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

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      Food shortages bite

      Njabulo Ncube & Chris Muronzi
      5/6/2005 8:14:30 AM (GMT +2)

      THE government, grappling with widespread starvation caused by a
massive grain deficit, is rejecting international relief aid despite
indications of a looming humanitarian crisis.

      Sources said the government, which has long accused aid agencies of
meddling in Zimbabwe's internal politics, has opted for another crop
assessment before it can accept food aid or hop across the globe with a
begging bowl.
      Apparently, the reluctance to call in aid and shore up depleted grain
stocks, which by the end of March stood at a precarious 60 000 tonnes,
hinges on the belief that farmers are holding on to large quantities of the
staple grain.
      But as Harare dithers on the course of action to take, maize meal is
now among the basic commodities that have disappeared from most supermarket
shelves in the capital and other parts of the country.
      Nicholas Goche, the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social
Welfare, confirmed the government is yet to engage donors despite belatedly
acknowledging the country faced a serious food deficit owing to successive
droughts and the chaotic land reform.
      The former state security minister said the government, whose relief
efforts have been hamstrung by crippling foreign currency shortages, blamed
on poor exports and the dearth of balance of payments support, would in the
meantime commit its meagre resources towards grain imports.
      He said: "We have not engaged the aid agencies because we are
currently assessing the food situation. We are also looking at what our
local farmers have produced and also use our own resources to import grain,
but the process (assessment) has not been completed. Should we realise a
deficit then we will consider talking to donors".
      Experts estimate only 500 000 metric tonnes of grain would be realised
from the current harvest, a far cry from the 1.8 million metric tonnes
needed to feed Zimbabwe's 12 million people and the 2.4 million tonnes
projected by government.
      At least US$420 million ($2.6 trillion at the auction rate) is needed
to feed the nation until March 2006 when the country expects the next
      With no more than 500 000 tonnes delivered to the Grain Marketing
Board (GMB), the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and
international food agencies say the country urgently needs to import 1.3
million metric tonnes.
      This comes as it also emerged that the scarcity of grain in regional
source markets - Zambia and Mozambique - coupled with crippling foreign
currency shortages, were hampering efforts by the government to mobilise
      As of yesterday the official sources said the state-run GMB, the
country's sole trader in grain, had received 150 000 metric tonnes of grain
from South Africa, the country's major and reliable supplier of white
      Government sources said Harare would be forced to swallow its pride
and belatedly approach international donors as neighbouring Zambia and
Mozambique, which have in the past nine months been supplying maize to
Zimbabwe, were also reeling from the drought.
      As Goche spoke, officials from international donors in Johannesburg,
South Africa, said the European Union (EU), a fiery critic of the
government, and other donor partners were cobbling up contingency plans to
dole out food relief to starving Zimbabweans in the event the government
comes calling in the eleventh hour.
      "We are closely watching the situation," said an EU official in
Harare, speaking on condition of anonymity. "A contingency effort is
underway in South Africa involving the EU and other partners to determine
the amounts that might be needed. The government has not put out an
international appeal but humanitarian organisations say they cannot just sit
by and watch when pointers are that there is a serious food crisis," he
      UNICEF, a UN agency, warned this week that an estimated 5.5 million
people might face starvation should the government maintain its hardline
stance on international food aid agencies.
      However, the government is adamant only 1.5 million people, mostly
from the seven provinces of Matabeleland South, Matabeleland North,
Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central, Masvingo and
Manicaland, were in urgent need of aid.
      UN food agencies cut back operations in 2004 after President Mugabe
said the country had more than enough food, famously telling donor agencies
not to "foist food on us."
      President Mugabe, whose government stands accused of using food as a
political weapon in the just-ended parliamentary elections, has only allowed
the UN World Food Programme (WFP) to continue with targeted feeding
programmes reaching less than a million people, mainly AIDS orphans.
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      Chikowore's autopsy report a close secret

      Felix Njini
      5/6/2005 8:16:06 AM (GMT +2)

      MYSTERY continues to shroud circumstances surrounding the death of
former minister and ZANU PF politician Enos Chikowore, as both the
government and family members maintain a tight lid on the autopsy report.

      ZANU PF sources indicated that Chikowore, who died at his Harare home
three weeks ago and was declared a national hero, had no known
life-threatening ailment but had left the party's headquarters on the
fateful day "a different and somewhat unsettled man".
      State media reports said Chikowore died at his Umwinsidale, Harare,
home while watching the televised swearing-in ceremony of members of the
sixth parliament.
      Although he had resigned as minister of transport and energy over the
fuel crisis in 2000, Chikowore was reported to have hoped to bounce back
into government, with sources pointing to his impassioned presentation at
the December 2004 ZANU PF congress as a discreet signal to remind the party
that he was still around.
      Speaking after Chikowore's death, President Robert Mugabe,
      To Page 31
      From Page 1
      who was reported to be keen to know the cause of the former minister's
death, said he had died a bitter man "because ZANU PF had lost the Kadoma
Central seat to the MDC."
      Family members also spoke of Chikowore's irregular conduct just before
his death.
      Almost a month after his demise, both police and family members have
refused to shed light on Chikowore's death, fuelling speculation that the
veteran politician could have committed suicide.
      Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena could not be drawn into the
revealing the results of the Chikowore autopsy, only saying an inquest would
be held "if there is suspicion of foul play".
      "We are still compiling the evidence and there will be an inquest if
there is any suspicion of foul play," Bvudzijena said.
      "I cannot tell you the results of the autopsy," Bvudzijena said.
      Bright Matonga, a family member who is also Deputy Minister of
Information and Publicity, also declined to disclose the doctors' conclusion
on the circumstances surrounding the death.
      "We cannot tell you anything on his (Chikowore)'s death, that issue is
now behind us," Matonga said.
      Ruling party insiders told The Financial Gazette the late former
minister had, earlier in the day, attended a meeting at the ZANU PF
headquarters before he left, clutching his framed portrait.
      "He left this place around 12 noon carrying his framed portrait. We
tried to help him carry the photo but he refused. His behaviour, as a senior
member of the Politburo whom we had worked with for so many years, was
surprising but nobody seemed to notice since people were busy mingling and
mixing with the new MPs," said a source. "We did not realise that we were
seeing him for the last time."

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      Churches in bid to revive ZANU PF/MDC talks

      Njabulo Ncube
      5/6/2005 8:16:48 AM (GMT +2)

      ZIMBABWEAN church leaders are renewing efforts to bring back the
ruling ZANU PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to
the negotiating table, amid a deepening political and economic crisis in the

      The church leaders, who have in the past made abortive efforts at
mediation, have signalled their desire to revive talks between the country's
two biggest political parties to break a five-year long political impasse
that has coincided with economic decline.
      Church leaders who spoke to The Financial Gazette yesterday said the
clergymen, who unsuccessfully attempted to get President Robert Mugabe's
ZANU PF and Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC to reach a negotiated settlement, were
making moves to resuscitate the stalled process.
      Talks between the rival political parties collapsed in May 2002 after
Tsvangirai dragged President Mugabe to court after a hotly disputed
presidential election result.
      President Mugabe, who hinted at retiring at the expiry of his term of
office in 2008, had insisted he would not talk to the MDC unless it
acknowledged he was the legitimate head of state.
      Reverend Sebastian Bakare, a clergyman with the Anglican Church in
Mutare, who is also part of the group of local church leaders that has been
in the forefront of attempts to break the ice between ZANU PF and the MDC,
confirmed plans were afoot to ask the two parties to return to the
negotiating table.
      "There are efforts to initiate dialogue between the two parties. What
is happening is that we are trying to make an appointment to see (Nathan)
Shamuyarira. We want to say to him, what now? Where do we begin?" said
      Analysts said the clergymen might find it difficult to convince ZANU
PF to re-engage the MDC now that the ruling party has secured a two-thirds
majority in parliament, which allows it to tinker with the constitution.
      ZANU PF, which has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, is
looking at creating a senate in the House and abolishing dual elections.
      The two parties are also at sea in terms of their ideologies and may
not commit themselves to binding negotiations.
      South African leader Thabo Mbeki, who has been dumped by the MDC as
the emissary to Zimbabwe's cri-
      To Page 31
      sis, had also tried to bring the feuding parties to the negotiating
table, but his "quiet diplomacy", fell flat on its face.
      "The nature of the talks could be different because we have a
different situation. We suspended attempts to have both parties talk because
of the elections. Now that elections are over and the dust could be
settling, we feel its is prudent for the church to resuscitate the process,"
he added.
      "I can't tell you now what we want to discuss because it is premature
to do as we are to talk to the parties concerned."
      Bakare said churches had high hopes that this time around they would
succeed in getting the two parties to the negotiating table.
      Talks between the two parties have failed since mid-2002, mainly
because of intransigent positions taken by the two sides when it came to
making compromises.

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      Mudzi rejects imposition of Nyoni

      Felix Njini
      5/6/2005 8:17:55 AM (GMT +2)

      ZANU PF leaders in Mashonaland East have refused to hand Small and
Medium Enterprises Development minister Sithembiso Nyoni a respite by
insisting on a candidate from the province.

