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Africa's losing battle

Fighting a war on poverty is top priority

Monday November 18, 2002
The Guardian

Africa's plight is not as bad as the world thought, it is worse. More than
30 million people on the continent could be facing famine within months.
Cameras will, no doubt, bear witness to this terror, filling screens with
fly-specked sacks of bones, skin and bulging eyes. Most will be dead by the
time the pictures arrive in the west's living rooms. There are a depressing
variety of ways that Africa's masses have become wretched and weak. In
Ethiopia, the lengthening of dry spells and the shortening of rainy seasons
have cast a long shadow of hunger. In southern Africa food shortages are
compounded by pandemic levels of Aids. In Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe's
misguided policies were designed to kill off the opposition, but have ended
up starving a region. Meanwhile Congo, Angola, Sudan and the Ivory Coast are
all caught between war and peace.
At the moment, Africa's future engenders little hope and much despair. The
UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation reckons half of sub-Saharan Africa
goes hungry and, in nutritional terms, its countries are worse off now than
30 years ago. In the 1990s, Africa's lost decade, aid to the region dropped
by a third. More than 300 million people live in extreme poverty in
sub-Saharan Africa. Unplugged from the global economy, the second largest
continent's share of exports is about half of Belgium's.

To stop the slide into poverty and anarchy an ambitious deal was struck
between rich nations and poor ones in Africa. The wealthy world would back
economic and political reforms on the continent with cash. The New
Partnership for Africa's Development, or Nepad, hoped to end wars, encourage
better governments and facilitate a surge of foreign and local investment.
More aid was promised, as was money to write off the debts of Africa's
poorest nations - allowing governments to spend taxes on hospitals and
schools, instead of repaying foreign creditors. International institutions
set up a global fund to slow, and ultimately reverse, the spread of the
continent's biggest killers: Aids, tuberculosis and malaria. Perhaps most
important, the aim was to reduce iniquities in the world's trading system
that strangled growth in Africa. The plan was to move the landmass from the
periphery of international debate to the centre.

Yet in Africa the clocks are going backwards. Despite the fine promises,
efforts to raise literacy and improve people's lives are faltering. Only
five of sub-Saharan Africa's 47 countries are expected to meet the global
goal of halving the number of people living in poverty by 2015. The reason
is that the west's money and resolve to open markets to African goods have
not materialised. No change means no chance for African nations to grow,
which means no cash for social development. Africa's poor, those who survive
on a dollar a day, are predominately found in rural areas. The economies of
America and European remain fortresses - built on the foundations of
$1bn-a-day subsidies to farmers, a tiny proportion of their workforce -
designed to keep out agricultural goods. The cash fed to farmers in the west
leads to an overproduction of goods - Europe offers sweeteners for sugar and
the US cultivates cotton growers. This in turn helps to depress prices on
the world's markets.

Not only can poor countries not export into rich nations, but the income
they gain from selling goods has dropped precipitously. So world cotton
prices - which support the livelihoods of 10 million people in central and
west Africa - are lower than at any time since the depression of the 1930s.
Africa's cotton belt, Oxfam estimates, lost $301m last year, about a quarter
of what it receives in US aid. Although world trade talks in Doha last year
ended with an agreement to end agricultural subsidies, both the US and the
EU, via CAP, are upping welfare payments to farmers. While the load is
lightened for agribusiness in the west, the burden on Africans' back gets
bigger. African nations owe about $300bn in external debt. Almost half of
this is owed by the 34 African states eligible for debt relief. And even one
of the most successful African reformers - Uganda - is finding sustaining
its debt almost impossible because of the dramatic drop in coffee prices.

African health spending, at $13 a person a year, will remain the lowest in
the world unless economies grow. Without healthy populations there is no
point in generating jobs. In countries ravaged by Aids, like Botswana and
Malawi, most people do not live to see their 41st birthday. Yet only 10% of
the annual global health research budget, worth $70bn, goes to tackle
diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV-Aids that constitute 90% of
the world's health problems. It is a little bewildering that a deal,
although close, has not been signed to supply cheap treatments to Africa.

Many donors, especially the US, justify inaction by saying that poverty is
best alleviated by a combination of democracy and market liberalisation.
Democracy is not a precondition of development. The rise of China, whose
economic success has lifted hundreds of millions out of misery, was
accomplished under one-party rule. The answer of how rich countries became
rich might be found in our own history. Britain's industrial revolution was
forged in a land where governments were elected by elites and corruption and
patronage was rife. Protectionism fuelled Britain's economic growth. Similar
circumstances occurred in Germany and the United States. Africa is
different. It has a history of oppression, poor education and often malign
government. Africa may not achieve in decades what took centuries in Europe.

There are good reasons to be cautious as one country's solution is another's
problem. What worked in east Asia may not have the same effect in Africa.
But in the world post-September 11, there has been an overall acceptance
that we have to be tough on terrorism and tough on the causes of terrorism,
of which penury and subsequent disillusionment and disenfranchisement are
undoubtedly part. It is in the interest of rich countries that they be
patient and make sacrifices to ensure fairer trade, more aid and more
generous debt relief. The west might have to wait and watch African nations
struggle to adopt better, more open governance and let democracies grow at a
slower, more organic pace.

The problem can be localised in one continent, but the solution has to come
from the developed world. Given $200bn to spend, what is a better option: a
Marshall plan for Africa or a martial plan for Iraq? The answer is that the
only just war to launch is the fight against poverty.

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Daily News

      Shops in Insiza full of maize-meal after poll

      11/18/02 8:01:53 AM (GMT +2)

      From Chris Gande in Bulawayo

      WHILE the rest of Zimbabwe is facing a serious shortage of maize-meal,
a number of shops in the Insiza constituency in Matabeleland South have it
in abundance, thanks to last month's by-election won by Zanu PF.

      Hundreds of tonnes of maize were sent to Insiza in the run-up to the
by-election, reportedly as Zanu PF's major vote-buying move.

      The Zanu PF candidate, Andrew Langa, beat the MDC's Siyabonga Malandu
Ncube by 6 000 votes.

      Although the stacks of maize bags seen before the election have been
depleted, small millers, most of them known to be Zanu PF functionaries,
still have large stocks to grind for sale.

      The Filabusi Grain Marketing Board depot, which had received constant
maize supplies in the run-up to the by-election, was last week empty. The
millers supply selected shops in the constituency with maize-meal.

      "The only thing that we don't have is relish for the isitshwala
(sadza)," said a woman identifying herself only as MaMoyo. "Otherwise we are
still okay."

      When this reporter tried to buy a bag of maize-meal at one shop, he
was told the person who "vets" customers was not available. This was in
spite of the availability of dozens of 10kg packets of maize-meal in the
shop. Villagers said the "vetting" included the production of the Zanu PF
party membership card.

