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

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4 May 2005




The call by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to reform the United Nations for “larger freedom” in order to promote development, security and human rights is long overdue, and cries out for immediate action, rather than words alone.


The recent re-election of Zimbabwe to the UN Commission for Human Rights as Africa’s representative is a glaring and shameful example of the loss of focus, if not downright hypocrisy, of the various organs of the United Nations, brought about in part by the voting system.  The UN Commission for Human Rights as currently established should be abolished altogether, as it is a betrayal of the aspirations of the people.


There have been numerous reports of human rights abuses perpetrated or ignored by the government of Zimbabwe, from organisations ranging from local human rights watchdogs to Amnesty International and the African Union Commission for Human Rights.  There has been a systematic closing down of democratic space, disregard for the rule of law and subversion of both the judiciary and the legislature in our country over the last 5 years. 

We in the Movement for Democratic Change feel betrayed by the UN Commission for Human Rights, and indeed by the United Nations in general. We Zimbabweans are human beings just like the rest of the world, and we believe we have the same basic rights and freedoms as everyone else.  We do not believe there are different standards, depending on where you happen to be born or live in this world.  Zimbabweans have a right to be free from want, free from fear and the right to live in dignity.  We have a right to food, we have a right to health, education, clean water, a safe environment, etc.  We have the right to elect the government of our choice and for our elected officials to work without interference. 


We believe it is high time the UN underwent a total overhaul, to make it relevant to this Third Millennium and to avoid betraying the trust of the people in future.  Let the United Nations not only listen to governments, but also to the voices of the PEOPLE those governments are supposed to represent – and let the United Nations be in a position to take ACTION when action needs to be taken. 


A nation’s sovereignty should be the sovereignty of its PEOPLE, not of its government – because as we know from bitter experience both in Zimbabwe and elsewhere, governments do not always truly reflect the will of their citizens.


Trudy Stevenson MP

MDC Secretary for Policy and Research


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Daily News online edition

      The final rape of Harare

      Date: 4-May, 2005

      A MOTLEY group of politicians met in Kadoma at the weekend to decide
the fate of Harare, a city which voted overwhelmingly against Zanu PF in the
31 March parliamentary elections. Most of the people gathered in Kadoma were
Zanu PF members, some bigwigs, others small fry.

      Also present was Tony Gara, a former mayor of the capital and a former
Zanu PF MP who will be remembered for likening President Robert Mugabe to an
offspring of the Lord. Also present was the executive mayor, Sekesayi
Makwavarara, a former member of the MDC but now firmly confirmed as a Zanu
PF zealot.

      A decision was taken at this so-called workshop to "unbundle" the
current city structures into so-called autonomous strategic business units.
All this is ostensibly designed to improve the city's collapsing amenities.
Cynics will be forgiven for suspecting who will run these units.

      Zanu PF, having destroyed the MDC-dominated city council, plans to
commit the final act of raping the council by running the capital for the
profit of the ruling party - or its appointed agents.

      Harare City Council was not allowed to continue under the MDC.
Ignatius Chombo, who attended the Kadoma workshop, worked relentlessly as
the minister responsible for local authorities, to make the council
virtually comatose.

      After firing the executive mayor, the MDC member Elias Mudzuri, he
went about methodically disabling the rest of the council, somehow turning
Makwavarara, elected on an MDC ticket in 2002, into a raving Zanu PF

      What is so sad is that the residents of Harare, who had hoped that a
group of councillors they elected to replace the corrupt Zanu PF-dominated
council, are watching the rape of the city with folded arms. Democracy has
been abused in Harare. The elected councillors have been brutally sidelined
by Zanu PF machinations.

      Now, the residents may find themselves spending their hard-earned
dollars to sustain Zanu PF-run or Zanu PF-owned "units" in the council.
Meanwhile, the betting among cynics is that the former Sunshine City will
descend quickly into Dump City.

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Daily News online edition

      Call for return of banned newspapers

      Date: 4-May, 2005

      HARARE - The Zimbabwe Journalists for Human Rights ( ZJHR) has
appealed to the government to bring back the four independent newspapers
that were closed down during the last three years.

      In a statement to mark World Press Freedom Day, May 3, the ZJHR said
it is saddened by the government's continued crackdown on foreign and local
journalists working for the private media.

      ZJHR also appealed to the government to amend or repeal the draconian
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act ( AIPPA) and the Public
Order and Security Act ( POSA).

      The organisation noted that in 2004 alone the government of President
Robert Mugabe committed 72 offences against media practitioners from the
private media. Four newspapers considered enemies of the State were shut
down for contravening various sections of the evil Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).

      These are The Daily News, The Daily News on Sunday, the Tribune and
the Weekly Times.

      "That law (AIPPA) remains Enemy Number One to Zimbabwe's enjoyment of
press freedom. Our integrity as a nation will forever remain compromised as
long as the government retains satanic pieces of legislation in the mould of
AIPPA," said the ZJHR.

      Other legislative regimes that continue to hinder the execution of the
profession are the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), the Criminal
Codification Act, and other institutions that are designed to gag the media.

      "It has remained a mystery to us that a government that claims to have
brought freedoms, democracy and human rights would proceed to create
ministries, whose brief it is to control the flow of information," said

      For the past 25 years, journalists have been treated with contempt.
They still get peanuts for salaries at the end of every month yet they
contribute immensely to the development of the nation.

      The ZJHR said problems that continued to haunt media practitioners
include shortage of accommodation, absence of an independent media body, the
impact of HIV/AIDS, unrestrained repression by the government through
legislation and force.

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Zim Online

Human rights activists condemn planned conscription
Thu 5 May 2005

      HARARE - Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) party and human rights activists have described as "sheer madness"
plans by the government to conscript school children into its controversial
national youth service programme.

      Newly appointed deputy minister of Youth Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere,
said on Tuesday that the government would introduce compulsory national
service for all school children to provide them with "proper orientation."

      But yesterday, an outraged MDC shadow minister of education Fidelis
Mhashu, described the plans to recruit students from primary school up to
university into the youth programme as sheer madness by a government which
is clueless on how to deal with the mess in the education sector.

      "Instead of improving the plummeting educational standards, they want
to turn our children including those at primary schools into merchants of
death," said Mhashu, a veteran educationist.

      The national service graduates are accused by human rights groups of
committing serious human rights abuses against President Robert Mugabe's
political opponents. Rights groups also accuse the government of
brainwashing the youths who are accused of perpetrating political violence
with impunity.

      The government denies that the youths are used by ZANU PF to unleash
violence against opposition supporters saying the programme is meant to
foster patriotism in youths.

      Human rights lawyer Nicholas Mathonsi, also condemned the government's
plans to conscript the youths saying compulsory conscription into the
national service programme would violate the country's constitution which
guarantees freedom of association

      "It is abuse of human rights. It is against freedom of association. It
violates the country's constitution which is the supreme court of the land,"
he said.

      Mathonsi warned that with its two-thirds majority secured in
controversial circumstances during March's parliamentary election, ZANU PF
would not be "ashamed to pass another piece of legislation that grossly
violates the constitution." - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

Think-tank says Zimbabwe crisis a threat to regional stability
Thur 5 May 2005
  JOHANNESBURG - An international think-tank yesterday warned that the
political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe poses a major threat to stability
and entrenchment of democracy in the southern African region.