      Nyoni, who received a drubbing at the hands of the MDC's David Coltart
in the Bulawayo South constituency in the March 31 election, was appointed
to President Robert Mugabe's cabinet and, according to the constitution, has
to become a member of parliament within three months of her appointment or
lose her ministerial post.
      The Mudzi East constituency, in which the ZANU PF Mashonaland East
chairman and newly appointed governor Ray Kaukonde triumphed, is, as a
result of his appointment, available, and a by-election will soon be called.
      It has been suggested that Nyoni could be parachuted to the
constituency, but the ruling party's leadership in the province is agitating
against her imposition as a candidate in the by-election.
      The ZANU PF provincial executive says it has already come up with its
own candidate, Christopher Musa, to run on the party's ticket in the
      Kaukonde told The Financial Gazette that ruling party supporters in
the constituency had already come up with a candidate, who is going to be
presented to the party's Politburo for approval.
      "The candidate will come from this province, there is not going to be
any imposition," he said.
      Imposition of candidates has of late been met with stiff resistance
from the ruling party's supporters.
      Constitutional lawyer Love-more Madhuku said Nyoni could either get
into parliament through a by-election or President Mugabe can ask one of the
appointed MPs to resign to pave way for her admission to Parliament. "But
this route is closed since all the appointed MPs have cabinet posts."

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      Heads likely to roll at Zimpapers

      Charles Rukuni
      5/6/2005 8:20:59 AM (GMT +2)

      BULAWAYO-Heads are likely to roll at the Zimbabwe Newspapers
(Zimpapers), especially at the Bulawayo daily, The Chronicle, sources that
attended a meeting between the recently appointed deputy Minister of
Information and Publicity Bright Matonga and Zim-papers staff have said.

      Matonga, met journalists from The Chronicle and the Sunday News as
well as those from Montrose Studios where Spot FM, National Television and
the Bulawayo staff of Newsnet operate from on Thursday.
      Though the local media quoted Matonga as saying there would not be any
"purge" of journalists at the state-owned media, most of whom are perceived
as former Information Minister Jonathan Moyo's "cronies", sources say
Matonga had in fact lambasted the journalists at The Chronicle for lack of
direction and poor language.
      Matonga is reported to have taken The Chronicle staff to task over
their front-page stories on Tuesday, April 26 and Thursday, April 28, the
day he addressed them.
      The Chronicle led with a story entitled: "Food shortages hit
communities" on Tuesday and one entitled: "US$2 billion needed to avert
power crisis" on Thursday.
      Matonga is reported to have told the staff that the stories were in
bad taste especially in view of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, the
country's trade showcase that opened on April 26.
      He is reported to have told the staff that the drought story, which
said people in Matabeleland South, Matabeleland North, the Midlands,
Masvingo and Manicaland were experiencing food shortages and the power
crisis story, were likely to scare away investors.
      Though the government had admitted that the country was facing a
serious food shortage and was planning to import 1.2 million tonnes of
maize, Matonga is reported to have told the journalists that the story
should have been confined to the inside pages. He is even reported to have
mentioned page 30. The Chronicle rarely has 30 pages.
      The deputy minister also lambasted the staff for the poor language in
the power crisis story and queried the staff why they were talking about a
crisis that was still two years away.
      The story had reported that there was an "imminent" shortage of
electricity and the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority needed to spend
over US$2 billion between now and 2010 to avert a crisis.
      In its story on Friday, April 29, The Chronicle, however quoted
Matonga as having told the staff that there would be no witch-hunting.
      "I would like to assure you that you have no reason to worry as long
as you continue to do your job diligently, serving the nation in the
process," Matonga was quoted as saying.
      Though Matonga and his boss, former ambassador Tichaona Jokonya, have
tried to pacify the media over wholesale changes, observers say it is too
early for them to start making any changes since they have been in office
for less than a month.
      The observers say changes are inevitable because Jonathan Moyo had
purged the state media, both electronic and print, of most experienced

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      Murerwa's figures under the spotlight

      Rangarirai Mberi
      5/6/2005 8:22:16 AM (GMT +2)

      ZIMBABWE might have to downgrade its ambitious growth domestic product
(GDP) forecast, industry experts and economists say, as erratic power and
energy supplies, higher production costs and a poor harvest combine to speed
up economic decline.

      Official forecasts have predicted that Zimbabwe would this year
reverse six straight years of negative growth with positive GDP growth of
3.5 to five percent. The International Monetary Fund last year also
predicted Zimbabwe would record real growth for the year, but its forecasts
are much slimmer at 1.8 percent.
      However, economists say the platform upon which Finance Minister
Herbert Murerwa built his growth forecasts now looks decidedly shaky.
Murerwa, in his 2005 budget statement last November, said the economy would
grow on a 28 percent rise in agricultural output, higher mining production
and increased industrial output.
      "The government forecasts on the economy look unattainable because
industrial and agriculture production are lower than forecasts, which should
see another GDP decline this year," University of Zimbabwe business
professor Tony Hawkins told Reuters recently. "I believe the government is
already revising its GDP and inflation forecasts, but of course they will
not admit it."
      A big part of the problem is rocketing debt. The Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe says the government domestic debt jumped to $7.9 trillion on April
15 from $2.3 trillion as of February 18. In mid-January 2004, domestic debt
stood at just $576 billion.
      Analysts say the trend is being driven by government borrowing to plug
gaps in its budget and fund state enterprises, as revenues subside on
plunging company and individual taxes - the result of waning industrial
      But the analysts warned that while this would keep some exporters
afloat, a devaluation would also make imports more expensive, fanning
inflation and pushing black market rates up.
      "It (devaluation) is a very tight judgment call . . . the one obvious
point is that you need a foreign big brother standing behind you and we don't
[article ends here...]

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      This lady must go

      5/6/2005 8:33:06 AM (GMT +2)

      HARARE, the erstwhile sunshine city has been plunged into an
unprecedented crisis - probably the worst in living memory.

      The municipality's service delivery is to all intents and purposes
teetering on the verge of collapse.
      The deteriorating situation, which comes at a time when town and city
residents have been hoping against hope for a new generation of public
services, is not confined to Harare alone as it is also evident in other
municipalities. But it is worse in the capital city where, to say the city
has been reduced to a ticking time bomb health-wise, would be an
understatement of significant proportions. The situation is becoming
extremely dangerous. The hapless silent majority in the city, who must be
wondering how long they should embrace mediocrity and how long they should
put up with failure are, without being alarmist, sitting on a powder keg.
      Several suburbs have gone for weeks on end without water, against a
background of mountains of uncollected refuse, raw sewage flowing in some of
the godforsaken high-density suburbs, collapsing infrastructure, poor roads
and lighting among others. The issue of the acute shortage of water is
particularly critical. And nowhere is this better mirrored than in the
disillusionment of the residents of Mabvuku, Tafara, Masasa Park and
Greendale. The universal pandemic of despair is so tangible that it can
literally be cut with a knife. And rightly so. What with several schools
having been closed down when the salvation of this great nation is very much
dependent on the scholastic development of its biggest asset - the children.
Not to mention the threat of diseases.
      The depressing situation in the capital city, put against the
documented incompetence, mismanagement and inefficiency of those running the
affairs of the city, makes prospects of a quick turnaround rather grim. This
is moreso when one considers that the situation in Harare got worse under
the stewardship of the political chameleon known as Sekesai Makwavarara who
has been mayor since 2003.
      Makwavarara should know that as far as the woes besetting Harare are
concerned, the buck stops in her office. She should therefore take full
responsibility for the untenable situation obtaining in the city.
Admittedly, it goes without saying that the biting problems in Zimbabwe's
major cities and towns should be partly blamed on breathtaking malfeasance,
cronyism as well as ruinous extensive political interference by cabinet
ministers who seem to have no other ideas above scheming for political
survival. The ministers who have repeatedly blocked the implementation of
cost-recovery tariffs have been known for costly populist decisions and
their obsession with planting ruling party charlatans in positions of
influence irrespective of whether they are suitable or not.
      And with all due respect, Makwavarara, herself a beneficiary of what
is widely seen as a bonfire of political madness when popularly elected
mayor Elias Mudzuri was hounded out of office, should not escape censure,
having been mayor for this long. She has bungled and the residents have paid
the price. It is our considered view that, as the situation stands, she is
the least suitable person to spearhead the turnaround of the collapsing
      If anything she cuts the picture of someone who cannot organise a
booze-up in a brewery, if the accelerated collapse of service delivery under
her mayorship is anything to go by. In terms of incompetence she takes the
biscuit - hence the disastrous conditions Harare is well and truly stuck in.
Makwavarara and company should therefore be given their marching orders
without any hesitation. Removing them would be a quantum leap towards the
much-hoped for turnaround of the city's operations. It is true that an old
broom knows all the corners. However the broom at Town House has not only
lost most of its bristles but is also stymied by the mess in the city apart
from not being free of a rigid political leash and partisan obligations.
      This is why the eleventh hour news that the city of Harare will
unbundle its current structures into autonomous strategic business units
does not inspire confidence at all especially if it is to be done under
Makwavarara's direction. For Makwavarara, getting the mayor's job was like
Pius Ncube marrying Dolly Parton. This is too big a job for her. And frankly
speaking very few, if any, of Harare's long-suffering residents have any
high hopes for a turnaround under Makwavarara.
      Of course, Local Government Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo, whose
unwarranted interference in the city's affairs has touched off political
intrigue, and newly appointed resident minister for the Harare Metropolitan
province David Karimanzira, would have us believe otherwise. That is hardly
surprising. But all we can say is that blessed are the believers.
      The unpalatable truth is that scores of the city's residents are
hard-pressed to believe the so-called strategic business units would be the
magic wand given the ruling party's obsession with exerting its influence on
the city and government's reluctance to let go of its vice-like grip on
public institutions as typified by corporatisation - a Chinese half-way
house between rigid state control and privatisation - implemented in several
still-bleeding parastatals.
      The residents' misgivings are not without foundation. The same route
has led to a cul-de-sac at the very partisan debt-trapped Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Holdings, which has since relapsed into the depths of political
partisanship, mismanagement and inefficiency. The deterioration at the
public broadcaster has been such that watching ZTV is as boring as watching
the grass grow, resulting in a deep alienation from the public. As a result,
down went its credibility and respectability or the little that was left of
it and inevitably its profitability. The same fate awaits the Harare City
Council unless the likes of Makwavarara, who in our view have been part of
the problem, are allowed to fall by the wayside and let the chips fall where
they may!

