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      Trillion dollar budget set to widen deficit

      By Nqobile Nyathi Assistant Editor
      11/14/02 11:48:33 AM (GMT +2)

      RECURRENT expenditure as well as increased spending on agriculture and
food relief are likely to chew up the largest portion of the "trillion
dollar" 2003 national budget.

      Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa will present the budget to parliament
today; ironically the five-year anniversary of the disastrous crash of the
Zimbabwe dollar.

      Treasury officials have hinted that a staggering $1.4 trillion will be
needed to finance government expenditure next year, up from the $390.2
billion initially forecast by former finance minister Simba Makoni for 2002.

      Economic analysts this week said the trillion dollar estimates for
2003 were not far-fetched given Zimbabwe's rampant inflation.

      Consultant economist John Robertson told the Financial Gazette: "Most
people would get confused about what a trillion really is.

      "But we have inflation of 140 percent and if they increase last year's
budget by that rate, expenditure for next year would be one million million
dollars. I don't see it being much below that given the fact that we are
sitting on high inflation."

      But other commentators said the key question regarding the 2003
national budget was not how much government expenditure was likely to be,
but where the Treasury would secure the money it planned to spend.

      They ruled out the possibility of Murerwa raising company or
individual taxes to boost tax revenue, although some analysts said the
Treasury was likely to benefit from inflation-fuelled salary and wage

      A large number of companies have closed down in the past two years,
throwing more than 100 000 workers on to the streets and significantly
slashing government revenue from corporate and income tax.

      On the other hand, the fact that workers' incomes have not kept pace
with inflation and the cost of living while most businesses are barely
managing to stay out of the red makes it difficult for Murerwa to increase

      In fact, the analysts pointed out that the finance minister is likely
to announce an increase in tax threshholds to ease the burden on low-income
earners. Income bands used in the calculation of income tax presently stand
at $90 000 a year.

      First Mutual Life fund manager Nyasha Chasakara predicted: "I think
what will happen is we will see him raising threshholds again to try and
cushion those with lower incomes and who are living below the poverty datum
line. I don't think this will have any impact on their revenue stream."

      Given the government's identification of agriculture as a key to
Zimbabwe's economic recovery and now that its controversial agrarian reforms
are over, the analysts said Murerwa might forecast increased revenues from
this sector.

      Since agriculture is the backbone of the country's economy, they said
Murerwa might go on to anticipate a hike in output in the productive sectors
and in exports.

      But the farming sector has been hard hit by the government's seizure
of white-owned land to resettle landless blacks, with the output of most
crops expected to fall at least 50 percent next year.

      Most analysts say the sector is likely to remain unstable for the next
few years, especially since resettled farmers do not have the financial
resources to farm on a large scale and the government is in no position to
provide them with funding.

      Economists said these factors made it necessary for the Treasury to
exercise strict fiscal discipline, but this is unlikely given the huge
demands on government expenditure.

      Close to seven million Zimbabweans - or half the population - face
starvation because of food shortages blamed on drought and the land reforms
that have forced the government to import food to supplement the emergency
aid being provided by international humanitarian agencies.

      Teachers, lecturers and medical professionals have also gone on strike
in the second half of this year demanding higher salaries, which might force
Murerwa to increase the government's wage bill.

      A substantial amount of money might also be allocated to agriculture
to fund the agrarian reforms. The analysts said most of the funds might
target farmers resettled under the A1 or communal farming phase of the

      Resettled commercial farmers are already being catered for through a
$60 billion agri-bond issued on Tuesday, the analysts said, and the private
sector might play an increasingly important role in funding these growers.

      Several companies have already contributed towards the purchase of
inputs for these farmers.

      Interest payments on the government's $329.2 billion domestic debt,
which is expected to balloon further given dwindling revenue, are also
expected to chew up much of expenditure.

      Opposition Movement for Democratic Change shadow finance minister
Tapiwa Mashakada said: "Like in the past, expenditure is expected to exceed
revenue, underlying the fact that fiscal consolidation has completely broken

      "The government is inclined to allocate a huge amount of resources to
agriculture to cater for inputs and tillage, but it is too late.

      "By the time the budget is passed by Parliament, the shortages of seed
and fertiliser and other inputs will have reached crisis levels owing to
supply bottlenecks caused by adverse business conditions.

      "By and large, the structure of the budget is not expected to vary
significantly from its traditional bias towards recurrent expenditure,
mainly comprised of wages and salaries and interest payments."

      The analysts said the government had few options in financing its
budget deficit, which they said would probably be more than double the 14.9
percent of gross domestic product Makoni forecast for 2002.

      With Zimbabwe unlikely to attract balance of payments aid from
international financial institutions, the commentators said Murerwa would
have to rely on borrowings from the domestic banking sector.

      This, together with the need to provide funds for new farmers, means
that he is unlikely to tighten the government's loose monetary policy to
rein in inflation.

      An anticipated fuel price increase that might be announced today would
also fuel inflation, which analysts say could end the year at 185 percent.

      Chasakara said: "We are not expecting a small (fuel price) increase.
If anything, it's going to be very high and it will have serious
consequences. Inflation will just shoot through the roof. If fuel prices
increase, we could be looking at 185 percent inflation by the end of the
year, if not more.

      "There's been a lot of speculation about the foreign exchange
situation and I think the minister might be pressured into reintroducing
stricter controls because, at the moment, nothing is flowing through the
official channels."

      Most of Zimbabwe's foreign currency transactions take place on the
parallel market, where rates have devalued by 50 percent in the past four

      Forex inflows would dry up if strict foreign exchange controls were
reintroduced, leading to the collapse of many local companies, while
allowing the parallel market to continue unfettered will contribute towards

      Robertson said: "Inflation of 1 000 percent is a real possibility, and
if things continue as they are, we could come to a point where we might have
to change the currency. We might have to issue $20 000 notes as has happened
in Zambia.

      "The Zambians carry them around without a thought. They are used to
them and we would get used to them too. It's a horrifying thought, but that'
s where we are headed unless some incredibly intelligent policies are put in
place but they (the government) don't have a good track record in that

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      Budget not seen reviving economy

      By Stella Mapenzauswa
      11/14/02 11:50:28 AM (GMT +2)

      Zimbabwe's government, grappling with mass food shortage and the
threat of economic collapse, will offer little real hope for recovery in its
annual budget statement this week, analysts said yesterday.

      Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa faces a challenge to stop Zimbabwe
spiralling deeper into its worst crisis since independence in 1980 when he
proposes the 2003 budget to parliament today.

      Nearly half the population of 14 million are critically hungry due to
food shortages widely blamed on President Robert Mugabe's seizure of
white-owned farms for landless blacks, a policy that has earned him
international isolation.

      But among other problems, today's budget will be premised on the
fiction that Zimbabwe's currency is trading at its official pegged rate of
55 to the US dollar. It is in fact trading at Z$1 500 to the US dollar on a
thriving black market.

      "With such a discrepancy between the black market and the official
exchange rate you have to assume there are inflationary implications which
will make nonsense of the government's forecasts," said MMS International
analyst George Glynos.

      Analysts say Murerwa, recalled to the finance post this year after
Mugabe dropped respected technocrat Simba Makoni over policy differences,
will be hard-pressed to support budget promises with solid policy shifts.

      "I believe there will be a lot of unsubstantiated claims of a
recovery. They are still in denial about the conditions they have caused and
I don't believe the budget will reflect the true Zimbabwe," said John
Robertson, an independent consultant.

      A shortage of foreign currency, blamed on shrinking exports and of
donor funds, has pushed the Zimbabwe dollar on the black market to just
1/27th of its official rate against the dollar.

      "The spread between the official and parallel market continues to
grow. This poses a dilemma for policymakers who have thus far resisted an
official devaluation, for fear of stoking even more inflation," said
Standard Chartered Bank.

      "But as the spread widens, some kind of adjustment in the exchange
rate - even if only of a small magnitude - becomes more necessary," the bank
said in its latest monthly analysis of African markets.

      Zimbabwe's economy shrank 7.3 percent last year and economists expect
it to contract 10 percent in 2002. Inflation hit a record 140 percent in the
year to September.

      Unemployment is hovering near 70 percent and erratic fuel supply
problems resurfaced over the past week, sparking speculation that Zimbabwe
had failed to make payments to its main supplier, Libya.

      "I think we will remain international beggars all the way through to
2004," Robertson said.

      - Reuter
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      Zim's ivory sale bid flops

      By MacDonald Dzirutwe Senior Business Reporter
      11/14/02 11:39:58 PM (GMT +2)

      A UNITED Nations meeting on endangered species in Santiago this week
rejected outright Zimbabwe's request to resume limited trade in ivory,
saying the country did not have the capacity to monitor such sales due to
corruption and political instability.

      Delegates at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species (CITES) however voted to let Zimbabwe's neighbours South Africa,
Botswana and Namibia to stage one-off sales of their ivory stockpiles from
2004 in a clear signal to Harare that the world is unhappy with Zimbabwe.