      In a report published this week, the International Crisis Group (ICG),
which deals with areas of conflict in the world, said the "debilitating
authoritarianism in Zimbabwe, a corrupt, absolute monarch in Swaziland
continue to endanger regional peace, stability and democracy."

      About three million Zimbabweans are living outside the country after
they fled the political and economic turmoil in the country, threatening
political and economic stability in the region.

      Zimbabwe is in the throes of a serious economic and political crisis
blamed on President Robert Mugabe's policies. The 81-year Zimbabwean leader,
at the helm for the past 25 years, is also accused of serious human rights
violations against his political opponents.

      The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party also
accuses Mugabe of rigging elections and using violence to silence opposition
to his rule. Mugabe denies all the charges and accuses the West, unhappy
with his seizure of white farmland for redistribution to landless blacks,
for sabotaging his government. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Journalist acquitted of breaching tough law
Thur 5 May 2005
  GWERU - A magistrate's court has acquitted yet another journalist on
charges of breaching provisions of the government's draconian Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).

      Magistrate Auxillia Chiumburu found journalist, Richard Musazulwa, not
guilty of abusing journalistic privilege ruling that the state had failed to
lead compelling evidence that the reporter committed the alleged offence.

      Under Section 80 (1) (b) of AIPPA, a journalist who abuses
journalistic privilege by publishing falsehoods is liable to a fine of up to
Z$100 000 or a jail sentence of up to two years.

      Musazulwa, who reports for the weekly Standard newspaper, was accused
of having abused journalistic privilege over a story carried by the
newspaper on August 22, 2004, claiming that hungry ruling ZANU PF party
youths had attempted to gatecrash a luncheon hosted for senior party
officials by the Air Force of Zimbabwe at Thornhill Airbase just outside

      In a judgment delivered earlier this week on Monday, Chiumburu said
the state's two key witnesses, AFZ squadron leader Knox Mpofu and ZANU PF
youth official Obert Chabalala had given conflicting evidence leaving the
court unable to establish whether the journalist had committed the offence.

      More than a hundred journalists have been arrested since 2002 for
breaching AIPPA, but to date, none has been convicted. Four newspapers
including the country's leading daily, the Daily News, were closed in the
last two years also for breaching clauses of AIPPA.

      Meanwhile, Daily News chief executive officer Sam Sipepa Nkomo is
today expected to meet chairman of the government's Media and Information
Commission to discuss the paper's application for an operating licence.

      The Supreme Court earlier this year ordered the commission to
reconsider its rejection of the papers' earlier application for a licence in
2003. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

IMF visit pushed to next month
Thur 5 May 2005
  HARARE - An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission to Zimbabwe that was
scheduled for this week has now been pushed to June after Harare said it was
not yet ready to meet the international financier.

      Analysts immediately criticised the government for delaying the
mission saying crisis-hit Harare should instead be pushing for urgent talks
with the IMF and donors to press for resumption of financial support and

      "We need all kind of assistance we could get. We knew that they wanted
to come a long time ago so we could have also prepared a long time ago for
their visit," said Best Doroh, who is chief economist with leading Harare
financial firm, Finhold.

      Doroh added: "We need the IMF more than they need us, because we are
in a tight position and right now we need all kinds of assistance we can
get. We could have given them whatever information we have rather than
postpone it altogether."

      But Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa said the postponement of the
visit was mutually agreed with the IMF and blamed the media for pushing for
the mission more than the Bretton Woods institution itself.

      Murerwa said: "The delegation will be here in June, the problem is
that you journalists want to push for the meeting. We have agreed with them
to meet next month and there will not be any problem."

      He did not say why exactly Harare was not yet ready to meet with the
IMF. But sources yesterday said the government wanted newly appointed
Minister of Economic Development Rugare Gumbo, who together with Murerwa
will lead the government in talks with the IMF delegation, to familiarise
himself with his new job first.

      The IMF was initially to meet government, opposition, labour and
business representatives from May 3 to 16 as part of its Article IV

      The IMF withdrew balance-of-payments support to Harare in 1999 after
disagreeing with President Robert Mugabe over fiscal policy, human rights
and other governance issues. - ZimOnline

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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Black market prices sour

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-May-05

PRICES on the black-market have continued to surge, with the price of petrol
in Zimbabwe's two largest cities shooting up to between $14 000 and $18 000
a litre.

Only last week, petrol was going at $8 000 a litre on the black-market, but
the sustained shortage of the commodity has resulted in prices soaring.
The prices of basic food scarce in retail shops have also gone beyond the
reach of ordinary people, amid concerns that there will be no relief in the
near future.
A snap-survey by The Daily Mirror in Harare yesterday revealed that a litre
of petrol is now going for $14 000 compared to the retail price of between
$3 450 and $3 600 a litre.
The fuel is sold in minimum quantities of 5 litres, meaning that motorists
now have to fork out at least $70 000 in a transaction.
The situation was even worse in Zimbabwe's second largest city, Bulawayo,
where prices ranged from $75 000 to $90 000.
In Harare, fuel traders operating right at the entrance to fuel procurer
National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) headquarters said the fuel
shortage was bringing brisk business to them.
"Nhasi tine petrol chete mudhara. Irikumhanya ne$70 000 pa 5l. Diesel hatina
tingangoriwana mangwana. (Today we are only selling petrol at $70 000 per 5
litres. We do not have diesel. Try tomorrow)," said one of the traders.
The trader indicated that if available, diesel ranged from $62 500 to $65
000 per 5 litres.
The majority of traders would not disclose their source of fuel.
It is suspected that some petrol attendants are involved in underhand deals
with the traders.
Motorists said they had no option but to buy fuel at the black-market.
"We have no option, there is no fuel at most service stations in Harare. It
is either you buy it from these boys or one has to spend the whole day in a
petrol queue," said one Marawidze, a motorist from Marlborough.
The fuel hike has resulted in public transport operators upping fares.
A trip to town from Glen View, Budiriro, Mabvuku, Tafara and Warren Park now
costs $3 000, up from $2 000.
Petrol attendants interviewed in Bulawayo said they last received supplies
on Friday.
"We are just basking in the sun because there is nothing we are doing at the
moment. We have been in this kind of holiday since last week and we have
become used to it.
"It is our hope that fuel will come but we cannot say when since we are also
told by the companies that supply us that the commodity is in short supply.
They are just waiting like us," said Sipho Khoza, an attendant in the city.
Zimbabwe suffered a sudden shortage of basic commodities soon after the 31
March polls won by Zanu PF.
Sugar, mealie-meal (in some cases) and cooking oil disappeared from the
shelves of most retail outlets and are now readily available on the
On the black market, a packet of 2 kg sugar sells for $15 000, 10 kg
mealie-meal costs $25 000 and 20 kg $54 000.
Retail prices for the same products are $7 000, $16 000 and $35 000.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono said he was optimistic the
situation would get back to normal.
He argued that the prevailing situation was caused by resources being
overstretched during the election period.
Police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena yesterday said the
police were all out to deal with black-marketeers.
 "The police are on the ground on a daily basis to apprehend anyone
breaching the laws of the country including those selling basic commodities
at the black-market.
"It does not necessarily mean that we have to launch an operation
specifically targeting the black-market," he said.
Zimbabwe was hit by critical shortages of basic commodities two years ago,
which the government blamed on drought and sanctions by the West.
However, critics attributed them to the government's skewed economic
The shortages also resulted in a thriving black-market, which the
authorities found difficult to kill.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Council urged to sink boreholes

