor Stephen
Ndlovu and his Sunday News counterpart Brezhnev Malaba over the allocation
of vehicles to their reporters, the Zimbabwe Independent has established.

Sources at the Chronicle said Ndlovu and Malaba - the two Bulawayo-based
government-controlled newspaper editors in the Zimpapers stable - clashed
after Ndlovu hijacked four delivery vehicles and gave them to his staff

The sources said Ndlovu overrode the newspapers' transport manager Edward
Tshuma when he unilaterally grabbed the vehicles which had come from head
office in Harare.

Ndlovu recently caused a row between Information minister Jonathan Moyo,
Foreign minister Stan Mudenge and Zanu PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira after
attacking South African President Thabo Mbeki.

In seizing the cars, he by-passed all managers, including chief executive
Justin Mutasa.

The Chronicle and the Sunday News, whose profitability is declining with the
fall of their holding company Zimpapers' fortunes, are facing a critical
transport crisis. More than 30 reporters are using only two vehicles for
their assignments.

The confrontation escalated after Malaba wrote a memorandum, a copy of which
is in the possession of the Independent, to Mutasa last Friday complaining
about Ndlovu's behaviour.

"We draw attention to the chaotic utilisation of company vehicles at this
branch," Malaba wrote in the memo dated April 25.

"Trucks which we received recently from head office have been diverted to
personal use, instead of strengthening our dilapidated newspaper-delivery
fleet. Clearly the trucks are not meant for personal use."

Malaba accused Ndlovu of being selfish by seizing the vehicles for private

"The Chronicle editor, Mr Ndlovu, has allocated one of the delivery trucks
to his deputy (Paul Mambo), yet this gentleman already has a vehicle," he

"When I expressed reservation on the grabbing of the delivery trucks, Ndlovu
even had the audacity to say to me: 'Don't forget that Mambo is in the same
grade as you'."

Malaba said Ndlovu's behaviour was shocking.

"If indeed this chaotic approach is all about grades as the Chronicle editor
claims, why is it that the assistant editor of the Sunday News (Thabani
Mpofu) has no vehicle yet the news editor of the Chronicle, who is in a
lower grade, has a car? Moreover, our news editor has no car," he said.

"Mr Ndlovu must not appease his subordinates at the expense of production."

Ndlovu was said to have reacted with venom to the letter and summoned the
Sunday News' news editor to his diary meeting where he attacked Malaba for
writing a "stupid letter" to him.

Ndlovu is also said to have phoned Malaba and scolded him. The two editors
were reportedly summoned by Information minister Jonathan Moyo to Harare
this week to discuss the matter. Efforts to get comment from them were
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Zim Independent

Residents prepare lawsuit over Mudzuri
Augustine Mukaro

THE Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) will soon file papers at
the High Court demanding an urgent reinstatement of suspended Harare
executive mayor Engineer Elias Mudzuri, the Zimbabwe Independent heard this

CHRA chairman Mike Davis said his organisation is engaged in a series of
consultative meetings with residents, councillors and legal advisors on the
prospects of taking a legal route.

"We will be filing papers in the High Court early next week," Davis said.

"We will be challenging the legitimacy of the suspension and seeking an
urgent reinstatement of the mayor because we reject it."

CHRA was instrumental in forcing government to hold Harare local council
elections when it won its case challenging the legitimacy of the Chanakira
Commission last year. The elections were subsequently held concurrently with
the hotly disputed presidential election.

A five-member delegation from Harare's long-time twin city, Munich,
currently in the city, also demanded the reinstatement of the mayor saying
that: "The decision to suspend the mayor on the grounds of general and
unproven allegations is contrary to our understanding of basic democratic

Munich vice-mayor Hep Monatz-eder told journalists that only a
democratically legitimised city government in Harare can be a partner of the
city of Munich.

In a statement yesterday CHRA said it was rejecting the Minister of Local
Government, Ignatius Chombo's latest move to suppress the democratic process
in the City of Harare and would not hesitate to challenge it.

"As residents we will not accept the situation," CHRA said.

"We went through the courts to achieve a democratically elected council and
we will not hesitate to do so again to defend our democratic space.

"The suspension of the executive mayor of Harare is a culmination of
numerous attempts by the ministry to deny residents the right to participate
in the decision-making process," CHRA said.

"In one bizarre case the executive mayor has been arrested together with
residents for discussing issues that affect them in Mabvuku.

"The city must not be disrupted by people bent on scoring political points
at the expense of real issues such as the water situation, housing, sewerage
reticulation and waste removal," CHRA said.

It said these problems date back to the Solomon Tawengwa-led council and
were not caused by the democratically elected council the city now has.

"If the minister was concerned about the residents and ratepayers, then he
would engage them in discussions with the mayor over these matters," CHRA

CHRA said the real reason for the concern in Harare's affairs by the regime
lay in the loss of the patronage opportunities that exist in the city, from
contracts to employment. These have been denied to the regime as a result of
the elections last year and the regime is eager to reclaim looting
privileges, it said.
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Zim Independent

Govt directs workers' fury at employers
Conrad Dube

GOVERNMENT'S recently-announ-ced new minimum wages will fur-ther undermine
the already battered industrial sector, analysts said this week.

The move is seen as burdening industry with the cost of recent fuel price

With some companies having significantly reduced working hours due to the
shortages of electricity and foreign exchange, government's decision was
widely seen as a political move to appease restive workers who are
threatening to revolt in protest against economic hardships, while
penalising employers for siding with their workers. The pay awards had been
agreed in February but government waited until the stayaway before
announcing them.

