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

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Zim Independent

      Zanu PF chefs grab land funds
      Augustine Mukaro

      TOP Zanu PF officials including the two vice-presidents, Simon Muzenda
and Joseph Msika, have benefited from funds from the Irrigation
Rehabilitation Programme designed to resuscitate irrigation on A2 farms last
year, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.

      Irrigation equipment worth millions of dollars was either looted or
vandalised during the farm grab which started in 2000. Government last year
announced a $1,2 billion package to rehabilitate the equipment and Zanu PF
senior politicians have topped the list of beneficiaries.

      Documents to hand show that of the $1,2 billion availed, ruling party
cronies received over $873 million. There are fears that some of the public
funds may not be recovered as has been the case with other such facilities
where officials have refused to pay back loans.

      The funds were made available at the same time as the tillage and
restocking programme funds.

      Msika received $8,4 million while Muzenda got $4,3 million under the
programme, according to Arda (Agricultural and Rural Development Authority)

      This is not the first time Zanu PF chefs have jumped on the gravy
train. In 1997 a High Court case revealed that senior officials diverted
funds meant to build houses for middle-income civil servants. In 1998 party
officials were also implicated in the looting of the War Victims
Compensation Fund.

      The Zanu PF "who's who" list has also featured in the tally of those
accused of unfairly benefiting from the District Development Fund borehole
project which saw drilling equipment diverted to private properties.

      Some of the beneficiaries of the latest scheme include Youth
Development minister Elliot Manyika who received $10 million, Finance
minister Herbert Murerwa who received $6,2 million, Justice minister Patrick
Chinamasa $910 000, and Zanu PF MPs Webster Shamu and Didymus Mutasa who
received $6 million and $7 million respectively.

      War veterans' leaders who also benefited include Chris Pasipamire ($5
million) and controversial municipal official Joseph Chinotimba ($6,5

      Also listed were defence chief Vitalis Zvinavashe, who received $8,8
million, police commissioner Augustine Chihuri who secured $13,2 million,
and the controversial Joceylin Chiwenga who got $3,2 million.

      Government sources this week said there was no systematic assessment
of would-be beneficiaries.

      The sources said the agreement with beneficiaries stipulated that
beneficiaries should produce two crops per annum.

      The farmers are expected to repay their loans through a stop order
system when they deliver their crops to the Grain Marketing Board.

      The sources said some of the money was not paid directly to farmers
but to suppliers.

      President Robert Mugabe's nephew Leo doubled as beneficiary in his
individual capacity and as service provider through his company Stewart &
Lloyds. He received $7 million under the rehabilitation fund and his company
generated business worth $60 million from the scheme.

      Investigations have revealed that 685 farmers benefited from the
scheme with the majority of them having links to the ruling party in one way
or the other.

      At the time of going to press Arda, which distributed the money, had
not responded to written questions.

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Zim Independent

Storm gathers over Mugabe G8 visit
Dumisani Muleya

A STORM is gathering over reports that French President Jacques Chirac could
invite President Robert Mugabe to the forthcoming economic summit of the
Group of Eight or a pre-conference gathering of developing countries in

Reports swirling in Western capitals yesterday indicate Chirac might want to
invite Mugabe to the summit for talks on the sidelines over Zimbabwe's
political and economic crisis.

The G8 - the world's leading economic powerhouses, the United States, Japan,
Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Russia - will hold its annual
meeting in Evian on the banks of Lake Geneva on June 1-3.

African leaders promoting the New Partnership for Africa's Development
(Nepad), South African President Thabo Mbeki, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria,
Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, Bouteflika Abdelazzi of Algeria and Hosni Mubarak
of Egypt, are expected to attend the summit to drum up support for their
continental renewal programme.

Mugabe may be invited to Evian because the Zimbabwe crisis, seen as a Nepad
test case, could come up at the meeting. France is understood to attach
considerable importance to Nepad.

If not invited to the G8 meeting, Mugabe could be allowed to attend Third
World countries' talks on development issues which Chirac has scheduled
ahead of the main conference.

British Conservative Party foreign affairs spokesman, Michael Ancram has
demanded assurances from the British government that Mugabe will not attend
the G8 summit.

"As extraordinary as it would seem, it appears that the French are up to
their old tricks again," Ancram said. "Does this mean that Robert Mugabe
will be invited to attend yet another international conference, once again
on French soil?"

French ambassador to Zimbabwe Didier Ferrand yesterday said he was not aware
of reports of Mugabe's possible invitation to the G8 summit.

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Zim Independent

Load-shedding set to spread
Augustine Mukaro
WIDESPREAD load-shedding is looming as Zesa fails to meet a one-month
deadline set by South African power supplier Eskom for it to settle its

Eskom last month granted Zesa a lifeline after it failed to meet a March 22
ultimatum which prompted Hydro Cahora Bassa (HCB) of Mozambique to cut
supplies to the heavily-indebted power utility.

HCB's reduction of power to Zesa has resulted in the current load-shedding.

HCB, which was supplying Zimbabwe with up to 250 megawatts a month,
suspended supplies after March 22 demanding an immediate payment of US$5
million while Eskom wants R11,2 million.

"We shall advise that under current circumstances of non-payment by Zesa, we
shall reduce your power level to zero megawatts from the 22nd of March
2003," HCB had warned before curtailing supplies.

Officials at Zesa said Eskom then agreed to supply the Zimbabwean power
utility with reduced energy for a month while it fulfils the conditions in
the March ultimatum.

"The reprieve only applied for the month of April giving Zesa time to put
their house in order and come up with a convincing payment plan for the
future," Zesa officials said.

Officials said widespread load-shedding had been avoided because Eskom had
not effected its threat following the visit of a high-powered South African
delegation to Harare.

Eskom, which had resorted to increasing tariffs for exports to Zimbabwe
whenever it failed to pay, has also threatened to switch off Zesa.

Zesa faces serious difficulties in renegotiating new supply contracts if the
current contracts are terminated for non-payment and capacity taken to other

Zimbabwe used to import about 55% of its electricity needs from Eskom, HCB,
and Snel of the Democratic Republic of Congo but the percentage was reduced
to 35% last year because Zesa failed to service its debts.

Zesa power stations throughout the country are operating at below 50%
capacity due to shortages of foreign currency to buy spares parts.

Zesa spokesman Daniel Maviva had not responded to written questions on the
matter at the time of going to print.

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Zim Independent

SA MP slams land reform, Pretoria's quiet diplomacy
Blessing Zulu/Ndamu Sandu
SOUTH African MP and Democratic Alliance spokesman on Agriculture Andries
Botha has slammed the chaotic fast-track land reform programme and his
country's quiet diplomacy.

In his report after a five-day visit to Zimbabwe with the parliamentary
agricultural portfolio committee between April 26 and May 1, Botha said
South Africa was paying heavily for its refusal to take a tough stance on
Zimbabwe. The treatment of South African farmers by Zimbabwe has also been a
cause for concern.

"These South Africans are still being targeted and evicted, contrary to
Zimbabwe government assurances, and to date they have not received any
compensation whatsoever," he said.

"South African investors and the South African mission are being disregarded
with impunity, because the South African government refuses either to
censure or to use its considerable leverage to influence governance in
Zimbabwe," Botha said.

He said the land reform progra-mme had displaced many people.

"Inevitable retrenchments of farm workers by evicted farmers amount to
between 400 000 and 600 000 individuals," said Botha.

"This is in excess of the 500 000 eventual settlers that government
contemplates while they themselves admit that they haven't reached 200 000
yet - a net loss of more than 300 000 people in agriculture," he said.

Botha said the retrenched workers were now destitute and relied entirely on
food handouts.

The retrenched workers, many of whom originated from neighbouring countries,
are homeless, destitute and have little or no access to land and are
therefore dependent on food aid, he said.

