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Zim Independent

Schools take govt to court
Munyaradzi Wasosa/Eric Chiriga/Loughty Dube
THE government's decision to close down private schools for allegedly
charging exorbitant fees suffered a serious setback when the High Court
yesterday ordered the reopening of Hartmann House Preparatory School in

However, police yesterday arrested three school heads for defying a
government directive to slash fees.

Lundi Park Primary School headmistress Gill Martin, Ruzawi Primary School
headmaster Erith Harris and John Calderwood of Peterhouse Boys and Girls
High schools, were arrested at their schools yesterday. They were bundled
into police vehicles in full view of school children before being whisked
away to Marondera Police Station.

Justice Susan Mavangira ordered Hartmann House reopened following an urgent
application by lawyers for the parents and teachers of the Catholic-run

"By consent an order is granted by the terms sought," said Mavangira. The
state, which was represented by Farai Ruzive, did not oppose the

Yesterday private schools from Bulawayo and Masvingo also filed an urgent
application at the High Court in Bulawayo seeking an order to nullify
government's directive to shut down the schools.

The case has been set down for a hearing at the Bulawayo High Court today.

Cited as respondents are Education minister Aeneas Chigwedere, his permanent
secretary Stephen Mahere and police commissioner Augustine Chihuri.

The lawyer representing the schools, Richard Majwabu-Moyo of James,
Majwabu-Moyo and Partners, said according to the Education Act it was
illegal for government to close down schools on a matter that could be
resolved through other means.

"There is no provision in the Education Act that gives the Minister of
Education powers to shut down schools for raising fees and what he has done
is illegal," Majwabu-Moyo said.

"The schools I represent have over the last two years made applications to
the ministry seeking approval for fee increments but they have received no
response from government, whether approving or disapproving or even
acknowledging receipt of the applications but the schools have to move on,"
Majwabu-Moyo said.

The Zimbabwe Independent has established that the Education ministry is
imploring schools to sign an agreement not to increase fees without

In an interview with the Independent, Chigwedere said government was
considering nationalising all private schools, calling them racist

"These racist schools are operating like private business empires and
government is not ruling out nationalisation," he said.

Retired army General Vitalis Zvinavashe owns Tynwald Primary and High
schools which are among the 45 that have been closed on racist allegations
and charging high fees.

Chigwedere cited Lomagundi and Watershed as white racist schools that were
attempting to exclude black pupils.

"The major element is that white schools like Watershed and Lomagundi are
racist," he said. "They are conspiring to throw out black pupils by charging
exorbitant fees well beyond the reach of many black parents."

Chigwedere said Lomagundi was proposing an "incredible" $8,8 million per
term, while Peterhouse in Marondera was currently charging $9,9 million per

Quizzed on the impact of the closure on students writing June and November
examinations, Chigwedere said they would not be affected.

"If June students had not made thorough preparations for their exams, then
it is not my ministry's fault," he said.

Chigwedere said the ministry would cut the August holiday by a week to
compensate students for the time lost during closure.

Police have since been deployed to all the schools that have been closed to
ensure that no lessons are conducted.

Chigwedere justified the involvement of the police saying some of the
headmasters were resisting his ministry's directives.

Meanwhile the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Education has criticised
government's move to close the schools.

The Independent spoke to committee chairman Fidelis Mhashu, who accused
Chigwedere of taking a "militant" decision on the matter.

"When things go wrong, they must be corrected in a fair manner," he said.
"The militant decision taken by the minister is definitely unjustified."

Mhashu said the Education Act gives the minister and permanent secretary too
much power.

"The Act gives Chigwedere too much arbitrary power and definitely needs to
be amended," he said.

Father Fidelis Mukonori, the provincial board chairman for both Hartmann
House and St George's College, declined to comment on the government's

"I cannot comment on that issue," he said. "We are dealing with the problem,
and I am made to understand that Hartmann will be opening tomorrow (today)."

More than 30 000 pupils have been affected by the closure of private
schools. Chigwedere said his ministry's offices had been besieged by scores
of disgruntled parents who were demanding answers from the government.

In a snap survey conducted by the Independent this week, the general feeling
was that while it was necessary to review the fee hikes, government was not
justified "to resort to such drastic measures".

Former Zesa boss Simbarashe Mangwengwende said: "As a parent I think this is
not the right way of dealing with problems. The government is holding
children hostage and this will definitely affect their studies."
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Zim Independent

Triangle next - Mnangagwa
Staff writers
GOVERNMENT has, through the Agricultural Rural Development Authority (Arda),
set its sights on the highly productive Triangle Sugar Estates as it moves
to expropriate virtually all private farmland, the Zimbabwe Independent
heard this week.

This became clear after Speaker of Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa last
weekend announced government plans to acquire Triangle Sugar Estates in

Mnangagwa made the revelation when he addressed about 8 000 employees at a
Workers Day rally organised by the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions in
Gibbo Stadium on Saturday in the agricultural town.

Our reporter who attended the rally said Mnangagwa was constantly heckled
and jeered by the crowd - mainly plantation workers - who disapproved of
government's intention to take over the estate.

The Independent understands that Triangle Ltd and Hippo Valley Estates have
been designated for compulsory acquisition. Anglo American Corporation and
Tongaat Hullet, who own the two estates, have lodged objections with John
Nkomo, the Minister of Special Affairs responsible for Lands, Land Reform
and Resettlement.

"We have engaged the land committee there to find ways of resolving this
issue amicably," an Anglo American spokeswoman told the Independent from
Johannesburg, on condition of anonymity.

"You should understand that Triangle and Hippo Valley are large industrial
developments. As for the workers' reaction, you may attribute that to a host
of welfare programmes we introduced recently, including the provision of
free ARVs (antiretroviral drugs)," she said.

Mnangagwa brushed aside the workers' muted protests, telling them government
had put in place legislation to acquire the huge estate.

"This (the land seizures) has started and it is going to continue," said
Mnangagwa amid jeers from shocked employees of the two estates.

The government has already repealed the Hippo Valley Act to enable it to
acquire Hippo Valley Estate, also in the southeast Lowveld. The acquisition
of the properties threatens the local sugar industry built around the
estates, which have very advanced irrigation systems in the very hot
low-rainfall region.

Last month government forcibly ejected the owners of Kondozi Farm in Odzi,
Manicaland from their farm and installed Arda to run the horticultural
concern. Prior to the Arda invasion, Kondozi Farm earned about US$15 million
annually in horticultural exports. Arda and the Zimbabwe National Army have
also moved into Charleswood Estate in Chimanimani, legally owned by MDC MP
for the area, Roy Bennett.

The Independent has also established that Arda will soon be taking over
Surrey Estate in Bromely, along the Harare-Marondera highway. The farm is
registered as Le Sur Dale Farms (Pvt) Ltd.

The estate runs arguably the country's biggest abattoir, Surrey Abattoir,
which government wants to take over.

Arda is also moving into Foyle Farm, which has state-of-the-art dairy
production facilities and irrigation equipment in the Mazowe area.

In stark contrast to the efficiently run firms it is acquiring, Arda's debt
runs into billions of dollars due to inefficiency and poor capitalisation.

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Zim Independent

Polls could be moved forward
Itai Dzamara
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe could bring forward the parliamentary election to
October this year after the Zanu PF politburo recently concluded the party
was ready to beat the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Officials from the Registrar General (RG)'s office have already been
deployed around the country for an intensive voter registration exercise.

Sources from the RG's office said this week registrar-general, Tobaiwa
Mudede, had announced that the voter registration exercise had to be
completed by the end of July because "elections could be held any time from

Constitutional law expert, Lovemore Madhuku, said this week that Mugabe was
allowed by the constitution to bring the general election forward to this

"Under the constitution it is possible. All he has to do is dissolve
parliament," said Madhuku. "Under Section 63 of the constitution Mugabe can
dissolve parliament at any time and order an election within four months.
The rest of the proceedings will be governed by the electoral system and
again he has the power to manipulate it. His only concern would be political
challenges and not legal issues."

Zanu PF's political commissar, Elliot Manyika, said the party was confident
of victory any time and would welcome an early election.

"Our recent victories obviously give us confidence and we are ready for the
general election any time," said Manyika. "We will be happy to have the
general election brought forward."

Zanu PF sources said recent politburo discussions attributed the March
Zengeza by-election victory to the "momentum currently enjoyed by the ruling
party, which will secure it Lupane as well".

The Lupane by-election will be held next weekend and the ruling party has
already deployed a "high-powered team" to campaign in the constituency.

Government sources said Mugabe had indicated that the Delimitation
Commission should start preparing for the general election next month and
complete the exercise in three months.

The ruling party is on the prowl using an anti-corruption blitz to remedy
its image ahead of the crucial general election.

Mugabe himself has said "the MDC is ready for burial" and that the ruling
party should leave no stone unturned in its quest for victory.