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      And now to the Notebook . . .

      5/6/2005 8:59:37 AM (GMT +2)

      Little Nothings
      Whenever everything seems to be looking gloomy in Zimbabwe, one thing
seems certain. The new media handlers don't seem to have any problems
whatsoever behaving like civilised Africans. Hopefully this is just not a
nine day's wonder!

      CZ is not a voyeur . . . and doesn't want to be one. Not even for a
single day. But people always come to tell him juicy stories about
happenings in the country and who is he not to peddle the stories on?
      What is this we are being told about this old man, very notorious when
dealing with the so-called independent media? We are told only last week he
was booted out of this rented place in Eastlea. Yes, he was thrown out - but
not without some resistance - and we are told this is the second time
annoyed landlords have decided to punish him for his mischief by throwing
him out of their properties!
      With the way he defends the regime, you wouldn't believe that at his
age he has no house of his own!
      He still goes about squatting from place to place!
      And also about this whole editor man who one day got home to find
nothing, not even curtains, as the wife who could no longer stand his
celebrated role as a womaniser, decided to desert him! Please don't quote
CZ. Find out for yourselves!
      After the events at the recently-ended HIFA, CZ would like to welcome
musician Zexie Manatsa back home. It is not easy to live your neighbour's
      And what's this about this randy minister's wife suing one of his too
many girlfriends? CZ's words to her is that she hasn't started as yet!
      With everything that should never ever go wrong threatening to go
wrong in this beautiful country, CZ this week thought he should share with
Zimbos some few words of encouragement - words found in the old St Paul's
Church, Baltimore, in 1692:
      "Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there
may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms
with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to
others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud
and aggressive persons, they are vexation to the spirit. If you compare
yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will
be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well
as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble, it is a
real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your
business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind
you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and
everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign
affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all the aridity
and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.
      Take kindly the counsel of the years; gracefully surrendering the
things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden
misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are
born of fatigue and loneliness.
      Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a
child of the universe, no less than the trees and stars; you have a right to
be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is
folding as it should.
      Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and
whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep
peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is
still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy!"
      This one is from one of CZ's many fans:
      A young man was at the end of his rope, seeing no way out, he dropped
to his knees in prayer. "Lord, I can't go on," he said. "I have too heavy a
cross to bear."
      The Lord replied: "My son, if you can't bear its weight, just place
your cross inside this room. Then, open that other door and pick out any
cross you wish." The man was relieved and said: "Thank you Lord." And he did
as he had been told. Upon entering the other room, he saw many crosses; some
so large their ends were too far to be seen. Then, he spotted a tiny cross
leaning against the far end of the wall. "I'd like that one, Lord" he
whispered. The Lord replied, "But my son, that is the cross you just
      When life's problems seem overwhelming, it helps to look around and
see what other people are coping with. You may consider yourself far more
fortunate than you imagined. Whatever your burden, whatever your pain, there
will always be sunshine after the rain. Perhaps you may stumble, perhaps
fall, but God's always there to help you through it all!

      News flash!
      In the midst of all these "challenges" that Zimbos are going through,
there is just one thing that CZ would want to salute them for.
      No matter how hopeless the situation may look, they never lose their
greatest asset . . . their sense of humour. This is what one Zimbo sent to
CZ this week: "Due to the acquisition of fleets of buses and planes from an
East Asian country, we have had to change the names of two of our corporate
bodies to Zhupco and Air Zhimbabwe with immediate effect!"
      This is CZ's Notebook. Take care.

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      Job losses threaten larger millers

      Chris Muronzi
      5/6/2005 8:41:17 AM (GMT +2)

      SECTOR-wide retren-chments are looming in the milling industry in the
wake of grain shortages, The Financial Gazette learnt this week.

      Industry sources said most small-scale milling companies have laid off
contract workers after going for weeks without grain supplies from the
state-run Grain Marketing Board (GMB), raising fears that the lay-offs could
spread to large companies as well.
      Millers Association chairman Mike Manga rejected the claims of
retrenchments this week saying "no major millers" had cut jobs.
      "Please be advised that none of the major millers has retrenched or
has contemplated retrenching any employees," he said. "What we have is a
transient situation arising from erratic supply of maize from the GMB. Some
maize mills have temporarily closed due to unavailability of maize.
Employees have either been to reassigned other duties or have been requested
to stay at home for now."
      The country needs at least 1.8 million tonnes of grain annually to
meet domestic needs, at an average of 150 000 tonnes per month.
      Zimbabwe is estimated to have a grain deficit of 1.2 million tonnes
and 200 000 tonnes of wheat and beans.
      Last month Pretoria shipped in 150 000 tonnes of white maize and an
unspecified amount is reportedly in transit.
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      Black group struggles to buy Zimplats stake

      Rangarirai Mberi
      5/6/2005 8:43:29 AM (GMT +2)

      ZIMBABWE Platinum Mines (Zimplats) is proceeding with talks with
Nkululeko-Rusunu-nguko Mining Company (NRMC) for the sale of a 15 percent
stake in the white metal business, three months after the empowerment outfit
missed a deadline to back its winning bid with the US$31 million needed for
the stock.

      Under the empowerment deal, Zimplats, the country's number one
platinum producer, would sell 13.4 million of its shares to NRMC.
      However, the empowerment group is yet to raise the required cash,
raising the possibility that Zimplats shareholders could place a new
deadline at their next meeting.
      "Due to the delay in securing funding, the transaction was not
finalised by the 7 February deadline set by shareholders at the
extraordinary general meeting held on 5 November 2004," Zimplats said in its
quarterly report to March.
      Priscilla Mupfumira, head of NRMC, was unavailable for comment this
week. However, in earlier remarks, she told the media that "we will tell you
if we fail to raise the money".
      NRMC has approached a string of potential financiers, including
Stanbic Africa, Amalgamated Bank of South Africa and lately South Africa's
Industrial Development Group.
      NRMC was the government's surprise preferred bidder for the Zimplats
stake, after Needgate Investments had looked close to sealing a deal.
      The National Investment Trust, the government's own investment
vehicle, raised the cash at the last minute but also lost the bid.
      Zimplats has also announced that it was close to reaching an
"acceptable" agreement with Zimbabwean authorities over a ban on offshore
currency accounts, which producers say would increase costs and hurt
      Zimplats said in its report for the March quarter that the central
bank had agreed to consider a more feasible policy. The company did not,
however, reveal more detail.
      "It is pleasing to report that an acceptable and workable regime is
now being pursued but is yet to be finalised from an administrative point of
view," Zimplats said in the update.
      The government in February issued new regulations abolishing the
rights of platinum miners to hold foreign currency accounts.
      Zimplats' statement refers to talks with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe,
and there is no indication whether the company has also separately
approached the government on the matter.
      Miners had been originally instructed to close their offshore accounts
and deposit the money into local foreign currency accounts by February 28,
according to the new rules.
      However, the deadline was informally pushed back after representations
made by the miners.
      Platinum producers say the proposed new regime will have a negative
impact on the cost and risk of doing business in Zimbabwe.
      Ore mined at Zimplats in the last quarter came in 13 percent above
budget, while the high operating costs of the previous quarter were
      Sales stood at 41 622 ounces, up from 40 497 in the December quarter,
but still down on the 43 687 ounces in the three months to September.
      But Zimplats cautioned that high inflation and the fixed exchange rate
would continue to lift costs and hurt profitability.

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      Effects of economic crisis on legal system

      5/6/2005 8:35:16 AM (GMT +2)

      THE economic down-slide that began in Zimbabwe nearly a decade ago and
at one time became vicious appears to be steepening with every passing day
while our rulers continuously grope for what appear to be elusive solutions.