Although the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) said the new wage
levels were way below the poverty datum line, the labour movement believes
the government decision was politically motivated.

"The announcement was a ploy to divert workers' attention from the stayaway
with a view to portraying ZCTU as not being co-operative so that workers
would not see much in the job action," ZCTU information officer, Mlamleli
Sibanda, said in an interview.

The ZCTU indicated that new minimum wages, in which workers in the
agricultural sector, agro industry, and industry and commerce would get $23
070, $42 168, and $47 696 respectively, were still way below the poverty
datum line wage of $53 020 as at March 2003 for a family of five.

Yet the labour body also acknowledged that companies would not be able to
pay the new wages because of the impact of the national economic decline.

With price controls production has also been affected and resultantly
companies would not be able meet the new wage levels.

Prices of end products have been frozen in an environment where salaries and
wages, costs of inputs such as raw materials, insurance, electricity and
transport have been allowed to rise.

Industrialists say there is need for strong institutional support and a
social contract between labour, business and government to create confidence
in the economy that would allow self-regulation on the part of concerned

However, the social contract is now facing collapse after the ZCTU pulled
out of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum citing "arbitrary and unilateral
decision-making by the government".
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Zim Independent

Labour Act millstone around workers - lawyers
Blessing Zulu

ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has called upon the government to
enshrine collective job action in the constitution as is the case in other

ZLHR cordinator, Irene Petras, said this in a statement released ahead of
the May Day celebrations held yesterday.

"The right to collective action, though recognised, is limited by the
provisions of the Labour Relations Act," said Petras.

"Whereas in South Africa collective job action has been elevated to a
fundamental right enshrined in the constitution, in Zimbabwe it is contained
in the Labour Relations Act with limitations," she said.

The issue of collective bargaining is closely aligned to collective actions
such as strikes, stayaways, picketing and lock-outs.

Petras said the new labour legislation was restrictive in its dealings with
issues affecting workers.

Petras said labour has insisted that it has a right to engage in collective
action of its choice to press its demands. Petras said on the other hand the
government, whilst reluctantly recognising the right, maintains it must be
governed in terms of the parameters that it has set.

She said the process of collective action is the only way that pressure may
be brought about by the employees on the employee. She said without the
ability to stay away from work, it would be futile for employees to engage
in collective bargaining.

"The attempt by government to curtail the right to collective action is
ill-conceived and counter-productive. It only serves to underscore
government's lip service to the issue of economic and social rights. The
government is prepared to advance the rights of those that it perceives to
be on its side and to destroy the rights of those who hold a different view
or philosophy to it," she said.

This year's Workers Day comes after the ZCTU called for a three-day mass
stayaway which brought the country to a standstill. The ZCTU also pulled out
of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum which brings together labour, business
and government.

Government has been accused of trying to stifle workers by forming
counter-labour bodies such as the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions
fronted by Joseph Chinotimba, a member of the ruling Zanu PF party.

The country, in its fourth year of recession, has an unemployment rate of
75% and the ZCTU said 80% of workers' salaries are gobbled up by transport
alone while the poverty datum line had shot up to $125 000.
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Zim Independent

Botswana probes border officials
Loughty Dube

BOTSWANA'S Department of Immigration is investigating some of its officials
for allegedly receiving bribes from Zimbabwean immigrants seeking to prolong
their stay in that country.

Botswana's acting chief immigration officer, Fred Majola, confirmed in
reports over the weekend that his department was conducting internal
investigations into the bribery cases.

The latest investigations will add to already worsening relations between
the two countries.

The allegations came to light after a tip off to immigration officials that
some Zimbabweans were paying as much as 120 pula for extending their stay in
that country.

"We certainly will follow this one and investigate. we cannot have a
department manned by criminals," Majola said.

He said the results will be passed to the Directorate on Corruption and
Economic Crime before appropriate action is taken.

A sizeable number of Zimbabweans arrested in Botswana are finding their way
back to the streets after producing travel documents with extended periods
of stay.

The Batswana accuse Zimbabweans of engaging in criminal activities while in
that country while the Zimbabweans accuse the Batswana of ill-treating them.

The trading of accusations between the two countries' nationals began
immediately after Botswana criticised President Mugabe's land reforms and
then demanded payment for a 20-million-litre fuel credit line it extended to
the government in March 2000.

Two Zimbabweans were killed in a Botswana prison after Batswana inmates
teamed up with other African inmates to assault Zimbabweans.

Last month a Botswana traditional court summoned Zimbabwe's High
Commissioner to Botswana, Phelekezela Mphoko, and several other Zimbabweans
to warn them about illegal activities.
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Zim Independent

Zim courts IMF - again
Shakeman Mugari

A YEAR after President Robert Mugabe announced that his government had
abandoned all dealings with the Washington-based Bretton Woods institutions,
the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Herbert Murerwa says
Zimbabwe is courting the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for economic

Murerwa and a delegation from Zimbabwe, including Re-serve Bank of Zimbabwe
governor Leonard Tsumba, are understood to have held a secret meeting with
IMF managing director Horst Kohler. Murerwa's delegation sought a private
audience with the IMF head on the sidelines of the annual spring general
meeting held in mid-April in Washington.

The sideline meeting was held to try and persuade the financial institution
to bail Zimbabwe out of its financial crisis - the worst since Independence.

Murerwa confirmed he led a delegation to the IMF meeting in the United

He however refused to say whether the delegation had held a private meeting
with the IMF managing director.

Murerwa said: "The only time we met the IMF managing director was during the
sessions of the annual meeting. Apart from that there were no secret talks
between my delegation and the IMF."