      The villagers said maize was available in large quantities for at
least a month before the by-election, held to fill the seat left vacant
after the death of the MDC's George Joe Ndlovu.

      The villagers said they feared that if the by-election "campaign
 maize" ran out, they would be back to "square one".

      Insiza, an area severely affected by the drought, was receiving food
relief from the World Food Programme (WFP) until the by-election.

      The United Nations food relief agency stopped distribution after Zanu
PF supporters forcibly seized tonnes of maize-meal from WFP employees, and
allegedly distributed it to Zanu PF supporters.

      A number of enterprising Bulawayo residents have motored to Insiza to
buy maize-meal for resale in the city where supplies have been scarce for

      This reporter visited Insiza last Wednesday and came across a woman
who had bought several bags of maize-meal for resale in Bulawayo.

      "I bought 10kg bags for $650 each, and I am going to sell them in
Bulawayo for $900," she said.

      With the acute shortage of maize-meal in the city, her expectations of
a huge profit margin seemed to be justified.
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Daily News - Feature

      Beneficiaries of our folly can't be trusted to help us

      11/18/02 8:10:54 AM (GMT +2)

      I TOOK a ride to a neighbouring country. The first thing that I felt
like doing freely was to compare what I saw with what dear home offers.

      I conferred on myself the duty of making a comparison in all those
aspects that are comparable. My interests are mainly centred on economic
development, social endeavours and notable political strides.

      As all countries in the sub-region are still smarting from
colonialism, the thrust is on unbundling those colonial injustices.

      In this neighbouring country, I saw that the political landscape is a
bit different from ours. They have a similar land problem like ours, yet
they believe that the law is more sacrosanct than political survival of an
individual. They have overcrowded urban homes for the majority blacks, yet
they still would not want to break the law to solve their overcrowding. They
are solving their problems using their laws to the fullest extent.

      Many people have argued that this country's black population is mostly
urbanised. They have made it appear as if the black communities have nothing
to do with farming. Somehow, the black people in South Africa would want to
farm or settle in areas where their forefathers were unjustly removed. They
have a plausible claim to the land. The government has to solve this

      Some South African communities have taken a cue from our own
situation. They have invaded white-owned farms. While the land could have
been illegally taken away from the concerned communities, the rules of
engagement demand that repossession should be done in a legal and orderly
manner. The government has leaned towards its laws and exercised its legal
powers to persuade the invaders off the invaded land. Each invasion has been
met with an equal eviction which has been guided by the rule of law.

      In that country, as expected, there are some radicals who think that
the law is not only an ass, but also tailored to favour the whites.

      Those radicals are a minority, of course. The minority who belong to a
minority party are bent on causing noise. They want the government of that
country to "do a Zimbabwe". Doing a Zimbabwe is having the government and
its ardent supporters grabbing all the land from the whites and, in the
process, rendering the agricultural sector stagnant for a while.

      The government of that law-abiding country remains resolute in
adhering to the rule of law. The laws of the land are respected in the
strictest of all manners. No one is above the law - not even the president
of the ruling party. The arms of government do respect the law. As the rule
of law takes its course, the people can only be encouraged to be patient.

      Breaking the law can only be considered in one light - it is a crime
to break the law!

      It is only in minor situations where a minority of radical members of
the small opposition Pan-Africanist Congress have vowed to break the law in
solidarity with Zimbabwean land invasions. South Africa is lucky that those
who instigate the breaking of the law come from a minority party. If it were
the larger parties that were instigating the unlawful seizures of land, then
another Zimbabwe would be in the making in South Africa. South Africans
should be grateful that, for the time being, the ruling party remains
committed to the rule of law.

      Zimbabwe would not have faced similar problems if the land seizures
had been instigated by say Zanu Ndonga, a minority party whose support base
is concentrated in the district of Chipinge. The law would have descended on
the invaders in its totality. There would have been human rights activists
crying foul on the high-handedness of the government in evicting the
invaders. The logistics for the evictions would have been hastily put
together. The swiftness of the operation would have been the envy of many.

      The South African government has embarked on finding an amicable
solution to its land problem. Communities who feel they were disadvantaged
by the indiscriminate take-over of their land by the settlers are given a
fair chance to launch their claims. The courts take their time, but there is
a semblance of proper conduct.

      The Namibian government claims that it has a land problem that is
similar to that of Zimbabwe and South Africa. They are willing to solve
their land problems within the legal context, too. They have praised
Zimbabwe for grabbing the land from the white farmers, yet they say they
have laws that govern the redistribution of land in their country.

      The Namibian stance is a double standard where, on one hand, they
praise Zimbabwe for doing things illegally, while, on the other hand, they
would not want to do a "Zimbabwe".

      The manner our neighbours would want to solve their land problems
makes Zimbabwe the odd member out. The region agrees that there are problems
of land equity, yet none of the countries agrees on the route taken by
Zimbabwe. Due to our neighbours' unwillingness to endorse the manner we have
adopted in solving the land issue, one can only conclude that we do not have
good friends. If our friends were what they claim to be, they would openly
advise us as we stray.

      As I crossed a large street in Johannesburg, I could smell the absence
of genuine solidarity within the Southern African Development Community
leadership. I saw one Theron, a commercial farmer whose farm had been taken
over by the "land-hungry" masses in Zimbabwe. He was preparing to settle in
the fertile Mozambican province of Tete. He praised the Mozambican
government for answering his prayer for free land. He could not hide his
gratitude that there were some governments as diverse as the Central African
Republic government who were willing to take professional farmers.

      Theron was upbeat about the new developments. He was happy that
overall, Africa had not experienced a complete loss of professional farmers.
He only bemoaned Zimbabwe for losing its creme de la creme to neighbouring

      I tried to be patriotic in my arguments with him. I told him that in
the process of land reform, Zimbabwe had increased its number of farmers
several fold. He only laughed and asked if it was medically prudent to fire
all the medical doctors and employ first aiders and traditional doctors in
their place!

      It took me some few seconds to realise what Theron meant. Probably it
would take our own over-educated Cabinet a decade to realise what Theron
meant. So, Zimbabwe is not only losing its doctors and nurses to
neighbouring countries, but also its farmers.

      This is economic melt-down. There is no other term for this! Some
professionals are just fired and others just get disgusted by our government
's way of thinking.

      What is the solution to our problems?

      Can we trust our neighbours to be part of the solution seeing that
they benefit from our strife?

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Daily News - Letter

      Zanu PF-driven land redistribution will not resolve disparities

      11/18/02 8:20:57 AM (GMT +2)

      I am one person who needs land and I understand why the programme of
redistributing wealth equitably is important. However, I am totally opposed
to the Zanu PF-orchestrated process of giving land to a few landless blacks,
most of them well-connected and already affluent Zanu PF supporters.