      Zimbabwe has been rocked by on-off political violence since President
Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF nearly lost power in a June 2000
parliamentary election to the opposition MDC.

      The invasion of white-owned commercial farms by ZANU PF militants in
February 2000 has been blamed for widening poaching of animals, including
the African elephant.

      Zimbabwe's Wildlife Producers Association says 300 000 animals on
private farms valued at $6.7 billion have been lost to poaching since the
invasions started.

      Animal lobby groups in Zimbabwe who have been against the resumption
of ivory sales this week however refused to comment on the latest
developments in Santiago, referring this newspaper to the Department of
National Parks and Wildlife Authority.

      Some said they were still waiting for officials to return from the
meeting next week.

      Zimbabwe had teamed up with South Africa, Namibia and Botswana to
present a joint proposal to CITES to amend an international ban on ivory
sales and allow the four nations to engage in limited trade.

      The joint presentation was widely seen as an attempt by the government
to prevent it from being exposed as a single country. But Zimbabwe's three
neighbours then pulled out of the deal at the last minute to present their
own proposals, leaving Harare alone.

      Zambia's proposal to have its elephant population up-listed to
Appendix 2 was also rejected by the CITES meeting, which ends tomorrow.

      The United States (US) and the European Union (EU), which initially
said they would not back the lifting of the ivory ban, reached a compromise
with Zimbabwe's three neighbours to vote for their proposals if they
presented them separately from Zimbabwe.

      The US and the EU have been the most vocal critics of Mugabe's seizure
of farms and other contestable governance issues, including a disputed March
presidential vote which they say was fraudulent.

      They have imposed travel restrictions and other sanctions on the
Zimbabwean leader, on top officials of his government and ZANU PF and on his
key backers.

      International environmentalists had warned that Zimbabwe's
often-violent farm seizures were a threat to its elephant population. They
were instrumental in lobbying CITES delegates to reject Zimbabwe's

      Zimbabwe's 89 000 elephant population will however remain in Appendix
2, which allows for controlled commercial trade in ivory.

      Although there was no comment yesterday from National Parks, whose
senior officials are attending the CITES meeting, an official there said the
vote against Zimbabwe was a huge blow for the department because the money
generated from the ivory sales would have been used in wildlife management.

      "As you are aware, we no longer receive any funding from the
government," the official noted.

      "If we had been allowed to dispose of our ivory stocks, we would have
generated foreign currency to fund our operations but now we have to go back
to the drawing board."

      Zimbabwe had expected to make a one-off sale of 10 tonnes of ivory and
five tonnes annually. In 1998, it sold about 20 tonnes of ivory to Japan,
netting $75.9 million in scarce foreign currency.
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      Budget set to offer nothing new

      11/14/02 11:59:40 AM (GMT +2)

      Today is the budget day and everybody eagerly await to hear how the
government intends to pull itself out of the economic abyss it has fallen

      One thing for certain is that we should not expect much from the
budget because of its traditional structural constraints. The structure of
the budget has hardly changed over the years with the bulk of the
expenditure concentrated on recurrent non-discretionary expenditure that
makes it irrelevant as to who is at the helm of the Finance ministry.

      The basic structure that has been imposed on the budget for a long
time is as follows: (a) Failure to ensure that recurrent revenue covers
recurrent expenditure; (b) A high proportion of recurrent expenditure with
insignificant capital expenditure; (c) A high proportion of budgetary
allocations to social ministries at the expense of economic ministries; and
(d) Inflationary financing of the budget deficit as more resources are drawn
from the domestic banking sector.

      The high proportion of recurrent expenditure, relative to capital
expenditure has been a feature of the budget for a long time now. The high
proportion of recurrent expenditure compared with capital expenditure is
clearly a cause for concern. During the past few years, recurrent
expenditure has been at least 85 percent of total expenditure excluding net
lending leaving at most 15 percent of total expenditure for capital
development projects.

      The major components of the recurrent expenditure are the wage bill
and interest payments. The current finance minister's wish, hopefully, is to
increase the share of capital expenditure in the budget but he is severely
constrained in doing so as resources are already locked into
non-discretionary recurrent expenditures, such as wages and salaries and
other constitutional and statutory appropriations. The ideal thing would be
to borrow for capital development but in our case we borrow to consume and
we will have nothing to show for the borrowing.

      Another way of looking at the unsustainability of the government
budget is to consider the distribution of vote appropriations among the
different ministries. By categorising the ministries into economic and
socio-political ministries, it has been seen that there has been a growing
tendency for government to allocate more funds to ministries that are less
investment-oriented at the expense of the economic and development-oriented
ministries. Yet the latter are crucial in growing the economy. Economic
ministries include Finance, Industry and Commerce, Rural Resources and Water
Development, Lands and Agriculture, Mines, Environment and Tourism,
Transport and Energy, Local Government and National Housing. The rest are
classified as socio-political ministries.

      We have not had a budget surplus in any single year since
Independence. What has been varying is only the level of the budget deficit.
For the years 2001 and 2002 and most certainly for 2003, the budget deficit
will be financed entirely from domestic sources as no foreign funding can be
expected to be forthcoming. And from the domestic sources, the financing is
principally from bank sources. This manner of deficit financing is
inflationary as it increases money supply.

      It is common knowledge that the export sector is the generator of
foreign currency. As a result many countries have implemented policies that
promote their exports.

      This is not the case in Zimbabwe as the choice of a viable exchange
rate has boggled the government's mind for a long time now.

      Government has tried many exchange rate regimes (fixed, managed,
floating, crawling peg, etc) but has had to abandon them mid-stream for
political reasons. Now the country has been stuck with a fixed exchange
since October 2000 for fear that if the currency is devalued or allowed to
seek its true scarcity value it would cause an increase in inflation, as
prices would skyrocket.

      The truth, however, is that this is unavoidable because the emergence
of the parallel market as the main source of the country's requirements has
ensured that inflation remains on an upward trend. While aligning the
Zimbabwe dollar exchange rate against other currencies through devaluation
makes a lot of economic sense I do not expect the 2003 Budget to talk about
devaluation as it has long been pronounced "dead" by the President.

      Even if the export sector is served with the best policies, it is
highly unlikely that it would generate enough foreign currency to adequately
service the economy's needs.

      The international donor community and financiers like the
International Monetery Fund(IMF) and World Bank are required to provide
balance of payments support and other bridging finance.

      The donor support, however, comes with some conditions. In Zimbabwe
these include various socio-economic and political conditions like human
rights issues, distribution of land in a transparent and planned manner,
ensuring fiscal discipline, upholding the rule of law, etc.

      The international community is not happy with Zimbabwe's performance
on these issues.

      The budget will, therefore, be silent on our future relations with the

      Just like in the case of the donor community, foreign investors are
also required to augment our foreign currency requirements. Foreign
investors first assess the credit worthiness of a country (sovereign risk)
before committing their money. In assessing the riskiness of a country these
foreign investors normally look at the country's relationship with the
IMF/World Bank.

      If the country is doing business with these multilateral finance
institutions and is viewed favourably, meeting most of the IMF
conditionalities the investors come and invest in the country.

      If the opposite is the case, like is the situation in Zimbabwe, then
foreign direct investment flows will continuously decline.Now in our case,
given that the IMF/World Bank has long suspended us from their programmes
for failing to meet its conditionalities, foreign investors will continue to
shun Zimbabwe.

      We do not expect the 2003 National Budget to have the capacity to
encourage or win back foreign investors, both portfolio and direct.
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      Banks double lending to farm sector

      Staff Reporter
      11/14/02 11:51:03 AM (GMT +2)

      ZIMBABWE'S banks increased their lending to the mainstay agriculture
sector during the first eight months of this year to more than $23 billion
despite the turmoil that has engulfed commercial agriculture in the past two

      Commercial agriculture, long dominated by white commercial farmers,
has been the major beneficiary of loans and advances from the banking

      Figures released by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe this week show that
the banking sector loaned farmers just over $10.4 billion during the same
period last year.

      Commercial banks alone made available $21.3 billion to the agriculture
sector while merchant banks gave $2.5 billion between January and August
this year.

      Last year the agriculture sector received $10 billion from commercial
banks and $406 million from the merchant banks.

      An official at the Zimbabwe Farmers' Union said although members from
the organisation had received a significant share of the bank loans, the
figure was inflationary.

      He said in real terms there was minimal growth in the amount of funds
made available to small-scale farmers by the banks.

      "While our members could have received a significant share of the bank
loans, there was no real growth from last year because of high inflation,"
the official said.

      Banks, which have been reluctant to fund new black farmers resettled
under the government's controversial fast-track land reforms, say they will
only finance white commercial farmers who have not received eviction orders
from the government.

      The bulk of funding to commercial farmers this year was to finance the
winter wheat crop, which has just been harvested, although it was not
immediately clear how much exactly the wheat growers received from banks.

      Farming industry officials said most of the commercial farmers had
used movable assets such as farm equipment and machinery and crops to secure
loans from banks because many of them had been served with legal notices by
the government to cede their land to the state and therefore could not use
their title deeds to secure loans.