"In addition, according to NGOs and the labour unions, they suffer serious
human rights abuses because they are regarded as opponents of the

Botha said Zanu PF's argument that it was grabbing land - on the premise
that Britain had originally stolen the land without compensation and that
the land was merely being returned to its rightful owners - was bankrupt.

"This argument entirely ignores the fact that this very same government has
registered 80% of all present title deeds held by commercial white farmers.

"This means that 80% of the present farmers bought and paid for their land
after Independence with the permission and consent of the Zimbabwe
government, particularly those that registered their title deeds only after
a certificate of no interest from government was issued as required since

"Without this, registration could not take place," he said.

The visit by the South African MPs follows another by a delegation from Agri

The delegation said they were convinced that the land reform programme was
aimed primarily at securing political patronage and was implemented in such
a way that it caused irreparable damage to the production base of
agriculture. This contrasts with statements in the official media suggesting
Zimbabwe's land reform programme met with universal approval by the

State media continue to peddle distortions on the number of people who have
been resettled. This week the Herald said at least 300 000 people have been
resettled under the A1 model and 54 000 under A2. But late last month the
Sunday Mail quoted Agriculture minister Joseph Made as saying only 210 000
settlers had been allocated land under the A1 scheme and 14 880 under A2.

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Zim Independent

Mbeki moves to break political deadlock
Dumisani Muleya
SOUTH African President Thabo Mbeki has been energetically trying to break
the political deadlock at the heart of Zimbabwe's current crisis following
his visit to Harare this week with his Nigerian and Malawian counterparts
for talks with President Robert Mugabe.

High-level sources said Mbeki has been in touch with Mugabe, Nigerian
President Olusegun Obasanjo and Malawian President Bakili Muluzi after
Monday's talks, which failed to crack the current political impasse.

The three leaders saw opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai after their talks
with Mugabe.

"We understand that Mbeki has telephoned Mugabe, Obasanjo and Muluzi after
the talks," a diplomatic source said. "He has been consulting and working
hard to break the stalemate."

The source said Mbeki on Wednesday night spoke to Mugabe in a bid to
convince him to meet Tsvangirai without pre-conditions. Mugabe is thought to
be softening his initial hardline stance.

Sources said Mbeki and Muluzi were stepping up pressure on Mugabe to come to
the negotiating table. The two are said to have agreed during their meeting
with Tsvangirai that Mugabe should compromise.

Obasanjo, who reportedly suggested Monday's talks after his recent meeting
with Commonwealth secretary-general Don McKinnon in Abuja, initially tried
to defend Mugabe's stance but was prevailed upon by his counterparts to
accept the no-preconditions formula, an informed source said.

"What happened was Obasanjo started the meeting (with Tsvangirai) by almost
accusing the MDC of scuttling last year's talks with Zanu PF by going to
court. He said it was a mistake for the MDC to go to court," the source

"After the MDC had explained its position, Mbeki and Muluzi were quick to
appreciate it. They then said it was better for them to go back to convince
Mugabe on the need for talks without pre-conditions."

The source said Mbeki and Muluzi had confronted Obasanjo after he tried to
impose the burden of responsibility for the talks entirely on MDC shoulders.

"At that point in time the dialogue shifted to the three - Mbeki, Muluzi and
Obasanjo - and they ended up agreeing Mugabe had to change his stance
because, after all, he was the one they were trying to rescue."

Muluzi is said to have offered to invite the MDC for further talks in
Malawi. At State House the visiting leaders are understood to have tackled
Mugabe head-on.

Appearing to confirm this, Muluzi told the BBC World Service on his return
home that "we didn't just go there for a cup of tea. We were very serious."
He said he told Mugabe that a "bad economy is bad politics".

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Zim Independent

FSI property invaded by Mnangagwa opponents
Augustine Mukaro/Dumisani Muleya
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's succession battle is assuming new dimensions with
reports that retired army general Solomon Mujuru could be moving to block
Mugabe's anointed heir Emmerson Mnangagwa who has been positioning himself
for a take-over.

It is claimed that Mujuru has hired war veterans and youths in the
Mashonaland East province to occupy Ruware Farm in Marondera, bought by FSI
Agricom from commercial farmers Glen Johnson and Arthur Knight last year.

FSI is linked to business magnate Mutumwa Mawere who is said to be an ally
of Mnangagwa.

Mawere however this week denied any political links.

"I am not a part functionary," he said.

"I am not an office-bearer in the party. I am not part of that story because
FSI is a legally-registered body. If the company is sued, I will not be in
court," said Mawere.

Sources said war veterans linked to a group associated with Mujuru occupied
the FSI farm in a bid to frustrate what are seen as supporters of the
Mnangagwa camp.

FSI managing director Ivan Savala described the occupation of Ruware farm as
"politically-motivated" although he would not say who exactly was behind it.

"The purchase of Ruware and eight other farms bought by FSI was done above
board with all concerned parties approving it," Savala said.

"Ruware farm was not even contested or listed for acquisition when we bought
it. In fact it had a certificate of no interest when we entered into
agreement with the previous owners," he said.

Savala said when the purchase was concluded last May, the provincial
leadership including governor David Karimanzira approved it.

But this week, when FSI approached Karimanzira and the District
Administrator to evict the occupiers, the governor demanded to see the
transfer documents for the property. Savala said this was surprising since
Karimanzira was privy to the circumstances surrounding the sale of the farm.

"It's ridiculous for anyone to demand our purchase documents and doubt our
genuineness now," he said. "We will only release the documents, even to the
governor, when we get clarification as to who needs them. This is a private
investment and we have the right to protect it," he said.

Savala said Karimanzira, who is linked to the Mujuru camp, has also been
forced into questioning the developments he had been privy to from the

"The governor was not forthcoming with information as to who is querying our
purchase of the farms," Savala said. "We would not give him the purchase
documents before he tells us the source of dissatisfaction," he said.

Savala said Mashonaland East war veterans' leader Wilfred Marimo had told
FSI that he was instructed by his superiors to invade the farm.

"Marimo told us it was an instruction from above but did not give specific
details," Savala said. "He said he would remove the people anytime when his
superiors were satisfied with the set-up. Marimo is actually supplying the
over a hundred people invading Ruware farm with food and other basic needs,"
he said.

Highly-placed sources said FSI yesterday was in the process of acquiring a
peace order against the invaders.

"Police have agreed to help us remove the invaders once we bring the peace
order document," an FSI director said.

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Zim Independent

Libyans on mission to revive stalled talks
Vincent Kahiya
LIBYAN investors are coming to Zimbabwe at the end of the month to re-open
stalled negotiations on the acquisition of assets here, including the
strategic Mutare to Harare fuel pipeline, the Zimbabwe Independent can

Government sources this weeksaid officials from oil conglomerate Tamoil
together with other Libyan investors were edgy after President Mugabe's
Independence Day interview when he hinted at his retirement.

"They would like to secure assets as soon as possible to protect themselves
against any eventuality," a source said.

Apart from interest in the petro-chemical industry the Libyans have
expressed interest in agro-processing, the hospitality industry and banking.
But the prize assets with strategic importance to the North Africans are the
pipeline and holding tanks in Mabvuku. The Libyans would like to take
control of the assets to further their influence in the local fuel industry
through a joint venture company with Noczim called Tamoil-Zimbabwe.

Negotiations between the Libyans and government over the fuel handling
facili ties stalled in December after the two parties failed to agree on the
value of the assets. Government negotiators called for a proper audit of the
assets before any deals could be signed.

This resulted in Tamoil cancelling credit facilities thereby cutting off
supplies to Zimbabwe. Since the beginning of the year, Zimbabwe has been
importing fuel from Kuwait in an over-the-counter arrangement.