      In my judgment land reform is yet to start. The ruling party is yet to
see what a waste of time it was to allocate land to its cronies under the
guise of national land redistribution.

      I am saying that as far as most Zimbabweans are concerned, it is folly
to assume that there ever was a land issue in the country.

      A proper land redistribution plan must include all people as
beneficiaries, regardless of their esteemed political persuasions. A
legitimate land reform programme must apportion land which is adequate for
commercial agriculture.

      I am aware that there were disparities in land ownership but those
discrepancies will still be evident after the current fiasco is over and the
dust has settled. I don't see where people who have been settled will
proceed from there, after this purely symbolic activity taking place since
1999. Both the MDC and Zanu PF have not been able to articulate their
independent, reasoned positions on the issue.

      While the MDC could not have spelt out a clear position since it is
not the government, it is, however, an opposition party with a reasonable
representation in Parliament. Zanu PF, as the government in power, has not
implemented a sound resettlement programme. As always, Zanu PF failed to
achieve the aspirations of the majority of the people.

      As usual, Zanu PF allocated farms to its cronies and the masses have
been left with the crumbs. As with previous scandals, Zanu PF showed it does
not have the people's interests at heart.

      I just want to say that Zanu PF will soon be gone.

      All the people who have been refused permission to travel out of the
country because of the scrapping of emergency passports, plus all the
landless, all the hungry, and all the jobless, will rise up and throw out
President Mugabe's regime.

      Courage Shumba
      Former vice-president UZ
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Daily News

      Transport woes to go on despite fare hikes

      11/18/02 8:28:33 AM (GMT +2)

      THE real problem facing the public transport sector is the
unavailability of foreign currency in the country. The increases in commuter
bus fares announced by the government on Friday, may give the operators more
money than they previously had, but it does not make the spare parts the
operators so desperately require more readily available.

      The issue that the government must now seek to address more earnestly
is that of how Zimbabwe will be able to generate the foreign currency with
which to pay for its other pressing obligations such as fuel, food, energy
and industrial raw material imports.

      Now the commuter bus operators will be able to raise the Zimbabwean
equivalent of the foreign exchange required for the spares, but still the
country will have an acute shortage of foreign currency.

      The government is very loath to admit the point, but the effects of
the havoc it allowed to be played out on the farms during the past 34 months
and the closure of foreign currency-generating operations, are beginning to
take their toll on the country.

      And the tragedy of it all is that no one in the government seems to
have the slightest clue as to how to move this country forward. Very
opportunistic but tired and obsolete solutions are proposed instead. The
country staggers from one crisis to another.

      Friday's commuter bus fare increases now require those living further
away from the city centre to fork out $130 to $180 daily on transport alone.
Workers can be expected to start making demands on their companies to
alleviate their plight, even though right now is not the appropriate time to
do so. Otherwise workers will have just enough to bring them to work. Many
will simply not be able to make ends meet.

      If a worker has to factor in a meal every day while at work, the
average monthly expenses on transport and something to eat will be at least
$7 000.

      The irony of the announcement on commuter fares is that it was made in
the same breath that declared an extension to price controls to cover a
wider range of goods. The same argument for extending the price freeze on
goods could have been extended to the commuter fares.

      But this is all political. The government used the issue of commuter
fares as part of its campaign during the recent rural district council
elections. Now that it successfully hoodwinked the voters into supporting
the ruling party, it increases the commuter fares.

      There is a very cynical observation to be drawn from Friday's
announcements. After the rural district council elections and Insiza and the
results of its food-for-votes campaign, the government may be preparing to
announce a rerun of the 9-11 March disputed presidential poll as demanded by
the international community.

      The extension of price controls will only increase the scarcity of
more goods.

      The government does not seem to learn. The initial price controls on
bread, sugar, milk and others goods showed that commodities become scarce
with the application of price controls. What they have effectively done is
to increase the list of goods that will become more scarce.

      But since the political heavyweights have been the beneficiaries from
any scarcities, they must have figured out an easier way of making more
money by extending the range of goods to be brought under price controls.
Alternatively, the government and the ruling party want to coerce everyone
into buying Zanu PF membership cards, since this has been the requirement
for members of the public to buy such basic commodities as maize-meal.

      But it is also true that the government realises that widening the
range of goods whose prices are controlled will mean more hardships and the
masses will be goaded into taking to the streets.

      In this case, the rationale behind the commuter fare increases would
be a government conspiracy which seeks to keep people caged in their
communities and ensure they cannot come out into the city centre to protest
against the ensuing shortages.

      Whatever the motive, the commuter fare increases, on the one hand, and
the extended price controls, on the other, were not inspired by a genuine
desire to address the real problems confronting the people of this country.
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Daily News -  Leader Page

      Streak's portrayal of events in Zimbabwe a betrayal

      11/18/02 8:27:10 AM (GMT +2)

      "COWARDICE asks, is it safe? Expediency asks, is it politic? Vanity
asks, is it popular? But conscience asks, is it right? There comes a time
when one must take the position that it is neither safe, nor politic, nor
popular . . . but one must do it because conscience says it is right!" - Dr
Martin Luther King Jr.

      VERY noble of you to rush to Heath Streak's defence, Rick Kriel!
Unfortunately, you apparently missed the whole point of Zimactivism's
article and my accompanying comment. Please read it again - calmly - and
perhaps you'll understand it better the second time around.

      Streak was not being urged to "make the supreme sacrifice", nor was he
expected to stand up and slate President Mugabe or Zanu PF, etc. What was
unacceptable was that he did stand up and opened his mouth to encourage
international cricket teams to play in Zimbabwe during the World Cup, by
telling a pack of untruths to give credibility and respectability to this
murderous rogue government!

      "There are no problems in Zimbabwe at the moment," he claimed. Well,
excuse me! That has to be the understatement of the century! The scale of
the horror that is perpetrated on the defenceless citizens of this country
on a daily basis is mind-blowing.

      The gall of such a statement is such that it's difficult to even give
dignity to that puerile bit of crap by arguing the point that "Security is
fine . . ." One has to wonder if a public poll was taken how many (few?)
would vote in agreement?

      Streak said: "Our government and Ministry of Sport have pledged their
support . . ." Well, of course, they have. They obviously have to lend
substance to the charade that Zimbabwe is a paradise and democracy is

      Why should teams be encouraged to come to this pariah state? The world
put South Africa out in the cold during the apartheid years, they did the same
to Rhodesia during Unilateral Declaration of Independence.

      Sport is important to people, so when they are deprived it bites - it
is an important tool for exerting political pressure. Unfortunately, sport
and politics do mix - it is sad but true!

      If Streak went as far as making a political statement - because that
is what it was - he should either have said "no comment" when quizzed by the
journalists, and it would have spoken volumes; or he should have had the
guts to tell the truth or said something to the effect that "Things are not
good in Zimbabwe at the moment, but cricketing bodies from the countries
concerned must make their own decisions as to whether they can risk their
teams in a country whose human rights record is cause for concern."