      The government and white commercial farmers are still deadlocked over
the issue of title deeds, with the government saying farmers should hand
over these while the farmers are demanding that they need to be fully
compensated first.

      Some of the farmers say the title deeds are lodged with banks, which
they owe billions of dollars in overdrafts and loans.

      Meanwhile Zimbabwean banks, led by Syfrets Corporate and Merchant
Bank, on Tuesday this week started issuing short-term agro-bills and
long-term agribonds worth $60 billion to investors to help fund farmers who
have been settled under the government's A2 resettlement scheme.

      The agrobills carry a 275-day tenure and money raised through the
bills will be used as working capital while money raised from the three-year
tenure agribonds will be used to develop infrastructure and pay for
equipment for the new farmers.

      The interest on loans payable by farmers will range between 30 to 34

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      A presidential poll re-run or a new constitution?

      11/14/02 11:59:50 AM (GMT +2)

      It is my respectful view that the NCA has got the capacity to
re-group, re-organise and re-strategise.

      For the NCA to rejuvenate and remain a viable, credible and effective
vehicle in the constitution making process, it should remain a non-partisan,
all inclusive, democratic and transparent organisation where a diversity of
political parties and civic organisations feel comfortable, secure and

      The NCA's vocation of lobbying for a new constitution for Zimbabwe
should be completely de-linked from the opposition parties' objective of
dislodging ZANU PF.

      Again this does not mean that the two tasks are incompatible or in
tension; any good constitution will inevitably facilitate the demise of the
ZANU PF culture of dominance and monopolism.

      No political party or civic organisation should dominate or be
over-represented in the NCA as this will hamper the effectiveness of the

      In fact the NCA must take steps to call for a National People's
Convention and embark on a rigorous process of internal restructuring in
line with the new prevailing circumstances and to make the leadership
structure reflect the diversity of its membership.

      Small opposition political parties, civil organisations and minority
groups must be able to forge amongst themselves strategic alliances so as to
increase their bargaining power both within the NCA structure and in the
constitution making process itself.

      Zimbabweans, WAKE UP!

      We need new ways of thinking, new ways of protest, new ways of raising
money and generally new ways of doing things.

      All said and done, one would ask; so where exactly does a re-run of
the Presidential election come in?

      The quest for a re-run of elections is part of the quest for democracy
and good governance, likewise the quest for a new constitution. Once the
constitutional review debate is re-activated the question of a re-run of the
Presidential elections should be one of the topical issues on which
Zimbabweans should reach a consensus, and once that happens a re-run of the
Presidential elections becomes a constitutional question and will be dealt
with as such.

      Such an approach should be able to provide Zimbabweans with a peaceful
springboard to restore legality and legitimacy in this country.

      This strategy will work perfectly well if there has been judicial
nullification of the elections. The MDC and other opposition political
parties must refuse to enter into any election under the current electoral
laws but this must be part of a grand plan which involves other pro-active

      A provisional constitution or some other interim sort of arrangement
can be put in place to facilitate the conduct of free and fair Presidential
elections pending the adoption of a final constitution. Who knows,
Zimbabweans may even demand that the Parliamentary elections must also be

      In the unlikely event that the South African and Nigerian brokered
dialogue between ZANU PF and MDC resumes, it must take place within this
constitutional context.

      This is the only way that Zimbabweans of diverse political persuasions
can really see the dialogue as something worthwhile and it is the only way
that the MDC can get other supportive forces of change in Zimbabwe on their

      The politics of difference and monopoly must be replaced by the
politics of tolerance and consensus.

      The political polarisation we are experiencing today has fostered a
very erroneous assumption that everybody is either MDC or ZANU PF.

      There is a large body of opinion which falls outside these two poles
and which is suffocating for political space. The ability to articulate a
program that appeals to this diverse and versatile body of opinion is what
distinguishes boys from men.

      It is not sufficient to ride on a wave of popular discontent and
engage in reactive anti-Mugabe politics without pro-active policy
formulation characterised by both the quality of political programs and
calibre of candidates.

      By emphasising clearly articulated, quality programs that are
buttressed by a leadership that has the capacity to manage, implement and
deliver, the opposition can only increase their showing in the re-run of the

      It is a misdirection for the opposition to be against everything that
has been done or propounded by the ruling party. One challenge for the
opposition is how best to address issues where ZANU PF positions appear to
be progressive, reasonable or popular.

      One Zimbabwean intellectual in the Dispora once remarked that, "the
ability to separate the message from the messenger is a political skill. If
an idea is good or useful take it, spin it and repackage it. No one holds
patents for political messages."

      The opposition in Zimbabwe will do well to heed this remark.
Admittedly, the most ideal situation would be when an idea or program is a
novel opposition original and this is where creativity, innovation,
analytical capacity and intellectual depth are of the essence.

      An opposition political party is part of the institutional machinery
of a democracy. A loyal and credible opposition is a boon to a country in
various ways.

      As a party with an alternative programme for government, an opposition
party serves as a peaceful channel for popular discontent. An effective
loyal opposition is an effective argument against extra-constitutional means
of gaining power and therefore a force for stability.

      The progressive forces of Zimbabwe must avoid a situation where they
will end up fighting amongst themselves, ending up looking like fools.
Suspicion, mistrust, jealousy and envy now reign in opposition politicians
and civic leaders amongst and in between themselves.

      This is evidenced by the mushrooming of a diversity of
non-governmental organisation whose agendas are dubious.

      Some of these have been described as "briefcase organisations" who are
after swindling donor funds. We are having unnecessary struggles within the

      This is why I advocate for a National People's Convention which should
bring together a multiplicity of political parties and civic organisations
to chart a way forward and make a fresh start in an effort to bring this
country back to legality, legitimacy and constitutionalism.

      I have argued that these alternatives should be pursued from an
integrated approach which takes into account an objective conspectus of all
the facts.

      There must not be any division of opinion between those that clamour
for a re-run of the elections and those that cry for a new constitution.

      What is needed is dialogue and co-operation among the progressive
forces of Zimbabwe in drawing a meticulously planned modus operandi which
harmonises these two alternatives.

      We need a common an action front that is characterised by diversity
and consensus. Monopolistic politics should find their place in the archives
of political history.

      Isaya M Sithole is a legal practitioner practising in Harare
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      It's morally wrong, Your Excellency

      Masipula Sithole
      11/14/02 11:54:09 AM (GMT +2)

      YOUR Excellency, I attended a meeting two weeks ago at which the
famine and violence in Matabeleland were discussed. There were four
speakers: three Zimbabweans and an American, William Bellamy, the Principal
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the United States
government. (The Daily "Truth" was telling the truth).

      I was not among the speakers, either from the podium or from the
floor. I was simply a listener throughout, ndakangoti zvangu mwiro-o,
ngizithulele zwi-i. But listening and watching very attentively and
carefully as usual.

      For what it is worth, it's correct Bellamy said the United States
(state department) was considering certain measures ("options" is the word)
on Zimbabwe. He did suggest that some of these options might probably affect
some aspects of Zimbabwe's sovereignty, an ego problem those who are not
able to feed themselves must resolve (my addition).

      The idea of "national sovereignty", even under the best of
circumstances, is fast becoming an obsolete concept, an anachronism in an
age of interdependence of states, particularly in small, weak and starving

      Kungotaura chete, wasting valuable time when we should realistically
assess our opportunities or lack of them. There is no sense in burying our
heads in the sand in the hope that the veldt fire will not burn us if we don
't look at it.

      Anyway, the point was made by the Zimbabwean speakers that food relief
from or through the government was often given on partisan lines, meaning
that if you were known to be in the opposition - the Movement for Democratic
Change to be exact - you were unlikely to get food relief.

      Not only that, you were most likely to be singled out for violence and
torture. They alleged, perhaps wrongly, that Matabeleland had been a
deliberate victim on both counts.

      (If they only know what Charles Mangongera and his research team saw
and were subjected to in the Mount Darwin area in Mashonaland Central!
Complaints of selective food distribution are everywhere).

      A fellow Zimbabwean, who sat copiously capturing what the four
speakers were saying as well as questions or remarks from the floor,
introduced himself as from the Zimbabwe embassy in Washington (he did not
wear dark glasses!) and made very good, if subtle, points in defence of the
Zimbabwe government.

      (I observed that the chairman of this meeting may have known him and
wanted to sideline him, for he had been raising his hand for a long time
hoping for early recognition).

      Anyway, this comrade said - in defence of the government - that it
certainly was not government policy to give food relief selectively; that
what the three speakers were quoting from whatever utterances may have been
made by Didymus Mutasa and Deputy Foreign Minister Abedinico Ncube were
their personal views. The three speakers had quoted both gentlemen as having
said "food relief will be given to ZANU PF supporters only".

      Where I thought this diplomat was at his best (and at this point he
declared he was making a personal statement or observation) was when he said
the three speakers were wrong in "tribalising" the issue, warning that
"tribalism" would unleash "troubles" with far-reaching consequences.