The MDC shocked Zanu PF in 2000, barely a year after its formation, by
winning almost half of the contested seats.
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Zim Independent

Political tension builds up ahead of polls
Staff writer
FIVE opposition supporters were abducted and severely assaulted on Monday by
supporters of President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF, an opposition party
official said yesterday.

As the two parties intensify their campaign ahead of the general election
next year, violence is likely to escalate.

"Following the successful MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) rally
addressed by President Morgan Tsvangirai at Chendambuya on Sunday, Zanu PF
has unleashed violence on the people of the area to frustrate and intimidate
them ahead of the 2005 parliamentary election," said MDC spokesperson, Paul
Themba Nyathi.

"MDC supporters, Douglas Chipinduka and his wife, Joyce Katunga, Judith
Chikadiwa, Barbara Munyaradzi and Marshal Muchipi, were abducted by a group
of about 20 Zanu PF supporters," he said.

"They were abducted from their homes at around 2 am on Monday and taken to
Makombe Business Centre where they were severely assaulted," said Nyathi.

Chendambuya Growth Point is in Makoni North constituency, northeast of

Nyathi said the case was reported at the local police station but no arrests
had been made by yesterday although the party identified Moses Sithole and
one Khumalo, who is believed to be a Zanu PF youth chairman in the province,
as the ring leaders.

Tsvangirai, in a statement this week, said the people of Chendambuya turned
up for the rally in large numbers despite Zanu PF intimidation.

"The people resisted the threats from Zanu PF youths and war veterans and
assembled at the business centre for the two-hour meeting," he said.

Police yesterday confirmed the incident and said they had arrested one
person in connection with the assault.

"We have arrested one person involved in that case and police are still
looking for two more people," police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner
Wayne Bvudzijena, said yesterday.

The abduction and assault come against a backdrop of increased political
tension between the two rival parties. Most violence has been directed at
supporters of Tsvangirai's MDC, which has so far resulted in three deaths
since February.

On Wednesday MDC vice-president Gibson Sibanda addressed a rally in Lupane
where he introduced the party's candidate for the by-election scheduled for
next weekend, Njabuliso Mguni.
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Zim Independent

Tough time for Nhema over hunting concessions
Staff Writer
A SAFARI operator has threatened to drag to court Environment and Tourism
minister Francis Nhema for granting a lucrative hunting and photographic
concession to a fellow Zanu PF official without going to tender.

Bagman Sibanda of Striped Safaris (Pvt) Ltd, through his legal
representatives Coghlan and Welsh, wrote to Nhema last week raising issue
with a hunting concession granted by the Parks and Wildlife Authority to
Zanu PF Matabeleland North chairman, Jacob Mudenda. Nhema allegedly approved
the deal.

"We are instructed that Treasury Regulations were flouted when Mudenda was
granted the concession as it was never put to tender," reads a letter sent
to Nhema from Striped Safaris legal counsel, Coghlan and Welsh, last week.

"In the circumstances, our client challenges the validity of the contract
and should you be unable to agree with us on that point, we have
instructions to bring an application to court."

The Zimbabwe Independent understands that the concession, Matetsi Unit 6,
which was not put to tender was issued to Mudenda inappropriately. Several
other concessions are believed to have been allocated to top Zanu PF
officials in an unprocedural manner.

Information at hand indicates that the Parks and Wildlife Authority entered
an agreement with Mudenda on June 18 last year where the hunting rights over
the safari area were granted to the ruling party official. Nhema duly
approved the agreement on June 26.

According to Section 37 of the Parks and Wildlife Act Chapter 20:14, the
wildlife management authority, subject to Environment and Tourism minister's
approval, has the power to grant hunting rights but such rights should be
put to tender to afford other competitors a fair chance to participate and
to also allow the authority an opportunity to make an award to the most
attractive bid.

The Independent was told that Striped Safaris has pursued hunting rights for
Matetsi Unit 6 for several years and has submitted a number of project
proposals and applications to the relevant authorities but it has been
repeatedly turned down. Each time the safari operator applied, it was
advised that the concession was being leased to an indigenous safari
operator when evidence on the ground was to the contrary.

Quoting Section 6 of the State Liabilities Act, the letter from the
company's lawyers gives Nhema notice of Striped Safaris' intention to bring
an application to the High Court for an order nullifying the award of
Matetsi Unit 6 concession to Mudenda without following tender procedure.
Reached for comment, Nhema said: "I will send you a full list of who was
allocated what, including Striped Safaris. In fact, I have tasked the
National Parks to look into that issue. But everything was done above

The Independent understands that several aggrieved businesspersons and
safari operators who had hoped to get concessions in the parks and wildlife
areas in Matabeleland North are also instituting legal proceedings against
Nhema over the allocation of concessions to government officials.

Two months ago, another safari operator, Nyala Safaris, instituted legal
action against Nhema for allocating a lucrative hunting concession to one
Mabel Dete, again without going to tender.
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Zim Independent

Byo police swoop on civic leaders
Loughty Dube
POLICE in Bulawayo last week rounded up civic organisation leaders in the
city on allegations that they were likely to foment trouble during the
just-ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF).

Police on Wednesday last week swooped on the offices of six civic
organisations and took away the leaders for questioning.

The six leaders, who were detained for about eight hours by officers from
the Law and Order Section, said police alleged that they were planning to
cause problems during the ZITF.

The six detained leaders are from Bulawayo Agenda, ZimRights, Peace
Initiative Survivors Trust (PIST), an organisation involved in the
rehabilitation of Gukurahundi victims, and a leader representing a coalition
of churches.

At PIST offices police ransacked the organisation's library and left with
over 200 books that are used by the organisation for its research work.

Bulawayo Agenda director, Gorden Moyo, confirmed his brief detention at
Bulawayo central police station.

"It is true that I was detained together with other leaders in the civic
society movement. The allegations levelled against us were not clear but the
picture that emerged is that we were being intimidated," Moyo said.

"We were questioned on what activities we were planning during the trade
fair. Police warned us that they did not want any noise from civic society
that would embarrass the government during the ZITF," said one of the civic
leaders who preferred anonymity.

PIST's executive director, Felix Mafa, said police raided his organisation's
offices armed with a search warrant and claimed they were looking for
subversive material.

"They took away all our literature and as it is we cannot work. We are
saying this is clear harassment and intimidation of civic society. We are
not going to be moved by such intimidation," Mafa said.

This is not the first time that police have swooped on civic organisations
in the city. Last month they raided the offices of Radio Dialogue and
Bulawayo Agenda on allegations that they were looking for subversive

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Zim Independent

Zanu PF plans to use food as vote carrot
Staff Writers
ZANU PF wants aid agencies out of the way so that it can use total control
over relief food distribution as a key campaign tool in next year's
parliamentary election, political analysts and the opposition have alleged.

Government has already forecast a bumper harvest next year and that there
will be no need for food aid. As a result aid agencies have started to wind
up food distribution activities in impoverished communal areas.

There are allegations that government would like to fill the void left by
aid agencies during Zanu PF's campaign for the general election scheduled
for March next year.

In the last election government took a lot of flak from aid agencies for
allegedly politicising food aid and using it to punish opponents. In some
instances government attempted to take over the distribution of food donated
by Western governments through the World Food Programme.

Opposition MDC shadow agriculture minister Renson Gasela said government had
stocked up maize to use during Zanu PF campaigns.

"Zanu PF wants to create a false impression on the food situation so that
donor agencies are forced out," said Gasela.

"That will give the regime an opportunity to control all food distribution
and in the process use aid relief for campaigning," he said.

"It is suspected that the regime has some grain stocked in granaries that is
earmarked for the election period," he said.

Findings of independent surveys on the food situation in Zimbabwe continue
to point at severe deficits despite government claims that the country will
have a bumper harvest this year.

Veteran politician and former Zanu PF secretary-general, Edgar Tekere,
described government's decision to stop donor aid as foolish.

"It is very interesting when the World Food Programme winds up operations
under this situation," said Tekere.

"It is certainly not true to claim that there is a bumper harvest this year
with the gloom showing in most fields. It is an empty boast, a foolish one,"
he said.

"Probably the plot is for Zanu PF to then use the food it has allegedly been
stocking secretly to campaign for the election. That has happened before,"
Tekere said.

At a meeting on March 30, an official from the Social Welfare ministry told
donors that maize harvest for this year would be 1,7 million tonnes.
Minister Paul Mangwana the following day met with United Nations Development
Programme officials and diplomats where he repeated the figures and said
government had asked the UN to keep food aid out of its (Zimbabwe's)
humanitarian assistance appeal.

However, surveys conducted by the Southern African Regional Poverty Network
(Sarpn) and Zimconsult show that Zimbabwe could suffer a deficit of between
600 000 and 900 000 tonnes of maize this year. The surveys predict a maize
and small grains harvest of between 800 000 and 1 million tonnes. Zimbabwe
needs about 1,9 million tonnes of maize for annual consumption.