      That would have been good, inspiring and admirable. It would have won
a lot more respect from people across the board, fans and just general
public. But all this is giving a lot more significance to Streak than he
deserves. He got criticised because he is a public figure, and, as such, he
must think about what he says. Pure and simple.

      But in the scheme of things, the harsh reality is that Streak and the
cricket team are really not of great relevance in the bigger picture of what
is going down in Zimbabwe today. So sorry to burst your bubble on this
issue, there are much more important issues at stake.

      If the cricket team all disappeared in a puff of smoke tomorrow, it
would be a non-event. In fact, after the way they've played in the last few
seasons, many would probably heave a huge sigh of relief, with one or two
exceptions, of course, not including Streak.

      Having spoken to a large cross-section of cricket fans about Streak's
statements, including some fanatical housewives, I'm sorry to report not one
was sympathetic!

      When Streak walked out on the team not too long ago, I doubt if he
gave a damn about his adoring schoolboy fans and their enthusiastic mums.

      But then I don't recall anyone getting suicidal about it either and
when he was suddenly back on the scene it certainly wasn't a cause for
national celebration.

      A couple of years ago, Mark McNulty took advantage of the golfing
awards ceremony to make a strong statement against the land invasions, which
had just started.

      He won a great deal of admiration. He doesn't live in Zimbabwe
anymore, but his entire family are farmers here. We do need people like

      The more public personalities speak out, the more impact it has out

      Or must we play right into this repressive government's hands and
pretend all is well and not tell the truth?

      Unfortunately, with the heinous legislation passed by the government,
anonymity is often a necessity. Many of those working constantly against the
forces of evil are "anonymous", because they are just that - ordinary men
and women who do give a damn and are prepared to do something, but don't
have the advantage of a high profile but wish they did.

      Unlike Streak, there are people in our beleaguered society who are
well known, but don't shrink from speaking out and they do so repeatedly,
refusing to be terrorised by the thugs in control.

      Appeasement is like the Jews negotiating with the Nazis on how much to
turn down the gas.

      Hold that thought!
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Report from Mash Central Region

1) Arbitrary evictions of Commercial Farmers (even from an E.P.Z.) have continued in the region. Instigators of these have been the "war collaborators, mujibas association" and the youth brigade "green bombers".

2. Reports have been received from the high-density areas of Bindura urban (Chipadze and Chiuaridza) to the effect that ZANU PF Shona members are threatening and assaulting people of other tribal groups. In particular the Matabele are being accused of being MDC supporters and ordered to leave the area which is a ZANU PF Stronghold. This is a form of ethnic cleansing.

3. Mashonaland Central Regional Executive has urged steps to be taken to merge the CFU with ZTA into a single body for their mutual benefit and survival.


 Soyabean seed is in short supply and original orders are being cut by 50%.  However we do not believe 45 000 hectares of soyas will be planted (this is the area that could be planted with existing seed stocks), so there must be duplications in seed orders.  We are working with seed houses in an effort to sort this out. 

Maize seed sales are at record levels and the minister has stated that further stocks will be imported.  We don't see evidence of all this maize being planted. 

Unfortunately still no news on a wheat price. 




The ABC plan was officially launched at a function at ART farm on Tuesday 5 November 2002.  We are now working on setting up small sub-committees to work on services members have identified as priorities.  The sub committee will be tasked with reporting on compensation, legal, negotiation, production, communication and membership. One of the sub-committees on compensation is already operating and is comprised of Alan Stockil, Gerry Davison and Kuda Ndoro.  Please contact them if you have any ideas.  The other sub-committees will hopefully be finalised before council on the 26 November 2002.


Update on Inputs

Another record inflation level, 144.2% for October 2002, which will be about as quickly broken as the last one. Prices rose by 11,2% in the month. Annualising the average for the last three months gives us 164%, but despite a price freeze being imposed, inflation will certainly rise further as the parallel market rate also breaks new records. We're now close to Z$2000 to one US dollar, but government still insists that the official exchange rate -- still Z$55 to one -- is valid and usable.  If you import some useful finished product, you will be charged duty on the basis of a Z$500 to one exchange rate.

And if you export anything, government now requires half of your foreign proceeds at Z$55 to one and captures the rest as well, but you can get that back if you can persuade some gentleman/ women from the Reserve Bank that you will do something that he/she thinks is really useful. Otherwise they will choose some other beneficiary. No details of how much you get and how much they pay has yet been revealed...  

For those still farming fertiliser, seed (maize and soyas), chemicals are very scarce, to secure them you have to phone around. In most cases especially for seed and fertiliser, there is very little coming through the normal distribution channels. As for prices, any input with a foreign currency component is increasing in price by the week. As foreign currency become scarce, increases by the day, whilst some predict by the hour is no longer an impossibility.


If you require any further information on any of the above issues please contact 309800 ext. 279 or e-mail and we will endeavor to supply prompt answers
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Concern Over New Price Controls

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

November 18, 2002
Posted to the web November 18, 2002


The Zimbabwe government's decision to impose a new set of price freezes
would create shortages and an increase in smuggling, an economist told IRIN
on Monday.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper reported the government-gazetted
six-month price freeze on a long list of products to cushion consumers
against rising prices and an inflation rate that hit 144 percent in October.

The list includes fuel, all meat products, dressed chickens, salt, vegetable
oils, fats and sugar. It also covers alcoholic beverages and household items
like soap, candles and toilet paper. The price of building materials and
blasting explosives and accessories for the mining industry as well as
vehicles and their accessories would be controlled.

There was also a freeze on the price of all agricultural tractors and
implements as well as chemicals, veterinary products and maize, barley,
soya-bean, sorghum, wheat, groundnut and sunflower seed.

But while people questioned in a subsequent snap survey by the newspaper
lauded the move, economist Tony Hawkins said the government's price controls
introduced in October 2001, when inflation was at 70 percent, had had no

"It did nothing except create shortages. Price controls meant that goods
were either not being produced [because manufacturers were not recouping
costs], goods were sold on the black market at higher prices, or they were
being smuggled over the border," he said. "Deliveries of sugar to Mutare
doubled but there was no sugar for sale in the town - it was being sold
across the Mozambique border at higher prices," he added.

Hawkins said that Zambia's former president Frederick Chiluba complained
that his country had lost almost one-third of their cement market to
smuggling or dumping from Zimbabwe.

In addition, he said the announcement during Finance Minister Herbert
Murerwa's budget speech last week that all bureaux de change would be
closed, would make it more difficult for businesses to access the foreign
currency they needed.

