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

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News release
(On behalf of the Commercial Farmers' Union)

A West Nicholson farmer, Shannon Wheeler, owner of Twin River Ranch, a
citrus and cattle undertaking has been barricaded in his house since 16th
April, 20 days ago. He has resisted efforts by 50 war veterans and youth to
evict him. One Katazvo Magogoros Ndou leads the band.

He is on the farm with his wife, 2 teenage children and farm manager Sammy
Mhazvo. The two children are due to return to boarding school on Tuesday
next week. Wheeler is a second generation Zimbabwean, originally of
Irish/Afrikaans stock.

Several farmers in the Beit Bridge district report of problems related to
illegal evictions. It is understood that the Member of Parliament, Comrade
Kembo Mohadi addressed a meeting on Wheeler's property on Independence Day.
It is reported that he encouraged the people present to take over all the
properties in the area, and that they own the land, engines and buildings,
as well as the wildlife, but the furniture and contents of the buildings
belonged to the farmer. He erroneously said that a compulsory notice of
acquisition (section 8 notice) was an eviction notice. Eviction of the
farmer can only be undertaken by the Ministry of Lands and Agriculture after
obtaining a valid order through the administrative court.

The last two weeks have been peppered with incidents, thefts of 11 cattle,
and equipment, intimidation at the homestead fences, threats on the farm
manager and the denying of access to concerned neighbours. The invaders have
put up two illegal booms barring entry. It has also been a constant problem
to obtain police response. These incidents are captured in a report sent to
the Union by Wheeler.

The West Nicholson farm is only under a preliminary notice of acquisition.
He bought the farm from a company in 1986 and worked steadily to build up
the farm to its current 15 000 citrus trees, 4000 mango trees and runs 600
head of cattle. He also exports fruit and beef. He has had to relocate his
herd of cattle and lost 32 in the process due to interference from invaders.

Before the events unfolded on 16th April, he employed 30 staff and employed
up to 150 people from Siyoka communal area for seasonal picking. The farms
30 workers were ordered to request retrenchment packages. When the owner
refused, a war veteran fired a pellet gun in the air threatening the
workforce not to report for duty.

The settlers are reported to have raided the orchard and are stealing fruit.
The crop of 700 tonnes of oranges is already decimated by theft and has not
been watered since the siege began.

A neighbour who tried to get through provisions and was turned back by the
invaders and when the Manager, Sammy Mhazvo came to the roadside to collect
the provisions, he was assaulted and had the farm land rover and provisions
confiscated. This was reported to the police, RRB Number 099913.

Attention from Police officers was to come at noon on the 30th April but not
in the manner to restore a semblance of order. Two police land rover
defenders arrived with a contingent of police officers, including the
District (major) Chief Superintendent Maunga and District (minor),
Superintendent Madzingo.

Supt. Madzingo then accused the Manager of being a white man's puppet and
pushed him around and told him to greet his brothers (the invaders). On
refusing, he was told he had no respect for the police and the government.

Wheeler then arrived and Supt. Madzingo immediately informed him that the
Government had legally settled the property and that the barricading of him
and his family for the last week was their way of telling them to get off
the land immediately. He further said the people could enter the yard and
throw everything out of the house.

Madzingo told Wheeler he was to draw up an inventory of his belongings and
the Government will compensate him in the courts.

Supt. Madzingo said that the Chief Supt Maunga came from Marondera and they
both knew very well how to handle this situation and that Wheeler was very
lucky to still be there.

He said that white farmers in Chikombe and Shamva were brutally beaten and
chased away immediately before fatalities occurred.

He accused Wheeler of disturbing their development, as they needed his home
for a school as the children wanted to start on Friday 3 May.

Supt. Madzingo then demanded that Wheeler address the invaders and tell them
he was leaving. Wheeler declined as he said he had nothing to say to them.

The vehicle that had been stolen with the provisions then arrived driven by
and invader with about 25 other people.

Supt. Madzingo said, "There is your land rover which was not stolen, but
only confiscated because it was trespassing on the land."

Chief Supt Maunga said he would speak to the District Administrator, Eddison
Mbedzi, to ask him to address the invaders to persuade them to allow the
Wheelers a few more days to vacate the land.

Wheeler asked whether they could be allowed to pump water and use their
electrical generator to which the police said it was not their problem. On
Sunday 5th May the guards were collecting water 50 meters away, the invaders
took their buckets away.