Government sources this week said the Libyans would this time around have
their Zimbabwean counterparts at a disadvantage. Supplies have over the past
two weeks reduced to a trickle with Harare totally dry last weekend as
Noczim failed to raise foreign currency.

"The Libyans can dangle goodies in the face of government - like a line of
credit - and the pipeline is gone," an industry source said.

The source said this could guarantee supplies in the short term butthere was
the clear and present da-nger of the Libyans building an empire and killing
off competition.

"If they take over the pipeline, it's very likely that the pipeline will
only be used to transport Libyan fuel."

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Zim Independent

Economic/political crisis weighs down on ZITF
Loughty Dube
THIS year's Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) which ended last
Saturday was eclipsed by an economic meltdown and nagging political
uncertainty which resulted in reduced numbers of foreign and local
exhibitors at the annual trade showpiece.

Big industries and the corporate world stayed away from this year's trade
show en-masse while a lot of space inside the showground remained vacant.

A total of 16 countries, most of them represented by small companies,
exhibited at the ZITF while local small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs)
filled the gap left by the corporate world.

Economist Eric Bloch said the trade fair benefited SMEs while it had no
benefits to large scale and cross border trade.

"This year's trade fair was very positive for the SMEs and informal traders
while it did not have any benefits for the export market and established
large-scale companies," Bloch said.

African countries that participated at the trade fair are Botswana, Angola,
Nigeria, Malawi, Mozambique, Mauritius, Kenya, Ghana, Egypt and South

The only overseas countries that showcased their products were Bangladesh,
Austria, Iran and China.

Malaysia pulled out at the last minute, while stands for Malawi and a lot of
South African companies were deserted.

Bloch said the absence of big investors at the ZITF diminished the status of
the fair.

"The absence of European countries at the fair impacted on the status of the
fair and really acted as a deterrent to local populists who would have hyped
it if all those countries were present," said Bloch.

Halls 2 and 2A, traditionally reserved for South Africa, remained locked
while another hall usually reserved for the manufacturing and engineering
sectors was used for hosting a business seminar.

Business leaders and exhibitors at the ZITF described this year's showcase
as just a ceremonial event with no tangible deals clinched.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) chief executive officer, Farai
Zizhou, told the Independent that he had no information on tangible deals
clinched by members of his organisation.

"We do not have any information of any deals clinched by our members at the
ZITF but the most important thing is that there is a need for an improvement
of the whole trade fair," Zizhou said.

He said there was a significant absence of the corporate world and hence the
need for the ZITF to entice more visitors from outside the country in order
to improve on business deals and encourage international trade.

"The ZITF needs to improve a lot of aspects and in the process entice more
visitors from outside the country so as to improve participation by the
corporate world and encourage international trade," Zizhou said.

Exhibitors at the trade fair said they were affected by fuel shortages as
some of their goods failed to reach the trade fair on time for business day

"We failed to secure enough fuel to transport our goods as a result of the
fuel shortages and as a result our goods arrived in Bulawayo a few days
after traders days and that is not good for business," said one dejected

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Zim Independent

Democratic reform process set in motion

Dumisani Muleya

HOPES for a dramatic breakthrough in the current political deadlock faded
this week after leaders of South Africa, Nigeria, and Malawi failed to
prevail upon President Robert Mugabe and opposition chief Morgan Tsvangirai
to shift their positions. However, there appeared to be light at the end of
the tunnel as Mugabe and Tsvangirai agreed on the urgent need for dialogue
to rescue the country from spiralling decline.

Analysts said although President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Olusegun
Obasanjo of Nigeria and Bakili Muluzi of Malawi failed to force Mugabe and
Tsvangirai to abandon their entrenched positions, the visiting statesmen
managed to keep the local leaders locked in a process which they could no
longer easily escape from.

South African Institute for Security Studies analyst Richard Cornwell said
Mbeki and his counterparts were trying to chart a calculated course to avoid
a rushed process that could fuel political instability and economic

He said Mugabe and Tsvangirai were still putting out feelers to find a way
forward in talks fraught with distrust, hostility and propaganda.

"Politics is the art of the possible. The two sides are still testing each
other's strength and I believe one way or the other a solution would be
found," he said.

"The rules of the game have been laid down but neither side will at this
stage give away its trump card."

Mbeki, Obasanjo and Muluzi, who have been battling since 2001 to resolve the
local crisis, were in Zimbabwe on Monday to kick-start dialogue between
Mugabe and Tsvangirai over the present crisis.

Their visit was preceded by Mugabe's recent statement in which he said he
could contemplate retirement now that he had completed his land reforms.

In an interview with ZTV last month, Mugabe also declared the succession
debate open.

Speculation that Mugabe could be on his way out was compounded by Mbeki's
remarks that he was aware Zanu PF was engaged in a process of "leadership

Critics say there is need to clearly define the objectives, timeframe and
plan of action for the talks to work. Although an agenda for the dialogue
was drawn up last year, some issues like Mugabe's fate after office and the
MDC's electoral petition still remain as stumbling blocks.

Mbeki's spokesman Bheki Khumalo said in an interview this week that the
talks were basically aimed at finding a solution to the current crisis.

"We have come to get a briefing from President Mugabe and Tsvangirai on the
situation on the ground and see what can be done to kick-start dialogue to
resolve difficulties faced by Zimbabweans," he said.

"This is an important process because it underscores our open-door policy.
We are prepared to work with all stakeholders to resolve this crisis."

This was opposed to official statements that the three African leaders were
in Zimbabwe to mediate between Harare and London.

Government has been trying to portray the local political impasse as a
bilateral dispute with Britain even though London has dismissed this as a
"false fight".

While setting the record straight on the talks, Khumalo was keen to
emphasise that Pretoria was not pursuing a regime-change strategy in

"There is no question of regime-change here," he said. "The president
(Mbeki) cannot be part of a scheme in which some people go round countries
deposing their leaders as and when they so wish."

Analysts say Pretoria was anxious to dismiss reports that it was arranging
an exit package for Mugabe, followed by a transitional arrangement and fresh
elections, to avoid antagonising the Zimbabwean ruler at a time when he was
being softly eased out of power through local and international initiatives.

South Africa is said to be trying to impose a Codesa model on Africa's
trouble spots such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi.

Codesa (Convention for a Democratic South Africa) ushered in majority rule
in South Africa. But Khumalo said the question of a government of national
unity in Zimbabwe is a prerogative of Zimbabweans.

Although nothing seems to have come out of the talks this week, there has
been progress, however glacial.

The expected visit of United States Assistant Secretary of State for African
Affairs Walter Kansteiner and, according to the official press, British
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, to Botswana and South Africa is seen as part
of efforts to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis.

But as Obasanjo admitted, there is still a "sticking point" which must be
dealt with before the talks can proceed.

Mugabe insists that the MDC should first of all recognise him as the
legitimate incumbent president before the dialogue. To that end, he has been
repeating his mantra that Tsvangirai must withdraw his electoral petition
against his hotly-disputed re-election.

But Tsvangirai - who is currently stealing a march on Mugabe following
successful stayaways and by-election victories - has maintained his position
that he would not withdraw his court challenge because he feared letting
Mugabe off the hook. The opposition leader says he is prepared to meet
Mugabe without pre-conditions.

Mugabe, who now appears harnessed to dialogue, looked glum after the talks
and pleaded in pathetic tones for recognition.

"I am the president of the country and I appoint the ministers who
negotiate. I have legitimacy from the election and the process that swore me
as president," he said.

"The MDC have said they will not recognise me alongside Britain and

The usually obdurate president, who until recently had ruled out talks with
Tsvangirai claiming his party was a Western front organisation formed to
oust him, stopped short of publicly begging for legitimacy.

"Does the MDC now recognise me? That's the issue and if they do, it means
the issue in court will be withdrawn, we talk to them and in that case we
will be ready to move forward."