It is however reliably understood that Murerwa and Tsumba held a meeting
with IMF officials at which they discussed Zimbabwe's precarious economic

An official based at the IMF offices in Washington confirmed that the
minister and RBZ governor were involved in private talks with the managing

She said: "Murerwa and Tsumba requested a meeting with the head of the IMF
soon after their arrival in Washington and the meeting was held on April

Gerry Johnson, seniorIMF representative in Zim-babwe, confirmed that
Mure-rwa led a delegation to Washington and indeed held a meeting with

Johnson said: "Zimbabwe did have a word with the IMF but I have no idea what
the agenda was."

Although details of the private meeting are still sketchy it is reliably
understood that during the meeting the Zimbabwe delegation asked the IMF to
help Zimbabwe solve its economic crisis.

"An IMF mission was in Zimbabwe in March. They are well-informed about our
crisis. Murerwa was trying to improve Zimbabwe's relationship with the
Fund," an RBZ official said.

Analysts this week said the private meeting was an attempt by Zimbabwe to
mend its frosty relationship with the Bretton Woods Institutions.

"The private meeting with the IMF is simply an indication that Zimbabwe is
once again turning to the Bretton Woods institutions for assistance," an
economic analyst said.

Sources said government was trying to sell the New Economic Revival
Pro-gramme (Nerp) to the Fund.

When the IMF was in Zimbabwe in March it gave a damning report on the
country's economic and political situations, saying the country needed to
improve its performance.
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Zim Independent

ZTA to market Zim at Indaba

THE Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) says it will use the annual travel fair
in South Africa, the Indaba, to market the country as a safe tourist

The Indaba to be hosted in Durban from May 3 to 6 brings together tourism
promotion organisations and companies involved in tourism worldwide.

ZTA marketing and communications director Givemore Chidzidzi said they would
use the Indaba to promote the country's tourism.

He said the ZTA case had been made easier as there would be 25 Zimbabwean
companies at the ZTA stand.

"Twenty five companies will exhibit on the Zimbabwean stand and these
include hotels and transport companies among others," he said.

Chidzidzi said last year's Indaba had brought in business as well as

"Contacts were made throughout the year and business relations were
renewed," he said.

The fair is held annually in South Africa.

"When we go to South Africa we will deal with tourism players, convincing
them that Zimbabwe is a safe tourist destination," he said.

Tourism, one of the country's major foreign currency earners, has been in a
slump as a result of the bad publicity caused by the violent land seizures.

The seizures extended to conservancies with the Save Conservancy becoming a

Events such as the solar eclipse last year failed to bring in the foreign
currency needed to resuscitate the ailing tourism industry. - Staff Writer.
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Zim Independent

Sugar crisis set to worsen
Ngoni Chanakira

ZIMBABWE'S sugar crisis seems here to stay and could worsen this year as
sugar-cane production is likely to decrease, says Hippo Valley Estates Ltd
(Hippo) the country's major sugar cane-producing company.

Hippo Valley is a member of the South African-based conglomerate, Anglo
American plc group, which is currently reviewing some of its business
operations in Zimbabwe to concentrate on mining activities.

The company recorded a loss before tax of $11,2 billion for the year ended
December 31 2002 compared with a profit before tax of $5,3 billion for 2001.

Turnover declined by 17% from $38,1 billion in 2001 to $31,5 billion in
2002, largely due to the implementation of price controls.

Hippo chairman Len Bruce said the decrease in sugar production was because
traditionally some 30% of his company's cane output was purchased from
private farmers.

"However, large areas of A2 resettlement cane are in poor condition and will
yield at very low levels," he said.

"Consequently, sugar production in 2003 is likely to be some 30 000 to 40
000 tonnes lower than the 284 100 tonnes produced in 2002. The 2003 milling
season is scheduled to begin mid-April and close at the end of November."

The year 2002 saw a greater resolve by government to redistribute land and
wind up the fast track phase of the programme by August 31 2002.

This was intended to be in time for the 2002/2003 agricultural season.

During this time government set aside $8,5 billion for inputs to support the
new farmers and $7,2 billion was raised through Agro Bills.

The reforms have, however, been hampered by the prospective farmers' failure
to take up allocated land.

Analysts said the success of the agrarian reforms was heavily dependent on a
clearly defined tenure system, adequate technical and financial support to
the new farmers and a more systematic countrywide infrastructural

They said in the current agricultural season, returns from the programme
could also be hampered by the uncertain weather conditions.

Bruce took a swipe at the decision by government to grow winter maize at
Hippo Valley.

He said the winter maize project had delayed the company's intention to
normalise its cane-growing cycle, following the "illegal cane-cutter's
strike of May 2000".

Bruce said: "The winter maize project has, however, delayed achievement of
this objective by disrupting the cane plough-out and replanting programme.
In view of the continuing food shortage it has been decided to again grow
the maximum possible area of winter maize for consumption by employees".

He said last year a total of 2 320 200 tonnes of cane was milled, compared
with 2 038 000 tonnes in the previous season.

Bruce said a total of 284 100 tonnes of sugar was produced at a cane to
sugar ratio of 8,17:1, which compared with 248 600 tonnes produced in 2001
at a ratio of 8,19:1.

"The quality of sugar produced was satisfactory," he said.

He said national raw sugar production for 2002 amounted to 580 000 tonnes,
an increase of 13% on the prior year's production of 512 000 tonnes.

Some 63% of the sugar produced was sold on the local market while the
balance was exported.

Bruce expressed concern on government's inability to closely monitor illegal
sugar exports to regional countries.