On 4th May a Datsun 102Y sedan arrived with 4 people and they went into the
citrus and helped themselves to produce.

Several farms in Matabeleland specializing in market gardening and citrus
have come under the attention of war veterans with thousands of dollars
worth of fruit and vegetable having been looted and the farmers under
pressure to leave their farms.

Reports received indicate that the Matabeleland Governor Stephen Nkomo and
Beit Bridge Member of Parliament Kembo Mohadi and the District
Administrator, Mr Eddison Nhkanyiso Mbedzi addressed Beit Bridge police
officers and it is said the trio told them not to intervene in events that
were politically motivated, including the eviction of farmers, whose "stay
is long overdue". Several reports from other areas around the country also
indicate that police reaction only occurs after authorization from District
administrators, local government officials who report to the provincial

The invasions in this district are said to be driven by the District
Administrator, Mr Mbedzi, who told a third party that Wheeler had "stayed
too long and must leave." Mbedzi was previously administrator of
Matabeleland North where a farmer Martin Olds was killed.

Matabeleland is dry and for the large part non-arable. Most farms are
livestock ranches or run irrigated crops such are citrus and market

5th May 2002

For more information, please contact: Jenni Williams
Mobile (263) 11 213 885 or (263) 91 300 456
E-mail: or
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From The Sunday Telegraph (SA), 5 May

'War vets' wipe out Zimbabwe's rhino

Johannesburg - The black rhino, a highly-endangered species, is being wiped
out in Zimbabwe, one of its last strongholds in Africa, according to farmers
and conservationists. The animals are being killed for their horns, each
worth 45,000 - more than their weight in gold - on the Far East market
where they are crushed into powder for traditional medicines. The slaughter
centres on the giant Bubiana conservancy, in the south of Zimbabwe, where
104 of the country's last 400 black rhino live on 400,000 acres and from
where at least two owners have been driven out by the chief whip of
President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF Party. "It is dire," said Johnny
Rodrigues, the director of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force. "When you
look at what is going on, you want to cry. They're slaughtering everything."
Mr Rodrigues estimates that 30 to 40 of the Bubiana rhino are now dead.
Bubiana and other smaller private conservancies intervened when the
country's black rhino population fell from 20,000 in the mid-1970s to 263 in
1995. The slaughter in Zimbabwe's national parks was a result of civil war,
poaching and corruption. By the mid-1990s, the Mugabe government realised
that the bankrupt national parks system could not save the animals and asked
white farmers in marginal agricultural areas to form conservancies to set up
breeding populations. By careful management, the conservancies increased the
national herd to about 400. There are another 2,000 black rhino, mainly in
South Africa, with tiny, threatened herds in Namibia and Kenya.
The devastation is not restricted to the rhino. In the 18 months to early
January, about 30,000 large animals had been killed at Bubiana, including
one black rhino calf. One of the owners driven from the conservancy said:
"It's finished: Bubiana will be depleted of all game within a month. The
remaining elephants have snares around their feet. The West and the World
Wide Fund for Nature don't appear to give a damn." In 1993, the Bubiana
owners removed internal fences and erected external barriers strong enough
to keep in large animals. They took in 36 black rhino that the government
wanted them to use as a breeding population. Each farmer was allowed to run
a few cattle, although game farming was the overriding aim. When in March
the war veterans invaded, the cattle were slaughtered and the owners
threatened. Two have now abandoned their farms and one of them, Peter
Abbott, has gone into hiding. "War vets killed Peter's cattle in front of
him while police watched," said one of Mr Abbott's neighbours. "He had an
internationally renowned fishing camp. It has been trashed by war vets who
are netting the lake for bass and bream, drying them and selling them. The
lake had a popular hippo, Henrietta. They've killed her."
The story is repeated throughout the country. Wally Herbst, the national
chairman of the Wildlife Producers' Association, the private game owners'
organisation, said 40 per cent of Zimbabwe's wildlife may have been killed
in the past 18 months. "It's a result of land invasions, resultant bad land
use, the collapse of any rule of law, and game scouts being threatened and
chased away," he said. "There's a huge increase in people invading openly
with vehicles and firearms. It can't hold much longer, the infrastructure is
collapsing." Even the government admits that at least 50 of the remaining
400 black rhino have been killed this year. Francis Nhema, the environment
minister, said that 30 million would be lost this year from the collapse of
the hunting industry. He said that wildlife worth 1.5 million had been
poached in the past four months. A report on Mr Rodrigues's desk from
Lynwood Ranching, a southern Zimbabwe conservancy owned by seven farmers,
said that seven of its 36 black rhino had been snared recently. "One baby
rhino has been burnt to death," it said. "Meat can be seen drying in almost
every settler village. One patrol found seven kudu, zebra and eland in a
single snareline. When we sent in helicopters to dart rhino injured in
snares, the deputy director of national parks assured us of his immediate
response. We have not heard another word from him."