      In this economic chaos, the justice delivery system, just like other
sectors, has not been spared trouble and has also been relegated to
victimhood. The system continues to operate under debilitating constraints
and with the now so common "turnaround" buzzword being inapplicable to it.
      Central to the negative factors affecting the legal system is the
issue of insufficient funding. This has been so detrimental that the wheels
of justice have are now rolling at a slack pace. Sooner or later, if no
drastic remedial steps are taken, our justice delivery system will drift
towards the intensive care unit.
      There is no doubt that the dominant national economic problem has had
a ripple effect that has affected almost every facet of our legal system.
      The shortage of funds to purchase equipment, especially computers,
stationery and recording machinery, as well as adequately remunerate staff,
has always affected the performance of our courts. Both criminal and civil
matters are taking unreasonably long to finalise because insufficient staff,
both professional and non-professional, man the courts.
      In civil courts, fuel shortages are causing delays in the service of
summons on defendants, so much so that summons that used to be served within
a fortnight now take a month or more, depending on the distance to be
covered by the deputy sheriff.
      Add to this inherent delays caused by procedural dictates,
institutional problems such as staff deficiencies, low morale and inadequate
infrastructure and the problem is compounded, unnecessarily prolonging
      Where civil cases are finally heard, judicial officers - facing an
ever-mounting load of more court sittings, judgments to prepare and other
ancillary work - battle to timeosly hand down rulings.
      As a result, if, say, an appellant claimed Z$5 million in December
2003, and the matter is heard in June 2005, while judgment is handed down in
December of 2005, such a claim might not be meaningful at the end of the day
because of the effects of inflation.
      People may be aware that, on numerous occasions, reports have been
published of criminal courts being made to start work late, or failing to
sit at all because of inconveniences caused by fuel shortages. People may
also be aware of the huge backlog of cases that has accumulated because of
insufficient staff members to operate in the courts.
      At times in the civil courts, because of inordinate delays and
inconveniences directly or indirectly related to the economic problems,
litigation is being rendered merely academic. Individuals noticing the
shortcomings in our legal system now feel discouraged from enforcing their
rights in the courts.
      To bypass the mayhem in our civil courts, parties entering into
private treaties are encouraged to include arbitration clauses in such
contracts - because private arbitration is always a smooth and prompt way of
setting disputes.
      In the criminal courts, notable problems are the obvious delays in
prosecuting individuals, and these delays are invariably akin to those
dogging the civil courts. Such unfortunate delays are gravely undermining
suspects' constitutionally guaranteed right to a trial within a reasonable
      Only a few individuals with financial resources have been able to
successfully challenge the state, while the majority of the poor suspects
continue to experience the harshness of our criminal justice system.
      In the same criminal justice system, suspects who are convicted or are
denied bail because of the gravity of their offences or other reasons face
the torment of our remand prisons.
      It is high time a commission of inquiry was launched to investigate
the numerous reports of prisoner abuse, starvation, homosexuality,
overcrowding, deaths, and epidemics of infectious diseases in these
      It is not only unjust but also an extreme cruelty to incarcerate a
suspect under inhuman and degrading conditions when the supreme law of the
land outlaws such treatment.
      A delay in finalising criminal matters is also adversely affecting
suspects who deposit large amounts of money as bail. If one was made to pay
bail in the amount of $50 in May 2004, such payment will have lost value by
the time it will be refunded by the state because of effects of inflation.
      It must be acknowledged that justice is not justice until you give it
away. The Ministry of Justice cannot talk about justice if it cannot
properly ensure the vibrancy and proper operation of our legal system.
      Is it also not true that justice delayed is justice denied or,
further, that justice must not only be done, but it must be seen to be done?
      Remedial measures need to be adopted urgently - otherwise our legal
system will be a continuous catastrophe.

      lVote Muza is a lawyer with Gutu & Chikowero legal practitioners.

      Email address:
      gutulaw @web.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D. (R-TN)
today made the following statement following the United Nation's (UN)
reported approval of Zimbabwe as a member of the Commission on Human

"Today's selection of Zimbabwe as a member of the Commission on Human
Rights is deeply troubling.  The Government of Zimbabwe has consistently
disregarded the rights of its people, repressed political dissent and
quashed any and all opposition.  Far from earning a role as a protector of
human rights, their membership renders the commission illegitimate and
irrelevant.  A real and credible UN Human Rights Commission would be
condemning the current regime and its activities.  I deplore their
selection as a commission member, and hope that this outrageous appointment
will help inspire UN members to enact extensive and meaningful reform of
the Commission."

Senator Frist has long been an advocate for democracy in Zimbabwe.  In
2001, Frist authored the "Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of
2001" to support the people of Zimbabwe in their struggles to bring about
peaceful, democratic change and restore the rule of law.

Frist has also criticized the selection of other countries, such as Sudan,
to the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC).  In the last Congress, Frist
passed a Senate Resolution with the unanimous support of his colleagues
that called for Sudan's suspension from the UNHRC while allegations of
genocide against the people of Darfur were investigated.



The future looks black
Andrew Kenny
Cape Town

The day after the election in Zimbabwe, the Cape Times (of Cape Town)
carried a front-page story on the South African government's new policy to
`turn the tide against poverty' by cutting back on the tax-funded opulence
of ANC politicians. President Mbeki's private jet would be sold and he
would in future travel by South African Airways. There would be no more
mansions and Mercedes for ministers and no more full-page advertisements in
the newspapers singing the praises of the ANC government. This story
appeared on 1 April.

Being naturally gullible and tired after a long night before, I read it in
a dreamlike state, feeling that I had been transported into a different
universe where the ordinary laws of African politics had broken down. In
this strange realm, African leaders put the welfare of the people ahead of
their own luxury and vainglory. Then I came to the last line of the
article, designed to make dimwits like me check the date, and was bumped
back to reality.

Part of this reality was the grisly farce of the Zimbabwean election, the
inevitable result and its equally inevitable endorsement by the South
African government. President Mugabe of Zimbabwe must be extremely grateful
to President Mbeki of South Africa, without whose constant support and
encouragement he would probably not have been able to sustain his tyranny.
The ANC shouted and screamed against apartheid South Africa and Ian Smith's
Rhodesia and called for sanctions against both. It denounces what it sees
as crimes of the Israeli government, such as the building of the wall to
shut out Palestine. But against the mass murder, torture, terror, gang rape
and deliberate starvation of the Zimbabwe people by Mugabe's dictatorship,
neither President Mbeki nor any other leading figure of the ANC in his
government has whispered one word of protest. Mbeki's policy of `quiet
diplomacy' towards Zimbabwe has usually consisted of picking up a big
megaphone and bellowing the virtues of Robert Mugabe. The ANC's support for
Mugabe is total.

The most frightening question hanging over the future of South Africa is
this. Does the ANC support Mugabe out of political expediency or because it
agrees with his actions? If the latter, will South Africa go the way of

Expediency would be easy to understand. The curse of black Africans, in
Africa and abroad, is their unrequited obsession with the white man. Black
Africans try to reduce all human existence to a simple morality tale in
which the white man is the source of all evil and misfortune. They have
little interest in black people beyond their borders but enormous interest
in white people. If there is an atrocity in an African country, black
people outside that country will not care unless there are white people
concerned, either as instigators or as victims.

When Mugabe slaughtered 20,000 black people in southern Zimbabwe in 1983,
nobody outside Zimbabwe, including the ANC, paid it the slightest
attention. Nor did they care when, after 2000, he drove thousands of black
farm workers out of their livelihoods and committed countless atrocities
against his black population. But when he killed a dozen white farmers and
pushed others off their farms, it caused tremendous excitement. Mugabe
became a hero in the eyes of black activists in South Africa, the US and
England. That he has ruined Zimbabwe, a beautiful and naturally blessed
country; that he has turned it from a food exporter to a hungry food
importer; that he has caused 80 per cent unemployment and 600 per cent
inflation; that he has killed and tortured tens of thousands of Africans;
that he has crushed democracy; that he has reduced life expectancy from 55
years in 1980 when he came to power to 33 years now ^× none of this matters
compared with his glorious triumph in beating up a handful of white

Whenever there is a South African radio phone-in programme on Zimbabwe,
white South Africans and black Zimbabweans denounce Mugabe, and black South
Africans applaud him. Therefore, one theory goes, Mbeki cannot afford to
criticise Mugabe. This explains Mbeki's constant support for Mugabe, his
endorsement of the fraudulent presidential election in 2002, and his recent
statement ^× made after Mugabe had shut down independent newspapers, rigged
the voters' roll, terrorised opposition supporters and banned opposition
party meetings ^× that `I have no reason to think that anybody in Zimbabwe
will militate against elections being free and fair.'

The most plausible advocate of this theory is Jeremy Cronin of the South
African Communist party (SACP). The ANC is in a three-party alliance with
the SACP and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu). In a
strange but hopeful twist, the SACP and Cosatu have denounced Mugabe and
declared the 31 March election a sham. I heard Cronin speak at the
University of Cape Town. He is a middle-aged white man with an endearing
demeanour, rather like one of those earnest schoolboys determined to be
good and often bullied for it. He said that Mbeki had been painted into a
corner by Mugabe. Mugabe's skill at evoking the devils of white
imperialism, Tony Blair and the IMF, had outmanoeuvred Mbeki. Mbeki
genuinely wanted democracy in Zimbabwe and had hoped for democratic reform
before this election, but unfortunately the cunning Mugabe had tricked him
by declaring the election suddenly before anything could be done.