      I agree with him. The only difference is that he was not listening to
the three men, who essentially were making the same point that if we
"tribalise" issues we are headed for trouble.

      After the meeting, like civilised and patriotic Zimbabweans, we all
greeted and introduced each other, even with the combative diplomat from the
embassy. Those who were watching expecting us to fight were disappointedly
surprised with the civility. Vakati hezvo, inga mashura! Vakatisiyaso. This
is as it should be, even in Insiza.

      Maybe it's the psychology of being in the diaspora; you feel so lonely
in Washington that you forget your differences even temporarily.

      But, I then asked this comrade from the embassy why the government
didn't distance itself from Mutasa and Ncube's utterances.

      "Mutasa is a senior member in the (ZANU PF supreme organ) Politburo,
you know," I said. "And Ncube is the current Deputy Minister for Foreign
Affairs in the Zimbabwe government.

      "You are talking to a very informed audience, you know. These people
know who Didymus Mutasa and Abedinico Ncube are. It's a thin line between
them and the government, particularly when the government is silent on such
outrageous utterances," I was beginning to lecture. I even started to become

      "The government should have not only publicly rebuked Mutasa and Ncube
for such utterances, they should have been expelled or suspended from the
party or government, pending thorough investigation!," I said, Your

      This mature young man saw my point or pretended to, for he said: "I
see your point."

      He added: "Maybe the government should have publicly distanced itself,
as you suggest."

      I almost asked "how is it possible for government to distance itself
from itself", but then we were in the diaspora.

      The unmeasured utterances of certain officials of the party and the
government, Your Excellency, make it difficult for our diplomats to work
productively. They are always explaining this and that nonsensical statement
when they should be mobilising resources for our starving people.

      And this 20 percent increment on your salaries while your children
starve does not make things any easier; it is just plain immoral, no matter
how you look at it, Your Excellency.

      One would have thought you should have encouraged yourself and your
colleagues to take a 20 percent salary cut as a gesture of good
fatherliness, but no. It seems to those that have more shall be given, and
from those that don't have more shall be taken away.

      Arguably, the 20 percent is so that you can keep up with the ever
skyrocketing cost of living. But what about us lecturers, teachers and
ordinary workers and the unsalaried? What do we do? Who do we look up to?

      You should be auctioning some of the excess creature comforts you and
your colleagues (both in the ruling party and in the opposition) have as
another gesture of goodwill to the people who entrusted you with leadership,
Your Excellency. But no; all the more desire for more creature comforts.

      (By the way, whatever happened to that "state-of-the-art" limousine?
Couldn't it be auctioned to raise money for the needy, even in the best of
times? That vehicle is awkward anywhere in the world, even in Hollywood!)

      Maybe if we auctioned for the needy, our diplomats can have something
positive to say as they ask the international community to contribute more
generously for our starving people. As it is, all we can say to the world is
"we ran the white farmers off the land in order to correct the imbalances of
the past", Your Excellency.

      Of our many Cabinet ministers, who today can honestly claim to be
doing a good job and deserves to be paid a salary? Just stop and think. Even
my friend J, as hard as he works, is busy, very busy doing the wrong things.
What are our ministers being paid for, really? And now, these pay rises when
the rest of the people are suffering!

      Zvinogumbura vari kumusoro nevari pasi. Kuyacunula abaphezulu
labaphansi. It cannot be pleasing to the gods.

      What I am saying, Your Excellency, is that we have gone so morally
bankrupt and devoid of conscience that we are even failing to see and do the
obvious. We are destroying ourselves and the future of our children, Your

      To cling to power when you have nothing more to offer your people,
even in the best of times, is morally wrong, Your Excellency. Please retire,
Your Excellency.

      Professor Masipula Sithole is a lecturer of political science at the
University of Zimbabwe and director of the Harare-based Mass Public Opinion
Institute. While he is currently on sabbatical leave in the United States of
America, Sithole can be contacted at e-mail address and
telephone number (202) 429 3819.
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      Fuelling the fuel crisis

      11/14/02 12:01:08 PM (GMT +2)

      ALMOST a month since long fuel queues re-appeared in Zimbabwe, there
has been a deathly silence from the government on the country's petrol and
diesel supplies, if there are any, and whatever problems are causing the
latest round of shortages.

      An official investigation into the shortages that was reportedly
ordered last month has yet to present its findings, although these had been
promised within days.

      When Energy Minister Amos Midzi finally attempted to address concerns
stemming from the crisis earlier this week, he predictably blamed owners of
pump stations for hoarding the fuel.

      "There is enough fuel in the country," he declared, clearly
unconcerned about the growing queues of anguished motorists who are
thronging fuel stations across Zimbabwe.

      Surely if adequate fuel is available, as Midzi claims, why should pump
stations hold on to it when their business is simply to sell the commodity?

      Again his answer was equally predictable: pump station owners expect
an imminent fuel price increase from which they hope to make a quick buck.

      In other words, private oil companies have become economic saboteurs,
just like many other firms which have been accused of causing shortages of
the staple maize meal, salt, sugar and cooking oil when all these products
are in short supply anyway.

      Long-suffering Zimbabweans are tired of these excuses, which have been
standardised and are regurgitated each time the government fails to deliver
on its promises and basic duties.

      It is always someone else but the administration responsible for
causing the mess. Thankfully, Zimbabweans know better now.

      Midzi owes Zimbabweans an apology over the fuel crisis and a full
explanation on how it is being addressed, and not to hide behind the empty
and easy accusations of sabotage by oil companies.

      Indeed if the oil companies were hoarding the fuel, why can't they be
prosecuted? Do these firms not buy specific amounts of fuel from none other
than NOCZIM, which should make it easy for law enforcement agencies to know
who is hoarding fuel?

      Midzi's accusation presupposes that those hoarding the fuel are
known - indeed there are only a few oil companies in Zimbabwe - and we
wonder why no action has been taken against the alleged culprits.

      Instead of searching for believable, standard stories to explain away
crises, the government must learn the important lesson of telling the public
only the truth whenever a crisis develops so that there are no rumours or
speculation about what is happening.

      By laying all the facts bare, the public is not only better informed
to make better judgments but it can exercise caution where necessary, more
so if the issues concerned are of sufficient national interest.

      This is why democratic governments worldwide go to extreme lengths in
explaining what their administrations intend to do so that they win the
public's trust and confidence before such action is taken.

      Just witness the painstaking efforts made in the past few weeks by
President George W Bush's administration in forging a solid coalition to
stand up against Iraq, not just among the Americans themselves and their
bi-partisan Congress but among Washington's key allies and even enemies.
This is the way things should be.

      In the case of Zimbabwe's resurgent fuel shortages, it is clear that
there are indeed hitches that are holding up the implementation of the
commercial deal which allows Harare to buy Libyan fuel.

      Midzi would do well to come clean on these hitches and tell the nation
when normal fuel supplies are likely to resume. Zimbabweans would even
understand the need for limited fuel rationing if they were told the facts.

      Of course, it is common knowledge that Zimbabwe does not have adequate
hard cash to buy fuel from the open market, and Midzi would have done well
if he had re-stated this point without shame and told the nation the
measures the government was taking to address this problem, even on an
emergency basis.

      We know that many in the government believe that panic would ensue
were the public to be told the truth about Zimbabwe's precariously uncertain
fuel supplies, but the opposite is true. So let's get back to basics.
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      SA embraces Mugabe as Zim crisis deepens

      By Abel Mutsakani News Editor
      11/14/02 11:55:59 AM (GMT +2)

      SOUTH AFRICA this week dropped its ambivalence on Zimbabwe by
endorsing President Robert Mugabe's controversial policies, but analysts
warned that Pretoria and southern Africa could pay a heavy price if such
support pushed Zimbabwe to the brink.

      Noting the fast deteriorating situation in the country, the analysts
said the economic costs for southern Africa would be huge if Zimbabwe
collapsed. Millions of refugees would stream across into neighbouring
countries, particularly into South Africa itself.

      Foreign investors and capital would flee the region and South African
President Thabo Mbeki's New Economic Partnership for Africa's Development
(NEPAD) would be dealt a mortal blow, they said.

      "The economic costs, if Zimbabwe collapses, will be enormous for the
region, especially for South Africa," said Brian Raftopoulos, an associate
professor at the University of Zimbabwe's Institute of Development Studies.

      "There will be millions of refugees and NEPAD will increasingly lose
credibility and legitimacy in the eyes of many people."

      Raftopoulos spoke as a fresh fuel shortage entered its second week,
with long and winding queues seen at the few garages that still had fuel
across the country.

      Libyan leader Mummar Gaddafi has kept Zimbabwe moving with a deal to
supply 70 percent of the country's fuel needs in return for investments in
the southern African nation's mining, agricultural, financial and tourism

      But the oil supply deal is in limbo reportedly because Gaddafi is now
demanding that Harare pays in hard cash.

      Zimbabwe is unable to raise foreign currency since donors,
international development and trading partners fled the country two years
ago when Mugabe allowed militants from his ruling ZANU PF party to seize
private farms owned by whites.