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From The Sunday Times (SA)

Four million face starvation

South Africa and its neighbours are to hold an emergency meeting with United
Nations agencies this month in a bid to get food aid to four million
starving people. This comes as relief organisations warn that up to four
million people face starvation as a result of food shortages in Southern
Africa. About 19 million are said to be in need of food aid. The meeting,
between the governments of the Southern African Development Community and
agencies such as the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture
Organisation, will be held in South Africa. Already the South African
government is making plans to deal with an influx of economic refugees. It
is also working on speeding up maize exports to the affected countries. "It
is better to do something within those countries than to wait for people to
cross the borders," said Home Affairs spokesman Leslie Mashokwe. At least
four million people have been directly affected by serious shortages of
maize - the region's staple diet - according to the Food and Agriculture
Organisation. The World Food Programme says 19 million people in Southern
Africa need food aid. The programme's regional director, Judith Lewis, said:
"People have nothing to eat. They are eating green maize and grass." In
Zimbabwe, some schools have been closed and others have stopped sport
because children are weak. "We are suffering here, my son . . . It's as if
God has abandoned us," Matabeleland resident Mandla Masuku told the BBC this
week. The Southern African Development Community director of Food,
Agriculture and Natural Resources, Reginald Mugwara, said the situation was
getting worse as some countries could not afford to import maize.
The hardest-hit countries are Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Angola,
Lesotho and Swaziland, with the first three in the worst state. In Zimbabwe,
where farm seizures damaged the key agriculture sector, President Robert
Mugabe declared a "state of disaster". That will allow aid donors and relief
agencies to set up emergency programmes for up to a million people in need
of food. Zimbabwe's 12 million people consume 1.5 million tons of maize a
year but this season's maize harvest will be only just over 300 000 tons. So
far, the government has managed to procure only 200 000 tons of maize from
South Africa. And less than half has been delivered to the needy because of
a foreign currency shortage and logistical problems. On Wednesday, the Red
Cross launched an emergency appeal to the international community to provide
relief for nearly half a million people. The Red Cross's Dr Guy Zimmermann
said: "The nutritional status is already bad for many people, particularly
young children orphaned because of HIV/Aids and the high number of adults
infected with the virus." Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, whose
country is facing a deficit of 220 000 tons, has also declared a state of
famine. "In no time we will begin to see queues of people converging for
bare essentials such as maize," Lesotho economist Wale Ogunkola said. In
Angola, the government has asked for help in feeding more than two million
people in 42 declared disaster areas. In southern Mozambique, emergency food
aid is being distributed to nearly 200 000 people.
The crisis has also put the South African farming community in the firing
line, with complaints that it is exploiting the plight of the country's
neighbours. A Food and Agriculture Organisation report claims that the
worst-hit countries are paying up to 200% more for maize now than in July
last year. The organisation says that between last July and this January,
the price went up by 100%. In rural Zambia, the figure was 200%. Among the
reasons for the steep increase are production costs, exchange rates and a
backlog of freight awaiting dispatch in South Africa. Agriculture and Land
Affairs Ministry spokesman Nana Zenani said little could be done because
farmers were operating in an open market: "The market demand is in
rand-dollar trading." Grain South Africa's general manager, Bully Botma,
defended the prices, arguing that the increase reflected rising demand and
currency weakness.

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Libya pulls Zimbabwe's fuel plug

May 04 2002 at 05:46PM

By Brian Latham and Special Correspondent

Harare - Zimbabwe has been called a "colony of Libya", and now faces a
typical colonial bankruptcy after the oil company Tamoil, which supplies a
staggering 70 percent of Zimbabwe's total fuel imports, last month
unilaterally cut supplies to the troubled country.

As in the mid-April interruption of fuel imports, non-payment was the reason
for Tamoil's step.