I listened to this nice man and thought, `Come off it!' Mugabe's skill? It
needs no skill at all to win the applause of black activists around the
world. Any African president can kill as many black people as he likes
knowing that, if he then condemns white imperialism, he is guaranteed
acclamation. Idi Amin, no Machiavelli, did it in the 1970s. He murdered
about a quarter of a million Africans but became a great African hero by
expelling Asians from Uganda and announcing himself as a conqueror of the
British empire. For this achievement he was made president of the
Organisation of African Unity. Mugabe's tactics are almost as crude. Mbeki
would be an idiot to be surprised by them, and he is not.

Moreover, the ANC is now almost unassailable in South Africa. It won 70 per
cent of the vote in the election last year and has no credible rival for
power. Mbeki could easily stop supporting Mugabe's reign of terror without
losing significant support at home.

So then there is the sinister possibility that Mbeki genuinely approves of
Mugabe's actions, both the persecution of opponents and the confiscation of
white assets. Mugabe and Mbeki are similar in many ways, and so are their
parties. Both men spend fortunes on pomp and ceremony. Both attack white
Western culture while adoring it. Both try to dress like English squires
and to sound like Oxford dons while at the same time ranting against white
colonialism. Both silence all critics by calling them racists. (A
difference, which probably does not have much practical importance, is that
Mbeki seems to be a genuine racist whereas Mugabe's racism is simply a
device for retaining power.) The ANC and Zanu-PF both believe they are not
just political parties but divinely ordained `liberation movements',
entitled to rule in perpetuity. Both seem unable to distinguish between the
state and the party, and the opposition and the enemy.

South Africa's press is free, even if it labours under heavy self-
censorship, but the national television broadcaster, the SABC, increasingly
resembles Mugabe's state television with much of the `news' consisting of
the mighty accomplishments of the ruling party and the great utterances of
its supreme leader. At present the ANC faces no serious challenge at
elections. If it did face a serious challenge, as Mugabe did in 2000, would
it act as he did?

Unfortunately, there are many signs that this is exactly what it would do.
The ANC has long experience in using violence and terror against its black
opponents in the 1980s and 1990s, and would probably put this to use if too
many blacks began to vote against it. This might be a reason why the ANC so
enthusiastically supports Mugabe, saying in effect to potential black
dissidents, `Be careful. We can do what he does.'

Mugabe became heroic by seizing white-owned farms in Zimbabwe (most of
which were bought during his government with its full legal approval).
Since farming is a negligible part of the South African economy, the ANC,
to reproduce Mugabe's heroism, would have to seize other white assets such
as mines, banks and factories. The farms taken from the whites in Zimbabwe
did not, of course, go in the main to ordinary black people in Zimbabwe but
to a handful of rich cronies in the ruling party. In the ANC's ideology of
`transformation', this is fine. `Transformation' does not mean reducing
inequality or improving the living standards of all. It means changing the
race of ownership and power. It is not about rich and poor; it is purely
about black and white. If all South African industry were owned by a dozen
black billionaires while the majority of black people were living in
penury, this would count as successful transformation, just as Zimbabwe,
which is now in ruins but has black ownership of the farms, is seen as
having had a successful transformation.

In South Africa, the main instrument of transformation is Black Economic
Empowerment (BEE). This requires whites to hand over big chunks of the
ownership of companies to blacks and to surrender top jobs to them. Almost
all the blacks so enriched belong to a small elite connected to the ANC.
BEE is already happening to mines, banks and factories. In other words, a
peaceful Mugabe-like programme is already in progress in South Africa. What
are the chances of its turning violent?

Before the fall of apartheid in 1990, the ANC was Marxist in thought and
believed in the command economy. It abandoned this, thanks in large part to
Mbeki, because it felt constrained by the realities of the global economy
after the fall of communism and the need for foreign investment. Does it
now really want to follow Mugabe's violent example but feel constrained by
these same considerations? If circumstances changed, as they did for
Mugabe, would the ANC cast aside constraint and unleash the `comrades' on
white-owned businesses and properties? Such a move would provide a
marvellous opportunity for mayhem, for the multitudes of unemployed young
black men would be ecstatically received by the rich but resentful black
elite that spends its energy obsessing about whites, and would be cheered
to the rooftops by the UN, the African Union and `progressive forces'
around the world. Imagine TV pictures of the white executives of
Anglo-America being manacled and whipped through the streets of
Johannesburg by grinning black youths. What could be more delightful?

White South Africans are told that they should `learn the lessons of the
white farmers in Zimbabwe'. What lessons? That you should never trust a
black government (since they bought their farms with the approval of a
black government)? That you should never invest in Africa or pour your
sweat into Africa? That you should not try to befriend black people and
improve their living standards (since those Zimbabwean farmers who did so
were the first to have their lands confiscated)? When Mugabe took power in
1980, there were about 300,000 whites in Zimbabwe. Now there are about
25,000. Is the lesson for white South Africans that they should all

I do not know the answers. I did not predict the fall of communism or the
fall of apartheid. I am not a good prophet. Zimbabwe is an imperfect
comparison with South Africa. But looking at all the evidence as clearly as
I can, it seems to me that Zimbabwe is the best comparison we have; and if
you want to see the future of South Africa, it might not be a bad idea to
look at the present in Zimbabwe.

3. From IRIN (UN), 26 April

Food imports will drain govt coffers, say analysts

Johannesburg - Zimbabwe has turned to Zambia, Uganda and Tanzania for grain
imports as the state Grain Marketing Board (GMB) attempts to restock the
country's dwindling maize and wheat stocks. Minister of Public Service,
Labour and Social Welfare Nicholas Goche confirmed to IRIN that Zimbabwe
had expanded its grain sources to include these three countries, in
addition to South Africa, the major supplier. "We have been looking for
more and more sources of grain. There are contracts that have been in
existence but not in force - we are reactivating those, and signing up new
ones, to ensure that food keeps coming. We received about 150,000 mt from
South Africa over the past month and we are expecting more deliveries from
East Africa," Goche told IRIN. Goche, formerly the state security minister,
assumed his new portfolio following a cabinet reshuffle last week.

The government's admission came as economists said the country needed to
import at least 1.2 million mt of maize, 200,000 mt of wheat, and
unspecified tonnages of barley and sorghum to meet the country's immediate
food requirements. Minister Goche said the country was expecting to feed
about 1.5 million people in seven mostly rural provinces, but could not say
whether there was a parallel relief programme for urban areas. Although
there were no responses from the embassies of the three source countries,
an official at the GMB procurement division told IRIN that the
Zimbabwe-Uganda maize import deal was signed during President Yoweri
Museveni's recent visit to Zimbabwe. Didymus Mutasa, Zimbabwe's newly
appointed minister of state security, said he could not divulge any details
beyond what Goche had said, as food was a national security issue. His
ministry, which is responsible for the Central Intelligence Organisation
(CIO), has taken charge of the importation and distribution of food. "Why
do you want to know where we get our food? I cannot tell you anything more
than what you already know because these are security issues. Besides, I am
new in this ministry, so I do not know much," Mutasa said.

A spokesman for the ruling Zanu PF party, Nathan Shamuyarira, said the
country needed at least Zim $5 trillion (about US $818 million) for the
immediate importation of grains and cereals, and the government would
divert money from infrastructure development programmes to import food. "We
have been forced to divert resources from other projects to deal with the
immediate hunger situation. We are in a predicament. Food importation is
our priority at the moment," Shamuyarira told IRIN. Economists Erich Bloch
and John Robertson warned that the high cost of importing food would drive
up inflation and lead to a thriving alternative market for scarce
foodstuffs and foreign currency. "The expanded government and [the proposed
new] Senate will both be a huge drain on the national fiscus, which does
not have foreign currency at present. It means spending on the bureaucracy
would compete with food importation for resources, but government simply
does not have such money - food importation alone will cost the country
tremendous sums of foreign currency between now and April next year when
the next harvest comes," said Bloch. "The result will be a resilient black
market for scarce foodstuffs in both rural and urban areas; there will also
be a more stubborn foreign currency black market to fill up where
government is failing. The cost will be too high for our ailing economy."
He added that there was no hope that the country's winter wheat-growing
season, due to begin in late April, would improve the food security
situation until the next harvest. Robertson said the diversion of foreign
currency into importing food would stall other capital projects, costing
the country heavily in terms of development; the government needed to
design long-term policies to counter the overall economic meltdown, to
solve the problem of food insecurity. "Steps must be taken to deal with the
shortage of foreign currency. The causes of food insecurity can be traced
back to the collapse of the farming sector - the collapse of the tobacco,
cotton, timber and beef export industries. All attempts at ensuring food
security without addressing these problems will fail," noted Robertson. The
GMB noted in a recent report to the National Taskforce on Food Security
that rather than government's harvest estimate of 2.4 million mt, only
600,000 mt of grain had been surrendered to its silos after the 2004
harvest. The country needs 1.8 million mt of grain annually to meet
domestic consumption needs. Contrary to government estimates that 1.5
million people would need some kind of food assistance, the Famine Early
Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) last month warned that up to 4.5 million
were in need of immediate food aid.