University of Zimbabwe political analyst, Professor Heneri Dzinotyiwei, said
the ruling party could use food for electioneering.

"The issue of food for votes has always appeared in Zimbabwe and it is
possible, especially under the current political dispensation," said

WFP spokesperson Makena Walker confirmed that her organisation's
implementing partners were scaling back general food distribution in May and

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Zim Independent

ZDI admits involvement in Charleswood seizure
Munyaradzi Wasosa
THE Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI) has admitted its involvement in the
seizure of Charleswood Estate in Chimanimani, but said it did so on behalf
of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF), the Zimbabwe Independent established
this week.

In an interview on Monday, ZDI general manager, retired Colonel Tshinga Dube
confirmed ZDI's involvement, but said a defence forces lands board had
tasked his company to manage the farm for the ZDF.

"Yes, the ZDF approached us sometime in April and gave us the farm to manage
on their behalf," he said.

Dube said Air Marshal Perence Shiri was the chairman of the obscure defence
forces board that formulates and implements ZDF's land policy.

Dube however said the ZDI's role only went as far as implementing defence
forces' policies on Charleswood.

"That farm does not belong to ZDI," he said. "ZDF owns the farm. All they
told us was, here is a farm, manage it for us," he said.

The state-owned arms manufacturing company has a farm in Domboshawa called
Elphida where it manufactures, among other things, arms, ammunition,
ordnance and military gear.

Quizzed on why ZDI was managing ZDF lands, Dube said it was part of his
company's "diversification".

"We are not involved in any land controversies," he said. "It is just a
matter of diversification."

Dube admitted that the ZDI sent its personnel to Charleswood Estate despite
it being legally owned by MDC MP for Chimanimani, Roy Bennett.

He refuted allegations by the farm's manager, Sunface Bhaudhi, that ZDI
forcibly occupied the farm.

"We did not use force on anybody on the farm," Dube said. "ZDI sent only two
people who told the workers that those who wanted to continue working on the
farm should register as ZDI workers."

The farm employs over 1 000 workers whose future is now uncertain.

Dube said some of the farm's work force was now under ZDI.

"We are not forcing anyone to work on the farm," he said. "We are already
paying about 100 workers."

Bennett has five High Court orders barring the government from acquiring his
farm, a major exporter of coffee.

Asked by the Independent why ZDI ignored High Court orders not to occupy
Charleswood Estate, Dube pleaded ignorance of the existence of such papers.

"When we went to Charleswood, we were not aware of such court matters," he
said. "I am only hearing it from you (the media) that there was a court

Dube confirmed Independent investigations that ZDF owns about 15 farms
dotted all over the country. Valhalla, a banana farm in Manicaland, is one
of ZDF's farms under ZDI's management.

He revealed that some of the farms were lying idle.

"On some of the farms, we have not done much farming," he said.

Dube refuted Bennett's assertion that his company was fighting with Arda
over control of Charleswood.

Efforts to interview the commander of the Zimbabwe National Army,
Constantine Chiwenga, were fruitless. Air Marshal Perence Shiri could also
not be reached.
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Zim Independent

Army/National Parks accused of poaching
Munyaradzi Wasosa
THE Zimbabwe National Army and the department of National Parks and Wildlife
Management have been accused of involvement in poaching activities that have
decimated Zimbabwe's wildlife in the country's conservancies, the Zimbabwe
Independent has been told.

In an interview, Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF) chairman Johnny
Rodrigues, accused the Ministry of Environment and Tourism of failing to
curb "state poaching".

"It's a fact that the army, which was called in by (Minister Francis) Nhema
to fight poaching, is now heavily involved in the illegal activity," he

Rodrigues said the army was involved mainly in the Kariba/Chirara game area.

"ZCTF spoke to eyewitnesses in Kariba who saw soldiers airlifting antelope
carcasses," he said. "Recently we uncovered 200 snares in one day in the

Meanwhile, Rodrigues said poachers were also targeting the black rhino which
is protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species (Cites).

"Since December 2003, poachers in the Sinamatela Intensified Protection Zone
have killed four black rhino, while two others have been killed in the Save
Conservancy," he said.

Rodrigues said the conservancy was under threat from poachers.

"Save has 60% of wild animals left, but the threat of poachers in the area
cannot be over-emphasised," he said.

Rodrigues said Whitro Ranch in Mwenezi, compulsorily acquired by the
government, has no animals left.

"It had around 1 000 wild animals including elands, zebras and impalas,
prior to land invasions," ZCTF said.

"Due to poaching, the ranch only had 240 animals left by April last year,
now there are no animals there."

ZCTF also said Kleinbegin Ranch, which is part of the Bubi River Valley
Conservancy, has lost 95% of its wildlife to poachers in the past three

The anti-poaching organisation, which was formed in 2001, clashed with the
government in 2002 over corruption involving government officials.

"When we formed ZCTF, it was with the intention of assisting National Parks
to minimise poaching before it was too late," Rodrigues said.

"With the government actually encouraging the slaughter (of wild animals),
it is impossible to fight something of this magnitude."

Environment minister, Francis Nhema, refuted ZCTF's accusations saying the
department of National Parks was responsible for anti-poaching activities.

"It's difficult to comment on behalf of the army," he said. "Most of the
staff that does the anti-poaching is ours."

He said his ministry was "happy with the army's collaboration".

He instead accused the ZCTF of falsifying figures. "They (ZCTF) are running
away from the truth by giving percentages," he said. "Their figures worry me
a lot."

Efforts to speak to army spokesman Colonel Ben Ncube were fruitless. He was
said to be attending a seminar in Bulawayo.
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Zim Independent

Trade Fair 2004 fails to make impact

Loughty Dube

THE 45th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) that ended
in Bulawayo last week on Saturday acutely dramatised Zimbabwe's shrinking
economy because of flawed policies, although it recorded a couple of firsts
since it was launched in the 1960s.

For the first time in the history of the fair, two donkeys were exhibited in
the livestock section of the Bulawayo Agricultural Show that runs
concurrently with the ZITF.

Also this year the trade fair had to run without a chairman because the
incumbent, Dr Mthuli Ncube, who is alleged to be on the run from the law,
could not attend.

This year again the trade fair scored a first by winding up business on a
Saturday instead of Sunday when it traditionally ends. Scores of children
who flocked to the showgrounds to view the stands on Sunday were turned

Economists have described this year's trade fair as a non-event owing to the
depressed economy.

"This year's trade fair was a sad event if you compare it with previous
editions of the showcase," said Harare-based economist, John Robertson.
"What has worsened this year's event is that it was held in a depressed
economy. As a result the range of products on display has been cut back due
to company closures and a shrinking customer base."

He said the situation was exacerbated by the foreign currency exchange rate,
which he said worked against the interests of exporters.

"We have problems with the exchange rate which has made it difficult for
exporters to exhibit under the prevailing conditions.

"As long as things remain this way there will be nothing to show at ZITF.
Until we realise that all our economic problems have a political connection
and we change, there will be no improvement," Robertson said.

The stands that usually house big companies were empty this year. A total of
662 exhibitors, most of them small to medium-scale enterprises and informal
traders, took part at the fair that was officially opened by Namibian
President Sam Nujoma.

The number of exhibitors was less than that for last year when 734 companies
took part.

ZITF markerting and public relations manager, Cecilia Bhebhe, could not
provide details on any deals clinched at the trade fair. Instead she accused
the Zimbabwe Independent and its sister paper, The Standard, of writing
negative stories about ZITF.

"There is no story that I will give you but the companies that exhibited
here are very happy because they had good business. Zimbabweans are very
happy about that," Bhebhe said.

Matabeleland Chamber of Industries president, Felix Tshuma, only promised to
provide details once his office had gone over the details of transactions.

The livestock section this year attracted 16 cattle and two donkeys as new
farmers failed to take advantage of the return of the livestock show.

Prize bulls that used to attract crowds in the past were nowhere to be seen
while a few cows belonging to the Agricultural Research and Extension
Services held fort at the Bulawayo Agricultural Show stand.

Halls 2, 2A and Hall 3 that traditionally house international exhibitors
were closed.

Eleven countries took part at ZITF 2004. They included Botswana, Malawi,
Kenya, Italy, South Africa, Mozambique, Nigeria, China and Austria.

The products exhibited at this year's fair were mainly in the services
sector and traditional heavy and industrial machinery displayed by foreign
exhibitors was missing.

Prominent exhibition stands were mainly for government departments,
educational and tuition centres taking advantage of large numbers of school
children to advertise their services.

Technology that was on display was mainly farming and agro-based equipment
that included new versions of farming tractors, peanut butter processing
machines, wheat harvesting machines and grinding mills.

Bulawayo-based economist, Eric Bloch, attributed the low profile 2004 ZITF
to the state of the economy. He was however optimistic that the fair would
soon regain its lustre once factors impacting negatively on the economy were
put right.

Bloch said no genuine exhibitor would display his products at a fair held
under a distressed economy.