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-May-05

THE Harare City Council must sink boreholes in Mabvuku and Tafara
high-density suburbs to end perennial water shortages, the newly elected
legislator for the constituency, Timothy Mubhawu, has said.
Addressing residents at the weekend, Mabhawu, who beat Zanu PF's Pamela
Tungamirai on an MDC ticket in the 31 March general elections, said: "We
must have boreholes at schools, clinics and any other public institution in
Mabvuku-Tafara to end the current water woes".
Mabhawu who will soon step down as the MDC's Manicaland provincial
chairperson because he now represent Mabvuku in Parliament, claimed some
residents were now sourcing water from his house in Mandara.
He attacked Harare municipality saying the current water problems were a
result of "incompetence and negligence" on the part of the capital city's
He said the water problems in Mabvuku-Tafara were exacerbated by the fact
that one of Harare's oldest locations was very far from the water
source-Morton Jaffray Water works.
"It is known that the Morton Jaffray Water works is to the extreme western
end of Harare, tapping water from Chivero. The chronological sequence of
water delivery is from the west to the east, meaning Mabvuku is the furthest
from the source," Mabhawu said.
The MDC legislator also blamed the problem to what he said was the
government failure to construct the Kunzwi Dam, which many see as one of
ways out.
"The solution lies with the construction of the Kunzwi Dam to cover the
eastern side of Harare. Unfortunately, the project has not materialised as
the present government has no foreign currency to fund the project," he
He also attributed the water hitches to alleged failure by authorities to
expand the Morton Jaffray Waterworks to meet the ever-growing population.
On what he had done so far to help solve the problem as the MP, Mabhawu
said: "I have opened the doors of my Mandara house for residents of
Mabvuku-Tafara to fetch water. I am surprised why "water bowsers" from the
army are not attending to this health and social tragedy."
Last week, the city council said a breakdown at the Letombo water pump
station resulted in the
 current water problems in Mabvuku-Tafara. Although, water started trickling
in that area on Friday night, the majority of residents are still battling
 secure the much-needed precious liquid.
Most suburbs in the capital city have been experiencing water cuts or
rationing for the past two weeks. At Eastview Gardens in Eastlea, residents
could be seen streaming to beg for water from nearby residents with
boreholes while some drove to fetch water from relatives as far as
Borrowdale, Glen View, Mandara and the city centre.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

GMB regional depot manager resigns

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-May-05

ALLEGATIONS of political persecution continue to haunt the Grain Marketing
Board (GMB) as it emerged this week that Gweru depot manager Patrick Kokera
Shumba has resigned citing harassment for backing sacked Midlands regional
manager, Goodwill Shiri.
Shumba told The Daily Mirror that he quit the parastatal last week after
being harassed for supporting Shiri, the losing candidate in Mberengwa West
Zanu PF primaries who then stood as an independent in the March 31
parliamentary polls-he lost to Minister Rugare Gumbo.
President Robert Mugabe recently appointed Gumbo Minister of Economic
Shumba - who hails from Mberengwa East where Shiri stood and lost -  said:
"I have submitted my resignation letter. It should reach head office soon. I
was being harassed after the Shiri issue. They even wanted to transfer me."
He refused to divulge more information on the matter.
Shiri was axed on allegations he abused the quasi government organisation's
grain and vehicles in an attempt to win the primary polls.
Shiri denied the allegations and prior to his sacking he alleged in an
interview with this newspaper that he was being punished for daring to
challenge Gumbo in the polls.
The former Midlands Regional boss also said Gumbo was pressurising the GMB
to sack him, a charge the minister denied.
Yesterday, the GMB acting chief executive officer Retired Colonel Samuel
Muvuti could not be reached for comment on Kokera's resignation, but
regarding Shiri, he is on record saying his dismissal was a professional
decision following an investigation into allegations levelled against him.
Muvuti denied Gumbo had a hand in Shiri's dismissal.

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Mercenaries hope for release on Tuesday

May 04, 2005, 19:00

The 62 South African alleged mercenaries in Zimbabwe may be released next
Tuesday after 12 months in Chikurubi prison in Harare, their lawyer said

Alwyn Griebenow, the defence lawyer, said he was not sure if the men would
be released on the due date, but he would fly to Harare to find out what the
situation was. The men were still awaiting the outcome of an appeal lodged
by Sobuza Gula-Ndebele, Zimbabwe's attorney-general, against the reduction
of their sentences which would have seen the men released in early March.
"No date has been set for the appeal which will only be of academic value as
the men will be back in South Africa already," said Griebenow.

Zimbabwean court officials confirmed on March 2 that the men were scheduled
for immediate release after a successful appeal against their sentences in
the high court. A week later, with all the paperwork completed, their lawyer
and families waited in vain for their return which was delayed when
Gula-Ndebele filed an application to appeal against the high court's

Ill with tuberculosis
"The suspension of a sentence for early release of a prisoner only applies
to Zimbabwean citizens," Gula-Ndebele said at the time. Griebenow said the
appeal would only be of value to two pilots who had received 16 month
sentences for their role in the alleged plot to topple the government of
Equatorial Guinea. "If judgment is given in their favour they won't have to
wait until September 1 to be released." Two of the men due for release on
Tuesday were ill with tuberculosis (TB).

As the men had been "well and fit" when they were arrested, they presumably
picked up the illness in prison. Francisco Marcus who has been in hospital
for more than six months was "already very weak and can barely walk", while
Melane Moyo had been in and out of the prison hospital. Accusations of
mistreatment of the prisoners had surfaced during their imprisonment, with
Griebenow saying their living conditions were "horrible".

Their prison food had little nutritional value; they slept on the floor, and
sometimes weeks went by without running water. He claimed the prison
authorities have refused permission to hand over jerseys knitted especially
for the men in conformance with prison uniform regulations. The South
African embassy in Harare did not dismiss the claims, but said the
allegations had not been brought to the embassy's attention. - Sapa
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      China becomes largest foreign investor in Zimbabwe 2005-05-04 23:10:47

          HARARE, May 4 (Xinhuanet) -- Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
said on Wednesday that China is steadily becoming the largest foreign
investor in Zimbabwe and certainly is growing as one of the largest trading
partners of the southern African country.

          Speaking at the occasion of the official welcome reception in
Harare international airport for the two MA60 aircraft from China,Mugabe
said the ceremony opened another page in Zimbabwe's long established and
cooperative relations with China.

          He said the delivery of the two MA60 aircraft, part of the three
to be procured from China, is symbolic of the resolve to foster even
stronger ties with Zimbabwean friends in China who have always supported the
cause of Zimbabwe.

          Mugabe said Air Zimbabwe has not only acquired the MA60 aircraft,
but is also tapping into the vast tourism and other business opportunities
by flying twice a week to east Asia.

          The president said the new aircraft would complement the airline's
current domestic and regional fleet, adding that he was informed that the
planes would operate on domestic and regional routes such as Victoria Falls,
Kariba, Bulawayo, Buffalo Range, Lusaka, Lilongwe, Johannesburg and
Lubumbashi. Enditem

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Zimbabwe crisis cannot be ignored - Ramaphosa
          May 04 2005 at 02:44PM

      By Boyd Webb

      Johannesburg - The destabilising affect Zimbabwe has on the southern
African region needs to be addressed, business tycoon Cyril Ramaphosa said
on Wednesday while discussing investments in Africa.