It appears that the withdrawal of the MDC court case has become a
pre-occupation for Mugabe. When Obasanjo visited Zimbabwe on February 8 he
met Tsvangirai after a briefing with Mugabe and spent about 20 minutes
pleading with the MDC leader to withdraw his case. Tsvangirai refused.

It is understood that legal experts have advised Mugabe that his allegedly
stolen presidency was under threat from Tsvangirai's lawsuit. Insiders said
the experts warned Mugabe that the petition would open a can of worms and
expose him in the process.

This could have spurred Mugabe into a frantic campaign to ensure the
election petition is withdrawn.

There has been no hearing into the case filed last year in April. Recently
MDC lawyers were haggling with the High Court over the set down of the case.

Tsvangirai told journalists after his meeting with the visiting leaders that
the meeting went well.

"It went on well," he said. "The fundamental issue was that Zanu PF and the
MDC must sit and talk as a matter of urgency."

In a statement, the MDC said the visiting leaders "sought to find out
whether the MDC was committed to dialogue as a way of resolving the Zimbabwe

"The MDC president explained the depth of the Zimbabwean crisis as it
manifests itself in the political, economic and social dimensions," it said.
"He agreed with the expressed view of the three statesmen that there was a
pressing need for Zimbabweans themselves to open dialogue with a view to
addressing all economic, political and social problems besetting Zimbabwe."
But the MDC reiterated that it was ready for unconditional dialogue and was
ready "anytime, anywhere to engage in such dialogue".

"The MDC hopes and trusts that Zanu PF will summon sufficient courage to put
the interests of the country above its partisan quest to retain power," it

Whatever the next step, the process of democratic reform and change has been
set in motion and it appears unstoppable.
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Zim Independent


Stuck in a spiral of decline

PRODUCERS and consumers must be in a quandary about price controls
introduced by the Ministry of Trade and International Development in
November last year.

The then minister, Herbert Murerwa froze the prices of most goods for six
months. He said he was protecting consumers following frequent and
unjustified price increases by producers and manufacturers.

The price freeze covered a wide range of products that included basic goods
such as sugar, cooking oil, beef, milk, salt and bread. It also covered
items from the agricultural sector, motor industry, newspaper industry,
education sector, building industry and technology sector.

While the idea to introduce the price freeze was seen by some as helpful, it
has led to bureaucratic growth and corruption, and inevitably spawned
shortages which have in turn fuelled a burgeoning black market.

This is invariably the product of any system where price controls are
unmatched by input-cost controls.

The items included on the price control list suddenly disappeared from
supermarket shelves only to reappear in such places as flea markets, and in
several cases outside major supermarket doors.

The ministry had repeatedly promised that it would "continuously monitor"
the price controls and ensure that all regulations were adhered to with
culprits being brought to book.

There has been criticism that price controls do not work in the first place
because monitoring is very difficult to carry out. This is exactly what has
happened in Zimbabwe.

While the current environment of inflationary costs and commodity shortages
has led to a dramatic fall in standards of living, the price control
regulations have also produced new opportunities for wealth for some in the
form of massive profiteering.

It has also resulted in disruption of major operations and huge losses at
companies whose products have been controlled.

National Foods Ltd for example last year made a $43,4 million loss from
operations. Natfoods blamed price controls, saying if the controls
restricted selling prices to inappropriate levels, the company would be
unable to generate sufficient cash for the replacement of stocks.

Zimbabwe Sugar Refineries last year made a $167 million loss. The company
said better results would have been achieved if government had not imposed
price controls, which restricted selling prices of sugar at the August 2001
level. ZSR said it was selling refined sugar at below the cost of production
during the second half of the year under review.

The list of firms making huge losses because of price controls continues to

Dairibord Zimbabwe Ltd (DZL), whose chief executive officer Anthony
Mandiwanza heads the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, got a smacking
from government for trying to by-pass price controls by coming up with
smaller sachets and charging more for them. DZL obviously could no longer
stomach producing millions of litres of milk at a loss.

Unlike other firms who have managed to get away with it, DZL was slapped
with a $1,5 million penalty.

This week the new Industry and International Trade minister Samuel
Mumbengegwi announced that he was reversing some of the price control
amendments - again ostensibly to protect consumers from "unscrupulous
business practices".

The minister said government had extended price controls on basic goods,
introduced price monitoring on essential commodities, and decontrolled
prices of other products.

He said prices of basic goods such as maize, maize meal, wheat, flour and
bread would continue to be controlled with prices being gazetted today

The minister said essential products such as agricultural chemicals,
agricultural implements, seeds, cement, sugar, salt and tyres would have
their prices "monitored".

Producers of these products would "fix" prices after "consultation" with the

We seem to have heard this before.

In fact these are the same words used by Murerwa when he introduced the
controls in the first place.

Given their abject failure, it is difficult to understand what the
Tripartite Negotiating Forum has agreed on regarding controls.

Have industry and commerce agreed to an unworkable system that is designed
to meet the populist needs of the government at the expense of the economy?
Have they given their consent to this damaging prescription that will force
companies to the wall?

Government is controlling this and decontrolling that almost on a monthly
basis which is resulting in confusion not only to the producers but - worst
of all - the consumers.

We wonder what the true price of milk, bread, salt, tyres or beef is now?

The price crisis seems here to stay. Unless the players can come together
and make a fair decision on what the right price is for a commodity
considering production costs etc, all the loud talk about "monitoring this"
and "heavy fines for culprits" is just hot air.

No price-control regime that is pitted against market realities can ever
survive for long. The world is littered with examples.

Compounding the situation in Zimbabwe is a government mired in conspiracy
theories as Mumbengegwi's silly accusations at a Zimtrade exporters
conference on Wednesday show. He blamed exporters for forex problems.

The problem is evident to everybody else: a regime locked in the mantras of
the past and completely unable to respond to the demands of a modern market

The current crisis is rooted in a stubborn refusal to address macro-economic
distortions. So long as delusional ministers pursue dirigiste policies that
fail to recognise economic realities, we will be stuck in a spiral of
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Zim Independent

Govt ignores TNF partners on prices
Blessing Zulu
GOVERNMENT'S much-touted Na-tional Economic Revival Program-me which is
being promoted through the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) now hangs in
the balance as there appears to be no common ground between the social

The TNF brings together business, labour and the government in an initiative
meant to reverse the economic meltdown.

However, government despite espousing the need for co-operation, has said it
is not obliged to consult the other partners before making economic
decisions like fuel price increases and price controls.

A letter dated April 28, which is in the possession of the Zimbabwe
Independent, shows that the government is by-passing its partners. The
letter, written to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) by Public
Service and Labour permanent secretary Lancaster Museka, reveals
government's preparedness to act unilaterally.

"First and foremost, while we on our part recognise that the TNF process
allows for inputs from social partners, which inputs then form
recommendations that are forwarded to cabinet for its consideration, it must
be conceded that there are certain compelling decisions that government must
take as a matter of urgency in the national interest," Museka said.

"Secondly, it is quite apparent to government that the decision to increase
the price of fuel would affect the majority of our citizens - workers

The next logical step to take would have been to come together to see how we
could address the predicament of everyone affected by the increase so as to
ameliorate their plight," Museka said.

This is contrary to government's claim that labour had agreed to the fuel

The ZCTU, representing labour, has pulled out of the TNF following the
government's 200% fuel price hike. The government has been accused by other
partners of taking arbitrary measures without consultation.

ZCTU secretary-general Wellington Chibhebhe reiterated this week that they
would not participate in the negotiations.

"We had agreed to participate in the TNF and we thought all parties would
negotiate in good faith," said Chibhebhe.

"It now appears that the government is making independent decisions and
attributing them to the TNF.