The sudden move coincided with the unrelated closure of Zimbabwe's fuel
pipeline from the port of Beira in neighbouring Mozambique. It was closed so
a new pump could be installed, said industry insiders.

'It is like signing your own death certificate'
Libya has imposed controversial conditions on its sale of fuel to Zimbabwe,
including payment in cash, investment opportunities in Zimbabwean businesses
and property acquisitions.

So far Libya has acquired a 25 percent stake in Zimbabwe's Jewel Bank and 15
percent in the country's Rainbow Tourism Group.

Libyan demands that the Mugabe regime hand over valuable farms as part of
the deal have yet to be met, prompting fears from fuel-hungry consumers that
the north African country will soon grow impatient with Zimbabwe.

It is understood that groups of Libyan businessmen have been to Zimbabwe and
visited vast commercial farms around the country. Libyan leader Muammar
Gaddafi also toured some big commercial farms and identified some for his
country's expropriation last year.

However, the mechanics of delivering this land to the Libyans seem to have
been delayed, prompting cries of impatience from the Libyans.

Intermittent fuel shortages
Zimbabwe is now so heavily reliant on the Libyans that the country will
cease to function if Gaddafi puts brakes on oil supplies. Mugabe has paid a
dozen visits to Libya in the past year to maintain Gaddafi's patronage.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says Zimbabwe has virtually become a
"colony of Libya". Libya's cut supplies have only been resumed after
interventions at the highest level.

"This isn't safe because there's no guarantee the interventions will always
succeed. It is like signing your own death certificate," said an industry

While Libya supplies 70 percent of Zimbabwe's fuel, the other 30 percent
comes from Kuwait's International Petroleum Group and from Sasol in South
Africa. But they have been inconsistent with supplies, also due to

The country has experienced intermittent fuel shortages over the past two
years, with fuel queues often snaking through city streets for more than a
kilometre as frustrated motorists wait for the precious commodity.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwean government has plunged itself into further turmoil
over the issuing of broadcast licences.

Applicants for licences are threatening to sue the beleaguered government,
claiming delays have cost them millions.

Industry insiders are also questioning the issue of a broadcast licence to
Transmedia, a wholly owned state company set to become a satellite

The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) has refused to say who else
will be given licences. Thomas Mandigora, the chief executive, said the BAZ
had processed all applications and made its recommendations to the
department of information, which has to decide whether to accept or reject
the BAZ recommendations.