      A violence-marred re-election victory by Mugabe earlier this year only
exacerbated the flight of foreign capital from Zimbabwe, just as the
European Union, the United States, Switzerland, New Zealand, Canada and
Australia imposed targeted sanctions against Mugabe and his top officials
over their alleged bloated human rights record.

      A severe food shortage threatening the lives of seven million
Zimbabweans or half the country's population is worsening across the

      Hyperinflation is pegged at an all time high of 139.9 percent and has
become the dominant feature of Zimbabwe's sinking economy.

      Virtually pleading with the international community to let by-gones be
by-gones with Mugabe, South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
this week urged Britain to compensate Zimbabwean white farmers for land
seized by Mugabe.

      Mugabe says former colonial power Britain must compensate the farmers
because the land was in the first place stolen from its black owners during
British colonial rule.

      The British do not oppose this. But London has withheld funds after
accusing Mugabe of running an unfair and corrupt land reform programme, a
charge Mugabe has denied.

      Dlamini-Zuma, speaking after crucial talks in South Africa with
Zimbabwean ministers, signalled a major shift from Pretoria's
much-discredited policy of quiet diplomacy on Zimbabwe.

      She urged the international community to ignore Mugabe's alleged
transgressions and lift sanctions against him and his government and for
Britain to fund the controversial land reforms.

      "We think it would be nice to end this matter in a neater way, in a
way that does not leave a sector of the Zimbabwean population bitter and
that all those who lose land are compensated," she said, referring to Mugabe
's land seizures.

      "We are looking to countries like Britain to try and assist (in

      She then urged the international community to aid Zimbabwe regardless
of the government's mistakes.

      "Even if Zimbabwe made a mistake, the point is that we need to move to
the future," she said. "No one can change yesterday, no one can change
today, but we can change the future."

      South Africa Institute for International Affairs analyst Ross Herbert
said South Africa's new stance on Zimbabwe underlined Pretoria's
over-zealousness to have the Zimbabwe problem over and done with so the
region could focus on economic development.

      But Herbert said the latest policy thrust by South Africa, which
amounted to an endorsement of Mugabe's position, was far removed from the
political realities on the ground and would achieve little, if anything, in
ending Zimbabwe's deteriorating crisis.

      "Politically, it is a non-starter because the British, EU, US and in
fact literally no one is going to subsidise Mugabe unless he reforms his
behaviour and policies," Herbert said.

      He said Pretoria itself could, as it has already done by giving fuel
and electricity to Zimbabwe on generous terms, subsidise its neighbour but
that would not be sustainable in the long run.

      Raftopoulos said South Africa's position was also inspired by a belief
in Pretoria's corridors of power that Zimbabwe's main Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) was not a viable option.

      "They regard Zimbabwe as a de facto situation. They see a reformed
ZANU PF as the only viable option and therefore are making these attempts to
market ZANU PF's position to the world."

      The MDC nearly unseated ZANU PF in a parliamentary election two years
ago and has emerged as the biggest challenge to Mugabe and his
administration's 22-year hold on power.

      Raftopoulos said: "If it was hard to sell quiet diplomacy, Pretoria
will find it almost impossible to sell its new policy to the international
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      'Great Trek' deprives Zim of skills

      Staff Reporter
      11/14/02 11:54:57 AM (GMT +2)

      ZIMBABWE'S skills base is shrinking fast in the face of an exodus of
hundreds of its nationals who leave the country every week to look for
better working conditions.

      Business analysts now fear that the Great Trek will hamper future
economic recovery.

      The exodus, mostly to the West and to South Africa and Botswana, has
dealt a blow to efforts by both the government and the private sector which
sunk in billions of dollars in new skills training for most of the departing

      Figures obtained this week from the Central Statistical Office (CSO),
a government agency, show that 2 559 skilled people officially left Zimbabwe
between January and June this year compared to 6 739 during the whole of
last year.

      But employers and business analysts dispute the official figures,
saying they are not a true reflection of the real situation on the ground.
They note that thousands of Zimbabweans have streamed out of the country
unofficially, especially into southern Africa, while others have left on the
pretext of going on holiday but never return.

      According to the CSO, 539 075 locals went abroad last year compared to
374 994 in 2000 and analysts say a sizeable number of these people did not
return home.

      Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) executive director John
Mufukare said the country's deepening economic and political crisis was the
major force fuelling the brain drain, a view shared by independent economist
John Robertson.

      Mufukare said although it was difficult to quantify the brain drain in
terms of loses to the economy, Zimbabwe's human resource base was shrinking
at an alarming rate.

      He pointed out that there was high demand both regionally and
internationally for Zimbabwe's skilled human resources.

      He said employers could do little to keep skilled personnel when the
salaries of workers was behind inflation, which surged to a record 139.9
percent high in September and is forecast by the World Bank to hit the 500
percent mark next year.

      "The figures (of the departing Zimbabweans) are a barometer of the
performance of the economy," Mufukare noted. "But you should know that these
are official figures and the unofficial ones are much higher."

      Economist Witness Chinyama said Zimbabwe was now a training ground for
staff who were internationally marketable.

      The CSO figures show that up to June this year, 955 Zimbabweans
emigrated to Botswana, 532 to the United Kingdom, 324 to South Africa and
114 to New Zealand.

      Last year 2 953 locals officially emigrated to Botswana, 664 to South
Africa, 315 to the United States, 1 221 to the United Kingdom and 150 to

      Only 752 people immigrated to Zimbabwe in 2001.

      Zimbabweans who emigrated were employed in the technical,
professional, administrative and production-related jobs.

      While the health sector has been the hardest hit by brain drain, the
private sector has not been spared.

      Chinyama said billions of dollars invested in human resources training
were going to waste, adding that Zimbabwe's economic reconstruction would be
difficult with many of its skilled people leaving the country.

      "What Zimbabwe is losing is human capital because those who have left
are professionals and skilled people," he said. "Labour is an important
factor of production, and with all this brain drain things are not looking
good for the economy."

      Emcoz's Mufukare said until the government reined in runaway
inflation, there was little the country could do to stop the brain drain.

      He said inflation, a result of shortages of hard cash on the official
market and the printing of money by the country's central bank, was a
monster that had to be contained before any meaningful economic recovery
plan could be implemented.

      An official at international courier service Federal Express, now
handling visa applications of all prospective travellers to Britain, said
the company had been inundated by thousands of applications since the
operation started last Saturday.

      It is believed that more than 3 000 Zimbabweans who entered Britain
last year alone did not return to Zimbabwe, with most of them claiming to be
attending schools there.

      Robertson said with the local currency in a tail spin, working abroad
had become more attractive because exiled Zimbabweans repatriated their hard
cash to trade it on the thriving parallel market.

      Zimbabwe has been in political turmoil since February 2000 when the
country's opposition parties and civic groups ganged up to reject a
state-sponsored constitution, a development that was quickly followed by the
invasion of commercial farms.

      Hundreds of farmers have also emigrated to Australia, Mozambique,
Zambia and Angola, fleeing violence on their farms by militant supporters of
the ruling ZANU PF party who took over the properties in the name of land

      "People are no longer certain of their future," Robertson said. "If
they get jobs outside Zimbabwe, they will jump on to such opportunities.
Each day that passes, we are losing skilled manpower."
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      Govt races to save 2003 farming season

      By Nqobile Nyathi Assistant Editor
      11/14/02 11:54:23 AM (GMT +2)

      WEEKS after the start of the 2002/03 farming season, the government
has finally taken steps to finance newly resettled farmers, but growers say
they are still facing enormous obstacles and are racing against time if they
are to salvage the new agricultural season.

      The government, which has identified the farming sector as the engine
that will drive Zimbabwe's economic recovery, on Tuesday issued agricultural
bonds through which it hopes to raise $60 billion for its controversial
agrarian reforms.

      Funds raised through the agri-bonds offer, which closes on November
22, are supposed to finance farmers resettled on the A2 or commercial
farming scheme of the land reforms under which 90 percent of commercial farm
land has been taken over by the government.

      "Syfrets (which is issuing the bond) has said the agri-bonds are
targeting pension funds, insurance companies, banks and individuals," a
money market dealer told the Financial Gazette. "But the question is: will
they attract enough support?

      "One of the major problems could be the interest rate. The agri-bond
is attracting about 24.47 percent interest and investors are tired of the
low returns on the money market and might not feel inclined to support the

      "Because the money is also going towards farmers, to a sector that has
a lot of instability right now, people feel a little uncertain about the
whole thing."

      But for farmers, the major concern is the timing of the agri-bond
issue, which comes about two weeks into the new farming season.

      Agricultural industry representatives this week said the timing of the
bond would put tremendous pressure on farmers, many of whom are already
behind in their preparations for the 2003 season because of lack of finance
to buy inputs.

      "It's going to assist, but it is coming in a little bit late, which
could be a setback in terms of farmers meeting the time for the season,"
said Zimbabwe Farmers' Union (ZFU) director Sylvester Tsikisayi.