4. From The Pretoria News, 27 April

Zimbabwe turns to wildlife as food source

Basildon Peta

President Robert Mugabe's regime has directed national parks officials to
kill animals in state-owned conservation areas to feed hungry rural
peasants - a move that could wipe out what remains of Zimbabwe's impalas,
kudus, giraffes, elephants and other species. The directive is a major blow
to efforts by conservationists to try to rehabilitate the wildlife sector
which was devastated after Mugabe ordered his supporters to invade and
confiscate white-owned farms in 2000. The chaotic farm invasions saw party
militants storming into conservation areas - both private and state-owned -
to slaughter animals. Unscrupulous South African hunters also joined in the
looting, paying hefty kickbacks to politicians to go into conservation
areas and shoot lions, leopards and cheetahs for trophies. But because of
the general abundance of certain species of wildlife in southern Zimbabwe
and the establishment of the transfrontier park, which allows animals from
Mozambique and South Africa's world-famous Kruger National Park to move
freely into and out of Zimbabwe's Gonarezhou (home of the elephants)
National Park, there have been high hopes among conservationists that
Zimbabwe's wildlife sector could be restored to its former glory. This now
appears highly unlikely as Zimbabwe's department of national parks and
wildlife management, the custodian of this embattled country's wild
animals, has been given the green light to work with rural district
councils to kill animals to feed more than four-million hungry rural
Zimbabweans. National Parks officials said the recent shootings of 10
elephants for barbecue meat at festivities to mark Zimbabwe's 25 years of
independence around the country had been carried out in the broad context
of the directive to kill animals to feed the hungry, particularly those
living within the vicinity of national parks. The 10 elephants were killed
by National Park rangers. Four of the giant animals were reportedly shot in
full view of tourists near Zimbabwe's Lake Kariba, a major haven for
wildlife. Zimbabwean conservationists have been particularly scathing about
the killings of the elephants for independence celebrations. Rural peasants
in Zimbabwe have sold or fed on their own livestock in the past three years
of unprecedented hunger, induced by Mugabe's chaotic land seizures.
National Parks officials say many of the peasants living in areas bordering
National Parks have already been venturing into these parks to hunt and
kill animals using snares. But they said the impact of snare hunting by the
villagers was limited compared to what would happen if armed National Parks
rangers were allowed to enter conservation areas to kill for meat to feed
millions of hungry peasants. "Killing of animals for any reasons other than
conservation can be very disastrous," said one National Parks official.
"The politicians think we have enough animals to feed people without wiping
out different species. We as professionals don't think so. We are talking
to them (the politicians) and we hope we will reach consensus on protecting
our wildlife heritage." Other government officials said Mugabe was so happy
about his rural constituency which ensured him a majority of seats in last
month's parliamentary elections that he wanted to do everything to please
the peasants.



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Dear Jag

The conservation world lost one of its best advocates on Tuesday when Ron
Hartley late of Falcon College, Esigodini, Byo passed away at Franschoek,
Western Cape.

Ron was a master at Falcon College, a first class Falconer who assisted
many in the sport as part of the curriculum and a renowned conservationist.
His expertise and knowledge of the wildlife of Southern Africa was

Condolences are sent to his wife and family.

>From Ade Williams. (UK).


Nothing to lose.

I have just been into the largest wholesaler in Bulawayo. We are quite
large buyers and the staff greeted me cheerfully. Then I collected a
trolley and started to walk through the company premises - I came out in a
state of shock. Whole rows of shelving were absolutely empty - to the roof.
There was no soap powder, no bath soaps, no cooking oil, no fats, no sugar
and no maize meal, no flour and no rice, no milk products of any kind and
no children's foods.

We walked out empty handed and I said to the floor manager that I was
shocked - he simply nodded his head and said, "what can we do?" Frankly, I
find this situation very scary.

We need 36 000 tonnes of basic food imports a week, these will cost about
US$20 million. One of my friends sat in a fuel queue yesterday for 13 hours
to get a tank of petrol. Most garages have queues outside their premises -
even if they have no fuel. It has never been so bad as now. To top this
serious situation we have started to experience load shedding by the State
controlled electricity utility.

When we had an economy to speak of, we used about 5,5 million litres of
petroleum fuels a day - I would guess that today we use about 3 million
litres. Even that will cost about US$700 000 a day - or nearly US$5 million
a week - so just for the basics we need US$25 million a week. In fact we
earn about that from our exports each week but that leaves no margin for
anything else.

Yesterday I saw the new Chinese fighter jets fly over - we have just spent
US$400 million on these plus some Mig 23's, attack helicopters and military
vehicles. Most of it from China. We have also just purchased two Chinese
passenger jets for regional routes to augment the three remaining aircraft
still flying for Air Zimbabwe.

These ill-advised purchases have flattened our foreign exchange resources,
in fact I hear that we have sold 25 tonnes of gold forward (US$500 million)
and we have also sold our tobacco production forward. The main problem with
these transactions is that we no longer can produce 25 tonnes of gold in a
year and we have produced a very small and inferior tobacco crop.

Last year Gideon Gono was the local hero when he succeeded in herding all
local foreign exchange resources into the coffers of the Reserve Bank but
in doing so he has effectively spelled the death of the export industries
that fed the system. His hope of harnessing the US$75 million a month that
comes back to local families from Zimbabweans working abroad has flopped
totally - after handling a mere US$45 million in the past year, receipts
are now virtually zero.

The election results and the aftermath have not helped - we remain
completely isolated, people have no faith in the future, capital flight is
accelerating and the parallel market has taken off into the stratosphere.
The fact that the Reserve Bank was going to devalue by nearly 100 per cent
was leaked last week and there is a sudden frosty silence in that quarter.
The first month of sales on the tobacco floors - always an important period
in Zimbabwe, has yielded prices in Zimbabwe dollars below last years. This
simply puts paid to any hopes of a tobacco led recovery this year, or next.

The reaction of President Mugabe to these shocking facts was to hold a
"Silver Jubilee" celebration, which costs billions. Undertake a spending
spree for the air force in a country where we have no external or internal
threats and a vague promise by a muted Gono that a "recovery plan" is being
prepared. Oh yes - they fired the poor GM of the Grain Marketing Board and
kept that idiot Made (Minister of Agriculture) in an enlarged Cabinet.

We have had confirmation from official sources that the maize crop now
being reaped is a disaster - our estimate of about 400 000 tonnes seems
about right. There is a flurry of activity going on to try and get a wheat
crop into the ground before the 15th of May but it is unlikely they will
get more than the 50 000 tonnes or so they grew last year. So we are now
faced with a severe famine and no foreign resources with which to buy the
food and other products we need. In fact, if we had the resources we could
hardly move this volume given the parlous state of our infrastructure.

Official UN sources estimate that we have nearly 6 million people who need
food aid - donors are feeding about 1 million people at present - mainly
children. This leaves 5 million people at risk of starvation out of a
population of 11 million. The rest of us will simply have to fend for
ourselves - faced with rising prices, shortages and other problems. It
seems to me that South Africa will have to step in and pick up the pieces,
as it is very largely responsible for this sorry state of affairs.

The big question is what do we do about this situation. The one thing that
sticks out a mile is that Zanu has no solutions and we simply cannot let
things stand as they are. The MDC has put its own plans into action and at
this stage they are saying: -

1. The MDC does not accept the results of the election.

2. The MDC now accepts that neither democracy nor the legal system here
offer any way forward at present.

3. The MDC demands the resignation of the new government and the
negotiation of an interim administration to begin to resolve the immediate
crisis situation we are in.

4. The MDC demands the convening of a constitutional conference involving
all civic groups to draft a new constitution for the country with fresh
elections to be held under the new constitution and under the supervision
of the international community.

To back up these demands a broad coalition of civic groups is being formed
and will be charged with taking mass action against the new government. The
MDC will employ all forms of political action required to support the
efforts by civil society to rescue the country from the grip of a small,
self-seeking elite that simply refuses to allow the people to select the
government of their choice. It will call on the armed forces to support
this initiative in the broader interests of the country and its people.

The Ministry of Defence has stated that it will "crush" any mass action
launched by the opposition or civic society. On Monday last week thousands
took to the streets in Bulawayo after a football match on Independence Day
- it took the Police and the Army 7 hours to stop the rioting. To local
observers the policemen involved had little heart for the activity they
were involved in - next time it will be worse.

Eddie Cross

Bulawayo, 26th April 2005


Dear Jag

I am trying to find out the whereabouts or any bit of information on Diana
Fern Evadne Gush who was born in Zambia but lived in the Mount Darwin area
in 1967. She may have lived there with her parents and must have married
and moved on. Even if someone knew her back then but has lost touch with
her, I would like to get in contact with them.You can contact Michelle at or phone 011-404-808. I would be grateful if you could
put this out on your open letter forum or even classifieds section.


Can any one help with the present whereabouts of DAWN BRUMMER?, ex Mazoe.
Please let me know (Brian Hayes at )
Brian Hayes

For some years prior to and until 1999, I was in contact with a Dawn
BRUMMER but my last letter of then brought no response. Perhaps they were
forced out of ZIM as they were farmers at MUTARE (PO Box 2511) Her
letter of Dec 99 gave the email of

All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions
of the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice
for Agriculture.
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Cape Times

      Veteran SA journalists launch bid to rid Africa of insult and criminal
defamation laws
      May 6, 2005

      By Basildon Peta

      Lusaka: Two veteran South African journalists have launched an
ambitious campaign to persuade African governments to rid the continent of
"insult and criminal defamation laws" which shield governments from public
scrutiny and stifle the work of the media.