Zimbabwe's foreign currency shortage has seen businesses driven to the
bureaux de change "parallel market" in search of the hard cash to pay for
imports or raw materials. In the hopes of stopping a currency freefall, the
Zimbabwe Reserve Bank (ZRB) fixed the exchange rate at US $1 to Zim $55 in
October 2000, but shortages have seen the parallel rate fluctuate at over
Zim $1,500 for US $1 over the last fortnight.

The government's move to close the bureaux would force businesses to apply
to the ZRB for currency and the bank would have to decide whose application
was approved, Hawkins said.

This comes alongside the government forcing companies to surrender half
their foreign exchange earnings to the ZRB.

"Price controls and shutting the bureaux de change will destroy businesses
and it will drive the parallel market onto the street corner," Hawkins said.

The Commercial Oil, Grain and Cereal Producers Association said that while
it welcomed the price fix on seed, there needed to be a corresponding price
fix on production inputs.

The association's general manger of commodities, George Hutchison, said
shortages would still drive prices over the fixed rate and manufacturers
would not sell their goods at a loss.

"With agricultural chemicals, importers use foreign exchange to bring them
in and they won't sell their goods at a loss and they either remove it from
the market, or we have to pay the asking price. If we had a real exchange
rate we wouldn't have this problem," he told IRIN.

"If you're desperate you have to pay the asking price. If the government
could control prices right through the [production] chain, it might work,
but not in a shortage situation. The only people who benefit are the middle
men," Hutchison said.

In their latest situation report, the World Food Programme said farmers
reported shortages of seeds, fertiliser and fuel. It warned that if fuel
shortages continued, it could pose difficulties for the commuter transport
system with implications for heightened food insecurity in rural as well as
urban areas.

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Republic of Botswana

Botswana has the freest economy in Africa and leads 10 other African
countries as rated by the United States-based Heritage Foundation, which
released its annual Index of Economic Freedom last week.
According to a South African paper, The Sunday Times yesterday, Botswana
ranked 35th position < with a rating of 2.5 on a scale of one to five < out
of 156 countries around the world.

One on the rating scale means "most free" while five means "repressed".

The other 10 African countries are Madagascar and South Africa, which both
share position 44; Namibia 52; Uganda 62; Mali, Mauritius and Swaziland 72;
and the Central African Republic, Cote d' Ivoire and Senegal 80.

Out of the 156 rated countries, Botswana shares the 35th position with
Cambodia, the Czech Republic, Japan and Uruguay.

According to The Sunday Times, the index quoted The Economist as saying:
"Political stability under continuous civilian rule, sound economic policy
and ample natural resources have contributed to Botswana's status as the
country with the fastest growth in per capita income over the past 35

Botswana's grading of 2.5 is a result of scoring different points on various
categories: trade 2, fiscal burden 3.5, government intervention 4, monetary
policy 3, foreign investment 2, banking/finance 2, wages/prices 2, property
rights 2, regulation 2 and black market 2.5.

However, the Heritage Foundation warns that HIV/AIDS undermines productivity
throughout Botswana's economy.

Hong Kong is the freest economy in the world followed by Singapore.

Luxembourg and New Zealand share position three and Ireland is number five.

Denmark, Estonia and the United States share position six, Australia and
Britain are both at position nine while Germany is number 19. Zimbabwe is
number 153. BOPA

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Information department has duty to fight distortions on Zimbabwe

19 November 2002
The Minister of State for Information and Publicity in the Office of the
President and Cabinet, Professor Jonathan Moyo said his department has a
duty to fight the distortions about Zimbabwe being peddled by detractors of
the country's agrarian reform programme.

Speaking to the Joint Command and Staff Course number 16 and the junior
staff course members number 40, Professor Moyo said the west is trying to
overthrow the Zimbabwean government because of is principled land policy.

Profesor Moyo said the so called change being talked about in the western
media means a coup, which is an illegitimate way of changing a Government
and the way of life of a given people.

The Minister explained that his department is there to explain Government

"In 12 months time from now, transmedia will have installed transmitters
throughout the country for better radio and television coverage," he said.

He added that a second television channel and another radio station will be

The said the Public Order and Security Act brought some discipline in the
country adding that the Government was looking at ways of amending the Act
to remove grey areas.

The Minister also dismissed western calls for dialogue between the ruling
Zanu-PF party and the opposition MDC saying there can never be unity between
puppets and nationalists.

He said the idea is an attempt by the West to bring the MDC into power
through the back door.
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Desperate Measures

The 2003 budget and the subsequent announcement by the Minister of Industry
that the state was imposing an immediate freeze in prices for a very wide
range of products and services have very far reaching implications. They are
the acts of a desperate administration that has run out of ideas and space.
In my view they could trigger the final economic collapse that is expected
in many quarters.

The Budget.

The budget does nothing to alleviate the economic problems of the country -
it does not address any of the macro economic weaknesses in past government
budgets and will continue to foster inflation and economic decline. In fact
the Minister confirmed this in his own words. It also fails to redress the
imbalances in expenditure on various state activities and will further
exacerbate the problems in education and health. The vast increases in
military expenditures were expected but still shock when viewed against the
backdrop of the withdrawal of our troops from the Congo and the absence of
any real threats - internal or external.

In fact unless the political fundamentals are addressed, there is little the
Minister could do in the circumstances. What we had come to expect from
Simba Makoni was that he would try to limit the damage by various subtle
means - this was absent from this budget. There was no attempt to protect
the remnants of what we have left of a productive sector and this must be
the main cause for concern.

The tax proposals were very nondescript - raising the tax threshold to Z$15
000 a month will get no one excited - its still at least Z$10 000 a month
below the poverty datum line for urban workers. The attempt to raise
additional income by various other means will simply get the accountants
busy and tax avoidance measures put in place. The drop in selected items of
import duty to alleviate the problems of public transport will do little to
overcome the basic problem, which is no capacity to replace or even maintain
existing equipment and vehicles.

Price Freeze

The state has a long history of failed attempts to curb inflation by simply
preventing the private sector from raising its prices - thereby forcing the
private sector to subsidize the consumer and weakening the industrial and
commercial sector. The Minister himself said that the attempt initiated in
October 2001 to hold down prices by means of price control had not been
successful. Despite this dismal track record the new Minister of Industry
has now determined that the way to go is a near total price freeze in a
inflationary environment and annual inflation expected to rise to over 500
per cent per annum next year. Just to show how little is understood of
economic realities, the Minister of Finance stated that "his Ministry would
reduce inflation next year to 90 per cent per annum". Not a single
commentator has yet to lend any credence to this ridiculous claim.

If we start by examining the track record of the price controls introduced
in October 2001. Since that time the prices of those products that were
selected for attention and control have risen over 200 per cent - without a
single official price increase being awarded. Recently the price of beef
doubled in a week following the collapse of supplies of cattle to markets -
the Minister "ordered retailers to roll back their prices to controlled
levels" and the Police went from store to store imposing fines on those who
defied the order. Asking retailers who have paid Z$600 to Z$700 a kilogram
for beef in carcass form to sell it at the controlled price of about Z$150
per kilogram is arrant nonsense. The retailers I spoke to said that they had
simply told the Police take the matter to court.