      "Farmers are trying to see if they can catch up with time at the
moment and they feel any delay may turn out to be their worst enemy."

      Syfrets Corporate and Merchant Bank, which is handling the agri-bond
in conjunction with 15 financial institutions, has said farmers can from
this week begin submitting applications for the loans that will be financed
with money raised by the bonds.

      The bank says it has negotiated bridging finance to enable financial
institutions to process applications and make loans under the facility from
November 12, "in view of the farmers' urgent need for finance now that the
agricultural season has commenced".

      But Indigenous Commercial Farmers' Union (ICFU) president Davidson
Mugabe pointed out that growers would still have to go through a lengthy
application and vetting process.

      "Time is our biggest worry. The amount of paperwork involved, the
amount of time you spend filling in forms and the time for the assessment
and final disbursement are a concern. If there is a delay, it could be
Christmas before the farmers get any money," he told the Financial Gazette.

      "Farming is 50 percent timing and 50 percent inputs. Time alone
accounts for 50 percent and if you waste it, you waste 50 percent of your

      "If there is a delay and the money comes late, 50 percent of its value
will be wasted and as a country, we can't afford that."

      But analysts said even if the agri-bond raised the $60 billion it was
supposed to and farmers were able to quickly access the finance they needed,
many of them might be unable to secure the inputs and equipment they need to
begin farming.

      Many growers are still unable to secure tillage services because the
government-controlled District Development Fund (DDF) does not have the
capacity to meet their needs.

      Only 50 percent of the DDF's tractor fleet is said to be operational,
while private contractors are demanding large sums of money before they
commence any work.

      Farmers are also finding it difficult to buy fertiliser because
manufacturers say they are unable to secure foreign currency to import raw
materials, especially nitrogen.

      Although the government has allowed seed producers to raise their
prices, farmers say the price increase has not alleviated seed shortages,
mostly because about 80 percent of the inputs have been snapped up by the
state-controlled Grain Marketing Board (GMB) for distribution to newly
resettled farmers.

      The 20 percent of seed output left on the open market has been
inadequate for those growers with the resources to buy their own inputs.

      Tsikisayi said: "The seed left on the open market is less than 20
percent and that has made it very difficult for those farmers who want to
supplement their seed requirements through their own cash resources.

      "The GMB has started distributing to farmers, but farmers, once they
see the rains, want to plant on the early rains and they don't want to lag
behind time. The GMB has its limitations in terms of speedily distributing
such large quantities of seed.

      "There are bottlenecks in terms of distribution. The distribution is a
bit slow at the moment from the point of view of farmers.

      "A2 farmers have extensive hectarage and we are getting information
that in some areas they are being given seed for a maximum of 20 hectares
and if they want to supplement from the open market, they are having

      Agricultural industry officials said operational problems faced by
input manufacturers and farming service providers had been compounded by the
large number of new farmers created by the agrarian reforms.

      In addition to the 500 000 growers represented by the ZFU and the ICFU
's 10 000 members, a further 300 000 farmers have been resettled by the
government, putting pressure on available resources.

      Farmers said the problems they were facing as they attempted to
prepare for the 2003 season pointed towards the need for adequate planning
to ensure that agricultural output was not affected.

      As it is, farming production is expected to fall at least 50 percent
because of the decimation of commercial farming and because of the
logistical problems facing the newly resettled and other black farmers.

      "We should plan the financing of agriculture by April," Mugabe said.

      "We must start working on figures from February, and by April
everything should be tied up so that everyone goes into the season knowing
what they are doing.

      "The solution is in the timing and organisation. Let's not start
putting things in place when the rains come."

      The opposition Movement for Democratic Change's shadow minister for
agriculture Renson Gasela was harsher in his assessment of the situation.

      "The (present) regime does not have the capacity to carry out a
sustainable land reform programme and the whole land chaos was never planned
by the regime but was coined as an election gimmick to buy the electorate
into voting for ZANU PF," he said in a statement.

      "The shortage of maize seed and the inability of the government to
provide fertiliser and other farming inputs cannot be viewed in isolation
from the crumbling economy, which is a reflection of the failure of
(President Robert) Mugabe."
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      US official Bellamy no longer coming

      11/14/02 11:52:51 AM (GMT +2)

      MARK Bellamy, the American Assistant Secretary of State for African
Affairs, will no longer visit Zimbabwe as had been expected, it was
established yesterday.

      Bellamy, who last week reportedly said Washington was considering
using interventionist and intrusive measures that could challenge Zimbabwe's
sovereignty in the distribution of food aid to the hungry, had applied for a
visa to visit Zimbabwe through Harare's embassy in the US. He had been
expected in Harare this week.

      Washington has since denied it had any plans to intervene in the
southern African nation, saying Zimbabweans themselves must resolve a
political and economic crisis that is consuming their land.

      A spokesman for the US embassy in Harare yesterday refused to confirm
whether Bellamy or any other American government official would visit
Zimbabwe this week. He gave no reason for Bellamy's apparent change of

      Diplomatic sources said Bellamy's aborted trip to southern Africa
would have included visits to Angola and South Africa.

      Bellamy was going to use the trip to get first-hand information on
food shortages in the region, particularly in Zimbabwe, where starvation is
threatening seven million people, or half its population, after a
devastating drought and controversial government farm reforms.

      Washington and the European Union have accused the government of using
food aid as a political tool by denying it to opposition supporters. The
government denies this.

      - Staff Reporter
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      ZANU PF plans to appoint governors for Harare, Byo

      11/14/02 11:53:46 AM (GMT +2)

      THE ruling ZANU PF is actively considering appointing provincial
governors for Harare and Bulawayo, the power-base of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC), to extend its influence in restive urban areas.

      Authoritative official sources yesterday said the move would also see
most district administrators in Zimbabwe being replaced by war veterans,
while graduates of the Border Gezi National Youth Training Centre would be
absorbed into various local government arms nationwide.

      Temporary teaching posts in both urban and rural areas would be filled
by individuals who would have graduated from the ZANU PF-led youth training

      The move is aimed at penetrating areas which are perceived to be MDC

      Governors are non-constituency MPs who are appointed by President
Robert Mugabe. There are currently eight governors for the country's
administrative provinces, although politically there are 10 provinces, of
which Harare and Bulawayo had no governors.

      "We are looking at introducing governors in Harare and Bulawayo," one
member of ZANU PF's supreme Politburo organ told the Financial Gazette

      "We also plan to revamp the operations of district administrative
offices to ensure that they are staffed by loyal cadres."

      The Politburo official declined to say when the mooted changes could
be implemented.

      ZANU PF, buoyed by victories in recent parliamentary by-elections, has
been strategising on ways to penetrate urban areas where the MDC enjoys
massive support. - Political Editor

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      Zim slips again in rankings

      11/14/02 11:51:27 AM (GMT +2)

      ZIMBABWE'S economy dropped four points to 79 on the growth index of
the World Economic Forum's 2002-2003 Global Competitiveness Report and five
points to 70 on the forum's mic- roeconomic competitiveness index, it was
learnt this week.

      The global competitiveness rankings were released on Tuesday by the
Geneva-based World Economic Forum and named the United States of America as
the world's most competitive economy, replacing Finland.

      According to the global competitiveness report, Zimbabwe dropped from
75 in 2001 to 79 this year in the forum's growth competitiveness index and
from 65 to 70 in the microeconomic competitiveness index.

      The two indices indicate an economy's global competitiveness. The
growth index measures the factors that contribute to the growth of an
economy while the microeconomic index identifies the factors that underpin
productivity and current economic performance.

      Zimbabwe's closest neighbours fared slightly better in both indices,
with South Africa rising two ranks to 32 in the growth index and dropping
four points to 29 in the microeconomic index.

      Botswana was ranked 41 and 57 in the same indices this year. No
rankings were given for 2001. Namibia attained the 53rd spot in the growth
index for 2002 and no rankings were given for the mic- roeconomic index or
for 2001.

      In the 2000-2001 Africa Competitiveness Report accompanying the
2002-2003 global rankings, researchers cited the HIV/AIDS pandemic, civil
strife and political unrest as some of the factors that affected

      "Political unrest grips several countries such as Zimbabwe and this
unrest translates strongly into a decline of international competitiveness
in those countries," researchers Lisa Cook and Jeffrey Sachs said.

      The American-based Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal,
which this week also released their 2003 Index of Economic Freedom, said
lack of economic freedom also affected the competitiveness of several
economies this year.

      Zimbabwe, whose government has slowly reintroduced economic controls
in the past three years, was ranked 153 out of 156 countries surveyed.

      "Sub-Saharan Africa posted as many gains in the 2003 index as North
America/Europe and two other regions, with 19 countries improving (thanks
mostly to better banking and finance scores) and 13 declining," the index
editors said in a statement.

      "Despite some significant gains - Botswana, for example is one of the
most improved nations in the world, and Madagascar and Uganda became 'mostly
free' - none of the region's 42 countries earned a 'free' rating.

      "Zimbabwe is the sub-Saharan region's least free country and continues
to deteriorate, although Rwanda saw the biggest decline."