He said: "In spite of the country's efforts to ensure sugar availability on
the formal domestic market, leakage into both the informal local market and
neighboring countries continues to be a major cause for concern. Setting a
realistic sugar price structure based on market forces of demand and supply
will discourage speculative purchasing, hoarding and the illegal trade in
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Zim Independent

Declining prices plunge Zim deeper into the red
Ngoni Chanakira

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) says low and declining prices of mineral
and agricultural products have worsened the country's balance of payments
position and subjected the economy to an uneven flow of foreign exchange.

Zimbabwe's balance of payments position remains under severe stress,
propelled largely by the continued decline in export receipts and the
absence of offshore lines of credit and multilateral and bilateral support.

The current account has suffered from protracted shrinkage in export

Bankers said coupled with reduced current account inflows and higher import
requirements to fill the large cereal gap, the current account was estimated
to have ended 2002 with a deficit of US$800 million.

They said Zimbabwe's capital account on the other hand was estimated to have
registered a deficit of US$350 million in 2002 from a deficit of US$420
million in 2001.

NMB Holdings Ltd said the country's foreign payment arrears continued to
build up during 2002 and were forecast to have ended the year at US$1,5
billion up from US$700 million in 2001.

In its latest Weekly Economic Highlights for March 2003, the RBZ said
tobacco prices fell from more than US$3,50 per metric tonne in 1997 to below
US$2,70 per metric tonne in 2002.

"Similarly, gold prices also plummeted from above US$800 per ounce in the
early 1980s, to around US$260 per ounce in 2002, before recovering to US$350
per ounce in the first quarter of 2003," the RBZ said.

"Reflecting this, export growth fell from 13,8% in 1995 to minus 28,5% in
2001. Low mineral and agricultural commodity prices have reduced incomes in
the mining and agricultural sectors."

The Central Bank said this had also adversely affected performance of other
downstream manufacturing sub-sectors such as metals products and
agro-processing industries.

It said the impact of low international commodity prices clearly
demonstrated the need for developing countries to institute bold measures to
reduce over-reliance on primary commodities.

"Zimbabwe should, however, take advantage of the vast agricultural and
mineral resources to increase production and exports, particularly in view
of the anticipated recovery in commodity prices this year," the RBZ said in
its report.

It said a long-term sustainable solution, however, was to increase
production and export of manufactures, whose prices are less susceptible to
fluctuations in global demand.

The RBZ pointed out that the developing world's reliance on primary
commodities, which are prone to fluctuations in world demand and unstable
prices, had resulted in "deteriorating terms of trade, unsustainable balance
of payments and persistent foreign exchange problems".

"The cumulative effects of these problems, in most developing countries,
have been falling investment, low economic growth, high unemployment and
increasing poverty," the RBZ said.

NMB Holdings painted a similar scenario, saying Zimbabwe ended 2002 in a
severely weakened condition after experiencing a fourth successive year of
economic decline.

The diversified group said the main problems were a declining gross domestic
product (GDP), hyperinflation and high money supply growth, a high domestic
debt, weak balance of payments position, and foreign currency shortages.

Trust Holdings Ltd said resolution of the current crisis required that
Zimbabwe as a country mapped out a comprehensive programme of action
encompassing government, business and labour.

The diversified financial institution said: "Major areas where commonality
of purpose and compromises will have to be struck include sustainable
exchange rate management, prudent monetary and fiscal management, inflation
stabilisation, poverty alleviation and food security."

The group said efforts should also be made to improve relations with the
international community and enhance international relationships.

The relations between Zimbabwe and the United States, the European Union and
various donor organisations have been strained for the past two years,
resulting in more suffering for the already impoverished population led by
79-year-old President Robert ......... (the article ends here!! B)
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Zim Independent

Private sector could solve Zim's power problems
By Sukoluhle Nyathi

IT is disheartening to see a country such as Zimbabwe being forced to resort
to load-shedding and power outages when it has the proven capacity to
harness sufficient power locally as well as export to the rest of the region
thereby boosting exports and increasing foreign currency inflows.

Most of Zimbabwe's contracts to import power from Eskom (SA), Snel (Zaire)
and Hydro Cahora Bassa (Mozambique) are due to expire in the current year.

Zesa is mired in debt as a result of importing electricity to supplement its
power needs. Most of the country's plans to develop new electricity projects
and increase capacity hang in the balance because of inadequate funds. I ask
myself whether it's not time for the private sector to step in and get
involved in the provision of electricity in Zimbabwe.

Traditionally the provision of electricity has been in the hands of the
public sector and in many countries utilities were nationalised. The
rationale for this was that infrastructure is regarded as a natural

Simply defined, a natural monopoly is a situation whereby it is cheaper for
one firm to supply the market rather than the production of the same
quantity by two or more firms.

The electricity industry was considered a natural monopoly because it
exhibited the following characteristics: tendency towards declining
long-term costs, high threshold investment and technological conditions that
limit the number of potential entrants.

However, as the industry has evolved, flaws in this concept are becoming
apparent as many developed and developing countries have opened up the
provision of electricity to the private sector.

This is because new technological developments have reduced the minimum size
of competitive power plants and lowered transaction costs. Competition in
generation of electricity is now widely accepted though transmission and
distribution networks are still highly regulated in some countries.

The next challenge posed is that of how to integrate the private sector into
power provision. There are three main tried and tested approaches that have
been used, either alone or simultaneously. These are unbundling and
deregulation, divestitures and privatisation.

The African continent has seen countries like Egypt unbundle its sector
whilst Senegal and Mali have chosen to privatise.