"Labour was worried that the TNF was being used as a platform by the
government to effect its policies without consulting other partners. The
cabinet has the final say in whatever is discussed at the forum," said

The chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce
(ZNCC), Luckymore Zinyama, said the TNF had agreed on a trigger mechanism to
regulate prices.

"We agreed that there should be a formula to trigger prices that has to be
designed by the Tariff and Competition Commission," said Zinyama.

"What business wanted was to have a system whereby if one variable changes
it would affect others down the line," he said.

Zinyama said they had not been notified of the current extension of price

"We were not consulted on the latest price controls, at least at the policy
level of the TNF," said Zinyama.

This week investigations by the Independent revealed that government and
business had agreed to remove price controls in exchange for wage increases.

Industrialists also said the move was meant to ensure the survival of
industries which have been crippled by severe shortages of foreign currency
and erratic supplies of electricity, fuel and coal.

The employers, most of whom have reduced their working hours owing to these
shortages, are now being compelled to pay higher wages.

Minimum wages for workers in the agricultural sector, agro-processing and
commerce have now been set at $23 070, $42 696 and $47 696 respectively.

The government though announced on Wednesday that it would extend price
controls for a further six months after the expiry of the initial period at
the end of this month.

Goods falling under the price control regime include agricultural chemicals,
agricultural implements, seeds, beef, coal, cement, groceries, drugs,
fertilisers, milk, packaging, stockfeeds and tyres.

Economist Tony Hawkins said the TNF should be disbanded since it was a
"waste of resources".

"The government is responsible for the economic problems we are
experiencing," said Hawkins.

"The TNF has done everything but to no avail. What we now need is a change
of government. Economic solutions have failed," he said.

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Zim Independent

Eric Bloch

Minister should return to real world
ON Wednesday last week, whilst visiting the Zimbabwe International Trade
Fair, the Minister of Industry and International Trade, Samuel Mumbengegwi,
met with a large cross-section of Bulawayo's industrialists. The meeting was
convened under the aegis of the Matabeleland Chamber of Industries and was
intended to be a dialogue between the minister and those in the front-line
of Zimbabwe's manufacturing sector.

The industrialists very much welcomed the minister's willingness to meet
with them, for with very rare exception manufacturing enterprises are
struggling to survive. They are confronted with more afflictions than the
famed 10 plagues that smote Egypt in biblical times. The ills that have
progressively weakened industry include a gross inadequacy of foreign
exchange required to fund imports of raw materials and spares, to meet
export marketing expenditures, pay for technology transfer and service debt,
and the like. Even for those industrialists engaged in exports, the foreign
exchange resource is insufficient for essential needs.

After mandatorily surrendering50% of export earnings to the Re-serve Bank,
the exporter is supposedly entitled to use the remaining 50% for own
purposes, subject to conformity with a Priorities' Schedule prescribed by
the Reserve Bank. In practice, more often than not the applications to the
exchange control authorities to use the exporter's own foreign exchange is
declined despite compliance with the prescribed priorities or, in
contradiction to an alleged processing of applications within 24 hours, is
approved belatedly and after great prejudice to the applicant.

Other operational hurdles rising ever higher include frequent discontinuance
of electricity supplies as the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa)
resorts to repeated load-shedding, very often at times markedly at variance
with Zesa's issued load-shedding programmes. Yet further hindrances to
operational viability are soaring production costs as a direct consequence
of the hyperinflationary environment, massive and frequent tariff increases
by Zesa, Tel*One, Zimpost and other parastatals, and inevitably necessary
increases in salaries and wages. Many industrialists are hampered in
achieving consistent production by a lack of coal for boilers and furnaces,
with Zimbabwe's only coal producer reportedly able to produce approximately
15% of national requirements only.

Industrialists who attended the meeting state that the minister said that
there was no risk of Zimbabwe's external energy suppliers (Mozambique, South
Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo) cutting off supplies
because government had raised all the foreign exchange required by Zesa and
therefore the electricity supply authority was up-to-date in payments for
imported supplies, was not in payment default and had no arrears. Not only
did this answer fail to address why Zesa is resorting to massive
load-shedding, with many industrialists losing at least two days' production
in each week, but it also conflicts with a report published only two days
later in the state-controlled press that: "Negotiations between Eskom of
South Africa and Zesa to find a sustainable way of settling a US$16 million
debt the latter owes Eskom for electricity imports" are in progress.

The same article stated that: "The power utility is failing to raise the
required foreign currency to pay debts to regional power utilities", and
gave an estimate that "the utility's debt is more than US$143 million".
Moreover, Zesa's management services officer Daniel Maviva is quoted as
saying that there are no cuts in power supplies by the foreign suppliers "as
yet", which clearly implies the possibility of such cuts in the future. The
minister's response also conflicts with the fact that Zesa has been in very
extensive dialogue with industry and mining in an endeavour to motivate
payment for supplies to them in foreign currency and, in such dialogue has
given comprehensive details of the magnitude of Zesa's foreign debt.

However, the minister berated industrialists as being the cause of their own
problems, and of the problems of Zimbabwe, alleging that the only reason for
Zimbabwe not having sufficient foreign exchange for its needs is the
unpatriotic and unlawful accumulation by industrialists of foreign exchange
outside of Zimbabwe, and their externalisation of their Zimbabwean assets.
This attribution of blame, and this spurious contention, is with minimal

Admittedly there are some in Zimbabwe who resort to "transfer pricing",
whereby they under-invoice exports or arrange for over-pricing of imports,
obtaining the amounts under-invoiced externally of Zimbabwe, as they do
refunds of amounts excessively charged on imports. And, of course, there are
Zimbabweans (from all sectors of society and of all races, and undoubtedly
including many in authority) who seek to externalise some of their assets.
Although unlawful and beyond condonation, this is a norm for any country
with an economy of extended distress and with onerous exchange controls. But
to suggest that this is done by almost all industrialists is ludicrous in
the extreme.

The majority of industrial exporters necessarily must repatriate every cent
of their foreign exchange earnings, for their profit margins are usually
very low in order to be competitive in export markets notwithstanding high
costs of production. They also need that foreign exchange to fund raw
material imports for production for local market sales, for repair and
maintenance of plant and machinery, for the servicing of foreign debt and
licence, franchise or technology transfer fees. Thus, even if they were
disposed to flout the exchange control laws and regulations, they cannot
afford to do so and therefore it is very few who resort to transfer pricing.
This is even more so in respect of imports, for any price inflation in order
to externalise funds, results in higher import duties, thus increasing costs
and pricing products out of the range of market competitiveness.

Insofar as Zimbabweans using other methods of externalising assets is
concerned, there is little doubt that most do so by an exchange (at an
inordinately high cost) of Zimbabwean funds for foreign funds. The main
sources of such foreign funds are reputed to be dealers who purchase foreign
currencies from Zimbabweans working abroad, mak-ing payment to Zimbabwean
resident relatives, and then selling the acquired foreign exchange to
Zimbabweans. Based upon an estimated three million Zimbabweans working
abroad, and assuming an average sale of US$500 per month, that represents
US$1,5 billion per month. But if they did not sell their foreign exchange,
few of the Zimbabweans who are employed outside of Zimbabwe would send their
foreign exchange to Zimbabwe, and they are not required in law to do so.
Would the law so require, that law would be incapable of enforcement. Thus,
although asset externalisation in breach of exchange controls cannot be
condoned, in practice it has a minimal impact upon Zimbabwe's foreign
exchange resources.