"No genuine foreign investor would like to exhibit in a country that has
such a bad image and with this distressed economy it would be a waste of
money to exhibit, hence the poor turnout by both local and international
exhibitors," Bloch said.

Bloch said ZITF 2004 was the worst in recent history.

"The trade fair was smaller in size, the majority of exhibitors were SMEs
and informal traders. Compared to previous years, this is the worst ZITF.
There was a conspicuous absence of industrialised countries and renowned
international companies. There were no serious industrial exhibits to talk
about," he said.

Commenting on the poor turnout in the livestock section, MDC economic
adviser, Eddie Cross, said the absence of former white commercial farmers
was having an effect on the show.

"The commercial farmers who are supposed to support the agricultural show
are not operating and there is no chance that you will get any livestock
under the circumstances," Cross said.

"This trade fair is just pathetic, but those that are keeping it alive
should be commended because it would be difficult to revive it once it is
allowed to close down," said Robertson.

He said once the economy was on the right track all the missing products
would return.

Bloch said the country's economy and the ZITF were intricately linked and a
knock on the one would affect the other.

"Once the monetary policy being implemented by (Reserve Bank governor
Gideon) Gono achieves the desired results, the fortunes of the economy and
the ZITF will improve as the two are intricately linked," he said. One
exhibitor said travelling to Bulawayo from Harare had been costly.

"The cost of transporting goods from Harare far outweighs the number of
people who made enquiries on our products. The whole trade fair concept is
now lost as it is now a kids' affair," said the exhibitor.

There were also no lavishes parties this year.
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Zim Independent


More needs to be done on human rights

LAST weekend 10 countries joined the European Union in a historic event that
pushed the size of the economic bloc to 25 states.

For almost half a decade these nations were going through a pro-bation
period to satisfy minimum qualification standards set by the European

EU Commissioner for External Relations, Chris Patten, explained that the
newcomers had to restructure almost every facet of their political, judicial
and economic systems before being accepted in the group.

Africa opted three years ago to form a union on the European model. The
African Union is battling to set up structures which mirror the European
Union - the African parliament, the African Court, a peacekeeping force and
so on.

The continent's leaders have also appended their signatures to various
conventions and declarations espousing African standards of governance and
protection of human rights. But unlike the European Union where countries
are under strict obligation to adhere to conventions and agreements, African
countries have failed to abide by their own standards and declarations.
Zimbabwe is a case in point.

African governments signed the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights
in October 1986 and in October 2002 they adopted the Declaration of
Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa.

To safeguard these rights the leaders agreed to establish an Africa
Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights. Running parallel to this is the New
Partnership for Africa's Development's peer review initiative.

Without teeth and powers of sanction, the commission can only make
recommendations and hope for the best, hence basic human rights have been
violated with impunity.

As Zimbabwe commemorated World Press Freedom Day on Monday the country's
laws have continued to shift away from the minimum standards set in both the
charter and the declaration.

For example, the declaration says there should be no arbitrary interference
with people's rights to freedom of expression. It says public broadcasters
should have editorial independence.

"The public service ambit of broadcasters should be clearly defined and
include an obligation to ensure that the public receive adequate,
politically-balanced information, particularly during election periods," the
declarations says.

It also says bodies set up to regulate the media should be protected from
political interference.

"Its powers shall be administrative in nature and it shall not seek to usurp
the role of the courts. Effective self-regulation is the best system of
promoting high standards in the media."

That cannot be said of our Media and Information Commission.

The declaration says states should review all criminal restrictions on media
content to "ensure that they serve a legitimate interest in a democratic

"Freedom of expression should not be restricted on public order or national
security grounds unless there is a real risk to harm a legitimate interest
and there is a close causal link between the risk of harm and the
expression," the declaration says.

There are also calls to relax defamation laws so that "public figures shall
be required to tolerate a greater degree of criticism".

Zimbabwe's media laws have remained largely in conflict with these standards
on media freedom.

The country's legislature has passed laws such as the Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act, the Broadcasting Services Act and the Public
Order and Security Act without taking into cognisance the existence of
important continental instruments. In fact there has been no attempt by
government to publicise the instruments it has ratified - especially where
these would hinder its repressive designs.

The judiciary has also upheld the constitutionality of laws which are at
odds with African instruments.

The excuse that these are Western values does not apply here.

The tired argument is that African human rights and standards should have an
African context so that they are not merely an expression of norms divorced
from bread and butter issues.

Fundamental and universal human rights such as freedom from torture and
slavery, or freedom of assembly and freedom of expression fall in the class
of inalienable rights in any civilised society. There is no excuse for

Despite the documents being truly African, authored by Africans, not much
effort has been put to adhere to them. African rulers, including our own,
have been quick to identify the issue of basic human rights with Western
liberal ideas. This official mantra, coupled with accusations that Western
countries also have a notorious human rights record, have been used to
deflect international criticism of serious human rights abuses in the
country where dissent of any form is classified as terrorism.

Thus while the world celebrated World Press Freedom Day on Monday, Zimbabwe
had the distinction of being one of the countries most hostile to
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Zim Independent

Eric Bloch Column

Zim's non-conducive investment environment

 HANS Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm must surely have lost their
reputations of being the world's foremost tellers of fairy tales. Those
reputations, of almost two centuries standing, have inevitably been eclipsed
by the Minister of Fiction, Fable and Myth (otherwise known as Dr Goebbels
reincarnate) and his bevy of editors, journalists and correspondents who
unreservedly disseminate his vivid imaginations, hallucinations and
distortions of realities. There is virtually not a single issue of the
newspapers controlled by him which does not contain news reports, articles
and opinions which have either been grossly modified from fact, or which
contain interpretations of fact far beyond the wildest possible actualities.

Last week his flagship daily excelled itself in stretching credulity beyond
the most extended and generous of bounds. A leader page article proudly
trumpeted: "Zimbabwe offers conducive conditions for investment". Are there
no boundaries beyond which the truth cannot be extended? To any rational,
thinking reader the very first sentence of the article must have evidenced
that it was a work of fiction, for it commenced with the proud sentence that
"Zimbabwe has a sound and lucrative investment climate unparalleled in
Southern Africa". How far-fetched can any statement published in a national
newspaper be? "Unparalleled"? Most certainly not!

Almost every country in Southern Africa has an economy which is in sounder
circumstances than Zimbabwe, and which is a more attractive investment
environment than Zimbabwe. South Africa's economy is considerably more
developed, active and inviting than that of Zimbabwe. It's inflation is
almost non-existent. It has a positive balance of payments. It is on a
substantial growth path. It is accommodating to investment. It has a virile
stock exchange. It has a responsible, secure, and safe financial sector. It
has countless other favourable characteristics.

The same is true of Botswana. No exchange controls exist. Import cover
exceeds 28 years. Inflation is at minimal levels. Government is democratic,
and its successive presidents know how to retire. Mozambique's economy,
distressed for many years, is on a rapid upturn, notwithstanding years of
adverse and destructive climatic conditions. It promotes and facilitates
both domestic and foreign investment, with minimised bureaucracy and
energetic endeavours to motivate and assist investment. In varying degrees,
the same can be said of Zambia, Malawi, Angola, Uganda, Tanzania and other
countries within the region.

And yet Zimbabwe's highest circulating daily newspaper has the unmitigated
arrogance to allege that not only does Zimbabwe have a sound and lucrative
investment climate, which statement is devoid of foundation, but also to
control that that climate is unparalleled within Southern Africa. That
contention is so ludicrous that not only will no thinking reader accept it
and find it believable, but most must react with sad and ironic,
disbelieving laughter.

The author of that fanciful article proceeds to allege that Zimbabwe
embarked upon a "successful land reform programme". How on earth is it
possible to allege that a programme which has resulted in the displacement
of over 300 000 farm workers, a reduction in commercial maize production by
almost 80%, in tobacco production by approximately 75%, in sugar production
by at least 50%, and a 60% decimation  of the national livestock herd was

The author discloses that he lives in "cloud cuckooland" when he claims that
Zimbabwe's annual GDP growth is 12,1%. He makes that claim in the face of
statements by Ministers of Finance and Economic Development that the last
two years have witnessed negative GDP growth, and when statistics released
by government, and statements by the governor of the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe corroborate that Zimbabwe's economy has not grown, but has
contracted substantially.

Equally stretching the imagination of readers to inconceivably distant
levels is the author's statement that: "The communication infrastructure in
Zimbabwe is advanced" although, perhaps in relative terms, that can be so.
Certainly it is more advanced (but not necessarily more reliable) than the
days of communication by runners with cleft sticks, pigeon post, or the
beating of drums. But the communication infrastructure is unreliable,
ineffectual, and obstructive to ongoing economic activity, in the extreme.
Endeavours to make Subscriber Trunk Dialling (STD) calls to centres in
Zimbabwe, and to destinations beyond Zimbabwe, require extreme patience and
perseverance. Almost continuously those endeavours are rewarded by metallic
voice messages that "All circuits on the route you have dialled are
occupied. Please try again later." or that the "network is busy". When,
after recurrent immensely frustrating attempts to connect to a targeted
number and connection is achieved, the call will - more often than not, and
especially on mobile telephone networks - be prematurely terminated by loss
of signal or network congestion.