As outlined in the Electricity White Paper of October 1999, unbundling and
privatisation are the favoured approaches for Zimbabwe. Zesa would be
vertically unbundled, separating generation from transmission and

The generation sector would then be split into several competing firms thus
allowing competition from independent power producers (IPPs). The IPPs would
then sell electricity wholesale to Zesa and other large companies.

A good example of Zimbabwe's first IPP is the Russitu Hydro Power project,
which was commissioned in 1996. Its successor, the Gokwe North Project,
failed to take off.

IPPs are developed on a project finance basis where the lenders to the
project look primarily to the cash flows of the project to service their
loans and provide a return on their equity.

IPPs are largely debt financed with equity only constituting 25-30% of the
capital mix. Despite having a well-developed financial sector, debt capital
is scarce in Zimbabwe.

Commercial banks are unable to provide medium to long-term finance because
of the profile of their deposits. In countries like Malaysia it was
commercial banks that raised all the debt and equity capital for their 1
300MW Lumut Project.

Institutional investors in Zimbabwe, despite having long-term funds, are
exceedingly risk averse and would rather place their money in safer assets
such as property and prescribed assets.

Another financing constraint is that Zimbabwe has a highly underdeveloped
bond market and there is no secondary market for debt instruments.

The local bond market has been limited to government and municipal bonds and
even these have been undersubscribed in most instances. For these reasons,
IPPs would have to seek foreign funds.

Besides being extremely expensive this avenue carries the risks of currency
mismatch and fluctuation due to devaluation.

Furthermore, sourcing funds from the international arena could prove
exceedingly difficult especially as Zimbabwe is considered to have high
country risk. Investors are disinclined to invest their money here.

Once upon a time multilateral organisations (the World Bank, International
Finance Corporation) and bilateral organisations (USAid) may have been a
source of funds but most of these institutions have since suspended any
concessional forms of funding to Zimbabwe.

Besides the financing hurdle, the regulatory framework of the electricity
sector would have to be reformed and new legal framework instituted.

In conclusion, it can be said that as desirable as private sector
participation in the power sector might be, Zimbabwe has several milestones
to achieve before this can become a reality.

First and foremost, as a country we need to address macroeconomic reform so
as to restore exchange rate stability, reduction of inflation and interest

A sound political climate is of the essence because as long as the investor
community perceives us to be politically unstable we may not be able to
attract investment into the country.

Thirdly, there is a need to further develop the local capital market and
establish a viable bond market. Unbundling and privatisation of the
electricity sector are a must as the current system of a vertically
integrated monopoly is inconsistent with a competitive environment.

However, this should be accompanied by a proper regulatory and legislative

Then Zimbabwe would have an ideal environment to attract private sector
participation in the provision of power.

 Sukoluhle Nyathi is an investment analyst with TN Financial Services.
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Zim Independent


The political economy of plunder

THERE are so many brand new luxury vehicles seen on the streets of Harare
these days. How does this incredible distortion of wealth distribution occur
in a starvation economy?

The answer lies in the systematic political economy of plunder that Zanu PF
has developed in order to strip the nation of its wealth.

The strategy is essentially very simple:

l Identify or create a shortage of any basic commodity - eg forex, fuel and
maize meal are just not available in the formal market place to the ordinary

l Enact legislation so that movement of the commodity is controlled by a
parastatal eg RBZ, Noczim and GMB.

l Restrict trade in that commodity to licensed traders only and selectively
grant licences to political cronies. Since the shortages began, many new
banks and fuel companies have opened up despite the hostile trading

l Introduce price controls for the commodity that are way below the market
value, or even below the cost of production.

l Preferentially (or exclusively) sell the commodity at the controlled
prices to the licensed political cronies.

l Allow these traders/political cronies to resell the commodity on the black
market at prevailing free-market rates, hence fuelling inflation and reaping
massive profits. Forex, fuel and maize meal are readily available on the
black market at many times the controlled price.

The latest shortage is electricity. Load-shedding is upon us, but seems
selectively aimed at the heavy industrial sites in Southerton in order to
"persuade" them to pay in forex.

Zimbabwe's economic collapse is not just an unfortunate side effect of
President Robert Mugabe's chaotic land reform policies and his desire for a
life presidency. It is a strategy, carefully planned at the highest levels
to create a black market economy designed to enrich the gangster elite that
is the Zanu PF leadership.

T Chimurenga,

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Zim Independent


Successor will come from Sabhuku's gravy train

I READ with a mixture of joy and anger recent media reports that after all
the horror and damage has been done, Sabhuku Handiende finally feels like
stepping down to be replaced with one who seems to be more evil than the man

I was thinking recently about Sabhuku's intolerance of the opposition and
one thing became crystal clear in my mind - that he probably vowed in his
heart such words as "Takaitora negidi, vanoda kutitorera vanotoitorawo
negidi" (We got this country through the gun and those wishing to rule will
have to do so through the gun).

Because of that Chimurenga, they want to hold the nation to ransom and rule
it for ever like their traditional village - a property of theirs and those
of the "Zanu PF clan".

This reminds me of what one of their fanatics said about their party, that
it's like oxygen, the air we breathe, which is here to stay.

I remember one female reporter saying that of the big cats, the man in
question is the most fearsome to interview. I wouldn't be surprised to hear
that the man probably has more skeletons in his wardrobe and one or more on
wheelchairs than all those on Handiende's gravy train.

Again, it's not surprising that Sabhuku himself might be scared of the man
considering how the man has always been entrusted with key positions in both
the ruling party and government.