The realities are that Zimbabwe has a disastrous scarcity of foreign
exchange because, first and foremost, it has alienated the international
community, and has defaulted on its debt servicing obligations. As a result,
it does not receive balance of payments support from the International
Monetary Fund, project finance from the World Bank, has an insignificant
amount of foreign direct investment, and a diminishing inflow from donor

Secondly, Zimbabwe has sustained a monumental decrease in export earnings
from the agricultural sector, wherein production levels are a fraction of
those previously achieved, the reduced production being almost totally due
to an ill-conceived, grossly mismanaged, and greatly abused land reform
programme, instead of pursuit of a positive and constructive programme of
agricultural indigenisation in harmony and collaboration with commercial

Tourism earnings shrunk catastrophically as tourist arrivals diminished in
reaction to Zimbabwe's political instability, lack of law and order, and
distressed economy. Manufacturing sector exports also declined in the
absence of devaluation, and the benefits of the February, 2003 exchange rate
adjustments have fast been eroded by inflation and by higher unit costs as
production levels fell in reaction to power cuts and forex shortages. In
contrast to the minister's advice to industry, the realities are almost
wholly government's mismanagement of the economy. If the minister wishes to
have credibility, and if he wishes to address industry's problems
meaningfully, he should emigrate from the land of make believe and return to
the real world.
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Zim Independent


Production time wasted in queues

TIME is money, so the old adage goes. Has anyone out there ever calculated
how much the many queues for various commodities cost the nation, both at
individual and national level? Individuals now literally live in the queues.

We can also talk in terms of productivity loss and opportunity costs. In
order to stand in the queues for four to five whole days every week you have
to forego some productive activity.

The shortages of basics are also increasing the rate of HIV infection. Women
and girls prostitute and compromise themselves to get the basics that are in
short supply.

In order to get flour, cooking oil, sugar, meat and mealie meal some women
have to prostitute themselves.

Zimbabweans must be the richest people on earth. Very rich in patience.

One day the Chronicle carried out a survey of the people's opinions on the
stayaway. They photographed three individuals on the front page allegedly
giving their views. It later turned out that two of the photographed
individuals happen to work for the Chronicle itself.

I am not a trained journalist, but is this how those guys were trained?

Fuel queues, inflation, load-shedding, coal and forex shortages and
unavailability of basic commodities are more dangerous than an MDC or
ZCTU-inspired stayaway.

If President Robert Mugabe were to continue ruining us for the next five
years Zimbabwe would be turned into a desert. A graveyard of buried hope and

Milton Njuzu Mandaza,


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Zim Independent


What's good for the goose ...

IF the mayor of Harare Elias Mudzuri can be suspended for non-performance in
improving the situation in Harare, then surely President Mugabe should be
suspended too.

The mayor of Harare was legitimately elected last year during the
presidential election. Since then there has been an enormous improvement in
the running of Harare despite interference by the Minister of Local
Government, Ignatius Chombo.

Congratulations to Mudzuri for his stance. Unfortunately, since March 2002
there has been no improvement in the running of the country as a whole. I
hasten to add that, in fact the economy, food situation, fuel and health
services are a few of the vital issues and services which have gone from bad
to worse and the government is responsible.

I therefore strongly recommend that Mugabe be suspended for gross
mismanagement and failure to improve the situation in Zimbabwe since the

Only Fair,


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Zim Independent


Zimbabwe's national parks ruined

I FOR one am not at all unhappy that Zimbabwe will not be participating in
the proposed Transfrontier Park project along with South Africa and
Mozambique (Zimbabwe Independent, May 2).

While the concept of such "peace parks" is not new and has been successfully
applied elsewhere, generating revenue and promoting heightened conservation
programmes and awareness, it would be a mistake on the part of South Africa
and Mozambique to allow Zimbabwe to participate.

All of us remember the days when Zimbabwe had the reputation of having one
of the finest National Parks infrastructures in Africa. Topflight ecologists
planned the development of the parks and wildlife estate and a core of
highly dedicated and trained management officers carried those plans to

Law enforcement was vigorous and transparent. The investigations branch of
National Parks was able to convict senior government officials caught
contravening conservation laws, and even the late Vice-President Joshua
Nkomo's "VIP hunting scheme" was brought to heel. No more.

One of the undeniable consequences of the last three years of lawlessness in
Zimbabwe is that military-style firearms have been indiscriminately issued
to myriad hordes with virtually no accountability. When these weapons are
used to hunt illegally within the parks and wildlife estate, and there is
evidence that this has happened on a large-scale, it amounts to nothing less
than state-sponsored poaching.

As much of the country is now subdivided into enclaves of wannabe warlords
and therefore effectively no-go areas, it will be years after the return of
law and order before the true extent of the depredation of the country's
wildlife can be quantified. Possibly never for it to be reversed.

Remember Operation Stronghold? Rhino Rescue? What is left of Zimbabwe's
rhinoceros population will not survive the current chaos. Law enforcement is
also politicised and no one with the "right" credentials will be
investigated for anything.

It would be a major embarrassment for South Africa and Mozambique, both with
functioning and acclaimed conservation infrastructures, to countenance
Zimbabwe's participation in a Transfrontier Park, and even worse, for the
Kruger National Park and the Limpopo Park to be overrun by undisciplined
masses of AK-47-wielding thugs.

When we look at the real reasons for Zimbabwe's exclusion from the
Transfrontier Park project, we can see that it will be a long time before
we, now as an international pariah, will be invited to participate in such
schemes again. Sadly, I have to say "fair enough".

IJ Larivers,


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Zim Independent


Body language tells you everything

BODY language, they say, tells you everything. Descending the steps of his
presidential aircraft on Monday, General Olusegun Obasanjo walked into the
outstretched arms of President Mugabe. Mugabe was indicating he could enfold
both the Nigerian leader and the tent he was inhabiting.

But Obasanjo, despite living in a region dominated by Francophone states, is
evidently not big on cheek contact. In fact his head ended up somewhere near
Mugabe's shoulder.

Thabo Mbeki, on the other hand, performed a little avoidance dance we have
seen before. There was a perfunctory hug and, as he backed off, Mugabe held
on with his left hand as if to say, "not so fast".

But body language apart, there was another kind of language on display last
Monday. Mugabe seemed obsessed with non-recognition of his position. He
insisted that he was "president of the country".

"I have legitimacy from the election and the process that swore me (in) as
president," he claimed. "Does the MDC now recognise me?"

Any psycho-analyst would tell you this is a man suffering from serious
insecurity. He recognises that challenges to his legitimacy following poll
fraud are extremely damaging. And he will seize on anything that shores up
his sinking status.

That explains the way in which the Herald twisted Elias Mudzuri's remarks
about his election as mayor to suggest Mugabe was even more popular.
"Observers" were quoted on Tuesday as saying the MDC had conceded that the
2002 poll had been supervised by a constitutional body, the ESC, which had
declared it free and fair, and accepted that Mugabe had been sworn in as

It doesn't take legal skills to realise this is a false interpretation. The
ESC may indeed have declared Mugabe's election free and fair. It is beholden
to him. And it is a fact he was sworn in as president. None of that amounts
to legitimacy, nor does it disqualify the mountain of evidence MDC lawyers
have amassed suggesting irregularities in the conduct of the poll.

An electoral petition is a perfectly valid legal process in any democracy.
Why is Mugabe and his party so scared of it? Why are they so insistent it
must be withdrawn? The answer is obvious. Prospects of the election results
being set aside are now very real, especially after the army has confirmed
its role with some rather maladroit pronouncements. Mugabe knows that, and
he is worried.

Having lost the battle for hearts and minds, the government media now appear
to have resorted to invention. Not only did they engage in some imaginative
accounting when providing the numbers for those attending last week's rival
May Day rallies, they asked us to believe that ZCTU leader Wellington
Chibhebhe is "affectionately called 'Chibaby' by British prime minister Tony

Is he? Do Blair and Chibhebhe know each other? Or is this the sort of
puerile propaganda that the Department of Information and its media minions
like Lovemore Mataire have descended to?