In trumpeting the attributes of Zimbabwe as a sound and lucrative investment
environment, the article's author alleges that: "Whilst many may feel
threatened to walk in the streets of some neighbouring countries, all
corners of Zimbabwe are safe for locals and visitors to enjoy the beautiful
sights of the country." No doubt the very numerous victims of having their
vehicles hijacked after their drivers were held up at pistol point will not
agree. Nor will the hundreds who have suffered severe assaults after
break-ins into their homes, and the hundreds more who have been deprived of
valuable personnel belongings by highly aggressive intruders.

The sense of security which for decades was a proud attribute of life in
Zimbabwe has disappeared, as evidenced by almost every domestic residence
turned into a fortress with concrete wall surrounds, and electrified wiring
mounted thereon. The absence of that sense of security is also very visibly
demonstrated by the immense extent to which businesses and residences are
now protected by security guards - that protection was not required in years
gone past.

And the lack of security is made very clear by the unmitigated ability of
war veterans (real or pseudo), and thousands of others to invade and
expropriate farms, vandalise the improvements thereon, displace the farmers,
and make endless extortion demands. Most of all, that lack of security is
highlighted by the frequent failure of the supposed guardians of law and
order to react and take appropriate action against the perpetrators of those
many violent, criminal acts.

The fiction is extended even further by the fallacious claim that "Political
stability in Zimbabwe is guaranteed by the progressive and dominant role
that the ruling Zanu PF offers visitors and investors". How can it be
credibly claimed that there is political stability when not only does true
democracy not exist, but the dictatorship of the party is such that people
carry party membership cards out of fear of retribution for not doing so,
the silent majority fear exercising their right to vote, Presidential Powers
are exercised to advance political objectives rather than to address
emergencies, thereby circumventing the parliamentary system. Constitutional
commissions are hijacked into issuing determinations at variance with
majority opinion, lobbyist groups such as the AAG are unhindered in being
self-appointed enforcers of their own distorted versions of the law.
Individuals can be incarcerated for up to 28 days without charges being
brought against them, persons are determined guilty by the national press
prior to trial, legislation is steam-rollered through parliament, and so

Admittedly, Zimbabwe could readily have an extremely sound and very
lucrative investment climate. The fertility of its land could render it the
granary of Africa, with vast agricultural output, if land tenure, justice,
respect for human rights and property, and for international and national
law were the order of the day. Agriculture could be restored to being the
foundation of a growth economy if an equitable and constructive land reform
programme would be pursued, instead of one governed by racial hatred and
perceived enrichment of the politically favoured. The wealth of the minerals
below the Zimbabwean soil could dramatically enrich the Zimbabwean economy,
if stable economic conditions prevailed, and if investors were not justly
fearful of expropriation.

Tourism too would contribute markedly to the economy if genuine security
prevailed in Zimbabwe, crime was vigorously attacked, and tourist needs
would be readily provided, instead of being in short supply, as is - for
example - the case with petroleum products. And the very considerable,
well-developed industrial infrastructure could be a pavement supplier of
regional needs, a source of continuing employment for Zimbabweans, a
generator of essential foreign currency inflows, an ongoing provider of
employment, and a contributor to downstream economic activity.

But for Zimbabwe to develop a virile, investor conducive economy, genuine
democracy and political stability, real and absolute justice, fiscal
disciplines, constructive and collaborative international relationships, and
national unity are prerequisites. Without them, the only sound and lucrative
Zimbabwean economic climate will be in the minds and writings of government'
s propagandists.
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Zim Independent


It's dirty business for Zim's urban poor

MUCKRAKER was last week struck by the hypocrisy displayed by President
Robert Mugabe and his Namibian counterpart Sam Nujoma. Without saying who
had threatened to attack either Zimbabwe or Namibia, Nujoma told his
audience in Bulawayo that his country stood ready to help Zimbabwe fight
against imperialist forces. "Where do we go," asked Nujoma almost
rhetorically, "if we allow colonialists to come back again? Therefore we
have resolved to continue fighting whether imperialists want it or not.If
they dare to attack any of our countries, they will meet us here."

He didn't say much on the purpose of his visit, which was to officially open
the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair. That would have been a huge
embarrassment to his host whose black empowerment bid appears to have gone
horribly wrong. On display were mainly handmade merchandise and other
handicrafts such as wood and stone carvings.

In the past ZITF provided the platform at which new machinery, technological
innovations and the latest vehicle models were unveiled. All that is gone.
The star attraction in the livestock section, Muckraker is informed
authoritatively, were two donkeys. That's a calamity for a country such as
Zimbabwe whose farmers have a worldwide reputation for their industry and

That did not stop our fist-waving leader from offering to share Zimbabwe's
experiences and expertise in land reform with Namibia.

"Your excellency," said Mugabe, "I am fully aware that the land question is
equally emotive in Namibia. I wish to assure you that my government is ready
to share its experiences and expertise in areas of land planning, land
evaluation and land redistribution, as well as land tenure, land use and
estate management."

As Zimbabweans will testify, Zimbabwe is a case study on how not to.And
Nujoma cannot be said to be naive. It was only two weeks ago that he
announced land redistribution in Namibia would be properly planned and done
according to the law and that landowners would be compensated.

That is not to say Namibians are not passionate about land. It only reflects
pragmatism and statesmanship. And a few months back German chancellor
Gerhard Shroeder pledged to help a legal and organised land reform
programme. Not a project of vengeance as we have in Zimbabwe. Nujoma knows
the distinction between solidarity rhetoric and what's good for his country!

So Information minister Jonathan Moyo's department got even more slighted by
claims that it had been offended by Zanu PF Makonde MP Kindness Paradza's
maiden speech in parliament in which he criticised the Broadcasting Services
Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act as inimical
to investment promotion in the media! The department was stung into another
vitriolic attack of the MP's speech as "ignorant" and full of "inaccuracies"
. People were not supposed to point out that the department was angered by
Paradza's speech, who himself should have known better than to attack party
policies in public, or in private for that matter as a "nervous novice

"For serious-minded people to imagine that the department would be offended
by ignorant remarks made by an ignorant novice parliamentarian is a joke
that is not funny," fumed the department "happily" in the Sunday Mail. We
are surprised that a department that wants to be taken seriously has no
shame in publicising its feelings even on the pettiest of issues.

Why is Paradza now described as ignorant when there were wild celebrations
after he was elected as the MP for Makonde? So despite the department's
pretence that it is omniscient, it makes mistakes about the candidates that
can faithfully represent the interests of the party?

Meanwhile Paradza seems to have thought he was within his rights as an MP to
point out bad legislation, without knowing this was taboo in Zimbabwe. The
lesson he should have learnt long ago is that it is almost a contradiction
in terms to belong to Zanu PF and be independent-minded. Precedents litter
the whole history of independent Zimbabwe, from Byron Hove, Eddison Zvobgo,
Edgar Tekere to Dzikamai Mavhaire.

Somebody please help one apoplectic Lowani Ndlovu. He appears to think that
spitting venom and epithets at 80 km/hour on its own constitutes an
argument. In an article titled "Sellout papers peddling lies about Kondozi
Farm" published in the Sunday Mail, he poured forth about "rubbish",
 "stupid" papers as if that was enough to make him sound better than
"hogwash". Muckraker can almost bet that the fellow claiming to know the
whole truth about Kondozi doesn't even know where the farm is located. Then
he has sentences like Kondozi Farm being "acquired for acquisition and
resettlement". Can anything beat that? But the ignorance gets worse.

Media reports said 70 traditional leaders, including 39 chiefs, visited VP
Joseph Msika at his Munhumutapa offices in Harare led by Chief Marange.
Nobody talked about 39 chiefs and 70 traditional leaders. He calls the
reports themselves "lies" but doesn't say where Msika has denied meeting the
traditional leaders. Such an inquiry would necessarily have interfered with
his preordained script. Why let an inconvenient fact get in the way of
sweet-tasting falsehoods?

The article ended with the astounding claim that "most Zimbabweans agree
with and support the government's position that there should be no going
back on Kondozi". Who carried out such a survey? If you ask Muckraker, the
only person who has expressed such a sentiment publicly is Information
minister Jonathan Moyo. Eureka! The sentence structure, the language, the
venom and tone of the article are clearly traceable right up to the
doorsteps of Munhumutapa Building! Lowani stays a myth.