The department of information falls under Jonathan Moyo, Mugabe's chief spin

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From USA Today, 1 May

U.S. Prepares 'Big-Time' Response To Famine

Impact of African crisis could be felt at White House

Washington - U.S. officials are scrambling to cope with what could become
the worst humanitarian crisis since President Bush took office: a
potentially catastrophic famine in drought-stricken southern Africa that
threatens 5 million people with starvation. ''What's unfolding in southern
Africa is very big,'' Roger Winter, the assistant administrator for the U.S.
Agency for International Development's humanitarian assistance bureau, said
in an interview Tuesday. ''Even though we don't have in hand all the
information we need, we have in hand enough to know that we have to respond
big-time,'' Winter said. The looming disaster also could have political
ramifications for Bush. For many foreign aid advocates, how aggressively his
administration responds will provide the first practical test of whether
Bush will keep his word to boost U.S. assistance for needy countries. Bush's
commitment this year to spend as much as $10 billion more on U.S.
developmental aid by 2005 - roughly double current spending -- was praised
by aid advocates. But activists want to see how the administration reacts to
a real crisis. ''People have been encouraged by a lot of the speeches and
rhetoric that Bush and people around him have used to talk about poor and
hungry people,'' said Tom Freedman, an adviser to President Clinton who now
is a visiting fellow at Resources for the Future, a Washington think tank.
''Now we have a concrete case. And there's a lot of folks who have their
fingers crossed that the action will live up to the rhetoric,'' Freedman
Judith Lewis, regional director of the United Nations World Food Program,
said in a telephone interview from Kampala, Uganda, that she had just
returned from a tour of the afflicted region, where relief efforts are
centering on food shortages caused by a severe drought in six countries:
Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The United Nati
ons feeds 2.6 million of the 54 million people in those countries. Lewis
said she believes the aid will have to at least double because of food
shortages already being felt. Lewis said the famine in the region is
''certainly the worst we've seen since 1992,'' when a drought left 18
million people without sufficient food. Lewis said she hopes the world will
not lose sight of the crisis because of the war on terrorism. ''We just have
to get people to turn back to Africa because there are a lot of competing
crises,'' she said.
Experts say conditions are particularly bad in Malawi, with Zambia and
Zimbabwe close behind. Zimbabwe declared a state of disaster Tuesday. U.S.
officials blame President Robert Mugabe as much as the drought for food
shortages in Zimbabwe, where Mugabe recently won a questionable re-election
that has plunged the country into chaos. U.N. teams are still conducting a
survey of the region, and Lewis said a plan of action won't be proposed
until early June. But U.S. officials said they already are responding, even
in Zimbabwe, despite their unhappiness with Mugabe. Winter said the
Pentagon, State Department, CIA and other agencies met April 11, and reports
on the famine have gone to Secretary of State Colin Powell and Bush. Winter
said Washington is providing food assistance - a shipment of 35,000 metric
tons is on the way and 40,000 metric tons are ready for shipment. That's
enough to feed approximately 375,000 people for a year. ''President Bush has
said there will be no famines on his watch,'' Winter said. ''We take that
very seriously.''
Aid groups point out that the famine is a natural disaster, which Bush's
pledge did not address. He promised new foreign aid for long-term poverty
reductions in countries that show progress and spend the money responsibly.
But aid advocates say more money is needed to avert short-term crises, such
as famines, if some struggling countries are ever able to achieve long-term
gains. ''The U.S emergency response frequently is generous, and we hope it
will be here because there can't be long-term development for people who are
in the middle of a famine,'' said Bill O'Keefe, government relations
director for Catholic Relief Services. Bush's actions on the famine also
will be seen as a pivotal factor in how high Africa ranks on his foreign
policy agenda. Though last year's terrorist attacks and the resulting war in
Afghanistan have diverted attention from U.S. policy on Africa, activists
say they are generally pleased with Bush's approach. Both Powell and
Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill have visited the continent. ''I give them
reasonable marks . . . on a scale of one to 10, maybe a six or seven,'' said
Melvin Foote, president of the advocacy group Constituency for Africa.''
Foote said Jendayi Frazier, the Africa specialist on Bush's National
Security Council, recently told the group that Bush plans to visit Africa
next year.

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Many Resort to Buying Clubs As Hardships Bite

Financial Gazette (Harare)

May 3, 2002
Posted to the web May 3, 2002

Grace Mutandwa, Arts Editor

FIVE Harare women move slowly from one shelf to the next, carefully comparing prices of goods there. After a few consultations, they pick up this or that box and add it to the growing number of boxes in their trolley.

One of the women adjusts her multi-coloured headscarf before punching in more numbers into the calculator, informs her colleagues about the total before they head for yet another shelf.

This goes on for about 45 minutes. Eventually the women pay for their goods and each carries a couple of boxes of goods.

From here, the women head for yet another food-making company in search of sugar and margarine, products in short supply in Zimbabwe.

I join them for their next shopping trip and, along the way, they tell me that they have been shopping as a group for the past two years.

One of them, Belinda Maburutse, takes up the story. "We are a group of eight school teachers who came together to try to beat the high cost of living," she says.

"We formed a club which buys food and household detergents in bulk. Every month the goods that we buy are shared out between two of our members and the next month it will be the turn for others and so on."

This way, the club's members whose turn it is to get the groceries can afford not to buy any more foodstuffs for at least two or three months.

Maburutse says the savings made on buying groceries is spent on other important household needs and members can also afford to put aside a little money for that rainy day.

What now sustains Maburutse and her colleagues started off in 1999, when it became clear that Zimbabwe's struggling economy would not recover, and many families were increasingly facing dire times in making ends meet.

The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) initiated the launch of what are now known as buying clubs by consumers. The concept has apparently won wide support as poverty, joblessness and food shortages take their toll on the nation.

Made up mostly of women, the smallest club has about five members and the largest 20. Investigations show that there are about 2 000 such clubs nationwide now.

On joining, each group pays the CCZ a fee of $500 and each group member also pays the council $200, another joining fee. Membership is renewable annually.

A senior manager at the CCZ, Victor Chisi, this week said: "We realised that the continuing price hikes were taking their toll on households. We simply borrowed from a traditional form of saving, where women contributed a certain amount of money each month and then took turns to buy each other crockery."