Most other manufacturers had adopted a different ploy to get around the
controls. The Ministry thought they would be clever and actually list
products by brand and mass and price. Manufacturers simply withdrew products
when they became unprofitable and replaced them with new ones that were not
listed. Others simply changed the mass or the packaging - sugar was
controlled in the traditional 1, 2, 10 kilogram packs. Now you get sugar in
15 and 25 kg bags - at double the price. The effect is to raise prices as
rapidly as if there were no price controls and this further erodes respect
for the rule of law in our society. When approached by industries that are
trying not to breech the law for a desperately needed price increase, the
Minister simply demands that they reduce their prices still further.

Now we have a "Price Freeze". What will happen to this - I personally have
no doubt it will go the same way as the price controls of the past 12
months. They will be recognised in the breech rather than in compliance. The
Minister is like King Canute who sat on the beach and ordered the tide to
stay out - all he got for his trouble was a soaking.

For consumers the imposition will simply exacerbate their plight - products
driven off the supermarket shelves will find their way onto the street at
double the price or will disappear altogether. Just today my daughter told
me she had to go to five supermarkets to find what she needed in Harare.

The Great Foreign Exchange Theft.

Foreign exchange inflows have fallen from US$3,4 billion in 1997 to US$1,35
billion this year. They are already expected to fall to less than a billion
in 2003. In the past few years the state has secured its requirements out of
this flow of foreign exchange by buying foreign currencies at controlled
exchange rates. The sources of state controlled foreign exchange has been -
direct foreign inflows to the State from aid and external borrowings, the
total proceeds from the sale of tobacco on the local auction floors and
official sales of gold through the Reserve Bank. Then finally the state took
40 per cent of all foreign earnings by other exporters and service providers
at official exchange rates for its own use.

In the past five years the first sources of foreign exchange listed above
have dried up almost completely as aid has been withdrawn and we have been
denied any sort of external balance of payments support. The second is now
being wiped out by the steep decline in tobacco production from 235 000
tonnes a year to 170 000 tonnes this year and an expected 50 000 tonnes next
year. The revenue flow from gold has shrunk as gold sales have fallen from
about 3 tonnes a month to just over 1 tonne a month now and still further
declines predicted for next year.

In the face of this decline in foreign exchange revenues to the state, the
government has done little or nothing to improve exports or production for
export - in fact it has been directly responsible for the declines in export
production across the board. Now, in the face of this decline in hard
currency earnings that accrue to the state, the government has increased the
forced sale of foreign exchange to the state to 50 per cent. However at the
same time they have abolished the Bureau du Change system and taken full
control of all corporate foreign exchange accounts (FCA's). Should an
industrialist wish to use his own foreign exchange earnings for his own
import requirements he has to now get exchange control approval - and you
know what that means in reality. If he does not use it in six weeks, it is
forfeit to the State at controlled exchange rates.

All of this would not be so serious if official exchange rates were fixed at
reasonable levels but they have remained at the rate of 55 to 1 against the
US dollar for several years now. The real exchange rate based on inflation
differentials is now well over 300 to 1 and the parallel market rate is
hovering between 1800 and 2000 to 1.

When the previous system applied, exporters could use their own foreign
exchange pretty much as the wanted - they used the parallel market as an
indication of value and whether they used or sold their foreign exchange at
those rates, the blend of proceeds gave them a reasonable return. Industrial
exports were largely sustained by this situation which has now been
abolished by the Minister of Finance and the Reserve Bank. This now puts
then in the same, if not worse situation as gold and tobacco producers have
been for some time and a similar precipitous decline in export activity can
be expected.

For many companies with significant export earnings, this move will
immediately plunge them into losses operationally and they will have to take
steps to stop the hemorrhaging. It will also reduce the capacity of the
private sector to sustain itself through sales and purchases of foreign
exchange in the parallel market. These exchanges will now be driven
underground with additional undesirable effects. Any further reduction in
the capacity of the private sector to sustain itself will be felt in the
form of further shortages in essential products in the market. Prices will
rise still further due to shortages and attempts by manufacturers to make up
for the lost revenues from the sale of foreign exchange.

From the perspective of the State the gains made by these measures will be
very short lived if there are to be any gains at all. However for the
country these measures will further exacerbate the conditions of decline and
collapse that have prevailed in the economy for the past three years. It
means more desperation for the unemployed and those who depend on the
productive sector for their livelihood. As the economic collapse
intensifies, the forced migration of people to neighboring countries,
especially South Africa, can only accelerate.

Eddie Cross

Bulawayo, 18th November 2002.

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Daily News

      Thousands of women demonstrate against closure of milling operation

      11/18/02 8:28:32 AM (GMT +2)

      By Sam Munyavi

      THOUSANDS of women desperate for maize-meal demonstrated against the
closure of a milling operation in Harare's Kuwadzana 4 suburb on Friday.

      They marched to the council's Kuwadzana Polyclinic and demanded the
immediate re-opening of the grinding mill at the Kuwadzana 5 home industry

      A council health official had ordered the mill, owned by Tassa Private
Limited, to cease operations, citing breach of council licencing and health
regulations. The demonstrators accused the council health officials of
wanting to starve them to death by denying them access to the maize-meal
sold by the company. Council staff denied any knowledge of the order to
close the company, which later resumed operations.

      In the afternoon, thousands of women stood or sat patiently in queues
controlled by Zanu PF youths awaiting their turn to buy 10kg bags, which
were selling at $300 each, or a package that included two loaves of bread
and a cabbage for $600, which buyers regarded as a bargain in these days of
mealie-meal and bread shortages.

      David Mutasa, the owner of the company, said: "The elderly and the
disabled get first preference. If we don't do that, where will they get
      He said Fridays were reserved for women, while Saturdays were for men.

      Mutasa denied allegations that Zanu PF supporters were getting
maize-meal ahead of non-party members.

      "People lie. We do not discriminate because hunger does not
discriminate. It affects everyone, regardless of political affiliation. We
just look at what people want and respond to that.

      "In fact, there are more MDC supporters here than those of any other
party," he said
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Daily News

      Inadequate grain harvest seen worsening starvation

      11/18/02 7:57:45 AM (GMT +2)

      Staff Reporter

      STARVATION is accelerating across Zimbabwe and local grain production
for next year's harvest is likely to meet only half of the demand, the
United Nations warned yesterday.

      The latest Humanitarian Situation Report on Zimbabwe by the world body
said its field officers were reporting "a worsening food security situation
in many districts".