Sunday Mail political editor Munyaradzi Huni is worried about the South
African media writing what it wants about President Mugabe. It can be
inferred that he is more comfortable with a media wearing blinkers, "a
gullible press which believes that finding and highlighting government
faults is unpatriotic", to use Professor Jonathan Moyo's phrase. A mentality
which sees an enemy of the state and a foreigner behind every thinking

According to Huni, the South African press is still controlled by what he
calls the "apartheid man" who cannot tell the "African story, the people's
story". Needless to say that he doesn't tell us what that story is. The only
thing that used to be common about Africa is that it was once described as
the Dark Continent. Beyond that, what can Huni say we have in common with
Liberia or Somalia for instance? What do we have in common with the Sudan?
Unless he wants to endorse colonial stereotypes about famine, dictatorships,
civil wars and mass poverty as the hallmarks of the continent!

But he soon found himself puncturing his own over-generalised claims. While
the media wanted South Africans to ignore President Robert Mugabe when he
visited that country for President Thabo Mbeki's inauguration, ordinary
people gave him a "standing ovation".

"That standing ovation is enough to tell the South African media what the
people in South Africa think about President Mugabe. President Mugabe is
their hero despite all the stinking lies from the apartheid press."

That is the contradiction Huni doesn't appreciate. Why bother to control the
press when people know better what they want, unless you have something
sinister to hide? If people don't want the press they are getting that press
dies a natural death.

But when they choose to listen to their conscience, even state media
reporters can sometimes see the reality of our existence. Like Sifelani
Tsiko did last Saturday. In a story headlined "Living on garbage", the
reporter managed to capture in unsanitised detail the tough life that most
Zimbabweans go through everyday.

"Seemingly oblivious to the overpowering stench and buzzing flies, James
Simango pokes at a heap of garbage and plucks out a prize - plastic
containers full of all kinds of waste, which he puts into a sack.It's a
dirty business, but one that can bring in up to $40 000 (about US$7,5 at the
Reserve Bank auction rate) a day," is how Tsiko opens his article on the
lives of scavengers in Harare.

The caption under one of the pictures of a major municipal rubbish dumpsite
reads: "Thousands of people in Zimbabwe comb through waste dumps for
recyclable materials to survive."

This is part of the daily reality for the urban poor that his bosses in the
Information department would rather not see because they are insulated by
fat pay cheques and see the world through rose-tinted windows.

When opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai
warned ahead of the 2002 presidential election that Zimbabweans hadn't seen
the worst of their problems, this was cynically twisted to imply that he
wanted sanctions imposed on the country. He predicted that most people would
be reduced to scavengers. Instead the state media produced its Hondo Yeminda
and Sendekera jingles on how the majority of the people had been empowered
and that the land reform was an unparalleled success. Luckily Tsiko managed
to smuggle into the Saturday Herald home truths to make his bosses squirm in
their seats. Truth will out, whether Newsnet wants it or not.

Talking of Newsnet, whose motto claims "When it happens we will be there",
it was nowhere to be seen last week when National Constitutional Assembly
demonstrators were beaten by riot police in the Harare city centre. In fact,
there was such a blackout a lot of people don't know to this day that there
was a demonstration that was suppressed by brutal police gangs. That tells
us all we need to know about the type of information we are permitted to
have access to. It's a feat not even the colonial regime could have achieved
in a thousand years.

South Africa's Mail & Guardian seems to have exposed its treachery by
reporting that Zimbabwe could face a famine. Our patriotic Tazzen
Mandizvidza was not impressed by that report. He claimed people were
harvesting their crops after a good rainy season. The claims by the
newspaper were meant to tarnish the country's impeccable image.

While Muckraker thinks the figure of eight million people facing food
shortages is grossly inflated, we do not understand how the Mail & Guardian
has "demonised" the country as claimed by Mandizvidza. To us that reads like
the meteorological office forecasting very cold weather next month. It's a
mere forecast. You can make preparations the best you can. You don't lose
anything if June turns out to be hotter than October.

But more telling was the fact that Mandizvidza studiously ignored the Herald
report about thousands of Zimbabweans "living on garbage". Where is the food

Assisting Mandizvidza on his Monday programme was one Lady Rubi who appeared
fairly literate but allowed herself to be led by the nose down the garden
path. Her answer to everything that irked Mandizvidza was "capitalism". You
get lured into a ZBC Holdings studio at great peril to your credibility. We
hope Rubi will be more circumspect next time instead of simpering
over-indulgently to Mandizvidza's every question.
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Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

Jorum Nyathi

"PRESIDENT Mugabe has said our main enemy is the financial sector but the
other enemy is the media who use the pen to lie about this country.

Such reporters are terrorists and the position on how to deal with
terrorists is to subject them to the laws of Zimbabwe. If there are any
reporters who think they will effect a regime change here they will find
themselves in jail, we have enough prison room for them."

The quotation above is attributed to our redoubtable Information minister
Jonathan Moyo. The comments were allegedly made in Bulawayo on Friday last
week, just two days before World Press Freedom Day.

As if to lend credence to Moyo's threats, on May 3 the Committee for the
Protection of Journalists issued a rating of countries that are most
dangerous for journalists to work in. Zimbabwe settled for the bronze medal
after a bruising contest with Iraq (gold) and Cuba (silver). I don't know if
it was because of British machinations that we were not able to clinch the
gold medal.

But more seriously, I found the threat from our mercurial Information
minister not only sinister, it was terrifying.

It is not the "prison room" that frightens me. It is the fact of a reporter
being described as a "terrorist" by a minister whose main duty should be to
see that journalists are protected and assisted in carrying out their
duties. It is the prospect of getting unemployment or inflation figures
about Zimbabwe wrong, for instance, and landing in prison. It is the
chilling reality that it does not need a court to decide whether or not I
have committed a crime and therefore must spend a night in prison. It is the
minister's law!

I am also terrified by the liberties the minister takes with language when
he uses inflammatory statements to randomly categorise people as this or
that for political purposes. Moyo says a reporter who writes a lie about the
country is not only an enemy, he is a terrorist as well.

Were it not for the fear of offending the minister I would say he is being
dangerously reckless with words. The moment one mentions terrorists I am
reminded of the September 11 annihilation of the Twin Towers in New York. I
am reminded of the Bali bombings.

At home mention of terrorists conjures up the horrors of allegations by Zanu
PF that the MDC plotted to bomb bridges across the country and all tall
buildings in Harare and Bulawayo ahead of the presidential election in 2002.

To then juxtapose these fiery images with a journalist scribbling away with
a pen is more than hyperbole. It excites a keen sense of bathos. You fall
from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Except there is nothing sublime about acts of terrorism but something foul
about a Minister of Information describing journalists as terrorists for
merely getting facts wrong about their country. Especially if the minister
is the sole arbiter of what is correct and what is not.

Since the pernicious Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act was
promulgated two years ago nearly 40 reporters and journalists in the private
media have been arrested although none has been convicted in a court of law.
That must be a sobering thought for the minister.

But the minister's influence on the media in Zimbabwe has been nothing short
of uMfecane since he came on the scene in 2000. Over 400 media workers have
been forced to leave ZBC Holdings and Zimpapers while the ANZ has been
forced to shut down its Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday. The future
of the Tribune is uncertain.

The overall impact has been turmoil for journalists and their families.
Dozens of them have been dispersed into the diaspora as far afield as
America and the UK where they are trying to survive the best they can while
back home the minister makes sure he has enough "prison room" for the few
journalists remaining. The Zulu people had Dingane and Mkabayi.

So it was that the mourning event for Press Freedom Day organised by ZUJ was
held under the pall of a threat by Dr Tafataona Mahoso of the Media and
Information Commission that the Tribune risked losing its publishing licence
because of administrative anomalies. Apparently there is no other remedy for

Speaker after speaker mourned the ever-shrinking democratic space in an age
when our people should be enjoying the full benefits of Independence. That
includes choosing the media one wants to read the way we choose what we want
to wear. The irony, as ZUJ president Mathew Takaona pointed out, is that
there are more colleges now than at Independence churning out journalists
while the market for them is getting squeezed. And government is one of the
greatest investors in the training of journalists.

There was a solidarity message from UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, read by
United Nations Information Centre staffer Tafadzwa Mumba, and a detailed
speech by former attorney-general Andrew Chigovera, now a commissioner on
the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights. We were too optimistic
to expect something from the Information department.

Moyo's only comment as reported in the Herald was a bit of casuistry about
press freedom not being the same as freedom of expression. It's so banal. We
all know that. All we are saying is everyone has a right to be heard. Media
plurality almost certainly increases that chance if the minister ever
bothers to read the numerous letters in different newspapers from across a
wide section of the population. We cannot all go and gather at Pockets Hill
to be interviewed by Reuben Barwe.

I would rather be a guest at the minister's "prison room" than turn my head
into a prison for ideas through self-censorship.

Then there was the dubious accolade of being unfriendly to journalists. That
image will be very difficult to shake off with our minister whose
temperament is not tempered by diplomacy. Just what was the point of his
noisy brawl with Sky News reporters when Zanu PF Information secretary
Nathan Shamuyarira had already sanctioned the crew's visit? That is in
addition to dozens of foreign journalists who have been deported in the past
two years because they were tarnishing the country's image. The minister or
the journalists?