      Some of the factors affecting economic freedom were government
consumption, government intervention in economies and erosion of property
rights, which have affected Zimbabwe's economic competitiveness in the past
two years.

      - Staff Reporter
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      Court orders R-G to move March ballots to Harare

      Staff Reporter
      11/14/02 11:51:02 AM (GMT +2)

      THE High Court yesterday gave Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede three
days within which to find a suitable place in Harare to keep all voting
materials used throughout the country during the disputed March presidential

      This followed the confirmation by Justice Yunus Omerjee of an earlier
provisional High Court order demanding that Mudede moves all the ballot
papers used in the poll to the capital for safe-keeping.

      The order means that Mudede, who did not challenge the provisional
order within the 10 days provided by the court, will need to inform the High
Court within three days from yesterday where he will store all the election

      The order followed an urgent court application last month by Morgan
Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
for an order seeking the safe keeping of the ballots papers which he could
use in his election petition against President Robert Mugabe to prove
allegations of massive electoral fraud.

      In last month's provisional order, Justice Lavender Makoni had ruled
that Mudede and his subordinates should make arrangements to move all the
ballot papers from the country's 120 constituencies to one place but still
keep them separate.

      In September Mudede failed to get court permission to destroy the
ballot papers when he wanted to use the same boxes in the local government
elections held that month.

      The court only allowed him to use the boxes but not to tamper with the
March ballots.

      Fearing that the papers could be tampered with since they were no
longer in sealed boxes, Tsvangirai applied to the court for an order that
compels Mudede to bring the papers to one secure place in Harare.

      Tsvangirai is challenging Mugabe's re-election, citing massive rigging
by government and ruling ZANU PF officials and widespread violence and
intimidation against MDC followers by ruling party militia and war veterans
in the run-up to the poll.
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Business Day

How lucky Mugabe is


HOW very cute. Following the Zimbabwe-SA ministerial meeting, Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe's ministers Stan Mudenge and Joseph Made proclaim
their hugely successful "land reform" programme closed, and promise that
there will be no more farm invasions in that country. As I said, how cute.

Especially when practically every one of the 4500 white farmers has been
thrown out, and there is no more land to be invaded. But let's not let this
get in the way of SA Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Zuma & Co
applauding. Already, she and her African National Congress (ANC) comrades
have joined Mugabe in demanding that Britain compensate Zimbabwe's
dispossessed white farmers. While these farmers are undeniably owed
compensation, Britain should tell the good comrades where to get off.

In the meantime, with the land now lying unfarmed, millions of Zimbabweans
starve. Does this ANC government care? Not on your nelly. Mugabe can thank
his lucky stars he has such good friends south of his border.

R SamuelsNorwood
Nov 14 2002 12:00:00:000AM  Business Day 1st Edition
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      13 Nov 2002
      Zimbabwe's drought and poverty rob children of their education
      Callie Long
--------------------------------------------------------------------------     Action by Churches Together (ACT) - Switzerland
      Regions: Zimbabwe

      Dateline ACT

      Southern Africa 06/02

      Zimbabwe's drought and poverty rob children of their education

      Gutu Province, November 13, 2002
      By Rainer Lang

      The three young boys are resting in the shade of a small tree after a
long and hard day's work as farm laborers on Muungani farm in Gutu Province,
southern Zimbabwe.

      Late as it is in the day, the sun still burns down, sapping the earth
of its moisture and baking the soil into a hard, barren crust. *(See end of

      One of the youngsters, 10-year old Shebad Mazhangara, who has been
working on the farm for about a year now, explains that they do not go to
school because their parents cannot afford the school fees. Shebad says he
works to help his parents and seven siblings survive.

      Shebad and his two friends, Timothy Shajactimwe (17) and Tatenda
Matare (13) each earn about $1000 Zimbabwean a month. "That is nothing",
says Leston Zhou from the Lutheran Development Service (LDS), a member of
Action by Churches Together (ACT) International. He adds, "that is not more
than one US dollar." But Shebad and his friends are adamant that they are
grateful to be employed.

      The three youngsters live in Gutu Province in the southern part of
Zimbabwe, an area hit hardest by the recent drought that has devastated the
whole of southern Africa. The majority of people in the province are
subsistence farmers, cultivating small plots of land. LDS and Christian Care
(CC), also a member of ACT International, are both helping people whose
lives have been devastated by the drought and factors such as the political
instability in the country and the HIV/Aids pandemic.

      The three boys work alongside several adults on the farm, preparing
the fields for the coming season. "Last year's drought affected this year's
harvest", explains Farai Wadzanai, one of the older farm workers. "We hope
for rain", he says, looking up at the sky, adding that he no longer has
enough food to feed his family. Yet Farai insists on sending at least two of
his four children to school, finding the Z$24 per child in school fees. This
is far too much on his salary as Farai only earns Z$2000 a month - an amount
that does not stretch very far when a 20kg bag of ground maize costs Z$1800

      To supplement his income, Farai resorts to borrowing from his employer
or asks his neighbors for help. The longer the drought lasts, the more he is
caught up in a cycle of poverty.

      The chief of Chingombe Village, Garal Gonese, who works as a teacher,
is worried about the impact of the drought on the educational system. Food
prices have shot up so dramatically over the last few months, that parents
are faced with a stark choice -to feed their children if they still can, or
send them to school, he explains. "A year ago a loaf of bread cost Z$45"
says Gonese. "Now, it has gone up to Z$140."

      At Batanayi School, where Gonese teaches, 170 students of the original
540 have left school to find work. "They work for a meager salary of between
100 to 300 Zimbabwean dollars a week on the fields or they go to the forest
to gather wild fruits to sell," says Gonese. "It is terrible."

      One sees children everywhere trying to make ends meet. Along the main
roads, they cluster together selling laundry detergents. They consider
themselves lucky - in the mornings they attend school and then join their
parents at the selling points in the afternoon.

      However, for Shebad and his friends', the future is a bleaker one. The
loss of education they are suffering now will inevitably have a severe
impact on their lives. Without an education their prospects will simply
dwindle to a few limited options later in life.

      (The farm where the three boys are eking out a living had not seen
rain in months when Rainer Lang visited the area.)

      ACT is a world-wide network of churches and related agencies meeting
human need through coordinated emergency response.
      The ACT Coordinating Office is based with the World Council of
Churches (WCC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Switzerland.
      ACT Web Site address:
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From ZWNEWS, 14 November

Tribute paid

The death of journalist Mark Chavunduka was "a tragedy for his family, for his profession, and for Zimbabwe," said publishing executive Clive Wilson, who was managing director of The Standard when Chavunduka edited the independent newspaper. Chavunduka and a senior reporter, Ray Choto, were arrested in 1999 and tortured by Robert Mugabe's security forces after The Standard carried a report of unrest in the Zimbabwe army. "Mark and Ray maintained the highest professional ethics of the best of journalists in Zimbabwe and indeed anywhere in the world," Wilson told ZWNEWS. "They stuck to their story of a planned coup within the Zimbabwe army, and were an example of integrity that was an inspiration to those independent journalists who have continued to expose the shortcomings of the Zanu PF government and who have also paid the price." Chavunduka, who was 37, died in Harare on Tuesday. Cause of death was not announced, but it was not believed to be linked to the torture. He received numerous awards as a courageous journalist, and was key to focusing international attention on the brutality of Mugabe's regime. "His death marks the passing of the first hero of the independent media's own chimurenga against those forces that are leading 12 million Zimbabweans into untold suffering and deprivation," added Wilson. "If Mark had not died, he would have been covering those stories with his usual zeal."

Correction: In yesterday’s obituary, we said, erroneously, that Chavunduka gave himself up to the security police in 1999 on the understanding that Choto would be released. It was Choto who gave himself up in the hope of winning Chavunduka's release. In the event, both men were held and tortured.

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ZIMBABWE: Court dismisses MDC appeal over voters' roll

JOHANNESBURG, 14 November (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on Thursday said it would continue to challenge the results of the March presidential election despite losing a court appeal for a computerised list of the voters' roll.

"We are surprised that the Supreme Court has dismissed such a simple request but then again we have been saying that the judiciary in this country has been compromised. An electronic copy of the voters' roll is the best way of facilitating our investigations into irregularities and duplications in the rolls," MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai told IRIN.

Tsvangirai said alleged discrepancies in the voters' roll were integral to the MDC's broader court challenge of the election result.

"Eventually, we will get a hard copy of the voters' roll. And although our work will be made a lot harder, since we will have to employ more manpower to photocopy and scan them [voters' rolls] into digital format for computer analysis, we will push on. This is a mere delay. The government hopes the challenge will go away but it won't," Tsvangirai added.

No date has yet been set for the court case.
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Art of Cooking Sadza Dying a Slow, Painful Death

Financial Gazette (Harare)

November 14, 2002
Posted to the web November 14, 2002

That this should be a dying art is such a shame. It's our staple food for
heaven's sake!