      Rural hospitals "have noted a marked increase" in the number of cases
of malnutrition and pellagra, a disease caused by starvation, it said.
      Maize, Zimbabweans' staple diet, was selling on the parallel market in
urban areas at around four times the price fixed by the government. "In most
areas, it is not even available for purchase," the UN said.

      Also in short supply were bread, milk and sugar. More than
six-and-half million people in Zimbabwe are facing famine. The World Food
Programme (WFP), the UN's famine relief agency, is planning to feed three
million people this month, while the number of beneficiaries is expected to
reach 5,9 million by January. Despite the famine's widening toll, the
government was still prohibiting private companies from importing grain,
according to the UN report.

      Private food imports would "produce a positive impact on commercial
food supplies", it said.

      Three months ago James Morris, a WFP director, said during a visit to
Zimbabwe that after a meeting with President Mugabe he had been assured that
private procurement of grain would be permitted.

      The report said that there was enough seed available to grow between
600 000 tonnes and 800 000 tonnes of maize in the cropping season just

      "However, that is far below the national requirement of about 1,8
million tonnes," said the UN.

      The report said that the government had bought 15 000 tonnes of seed
for distribution from private seed companies, while another 15 600 tonnes
had been sold directly to farmers.

      Last week, Dr Joseph Made, the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and
Rural Resettlement, appealed to South African during a joint ministerial
meeting with South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for her
country to supply a projected seed deficit.

      Meanwhile, those farmers who were not affected by the land seizures
said to number about 600 were also "uncertain" whether they would grow grain
because of the belief that they could still be driven off their farms, the
UN said.
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Daily News

      Teachers' union warns of another strike

      11/18/02 8:03:00 AM (GMT +2)

      Staff Reporter

      The Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has written to the
Public Service Commission (PSC), threatening strike action next month if the
government does not heed its demands for a salary increment.

      This could disrupt classes and the writing of forthcoming national

      The union said they were mobilising all teachers across the country to
down tools to protest against alleged discrimination in which they allege
the government has awarded other sections of the civil service higher
salaries than teachers.

      Raymond Majongwe, the PTUZ secretary-general, said yesterday they had
written to the PSC warning of their intention to go on strike.

      Majongwe said: "Teachers are not happy, neither are they impressed
with the blatantly discriminatory way in which the commission has awarded
salary adjustments to civil servants.

      "They recently awarded salary increments of between 155 percent to 165
percent to doctors, nurses and defence force personnel, while teachers got a
meagre 55 percent increment."

      The union advised its members to agitate for better working conditions
and higher remuneration.

      In a circular sent to teachers entitled The Time Is Now - Teachers
Strike 2002, the PTUZ attacked a rival union, the Zimbabwe Teachers'
Association (Zimta), for allegedly betraying the teachers' cause by engaging
in "laborious and fruitless talks" with the PSC.

      The circular reads in part: "It is now clear that the government is
not serious in addressing the pertinent issues adversely affecting teachers,
particularly the issue of low remuneration.

      "It is also clear that if we continue hoping that yellow organisations
such as Zimta will provide leadership, then our suffering will continue."

      Majongwe said the PTUZ wants the PSC to implement a cost of living
adjustment as well as a 100 percent salary increment to bring the teachers'
salaries to the same level with those of other civil servants.
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Daily News

      Commuters blast bus fare increases

      11/18/02 8:27:53 AM (GMT +2)

      By Columbus Mavhunga

      COMMUTERS yesterday denounced last Friday's fare increases, saying
they demonstrated an element of betrayal by the government, which campaigned
on a platform of combating price increases and shortages of basic consumer
goods in the March presidential election.

      They said the government was no longer showing concern for the plight
of the common people, reeling from the prevalent economic hardships.

      On Friday, Dr Ignatius Chombo, the Minister of Local Government,
Public Works and National Housing, gazetted new commuter fare increases,
ranging from 35 percent for public transport in urban areas.

      On average, a commuter will now have to pay $160 a day to travel to
and from work.

      Commuters from Mabvuku, Ruwa, Tafara, Chitungwiza and Mufakose are now
paying $70 a single trip to Harare's central business district, up from $50,
while those from Budiriro, Glen View, Glen Norah and Highfield, who were
paying $40, are now forking out $65 a trip.

      Under the new nationwide fares, a distance of up to six kilometres
attracts $40, while $50 is charged for between 6,1km and 10km, with
commuters travelling a distance of between 10,1km and 20km now paying $65.

      The fare for a distance between 20,1km and 35km is now $80 and any
other distance above that a rate of $3,12 a km will apply.

      Commuters interviewed yesterday said the increases were not justified
given that there had been no recent rise in the price of fuel.
Traditionally, commuter fares are increased after the price of fuel goes up.

      "I do not blame the transport operators as it is not their problem,
but the government's," said Emmah Mutamba of Mbare. "The government has not
been able to control the prices of inputs that the operators need and that
has led to them asking for a fare increase. The situation is likely to
worsen when individual companies start to import fuel."

      Cosmas Saruchera of Budiriro said: "The timing of the increases is
bad. Fuel prices have not gone up, and this means that when that eventually
happens we are going to have another round of fare increases. The government
should have waited until February, after the January salary adjustments.

      "I strongly feel betrayed by the government, especially after it went
into the March presidential election talking about price controls."

      Lovewell Motsi of Zengeza agreed with Saruchera. He said: "I don't see
anything which the transport operators could have done given the economic
hardships. But the government must understand the plight of the people. Most
commuters are now going to be reduced to walking to and from work as they
cannot afford these increases."

      Cleopas Kadzimu, from Chitungwiza, said: "The increase is not
justified. Operators are just taking advantage of the prevailing shortages.
Spare parts might be expensive, but what will they say when there is a fuel
price increase? Are we going to have yet another fare increase?"

      Transport operators and drivers interviewed yesterday said the
increases were not enough to make their business viable as prices of parts
were skyrocketing.

      "We have been struggling to remain afloat because the government has
not been willing to approve fare increases, despite the fact that spare
parts are now very expensive," said Charles Kuwanyama, a driver.

      "The new fares are welcome, but they will not take us far. We will
need another fare rise again, in the event of a fuel price increase."

      A source in the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and
National Housing yesterday said operators had applied for a 50 to 80 percent
increase, but the government turned it down, saying that would be
justifiable only if there was a fuel price increase.

      "It was going to be difficult to stop the operators from effecting
another increase in the event of a fuel price increase," said the source.
"Hence, we stuck to these figures. But that does not mean that when a fuel
price increase takes place there will be an automatic commuter fare
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Daily News

      MDC lawyers studying judgment on voters' roll

      11/18/02 7:59:03 AM (GMT +2)

      By Luke Tamborinyoka Political Editor

      THE MDC says its lawyers are still studying last Thursday's Supreme
Court judgment in which their demand for a voters' roll on compact disc was

      "Our lawyers will have to analyse the judgment before we can fully
comment on it, but our opponents, Zanu PF, had full access to the up-to-date
voters' roll as at the date of the presidential election," said the MDC
spokesman, Paul Themba Nyathi.