Members of the press unite!
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Zim Independent

Forex runs out at Western Union
Ngoni Chanakira
INTERNATIONAL money transfer agency, Western Union, on Monday ran out of
foreign currency for customers after Zimbabweans living abroad sent in
US$1,7 million to their counterparts.

There was drama in Harare's central business district on Nelson Mandela
Avenue as disgruntled customers began losing tempers after being told by
Western Union officials that foreign currency was being rationed because it
could not go round the hundreds of them queuing outside.

The branch had to be temporarily closed and security agents called in.

Last week, after meeting with South African Reserve Bank governor Tito
Mboweni in Botswana, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono sent a
statement telling the nation that they could now sell their foreign currency
to local banks and no questions would be asked as to the source of the cash.
Gono said the rate used would either be $5 200 or the prevailing auction
rate, whichever was higher.

The auction rate on Monday stood at $5 333,76 for the United States dollar
and $9 459,68 for the British pound.

"The money transfer agencies still need to solve a few procurement issues in
order to deal with transfers from the diaspora," economic consultant Eric
Bloch said. "They had not requested a huge amount of forex to give customers
and were overwhelmed by the response."

Bloch chairs the RBZ committee set up to tap foreign currency from
Zimbabweans in the diaspora. He said money transfer agencies however needed
to get their act together for the process to be smooth.

"After I made my announcement that locals will not be asked where they got
the money from, it started rolling in," Gono told businessdigest. "In the
two days after my announcement from Botswana we have received US$1,7
million, which is not small change. Just imagine what will happen in a

The money was from the UK, South Africa and the US.

"Individuals now prefer to hand in their money to money transfer agencies
and commercial banks than sell it on the streets," Bloch said. "If they get
caught then they forfeit the money to the state and are arrested."

Parallel market rates at the moment are about $5 500 to the US greenback as
opposed to $5 300 officially, giving a difference of between $100 and $200.

Analysts said the huge amount of money could have been intended for school
fees for relatives failing to meet the country's escalating costs.
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Zim Independent

Everyone guilty says Robertson
Ngoni Chanakira
ECONOMIC consultant John Robertson says without the parallel market exchange
rate used before Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono bounced onto
the money-controlling scene, every company producing commodities would be

He said every exporting company came to depend upon the additional Zimbabwe
dollars they could obtain by trading part of their export proceeds at the
rising parallel market rates.

"Inflation and frequent steep increases in wages and salaries, rents,
utility charges and other operating costs meant that these companies would
not have been able to meet their payments to staff without selling some or
all of their available foreign exchange on the parallel market," Robertson
told business executives gathered in Harare to discuss the foreign currency
situation on Tuesday.

"But for the parallel market exchange rate, their exports would have been
impossible to sell because by converting 100% of their proceeds at the
official rate of exchange, they would not have been able to cover their
production costs." Some individuals and financial institutions have been
hauled before the courts accused of abusing the country's foreign currency
regulations as set down by the RBZ. Some executives have however fled the
country saying it is unfair to blame them because the money was helping the

Fearing that they would be hauled before the courts on allegations of
externalisation, NMB Holdings executives Julius Makoni, James Mushore, Otto
Chekeche and Francis Zimunya left the country for the United Kingdom. So did
Intermarket Holdings boss Nicholas Vingirai, Barbican Holdings founder
Mthuli Ncube and several financial institution middle managers who sought
refuge in the UK, South Africa and the US.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Development Chris Kuruneri and business
tycoon James Makamba are currently in jail for allegedly externalising
funds. Companies such as Telecel and ICL have already been fined while
Kingdom, CFX and Barclays Bank are awaiting judgement on their cases.

"In essence without the parallel market exchange rate every company
producing commodities, goods or services for export would have been forced
into bankruptcy at some stage between 2000 and 2003," Robertson said. "This
is simply because at the rapidly rising rate of inflation, Zimbabwe dollars
at fixed official exchange rates inevitably became excessively over-valued."
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Zim Independent

Gideon Gono on presidential ambitions
Ngoni Chanakira
RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono says Zimbabweans should not
misconstrue his progress in cleaning up the financial services sector as
gunning for the presidency in disguise.

The governor on Tuesday said his job description was simple and very similar
to those of his colleagues worldwide.

"My role is to monitor the country's monetary policy issues," he said. "I am
supposed to supervise financial institutions, money supply growth, interest
rates, balance government expenditure and payments as well as try to curb
devils like hyperinflation. Actually the job is very clearly defined and
specific. While doing this, maybe things have overlapped."

Sentiments have been expressed that Gono, President Mugabe's financial
confidante, was now usurping the powers of the Minister of Finance and
Economic Development.

When he was appointed governor in December, Gono's boss was Herbert Murerwa,
once given a dressing down in public by President Mugabe who accused him of
running a funeral parlour instead of a Finance ministry.

Murerwa was however early this year reshuffled and replaced by business
tycoon Christopher Kuruneri in President Mugabe's latest "Young Turk"

Kuruneri is currently in remand prison awaiting trial for various issues
including externalising foreign currency to build an eight-bathroom
two-storey mansion in South Africa.

Musical chairs immediately ensued at Finance after Kuruneri's arrest and
Murerwa bounced back as Gono's boss again.

"Maybe this (the idea about the presidency) is because I deal with
everybody," Gono said when asked about his ambitions and whether he was
interested in President Mugabe's job on Tuesday.

A high-ranking business executive asked the question.

"When I do my reports I talk to everybody - the media, lawyers, labour,
women's groups, soldiers, economists and small-scale business executives.
You cannot achieve success in this kind of job if you do not consult widely.
About the job at State House I'm hearing it from you."

He said however his work rate was proving too much for some individuals,
including his advisors.

"When I arrived here people thought I was crazy," he said. "My security
slept at around 2:00 am daily and came back to pick me up at home at 8:00 am
and it was business as usual. I had a job to do because I had my maiden
monetary policy statement to present within three weeks, which I did. The
rest, as you can witness, is now up to the public to judge."

Gono, in his monetary policy statement, told bankers that they were wayward
and he would deal with them ruthlessly if they did not comply with RBZ

"Some thought I was joking," he said. "When I told the nation that asset
management firms were an accident waiting to happen they did not believe me.
Thank God that accident did not happen."

Gono said Zimbabwe's economy needed more surgery before it could get back to
normal levels.

He said what had killed the economy was indiscipline, smuggling and the
parallel market caused by a serious foreign currency shortage and a skewed
exchange rate. He said both government and the private sector were
responsible for this.

Gono's predecessor was Leonard Tsumba, accused of trying "bookish solutions
to a crisis scenario" by Mugabe.

"We still have to deal with indiscipline which did not define any logic," he
said. "It was fashionable in Zimbabwe to increase prices at any time and
there was now a bandwagon of price increasers. This had to be stopped. The
country was full of middlemen with no job description."

Zimbabwe's unemployment rate stands at more than 75%.

Gono said his consultations with all stakeholders had opened up a different
world not only within the financial services sector but also in all others
including churches, activist groups as well as top government brass.

"Right now the governor's office no longer has a door and windows," he said.
"We are now working on bringing the roof down at 80 Samora Machel Avenue so
that anybody and everybody can come in and give me advice.

However, I will not come to you. You must come to me to advise me what you
think because there are too many Zimbabweans to go around if I decided to do
a door-to-door exercise."

Asked whether he was receiving support from the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) for his policies, Gono said he had agreed not to
reveal information about those who were helping him in his cause. He said
this could prove dangerous in the event that their "constituency" did not
approve of it.

"What I can tell you is that there are some individuals who continue to blow
their trumpets even when there is no audience," Gono said.

He confirmed that if he found that individuals who influence the success of
the monetary policy statement were not playing ball, he would simply run
with the ball and win the game for the nation without them.

"If the politics is not good and people are complaining I will, albeit
diplomatically, tell them to deal with it," he said.

"We need to move on and this demands action. When I accepted this job I told
my bosses that failure was not an option."
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Zim Independent

ZTA strives to polish image
Ngoni Chanakira
THE Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has now been forced to organise a
workshop to explain how and where they arrive at some of their figures
dished out regularly.

Tourism industry officials have been issuing different information for
arrivals and departures, making life very difficult for the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) which need the
figures to calculate revenue.

RBZ governor Gideon Gono last year said there was huge potential in tourism
which officials were not taking advantage of..

He allocated $15,7 billion to the industry from the productive sector
facility during the first quarter of this year.

While there have been conflicting statistics on arrivals and earnings Gono
says tourism receipts increased by 40,4% from US$11,4 million in 2002 to
US$16 million in 2003.

Economic consultant John Robertson this week disputed the figures, saying
the department seemed to be guessing all the time.