How many women out there - housewives, mothers, sisters and maids - can
honestly claim that they know how to cook sadza? But wait a minute sisters,
just because we are not cooking inedible mbodza/imboza does not mean that we
are cooking great sadza.

You see, there is a difference between cooking some great sadza, which can
pass grandfather's test, and cooking some hard paste remotely resembling
sadza however edible and stomachable. Excellent sadza has some criteria it
has to not only meet but also satisfy.

Having clarified that once again I ask, how many of you out there can boldly
and confidently claim that the sadza they cook cannot be found wanting by
all standards, any day any time?

That the sadza they cook is smooth and free of lumps, of optimum
consistency, not too thin not too thick; that they have the uncanny ability,
the promptness of action, swiftness of movement, adeptness of time and
multi-skill management and enough presence of mind to be able to finish
cooking that sadza, line up the dishes, dish out the staple and the relish
of the day, set the table and serve the staple still steaming hot- just the
way it's supposed to be?

Or just the way mother used to do it back in the days? (read mothers 45 plus
years old).

I shudder to imagine how many of the modern day women fold will be found
wanting in this area? If they are at least able to cook the staple
lump-free, chances are they can't get it to the table, or whatever eating
set-up while it's steaming hot.

When was the last time you men out there opened up your sadza plates to some
steamy uprisings from the sadza? Do you even know that this is what you are
supposed to get? Or are the stellar expectations of the hard mashona-type
men dying as well?

Don't tell me that the hard mashona-type breed, which has been the guardians
and inspectors of traditional culinary expertise by making a woman pay and
pay severely for a pot of mbodza or any ill-conceived pot of a resemblance
of the staple, is in danger of extinction itself? (Not that I approve of any
expressions of spousal punishment violent or otherwise.)

You see cooking sadza is not just an activity, lest some people undermine it
as such. It's an art. The working definition of art in this context being a
creative skill, aptitude, knack, ingenuity, expertise, technique or talent
resulting in a representation appealing to the sense of vision, touch and
taste among others.

Sadza-cooking is a very specialised art apparently, otherwise if it wasn't
we wouldn't be having such sub-standard consistencies served in homes and,
yes, even restaurants. The sad part is that sometimes even in the rural
areas, the original cradle of our cultural arts and wisdom, some women,
particularly the young ladies, are failing to deliver. And you would think
that girls outback would be preserving the art. Needless to point out it's
worse in the towns where urbanite masalala mothers are doing exactly that:
serving masalala - salads, spaghetti, pizza and other high-perceived value
foods which are apparently big on the so called "class-appeal" but low on
filling capacity.

Either sadza has lost its dominance and daily-place on the urban table or
the whole sadza cooking activity has been relegated to the ever-ready,
ever-available, ever-harassed and altogether grossly-abused sisi vebasa, who
for her part has her own struggles with preserving the dying art. You would
think that maybe a sisi straight from the rural would churn out better
consistencies, but oh no, these days it's not a sure bet.

Like I said it's not just an activity to cook sadza as it is supposed to
be - it's an art. How can the stuff bata ura or ngumabambithumbu (steady up
the intestines) when it's so poorly, miserably and disgustingly put

But the problems with the preservation of this, one of our very primary
arts, is that it has not been one a lot of people can get from books. It has
not even been sufficiently documented in books. Heaven knows the art of
making sadza can justify a web presence on the Internet!

The few times that I have seen recipes of sadza in some written format it
has failed to capture the essence of the art. The essence of this art, like
with most of our cultural arts, lies in how one determines when a step is
done or complete. This has, for the most part been done by instinct, by
feeling, but kungonzwa wega iwewe with neither a precise metric measurement
nor empirical evidence.

Like I have often heard elderly women say, ruoko rwako is supposed to be
able to tell you kuti sadza raibva (you determine when the sadza is ripe and
ready by how it feels on your hand). It's primarily a feel-your-way-along
type of thing. This may have been a very convenient and sufficient way of
doing and gauging things back in the days when measurements were not
scientific or anything like that, but that is exactly where the complexity
of the matter lies today.

Lifestyles and occupational orientations around the home were conducive to
the developing of acute senses of instinct of feeling and what-have you.

Times and occasions have since changed yet the standards of excellency in
sadza artistry should not be compromised. Right? (All those in agreement say

Today, the average young woman (read 16 to 35 years of age) doesn't know for
sure when to stop piling up that mealie-meal (in the increasingly rare
chance that she has enough of it in these days of scarcity), or when to
resume cooking after the kukwata/ukuxwatha phase.

Your average young woman in the urban areas today doesn't know how much
kushinyira/kucinya is adequate. This same young woman has had neither enough
training nor practise to develop her sense of feeling or instinct. Why, she
herself does not have enough training nor practice to develop her sense of
feeling or instinct.

Why, she herself does not have enough time to learn and/or practise cooking
sadza and mother has not insisted because you know that she signed up for
ballet lessons at the local youth centre, or she has swimming practise at
school, she is in the school swimming team remember, and or lest we forget
what about those gymnastic try-outs or is it the championships this week? -
Hell, it's too much we can't keep up. Not only does she and mother not make
time for sadza lessons but she finds as she grows older that her life has
not developed the senses grandmother would rather she sharpened. Her sense
of hearing, for example, has been dulled by spending too much time listening
to pianos, listening to too much sound effects in movies or some of that
ear-blasting rap or hip-hop sounds.

Or if she is that refined, the fluidity of opera sounds have taken their
toll on her cultural instincts. How can her hand know when the sadza feels
thick or heavy enough? The sense in her hands had been too used to mixing
jellies and pudding, too used to handling book pages and pens instead of the
sense-developing heavier - duty activities like digging and ploughing out in
the fields or kukuya/cola dovi.

Her whole tactility has been a little distorted by chiffons and silk, that
is if she even washes them herself because again that might very well be
another: beware - madam-don't-go-sis-territory. Not that there is anything
wrong with these so-called finer things of life. I would be the first to
admit that yours truly sure does like herself some goo-o-od life comfortable
as ever, but after some night out at the opera or an afternoon spent time
turning a fine art hobby, one really would like to come home to, and be able
to sleep after some down hearty sadza that one knows one can decently put
together. Or if sisi is doing it for, one needs to be safe and right in the
thought that this time around by some lucky chance sisi hasn't lumped up the
consistency and once again made a mockery of the hard-scrounged,
ill-begotten, bribe-born and overly-priced mealie-meal.

I think for our sakes as sadza-eating, sadza-loving, sadza-resorting, sadza
reliant and sadza-dependent people, those that feel they have the art of
cooking sadza down to a science should share openly and widely with others
before this art dies. The way I am figuring it we still have some years
before it completely dies, maybe another 20, 30 or so years more - at least
for as long as we have the 40 plus age group around and active.

So if those folks who have this art down pat could offer some lessons,
advice and/or pointers either at women's clubs, at some church-organised
activities, cultural centers or even open up a school for art incorporating
the art of sadza. Even if it means making a commercial business out of it, I
think it's worth it. If those tertiary or vocational training colleges
offering cooking courses include if they haven't already done so, or if they
are already doing it put more emphasis on the art of cooking sadza. We also
need more documentation of how its done. We need to add onto the already
existing written sadza recipes. We need more folks who can clearly make the
breakthrough between the wonderful world of instinct and the measurable
empirical world of the today and now. We need to preserve this art.

It's our cultural duty and it's a cultural obligation those in the know
should have towards the uninitiated. The older generations owe it to the
younger generation to pass and pass on well arts like cooking sadza.

I would venture to even go a step further and say perhaps in this day and
age of job-sharing, shifts in the division of labour and liberal thinking it
wouldn't be such a bad idea for boys to learn how to cook so they share in
the responsibility of carrying on the art of sadza cooking lest the ladies
let them down or perhaps, haven forbid, the task of upholding that part of
the heritage be too much for the girls. (this is by now means a plug for the
so-distorted, misunderstood and misrepresented equal rights, rather it's
about equal opportunity. Give boys interested, wiling and able to learn how
to cook sadza the opportunity to do so in the hope of helping to revive a
dying art.)

On the surface it might appear as if the lighter and more modern
class-defined foods are taking over but believe you me and lie to yourself
if you must, no matter how western they go, how high they shoot up, how
flighty and mighty they aspire to be they always come home to roost. They
always come back to the basics. And home is where the basics are and let's
face it - for us, what can be more basic than sadza.

Take if from me - I have been there, done that and wrote a post card. No
matter how salala they seem or how many years they have spent as been-tos on
the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, there comes a time when they feel a
queasiness in the stomach and indeed in the whole body. A time when they
realise they are lacking something, a time when all the tossed salads in the
world cannot maintain even the barest sense of gravity this is when it hits
them and they come scrambling for dear - old hupfu-impumpu(mealie-meal).
They all can always use some steadying up of those nerves, intestines and
brain cells with a plate of some down home, hearty, steamy sadza.

Hats off to sadza! It defines us. It's part of our cultural identity. And
this we cannot deny. We dare not deny.

Maggie Mzumzra is a local media specialist, social commentator and
entreprenuer. She can be reached at

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