Hence Sabhuku would not allow an individual who is cleaner or less of a
dictator than himself to replace him, not even from his own party, let alone
the opposition. There is fear that they would uncover his wicked deeds and
force him to face the music.

Another dictator would effortlessly forgive Sabhuku in appreciation for all
the above and much more than what you and I know.

Most of us were insensed by the sending of our soldiers to the DRC. Do you
think those who benefited from diamond deals there would share the same
feeling? Such characters would want to protect Sabhuku until the end of

Is someone breeding democracy or bleeding it to death?

B Slough,

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Zim Independent


Interference in council affairs disastrous

IT is high time that the Minister of Local Government stopped interfering
with the running of the City Council in Harare. It is not his brief to
interfere but to ensure that things run smoothly.

Suspending the executive mayor is not going to solve a thing. The decline in
Harare started when then mayor Solomon Tawengwa was in the hot seat.

It continued on a far bigger downward spiral when the Zanu PF-appointed
Chanakira Commission was brought in.

Does the minister realise that he is interfering with the legitimate choice
of the people and that once elected, it was his job to facilitate the smooth
running of the city and not block the mayor at every turn.

If the president has any moral standards, he should censure Chombo for his
actions. It is becoming more and more obvious that change is necessary in
government for change to take place in the city councils because the
Chanakira Commission employed a bunch of inept workers just before the
election as a vote-catching exercise and they are contributing to the
financial problems within the council.

Meanwhile, on another matter which is the result of the previous councils
and commissions, we have an extremely haphazard garbage collection set-up.

There are meant to be certain days when garbage should be collected which
are almost never adhered to.

For the last 10 days we have had our garbage bags outside awaiting
collection and nothing has happened. Then, when it is a holiday, May 1, when
nobody expects them to be working and so bring the bags in to stop dogs
spreading garbage in the streets, they pitch up extra early before anyone is

We should go back to the old idea where this is not done by private
contractors who are a law unto themselves. Let the council do it and ensure
that the council has enough fuel to do it efficiently.

This present idea was introduced by people who had a vested interest and
that amounts to the sort of corruption we see influencing our society every

I might add that come Christmas time, the garbage collectors find the fuel
to stop for long periods at each gate asking for a "Christmas box".

I shall remember this year, when that time comes around and I would
encourage all people who feel strongly about this poor service to remember
it too.


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Zim Independent


What is Campfire/WWF doing about slaughter?

FOR many years one of the criticisms levelled at Zimbabwe by the outside
world has been that despite all the posturing on the international stage
about our "rational" approach to wildlife management, we run for cover as
soon as there is trouble.

The events of the past two years have more than proved these people right.

Wildlife is being decimated in this country, but there has been a dead
silence from all those who should have an interest in protecting it.

Organisations like Environment Africa, the Zambezi Society, WWF and Wildlife
and Environment Zimbabwe, far from speaking out boldly about this crisis,
sit cowering in their offices, presumably hoping that it will all just go
away. And what about Campfire?

From their literature one would surmise that they depend totally on healthy
wildlife populations for their very survival, but not a word from them

What are all these groups doing? One can only imagine that they are riding
out the storm, hoping that one day a new government will be voted in, and
then they will step bravely forward to assist with the reconstruction of the
wildlife estate (if there is any wildlife left to reconstruct).

I recently read an article in a publication by Safari Club International in
which they named names and revealed the level of corruption and collusion
amongst officials.

But you can bet that, as soon as this is over (whatever form that may take),
they'll be sweetly smiling at government officials and begging for quotas
once more.

The same thing happened during the 1980s when thousands of elephants were
slaughtered in Gonarezhou.

Poaching in this country is now completely out of control and the fact that
half the population is starving and needs food doesn't help. It also doesn't
help that National Parks refuses to acknowledge that there is a poaching

They are still selling hunts without first counting the animals to establish
whether or not we have enough animals left to allow any hunting to take

If they really had conservation at heart, they would put a total ban on
hunting for a year and they could use the year to carry out population
surveys and allow the remaining animals to multiply, if that is possible in
view of the extent of the poaching problem.

It is estimated, from reports received, that conservancies have lost over
60% of their animals and most of the private game farms have lost 100% of
their wildlife. National Parks areas have lost around 30% of their game.

Just in the past five weeks, nine black rhino, an endangered species, have
been killed by poachers. Four of these were slaughtered in National Parks

With no law and order and with both National Parks and the NGOs turning a
blind eye to the decimation of our wildlife, what hope do we have of saving

You don't have to be a "bunny-hugger" or even a conservationist to think
that wildlife matters.

Wildlife tourism is one of this country's economic mainstays. According to
the World Tourism Organisation, Zimbabwe earned over US$200 million from
tourists in 1999, the last year for which reliable figures are available.

When the time comes to reconstruct this country, we will bitterly regret the
absence of strong and viable wildlife populations for tourists to pay top
dollars to see.

The people of this country, not to mention overseas supporters, are paying
conservation NGOs to protect wildlife.

If they do not have the courage to speak out against what's happening in a
time of unrest and turmoil, we should all remember that when times are

Sue Burr,

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Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

When and how?
Iden Wetherell

WILL he, won't he? Go that is. Newspaper readers must be rather confused
with the conflicting headlines that have been appearing of late.

It all started (again) with his interview with Supa Mandiwanzira last week.
Musing aloud that with the resolution of the land issue, "people can
retire", the president was surprised when everybody took him at his word.

We carried a story entitled "Personal security key in Mugabe exit plan". We
quoted commentators saying this represented a dramatic shift. He now
appeared ready to go, they said, so long as he could be guaranteed personal
security. This was in reference to immunity from prosecution.