      "Clearly the situation in Zimbabwe needs attention," Ramaphosa said,
stating that the New Partnership for Africa's Development's (Nepad) Peer
Review Mechanism, which was otherwise proactive, would have no chance of
success with countries like Zimbabwe.

      Addressing an investment conference at the Sandton Convention Centre,
Ramaphosa said that while Africa's future looked bright, conflict areas
negatively impacted regions around them, scaring off investors.

      He praised British Prime Minister Tony Blair for his African
initiative, which if implemented alongside Nepad, could have far-reaching
positive results.

      "We thank the Tony Blairs of this world and we thank the G8 for the
attention they are focusing on this continent," he said.

      He said a new era of African leaders were also helping achieve
development goals and assisting the continents to break with its
impoverished past.

      "There are now leaders who are no longer focusing as much attention on
their bank balances in Zurich but on the lives of their people. We need to
applaud that," said Ramaphosa.

      The business mogul said he felt that doing business with the continent
was a viable option.

      "Despite its history and in the face of numerous challenges, there is
reason to be optimistic with the future of this continent. A new era is
dawning on this continent," he said.

      He commented that in recent years the number of warring countries in
Africa had decreased from 15 to nine, the number of children enrolled in
primary schools had increased by more than 50 percent, and that the growth
of 24 African countries had exceeded five percent.

      He said that apart from China and India, African countries were the
only ones growing exponentially - more than any other countries in the

      But he also said that if development was to be sustainable, certain
negative trends would have to be reversed.

      Ramaphosa said 70 000 skilled people a year were leaving the continent
for the developed world.

      "There are more African scientists and engineers working in the United
States of America than in Africa," he said.

      While the continent could not be viewed as an easy investment, it was
definitely the new frontier.

      "One only has to travel through a few countries in Africa to realise
that this is the new frontier," Ramaphosa said, stating that in the next 10
years, 25 percent of the America's oil requirements would come from the
continent. - Sapa

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Govt assessing needs before calling for food aid

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

JOHANNESBURG, 4 May 2005 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe authorities say the results from
a second round of government-run crop assessments will determine whether the
country will appeal for international food aid.

Chairman of the National Taskforce on Food Security, Didymus Mutasa, said on
Wednesday that the government was on top of the situation, and refused to
comment on media reports of dwindling stocks and rising food prices.

"All I can say is that there are multisectoral food needs assessments going
on, but I cannot give you details about what we are looking for. These are
security issues, and ... we cannot make public statements on such issues. We
are watching the situation and taking corrective measures," Mutasa told

So far, officials have maintained that 1.5 million Zimbabweans were in need
of food assistance, based on a government crop assessment undertaken between
December and January. However, this figure contrasted sharply with some
international relief agency estimates that up to 4.5 million people urgently
needed food aid.

With all the indicators suggesting that crop output this year has once again
fallen far short of consumption needs, the government has been under
increasing pressure to allow a transparent audit, which would allow the
international community to rapidly respond with aid if required.

The issue of food needs has become politically highly charged in Zimbabwe,
with the opposition during campaigning in the March legislative elections
accusing the government of mismanaging the situation.

The US-funded Famine Early Warning System has called for an "objective" crop
assessment to determine the extent of food insecurity in the country, and
whether outside assistance was required to close the food gap.

Zimbabwe needs 1.8 million mt of grain annually to meet domestic consumption
requirements, and the 2004/05 harvest is believed to be well below the 2.4
million mt predicted by the government after it cancelled a UN-led crop
assessment in April last year.

Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Nicholas Goche
confirmed last week that about 150,000 mt of grain had been received from
South Africa over the past month, and the country was now turning to Zambia,
Uganda and Tanzania for supplies, as the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) sought
to restock maize and wheat holdings.

FEWS NET has predicted a temporary improvement in food availability as the
new crop is harvested, but described the "inefficient grain distribution
system" of the state-owned GMB as having previously "exacerbated the
situation" of shortages.

"The major food security problem at the national level remains the inability
of a significant proportion of poor households to generate enough income to
buy adequate food to satisfy their dietary needs," FEWS NET noted in a
report released in March.

Responding to the calls for the government to reveal the extent of the
country's food needs, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Joseph
Made stressed that Zimbabwe would only seek external aid if there were a
need to do so.

"The government has the capacity to make its own assessments through various
provincial and district food committees. Our teams are already out updating
the records, and in two months' time we will have a clear picture," Made

"So far, we are aware of food deficits in seven provinces of the country,
and that forms our basic guide for food distribution. Any new areas of need
will be recorded and provided for accordingly," he noted.

The seven traditionally food deficit regions include the northern Zambezi
Valley, and the provinces of Matabeleland South, Mashonaland East and West,
Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland Central.

Apart from imports, Made said, the country still had internal food-security
safety nets, including the winter wheat farming season, which begins this

The government confirmed that it was prepared to accept the findings of an
upcoming survey by the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZIMVAC),
provided the results were credible and reflected the country's "national

The ZIMVAC, scheduled for later in May, is a collaborative effort by United
Nations agencies, the government and donors, to gain a clearer picture of
household vulnerability.

"If the assessors carry out their duty diligently, we will accept only what
we see as portraying our national situation - allowing international
organisations to carry out the assessment does not mean we cannot do it;
this is our country and we know its needs better than any foreigner," Mutasa

Meanwhile, the donor community said the longer the wait for credible
figures, the greater the delay in launching a humanitarian response if one
were required.

"At the moment it is a wait-and-see situation - we are working on
contingency plans with other humanitarian partners in the event the
government does decide to call on us for assistance," European Union food
security coordinator, Pierre-Luc Vanhaeverbeke, told IRIN.

"We must stress that there are many people who are already facing food
shortages, and to wait until July [when the government's assessment results
are due] could be dangerous," he added.

Food insecurity has been exacerbated by the country's economic crisis, in
which the minimum wage covers only about 40 percent of basic household
expenditure. According to FEWS NET, poor families have so far survived by
"borrowing, reducing the number and size of meals and skipping meals on some

Vanhaeverbeke explained that if the EU was asked to respond, it would need
"sufficient time" to source funds and set up food distribution networks.

"Preparations for general food distribution do not happen overnight, and are
extremely costly. We need to rebuild capacity on the ground and that takes
time, so we would appreciate some forewarning.

"We are not saying that we do not trust food need assessments undertaken by
the government, but we remain open to assessment figures that are credible,
and that other important stakeholders, such as FAO [Food and Agricultural
Organisation] confirm as a reasonable reflection of the food security
situation," Vanhaeverbeke said.

International food aid programmes provided much-needed relief until
mid-2004, but these were stopped when the government told the UN and donors
that the country had had a "bumper harvest" and no longer needed assistance.

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Zimbabwe subsidises producer grain prices amid food shortages
HARARE, May 4 (AFP) - The cash-strapped Zimbabwean government has hiked by
300 percent the prices it will buy staple maize grain from farmers in order
to curb inflation and black market activities in a country facing acute food

Agriculture Minister Joseph Made said in a statement Wednesday on
state-owned media that the Grain Marketing Board will now buy a tonne of
corn at 2.2 million dollars (362 US dollars / 280 euros), up from last
year's 750,000 dollars (120 US dollars).