      Raymond Louw, former editor of the Rand Daily Mail, and journalist
turned media consultant Jeanette Minnie, are hopeful that President Thabo
Mbeki will help them in getting African governments to commit themselves to
scrapping insult laws and criminal defamation before they can be accorded a
rating of practising good political governance under the Peer Review
Mechanism of the New Partnership for Africa's Development.

      They will shortly make representations to British Prime Minister Tony
Blair's Commission for Africa to get it to insist on the removal of insult
laws and criminal defamation by all countries hoping to get good ratings on
political governance and gain access to greater trade advantages and donor

      They have already written to Mbeki, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
and other leaders to seek assistance for the campaign, launched here
yesterday in the presence of top African journalists and representatives of
various media bodies including the World Press Freedom Committee, the
Southern Africa Editors' Forum, the South African National Editors' Forum,
the Southern Africa Journalists' Association, the Media Foundation for West
Africa and the International Freedom of Expression Exchange.

      The launch conference discussed the extent to which African
governments use insult laws and criminal defamation - and lately immigration
laws - to restrict public criticism of their conduct.

      The laws have not only targeted journalists but other citizens who use
the media to express their opinions.

      Professor Kenneth Good, of the University of Botswana, was given a
48-hour deportation order after he co-authored an article critical of
President Festus Mogae. In Zambia, columnist for the Post newspaper George
Clark was arrested and issued with a deportation order after he wrote a
satire equating President Levy Mwanawasa to a baboon. He was also accused of
having insulted the president.
      In Cameroon, journalists have been jailed for insulting President Paul

      In Zimbabwe, the use of these laws to arrest and jail journalists has
become routine.

      But Louw said South Africa's northern neighbour was not an immediate
target of the campaign because the situation there was very serious, needing
a separate and more comprehensive strategy.

      The launch conference heard that about 122 media groups and
journalists were charged under insult laws in 35 African countries over 10

      The approach to Mbeki has not as yet yielded any dividends as the
president referred Louw and Minnie to the Department of Foreign Affairs,
which has not given any positive feedback.

      But the two remain hopeful Mbeki will help them.
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The Times

            No food, no fuel - but a glut of elephants for sale at £1,000
            By Jonathan Clayton

            ZIMBABWE, which is struggling with chronic shortages in
everything from fuel to food, claims that it has at least one huge surplus -

            The Government's wildlife and parks department says that there
are 60,000 more elephants than can be sustained in the wild and has invited
local farmers to buy them to populate remote ranches and private game

            Wildlife experts dispute the Government's figures and say that
the proposed sale is a ploy to create the impression that the country's game
parks, which have been devastated by poaching and mismanagement over the
past five years, are well run. Maurice Mutsambiwa, director of the National
Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, said that Zimbabwe now had 100,000
elephants, against a sustainable population of 45,000, and gave a warning
that if current trends continued the country faced a major ecological

            "Ideally we should have one elephant on 1sq km (0.4sq ml) but we
have a situation in places like Hwange National Park, the Zambezi Valley and
Gonarezhou National Park where we have four elephants per sq km," he said.

            Mr Mutsambiwa said that because of their heavy concentration in
certain areas the elephants were damaging vegetation and driving other
species to extinction.

            "Vegetation will be destroyed and water will run out in the
parks," he said. His authority is inviting tenders from farmers interested
in buying elephants.

            But the move has angered conservation experts, who cast doubt on
the Government's claims. There has been no proper count of the elephant
population for many years. They said that there was a real danger that
small-scale farmers would buy the elephants on the cheap and then allow the
animal to be poached on their land.

            "If they allow an illegal hunter to kill it, the going price is
about £4,000. Or they could use it for meat. There is no way a farmer with
some 2,000 hectares can support elephants on his land," Johnny Rodrigues, of
the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, said.

            John Worsley-Worfwick, of the Justice for Farmers campaign
group, said: "They (the Government) are trying to give the impression there
is a healthy situation.

            "The food situation is so bad here that people have been killing
elephants for meat, and officials have been dealing in ivory on the side."

            He added: "There are no private individuals who want an elephant
in the back yard. It is nonsense."

            The Standard, the Zimbabwean newspaper, has reported that one
national park was instructed to slaughter elephants in order to feed
villagers at Independence Day celebrations last week.

President Mugabe's Government, which won re-election last month in a poll
that the Opposition and Western governments maintain was rigged, reacted
angrily to suggestions of a food shortage, but has admitted plans to import
1.2 million tonnes of maize in the next few months.
Elephants have been protected under the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species (CITES) since 1989, but in 1997 rules were relaxed to
allow Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe to cull a limited number and sell a
portion of the resulting ivory stocks under regulated trade.

"Culling is a very scientific process. They just don't have the ability to
do it properly any more. They just want to try and hide what is really
happening out there," Mr Rodrigues said.

Southern African nations, where game parks and reserves are traditionally
well run and the animals protected, have long argued for a relaxation in
CITES rules to allow them to trade in ivory stocks built up from large-scale
culling. Many also want to make private hunters pay "trophy" charges for
killing the unwanted animals. Mr Rodrigues said that individuals can pay up
to £5,400 each for an elephant "trophy", but that Zimbabwe - one of only a
handful of countries which allows licensed hunting - was now trying to fix
the price to the hunter at more than £12,000.

Meanwhile, he said that it was possible for a farmer to "buy" a Zimbabwean
elephant for just over £1,000.

"The potential exists for huge profits and abuse, but we will have to see
what happens when the tenders come in. I do not think they are serious about
this. Our herds have been hit by poaching and mismanagement. They want CITES
to give them permission to cull many more, saying they have tried everything

Ivory poaching devastated Africa's elephant population between 1979 and
1989. In some countries, notably Sudan, Mozambique and Angola, elephants
were almost wiped out. Today, the total African elephant population is put
at between 500,000 and 600,000, but the herds have recovered much more
quickly in southern Africa.
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The Herald

Residents, council cry for help

LIFE in Harare has become much more than just a pain in the neck.

But the consolation is that there is still hope for the capital.

The Commission running the affairs of city this week resolved to bring
change to Harare, the one-time Sunshine City, which has for years been
bedevilled by mounting operational problems.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has also promised to inject in funds to revamp
the local authority's operations.

Whichever way rescue comes to this beloved city of ours, the capital and its
residents are crying for help.

Apart from Harare's woes, economists have urged the RBZ to review the
foreign currency auction system as well as adopt much stringent policies in
the face of rising inflationary pressures that are threatening to derail
Zimbabwe's war on inflation.

Economists say the failure by the auction to service 95 percent of demand
calls for an urgent adjustment of the system and even the country's foreign
currency revenue streams.

Economists have warned that the ability by the auction to service only 5
percent of demand can only but help propel the black market, which in turn
would militate against the country's inflation war.

"Given that the majority of companies are failing to get foreign currency on
the auction market, the continued depreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar on the
parallel market has serious inflation consequences as the companies are
servicing their import requirements using expensive foreign currency," said
a Harare economist.

"As a result, for them (companies) to survive they inevitably have to pass
on the burden to the consumer in the form of higher prices."

Foreign currency has continued to be in short supply at the auction floors,
as the country's foreign currency supply streams fail to generate sufficient

Presently, Zimbabwe is relying on two sources of foreign currency - exports
and the Homelink initiative - but the two have failed to generate enough
foreign currency to meet the rising demand.

The other two sources - foreign direct investment and capital flows - are
virtually non-existent for various factors that have to do with the country's
negative image abroad.

Inflows from exports and non-resident Zimbabweans still heavily need to be
complemented by increased support from the international community, foreign
investment, loans, aid and grants, if this economy is to successfully

Zimbabwe's economy feeds heavily and remains a net user of foreign exchange.

While the introduction of the auction system in January 2004 saw some sanity
returning to the trade of foreign currency, economists now feel the auction
has "broken down" due to its failure to meet rising demand.

Subsequent to this, the Reserve Bank should institute additional policies,
which seek to invigorate foreign currency inflows into the official banking
system, failure of which could result in the reversal of gains attained so
far in improving Zimbabwe's coffers.

"Although the exchange rate was less volatile in 2004 on the back of the
introduction of the auction system that availed a cheaper source of foreign
currency, the system has, however, broken down as the market is now able to
service only 5 percent of demand," said another commentator

The breakdown has been attributed to: "an exchange rate system that is not
being adjusted in line with inflation developments between Zimbabwe and its
trading partners".

In April alone, the total amount of bids stood at a staggering US$789
million against a cumulative US$55 million on offer from the central bank,
representing a rejection rate of over 92 percent. In March, bids were at
US$939 million against US$77 million offered by the RBZ.

Reflecting the acute shortage of foreign currency in the country, the
parallel market rate is reported to have depreciated by 54 percent to levels
of around Z$18 000 to the US dollar from Z$8 300 at the end of 2004.
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Drought: Practical Solutions Needed

The Herald (Harare)

May 5, 2005
Posted to the web May 5, 2005

Sifelani Tsiko

AGRICULTURAL experts say there is a growing need to highlight ways and means
of coping and adapting to the drought which has spread its tentacles across
the country threatening the life of both humans and livestock.