When the project was launched, Zimbabwe's inflation was about 70 percent. It is now more than 113 percent, meaning that the cost of affording basic necessities has gone even higher while wages have lagged behind the soaring prices.

The CCZ then struck a deal with several food manufacturers, which allowed the newly formed clubs to buy goods at lower prices than those offered to other consumer outlets.

"This way, consumers were able to cut out the wholesaler and the general trader, which meant that they could make a substantial saving in terms of what they had to pay," Chisi told the Financial Gazette.

"Because they buy goods in bulk, this also means that they cover themselves from any food price increases that may come occur in the next three or four months."

Maburutse said although her club is now a member of the CCZ buying clubs, members of her group had started off on their own, using their hawkers' licences to buy food items from wholesalers.

The group lives and works in Harare's high-density suburb of Highfield and each member contributes $5 000 a month.

"Initially this worked very well because the goods were available and affordable but over the past year there have been shortages and the wholesalers have also started to charge outrageous prices so we decided to join the CCZ," she said.

"Now armed with our membership card and a letter of introduction from the CCZ, we visit designated manufacturers and buy our groceries from there."

Edinah Moyondizvo, who heads a 20-strong group of mostly civil servants based in Harare, said each member made a monthly contribution of $8 000.

Out of the total money raised, $100 000 is used to buy groceries that are shared in any month among four of the group's members.

The remaining $60 000 is also shared out among the four, mostly helping them pay school fees or buying any other household goods.

"We have also gone beyond the CCZ's designated manufacturers and now buy directly from even some smaller manufacturers whose goods are of a high quality and affordable," she said.

"Although there are severe shortages of margarine, sugar, high quality bar soap, maize meal and cooking oil, we have not really felt these shortages because there are manufacturers who give us special discounts. We also have been able to source maize meal that way."

During the lead-up to the March presidential election, the government slapped price controls on cooking oil, maize meal, sugar, milk and other basic goods but most of these products quickly disappeared from supermarket shelves as manufacturers refused to produce goods for sale at uncompetitive prices.

The government's fast-track land reforms and the drought have worsened the food shortages.

But last week the government appeared to be re-tracing its steps, increasing the prices of most of these goods.

Moyondizvo said her club, acting through the CCZ, was preparing to launch advocacy programmes on galloping food prices and to lobby legislators to introduce policies that are friendly to consumers.

"We are also going to engage business, especially the manufacturing sector and wholesalers, stressing that they can do business while not squeezing the consumer to death."

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Hippo Valley Invests $911m

Zimbabwe Independent (Harare)

May 3, 2002
Posted to the web May 3, 2002

Stanley James

HIPPO Valley Estates Ltd invested $911 million in capital projects during the just-ended financial year to boost production, chairman Len Bruce said.

Bruce said most of the spending by the group was on the purchase of capital equipment to augment the existing machinery.

"A total of $911 million was spent on capital projects during the year 2001. Expenditure in the mill amounted to $595 million and transport fleet replacement cost amounted to $206 million," Bruce said in the group's financial highlights.

He said a major milestone in the group's operations was the commissioning of the 20 Megawatt turbo-alternator acquired at a total cost of US$5 million.

The alternator, he said, had operated above expectations and significantly improved the factory energy balance and mill efficiencies.

The group is currently involved in negotiations with the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority which would result in the provision of excess power to its operations.

Bruce said that there were no indications that the group's cashflow would improve during the year 2002 because of the continued disruption of the country's agro-based industry.

"The general lawlessness in the country has continued to alienate foreign investors in addition to disrupting business activities and operations," he said.

"The retrograde step of re-introducing price controls is a matter of serious concern. Against the background, it is difficult to make any meaningful financial predictions. Margins will be eroded further unless there is an improvement in the business environment," he said.

Uncertainty surrounded the direction of exchange rate policy and the availability of foreign currency would continue to be a major problem.

Bruce said investment in the sugar milling sector was likely to be negatively impacted if inflationary increases continued to affect efforts to maintain viability.

Price controls which pegged prices at August 2001 levels and coupled with an unrealistic exchange rate policy led to domestic sugar finding its way into neighbouring countries where it was being sold at less than half the price of the commodity in those countries.

The chairman said the group had managed to attain benefits amounting to $652 million because of its performance-improvement scheme adopted during the mid part of the year under review.

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