He said the board will in turn sell the product to millers at 600,000
dollars (96 US dollars), a heavy subsidy that economists fear will be
financed by inflationary measures such as printing of money.

"If it is to keep the prices down for the final consumer, how do you get a
government to subsidise the maize to that extent?" asked economist Daniel

"The government cannot subsidise now through normal budgetary means because
it has no money," he said.

"It simply means you are penalising the very people you are trying to
protect," he added.

To save farmers from crippling rising input prices, government expects that
the new prices will ensure they realise at least a 20 percent profit from
their produce.

Observers said the government hiked the price in a bid to encourage farmers
to deliver their poor harvest this year rather than withold grain for sale
on the black market where they will get higher returns.

Zimbabwe, which last year turned away food aid, saying it had produced a
surplus to meet its needs, has started importing grain following a drought
that resulted in low yields barely enough to feed a third of its 13 million

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change last week urged the government
to approach donors for food aid, warning that the country was fast running
short of supplies.


Copyright (c) 2005 Agence France-Presse

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Sunday Mirror, Zimbabwe

Spy case takes new twist
Kuda Chikwanda Chief Writer

THE on-going espionage trial involving former Zanu PF security director,
Kenny Karidza, has taken a new twist, following the revelation that there is
now a "trial within the trial", in which he is disputing the admissibility
of revelations he made to investigating officers.

Karidza is on trial facing charges of espionage and if convicted, could
receive any sentence from five years to 20 years in prison. According to the
director of prosecutions within the Attorney General's office, Joseph
Musakwa, the State's case against Karidza had been slowed down owing to the
admissibility of Karidza's statements.

"Right now, Karidza is contesting the admissibility of statements he made to
investigators. So I could say that there is 'a trial within the trial',
where the court first has to resolve the issue of admissibility, before
going further to try Karidza on the main trial, that of espionage," said

Commenting on the trial, which has dragged over four-and-a-half months since
Karidza was arrested last December, Musakwa said that other unforeseen
developments had arisen in addition to Karidza's disputing the
permissibility of his statements.

He, however, refused to divulge the nature of the circumstances that were
responsible for the lengthening of the trial.

Karidza's trial is being held in camera and both the defence and the
prosecution have not commented about the proceedings.

At one time, Karidza - a war veteran renowned for his toughness - was
reported to have been seriously affected by the methods of interrogation to
the extent that he was unable to walk or eat.

Others to be nabbed in the same case as Karidza, though tried separately,
were former Zanu PF Mashonaland West province chairman Phillip Chiyangwa,
ambassador-designate to Mozambique, Godfrey Dzvairo, prominent banker,
Tendai Matambanadzo, and Itai Marchi, the ruling party's director for
external affairs.

The five men were accused of selling political and economic information on
the country, with Chiyangwa allegedly reported to have received US$10 000
($62 million) monthly retainer fee from his South African handler.

Sources claimed that Dzvairo, who was stationed in South Africa since 1994,
had been under surveillance for the past decade as Zimbabwean authorities
suspected him of espionage, but were failing to get any tangible evidence to
nail him.

It was alleged that Dzvairo recruited Chiyangwa, who in turn recruited
Matambanadzo (a relative to his wife), Marchi and Karidza. Having spent over
a month in prison, Chiyangwa was granted refusal of remand by the High
Court, as the State was yet to gather sufficient evidence to incriminate

Dzvairo was jailed for six years, Matambanadzo and Marchi got five-year
terms each. The State has since indicated in Chiyangwa's case that it
intends to appeal once enough evidence has been gathered.

Speaking about the South African at the From Page 1 centre of the spy ring,
Musakwa classified the 48-year-old white male as " a witness", contrary to
earlier media reports that had labelled him a spymaster.

"He (the South African) is not in custody. He is a witness and he is still
giving evidence. Why should a witness be placed in custody?" said Musakwa.

The South African citizen was nabbed on December 15 in a sting operation
that also saw Chiyangwa, Matambanadzo, Dzvairo, Marchi and Karidza
disappearing for over a week, before it later emerged that they were in
custody and awaiting trial on charges of espionage.

Reports had claimed that the South African operative was lured into the
country early December last year by the Central Intelligence Organisation
(CIO) head of counter intelligence, and once arrested, he spilt the beans on
his contacts in the country - leading to the arrest of the five men.

In related developments, Musakwa also admitted that Zimbabwean authorities
were at a dead end as to where Erasmus Moyo, the Zimbabwean diplomat based
in Geneva, Switzerland, could be.

Said Musakwa: "He remains unlocated. There have been no developments to date
on his whereabouts." Moyo, who was also implicated in the spy ring affair
alongside the five, skilfully escaped from authorities at an airport in

This is the second high profile case which has resulted in a "trial within a
trial" following the highly publicised trial of the four suspects indicted
on charges of murdering war veteran Cain Nkala.

The four suspects, who were later acquitted of any wrong-doing late last
year, disputed the State's case, which was based on evidence allegedly given
by the suspects.

As in the Karidza trial, the trial dragged because there were disputes on
the admissibility of written confessions by the alleged murderers, with the
suspects arguing that they had made the confessions under duress, and thus
arguing that the confessions could not be used in the trial.

The five were accused of selling Zanu PF secrets made by the ruling party's
powerful inner circle, the politburo.

The State argued that, by virtue of Zanu PF being the government of the day,
any Politburo secrets sold by the accused individuals were State secrets as
this was where political decisions affecting government policy were tabled
and decided on.
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Sunday Mirror, Zimbabwe

Ethnic concerns haunt new Cabinet
Staff Writers

THE ethnic composition of the cabinet announced by President Robert Mugabe a
few weeks ago has been brought to the fore in the wake of last year's battle
for the presidium, which saw Joyce Mujuru pipping Emmerson Mnangagwa for the
vice-presidency post left vacant by the death Simon Muzenda.

Tongues are wagging as the majority of ministers and their deputies are from
the three Mashonaland Provinces, a situation that could rile the party's
so-called Karanga element. This comes against the background of similar
responses to having the president and the two vice- presidents coming from
the colonially-defined Mashonaland.

Often referred to as "Super Zezuru" by admirers and enemies alike, this
ethnic element now comprises a total of 16 ministers, including resident
ministers, and 10 deputies - the majority drawn from Mashonaland East

For years, Zanu PF's so-called Karanga element have demonstrated a latent
and sometimes manifest dissatisfaction with the domination of top government
posts by people from Mashonaland and Harare.

The restlessness could come back to haunt the party as the so-called Karanga
element's hitherto brightest star, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was made Minister of
Rural and Social Amenities - an office commentators have said is not in the
corridor of power.

The fractures that emerged in the party as consequence of the Tsholotsho
meeting meant to create a Presidium contrary to what President Mugabe and
the perceived Zezuru component desired could have resulted in the ethnic
make up of the new cabinet. It would seem that those who helped to scuttle
the "velvet coup" are being handsomely rewarded while a series acts of
isolation and confinement are being engineered against the perpetrators.