The Sunday Times of South Africa picked up the story reporting Presidents
Thabo Mbeki, Olusegun Obasanjo and Bakili Muluzi were due to visit Mugabe in
the next few weeks "to work out an exit plan for the ageing leader". (They
are now due on Monday.)

South African officials said the trio wanted to "keep the momentum going"
following Mugabe's "very positive signals this week". Among other issues,
the leaders are to work out a "safe exit plan" and immunity from prosecution
for alleged human rights abuses, the Sunday Times said.

The Daily News then took up the story citing the Sunday Times report. It
boldly announced "Mugabe ready to go".

Many of us wondered how long it would be before the other shoe dropped. We
didn't have long to wait.

"President not leaving office" insisted the Herald on Tuesday. Quoting the
Department of Information and Publicity, it said "all the president did in
the recent interview marking the 23rd anniversary of Independence, was to
invite national debate on a range of national questions including that of

But there had been no such debate, the department said. Only "flippant
speculation and crazy scenario building". It then proceeded to pretend that
the government was committed to "democratic processes" in order to justify
Mugabe clinging to power until 2008.

This isn't going to happen. Leaders who cheat have a penalty to pay in terms
of legitimacy. And the department was being disingenuous in trying to
reinterpret what Mugabe clearly said.

Whatever the case, everybody, including Zimbabwe's closest friends in the
region, are now focused on regime change in Harare. When and how are the
only questions.

President Thabo Mbeki was unusually adroit in this respect. He pounced on
reports of what Mugabe had said in his interview to tie him firmly down.

This was not the first time the subject of Mugabe's retirement had arisen,
Mbeki told reporters on Sunday. The Zimbabwean leader had indicated
previously that he was ready to go, he said. Zanu PF was in the process of
renewing its leadership, Mbeki added, and South Africa would only come in
when that process was complete.

The news that Zanu PF is undergoing "leadership renewal" will come as a
surprise to many including Mugabe who evidently had not expected his remarks
to have such far-reaching consequences. What is clear now is that he is no
longer in control of events.

There is a process underway linked to the restoration of the rule of law and
presidential legitimacy in which a number of parties and governments are

The more Zimbabwe's economy crumbles the more he is hostage to that process,
as the events of last week demonstrated. Every now and again there will be
an indignant outburst from Zanu PF spokesmen or the Office of the President,
no doubt authored by those with most to lose from his exit, but the fact is
Mugabe can no longer dictate either the pace of change or the date of his

That much at least is clear.

My Editor's Memo last week ("Banking and Barging") attracted a large number
of phone calls from readers wanting to tell their own banking horror

Most spoke of impersonal treatment. One lady said she had banked with her
branch for 29 years but was still required to produce an ID when collecting
a cheque book. She did not have her ID card with her.

When she asked the manager to confirm her identity the manager had no idea
who she was!

Another reader, a retired doctor, wanted to know why it took a week for
e-mail transfers to be effected. This should be instantaneous, she pointed

She said she had waited eagerly to qualify for Barclays' free service
charges accorded to customers who had banked with them for 40 years. It was
clearly designed to assist pensioners.

The concession was scrapped on January 1 2002, just before she qualified!

I would like to know why that concession was withdrawn and whose decision it
was. Barclays can well sustain the cost of current accounts of customers who
have shown them loyalty over 40 years.

I wonder how many would have stayed with the bank had they known the
cavalier treatment that would be meted out to them.

Anyway, keep those complaints coming in. Given the margin of profits in the
banking sector, it is not unreasonable to ask finance houses to be more
customer-friendly when they are managing our funds.
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Zim Independent

New labour law seeks to undermine unions
By Brian Raftopoulos

SINCE 1993 there has been pressure to bring public sector workers into the
same labour law as those in the private sector. How far does the new Labour
Relations Amendment Act passed in January 2003 address these pressures?

There are clearly important changes that the labour movement has been
lobbying for over the years. Prior legal restrictions on trade unions
representing "managerial employees" have been removed.

The current law makes a link between workers committees at enterprise level
and trade unions for the first time in labour law. It provides that if more
than half the workers in a workplace are members of a union, every member of
the workers committee shall be a member of the trade union concerned.

If there is more than one union in a workplace, there will also be split
representation of the unions in the workers committee.

The law reverses previous ex-clusion of labour law in export-processing
zones, an important breakthrough for the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
(ZCTU) which has consistently argued that "the continued exclusion of EPZ
workers from mainstream labour law is as unacceptable as it is

The new law provides for speedier resolution of disputes through collective
agreements and through conciliators and arbitrators chosen by workers and
employers. It introduces a conciliation stage in the procedure for dealing
with retrenchment disputes.

It also distinguishes between disputes of right and disputes of interest.
For rights conferred by the Act or by a collective agreement, the new law
provides for compulsory arbitration and rights to strike. It does not
provide this for disputes over areas that the unions or employers have no
legal right to but have an interest in securing, such as an increase in

There are however problem areas. Both the old and the new law do not protect
protest action and thus leave unions and employees vulnerable to being sued
for damages or for a material breach of contract if they take such action
over their socio-economic interests.

This in itself is a breach of ILO Convention 87, which gives employees and
their organisations the right to take collective action to promote or defend
their socio-economic interests.

The new Act appears to be somewhat contradictory. On the one hand it
includes progressive features that the labour movement has fought for. On
the other hand it contains substantial limitations on rights of association
for unions, and the state, through the minister, retains major controls over
union activities.