A good insight into official news manufacturing was provided by Information
permanent secretary George Charamba last weekend. Leaving aside the mangling
his copy deservedly received at the hands of Sunday Mail sub-editors (women
being "rapped"), it was useful to see how fiction was translated into

Seeking to expose the duplicity of foreign correspondents, Charamba accused
the Guardian's Andrew Meldrum of "coordinating opposition events".

No explanation was given. But this remark probably stems from a Women's Day
march Meldrum covered a few weeks ago. He was approached by a Sunday Mail
reporter who asked what was going on. Meldrum tried to be helpful. But the
reporter pestered him again when the women's leaders gave their speeches.
"What are they saying?" he was asked. "I'm trying to cover it myself. Let's
listen and hear what they're saying," he replied.

The next day the editor of the Sunday Mail, clearly irked that his reporter
wasn't assisted with her story, accused Meldrum of coordinating the march.

So it is easy to see the provenance - if not the quality - of Charamba's

Charamba claimed that "Rhodesian experts" are busy running the MDC's
communications campaign. That's why the MDC is having difficulty selling its
politics at home, he suggested.

Is that the impression the public have? That the MDC's call for an end to
state violence, a return to the rule of law and sound economic recovery
policies are difficult to sell? Isn't that what everybody, including the
three visiting presidents, were this week urging on the prisoner of State

What we liked best about Charamba's piece was his model of a patriotic
press: that of Nigeria which "in electoral circumstances that were
remarkably comparable to what happened here in 2002", endorsed Obasanjo's
decidedly dodgy reelection. In some electoral districts of the Niger Delta
Obasanjo got nearly 100% of the vote in a 100% turnout. The Nigerian leader
explained this was a part of the country's political culture. Everybody
turns out to support their candidate, he disarmingly explained. And some
sections of the Nigerian media agreed not to notice.

No wonder Charamba is impressed!

We liked the story in the Daily Mirror this week headed "Blacks in London
hail Ibbo Mandaza". Just in case you didn't know, Mandaza is proprietor of
the Daily Mirror. And who were all these blacks hailing him?

Well, such prominent organisations as Black Quest for Justice, Nation of
Islam (UK), the Alkebulan Revivalist Movement, the Uganda People's Congress
(UK), the Convention People's Party of Ghana (UK) and the Power Jam
Community radio station.

Never heard of them? Don't worry, nor has anybody else. Some of these
organisations even have more than one member. The Global African Congress,
which is actually West Indian, has a Bulawayo branch headed by Sabelo
Sibanda of the School of African Awareness.

After Mandaza's address in which he repeated his contention that South
Africa, not Zimbabwe, was the real target of the imperialists, Kofi Mawuli
Klu of Black Quest for Justice said all African countries should return to
traditional methods of rule that existed before the intervention of the

Has he been speaking to Obasanjo we wonder?

Seen hovering at the Sheraton on Monday directing Mirror reporters on what
to write about the visit of the three leaders was David Nyekorach-Matsanga.
He has been complaining to anybody who will listen that he is disappointed
with Jonathan Moyo's failure to recognise him as a government spokesman.
Defence of the president's position abroad has been inadequate, the Ugandan
refugee researcher thinks. And the Sunday Mail is not following his advice
either, he bemoans.

Never mind David. The Mirror appears ready to give acres of space to your
incoherent ramblings with no sign of editorial intervention whatsoever!

Somebody else given acres ofspace this week was ZUJ presi-dent Matthew
Takaona. He express-ed "shock and disgust" at the manner in which ANZ
editor-in-chief Francis Mdlongwa went about restructuring the Daily News.
This involved bringing across senior staff from the Financial Gazette in a
dramatic decapitation raid.

"The so-called shake-up is clandestine, dirty, vindictive, and most shameful
to the media fraternity," Takaona frothed.

So what has suddenly galvanised him? Did he raise the same objections when
staff came and went through the revolving door at Zimpapers? Did he have a
view on Jonathan Moyo's musical chairs at ZBC?

Why has he suddenly stirred from his long slumber at the Sunday Mail where
he hasn't exactly been on a fast-track career path, to fulminate about heads
rolling around the floor at the Daily News?

Answers please on the back of a postcard. The ZUJ's logo, by the way, is a
1960s typewriter.

Muckraker was amused to see "Professor" Tafataona Mahoso's retaliation for
years of us putting his title in inverted commas. He, along with the media
he commands, has decided not to recognise Sir Brian Donnelly's knighthood.
What started as ignorance has now become fixed policy and Donnelly will find
himself dubbed "Mr" in the government press or "Sir Brian" in inverted
commas to indicate they don't recognise his award.

Not that he will give a damn. Donnelly is not a man to stand on ceremony.
But why he should be punished for Muckraker's lampooning of the pompous
press professor is anybody's guess.

Could CNN please give their Lagos correspondent Jeff Koinange a briefing
before they next put him before the camera as an expert on Zimbabwe. He
spoke about sanctions which he said were designed to target individuals and
not the country.

What examples could he give? Well, Zimbabwe might not be able to sell its
tobacco crop, he suggested. And the country wouldn't be able to compete in
the Commonwealth Games!

The economy was in dire straits, Koinange gamely ventured. Inflation for
example was "running at 2 000%"!

Muckraker's advice: Pick up the phone and talk to somebody, Jeff, before you
are persuaded to do another of these star turns. Meanwhile, come back
Charleyne. All is forgiven!

Finally, a reader brought to our attention a shocking faux pas in the Sunday
Leisure section of the Sunday Mail. There was a picture of Edgar Langeveldt
dressed as what looks very much like the nation's First Shopper. But it was
captioned "Edgar Langeveldt as a prostitute".

There must surely be some mistake? Unless of course MDC activists have
infiltrated the Sunday Mail's sub-editors' office!
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Zimbabwe: Workers now need Z$132 000 a month to survive
Staff Reporter, Financial Gazette, Zimbabwe
HARARE, 9 May 2003
Zimbabwean workers Marked last week's workers' day amid unprecedented
suffering caused by macroeconomic instability and aggravated by drought and
the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

HARARE: A fuel price increase of up to 309% announced by the government two
weeks ago is expected to worsen the plight of workers, who last week
undertook a successful three-day work stay-away called by the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) to press for a reversal of the hike.

Because of the unilaterally declared fuel price increase, the ZCTU has
withdrawn from the government-business-labour Tripartite Negotiating Forum
(TNF) that is supposed to be examining ways of resolving Zimbabwe's economic
crisis and is planning further mass action. Financial Gazette Senior
Reporter Farai Mutsaka this week spoke to ZCTU secretary-general Wellington
Chibhebhe about the plight of workers, his organisation's deteriorating
relationship with the government and plans for further mass action, among
other issues. Excerpts:

Question: As you mark Workers' Day, how would you describe the situation of
the average Zimbabwean worker, 23 years after independence?

Answer: The average worker has been reduced to a pauper, to a beggar.

As we speak today, most workers can't even afford one meal a day for
themselves or to feed their families.

The majority are forced to walk long distances to work.

Q: What then are the major issues that the ZCTU will tackle this year, given
the gloomy picture you have just painted?

A: You should realise that the situation has been worsening for a very long
time, especially in the late 80s and the 90s. The issues of concern are
unemployment, which is now standing at more than 75% and poverty that is at
80%. Over and above these issues is the problem of underemployment.

It's very difficult for us to say how we will tackle unemployment and
underemployment because these are complex problems that are not of our
making and that we cannot do much about. Another issue we hope to tackle is
HIV/AIDS. As workers, we are the ones that have been contributing towards
the AIDS levy but unfortunately, workers have not benefited from the fund,
which we believe has been abused.

We are now taking the government to task to account for that money. We want
to ensure that workers get priority when it comes to disbursing the money.
We have asked for an audit of the funds because workers have been

Apart from that, we have been running programs on the shop floor in
factories regarding this issue.