Coincidentally, Masvingo has the highest number of casualties of the
Tsholotsho counter offensive launched by the presidium. Those who opposed
the elevation of Joyce Mujuru to the post of Vice- President have been left
out in the cold. Shuvai Mahofa lost the post of Deputy Minister of Youth,
while Josiah Hungwe is no longer the governor of the province.

It is interesting to note that Masvingo has always been a source of
controversy in ruling party circles. While the late vice-president Simon
Muzenda, the "Soul of the Nation", was for more than 50 years very close to
president Mugabe, the same cannot be said of the Eddison Zvobgo (Snr) who
became the first person to dare say the "taboo" - in Mnangagwa's
construction - by declaring his Presidential ambitions. The late Zvobgo was
a politician who believed that since the so-called Karangas were in the
majority, they deserved to be at the top of the hierarchy, both in the party
and in the government.

The ruling Zanu PF, and indeed the whole country, was in 1998 shaken when
Dzikamai Mavhaire said, "Mugabe must go" during Parliamentary debates. While
the colonial divisions that came up with the existing geo-political order is
partly to blame, the politics of sub-groups within ethnic groups - such as
those of the late Zvobgo (Snr) and Mavhaire - are also part of the reason
behind Masvingo getting the number of ministerial postings it got in the
"development cabinet". Said one observer, "Eddison Zvobgo (Jnr) and Walter
Mzembi could have been appointed deputy ministers alongside other Young
Turks like Saviour Kasukuwere and Patrick Zhuwao, but their sin might have
been their relationship and association with the suspicious older generation
of politicians." Another observer, however noted that imbalances were not
necessarily sinister but could actually be a reflection of demographic
features of an election outcome. He also said, "Significantly, during
Muzenda's time, Masvingo and Midlands were disproportionately powerful to
the detriment of Manicaland. The latest developments simply highlight a
shift in power. Conversely Manicaland is now in the doldrums. Bear in mind
the fact that the struggle in Zanu PF has mainly been between the Karanga
and Manyika factors." In President Mugabe's recently announced cabinet,
Mashonaland East, which traditionally provides the largest number of Zanu PF
supporters as opposed to the opposition votes in any single province along
with Mashonaland Central, contributed six full ministers and five deputies.

Furthermore, one can also count governor and resident minister Ray Kaukonde,
who is the sitting MP for Mudzi East constituency pending a by-election.
Aqualina Katsande of Mudzi West might have missed getting a bite of the
ministerial cherry, but rumours allegedly have a diplomatic posting waiting
for her in the wings.

Another observer, however noted that imbalances were not necessarily
sinister but could actually be a reflection of demographic features of an
election outcome. He also said, "Significantly, during Muzenda's time,
Masvingo and Midlands were disproportionately powerful to the detriment of
Manicaland. The latest developments simply highlight a shift in power.
Conversely Manicaland is now in the doldrums. Bear in mind the fact that the
struggle in Zanu PF has mainly been between the Karanga and Manyika
 factors." One commentator noted, "It is only natural that the majority of
the ministers will be drawn from the Mashonaland provinces considering there
are more ruling party MPs there.

"You can't have five ministers from Bulawayo because of Zanu PF's
Parliamentary representation in that province." Manicaland has contributed
nine full and deputy ministers out of the 15Parliamentarians who got the
popular vote on March 31.

The returns for Mashonaland Central, surprisingly considering Zanu PF swept
the province, were far lower proportionally as there are only three
ministers. This has allegedly led to murmurs of disgruntlement, hinting at
another contentious fracture within the ruling party; namely that of
intra-ethnic fighting.

There are six ministers and deputies from Mashonaland West, the President's
home province.

People from Masvingo are consequently concerned by the fact that out of
around 15 so-called Karanga parliamentarians, only Simbarashe Mumbengegwi,
Josiah Tungamirai, Mnangagwa, Stan Mudenge and a few others made it to

It is worth noting, however, that the creation of a cabinet is not a
manifest display of exercise of power on the President's part. Non-aligned
analysts have noted that President Mugabe does not simply put people in
certain positions because he wants them there. Instead, there are a number
of considerations that come into play, including the issue of ethnicism.
Other considerations would include suitability and cost, among others. Yet
the ethnic factor has refused to die a natural death. Indeed, ethnic
balancing in the political sphere has been a feature of Zimbabwe's politics
since the liberation struggle. There are some who feel that contrary to
popular perception, it is not always a bad thing when one looks at it from
the perspective of nation building. The argument from this quarter is that
the establishment of a nation state, in Zimbabwe and Africa as a whole, has
demanded that political leaders delicately juggle ethnic representation to
ensure unity. An inability to handle the ethnic factor properly has resulted
in a number of civil and secessionist wars across the continent as
politicians and the military manipulated the disgruntlement of marginalised
ethnic groups for their own benefit. The national integration and unity
quarter argues that the tragedy of the Zimbabwean situation, and indeed most
of post-colonial Africa, is that it is still stuck in the volatile vortex,
which was created by and is still influenced by colonial hegemony. This was
aptly captured in the pages of the Sunday Mirror of 3 April 2005 by the
columnist, The Scrutator who lamented: "Is it not so sad and detractive of
Zimbabwean nationalism that, in 2005, our country still carries the scars of
the divide-and-rule strategy of the colonialist enterprise? When will these
scars be replaced by such vital symbols and foundation for national
integration and a true Zimbabwean nationhood? What is so difficult, for
example, in replacing 'Mashonaland,' 'Matabeleland,' 'Manicaland', etc, with
such simple geographical nomenclature as Western, Northern, Eastern,
Southern, etc? (Zambia under Kaunda did so effectively that, 20 years into
post-independence, few Zambians would remember that Western Province was
once upon a time the "Barotseland" of colonial times)." But until and unless
the nation bites the bullet and takes such a bold move as to name the
provinces in a way that does not predicate ethnicity, President Mugabe has
been left with no option but to overlook critical criteria such as cost,
skill, intellect, education, credibility and quality in favour of deft
ethnic balancing. This imperative has been necessitated on the political
front by the desire to engender commitment towards the resolution of the
National Question, which still haunts the 25-year-old nation. Questions of
which minister belongs to which mythical ethnic group have been exacerbated
by the related social and economic questions some of which still stare the
nation in the face. The Scrutator argued that in order to move forward,
President Mugabe has been forced to accede to the ethnic fractures within
the ruling party and do an ethnic balancing act to the best of his ability
for the sake of both partisan and national unity in the face of economic

"The latter can be resolved only if Zimbabwe also defends and strengthens
its independence and sovereignty, deepens its commitment to democracy, peace
and stability; whilst simultaneously consolidating national unity and the
political diversity that is consistent with any democratic dispensation," he

It remains to be seen, however, whether such reasoning will appease the
discontented and disenchanted ethnic elements in the ruling party.
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Statement By Media Alliance of Zimbabwe On World Press Freedom Day

Media Institute of Southern Africa (Windhoek)

May 3, 2005
Posted to the web May 4, 2005


Throughout the democratic world, May 3rd, is known as World Press Freedom
Day, as recognized by the United Nations, to celebrate and protect
fundamental democratic rights to free expression, including the right to be

For the past six years, these rights have been systematically trampled by
the government of Zimbabwe in its campaign to silence criticism of its
policies and activities including the right to alternative opinion.