      Thursday's Supreme Court judgment threw out a petition by MDC
president Morgan Tsvangirai that the Registrar-General (RG), Tobaiwa Mudede,
should provide the national voters' roll on disc.

      But Nyathi said Mudede had in January 2002 provided them with the
voters' roll.

      "The voters' roll which the Registrar-General's Office voluntarily
gave us in January 2002 was completely out of date by the time of the
presidential election in March 2002 in that the RG's Office had added
thousands of names to it."

      He said it was only fair that the RG's Office provides the voters'
roll on compact disc so that it becomes easy to analyse.

      "Isn't it an inalienable right in a democratic country, which we claim
to be, that we be given a voters' roll which, after all, is the core of the
electoral process?"

      The MDC is challenging Mugabe's March victory in court.

      On 24 December last year, Tsvangirai lodged an application with the
High Court, compelling Mudede to furnish his party with an electronic copy
of the common voters' roll for all registered voters up to 2 January this

      Justice Rita Makarau threw out the application, saying there was no
legal basis for the MDC to demand the roll. Tsvangirai then lodged an
application with the Supreme Court, arguing that Makarau had erred by
failing to make a finding that Mudede's refusal constituted an infringement
of their right to the protection of the law. In dismissing Tsvangirai's
Supreme Court appeal on Thursday, Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza said section 18
of the Electoral Act invoked by the MDC in their High Court application did
not provide a basis for the party's application.

      She said to suggest that the refusal by Mudede to provide the MDC with
copies of the the voters' roll on compact disc was a breach of subsection 20
(1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe was "to clearly misinterpret and distort
an otherwise clear meaning".

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Daily News

      MDC supporter shot

      11/18/02 8:39:34 AM (GMT +2)

      From Brian Mangwende in Mutare

      ONE MDC member was shot and 15 others, including two senior officials
in Rusape, were allegedly abducted by Zanu PF youths after offices and
houses belonging to ruling party officials and war veterans were
petrol-bombed last week on Tuesday.

      Pishai Muchauraya, the MDC spokesperson in Manicaland, identified John
Muringanise as the victim of the shooting.

      He said Muringanise was shot in the leg, but has since been discharged
from hospital and is recovering at home.

      It could not be established whether the shots were fired by war
veterans or Zanu PF youths.

      Property worth millions of dollars was destroyed in the attack on Zanu
PF offices at Muller Building, war veterans' offices in the town and two
houses belonging to war veterans. One of the houses belongs to James Kaunye,
the war veteran district chairman for Makoni. Didymus Mutasa, Zanu PF's
secretary for external affairs and MP for Makoni North, blamed MDC members
for the attack.

      He said earlier they had threatened to descend on Makoni district
after "successfully causing disturbances in Buhera district".

      "About three people threw petrol bombs at the offices and later
attacked two houses belonging to war veterans, including that of Kaunye. I
suspect MDC members because earlier they said they would attack Makoni
district after finishing off Buhera."

      But Muchauraya said it was an inside job after disagreements between
Zanu PF officials and war veterans over the unequal distribution of maize
and land.

      He denied the MDC was responsible for the attacks.
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Daily News

      Public faces arrest for talking or pointing at Mugabe's motorcade

      11/18/02 8:37:40 AM (GMT +2)

      By Chris Mhike

      GOVERNMENT has legislated that Zimbabweans will not be allowed to
utter any words, or make any movement or gesture that might be construed to
be offensive to President Mugabe or any member of his escort, when the
presidential motorcade passes.

      The regulations are with immediate effect.

      President Mugabe has acquired a state-of-the-art, bullet-proof
limousine at enormous cost to the taxpayer, despite the parlous state of the

      Through the Road Traffic (Rules of the Road) (Amendment) Regulations,
2002 (No 9), to be referred to in statute books as SI 299 of 2002,
government indicated on Friday that it would intensify its repression of the
people of Zimbabwe by further curtailing their right to the freedom of
expression, in terms of speech and conduct towards President Mugabe, his
deputies, or any other people who at any time may be entitled to a police

      The Statutory Instrument provides that: "It is hereby notified that
the Minister of Transport and Communications has made the regulation that .
. . on the approach and during the passing of a State motorcade a driver
shall not make any gesture or statement within the view or hearing of the
State motorcade with the intention of insulting any person travelling with
an escort or any member of the escort."

      A State motorcade is defined under the amended Road Traffic
Regulations to mean a procession of motor vehicles comprising a vehicle in
which the State President or Acting President travels in the company of an
escort. The Road Traffic (Rules of the Road) Regulations were originally
passed in Rhodesia in 1974 under the oppressive Ian Smith regime.

      The decree comes seven months after President Mugabe's controversial
victory in the March 2002 presidential election.

      Dr Lovemore Madhuku, the chairperson of the National Constitutional
Assembly, and a constitutional law lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe,
yesterday expressed shock at the passage of the Regulations on State

      He said the move was a sign of panic by an unpopular government scared
of the very people whose support it claims to have.

      "They are trying to silence any form of protest against Mugabe. But
more dangerously, the regulation is unconstitutional and undemocratic."
      Madhuku said the new law infringed on the constitutionally enshrined
right of freedom of expression as it sought to stifle communication by
citizens in either speech or gesture.

      Section 20 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides for the protection
of freedom of expression. The section provides: "Except with his own consent
or by way of parental discipline, no person shall be hindered in the
enjoyment of his freedom of expression, that is to say, freedom to hold
opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without
interference . . . "

      Madhuku said: "In a proper democratic society citizens should be
allowed to make statements, even in expression of anger. The essence of
freedom of expression is to allow people to vent their anger through words
and other forms of communication such as gestures."

      He said the freedom to express feelings in that way would discourage
members of society from taking the law into their own hands.

      "Anger and dissatisfaction are natural feelings. It is the person who
fails to acknowledge this fact of life who is dangerous, not the angry
person," said Madhuku.

      Under the new regulations every Zimbabwean driver will be required to
"halt his vehicle or remain stationary" as directed by police at the passage
of a State motorcade.

      "The driver shall not follow the State motorcade to within an interval
of 50 metres between the front of his vehicle and the rear of the last
vehicle in the State motorcade."

      The regulations further provide that: "The driver shall not overtake
or attempt to overtake any vehicle in a State motorcade."The amendments will
also widen the definition of State motorcade to cover a procession where a
visiting foreign head of state, or any other person, including a foreign
dignitary other than a foreign head of state, whom or in respect of whom the
President or Acting President has directed should travel with an escort.

      During the late Malawian President Kamuzu Banda's autocratic rule,
women were expected to kneel by the roadside, while their menfolk had to
clap their hands when his motorcade passed.
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