This apparent contradiction signals that the Act seeks to win over workers
through seemingly progressive laws, while at the same time increasing
controls over workers' organisations, in particular the relationship between
union activities and politics.

It seeks to take politics out of the workplace, and thus the ZCTU out of
politics. It does this to undermine the central role that the ZCTU has
played since the late 1980s in coordinating and articulating the demands of
democratic forces in Zimbabwe.

This is a response to the achievement of the labour movement over the last
two decades in countering the authoritarian nationalism of the ruling party,
and in building an alternative national alliance around democratisation.

This shook the ruling party to its very roots and forced it since 2000 to
restructure its party and state structures to entrench its power.

This effort to accommodate and control the labour movement combines with
other strategies used by the state to politically disempower organised

The Public Order and Security Act has been used to prevent stayaways and to
intimidate trade unionists. The state has established the splinter ZFTU to
undermine the ZCTU, and allowed it to operate outside industrial law through
factory occupations to pursue its own political agenda.

The government is also using agreements such as the "Prices and Incomes
Stabilisation Protocol" and the tripartite negotiating forum to co-opt the
ZCTU into a broader survival strategy, while undermining its capacity to
take independent action.

Developing such a social contract without addressing the political and
governance issues discussed by the tripartite partners in 2002 would be
disastrous for the labour movement.

In its current form, the government is attempting what the great Italian
Marxist Antonio Gramsci characterised as a "passive revolution" - to
re-organise state power to preserve control of the elite over the majority,
and to perpetuate the lack of control by the working people over the
political and economic spheres.

Hence even while the labour movement consolidates and uses the rights and
platforms that it has won through its past struggles, it also needs to take
forward a more active process of building positions around the economy and
democratisation that can command a wider national audience and build
alliances needed to challenge elite control in both the political and
economic spheres.

 Brian Raftopoulos is associate professor at the Institute of Development
Studies, University of Zimbabwe.
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Zim Independent

After tobacco battles, it's sugar's turn
By Gwynne Dyer

THE tobacco industry waged a two-decade fighting retreat against the medical
evidence that linked smoking to cancer, heart disease, emphysema and other

Millions died prematurely who might well have quit if the tobacco lobby's PR
people and tame scientists had not laboured day and night to fudge the issue
and confuse the customers.

Big tobacco may now be facing its Waterloo in the United States, as the
courts award bigger and bigger settlements to its victims or their
survivors, but the long rearguard action did keep the profits rolling in for
20 extra years. And now it's big sugar's turn.

Last Wednesday in Rome the World Health Organisation and the UN Food and
Agriculture Organisation jointly launched an independent expert report on
diet which stated, among other things, that free (that is, added) sugar
should not exceed 10% of the calories in normal daily food intake.

The US-based Sugar Association has gone into overdrive to discredit the
report, demanding that US Health secretary Tommy Thompson use his influence
to get the WHO-FAO report withdrawn, and "sugar caucus" Congressmen are
threatening to cut off the annual contribution of US$406 million that the
United States pays to the WHO if it doesn't back down.

You have to admire the cheek of industry representatives who can maintain
with a straight face that it's perfectly all right for 25% of the average
person's calories to come in the form of free sugar, even as they have
watched an alarming proportion of the US population turn into blubbery,
lumbering Michelin-tyre men and women over the last generation.

But then, if the pay was right they'd probably be willing to argue that 25%
ground glass in the diet was all right.

Most people intuitively understand that there is a link between obesity and
some chronic and ultimately fatal ailments like diabetes and cardiovascular
diseases: you see a lot of very fat people around these days, but not that
many very old fat people. The science is there to back these observations
up, but people hardly need it.

What is less visible is the link between excessive sugar consumption and
obesity, because most of the sugar is consumed invisibly in the form of fast
foods and soft drinks. And the sugar industry will do whatever it can to
stop that link being made public and official.

This is not the first round in the struggle. Professor Philip James, the
British expert who headed the International Obesity Task Force that wrote
the first WHO report on diet and nutrition in 1990, discovered that the
sugar industry had hired one of Washington's top lobbying companies when it
realised the expert committee was going to recommend a ten percent limit.

"Forty ambassadors wrote to the WHO insisting that our report should be
removed, on the grounds that it would do irreparable damage to the
developing world," he recalls, and there was also enormous pressure from the
US State Department. But the WHO didn't back down then, and it hasn't backed
down this time either.

The WHO assembled thirty international experts to draw up its report,
including the leading US scientist on obesity, and it is in no sense an
attack on sugar by the health nazis.

It is about the health benefits of a diet that is relatively low in
saturated fats, sugars and salt, and high in vegetables and fruits - hardly
revolutionary stuff.

Its recommended 10% limit on sugar intake duplicates guidelines that have
already appeared in 23 different national reports. But if people followed
those guidelines, a huge proportion of the sugar industry's market would
disappear, so of course it fights it.

It fights using the strategy that was pioneered long ago by the tobacco
industry, and later copied by the industrial interests that wanted to deny
the phenomenon of global warming.

Set up one or more institutes with misleading names to throw doubt on the
evidence - the International Life Sciences Institute, founded by Coca-Cola,
Pepsico, General Foods, Proctor and Gamble, and Kraft, is now accredited to
both the WHO and the FAO - and use the Washington lobby system for all it's

Big sugar will probably lose the argument in the long run, but twenty extra
years of profits are worth fighting for. "Deceive and delay", as President
Bush said in another context.

The only odd thing is this. It is not the poor countries where people live
from the sugar that are leading the fight. It is the sugar industry in the
rich countries, where people are dying of it.
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