Four newspapers have been closed in 18 months, throwing hundreds of media
workers into the streets. Scores of journalists have been arrested and
harassed by the government using repressive media gag laws that have crushed
the life out of any efforts to make the business of communication an
attractive or viable enterprise.

The constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of expression and the
right to information in Zimbabwe are not just in the intensive care, but
have almost become extinct.

As a result of this, the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe, grouping MISA-Zimbabwe,
the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, and the Media Monitoring Project of
Zimbabwe, calls on the government of Zimbabwe to put an end to this

We note that the main instrument the government has used to subdue the
independent media in Zimbabwe is the notorious Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which criminalises the business of
gathering and disseminating information without a licence.

We, the journalists, professionals and workers in the media community, have
not forgotten the recorded havoc and turmoil wrecked by AIPPA since its
enactment in 2002.

We further note the draconian contents of the Broadcasting Services Act
(BSA) and the Public Order and Security Act. We remind the people of
Zimbabwe that all these laws do not just affect journalists and media
houses - they affect every Zimbabwean citizen. The licensing mechanisms
under AIPPA and the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA) effectively paralyse the
development of the private media. We also note with concern that the
authorities have stalled the liberalisation of the broadcasting sector by
putting in place stringent if not insurmountable entry conditions for new

Hence, Zimbabweans still endure unbalanced coverage from the Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Holdings' (ZBH). We call upon authorities to transform the ZBH
into a true public broadcaster, representative of all Zimbabweans in their
diversity. We also call upon authorities to re look at the cases of foreign
journalists hounded out of Zimbabwe despite court orders in their favour.

Access to information and free exchange of ideas are at the core of a
vibrant democracy and inextricably linked to empowering the public to make
informed decisions and choices. We contend that a free media plays an
important role in the social and economic development of Zimbabwe. We note
that a vibrant media is critical in fighting hunger, H IV-AIDS and political
intolerance. Citizens of Zimbabwe must be able to share ideas and
information thorough various and free media outlets. It is for this reason
the media environment in Zimbabwe must be opened, as part of efforts to find
solutions to the many challenges we face as a nation.

Consequently, our theme this year: "We haven't forgotten AIPPA", is the
result of a sombre reflection on the evident fact that freedom of expression
in Zimbabwe has been savagely curtailed.

We welcome efforts by the new Minister of Information, Dr Tichaona Jokonya
to create a cordial professional relationship between the government and the
media practitioners, particularly his call on media practitioners to suggest
amendments to AIPPA. We also stand ready to work closely with him towards
improving the media environment in Zimbabwe.

In that vein, we urge the government to replace the Media and Information
Commission (MIC) with a professional self-regulatory media Council.

MAZ demands that government repeal or amend these laws in order to create an
enabling environment for the free and unfettered operation of the media and
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RBZ Pledges to Help Solve Harare's Water Problems

The Herald (Harare)

May 4, 2005
Posted to the web May 4, 2005


HARARE'S agonising wait for a lasting solution to its crippling water crisis
could soon be over after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) stepped in to
redress the problem.

The central bank has since asked the financially-embattled council to draw
up a sustainable and tangible programme for funding.

Reserve Bank Governor Dr Gideon Gono urged the city to "harness and enlist
active private sector participation in resolving its challenges".

"This view is deeply founded on the fact that doing so would make business
sense to the private sector itself.

"To prosper, the private sector needs a well functioning infrastructure

"They need reliable water supplies, a healthy labour force, an efficient
road network and readily available real estate space for their operations,"
said Dr Gono in a speech read on his behalf by his advisor Mrs Millicent

The call comes amid reports that RBZ was prepared to lend the municipality
at least $3 trillion to enable it unbundle its current structure into
autonomous strategic business units to boost efficiency.

Among the units to be formed by the council with assistance from RBZ are;
the Harare Water and Sanitation, Harare Roads and Street Lighting, Harare
Waste Management, Communication, Harare Public Transport, Administration and

The central bank has since warned that it would be strictly monitoring the
use of the money to ensure it was put to good use, consistent with sound
corporate governance.

Based on such thinking, said Dr Gono, the city must find areas of viable
partnership with private sector players who, in the majority of cases, have
more developed expertise in infrastructure development and service delivery.

Dr Gono said the city should enter into Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT)
system with the private sector giving participants special concessions on
rentals and rates.

He urged local authorities to comply whenever the central bank insisted on
delivery and compliance with minimum corporate governance and

"Our insistence for these basic requirements as necessary preconditions for
disbursement of funds should, therefore, not be seen as being insensitive to
the urgent needs of municipalities," he said.
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Zim Online

Attorney General defends harsh press law
Wed 4 May 2005
  HARARE - Zimbabwe's Attorney General (AG) Sobuza Gula-Ndebele last night
defended the country's harsh media laws as necessary to ensure journalists
"operated within the laws of the country."

      Addressing journalists gathered at the national Press club in Harare
to mark World Press Freedom Day, Gula-Ndebele said the government's
draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) may
not be perfect but it was necessary to ensure law and order in the media.

      "AIPPA provides limitations and guidelines which are necessary to make
the media operate within the laws of the nation," Gula-Ndebele said,
virtually pouring cold water on recent optimism among journalists for a less
restrictive operating environment after new Information Minister Tichaona
Jokonya said last month that he was keen to foster a new relationship
between the Press and the government.

      AIPPA, under which journalists could be jailed for up to two years for
operating without being registered with the government's Media and
Information Commission (MIC), is the main instrument that the state has used
to repress and silence the country's independent media and other dissenting

      Gula-Ndebele, a qualified lawyer and a former Zimbabwe army officer
promoted to attorney general by President Robert Mugabe last year, urged
journalists to lobby the government and Parliament if they wanted any laws
that negatively affect their work changed or repealed.

      But Gula-Ndebele ominously warned journalists to observe AIPPA and the
Public Order and Security Act that outlaws criticism of Mugabe because "a
law is a law whether it is bad in your opinion."

      The AG said he was not opposed to journalists setting up a voluntary
regulation council but said such a body could and should exist alongside the
government media commission, blamed for closing four newspapers in the last
three years and causing the arrest of more than a hundred journalists.

      Gula-Ndebele refused to discuss when the banned Daily News could be
allowed back on the streets only saying the paper was shut down in the first
place because it had breached the law.

      The Supreme Court has since asked the state media commission to review
the banned daily's application for an operating licence but it remains
unclear when the commission will allow the paper back.

      Zimbabwe is ranked by international media rights watchdog, the
Committee to Protect Journalists, as one of three countries in the world
with the most dangerous environments for journalists. The other two are Iran
and former Soviet republic Uzbekistan.

      Meanwhile, Gula-Ndebele also promised to prosecute state agent Joseph
Mwale accused of murdering opposition activists Tichaona Chiminya and Talent
Mabika in the run-up to the 2000 general election.

      Responding to a question, Gula-Ndebele said: "We have opened a docket
on Joseph Mwale and everyone connected with that case will be prosecuted." -

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Zim Online

Media practitioners demand repeal of tough media law
Wed 4 May 2005
  HARARE - Media practitioners in Zimbabwe yesterday celebrated World Press
Freedom Day with a demand to the Harare authorities to repeal a tough media
law blamed for the closure of four newspapers in the last three years.

      The Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ), a coalition of major media
players in the country, said the government must repeal or amend the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which has also seen
more than a hundred journalists arrested for breaching some sections of the

      The alliance is made up of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, the
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) and the Media Monitoring Project
of Zimbabwe (MMPZ).