Drought is often associated with the suffering and loss of valued crops,
livestock and wildlife. But it is the state of preparedness by the country
that is unsettling many people who are increasingly getting restless over
the availability of water, food and grazing pasture for animals.

In the 2004-2005 farming season, Zimbabwe, just like most countries in the
region, had poor rains in the later half of the season which resulted in
large scale crop failure, food shortages, dwindling stocks of water and

Crops in most parts of the country wilted under extreme heat exposing the
majority of the poor who often have limited stocks of food.

The entire southern African region is prone to droughts and development
experts say records indicate that drought usually strikes the region twice
in every decade.

But the central question to this natural problem is how Zimbabweans
anticipate and respond to the drought emergencies.

Drought has recurred over the years and a number of mitigation strategies
have been outlined but with limited practical application owing largely to
inadequate funding, capacity and lack of knowledge.

Agricultural experts say essential components of drought preparedness and
mitigation include prediction, monitoring, impact assessment and response.

Prediction covers knowledge of stored water availability for domestic
livestock and irrigation uses.

Early warning systems by agri-climatologists can alert both the Government
and international relief agencies and help to prepare people for drought.

An official from the Agricultural Research Extension says in a season with
poor rains, contour farming, off-season tillage, mulching and providing
vegetative barriers on the contours increase soil moisture and prevent soil

"Zimbabweans have the ideas, but they lack the capacity to implement some of
these ideas due to lack of equipment and resources," he said.

"People are now more vulnerable to the ravages of drought owing to poverty.
They have limited means to help them mitigate and cope with the effects of

Soil and water conservation practices minimise the disruption of the soil's
structure, composition and natural bio-diversity reducing erosion and soil
degradation, surface run-off and water pollution.

The Arex official says the majority of the farmers in the country still have
limited capacity when it comes to better water and crop management,
augmentation of water supplies with ground water, water conservation and
watershed and local planning.

"Public awareness and education are critical for improved drought response
and adoption of proper mitigation strategies," says the Arex official.

"All this requires resources. Without, money to support these public
awareness campaigns, the impact of the drought will be severe on the
vulnerable farmers."

Agricultural experts also say water supply projects can be implemented for
drought mitigation with a view to strengthening drought preparedness.

They say water use planning, rain water harvesting, run-off collection using
surface and underground structures, improved management of channels and
wells, exploration of additional water sources through drilling and dam
construction can be implemented as part of a drought mitigation plan.

A number of dams have been constructed in Zimbabwe since independence in
1980 and the lack of resources to develop irrigation infrastructure still
remains the biggest challenge for the country in terms of disaster

Borehole drilling costs have soared in recent years and it now costs up to
$30 million to drill a borehole of up to 40 metres, installation costs
between $20 million and $25 million depending on the pump size while water
pumps now cost anything between $10 million and $20 million.

The costs are prohibitive for the majority of subsistence farmers who only
have to rely on Government or donor support for borehole installations.

"Zimbabwe has a huge potential for irrigation development but lack of
resources is the major hurdle that agricultural policy planners have to
grapple with," says an engineer at an institute of agricultural engineering
in the capital.

"Water is there, but lack of irrigation equipment is a major problem in our
efforts to mitigate the effects of drought."

Herd management is another controversial strategy for drought mitigation.

Before destocking, farmers need to consider the duration of drought, current
water and feed supplies, the composition and body condition of the herd and
financial resources available.

Farmers can also reduce stock numbers as well as wean calves to augment a
cow's body reserves.

Around 15 000 cattle starved to death in the drought ravaged parts in the
southern part of the country in 2003 after farmers in the area had refused
to destock in the hope that summer rains would restore grazing pasture.

"Cattle, are traditionally kept as a symbol of wealth and power in Zimbabwe.
To kill the cattle as a way of mitigating the drought is taboo, people will
resist this," says an Arex official.

"But in periods of severe drought people have to be sensitised on the
importance of de-stocking."

Maize, in Zimbabwe, is still a crop of choice and despite repeated calls for
people to grow drought resistant crops in dry regions, farmers still grow
maize despite the high crop failure rate in these regions.

Agricultural experts say planting drought resistant varieties that mature
early can be the winning formula in the mitigation of the effects of drought
on a household.

Sorghum, rapoko and millet are some of the drought tolerant crops that can
help raise food production in many rural households compared to maize which
needs more rain.

Zimbabwe is experiencing another drought this year and as a result the
Government will import 1,2 million tonnes of maize to help the nation which
is under stress from the ravaging drought.

In 2002, the country faced another drought and the Government in the first
half of that year, committed US$207,9 million for the importation of 1,1
million tonnes of grain.

Drought struck Zimbabwe and the entire southern African region is forcing
humanitarian agencies to appeal for aid for more than 14 million people.

Imports for the country, which consumes between 1,8 million tonnes and 2,1
million tonnes of maize a year, came mainly from South Africa, Kenya, China
and Argentina.

Agri-climatologists say drought is a natural hazard which has a slow onset
and evolves over months or even years and may affect a large region.

They say the southern African region experiences about two severe droughts
every 10 years.

Leonard Unganai, an agri-climatologist said in a report that the main reason
why southern Africa tends to be drought prone had to do much more with the
region's geographical location in relation to the position of the
semi-permanent sub-tropical high pressure belt.

"Regions whose climate is controlled by the sub-tropical high pressure
system, such as southern Africa tend to be prone to stable and enduring
atmospheric circulation which causes widespread and persistent rainfall
deficiencies," he said.

While Zimbabweans jostle about food statistics and about the country running
out of maize, drought continues to affect many people who in most cases only
require practical solutions to help them mitigate and cope with this natural
hazard, at least until the next season.

Below is a list of drought years in Zimbabwe and the entire southern African

1820-30 - a decade of drought throughout Africa.

1844-49 - southern Africa experiences five consecutive drought years.

1875-1910 - marked decrease in rainfall in southern Africa and in 1910
region experiences a severe drought.

1921-30 - severe drought in the region.

1930-50 - Southern Africa experiences dry periods alternating with wet ones
and in some years, the rains are good.

1946-47 - severe drought hits Zimbabwe and entire region.

1950s - region receives abnormally high rainfall.

1967-73 - the six-year period was dry across the southern Africa region.

1974-80 - relatively average to above normal rains.

1981-82 - most of southern Africa experiences drought.

1982-83 - most of sub-tropical Africa experiences drought.

1985 - conditions improve.

1986-87 - drought conditions return.

1991-92 - southern Africa experiences the worst drought in living memory.
The drought kills more than one million cattle in Zimbabwe

1992-93 - drought experienced but conditions improve in some parts of the

1993-94 - mixed fortunes in the region, some parts experience drought, some
have normal to above normal rains.

1994-99 - drought not that severe, wet conditions set in.

1999-2000 - southern Africa experiences the worst flooding in more than 50

2001-2003 - drought period sets in.

2004-2005 - Zimbabwe and most parts of southern Africa experience a new
round of drought, but not severe to the extent of the 1991-92 levels
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Mail and Guardian

      Zimbabwe's Daily News: 'I think we'll get a licence'


      06 May 2005 07:53

            Efforts by Zimbabwe's banned Daily News newspaper to get back on
the streets hit another snag on Thursday when the paper was told to provide
more details before it can receive a licence from the state media
commission, an executive for the paper said.

            There had been hopes that the newspaper -- once the most popular
in Zimbabwe -- would be given a licence to publish when top Daily News
officials met the chairperson of the state-appointed Media and Information

            Daily News chief executive Samuel Nkomo said he and other
company executives held a "long but cordial" meeting with Tafataona Mahoso,
the chairperson of the commission, but were told the paper had to provide
details about its finances and shareholders before a licence could be

            "They need us to supply them with a market analysis, financial
projections and details of the shareholders who own Associated Newspapers of
Zimbabwe," the publishers of the Daily News, he said.

            Armed police shut down the newspaper's offices and seized office
equipment in September 2003 after a court ruled that it was publishing

            The paper had taken a stand against registration required under
strict new press laws. It argued the requirement was unconstitutional, but
the country's Supreme Court upheld the law, resulting in the paper's forced

            Numerous court attempts to get the paper back onto the streets
have failed in the past two years.

            In March, the newspaper made a fresh application for
registration to the media commission, and Thursday's meeting was held to
discuss that application.

            Nkomo said on Thursday that he was optimistic he could obtain
all the information needed by the media commission by early next week.

            He said he had high hopes the popular tabloid would return to
the streets.

            "I'm an optimist," he said. "Whatever happens, I think we'll get
a licence."

            Zimbabwe's record on freedom of expression has been under the
spotlight in recent years.

            Four newspapers have been closed since the Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act was signed by President Robert Mugabe in 2002.
Dozens of journalists have been arrested.

            Independent journalists and international media watchdogs have
called on the Zimbabwe government to repeal the law, which they describe as

            Just weeks ahead of disputed parliamentary elections held on
March 31, three veteran foreign correspondents fled the country in the wake
of harassment and threats from the government. - Sapa-DPA

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