He said as long as tourists feared for their lives they would not visit
Zimbabwe but go to neighbouring South Africa and Zambia from where they
could also view the famous Victoria Falls.

Gono, in his monetary policy review statement, said reflecting improving
tourist perceptions on Zimbabwe as a safe and attractive destination, the
number of tourist arrivals had been on a marked upward trend since 2001.

ZTA marketing executive Givemore Chidzidzi was this week quoted as saying
they would be organising a workshop, especially for media practititioners,
to explain to them how they arrived at some of their figures.

He accused the media of failing to understand how his organisation arrived
at them.

Confusion meanwhile continues to rein in the country's tourism industry with
the announcement of Gono's new figures during the monetary policy statement

Gono's new figures, announced in the monetary policy review statement, were
surprisingly almost 100% lower than those released by the ZTA. The
revelation put the credibility of the tourism authority in doubt and
embarrassed officials.

The ZTA had earlier issued statistics indicating that the country's tourist
arrivals had grown to 2,2 million last year compared to 2,041 million in

In his statement, Gono announced that tourist arrivals had only increased to
1 089 million last year compared to 739 284 in 2002.

The tourism authority claimed that tourism receipts had plunged from US$75,7
million in 2002 to US$44,1 million last year. However Gono said there had
been a 40% increase in tourism receipts from US$11,4 million in 2002 to
US$16 million last year.

Zimbabwe Council for Tourism (ZCT) boss and Zimsun chief executive officer
Shingi Munyeza disputed the figures, saying they were exaggerated

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Zim Independent

NRZ problems hamper sugar exports
Eric Chiriga
ZIMBABWE Sugar Refinery (ZSR) says it is failing to supply sufficient sugar
quantities for export because of delays and inefficiency by the National
Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ).

"The erratic supply of rail wagons and locomotives by the National Railways
of Zimbabwe caused delays in railing sufficient quantities of sugar to the
port for export," ZSR chairman Godfrey Gomwe said.

He said all shipments under the African Caribbean Countries and various
other preferential quotas had been delayed.

The NRZ is facing serious operational problems because of a shortage of
locomotives and rail wagons. To operate viably, NRZ requires at least 108
wagons but it has only 60 that are usable.

The parastatal is paying Spoornet, a South African rail service provider, a
total of R6 million every month because it is failing to return wagons it
had borrowed.

Gomwe said the unavailability of locomotives coupled with the shortage of
coal was adversely affecting the supply of sugar on the local market.

"The domestic market sugar off-take was 9% as compared to the previous
year," he said. "This was principally a result of production bottlenecks
experienced at the refineries in Bulawayo and Harare due to shortage of coal
coupled with the unavailability of locomotives and rail wagons to transport
the raw sugar from the Lowveld to the respective refineries."

Gomwe said sugar production for the year 2003 was 501 423 tonnes, a decrease
of 14% as compared to the previous year.
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Zim Independent

ZCTU seeks $861 000 monthly wage
Godfrey Marawanyika/ Rodwin Chirara
A MAJOR collective bargaining battle is on the cards between employers and
workers as the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) is now seeking $861
000 as the minimum wage in line with the poverty datum line.

Labour's demands come in the wake of poverty datum line figures for the
first quarter which were compiled by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ).

ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo this week said there was need for an upward
review of what workers were earning.

"What we would like people to earn is based on the recommendations of the
Consumer Council of Zimbabwe who said the poverty datum line for a family of
six should now be $861 000 a month," Matombo said. "$861 000 is what we are
simply asking for. That figure is for the first quarter and now we are in
the second quarter and are giving employers up until June 1 or else we are
embarking on a nationwide strike to pressure them (employers)."

The last time the ZCTU called for a successful stayaway was in 1998, when it
managed to grind the economy to a standstill as workers heeded the union
leaders' call for a work boycott.

However, over the past two years, the ZCTU's efforts to protest on issues
such as those of governance have failed to meet the 1998 standards.

Matombo said although some of the unions were still negotiating with their
employers they should try and meet the June deadline.

"We are saying that they should meet the June deadline just in case
inflation maintains its stability like what it has been doing during the
first quarter," Matombo said.

"Then there would be a need to stabilise incomes against prices, because
some employers are now adopting the Reserve Bank governor's comments that
workers should not demand higher wages."

In his monetary policy review, RBZ governor Gideon Gono said workers should
not make huge wage demands because this could cause inflationary pressures
on the economy.

Employers' Confederation of Zimbabwe president Mike Bimha was not available
for comment as he was said to be attending a board meeting.

Last month the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) raised concern
about the issue of labour costs.

The CZI said for a successful economic recovery programme, the ZCTU should
not be accustomed to high wage increments that have been necessary in the
past because of hyperinflation.

The CZI said the ZCTU should mitigate "their wage expectations in the light
of the falling inflation rate".

Zimbabwe's year-on-year inflation has declined from a high of 622,8% in
January this year to the current 583%.

At the same time month-on-month that averaged around 18% last year, and
reached a peak of 33% in November, slowed down to 13,7% in January, 6% in
February and 5,9% in March.
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Zim Independent

'Rwandan' cleansing act on Zim scribes
By Bill Saidi
SO soon after the people of Rwanda remembered Africa's worst example of
ethnic cleansing in 1994 a few weeks ago, it was chilling to hear a junior
minister in the government of President Robert Mugabe speak once again of
journalists as "terrorists".

What do you do with terrorists?

He did not use the word "cleansing", but it can be taken for granted that to
accomplish this mission the Department of Information may have to engage in
a clean-up as gruesome as the Hutu massacres of Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

This may not be in the literal sense - lining up the journalists in a
football stadium and having them shot at dawn. But shutting down their
newspapers and throwing them out of jobs could have the same effect.

So far, the department, through its licensed-to-kill "Rambo" - the Media and
Information Commission - has displayed its keenness to do just that.

But it was even more frightening, on World Press Freedom Day, to hear the
government media practically wetting itself with glee and optimism at the
state of freedom of the press in this country.

To listen to them, but particularly Tafataona Mahoso, you would think the
New York-based Committee for the Protection of Journalists had just awarded
Zimbabwe a first prize as the Most-Journalist-Friendly country in the world.

Not a word about their rating of Zimbabwe as the third worst country in the
world for journalists to work in.

Iraq, under the US-led occupation, topped the list. But there is a bloody
war in that country, whatever label the Bush administration may wish to
stick on it.

Cuba was second, whatever spin Fidel Castro's apologists, among them
President Mugabe and Zanu PF, would want to put on it.

But Cuba is a communist country, run by one man's iron fist since 1959. The
island state may supply doctors to replace highly-qualified but lowly-paid
Zimbabwean doctors who flee their own country to seek more dignity and more
pay in other lands, far and near.

Apart from the official Gramma newspaper, Cuba has few other newspapers
which could qualify, in the strictest sense of the words, as free and
independent. This would be like mentioning any other newspaper in the
Democratic People's Republic of Korea, apart from The Pyongyang Times, the
official organ of the Workers' Party.

The world got to know so little about the recent tragic collision of two
trains near the DPRK's border with the People's Republic of China for that
precise reason - real valuable information is rationed, much like most of
the food is rationed in that country and in Cuba.

For Zimbabwe to be included among the Top Three on the
Worst-Journalist-Haters' list is something that ought to make Jonathan Moyo,
Mahoso and all those "analysts" they trundle to the TV studios, sick with

But, of course, it would be out of character for them to feel any shame
whatsoever. Their mission is to "cleanse" the media fraternity of any alien
substances, such as the 100% pure, clean liquid that guarantees freedom and
the independence of thought of anyone who takes even a smidgen of it.

Moyo did not exactly amaze many of his critics with his recent statement
that Zanu PF (or Zimbabwe as represented by that stone-age party) did not
believe that the existence of an independent media was a requisite component
of the democratic dispensation.

He has gone too far along the road to perdition to be expected to pronounce
any doctrine or ideology other than that which repudiates everything the
United Nations Charter and the Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 stand

Speaking of which, you had to applaud the fervour with which speakers at the
World Press Freedom Day function - nobody in their right senses dared to
call it a celebration - sponsored by the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists
defended the right of the citizen to consume any and all information.

Even Andrew Chigovera, the former Attorney-General, after detailing the
functions of the African Human Rights Commission, could not help but comment
that journalists needed to unite to fight for their rights.

But the most sharp-edged comment came from Elisha Mushayakarara, the
long-time banker and civil servant. He said he found out about Zimbabwe's
atrocious record as the third worst country for journalists to work in on
the Reuter terminal - and not in the local media.

More and more people, previously hooked on the government propaganda that
the world media was being unfair in its treatment of the country's politics,
are slowly beginning to realise this must be the biggest fib the government
has foisted on the people.

If there is any cleansing to be done, the journalists are the last people to
deserve it.

The real targets are so loud and foul-mouthed their identity and location
must be public knowledge by now.

l Bill Saidi is editor of the Daily News on Sunday currently closed.
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