      In a statement to mark the day yesterday, the MAZ said: "MAZ demands
that government repeal or amend these laws in order to create an enabling
environment for the free and unfettered operation of the media and

      Earlier this year, the World Association of Newspapers said Zimbabwe
was among the three worst countries, together with Uzbekistan and Iran that
violate the rights of journalists.

      Journalists in Zimbabwe face jail terms of up to two years for
violating AIPPA. The government says the law is necessary to deal with
"wayward" journalists who peddle lies.

      "We note that the main instrument the government has used to subdue
the independent media in Zimbabwe is the notorious AIPPA which criminalises
the business of gathering and disseminating information without a licence.

      "We the journalists, professional and workers in the media community
have not forgotten the recorded havoc and turmoil wrecked by AIPPA since its
enactment in 2002," said MAZ.

      Four newspapers including the country's biggest daily The Daily News
were shut down in the last three years for violating some sections of AIPPA.
More than one hundred journalists were also arrested during the same period
in a government campaign to clamp down on the independent press. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Four journalists fired on World Press Freedom Day
Wed 4 May 2005
  BULAWAYO - Four journalists were yesterday dismissed from their jobs in
Zimbabwe's second biggest city Bulawayo in a row over non-payment of

      The four, who worked for the Bulawayo-based sports magazine Half-Time,
are editor of the magazine Laddington Sadambura, deputy editor Takunda
Ndaabare, and two reporters Simbarashe Nembaware and Tsingirirai Tsikira.

      They were dismissed - ironically as Zimbabwe joined the rest of the
world in marking World Press Freedom Day yesterday - after downing their
pens last Friday in a desperate bid to pressure management to pay salaries
which they had not been paid for the last three months.

      The journalists were instead summarily dismissed without a hearing in
a development that vividly illustrates how Zimbabwean journalists have lost
rights because of President Robert Mugabe's repressive media laws and have
also lost out on the shop floor after the government's closure of several
newspapers including the country's biggest paper, the Daily News.

      With so many highly qualified but jobless journalists on the streets,
employers can literally hire and fire their editorial staff willy-nilly. One
of the dismissed journalists, Nembaware said: "It's very sad that employers
can take advantage of their positions and abuse journalists like this. It is
a clarion call for all journalists to unite and fight for their rights,"
said Nembaware.

      A senior official at the magazine, Paul Dube, confirmed the dismissal
saying some were fired for incompetence.

      "Some were fired, yes, but two of them resigned because they said they
could not bear it going for more months or days without pay," said Dube.

      Zimbabwe is rated among the worst countries for journalists together
with Iran and the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan.

      More than one hundred journalists have been arrested in the last three
years as the government cracked down on dissenting voices in the private
press. Several senior journalists at state-controlled media organisations
have also been purged for allegedly not toeing the government line. -
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Zim Online

Milling firm scales down operations as power, maize shortages bite
Wed 4 May 2005
  HARARE - Zimbabwe's biggest milling firm, National Foods Holdings (NFH),
says it has shut down some of its plants and is operating at five percent of
capacity because of severe shortages of both maize and electricity.

      More than 2 000 jobs could be permanently lost if the closed milling
plants are not reopened and capacity utilisation increased.

      In a statement accompanying its annual report, the Zimbabwe Stock
Exchange listed NFH said it had shut down operations in the cities of
Masvingo, Mutare and Gweru because there was no maize to mill at the plants.

      Operations were still running at plants in Bulawayo and Harare but at
five percent of capacity because of a shortage of maize and erratic power
supplies, NFH chairman Todd Moyo said in the statement.

      "Small allocations of maize have been received by our maize mills in
Harare and Bulawayo and our monthly capacity utilisation in these two mills
have not exceeded 5 percent," Moyo's statement reads in part.

      The closure of NFH mills is yet another clear example of the severity
of maize shortages in Zimbabwe threatening the southern African nation with
famine unless food aid is urgently made available.

      President Robert Mugabe, who until a few weeks before a parliamentary
election last March had denied the country was facing starvation, says he
will not go begging for food insisting his hard cash-strapped government has
enough resources to ensure no one starves.

      But non-governmental organisation reports indicate signs of starvation
and malnutrition are already noticeable among several families in some parts
of the country worst affected by food shortages.

      The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, which
last week said it had secured about 200 000 tonnes of maize from outside the
country but still needed government permission to bring it in, has called on
Mugabe to swallow his pride and appeal for help from the international

      Mugabe last August told international food agencies to take their help
elsewhere because Zimbabwe had enough to feed itself.

      Once a net food exporter, Zimbabwe has since 2001 survived largely on
handouts from international food aid groups after Mugabe's chaotic and often
violent land reforms destabilised the agricultural sector causing a 60
percent drop in production. - ZimOnline

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The Mercury

      Banned Zimbabwe newspaper gets set to rise from ashes
      May 4, 2005

      Harare: Once Zimbabwe's best-selling newspaper, The Daily News is
getting ready to return to the stands after a long ban, even though its
editors say the independent daily's troubles are far from over.

      World Press Freedom Day was marked on Monday and Zimbabweans long for
the return of the paper banned by President Robert Mugabe's government
nearly two years ago for breaching media laws that rights activists say are
among the most restrictive in Africa.

      "Press freedom is in great peril in Zimbabwe, but we believe there
will soon come a time when The Daily News will be back on the newsstands,"
said Deputy Editor Bill Saidi.

      The newspaper was shut down on September 12 2003 when rifle-wielding
police barged into its offices in Harare and ordered it shut for refusing to
register with a state media commission.

      The Daily News's 300 staffers, including 20 journalists, were left
jobless and some meet occasionally in the one room that the newspaper now
occupies in Harare's central business district to give one another solace.

      In its heyday, The Daily News, which was founded in 1999, had a
circulation of 150 000 and offered an alternative voice to the state media,
even though sales were restricted to cities and major towns as vendors were
often barred from travelling to rural areas to sell the tabloid with its
distinctive white-on-blue banner.

      Saidi said The Daily News would maintain the line that earned it the
tag from government officials of "British-sponsored opposition newspaper"
and often put its journalists on a collision course with Mugabe.


      "We are satisfied our path was the correct one and we believe our
readers were in favour of our stance. That is why we were selling better
than The Herald," he said, referring to the state-run newspaper.

      "When we get the licence we know we will continue to have the problems
we had in the past with the flawed laws," Saidi said.

      After years of legal battles, Zimbabwe's Supreme Court on March 14
quashed the government commission's decision to ban The Daily News and its
sister paper The Daily News on Sunday.

      The Daily News editors say they have been meeting government officials
to discuss their application for a licence and the newspaper could be out
again in coming weeks.

      "Everyone is asking us when the newspaper is coming back to the
streets," said vendor Shadreck Mbwera.

      The Daily News took an uncompromising anti-government line, breaking
stories on Mugabe's wife, Grace, who indulged in shopping sprees in South
Africa while millions of Zimbabweans were suffering from food shortages.

      It was also first to publish a report on the construction of Mugabe's
luxury retirement mansion in Harare and on the murder of white farmers
during the land seizures in 2000.

      The newspaper gave voice to the country's civic society movement and
opposition including the then fledgling Movement for Democratic Change. -
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