There is also the issue of the lack of democratic space. If workers or the
generality of Zimbabweans want to express their views, they are subjected to
torture and harassment and this is unacceptable.

Q: How do you hope to tackle these issues since dialogue seems to have
broken down between ZCTU and the government? And how are relations between
labour and business?

A: I think it is a question of facing the government head-on because we
cannot continue to allow, for example, the government to use the uniformed
forces for the benefit of one particular constituency.

We want the police and the army to be professional because they are supposed
to serve Zimbabwe and not function as a party organ. It is not as if we are
saying there are no professional policemen or soldiers in this country.
There are lots of them but once they start being professional, then they are

We also want the government to be people-oriented and not to work against
the same people it is supposed to serve.

Relations with business have been cordial as evidenced by the fact that we
have been negotiating together and in good faith at the TNF before our

Q: The ZCTU has dismissed the minimum wages announced by the government last
week. What does labour think should be the minimum wage? Several of your
member unions have actually welcomed the minimum wages. How do you reconcile
these differences?

A: We don't blame those members supporting the minimum wages because if it
was you being uplifted from Z$19 000 to Z$47 000, that's a great movement at
face value.

But our position is that those figures, which were equated to February
poverty datum levels and should have been effected before this fuel price
increase, are nothing.

A family of six now requires Z$132 000 for basic necessities alone.

Q: The ZCTU has threatened further action if the government does not reverse
the fuel price increase. What form is this action likely to take and when
will it be launched?

A: Well, I think it's not practical politics, given the situation we are
operating under, to announce your intentions and give further details. It
will sell out the strategy.

Q: Since labour has pulled out from the TNF, what are the chances of a
negotiated solution to the country's problems?

A: You will find that as was stated even in 1999, that although government
might want to give an impression that it is committed to resolving issues at
the TNF level, this is a farce.

Unless and until the government comes clean and states that it wants to
effectively engage other social partners on an equal basis, then there is no
dialogue to talk about.

Q: The ZCTU leadership has been accused of conniving with the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in a broader political agenda to
undermine the government and eventually effect a regime change through mass
action. How would you respond to that?

A: The guilty are afraid. We warned the government at TNF that whatever we
do at TNF, if there was ever any side-stepping by government, it would get
the response it deserves from the ZCTU.

Q: How independent are you from the MDC since several high-ranking MDC
officials are also office-bearers of the ZCTU?

A: We are very independent. Our Zimbabwean constitution is very clear on the
freedom of association and the International Labour Organisation Convention
87 is very clear on that as well. So who are we to tell people not to be
with us?

We also have high-ranking ZANU PF people within ZCTU, so people should not
be hoodwinked into thinking that the ZCTU is harbouring MDC people. ZANU PF
should come out in the open and actually mention its own people within the

Q: Since both the MDC and ZCTU have intentions of undertaking further mass
action, how would you handle a situation where the two actions coincided?

A: It would be coincidental and the situation would have to handle itself,
but there would be no collusion at all. It would be instigated by the
situation on the ground because hunger knows no date and time.

The more you postpone, the more the guns will be turned against you as a
leader. We were being accused of being docile all along. Now that we have
put our action into gear, it is being said we are craving power.

We believe we are fighting a just war for the worker and we don't really
look at who joins us in this war.
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The Star

      Forecast for Zimbabwe: chilly, stormy, tense
      May 9, 2003

      By Basildon Peta

      What's next for Zimbabwe? This is the question testing the minds of
most citizens there after a mission by three African leaders this week
failed to clinch a resumption in dialogue between President Robert Mugabe
and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

      Tsvangirai's opposition Movement for Democratic Change rejected
demands by Mugabe that it recognise his disputed re-election last year
before opening negotiations.

      Mugabe stuck to his guns, demanding that the MDC withdraw its court
petition challenging his controversial re-election.

      At the end of their talks with Mugabe and Tsvangirai, presidents Thabo
Mbeki, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Bakili Muluzi of Malawi admitted
there were still "sticking points". They vowed to persist in efforts to
bring Mugabe and Tsvangirai together.

      Analysts have predicted several scenarios for Zimbabwe in the months
ahead. Most do not paint an optimistic future.

      Scenario 1: The most likely
      Muluzi said he had been mandated by Mbeki and Obasanjo to invite
Tsvangirai to Malawi for further talks. They hope to persuade Tsvangirai to
recognise Mugabe and pave the way for reopening dialogue between the two.

      Even if the Zimbabwean authorities, who have refused Tsvangirai
permission to leave the country over the past two years, allow him to travel
to Malawi, the mission to persuade him to meet Mugabe's demands is certain
to fail.

      Tsvangirai vowed this week he would never capitulate to Mugabe.

      University of Zimbabwe law professor Lovemore Madhuku says it seems
clear the stalemate between Mugabe and Tsvangirai will not be broken in the
near future.

      "Both leaders think they negotiate from positions of enormous
strength, and neither will budge."

      One bank economist, who did not wish to be named, said this meant that
while Mbeki and his colleagues tried to bring Mugabe and Tsvangirai
together, the crisis could deepen and the economy could grind to a halt.

      Already the economy is plagued by shortages of fuel, electricity and
foreign currency. Unemployment stands at about 75%, inflation has hit 240%
and company closures happen daily. There will be no aid from the
international community as long as Mugabe remains in power.

      The crisis would thus deepen.

      Scenario 2: The low road
      Taking advantage of the economic crisis, analysts say the MDC will
intensify its mass protests to heap more pressure on Mugabe.

      This would further damage the economy and make violence the order of
the day.

      Mugabe will unleash his police and military to crush any dissent,
meaning more violence. Analysts say Zimbabwe could find itself on the brink
of civil war by year-end.

      South Africa will have to brace for a huge number of refugees as a
result of any implosion.

      Meanwhile the three leaders will still be trying to broker dialogue
between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

      Scenario 3: The long road
      Realising that his departure is in the best interests of the country,
Mugabe might announce his retirement on his 80th birthday on February 21
next year. But analysts are unanimous that, for this to happen, Mugabe must
have secured the necessary two-thirds majority in parliament to change the
constitution and hand-pick a successor.

      Mugabe is five seats short of the two-thirds majority. He might want
to win these seats by taking advantage of any by-elections that might occur
and investing all the resources of the state to win them.

      This scenario is unlikely. There is a slim chance of at least five
seats falling vacant soon, so Mugabe might therefore want to wait till the
parliamentary elections in 2005.

      He will then retire later that year. But analysts say any scenario
that doesn't include getting rid of Mugabe soon can only worsen the crisis.

      Scenario 4: The lowest road
      With no end in sight to Zimbabwe's economic problems, fed-up
Zimbabweans might take to the streets by end of this year to get rid of
Mugabe through mass protests. This is likely to cause more bloodshed.

      Scenario 5: The high road
      Both the MDC and Zanu-PF drop their demands and get down to talks.
Analysts say this is most unlikely.

      Observers believe this is the best solution for Zimbabwe because
dialogue will facilitate a compromise for Mugabe's exit.

      They say both parties must drop extreme preconditions and resume
dialogue that could lead to a transitional authority and implementation of
an agenda for reforms leading to early elections.

      The MDC is unlikely to do this as it reckons it enjoys majority
support. It believes it can only gain more ground as Zimbabwe's economy
collapses under Mugabe's weight.

      Mugabe will not want to be seen as capitulating to anyone and will
only harden his stance, and his repression.

      Unless Mugabe cannot for some reason continue in office, analysts
predict there will not be a swift end to Zimbabwe's crisis.

      The country is therefore likely to remain in crisis for the
foreseeable future, analysts say. People vying to succeed Mugabe from within
his party will focus on strengthening their individual positions in the

      No one is likely to challenge him to quit immediately. - Independent
Foreign Service

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